Bealey family of Radcliffe

The Bealey family was one of the most influential families and employers in Radcliffe, Lancashire. They arrived in the town in 1732 to open a 'whitsters' (bleachers) factory, pegging out their cloth in the fields to be bleached. Later they became pioneers in the chemical process for bleaching material. They used the former Wesleyan Chapel in Birchin Lane, Manchester as their warehouse.

Richard Bealey (1755-1817) was born into a dissenter's family at Cockey Moor, a village between Bolton and Bury. He attended the Protestant dissenters Chapel in the village and was converted under the influence of the Rev Dr Thomas Barnes. (The Rev Joseph Bealey (1757-1813), Richard's brother, preached the memorial sermon for Dr Barnes in the chapel in 1810.) Around 1801 Richard joined the Wesleyan Methodists.

Richard married Alice Crompton (1756-1799) the daughter of Adam Crompton (1722-1793) who founded an early Sunday school and was a paper manufacturer in Little Lever, Bolton. Their daughter Ann (1780 -1821) married Rev Jonathan Brown (1785 – 1819; e.m. 1805). A year after Alice's death Richard married Dorothy (Dolly) Marsden (1759-1829) in 1800. She was a daughter of John Marsden (1721-1800) and Hannah née Buxton (1720-1807) who were close friends of John and Charles Wesley. Dolly was the sister of Mary (1770 -1827) the wife of the Rev Dr James Townley and cousin to the Rev. George Marsden.

Richard Bealey, probably under the influence of his wife Dolly, started and financed a very well attended Sunday School in a room in his bleach-works and invited the Wesleyan preachers from the Bury Circuit to take services. Richard had a 'burning desire to build a Methodist sanctuary to advance the social, moral and religious welfare of the workpeople and inhabitants of Radcliffe Hall'.

Richard and Alice's son Adam Bealey (1780–1821) followed his father into the family business and also became a Wesleyan. He married Mary Williams of Rackery Farm. Gresford and they had seven children. Elizabeth Bealey (1809 – c.1895) married Thomas Percival Bunting (1811-1886) and was the mother of Sir Percy William Bunting (1836-1911).

When Richard Bealey died in 1817 and his son Adam died four years later, it was left to Mary Bealey, née Williams, to run the business with her sons Richard and Adam and to fulfil the vision of her father in law and husband to build a Chapel for the Radcliffe Close Wesleyan Society. Against much opposition she purchased land for the new chapel and financed the building of Close Wesleyan Methodist Church, Radcliffe. The names on the title deed included Mary's four sons Richard Bealey (1810- 1896), Adam Bealey (1812 - 1905), John Bealey (1816-1867) and Samuel Bealey (1821-1909) along with other notable Wesleyan industrialists and business men in Bury. The foundation stone was laid by Jabez Bunting. The Church was opened on 22nd September 1839 the preacher was the Rev Thomas Jackson, President of the Conference in 1838. Mary Bealey was a liberal benefactor to the Bury Circuit, a generous supporter of the Wesleyan Connexion,and gave 1500 guineas to the Wesleyan Centenary Fund in 1838.

Adam Bealey (1812-1905) laid the foundation stone of the Brynffynnon Wesleyan Church Wrexham on 24th July 1855, and had been present at the Wesleyan Connexional Centenary Celebration in Manchester in 1839.

  • Methodist Magazine, 1822, p.79; 1831, p.585
  • G.J. Stevenson, City Road Chapel [1872], pp.414-16