A Curious Indenture of Apprenticeship

From Historical Gleanings of Bolton and District:

A second batch of odd papers (written and printed) in one form or other identified with the township of Breightmet, which have been loaned to (the) present correspondent by an old Breightmetite, contains some particulars which may not generally be known.  The first about is an old indenture of apprenticeship, professionally engraved, xc., but through age it is so jagged and tattered that only odd portions can with difficulty be interpreted.  What is practicable in this respect has been done, and it will no doubt be ample for securing an interest for the whole – an interest arising mainly out of one of the signatories to the indenture being a direct descendant of the Rev. Richard Rothwell of Bolton who died in 1563.  He was known as ‘Bold Rothwell,’ the ‘Apostle of the North’ and famed as an exorcist.  Respecting his descent and powers as an exorcist, Brown in his incomplete History of Bolton (1824) says (following an extract from Bolton Parish Church registers, relating to the marriage of one Richard Rothwell of Haslingden Park to Rebecca Sharples of Bolton, 23rd February 1600) ‘as we copied this extract it struck us it might record the marriage of the celebrated caster-out of devils, of whose extraordinary exploits we have given a narrative.’  It is pretty certain the exorcist was married, and left one or more children, for half a century since and upwards there was a Richard Rothwell, then a peruke maker of Bolton who was reported to be a lineal descendant of the celebrated character referred to.  He dwelt in small house, which is now the (1824) the frontage of the Three Crowns public house in Deansgate.  He was described as grave and stately in his demeanour, of inoffensive life and conversation, eccentric manners, and not at all deficient in entertaining a due sense of his own importance.  With him expired, at least if we are correctly informed, the last of that branch of the numerous family bearing that old Saxon name.  In the preceding century, a person of that name used to say ‘I’m a real Rothwell, none of your leer-edge Rothwells, but a descendant of him that beat the devil.’  But this was an empty boast, if the last of his posterity was the gentlemanly peruguier.  This Richard Rothwell, described as a peruguier, was the same individual whose name figures most prominently in the indenture aforesaid, only with an additional business description in the latter, namely, that he was a barber as well as a peruke maker.  He died in 1780 as appears from a gravestone on the south side of the Bolton Parish Church, where some half-dozen gravestones (all in a line) show the peruke maker’s family, branches of which appear to have a somewhat ancient local pedigree.

(I’ll post more about the indenture at a later date.)

Firstly, we know that the line did not die out with the death of Richard as he had a large family with at least three sons to carry on the Rothwell name.  His eldest son was Robert the Barber who definitely had children; there is a question mark whether Robert the Schoolmaster was one of those.  He certainly had another son Henry (but we don’t know whether he had any children or what happened to him yet).  I managed to find an administration of Robert the Barber granted to his wife Susannah in 1796.    In the administration Robert the Barber is described as an Innkeeper.  I wonder if this could be the same place as described above?  It would make sense that it was left to his eldest son.  I’ve looked at the Memorial Inscriptions for Bolton Parish Church and it appears that the gravestone with Richard’s details did not survive.  There was however an inscription recorded for his daughter Mary:

Here resteth the body of Mary the daughter

of Richard and Hannah Rothwell of Bolton,

who departed this life the 17th day of

November 1761, aged 8 months.

Elizabeth the daughter of James and Hannah

Howarth, died September 9th 1828, aged

2 weeks.

Also a second daughter Elizabeth, died June

12th 1830, aged 8 months.

Also Hannah the wife of James Howarth, died

May 6th 1849, aged 55 years.

Hannah their daughter, died October 6th 1849

aged 18 years.


There is another inscription recorded for Robert:

Here resteth the body of Robert Rothwell

who died September 2nd 1794, aged 35 years.

Catherine Greenhalgh was interred September

7th 1802, aged 71 years.

This is certainly him as Susannah’s mother was Catherine Greenhalgh.  On the one hand it is wonderful to find Robert’s resting place but it raises another issue with my research.  Robert the Schoolmaster was buried in St Mary’s, Deane.  Why would he be buried there if his family (and its ancient pedigree) are all in Bolton Parish Churchyard?  Part of the answer could lie in the Burial Acts around this time.  This legislation was driven by parish churchyards becoming full.  (Curiously, the 1857 Act made it illegal to disturb a grave but not illegal to remove the contents of the grave.)  Robert the Schoolmaster was buried in April 1857.  His wife Ruth died in 1874 and was buried in St Peter’s, Halliwell.  So, why were they not buried together?  I haven’t been able to find out anything further about Robert’s burial place in Deane; whether it was a family grave or where it is.  Ruth was buried in Halliwell as the grave was connected to her daughter-in-law’s family (the Renshaws).  Tonge Cemetery opened in December 1856; perhaps the family did not want or like the idea of being buried in a cemetery?  Unfortunately it does not explain why Robert was buried in Deane instead of Bolton.

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