Biography

Henry Ball was born in Upholland in 1779 to Edward Ball, a farmer, and his wife Ellen Hewet. Henry’s ancestors had farmed in the Upholland area for more than a century before he was born. Like the generations before him, Henry was baptized in St. Thomas Church in Upholland on 16 May 1779. He grew up on his father’s farm with at least four brothers and sisters. He almost certainly worked on the farm helping his father from an early age, the beginning of his lifelong career as a farmer.

On 14 July 1800 at age 21, Henry married Elizabeth Ormishaw, a local girl, at All Saints Church in Wigan. Henry and Betty (as Elizabeth was commonly known) initially settled in Upholland where Henry worked as a labourer. Their first three children were born in Upholland. Around 1806, Henry took up farming in nearby Standish. Henry and Betty had six more children over the next twelve year. Sometime in the 1820s, the family likely moved to Heywood Farm in Haigh, located between the east bank of the River Douglas and the west bank of the Leeds Liverpool Canal north of Red Rock Lane. They lived at Heywood Farm for the next thirty years.

Although the Ball family lived near St. Wilfrid Church in Standish, it appears that they attended All Saints Church of England in Wigan town centre. It was at All Saints that most of their children were baptized and later married. As there is no churchyard at All Saints, it was at St. Wilfrid that a large number of the family were eventually buried.

Although we don’t know much about Henry’s life as a farmer, he must have been a well-known local figure. He came from a large family of Balls in the Upholland–Standish–Haigh area. He farmed in the region his entire life. Heywood Farm was in a prominent location, close to the village of Standish and the main road from Wigan to Chorley.

Henry and Betty had their last child, Mary, in 1820. Within the next few years, their oldest sons began to marry and raise families. Most of their sons took up farming in the Standish area, several at Standish Lower Ground. In the 1830s, their daughter Elizabeth Jr. had several children out of wedlock who became part of Henry and Betty’s family and were ultimately cared for by their grandparents when Elizabeth later married. It is likely Ellen Ball, Henry Harold Harrison’s paternal grandmother, was one of Elizabeth’s illegitimate children.

At the time of the 1841 census, Henry and Betty were enumerated at Heywood Farm. Henry was age 62 and Betty age 58, although the enumerator recorded both ages as 60. They may have also owned or leased an adjacent property, Arrowsmith Farm, where two of their sons lived with their families. In all, seventeen people were living at the two farms in 1841, including Henry and Betty, three sons (Henry, Daniel, and James), two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth), two daughters-in-law (Ann and Maria), three grandchildren (Peter, Hannah, and Lucy), and three farm labourers, one with wife and child. Five men worked the 36-acre farm: Henry Sr., Henry Jr., and the three labourers.

Henry and Betty’s was a large family with much coming and going. Between 1841 and 1851 while Henry continued to farm Heywood, three younger children, Henry, Mary, and Elizabeth, left the family home. Elizabeth married a man named John Jones and settled in next door at Arrowsmith to raise a family. By this time, four illegitimate grandchildren were living with Henry and Betty. James and his wife moved from Arrowsmith Farm just down the road to Red Rock Lane. Daniel and his wife remained at Arrowsmith, and their family grew with more grandchildren.

At the time of the 1851 census, Henry and Betty Ball were living at Heywood with their four grandchildren: Ellen, Peter, Hannah, and Henry. The three older grandchildren were now in their teens, probably working on the farm. Their son Daniel was working as a shoemaker and living next door at Arrowsmith with his wife and family, as were John and Elizabeth Jones.

In the 1850s, the Wigan Municipal Waterworks began development of the Worthington Lakes Reservoir on the River Douglas next door to Heywood Farm. This would become the main reservoir supplying the then-rapidly growing town of Wigan. To allow excavation of the new reservoir, the River Douglas was to be temporarily diverted under Heywood Farm. To accomplish this, the Municipal Waterworks either purchased or expropriated Henry Ball’s farm circa 1857. Henry would have been about age 78 at the time, and there can be no doubt that this disruption must have been difficult for him and his family. The land that Henry Ball farmed for three decades is today called Water Works Farm (although no farming presently takes place). The diversion conduit, lying approximately 15 m below ground, is still used to divert part of the River Douglas around the reservoir.

While Heywood Farm was being dug up by the Water Works to lay the diversionary conduit, Henry and Betty moved about 1 km up the road to Blundles Fold in Blackrod, where Henry resumed his life as a “farmer of 70 acres.” The exact date of the move is unknown, but it was likely before May 1858. Following their family, their now-widowed son James and his son Henry, Ellen Ball, her new husband Joseph Harrison, and their two babies, Edward and Elizabeth, also moved to Blundles Fold, where their son Henry Harrison was born two years later. The 1861 census enumerated this extended family at Blundles Fold.

Henry’s wife Betty passed in August 1863 to old age. Five months later Henry succumbed to old age in Blackrod on Christmas Day 1863 at age 84. Henry and Betty were both buried in the churchyard at St. Wilfrid in Standish. Their graves have not yet been located.


Details and Facts

Christening

16 May 1779
Upholland St. Thomas

Residence Henry & Elizabeth Ball family home

1 Mar 1801
Upholland

Per Ellen Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Labourer

1 Mar 1801
Upholland

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

2 Nov 1802
Standish

Per Edward Ball’s baptismal record; see balledward1802bap

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

6 Aug 1806
Standish

Per John Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

6 Aug 1806
Standish

Per John Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

29 Jun 1808
Standish

Per James Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

29 Jun 1808
Standish

Per James Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball Family Home

28 Jun 1811
Standish

Per Henry Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

28 Jun 1811
Standish

Per Henry Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

4 Jul 1813
Standish

Per Daniel Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

4 Jul 1813
Standish

Per Daniel Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

30 Jun 1815
Shevington, Lancashire

Per Elizabeth Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

30 Jun 1815
Shevington, Lancashire

Per Elizabeth Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

24 Feb 1818
Standish

Per Margaret Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

24 Feb 1818
Standish

Per Margaret Ball’s Baptism Record.

Occupation Farmer

5 May 1820
Standish

Per Mary Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence Henry & Betty Ball family home

5 May 1820
Standish

Per Mary Ball’s Baptism Record.

Residence

6 Jun 1841
Heywood Farm, Arley Lane, Haigh

Per 1841 Census.

Occupation Farmer

6 Jun 1841

Per 1841 Census.

Occupation Farmer

13 Sep 1846
Haigh

Per Elizabeth Ball’s Marriage Certificate.

Occupation Farmer

30 Mar 1851
Heywood Farm, Arley Lane, Haigh

Per 1851 Census. Farmer of 36 acres with 2 labourers.

Residence

30 Mar 1851
Heywood Farm, Arley Lane, Haigh

Per 1851 Census.

Occupation Farmer

7 Apr 1861
Blundles Fold, Blackrod, Lancashire

Although Henry was age 84, he was apparently still farming 70 acres.

Residence

7 Apr 1861
Blundles Fold, Blackrod, Lancashire

Per 1861 Census. Henry and Betty were in their 80s and living next door to Joseph Harrison and Ellen Ball.

Occupation Farmer

9 Aug 1863
Blackrod, Lancashire

Per Death Certificate.

Burial

27 Dec 1863
Standish St. Wilfrid's Church Yard


Source Documents