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Varley family

Mike Varley

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I am seeking information on the family/relations of Jesse Varley, who was born in Prescot in 1841-3. In the 1881 census he was living at Boundary Rd,Windle, St Helens. He was a bookkeeper in a Foundary, possibly Waterloo Foundary belonging to John Varley. I am a direct descendant of his eldest son Jesse Varley born in St Helens in 1870.

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  • 8 years later...

I am part of the 'other' Varley family. In the early 1800s, Jesse Varley and James Varley worked at John Varley's. James Snr was born 1821/22 but no idea where, although listed as born in St H. His wife Ann came from IOM and can find so record until birth of his son James b 1849. Possibly married in Ormskirk. James jnr had 2 wives, both with family ties to Ormskirk and Southport. James Jnr was certainly born in St Helens + all his large family, including my grandfather. I cannot find any direct family link between Jesse's family but I am sure they had to be counsins.


What puzzles me most was who was John Varley. None of the dates of any of the Jesse Varley family or the James Varley family match. And I can find no sign of eitheer James (Snr) or John Varley anywhere - they had to be there.


I know that there was a bust up between Jesse and James Snr. (Not unusual in our branch of the family!) Why, I do not know. Where was John Varley at this time?


There is lots of useful information in the history site from Newton le Willows that shows that Jesse and James had involvement with the Pilkington take over of all the small glass manufacturers - rather forced by the look of it. Both Jesse and James were listed as bookkeppers and James worked for Pilks. My grandfather was George Pilkington Varley but we are not related to the Pilkingtons.


My grandmother was a Harris but that is a totally different story.


If you could linke James or John to Jesse, I have all the other stuff from our side in the 19th century - and some of it makes great reading!


We are trying to find information about John Varley & Co/Waterloo Foundry but it will need a trip to St Helens for that as real information thin on the ground. My information on Jesse is all from Michael Varley's website + Ancestry info. We are pretty sure that they are related as Michael Varley's photo on the website is the image of my dad! It was somewhat scary!


Between us we may take that extra step to what we want to find.



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Yes, we have all the information from that site. Our family are 'the other' Varley family mentioned. John Varley/James Varley. Jesse Varley (wife Barbara/Barbary) and James had the fall out. They also both died young. Something to do with an industrial accident. I found it ages ago somewhere but now can't find it. I think it was to do with an alkali works. As I mentioned above, I am sure there is a relationship between the families but but I can't pin point it even with a guess as the dates don't fit. I do wonder if John came from the Isle of Man.


We have a cousin - John Varley - who used to run the foundry when it closed. We are hopefully meeting to see what he has for the period - or at least hear say. We will then head to the St Helens Records Office and also the Lancashire Records Office as there are obviously a lot of missing records. The parish church burnt down!



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Something here on Varley



and these two for the History and Archives room at the Gamble






and there is a J Varley mentioned on here





also found the following in an old directory from 1871 St Helens :



Varley Mrs. Barbara, Foundry street
Varley James, ironfounder (J. Varley & Co.) ;
The Croft, Eccleston
Varley Jesse (exors. of) brass & iron founders
and engineers, Brookfidd foundry, Foundry
Varley John and Co. brass and iron founders,
millwrights & engineers, Waterloo foundry,
Waterloo street

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Many thank for all that. The list in the 'old directory' shows the 2 Varley families involved in the iron foundries in the nid 19 C. The Jesse family - Barbara (Barbary) was Jesse's wife. She took over their company when Jesse died.


The rest of them are 'our family'. I am sure they are related somehow but cannot find any links. There were 2 James Varley involved - father and son. The younger James was the eldest brother of my grandfather. He had 2 wives both with links to Southport/Ormskirk which suggests possibly family ties in that direction. However both were living in St Helens/Windle when they married.


It is James Snr that if one of my problems. He had numerous children, some working in the foundry, some in banking, a daughter who married the vicar of Hawkshead in the time of Beatrix Potter. His wife was Ann who was born in Douglas, Isle of Man. Lots of Varleys in Castletown area. We know a lot about James Snr once he is married and living in St Helens. The census shows he was born 1821/22. He was possibly married in Ormkirk in 1848 and Jame Jnr born in St Helens 1849.


Mike Varley's web site states that his father was John Varley - very possible but I have no hard evidence. Asas that was the name of the foundry + also Waterloo foundry I suspect it is correct but I would like a bit more evidence - like a birth or a census. I can find nothing of either and until 1850ish there appears to be nothing.


I remember seeing an old book of Industry in St Helens and read that James Snr and Mr Harris (the builder and a maternal great grandfather of mine) had an industrial accident. Something to do with alkaline. I believe it led to the death of both. But still doesn't help me fine John Varley!


There is a suggestion of a Quakerism. I will have to find the Quaker records but the ones I have seen on line don't include anyone.


The J Varley killed in the war was far too late! Our family lost several either in the Somme or soon after their return but the Varleys killed in the bombing raid was not my relations - as far as I know!


All very frustrating.

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Hope this is of interest.

Jesse Varley born 1811 and died 24 May 1861 in St. Helens

His wife - Barbara Halsall born 1810 and died 1884

Both are buried in St. Helens Cemetery ( the headstone has been pushed flat and is broken - I have a photograph)


They had 10 children including

Jesse jnr. born 1841 and died in 1918 in St. Helens.

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  • 8 months later...

Many thanks for all of the above. I have not been 'involved' as concentrating on finding the missing links that seems to have confused everyone looking for earlier Varleys. That missing link was information about James Varley who look over the foundry in the 1850s and indentifying his father.


Great pic of Jesse - thank you. Mike Varley on the link from Phyll has all the Jesse information but avoids ALL other family members and it was a huge family.


To briefly summaries my findings (brief is difficult) the Varley family came from Preston to L'pool to Farnworth to Harshaw. Henry Varley (a joiner) had 2 wives. William Henry (joiner) was the only surviving male from the first wife. Mary, Elizabeth, Henry, John, Thomas and Jesse were from the second marriage. Thomas died as a child. These boys set up the foundry, I suspect having learnt their skills from James Stanley in Farnworth, the blacksmith. His daughter Mary married Henry.


James Varley links the generations in St Helens. He is shown as the son of John in the Trade Directories but I doubt that. John might have treated him as a son. He could be but he would have been very young at conception! He couldn't have been Jesse's son as he was 10 at the time. Whether it was Henry, John or William Henry doesn't actually matter as they were brothers. I suspect Henry was the father - there's a possible baptism in Wigan in 1821 with Henry and Mary from Hardshaw as parents.


James appears to have been educated at Farnworth Grammar School (as his sons) and did a 'bookkeeping apprenticeship' in Southport. (Who paid for that?) He then worked for Pilks. Henry died in 1846 and John in 1855. James came from Pilks to work with Jesse but that didn't work out and both went their seperate ways with 2 foundries. (Lots of family members died in the mid 1850s. I suspect typhoid or similar.)


John Varley had a daughter Elizabeth, with a Winifred Harrison. She married John Crake (a joiner/builder) and lived in Denton Green Rd. I have an amazing little book valuing John's processions. The foundry stock was valued at £521/18/9, included a grey horse, harness and cart. His furniture £16/17/6. He seemed to collect chairs, mostly cane backed! It certainly didn't appear as if there was a Mrs Varley living there.


There were lots of clues (well hidden) to take me this far and some trips to the Archive are called for to move on. I have a long way to go yet. What is strange is that James names his father as Thomas on his marriage certificate!


I also have a huge amount of information on the Harris family.

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