Some names just make us smile. I have several in my family that do that for me, it’s not the stories about the people with those names that make me smile, it’s just the name itself. One of those is Henry Heap, that one works best for me with a cockney accent where the ‘h’ on Henry is silent. Another one for me is Woolley. Makes me think “soft and cuddly”, I like soft and cuddly things.

I have been familiar with the Woolley name since I was a small girl. My grandmother spoke of her grandfather John Woolley Heap and it stuck in my brain. I do not remember what she said about him, just the name. So fast forward forty years and I’m wondering, where did the name Woolley come from? Well I knew my 2x great grandfather John Woolley Heap got his middle name from his mother’s family name. So who were the “Woolley’s”

Since we start our research going backwards the 1881 UK Census, the 1871, the 1861 and then the 1851.

1851 UK Census Ashton under Lyne Lancashire
1851 UK Census
Ashton under Lyne







They all had Henry’s wife as Eliza . I was pretty well convinced that it was Eliza Woolley,but no, in the 1841 UK Census Henry is living on Rassbottom Street in Ashton-under Lyne, Lancashire, and his wife is listed as Mary.

1841 UK Census Ashton under Lyne Lancashire, England
1841 UK Census
Ashton under Lyne
Lancashire, England

Mary is 10 years younger than Henry but in this census we need to remember that adults ages were rounded  off. Where as in the 1851 census Eliza is only 4 years younger then Henry. In the 1851 UK Census it had been  Eliza and Henry at the same address on Rassbottom Street. Well, when I thought she was Eliza Woolley I found her parents as Merlin (Melling?) Woolley and Hannah. Well that ‘s bogus.

But no, it’s  Mary (Woolley) Heap. After I was corrected by a 2x cousin I found  the  marriage for her and Henry Heap 10 June 1830 in Oldham  Lancashire England.

Church record of Marriage - Henry Heap and Mary Woolley
Church record of Marriage – Henry Heap and Mary Woolley

She died and was buried 28 July 1843, just two years after this census, lucky for me she had not died prior to the 1841 census. Mary Heaps parish burial records list place of abode as Rassbottom street in Ashton under Lyne. That is how I am assured that I had the correct Mary Heap, wife of Henry. Mary was 38 at the time of her death and that means that she was born about 1807. So now the question is who were Mary’s parents.

Looking at the 1841 UK Census, Henry and Mary name their first child Robert, which appears to be named for Henry’s father. Their second child is named John (Woolley) Heap, well maybe that’s a pretty great clue. I see on a Mary born to a John and Ann Woolley in Cheshire England. Since the 1841 census says that Mary was not born in Lancashire it is a pretty safe guess to think Mary may also be from Cheshire County, as is Henry. So now I have a possible couple for Mary’s parents. I just have to find some evidence for proof.

I did find where Henry remarries in 1845 to Eliza Stokes. I do not yet know who her Eliza’s  parents are but it is not a priority.

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