56.43 – Grace Eastwood, Betty, Susan and James Dawson, and William Albert Clewer

The relationships in this grave are complex, and figuring them out was complicated by the blended family unit that these people formed over decades. We’ve done our best here but there are still some questions.

The Eastwoods here are Grace and Susan, but there’s a third Eastwood sister not named on this stone; Ellen, the eldest. Thomas Eastwood, a tailor, and Susannah Sutcliffe married in July 1810 and shortly afterwards came their first daughter Ellen. The couple already had a son named James who is buried with his family in the private part of the graveyard not far away. Afterwards came Grace in 1812 and Susan in 1815. The family lived in Walsden and Thomas was a weaver, as usual for this time.

In 1834 Ellen married James Dawson, a clogger who lived at Wadsworth Mill. When 1841 rolled around the Dawsons were living at Shade along with Grace and Susan, another Eastwood sister named Sally, and four year old Alice Cryer. Now Alice is a mystery who only, maybe, a marriage certificate could solve; born in January 1837, she was born too early for the GRO to make her parentage more easily verifiable. She seems to be the same Alice who was baptised in February 1837 in Wardleworth to Mary Cryer, a single woman. Who was her father? Why is she living with the Dawsons? Perhaps James was playing away, a few years after his marriage to Ellen, and they took the child in. Maybe Mary died. A rather impressive eight Mary Cryers died in Rochdale between September 1837 and December 1841. Maybe Mary was connected with the Eastwood family in some other way; was Alice’s father James Eastwood? We don’t know. In the end if Alice wasn’t James Dawson’s daughter, she was the closest he would ever have to one, because none of his three wives had any children.

Detail from the 1841 Census

Back to James. James was born in 1811 to William and Sarah Dawson of Walsden. As we said before, he grew up to become a clogger, and would have an interesting working life. James worked as a weaver, a clogger, more traditional shoemaker, and at one point even a grocer. And as we said, he married three times. Because Ellen died sometime after 1841, and even with Grace and Susan still continuing to live with him and little Alice, he clearly was wanting for a partner. The answer came via his neighbours two doors down, William and Mary Halliwell.

Betty Halliwell was born in 1806 to William and Mary Halliwell, or Helliwell, of Kilnhurst. William was a carter and by 1841 he and Mary had moved to Shade and settled two doors down from James and Ellen and the Eastwood sisters. They lived with their daughter Mary and her husband Abraham Fielden. In between them and the Dawsons were Jeremiah and Ann Jackson – yes, the same two as witnessed James and Betty’s marriage. Now Betty at that time was NOT living with her parents, but somewhere else unknown. She wasn’t married by the time Ellen had died and James had caught her eye (or she caught his) but her parents’ proximity to the Dawson household tells us pretty much how the two will have met. As we said before, though Alice Cryer would end up being hers and James’s only child – Betty never had any of her own.

By 1851 the household dynamic has altered slightly, with 14 year old Alice now described as a lodger, and Sally Eastwood having moved away. James has become a grocer and draper and their address has changed from just Shade to Wadsworth Mill. Grace and Susan still live there though, working as a warper and roller coverer respectively. Alice was a throstle spinner. Betty didn’t work, presumably because James’s step up in the world meant he could either easily afford to, or didn’t want to be seen not to, keep his wife home looking after the house. The next change came in 1857, when Grace died in December aged 46. Her place in the house was quickly taken by Betty’s mother Mary, now a widow, and in 1861 that’s the household roster; James, Betty, Alice, Susan, and Mary Halliwell. Alice has become a dressmaker, moving up in the world herself, but still at home with her adopted family.

The 1860s saw an event which helps us pin down which James Dawson our James Dawson here is, and reveals this grave to be another (of many) historically relevant one. The Baptist chapel at Wellington Road was once a Methodist chapel, and an indenture for the land to build it on was made in 1863. One of the many trustees was a certain James Dawson, grocer, of Wadsworth Mill. He and the trustees would later that decade also sign an indenture for the land on which Bridge Street Methodist was built, and which now holds the One Stop, one of Todmorden’s architectural gems and nationally recognised landmark. More evidence for this part of the graveyard having been labelled early on as the non-conformist section. Interestingly (and not in a not sarcastic way, honestly) the trustees for the first chapel in particular are a real mix of economic positions. Bookkeepers, ropemakers and factory operatives are mentioned side by side with cotton manufacturers and corn millers of note. If only it had lasted longer beyond its century of active use, you can see a photo of the chapel towards the end of its life here.

This decade wasn’t a completely happy one though. In 1867 the household was rocked by death a second time, this time Betty’s death in November. James mourned her for the better part of a year before looking for another wife, and this time he looked even closer to home than two doors down. August 6th 1868 saw a double wedding take place at Cross Lanes Methodist Chapel above Hebden Bridge; that of Alice Cryer to William Henry Clewer the watchmaker, and that of James Dawson to Susan “Susey” Eastwood, his former sister in law and housemate for at least 27 years. Now THAT was a change to the household dynamic that maybe the reader didn’t see coming (even though we trumpeted it from the start). Clewer was also one of the trustees for Bridge Street Methodist a year later, which points to church involvement being how the two families came together.

Todmorden Advertiser, August 8th 1868

By 1871, it was only James and Susan in the house at 10 Wadsworth Mill, and James had moved on to become an accounts collector for the gas board. The Clewers were living at Strand, across the street from where the library now stands. The Dawsons and Clewers continued to be involved with Bridge Street. The ends of decades seem to have been the tricky ones for these families, and the 1870s weren’t any exception. In February 1879 Susan died; James had lost his third and final wife. In July came a death at the other end of the spectrum; William Henry and Alice’s youngest child, William Albert, died only about 9 months old.

1881 saw James living with the Clewers, described as a “boarder” just as decades earlier Alice had been described as his and Betty’s “lodger”. The Clewers were far more well-off than James had ever been, and in his retirement he was able to relax, in the large house at 26 Byrom Street full of younger people (grandchildren?) as well as a servant. He remained active with the church right up to his death in June 1885. That death signalled the end of burials in this plot.

Todmorden District News, November 10th 1882

Alice Cryer Clewer, her husband and his family are buried at 27.25.

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