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Thomas Longley 1784 to 1844

Thomas Longley 1784 – 1844

Thomas Longley (1784-1844) m Sarah Mitchel (1781-1849) on 31st October 1803

Thomas Longley is where my story really starts, and handling bills and receipts that were most likely written by him over 200 years ago left me feeling a surprising closeness across the years. So far as I can tell, he was successful and wealthy, living in a good-sized property in a central part of Leeds.

Polite note: This page is the text from a document that I maintain, in which there are many images. I have published the words of the document, along with other documents, such that it might prove useful to others. If you get in touch, and we can share research, I’ll happily share images.

This post is part of my broader research into the Longleys of Leeds

Thomas Longley was born in Yorkshire in 1784 – the son of Thomas Longley.

He married Sarah Mitchel on the 31st of October 1803. The marriage was executed by Reverend Nussey Holmes (Clerk) and witnessed by Thomas Longley, as well as Thomas Atkinson (who is listed at the witness for numerous other weddings). The marriage certificate has the “Mark of” Sarah Mitchel, suggesting/ indicating that she was illiterate, though at this point in time, this was far from unusual.

Transcript: Thomas Longley of this parish, Bricklayer, and Sarah Mitchel of this parish, spinster. 31st October 1803. In the presence of (Thos) Thomas Longley.

Is the witness Thomas Longley his father, brother or other relative? On the basis that it’s unlikely to be a brother with the same name, I’ve assumed that his father is Thomas. Thomas’ occupation is listed as Bricklayer.

The spelling of Sarah’s maiden name is alternately Mitchel and Mitchell.

Sarah Mitchel(l). The alternate spellings don’t really help things. On her headstone her date of death is 3rd October 1849, “in the 68th year of her age” (meaning she was 67). Based on the fact that she was 67 at her death, he would have been born in about 1782. Starting to try and find her date of birth and parents:

Sarah Mitchel, born 29th July 1781, in Ossett, Yorkshire to James Mitchel and Jane Mitchel. Ossett is about 12 miles South of Leeds, and there are no known connections between the people I’ve found in my research and this part of the county.

Sarah Mitchel, born 11th June 1782, in Batley (Chidswell) (All Saints) to William Mitchel and Hannah Mitchel. Batley is about 10 miles South-West of Leeds, and as with Ossett, I can find no other connection with this part of Yorkshire.

Sarah Mitchel, born 17th July 1779, in Woodhouse, Leeds to William Mitchel. She was baptised in Leeds, St Peter, the parish church near St Peter’s Square, and where the majority of the family of this era were baptised and married. This looks quite plausible, though the date of birth, date of death, and recorded age on the headstone don’t tie up.

In 1806 (shown on birth record for their first son Thomas), they are shown as living at ?Anson? Hill. (Could this be “Allison Yard”? There is an Allison Yard immediately adjacent to Charles Street (see below).

From 1808 until 1817, the birth records for James (1806), William (1808), (there’s quite a gap here – are we missing more than one child?) John (1814) and Sarah (1817) show them living in Coach Lane, and Thomas being a Bricklayer.

Coach Lane, which later became known as Charles Street, is in the Quarry Hill area of the city, a short distance to the North of St Peter’s Square.

Originally called Coach Lane, it was a development of housing begun some time shortly before 1805. By 1815 there were 31 pairs of back-to-back houses in the street. It was one of the streets which were in the Leeds Unhealthy Areas plan for demolition of insanitary, overcrowded, inadequate housing. Disease was rife in the area, with residents being vulnerable to infections and illnesses, for example, in the 1832 cholera outbreak, Charles Street saw 17 cases, with 6 deaths.

(There is a will listed for a Reverend Nussey Holmes, Clerk of Leeds who is listed as dying 31st August 1826, Probate 11/1583/240.)

In 1821, the birth record for Eliza shows them living at St Peter’s Square, with Thomas a Bricklayer. It seems that this is a positive reflection of increasing wealth – being able to move from the outskirts of the city to a very central and relatively well to do part of the city.

St Peter’s Square appears to be quite grand, with central gardens surrounded by wrought iron railings, and houses set back from a road. 

Lemon Street School. St Peter’s buildings can be seen on the right. It was demolished in the 1960’s/ 1970’s. 

Lemon Street School. St Peter’s buildings can be seen on the right. It was demolished in the 1960’s/ 1970’s.

View of the Church of the Good Shepherd in St Peter’s Square which opened in 1882. It was demolished for the building of Quarry Hill Flats in 1936. It was also referred to as the Good Shepherd Mission Chapel.

Photograph shows the Mission church in St Peter’s Square. From the Whiteley collection.

The Leeds Philosophical Society have a number of records ( of work conducted by Thomas Longley, dated 1827 onwards. Some records refer to Thomas Longley and some to Thomas Longley & Sons. The first recorded one referring to “& sons” is 1836-1837, but it’s not clear whether the sons were incorporated into the family business at this time. Given the reference below in Whites 1837, it was certainly no later than this, and by then William would have been 28 and John would have been 22. They would both have been grown men, and we know that by 1841 they were seemingly working together when in Scarborough.

1835 Leeds Poll book – St Peter’s Square (the Geneaologist)

The Whites Directory of 1837 ( records Thomas Longley and Sons as not only a Builder, but also separately as a Brickmaker. He is the only Longley recorded as a brickmaker at this time, though both Joseph (Hunslet) and Robert (High Street) are listed as builders.

In 1839, Thomas is wrangling over land that he occupies at Folly, Holbeck – used as a brickyard. This is reported in the Leeds Intelligencer October 5th 1839 (truncated article below). It seems that Thomas, who is recorded as living at St Peter’s Square, was looking to register freehold on land in Folly, Holbeck. There was an objection, which was allowed (upheld). This is the first time that the location of the brick yard has emerged.

The 1840 Leeds Electoral register shows Thomas living at St Peter’s Square.

The 1840 Leeds Electoral register shows the following (need to investigate):

Transcript: Thomas Longley, Saint Peter’s Square, Freehold cottages, Saint Peter’s Square. Thomas Longley junior, Lady Bridge, Quarry Hill, Leeds, Freehold houses, Beckett street. Thomas Longley junior, Quarry Hill, Freehold land, Beckett Street

In the 1841 census, Thomas (a Bricklayer) and Sarah are living in St Peter’s Square*3 with their daughters Sarah and Eliza.

In 1841, in the Leeds Times (August 17th), there is an advertisement leasing/ selling a machine, listing Thomas Longley (bricklayer). Is this our Thomas? If it is our Thomas, is it Senior or Junior? Why would our lot be interested in what appears to be cloth manufacture? What is the connection between Thomas Longley and the others?

Transcript: Woodhouse Carr. By private contract, one excellent new four horse power condensing steam engine, together with crabbing machine, washing machine, drying machine, stove house, and every other requisite for the use of stoving stuffs and woollen cloth, with plentiful supply of pure spring water. For particulars apply to Messrs Barras and Horsfield, Mr Thomas Longley, bricklayer, or Mr Samuel Maltby, Plumber, Leeds.
The 1842 Leeds electoral register shows the following (need to investigate):

Transcript: Thomas Longley, Saint Peter’s Square, Freehold cottages, Saint Peter’s Square. Thomas Longley junior, Lady Bridge, Quarry Hill, Leeds, Freehold houses, Beckett Street

The 1843 Leeds electoral register shows the following, which inconveniently shows Thomas Junior as being a registered voter when he died in October of the previous year (need to investigate):

Transcript: Thomas Longley, Saint Peter’s Square, Freehold cottages, Saint Peter’s Square. Thomas Longley junior, Lady Bridge, Quarry Hill, Freeehold houses, Beckett Street

The 1842 Leeds electoral register shows the following (need to investigate):

And the 1843 Leeds voters register:

Finally, the 1844 voters register:

I think that this is Senior, as the place of abode and “financial interest” ties up with senior, rather than junior. Additionally, junior dies in 1842, so in 1843, the records probably hadn’t been updated.

Transcript: Sudden death – Mr Thomas Longley, bricklayer and builder, of St Peter’s Square, died very suddenly on Tuesday. He was out in his gig, being driven by his servant, and whilst passing along Cirkgate (Kirkgate), he suddenly fell back in his seat, and before he reached home he was a corpse.

His cause of death is recorded on the 13th of June 1844 as “Diseased heart and lungs”. Present at his death is his son John Longley of 59½ St Peters Square.

Thomas is buried at St Mark’s church yard, Woodhouse, though his headstone records that his remains are interred at St Mary’s church, Quarry Hill – at the junction of St Mary’s Street and Mabgate. St Mary’s was demolished in 1979.

Location of St Mary’s church at the junction of St Mary’s Street and Magbate, a few hundred metres to the North of St Peter’s Square. Charles Street can be seen at the bottom of the image, and St Peter’s Square was just South of there.

Transcript: Thomas Longley, Bricklayer and Builder, Diseased heart and lungs. 59 Saint Peters. Present John Longley of 59½ Saint Peters Square. 11th June 1844.

St Mark’s, Woodhouse, is a Waterloo church – built in 1823 as one of 600 similar churches across the land – designed to celebrate Wellington’s victory over Napoleon.

The church fell into disuse, and was closed for worship in 2001, though it has been renovated and restored.

In 1849, Sarah dies, with her place of death being recorded as Leylands. Leylands is variously recorded as being of dense, poor housing, and so far as I can tell is to the West of what is now Regent Street, possibly extending as far West as Lovell Park Road. Bridge Street, Nile Street, Trafalgar Street and North Street all appear in descriptions of Leylands. It’s not clear who she was staying with at the time of her death, though this ties up with the St Mark’s internment, and is near North Street and Grafton Street – which we come to later. At this point in time, John was living at St Peters Square, while James was at Lady Lane. Was she living with James at Lady Lane? The only other possibility is that there is a Leyland in Armley, where we know that the family have had property and land.

She is buried with her husband at St Mark’s, Woodhouse – though like him, her headstone shows her remains as being interred at St Mary’s, Quarry Hill.

The children of Thomas and Sarah

It’s much more straightforward researching the lives of the males at this point in time than it is the women.  They don’t change name, their occupations are recorded, they often have probate granted, and their deaths are often reported in newspapers.

Thomas (b1806) appears to have shown little interest in the family business, and is recorded in various places as a junior bricklayer (1839) and an Inn Keeper. As early as 1834, he is living at the junction of Lady Lane and St Peter’s Street – where the original Marquis of Granby used to be located. If my geography is correct, there is now a building at this site called Marquis House – a nod to the original pub that was then rebuilt in 1897 and then finally razed to the ground in 1931. Whites Directory from 1837 ( shows Thomas at the Marquis of Granby, possibly living at 138 Quarry Hill. A newspaper report of a crime of fraud shows that Thomas is the General Treasurer of the Leeds Independent Order of the Arc – a benefit society. He is fleetingly referred to as a “Bricklayer and Inn Keeper” at the time of the birth of his son Richard. Until his untimely death, he seemingly works at the same place.

Transcript: Leeds Independent Order of the Ark. On Tuesday last, the principal officers, board of directors, and a number of the members of this flourishing order, walked in procession to the Independent Chapel, in George’s Street, where the Reverend W Hudswell preached a very appropriate sermon, from the 6th chapter of Genesis, the former part of the first verse. After which a collection was made for the benefit of the Eye and Ear Infirmary and the House of Recovery, amounting to 8l. After service was over, the procession went through some of the principal streets, to Mr Thomas Longley’s, the Marquis of Granby, Lady Bridge, where the members of the St Peter’s lodge partook of an excellent dinner, which gave great credit to the worthy host and hostess of the house. Source: Leeds Times, 20th May 1837

James (b1808) seems to set off as a builder cum bricklayer from the outset, but upon the death of his brother Thomas in 1842, it looks as though he picks up the reins at the Marquis of Granby – shown by various newspaper reports in January and August 1844 (see later), and in the 1851 census.

Not long after taking charge, James is in trouble with the long arm of the law. In January 1844 he is charged with drunkenness, after a working lady is reported to have been seen entering and leaving the pub late at night:

Transcript: Information against a publican. On Monday night last, Mr James Longley, landlord of the Marquis of Granby Inn, in Lowerhead Row, appeared before the magistrates at the Court House, Leeds, to answer a charge of drunkenness preferred against him by three of the police. There men deposed on the fact of having seen a prostitute enter the house at a late hour on Wednesday night previous, and on her leaving it, they accosted the landlord, who was drunk, and used against them very abusive language. Mr Sanderson, who appeared for Mr Longley, declined asking the police any questions, but he called three witnesses, who were at the Marquis of Granby at the time, and who all swore that Mr Longley was quite sober; a fourth witness was called, who would have proved the same, and Mr Sanderson stated that he had about a dozen altogether. The Magistrates, however, expressed themselves satisfied, and dismissed the case. 

The same story is reported slightly differently in the Leeds Times on January 20th 1844:

Transcript: Charge against a publican. On Monday last, Mr James Longley, landlord of the Marquis of Granby, Leeds, appeared before Messrs Lupton and Titley, the sitting magistrates to answer to a charge of having been drunk on the previous Wednesday night. Mr Sanderson, solicitor, appeared on behalf of the defendant. The charge was preferred by policeman Thompson, who stated that he and another policeman, in accordance with instructions they had received, went into the Marquis of Granby Inn, between twelve and one o’clock on Wednesday night, to see if there was any disorderly company there, and that they were grossly abused by the defendant, who was in a state of intoxication at the time. This account was corroborated by the policeman who had accompanied Thompson. Mr Sanderson, in reply, set up a direct negative to the charge, and called several witnesses belonging to the Friendly Society, who had held a general meeting at the Marquis of Granby on the night referred to, all of whom distinctly and positively swore that the defendant was particularly sober. The evidence for the defence was so conclusive that the magistrates dismissed the case.

Little more than 6 months later, the Leeds Times reports on the 31st August 1844 that James is in front of the beak again, getting his license suspended for selling drink to “abandoned women” late at night. Is it unreasonable to assume that these poor unfortunate women are in the business of companionship?

Transcript: James Longley, the Marquis of Granby, Amen Corner, Lady Lane; for having on six several occasions sold ale and spirits to abandoned women after twelve o’clock at night.

His license is reinstated in the middle of September, as reported by the Leeds Mercury on September 21st 1844:

Transcript: Renewal of innkeeper’s licenses – Yesterday, the Leeds adjourned Brewster sessions were held at the court house. Of the licences suspended at the previous meeting, the following were renewed:- Mr James Longley, Marquis of Granby, Lady Lane.

His death is reported at Grafton Street, so he has either moved or died while staying elsewhere:

Transcript: On Saturday, very suddenly, Mr James Longley, builder, Grafton Street.

William (b1811) appears to have been one of the “sons” in “Thomas Longley & Sons”, and throughout his life, he is consistently recorded as a Builder, and in 1851 is referred to as “Builder employing, with partner, 40 men”. There are two threads to his life, one being a builder and brick maker, with the other being a councillor and member of the Conservative party.

While William is not my main line, the reason that I’ve colour-coded him in blue is down to the fact that he’s the father of Canon Thomas Longley whose daughter Alice Monica Longley marries Reginald Walter Longley, and they are the parents of my paternal grandfather.

To make things a little simpler, we will look at these separately, as his role in the family business is a whole piece of work, where I attempt to understand Thomas Longley & sons, and Longley Brothers.

William (b1811) as a family man and councillor:


The Huddersfield Chronicle reports that Councillor William Longley presents a gift to the Dean of Chichester:

Transcript: Munificent presentations on the Dean of Chichester’s leaving Leeds. On Wednesday afternoon the Leeds Town Hall was crowded, the occasion being the presentation of several testimonials to the Very Reverend Dr Hook, Dean of Chichester, and Mrs Hook, on their leaving Leeds. Continues… An address from the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, along with a beautiful silver centre-piece (emblematising the cardinal virtues of the order, Faith, Hope and Charity) were next presented by Councillor William Longley, P.G.

It is William that gets most coverage in the papers, especially relating to the fatal boiler explosion on Christmas Day in 1860:

Transcript: The late fatal boiler explosion. The inquest on the body of Mrs Longley, who was killed by a boiler explosion, in Park Street, Leeds on Christmas Day, was to have been resumed on Wednesday last, but stands further adjourned till Wednesday next. Mr and Miss Longley are progressing favourably, but neither of them are yet able to leave the house.

William also appears to have been active in the local community, both as a councillor and also as a Conservative party member.

The Leeds Mercury reports on the 3rd January 1861 that William has been appointed a trustee of the advowson of St John’s:

Transcript: Advowson of St John’s. On the motion of Alderman Kelsall, the Major, Alderman Botterill, Alderman Middleton and Councillor William Longley were appointed trustees of the advowson of St John’s for the ensuing year.

On the 31st October 1865, the Leeds Mercury reports William’s successful appointment to the Leeds Council:

After retiring, sometime before 1871, he moves to Clifford cum Boston – a spa town, where he sees out his days with his youngest daughter Elizabeth Jane. He is one of the longer lived of his generation, carrying on until the ripe old age of 81 – possibly due to his retirement location with fresh air and fields. It looks like he did the right thing by retiring.

John (b1814) is the youngest of the boys, and my main paternal line. He is seemingly the other “son” in the “& sons” as he is found in Scarborough with his brother in the 1841 census. They’re either away on a lads break, or they are working together on a building project. Either way, of the 4 brothers, they are the ones with the clearest building connection. In 1871 he is recorded as “Master builder employing 10 men and 1 boy”. At this point, John is the only one of the 4 boys alive and still in the building trade. Assuming he was in the business with William, then William’s retirement sometime before 1871 either results in a significant reduction in the size of the business, or a real focus on higher end work and a reduced workforce. Based on records, we can see lots of council work being awarded to Thomas Longley & sons, so it’s my guess that William was winning lots of council jobs through various means, and that with his retirement, this source of work dried up.

Sarah (b1816) marries Joseph Thornton (a warehouseman) in 1848 and dies a year later in 1849. Did she die while giving birth? There are various death records for Thornton’s in Leeds in 1849, and I need to follow up on this.

Eliza (b1821) marries John Cuttell (a leather dresser) and has 4 children, passing away in 1880. 

Appendix : Receipts

Transcript: 1829 The members of the Philosophical Hall. To Thomas Longley.
January 26 To 1 man and 1 labour 1 day at the hot air apparatus. 8s.
To 2 baskets lime 2/4 and 10 bricks 2/9. 11d.
Oct 21 & 22. To 1 man and 1 labour 2 days at ditto. 16s
To 7 buckets lime 2/4. 16s. 100 bricks 2/9. 5s.
1830 May 15th Settled Thomas Longley

Transcript: Longley 1830 £1.10 1830 May 15. ?? Longley. The members of the Philosophical ???

Transcript: 1845 The Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society. To Thomas Longley & Sons. To acct for work done in 1844. £2 15

Transcript : The Leeds Philosophical Literary Society

1845 The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society
To Thomas Longley and Sons
Aug 22 To 1 ?? 1 day taking up flags for plumber to return pipes to ??? 3 shillings 4 pence
Sep 27 To 1 man and 1 ?lab? ½ day taking inside of window ?? 2 shillings
Oct 13 & 17 To 1 man and 1 lab 1 and 2/4 day relaying flags taken up as above getting large stones up and of


Transcript : The Leeds Philosophical Literary Society

Transcript : 1842 The members of the Philosophical Hall. To Thomas Longley. January 18

Transcript: 1837 February 14. The Leeds Philosophical Literary Society

Transcript: 1838 January 10. Longley 1837-1838. 1838 February 10.