The genealogical region of Craven (western Yorkshire) and Whalley (eastern Lancashire)
This webpage was originally made by Andrew Lancaster in order to help himself and others work on this area.
Please contact him on email@example.com if you have constructive comments or questions.
This webpage is especially relevant to the Whalley and Craven document collection webpages.
For genealogists, the regions that are important are the regions within which people were likely to move in one lifetime, whether because they were likely to find a job there, or else a partner in marriage. In the once sparsely populated hills of northern England, such regions could be quite big, and they can require a lot of thinking about the lay of the land before they make sense. Therefore this webpage has been made about one such area.
The region of Craven and Whalley we are talking about does not have a snappy name, or even a single clear traditional or official definition, but can be defined in various ways:-
The old Yorkshire West Riding Deanery of Craven, which is almost the same as the Wapentake of Staincliffe.2 (The closer to Whalley the better.)
The old Lancashire parish of Whalley, at its fullest extent (which was a very large parish including the forests of Pendle, Rossendale, and Trawden, as well as towns such as Accrington, Clitheroe, Colne and Burnley). (The closer to Craven and Staincliffe the better)
Western upland parts of the large old Yorkshire border parishes of Bradford and Halifax, such as Haworth, Wadsworth, Heptonstall and Blackshaw/ or Stansfield.
...or in modern terms...
The modern North Yorkshire District of Craven (a reduced version of the old Craven)3. The southern part near Whalley is more central.
The modern Lancashire Districts of Ribble Valley, Pendle, Burnley, and to some extent also Hyndburn, and Rossendale.
The Whalley-Craven region is a hilly and relatively rural area with the population most concentrated into the dales of three or four river catchments: the Ribble upstream from Clitheroe, the Calder upstream from Whalley, and the Aire upstream from Bingley. Wharfedale upstream of Ilkley could be considered as the northern edge of the region also. Craven and Whalley’s waters are linked by both the Ribble and the Liverpool-Leeds Canal.
These rivers originate in sparsely-populated moorlands, forming natural borders that almost surround the Whalley and Craven populations. These are the Yorkshire Dales, the Forest of Bowland, the moors of Oswaldthistle and Rossendale Forest, and a segment of the Pennines on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border which includes Hameldon, Boulsworth and the moors around the Haworth and Keighley area.
To the west, after the Ribble and Calder squeeze past Bowland and Pendle, is the more heavily populated region of Lower Ribblesdale, which is outside our region of interest. Similarly, to the east, as the Aire and other rivers come out of the hills, bigger cities such as Bradford and Halifax appear which are outside our region. And in the south, the River Irwell exists our area and enters the Rochdale area.
Here is a rough summary in map form6. (It does not attempt to explain all the smallest detached and extra-parochial areas.)
Red borders are boundaries of the old Deanery of Craven.7
Bright green boundaries for the old parish of Whalley.
The blue boundaries are the old Wapentakes for Blackburnshire (containing Whalley), Staincliffe (containing most of Craven) as well as Ewcross (containing Horton in Robblesdale).
The purple boundaries are modern districts.
Notice when comparing new and old borders that a wedge of parishes, with Bowland Forest at the blunt end, and Barnoldswick at the sharp end, have been moved from Yorkshire into Lancashire.
1The county emblems of Lancashire and Yorkshire used above, the Red Rose and White Rose respectively, are the versions used by Wikipedia.
2The Deanery included Horton in Ribblesdale (Ewcross Wapentake) and Bingley and Illkley (both in the Upper division of Skyrack Wapentake). A piece of Great Mitton, a Craven parish in Bowland, also protruded into Lancashire, and out of Staincliffe. The Staincliffe Wapentake on the other hand had jurisdiction of some detached parts of Whalley parish and some extra-parochial areas which would have once been technically outside the Deanery.
3It is however bigger to the north, now including the Lonsdale section of the old Wapentake of Ewcross, which is of interest to this project, but not quite in the core zone.
4Modern Bradford contains all of the old Craven parishes of Keighley, Addingham and Bingley, plus the Silsden and Steeton with Eastburn parts of Kildwick, and part of Ilkley. It also contains Haworth, which is originally part of Bradford, and of interest to this project.
5Calderdale overlaps for the most part with the old parish of Halifax and contains Hepton, which is of interest to this project.
6The maps and other information on this webpage was made by Andrew Lancaster, but obviously by cross checking a lot of sources. Sources referred to included:
Colin Hinson's Yorkshire maps on GENUKI., as well as the GENUKI pages for many of the parishes in both the Lancashire and Yorkshire regions discussed.
The Visions of Britain website., which at this time is able to give incomplete histories of changes in district boundaries, including wapentakes, old parishes, and modern districts, and so is very helpful when used with other sources.
The Victoria County History of Lancashire. Volume 6, concerning the hundred of Blackburnshire, and especially the parish of Whalley. This is online at the British History Online website.
Thomas Dunham Whitaker's History of the Parish of Whalley, is available online on the Internet Archive.
Thomas Dunham Whitakers's History of Craven, which is apparently not on the Internet Archive, but available in CD from Colin Hinson.
Harry Speight's Craven and the North West Yorkshire Highlands, online at the Internet Archive.
Commonly used online resources including www.multimap.com (which has a modern Ordnance Survey map function), Google Maps, and Wikipedia.
7 Thanks to David Kidd for pointing out to me that at the time of the Domesday Book around 1086 the area then known as Craven protruded out into the part of modern Lancashire between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, including at least parts of Melling, Hornby and Wray.