Displaced – Fred Ingham

In Loving Memory of Fred Ingham, who died February 19th 1915 aged 26 years

We didn’t expect to find Fred – he was right near the end of row 7, turned over and detached from any other grave, and he doesn’t exist on the transcript at all. So who was he?

Born in Bury in either 1888 or 1889, Fred wound up in Todmorden along with his brother James and sister Elizabeth Alice after their mother Ellen (Tasker) Ingham died in 1894. Their father, James, was still living in Bury in 1901 and listed as a widower when his two sons were living in Todmorden with their uncle and aunt, Samuel J Wills and Ann Elizabeth (Tasker) Wills. Samuel was born in Cornwall and was one of many economic migrants to Todmorden who arrived in the 1880s seeking work away from the tin mines.

James and Fred’s sister Elizabeth Alice died aged 16 in 1897, in Todmorden, so the three must have arrived there to live with their extended family between 1891 and then. She’s also buried at Christ Church with her mother Ellen and grandparents at 36.34, on the back slope.

James Ingham Sr. with sons James Jr. and Fred, and Ellen Tasker Ingham. Date unknown, sometime near to 1894. Photo courtesy of Marie Fieldsend

James Jr., Fred’s brother, is also buried at Christ Church, with his wife, at 26.42 – you can read about his son Jack’s life and death here. A strange numerical pattern – Elizabeth Alice aged 16, Fred aged 26, and James aged 36. Another of Fred’s brothers, William, and his wife Sarah Hannah (Smith) Ingham are buried in the Garden of Rest (the still-active cremations area at the back of the graveyard near the park). William and Sarah Hannah’s daughter Hannah, who died in 1918 at the age of 3, is in an unmarked grave in row/plot 12.43. And finally, Samuel and Ann Elizabeth Wills and three of their children are buried at 7.37, not far from Fred.

Undated photo showing the three Ingham brothers along with two other unidentified young men. William Ingham is in the centre. Photo courtesy of Marie Fieldsend.

Fred’s death is noted briefly in the newspaper and his address given as 8 Prince Street, the same address as the Wills family. No mention is made of war and he doesn’t appear in any army records, so he must have stayed behind. There’s no inquests published that give any clues as to what happened.

The Wills family and have their own ledger stone, a more modern looking one. Presumably Fred’s memorial once also lived at that plot space and he’s also buried there – but maybe not? Maybe he was up at 12.43 with his niece who died only a few years later? How his stone ended up divorced from its original placement is unknown. We do think on the balance of probability that he is buried in the Wills family plot. Our theory goes as follows:

  • George Wills, their son, dies in 1907 only three hours old and is buried there, the first into that family plot.
  • Fred is buried there later as the Tasker plot in row 36 is full.
  • Subsequent Wills family members die, and after Nellie Wills dies in 1981, the plot is officially full as there are now six bodies there (the standard maximum for plots in that part of the graveyard.
  • A new stone is commissioned for the Wills family. But whoever is putting it up is long since divorced from family lore, so they leave off two names – George and Fred. Gravestones are expensive and it was an innocent, cost-effective solution – no shade being cast.
  • Fred’s original sidestone is turfed off into the long grass rather than removed formally, and the inscription means that subsequent inspectors of the yard assume that it is where it belongs, merely askew.
Todmorden Advertiser, 26th February 1916 (one year later)

Fred’s stone was turned onto his side so his name was altogether hidden. It was only us feeling around for any markings on the stone that gave us a clue that it was an actual memorial marker. Because it is so different from the Wills gravestone, placing it back there will look like an error. Thankfully, Fred’s great-niece is still alive and has given us permission to move it to little Hannah’s unmarked plot, so we will do that once we have/if we get formal permission from the Diocese. If not, it will return to the Wills plot and be arranged somehow so it is visible without blocking Nellie’s details.

It’s a shame, because the Wills took in their niece and nephews and kept them close in life, so it would be nice to make sure they (or at least their names) stay together in death. We aren’t sure that’s possible without getting Fred himself a new, matching stone to go at the base of theirs…but in the graveyard nothing is impossible. Only complicated!

One Comment

  1. Pingback:26.42 – Jack, James, and Mary Ann Ingham – F.O.C.C.T.

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