37.23 – Thomas Taylor

Thomas’s plot marker, with its little star, is one of the smaller markers that denotes an adult burial rather than a child’s. So what was Thomas up to?

Thomas Taylor was born in 1803 to Ralph and Sarah Taylor of Walsden. He was baptised at St. Mary’s in August of that year. Ralph was a labourer and the family lived up at Allescholes, down below Bottoms (shhh) at the bottom end of Walsden (shhhh!). Thomas grew up, also became a labourer, and in April 1838 he married Grace Margaret Stott of Calf Holes at the parochial chapel; otherwise known as Christ Church. Christ Church officially opened in 1835 so they were a part of the church’s history from the very beginning.

This is interesting as it will mean that Thomas and Grace some of the first to be caught up in what was later a major problem; an error in the handover of rights between St. Mary’s and Christ Church which meant that about 31 years worth of marriages were actually null and void.

Thomas and Grace settled at Butcher Hill and Thomas continued as a labourer, with the censuses later clarifying that he was an outdoor labourer and/or mason. He and Grace had six children together that we know of, mostly daughters, in the space between 1840 and 1858. For an outdoor manual labourer Thomas did fairly well for himself in terms of life expectancy, and his life came to an end in November 1869, when he was buried in this plot and marked with his initials and the small star.

Thomas also happens to be our Chair’s 4th great grandfather, so it was a pleasure to discover his final resting place. His widow Grace, who herself was about 13 years younger than Thomas, died in 1903 at the impressive age of 86. She’s buried at Christ Church too but we aren’t sure where; her grandson James Thomas Taylor who died in 1899 aged 23 is in an unmarked grave at 15.40 and it’s possible she’s there too. Still the same graveyard as her husband, but a good ways apart…

Some more information about the Taylor family going forward follows:

Thomas and Grace had 8 children. Their eldest son, Robert, died in 1838, soon after he was born. We don’t know where he’s buried, but he’s not at Christ Church. Their second child was a daughter, Betty who was born in 1841, and it’s her family that make up the remainder of this family group who are missing.

Betty was a cotton winder when in 1866 she married John Heywood, a steam tenter, at Christ Church. Their first daughter, Sarah, was born the following year, but died two years later and was buried at St Peter’s. Their second daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born in 1871 and is shown as a baby aged 2 months on the census. In 1872 another daughter was born, Alice. On the 6th March 1876 both these little girls were buried at Christ Church. Mary Elizabeth had died on the 5th March 1876 of measles and inflammation of the lungs and Alice had died on the 4th March 1876 of measles and
septicaemia. The grave whereabouts of these two little sisters is unknown.

Shortly after the death of her daughters Betty gave birth to another little girl, Ada. Ada was the only one of the children to be baptised, she was baptised at Christ Church on the 24th September 1876. Sadly, little Ada was to follow her sisters to the grave later that year and was buried at Christ
Church on the 9th December 1876. Hopefully she was buried with her grandfather and sisters as her grave too is unknown.

Only one of these little girls appears on a family tree on Ancestry, Mary Elizabeth, whose name is on the 1871 census. Alice and Ada have been lost over time – they don’t appear on any family trees and no one knows about them.

In 1903 both Grace, Thomas’s wife, and John Heywood, the father of the little girls, died and were buried at Christ Church. Grace in May 1903 and John in August 1903. Again, we don’t know where they are buried. We’d like to think they are with their loved ones.

A postscript: John and Betty (who died in 1914 and is buried in Mytholmroyd) had another daughter, Harriet, in 1877. Harriet survived childhood, married and had 7 children.

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