Higher Woodfield farm is situated on Todmorden Moor at Sourhall in a spot that must have been very desolate in winter months. It is at the top of a triangle linking it with Lower Woodfield and Woodfield Top farms. It had a small farmhouse and between 20 and 35 acres of land during the 19th century. In 1901, the house is described as having three rooms.
Edmund Newell and his wife Mally (Ratcliffe) were the tenants from before 1820 until their deaths after 1851. Mally’s parents and brother farmed the neighbouring Lower Woodfield Farm. Their youngest son, Thomas, was born at Higher Woodfield in 1821. He started his working life as a coal getter, and as a young man of about 18 began to preach locally at Knowlwood Primitive Methodist Chapel in Walsden. He was later called to the Ministry where he worked for about 50 years, settling in the Bradford area.
Abraham Fielden was the tenant after the Newells left. He had been brought up at Pighill Farm at Pexroyd, a small farm owned by the Haigh family of Inchfield. In his early years he worked in the stone trade, and together with his brother John, built 6 houses at Shade. He and his wife spent their last years farming at Higher Woodfield, where they had 30 acres. They both died at the farm in 1862, leaving the tenancy to their son Thomas.

Thomas never married and continued at the farm, running it jointly with his also unmarried siblings, Abraham, John, Jane, and youngest brother Young.

This was a close family that stayed together and cared for one another. Brother John may have suffered a serious accident or illness in the 1870’s as in 1891 he is described as “an imbecile for 20 years”. His siblings cared for him. When sister Hannah was widowed and left with three children, her siblings took her in to their small home. She is with them in 1881. They also took on board their elderly Uncle Thomas, brother of their father.

Uncle Thomas had lived most of his adult life with his widowed sister Sally Dawson at the Black Horse on Butcher Hill, but after her death in 1870 moved across to Higher Woodfield to be with his nephews and nieces. He was also unmarried and had quite a reputation around Todmorden.
From being a boy, Thomas had been known as a hard worker. He accumulated money by being thrifty and industrious and developed a reputation as a miser. In addition to the group of 6 houses he and his brother Abraham built at Shade, he built another row behind them and was often seen digging the stone from the quarry by candle light, entirely alone. He later purchased two more blocks of cottages, one at Hanging Ditch and one at Wadsworth Mill, which had previously been the Exhibition Beerhouse.
Despite being the owner of 4 blocks of houses, he never spent his money, especially on himself, and wore his old clothes until they fell off his back. He was always civil to those he met, but rarely opened up a conversation and carried on his work quietly.

His friends would try to persuade him to spend a little of his money, reminding him he couldn’t take it with him and would end up leaving it to someone in the end, so he may as well spend it on himself. Thomas took no notice, and the older he became, the more miserly he was. He died an old man in 1876 in one of his cottages at Hanging Ditch. I have no idea who inherited his savings.

The five siblings were still farming at Higher Woodfield in 1901. Thomas died there in 1909 and his siblings moved down to Todmorden