V8.5 – Joseph, Louisa and Louisa Jane Spencer, and Nellie Stott

This handsome cross with its unique squiggly design within the central cross once stood tall within this vault grave, but has had to be laid flat because it was never really secured to the ground. We were glad to be able to transcribe it before it was put down, and were intrigued as to who was buried here.

Joseph Spencer was born in Bicester on the 4th April 1852, the youngest of ten children. His father John was a fly driver/coachman who worked for the Royal Mail. Joseph followed in his footsteps, as he too became a coachman. He moved to Todmorden at the age of 20 in 1872 – his older sister Eliza had moved to Todmorden some years previously after she married a Todmordian, John Whitham, and she was almost certainly the reason he moved to Todmorden.

Joseph Spencer

Joseph became a coachman at Dobroyd Castle, working for the Fielden family.  It must have been there that he met his future wife, Louisa Jane Dodd, who was working as a housemaid at Dobroyd. Louisa Jane was born on the 17th October 1852 in Leamington Spa. The reasons for her moving to Todmorden are unknown – she doesn’t appear to have any family connections to the area. Joseph and Louisa Jane married at Christ Church on the 14th March 1876. Joseph gave his father’s occupation as an Inn Keeper (although we haven’t managed to find him as an innkeeper on anything we’ve found) and Louisa Jane gave her father’s occupation as a Scripture Reader.

Louisa Jane Dodd Spencer

Louisa Jane and Joseph had 4 children” Nellie, who was born in 1877, Harry, who was born 1879, Louisa, who was born 1882 and Annie, who was born 1885. In the 1881 Census Joseph was the head coachman and he and Louisa Jane were living at the Castle with their two children. By 1891 the family had moved to Dobroyd Castle Cottage where they lived for at least 20 years. In the 1911 Census Joseph was no longer a coachman but was Dobroyd Castle’s caretaker. 

Nellie, Joseph and Louisa Jane’s eldest daughter, became a draper’s assistant. She married James Edward “Teddy” Stott, an architect (responsible for designing the Abraham Ormerod centre and the Open Air school amongst other places) at Christ Church on the 19th September 1901. The couple lived at 43 Joshua Street for the duration of their sadly short marriage. Their daughter, Katherine, was born at that address on the 5th May 1903. Nellie died at that address on the 15th February 1905 and was buried at Christ Church three days later. Did James Edward Stott design the beautiful gravestone that is now lying flat? We will probably never know but it does seem likely.

Nellie Spencer Stott

In May 1909 Ellen Mallinson Fielden, widow of John and the employer of Joseph Spencer, died. In her will she left Joseph Spencer £250 (the equivalent of £14678 in today’s money), which shows that he was a valued member of the household.  

Joseph Spencer died on the 9th June 1930 at 34, Stansfield Road. His obituary in the Todmorden paper described him as “a man of genial disposition, well liked by all who knew him”. 

Louisa Jane, Joseph’s wife, died on the 2nd June 1931 at 34, Stansfield Road. Little is known about Louisa but her obituary in the paper tells us that she was a member of the Mothers’ Union and of the Christ Church congregation. Just like at Joseph’s funeral, their former son-in-law James Edward Stott is an attendee, along with his second wife and their granddaughter Katherine (now aka Kitty) and Kitty’s half-brother Peter.

Louisa Spencer, who was born in Todmorden at Dobroyd Castle on the 5th January 1882 was the only one of their children who didn’t marry. In both the 1891 and the 1911 censuses she was living at home with her parents. In 1901 she wasn’t living under the exact same roof but still wasn’t far away – she was at Dobroyd Castle, working as a lady’s maid. In 1911 she was working as a lady’s maid again but was a long way from Todmorden as she was working for Alfred and Florence Benson at Kingswood Court, Tadworth in Surrey (Alfred Benson was the son of J.W. Benson who founded a prestigious watchmaking business, which had Royal patronage; in London in the 1850s he was a Director of the firm). Florence Benson died in 1929 and after her death Alfred Benson sold Kingswood Court. We don’t know what Louisa did in the intervening years but in 1939 Louisa was living with poultry farmer Albert Hemington and his wife Mary in Lincolnshire. Both Albert and Mary had worked with Louisa at Dobroyd; in the 1901 Census Albert was a footman and Mary was a lady’s maid.

Louisa Spencer and her niece, Katharine Stott

It’s not known when Louisa returned to Todmorden to live, but she was living in Todmorden when she died, aged 82, in 1964. She was the last member of the family to be interred in the vault.


  1. Pingback:14.24 – Henry, Ada and Arthur Spencer – F.O.C.C.T.

  2. Pingback:16.2 – Sarah Jane, William, Ernest and Annie Taylor – F.O.C.C.T.

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