MARRIED […] On Tuesday last, at St. George’s, Hanover-square, London, by the Rev. H. J. Atcherley, uncle of the bride, E. Ryley, Esq., Oakley Park, second son of E. Ryley, Esq., Victoria Works, Market Drayton, to Mary, second daughter of J. Atcherley, Esq., of the Moretown, Shropshire. — Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, Monday 4 April 1859.
Don’t believe everything you read in the papers. This old saying is sound advice, particularly so with regard to the above marriage notice. Although Edward Ryley, son of Edward Ryley of Market Drayton, did marry Mary (Ellen) Atcherley of the Moortown, Mary was the second daughter of Robert Atcherley (not J Atcherley), and the marriage took place not in 1859 but three years later in 1862! Furthermore, the wedding took place at High Ercall in Shropshire, not in London, and was conducted by the Rev J T Halke – the ‘Rev H J Atcherley’ was a figment of somebody’s imagination.
Notwithstanding the premature (and inaccurate) news of their nuptials, the wedding of Edward Ryley and Mary Ellen Atcherley was, as far as I know, a normal and uncontroversial affair, which is more than can be said for Edward’s second marriage. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, this story concerns the relationship between Edward Ryley and the Atcherley family before things became complicated. It also concerns the relationships between the Ryleys and two other families, the Sandfords and the Heaths. Let’s start with Edward’s formative years, prior to his marriage.
Edward Ryley was born at Oakley Mill in Betton, part of the parish of Drayton in Hales (which then lay partly in Shropshire and partly in Staffordshire). He was baptised at Market Drayton St Mary (pictured above) on 26 April 1837. We already know that Edward was named after his father, and given the nature of Edward junior’s birthplace it comes as no surprise to find that Edward senior was described in the baptism register as a miller. His wife, Edward junior’s mother, was Mary Ann, née Heath; this couple were married at Market Drayton on 3 November 1831. I will have more to say about the Heaths later in this story.
The Ryley family was still living at Oakley Mill when the 1841 census was taken. Living with Edward senior and Mary were Edward Ryley junior, age 4, Frances Ryley, age 6, John Ryley, who was just 7 months old, plus a lady named Frances Sims (her age recorded as 60) and four servants. The census of 1851 suggests that little had changed in the intervening ten years. 54-year-old Edward senior of Betton was by this time a “Miller & Farmer of 108 Acres employing 4 Labourers & 2 Apprentices”. Children Frances and John Ryley were naturally still at home, along with a brother who was absent in 1841 (when he had been at school in Adderley, Shropshire) – Thomas, aged 18, whose full name was Thomas Heath Ryley. In 1851 it was Edward junior’s turn to be away from home on census night; for reasons I have yet to fathom he was a visitor at the Swan Inn in Betley, Staffordshire.
Other sources reveal things the censuses do not, with regard to the business affairs of the elder Edward Ryley between 1841 and ‘51. An advertisement in the Staffordshire Advertiser of 21 May 1842, for example, shows that “Ryley and Sandbrook, Market Drayton” were agents for Imperial Compost (“for the turnip crop […] the cheapest and decidedly the most efficacious manure”). The ‘Drayton’ section of Pigot’s 1844 Directory of Shropshire includes entries for “Sandbrooks & Ryley, New town” as one of three horse hair seating manufacturers (in its description of Market Drayton, the directory stated that “The only manufactories now existing are for paper, and hair-cloth for chair seating.”)
The same two surnames, in reverse order, also appeared as one of two entries under ‘wharfingers’: “Ryley & Sandbrook, Victoria wharf” (the adjacent Victoria Bridge is pictured above). While William Tomkinson at the Old wharf offered conveyance by water “to all parts of the Kingdom” through several companies, Ryley and Sandbrook offered a daily service from the Victoria wharf to Manchester and Liverpool, via the Neptune Conveyance Company. These wharves were situated on the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (completed in 1835) which in 1846 became part of the Shropshire Union Canal network. This ran northwards through Cheshire (linking up with the Trent and Mersey Canal via its Middlewich branch and with other canals to the west via the Llangollen Canal) to Chester and on to the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, and in the other direction to Wolverhampton where it joined the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Autherley Junction (and via that waterway’s junction at Aldersley, the canals of Birmingham and beyond). Coincidentally, when proposals for an additional canal and aqueduct at Autherley were debated in Parliament in 1834 and 1836, the legislation was sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Tettenhall and Atcherley Canal Bill!
The Sandbrooks were at that time a well-known Market Drayton family. William Sandbrook, of Warwickshire, had married wine merchant’s daughter Hannah Bayley there in 1810, and he was running the Wine Vault in the town by 1816 (the premises, now known as the Sandbrook Vaults, have survived to this day and are pictured here). After William’s death in 1835 his son Benjamin Bayley Sandbrook (who had been baptised at Market Drayton by the Rev John Atcherley) took over that part of the family’s business empire, while his widow Hannah and son William Junior pursued other opportunities. The following notice, published in the London Gazette of 9 August 1850, confirms that the Ryley in business with the latter Sandbrooks was Edward:
NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership lately subsisting between us the undersigned, Hannah Sandbrook, William Sandbrook, and Edward Ryley, trading under the firm of Sandbrooks and Ryley, at Market Drayton, in the county of Salop, as Horse-hair Seating Manufacturers, was dissolved by mutual consent, on the 10th day of June last; and that by the like consent all debts due from or owing to the said partnership will be paid and received by the said Hannah and William Sandbrook, by whom the business will in future be carried on.—Dated this 31st day of July 1850.
Although Edward Ryley senior had pulled out of one partnership with the Sandbrooks, he continued to work with them (or one of them, probably William) in another. The result of this and other changes in the commercial activities of these three can be seen within the pages of Samuel Bagshaw’s History, Gazetteer & Directory of Shropshire of 1851. In its write-up of “Drayton-in-Hales, or Market Drayton,” this publication noted: “There are three firms engaged in the manufacture of hair seating, which together employ about two hundred operatives.” One of those firms was “Sandbrook H. and W., Walk Mill”. Conveyance by water from Market Drayton was now the sole preserve of William Tomkinson, an agent for three companies, at the Old wharf – with “Ryley & Sandbrook, Victoria Wharf” now listed as coal merchants! This venture was on top of the above-mentioned milling and farming activities at Betton which Edward declared on the 1851 census.
Ordnance Survey map of 1833, with the locations of (1) Oakley Mill, (2) Victoria Wharf, and (3) Walk Mill / Victoria Mills highlighted.
Further changes were to follow during the 1850s, with the result that by 1861 the Ryley family had moved from Oakley Mill at Betton to Victoria Mills in Little Drayton. Edward Ryley senior was still a miller, but his eldest son Thomas was now a hair seat manufacturer and Edward junior was a corn, seed and manure merchant.
‘Victoria Mills’ was in fact the aforementioned Walk Mill, previously occupied by William Sandbrook and used for his hair seating factory (and used before that as a paper mill, and before that as a fulling or walking mill – hence the name – with a history going back centuries). The Ryleys had evidently taken on the mill and its business either shortly before William’s untimely death in 1857 (or that of his long-widowed mother Hannah in 1858), or not long afterwards. A clue regarding the timing might be found in this notice published in the Staffordshire Advertiser of 5 April 1856:
DAIRY STOCK, at OAKLEY MILLS, near MARKET DRAYTON.
W. D. GREEN has been favoured with instructions from Mr. Ryley, who is declining the dairy, to SELL by AUCTION the whole of his prime DAIRY STOCK, on Tuesday, the 22nd April, 1856.
It is possible that Edward Ryley senior’s decision to ‘decline’ his dairy at Oakley Mill came about because of the opportunities presented at that time by the availability of Walk Mill. The family did not leave their home in Betton township in 1856 however. Although the dairy had gone, the Ryleys continued to farm there and – perhaps encouraged by the experience of selling their dairy cattle – had W D Green conduct annual sales of their livestock in April 1857 (calving heifers, sheep, and pigs), April 1858 (calving heifers, and fat stock), May 1858 (“fat stock”) and finally April 1859 when “the Stock of CALVING HEIFERS, HUSBANDRY IMPLEMENTS, &c., of Mr. Ryley, who is giving up the farm” was sold.
The presence of a Mr Clarke at Oakley Mill in January 1860 (he contributed a store pig to W D Green’s sale of ‘fat and store stock’ that month) indicates that the Ryleys had moved to Victoria Mills by then. Had they also given the buildings their new name? I suspect so, for the earliest reference I have found to them is a notice relating to the sale of a garden “in the occupation of Mr. Ryley, and situate near the Victoria Mills, Market Drayton,” in 1860. Published lists of the “Persons of whom the Company or Partnership [of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company] consists” still included Edward Ryley of Oakley Mills, Market Drayton, miller, at the beginning of 1861, but by 1862 his entry had been updated to “Edward Ryley, Victoria Mills, near Market Drayton, miller”.
Did the relocation of the Ryley family from out ‘in the sticks’ to the increasingly bustling town of Market Drayton enable Edward junior and Mary Ellen Atcherley to meet? Or was it perhaps Edward’s job as an agricultural merchant which brought him into contact with the Atcherleys? However and whenever the couple met, it seems that they knew each other well enough by 1859 for someone to suggest (mistakenly? frivolously?) that they were getting married that year.
The actual wedding of Edward Ryley and Mary Ellen Atcherley took place on 14 May 1862. When their entry in the marriage register was completed both bride and groom declared that they were of full age (Edward was 25 and Mary, who was born in 1840, was about 21). Edward described himself as a miller, residing at Little Drayton, son of Edward Ryley, also a miller. Mary, of Ercall Magna (or to be more precise, of the Moortown in that parish), was the daughter of Robert Atcherley (by then deceased), a farmer. The witnesses were James Wilding (a farmer at Walton, near the Moortown), and Frances Ryley, Edward’s sister.
Edward and Mary Ellen set up home in a house at The Mount in Market Drayton, not far from Victoria Mills. Edward was listed there (as “Ryley Mr. Edward, jun.”), as one of the private residents of Market Drayton, in the 1863 edition of Kelly and Company’s Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol. It was almost certainly within that house that Edward and Mary Ellen’s first child, a son named for his maternal grandfather, was born on 7 February 1863. Robert Atcherley Ryley was baptised a month later, on 6 March, at Market Drayton St Mary. A new phase in the life of Edward Ryley – and of Mary Ellen, the wife of Ryley – had begun.
> On to Part 2.
Picture credits. Market Drayton St Mary: Original photo © Copyright Geoff Pick; taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Victoria Bridge (at Victoria Wharf), Market Drayton: Original photo by Roger Kidd; taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Sandbrook Vaults: Original photo © Copyright Mike White; taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Map showing locations of Oakley Mill, Victoria Wharf and Walk Mill / Victoria Mills: This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth; it is used under a Creative Commons licence. Map showing Oakley Mill House and Oakley Hall: Extract from Ordnance Survey six-inch map XXII.10 published 1898 (surveyed 1878), Crown Copyright expired; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.
 Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, Monday 4 April 1859, page 3, column 4. “MARRIED”. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 May 1862, page 5. “Marriages.” Copy viewed at Findmypast (search name Alcherley).
 Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 21 May 1862, page 5. “MARRIAGES.” Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Atchcrley).
 Market Drayton. At: GENUKI website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Market Drayton St Mary, Shropshire, baptism register covering 1837. Entry dated 26 April 1837 for Edward Ryley. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I06762-3, Film 1526899, Ref no. p 91.
 Market Drayton St Mary, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1831. Entry dated 3 Nov 1831 for “Edward Ryley of this Parish and Mary Ann Heath of this Parish”. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I04627-5, Film 1526925, Ref. no. 621. Notes: Both parties signed. Witnesses were Mary Ryley, Thos. Heath.
 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 899, book 4, folio 67, page 4. Oakley Mill, Betton, Drayton in Hales, Shropshire. Edward Ryley, 40, miller, not born in county. Mary Ryley, 40, born in county. Edward Ryley, 4, born in county. Frances Ryley, 6, born in county. John Ryley, 7 months, born in county. Frances Sims, 60, not born in county. Plus 2 male servants and 2 female servants.
 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1996, folio 157, page 5. Mill House, Betton, Drayton in Hales, Shropshire. Head: Edward Ryley, 54, miller & farmer of 108 acres, born Wistaston, Cheshire. Wife: Mary A Ryley, 52, born Drayton. Son: Thomas Ryley, 18, born Drayton. Dau: Frances Ryley, 16, born Drayton. Son: John Ryley, 10, born Drayton. Sister: Jane Ryley, unmarried, 52, annuitant, born Drayton. Plus 2 house servants and 2 mill apprentices.
 Market Drayton St Mary, Shropshire, baptism register covering 832. Entry dated 25 Sep 1832 for Thomas Heath Riley [= Ryley], parents Edward and Mary Riley [= Ryley], abode Betton, father’s occupation Miller. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I06762-3, Film 1526899, Ref. no. p 15.
 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 899, book 1, folio 16, pages 4 and 5. Adderley, Shropshire. Margeratta [Burrows?], 50, School M, born in county. Hester [Burrows?], 30, [School M], born in county. Thomas Riley [= Ryley], 8, Pupil, born in county. Plus 7 other Pupils (a boy aged 12 and 6 girls aged from 6 to 17).
 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 2001, folio 484, page 34. Swan Inn, Betley, Drayton in Hales, Staffordshire. Head: Joseph [Washam?], 44, Innkeeper & Plumber, born Betley. Wife, 4 children. Visitor: Edward Riley [= Ryley], 14, scholar, born Betton, Shropshire. Plus 2 more visitors (both teenagers and scholars) and a house servant.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 21 May 1842, page 1. “TURNIPS.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive (search terms Sandbrook and Drayton).
 Pigot & Co.’s Directory of Shropshire, 1846. Pages 14 – 16. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946.
 Streetmap.co.uk – centred on Victoria Wharf, Market Drayton.
 Autherley Junction. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Simpkin and Marshall (1834), The Parliamentary Chronicle. Part II, Volume III, Page 336. Copy viewed at Google Books.
 The True Sun, 15 Mar 1836, page 1. “Tettenhall and Atcherley Canal.” Copy viewed at NewspaperArchive.
 Morning Advertiser, 15 Mar 1836, page 4. “ATCHERLEY AQUEDUCT. Mr. THORNLEY and Sir JOHN WROTTESLEY presented several petitions against the Tettenhall and Atcherley Canal and Aqueduct” […].Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archives.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 20 Jan 1810, page 4. “MARRIED. Lately, at Market Drayton, Mr. Wm. Sandbrook, formerly butler at Soho House, near Birmingham, to Miss Bayley, daughter of Mr. Wm. Bayley, wine merchant, of the former place.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archives.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 6 Jul 1816, page 1. “Freehold Building in Market-Drayton. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION […] At the house of Mr. Sandbrook, of the Wine Vaults, in Market-Drayton, […]”. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archives.
 John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner et al (2006), The Buildings of England: Shropshire. Page 397. Copy previewed at Google Books. Note: The Sandbrook Vaults and adjoining Tudor House Hotel are described as dating from 1653 and providing “the best display of black and white in the town” of Market Drayton.
 Sandbrook Vaults. At: The Good Pub Guide website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 William Sandbrook. At: BillionGraves website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Market Drayton Independent Chapel, Shropshire. Register covering 1811. Entry dated 22 Jul 1811 for birth of William, son of William and Hannah Sandbrook of Drayton-in-Hales. Abstract at Mel Lockie’s website.
 Market Drayton St Mary, Shropshire, baptism register covering 1814. Entry dated 6 Mar 1814 for Benjamin Bayley Sandbrook, parents William and Hannah Sandbrook, abode Drayton, father’s occupation Liquor Merchant. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Note: Hannah, daughter of the same, baptised same day; both baptisms performed by John Atcherley.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 25 Jul 1857, page 5. “On the 17th instant, suddenly, apoplexy, while on a visit in Liverpool, Benjamin Bailey Sandbrook, Esq., wine merchant, Market Drayton, deeply regretted by all who had the pleasure of his friendship and acquaintance.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archives.
 London Gazette, 9 Aug 1850, issue 21125, page 2198.
 Samuel Bagshaw (1851), History, Gazetteer & Directory of Shropshire. Pages 262, 273, 274, 275, 277. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946.
 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 1893, folio 79, page 13. Victoria Mills, Market Drayton, Shropshire. Head: Edward Ryley, 64, miller, born Wistaston, Cheshire. Wife: Mary A Ryley, 62, born Drayton. Son: Thomas Ryley, 28, [hair?] seat manufacture, born Drayton. Dau: Frances Ryley, 26, born Drayton. Son: Edward Ryley, 24, corn, seed & manure merchant, born Drayton. Niece: Alice M Shaw, 12, born Swanbach [= Sandbach?], Cheshire. Plus 3 servants (2 millers, 1 [house?] maid).
 Victoria Mills, Market Drayton. At: Mills Archive website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Item DUFF-SBK-025 – Roger’s Mill, Market Drayton. At: Mills Archive website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Walk Mill, Later Victoria Mill, Market Drayton. At: Discovering Shropshire’s History website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1996, Folio 250, Page 36. Walk Mill House, Market Drayton, Shropshire. Head: William Sandbrook, 29, Hair seating manufacturer, born Drayton. Wife: Jane Sandbrook, 26, born Hodnet. Son: William W Sandbrook, 3, born Drayton. Plus a visitor and two servants.
 Liverpool Mercury, 3 Aug 1857, page 7. “July 30, at his residence, Glass House Inn, Old Swan, aged 36, Mr. William Sandbrook, formerly of Market Drayton, Shropshire.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 William Sandbrook. At: BillionGraves website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Hannah Sandbrook. At: BillionGraves website (accessed 16 Oct 2019).
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 5 Apr 1856, page 8. “DAIRY STOCK, at OAKLEY MILLS, near MARKET DRAYTON.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 4 Apr 1857, page 8. “At OAKLEY MILLS, near MARKET DRAYTON.—CALVING HEIFERS, SHEEP, and PIGS.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 Apr 1858, page 8. “ANNUAL SALE of CALVING HEIFERS, at OAKLEY MILL, Two Miles from Market Drayton”; “ANNUAL SALE of FAT STOCK, at OAKLEY HALL, near MARKET DRAYTON.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 9 Apr 1859, page 8. “At OAKLEY MILLS, near MARKET DRAYTON, on Saturday, 23rd April, 1859.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 28 Jan 1860, page 8. “SALE of FAT and STORE STOCK at MARKET DRAYTON”. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 26 May 1860, page 8. “Desirable FREEHOLD LAND at LITTLE DRAYTON HEATH […]”. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Shrewsbury Chronicle, 22 Feb 1861, page 2. [Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company. Persons of whom the Company or Partnership consists.] Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Staffordshire Advertiser, 15 Feb 1862, page 2. [Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company. Persons of whom the Company or Partnership consists.] Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Birth of Mary Atcherley registered at Wellington, Shropshire, September quarter 1840; volume 18, page 169; mother’s maiden name Icke.
 Ercall Magna, Shropshire, baptism register covering 1840. Entry dated 13 Jul 1840 for Mary Atcherley, parents Robert & Elizabeth Atcherley, abode Moortown, father’s occupation Farmer. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C00896-2, Film 502930.
 Ercall Magna, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1862. Entry dated 14 May 1862 for Edward Ryley and Mary Ellen Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages Ryley transcribed as Rigley; correction submitted 16 Oct 2019).
 Kelly & Co. (1863), The Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the City of Bristol. Page 715. Copies viewed at Ancestry – UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946, and at Google Books.
 Birth of Robert Atcherley Ryley registered at Market Drayton, March quarter 1863; volume 6a, page 775; mother’s maiden name Atcherley.
 RYLEY Robert Atcherly 1863-1931. At: eGGSA website (accessed 16 Oct 2019). (Photo of gravestone, showing the dates and places of Robert Atcherley Ryley’s birth and death.)
 Market Drayton St Mary, Shropshire, baptism register covering 1863. Entry dated 6 Mar 1863 for Robert Atcherley Ryley. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives.