16.6 – Sarah Greenwood and Sarah Jane, Charles and Ann Greenhow

Charles David Greenhow came to our (researchers Holly and Sarah’s) attention because of his entry on the 1871 Census, when his relationship to the head of the house is given as “friend”. Not content with merely visitor, Charles was a friend. Who was Charles? This grave tells the story of his mother him and his wife, and their one, undoubtedly much lamented, child.

Sarah Elizabeth Greenhow was born in February 1833 in Killinghall, north of Harrogate. Her father Charles was a butcher and Sarah was his and his wife Mary Walker’s eldest child. In 1850 Charles died and Sarah went into service, moving to Pannal and working as a nursemaid for William and Jane Forrest of the Forrest Hotel. You can see a photograph of the hotel as it looks today – it became the Adelphi after William died in 1854 – here. Grand, isn’t it? Sarah was employed either to look after their four year old daughter Elleanor, or Jane’s elderly mother Ann Birbeck. Something happened somehow and in early 1854 Sarah found herself in an unenviable position; out of work, displaced, single, and with a baby. Charles David Greenhow was born.

As did many grandparents in those days, Sarah’s mother stepped in. In 1861 six year old Charles is living with his grandmother Mary, who is lodging with a family in Ripon and working as a seamstress. Meanwhile Sarah had come to Todmorden and was one of two servants working for Robert Greenwood, corn dealer of Watty Place. This explains how Charles came to be living at Pex House in 1871 as a boarder with James and Grace Spencer since it was just next door to Watty Place on the census. By 1871 Robert and his new wife and their little children had moved to Harehill – taking Sarah with them – and this meant that she now found herself not far from Blind Lane and a weaver and his wife and son…Jonathan Greenwood, whose wife Susy would soon die, and who would marry Sarah in 1877.

They remained at Harehill in 1881, while Charles stayed with the Spencers as a boarder, now a warehouse man, and as we mentioned before, a friend.

He was also an amateur gardener, entering into various competitions with the Todmorden Horticultural Society. In 1890 he married Ann Webster (leaving his father’s name blank on the marriage certificate). So what’s Ann’s story? She was born in April 1866 to John and Sarah (Howorth) Webster of Ridge Street. John was an overlooker in a cotton mill and, unusually for Ridge Street, he and Sarah were longtime residents. While the people around them changed, they stayed. Ann was their middle child. Despite being an overlooker there were expenses for the family that we can’t quite work out, and in 1881 Sarah was working as a weaver even though she still had a child at home, nine year old John. Ann had become a cotton throstle spinner. Her only notable moment in the public record was when, in 1881, she nearly bled to death following an injury in the street when she tripped and broke a glass bottle that cut into a major artery.

Todmorden District News, August 5th 1881

After Charles and Ann got married, they moved to Ridge Street to be nearer to Ann’s now-widowed mother Sarah, who had become a shopkeeper. Charles continued with his interest in the natural world, now becoming a member of the Todmorden Cage Bird Association and showing various birds at local shows and winning prizes here and there for it. They had a single child, their daughter Sarah Jane, in 1893.

John died in 1899 and was buried at Cross Stone with his first wife, and Sarah’s whereabouts can’t be traced in 1901. She died in 1907 with her address given as 11 Ridge Street, the same as Charles and Ann. The Greenhows, like the Websters, dug in their heels and remained at Ridge Street. Sarah Jane began to grow up and went to work as a cotton weaver at Fielden Bros. at Waterside. The 1911 Census confirms that she was the only child of the house, not merely the only living child. Which makes her death in 1926 at the age of 33 even sadder.

Todmorden District News, August 13th 1926

Her death certificate states that she died of trigeminal neuralgia, with heart failure the secondary cause. Sarah Jane must have been very sick indeed; trigeminal neuralgia is extremely rare in people under 40 and, according to the NHS, can be linked in those cases to diseases like MS or brain tumours. It can cause depression and weight loss because of potentially months of continuous pain. It’s a sad reason to come to the end of your life.

Charles and Sarah stayed at 11 Ridge Street in spite of (or because of) their memories, and Charles died in October 1931. Ann followed him in 1941. And that’s the end of the story of these three generations of Greenhows.

Ann’s parents John and Sarah are buried at 35.23

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