Playing Pasts is delighted to present this podcast by Ray Hulley from the Sporting Lives symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute for Performance Research.  Subsequently the papers were published into a collection of the same name, for details see –


Many of us will remember watching the Olympics in 2008 I was particularly keen because I have discovered my own Olympic hero during my recent family history researches.  I am a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies, the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society and the North Cheshire Family History Society and have been researching my surname since 1980.    In November 2006 I came across an article about a John Hulley of Liverpool in the Winter 2001 edition of the Journal of Olympic History.  The title included a representation of the 5 Olympic rings and the mystery was because he had been the forgotten man of British Olympic history and all trace of him after 1868 had been lost.   Never shirking a challenge of this nature, I decided to follow up this lead to try to solve the mystery.  I discovered that Hulley had been born in Liverpool in 1832 and was a descendant of a Hulley family from Frodsham and previously Macclesfield. I have researched this family back to 1488 so he is well founded. His father, 2 uncles, a grandfather and great grandfather had been surgeons or physicians and another uncle had been a chemist and druggist.  The Family Tree below shows four generations of ancestors of John Hulley.

My next step was to find out more about John and his family in Liverpool and I discovered him in 1841 living at Gloucester Street Liverpool with his mother. He had had a keen interest in physical activities, education and fitness and it was reported that in his early years he had been taught by Louis Huguenin, the famous French gymnast who had settled in Liverpool in 1844 as a teacher of Gymnastics. John attended Huguenin’s school in a court at the top of Lord Street for several years before matriculating from the Collegiate Institute, Shaw Street, Liverpool in 1850. In 1851 John was a visitor to his Uncle Hugh Speed’s Brookhouse Farm at Huyton where no doubt he enjoyed the fresh air and farmyard activities.  John Hulley was again living at a farm in Huyton in 1861, but this time he was a visitor to his uncle Edward Speed at Woolfall Hall where there were 90 acres of farmland…

Article © Ray Hulley 


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