S5.5 – Sarah, Joseph and Richard Hollinrake

Two newspaper-worthy deaths and inquests in one grave is unusual – this family from Bacup Road was difficult at times to pin down, but the newspapers came to the rescue. Who were the Hollinrakes?

Joseph Hollinrake was born in 1842 to Robert and Betty (Mitchell) Hollinrake of Rock Nook, Dulesgate. Located near to Priest Booth just below where the observatory is now, this row of terraces was directly next to the Saunders Clough clay pit, later one of the three Temperley’s sites in the area. Like much in that area, they’re completely gone now, and to drive or walk past you can’t even see their foundations.

Rock Nook on the 1895 25 inch Ordnance Survey Map
The site of Rock Nook now

Robert was a general labourer and his sons either followed suit or became cotton weavers. Joseph was one who followed suit, and in 1861 both he and his father were road labourers. Joseph stayed at Rock Nook for over thirty years until he met and married Sarah Sunderland, in 1875 at Christ Church.

Sarah Sunderland was born in 1844 to James and Susan (Crowther) Sunderland, weavers living at Green Springs – literally just the wrong side of Whiteley Arches, although it fell within the ward area of Stansfield at the time. Susan died in 1861 and by 1871 the entire family had parted from one another. James lived alone at Crabtree Field near Blackshawhead, and his six children were nowhere to be found. Sarah herself doesn’t reappear on the census until her 1875 marriage, when her occupation is given as “housekeeper” at Sunny Bank, Dulesgate. It wasn’t uncommon that unmarried daughters went into service to bring money back for the family, although it was a surprise to find all the Sunderland children so difficult to track down.

Joseph and Sarah had three sons – Richard, Albert and William. Richard, who we’ll cover later, was born in 1876. The Hollinrakes now lived down at Stones Wood Bottom, nearer to Gauxholme, and Joseph’s occupation has specialised further to “road mender”. We know from later newspaper coverage that Joseph and his father Robert were working for the Todmorden Corporation and were involved in…well…mending the roads. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of explanation we need to give.

Poor Sarah met an early end due to a strangulated hernia, and her death made the newspaper. While a formal coroner’s inquest wasn’t held into it, it was still investigated in the first instance due to the sudden nature of it. It was known that she suffered from one but clearly was receiving treatment, and it wasn’t progressing at a brisk pace or causing her much difficulty until she was suddenly taken unwell a few hours before she died.

Todmorden Advertiser, June 1st 1883

Sarah was the first to be buried here. Joseph then did something relatively unusual; he didn’t remarry. He had good reason to, with his youngest son only being four years old, and often widows and widowers with small children didn’t take much time between a respectable mourning period passing and remarrying. But Joseph stayed single for the rest of his life. What he did do was blend his family in with the family of William and Hannah (Hollinrake) Fielden, his sister and brother in law and their two daughters. These households lived at 236 and 238 Bacup Road, just up from Stoneswood House. You know these houses now as the little row of white-painted weavers cottages tucked into the bend of the road not far up from the carpark for the path up Gorpley Clough.

William and Hannah Fielden passed away, Albert and William Hollinrake and Mary Hannah Felden did the same, but in 1911 Joseph, Richard, and Joseph’s niece Betsy Alice Fielden still lived at 236-238 Bacup Road (now with much more space to themselves). Betsy kept house for the two men, who were both still working. Richard now was a picker maker, no longer working on the roads. When WW1 came around Richard was exempted, although we don’t know if this was because of his occupation or because of ill health as the newspaper lumped those names into one list when it was published.

Joseph died in 1920, and this time there was an inquest. Again, the culprit was natural causes, and of a less unusual kind than Sarah’s. Joseph had heart disease and had been unwell on and off for some time. Rather than a dramatic sudden death, he simply declined, and not even Betsy’s hot Oxo drink could restore his health.

Todmorden Advertiser, January 9th 1920

The comment from Dr. Thorp about having visited Joseph periodically for some time “but not for the purpose of advising him” is interesting – were they friends somehow, or have some sort of social connection? You’d think he’d have said as much if so. Or perhaps Joseph had difficulties that Dr. Thorp knew he wouldn’t want to have mentioned in the papers even after his death.

Richard stayed the Bacup Road address for many more years, even after Betsy Alice had moved on, until 1935 when he’s found lodging at 232 Rochdale Road. In what is a pattern for this story, it’s yet another lost building – it stood between Lock Street and Charles Street, so the edge of the Charles Place flats now. He was still working as a picker maker. The house was Barker Greenwood’s grocery and he and his wife Hannah made some extra money offering room and board to local workers.

Richard died in 1941, from a small laundry list of complaints. Like Joseph before him, he died of heart failure. Contributing causes were obstructive jaundice caused by gallstones. He died at Stansfield View although he normally lived at 2 Charles Street, and his next of kin was given as Albert E. Hollinrake, his brother. Albert was living at 3 Pexwood Road which is the address given in the burial register.

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