James was born on the 28 February 1843 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.

The 1861 Census was taken on the night of 7th April 1861 and shows the family living at Bromley Fold in the parish of Tottington Lower End. It took some time to track the family down on the 1861 Census, I finally found them when I stopped looking for variations on the Magnall surname and started looking for a Thomas married to a Rachel with the correct children with the correct ages. I found them with the surname Greenhalgh! James became a coal miner like his older brother, William.

James married Alice Greenwood (GM022) on 7 May 1868 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

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 31 October 1868, christened 29 November 1868, died 25 December 1931;
  • Margaret (FM041) born 26 June 1870, christened 7 August 1870, died 10 March 1949;
  • Rachel (FM088) born 17 December 1871, christened 4 February 1872, died 29 July 1872, buried in Burnley Cemetery 1 August 1872;
  • Mary Alice (FM091) born 4 June 1873, christened 19 June 1873 and died 1 November 1874 age 1;
  • James Thomas (EM026) born 20 June 1876, died 19 June 1944;
  • Amelia (EM035) born 11 August 1878, christened 4 September 1878 and died 1 October 1878 aged 0;
  • Sarah Jane (EM027) born 21 June 1880, christened 14 July 1880, died 4 January 1906 aged 25;
  • Greenwood (EM186) born 19 September 1881, christened 3 November 1881, died 21 October 1934 aged 53;
  • Alice Annie (EM219) born 9 November 1883, christened 26 December 1883, died 11 June 1981;
  • Herbert (EM041) born 1 December 1885, died 20 December 1885 aged 0;
  • Percy (EM190) born 28 November 1886, christened 29 December 1886, died 23 February 1920 aged 33;
  • Albert Horace (EM043) born 3 March 1889, christened 10 April 1889, died 17 Apr 1889 aged 0;
  • Lily (EM045) born 10 July 1890, christened 7 August 1890, died 2 October 1890 aged 0.

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. James was still working as a miner.

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 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 the baptism of Amelia on 4 September 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).

The 1896 Directory of Burnley, and adjacent townships records:

Magnall James, grocer, 145 and 147 Cog lane

The Burnley Express of 9 December 1899 reports on its “Express Shilling Fund” which was collecting money for less fortunate citizens, it records a contribution from:

James Magnall, 276, Cog-lane, Burnley ……..£0 10s. 0d.

At the time of the 1901 Census James was 58 years old and is described as a retired grocer living at 276 Cog Lane. He is living with his wife and children Sarah Jane (EM027), Greenwood (EM186) and Alice Annie (EM219).

James died at the age of 65 on 6 September 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.

Alice died in Burnley on 26 April 1934 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 30 Dec 2023]