S2.3 – John William and Nellie Richards

“In Loving Memory of Nellie, wife of John W. Richards of 118 Rochdale Rd. Died Jan. 5th 1922 aged 43 years. Also the above named John William Richards, died Jan. 15th 1950 aged 73 years.”

This is another one of the few stones buried under the school whose inscription we know in full, thanks to a photograph. Let’s find out more about these two.

John William Richards was born in 1876 in Todmorden to John and Helen (Chaffer) Richards who are both buried at 13.25. He was a summer solstice baby – born on June 21st, 11 months after their marriage. John Sr. was a bookseller and the family lived at Albert Terrace, just across from the cricket club and South Lodge of Centre Vale Park. The 1891 Census elaborates on his profession – “clerk in charge of railway bookstall”. Definitely researching him for the next story…ahem. Moving on.

By 1891 John had two new siblings, James and Jessie, and aged 14 had become a clerk for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Those were the days of having a job for life if you wanted it and were lucky enough to not need to look elsewhere, and John embraced this. The family had moved to Victoria Road.

In 1902 he married Nellie Stansfield at Christ Church. Nellie had been born in 1878 in Walsden, two years after John, to Richard and Caroline (Barker) Stansfield who are buried at 50.58. The Stansfield family were one of several Stansfield households living at Stones and working for either the Fielden family at Dobroyd or others around. Richard was a tenant farmer of land belonging to the younger John Fielden and which had been farmed by his father before him, and unfortunately he was unable to make a good go of it. Richard successfully applied for bankruptcy in 1888 and was able to move on, but there must have been some shame involved.

Todmorden District News, May 11th 1888

The family moved to Henshaw Road before 1891 and Richard briefly worked for the Blomley family as a groom and stableman, before going back towards Todmorden and moving to Lobb Quarry where Richard worked as a carter. Nellie herself became a cotton weaver to help out, as did her siblings, all sisters apart from little Richard who left school to become a telegraph messenger at 13. On her marriage certificate, she gave her father’s occupation as “farmer” – what he really was at heart, we suppose.

John and Nellie moved to 2 Pex Royd and by 1911 had three children of their own – Helen, John and Kate. Helen after John’s mother, John after him, and Kate after Nellie’s sister Kate who had witnessed their marriage. The family later moved to 118 Rochdale Road, nearer the train station, although John had at this point moved on from the railway and was now a bookkeeper for a hay and straw merchant. He narrowly escaped service during WW1 thanks to his new employer and unspecified personal circumstances leading the tribunal to decide he could stay home.

Todmorden District News, July 7th 1916

Nellie died in 1922, only 43 years old. By this time another two children had been born, Arthur and Mary. Mary was only five years old when she lost her mother. A sad bereavement indeed. Perhaps the “private domestic affairs” alluded to by John during his military tribunal appearance involved ill health (although, if so, maybe having another baby wasn’t the best idea).

John, like his father, became involved in the local Conservative Club. We next find him living on Oak Street at Shade in 1939, described as an unemployed commercial clerk. After that we know nothing else until his death in 1950 and his burial here, alongside his wife. Reunited 28 years later.


  1. Pingback:13.25 – Helen and John Richards – F.O.C.C.T.

  2. Pingback:50.58 – Jessie, Ada, Richard and Caroline Stansfield, and Kate Ogden – F.O.C.C.T.

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