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 steam ship.  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 emmigrated to the Lowell, Lawrence, Forge Village area to work in the mills.  My uncle Haroldís 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 donít 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 didnít work out and boy would things have been different for all of us!
Ray Midgley, Dunnellon Fl. 2010

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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