Mixed Messages

notes from a busy life

1. The Girl Who Returned To The Dales

Isabella was the fourth of a dozen children. By the time she was four years old her parents and five siblings had moved from Bolton to Bridgnorth, hardly an easy matter in the 1830s. One hundred miles with half-a-dozen under ten year olds is a serious matter! Within a further five years the family were back north, this time in Blackburn where they settled but for Isabella the travelling ended somewhere else. Isabella returned to the place where her parents had begun—not in industrial Lancashire but in the Yorkshire Dales.

The story can be pieced together from the snippets available from baptism and census records. Isabella's parents were Martin Hargreaves and Ellen Sedgwick. Both were born in the Dales, Martin in Kirkby Malham in 1806 and Ellen in Ingleton four years later. The 15-20 miles between the two would be no barrier for Dales people to get together and both came from long lines of Dales farmers. The surprise was that they were married, when Ellen was only 18 years old, in Bury. That's over 50 miles to the south. Did they elope? The marriage records are no help. They were married by banns on 2 March 1829 at St Mary's church. This was before civil registration so details are limited beyond a statement that neither were married and both were 'of this parish'. How long might they have been living in Bury?

Their first child, Elizabeth, was born just over a year later and Elizabeth was born in Ingleton and baptised in Kirkby Malham—clearly a 'showing off' to both sets of grandparents. The next four children, George, John Terry, Isabella herself, and Alice (baptised Sarah), were baptised in Heywood (Bury) or Bolton. The next child Ellen was born in Bridgnorth, towards the end of 1840, but died the following year. Whilst he family were there for the 1841 census in in June but by the middle of 1842 all had changed.

The seventh child, Stephen was born and baptised in Ingleton. Back in the Dales. Obviously Ellen (the mother) and Stephen were there but were all the family? The next three children were all born in Blackburn 1844-1849 but which of the children were there with their parents? The question arises because 14 year old Isabella is next noticed in 1851—back in Ingleton.

The mother, Ellen Sedgwick, had been born in Ingleton on the west side of the Pennines, the hills and mountains that form the backbone of England. Technically it's in Yorkshire, the county that covers the whole of the east of England between Lincolnshire and Durham but also blankets the Pennines themselves. Lancashire starts just to the west of Ingleton—to the south across the moorland of the Forest of Bowland and to the north to the sands of Morecambe Bay and further to the Lake District. The Lancashire industrial centres that had drawn the family were south of Bowland, from west to east: Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Colne with Bolton and Bury then Manchester further south still.

Martin Hargreaves (originally spelled Hargraves in Yorkshire but amended with that extra E in Lancashire) came from well inside the Dales, on the limestone tops of the Pennines by Malham. To modern eyes the area of both Ingleton and Malham are incredible in their beauty and wild nature.

[in preparation—more to follow]

Isabella RIDDING née HARGREAVES (1836-1908) was my great x3 aunt. I see her as a fiercely independent 14 year old refusing to live amongst the dirty mills of cotton town Blackburn and insisting on being part of the Dales. That image is pure fiction of course but the story I have written above is the truth as best as I can wring it out of the documents at my disposal and my understanding of the environment that she lived. I hope the Dales were her choice and I hope that I have done her justice.

My links (child to parent) to Isabella with those I knew in bold.:
John Cartmell->Margaret Whalley->George Hargreaves->Francis Hargreaves->Martin Hargreaves&Ellen Sedgwick (parents of Isabella).

Isabella's families

Martin HARGREAVES (1806-1848)—skinner

Ellen SEDGWICK (1810-1865)

Older siblings
Elizabeth b 1830 Ingleton
George b 1832 Heywood (Bury)
John Terry b 1834 Bolton—painter

Younger siblings
Alice—baptised Sarah— b 1838 Bolton
Ellen b 1840 d 1841 Bridgnorth
Stephen b 1842 Ingleton
William Newton b 1844 Blackburn
Francis b 1846 Blackbuen—weaver
Frederick b 1849 d 1849 Blackburn
Eliza b 1854 Blackburn

I don't think John Terry ever married—he died in 1866 aged 32. Apart from him and Ellen and Frederick who died in infancy, I have traced the marriages of all the others excepting George.

Thomas RIDDING (1837-1914)—farmer

Mary Isabella b 1861
Sarah Maud b 1863
Ada Leak b 1865
Amy Louisa b 1867
Emily Agnes Ida b 1869
John Thomas b 1871
Frederick Richard Metcalfe b 1876
Edwin Gordon b 1878
Oscar Hargreaves b 1881

Apart from Oscar who was born on Garsdale, all the other children were born in Dent. All survived into adulthood though I suspect a failed pregnancy in 1873/4.