S3.3 – Catherine, John and Mary Johnson, and Margaret Moore

Several generations in one grave – this story takes us from Preston to Liverpool to Todmorden and surrounding areas. It even includes an honourary member of the family.

John Johnson is the eldest member of this family buried here. Born in 1814 in Chorley, he was a mule spinner, and his children would all follow in his footsteps. In 1832 he married Mary Hunt in Preston. The pair moved to Liverpool in search of work and had six children there together; five sons and one daughter. By 1871 the family had moved to Ridge Street, and John and Mary settled in Todmorden for good.

John and Mary’s son Thomas, his wife Winifred and family lived with them at 1 Ridge Street in 1881. They also had three lodgers – siblings Sarah, Thomas and Margaret (named as Maggie) Moore, aged 18, 14 and 10 respectively. All three were the children of John and Bridget Moore, weavers from Galway, who had settled first in Manchester and then in Todmorden. Maggie was the only Tod-born of their six children.

John and Mary’s son William married Catherine Keating in 1877 at St. Joseph’s, the Catholic church, and the pair moved to 17 Doghouse – not far from the other Johnsons. Catherine is and was a mystery; on the census return for 1881, her birthplace is given as Mold, Flintshire. We initially thought she must be related to Winifred, who was also born in Mold, two years before Catherine. Winifred was a Needham before marriage, though. So was the Welsh connection a coincidence? Some other relationship? There’s no Catherine Needham born in Mold in that time, and no Winifred Keating born at all in the same time. Whoever Catherine Keating was before she became Catherine Johnson, in 1877 that’s who she became. Both she and William worked – no domestic duties status for her as married but not yet a mother. The pair moved to Littleborough shortly after, and Catherine died suddenly in 1886, aged 27. We ordered a digital scan of her death certificate and it told us that she died of a hepatic (liver) tumour which she’d had for three years.

John died in 1893 and was buried next to his daughter in law. Not long after came not a family member, but Maggie Moore from 1881. She died in 1895, a few years after John, and was buried with him. By this time she lived in Hebden Bridge, but who she really was, why she and her siblings were living with the Johnsons, and what became of them afterwards is unknown.

Finally, who was the Mary Johnson in this grave? She was John’s son Robert’s daughter. Born in 1864, she became a throstle spinner, and after her mother died she fulfilled the usual eldest daughter duty by staying at home and keeping house while her father and siblings worked. She died in 1904, on Christmas Day, at the Workhouse. How did she get there, when all else in her life seemed to be stable and steady? It isn’t clear. Her last given address as per the sexton’s book was 7 Meadow Street, but Robert and her siblings were all still at 1 Ridge Street and Robert himself was still alive (he died in 1910), and the newspaper says “formerly of Knowlwood”. What happened to her?

So there you have it – one of our more chaotic and difficult to figure out graves. A man, his daughter in law, his former lodger, and his granddaughter. Sometimes it’s the relationships that’s more of a story than the stories themselves, but there are plenty of stories hidden in this grave that we don’t have the ability to tell.

Other linked family graves to this one are John Johnson Jr. and his family, buried at 41.57, and supposedly Mary Johnson, again, in an unmarked grave at 13.14. Yet another mystery! Perhaps Mary is buried elsewhere and merely remembered at this grave…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *