Robinson Riley written by Ken Fedzin

Almost all stories start at the beginning and have an end. This, however, is a history, or at least part of a family history. Its beginning is lost in the mists of time and it has no end because it is still ongoing today. This story covers only a section of that ongoing history, from around the middle of the 18th to the early part of the 20th Centuries.

It follows the Riley family as they move from Sowerby to Gawthorpe to Batley Carr, Earlsheaton and Batley. With over 50 illustrations the book is a Local, Social and Family History that chronologically charts personal family events, issues surrounding their lives and the harsh conditions under which they lived and died.

Genealogy is a fascinating trail that becomes both compulsive and addictive, drawing a picture of who those people, our ancestors, were. And it is on such ‘beginnings’ that all our lives today are based.

Peel Street DewsburyHaving gathered information over a number of years it is possible to build a story of the development of a family line from father, to father, to father. However, as one looks deeper into an extended family a fuller and more complete picture develops. It is from that bigger picture that this story can be told, the story of the family of Robinson Riley who lived in the Heavy Woollen District of the West Riding of Yorkshire during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Robinson Riley was my maternal Great, Great, Grandfather. He lived through a difficult but exciting chapter in the history and development of Dewsbury and Batley, situated in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His family witnessed their rapid progression from rural villages to modern industrial towns.

Aldams Mills Dewsbury The onset of the Industrial Revolution and its many new developments brought wealth beyond imagination to some, but dire conditions for thousands of ordinary families. Making the transition from a family based cottage textile industry to working in appalling conditions in the rapidly expanding woollen mills, the Riley family and their peers not only had to cope with squalid living conditions and avoiding hunger, but also with the tragedy of sudden and unexpected deaths.

From pleasant rural hamlets to deplorable living conditions in the mill towns, this family struggle to survive during what proved to be a harsh and difficult period of English history for many ordinary working-class families.

It could have been your family!

‘Oh dear me, the world is ill divided
Them that works the hardest are the least provided’

Mary Brooksbank (1897 – 1978)


Robinson Riley is a pleasure to read... not just a story about one family, it is also a valuable piece of social history revealing the poverty and squalid lives many of the working classes endured... Anyone who loves local history will want this book on their bookshelf."
Dewsbury Reporter Newspaper


"Kenneth… has helped bring the Riley family members back to life in this book by investigating the conditions, the problems, the breakthroughs and the joys which each generation encountered… Because of his wider research readers can move along with the Rileys… which helps makes this book something special"
Malcolm H. Haigh Historian and Author.


Book Information

Cover: Paperback
Pages: 164
Illustrations 54
Language: English
ISBN no: 978-1-905546-60-2


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