31.32 – Sabina, James Holland, Sarah and Henry Flint

“Thy Will Be Done” is seen on many stones here, but sometimes the line hits a little harder. This would have been a hard line to have engraved if it had been done at the beginning of the inscription. It would have been an even harder one to engrave after the last person we believe to be buried here was buried here; but his name does not appear on the stone. Read this family’s story and we think you’ll want to believe as we do, that he is here too.

Henry Flint was born in Derbyshire in 1851. His father Joseph was a grocer and carter who died when Henry was still fairly young, and whose widow Mary took over the business to support herself and their children. She must have been very proud of her clever son who grew up to become a solicitor’s law clerk, still living with her and his sister Clara in Bolehill in 1871. Meanwhile Sarah Holland, born in Knutsford in 1848, was working as a servant to the Rev. Augustus C. Adams at that same time. Adams was the vicar of Toft in Cheshire. Somehow the two met and married in Sheffield, of all places, in 1874.

The Flints had three children – Bertha Franklin in 1877, James Holland in 1878, and Sabina in 1883. Henry seems to have moved around quite a lot for work. Bertha was born in Manningham near Bradford, James in Leeds, and Sabina in Chorlton. The Flints settled in Todmorden sometime after 1883 and took up residence on Stansfield Road. They stayed out of the newspapers for several years, but in 1889 a horrible accident occurred to Sabina which made her the first family member to be buried in this grave.

From the Todmorden Advertiser, December 13th 1889:


On Tuesday, the death of a child six years of age named Sabina Flint was reported to the coroner for the West Morley Division, as having been brought about primarily by scalds, and secondly by tetanus (lock-jaw) and bronchitis. Deceased was the daughter of Mr. Henry Flint, a solicitors clerk, residing at Stansfield-road, and from the police report of the facts it appears that on Saturday, the 23rd ult., she was accidentally scalded on one leg by falling into a culvert where there was some hot water which had been discharged front a neighbouring mill boiler. She also suffered from bronchitis, and from the time of being scalded she gradually grew worse until her death. Dr. Pope attended her, and gave a certificate as to the cause of death, and the coroner did not deem it a case in which it was necessary to order an inquest to be held, having satisfied himself by inquiry that there had been no blame attributable to anyone. The child died after intense suffering on Monday afternoon, in presence of an elder sister and a neighbour named Mrs. Crabtree.”

Sabina had been playing out near Mallison’s mill, near where Central Garage is located now, when she fell into the culvert. Spare a thought also for poor Bertha, who was only 12 years old, having to sit with her apparently horribly suffering young sister.

Todmorden District News, December 13th 1889

The family will have been hit hard by this, and it seems as though Henry was not at his best the year afterwards. He had taken on work in Bury, although the family still lived at Stansfield Road, and a fellow law clerk took him to court over what was allegedly 11 owed for stamps for legal documents. Sarah appeared on Henry’s behalf as he was over in Bury working, and it seems as though the court appearance did not go well. Sarah’s defence against witnesses who swore to overhearing the conversation between Henry and the other clerk amounted to “he told me in front of the children that he didn’t owe that much money at all”, and while the judge took pity on her and entered a judgement that would have been a staggered pay back, she left the court unhappy. So really, Sarah was perhaps not at her best either.

Todmorden Advertiser, October 17th 1890

We cannot trace the family in 1891, but in 1901 they reappear at Prestage Street in Stretford. Henry is still clerking, and now Bertha is a dressmaker and James is a railway clerk. James would later move to Crumpsall, and Bertha would move to Ripon with her husband Robert (Rob) Knowles. Henry and Sarah stayed in Stretford. Like so many buried here, James fell foul of a chest infection – in his case, pneumonia. He died on the last day of May 1909 of pneumonia, “suddenly” according to his death notice, only 31 years old.

He was lamented dearly; the following year the Manchester Evening News carried three in memoriams for him. One from Bertha, one from Rob and niece Dorothy, and one from his parents and Bertha and Rob. Bertha continued to remember him in the MEN every year afterwards until at least 1914.

Manchester Evening News, May 31st 1910

One reason the in memoriams end in 1914 may be because Sarah Flint began to suffer poor health, and died in 1915 in Stretford, at home with Henry, Bertha and Robert, as well as her granddaughter Dorothy. Sarah was buried here at Christ Church with Sabina and James, and the stone was engraved with her name and “thy will be done”. And that’s usually the end of the grave story. But not this one.

After this Henry and the Knowles family moved back to Ripon, where Robert originally hailed from. Henry only lived for another two years, dying in 1917.

We originally went looking for other Flints in the graveyard because in 1911 the census return told us that Henry and Sarah had actually had four children in total, not three, and we wondered if the other child was buried here. We saw Henry Flint’s name and the year 1917, and thought – oh? Because there was a Henry Flint who died in Salford in 1928 who was the correct age and we had assumed that to be the same Henry Flint. If he was here, why wouldn’t he be on the stone? The BNA explained what happened. This story broke our heart.

Ripon Observer, March 8th 1917

Henry killed himself by cutting his own throat in the bath. The two years since Sarah died had been hard for him, and despite moving in with a friend for company and living near his daughter and her family, it was too much for him. Several witnesses at the inquest testified to Henry repeatedly saying he wanted to join his wife and wanted to die, and how he acted contrary to his doctor’s orders as though he wanted to become more ill – wanted to become so ill that he wouldn’t recover. His friend Sarah Goodall said she came home and found him in the bath and grabbed hold of his shoulders, saying “oh, what have you done?”, before realising it was too late.

The burial register says he’s buried here, and his name doesn’t appear as being in one of the unmarked graves. It’s inconceivable that he’s in any other grave here. So we will remember him here as he would have wanted to be – back with his wife again.

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