45.54 – Thomas, Betty and Robert Law

The following is from group member Susan Jackson:

My attention was drawn to this grave, not only because of the surname Law (definitely a name I’m familiar with in my family’s past) but also because of the mention of Dyke Green, a farm at Sourhall which I know features in my family story.

Go back four generations from the Laws commemorated on the stone, and we have Robert aka “Rough Robin” Law, my 6th great grandfather moving to live at Dyke Green, probably after his marriage to Betty Ormerod, about 1728. It must have been a challenging existence, and most likely hand weaving would have supplemented the income which can’t have been great from a small plot of land at Sourhall. His sons were all successful in life: John, the eldest, became Bridge Master for the Salford Hundred, Robert (my 5th great grandfather )and Samuel invested in an old corn mill at Lumbutts in an enterprise to convert it to a cotton spinning mill. Robert also took over the tenancy of Dyke Green on the death of his father in 1770. Robert died in 1790 and his wife Mally managed the farm for a time.

The next tenant was Robert and Mally’s son John, who married Mary Bentley.

Now, John and Mary had at least 8 children as you can see in the second photo. But if you look closely, you can also see that five of them had died by 1840. Four of them had reached their 20s and 30s, then all died within two years of one another.

This demanded some more research…. Why so many deaths within such a narrow time frame? Epidemics falling under the vague term “fever” were a regular occurrence in the 19th century, and it appears that there was a particularly serious cluster of diseases, all appearing in epidemic proportions, towards the end of the 1830s. There was a new killer disease called cholera, then there was typhus fever and also influenza. There was no cure for these terrible illnesses, nor was there any understanding as to where they came from. So, I’m thinking that it’s possible that disease hit this poor family, and they suffered one loss after another, until there were only three siblings left, and only one male, Robert, to carry the family name into the future.

This is the Robert whose name is inscribed on the headstone. He soldiered on until he was 90, but his only son Thomas died at the age of 47, apparently without issue, and his siblings were girls, so that was the end of that line of the Laws who occupied Dyke Green.

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