Harry Speight, a local historian, genealogist and author of Upper Wharfedale is related to the Moorhouse family through his mother Mary who was the daughter of Nancy Aldersley (nee Moorhouse).

Her brother John Moorhouse gave Harry some old Moorhouse family papers which helped with his research into the family.  In the book Upper Wharfedale Harry has a family tree tracing the Moorhouse ancestry back to at least 1600.


Harry was born on 6 th April 1855 in Thornton Road Bradford to Frederick and Mary Speight. His father was a manager at Smith's Dye works in Bradford.   He was the eldest of 5 children and one of his four sisters (Emily) had the middle name of Moorhouse.

He was educated at Hopkinson school and at the Clarendon Mathematical and Commercial Academy on Lumb Lane.

In the 1871 census Harry is living with his Father (his Mother had died in 1869 aged 35) and his four siblings and a housekeeper.  He is working as a clerk at the dye works where his father is the manager. He is also studying German at night school and attending lectures at the Mechanics Institute: at every opportunity he goes out sightseeing and walking.

In 1872 his Father died aged 41, and by the 1881 census, Harry aged 25 is living with two of his sisters in Bowling, Bradford.  He is employed as a commercial bookkeeper but he is also writing articles, of various types, for magazines and newspapers.

Harry gave up his job in 1884 as a bookkeeper and travelled to Ireland (encouraged by W.E. Foster, a previous Secretary of State for the Isle) to write articles for the Bradford Observer about the Isle, under the pen name of Johnnie Gray.

During 1886 he visited Scotland and published articles in the Scottish Highlander.

The following year he got involved in the cause of the cottagers of Lewis who were dying of starvation.  He appealed for funds in the Bradford Observer and raised £100 and a large quantity of clothes.   He also raised funds for the victims of the Irish potato crop in Ireland in 1897.

He started to publish books and in the 1891 census he is living in Bowling Bradford with a housekeeper and described himself as an author. As well as writing book he contributed articles to the ‘Bradford Antiquary' which is the journal of the Bradford Historical Society.


In 1893 he married Laura Butterfield and they had 3 children over the next nine years. The oldest son was called William Moorhouse Speight. I am sure Harry Speight must have met William Moorhouse during his research.

On the 1911 census Harry is living in Bingley with his wife and three children and he describes himself as an author and genealogist.

Harry wrote many books about Yorkshire from 1890 until his death, aged 65 in in 1915 during the influenza outbreak. His writing is regarded as considerably more reliable that the works of many other Victorian authors.

Bradford reference library holds most of his research papers and in a notebook about his immediate family history he writes about the Moorhouse family

“It is always interesting and has sometimes a special value, that a person knows something of his ancestors and family history, be he of noble descent or but lowly born. Having at various times collected much information (albeit in a fragmentary form) from manuscript and published histories, by word of mouth from my relatives and the dumb utterances of ancestral tombstones about our family I shall endeavour to store it up here.  The hills and dales of Craven have always had a strong attraction to me, not alone for their wild and beautiful scenery which appeals so powerfully to the lover of the picturesque and delights his imagination, but also is the home and final resting place of my maternal ancestors.”




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