William was always known as "Butty" for reasons best known to himself and his friends. He was known as a difficult man, well enough liked by his own people but was one of life's eccentrics and was never still. Born at the family's TOP OF ALL farm in Walsden, the son of Reuben of the MOORCOCK, he was set to work along side his brothers in their father's coal mine to learn the trade from the bottom up. He didn't take to this kind of life, preferring sheep to coal.

Top of All Farm is well-named, standing as high as it gets on Inchfield Moor in a magnificent setting. It was only for the hardy of the 19th. century, however, and now lies in ruins as this photograph shows. There would have been plenty of scope for Butty to shepherd his sheep in this isolated spot.

There was plenty of work on the family farms and William, being a bit of a loner, took to shepherding. During the winter months he drove the flock over hills and dales to what is now the Ribble Valley. This was a long journey and had to be walked. It would take three or four days to do the trip comfortably and there were congenial resting places on the way, where the sheep could be left to rest in a field or pasture and the men and dogs could be accommodated at a farmhouse or inn.
One of his resting places was the local tavern in Sabden on Pendle Hill, and it was there where he met and courted the landlord's daughter. They were married at Whalley Parish Church in 1835. She was Mary Armistead and they were both just 20 years old. Butty and Mary stayed in Sabden a year or two and had their first two children there, but were soon on the move again.

He packed up his belongings and took his family down the hill to Briercliffe where they ran the Roggerham Gate Inn before returning to Todmorden. Their stay in Todmorden was but temporary, living in one of his father's houses at Pexes, before they were off on their wanderings again, this time to Erringden where they farmed at Turley Holes in Cragg Vale before moving up the road to the Cragg Vale Inn, now known as the Hinchcliffe Arms.

Some 9 years later he and his family moved into the SUN INN at Walsden in the April of 1850, taking over from Thomas and Sally Law who moved on to the Viaduct Tavern at Gauxholme. The Sun Inn was just south of Bottoms on the brow of the road. Here there was a small farm attached to the inn, and William tried his hand at horse breaking and as a horse dealer.


rear steps at the Sun Inn

Along the side of the building is a flight of old stone steps ending with a path taking a walker over a row of stepping stones across the shallow river and on to a wooden and very rickety old bridge over the railway line and forwards to the canal bank. The building is still there and is much as it would have been in William's day, but is now a private house.

William's wanderlust re-appeared, and in 1855 the family packed up and moved a few miles to the south of Walsden, to Calderbrook, where they took over a sheep farm at Slack. They survived the next 30 years at this place without a further move. William gets a mention in "The Story of Littleborough" by John Street:

"William Haigh, better known as Butty-o'-Reubins, worked one of the stone quarries at Smithy Nook. He also kept a sheep farm at Slack in Calderbrook. He carried on an extensive business for may years, sending the stone by boat to Manchester and other places and had also a number of horses loading coal from Walsden to various firms in the district. He seems to have been a type of man more common in those days than at present. In addition to conducting the sheep farm and the quarry he had a thorough knowledge of cattle and sheep and was a large trader in horses.


He was fond of cracking jokes over a social glass or during business transactions, and was humorous and entertaining company, but sharp to the point of often being taken the wrong way. Those who knew him speculated that had he been put to education rather than coal-getting as a lad he may well have been an eminent lawyer. As it was, he was eminent in his own field and happiest when his active mind and hands were busy."


Slack Farm Calderbrook, 2004


At some time in his youth Butty had an accident, injuring the bones in a foot. This caused him a lot of pain, but he refused all advice to have medical attention and made the best of it that he could. As he grew older he found it more difficult to manage and was eventually forced into seeing a surgeon. He underwent a painful operation at the infirmary, where he had part of the foot cut away. This helped for a while, and he was able to maintain his usual routine.


Later he was forced to seek professional help once again. The doctor found an accumulation of bad matter and it was decided to cut away some more of the foot. Butty was offered chloroform for the operation, but he refused on the grounds that he wanted to watch what was happening. He had hopes of a full recovery, but this was not to be. On a review visit shortly after the operation he was told the bad matter had spread throughout his system. He died a few weeks later, on 3rd December 1882, at his home at Slack farm. He was 69. His death certificate notes that he died of carcinoma of the hip and senility.

William and his family are buried at ST. JAMES churchyard in Calderbrook.



In loving memory of William Haigh of Slack died Dec. 3rd . 1882 in his 70th year.

Also Mary, wife of William Haigh who died Dec. 16th 1880 in her 68th year.

Also William, the son of William and Mary Haigh of Slack

who died Sept. 8th 1873 aged 31.

Also Grace their daughter who died 18th Dec. 1877 aged 41 years.

Also of Henry Haigh who died Dec. 15th 1902 in his 63rd year

Also Hannah his wife who died 9 Feb. 1907 aged 65 years.

Also William son of the above died Nov. 2nd 1932 aged 57 years.