17.16 – James and Hannah Lather, Samuel and Elizabeth Greenlees

This stone is slightly unusual in that it starts with those buried more recently, rather than the first few into the plot. Chronologically, we need to start with James and Hannah Lather.

James Lather was born in Derbyshire in 1844, two years after his future wife Hannah Dean. He was from Spondon and she was from Kirk Ireton. Hannah is hard to pin down as she is not the only Derbyshire Hannah Dean to have been born around that time and her date of birth varies wildly from census to census, anything from 1841 to 1848. The likeliest early census return for Hannah shows her and her brother Henry living with their grandfather and an uncle – where are their parents? James meanwhile grew up with both his parents and, you would think, was able to provide a stable family unit alongside Hannah that would make up for whatever losses she had sustained.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. James became a tailor and also an alcoholic and abuser. He appears again and again in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire newspapers as having been taken before the magistrate for assaulting Hannah, once hitting her with a cake pan so hard that her scalp was split to the bone. As was common in those days, it took over a decade and fourteen – fourteen! – assaults before the courts would agree to a separation order for the two of them.

Derby Daily Telegraph, 19th May 1894

How on earth did these two end up buried together? Societal expectations were different then, and these things were often if not condoned then tolerated, and perhaps there was a sense of shame amongst the Lather children about the idea of burying them apart. Or it was purely an issue of money. The two never divorced and remained living together at least as often as the census was taken. And, unfortunately, James continued to abuse Hannah. By the time 1899 rolled around, he had 21 previous convictions for assault against her.

James and Hannah had four children. One of their children was Elizabeth Lather. She, wisely, left home as soon as she could, and found a situation as a cook for William Sutcliffe the corn miller of Lower Laithe – a long way away from Spondon. She met Samuel Greenlees here and married him in 1894 at her old parish church in Spondon. Her brother Henry was one of the witnesses.

Samuel may have met Elizabeth via the Sutcliffes – one of his siblings had the middle name Sutcliffe, and although his mother was a Thomas there may have been some other connection. His parents Matthew and Sarah are buried at 46.55. The more recent generations of the Greenlees family tended to be in the veterinary medicine field but Samuel went “backwards” to earlier Greenlees occupations and became a blacksmith. The most he turns up in the local papers is for having his dog unmuzzled once. He seems to have on the face of it been a better husband to Elizabeth than James was to Hannah. Together they had five daughters.

Staged photograph showing Sam Greenlees holding “patient’s” head, date unknown. Photo via Ancestry family tree.

Hannah died first, in September 1925. “Beloved wife” indeed.

Her address is the same address that Samuel and Elizabeth were living at, so clearly at some point she came up north to live with them. Did James come too? We don’t know. But he died a year later and as we can see was buried with his wife.

Samuel died in 1933 at the age of 65, which was quite advanced for men in his family (his grandfather died in his 40s, his father in his 30s, and his uncle in his 20s) and Elizabeth followed in 1947 aged 74.

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