Richard Riley’s recollection of his family past

Below is Richard Riley’s (descendant of John Riley, founder of the chemical works at Hapton) account of his family as he knows it.

I am Richard Oliver (Noel added by the time I started school) Riley, born 09/12/1942, married Janet Elizabeth Farrow (b 10/07/1946) 30 Sept 1967.  We have one son, Aaron John Oliver DOB 24/10/1977.  I have one sister, Jane Irene Susan, born 07/01/1946. 

My father, whose reluctance to talk either about his family or indeed his war experiences, meant that I had no previous knowledge of the Riley family until last year (2013).  His name was John Oliver Noel Riley, DOB 25/12/1911 and he had a twin sister Joan.  He died April 2001.  They were born at Shotton Hall, Easington near Durham.  I believe he fell out with my grandmother in the late 30s and that was the reason for his silence on family matters.

Picture of picture attached is of John Riley

His father, my grandfather, was Oliver Riley B 1882, D 1918, who had one sister, Mildred B 1884, D ?.  Oliver married a Jenny Fleming Laing in October 1907 at Shotton Hall which at the time was occupied by my grandmother’s uncle and aunt, Joseph John and Jane Candlish, who were childless and brought up Jenny and one of her sisters following the early death of their father.  This then explained why the marriage took place in Easington.  The Candlish family was, like the Rileys, heavily engaged in business but in the Sunderland area.  Oliver was taken into Hapton Chemicals on his 21st birthday in 1903.  It has been reported that the chemical works appointed a receiver on November 1914 at the Liverpool Chancery.  I have no idea why and would like any information on this as it seems strange that particularly in war time and producing items required for the war effort, the sale happened.  Oliver attended an officers training course in late 1916 but presumably failed and joined up in 1917 as a  private which seems odd as one would think he would have been an officer considering at the time, position in the community was taken into account, and his age of 34/35.  He joined the R Lancs Regiment and later transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment.  He died 27 May 1918 in the Soissons area.

Oliver’s WW1 medals were sold on E Bay in July 2013; where they are now I have no idea.

Any copies of articles on the Oliver Riley life from taking over at Hapton Chemicals following his father’s death in 1910 in the Accrington Observer, Burnley Express or other newspapers would be appreciated.

 Oliver and Mildred Riley’s father, my great grandfather, was Joseph Edward Riley, born September 1845, died November 1910.  He married Sarah Annie Mitchell in Clitheroe March 1880.  Sarah died aged 49 in 1902 and Joseph remarried – a widow Margaret Spencer in 1909.  He was a JP, CA and County Councillor and therefore had considerable standing and influence in the Accrington area.  He lived at Arden Hall, Accrington, demolished 1948/49.  Despite his obvious astute handling of Hapton Chemicals and leaving some £135,000 in 1910, the company was possibly sold in 1915 with son Oliver leaving just £16,000 on his death in 1918.

 Joseph Edward Riley was the eldest son of my great great grandfather John Riley JP, B 1819,

D 1899, married Betsy Prockter in 1845.  Betsy was born 1821 and died 1889.  They had eight children;  Joseph Edward b 1845 d 1810:  Margaret Ann b 1847 d 1928 ?:  Mary b 1848 d 1919 ?:  William Grimshaw b 1850 d 1895:  Isabella b1855 d ?:  John Grimshaw Boardman b 1859 d 1865:  Arthur Prockter b 1861 d 1902:  George Edwin Lawrence b 1864 d 1895.

 John Riley and partner John Smalley Grimshaw formed Hapton Chemicals in 1842.  John appears to have added the name Grimshaw to two of his children.  It is not clear as to when their partnership dissolved, however both lived a long, successful and influential life in the Hapton  and local community.

 From the foregoing information, as far as I can ascertain, none of John’s children would have incurred death duties apart from Joseph and therefore caused the sale of Hapton Chemicals unless I am missing something out.  Oliver, it appears to me, perhaps was not a good business man and possibly was a bit of a playboy.  On John Riley’s death (1899) he left his estate to his eldest daughter Mararet Ann who was married to Robert Fitton in 1872.  The estate was worth in excess of £70,000.

 John Riley’s parents were Lawrence Riley b 1792, d 1871 ?, and Mary Riley b 1794, d 1829 ?.  Lawrence’s parents were William and Anne Riley.  This is as far as I have researched to date.  May 2014.

 Anecdotal information

Whilst not knowing about the Riley lineage before 2013, I was sent to and spent three years at Eshton Hall school from 1955 to 1958.  I spent half term vacations in the locality as it was too far to return to Norfolk where we had moved to from Hampshire in 1953.  Eshton Hall was near Gargrave and I certainly stayed at places in Earby Colne, Nelson, as well as school sports being played against teams from all around and yet my father never mentioned any connection to the area.

I found out that grandfather Oliver also had a connection to Skipton and surrounding countryside as well as playing cricket for and being on the local memorial at Embsay-with-Eastby, Yorkshire (the Craven’s Part in the Great War).  Strange that the word honour on the Roll of Honour is spelt the American way.

I am hoping further information on the Riley-Hapton Chemical saga may come to light.

Best wishes 

Richard O N Riley

Richard Riley (right) (descendant of John Riley, founder of the chemical works at Hapton) with Chairperson of Hapton Heritage Joan Lakeland (Center)

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