16.26 – Mary Jackson and Barker, James and William Nuttall

This transatlantic grave had a larger story than met the eye at first.

Mary Jackson (nee Ashworth) was born in 1813 at Roomfield Lanes, the daughter of Abraham Ashworth, a butcher, and his wife Betty (nee Barker).

In 1834 she married Edmund (also known as Edward) Nuttall a cotton weaver, at St. Chad’s, Rochdale. In 1841 she and Edmund were living at Swineshead Clough (not far from her parents who were living at Strines) with their three sons, James, born 1835, William, born 1838 and Thomas, born 1840. They were still living at Swineshead Clough in 1851 and their family had grown (though sadly, Thomas had died in 1847) and they now had another son, Barker, born in 1850, and two daughters, Sarah, born in 1844 and Emma, born in 1846.        

In 1858 Edmund died and in 1861 Mary is shown on the census as a widow. Her eldest son James was no longer living at home (more about him later) but she had six children living with her, as two more children, Alice, born in 1853 and John, born in 1866, had completed the family in between census returns. There isn’t any occupation for Mary, but all the children were working, with the exception of the baby of the family, John.

In 1864 she married Zachariah Jackson, a lock keeper, who was also widowed, in Littleborough. For some reason she wasn’t living with Zachariah in 1871, but was living with her two youngest children, Alice, and John, in Alma Street. She gave her occupation as a housekeeper but we’re unsure as whether she was working keeping the house at home – or was a housekeeper elsewhere.

By 1881 both of her two youngest children had married and left home but Mary wasn’t on her own. She was living with her daughter, Emma, and her husband, John Howorth, a picker maker in Silver Street, Walsden. Living next door was another daughter, Sarah, who had married John Fielden, a drysalter’s labourer and also her son John, who had married but was now a widower. John had a young daughter, Isabella, and Sarah also had a daughter, Mary Alice.  

The last census Mary is to be found on is the 1891 census. She had moved to Nelson and was living with her youngest son, John, his second wife, Susy and their three children (Isabella, Mary’s granddaughter and two step-grandchildren, the sons of Susy and her first husband, James Greenwood). She died at her son’s home in Ripon Street, Nelson, on the 4th October 1898. Mary was the first generation of her family to be buried here, but her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren followed. 

Two of her sons’ names are on the gravestone, James and Barker. Both brothers emigrated to the US when they were young. James, Mary and Edmund’s eldest son, was the first to leave England. He arrived in New York on the ship ‘Rappahannock’ on the 23rd October 1854 when he was 20 years old and gave his occupation as a butcher (all the US records we’ve found show him as a cotton worker) so we think he must have been working for his grandfather before he left.

James made his way to Lowell, Massachusetts where he settled and began work in one of the cotton mills. In 1858 he married Sarah Hyde in Lowell. In August 1863 he enlisted in the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Regiments for a 9-month muster. He was involved in action in a number of places during his time in the infantry, including the Siege of Suffolk and is on the US Veterans Master Index.

James’s citizenship certificate showing his handwriting and signature, 1868

In 1868 Sarah died. They don’t appear to have had any children and in the 1880 US census he was living with his wife’s parents in Lowell. James died in 1899 and is buried alongside his wife in Lowell. Interestingly, the very base of Sarah’s stone has a small annotation – “A true Wife, Mother & Friend”. Mother? They may have lost a baby young (in fact it may have been why she died so young herself).

James and Sarah Nuttall (via FindAGrave)

Barker Nuttall was just 19 when he arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on the ship Tripoli in 1870. In the 1870 census he was living with Sarah Hyde’s parents and working in a cotton mill. He gained US citizenship in 1878 and, as far as we can ascertain, lived in Lowell all his life (he and brother James seemed to make a few trips back to the UK). Barker died in 1895 and his probate records show he never married. James claimed his estate in the end, as there was “no widow, no children”. Curiously his will was proved in New Hampshire, the next state over; Barker must have moved house near the very end.

Barker’s probate record, September 1895

William Nuttall is the final name on the gravestone. William was the second son of Mary and Edmund, a cotton weaver throughout his working life, and after the death of his father must have taken on the role as main breadwinner for the family as his elder brother had already gone to America. In 1863, aged 25, he married Mary Ann Fielden, the daughter of Thomas Fielden a stone carter, and his wife Betty (nee Greenwood) and they set up home near both their families at Hollins. They had five children, Annie who was born in 1863 and died in 1865, Mary, born 1866, Jim, born 1869, Fielden, born 1872 and Fanny who was born in 1875 and lived for just 12 days. Both Annie and Fanny were buried at St. Peter’s, Walsden. In August 1876 Mary Ann died and was buried at St. Peter’s. Not much is known about William and Mary Ann’s life during their years together but we do know that in 1873 he was elected a member of the Botanical Society.

William was left with three young children to look after, and a year later, in 1877, he remarried. His second wife was Mary Ann’s younger sister, Grace. William and Grace married in Todmorden, but don’t seem to have married at St. Peter’s. There was probably a reason for this; marrying your dead wife’s sister was illegal at the time (it wasn’t legalised until 1907 when the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act was passed in Parliament). However, it seems to have been a fairly common occurrence and was generally accepted, so William and Grace wouldn’t have been ostracised and William’s importance in the local community wasn’t affected as from a newspaper article in 1882 we know he was the secretary of the Weavers Association.


William and Grace lived with the three children in Walsden until Mary Elizabeth married Fielden Jackson in 1886. In January 1887 Mary Elizabeth died after giving birth to their daughter, also called Mary Elizabeth, and was buried at Walsden. Little Mary Elizabeth followed her mother to the grave five months later.

In April 1891, when the census was taken, William, Grace and the two sons were living at Henshaw Road, Walsden, but less than two months later, on the 3rd June 1891 Grace was buried at St. Peter’s.

Both William’s sons were married in the years between the 1891 and 1901 census and in 1901 William, who was still working as a cotton weaver, was living with his sister, Sarah and her husband John Fielden at Silver Street. He died in 1909 in Littleborough and was buried with his mother on the 8th of May 1909.     

William’s son, Jim, died in 1911 and is buried at Christ Church. We can’t find him on the transcriptions, so is he here too or is he with his wife and son?  His wife, Sarah Ann (nee Barker) died before him, in 1905. She is in an unmarked grave 8.12, with their son, Barker, and Barker’s wife Annis.   

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