11.5 – Gladys and Lily Whiteley

In front of the big angel is a smaller angel…there are a surprisingly small number of angels in the graveyard, in fact to this researcher’s mind there may only be three or maybe four. Let’s look at this one; a smaller angel watching over a mother and daughter grave.

Lily Parker was born in 1877 to Edward and Selina (Kitson) Parker of Jumble Hole, Eastwood. Her parents had her baptised at St. James and St. John, the church tucked away from the main road in Mytholm. The record shows that Edward was working as a carter at the time. It’s hard to track this family down after 1881, but Selina at least was living at Stansfield Road in 1891 as she was a witness in a rather remarkable case of defamation between her neighbour and the father and brother of the neighbour’s lodger that included one of the defendants throwing himself on the courtoom floor and complaining of cramp from head to foot and needing to be carried in and out of the courtroom! After that all we know for now that Selina died on Christmas Eve 1900, as she is buried at 12.29 with her eldest child Gertrude Parker Throssel. Edward died in 1905 at 160 Burnley Road, the residence of Gertrude and his other as-yet-unmarried children.

Lily was not to be found at 160 Burnley Road as in April 1899 she had married Thomas Whiteley, himself (ironically) born in Hebden Bridge, aka the wrong side of Whiteley Arches…yes, yes, we know, we’re very amusing. Thomas was a warp dresser in a cotton mill – not a wealthy Whiteley – and he and Lily had two children, Gladys in 1900 and Selina in 1903. In 1901 Lily had the help of her maternal aunt, Sarah Ann Marsland, who was living with them at the time, but by 1911 when the family had moved from Dalton Street to Spring Bank it was just the four of them. They lived just two doors down from Gertrude and John Throssel, though, so family was close to hand.

Gladys died on December 7th 1911. The cause of death on her certificate says “chronic rheumatic endocarditis”. This condition is today seen primarily in children and pregnant women as a result of untreated streptococcus A – back then it was known as scarlet fever and, of course, there was no treatment option. It would be another 20 years before strep A would be treated successfully and routinely with a particular type of antibiotic.

She has a beautiful and unique stone, as we said at the top. As was the style at the time, her parents remembered her in the newspaper on the anniversary of her death. Somewhat more unusually, they continued to remember her for some time…the longest stretch we’ve seen so far, 6 years that were immediately retrievable and perhaps even more that the BNA’s scan-to-text hasn’t picked up.

Todmorden Advertiser, 12th December 1913
Todmorden Advertiser, 10th December 1915
Todmorden Advertiser, 8th December 1916
Todmorden Advertiser, 7th December 1917

As we can see, at some point the Whiteleys had another child, Eric. Thomas was in a reserved occupation during WW1 which will have been a relief to Lily and her remaining children. In 1921 they had left Spring Bank and relocated to Newton Grove.

Lily died in 1931 and was buried with her beloved daughter. Thomas never remarried, and in 1939 can be found living with Eric and his wife Alice at 92 Oak Avenue, the same address where Lily was marked as living in the burial register. After this, sadly, we don’t know what happened to Thomas. He doesn’t appear in the burial registers or in the sexton’s book, which probably means he was cremated and privately interred. Hopefully he’s resting with his wife and daughter too.

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