47.51 – Ann Bancroft

One of the small number of coffin-shaped tombs in the graveyard, nestled near the top end by the fence dividing the public graveyard from the private grounds. Who was Ann?

Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion helped us out. She was born in Wadsworth in 1830, the daughter of James and Sally, and grew up working as a worsted weaver like both her parents and her older siblings. For the first half of her life her family lived in Ovenden, but at some point Ann left weaving behind and somehow gained a license to serve alcohol and the tenancy of the White Hart, which she held for the last twelve years of her life.

Being a landlady of a pub wasn’t easy, in spite of the surprisingly large proportion of female publicans in the graveyard. Being a landlord probably wasn’t much easier, to be fair. There were lots of rules around opening hours, licensed hours, even who was allowed to be in a pub after hours, as we can see in a story from April 1865 when Ann was charged with being open after hours on Good Friday, with the sticking point apparently being that townspeople were in the pub – the party from Halifax weren’t a concern!

Looking through the newspapers, sometimes we got the feeling that Ann was fed up of the rules and that her main concern was the hustle, to put it in a modern way. When a man was up in court in August 1871 for refusing to leave the White Hart when requested, Ann refused to turn up even though she was the complainant – her excuse being that she had a large party of gentlemen who needed catering to! But even back in 1865 she was finding ways to use the White Hart to earn money, including storing hearses for hire. Rather appropriate don’t you think?

In 1861 her unmarried sister Charlotte lived with her as a house servant. In 1871, living with Ann were her nieces Martha Brownbridge who was a barmaid and Margaret who was a waitress. It must have been a tough life for a youngish woman back then, and Ann will have been conscious of the need to help support her unmarried female relatives as best she could, by giving them jobs and skills that they could take elsewhere if need be. Hopefully they were able to move on comfortably after Ann’s death in 1873.

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