S4.7 – The Sefton family, Frances Jane Scrivener, and John Stott

This is one of a very few stones under the school whose faces are visible, and readable, in the few photographs that were taken of the construction site prior to the new extension reburying them from sight. And as with so many of the stones under there, the initial 1980s rough transcription bears little resemblance to the stone itself.

The Sefton/Scriven stone, photographed in early 2017

It reads: “In Loving Memory of James Sefton of Prince Street, Todmorden, who died January 16th 1897 aged 53 years. Also of Alice, wife of the above, who died July 30th 1912 aged 65 years. Also of Norah Margaret, their daughter, who died April 26th 1884 aged 5 years. Also of Edward James, and Frederick Samuel, who died in infancy. Also of Frances Jane, their daughter and wife of George Scriven, who died June 6th 1955 aged 64 years.”

From the 1980s transcript and sexton’s book, this plot appears to be two separate plots, with the Seftons and John Stott in S4.7 and Frances Jane Scrivener in S4.8. But look at the stone; we have the Sefton family as described below and Frances Jane all named on the stone (and her surname being Scriven, not Scrivener) and John Stott nowhere to be seen. What gives?

The answer is, as always, within the family relationships.

James Sefton was born in Malvern in 1843. Father James was a labourer and mother Ann was a dressmaker, and they lived just on the Hereford/Worcester border at what is now known as Upper Wyche. James and his family disappear from the record in 1861, but we find him again in Todmorden in 1865, marrying Alice Collinge at Walsden St. Peter’s. His occupation is given as bricklayer.

Alice Collinge was born in 1847. Her father John was from Salisbury and lived at Waterloo, working as a watchman for a cotton mill. It looks as though Alice’s mother died not long before 1851 and John had remarried, as there are several Collinge children alongside a stepson and stepdaughter, and his wife Ann is 18 years younger than him. Alice is also missing from the 1861 Census, which leads us to think that there are missing pages for this part of Todmorden that year. We see her again at her marriage when she is described as working as a cotton weaver.

James…James wasn’t a bad man, but he was a bit of a one. So far many of the stories we’ve written up of those buried under the school are people who led interesting lives or were regular, normal people. Our project’s aim is to remember everyone, big or small, important or not…and good or bad. They still lived and died and were buried here, so their stories still matter.

Anyway, James and Alice settled at Hanging Ditch, now Longfield Road, and stayed there for most of the rest of their married lives. Ten children followed. Edward James, Frederick Samuel and Norah Margaret were buried here first, all young; 11 months old, 1 year old, and 5 years old, respectively. Norah is the only one to make it onto a census return.

James appears in the newspapers several times, or rather, appears before the magistrates several times, thanks to what seems to have been a difficulty with alcohol. One time is for assaulting a woman whose husband sold pie and peas and who said they were out of peas but also didn’t serve drunk people; the woman was badly beaten and James’s assertion that she threw him to the ground first got short shrift.

Todmorden Advertiser, August 16th 1878

Another time seems a little less clear, with the complainant saying he’d been assaulted for no reason by a drunk, and the defendant and witnesses saying the complainant was being an arse. Even the complainant’s wife was not terribly helpful, and ultimately the case was dismissed. But James must have been a difficult man to be married to at times. Even Alice was telling him that “she would never come out with him any more” after this latest incident.

Todmorden District News, August 9th 1889

James died in 1897, and Alice moved from Wellfield Terrace over to the other side of Rochdale Road, to Well Lane. In 1901 she and her four youngest children could be found at number 49. This number included Frances Jane, the youngest of her and James’s ten children, who was born a full 26 years after they had married. Frances trained as a milliner. When Alice died in 1912, Frances moved to Queen Street, where her eldest brother Henry Charles Sefton had settled with his family.

(A little note here: Henry named two of his children after the three siblings who died young who are named on this stone. In a moment of almost fictional-level coincident, Edward James Sefton died in 1894 aged 11 months, the same age as his 1867 predecessor. Norah Margaret, thankfully, survived to adulthood.)

In 1923 Frances married George Frederick William Scriven, and the two settled at 1 Queen Street, just down from brother Henry.

She was 32 and he was 30. The couple remained in Todmorden, despite George’s roots being in Kent, and they moved around the town before settling at 1 Ferney Lee. They had no children. Frances died in 1955, and George in 1986 in Halifax.

Now…back to that pesky 1980s transcript. There’s one last name on that stone that we haven’t covered yet, that of John Stott who died at 58 Wellington Road in 1906, aged 80. Who was he? Why did someone think he was here?

In 1901, John Stott was living at 58 Wellington Road. His occupation was piano tuner, and he lived with three other people; Rosa Stott, his daughter in law, and Walter and Maud Stott, his grandson and granddaughter. Walker was a tailor’s cutter and Maud a cigar maker. John’s occupation has a notation against it, “Mus. Inst.” That’s because John Stott, apart from being a grocer, was also a professor of music. And you can learn more about him in this post, which will discuss his wife, son, and daughter in law…

…yes, that’s right – we have another Armistead-Ireland story on our hands.

One Comment

  1. Pingback:20.19 – Henry, Norah, Edward, Mary and Alice Sefton, and John Holt – F.O.C.C.T.

Leave a Comment

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