James was born on the 28th February 1843 (DYM) possibly at Whithings Clough or at Boardmans near Hawkshaw in Lancashire to Thomas (HM059) and Rachel (HM060).

By the time of the 1851 Census he was 8 years old and living with his parents and his brothers and sisters William (GM076), Nancy (GM078), Betsy (GM150), John (GM151) and Rachel (FM193) at Boardmans.

James became a coal miner like his older brother, William. He married Alice Greenwood (GM022) on 7th May 1868 (DYM) when he was aged 25. They were married at the Parish Church in Burnley. Details of the certificate are shown below:

1868 Marriage solemnized at Holy Trinity Church in the Parish of H.T.Habergham Eaves in the County of Lancaster
No. When married Name and surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the Time of Marriage Father’s Name and Surname Rank or Profession
of Father
289 May
James Magnall

Alice Greenwod







Stoops Lane

Back Lane

Thomas Magnall

James Greenwood



Married in the Church of the Holy Trinity according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church
by certificate by me, Edward B Trotter
This Marriage was
solemnized between us
James Magnall X

Alice Greenwood

in the presence of us John Magnall X

Rachel Magnall X

The 1871 Census shows that they had moved to the Burnley area with the rest of the family and they were living with Alice’s father, James Greenwood (HG001), and her older brother Jonathan, at Back Lane in Habergham Eaves with their first two children, Joseph and Margaret.

On 29 June 1873 their daughter Mary Alice was baptised at Holy Trinity, Habergham Eaves and James is recorded as being a miner with the family living at Gannow Lane. Mary Alice died aged 1 year 3 months and was buried in Burnley Cemetery, the family recorded as still living at Gannow Lane.

James’ son James Thomas was born on 20 June 1876 and his baptismal record at Holy Trinity on 23 July 1876 show the family living at Coal Clough Lane and that James is working as a fireman. A fireman at a coal mine was an underground official who had supervision of a district and the men working in it, they were designated as the competent person directly responsible for the safety of their district and inspection of its roadways and the role developed as an amalgamation of several earlier roles: in early mining a “fireman” was originally responsible for testing for firedamp. This role carried responsibility, was a post awarded to experienced miners along with a bigger wage packet.

Gretna Green Hotel in Burnley – demolished late 2011 / early 2012 to make way for new housing

Somewhere between 1871 and 1881, James Greenwood became the publican of the Gretna Green Inn at Four Lane Ends – it’s address appears to have been 297 Coal Clough Lane which is on the junction between Coal Clough Lane and Cog Lane where many other members of the Magnall family lived. Between July 1876 and Aug 1878 James Magnall gave up coal mining and became a servant under his father-in-law. The 1881 Census shows that James and Alice had four living children:- Joseph (FM040), Margaret (FM041), James Thomas (EM026) and Sarah Jane (EM027).

The 1891 Census shows that James is now 48 years old and is a retired grocer! The family are living at 151 Cog Lane. He and Alice have Alice’s father and seven children living with them:- Joseph (FM040), Margaret (FM041), James Thomas (EM026), Sarah Jane (EM027), Greenwood (EM186), Alice Ann (EM219) and Percy (EM190).

At the time of the 1901 Census James was 58 years old and is described as a retired grocer living at 279 Cog Lane. He is living with his wife and children Sarah Jane (EM027), Greenwood (EM186) and Alice Annie (EM219).

James and Alice had at least 13 children, several who died at a very early age. The ones we know of are:-

  • Joseph (FM040) born 31st Oct 1868 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1868 Q4 8e 189 & birth certificate), christened 29th November 1868 (VRI), died 25th December 1931;
  • Margaret (FM041) born 26th Jun 1870 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1870 Q3 8e 191 & birth certificate), christened 7th August 1870 (VRI), died 10th Mar 1949;
  • Rachel (FM088) born 17th December 1871 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1872 Q1 V.8e p.201), christened 4th Feb 1872 (VRI), died 29th July 1872 (RoD Burnley 1872 Q3 V.8e p.125 age 0), buried in Burnley Cemetery 1st August 1872;
  • Mary Alice (FM091) b.4th June 1873 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1873 Q2 8e 243), christened 19th June 1873 (VRI) and died 1st November 1874 (RoD Burnley 1874 Q4 8e 156 age 1);
  • James Thomas (EM026) born 20th June 1876 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1876 Q3 8e 211), died 19th June 1944;
  • Amelia (EM035) born 11th August 1878 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1878 Q3 8e 251), christened 4th September 1878 (VRI) and died 1st October 1878 (RoD Burnley 1878 Q3 8e 198 age 0);
  • Sarah Jane (EM027) born 21st Jun 1880 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1880 Q3 8e 2?? (272?)), christened 14th July 1880 (VRI), died 4th January 1906 (RoD Burnley 1906 Q1 8e 146 age 25);
  • Greenwood (EM186) born 19th September 1881 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1881 Q4 8e 432 & birth certificate), christened 3rd November 1881 (VRI), died 21st October 1934 (RoD Cheltenham 1934 Q4 6a 476 age 53);
  • Alice Annie (EM219) born 9th November 1883 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1883 Q4 8e 242 & birth certificate), christened 26th December 1883 (VRI), died 11th Jun 1980;
  • Herbert (EM041) born 1st December 1885 (RoB Burnley 1885 Q4 8e 240), died 20th December 1885 (RoD Burnley 1885 Q4 8e 155 age 0);
  • Percy (EM190) born 28th Nov 1886 (VRI & RoB Burnley 1886 Q4 8e 231 & birth certificate), christened 29th December 1886 (VRI), died 23rd February 1920 (RoD Burnley 1920 Q1 8e 285 age 33);
  • Albert Horace (EM043) born 3rd March 1889 (RoB Burnley 1889 Q1 8e 243), christened 10th April 1889 (VRI), died 17th Apr 1889 (RoD Burnley 1889 Q2 8e 137 age 0);
  • Lily (EM045) born 10th July 1890 (RoB Burnley 1890 Q3 8e 179), christened 7th August 1890 (VRI), died 2nd October 1890 (RoD Burnley 1890 Q4 8e 136 age 0).

James died at the age of 65 on 6th Sep 1908. Details of his death certificate are shown below:

No. When and
where died
Name and
Sex Age Occupation Cause of death Signature, description and residence of informant When
Signature of
80 Sixth
Cog Lane
Male 65
2 months
Certified by
J W Clegg
J Magnall
Present at death
69 Athol
W T Clegg

James was buried in Burnley Cemetery on 10 September 1908 in grave 1685. The Probate record for James reads:

MAGNALL James of 276 Cog-lane Burnley Lancashire died 6 September 1908 Probate London 31 October to Alice magnall widow and Joseph Magnall weaver.
Effect £1210 2s. 6d.

From the Registers we think that Alice died in Burnley in 1934 (Burnley 1934 Q2 8e 198) aged 85 having born at least 13 children and having seen 9 of them die before she did.

Many thanks to Dorothy Y Magnall and James Greenwood Magnall for their help in supplying much of this information.

[Last updated 20 Nov 2023]