The Horton Family of Sowerby Hall
William Horton of Barkisland, born about 1572, married Elizabeth Hanson in Elland in 1604. They had the following children:
  1. William was born in 1605 and died in 1606.
  2. William was born in 1607.
  3. Sara was born in 1608.
  4. Maria was born in 1611.
  5. Thomas was born in 1613.
  6. Elizabeth was born in 1616.
  7. Joshua was born in 1619.
All the children were Christened in Elland, but it is likely that they were born at Barkisland.

Joshua made his home at Sowerby and built Sowerby Hall in 1646. The Hall had a stone slate roof, two storeys and two gabled bays with rear range projecting to right and through-passage. Above the doorway a stone bears the inscription "IH 1646 JH". The IH refers to Joshua's first wife, Isabel who died in 1651 and was buried at Sowerby. The registers at St Peter's Church record the death of Isabel Horton, wife of Joshua.

Joshua then married Martha Binns about 1654. She was born about 1623, daughter of Thomas Binns of Rushworth, Bingley, and died July 23rd 1694 at Sowerby Hall. He was a wealthy man and bought several local properties: High Sunderland in 1665, Stannery End and Thymeley Bent in 1673.

Joshua and Martha had the following children:
  1. Joshua (1655-1657) who died aged 2 at Halifax.
  2. Joshua (1657-1708) who died aged 51 at Oldham.
  3. Elkanah (1659-1729) who died aged 68 at Grays Inn Middlesex.
  4. Thomas (1660-1694) who died aged 34 at Halifax.
Joshua was a very pious man and opened his home for preaching.

On Jun 18th 1668, Joshua and several members of the Sowerby Congregational Church went to the house of Oliver Heywood, a friend of his, in Northowram and expressed their desire to join in communion with his Church. He had already opened his house for preaching in Sowerby and in the following year he erected a nonconformist Chapel at Quarry Hill (the Quaker house) and through Mr. Heywood obtained a license for it. When it was opened Mr. Horton intended that a Tuesday lecture should be preached in it. It was his practice to attend the services at the church, except on one Sunday in the month, when he went to hear Mr. Heywood at Northowram. He contributed £8 per annum towards the minister's stipend and gave him 10s for each service in his own meeting house.

Joshua Horton, Esq. died at the age of 60 on 7th April 1679 at Sowerby Hall and was interred at Sowerby Church. Dr. Hooke, the vicar of Halifax, preached on the occasion and Oliver Heywood attended the funeral.

Joshua's gravestone reads: "Joshua Horton of Sowerby died of stones on Apr 7, 1679 aged 60. He was a Justice of Peace and was a pious man who had 1000". Do we assume that he died from kidney stones?

In 1722, Joshua's son, Elkanah Horton Esq. of Grays Inn, in consideration of £200 from the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and 100 left by Edward Colston Esq., of Surrey, made over to the Rev. Nicholas Jackson, the curate of Sowerby, and his successors, the following property; Lower Longley Farm, Norland, Birch Farm, Sowerby & Lane Ends, Sowerby.

Elkanah, who lived at Thornton, was buried at Sowerby, 28th Jan 1729. By his will he provided six almshouses for three poor men and three poor women of Sowerby.

When Sowerby Hall, shown in the photograph above, was built in 1649, St Peter's Church on the left had not yet been built. The original church was to the left of the photograph, standing in what is now the graveyard; the Horton family tomb was said to be central in this old building. The present church was built in 1763.


By John Kerridge with additions by Malcolm Street