Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Seels in Saddleworth (1834)

I had previously tracked the Seel line to John Seel, a hatter who was born in 1847 in Oldham and who later moved to Bristol where his male descendants lived through to my father.

Now, an accidental search on the Internet turned up the following (from Mossley Association Football Club here) showing a cluster of Seels in the area.


A) Info from Pigot's Directory of 1834.

This contains details of "Professions and Trades of Saddleworth" as follows.... (see map at the bottom of this post).

Thomas Seel: blacksmith, Mossley.
James Seel: cotton spinner (and doubler), Quick Mill, Mossley -- possibly the owner of the business.
Abraham Frost: butcher, Seel Fold, Mossley.
James Smith: butcher, Seel Fold, Mossley.
William Schofield: joiner, Seel Fold, Mossley.
William Schofield: machine maker, Seel Fold, Mossley.
Abraham Frost: taverns and public houses, Highland Laddie, Seel Fold, Mossley
-- assumption is that Abraham Frost had two occupations and possibly carried them both out at the same premises as did William Schofield.

B) On the Internet, some history is given about the Rising Sun Public House which refers to Samuel Seel being the tenant (publican) of the establishment from 1890 until 1911. He was the first tenant for Wilson's Brewery at that address.

(C) On the Mormon site (Family Search), there are various Seel families in Mossley/Ashton-under-Lyne in the 1881 Census.

There were 20 persons with the surname, and residing in Mossley were three separate households.

1) William T. Seel (aged 55), a widower born in Mossley, a bricklayer, was resident at Seel Fold, Mossley (no door numbers or specific addresses). Resident with him was his father, John Seel (78) a widower born in Mossley, a retired smith & c (cartwright?).

(2) Samuel Seel (58) born in Mossley, an ironmonger and resident with his family at Stamford Road.

(3) Thomas Seel (31) born in Saddleworth, a coal agent labourer and resident with his family at Back George Street, Mossley.

There were two Seel households in Ashton-under-Lyne. In the census, Seel Fold is adjacent to Market Street. There are 15 households recorded at Seel Fold plus one house is uninhabited.

Included in the Seel Fold households, one head of household is described as a grocer and one head of a household, Mary Buckley (61), is described as an innkeeper and resident at the Highland Laddie.

Next to Seel Fold is Fox Platt but with only one household and the head of the household was a farmer (Fox Platt was originally the name of a farm).

After Fox Platt comes West Cottages. There are several households here, including John Mayall (70) who is described as retired. After West Cottages comes Mayall Street. (could this John Mayall have been one half of John and George Mayall who, in 1834, had been cotton spinners of Bottoms Mill, Mossley?).

In the same 1881 Census, in Saddleworth there are two households with the surname Seel

(4) Jerry Seel (52) born in Mossley, a retired cotton minder and resident with his family at 24, Archer Street.

(5) Thomas Seel (62) born in Mossley, a blacksmith resident at Grasscroft.

(D) The football club had taken over a disused cricket ground at Seel Fold. On the website it states that this had also been the site of a former tip and that the football club moved there in about 1912/1913. The ground was renamed Seel Park in 1930.

(E) On the Ancestry website, at the 1891 Census, the distribution of Seel families is highly slanted towards Lancashire with 189 out of an England/Wales total of 372 (51%). The next highest counties are Yorkshire with 58 families (16%), Cheshire 54 (15%) and London 29 (8%).

My estimation is that, although the word "seel" may well have links with our ancient history/crafts/farming etc. as in rope and birds, I am inclined to say that in the case of Seel Park (or to give it its original name, Seel Fold) the name is derived from a Seel person or a Seel family.

There were plenty of them around in Mossley at the time of the 1834 Pigot's Directory and also the 1881 Census (and even Samuel Seel the landlord at the Rising Sun straddling the turn of that century) to convince me that the family name is its true origin.

I imagine that the houses at Seel Fold were built by a Seel person (James Seel owned (?) Quick Mill and certainly owned a business as a cotton spinner/doubler in 1834 so could well be the person who built the original houses at Seel Fold).

But what happened to those houses? There were 16 at the 1881 Census and the Highland Laddie pub was one of them. Where have all the Mossley Seels gone? Not one in Mossley now according to the telephone directory although a couple in Oldham.

Research by Trevor Rowley.

Saddleworth in relation to Oldham and Manchester

Mossley can be seen in the map above between Oldham and Saddleworth, to the south.