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The Kirkham Family

Poulton, Carleton, and Fleetwood

updated with corrections and extra information 9 Jan 2015

The first known member of this family is James Kirkham who was born, perhaps in Carleton, in or near Poulton-le-Fylde, on 2 Dec 1784. For this information we are indebted to his great-grandson. See James Armour's day-book

On 5 Nov 1811 James married Elizabeth Ball at St Chad's, Poulton, a date obtained through the IGI. James and Elizabeth were both Catholics but Hardwick's Marriage Act of 1754 had not yet been repealed and by law they had to marry first in the parish church.

Elizabeth Ball was the daughter of John and Jane Ball of Rossall Grange Farm which is between Thornton and Fleetwood. At that time Fleetwood did not exist, being then no more than a rabbit warren with an occasional cottage, and was technically part of Thornton-le-Fylde. John Ball and his wife, Jane, née Cornthwaite, came from the Lune Valley and Lancaster and their lines have been traced back several generations further. They arrived in the Fylde with their eight children about the turn of the century. It must have been quite a shock for them coming from the more sheltered dales to experience the fierce westerly winds sweeping across the sand hills.

The plans for the 'new town' of Fleetwood were not even drawn up until some forty years later. The name of the farm is perpetuated in Rossall Grange Road. It was at that time only sandy farmland and rabbit warrens, subject to flooding. Jane died in 1829 and John remarried in old age. By the time he died in 1847 at the age of 84, a William Ball had taken over and William's son Richard is listed as the farmer in 1851.

The godparents of the first Elizabeth Kirkham (who died in infancy), daughter of James Kirkham and Elizabeth (nee Ball) were Richard and Jane Ball, this earlier Richard presumably being John and Jane Ball's 5th child and the baby's uncle, aged 26. It appears from the censuses that they were living in Carleton, James being a farmer there in 1841, with Mary the last to be born there in 1829. Ellen born in 1831 was born at Whitesides in Thornton, presumably a larger farm - or at least a larger farmhouse for their growing family.

James and Elizabeth Kirkham had eleven children and were living at Whitesides, a farm in Thornton by 1841, Elizabeth was not at home at the time and died on 30 Nov 1842. Their children were Jane, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, John, Ellen, George, Thomas, William, Mary, Ellen and Agnes. Three did not survive infancy and are not listed on the 1841 Census, the first Elizabeth and Ellen, and also Jane who died in 1839. The 2nd Elizabeth was the ancestor of the Armour family.

* James Kirkham died at Whitesides on 30 Aug 1851, and Thomas died on 24 Sep. aged 26. All that remains now of the farm is the name of the road - and this pond, which is marked on the old maps. Most of the farmland is now covered by houses.

The pond marked on the old maps is still there though most of the farmland is covered by houses

* On the next page of the 1841 census to Whitesides is another farm, this time occupied by a Thomas Whiteside, and his wife Rebecca, both in their sixties and not identified. Also living on the farm were (with ages rounded down to the nearest 5) James Gill, 20, blacksmith, Anne Gill, 20, and.Thomas Waddington, 15, blacksmith's apprentice. The three names show that the Gills were the James b.1817 who married Elizabeth Kirkham on 20 Nov the same year, and Anne Gill, James's sister. b.1818. As James and Anne's father had married Jane Waddington, Thomas was presumably a cousin, not at present otherwise traced.

The nearest church for both families, Kirkhams and Balls, was the Catholic church of St John's at Poulton, frequently a very difficult journey along muddy lanes, being several miles away. John and Jane's grave can be seen and the inscription is still quite clear though it lies flat, half covered with ivy, in a corner next to the old chapel which is now used as the parish centre. It is possibly the oldest grave there.

As the Armour family descended through three generations with a son called James they have been numbered on the Armour pages, from the earliest known as I, II or III. James Armour III recorded the births of the children and most of them are also entered in the baptismal records for the Catholic church of St John the Evangelist. The two shown here are James I and II.

The following tree shows the relationship of the Swarbrick family. (Numbers refer to their position in the family, which helps to explain the leap across one generation with the Taylor/Swarbrick marriage, first cousins once removed)

Kirkham tree showing Swarbrick family

The children were of James Kirkham and Elizabeth [Ball] were::

  1. Jane Kirkham, b. 19 Feb 1813, d. 23 Mar 1839
  2. Elizabeth Kirkham, b. 18 May 1815, chr. 19 May 1815
  3. *Elizabeth Kirkham, b. 7 May 1817, chr. 11 May 1817, d. 1 Mar 1899, m. James Gill
  4. John Kirkham chr. 13 Oct, 1819
  5. Ellen Kirkham b. & chr. 22 Oct 1821, d. 18 Jul 1823
  6. George Kirkham b. 13 Feb 1823
  7. Thomas Kirkham b. 9 Jul 1825, chr. 10 Jul 1825, d. 24 Sep 1851
  8. William Kirkham b & chr. 3 Oct 1827
  9. Mary Kirkham b. 5 Dec 1829, chr. 6 Dec. 1829
  10. Agnes Kirkham
Christening dates are given by the IGI which originally used the church records. The birth and death dates along with the names of the children and their relationships to him or to his wife are all given in James Armour's daybook.
The Armour family top The Gill family

*Footnote on the three marriages of Dorothy Cornthwaite

Dorothy Cornthwaite was born in Ulverston in 1821. A search for her in the 1841 census, i.e.before she married, failed to find any results, but girls in service at that time who receive a 'not known or NK' return seem to be rather numerous! In the Sep Q of that year she married in Preston to Anthony Lucas, who was born in Wray with Botton. They had four children, Mary in Preston [Sep Q 1843 Vol.21, p.533] Elizabeth [1849 Burnley], William [1850 Burnley] and Thomas [1852 in Ulverston]. In 1861 Dorothy claimed to be a widow - the only death for an Anthony Lucas appears to be an Anthony James Lucas who died in Shoreditch in the Jun Q 1860 [Shoreditch Vol1c p.128] As he was a hat dealer he could have travelled the country perhaps. He is hard to track

On 5 Jun 1860 at the age of 17 Mary Lucas married George Park, son of Lawrence Park of Pennington, then in the Sep Q of 1861 Dorothy herself married again, this time to a John Heron, a ship rigger. They had no children, but Dorothy was now looking after her daughter Mary's two Park children, Dorothy b.Ulverston 1862 and Lawrence b.Barrow 1864. A search for Mary in the 1871 census failed and it seems likely that she was the Mary Park who died in 'Ulverstone' in the Mar Q 1865. [Ulverston Vol 8e, p.506] Dorothy then became a widow for the seond time when John Heron died aged 46 in the Sep Q of 1872 [Ulverston Vol.8e p.452]

In the Mar Q 1876 Dorothy married for the 3rd time, to John Kirkham. John's maternal grandmother was a Cornthwaite but nothing is known of Dorothy's family at present so no connections can be made and there may be none. John outlived his wife who died in 1884 in Ulverston. John has not been easy to track but is possibly the John Kirkham who died in Preston aged 76 in the Mar Q 1894. [Preston Vol.8e p.433], the nearest to the right age.