In Search of the Bryan Tickles

Many years ago my great aunt won a family history competition. The prize was for a professional genealogist to help with some research. She had been unable to trace her paternal tree beyond James Tickle b.1785. When she received the results of the professional’s research, he postulated that James’ father was Bryan Tickle, who lived in Prescot in the 18th century.

My aunt rejected this idea, as we have no other Bryans in our family history. When I began to search online records, I initially also dismissed Bryan as a candidate for the same reason – the name has not been handed down in our family. However, I have gradually come to accept that he is a likely candidate.

I’ve decided, as part of the Tickle/Tickell one-name study. to research all the historical Bryan Tickles in Lancashire. Perhaps I can find why the name might not have been passed down through the generations. I already know from data I collected several years ago that at least one, and possibly two, people, named Bryan Tickle died in mining accidents. I’ll record my research into the Bryans in my blog, beginning with this post. If you have a Bryan Tickle in your family tree, I’d love to hear from you.

Conventional Family Naming Patterns

In earlier centuries, children were frequently named to honour their older relations, in a pattern that is still common in some more conservative countries to this day. The usual British naming convention was: 

• The first son was named after the paternal grandfather
• The second son was named after the maternal grandfather
• The third son was named after the father
• The fourth son was named after the oldest paternal uncle
• The fifth was named after the second oldest paternal uncle or the oldest maternal uncle 

• The first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother
• The second daughter was named after the paternal grandmother
• The third daughter was named after the mother
• The fourth daughter was named after the oldest maternal aunt
• The fifth was named after the second oldest maternal aunt or the oldest paternal aunt

The pattern wasn’t always followed strictly but can provide clues when trying to find ancestors.

Using this pattern, one might expect Bryan Tickle’s sons to name their first sons Bryan after their father. His daughters would conventionally name their second sons Bryan. And Bryan himself would probably have been named after his paternal grandfather.

Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project

The starting point for my research is the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project. If your ancestors came from Lancashire and you haven’t yet discovered this resource, I highly recommend it. You’ll find it at It’s completely free and you can search by parish, town, or by the whole county. Not all parish records are digitised as yet but a great many are and you’ll find contact details for the different parishes should you want to make further enquiries. (For those unfamiliar with Britain or British history, the red rose on the left is the county flower of Lancashire. During the 15th century the ‘Wars of the Roses’ were fought between the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose, and the House of York, represented by a white rose.)

I searched for Bryan (sometimes spelt Brian)Tickle on the Lancashire OPC website and discovered the following:

Baptisms – 20 baptism records, from 1666 to 1891.

Marriages – 14 marriage records, from 1773 to 1989.

Burials – 13 burial records, from 1702 to 1900.

These numbers are relatively small for the length of time and size of the county, indicating that Bryan Tickle was not a particularly common name. This means it might be relatively easy to trace. It’s also likely that many of the men in these records were related to each other.

I plan to try to recreate as many family trees as I can, and see to what extent the naming conventions were followed.

The Earliest Bryan Tickle

The earliest of the Bryan Tickle records in the Lancashire OPC is:

Baptism: 3 Feb 1666/67 St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, England
Bryan Tickle – Sonne of Willm. Tickle
Abode: Sutton
Register: Baptisms 1665 – 1694, Page 8, Entry 2
Source: LDS Film 1657583

St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, shown in the image below, features frequently in the records for the Bryan Tickle name – baptisms, marriage, and deaths. Prescot is an old market town, 8 miles (13km) east of Liverpool and 10 miles (16km) west of Warrington. It was famous throughout the world for its clocks and watches, often produced in workshops attached to houses. There are one or two Tickles involved in clock-making, but many more worked in another major industry of the area – coal mining. Most of the Tickles from this area came from mining families – miners or colliers, as they were often called. You can read more about Prescot and the church here.

St Mary the Virgin, Prescot

Bryan Tickle in my own Tree

The Bryan Tickle who may be my ancestor married Elizabeth Mercer on 10 Jun 1773 in St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire. No father’s name is shown for either of the couple.. They had ten children that I know of, shown below.

Their oldest son was William. The naming convention would suggest that Bryan’s father was called William Tickle. Searching the baptism records for the 18th century reveals a number of Bryans who died in infancy, with a baptism shortly followed by a burial. This was sadly frequent at that time. There are two possible candidates for ‘my’ Bryan in the records transcribed to date – one born in 1751 to William & Elizabeth, and one in 1755 to Bryan & Elizabeth. Both were baptised in St Mary the Virgin, Prescot. The earlier record would make him 22 at the date of marriage; in the latter case he would have been just 18, which was young to marry in those days. It’s likely that Bryan was the son of William, whose occupation is stated as Collier, I have included this Bryan’s baptism date in my records.

When researching early records in trying to build a family tree, you frequently have to use informed guesswork and speculation, so please bear this in mind when citing any of the information you find on this website. I do not claim this date or parentage to be factually correct; it is simply the most likely I have found to date.

The most likely candidate for Bryan’s wife is Elizabeth Mercer b.1752 to Samuel and Elizabeth. She was also baptised at St Mary the Virgin. This would mean both grandmothers were named Elizabeth, as was Bryan and Elizabeth’s first daughter. So far so good. But now the naming pattern breaks down.

By convention, the second son should be named Samuel, after his maternal grandfather, and the third son, Bryan, after his father. Although the family includes a Samuel and a Bryan, they are not found in that order, with a John and a Peter coming before them. Further research has led me to believe that Bryan had three older brothers – Peter, William, and John, and so his sons may have been named in honour of his brothers, before naming them after himself and his father-in-law.

Tracing all the Bryan Tickles in the Lancashire records, and trying to determine which line they fit into will keep me busy for some time. I’ll report on my progress in due course. Meanwhile, if you can shed any light on a Bryan, Bryon, or Brian do contact me or add a comment.

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