37A.28 – Albert, Bertha, Young and Lydia Sutcliffe

“Gone to be with Christ, which is far better”

This stone remember three children of Young and Lydia (Jeffs) Sutcliffe – Albert, Bertha, and an unnamed infant daughter. But who were Young and Lydia?

Young was born in December 1834 to John and Betty (Greenwood) Sutcliffe up in Heptonstall. He was one of 11 children living with them in 1851 – how many more were there?! He worked as a power loom weaver for most of his life. In 1863, he married Lydia Jeffs of Tarvin, Cheshire.

Who was Lydia? How did she get to Todmorden? Lydia’s story is an intriguing mystery. She was born in 1841, the daughter of Margaret Jeffs and an unknown (or at least unnamed) father. Margaret was living in 1841 with her parents, Thomas and Mary, and her son George as well as the infant “U. K. Jeffs” – as in, unknown name. The 1841 Census was taken before Lydia’s baptism. We cannot find Margaret in the newspapers but we know that she died in 1855. By 1851 Lydia had left her grandparents’ home (although they were still alive) and was living as the foster daughter of John and Mary Barnes in Tarvin, but by 1861 she was here in Todmorden living with Abraham and Alice Sutcliffe of York Street (who are buried at 38.29), and named as their niece. Alice was her aunt, you see, originally born in Liverpool. Another Jeffs lived with them at one point, Alice; whether Alice Jeffs was Lydia’s sister or not is unclear, but she was born around 1839 so could well have been. What was going on in Margaret’s life?

Young and Lydia wasted no time replicating Young’s big family, and had at least 9 children that we know of. Poor little Albert was one of them, as was Bertha. We know little about Bertha apart from the fact that she won a “good” award for her freehand drawing in an examination at Roomfield School in September 1884, when she was 10 years old.

We don’t know who the infant daughter was; she may not even have been baptised.

As for Young and Lydia, it’s hard to pin them down beyond the censuses. Young in particular; you’d think he had a distinctive name, but there were at least three Young Sutcliffes living in Todmorden during the latter half of the 1800s. We think he may have been a prominent member of the Liberal Club but can’t be completely confident. We do know that Young died on March 17th 1906, and Lydia followed very quickly after.

Our chair, who photographed this grave, said he thought Lydia died of a broken heart. She might have…but as far as reports go, the broken heart merely distracted her long enough to lose her footing.

Todmorden District News, 23rd March 1906

The Todmorden Advertiser goes further with Lydia’s death announcement, by adding one more burden for their children – one of them was due to be married the day after the day Lydia died!

Todmorden Advertiser, 23rd March 1906

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