41.17 – Henry and Samuel Butterworth

As of August 2023, Samuel is our first possible murder victim. Is that enough to get your attention?

Samuel Butterworth was born in either 1799 or 1800 to Thomas and Sally Butterworth of Nip-Square, Walsden. Because of the dates in which this family lived, there aren’t as many primary sources of information, so we have done our best with the limited amount of things we have in hand. Thankfully John Travis of Inchfield has our backs here, and provided the following information: that Thomas and Sally had 11 children, Samuel being the youngest; that Samuel married Mary Haigh of Whitworth; and that Samuel was popularly believed to have been murdered by an engineer with whom he had a disagreement.

Samuel worked as a blacksmith and in the 1830s, as the railway was being built, his services would have been in high demand. His marriage to Mary Haigh took place in Whitworth Parish Church in January 1832 and was hopefully more than just a marriage of convenience; their first child, Betty, was born in June of the same year. Interestingly, Betty was baptised into the Presbyterian church in Spotland, so one of the parents must have been a non-conformist. They had two more children, Thomas in 1834 (baptised at Christ Church) and Henry in late 1835. Poor Henry did not live long, and died on February 1st 1836.

February 1836 was a sad month for Mary, as Samuel was soon to also die and be buried in the same plot that had only just been freshly opened for her little son. This is where primary sources really let us down – all we have is Travis’s word for this occurrence. We haven’t been able to find a newspaper article of any kind from any paper near or far about the death, any inquest, any rumours…anything. We’d love to know more about what happened, so if you know something, tell us!

In 1841 we can find Mary living at Calf Hey, Whitworth, with Betty and Thomas. Mary is working as a weaver. She moved back to Todmorden at some point and later remarried in February 1851 to John Stephenson of Heptonstall. Daughter Betty married John McGrath in Heptonstall in 1852, and son Thomas’s whereabouts are unknown after 1841 thanks to the difficulty of a common name being repeated many times in a small area.

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