of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and related waterways

Burscough Canal

WELCOME to our updated website - launched 6th April 2015.


At the launch of the site, in March 2010, there were more than 3,000 names, mostly families of canal workers on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, all connected by marriage in one big tree, Canal Family 1. Since then the number of people in this tree has grown to more than 36,000, and it has spread from Lancashire and Yorkshire into Cheshire and beyond. Two more trees, Canal Family 2 with 95 people (merged with Canal Family 1 on 6th June 2014 and deleted) and Canal Family 3 with 24 people, were started in June 2012. A fourth tree, Canal Family 4 (containing 273 names), was created on 3rd October 2013, but was soon merged into Canal Family 1 and was deleted on 18th October 2013.

A new tree, Canal Family 5 (containing 120 names), was created on 8th February 2014, and another, Canal Family 6 (containing 124 names), on 8th July 2017. This was merged into Canal Family 1 on 26th Oct 2017 and deleted. Canal Family 7 (initially containing 523 names) was added on Nov 10 2017.

We do not knowingly include living people without permission. The information has been compiled from the private research of ODFHS members and from the websites of Lancashire On-line Parish Clerks, Lancashire BMDs, the Censuses and increasingly parish records on Ancesty. Some details are inevitably more complete than others, but where copies of birth, marriage or death certificates are held, this is indicated in an individual's Life History by the letters BC, MC or DC.

Society members and others are invited to contribute information of their own to help fill in the gaps and expand the existing tree. Any additional data or suggested amendments can be emailed to boatfamilies[at] or by using the contact us link - and do please indicate sources, especially if you have verification by certificates etc.

We can accept data in any form convenient to you, but if you have researched a tree of three or more generations we would appreciate receiving it as an attachment in GEDCOM format to the same address. (Your family history program will have an option to export a GEDCOM tree, and this is what we would like you to send as an email attachment.) If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.


This website is compiled using The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, v.10.1 (written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2015 ©)
Please note that clicking the link at the bottom of each page (to the TNG website) will take you away from this site!

Ormskirk & District
Family History Society

Boat Families Website

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

The purpose of this site is to assist researchers whose ancestors worked on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal & associated waterways, especially in South-West Lancashire. In later pages of the introduction, you will find more information about the canals & how to submit questions and family trees for inclusion on the site.


Use the link above to see the surname list or select one of the surnames from the panel below. The main family members are those who have a significant number of relatives recorded as boaters. Alternatively, you can search for a particular person by using the search box. At various places on the site you will see a small tree icon - this will show you the family tree of this particular person. Or, 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. Returning to the Group Names page will allow you to visit another tree.

PLEASE NOTE: The search box on the right is a simple search on Canal Family 1. For many more options and to search all trees together please go to the Advanced Search page choose from the various drop-down boxes.


More information relating to the updates shown on the right can be found in the Update History files which can be viewed by going to the MEDIA link above and selecting DOCUMENTS.


If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you. Click on Info and Contact Us.


We have spent a great deal of time in building & populating this site. We have made every effort to produce a site that is accurate & easy to use. However No warranty is given, or implied.


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, and many others.

Ainscough Flour Mill


Canal Family 1:
5 December 2017 . . . V78
New total:
36,074 individuals
New Name:
Catterall 30
Main increases:
Webb +40; Hurst +15; Hewitt +12

The new name of Catterall adds the family of waterman William to that of his brother James, who we previously had as Cattrall. They were born in Helsby, Cheshire, either side of 1800, and the spelling of their surname varied in the censuses and BMD records. James's son Joseph's five children were all baptised Cattrall, and remain so on our site.
This family and our main increases have come through additions and amendments to the extended family of Robert Bowyer and Mary Lowndes of Northwich, to whom they are all related. Robert and Mary's son Samuel was born before they married and used both surnames, his sons apparently choosing the one they preferred. Our thanks go to Eric Borrows for helping to resolve the confusion.

Boatfamilies is now signing off for a few weeks, and we wish all users a MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR - especially those who have sent in details of their own family histories. Do keep the information coming and we will resume our updates in January.

Canal Family 2:
6 June 2014 - merged with Canal Family 1

Canal Family 3:
29 June 2012 ... V02
New total: 24 individuals
Main names: Denson, Rimmer ...

Canal Family 4:
18 October 2013 - merged with Canal Family 1

Canal Family 5:
22 May 2015 ... V02
New total: 122 individuals
Main names: Ainscough 28, Mason 26, Fairclough 23

Canal Family 6:
26 October 2017 - merged with Canal Family 1

Canal Family 7:
10 Nov 2017 - updated 29 Nov
Total: 1,063 individuals
Main names: Hinchliffe 89; Hastings 68; Sutton 65; Moxon 64; Bisby, Mellor 42; Pilkington 41