14.14 – Mary Stopford, Annie and Abraham Lincoln Heap

In Loving Memory of…who? Not all of this grave’s sidestones might still be here. The three who are here are only related to each other by marriage.

Mary Wadsworth was born around 1838 – we’ve struggled to find a concrete, definite birth record for her. Not for lack of trying! 1838 is based off of her gravestone, but various censuses and her marriage certificate implies she could have been born in 1840 or 1841, in either Stansfield or Hebden Bridge or Todmorden townships. However, no baptism record exists for Mary that fits those years. The nearest we get is a record from St. John the Baptist, Halifax, for a baptism of Mary and Martha Wadsworth in 1837. Mary is just over a year old and Martha is almost four. Their mother Hannah is given as a “widow” and no father’s name is given. Interestingly, later, we see that Mary’s marriage certificate does give the name or occupation of her father. We’ve seen this before with illegitimate children (fathers who are deceased are usually named but with a notation added that they’re deceased) so perhaps this is a clue as to why we’re struggling to trace Mary before her marriage.

Mary was 39 when she married Henry Stopford, himself a widower with three small children, who had previously been living in wife with his now-deceased wife Hannah Oates Stopford. You can see that Mary’s signature is “her mark” – like around 20% of women at the time, Mary was unable to write her own name and was likely also illiterate. Mary and Henry had a child of their own, Ruth, but Mary’s occupation for the remainder of her life was that of looking after her husband and children both adopted and natural.

Annie Stopford was the last child born to Henry and Hannah, in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, in 1874. We wish we could figure out what Henry was doing in Ireland for so many years, but records don’t help us. He might be the Henry Stopford who was a Captain in the 68th Foot Regiment who was stationed in Catlow for over a decade, or the Henry Stopford who was the tenant of a farm in Galway.

Annie and her siblings Robert and Zipporah (another sibling, Charles, died before 1881) lost their mother Hannah in July of 1879 and their father remarried in September of 1879 – it must have been hard for them. At that time they were living in Mytholm, but Hannah is buried at St. Martin’s, Castleton Moor. Annie and her siblings all became cotton spinners and weavers and lived at home along with their parents. Henry worked as a mechanic. Over the decades they moved along the valley from Underbank towards Eastwood, fetching up in Todmorden on Bath Street in 1901. Henry became a bicycle maker and his advertisements can be seen in many of the local newspapers.

Todmorden Advertiser, 4th April 1902

Mary died in December 1904. Henry remarried in 1906, and Annie followed not long after in 1908 after meeting the extravagantly named Abraham Lincoln Heap.

Abraham was born in May 1867 in Todmorden to William and Rachael Heap. The family lived at Rough Stones, with William working in a foundry. Abraham became a cotton doffer. On a side note, he wasn’t the only slightly oddly named child in the family – the next brother up from him was named Young. Given Abraham’s year of birth, it’s more than likely that his name is in homage to the American president whose assassination was mourned among abolitionists worldwide and who even posthumously was credited with ending the Civil War and linked to the resumption of exported cotton. His father died between 1891 and 1901, and his mother died in 1907.

We like to use the British Newspaper Archive to flesh out the lives of those in the graveyard who we research, and sometimes people appear many times…sometimes they don’t appear at all…and sometimes you only get a single piece of information. We had two about Abraham. The first is that in 1890 he was found to have had an illegitimate child with a woman named Mary Butterworth, who charged him with paternity and was successful. The second result is more wholesome – on March 3rd 1908 he and Annie were married at Cloughfoot Congregational Chapel on Bacup Road. What happened to Mary and his child, we wonder?

In 1911 and 1921 Abraham and Annie are living at 46 Stansfield Street, without any children. The last time we see them before their deaths is in 1939, still at 46 Stansfield Street, just the two of them. Abraham is still working in a cotton mill and Annie is at home. Were they not able to have children, or choose not to? The record is silent. Annie died in 1948 and Abraham in 1952. Abraham’s entire estate was left to his nephew James Edward Cowie. It seems that they were the last of their lot.

Before you ask, yes we did look for the illegitimate child, but it would appear that they either died or were sent away before the 1891 Census could be taken.

One last thing; if you look at the design of these stones, do you think that there are stones missing? In 1991 a faculty was granted for the sale of unmarked sidestones, but from our experience sidestones belonging to graves where there could still be more people potentially added in were left. This grave would be a very small square indeed were the unmarked ones to have been removed. Sadly, we know a lot of sidestones of this kind have been chucked around over the years (the Kendalls are a good example) and it may be that there are more family members who have disappeared or been displaced that we haven’t yet discovered. Watch this space…

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