57.44 – Mary and Betty Farrar

This stone posed a few questions, not least about the date of Mary’s death. But Betty turned out to be a mystery all her own as well…

Mary was born around 1801. That’s all we can say with any certainty up until 1841. The following is pure supposition.

Mary’s surname at birth was Lord. This makes it hard to trace her. Sadly there is no marriage record at all for her and James Farrar that we can find, since it predates the GRO. The reason for thinking that her maiden name was Lord is that Betty Farrar, Betty on this stone, was in all public records for her entire life known as Betty Lord, the stepdaughter of James Farrar.

James was ten years older than Mary Lord and already had a daughter named Mary who was the same age thereabouts as Betty in 1841. His marriage to Mary may have come between 1821 and 1826, when his daughter Hannah was born, or it may have been even later. Puzzling out which children belong to which potential spouse is difficult. Also, when we go looking for Betty’s birth, we do find this baptism from 1821 at St. Mary’s:

Showing a Betty Lord being baptised in April 1821, the daughter of Mary Lord and John Ormerod, a printer (in this case fabric printer) who lived at Watty near Gauxholme. If all this supposition is correct, then Betty took James’s surname as either a mark of respect or as a way of not feeling like an outsider in her own home and community…but this won’t have been a legal procedure, hence having to give her name on the censuses as Betty Lord.

James died in 1854 and is buried at St. Mary’s with his family, maybe even with his first wife and some other children. Mary continued to live at Wadsworth Mill with her children and they put their roots down there. Two of her children you may have already read about on our website – Hannah Farrar Craven and Samuel Farrar, whose grave is just the other side of the school fence. This leads us to our next supposition; that Mary died some time after 1861 and before 1871.

The evidence for: in 1871 Betty has moved in with Samuel and her niece, Hannah’s daughter Mary Ann. Mary isn’t found living with any of her other children at that point. She has also not remarried anywhere we can find, at least not according to the FreeBMD ndex.

The evidence against: the FreeBMD index tells us that the only Mary Farrar who died at any point around this time was in 1876, was ten years younger than our Mary would be, and died in Hebden Bridge.

And now, the complication: Mary Farrar is not anywhere in the Christ Church burial register. Nowhere. What’s going on?

What might be going on might be that Mary simply isn’t buried here. Where she IS buried and when she died, we don’t know for certain. She might very well be buried at Heptonstall, or at Cross Stone with her unknown parents, or might be our Hebden Bridge Mary Ann Farrar and everyone got her age wrong. More likely, the “Mary Farrar” on this stone could be the name of the plot’s owner, and this stone was originally a plot marker with the plot owner’s name on it rather than the first interment’s name. Remember that James died in 1854 and is buried at Christ Church in an unmarked grave. 1854 fits with the other initial interments in this row, which range from early 1852 to 1856. Is this grave really the grave of James Farrar and Betty Lord (technically Ormerod) Farrar?

Betty herself died in 1875 aged 54. She lived out her days at Shade, dying at 2 Market Street, with her siblings at her side.

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