JOHN TRAVIS (1822-1912)



In 1786 John Fielden of CLOUGH FARM built the first cotton-spinning mill in Walsden, and went on to form a partnership with John Travis of Royton whereby the mill would be handed over to their eldest sons, Samuel Fielden and Joseph Travis. The mill was known as CLOUGH MILL and traded as Fielden and Travis. It was a small affair, about the size of 4 cottages with 3 storeys.


Joseph Travis was married when he arrived in Walsden and took up residence at Clough Mill. His wife was Esther Cocker of Crompton. They had 4 children, the youngest 2 being born at the mill. Esther died in 1792 and Joseph married Betty Bottomley, daughter of Jeremiah Bottomley of Inchfield Fold. Joseph had 10 more children with Betty. He died in 1818 and was buried at St. Marys, Todmorden, where he had been the organist.

17 S.T. 28

Here lieth the body of Susan wife of George Travis who died March 2nd

Here resteth the body of Joseph Travis of Clough Mill

who departed this life August 22nd 1818 aged 50 years  

He was the 1st organist at this church  

ALSO James his son who departed this life January 20th 1814 aged 7 years

ALSO John his son who departed this life April 29th 1827 aged 36 years

ALSO William his son organist who departed this life July 5th 1829 aged 31 years



Joseph's second son was Joseph junior, born 6 months before the death of his mother in 1792. Joseph junior married Elizabeth Lord, and in 1822 their son, John Travis, was born.

John was clearly a bright spark and at the age of 15 was admitted as a free scholar to the ENDOWED SCHOOL in Todmorden. He was later to acknowledge his gratitude to Peter Ormerod, Cotton Spinner and Manufacturer, for arranging the scholarship by asking his brother, William Ormerod, to sponsor him. William Ormerod was a Trustee of the school, and as such, was allowed to sponsor one free place under the terms of his office. John Travis remained a day pupil at the school until November 1840. He was one of 4 free scholars, and wrote later about having to do jobs to earn his tuition - jobs such as sweeping out the schoolroom.
Despite this privileged education, John continued to live at home with his parents at Woodshade in Walsden, and earned his living as a power loom weaver. The family is at Shade in 1841.

Joseph Travis



Elizabeth Travis



Esther Travis


Cotton power loom weaver

John Travis


Cotton power loom weaver

William Travis



Charles Travis



Sarah Travis



John moved to live with an uncle in Ashton-under-Lyne soon after the census was taken and took up a post as a teacher in a small school, but had to return to Walsden in 1842 when his father died in order to assist the family financially. His father is also buried at St. Marys, Todmorden.


Travis of Inchfield.

To the memory of Joseph Travis of Woodbottom

who died June 15th A.D. 1842 aged 50 years

ALSO Hannah their daughter who died September 27 A.D. 1835 aged 16 months

ALSO Mary their daughter who died October 13th A.D. 1839 aged 12 years



John returned to Ashton in 1843 to work for Flash Hall Mills owned by Peter Platt as a Book Keeper and later at his uncle's mill in Ashton where he stayed about 4 years, learning the trade of spinning and manufacturing until he eventually became the manager. He returned to Walsden in 1847 and had employment with Astin and Barker Millwrights and Engineers.


He later wrote about the high price of bread, noting that when he went to Ashton a 4lb. Loaf was 8d. but when he came back, the same sized loaf was 5d.


On April 17th. 1851 he married Jane Crowther of Strines Barn.


In 1855 the Government brought in the Companies Act, which limited the amount of money an investor could lose to the amount he had invested. Previously, a failed venture could cost an investor the whole of his estate and assets. The first local company to take advantage of this new law was registered in 1854 in anticipation of the Act, and was known as the Todmorden Commercial and Manufacturing Company Ltd. Locally, it was known as the Co-Operative Company.


The Company rented SHADE MILL and filled it with looms. It then negotiated with John Crossley of Scaitcliffe over a strip of land at Hollins in Walsden, eventually purchasing it and building ALMA MILL. The nominal capital was £10,000 in £25 shares. The shares could be bought by instalments, paying a deposit and making further payments, as capital was required. The Company's mill at Hollins was finished in late 1855. The Rearing Dinner was held at the Parochial School, Walsden, on 1st. January 1856.


John Travis was made the Secretary and Manager of the Company. By then, John and his wife and family were living on Inchfield Terrace in a new house he had built.


Times were good and Todmorden & Walsden was a thriving cotton town. The folk had never had it so good, but nothing lasts forever. In 1862 the American Civil War caused a cotton panic. Because of the war there was no cotton arriving from America. The mills had to close or go on short time and the building of new mills and associated housing stopped. Thousands were out of work. Scarcely any businesses kept going in Todmorden & Walsden.

One of the casualties was the Co-Operative Company and its mill at Hollins. By 1867 the company was forced to appoint liquidators and Alma Mill was sold in March 1867 for £7,200 to Messrs. Ormerod Brothers. Naturally, John Travis lost his job, and he wrote: "During that spell of darkness and tribulation the writer obtained a situation in Huddersfield, returning about 1868."


Not much is known about John's life over the next 20 or 30 years. In 1881 he was living with Jane at 23, Woodbottom, Walsden, and was a Master in an Iron Foundry. By 1891 he was widowed and living alone at 23, Hollins Road, Walsden, retired. Jane had died the previous year. John re-married in the summer of 1891. His new wife was Sarah Spencer. By then he had started to write articles for the local press, mostly about his beloved town and also its churches. He also ventured into books, having several published. He had developed a passion for family history, and not just his own, but the whole of Walsden and Todmorden. Over his life he collected stories and anecdotes about the people he knew and their fathers and grandfathers, and he made these into stories, which are now a pleasure to read. He took a great interest in the history of the town, its churches, and its people.


John's writings show he was nothing if not just a little eccentric, and to add fuel to this thought, there is an entry in the almanac for 1911:



Married at Cloughfoot Congregational Chapel Mr. John Travis (89) to

Mrs. Rachel Ann Scholes (59) both of 39 Woodbank, Walsden.

John died soon after his third, rather late, marriage, on 22nd. May 1912 aged nearly 90 years. He is buried at St. Peters, Walsden, with his first wife, Jane. He left a WILL complete with copious notes about the beneficiaries.

His most important work, as far as Todmorden and Walsden is concerned, is Notes (Historical and Biographical) Mainly of Todmorden and District, published in 1896 and containing nearly 400 pages. He wrote the dedication at the front of the book on May 4th. 1892, whilst living at Woodbank, Walsden. The book is available on CD from Colin Hinson at


John Travis has also written:


*Round about Todmorden its Hills and Dales, published in 1890

  Some Old Walsden Families, published in 1891

*Walsden Families in Olden Times, published in 1903

*Historical Notes and Personal Reminiscences, published in 1905

    (* these books are also on the CD)


And several more besides.

Some of his articles written for the local press have been reproduced HERE.

The following is a list of his work, together with the reference number, filmed by the Latter-day Saints and archived at their Family History Library.


Book-film-fiche #
942.74 H2t Fielden families of Walsden & Stansfield: shewing the connections and descents which developed a branch of the family at Swineshead Langfield and also later of Walsden 36
942.74 H2t Genealogical memorials of the Barker families of Priestwell, Swan,Millwood & Gauxholm, Todmorden - also Ashworth, Bottomly, Bramley, Crossley, Stansfield & Stevenson families 46
942.74 H2t Genealogical memorials of the Barkers, of Edge-End, Hanging-Shaw Todmorden also Crossley, Fielden, Hollinrake, Mitchell, Ratcliffe, Stansfield 27
942.74 H2t Genealogical memorials of the Butch or Butcher family of Sutcliffes of Bay Horse Inn, Cross-Stone, Stansfield, Navigation Inn , 24
942.74 H2t Genealogical memorials of the Fieldens of Walsden & Todmorden: abridged from the lists issured by the late Joshua Fielden, Esq. M.P. formerly of Stansfield Hall, Todmorden and later of Nutfield Priory, Surrey, London, being the offshoots of Bottomley & Inchfield families 36
942.74 H2t Genealogical memorials of the Sutcliffe families of the Shaw, Langfield, Rodwellhey or End, Greathouse-Clough, Hollins and Horsefall - in Stansfield, Mankinholes, Kilnhurst and Causeway etc in Langfield & Flailcroft, & other places in Todmorden and Walsden 36
942.74 H2t Genealogy of the Ratcliffe (or Radcliffe) family of Hazelgreave and Woodfield Farms in Todmorden: with branches of the same, later residing in Todmorden, Walsden and other adjacent districts. 24
942.74 H2t Memorials of the Barker families of East Whirlaw, Burnthouse & Royd, in Stansfield, and of Edge-end in Todmorden; together with some of the later branches at Green's Farm, Hollinroyd, Toad-hole Cross-stone, Hollins, Hole-Bottom, Blind-Lane, Colden, also Todmorden and other places in the neighbourhood. 29
942.74 H2t Old Todmorden as it was about 1840 47
942.74 H2t Some old Walsden families dating back from the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries: with branches 7 offshoots from the same brought down to the present time together with family incidents etc.  
942.74 H2t Todmorden: its churches & other matters 18
942.74 H2t A topographical survey of the valley & hill farms going by the Burnley Rd from Todmorden to Crossings o 'th' Dean in Cliviger: together with personal notes of the people, habits & customs: written as a handbook of Cornholme: York History 38
942.72/L7 H2t Historical and personal notes upon the village of Littleborough with the family history of John Taylor. .