12.14 – Tom, Emma, James and Clara Hardman, and Betsy Lingard

This grave tells a story of how substance abuse can often be a family affair, and is a sad story of age not necessarily conferring strength against such things.

James Hardman was born in 1842. According to the census he was born on the Lancashire side of the border, just as his future wife Emma would be one year later. We’ve struggled to find their marriage details. A James Hardman married an Emma Ingham in 1866, but their ages and home addresses aren’t given on the certificate, and that James was a manufacturing chemist. This James was nothing of the sort. This James was an engine tenter in the cotton mills, just like so many others at the time.

James and Emma settled at Market Street and started their family. Daughter Anne was born in 1871, followed by Clara in 1873, Betsy in 1879, and Thomas in 1884. All was not well in this household though. James had a problem with holding his drink.

Todmorden DIstrict News, December 1872

He was repeatedly brought before the magistrates for drunkenness and affray, and as the above example says, in 1872 alone he had five convictions. Contracting smallpox in 1874 didn’t slow him down, and he continued to appear in the newspapers now and again for various petty offenses. We can’t be certain which ones were his, and which were from another James Hardman of Pexwood, who has the dubious but quite spectacular honour of nearly causing an international diplomatic incident in 1876 when he took his five children to Germany to meet their aunt and grandmother, and then left them there before coming back to England – before you ask, no, he’s not buried here. Worth looking up though. Anyway, the offenses committed by a James Hardman who was an engine tenter or steam tenter are the ones we’ve considered as definitely belonging to this James.

It does seem, though, that after this initial spate of bad behaviour that James got himself clean and settled into a normal life. Anne died at some point between 1871 and 1881, and Clara and Betsy grew up and began to work in the cotton mills. Thomas became a clogger. He also made a name for himself as a funny, outgoing, clever young man, becoming a known figure at various functions at Shade School (as young as age 11!) and eventually becoming well known enough to advertise his services as an entertainer and humourist for parties and other events.

Mentions of Tom Hardman in the Todmorden Advertiser, 1901 and 1902

And so the family ambled along until 1904, when a bitter tragedy struck.

Todmorden Advertiser, January 6th 1905

Thomas had developed a drinking problem beyond youthful binges with his friends now and again. These parties that went on until the wee hours of the morning had drawn him into habits that James might have recognised from his own youth. He hid it from his family, although one sister had a vague idea that he was unwell, but he claimed he’d had a fit for other reasons and that he was otherwise perfectly well.

He went out for a few nights of fun with some friends just before New Year’s Eve in 1904, but on the 30th, was brought home by those friends saying that they’d had to “bring him up from below”. They left him in James’s care, and James laid him on the floor by the fire and tried to rouse him somewhat. He sat with Thomas for hours, but just a little after midnight, Thomas suddenly stopped breathing. The postmortem revealed bleeding on the brain caused by a blood vessel rupturing, but it also showed severe damage to his liver as would have been caused by extensive and regular drinking. There was a slight squabble between the doctor and the jury over possible verdicts, with the doctor asserting that there was no way such a rupture would be caused by an accident and that it was the result of excessive drinking, although he supposed they would prefer to say it was due to natural causes (a dig at them for preferring a verdict that protected the dead and the family’s dignity rather than the truth – a regular occurrence at coroners inquests). The jury agreed that they were quite happy to go with the more sensitive verdict, and rendered it. Death from natural causes, namely apoplexy.

Neither James nor Emma lived for much longer afterwards, and both passed away in 1907.

Going backwards briefly, Betsy Hardman had met young Walter Lingard of Copperashouse at the turn of the century, and in 1902 they were married at Mankinholes Methodist Chapel. Walter was a picker maker but later took on work as an insurance agent, and they had two sons together – Albert and Arnold. When WW1 arrived, Walter deferred enlisting for a time because of his work and his widowed mother, but eventually was sent away – and died less than a year later, shot in the abdomen, arm and backside.

Walter Lingard (photo courtesy of Sally Hinchliffe

Betsy received his few belongings in the post in June 1917.

Betsy stayed in Todmorden and never remarried.

Clara, meanwhile, had remained at 6 Market Street after her brother and parents died and after Betsy had moved out. In 1911 she was the sole tenant of the house, working as a beamer in a cotton mill. Clara never married, remaining single for the rest of her life. In 1939 Clara was at 266 Rochdale Road while Betsy was at 339 Rochdale Road – not so far from each other, but also living alone. Clara still valuing her independence, and Betsy possibly still mourning her lost husband. Betsy died first, in 1946, and Clara died in 1952 and is the last person buried in this grave.

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