29.24 – Elizabeth Ann and Charles William Lord, and Sutcliffe Fielden (previously unmarked)

This is another of our graves that was missed last time around, and that is linked to other graves within the yard. Who were these people?

Elizabeth Ann Helliwell was born in 1863 to William and Hannah (Normington) Helliwell of Square, Walsden. Her baptism at St. Peter’s was on September 24th of that year and it was a busy day for the vicar there – five Helliwell children all told were baptised in that session! She grew up at 2 Birks Terrace in Walsden along with her six siblings. A little ways down at 45 Birks Terrace her future husband Charles William Lord, two years younger than her, was also growning up. Did they know each other well? Were they fond of each other early on? A good question, because they wouldn’t marry until Elizabeth Ann was 27 and Charles William 25. In the meantime, by 1881 the Helliwells had moved over to Henshaw Wood and Elizabeth Ann was working as a cotton weaver.

Charles William meanwhile had moved to Alma Street with his family by 1881, and also was working as a cotton weaver. He had a sideline in bellringing too, ringing bells at St. Peter’s even though his heart belonged to the Wesleyans. He was at Abraham Ormerod & Bros. like his father Moses, and had been promoted to loom tackler and then to overlooker by the time he and Elizabeth Ann finally tied the knot. This was in August 1890, and his fellow ringers marked the occasion by ringing a few peals in the happy couple’s honour.

Todmorden District News, August 15th 1891

This marriage was painfully short. In January 1891, Elizabeth Ann died. They had moved to Beech Street and she had fallen ill with an unspecified illness that resulted in convulsions and eventually a coma (specials thanks here to the GRO index’s scanning facility, which cut the top line of her death registration off so that we can’t see what the primary cause of death was).

Charles William would have been devastated. He moved back in with his widowed father and sisters for a spell. He mourned Elizabeth Ann for a few years but would meet his second chance at love soon – Eliza Gittins, a 20 year old from Shropshire who, it seems, entered his life during his second career. The pair married in 1897. Charles had left Ormerod Bros. and gone into the pub trade, taking on the license of the Railway Hotel in Walsden in 1899. The Railway had been in the possession or tenancy of members of the Lord family for decades, originally being owned by Charles William’s uncle James Lord. A strange scenario ensued on the 1901 Census where Eliza was the mistress of the house while her sister Emma was one of the “domestic servants”. Charles’s second marriage lasted longer than his first, which isn’t difficult, but it wasn’t long; Charles William died in 1902. Four years of (hopefully) marital bliss. Eliza was left with the tenancy and quickly handed it over to Sutcliffe Fielden, an acquaintance of the Lord family. She also handed herself over – they married in 1903!

Todmorden is a small town. Sutcliffe had been a neighbour of the Lords once upon a time, during their long stretch at Alma Street. He was born in 1870 to William and Hannah Fielden. He and his siblings managed to have some very different occupations, with Sutcliffe starting out as a cotton weaver before becoming a railway guard and then foreman porter at Walsden railway station, and then moving into the pub landlord business with Eliza on their marriage. It’s strange to think of how these families weave together; Sutcliffe living next door to Charles William while he grieved his first wife, then marrying his second wife…

Detail from 1891 Census

Sutcliffe and Eliza lived together happily for nine years. They had no children, and she had none from her marriage to Charles William either. Sutcliffe was a success at the Railway, winning several temporary licenses to sell alcohol at Walsden Cricket Club pavilion which would have been quite the coup. He was also instrumental in setting up the Todmorden and District Licensed Victuallers’ and Wine and Beersellers’ Association”. Not the snappiest of names, but a worthwhile venture. He was well regarded and seemed to have been a decent chap, and his sudden death in 1912 aged 41 was a shock to everyone. Probably not least of all Eliza. Not sure what to do, she laid him to rest with her first husband and his first wife here at Christ Church.

Todmorden District News, April 5th 1912

Eliza held onto the tenancy for six months after his death, but transferred it to Willie Hartley in autumn 1912 and closed this chapter of her life. She disappears from the public record as far as we can be certain, and we wonder if she’s buried here…or elsewhere…we don’t know. Do you? Let us know!

More information about the Railway Hotel and the wider Lord family can be found here.

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