36A.22 – Peter, Mary and Elizabeth Ann Murray (previously unmarked)

Although it is in extremely poor condition, we are fairly confident that our researchers have discovered the identities of those on this stone. It’s a good thing we came along because this was previously not transcribed and is on the verge of becoming entirely unreadable. We believe that this is the headstone for three children of Bernard and Jane Murray : Peter Murray (1868-1868), Mary Murray (1873-1873), and Elizabeth Ann Murray (1871-1878). Bernard was a plasterer and originally from Ireland, Jane was maidenly a McCormack and was born in Manchester. Shortly after Elizabeth Ann was buried the family moved to Pennsylvania in the USA, so it’s likely that this grave hasn’t been visited or cared for in 145 years.

…of Bernard and Jane Murray of Rochdale, born … 20th 1867, died Decr. 2nd 1868. Also of Mary, their daughter, born … died July 4th 1873. Also Elizabeth Ann, their daughter, born March … died Nov 23rd 1878. … sheltered from the storms of life.

Peter, the first child, was buried on December 3rd 1868 aged – supposedly – one month old. Perhaps the records are untrue, or our certainty over that 7 in 1867 is misplaced. It’s difficult with these stones, and because this part of the graveyard has no sexton’s book information we cannot be sure that there is a fourth Murray child buried here that isn’t in the register but is on the stone (it wouldn’t be the first time). Next was Mary, buried on July 7th 1873, and lastly Elizabeth Ann buried on November 7th (again…) 1878.

Bernard was already making plans to move away, at least from Todmorden – in 1876 he dissolved his partnership with William Mitchell to close their painting and plastering business due to his move to Rochdale. Prior to that, he appears before the magistrates here and there for occasionally fighting with others, often as the complainant rather than the defendant. It isn’t as though they weren’t doing well for themselves in the business though. Mitchell and Murray decorated York Street Wesleyan Chapel and Shore Baptist Chapel, amongst many other buildings, in the town during the 1870s.

From a description of the reopening of Walsden Wesleyan Chapel, March 1876

Maybe, like some other families who lost a child or several children while living here, they weren’t able to stay on for sad memories.

In 1880 the Murray family can be found in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with Bernard Sr. working in a machine shop (strange that he isn’t continuing the decorating business) and the eldest child, 16 year old William, working in the coal mines that made Scranton a popular place for Irish immigrants to land and set down roots. Looking at American records, it actually seems as though Bernard may have been back and forth to the US for a time; at any rate, in 1879 the Murrays went and stayed. Jane died before 1900, as at that point Bernard is widowed and living with William and his family, working as a “government inspector”.

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