37.12 – Catherine Emma and Frances Molesworth

“He shall gather the lambs” – this tiny grave was lost in the undergrowth but now is found.

The Molesworth family’s presence here owes everything to a Tod-famous murder and its aftermath. Reverend Reynell Francis Molesworth was drafted in to take over when the Reverend Anthony Plow was murdered by his former maid’s former beau, Miles Weatherill, and the story is the usual typical and tedious tale of a man who didn’t get what he wanted and decided to make it everyone’s problem, so we won’t dwell on it.

The story of the little girls in the grave itself is short – just like their lives.

Catherine Emma Molesworth was born in 1866 in Harbledown, Kent. Her baptism was on the 30th September 1866 in Harbledown. She died aged 4 years old in September 1870 and was buried here in Todmorden, where they had relocated to.

Her sister Frances had been born in 1869 in Todmorden when Catherine was 3 years old. She is also buried in the same grave. She died the same year as Catherine at the age of just five months.

Now bear with us – this is where the tale gets interesting, via their forebears and distant cousins.

Their father, Reynell (or Rennell) Francis Molesworth, was born on 27 July 1827 in Todmorden. His father was John Edward Nassau Molesworth and his mother was Harriett Mackinnon.

Reynell F. Molesworth’s mother, Harriett Mackinnon Molesworth

Reynell wedded three times and had eight sons and ten daughters. He died on 6th January 1906 in Kent, having lived a decently lengthy life of more than 78 years.

Their mother was Frances Elizabeth Henderson, Reynell’s second wife who he married in Leeds in 1864. At first he took her back down to Kent where he had been stationed before and where his children from his late first wife, Eleanor, were living; but in 1866, the same year Catherine was born, they were called up to Todmorden to take over the suddenly vacant position at Christ Church.

Reynell’s father, John Edward Nassau Molesworth was born in 1790 in London He was also married multiple times and had six sons and three daughters.

John Edward Nassau Molesworth

He was the son of John and Frances Molesworth – Francis and Frances being popular names in this family! – and the grandson of Robert Molesworth, the first Viscount Molesworth. One of John and Harriett’s sons was the Coroner of Rochdale, John Molesworth who married Mary Newall. One of John and Mary’s sons, Lawrence, married Annie Maria Caroline Wallace Bournes (that’s a mouthful) in 1893 and they had several children, including a daughter named Margaret.

Margaret married Theophilius Rhys-Jones and they had a son, Christopher, in 1931. Christopher married Mary O’Sullivan and they had two children. One of whom is Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones. Also known as Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh.

That’s right – this tiny grave of these two tiny girls has a big royal connection.

Prince Edward and Sophie, Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh

Duchess, if you’re reading this, we’d love to have you pay a visit to the graveyard sometime! You might even get to hold the FOCCer Pickaxe of Righteous Justice. (By which we mean of course you can, please do, you’d be the most exciting person to ever get hold of it)

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