John Binns (1809 - 1890) & Sarah Emmott (c1813 - 1860)

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Lothersdale Meeting House. Originally built in 1729, it was altered later that century. The meeting room was behind the three large windows with the caretaker living in the right end end
The Quaker movement arrived early in the West Riding, and its message, with a dislike of ritual, and its emphasis on morality and the individual, appealed to the Yorkshire nature. A Society had formed in Skipton in 1652, only five years after George Fox and others had started the movement, and purpose built buildings began to go up before the end of the century. Lothersdale was an early Quaker community, and built its first meeting house in 1729. One of those attending it was John Binns (the grandfather of the John Binns who later married Sarah Emmott), who had married Lucy King in Lothersdale, and then baptised his first child there in 1778. The family would later be attracted to Methodism, with its focus on the poor, but Lothersdale would remain central to their lives for many years, and members of the family continued to be buried at the Friends Meeting House long after they had left the village.
Carleton Farm (top), Woodhead Farm (middle) and Haws Farm (bottom): each 'home' to John Binns (1780-1833))
Woodhead Farm.jpg
Haws Farm.jpg

John and Lucy had twelve children and, after the birth of their second child, they moved two miles along the road from the hamlet of Lothersdale, to the mother parish of Carleton, where they lived at Carleton Biggin Farm for nearly twenty years [1]. Then, after a brief stay at Woodhead Farm, back in Lothersdale, they moved to Haws Farm in Cowling, a short distance the other side of Lothersdale. Each of these houses was an impressive building; but the Binns were weavers, so would not have been living in the main house, but in a small cottage let out by the landowner. Small as they were, the house still needed to be home and workplace: the handlooms would have been on the first floor, where the light was better, but the family would have slept in the same room. With twelve children, space would have been very limited.

John, born in 1780, was their second child, so would have seen all the grand houses near his parents' cottages, in marked contrast to the cramped conditions in which hios family lived. Inevitably he, too, was a weaver and, when he was in his early twenties, he married Mary Snowden, a girl from Kildwick, and set up his handlooms in a cottage on Haws Farm. They had two daughters there before moving to another cottage in Carleton Park, where their remaining five children were born. During the latter part of the 18th century weavers had been in demand so, while life was difficult, they knew their skills were needed; but that was changing. John and Mary's eldest child was John, and his childhood cannot have been particulalrly happy. Both his elder sisters died as young girls and, as the Napoleonic War ended, his family was faced with the twin hardships of decreasing demand for their work, and the increasing industrialisation of weaving, whereby machines could work quicker and more cheaply than the handlooms.

One man who saw the difficulties facing the weavers was Abram Binns in nearby Cowling. He was a Methodist, who had set up a Sunday School in 1795 at his own expense, based in a room in Ickornshaw. He had also bought a building which he equipped with looms, so that weavers could work away from their homes. Then, in 1811 he had bought and revived the Ickornshaw Mill, so was clearly an influential man in the community. He died in 1812, but that year two further cottages and a smithy were were bought and added to the original Sunday School buildings,so that up to 300 people could worship. While this was happening, John and Mary still based in Carleton, but it was destined to be the place of worship for the next generation of Binns.

John, born in 1808, appears to have have stayed in Carleton until his marriage, as that is where he married Jane Whiteoak; but they moved to Cowling where a daughter, Mary, was born.

Elizabeth Gill nee Binns


  1. This is based on the birthplaces of their children as mentioned in their baptismal entries