A Chorley historian has uncovered the successful tale of a clogger who rose up the ranks to run a whisky distillery and became an Alderman and High Sheriff in Ireland.
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The story of James Winstanley first caught the eye of Chorley Family History member Carl Burton when he found a letter with the headline Chorley Clogger in an old copy of the Guardian, dated 1928.
He says: “Being a family history member, I did some research on this man.
“Born in 1827, he was an apprentice clogger aged 14, to Mr Edmund Parkinson, in Market Street, Chorley, in 1841.
“The 1851 Census showed him as a Master Clogger at 24 years old, married to Elizabeth Blackledge, with his own shop in Market Street.
“He then went to Glasgow, with a man called Jopson who he had formerly worked with. They set up a small business together. When his partner died, he sold the business and moved to Dublin, which is the scene of his future success.
“He started with a shop, later extending to a factory. He used his accumulated capital by becoming a partner in James Howe & Co whisky distillers.
“His shoe factory employed around 400 workers.
“He became an Alderman, JP, and High Sheriff of Dublin and Mayor elect for 1890. Sadly he died in 1889 so never took up the Mayoral role.
“He had no children himself, but his mother got married and had four sons. The oldest one died young, the other three and the mother, all died in Dublin. “So he took care of them all.
“He was a freemason and donated money to various charities. After he died, his widow Elizabeth retired to Southport and died 1915. In 1900 she donated money for the new wing of Rawcliffe Hospital in Gillibrand Street.
“He was well thought of by all who knew him.
“There was an immense attendance at his funeral.
“The hearse was pulled by four horses, a couple of mourning carriages, and seventy five carriages. The gilt breastplate on the coffin bore the inscription:- ‘James Winstanley, died 11th July 1889, aged 62 years.’
“Not bad for a humble Clogger.”
Portraits of Elizabeth and James Winstanley, painted in 1838 by Stephen Catterson Smith R.H.A. in Dublin, now hang on the wall of a staircase in the old Rookwood Hall, Chorley.