39.21 – John, Sarah and Edith Cockcroft, and Jane Goodall

In this grave are three generations of one family, although not concurrent ones – John and Sarah Cockcroft (nee Helliwell), their daughter, Jane, and their great granddaughter, Edith.

John was the eldest of the 13 children of George and Ann Cockcroft (George was a butcher, referred to by Travis as ‘old George the butcher’) and the family lived at Dobroyd. Like his father, John became a butcher and the census entries show them living at Dobroyd with their children. They had 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters. Their first child was born in 1815 when Sarah was 22 with the the last one being born in 1834 when she was 41. Two of their sons became butchers, four went to work in the cotton mills, becoming either weavers or spinners and one, their eldest son, became a clerk in a woollen mill in Halifax.

John and Sarah’s two eldest children, Henry and Eliza had very contrasting lives. Henry married, had a family and became very successful in his chosen career and life. Whereas life was difficult for Eliza. She was 36 when she married Job Robertshaw, a woolcomber from Halifax, in 1853. Job was a widower and had three young children. He and Eliza had another four children but sadly, three of them died when they were young. In 1868 Eliza’s husband abandoned her and his children and went to America to work in the mills there (he bigamously remarried in Brooklyn in 1872). Eliza ended up in Halifax workhouse, where she died in 1878. She has no known grave, so we’re remembering her here.

Jane, who is buried here, was the youngest of John and Sarah’s daughters. On every census, in the end column, the words ‘Deaf and Dumb’ are written. Jane’s life mustn’t have been easy and she would have been ostracised by a number of people who would have viewed her as stupid because of her inability to hear and speak. It seems someone, probably her parents, tried to make life better for her and on the 22nd July 1839, aged 12, she was enrolled as a pupil at the Manchester Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. The institution was a charitable institution, and although there were some fee paying pupils. Jane wasn’t one of them. Under the column ‘Parents Circumstances’ where it was listed how much the family paid, Jane’s entry says “Father a butcher, 10 children, 1 deaf and dumb”. She was still a pupil there when the 1841 census was taken. By 1851 Jane was back with the family, now living at Temperance Street, and was working as a dressmaker, something she’d probably been trained to do at the Manchester Institution. In 1857 Jane gave birth to a son, Herbert Helliwell Cockcroft; she wasn’t married. Then, in January 1871 Jane married George Goodall, a joiner from Halifax, but sadly the following year he died and Jane spent her remaining years living with her son, Herbert, and latterly his wife and granddaughters. The eldest of Jane’s granddaughters, Edith, died as a baby and is here with her. Her other granddaughters lived to adulthood, but none married or had children.

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