Lightbody Family History


Our branch of the family originated in the area around Caerlaverock in Dumfriesshire in the 1500's.

As Scottish non-conformists the Lightbody family were Unitarians and appear to have had a strong history of adventure, travel and independent thought.

Three brothers, William (1719-83), Adam (1729-1778) and Robert (1730-1795) entered business in the cloth trade in Liverpool with their step-mother's family, the Nicholsons, in about 1750.

The cotton trade in Liverpool had developed in part from the linen trade around the Irish Sea and the dissenting families active in the linen trade developed the cotton trade as the new sources of fibre in the Americas became accessible from Liverpool.

William married the daughter of the mayor of Liverpool, Anna Brooks, and registered his coat of arms in 1767.

All three brothers were successful in the cotton trade.

They were Non-Conformists or Dissenters and it was this section of British society, barred by religion from holding positions in the Church, Army, Navy and Civil Service which drove the Industrial Revolution forwards.

See for example "The Lunar Men" about the Manchester Philosophical Society.

The children of Adam Lightbody (1729-1778)adamlightbody_children.jpg

Adam's three surviving daughters, Elizabeth (1758-1795), Agnes (1760-1812) and Hannah (1766-1828)inherited about £30,000 from their father and uncles at a time when it cost £750 to fit-out and equip a ship for a years trade between Britain, Africa and the USA.

Elizabeth married Thomas Hodgson whose family were primarily involved the marine trade, Agnes married John Pares whose family had established several banks and Hannah married Samuel Greg, an industrialist who was building cotton mills.

Hannah, as Mrs Greg, features in the Channel 4 TV Series "The Mill" based on the National Trust's Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. This mill was built by Samuel and Hannah and Hannah is credited with having worked to provide the apprentices at the mill with an education. Again this was part of the cotton industry and now survives as the jewel in the Nation Trust's crown as the best preserved Victorian factory. The NT at Quarry Bank document Hannah's involvement in the education and welfare of their child workers. David Sekers the former Director of Quarry Bank for the NT published Hannah Greg's diary in about 2009 through the Journal of Enlightenment & Dissent (c/o Dr Martin Fitzpatrick of Aberystwyth). It provides a fascinating account of Liverpool, at that time the boom town of Britain, in the 1780-90s, as a sophisticated and cultured city, unlike the relatively uncivilised Manchester of that time.

William Lightbody (1872-1948) who was one of Robert's great-grandsons spent much of his life researching his family history which he recorded in several bound volumes now held by Nick Lightbody (1954-). In this site we are seeking to publish some of the material gathered by William and indeed to gather more material to elucidate more about our family's history during this important period of British History.

Notable members

John Lightbody (1817-1880): from whom our branch of the family are directly descended, here is what the first three generations look like:


Arthur Edward Lightbody: a member of the Fitzgerald Expedition which first climbed Aconcagua in 1899.

Hannah Gregg nee Lightbody who built Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire with her husband Samuel after inheriting a great fortune.

Mary Anne Lightbody of Garden Cottage, Garston


We visited Lightbody Street L5, Liverpool a few years ago (2001) after reading about it in our family history.

It is between Great Howard Street and what is now the railway (but was originally a canal) near the docks west of the city centre. Easy to find on Google Earth.