of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and connected waterways

Burscough Canal

WELCOME to our updated website - launched 6th April 2015.


At the launch of the site, in March 2010, there were more than 3,000 names, mostly families of canal workers on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, all connected by marriage, in one tree, Canal Family 1.

This tree has grown to more than 55,000 people as it continues to spread from Lancashire and Yorkshire into Cheshire, Staffordshire and beyond. Several more trees, Canal Families 2-8, were developed but these have now been merged into Canal Family 1 (a record is in Media/Documents/Subsidiary Trees History). Canal Family 9 was launched in 2019 in conjunction with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society to highlight Benjamin Walls, superintendent at Gargrave (details in Media/Documents/Benjamin Curry Walls).

Except for those openly listed in the 1939 census, we do not knowingly include living people without family permission. Information has been compiled from private research by ODFHS members and other contributors, from the websites of Lancashire On-line Parish Clerks, Lancashire BMDs, Censuses - and increasingly from parish records on Ancestry, Findmypast and FamilySearch (IGI). Some details are inevitably more complete than others, but where copies of birth, marriage or death certificates are held, this is shown in individuals' Life Histories by the letters BC, MC or DC.

We welcome contributions to help expand existing trees. Additional data or amendments can be emailed to boatfamilies[at] or by using the contact us link - please indicate sources, especially if you have verification by certificates etc. We accept data in any form convenient to you, but if you have a tree of three or more generations we would appreciate receiving it as an attachment in GEDCOM format. (Your family history program will have an option to export a GEDCOM tree, which can be sent as an email attachment.)

SOFTWARE: This website is compiled using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, v.12.0 (written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2019 ©).

Ormskirk & District
Family History Society

Boat Families Website

The Society is indebted to the small group of enthusiasts who have developed this website. Using it and other ODFHS products; such as the CD of Burscough Boat Families, should enable you to discover many of your ancestors.
Bill Huyton, ODFHS Chairman Emeritus, March 2011.

The purpose of this site is to assist researchers whose ancestors worked on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal & associated waterways, especially in South-West Lancashire and Cheshire, and more recently in Yorkshire east of Leeds. Lower down this column there is more information on how to submit questions and family trees for inclusion.


Use the Surnames link (top right) to see a list of main names in all trees, with an option to select a specific name from the alphabetic panel above. You can search for a particular person by using the search box, or you can see names in specific trees by changing 'all trees' to, eg, 'Canal Family 9'. At various places on the site you will see a small tree icon, which will show the family tree of your chosen individual. You can click on any name shown to reveal their details. Once you have chosen the first name it is possible to navigate that entire tree. Returning to the Group Names page will allow you to visit another tree.

NOTE: The search box on the right is a simple search on Canal Family 1. For more options and to search all trees together go to the Advanced Search page and choose from the various drop-down boxes.


Please contact us with questions or comments about the information on this site. We look forward to hearing from you. Click on Info and Contact Us.


We have spent much time building & populating this site. We have made every effort to produce a site that is accurate & easy to use. However, no warranty is given or implied.


We are grateful to have so many free sources of information: Lancashire Archives, Preston; the London FamilySearch Centre, whose microfilms are now at the Society of Genealogists HQ in London; UKBMD; Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks, the General Record Office Online Index and others. Our researchers also subscribe to the Ancestry and Findmypast websites.

Ainscough Flour Mill


We have launched a new tree - Canal Family 10 - based on the Clapham family of boatbuilders based in Gargrave and Bingley, descended from Samuel Clapham b1786 Bank Newton, who so far seem unconnected to other local Claphams already in our main tree.

It contains a Mary Jane Clapham, b1850 to Samuel and Ellen, who married Thomas Moss of Wigan and died there in 1896. We are aware of another girl of the same name, born about the same time, for whom no birth or marriage record has been found. She is living with a widowed James Myers in Skipton in 1881 and 1891 and had several children by him, dying there in 1935. We feel sure these girls were related and hope that someone can provide the link that would enable us to add her and her canal family relations to this new tree.

Canal Family 1
22 October 2021 . . . V135
New Total: 55,405 individuals
New Names: Dinsdale 27; Worfolk 46
Main increases: Cliffe +22; Linsley +14; Pulford +13; Houghton +11; Bridge, Cawthorn +10, Hughes +9; Wilkinson +7

Our new names and some increases are among Yorkshire boatbuilders and carpenters, including the Worfolk and Cliffe families who feature in Ron Gosney and Rosemary Bowyer's book 'The Sailing Ships and Mariners of Knottingley', also Thomas Dinsdale and son James of Wakefield, and the Linsley marine engineers of Goole.

Other increases are among watermen connected to the Pulford families of Ellesmere Port.


More information on updates is in the Update History files which can be viewed by going to the MEDIA link above and selecting DOCUMENTS.

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