53.59 – Hannah, Charles, Ernest, Elizabeth, William and Frank Helliwell

This is the story of the family of Young Helliwell, the founder of “Young Helliwell and Sons”, the picker manufacturer company based at Gauxholme. The “and Sons” part of the company name nearly didn’t happen; four of his six sons are buried here, along with his first wife and one of his two daughters.

Hannah Stansfield was born in 1851 to Charles and Sally (Ratcliffe) Stansfield, who you can find buried at 38.23 with some of their their other children. The Stansfields lived at Pexwood (or “Peckswood” as it’s spelled on the 1861 Census) and Charles was a railway plate layer, a Rochdale lad who had moved to Todmorden to work on the growing railway. Hannah grew up at Pexwood with her many siblings (including Richard at 50.58), later moving to Stones and becoming a cotton weaver, where she would soon meet Young Helliwell of Dulesgate. Young was the son of a cotton spinner but became a picker maker himself, and would eventually become so good a picker maker that he was able to start his own business. That was later though. He and Hannah married in 1873.

Hannah would have four children with Young, all boys. Fred came first in 1875 and would be the only one to survive to full adulthood. Next came Charles William in 1879, who died a year later; then Ernest in 1881, and Frank in 1882. Frank was born on August 1st, and Hannah died on August 22nd; her part of the story was less than a decade, in the end.

When we look at the 1881 Census we see that Ernest was only three months old in April 1881; for Frank to be born in August, presuming that realistically he wasn’t any more premature than perhaps a single month, Hannah must have gotten pregnant with Frank almost immediately after giving birth to Ernest. That’s three children in less than three years and with little recovery time between them. No doubt she was exhausted in more ways than one. We don’t need her death certificate to guess at that.

Although if we had left it at that assumption we’d have been wrong. Hannah died from phlegmisia dolens, a complication of deep vein thrombosis in the legs, as well as pneumonia. It is linked to childbirth, as its precursor “milky leg” is common in women during their third trimester or after giving birth, but phlegmisia dolens is itself extremely rare. Hannah was tired and unlucky. This is why you shouldn’t assume though, because a cause of death isn’t always exactly what you might think.

Just over a year later Young remarried, this time to Sarah Haworth, who lived in Bury but who was born in Todmorden and whose family were economic migrants out of Todmorden but who had kept up their roots here. Young and Sarah had four children together. Two, a pair of twins born in December 1886, are also buried here – Elizabeth and William, who died a week apart from each other in late January and early February 1887. Their other children were Arthur, born in late 1886, and Alice, born in 1890. While Young and Sarah’s children were all baptised at Walsden St. Peter’s, Hannah’s children were all baptised at Knowlwood Methodist, and all remained active with the Methodist cause throughout their lives.

The Helliwells had moved down to Shade in the meantime, and Young had started a picker manufacturing business alongside his brother Lord Helliwell, with the first mention of “Y. and L. Helliwell” in the newspaper also appearing in 1890. Fred and Ernest had gone into the business by then as well, and probably seemed to have a bright future, but in February 1898 Ernest died suddenly after a bad bout of bronchitis triggered problems with his asthma.

Todmorden Advertiser, March 4th 1898

And in March 1901 his brother Frank, Hannah’s last child, died at the Fielden Hospital after contracting typhoid.

Todmorden District News, March 8th 1901

The 1901 Census, taken in April that year, shows just Fred, Arthur and Alice left. Just three of Young’s eight (that we know of) children. By the time Young Helliwell and Sons appears in the newspapers, in 1906, the sons were both active in the business. Young seems to have appreciated his surviving children a great deal and even organised an outing for all his employees to celebrate Arthur’s 21st birthday. The two also went on various jaunts reported in the papers, including a visit to Saddleworth with Robert Law, of digging up Blackheath Barrow and putting the urns and bones in the library fame.

Todmorden District News, June 15th 1906

And Fred? Fred married and moved to Hammerton Terrace with his wife Mary, and in 1911 they were living there with their seven year old daughter…Hannah. Arthur also moved there with his wife Matilda. But not all ended well. When WW1 broke out Fred and Arthur stayed home to run the business, and in 1916 Fred appealed successfully for Arthur to not be conscripted. But two years later in 1918 Arthur died after having an unspecified operation in Manchester, and “Sons” became simply “Son”, in reality if not on the letterheads. Young died in 1927 and Fred followed him a year later. All these Helliwells are buried at Cross Stone.

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