36a.36 – Ada Stephenson

Ada rests here between two Nothard family graves, but she’s no relation; not that we know of, anyway.

Ada Stephenson was illegitimate, and her mother Hannah never pursued the unknown father in court, so his name never appears in any other public record. Frustratingly the digital scans for both Ada’s birth and death make it impossible to make out some of the details of either event. Hannah was 22 when Ada was born, living on Well Lane with her parents Joseph and Sally (Stephenson) Stansfield and her younger siblings. Yes, Hannah was also born outside of wedlock. But unlike her parents Hannah never would marry.

frustratingly cropped birth certificate

Ada died in February 1874 of causes we can’t discern. The family had by then moved to Pex Royd, perhaps so gardener Joseph could work for the Fieldens at Dobroyd. Hannah continued on as a heald knitter (knitting the cords with eyelets in which would guide the warp threads on a loom) and in 1878 gave birth to her son Sam. Sam had better luck than Ada. In 1881 they were still with the family, but by 1891 they had moved to Market Street, Shade and Hannah was working as a charwoman (a very dirty, laborious, and low paying job) while Sam, aged 13, worked as a mill hand.

more exceptionally unhelpful cropping

Sam went on to marry Mary Alice Bray and have his own family, and Hannah disappeared from the census. We wondered about this, and had to go to a lot of trouble to find out what happened to her. But we did – she died at Stansfield View in 1930, aged 84. It turned out that her brother Tom had become very well thought of, and it seems Hannah was as well due to her work with the Unitarians, because she got her own, albeit brief, obituary. Her burial there is probably the reason that Ada’s stone remained only a plot marker and was never “upgraded”. Did Sam even know?

Todmorden District News, January 2nd 1931

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