Abraham Broadley was baptized Catholic about 1693. This must have been a surprise to his fiercely Protestant paternal grandfather for whom he was named. The rest of the family were Anglican. Fortunately, as no Catholic baptisms were recorded at that date (it was too dangerous) John Broadley, Abraham’s father, left a will in 1733 which gave Abraham the eldest son’s portion, (a messuage in Darwen) thus proving his position in the family. Abraham could not be an executor, as he was a Catholic.
In 1701 John was allowed to rent a messuage belonging to Dunkenhalgh Hall on the border between Church and Clayton le Moors in Lancashire.
Abraham grew up there with his eight younger siblings and helped his father with the crops and animals. The messuage is now part of Jackson’s Farm on Google Earth at BB54DR.
In 1712 Abraham went to work at Dunkenhalgh Hall. He began with several weeks in the kitchen, before moving to outdoor labouring. I know all this because the Petres presented their 16 boxes of accounts to Lancashire Archives (DDPt). In 1715 Abraham was given a permanent job – that of carrier or carter to the estate – and, at the same time, was allowed to rent his own messuage at Black Lane Head. This seems to have included a house which had once been grand but was by now very old.
There would have been room for his family and lodgers but plenty of buckets under the roof to catch the drips.
Abraham owned lambs, horses, cattle, swine and geese. He spent much time each week in his cart, travelling to Preston to fetch all sorts of goods. He brought altar breads, bottles of sack, groats for the poor, runletts of neat’s foot oil, fish, scythes and scythe stones to cut the grass for the bowling green at Dunkenhalgh in the summer. One of the oddest items was 4 dozen goose wings. Apparently these were used in pairs, as a dustpan and brush. It must have been quite frightening going to Preston in 1715 because of the Jacobite uprising, but Abraham must have heard the latest news and gossip.
Lady Catherine, widowed at a young age, mainly seems to have visited Dunkenhalgh in the summer with her child. Abraham was sent for quantities of soft soap before her arrival and bought mousetraps for the nursery. When Lady Catherine’s son came of age, she finally remarried and was not able to come home as often. Abraham’s job changed. He delivered provisions to Preston for transport to Ingatestone and Cheam, many pounds of potted venison or cheese. He carried services of china to be sent on to Lady Catherine’s other houses.
From about 1740, although Abraham was still being paid for bills of carriage, he went to Preston less and he worked at labouring jobs on the estate with his brother John. John was the youngest brother and had become a Presbyterian, so after their father’s death, John brought his family to live with Abraham’s family. I have wondered how educated Abraham was. I expect he could sign his name and must have learnt his catechism and prayers, but I can be certain he was good at maths after a lifetime of buying goods and because he was also trusted to pay various old female servants their annuities.
In 1745 there was another Jacobite uprising and dragoons were billeted on the estate until 1747. After this, life returned to normal. Abraham died in 1760, leaving two sons to carry on his name and his widow, Margaret, to mourn him.