2.15 – Samuel and Bridget Greaves, James Luke Stanton

Bridget Greaves was born Bridget Stanton in 1849 in Dublin. Because a lot of Irish records were accidentally destroyed over time, it can be hard to track people down before they arrive in the UK or some other country. The first time we find Bridget here is in Newchurch, Bacup, in 1871, lodging with the Walsh family on Bankside Lane and working as a brushmaker. In 1872 she married Samuel Greaves, a Bacup lad, and in 1881 they were still in Newchurch along with a lodger and 15 year old John Stanton. John is listed as the son of the head of the house…he wasn’t with Bridget in 1871 though. It appears he was Bridget’s son out of wedlock and may have still been in Ireland in 1871 (his place of birth is given as the same as Bridget’s).

By 1891 the Greaves had moved down the Burnley Valley to Pudsey (later to Industrial Buildings, where they stayed), while John continued onward and moved to Walsden. In 1897 John married Bessie Luke (nee Renfrey), a widow from Cornwall, who brought to their marriage five children from her previous two marriages and one child born out of wedlock with John. That child was James Luke Stanton who is also buried here with Samuel and Bridget. His birth certificate gives his name as James Stanton Luke, because if he was out of wedlock then he would have to be given his mother’s last name…another child, Albert, was born a year after John and Bessie married. They lived at 11 Garibaldi Street in Walsden.

For some reason, James didn’t stay living with his parents. In 1911 John is lodging with a number of other weavers and is listed as married. Bessie had gone to Heywood and was living there, and stayed living there…James’s name is given as James Luke, and he’s mistakenly listed as Samuel and Bridget’s nephew. You can sort of guess that something went wrong somewhere; certainly by 1914, James had completely cut emotional ties, as when he enlisted in WW1 even though he gave his surname as Stanton he gave Samuel’s name as his next of kin.

James’s story is a sad one and we’ve told it on our FB page before – he went off willingly to fight, but never made it out of basic training. His anaemia that he had dealt with since childhood flared up and he was discharged from the army. A dispute over whether or not his training conditions had aggravated it meant that when he died at only 19, three months after his discharge, he was not considered a war casualty and therefore does not have a CWGC grave designation. Interestingly the army DID pay a pension to Bridget for him, and the town certainly felt that he died as a result of his service, because you can find his name on the war memorial in the park. Todmorden honours him, at least! The two doctors who originally signed him off as fit to serve are also buried at Christ Church.

Detail from James Luke Stanton’s discharge record. Note the get-out clause in pencil – “not stated if aggravated”

James’s full brother, Albert, also served in WW1. The only mention of him afterwards was in the 1920s, when he was arrested in Heywood for shoplifting. It is stated in the newspaper article that he lived there with his mother and that he had struggled to find work after being discharged.

Going back to Bridget. It must have been hard to lose her grandson, and perhaps to not have the support from her only child (emotional or financial). The Greaveses did always have lodgers in their home in every census we can access. In 1921 she and Samuel were in the newspaper when they were assaulted by a former lodger. They said they were discussing a trip to Liverpool and he drunkenly lost his temper and attacked them; his story was that they were arguing about politics and the Greaveses said that Lloyd George and all of Parliament “should be turned out and shot” and they started the fight! The court found him guilty. Samuel died in 1922 – as a result of the assault? The newspaper said he was in poor health and that was one reason why the jury didn’t think the lodger’s story made sense. Bridget eventually passed away in 1928 at the very respectable age of 84 years old. Well, actually, 79 years old, we don’t know why her age is wrong on here. Her son John died in 1940 at Stansfield View, aged 75.

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