53.60 – Thomas and Alice Parkinson, and Margaret and James Cardwell

The Cardwells and Parkinsons are a good example of how migration from Lancashire to Todmorden had begun long before the Fieldens had become a powerful economic concern, and of the circuitous routes it could take!

Thomas Parkinson was born in 1813 in Preston. Thomas’s father William was a weaver. A few decades earlier Thomas would have been able to make a decent living weaving out of his home, but after the invention of the power loom in the late 1820s, home weaving and the ability to command your own wages became a thing of the past. As with so many things, the technological advance that made goods cheaper to obtain meant the loss of livelihood of thousands, a lot of those thousands being based in the north of England. Thomas eventually found work instead as a carter and, like so many do, travelling to wherever he could find gainful employment. By the 1830s he had made his way south to Chorley where he met Alice Farnworth, eight years his junior and also the child of a weaver. They got married at St. George’s in Chorley in 1839.

Three children followed: Margaret in 1841, Elizabeth in 1843, and then Thomas in 1850. The Parkinsons moved around from Chorley to Stockport, then to Sculcoates; wherever the work was. In Sculcoates Margaret met James Cardwell, a cotton mill worker originally from Bolton but who had moved around with his brother and mother after his father died, and who had ended up in Kingston-Upon-Hull after mother Nancy remarried and started a new family. Margaret and James got married at the end of 1860 and welcomed their first child, John William, along in 1862. How both families came to Todmorden is unknown, but by 1871 they were both living at Shade, the Cardwells at School Street and the Parkinsons at Market Street. Elizabeth, who had married Todmordian Thomas Mitton in 1866, was also living nearby.

Thomas and Alice still had young Thomas at home, working as a clogger, and they also took in two lodgers to help make ends meet. James and Margaret meanwhile had four children by this point. That same year Thomas Jr. would marry Amanda Lord and move to Burnley and have two children, Will and Annie. In 1877 Amanda drowned herself after becoming melancholy following her father’s death, and Thomas Jr. had to fall back on his family’s help with the children.

Todmorden Advertiser, February 16th 1877

(In a little moment of outdated sexism, the coroner suggested to the jury that Amanda still breastfeeding Annie at the age of 17 months was “a very improper thing for her to have done under any circumstances” and might have contributed to the derangement of her mind…)

Sadly he seems to have also struggled with what happened, and at one point deserted the children and stopped sending money home from Burnley where he had continued to work. Left with two small grandchildren and the sadness (and possible stigma) of her daughter in law’s suicide, Alice also soon found herself a widow – because in 1880 Thomas Sr. died. She continued to take in lodgers in order to support herself and little Will and Annie and stayed at 19 Market Street for the rest of her life.

Next into this grave was James, who died in February 1891 leaving her with five children, although thankfully the youngest, Mary Ann, was by this point 17 – not an infant needing care. The Cardwells by this point were living at Cobden on Mills Place, and just like Alice, Margaret planted her feet and stayed put. Three of her adult children, Edwin, Amy and Mary Ann, remained unmarried and living at home with her to help support her. In 1900 her mother Alice died, and in 1901 Margaret followed.

Elizabeth outlived her husband John Mitton and would remarry later to Thomas Sutcliffe, and she and him are buried at 17.7. Will and Thomas Parkinson’s fates remain unknown. Annie married Albert Cockcroft, a blacksmith, in 1898, and the pair remained in Todmorden apart from a brief stint in the United States where their younger daughter Mary was born. A story for another time?

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