John Bashforth (1765-1845) was a strong local character in his lifetime, central to a thriving industrial community at Barnby Basin, near Cawthorne, active in the wider Barnsley community as a member of the Cordwainers Society, with his passing noted in the local newspaper at the time. He was baptised at Silkstone Parish Church on 11 January 1765, the son of John Bashforth and Mary (née Hattersley) of Dodworth. He took up the trade of cordwainer and, in due course, also that of innkeeper. Both were skills that the Bashforth family were recognised for in the villages to the west of Barnsley, alongside those of carpenter, blacksmith and wheelwright.
He married twice. The first marriage was 1 December 1788 at St John the Baptist Parish Church, Penistone, to Martha Hellewell, witnessed by George Hellewell and Ann Priest. Despite this connection to Penistone, the children were all baptised at St Mary’s Parish Church, Barnsley. Mary was born 16 August 1789 and baptised 24 August. Hannah was born 15 April 1792 and baptised 17 April. Michael George was baptised 4 November 1794. Elizabeth was born 7 March 1797 and baptised 17 March. Harriet was born 20 February 1800 and baptised 2 March. John was born 13 September 1802 and baptised 15 September. Henry was born 2 March 1804 and baptised 20 March, but died a year later on 26 February and was buried on 28 February 1805. Baptisms had to be paid for, but when Hannah was baptised John was recorded as ‘pauper’ and the fee was paid by the parish out of the poor rate.
The second marriage also took place at Penistone, to Mary Grayson, on 7 August 1828. Mary was the daughter of Henry Grayson, carpenter, and Hannah (née Beever), and had been born 25 February 1797 and baptised 30 March. John and Mary had one child, Ann, born 1 November 1831 and baptised 15 November in Cawthorne – the family were by then living in the Jolly Sailor at Barnby Basin, where the family were recorded in the 1841 Census. John was then 75 years old and his wife only 35, but there was no reference to the child, the remaining occupants being staff or visitors.
The Jolly Sailor Inn was in an annexe to the warehouse at Barnby Basin, and here the Bashforths provided food and overnight lodgings for bargees. Barnby Basin was the end point of the Barnsley Canal, where it linked up with the Silkstone Waggonway. There was a significant community in the locality, quite separate both geographically and culturally from the nearby village of Cawthorne, in which parish Barnby was situated. There were also occasions in the early nineteenth century when bull and bear-baiting allegedly took place on the green in front of the inn.
In 1841 the Basin was a bustling community, the central focus of a trade in coal and lime. The coal came from the Silkstone seams, while the limestone was burned locally in the Barnby Furnaces. As recently as 1837 the Basin had been extended with the addition of two further basins, as advertised in the Leeds Mercury in the September of that year:
“To Excavators and Contractors: TO BE LET, the FORMING and MAKING OF TWO BASINS, adjoining the Barnsley Canal: in the Neighbourhood of Barnsley; the one Half an acre, and the other about a Rood and a Half in extent. Plans and Specifications may be seen at the House of Mr Bashforth, Barnby Basin, after the 17th Instant, and further Particulars, if necessary, obtained at Mr Wilson’s Office, Barnby Furnace, to whom tenders must be delivered, on or before 30th Instant. Barnby Furnace, Sept 14 1837.”
The locality today is a small residential community, detached from the village of Cawthorne on the road to Barugh, which passes beneath the nearby M1 motorway. There is little remaining evidence of the industrial activity, the basins have been filled in, but a short distance away one can still find the trackbed of the Silkstone waggonway.
John Bashforth joined the Cordwainers Society, a friendly society founded in Barnsley in March 1748, which remains the oldest surviving friendly society in England. He joined 16 December 1788, very shortly after his first marriage, indicating that he had moved from Penistone. He became President of the Society for a while and his signature can be found against a minute in the Society’s earliest ledger. The entry, dated 15 March 1802, resolved to limit claims on the funds for sick pay to thirteen weeks in any one year and that the committee men should attend all funerals of members held in the township of Barnsley.
John died 20 August 1845 of ‘Natural Decay’, an event recorded in the Barnsley Chronicle:
“20 Aug 1845 John Bashforth of the Jolly Sailor Inn, Cawthorne Basin, aged 80. He was a worthy and respected member of the Cordwainers Club better known as the Gentlemans Club, upwards of sixty years and was the oldest member. His remains were interred at St Mary’s Barnsley.”
There was also a notice in the Leeds Mercury Marriages, Births and Deaths column: “Aug 20, aged 80, Mr J Bashforth, of Baisin [sic], near Barnsley.”
John’s widow continued to run the Jolly Sailor and eventually re-married, to Samuel Sanderson, widower and farmer, on 28 April 1859, at St George’s Church, Barnsley.