​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Boyle Family

James "Toffy" Boyle 1804-1873 | James Boyle 1849-1921

Cotton Famine​ 1862

In January 1862, James Boyle became Chairman of the Relief Committee to help those unemployed and destitute in Blackburn during the cotton famine, which caused a huge loss of work in Lancashire during the American Civil War. He offered the free use of his boiler with a capacity to make 200 gallons of soup a day (i), which he normally used for preserving fruit. A few weeks later at a meeting of Blackburn Council he stated (ii) "that the soup committee was now distributing excellent soup, which seemed to be very much appreciated. They had that day distributed 2500 quarts, which was the greatest amount in any one day. The soup was a quality that had been declared by many, who had tasted it, to be put on any gentleman's table and would stand to be let down, if it were done with care, so that two quarts would make three".

In order to received help from the Poor Law Guardians, the unemployed had to earn their 'benefit' by working for the Guardians,
Infirmary.pngAbout 1,000 men were employed for approximately 1 shilling a day to build a new Workhouse and Infirmary; in March of 1862 (iii), he arranged for soup to be given to the workers, who were building the Blackburn Infirmary. Although basically provided at cost price, soup and bread had to be paid for by purchasing a ticket. James also gave £10 towards a fund that gave tickets to purchase soup to those who had no money.
This is a good indication of how wealthy he had become as £10 in 1862 would have the purchasing power of £6,850 in 2018, (based on average earnings).
By the end of 1862 in Blackburn, there were over 30,000 recipients from the Poor Law Guardians, 1,200 quarts of soup and 1½ tons of bread(iv) where distributed each day at a cost of £1,500 a week (v) (over £1M in 2018 based on average earnings); this money was raised by the Poor Law Tax and by generous donations from wealthy donors. There were 17,337 unemployed in Blackburn with only 3857 fully employed and 6079 on short time. There were 4 mills working full time, 38 mills part time and 45 closed (vi)



Children of James Toffy Boyle of Bl​​ackburn.

James Toffy Boyle was married twice, said to have had 22 children, and as often happened in the nineteenth century only 9 of them lived into adulthood. Besides confectionery maker and baker he purchased other businesses around Blackburn, which several of his children managed and subsequently owned.
His children from first marriage to Elizabeth Sharples, who died after childbirth.

Jane Boyl
was born 1831 in Blackburn, died 17 April 1899 in Blackburn. At an early age she became involved in the shop at 44 Salford, becoming a confectioner and manager of the Victoria Street shop.
She did not marry.

William Boyle J.P.
was born on 29 April 1833 in Blackburn, he died 2 August 1897 in Blackburn. He was a confectioner, pawnbroker and Magistrate.
He resigned from the partnership with his brothers James and Robert in 1874 not long after his father's death to become a full time magistrate.
He never married.

From his second marriage to Elizabeth Robinson.​

Elizabeth Boyle Robinson.
Elizabeth Boyle Robinson.jpg
was born on 17 May 1842 in Blackburn, she died on 7 October 1905 in Oxford Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock. 
She married John Coffey, a Builder. They had three children.​

John Boyle.
John Boyle.jpg
was born on 20 November 1844 in Blackburn, he died on 28 September 1909 in Blackburn. He became manager and later owner of a
Pawnbroker in Penny Street, and then Pawnbroker and Clothier of Mount Street.
He was a Councillor of Blackburn Town Council from 1877-1892. He married Sarah Anne Birkett

Mary Ann Boyle​.
was born on 4 April 1847 in Blackburn, she died on 6 August 1885 after child birth in Blackburn, aged 37.
She married James Livesey, in 1873 in Blackburn. James Livesey a cotton manufacture, owning the Ewood and Harley Street Mills.

James Boyle.​
James Boyle CT.jpg
was born on 3 December 1849 in Blackburn, he died 4 January 1921 in Blackburn, He became the sole owner of James Boyle & Co Ltd. He married Susannah Byers.

Robert Boyle.
Robert Boyle ct.jpg
was born in 1852 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, he died 13 October 1909 in Blackburn. He was a partner and Co. managing director of James Boyle & Co.
until he and James fell out over the excessive amount of income he was withdrawing from the company. He married Mary Ann Howarth, known as Annie.

Hugh Boyle.
 was born on 2 November 1862 in Blackburn, he died 23 April 1923 in Overton Sunderland Point, Lancaster, buried in the family grave at Blackburn Cemetery.
He was an employee of James Boyle & Co as a salesman from 1896 to 1909. He was the president of the
Manufacturing Confectioners' Commercial Travellers' Association in 1914. He married Elizabeth Ann Thompson.

Article by John E Boyle, Australia, 2020, Gt Gt Grandson

i The Preston Guardian etc (Preston, England), Saturday, January 18, 1862; Issue 2604.
ii The Preston Guardian etc (Preston, England), Saturday, February 8, 1862; Issue 2610.
iii The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Wednesday, March 19, 1862; Issue 1416.
iv The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Wednesday, November 12, 1862; Issue 1450.
v The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England), Tuesday, October 29, 1862; Issue 1448.
vi The Preston Guardian etc (Preston, England), Saturday, November 1, 1862; Issue 2678.​



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James "Toffy" Boyle ​

James Toffy Boyle.jpg 

1804 -1873 of Blackburn

This edited compilation, taken from several sources, is about the life of my Great, Great, Grandfather James Boyle, an extraordinary man, who led a remarkable life, which enabled him to climb out of the relative poverty into which he had been born. By hard work and application he was successful in achieving this, raising a large family and serving the community of Blackburn, Lancashire, England. His liberal ideas, his thriftiness both with his own and other people's money, his willingness to stand up and fight against things that he perceived as wrong and to intercede for those he thought were treated unfairly are the marks of his legacy; traits that are found in his descendents today.

James Boyle was born in Astley Bridge, Bolton on 22nd October 1804 and christened on 30th December 1804 in St Peter's, Bolton le Moors, Lancashire.  His father was, James Boyle, 1777-c1821, born in Blackburn, a handloom weaver, who would have plied his trade in the cottage where he lived. It is said (i) that he, the father, was at the Peterloo Massacre. On Monday, 16 August 1819, a large peaceful gathering of 60,000 people gathered at St Peter's Fields, Manchester to hear Henry Hunt speak about their demands for reforms to the British political system, especially universal suffrage, repeal of the Corn Laws and fairer elections. Without any provocation the authorities sent in a regiment of cavalry, who rode their horses through the crowd, mowing them down and slashing them with their sabres; resulting in 11-14 deaths and 500-700 injured. It was said that his father, in anticipation of trouble, inserted a thick roll used by porters to protect their heads when carrying heavy loads on their heads, under his cap, which saved his life as a sabre cut through the roll but not his head.

At the age of 8 years old, James commenced work in the spinning room at Garnet Taylor's mill at Astley Bridge, Bolton where, when he was 10 or 11 years old, he showed the courage and tenacity that he displayed through his life. A fire (ii)  broke out at the mill, none of the firemen were prepared to enter the building due to the smoke; James took a hosepipe, crawled under the smoke on his hands and knees and extinguished the fire. For this act of bravery he was given a new suit of clothes, something he would have never owned before.

In 1818, at the age of 14, he left the mill, moving to Blackburn to become apprenticed to William Hodgeson, a barber and confectioner of 44 Salford, Blackburn. For half the day he was taught how to make confectionery, to bake bread and cakes, etc; and for the second half of the day he learnt to shave and cut hair. He became a very good confectioner, but due to being very short sighted, shaving a face was not his forte and many clients would not allow him to shave them. As was the custom in those days, as an apprentice, he lived with his master above the shop, but on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning he would walk the 13 miles to his home in Astley Bridge, returning the same way on Sunday evening or Monday morning. His apprentice papers were signed by his uncles John Boyle, William and Jeremiah Platt.

Because of "a circumstance in his master's career which need not be gone into", William Hodgeson's had to release him from his apprenticeship in 1822 before he reached the normal age of 21, and, with the little capital of a few shillings, he bought an iron pan and a pair of scissors, setting himself up as a confectioner in 'Old Phœbe's shop', in Salford, not far from his master's shop. He worked harder than any servant; he would work all night making his confectionery so that he could sell his cakes, toffees and other produce through the day. It was known that all his life he managed with very little sleep. Every morning, he filled a large shallow oblong basket, which he carried on his head. He commenced his travels with approximately 50-60lbs (23-27kg), walking approximately 8 mile return journeys to Darwen or Oswaldtwistle or Great Harwood, stopping at weavers' and miners' cottages and small shops along the way, selling his wares to them, and, as he did so, his load became lighter.

James married twice, he firstly married Elizabeth Sharples, on 5th November 1827 in St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, born 1st December 1808 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England; she was the daughter of Thomas Sharples a retired soldier and Susan Sharples. They had nine children, only two survived into adulthood, Jane and William. His first wife, Elizabeth died in childbirth, aged 31 years old, on 14th August 1840 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, and was buried 18th August 1840 in St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn, Lancashire, England.

James married secondly Elizabeth Robinson, on 17th May 1842 in St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, born 1823 in Sedbergh, Yorkshire, England, daughter of John Robinson and Elizabeth Chamberlain; she died on 28th February 1896 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England aged 73 and was buried in the family grave in Blackburn Cemetery. At the time of the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Robinson was a maid in the household. They had thirteen children; he fathered 22 children in all.

Within a few years, he took over the shop where he learnt his trade; 44 Salford, which was situated on the corner of Salford and Bow Street; the shop, workshop and Bow Street no longer exists today, the area is now covered by Morrison's Supermarket. He was a tenant there for 40 years; he had been offered the shop several times for £1,000, a lot of money, then, but he did not think it worth buying considering the low rent he paid. In 1864 (iii) , however, it was put up for auction, three brewers wished to purchase it, pushing the price up to £5,760. His neighbours, Dutton & Son, purchased the shop and workshop only to find that they were leased to James, his executors and heirs in perpetuity and they eventually paid him £600 to relinquish his claim. The extraordinary part is that it was never used for the purpose for which they bought it. He opened a new shop in 45 Victoria Street in c1867, and, in 1868, he built a workshop on the corner of Alma Street and Simmons Street, The shop was retained through to the closure of James Boyle & Co Ltd in 1921.

His first interest in politics was noted in 1830, when he supported a Radical, 'Orator' Henry Hunt in an election against Lord Stanley, the sitting MP at that time for Preston, Lancashire. After the Reform Act of 1832, James became a prominent party member for the Radical movement supporting Dr Bowring in the Parliamentary Elections. In those days electioneering was even dirtier than it is today and a lot of jiggery-pokery took place, he and a George Dewhurst were active in this area.

Under the Improvement Act of 1847 the Blackburn Town Improvement Commission was established; James was appointed an Improvement Commissioner; they were not elected, but were responsible for improving roads, sewage and clean water supplies for the town. He was a reformer; if he was unable to obtain reform with debate he would use other means. He complained that a contract for limestone to make up the roads was always given to Dixon Robinson & Co. of Clitheroe, irrespective of quality and price, and that other tenders sent by other firms were ignored. On a day when the Commissioners had a meeting, he ordered two loads of limestone to be tipped in King Street in front of the Hotel where they met; he stuck up big labels stating that this was Dixon Robinson's limestone at so much a ton, while the other was Briggs's at so much less. The quality of the limestone was there for people to see for themselves. A large crowd assembled round the limestone to discuss the operation of the Board, and the Commissioners going to their meeting had to pass the sample loads and the critical crowd. By this means he broke a monopoly.  As a Commissioner, he was at the forefront in the planning and building of Market House (iv) . The Improvement Commission's responsibilities were taken over by the Town Council in 1854.

James Boyle was a founder Councillor of Blackburn (v); he was elected on 1 November 1851 to the newly formed Blackburn Council as a Radical for the St Mary's Ward, when the town was granted borough status in 1851. The town was divided into 6 wards, each ward electing 6 Councillors, from which were elected two Aldermen. He was elected to the Lamp Committee and the Fire Brigade of which he was chairman. He introduced, and it is suggested that he invented it, the use of a long rod with an attachment to turn the tap of a street lamp on and off, which saved much time; whereas before the lamplighter had to carry a ladder from lamp to lamp, then climb up and down it. In the event of fires, he was often in the thick of things, organising rescues and retrieving bodies. Five of his family were members of the Voluntary Fire Brigade of which his son James Boyle 1849-1921 was Captain for at least 20 years. At a meeting of the Council  on 10 November 1856, by a vote of his fellow Councillors, he became an Alderman (vi).

James was one of those, who when they take on a project, they put their heart and soul into it. He was one of the first to propose and to guide the building of a new Infirmary and to raise the money for it. He arranged for a Balloonist to come to Blackburn, he took over the responsibility for the event raising £1,000 for the Poor Law Guardians. Similarly, when a waxworks exhibition at Park School was not getting good crowds, he persuaded the owners to give a benefit for the Royal Patriotic Fund for the widows and children of soldiers of the Crimea War in 1854. He hired a pipe and drum band and arranged for firemen and lamplighters to march through the streets to the school carrying burning torches; they were followed by thousands of people who then crowded into the waxworks; this created quite a large sum of money for the fund.
James Boyle was described (vii):—
"As a businessman, Mr Boyle had few equals, his energy and industry, his sanguine temperament, his foresight and sagacity enabled him to build an immense business and the latter qualities led him to bring up several of his sons in other trades so that all would not be dependent on the one that he made. He was never in bed at four in the morning; he and his eldest son William were often seen in far off villages in their spring cart delivering their confectionery to small shops before the mill workers went to work at the mills."

"Mr. Boyle was short and stout. In a double sense —bodily and in character—he was hard-headed and stiff-backed. The burdens he had borne in his early manhood may well have contributed to make him physically erect and strong. He had a singularly well-developed and fine head, and a good face, the index of his mental qualities. His individuality was strong. He was the typical English "man of the people," who "knows his rights," and, knowing, dares maintain; who would before the highest, before Kings and Princes, be respectful and fearless. The only thing connected with a poor man's lot he could not endure was laziness. His own working hours, half his life, began at four o'clock in the morning, and ended when his allotted work was done, not before, no matter how late the hour. Such a man cannot be kept down; he is bound to rise and to conquer adverse conditions, if his health holds. One of his characteristics was, in any special business he undertook, to plunge into it with his utmost force and momentum and rush it through; he saw the value of spectacular display in moving a crowd."

Having had a stroke in 1869, he became ill again in February 1873, then on his sixty-ninth birthday on Tuesday 21 October 1873 he had another stroke, dying, two days later, on Thursday 23 October 1873 at his home at 45 Victoria Street; leaving an estate worth today nearly £6,000,000 based on relative output of GDP in 2017

​Map (below) showing the location of Boyle properties.

Alma St Confectionary Works.jpg
(i) Brief Biographies II— Alderman James Boyle, "The Blackburn Times" of Saturday 9th February 1889.
(ii) Focus on Yesterday—Bygone Blackburnians, the Blackburn Times, Friday 27th August 1954.
(iii) The Diaries of Charles Tiplady, 16 March 1864.
(iv) Very few old buildings remain in Salford; the centre of Blackburn has been completely demolished and replaced. Many buildings that would have been preserved today have gone. Market House with its clock tower was demolished in the 1960s and, more recently, one side of Church Street that ran from Salford to Mincing Lane is all new and part of Lord Street are now under shops. Victoria St now starts at Richmond Terrace, whereas it used to continue through to Market Place past the Town Hall. The Boyle's shop at 45 Victoria Street was situated at that lower end and has now gone. 
(v) The Preston Guardian, (Preston, England), Saturday, November 8, 1851; Issue 2045.
(vi) The Preston Guardian, (Preston, England), Saturday, November 15, 1856; Issue 2307.
(vii) Much of this is compiled from: — Blackburn Characters of a past generation by William Alexander Abram. 1894 & Brief Biographies II— Alderman James Boyle, "The Blackburn Times" of Saturday 9th February 1889.

With grateful thanks to John E Boyle, Tasmania, Australia.  2020​

James Boyle 1849 - 1921​
James Boyle.jpg
3 December 1849 - 4 January 1921

James Boyle, 1849-1921, was born on 3 December 1849 (i) in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. He married Susannah Byers, on 10 May 1877 (ii) at Blackburn Lancashire, England. Susannah was born on 7 May 1856 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, (daughter of Francis Byers and Jane Jackson), and she died on 22 March 1884 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, aged 27.  She was buried in the family grave at Blackburn Cemetery. Susannah and James had one son, James Boyle, born 28 Mar 1878.​

Boyl Post card.jpgIt is not known what education James received, but he would have commenced helping his father in his business at an early age, as did the other children in the family. From a young age, he successfully bred and showed rabbits, becoming a well known and respected rabbit fancier and judge of the Himalayan rabbit, being quoted in the book (iii) 'The Book of the Rabbit' published in 1881. He and four of his brothers were members of the Blackburn Volunteer Fire Brigade of which he was Captain for over 20 years; his father had also been involved with the Fire Brigade. There are many reports in the local newspapers recording the many fires he attended, particularly cotton mill fires. In 1875, he with a Mr Joseph Watson, formed the Lancashire Fire Brigade Friendly Society, of which, he was Honorary Secretary for over 30 years (vi). 

After the death of his father, James Toffy Boyle, 1804-1873, the business of James Boyle and Co, manufacturing, wholesale and retail confectioners continued under the direction of brothers William 1833-1897, James 1848-1921, and Robert 1852-1908, until the 9th June 1875 (v), when the eldest brother, William, resigned from the partnership to become a magistrate. James was the dominant brother, who inherited his father's business and entrepreneurial acumen and his willingness to work long hours. Amongst the many products they manufactured and sold in their shops were cakes, breads and pastries as well as confectionery products; there were Soda Fountains and tea rooms in each shop. In 1887, they produced a wedding cake for James Edward Hubert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Cranborne, when he married Lady Cecily Gore on 17 May 1887; he was then Member of Parliament for Darwen, becoming the 4th Marquess of Salisbury in 1903.

Boyle Cake.jpg

Advert.jpgIn November 1895 (vi), James Boyle & Co. purchased the Navigation Spinning Mill, Forrest Street, Eanam, Blackburn, Lancashire for approximately £9,000, which had closed due to lack of work and industrial action. The Mill consisted of 5 floors, a saw mill at the rear and access to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. James named it "the Japperies"(vii).  The top two floors of the Mill and sawmill were let out. All types of confectionary were made, predominately toffees. They held registered Trade Marks for “1d Everton’s”, “Nurse, Invalid Toffy”, “Boyles Jap Desserts”, “Boyle’s Jap Nuggets” , Boyle’s Giant Japs” and James Boyle & Co, Marmalade. At various times James Boyle & Co operated several shops, which operated as cafe/confectionary shops, selling bread and cakes as well as confectionery, these were situated at Salford, Victoria Street, Exchange Street, Railway Road & Darwen Street in Blackburn, also in Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool.

James Boyle factory.jpg
James was a pioneer in the use of advertising, using the visit of the Japanese Imperial Navy to Liverpool in the early 1900s, to produce advertising material written in Japanese by some of the sailors extolling Boyle’s Jap Nuggets. It was said that James and Robert were Directors of Blackburn Rovers Football Club at the time the club won the FA Cup Final at the end of the 19th Century. In 1903, James Boyle & Co. was incorporated as a private limited company, James Boyle & Co Ltd. James and Robert became joint Managing Directors. By 1908, James Boyle had acquired all company shares. He also had substantial holdings in Rowntree, Cadbury Bros Ltd, J S Fry & Sons Ltd and the Darwen Paper Company. July 1898 (viii), he purchased a house at Clayton le Dale, "Whiteholme" a large house with 28 acres of land for £2,500. In 1917, he sold Whiteholme to Alan Blythe, husband of his niece Susie (Susannah) Boyle. Whiteholme has now been demolished and replaced with a substantial new house set further back from the road.

He died after a 5 week illness, 4 January 1921 (ix), aged 71 years, at "West Royd", 213 Preston New Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, England. James was buried in family grave at Blackburn Cemetery. After his death, as his only son, who was been ordained into the Church of England, the company of James Boyle & Co Ltd was put into voluntary liquidation.


Portrait of James Boyle
In the possession of his Great Grandson James Douglas Boyle

Memorabilia associated with the Dunn Firm

Boyle's Jap Dessert.jpg

James Boyle Marmalade.jpg

Boyles tin for jap nuggets.jpg

(i) Births Dec 1849 Boyle. James. Blackburn 21 35.  St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, Register: Baptisms 1848 - 1854, Page 147, Entry 1171

(ii) "England and Wales, Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2DP1-X5H : accessed 13 December 2014), James Boyle, 1877; from Marriage, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, , “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,”

(iii) The Book of the Rabbit: History, Variations, Uses, Points, Management, Selection, Mating, Breeding, Exhibiting, Judging, Treatment of the Diseases, Rabbit-farming, and Much Other Information Bearing on Rabbits and Rabbit-keeping. 1881 pages 65-66.

(iv) From the Lancashire Fire Brigade Friendly Society Magazine, 6th June 1896.

(v) The London Gazette, 20 July 1875, issue 24229, page3690.

(vi) Blackburn Standard, Lancashire, England. Saturday 02 November 1895.

(vii) London Gazette 2 March 1926 issue 33138, page 1575.

(viii) National Probate Calendar (1921) page 291 and Obituary. Blackburn Times 8 Jan 1922.

(ix) Obituary. Blackburn Times 8 Jan 1922.

Article by John E Boyle, Australia, 2020, Gt Grandson