25.32 – Henrietta, Emma, Thomas Richard and Thomas Newton Sparks

“Gone To Rest”

“Rest after weariness. Sweet rest at last.”

Those epitaphs are for the first two people buried here – Henrietta, who was only eight when she died, and her mother Emma.

Thomas Richard Sparks and his wife Emma (maidenly Elston), were both originally from Devon. By 1873 they had moved to Todmorden, and they had four children; three sons (James Thomas, Charles Henry and John William), and one daughter named Henrietta Florence (the youngest). Thomas Richard was a lodging house proprietor at Knowlwood Road. On 2nd June 1893 tragedy struck, and their only daughter died.

The newspaper article describing her funeral is quite detailed and really helps build a picture of the events from that day. We can really feel how much little Henrietta meant to her family and how much they loved her. We imagine there was once many flowers on and around this grave.

Sparks’s Lodging House was a popular place to stay, but constantly under the scrutiny of the Local Board for both nuisances and criminality. Strict rules were set by the Board about how lodging houses were set out, separation of married couples and singles, men and women, and children. Many of the tenants were single working men and the usual issues around alcohol and fighting existed there. It was lucrative – “four splendid Belgian horses” at Henrietta’s funeral! But a hard life. Emma passed away in 1904. By 1911 Thomas Richard was working as a grocer alongside lodging house keeper and will have been handing the business over to his son James, since when he died in 1917 his estate was left to his second wife and widow Elizabeth, and James, who was described as a lodging house keeper himself. The Todmorden and District News helpfully tells us in August 1917 that Thomas Richard died of an “apoplectic seizure”.

The last person here, Thomas Newton Sparks, was Thomas Richard and Emma’s great-grandson and James Richard’s grandson.

More about the Sparks family can be found here.

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