of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and connected waterways

Burscough Flour Mill

Ainscough's Mill barges - 1950s photo by Ian Moss


We launched this site in March 2010 with more than 3,000 names, mostly families of canal workers on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, all connected via inter-marriages in one tree, Canal Family 1. This tree, recently renamed Canal1A, has grown to almost 64,000 people as it continues to spread from Lancashire and Yorkshire into Cheshire, Staffordshire and beyond.

Other trees, Canal Families 2-8, were developed but have since been merged into Canal Family 1 (a record is in Media/Documents under Subsidiary Trees History). Canal Family 9 was launched in conjunction with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society to highlight Benjamin Walls, superintendent at Gargrave (details in Media/Documents/Benjamin Curry Walls). Canal Family 10 contains the descendants of Samuel and Grace Clapham of Bank Newton and Bingley, so far unconnected to the Canal Family 1 Claphams from the area.

Information has been compiled from private research by ODFHS members and other contributors. Where copies of birth, marriage or death certificates are held, this is shown in individuals' Life Histories by the letters BC, MC or DC.


We are pleased to have so many free sources of information: Lancashire Archives, Preston; the London FamilySearch Centre, whose microfilms are now at the Society of Genealogists HQ in London; UKBMD; Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks and the General Record Office Online Index. Our researchers also subscribe to websites including Ancestry and Findmypast.

Ormskirk & District
Family History Society

Boat Families Website

The Society is indebted to the small group of enthusiasts who have developed this website. Using it and other ODFHS products; such as the CD of Burscough Boat Families, should enable you to discover many of your ancestors.
Bill Huyton, late ODFHS Chairman Emeritus, March 2011.

The purpose of this site is to assist researchers whose ancestors worked on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal & associated waterways.


Use the Surnames link (top right) to see a list of main names in all trees, with an option to select a specific name from the alphabetic panel above. You can search for a particular person by using the search box, or you can see names in specific trees by changing 'all trees' to, eg, 'Canal Family 9'. At various places on the site you will see a small tree icon, which will show the family tree of your chosen individual. You can click on any name shown to reveal their details. Once you have chosen the first name it is possible to navigate that entire tree. Return to the Group Names page to visit another tree.

NOTE: The search box above right is a simple search of all our trees. For more options or to search specific trees click on Advanced Search and choose from the drop-down boxes.


We welcome contributions to help expand existing trees. Additional data or amendments can be emailed to boatfamilies[at] using the usual symbol for [at] - and please indicate sources, especially if you have verification by certificates etc. We accept data in any form convenient to you. New trees for consideration can be sent in GEDCOM format as an email attachment.

DISCLAIMER: We have spent much time building & populating this site and have made every effort to produce one that is accurate & easy to use. However, no warranty is given or implied.

SOFTWARE: This website is compiled using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, v.13.1.1 (Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2022).

Bradford Flyboat

Watercolour by Tim Bostock from a John Vickers photo


Canal1A: 22 June 2024 . . . V176
New Total: 63,970 individuals
No New Names .
Main Increases: Clayton +43; Tickle +18; Eccleston +17; Rothwell +7

More canal carpenters and boatbuilders dominate this update, mainly nine sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of Joseph Clayton b1771 Parbold. Also the family of Joseph Eccleston b1779 Croston whose wife Mary Forshaw of Rufford was already on our site, daughter of Daniel Forshaw and Margaret Leyland.

We have added the Gathurst lock-keeper William Tickle (1858-1922) whose daughter Annie married Samuel Rothwell, a canal carpenter b1879 Lathom, grandson of Burscough boatman Samuel Rothwell and Cicely Baldwin. And we have expanded the family of James Wright of Shevington whose daughter Ann married boatman William Heaps, b1856 Newburgh.

Canal Family 9 . . . 3 February 2019
Total: 45 individuals Main name: Walls

Canal Family 10 . . . 22 October 2021
Total: 97 individuals Main name: Clapham

UPDATE HISTORY: Earlier update summaries are in the Update History files available via the MEDIA link above, under DOCUMENTS.

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