39.36 – Charles, Mary, Maria, Mary Ann, and Jane Stansfield

Detail from the top of flat ledger

Charles Stansfield and Mary Crowther were married by banns on 10th October 1822, in Heptonstall St. Thomas. Mary was originally Mary Jackson and had married Thomas Crowther in February 1817 in Halifax, with their daughter Sarah being baptised in September of the same year (whoops) at both Cross Stone and St Mary’s in Todmorden even though they were living in Sowerby Bridge. Thomas died in November 1818 and is buried at St. Mary’s – his stone, as far as I can tell, is no longer visible.

Charles, Mary’s second husband, was a “heald yarn maker”, heald being a yarn designed for a particular kind of knitted fabric which would be used in textile construction. They had themselves quite a few children – on the 1841 census they’re down as living at Blind Lane with Ann and Ellen (twins), Mary (Ann), Maria, Jane, Charles, Elizabeth and Luke – ages ranging from 15 to 2, although as we know the 1841 census famously rounded ages up or down to the nearest multiple of 5 after a certain age, so these can’t be confirmed without baptisms. Interestingly, four of the Stansfield children were baptised at Christ Church at the same time, well after their dates of actual birth – Maria, Jane, Charles and Elizabeth were baptised together on 20th April 1842. I can’t find baptism records online for the older children. Sarah Crowther is also there with them even though she was of an age to be living on her own.

Death sadly soon followed. As we see from this stone, Charles was the first to go, in September 1845. Next was Maria, in May 1846. Mary Ann, “their esteemed daughter”, died in September 1846. I cannot find any record of Mary Ann and why she was esteemed, when other daughters on this stone were not, so that remains a mystery. Jane, the last child on the stone, died in June 1853.

Similarly mysterious is why, in Christ Church’s burial register, the three girls’s father is named as Abraham and they are listed as living at Patmos. So, was Abraham a third husband, who also swiftly died in between 1845 and 1851? An Abraham Stansfield of Todmorden did marry a Mary Barker in 1821, and perhaps this is simply a case of ecclesiastical error; the wrong father written into the record, rather than the case of a man who used two forenames interchangeably or Mary being a merry widow. Mary herself died in 1862 and was buried with Charles and her three daughters.

Back in 1851 Mary was listed as a widow, living at Peel Street in Walsden, with (the not long for this world) Jane, Charles, Elizabeth and Luke. Also living there is Sarah Crowther and Sarah’s little son John. Luke, who was Charles and Mary’s last child together, is also buried at Christ Church – he’s at 36a.31, with his wife and members of their family.

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