57.54 – Betty, Mary Ann and Thomas Greenwood (previously unmarked)

On the back of the stone wall at the rear of the graveyard is a slate plaque, placed relatively recently, commemorating Thomas Greenwood the “Mechanic of Millwood”, which was put there to replace a supposedly lost gravestone in that area. When we arrived and cleared those final two rows, we found quite a few gravestones and this was just one of them. So now, Thomas is remembered twice! But we can also see some of the story of his interesting life. The man was something of a player…

His story below was contributed by one of his descendants, local Antiquarian Douglas Wilson, although we had a few things to add [which you’ll find in square brackets]

Thomas Greenwood was born on 26th July 1825 at New Road Bottom, Heptonstall, the second in a family of six sons and three daughters born to fustian cloth cutter Jesse Greenwood and his wife Betty Smith. They had married at Heptonstall on the 7th September 1823 and are buried at Heptonstall, where their headstone remains standing. This family were apparently talented but a bit cocky about it, since they were talked about locally as “The Jesse Breed, a clever lot, short o’ nought but a front room to sit in.”

Growing up as neighbours at Castle Street in Todmorden, Thomas and near neighbour Grace Walton were young sweethearts, her born on the 27th October 1827 across the Calder at Woodhouse in Langfield. However, in 1853 Thomas married at Halifax another neighbour, namely Betty Crossley. She died in 1856 and is buried with their infant daughter Mary Ann in the grave here at Christ Church. They also had a son, John William Greenwood, who survived and has living descendants.

[Betty Crossley was one of Abraham and Susan (Crowther) Crossley of Lobb Mill’s daughters. Given the date of John William’s birth and Betty’s death, it seems fairly likely that she died during or as a result of complications from childbirth.]

After Betty’s death Thomas took up again with Grace Walton. A son, John Walton, was born to them in May 1860, named for his maternal grandfather John Walton. Young John married and has living descendants. Family memory says that Thomas deserted Grace for another woman a second time, but at last married Grace at Heptonstall on the 13th December 1863. There followed the birth of daughters Ann in 1867 and Betty in 1869.

[One of John Walton’s descendants, Barker Walton J.P., is buried at 36.13]

Thomas and Grace, with their family of two sons and two daughters, lived at Millwood, Thomas working as a machine fitter. He died on the 20th January 1879 aged only 53, three days after suffering a stroke and six years after a diagnosis of phthisis, ie. tuberculosis. This affliction will have caused both suffering and financial hardship. He is buried here at Christ Church beside his first wife and infant daughter.

The widow Grace died on the 24th October 1891 aged 63 and is buried near her parents at Cross Stone, and her daughter Betty is in the same grave.

Daughter Ann – 1867-1950 – had three talented sons, one of them killed at Ypres on the 26th December 1917; she leaves no descendants today. Daughter Betty – 1869-1937 – had two talented children and is the maternal grandmother of Douglas Wilson. He does have a front room which faces Burnley Road and looks out towards the grave of his great-grandfather Thomas.

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