Lytollis and Ward families

Carlisle square

The ‘Lytollis’ surname was founded in Carlisle in the county of Cumberland (now Cumbria) at the start of the 19th century. It began when Robert Lighttallars arrived in Carlisle from, possibly, Lancashire or Yorkshire.

Nothing is known about him prior to his 1803 marriage in Carlisle but ‘The Lytollis Family Name’ web site relates the story from this point…

The Lytollis Story – so far

Here’s the story of the family from 1803. Robert Lighttallars, from whom the whole Lytollis family spring, first appeared in Carlisle on the St Cuthbert Parish registers when he married Jane Mason in 1803. She was a local girl but Robert must have come from outside the area as there are no records before this of any brothers, sisters or parents in the Carlisle area. I think it was most probable that he was part of the Lightollers family from Lancashire and West Yorkshire and he came to Carlisle during the boom years of hand-loom weaving.

Weaving was taking off in the area at the time and people with the right skills were arriving from Lancashire and Ireland. There are possible links in Wibsey, near Bradford, Yorkshire and Chorley, Brindley and Preston in Lancashire. Many of these families were involved in the weaving industry. The name Lightoller itself originates from the manor of Lightowlers near Littleborough , Lancashire first recorded in 1296.

Robert and Jane had two children. The first was baptised on the 21st of May 1803 at St Cuthbert’s. Their second child, Joseph was baptised on the 19th February 1806. Unfortunately the first child, John, died just after this in March leaving only Joseph to carry on the line.Robert was first recorded at his marriage and birth of his first son as a ‘weaver’ but by the time John died he was a ‘soldier.’ This was during the Napoleonic wars when there was a call up in every locality. All men between 18 and 45 were required to be registered for the local Militia. Records of Robert Lighthallows of Carlisle appear in the Quarter Sessions for Lancaster. He was in the Lancaster Militia and there are petitions for maintenance for his wife and children dated 1804 and 1807. He is recorded as a ‘substitute’ for John Sutcliffe of Lancaster (this means that he was paid by John Sutcliffe to serve in his place).

Jane remarried in August 1808 so we can only assume that he died or was killed in service late1807. As he was in the Lancaster Militia and serving as a substitute for someone from Lancaster this seems to point towards him being originally from the Lancashire area. Jane’s remarriage to Michael Ward begins a Ward/Lytollis confusion – Joseph b.1806 was only two at the time and at least three more Ward children were born.

The families descended from Joseph, throughout the next 100 years, usually referred to themselves as various spellings of Lytollis in church records but as sometimes as Ward in the censuses. (I met a lady in Carlisle who was brought up as a Ward but later found she was in fact a Lytollis.)The spelling of the name changed frequently over the next 100 years among others there are Lightallers, Lighttollous, Lytallis, Littallis, Litellus, Litollus, Letillus, and Lytellon. Of course very few people could write at the time and it was left up to the parish clerk or vicar to listen to the name and do as best he could. How the name came to be spelt the Lytollis throughout the family by the early 20th century is a mystery….I can only assume that the family was still very close and the message got round!

Weavers cottages Kingstown (c)
Weavers cottages Kingstown (c)

Joseph married Elizabeth Irving in 1825 and the dynasty really got going. (Mason and Irving became family Christian names) Elizabeth and Joseph went to live at Tarraby, a hamlet near Carlisle where her family was based. They had at least ten children over the next 25 years. As the children got married they seemed to have set up as an extended family community in the Kingstown area (3 miles north of Carlisle).

There are still weaver’s Cottages in California Road where some of the family lived. Nearly all of them were handloom weavers of cotton until the 1860/1870’s when there was a downturn in the industry due to the American Civil War. Most of the children were baptised in Houghton Church but some in Rockcliffe and Blackmoor. From his point they started having different occupations and ‘emigrating’, mostly going across the Pennines to Gateshead and Newcastle using the new railway.

This trend seems to have been started by the Grahams who were neighbours of the Lytollis’s and intermarried with them. Two of George Graham’s brothers went to live in Felling and Jane, his daughter followed with Robert Lytollis her husband. I think others probably followed too. At some time after 1910 some of the family moved to Haltwhistle. Now there are three main centres of Lytollis – Carlisle, Haltwhistle and the Newcastle area. There are about 60 other families with the name dotted all over England and also one or two in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA. (Source: The Lytollis Family Name)

More about Robert Lighttallers…

Robert Lighttallers was able to write his name as the extract below (from marriage banns supplied by Linda Lytollis) shows…

Signature and 'mark' of Robert & Jane Lighttallers

This displays how Robert wrote his own name and also how he spelled it – also indicating that Jane (nee Mayson) Lighttallars was unable to write and could only leave her mark on the document. On the subject of his age we can only be guided by the fact that he was a ‘substitute’ in the militia for a certain John Sutcliffe. At that time all men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to be registered for the local Militia. If we assume he joined in 1803 then he must have been born between 1758 & 1785 – most likely closer to the younger end.

The ‘Lytollis – Ward’ confusion

Jane Mason & children

The Lytollis/Ward confusion began after the death of Robert  Lightallers (c.1780-1807) who came to Carlisle and married local girl Jane Mason in 1803. It’s thought that Robert died in 1807 while serving in the Lancaster Militia. He left behind a wife and two children – John and Joseph. John Lightallers died in 1806 and Joseph Lightallers, who later married Elizabeth Irving, was left to carry forward the line of ‘Lytollis’ in it’s many forms.

After the death of her husband, Jane Mason re-married. She married Michael Ward (b.1783) in 1808 in Carlisle. Jane’s marriage to Michael Ward began a Ward/Lytollis confusion. Joseph Lightallers (b.1806 from her first marriage) was only two at the time of his mother’s second marriage.

Jane and Michael Ward went on to have at least three more children during the marriage – Mary, John and Margaret. John Ward (1810-1874) was the son who carried forward his fathers ‘Ward’ name.

So, we had a family with children bearing surnames of Lightallars and Ward. Some of the ‘Lytollis’ families later used the ‘Ward’ surname at times – little wonder there was some confusion.

Michael Ward

Very little is known about Michael Ward other than his marriage to Jane and the birth of his children. According to The National Archives, there is a record of a ‘Michael Ward’ from Carlisle who was a Merchant Seaman between 1845-1854. 

There is nothing to link him to Jane (Mason/Lighttallars) Ward other than conjecture. There is an 1841 census entry for a Michael Ward (born about 1786) who was a Lodger in Percy Main, Tynemouth, Northumberland.  Also a death registration for a Michael Ward who died in 1850, also at Tynemouth, Northumberland – the GRO reference for this registration lists his age as 68, which gives an estimated birth of 1782.

The 1841 census puts Jane in Carlisle – residing on her own, birth year 1781. On the 1851 & 1861 census records Jane’s status is shown as ‘Widow’ indicating her husband had passed before 30 March 1851.

The Weaving Industry around Carlisle 1790-1900   –   An article by Margaret Ward/Dodds

During the 17th and 18th centuries there was a small home-based industry producing coarse woollen cloth although overall Kendal was better known for weaving than Carlisle. In the mid 18th century improved road links with Whitehaven and Newcastle caused Scott Lamb & Co., calico weavers, to set up in Carlisle.

The amount of cotton weaving increased steadily until the boom years of the 1790’s when the wage for a home weaver was £1 a week – twice that of an agricultural worker. This caused a lot of immigration into the area from other parts of England and also from Scotland and Ireland. The population of Carlisle rose from 4158 in 1763 to 21,965 in 1841. By 1810 this influx of workers in turn caused wages to fall and the weekly wage went down to between 5-8 shillings a week. In 1815 over 15% or employment in Cumberland was in textiles. Despite the end of the boom hand-weaving still remained a very large industry and there were still 6000 in and around Carlisle in 1838.

Carlisle factories were very slow to invest in steam powered looms as coal was expensive to transport before the Carlisle canal was built in 1823. The factories carried on depending on homeworkers who often worked in ‘group manufactories’. The homeworkers sent batches of cloth to the factories for finishing. The factory owners preferred this method because the home workers required no capital investment and were paid by piecework and during slumps the lack of earnings could be passed to the homeworkers and avoided by the factory owners.

Dixon’s of Denton Holme built a steam powered mill in 1836 which by 1847 had 8000 workers attached to it. Dixon’s produced a lot of gingham type fabrics which were exported to America. The American Civil War disrupted this trade and the newly freed slaves who were a large market for the ginghams now preferred gaudier cloths. The mill went bankrupt in 1872. This depression in the weaving industry was so marked that an unofficial relief committee was set up to subsidise wages reduced by shorter working. 6000 weavers were helped in the period 1862-63.

There was a partial revival of the industry at the end of the 19th century with factories mainly involved in the printing of fabrics, woollen spinning and dyeing & finishing. In 1911 there were still 2000 textile workers and Ferguson Brothers employed 1200 workers in the 1920s.   (Source: Margaret Ward/Dodds)



Billy Wakefield June 2013