The “Irish” Line of the Grimshaw Family

Started by Nicholas Grimshaw, Who Was Instrumental in Bringing the Textile Industry to Ireland

Nicholas Grimshaw was from Blackburn and apparently emigrated to Ireland in about 1776. He started the cotton textile industry in that country when he built the first cotton twist mill in 1784, as described on a companion webpage. Nicholas and Mary Wrigley were married in Manchester in 1768. Nicholas was the son of Nicholas and Susan (Briercliffe) Grimshaw (who can be seen on the right side of the Pendle Forest descendant chart on a companion webpage) and the grandson of Nicholas Grimshaw and Anne Grimshaw (of Oakenshaw), who are described in the  Pendle Forest line of Grimshaws.


Webpage Credit

Whitaker’s Descendant Chart

Emigration of Nicholas Grimshaw as Described by His Son, William

Portrait of Nicholas Grimshaw

Prominent Irish Grimshaw Descendants

Grimshaw Grave Location in Carnmoney, near Belfast

Grimshaw Monument in Carnmoney

Monumental Inscriptions

Additional Grimshaw Gravesites

Additional Photos from Dick Grimshaw

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw Assisted William Coxhead in Malta during World War II

References and Footnotes

Webpage Credit

Thanks go to Hilary Tulloch, who not only provided the monumental inscriptions and directions to the Carnmoney church and cemetery but also provided a great deal of other information on the Irish line of Grimshaws. Hilary also provided the photo of Nicholas Grimshaw shown below. Thanks also go to Dick Grimshaw for supplying the photos and associated information of other Grimshaws in the Irish line (see Figures 5 to 9 below). Thanks to William Coxhead for providing the interesting anecdote on Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw.

Whitaker’s Descendant Chart

The “Irish” line of Grimshaws was presented by Whitaker1 (v. II, p. 276 ff.) and is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. The descendant chart of “Irish” Grimshaw Line from Whitaker1 is shown below. As noted above, the originators of this line, Nicholas and Susan (Briercliffe) Grimshaw can also be seen in the Pendle Forest Line on the right side of the descendant chart.

Portrait of Nicholas Grimshaw

Hilary Tulloch has provided a photograph of a portion of a portrait of Nicholas Grimshaw. It is shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Photograph of a portion of painted portrait of Nicholas Grimshaw (courtesy of Hilary Tulloch.)

Emigration of Nicholas Grimshaw as Described by His Son, William

(Note: this section also appears in the companion webpage on Nicholas role in bringing the Industrial Revolution to Ireland.)

William, the fourth son of Nicholas, emigrated from Ireland to America in 1815, where he became a noted historical author (as described on a companion webpage.) He described the role of his father in the first chapter of his small book, “Incidents Recalled1” (1848, p. 9-10):

My father, the late Nicholas Grimshaw, being the first that introduced the spinning of cotton twist into Ireland, besides being a person of liberal education, and great public spirit, seems to have been a leading character, in his neighbourhood, from nearly his earliest settlement in the country. He was a native of Blackburn, in Lancashire, the birth-place of the late Sir Robert Peel; who, I have understood, was a near relation of my fathers; and I know we have, in our family, the same Christian names as the Peels, viz. Thomas, Edmund, William, and Robert. My father and Mr. Peel were nearly of the same age, and commenced business about the same time; but they were of very different dispositions; the former being fond of improving his property, by the planting of trees, and other ornaments, and also passing his summers at the fashionable watering-places in England; incurring an expense, not altogether warranted in a manufacturer, having fourteen children to support. He was also unremittingly attentive to the interests of the public; to which, Mr. Peel, being a man of much less education than my father was, in the early part of his career, but very slightly devoted.

The late Nicholas Grimshaw, who filled the office of mayor of the city of Preston, for more than forty consecutive years; and also the late Henry Fielding, of Garstang; were first cousins of my fathers. Our name is pure Anglo-Saxon, signifying “a dark wood;” and there is a dilapidated village, in Lancashire, in ancient times the residence of our family, from which it is derived.

My father came to Ireland, as I can collect from the births registered in the family Bible, about the year 1776, shortly after the improved system of spinning cotton-twist, the invention of which seems, with justice, partly to be attributed to Richard (afterwards Sir Richard) Arkwright, had been brought to some degree of efficiency, if not of perfection. His motive for settling in Ireland seems to have been two-fold, – first to evade the operation of Arkwrights patent, (which did not, at any time, extend to Ireland,) and secondly, to reap advantage from the comparatively low rate of wages in that country. But in both these objects, he had evidently miscalculated. The advantage derived from the non-payment for t4e patent-right, was more than counterbalanced by the isolated position in which he placed himself, with regard to the obtaining of machinery, and the speedy adoption of new improvements; and the difference of wages was equally countervailed, by the waste and expense attending the instruction and training of raw hands. The consequence was, that, although the profits were considerable, owing to the infancy of the business, and the small competition, yet, in the course of time, he found himself constrained to apply to the Irish Parliament, for protection, in the nature of what is now called a tariff, amounting to ten per cent, upon cotton-twist; and, subsequently, when he commenced the printing of calicoes, in which he became highly distinguished for his taste and the permanency of his colours, he induced the parliament to impose a protective duty, also, on the latter article, amounting to more than one shilling per square yard; duties, which, it will appear, in the sequel, contributed rather to retard, than to accelerate the extension and perfection of the cotton manufacture, in Ireland.

My fathers first place of settlement was in the parish of Belfast, county of Antrim, about three miles north of that town, and five from the ancient, but poverty-stricken city, of Carrickfergus, on the site of an old linen bleach-green, or flax-mill, called Greencastle; where the writer of this memoir was born. In a small building, still in existence, near the high-road, and the sea-shore, at a landing-place, known as the Lime-stones, was erected the first machinery for spinning cotton-twist in Ireland. The machine being circular, and kept in motion both day and night, realized, in the first year, the enormous sum of eighteen hundred pounds, or eight thousand dollars. The water, however, at Greencastle, being found insufficient for an extensive business, my father purchased another site, adjoining, and further to the north, situated in the parish of Carnmoney; upon which, is since erected the beautiful and extensive village of Whitehouse, still the property of my family, with more than three hundred dwelling-houses, and having appurtenant one hundred and seventy English acres of good land, surrounded by a plantation of trees, with other rural improvements; in which, my brothers take great delight.

At Whitehouse, in conjunction with Mr. Nathaniel Wilson, a gentleman of some enterprise and capital, a new cotton-mill was erected, in 1785, capable of holding four thousand spindles and preparation; and, about ten years afterwards, by the enlargement of an old building, originally used for bleaching lawns, by a lady, named Tomb, another mill was organized, containing about an equal number of spindles; which was the greatest extent ever ventured on by any of the family; and these two mills, about twelve years ago, were converted to the purpose of spinning flax; the spinning of cotton in Ireland, having become almost wholly unprofitable, owing to the gigantic competition in Great Britain.

Belfast, which, at the time my father settled in its neighbourhood, contained only about ten thousand inhabitants, now reckons, at both sides of the Lagan, in the counties of Antrim and Down, not less than one hundred thousand.

Prominent Irish Grimshaw Descendants

The Irish line of Grimshaws has included some of the more prominent members of the Grimshaw family including (among others):

Nicholas Grimshaw

(b. 1714) and his son Nicholas (b. 1747), who, as noted above, introduced the cotton textile industry into Ireland.

William Grimshaw, (b. 1782), who emigrated to the U.S. (not Canada, as indicated in Whitaker’s descendant chart), settled in Philadelphia, and became a noted author of history texts and other important books.

Arthur H. Grimshaw (b. 1824), son of William, who fought in the American Civil War on the side of the North. He raised his own regiment in Delaware and commanded it (as a colonel) through much of the war.

Robert Grimshaw (b. 1850), another son of William, who participated in the founding of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and authored numerous technical and engineering texts.

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (b. 1839), a prominent physician in Belfast who served as Registrar-General of Ireland and conducted pioneering public health studies on cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (b. 1875), distinguished soldier who fought in the Boer War and was killed in action during World War 1 on the Gallipoli peninsula of Turkey

Roland William Wrigley (“Roly”) Grimshaw (b.1879), son of Thomas Wrigley, who commanded a squadron of the Indian Army Corps during World War I and kept a detailed diary which was subsequently published.

Beatrice Ethel Grimshaw (b. 1870), author of many fictional and non-fictional works based on her life and experiences in the South Pacific.

Grimshaw Grave Locations in Carnmoney, near Belfast

The graves of Nicholas and Susan (Briercliffe) Grimshaw, and of Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw and many of their descendants are in the church cemetery of the Church of Holy Evangelists (Church of Ireland) on Church Road in Carnmoney. Figure 3 below is an Ordnance Survey mapwhich shows the location of the church; a larger map showing the surrounding area, including Belfast, is included on a companion webpage.

Figure 3. Recent map2 showing location of Church of Holy Evangelists in Carnmoney (small arrow). The large arrow shows the location of Whitehouse, which is described on a companion webpage.

Grimshaw Monument in Carnmoney

The graves of Nicholas and Susan (Briercliffe) Grimshaw, and of Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw are marked by a beautiful Celtic cross, which is shown in Figure 4 below. IT is located in the cemetery at the Church of Holy Evangelists (Church of Ireland), Carnmoney, near Belfast, Ireland. The inscriptions (for the East Face, Lower; see text below) can barely be read for Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw. Photo taken May 2000.

Figure 4. Gravesite of Nicholas and Susan (Briercliffe) Grimshaw, their son Nicholas and his wife, Mary Wrigley Grimshaw, and several of their descendants.

Monumental Inscriptions

Hilary Tullochvisited this gravesite in 1997 and took down the following monumental inscriptions:

East Face Upper





East Face Lower











South Face











North Face










Erected In Loving Memory By J.R. Grimshaw

Additional Grimshaw Gravesites

There are two additional Grimshaw plots in the churchyard as well; approximately 45 Grimshaws altogether, with their spouses and children, are interred in the cemetery.

Photos of Members of the Irish Grimshaw Line

Dick Grimshaw has provided photos of members of his line of ancestry in the Irish Grimshaw Line. They are provided below, starting with James Grimshaw, Son of Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw. These Grimshaws can be found on Whitaker’s descendant chart (Figure 1) on the left hand side.

Figure 5. James Grimshaw and wife, Alicia (Robertson) Grimshaw. James was born in Manchester on July 9, 1771 and died in 1865. He was the oldest son of Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw. 

Figure 6. James Grimshaw in his later years. James lived to age 94 as noted above.

Figure 7. Wrigley Grimshaw and his wife, Alicia (Grimshaw) Grimshaw. Wrigley and Alicia were first cousins — Wrigley was the nephew of James and Alicia Grimshaw (see Figure 5), and Alicia was the daughter of James and Alicia. Wrigley was born in 1801 and died in 1878. Alicia was born in 1804 and died in 1847.

Figure 8. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth (Thomas) Grimshaw. Thomas was the oldest son of Wrigley and Alicia Grimshaw (see Figure 7). He was born in 1839 and died in 1900. He was the Registrar General of Ireland and is the subject of a companion webpage. Sarah (“Settie”) E. Grimshaw was born in 1843 and died in 1945.

Figure 8. Thomas Felix Thomas and his wife (name not known). They were the parents of Sarah Elizabeth Thomas, wife of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (see Figure 7).

Figure 9. Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, DSO, and his wife, Agnes Violet Grimshaw. Cecil was born in 1875 and was killed in action in 1916 at Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I (see companion webpage on Cecil).

Additional Photos from Dick Grimshaw

In March 2005 Dick Grimshaw provided additional photos related to the Irish Grimshaw Line. They are provided below with captions also provided by Dick.

Agnes Violet Grimshaw, wife of Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (1875-1915) and mother of Thomas, George and David, on her wedding day in 1906. 

“With love from my three soldiers”. Major Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw DSO, with his two sons George (left) and Thomas (right). Taken in March 1915, just before embarking for the Gallipoli campaign where Cecil was killed in action on April 26th 1915. This post card was sent by Agnes Violet Grimshaw to Cecil’s mother, Mrs. S.E. Grimshaw.

[George became Dick Grimshaw’s father, and Thomas became the father of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, London architect.]

Agnes Violet Grimshaw (1928), wife of Major Cecil Thomas Grimshaw

The officers of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (March 1915)/ Major Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw DSO – sitting 6th from right. This photo was probably taken in Torquay prior to embarkation to Gallipoli in 1915.

Sarah Elizabeth Grimshaw (nee Thomas). Born 14 Auguas 1843, died 29 April 1945. Wife of Dr. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw of Dublin, Ireland. Picture of her as a young woman prior to her marriage.

Modern view of Cavehill, Northern Ireland, taken from near where the White House Antree was located.

The White House, Co. Antrim, Ireland. The house is where Dr. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw CB, father of Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born November 16, 1839.

The garden of the Whitehouse with Cave Hill (1182 ft above seal level) and its black basalt cliffs in the background.

The Duchess of Marlborough’s Relief Committee (circa 1850). Dr. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw CB sat on the Committee. At that time he was Registrar General of Ireland and lived in Dublin.

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw Assisted William Coxhead in Malta during World War II

William Coxhead sent an e-mail in June 2009 with a very interesting anecdote on Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, which is provided below. The e-mail is followed by replies from the webpage author and Hilary Tulloch. Thanks, again, to William for sending this information.

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw RAAF / RAF b 1908

From: BillCox (

Sent: Mon 6/08/09 11:25 PM


2 attachments RAF Offic…jpg (67.9 KB), 3Soldiers…jpg (22.4 KB)

Hello Thomas W. Grimshaw – ( )

My name is William J. Coxhead (Melbourne Aust.)

You replied to my message in Ancestry re Flt Lt Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw b 1908.

I am here giving you more detail.

Pleae note, As I’ve already stated I am not related to the Grimshaw Family.

Back in 1944-45-46 I was working as a Page Boy in an R.A.F. Officers Quarters at Kalafrana R.A.F. Base Malta G.C. I was 15 yrs of age.

At this Officers Quarters there were about 35 Officers. All Ground Crew not pilots.

I was only there about 14 months. Most of the Officers were English but there was one from Southern Rhodesia,

two from Canada and Flt Lt Grimshaw who wore an Australian RAAF uniform.

One day, Flt Lt Grimshaw (I never knew his first name) called me and asked me if I would like to learn a trade.

Shortly after he arranged for me to be transferred to the RAF Workshops at the Kalafrana Base

It was there that I started my apprenticeship as an electrician. It was through him that I learnt a trade.

Besides that, I was very fortunate because shortly after all civilians that were emplyed at the Officers Quarters were laid off. At that period which was just after the end

of WW2 jobs were extremely scarce as the English Military were closing down many of their establishments.

I left Malta 1951 and settled in Melbourne where I worked as an electrician for many years.

Somehow I could never forget the day Mr Grimshaw changed the course of my life.

For many years I kept hoping that one day I could contact him or someone from his family.

A few years back I looked in the Australian Military Archives and found this item:

THOMAS WRIGLEY GRIMSHAW. Flt. Lieut. RAAF. Date of birth 12-8-1908. No 406128.

Next of Kin : Isabella Grimshaw. Discharged 9-11-1945. Overseas H.Q. RAAF Lon.

Next of Kin : Isabella Grimshaw.

Please note: I am pretty sure that back in 1945 while I worked at the Officers Quarters Mr Grimshaw was a Squadron Leader and not a Flight Lt as is shown in the Australian records.

I have found these bits of detail:

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw b Totnes Devon 3-1908 ref 5b 132 (from Free BMD’s Genealogy Site)

I also looked at where Galmpton in UK is situated

Galmpton in Devon UK is situated west of Kingsbridge and east of Outer Hope (on the coast)

It is a long way east of Plymouth and n-w of East Portsmouth. It is a very small country village.

First thing I want to confirm is if the Flt Lt Thomas Wrigley RAAF No 406128 is the person listed in the Australian Military archives did serve in Malta GC Europe during 1945.

I cannot obtain that information from the RAF in England because one needs to be a relative of the person That also applies in Australia.

I am hoping that you may be able to confirm that Flt Lt Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw is part of your Family Tree.

Could this Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw b 1908 in Devon be the grandson of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (b. 1839), a prominent physician in Belfast who served as Registrar-General of Ireland and conducted pioneering public health studies on cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Also, in your Site there is a photo and the caption says:

“With love from my three soldiers”. Major Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw DSO, with his two sons George (left) and Thomas (right).

Taken in March 1915, just before embarking for the Gallipoli campaign where Cecil was killed in action on April 26th 1915.

This post card was sent by Agnes Violet Grimshaw to Cecil’s mother, Mrs. S.E. Grimshaw.

The young lad Thomas shown in photo taken 1915 looks like a 7 yr old boy – b 1908. Just a guess.

I am send you of photo of a group of RAF Officers in Malta at the Officers Quarters where I worked. Photo taken 1945.

The officer on the right hand side marked with ‘x’ is Sqd Ldr or Flt Lt Grimshaw.

Hope you’ll find my story of some interest and hoping to hear from you.

Best regards


William J. Coxhead.

RE: Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw RAAF / RAF b 1908

From: Thomas Grimshaw (

Sent: Tue 6/09/09 6:38 AM


Cc: Hilary Tulloch (; Hilary Tulloch (

Hi William,

Good to hear from you.

I am copying this reply to Hilary Tulloch, who is the foremost expert on Grimshaw history, particularly the line (which Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw descended from) that settled near Belfast.

I am pretty sure that Hilary will be able to answer (if anyone can) your question about Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw being the one that assisted you in Malta. If OK, I may post the photo on the “Irish” Grimshaw webpage.

Thanks very much for sharing your interesting story. If Grimshaw’s identity is confirmed, I’d also like to post your story for its “human interest” angle.

Best regards,


RE: Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw RAAF / RAF b 1908

From: Hilary Tulloch (

Sent: Wed 6/10/09 4:32 AM

To: ‘Thomas Grimshaw’ (

Hello Tom,

Many thanks for forwarding this note. I will get in touch with William Coxhead.

As you will have realised this Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was my uncle. He was a chartered accountant and worked all over the world, including Australia where he was at the outbreak of World War II. He enlisted in Perth, Western Australia, and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Air Force and served in Malta where his mothers first cousin, General Sir William DOBBIE, had been the Governor from 1940-42 when Malta was awarded the George Cross. His date of discharge from the RAAF was 9 Nov 1945. After the war, he returned to accountancy and worked in India, Burma, Lebanon and Australia before retiring to Malta. He died in Essex, England, on 25 Nov 1978.

Tom was always able to relate well to young people and he was a favourite uncle among his nephews and nieces. When he came home at Christmas, he always brought slides showing us something of his life abroad and the countries he lived in. He was very sociable and full of stories of exciting places and interesting people. He was also very generous with his time and money, supporting several charitable causes in different places.

…I hope that all is well with you and yours.

With best wishes from


Where is Malta located? Just south of Sicily in the middle of the Mediterranean (see rectangle in map below).


References and Footnotes

1Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, 1872, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley, and Honor of Clitheroe (Revised and enlarged by John G. Nichols and Ponsonby A. Lyons): London, George Routledge and Sons, 4th Edition; v. I, 362 p.; v. II, 622 p. Earlier editions were published in 1800, 1806, and 1825.

2Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, 1988, Discoverer Series, Sheet 15 (Belfast): Belfast, Dept. of Environment, Ordnance Survey, 1 sheet, 1:50,000 scale.

3Much appreciation is extended to Hilary for sharing the inscriptions and providing directions to the church and cemetery.

Webpage History

Webpage posted July 2000. Revised December 2000. Revised June 2003 with addition of photos from Dick Grimshaw. Revised March 2005 with still more photos from Dick Grimshaw. Updated June 2009 with addition of anecdote on Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw from William Coxhead. New banner added July 2015.