Monday, 20 March 2017

Another story from Tony Goulding .......Three More Suicides

More from Tony
The corpse of Annie Body was taken out of River Mersey at Sale on Sunday 19th January, 1896. Aged just 31 she was buried in Southern Cemetery in the Church of England part, section K, grave 2060 on the 22cnd January, 1896.

“Annie” was born Hannah Jackson in 1865 and married Frederick Thomas Body at St. Margaret’s, Burnage on 17th October, 1894.

At the time of her marriage she was a spinster aged, 29  living in Burnage and her husband was a resident of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, where the couple lived their short life together at 49, Church (now Chequers Road.

The marriage certificate also records her father as John Jackson, a contractor: the groom’s father being Benjamin Thomas, a deceased merchant (there is a record of a man with that name, aged 51, dying in Ormskirk, Lancashire in the September quarter of 1870.)

The 1881 census shows Frederick Thomas living at 456, Stockport Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, and Manchester with his widowed mother Mary Ann, two sisters Mary Louisa and Fanny Elizabeth and younger brother,

William Edmund. Both Frederick’s sisters were schoolmistresses while he is described as a clerk in a “home” warehouse and 16year old William Edmund was still a “scholar”.      
The back story of Hannah has been difficult to trace her life and tragic death pose something of a mystery.

After just 15 months of marriage she disappeared from home on the 14th January, 1896 and was not seen alive again.

The newspaper reports suggested that she had been greatly depressed for some time. An investigation into her burial record brought to light a curious fact which could have some relevance. Although not recorded on the headstone (pictured above) there had been a previous burial in this grave a child of less than a year named Thomas Harrison Wilson on 6th April, 1892. Coincidently the family living next door to the Frederick and Annie at 51, Church Road was named “Wilson”. (Viz. Arthur Wilson, a dairy manager his teenage son, Amos, and a stepdaughter, Maria Eliza Spencer)

Also just across the road at no. 44 there was another Wilson. He was Samuel, an Irish-born 20 year old married to Annie Elizabeth (née Crawford) with a 3 month old baby Florence Annie. Samuel’s family was living with his mother-in-law, another Mary Ann, and her 2 sons Edwin James and Harold.
The infant’s birth certificate (obtained from the G.R.O.) shows his parents were Frank and Emma (née Parkinson).  As both these parents were born in Yorkshire the presence of their child in the Body family grave remains a mystery

The rather sad looking Pearson family grave
Frank Bailey Pearson’s headless body was found on the railway line near Chorlton-cum-Hardy station on Saturday 24th August, 1935.

He was buried on 27th August in Southern Cemetery grave O 274, in which his father had been buried on 2cnd June, 1922.

Reports of his suicide states that Frank was unmarried employed as a traveller and had been living with his (widowed) mother at 103, Buckingham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

He was born in Exeter, Devon where he was baptized, at St. David’s church, on December 2cnd, 1905.

His parents were William, a commercial traveller for a general cloth merchant, and Florence Ellen (née Ruddock).

There is an odd anomaly in the 1911 census whereby Frank Bailey appears to have been recorded on two separate returns. He is recorded as “Frank B.” (Aged 4) living with his parents and 2 older brothers (Geoffrey Draintree (10) and Maurice Daintree (4) at 8, Blair Road, Alexandra Park, Manchester. He is also included, as “Frank Baily” on the return of his grand father John William Ruddock, a retired Insurance Accountant, at 217, Fordwych Road, Hampstead, and London. Also at this address were Frank B’s 2 elderly aunts, Lucy Kate and Hannah Edith.

Dartmouth Road
On the morning of Wednesday, 11th January, 1939 Sophia Webster, his 80 year old landlady, discovered in her dining room at 31, Dartmouth Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy the dead body of her lodger, George Redgate Ashcroft.

He had died from a self-administered gunshot wound to the head. A new sporting gun was lying at his side.

George was born and spent much of his early life in the area around Chorlton Green before latterly becoming a licensee in Cheshire, first of “The Downs Hotel” in Bowdon then later “The Bleeding Wolf” in Hale.

Born on 19th March, 1862 he was baptised at St. Clement’s .Chorlton-cum-Hardy on 11th May the same year. His parents were William, mason / slater and Sophie (née Richards). After the death of his father when he was only 3years old his mother re-married - Thomas Caleb Butcher, a smith / joiner, on May 2cnd, 1869 at Manchester Cathedral.   3 years later George’s older brother, William Ward, died tragically young aged just 19 and was buried in St Clements graveyard on 15th May, 1872. (1)
The family home (2) was on Church Road (soon to be renamed St. Clement’s Road) Thomas Caleb was still residing at 43 St. Clement’s Road on the 1911 census. Aged, 70, he was living with his second wife, Mary Ann Statham (née Parkinson) a widow 20 years his junior who he married in the June quarter 0f 1909: his first wife, and George’s mother, having died in the December quarter of 1905. George Redgate Ashcroft himself married Georgina Johnson Shaw in the September quarter of 1894 at Christ Church, West Didsbury.

Zetland Terrace
At the time of his marriage George was already 32 and his wife over 10 years his senior. He was working as a solicitor’s clerk and the new couple moved into no.21 of the newly built Zetland Terrace at Chorlton Green. It was only after his mother’s death that George moved away from this area. The 1911 census shows him already at “The Downs Hotel”, Bowdon.

Following Georgina’s death in the September quarter of 1933 George retired and moved back to his “home town” seeking solace, perhaps, from old friends and familiar surroundings.

According to the press reports (3) of his suicide he did meet-up regularly with one old friend, Tom Pearson who lived at 21, Whalley Avenue just across the other side of Sandy Lane.

However he also seems to have become depressed by the changes to the area; the construction of new housing having meant the destruction of the fields and orchards he remembered from his youth. A telling comment made by the coroner referring to the dangers of passive retirement (which still resonates to this day) is I think a good point to end on. “If he’d had a hobby it might have saved his life”

© Tony Goulding 2016

Pictures; Dartmouth Road: (CAPTURED IN THE 1930’S BY MY GRANDFATHER --- A.H.CLARKE) and now in the Manchester Local Image Collection, m 17747, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, remaining images from the collection of Tony Goulding


St.Clement’s Road
1) George’s father William, on 18th July, 1865 and at least one sister Mary Elizabeth, on 15th February, 1853 were also buried in St.Clement’s graveyard.
43, St.Clement’s Road
This was the family home of the Ashcroft / Butcher family for more than 60 years and remains relatively unchanged to this day.

   3) The “Manchester Evening News” of 11th and 16th January, 1939. The accounts also related how George Redgate had become a well known character around the Chorlton-cum-Hardy district, being “Six feet two inches in height------- with his upright figure and grizzled military moustache” courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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