Preston Tree

Go to start of family tree.

During the 19th Century there were more Moulding births, marriages and deaths in Preston than in any other town in the UK. This was followed closely by Blackburn – seven miles down the road – and then, some way behind, Keighley in West Yorkshire and Leicester in the Midlands. Edmonton and Axminster were the most popular places for Mouldings in the South with about a quarter the numbers of Preston.

Catholic and Protestant Mouldings

Both have their trees here, but I come from the John, William, Thomas and Thomas lineage so naturally have researched them more. They were all Catholic but there are about an equal number of Protestant Mouldings in the area. Due to King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, Catholicism was an underground religion from 1550 to 1850 but Preston (the name comes from Priest’s town) was something of a Catholic stronghold. Many recusants (people convicted for refusing to attend a Protestant service) lived in the area. There will be many reasons why the Mouldings became Protestant or Catholic but (and take this with a pinch of salt if you wish) I think we are all related somewhere down the line.

The Moulding name

It is possible, even probable, that all Moulding, Mouldin, Mouldon, Moulden and other similar names were once one and the same. I have seen Moulden, Mouldon and Moulding used in the same wills. As most people were illiterate, it was up to the clergyman or his scribe to write down the name, so it is easy to see how many spellings could come about. The Lancashire dialect pronounces Moulding as Mowdin, whereas in the South it is pronounced Moleding, Maulding and such like. As literacy increased in the 19th Century, records became more accurate and so it became more certain that Mouldings were not related to Mouldens at least not for generations.

Proud Preston

As the majority of Mouldings lived in Lancashire, Mouldings from around the globe may be connected and so may find the following brief background interesting and useful. To some extent the gist of it will apply to other parts of the UK.

Mills and Cotton

Preston and Walton le Dale (which is on the southern bank of the River Ribble which flows through south Preston) were amongst the first places with mills in the late 18th Century. Industrial expansion grew rapidly, farmland became houses and factories, and the population mushroomed. Preston became almost totally dependent on cotton spinning. Horrockses cotton mill was the biggest in the world in 1811. Mill owners employed orphans specially brought up from London to work and this kept the wages down in Preston to a much lower level than most. In 1832 the wage was three shillings a week and rent was two shillings a week. Conditions were such that workers were forced to work long hours (some girls worked from 3am to 10:30pm) all for an extra sevenpence halfpenny a week. Even so, wages in the mills were usually higher than those of agricultural labourers and many other occupations. Hand loom weavers became especially poor as industrialists dominated the world and steamrollered everything before them.

Poverty and Poor Laws

Poor Laws and their enforcers, the Guardians, developed to meet the “political” problem of poverty. The government policy was that people were poor because of their own improvidence and everything should be done to deter “scroungers” from “idleness”. “Self help” was the keyword. The Guardians saw to it that any pauper’s standard of living was always below the level of the poorest paid worker. In other words, they housed workhouse inmates in the most appalling conditions, fed them on soup, and clothed them in rags, if anything at all. This was supposed to deter people from becoming poor – as if they had a choice. It led to contempt, fear and repulsion towards the Guardians and workhouses (as was intended). The Lancashire Factory Girl is a poem that gives a touching insight into the pauper’s plight.

Cotton Famine

The catastrophic consequences of dependency on one industry were most clearly shown during the “Cotton Famine” of 1860 to 1865. India and other large markets were already flooded with surplus stocks and then the American Civil War and speculation led to a rise in the price of cotton. Soon raw cotton was dearer than finished cloth, so it made no commercial sense for mill owners to process it. By 1862, three quarters of the entire 80,000 population of Preston were unemployed. Although multi-million pound fortunes were being made out of sales of existing stocks and raw cotton, the poor people of Preston were in a desperate situation.

Political arguments raged as to what to do but at least a Relief Committee came out of it that gave much needed help. There was much corruption and claims that the Irish, or the Catholics, or the Protestants, were getting too much or too little. The Relief Committee itself got a bad name and near riots ensued. This only led to the harsh values of “self help” being even more strictly enforced. Edwin Waugh in his 1867 book Home Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk vividly describes some of conditions of the time.

Hearts of Gold

How the Mouldings fared through all of this is not certain. The births, marriages and deaths do not show any fluctuation from the norm. As they were mostly weavers at Horrockses, they probably had some work through the period. Many workers gave generously and worked strenuously to help the poor in this time. There were a great many humanitarians opposed to the stern treatment doled out by the Guardians and I hope it is this spirit that has led to “Proud Preston” (which is part of the town’s logo) rather than the pride that comes before a fall of those who are only interested in maintaining their own position and justifying their mean, narrow-minded philosophies. The “Preston Guardian” newspapers of the time showed both sides of the story and thankfully the hearts of gold and patient persistent pleas for understanding seem more in evidence. I recommend reading Waugh's book for a heart-rending insight into the character and conditions of the Preston people in 1862. Atticus also colourfully describes Preston churches and characters of the time.

Peter Moulding (who used these sources)

Search this site

Search Tips | Advanced Search

Print Options

  1. Choose font size: O O O
  2. Print

Recent Messages

Recent Comments