39.4 – Mary Ellen Howorth, Sarah and William Hudson, Alice, Percy, and Fred Marshall

This stone betrayed a small part of this story in the naming: Mary Ellen’s surname, specifically.

William Hudson and Sarah Howorth married on September 29th 1860; Mary Ellen was born in September 1860, probably during the first or second week of the month as she was aged 13 weeks old at her death on December 9th 1860. It’s interesting that the stone has the surname on that betrays her illegitimacy, but then again, her parents did marry and stay married their whole lives. They must have had no regrets or shame about the occasion. It wasn’t that uncommon anyway for, in the evocative words of William Greenwood the weaver of Shore, young couples to “have the meat before the grace” and have babies outside of marriage as a result!

William Hudson was a tailor who hailed from Settle, and Sarah was a Walsden lass. They went on to have more children – Fred, Willie, and Alice Ann. Alice Ann married Fred Marshall in 1893. After her mother Sarah died William moved in with Fred and Alice Ann. In 1911, Fred, Alice Ann and their only child Percy were living at 2 Cross Lee Road. Fred was a joiner and 16 year old Percy was a “beamer”.

On 1st May 1916, Percy joined the army, serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers. On 1st September they made the crossing to France, where Percy ultimately found himself fighting in the trenches.




(Northumberland Fusiliers).

We deeply regret to have to report the death of Private Percy Marshall, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marshall, of 193, Rochdale Road, Todmorden, killed in action “somewhere in France” on December 26th (Boxing Day).

The distressing news (though not yet official) reached his parents last week-end from his pal, Drummer Lance-Corpl. Fred Greenwood, who wrote: “The lads came out of the trenches on Boxing Day night, and I went to look for Percy. Having found the hut where his company was, I asked for him, and they gave me an answer that knocked me sick. I could hardly believe it, but afterwards found it was only too true. They said that he had been killed by shell shock, but that there was not a mark upon him. I asked if he had been properly buried, but they could not tell me just then.”

Private Marshall’s parents received a letter on Wednesday morning from Corporal G. Sykes confirming the above. In his letter he said:- “I am exceedingly sorry to say that your dear son was killed in action on the 26th of December. My sincere condolence goes out to you in this terrible bereavement. I assure you his chums miss him very much, as he was held in high esteem by all, and he was a fine fellow.”

Before joining the Army, Private Marshall was employed at Messrs. Newell Bros., Canteen Shed, Lydgate. he joined the Army on May 1st, and received his training in the Northumberland Fusiliers, at Hornsea, and crossed to France on September 1st. Private Marshall was 22 years of age in August last. He attended Harley Wood Church and Sunday School, and was of a very quiet and lovable disposition; much sympathy will go out to his parents in the untimely loss of their son. So Todmorden mourns the loss of another of its young heroes. We hope to publish a photograph in our next issue.

Percy Marshall, from the Todmorden Advertiser and Hebden Bridge Newsletter

Percy Marshall is remembered on the CWGC memorial at Thiepval.

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