Ezekiel Brierley and his descendants

Researched and submitted by Richard Brierley

Many of us have wondered about our roots, our families and relatives and some have tried to build an accurate record showing who went before us, maybe even trying to see what kind of people they were, and what part they played in the communities in which they found themselves. One of these is Richard Brierley, no longer from these parts, born and brought up in Coventry in the mid 1900s and with family ties extending to Fazeley.

Richard has traced his own family tree to show his descent from a Lancashire man, Joshua Brierley and his son Ezekiel Brierley, one of six brothers and sisters descended from Joshua and his wife Mary Ann. Here is the full family tree...

For full size view 'right click' this family tree and select option to open in another tab.

and here the Brierleys of Fazeley

History shows Ezekiel to have been a prominent member of the Fazeley community of the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. Richard, (who provided this information for the Fazeley.info web site) is his Grandson.

This photo the Brierley family was taken at Ezekiel's son Arthur's house in Coventry in the mid 1920s. It shows Ezekiel in the centre, his daughter Alice in the rear, son Arthur on the right, daughter in law Emily (nee Stubbs) on the left, grandson Arthur (Richard's father) on the front right, great grand-daughter Peg, front centre.

The records show that Ezekiel was a 21 year old man when he married Emma Langley in Fazeley on Christmas day in 1871. At this stage in his life he is described as a labourer, and his father Joshua was a bleacher. Fazeley is known to have had bleach works associated with the milling that took place here at that time and it is likely that Joshua moved to Fazeley from the Lancashire Mills where he would have first learned his bleaching skills. These skills would have been in much demand in the preparation of cotton for the Fazeley mills.

Since, at this early stage in his life, Ezekiel is described as a 'labourer', it is reasonable to assume that he was not born into a wealthy family and that his future personal success and broader contribution to the Fazeley community result from the kind of person that he was. In 1896 Kelly's directory has an entry describing Ezekiel Brieley's activities as;

Draper, Grocer, provision, hay, corn and straw dealer and agricultural salt warehouse.

In 15 short years Ezekiel Brierley has grown from being a labourer to become an influential business man in Fazeley. As well as being a well established Fazeley businessman Ezekiel Brierley served the community on the board of trustees of the Fazeley Free Methodist Church. Richard Brierley has found a chain of letters from November 1920 and December 1920, exchanged between the Birmingham Canal Company and Ezekiel Brierley (acting on behalf of the Methodist church). In these letters we find that Ezekiel Brierley represented the Free Methodist Church in Fazeley in some negotiations with the Birmingham Canal Company, over a strip of land between the Methodist Church building and the Birmingham Fazeley Canal. The canal company were inviting the church to pay an annual charge for the rent of the strip of land and including light to 6 windows, the light coming from over the canal, and the right to have the water from the building downspouts drain into the canal. The strip of land in question is clearly visible today from the canal road bridge. The letters show that they agreed an annual charge of 6/-, which in 2019 equates to 30p!

Some of the documents and photographs give rise to a mystery, and that is the location of the Steam Corn Mill owned by Ezekiel Brierley. Richard Brierley sent us a copy of a receipt from Ezekiels Brierley's Steam Corn Mill (date 191?) and that clearly establishes the presence of a Steam Corn Mill,

and the photograph that Richard sent shows corn sacks on a horse drawn cart, the sacks bearing the wording E Brierley, Steam Corn Mill, Fazeley. The cart appears to be at a mill and the mill itself on a wharf, all of which would make good sense.

However we have no evidence on any maps, or in other memoires, of there being a Steam Corn Mill. We feel that the written and photographic record is so strong that there must have been a Steam Corn Mill and that it was owned and run by Ezekiel Brierley, but until someone can throw more light on the issue, the exact location of the mill will remain a mystery.

Ezekiel's granddaughter, Gladys May Brierley (aunt of Richard Brierley) was a much loved teacher in Fazeley and several people who write of their past in Fazeley tell spontaneously of Miss Brierley being their favourite teacher at Fazeley school. We are fortunate in that we have some photographs in which she features. In the first of these photographs she is pictured with her Fazeley School class of 1946/47.

And here a photograph believed to show the same assembly of pupils and teachers in 1948.

This is a picture taken to commemorate Miss Brierley's retirement after a lifetime dedicated to teaching the children of Fazeley.

Contined family research has revealed more information and enabled the creation of a much wider family tree. As the tree shows, Ezekiel had three brothers and two sisters. Some further details are shown here.

Joshua Snr. was born in Spotland, near Rochdale and lived there until after Joshua Jnr. was born. The family then moved to Goats Gate, Pilkington, near Bury, and then to Fazeley in 1859/60. Initially they lived in Mill Lane and later Lichfield Street. Emma Langley was the daughter of James Langley, a weaver, originally from Leicestershire. They lived in Mill Lane.

Joshua jnr. married Mary Ann Hurst and lived as a weaver in Fazeley. Of their children Jesse became a miner in the Fazeley area;

Minnie married another miner, John French, and they moved to Nottinghamshire.

Alice married another miner, Alfred Wilson.

Annie married yet another miner, Henry Latham.

Jonathan and Benjamin married two sisters, Fanny and Maria Johnson, and soon moved to become smallwear weavers in Manchester, living very close to each other in two localities. Jonathan and Fanny's children were all born in Manchester and remained there after Jonathan's death in 1886. Benjamin and Maria's first two children, Benjamin and Mary Jane, were born in Fazeley and the remainder in Manchester. Benjamin was baptised three weeks after they were married (not uncommon at the time, looking at the baptisms lists) and was brought up in Fazeley by Joshua snr. It is likely that he is the B Brierley living in Coleshill Street in the Drayton Manor sale catalogue.

Mary Jane went to Manchester and lived with Fanny after Jonathans death. At about that time Benjamin's family disintegrated; no more of him being evident except a possible entry in the Withington workhouse records.

Maria also disappeared for a while, before appearing in the workhouse and finally living with Martha. Martha appears to have rented a house ca. 1890 but also spent two short spells in the workhouse to give birth to children.

Henry came to Fazeley, to live with Mary Anne, and eventually settled there as a baker.

Alfred also came to Fazeley and was brought up by Joshua jnr, becoming a coal carter. He may well be the A Brierley in Coleshill Street.

Joshua was brought up by Ezekiel and then lived with Alfred, working as a carter. Soon after 1911 he appears to have moved back to Manchester, working as a railway porter, and by 1939 was living with Martha and her daughter Alice (by then an asbestos weaver!).

Ezekiel, as we know, remained in Fazeley as a grocer, miller and baker. Various members of the family also seemed to have been involved in those businesses over the years.

Martha married a miner, John Smith, but was widowed soon after their son William was born. She was then shown as a shopkeeper and either she or her daughter-in-law, Eliza, must have been the "Miffy" that worked in Ezekiels shop. The family later became tobacconists in the locality.

Mary Anne married another miner, Thomas Spooner, and produced seven children, all becoming or marrying miners. They were variously born in Polesworth, Atherstone, Chesterfield, Dordon, Wilnecote and finally Glascote.

It would be interesting to know what catastrophe occurred to the two families in Manchester.

Richard Brierley has also researched his grandmother's side of the family -

the Stubbs, who lived in Kettlebrook for many years.
Richard wonders - Perhaps there are other descendents who might find this interesting.

George Stubbs was born in Hurstborne, Hampshire, in 1844 and was a papermaker. Caroline was born in Berkshire in1846, the daughter of a baker. After marriage, they moved to Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, where six of the children were born. In 1878/9 they moved to Glascote and later to 144 Main Road, Kettlebrook. George appears to have been a staunch member of the Baptist Church in Tamworth but Emily and my grandfather were married in the parish church in Lozells, Birmingham, where they were both apparently living at the time.