53.61 – Edward and Elizabeth Callan, and Joseph Gill, Betsy Hannah, Annie and John Davies

This grave starts with the story of two offcumden, although the origins of one remains a mystery.

Edward Callan, or Collon, was born in 1826 in Bristol. His father’s name was John and was a painter. And that’s all we know. No baptism or census return for an Edward Callan or any such similar spelling can be found for the Bristol area within the required time periods. It’s possible that Edward was born a Cullen or Callaghan and was Irish, but that’s pure supposition. We know he married and that his wife died, and we know that by 1868 he was in Todmorden and had also become a painter, but that’s all we know until that point.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Steventon had been born in 1837 in Wellington, Shropshire. Her parents William and Ann were Wellington natives and hard workers; William was a bricklayer and Ann was a dressmaker, working even with a house full of children. The way the worked was that Elizabeth was “mother’s helper”, the only child of age to be working who wasn’t at work in 1851. In 1859 Elizabeth married James Davies, an Irish potter who like many had come to Staffordshire to escape the famine and take advantage of the huge demand at the time for bricks, tiles, pipes, and decorative pottery. The couple had two children, John in 1863 and Annie in 1866. John, at least, appears to have been born at the Walker Street workhouse in Wellington, indicating that even in Staffordshire there wasn’t enough work for everyone (or if there was that James didn’t want it). James died in 1866 and was buried in Tunstall. We next see Elizabeth again in 1868, marrying Edward in Todmorden.

How did she get to Todmorden? The link is maybe through her brother William, a bricklayer who came to Todmorden with his family and whose wife Margaret witnessed her and Edward’s marriage. He’s buried in an unmarked grave at 27.24, by the way. But other Steventons made their way to Todmorden as well. Louisa Steventon became Louisa Allister and might be buried under the school, and sister Jane was the daughter in law of Mary Nuttall and whose husband Fred ran away to the US to marry bigamously. Most of the Steventons and their family members settled at Shade and that would be where Elizabeth and Edward also made their home on Cannon Street, along with John and Annie.

(On a similar family note, there are Callans buried in unmarked graves elsewhere at Christ Church at 12.1, but their connection to Edward is unknown)

Edward died in 1880 and Elizabeth in 1882, and are buried here. John and Annie were left orphans at the ages of 19 and 17. In 1881 two of their unmarred aunts, Sarah and the aforementioned Jane, were living with Elizabeth and the children for mutual support. This situation didn’t last though, and by 1891 both children were working as weavers and living as boarders in other peoples’ houses – John with John and Rebecca Dawson, cotton weaver and confectioner respectively, and Annie with Edward and Hannah Hartley, a labourer and his wife. Not too long afterwards John met his future wife, Betsy Hannah Gill.

Betsy was born in 1868 to Joseph and Hannah (Sutcliffe) Gill of Knowlwood. The Gills were a well known and well off family – both of the large pointy monuments in the private area are theirs – and Betsy grew up in a large household led by her widowed grandmother Esther and which also contained a paternal aunt and uncle as well as her older brother Charles, older by seven years. Joseph was a cotton weaver and the family moved around regularly, eventually going from Fair View in Walsden to Longfield Road. Even brother Charles moved to Longfield in time for 1891, living at number 10 near the bottom while his parents and sisters were at number 91. By this time Betsy was also working as a cotton weaver, same as her father and siblings.

Poor Betsy appears in the newspapers twice, “poor” because the first time it’s because of a sexual assault that happened when she was eight years old, which was prosecuted at the same time as another one committed on a different young girl around the same time by the same man. The second occasion is a happier one, being involved with the Band of Hope festival on Shrove Tuesday in 1880, when she was one of a few children giving a recitation.

After John and Betsy married in May 1895 they settled on Longfield Road, by 1901 living just four doors down from Charles. The couple had four sons. Joseph Gill Davies, their first, is buried here; he died the same year he was born, 1896. Next came Frank, then Allan, then Fred in 1902 and the last of their children to be born. They eventually moved to 31 Commercial Street where they were joined by Betsy’s sister Elizabeth Ellen as a boarder, presumably to help with their finances. Betsy continued to work as a cotton weaver alongside John even with three young boys still at home, and Elizabeth also worked – her role was definitely one of financial support rather than as home help. Even Frank, 13 years old in 1911, was working as a “warehouse boy”. Betsy died in 1918 and joined her son and her parents in law here in this grave, and John joined her much later, in 1951.

John Davies, date unknown

Annie, meanwhile, never married, and continued to board with other families for the rest of her life. In 1901 she had gone from the Hartleys at Oak Street to the Ingham/Butterworths at Well Street, not so far from Longfield Road. This situation must have suited her as she was still with them in 1911. This household was made up of Ann Ingham, the widowed mother of Sarah Hannah Butterworth, a cotton weaver a year younger than Annie. Both women worked at Waterside Mill and it seems that the three got along well enough to continue this arrangement for so long. When Annie died in 1929, the acknowledgments in the newspaper were in the form of thanks from “Miss Butterworth and Mr. Davies” together to their friends and family and to their coworkers at Waterside for their sad loss. It’s clear that both households lost someone very dear when she died…

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