Varna Street
Varna Street, Openshaw where Thomas Shorrocks lived in 1867 — © Manchester Local Image Collection
The Shorrocks family has not been easy to trace, not least because they are one of my most traveled in the UK. Although mostly based in Openshaw and Dukinfield, within two or three generations you will also find family members in Wigan, Liverpool, Bolton (possibly), Crewe, Bedford, Leeds, Birmingham, Bridgwater, London, Newnham, Wolverhampton and Bristol. In all these places, the men of the family worked in the iron industry and boilermaking.

The surname itself also causes problems having originally been Sharrock, then Shorrocks and reverting back and forth with some families plumping for Shorrocks and others for Sharrocks, often within the same generation. There is also an example of a Horrocks in 1891 and even one entered as Tharrocks, although this is more likely to be a mistranscription of a marriage register in Bridgwater, Somerset. For the most part I have used Shorrocks to avoid confusion. (See name origin)

The earliest Shorrocks I am sure of is my ggg-grandfather, John. He was born John Sharrock in Wigan around 1808 or 1809. From his age at his death, this was most likely to be on 2 February 1808, the illegitimate son of Catharine Sharrock. She was most likely born in 1786, daughter of Alexander Sharrock and Margaret Thomason, although this is by no means certain. Catharine appears to have had a daughter, Margaret, in 1811 who died in 1815.

Union Man
At what point John Sharrock became involved in the boilermaking industry isn't known, but this profession took him on his travels. As will be seen later, it seems he was in Shropshire and Bolton in the late 1820s and early 1830s, but it seems almost certain that he was in or around Manchester in 1834 when the Friendly Society of Boilermakers was formed.

Cotton Tree Plaque

A later reference to his son's appointment as the Staffordshire delegate for the Society in 1891 describes his father as "...one of that little band of pioneers who first formed up the Society in 1834." (See William Sharrocks below) This took place in August that year, but whether John was one of the fourteen founding members as the reference infers isn't verifiable as no record of that original meeting exist. However, he appears to have at least been one of the earliest members. (Also the Boilermaker's Craft)

John had married Maria and by the time of the 1841 census they were living with their six year old daughter, Ellen at Regent Street, Liverpool, close to Trafalgar Dock which had opened in 1836. Presumably it was his work as a boilermaker that took him there.

By 1851, the couple were at the Cotton Tree Houses, Newton Moor, between Dukinfield and Hyde. (See the Tameside entry) They then had four children, the eldest Ellen aged 12 and not the expected 16 years, so it is possible that the Ellen of 1841 had died in the meantime.

Maria Garbett
It was in the 1851 census that I learned that Maria had been born in Dawley, near modern day Telford in Shropshire. She was to remain a mystery for some time and in a way she still is as I will explain. The problem was, I couldn't find a marriage that fitted her birth about 1816, especially not to a man who had been born over ninety miles away. Had John visited Dawley in his travels? Possible given his occupation. Had Maria's family travelled north? I will probably never know for sure and what follows is best guess work.

Dawley High Street
Dawley High Street showing the Captain Webb memorial — © telfordsites.co.uk
Also the birthplace of William “Fatty” Foulke

I had checked the IGI for a Maria born about 1816 without great success, but it was a later baptism that set me on track. In 1890, a few years after Maria had died, her son William christened his youngest son John Garbut Shorrocks. Unusual middle names are usually worth following up as a clue to an earlier surname, but in this case it also rang IGI bells. I remembered that a Maria Garbett had been baptised at Dawley Magna in 1816. Also that the only marriage that came close to a match was between John Sharrock and Maria Garbutt in 1830 at Bolton St Peter.

I had originally written off this union, not just because it was in the wrong place, but also because Maria would only have been 14 or 15 years old. I am no expert on the marriage laws and customs of the time — I've never needed to be — but this seemed unlikely. However, the age of consent for women was 12 until 1875 when it was raised to 13 and then to 16 under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Thomas' birth certificate confirms that Garbett was Maria's maiden name.

So it seemed that I had found a good candidate for the Maria who married John Shorrcks, but I was wrong. The Maria Garbett I had identified, daughter of Richard and Mary, didn't leave Dawley and married there in 1845. However, there was also a Mary Garbett baptised there in 1816, this one the daughter of Joseph Garbett and Eleanor Legge.

There is no evidence that Maria's family left Shropshire, indeed her parents, Joseph and Eleanor, lived in Dawley until their deaths in 1860 and 1861 respectively. Joseph was a shoemaker, but the area was a hotbed of heavy industry and it is possible that John Sharrocks worked in the area in the late 1820s. Did he and Maria elope to marry illegally in Bolton? As I say, I shall probably never know.

I do know that they had eight children and were settled in Openshaw to the east of Manchester by the 1861 census. John continued to work there as a boilermaker. There is a clue to his exact birthplace in the 1871 return when he says he was born in Hey, Lancashire. This is possibly Haigh to the north east of Wigan. John died in 1875 and Maria lived for more than a decade more and died in 1887 aged 71.

The Children of John and Maria
Taylor Street, Dukinfield
Junction of Taylor Street and King Street         © Tameside Archive
Their eldest son was Thomas, my great-great-grandfather. He had been born in Liverpool and was baptised at St Peter's in 1843 when the family lived at Portland Street. He was to marry Emma Caldwell in 1867 when he was living at Varna Street (see 1905 map). Thomas also became a boilermaker and in 1871 he was working in Bedford while Emma was living at 31 Forge Street, Crewe with their eldest son Jabez.

By 1881, they were at Wood Street West, Ashton, although their was no sign of Jabez. They took some tracking down on the 1891 census as their name was now listed as Horrocks and they were living at Taylor Street, Dukinfield. (See map) At the time of Emma's death in 1893. they were living at 92 Victoria Road, Dukinfield and Thomas was a journeyman boilermaker, almost certainly at Adamson's factory. Emma was only 51 when she died of TB, while Thomas himself died at the age 58 at the same address.

Ellen Sharrocks
As mentioned earlier, their eldest child was Ellen, and it is possible there were two daughters of that name, one dying in childhood. In any event, I have yet to find trace of one or both of them beyond the 1851 census. I believe that she died in 1855 in Gorton. (Note: Gorton did not become part of Manchester until 1890)

John Sharrocks
Powell Street, Hunslet
Back Powell Street, Hunslet, Powell Street just visible right — © Leodis
John Shorrocks Jnr was baptised at St Michael and All Angels in Mottram in 1848 when the family were still living at Newton Moor. In 1871 he was working as a boilermaker in Hunslet and living with Elizabeth Winterbottom and her granddaughter, Mary Rayner, who he was to marry in 1872.

He remained in Hunslet until he died in 1904 and the couple had seven children. Elizabeth died in infancy aged three, but I have found what I think are the marriages for five of the others. The question mark is over Harry born about 1896 ten years after the other youngest child. Was he a late baby, or did he belong to one of the daughters?

William Sharrocks
William Shorrocks worked as a boilermaker in Bridgwater, Somerset, in the 1870s where he met and married his wife, Mary Jane Parker, in 1874. He is the Tharrocks mentioned earlier on FreeBMD. Although properly transcribed from the GRO Index, something was lost in translation somewhere along the line — you can see the original scan here.

Their first three children were born in Bridgwater, but by 1881, William was either plying his trade in London or was there on union business when he was living at 18 North Place, while Mary Jane was at 49 Cornwall Street in Openshaw, living with her widowed mother. (See map below — it isn't hard to imagine what a boilermaker would have been doing there)

The family stayed in Openshaw through the 1880s and as well as working as a boilermaker, William was also active with his union and in 1891 he was appointed as the delegate for the Staffordshire District. The original is available here, but the text reads:

The Staffordshire District pleaded for a district delegate to be again elected to better organise that portion of the country, a plea that met with favour, William Sharrocks being the choice of the members.

WILLIAM SHARROCKS entered the Society at Gorton, in 1871, at the age of twenty-one years, and is the son of one of that little band of pioneers who first formed up the Society in 1834. William entered into the work of the Society very early in life, filling many branch offices, and while District Secretary of the Manchester District, was deputed by the Executive Council upon many occasions to attend to disputes in that district, and upon other occasions deputed to assist some of the district delegates on important missions.

He served on the General Council on three separate occasions, presided over their deliberations in 1885, and received practical appreciation of the respect in which he is held in the shape of testimonials from those amongst whom he has laboured. He has for many years attended the Trades Union Congress, making the question of Trade Union rates and conditions on Government and Municipal work his very own. Massive in proportions, genial in manner, to be seen and heard is for him to be always remembered.


In 1901 he was living at 42 Francis Street, Wolverhampton, in his new role and described himself as an “agent for the Boilermakers Society”. William regularly attended the annual Trades Union Congress until 1905 and in 1900 he proposed a motion condemning the use of Chinese labour in South Africa. The object of his anger was Cecil Rhodes (no relation!)! The motion is available online and is also transcribed here, the irony being that this protectionism should in part result in the apartheid system, so opposed by the TUC in later decades. (See my notes. For other references to William, search the TUC History Online, key word Sharrocks.)

By the time of the 1905 Congress, William was “Councillor Sharrocks”. He fought and won a series of elections in the east end ward of St Matthew's, Wolverhampton, between 1901 and 1913 at a time when Labour fared badly in the city. By all accounts, his success was due as much to the strength of his personality as to his political convictions. (See Councillor Sharrocks)

He was living at 16 Francis Street at the time, as he was in 1911. Mary Jane died there in 1918 followed by William in 1921 and both are buried at Merridale Cemetery. I believe I have found some of his children's marriages in Wolverhampton, but these have to be confirmed.

William's eldest daughter, Ellen, returned to Manchester and married John Whittaker at Bradford Christ Church in 1892. It isn't clear whether William knew or approved of the match. Both Ellen and John lied about their ages and for some reason Ellen said that her father was a slater. In any event, they had eight children, the second eldest apparently named Leslie Garbutt Whittaker in honour of his maternal grandmother and born in Leeds which suggests a connection with Ellen's uncle John who died shortly afterwards. Two other children, Ernest and Ruby had the middle name Hall after their paternal grandmother. The other point worth mentioning is that John's father, William, was born at the Cape of Good Hope in 1849, although he was a Britsh subject. What he and his parents were doing in the then British Cape Colony isn't known.

Died in Infancy
Map of Openshaw
Despite moving from place to place, John and Maria's four youngest children were all baptised at St John's Church in Dukinfield when the family was living in Newton Heath, Dukinfield, Openshaw and Gorton respectively. Gabriel and Ann were both apparently born in 1853, and both died the following year in Gorton.

James Shorrocks
James Shorrocks remained closer to home throughout his life. He married Mary Elizabeth Dean at Denton St Lawrence in 1889 when he was 34 and she was 30. In 1901 they were living in Denton and had four children. Of these, Maggie died in 1904 aged nine, while William and Minnie both married at Denton St Lawrence and Reddish St Agnes respectively. Phillip, died in 2001 at the age of 100. I believe that the two youngest both married in the Chorlton district of Manchester, Nellie to William Southward in 1929 and Enoch to Violet Lalley in 1935, but I have no definitive proof as yet.

Joseph Shorrocks
Barnes Hospital
Barnes Hospital — Photograph by Mike Peel
Finally, Joseph Shorrocks was the last to live with his mother. He married local girl, Mary Ann Rutter, in December 1881 at St Stephen's Church in Audenhaw. He was a blacksmith and also worked away from home and was in Newnham, Gloucestershire, in 1891. According to the census, their son John was born in Birmingham in 1890 indicating a brief sojourn in that city. In all, the couple had six children and were living in Bristol in 1901.

They had returned to Manchester by 1911, but Joseph was a patient at Barnes Convalescent Hospital in Cheadle, while his wife and children were in Gorton. Joseph died later that year and I have yet to trace his children, all of whom were unmarried at that time.

Children of Thomas Shorrocks and Emma Caldwell
Thomas and Emma had four children. As already mentioned, their daughter, Emma Jane, married Henry Bell Binnie, but there is more on this on my Caldwell and Binnie pages. The couple also had a son, Jabez, in 1870, but the only reference I have found for him is on the 1871 census.

Thomas Shorrocks Jnr was living with his sister and brother-in-law in 1901, but married Ann Bradburn later that year at St John's Church, Dukinfield. They lived at Junction Street in 1911 and later at 60 Victoria Road, Dukinfield, close to Ann's parents. I am aware of only one child, a daughter, Alice, born in 1917 but who died aged five weeks.

Victoria Hotel
First tramcar on Victoria Road, the Victoria Hotel on the left — © Tameside Image Library
Ann died in 1928 having been hit by a car when on her way to the Victoria Hotel, birthplace of Adamson's Brass Band, to get beer for supper. The driver was exonerated of any blame and the story was covered by the Reporter.

Thomas remarried in 1932 to Martha Anne Hocking. She died in 1941 and the report on her funeral is confusing as it refers to her as the wife of “Mr W Shorrocks”. However, as Thomas was buried in plot 171 at Dukinfield Cemetery alongside both his wives, it is safe to assume that this was a typographical error! Thomas died in 1943 and the report on his funeral records his background as a boilermaker.

The youngest child was Sarah who was the informant when her father died in 1899 when she was living at Chester Square, Ashton. By the time of the 1901 census, she was a domestic servant working for Joseph Lovatt, a brewer's traveller in Merridale, Wolverhampton. The assumption is that her being there had something to do with her Uncle William. I have not traced her conclusively beyond this point, however the report of Thomas' funeral in 1943 mentions flowers from Sarah and Jack in Nottingham which might be his sister.

The Shorrocks Name
As a footnote, the surname Shorrocks is of Lancashire derivation and is associated with Shorrock Green in the township of Mellor which lies between Blackburn and Preston. (see British History Online) The de Shorok family appears there in about 1300, not that I am suggesting for a second that my Shorrocks are of the same descent, simply that this is how they acquired their name.

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