The Robleys of Leeds and West Yorkshire

This is one of several groups of the Robley family who were settled in Yorkshire in the mid sixteenth century. The Robley records make reference to to five towns or villages, Bradford, Halifax, Elland, Leeds and Rothwell. All are located within an eight mile radius of the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire.

BRADFORD During the 16th century Bradford grew larger and more important. This was despite outbreaks of plague which struck Bradford in 1557-58. The wool industry continued to grow. By the 16th century many people in villages near Bradford wove wool. It was then taken to the town to be fulled and dyed. There was also a considerable leather tanning industry. About 1540 a writer named Leland described Bradford as: 'A pretty busy market town, about half the size of Wakefield. It lives mostly by (making) clothing and is 4 miles distant from Halifax. .

HALIFAX is located south west of Bradford. It was a town that grew because of the cloth trade and even its name derives from Holy Flex Field meaning the place where holy banners were made from flax. It is one of the original textile towns where the woollen industry of England was first established. .

ELLAND, a small town and a sub-district in Halifax Parish. The town lies,3 miles SSE of Halifax it was anciently a market town; and is, with its neighbourhood, a seat of manufacture of coarse woollen goods. .

Nineteenth Century Industrial Leeds - Leeds to Liverpool Canal

LEEDS was destined to become one of the most famous wool making centres in the country and the cottage craft businesses of weaving and spinning developed steadily during the Middle Ages. One of the earliest references to cloth making here was in 1275. By 1560 Leeds was showing the first signs of major growth. By 1600 the population of Leeds was 4,000 .

Robley is an uncommon surname and the fact that this group of Robleys lived in such close proximity leads to an assumption that these Robleys were related.

There is no record as to their occupation but as the major part of the local economy was centered on the processing of wool it is probable that these Robleys were similarly involved.

The earliest record of a Robley in this area was of William Robley whose date and place of birth are not known, but on the 6th of September 1567 he married Ofelia Gomersall in the Church of St. John the Bapist in Halifax. There is no record linking children directly to this marriage, but there are five records of children being born to a later generation of Robleys and I have speculated that the parents were the children of William. These children were Edward, Henry, Christopher, William and Robert all of whom became fathers.

William's child, Edward, married and had three children, all born in Elland. The first, Heter (Peter),was baptised on the 18th June 1587, daughter, Jane, was baptised on the 13th January 1593 and a daughter, Maria, was baptised on the 6th of December 1601.

Henry Robley had a daughter, Beatrice, born in October 1600 in Leeds. Christopher Robley had a daughter, Jayne, born in May 1596, also in Leeds. Robert Robley had a son, William, born in March 1654 in Rothwell and son, William Robley, had a son, John, born in October 1620 in Bradford and christened in St Peter's Cathedral on 15th October 1620.

There may be a connection between William Robley and the Robleys who lived in Richmond, Yorks., but this has yet to be proved.

Written by John Robley. Researched by John Robley & Marian Foster.