51.59 – Frederick, Emma and Frank Arthur Pugh

More Pughs in the graveyard; you can learn about John and Susy Pugh and some of Frederick’s early life through the story of his brother Llewellyn, but Frederick and his family will have a story of their own here too.

Frederick, or Fred as he was known pretty much everywhere but his gravestone, was born in 1854 and grew up at Bank Top at Honey Hole just by the Unitarian. Rather than become a nail maker like his father he came a cotton weaver, and in 1871 was working as one while helping to support his widowed mother (along with the other six siblings still at home – even his nine year old brother was at work at that point). By 1881 though he had moved to Blind Lane thanks to meeting and marrying Emma Dawson.

Emma Dawson was born in April 1853, which is important, because her childhood was filled with loss and hardship that we can only guess at. April 1853 might have brought her parents, Thomas and Esther (Fielden) Dawson, joy…but June saw Thomas’s sudden death at the age of 37. Esther was left with six children, one an infant and the next oldest only two years old, and the oldest only twelve – no one would envy her, especially at that time. She did not remarry but instead stayed in their cottage at 30 Blind Lane, and not working either. Her children rallied round but things were hard for them; in 1861 Emma, aged seven, was working as an errand girl, and to make things more complicated her sister Amelia had given birth to a son named Arthur out of wedlock and he was also in the house. Esther stayed home looking after him, and the others worked. Esther died in 1865 and the family worked hard not to fragment further, but it was hard. the 1871 Census shows Susy, the second eldest sister, as the head of the household at 14 Blind Lane. We don’t know where Amelia was at that point, but the three youngest Dawson siblings were living there as boarders, and Arthur listed as a nephew.

Things did not always work easily, with siblings living together in such cramped quarters, as you can see below in the court case between Betty and Emma regarding some slanderous language being thrown back and forth…

Todmorden District News, April 7th 1871

We aren’t sure whether Fred and Emma’s post-marriage arrangements were to avoid his nine siblings or to support her siblings and nephew, but the 1881 Census shows Fred and Emma still living at 14 Blind Lane with Susy, Emma’s brother Thomas, and Arthur. The space between 1876 and 1881 contained yet more loss for Emma in the form of their first son, Frank Arthur, who died from a fever following what was assumed to be teething issues. Many children who died from fever and convulsions in those days had their symptoms incorrectly linked to teething and Frank was one of them. Frank Arthur was named after Fred’s youngest brother and Emma’s apparently beloved nephew, and he was buried here in a grave which was paid for in full, ensuring that they were able to place a stone and have their own remains placed here later. For people who had struggled financially, this was a major expense and so is very meaningful, and we’re emphasising it for that reason.

Todmorden District News, January 3rd 1879

Luckily for Fred and Emma they had another chance at parenthood, and in 1881 their son Thomas William was born. Sister Susy died in 1886 and the Pughs and Arthur moved across the road to number 13. All three adults worked and continued to work as Thomas grew up, and stayed at Blind Lane even though they occasionally needed to move house. Arthur married in 1900 and so in 1901 it was just the family of three living and working together.

In 1903 Arthur died and was buried in the Dawson family plot at 39.34. A year later, Emma died, and rather than go there she went to be with little Frank Arthur in his grave here. Fred and Thomas carried on together. Even after Thomas married in 1908, he and his wife continued to live with Fred in a mutually supportive arrangement. Yes, money mattered, but at least there aren’t any court cases about the household slagging each other off…anyway, this arrangement continued even after the Pughs all moved to Cornholme. Thomas went off to war in WW1 and returned in one piece, undoubtedly a relief to Fred as his sole child. Things carried on as they had before, and Fred died in 1924 and was buried here to finish off the grave.

When Thomas and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary they featured in the local papers, and Thomas recounted some interesting facts about his childhood; namely that he had been a sickly child and had been so sick in fact that he couldn’t continue as a weaver for very long after going to work. We wondered how he had become a slipper maker, and it turns out it was so he could keep his health intact!

Todmorden News and Advertiser, May 30th 1958

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