The Hazlehurst family came from the area of Winwick in Lancashire. It appears that one branch of the family moved to the area of Frodsham Bridge in Cheshire. It is understood that another branch moved to Tunstall in Staffordshire where they became involved in coal mining1 . Thomas was born in or near Winwick on 27th February 1779. When he was aged only some 3 weeks his family moved to Frodsham in Cheshire and at a later date they moved again, this time to Runcorn2 . On 23rd June 1799 Thomas married Mary Greenwood, the daughter and eldest child of a Runcorn businessman, William Greenwood. Together they produced a total of 7 children. In 1801 William was born and he was followed by John in 1803. Then came three daughters, Eliza in 1806, Sarah in 1810 and Mary in 1812. Finally there were two more sons, Thomas junior in 1816 and Charles in 1818.
Thomas' first daughter Eliza, who was born in 1806, sadly died when she was aged less than 11 months. It is recorded in a Memoir written after his death by a close friend of the family3 that as a consequence of Eliza's short life and her death Thomas became a Methodist. At the time of his conversion to Methodism he was already involved in religion, being a churchwarden in the Anglican church. This conversion was to have significant consequences for the Hazlehurst family, and indeed for the town of Runcorn, in the future. Thomas became a devout, committed and energetic Methodist. All his other children survived into adulthood and in time all were married.
Even in the early years of the 19th century Thomas Hazlehurst had shown evidence of enterprise in business matters, although it was to be some time before he finally settled into his major business of soap-making. He had been the joint owner of a boat called the Ranger together with two local shipwrights, William Wright and Charles Hickson. At this time he was described as being a grocer4 . In 1814 Thomas was making resin in an old leather factory on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal5 . In 1815 both he and John Johnson were supplying large quantities of industrial cinders to the local Overseer of Highways 6. Also in 1815 he was supplying Sir Richard Brooke at Norton Priory with rope and cordage and in 1815-1816 he and Thomas Johnson were in a joint venture supplying Sir Richard with lime, soap and palm oil7 . Thomas was also involved in civic matters affecting the running of the town. He is first mentioned in the Township Minutes in 1806. By 1814 he was a member of the town's Business Committee8 .