Harriet French
  John French
S Abraham French
  James French
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Deep Waters


The story of the French family tracks the lineage of Harriet French of Gargrave in North Yorkshire, who married George Horner of Skipton, a masons labourer, in 1902.

The French family were agricultural labourers and originated from Suffolk in the late eighteenth century. James French, an agricultural labourer in early nineteenth century Suffolk, fell on hard times in the agricultural depression of the 1830s. He moved his family of five sons over two hundred miles to Cragg Vale in Yorkshire to find work in the successful cotton industry of the North of England. This story reflects the impact of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 on population movements. The French family were only one of two thousand families moved North to alleviate pressure on Poor Rates in the South of England. This may have been the first time that a government had consciously moved large groups of people for social and economic reasons.

This story also illustrates the mobility of working people in the cotton industry in the early nineteenth century. James French and his sons did not settle in Cragg Vale where they were originally placed by the Poor Law Commissioners. By the mid 1840s they had moved to Brooksbottoms, Bury, in Lancashire. Although James settled in Brooksbottoms, within ten years his son Abraham had moved again to Embsay, Skipton, North Yorkshire, and then again by 1871 to Gargrave. The increased mobility due to improved transport routes such as canals and railways meant working people could move more frequently than in earlier centuries.