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 by marriage in one tree, Canal Family 1. This tree has grown to more than 59,000 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/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.

Except for those openly listed in the 1921 and 1939 censuses, we do not knowingly include living people without family consent. 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 grateful 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, the General Record Office Online Index and Censuses. 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, ODFHS Chairman Emeritus, March 2011.

The purpose of this site is to assist researchers whose ancestors worked on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal & associated waterways in Yorkshire, Cheshire and more recently in the Midlands.


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 on Canal Family 1. For more options and to search all trees together use 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], or via Info and Contact Us - 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 (written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2022).

Bradford Flyboat

Watercolour by Tim Bostock from a John Vickers photo


Canal Family 1: 13 January 2023 . . . V151
New Total: 59,139 individuals
No New Names .
Main Increases: Shaw +22; Turton +17; Goddard, Jarvis +12; Deakin +9; Wells +6

Thanks go to new contacts Colin Wells, Terri Grice and Louise Sheridan who have helped develop Burscough boatfamilies including Baldwin, Wells and Deakin. Future local additions can also be expected with the recent addition to the ODFHS Library of post-1918 baptism records at St John the Baptist, Burscough, available to members on the Society's main website.

Our main increase is in the Cheshire family of boatmen descended from John Shaw and Elizabeth Wakefield of Middlewich, one of whose sons married Sarah Ollerhead of Wheelock while his sister married Sarah's brother William Ollerhead.

We have also expanded the Midlands families headed by John Turton b1795 and William Jarvis, connected by the marriage in 1860 of their grandchildren Alice Turton and Thomas Jarvis, whose niece Alice married Staffordshire boatman Joseph Goddard.

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: More information is in the Update History files which can be viewed by going to the MEDIA link above and selecting DOCUMENTS.

This site powered by The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding ©, v. 13.1.1, written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2023.