The Midgleys of Keighley

   By Ray Midgley

    My mother and father were perhaps the only people who ever moved back from Hopedale, Massachusetts
    to Keighley, Yorkshire,  England.  After migrating from Keighley and getting married in Milford they went
    back!  Pregnant, with my sister Joan, mom had to go home to mother to have the baby!  The great
    depression made sure that they stayed there.  After Joan, I, Raymond, followed by James, the youngest,
    were born there.

    World War II found my father in Singapore and in February 1942 a captive of the Japanese. Three and a half
    years later, weighing 90 pounds at 5 feet, 10 inches, he was liberated by the American forces and came
    home to Keighley, stopping at Hopedale on the way, thus completing a free circumnavigation of the globe.

    Times in England were hard during the war but even harder after, so re-emigration was in order. Our
    paternal grandparents, Harry and Clara Midgley, lived at 63 Freedom Street in Hopedale and that's where
    we headed.  The fares on the Queen Elizabeth I were partially paid by those grandparents we {the kids} had
    never met.  My father's brothers, Arthur, Harold and Raymond, along with their families also lived and
    worked in Hopedale for Draper Corporation. So in 1947 a whole contingent of immigrant Keighley Midgleys
    lived in Hopedale.  Harry, another of dad's four brothers lived in Milford, I believe. Interestingly, there are no
    living relatives of this family living in Hopedale now. In fact Joan and I joke about being the only ones left
    alive from this 1947 group.

    That sets the scene for this article on the connections between Keighley and Hopedale. Let me start with
    James Henry Northrop, born in 1856 in Keighley, West Yorkshire, England.  He was a mechanic with
    extensive experience in textile machinery.  He invented the automatic loom, the machine that made the
    Draper Corporation.  Much information is readily available on this inventor and I leave it to the reader to
    google further.  He was the most important and influential immigrant from Keighley.

    With Drapers having sold over 60,000 Northrop designed looms and employing over 2500 workers by 1900
    the boom was on.  The need for workers, especially those with some education and skills was sent
    worldwide.  At this time you could travel from Keighley to Boston totally on the water!  By canal from Keighley
    to Liverpool and from Liverpool to Boston by steamship.  The voyage took less than two weeks and the
    fares reasonable.  Steerage fares were really low and the money could be had on tic {borrowed] if you had a
    sponsor.  One of these sponsors was a John Mintoft, a friend of my grandfather.  He was born in Keighley in
    1891 and immigrated on the Liverpool/Boston connection in 1907.  He lived at 125 Hopedale Street and
    took boarders.  Grandad stayed with him for awhile and borrowed money to bring some of his boys over. I
    know nothing about the interest rates, if any, or the payback. John Mintoft died in 1980.

    Another Midgley, no relation, from Keighley was Lt. Donald R. Midgley.  He died in World War II in a
    submarine, lost in the Pacific.  He is in the veteran list on this website along with other Midgleys.

    A lot of Keighley textile people emigrated to the Lowell, Lawrence, Forge Village area to work in the mills.  
    My uncle Harold’s wife Maude was one of them.  There were some marriages that occurred from this
    connection.  I am sure there are a lot more Keighley/Hopedale connections that are lost in the cemetery but
    I don’t know how to find them.

    That's my tale of the Keighley/Hopedale connection.  I would like to thank John and Betty Butcher for helping
    me with my research.  Betty's mom and dad offered to let mom and dad stay with them for mom to have
    Joan!  That didn’t work out and boy would things have been different for all of us! Ray Midgley, Dunnellon Fl.

    The 1955 Hopedale street listing records the following Midgleys living in town: Arthur, Gordon, Harold,
    Raymond, Raymond S., Wilfrid, Annie, Clara, Margaret, Mary and Maud. Occupations for the men were
    foreman, U.S. Service (2), machinist, toolmaker, and expeditor. One of the woman was listed as a
    housekeeper and the rest as housewives.

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