©Ray White 2020.
Local history doesn’t arrive complete. Instead it comes in fragments that we have to piece together to find the whole story. This rediscovered album, bought for a few pounds at a sale of antiques, is one such part. It appears insignificant, containing only a few entries, many blank pages and a couple of coloured drawings. Apart from its antique cover, it could be easily overlooked.
Looking more closely, we see it concerns significant families that originated from around Todmorden and Walsden in West Yorkshire. These include those of the nouveau-riche who developed the rapidly growing cotton industry of the times, in particular the Fielden family, who were influential not only in creating many mills in West Yorkshire, but also in social reforms, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.
One of the most notable family members is John Fielden (1784-1849), the reformist Quaker MP who pushed through the Ten Hour Act of 1847, limiting the time workers had to spend in the mills.
Another family member, Samuel Fielden (1847-1922), migrated to the USA in 1867, becoming a Methodist pastor in Chicago, where, in 1869, he was accused of inciting the Haymarket rioters, although later pardoned. His autobiography is here .
What exists in the album is presented here as an historical record that others may find useful. This document attempts to reveal some of the myriad connections between those that contributed to it. The research is not exhaustive and may indeed contain errors. A later album of the 1900s, derived from possibly connected families, is shown here .
The expensive-looking album was probably first bought in 1886, since the first dated entry is made in that year. Inside are plates of various scenes, created using what appears to be an early ‘colour dot’ printing system, and remarkably bright for such an age. The full-resolution pictures and some of the entries within can be found here .
The inside front page of the book reads:
From Mrs Roberts
To Annie Maria
The address indicates the book originated in the United States, its flamboyant cover having an American style. Haverhill is in Essex County, Massachusetts, 35 miles north of Boston, near the east coast of the USA. From maps you can see the large grid layout of housing that was created around the time this album was first used. The area appears to be flat, the town being named after Haverhill in Suffolk, an English county with a similar landscape.
‘Mrs Roberts’ was almost certainly related to the Roberts family who owned cotton mills in the Todmorden and Walsden area. Exactly who ‘Annie Maria’ was is uncertain, but the book ended up in England, so ‘Annie Maria’ was probably there at the time.
Later entries indicate that the album was in the hands of one Hannah Maria Fielden who, in 1893, aged 29 and from Rochdale, married Fred Dennett. Her father was James Fielden, a mechanic, her mother Ann Fielden. Little else is known. Given the variation in naming at the time, she may well have been the ‘Annie Maria’ referred to on this page. However, she shouldn’t be confused with another family member, also called Hannah Maria Fielden, who lived the United States and appears later in this document.
Frank M Dewhirst
The Dewhirst family in Haverhill are almost certainly related to William Dewhirst, owner of Ferneylee and Rodmer Clough cotton mills in West Yorkshire. The book ‘Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Boston and eastern Massachusetts’ by William Richard Cutter, published in 1908, indicates that the above Frank M Dewhirst was the son of James Dewhirst who came to the USA in 1851. The book describes them as follows:
place name meaning a wooded tract frequented by deer. The seat of the family in Lancashire, England, where the family has been prominent many centuries is Dewhirst, and the coat-of-arms is: Ermine three escallops gules. Crest —A wolf’s head ermine. The Middlesex county branch of the Dewhirst family is evidently related, bearing the same arms. Their crest is: A wolf’s head ermine collared azure. Motto—Spec mea in Deo. One prominent branch of the is in Cheshire, where the late George Dewhirst bought Oughrington Hall of George Trafford in 1864. The name appears among the earliest surnames iii England. On the old Hundreds Rolls the Prior of Derhirste is mentioned, and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth we find the name spelled Dewhirste. At the present time the family is found in many counties in England.
(I) Charles Dewhirst was born about 1800 in England and lived most of his life in Yorkshire. He was a hand-loom weaver by trade. He married Betsey Marshall, also a native of England. They came to America in 1854 and spent their last years with their son, James Dewhirst, of Haverhill, Massachusetts He died there in 1865 and his wife soon after; she arrived in this country in 1854. They were Baptists in religion. Children : Sarah, Samuel. James, mentioned below; Martha, Anna, Richard, Charles. Four others died in infancy in England.
(II) James Dewhirst, son of Charles Dewhirst (I), born in [Millwood] Todmorden, Yorkshire, England. June 14, 1830. His early education was acquired in his native land. At the age of twenty-one he decided to come to America and sailed June 17, 1851, on the ship “Daniel Webster” and landed at Boston, Massachusetts. He lived and worked in the mills for three years in Lawrence, Massachusetts: then went to North Andover, where he lived three years, after which he moved to Haverhill. He learned the trade of dyer but followed it only a short time. In 1862 he opened a hotel in Haverhill on the corner of Water and State streets, and until 1902 conducted a hotel with much success. At that time lie retired, though he retains the ownership of the hotel, the present New Gordon, a very handsome and commodious public house. Mr. Dewhirst invested in Haverhill real estate and devotes his time since he retired to the care of his property. He exhibited a peculiar aptitude for the line of business in which he engaged, and no man in the city has a more creditable career and none stands higher in the esteem of his townsmen. He came to this country a poor boy, dependent upon his own exertions and labor, and through his own thrift and industry acquired a handsome competence. Mr. Dewhirst was formerly a member of the Haverhill board of trade. He is a member and generous supporter of the Protestant Episcopal church, and was a prime mover in raising funds for the chimes in the tower of Trinity Church. He has given freely not only to the benevolences of his own church but to all charities and funds that appealed to him as worthy of support, and is rightly counted among the men of public spirit in the city of Haverhill as one willing to help promote its welfare at every opportunity. He married, first, in 1857, Ann Fisher Johnson, of North Andover, Massachusetts. He married, second, 1868, Anna Maria Fielden. Child of first wife: 1. Frank, born October, 1858, married in 1886 Sarah Glusky, and has daughter Beatrice, born in 1888. Child of second wife: 2. Jessie F., born March 13, 1875, resides in Haverhill.
There appears to be a mistake at the tail end of this text, since other records show that the first wife of James was actually Sarah B McClusky, not ‘Sarah Glusky’. She was 20 at the time of the marriage, recorded as being born sometime around 1863. She died on 30 November 1889, three years after this album was started. No mention is made of her middle name, but it could possibly have been Beatrice, as one of James Dewhirst’s later children was given that name.
In the ‘The New England Business Directory and Gazetteer’ of 1893, published by the Sampson ＆ Murdock Company, J Dewhirst ＆ Son is shown as owning the Etna Hotel on 44 Water Street. The ‘Todmorden ＆ Hebden Bridge Almanack’ of 1901 includes the following:
We can assume that the second wife of James Dewhurst, Anna Maria Fielden, as seen above with her daughter Jessie Fielden Dewhirst, was related to the Fielden family, who owned numerous mills around Todmorden. Oddly enough, the record of her marriage to James in December 1867 shows her as ‘Hannah M Fielding’, aged 21, born in Oldham, Lancashire in around 1847 to Abraham Fielding and Maria Stansfield (b 1816). The use of ‘Hannah’ as a variation of the name Anna was not so uncommon in those times. The names ‘Fielden’ and ‘Fielding’ were also often interchanged.
James is correctly described in the marriage record as a ‘hotel keeper’, aged 38 (b 1829), with his parents shown as Charles Dewhirst (1803-1865) and Betsey or Betty Marshall (b 1804) of Heptonstall. According to the 1910 census James and ‘Hannah’ were still together in Haverhill, living with daughter Jessie F Dewhirst and granddaughter Beatrice F Dewhirst.
The above Howarth Stansfield is almost certainly related to the numerous mill owners of the Todmorden and Walsden area, as well as the Maria Stansfield mentioned above. His method of dating in the above entry indicates this was written in the United States. ‘The New England Business Directory and Gazetteer’ shows a person of this name being at 14 Winter Street, Haverhill, the property on this site no longer being extant.
Another Stansfield appears in the next entry:
And only when gathers on our path
In shade and storm, the frequent night,
Be Thou, long-suffering, slow to wrath,
A burning and a shining light.
[modified extract from ‘Rebecca’s Hymn’ by Sir Walter Scott]
48 Fountain Street
Aug 30th 1906
The only recorded Marion Stansfield was born in Haverhill in 1876. It appears that she sailed from Liverpool, presumably after visiting relatives, on 19 August 1914, on the ‘Lake Manitoba’, which was to proceed to Quebec. She subsequently crossed back into the USA on 31 August. Undoubtedly her departure from England was triggered by the outbreak of the Great War on 28 July of that year.
The house at Number 48 Fountain Street still exists, and appeared in 2020 on Google Earth as shown below.
By 1870 the American town of Haverhill was a city, including a massive woollen flannel mill, although that was destroyed by fire in 1882. Without doubt, this industry must have drawn many members of Yorkshire milling families to the USA.
The signature above the words ‘Never look backwards’ is revealed when the picture is flipped.
The signature appears to be that of an E W Pidgeon.
Long may you live
Happy may you be
Blessed with contentment
And often think of me.
Jessie F Dewhirst
May 22nd, 1886
This is the Jessie Fielden Dewhirst mentioned above, daughter of James Dewhirst and Anna Maria Fielden. A reference to a Jessie Fielden Dewhirst of Haverhill in findagrave.com also indicates her being the child of ‘Hannah M Fielden’ and James Dewhurst, having been born in 1875 and marrying Raymond Lewis Miller in 1910. How she relates as a cousin to ‘Annie Maria’, the recipient of this book, is uncertain.
May the wealth of love
Purity and goodness
Ever enrich thee
Mrs A Roberts
The writing here looks different to that of the ‘Mrs Roberts’ at the front of the book and is probably the wife of Alexander Roberts senior (see below).
Though land and sea divide us,
and your face I cannot see,
But when thinking of my friends
I often think think of thee
Your loving friend
Mrs James Dewhirst
This is assumed to be the wife of James Dewhirst, as described above.
May 21, 1886
The above writing is in a child’s hand, along with a drawing of a swan. An Alexander Roberts is recorded in the Haverhill 1880 census: aged 11, he was living with his father, also called Alexander and originally from Ireland, and his mother Jane, who came from England, the daughter of Joseph Booth and Martha Jackson and born in 1836. Alexander and most of his siblings were also born in England.
Long may you live and prosper
May 21st 1886
This above is written in a kind of blue pencil, perhaps the type used at his hotel’s reception desk.
June 20th 88
I wonder when I shall be back again.
The text on this page reads:
May each returning season find
Thee blest with health
And peace of mind
From every care and sorrow free
May earth have nought
But good for thee
Jan 9th 1887
It’s unknown which Ann Fielden this is and if she was in the USA at this time. The evidence seems to suggest it was the mother of the recipient of the album, ‘Annie Maria’. The signature on the wedding certificate for ‘Hannah M Fielden’, as shown below, is remarkably similar to the entry in this album.
“Where Calder’s “pearly” streams descend,
Thro’ many a woody glen;
There could I dwell with Social Friends
Sweet Vale of Todmorden;”
L…… New Year 1905.
The above is written with a similar pencil to that of James Dewhirst, but the writing differs.
This sweet small drawing by Stewart Dennett, son of ‘Annie Maria’, was created on 31st August 1911, when he was aged 10. It shows ‘Carrlaithe, Todmorden’, also known as Carr Farm or Carr Laithe, as seen from the east.
The farm was on a lane is now known as Lover’s Walk, a path that passes along a ridge through Buckley Wood, just above Centre Vale Park in Todmorden. There is a hint of a building to the right of the picture, which was known as Carr Barn, a small cottage just east of the farm. Stewart lived with his family at Mount Pleasant East, a short walk towards Todmorden itself, uphill from the farm.
The above pictures show Carr Laithe as viewed from the west. The farm and the nearby Platts farm were bought by Samuel Fielden of Bottomley in 1773. Both were sold to Thomas Ramsbotham in 1821, who wanted to build a larger house for his growing family. in 1842 the farms, along with Centre Vale House, were sold to John Fielden MP, who lived at the latter from 1842 until 1847, when, having been instrumental in introducing the Ten Hour Act, and in poor health, he moved to Kent.
Carr Laithe was demolished long ago, the only reminder being the steps and wall that you can see in Stewart Dennett’s original picture, as well as the foundations at the top of the wall. The large stone posts that held the original railings beside the road also remain.
John Fielden’s son, also named John, married Ruth Stansfield, daughter of John and Elizabeth who lived at Carr Laithe, in 1857. It appears she may have been born at Carr Barn in 1827. John and Elizabeth were an ordinary working class family, her father being a labourer, whilst Ruth herself was poorly educated, working as a power loom weaver in one of John’s mills in Todmorden.
Nothing remains of Carr Barn today, apart from the steps that go downwards to the east of the building and a series of arched vaults that were beneath it and its approach road, presumably once used to accommodate horses. The land here is sloping, requiring both the barn and farm to be constructed on raised ‘platforms’ on the hillside.
The entire estate became the property of the Borough Council in 1910, forming Centre Vale Park, the contents of the big house being auctioned off in March 1911.
“May guardian angels all thy steps attend
And may you never need a friend
In every age most happy be
And when far distant think of me”
Ever your friend
S B Dewhirst
June 23rd 1886
The above is written by the first wife of James Dewhirst, Sarah B McClusky.
The ‘New Year’ sketch below was possibly created by a Stansfield family member:
There follows what appears to be some hastily written addresses:
Sapper ‘Dennett, Herbert’ was part of the embarkation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 239th Battalion (3rd CRT), due to leave on the SS ‘Olympic’, December 16, 1916. His address is given as ‘3626, 1st St. S.W., Calgary, Alta’, his wife as ‘Dennett, Mrs. Martha’. Having emigrated to Canada in 1911, he clearly returned from war, as he is on record as still living at that address in 1926. His relationship with ‘Hannah’ of Todmorden is unknown.
I am just two and two, I am warm, I am cold,
And the parent of numbers that cannot be told.
I am lawful, unlawful, a duty, a fault,
I am often sold dear, good for nothing when bought;
An extraordinary boon, and a matter of course,
And yielded with pleasure when taken by force.
The above drawing is by Eunice Stewart Dennett, aged 13, daughter of ‘Annie Maria’ and sister of Stewart. It’s in the style of children’s artists of the time, being a direct copy of a comic postcard by Reinthal ＆ Newman. Mabel Lucie Atwell popularised such cards in later years.
Searching in my heart
For all that touches you
I find there only love
and love’s goodwill
If anyone knows of any corrections that should be made to the above, please contact me at the email address below.
©Ray White 2020.