11.14 – Charles, Mary Maria, John and Harriet Stott

As a counterweight to Thomas Greenwood in row 35, here we have someone who was responsible for helping people into the world, rather than putting them back in the ground at the end. Let’s look at this family.

Charles and Mary Maria are the older generation buried in this plot. Charles Stott was born in 1837 to John and Mary Stott of Mount Pleasant. The family all worked as weavers. Mary Maria Kaye was also born in 1837 to Joseph and Sally Kaye of George Street. Joseph Kaye, as keen readers of the Almanacks will know, was an umbrella maker and repairer who owned his own business. Mary Maria worked as a dyer and frame tenter. She and Charles married in October 1855 at Heptonstall St. Thomas. Charles signed his name; Mary Maria had to sign her mark.

This is relevant because while Charles pursued a career in the weaving sheds and had enough education to at least sign his name, Mary Maria arguably had a different and more skilled role in society – that of midwife. Census after census gives her occupation as blank, because why not? She’s raising hers and Charles’s children. Her role helping to birth children was by the late 1800s a contentious one, under assault from the increasingly male-centric, professionalised, and remote medical profession. Midwives continued to perform an essential role despite being maligned as contributing to child mortality through their lack of education and formal training, and today we recognise the importance of their role…anyway, that’s a bit of a rant. The point is that to only use vital records means we miss out a major part of Mary Maria’s life, as well as Charles’s. He will have had to roll over and go back to sleep countless times while his wife was called out to go help at all hours of the night. You hope that he understood and was patient.

By 1901 Charles and Mary Maria’s children had moved out and they lived at Gauxholme Fold with a few lodgers. Charles was 64 and still at work as a loom jobber in a cotton mill. Mary Maria still had no occupation (ahem). Charles died in 1905, leaving Mary Maria on her own. The 1911 Census tells a story – she is 74 years old, she now has an occupation, albeit that of “housekeeper”, and the section that asks about total children born and total children still living shows that she and Charles had five children who at that point were all still alive. A testament either to her own skills or those she had around her.

The Midwives Act 1902 introduced professional guidelines and ways of addressing malpractice or accidents in a formal fashion, and Mary Maria appears in the rolls as having gained her qualifications “in practice” and as practicing midwifery as of July 1901 (the earliest the Midwife Rolls would list someone as having practiced). When she died in 1915, the newspaper elaborated on what turned out to be an incredible 45 years in service.

Of her five children, the one buried with her and Charles is their eldest child John. Born in 1857, John became a warehouseman in the cotton mills, and married Harriet Greenwood in 1876. Their success with children was a little less than John’s parents had had; they had seven children, five of whom survived. Did Mary Maria deliver her grandchildren? It’s very likely.

The couple settled at Lion Street and lived there for the vast majority of their married life. Like his father, John worked in the cotton mills his entire life. He and Harriet both died in 1924, seven months apart.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *