15.33 – John Glynn, Mary Ann, Mary and Thomas Kendall (previously unmarked)

“Previously unmarked” is underselling things; this was one of the most frustrating graves we’ve come across at Christ Church. Some stones were buried, some were dislodged, and only a great deal of investigative work across all available online family history platforms allowed us to reassemble the sidestones and ensure they were where they belonged, and their story told.

We knew Thomas and Mary were here, but there was supposedly no stone, and a previously marked stone for Mary Ann was “missing” in 2006. Not missing in the end, merely buried. But the stone mentioning Lord Roberts was several rows away, and the matching “In Loving Memory” stone propped against a tree several plots and a row in the opposite direction. Maybe this is less of a previously unmarked grave and more a previously uncontextualised grave.

The Glynn and Kendall families were both Irish by birth, migrating to Todmorden via Liverpool. Mary Kendall was the mother of Mary Ann and Thomas; born in Tipperary in 1828, in 1861 she was working as a laundress in Liverpool, widowed, with her two children with her. By 1871 she had moved to Todmorden and was living at Queen Street, with two lodgers rather than her children in tow. Mary Ann was a servant for Grace Fielden who ran the Fielden Temperance Hotel…ironically, given Thomas’s later problems.

Meanwhile John Glynn got here separately, first moving to Charlestown and then onwards towards Todmorden over time. Glynn fell in with Mary Ann (forsaking his wife somewhat in the process) and the two cohabited as man and wife despite not ever marrying.

Thomas, as can be seen from the dislodged stone, did indeed serve in Afghanistan. He had enlisted in 1873 and served in the army for six years before being discharged. As now, so it was then – he came back troubled. Lord Roberts won countless medals and honours, but Thomas’s prize was alcoholism and a tendency towards violence. The accounts of his arrests in the local newspapers include fights, violent threats towards women, and sleeping rough. He died at Stansfield View which was not uncommon for paupers with mental health problems. His death was marked in the newspapers that year and for a few years afterwards with poems and memorials from his sister, many mentioning his service. It’s almost as though Mary Ann wanted to say to everyone “look – he fought for this country – don’t forget the good he did and only remember the bad.”

That’s one of the reasons we marked this grave on our new transcript as a war grave.

Meanwhile, Mary Ann and John also appeared in the news from time to time, partly because the Irish labourers were consciously policed, partly because the editors knew what made the sort of news that got people to buy papers, but mostly because they got up to some mischief. John’s was mostly drunkenness or arguments. Mary Ann appeared most notably for two incidents, both in hindsight rather funny but probably very upsetting for those involved at the time. The first involved her threatening to murder a child who had been fighting with one of her and John’s children, and the second involved her going to a man’s house who had quarrelled with John and threatening to “blow his brains out” for being a “cowardly wastrel”. This second story’s “he said she said” is entertaining; he said that when he opened the door she held a pistol up to his face and made the threat, and he was overcome with emotion; she said that she only held up her hand inside her purse and pretended she had a gun. The man’s wife, somewhat unhelpfully for his reputation, testified that he had fainted when Mary Ann pointed whatever she pointed at him.

As with so many families where the parents are less than lawful, one of John and Mary Ann’s children, their eldest son John Arthur Kendall, grew up and became a police constable.

One Comment

  1. Pingback:14.14 – Mary Stopford, Annie and Abraham Lincoln Heap – F.O.C.C.T.

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