SETTLE Graveyard Project has re-discovered some real stars from days gone by. Several of these will feature in this summer’s all new Graveyard Tours.

These fun, interactive tours will run on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons at Settle Church graveyard through the summer holidays. Each week has a different theme: ‘Intrepid Explorers’, ’Settle and Carlisle Railway Heroes’, ‘Local Lasses’, ‘Men Behaving Badly’, ‘Settle Superstars’ and ‘Rags to Riches’.

Tours will be in line with government Covid guidelines. Numbers are limited with entry by ticket only, available in advance from the Folly in Settle. Tickets cost £3 with proceeds to local charities. Details of each week’s tours are on the Settle Graveyard Project Facebook Page, Visit Settle and church websites and will be in the Craven Herald’s Neighbourhood News. You can contact the project directly on

Sarah Lister, tour guide and author said: “To give you a taster . . . meet the extraordinary Ellis family........"

The Ellis family descended from York but moved to Craven by the early 1800s. Frank Ellis married and worked as a cashier at the Craven Bank on Duke Street in Settle for over 40 years. His family’s lives were commemorated with a huge gravestone, inscribed in Latin, indicating a Catholic family.

Francis’ second son, another Francis, took over at the bank. Francis (Jnr) married Annie Robinson, the daughter of Thomas Robinson, a prosperous woollen manufacturer in Keighley. Thomas had met the Rev. John Wesley and was an ‘ardent debater in defending Wesleyan tenets and doctrines’. So Francis converted from Catholicism and they became active members of the Church of England back in Settle. When Francis died in 1903, he and his father had worked at the bank for nearly 100 years.

Francis and Annie’s daughter Jessie married an incredible mechanic, William Slinger — church vestry records tell us ‘The marriage of two of our Sunday School teachers, ‘Mr W Slinger and Miss Jessie Ellis, was an event of great interest to the other teachers, who all joined together to make a wedding present on the occasion.’

William was a director of the Settle Market Buildings Company that built the second storey of the Shambles in 1887/8. In 1887 William earned the nickname ‘Electric Billy’ after the lighting display he put up in Settle to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He had a shop on the Green specialising in electrical repairs and steam car maintenance. He became the agent for the Beeston Humber Tricycle which cost £36 with extra for tyres. He serviced traction engines for travelling show people and was also the millwright at Kings Mill.

In his spare time William took six years to build the strange looking ‘Slinger Motorcycle’ made out of a pushbike with a motor in place of the front wheel. It was patented in 1906. When William got bored of it, Settle’s Tot Lord rescued the motorbike and sold it to Mr Smith of Keighley who restored it and used it in a number of rallies in the 1950s, including the London to Brighton Rally.

Electric Billy didn’t build copies of his bike, even though he could have made money, because he was more interested in tinkering and inventing. He was the first man in the district to cut grass by motor-powered mower. In the 1920s he sold a Fiat car to Walter Morrison MP and gave driving lessons to Walter’s 75 year old coachman, Robert Battersby — after a few circuits of Settle Robert was judged fit to drive although a few gateposts suffered as a result!

Francis and Annie’s daughter, Margaret Ann Ellis was well known for her melodious voice and joined others to sing for the railway workers at Ribblehead ‘to distract the navvies and their families from activities of a more corrupting nature’. Margaret Ann was the only woman on the committee of the Settle Choral Society.

Margaret Ann, aged 61, became the second wife of her 80 year old cousin William Ellis, a well respected academic who, with his father, worked at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich during a period of pioneering astronomical research. Between them, William and his father served at the Observatory for nearly 70 years.

Francis and Annie’s son John Ellis was a Keighley solicitor who held positions in musical, chess and abstinence movements. He was also a pioneer of the Esperanto language in Britain, being the first secretary of Keighley’s Esperanto group in 1902. His daughter Dorothy married Frederick William Delves, a textiles manager, in 1932 after meeting on a golf course, providing a great photo of that era.

Definitely an extraordinary family!