Browse through this collection of stories drawn from many sources including the Society's archive, newspapers and online sources. The catalyst to begin research varies from an inquiry that comes to Society, a document that arrives at the archive, or another trigger that sets the delving off.
The inscription on this gravestone has always intrigued me. Who was Annie Fletcher and how had she become nurse to the royal family? Why was she buried in All Saints churchyard?
Annie, (or Ann as she was christened) was born in 1861 in Crow Nest Lane, Beeston, which is about three miles south of Leeds. Her parents William and Sarah were from Aspul near Wigan and her father was a fireman in a coalmine. A fireman was an official in charge of a district of the mine who would go down into the pit before a shift began to check that the working places were free from firedamp, and other impurities. If dangerous gases were found, it was the fireman’s responsibility to clear the air so that it was safe for the miners to work.
Some times something really interesting turns up when you least expect it. I came across this photograph recently at Archives, and was intrigued to find out more. Stamped on the reverse are the words “Air Ministry”. Why is “Marple” painted on the engine cowling? Could it be linked to one of the Marple men who fought in the First World War?
October 1859 – letter from William Foster, ship’s carpenter to his wife:
“My dear wife, I am sorry to inform you that the ship is a complete wreck. She has gone to pieces this morning, about 5 o’clock. There are only 25 – 30 of us saved out of about 400 souls.
Dear wife, give my love to the children and tell them I will be home as soon as the letter.”
Amongst the passengers who did not survive was Sarah Ann Foster (neé Woodruff). Sarah was born in Hatherlow in the township of Bredbury on the 28th April 1821 and christened at Hatherlow Independent church. Her mother was Mary Woodruff and it is likely that Sarah was illegitimate, as her father’s name is not recorded.
We next hear of Mary Woodruff from an entry in Pigot’s Trade Directory for 1834 “Taverns & Public Houses - Hare & Hounds - Mary Woodruff, Chadkirk”.
Woodruff was a common name in the local area (Woodruff is the name of a creeping plant with a small white starry flower, which grows in woods and shaded hedgerows). The burial records for All Saints Church, Marple list many Woodruffs, in particular, there is a grave inscription for a family from Bredbury that includes a Mary Woodruff whose dates tie in with those of Sarah’s mother.
Sarah married John Foster, a widower, on the 10th December 1844 at Stockport Parish Church in the Market Place. John was the publican at The Black Boy, Great Underbank in Stockport. Interestingly, although Sarah’s father isn’t named on the baptism record, nor is he married to her mother, he is named on Sarah’s marriage certificate - John Priestnall, Dealer in corn and flour.
A Mellor Photograph
In the Local History Society’s photograph archives we have a folder labelled “People named” and another one labelled “People unnamed”. Unnamed ones are occasionally identified. Named ones are quite often known because of their local history connections. However there is this one very poor photograph of a couple in a cottage garden, named on the back “Amanda and Henry Prevost” No one at the Archives recognised these names but, armed with this information, it has been possible to at least trace part of the life story of Henry.
According to census details from 1841 to 1911 the Ratcliffe family lived in Priestfield House (off Strines Road). However, on three of the censuses (1841, 1861 and 1871) the name of the house was given as Captain Nuttalls. This information has come to light due to researching a request from Steve Till who lives in Somerset. Details of this research are now in our archives.