Family History Resources

Below is a list of links that researchers might find useful.

Hebden Bridge Local History Society has a family history group and runs regular meetings. They also have an extensive archive of local material.

RootsChat is a popular forum for family history.

Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society have been published for over 100 years and name countless local people and places. They are available at Halifax Library.

Subscription-based websites like Ancestry and FindMyPast are often free to use in central libraries. FamilySearch has free access to their records.

Calderdale FHS have name indexes (£) to their publications.

 

1900s

Records are often closed if they are less than 100 years old.

Military

WWI records were digitized by the National Archives to celebrate its centenary. Check medal index cards to determine a soldier’s regiment.

Burials of soldiers killed in action are on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

WWII and other service records are restricted but can be requested from the Government.

Newspapers (approx. 1850s – 1950s)

Todmorden/Hebden Bridge papers generally available from latter half of 1800s. Some are online British Newspaper Archive (£). Originals are available on microfilm in local libraries, particularly Halifax library.

Casualties of WWI available on British Newspaper Archive (£) and From Weaver to Web.

Censuses

Taken every 10 years, opened after 100 years. 1901 and 1911 available, 1921 will be released in 2022. The 1931 census was destroyed in WWII and the 1941 census was not taken.

The 1939 Register, which is effectively a census, was taken just after the outbreak of WWII. It is available on Ancestry (£) and FindMyPast (£)

Wills (1857 – now)

Centrally registered from 1857. Indexes can be searched on the GRO website and originals ordered for a small fee.

General Register Office

Centrally registered births, marriages and deaths from 1837.

Heptonstall comes under Todmorden registration district. Indexes available here. You can order original certificates from the GRO (£).

Electoral Registers

Mostly from 1832 but a few survive from before this.

Originals can be found in most libraries. Available on Ancestry (£) and FindMyPast (£).

Directories

Telephone books on Ancestry (£).

Photographs

Pennine Horizons has photos of local people and places.

Church records

Baptism, marriage, burial registers.

Often closed or not transcribed for much of the 20th century. Check with the church.

Also check gravestones:

  • Heptonstall’s are mostly transcribed by HBLHS.
  • Many other local graveyards have been transcribed by Calderdale FHS ($).
  • Some have not been transcribed, including Birchcliffe, Slack, Heptonstall Methodist.
  • Some are available on enquiry with the church, including Wainsgate

1800s

Censuses (1841 – 1911)

Censuses record all members of households recorded from 1841 onwards. Easy to find online (e.g. Ancestry) and often free.

Some townships e.g. Stansfield have earlier enumerations, available in Halifax Library

General Register Office

Wills

Church records

Available on all good FHS websites e.g. Ancestry (£), FindMyPast (£), FamilySearch.

Newspapers

Before local newspapers were established c.1850s, major events would be covered in city newspapers (e.g. at Manchester or Leeds).

Todmorden Alamanacks from late 1800s give concise overviews of interesting events, found in Halifax library.

Electoral Registers

Trade Directories

Records of tradespeople and principal inhabitants. Originals can be found in most central libraries. Search online at Leicester University Special Collections.

Military

Few good single sources for this. Start with websites like Ancestry, Find My Past, Forces War Records and search for Heptonstall or Halifax. Most original records will be held at the National Archives.

West Riding Registry of Deeds

Described below.

Schools

Heptonstall school accounts exist for 1828-1846 naming children and fees. To access, enquire with Bankfield museum.

Calderdale FHS have some Todmorden school records (£).

Miscellaneous

  • Immigration records should be checked per-country (US records are on websites like Ancestry (£).)
  • Various friendly societies available here.
  • Some records for Todmorden Poor Law Union.
  • General records for Heptonstall township at Halifax Archives.
  • Tithe Survey not know to exist for Halifax parish (previously agreed on in 1829?)

1700s

Town Books (1716 – 1800s)

Account books for the the various overseers of Heptonstall. Those of the overseers of the poor are a gold mine, with thousands of records of payments to locals in need.

Original books and microfilm copies at Halifax Archives. Also see records related to apprenticeships, “bastardy”, and settlement and removal, some are available on Ancestry (£). The overseers generally continue into the 1800s until the Todmorden Poor Law Union was established. “Examinations” of individuals often give valuable insights into their lives and relationships.

Land tax

Used to determine voting rights, records names of property owner and principal renter.

Originals held at Halifax Archives. Searchable on Ancestry (£).

Parish church records

All marriages between 1750s – 1830s had to be performed (by banns or license) in the parish church.

Non-conformist church records (1750s   onwards)

These involve birth, baptism, burial records, lists of members, accounts and meetings.

Mostly held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service, some may still be at practicing churches.

West Riding Registry of Deeds (1704 – 1970)

Registry of most land sales. Name and place indexes are available in person, but patchy.

Originals are at Wakefield Archives

Heptonstall Manor court rolls (1651 – 1800s)

Heptonstall manor was separated from Halifax in 1626. See our history of the manor for background. In English from 1733, Latin before.

The National Archive maintains a Manorial Document Register. Heptonstall’s court rolls are mostly kept at Leeds Library Special Collections. Many are in Latin and hard to read.

Wakefield Manor court rolls

Parent manor to Heptonstall. Described below.

Wills (~1300s – 1857)

Wills before the 1850s were registered at church courts, and wills from Halifax parish were normally registered with Pontefract Deanery.

Originals are held at the Borthwick Institute in York. Indexes can be found on FindMyPast and Medieval Genealogy.

1600s

Parish church records

Be careful with online transcriptions of Latinized/phoenetic names.

West Yorkshire Archive Service maintain a guide to their registers, though you would normally prefer to search these on sites like Ancestry (£) and FamilySearch (£). (Tip: transcription quality can be poor, so search for variants of first and surnames; consider using quality transcriptions like those from Calderdale FHS (£).)

Wills

Inventories start to survive from this century. HBLHS publications also transcribe some wills from this period.

Hearth tax (1660s – 1670s)

Taxation of hearths (fireplaces) in late 1600s.

Held at the National Archives.

Protestation Returns (1642)

List of men aged 18 and over taken just before the start of the Civil War, by township. Some individuals are known to have evaded.

Originals at Parliament. Can be viewed online.

Heptonstall Manor court rolls 

The Civil War disrupted proceedings, so no court held in 1640s. Rolls survive from 1651.

Wakefield Manor court rolls

Property conveyance

Church courts

Lay subsidies

1500s

Parish church records (1590s – 1900s)

Heptonstall parish records survive from the 1590s. Some parishes, such as Halifax, start in the 1530s.

Halifax-cum-Heptonstall Manor court rolls (1570 – 1624)

Original lords of the manor were the Priory of Lewes in Surrey since at least 1100s. No medieval rolls are known to have survived.

Original rolls from 1570 are held at Leeds Archives with some transcriptions at Halifax.

Wakefield Manor court rolls

Lay subsidies (1524-1641)

These are the tax records of wealthiest individuals in each township.

The originals are held at the National Archives in their E179 database, search for records naming individuals.

Tithes (1536)

Names of landowners can be found here.

Law courts

Search National Archives for records of the Court of Star Chamber, Court of Chancery, and others.

Church courts

These courts dealt with moral and spiritual matters.

The Cause Papers at the Borthwick Institute record several cases involving residents of Heptonstall.

Property conveyance

Buying and selling of freehold were usually registered as “feet of fines”.

Originals held at the National Archives. Index of transcriptions at Medieval Genealogy.org up to 1620s.

Wills

Medieval

Wakefield Manor court rolls (1274 – 1925)

Individuals from Heptonstall are sometimes recorded at the Halifax Tourn, but also if they had land transactions within the Sowerby manor. The text is difficult to read as it is written in faded, heavily abbreviated Latin, but it tends to be formulaic and can be learnt without too much difficulty.

Original rolls are held at Leeds University Special Collections. Select transcriptions have been made by the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society.

Military

Muster rolls from important wars sometimes survive.

Originals are held at the National Archives. Some are searchable on Medieval Soldier (tip: search using contemporary spellings of surnames).

Poll Tax (1379)

A list of heads of households. Some surnames (like Cockcroft and Robertshaw) are missing, either due to evasion, not yet inherited, or individuals going by multiple names.

Original rolls at National Archives. Complete subscription at Halifax Subsidy Rolls.

Wills

Property conveyance

Records of feoffments (a grant of ownership of freehold ) & indentures are held at West Yorkshire Archie Services.