SA.8 – Abraham, Hannah, Mary and Thomas Dawson, and Charles Henry Dixon

This grave is “bookended” by two small children, and in the middle lie a mother/grandmother and a daughter/aunt. And who’s really the last one in?

Hannah Hollingrake was born in 1819 on the Lancashire side of Todmorden. Her father Abraham was a labourer. We know very little about Hannah prior to her marriage, or indeed much afterwards, beyond the usual for a woman in this time. She married Thomas Dawson rather late in life, aged 34 – he was 27 and it was the first marriage for them both. The marriage took place in December 1852 which was a year after their first child, Abraham, had been born. Their next child, Mary, was born in 1854. That same year little Abraham died, aged 3 years old. The burial record indicates that he is buried at St. Mary’s, likely with a grandparent from one side or the other. It also makes a small error. Not that his name is given as “Abraham Hollingrake” necessarily – born outside wedlock means he would be given his mother’s surname – but that it reads “Abraham, the son of Thomas and Hannah Hollingrake”. The vicar heard the name, knew the parents were married, and assumed Thomas’s surname was Hollingrake too.

(This indicates to us that Abraham might be more likely to be buried with Hollingrakes than Dawsons, but without finding the stone at St. Mary’s we won’t be sure)

Thomas and Hannah went on to have another two children, Hannah and William. The family lived at Dean, on the opposite hillside from Stones Wood Bottom, where Thomas was farming 7 acres in 1861 as well as working as a picker maker. The Dawsons lived there for several decades more, Thomas continuing as a picker maker and the children all becoming cotton mill workers of some sort or another. Was he still farming? That much isn’t clear.

In 1882, mother Hannah died and was buried here, the first into the plot. That’s another reason to put quotation marks around “bookended” – just because a name is on a stone doesn’t mean the person is buried here, and that’s the case with Abraham. He’s remembered here, but not buried here. Two years later daughter Mary died at a young age indeed, only 30, and joined her mother here.

One Dawson who was moving on was daughter Hannah, who in 1882 married James Henry Dixon at Knowlwood Primitive Methodist Chapel. James was a twister-in living at Woodbottom and the two married just in time, as their first child Thomas arrived two months later! Thomas was baptised in February 1883 and the couple and their son are shown as living at Spring Cottage, the same address that both mother Hannah and Mary had been living when they died. The pair moved out soon after, though, and would have five more children. The second to last was Charles Henry, born in December 1895, and who died in August 1896 aged 8 months old.

By this time the Dixons lived at 130 Bacup Road and Thomas was living with them. James and Hannah had one more child, Albert, in 1899. Thomas died in 1903 and is buried…well, he’s buried here, we more or less know that. The 1980s transcript says that the final burial here is Charles Dawson, 1903, aged 78 – but lo and behold, the burial register says Thomas. Another reason re-transcribing is so important.

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