SB.2 – Susannah Parker

The SA. and SB. indicators are for rows of graves which are on the school side of the fence, but are not under the extension itself. Some of these are still visible and readable from the school side and some are hidden in some way or other through overgrowth. The plot marker for this grave read “J. Parker” which was helpful in working out who was buried here and confirming her identity. We haven’t found the marker elsewhere in the graveyard, like we did for Lucy Alice Davy whose marker ought to have been just over from this one but was found several rows up in the public area…but we live in hope.

J. stands for John, John Parker who was born in Haworth near Bradford in 1837. He was the eldest son (but fourth of ten children) and first worked as a power loom weaver before becoming a joiner. Perhaps his head was turned by Robert Wood, the joiner and cabinet maker who lived next door to the Parkers in 1851? By 1860 he had moved to Todmorden as that year he married Susannah Greenwood at Heptonstall St. Thomas.

Susannah was four years older than John and was born in Walsden. Her father Edward was a groom, or as the 1851 Census put it, “ostler (jockey)”. A horsey gentleman. Susannah also was a weaver in a cotton mill at that point. She and her siblings were left bereft very quickly in the mid-1850s when first Edward died in 1854, then their mother Ann in 1856. Both are buried at Christ Church at 40.7, along with her sister Mary.

Susannah and John moved to Lever Street, where they would stay for the rest of Susannah’s life at least. The two had four children together that we know of before Susannah died in 1881, aged 48. John’s joinery business did well, and he was an outspoken advocate for the trade union movement, particularly for those in manual trades. When Susannah died he had her buried here at Christ Church and the plot marker, in this case, indicated the name of the owner of the plot rather than its inhabitant. The grid system means we can be sure that it was her based on Hannah Craven next door, also buried in 1881. Susannah wasn’t very old, only 48 years old, but was suffering from a tumour of some sort on her neck that caused her to become weaker and weaker until eventually she passed away.

Their eldest child, Ann, was 18, and the youngest, Ada, was 2. Two years later John married Alice Fielden of Millwood, a spinster thirteen years his junior. Seven years later they had a child of their own, Hannah. Five years after that, Alice died aged 46 – she is buried at Christ Church as well. John clearly felt that two years was an appropriate mourning period because again, two years later, he married again – this time to a woman nine years his junior named Sarah, who we can’t be sure of the maiden name of (either Thomas or Wilcock). Helpfully on the 1911 Census, after making an error with the “number of children” entries, he makes a notation underneath his scribble: “3 Wifes”.

John himself died in 1922 at the very advanced age of 84, having had to be removed from his home at Victoria Terrace in Eastwood to Stansfield View because of his suddenly poor health. He’s buried at Christ Church – but where?

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