36a.37 – Thomas and Maria Nothard

This grave sparked a lively post on our Facebook group, when FOCCer Elaine noticed it one day while tidying and asked “so where’s George?”

First things first, the people who are here. Maria Brown was born in 1844 in Coventry to David and Phoebe (Gilbert) Brown. She was baptised at the parish church there, St. Michael’s, and in 1851 was living at Much Park Street in the city centre with her parents, 18 year old brother William, and two lodgers. David was an agricultural labourer but William and one of the other lodgers were “watch finishers” and this plus the lodgers’ rents might likely supported the family in the main. David was 50 and outdoor labour is a hard way of making a living.

Much Park Street today – mostly park and modern buildings

Come 1861 and Maria was the only child left home now, and David and Phoebe had gone from two lodgers to five. Maria had found work as a silk warper and the lodgers ranged in occupations from textile workers to police officers to labourers. Maria kept her head down and as a result we don’t know why or how she went from Coventry in 1861 to Sowerby Bridge in 1871, but she did. And when we find her again, she’s lodging with Edward, Mary and Ruth Hamer and working as a cotton winder. Also living at the house on Albion Terrace is little Phoebe Brown, aged 10 months old.

Phoebe’s origins remain a mystery, but her death we know. Born at Albion Terrace on May 10th 1870, she died at Mount Pleasant in Todmorden on November 10th 1871, from convulsions caused by meningitis. She was buried here at Christ Church on November 14th but it isn’t clear where.

Two years later Maria had a chance to start again through her marriage to George Nothard. George had been born in Bubwith, near York, in 1853 and had come to Todmorden seeking work. He and Maria married on June 3rd 1873 at Christ Church and they settled at Old Lane, Knowlwood. George worked as a carter and they started their family together. Thomas, their first son, was born at the very start of 1874 and died on April 20th 1874, as we can see on the stone, only 14 weeks old. It must have been quick, as he wasn’t baptised in any rush – his baptism took place at Christ Church on April 3rd. After Thomas came Herbert, then Martha, then Phoebe Alice (that must have been painful for Maria, and indeed, it seems as though that pain wasn’t hidden because she would be known as Alice casually when she was an adult), and then Ada Mary just in time for the 1881 Census. Not that we can find the Nothards on there; both George and Maria continued to keep their heads down and painfully little is known about them as a result!

We do know that they moved to 21 Gauxholme quite soon after Thomas died, and by 1891 they had left Todmorden altogether and moved to Pear Street in Burnley. Now who is the “infant son” mentioned on this stone? An excellent question that can’t be solved without buying a number of birth registrations to check. FreeBMD gives a few possibilities, but this infant son was never baptised, and so we can’t be sure from the records available on Ancestry. George wasn’t the only Nothard in Todmorden, after all.

By 1891 George’s prospects had also improved and he was an agent for a building society – not bad! By 1901 he had added “cab prioprietor” to his list of occupations, and Herbert had moved out but the three daughters (and a grandson) were living at home with him and Maria. George finally makes the papers in July 1905, when the horse pulling the cart he was driving fell over. Success for us at last.

Maria died in November of that year and was brought back to Todmorden to be buried with her two sons. Hopefully Phoebe is nearby. The death notice in the newspaper shows she was sorely missed, but another notice appeared to mark the ten year anniversary of her death, in 1915. She was missed.

Burnley Express, November 25th 1905

That’s the end of this grave, but Elaine’s question isn’t answered. Where’s George? Well, George is very far away. Because what happened next was that several of the family emigrated to Canada. Martha married James Cornfurth in New Brunswick, Canada in 1913, and Phoebe Alice had moved with her husband (married in 1908) Charles Blakey to Alberta the same year. Interesting that these are two very far apart areas of the country! George went to Canada the following year. Poor Phoebe was widowed in 1916 thanks to the war. Ada would later join her sisters and father in Canada and George can be found living with Phoebe Alice (named on the paperwork as Alice) in Edmonton, Alberta in 1921. He died in March 1933 in British Columbia, the far western coast of the country.

Victoria Daily Times, March 29th 1933

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