27.34 – Jeremiah, Mary Catherine, Albert Edward and Betty Horsfall

Jeremiah is one of many people with a very “Todmorden” surname buried here who, on investigation, turned out to be from further afield. Once here though, he and his family stayed.

Jeremiah was born about 1830 in Kildwick, near Silsden. He was the second son of his parents, Jeremiah and Susannah (Stow or Stowell) Horsfall, but also their first son born while they were married. His elder brother Horsfall Stowell was born in 1825, just before Jeremiah Sr. and Susannah married. Jeremiah Sr. and Susannah had a bit of a May-December thing going on in that he was 40 years her senior!

Jeremiah was a farmer even into his 80s but eventually time and entropy caught up with him and he died sometime between 1841 and 1851. Susannah and her children moved to Keighley. Horsfall and Jeremiah became farmer’s labourers, sister Elizabeth became a power loom weaver, and youngest brother Thomas became an apprentice mechanic. As her children grew up and moved out, Susannah found other work, and in 1861 was living in Idle working as a charwoman and lodging in a small boarding house along with the widowed owner’s children and one of the parish church’s curates. She died in 1864.

Jeremiah went to Liverpool from Keighley, and found work as an “excavator” – doing, well, excavating. He liked to dig. In 1860 he married Mary Catherine Segar, or Catherine Segar as shown on the certificate, who was eight years his junior. She was actually twelve years his junior, and too young to get married legally without a parent’s permission. Did she have a parent’s permission? Nope. Might explain the use of her middle name, given she never went by Catherine again anywhere else, and leaving her father’s name off the certificate altogether. We can’t definitively trace her on the 1851 Census so, sadly, born in late 1842 and married in 1860 is the most we can tell you about her early life.

In 1861 Horsfall, his new wife Ann, and their daughter had moved along from Keighley to Cliviger and were living at New Pit House near Walk Mill. Jeremiah and Mary were listed as visitors. Horsfall was a miner and Jeremiah was still listed as an excavator. The two moved around the country, where the work was, and as they travelled they began their family. Six children all told, with the last one, born in 1875, the only boy: Albert Edward, who is also buried here. The girls were Alice Eliza, Dorothy (Dora), Arzilla (misheard as “Celia” in 1871 but definitely Arzilla!), Marian and Susannah. Alice was born in Burnley, Dora and Arzilla in Derbyshire, and Marian, Susannah and Albert back in Todmorden.

By 1871 the family were based at Stones Wood where Jeremiah could continue working alongside the miners. His only appearance in the newspapers around this time were due to a robbery he suffered near Marsden while journeying around looking for work – at this point he had four children to feed, after all – having intended to go as far as Settle for work. Don’t forget that it wasn’t just the cotton industry that was affected by the American Civil War, and that other parts of the Lancashire and Yorkshire economy suffered the effects of so much income being lost to the working classes. That, as well as the effect that cheaper coal, tin and copper from places as far afield as South Africa had on prices, was dealing some heavy blows to people’s lives. That’s why there are so many Cornish people who came to Todmorden around this time.

Burnley Gazette, May 28th 1870

By 1881 the family were at Well Street, in the town centre, and by 1891 they were in Lydgate at Lineholme Terrace. Jeremiah had become a stone mason and then, later, was described as “living on his own means”. Be fair to your children, Jeremiah, their combined incomes helped you retire! But he had, like so many in those days, worked and travelled himself to the bone to provide for his family, so let’s allow him to earn it a little. Especially since he died just a year later in 1892.

By 1901, Mary, Albert, Alice, Alice’s husband Charles Cooper, and a granddaughter Mary Alice Stansfield, were still at 10 Holme Street (formerly Lineholme Terrace). Mary Alice was Dorothy’s eldest daughter with her husband, Ernest Stansfield, but curiously she seems to have never lived in the same household as her mother and father. Other children did, but Mary Alice always stayed with her grandmother and aunt Alice. Anyway – widowed Mary wasn’t working, and Albert was working as a coal carter. Mary followed her husband to the grave in March 1911, and her name on the gravestone – “Mary Catherine” – is the last clue she left us as to the little white lie that allowed her to marry Jeremiah and leave Southport.

With his mother gone, Albert had a little more freedom and time on his hands, and he went a-courting. In 1915 he married for the first and only time to Betty Fielden. He was 40 and she was 39. Betty was born in 1876, like Albert, and grew up at Square in Walsden. Her father Barker Thomas, a mechanic, died when she and her brother Sam were young, and her mother Mary remarried a weaver named George Townsend. Even after Sam moved out Betty stayed with her mother and stepfather, and she and George both worked in the cotton spinning and cotton cloth industries. They married at Walsden St. Peter’s, and Albert and Betty returned to Stones Farm, the Horsfall childhood home. They would live there for the rest of their married lives.

As an aside, I (researcher Sarah) really like that Betty’s brother Sam and Albert’s niece Mary Alice were the witnesses for this marriage. Two family members who clearly meant a great deal to both.

Albert and Betty didn’t have long together, just five short years. Albert died in 1920 just before his 45th birthday. Poor both of them, for waiting so long and having so little time.

Betty herself died in 1927, and left her estate to her brother Sam.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *