MUCH MARRIED JINNY HAIGH AND HER CHILDREN
due to the perils of childbirth, it was not unusual for a
man to outlive two, and sometimes three wives in the first
half of the 19th century. By contrast, it was remarkable for
a woman to outlive three husbands and marry for the fourth
time before dying at a relatively young age.
twice-over from the 'first' REUBEN HAIGH, who was reputedly
found under a hawthorn bush in the 17th century, Jinny Haigh
was the daughter of REUBEN HAIGH (1787-1857) and his first
wife, his cousin Grace Haigh (1787-1829). While
most documents relating to Jinny give her Christian name as
Jane, it appears she was actually christened Jinny on 10th
May 1809 at St Mary's, Todmorden after being born at HOWROYD,
Walsden. Her father was a farmer and coalmine owner and established
and ran the MOORCOCK INN on his property, which was high on
Inchfield Moor overlooking the township of Walsden.
the eldest surviving child and only daughter of Reuben of
Moorcock, Jinny would have learned the inn-keeping trade helping
her parents serve thirsty miners from the coal pits at FOULCLOUGH and Wall Nook as well as travellers using the old roads
to Whitworth and Shawforth.
Haigh's wife Grace died at the Moorcock on 28th December 1828
and under normal circumstances Jinny, as an only daughter,
may have seen out her years coping with the household chores
at the Moorcock. However, her father married for a second
time about a year later and freed Jinny from any obligation
she may have felt to her father and younger brothers, John,
William, Reuben, James, Joseph, Samuel and Luke.
Waggon & Horses
can find no documented record of Jinny's first marriage
but, John Travis tells us in Walsden Families in
Olden Times that it was
to John Hill who had taken over from his father Thomas
Hill as landlord of the Waggon and Horses. John Hill
was better known as 'Topper' and together with Jinny
he ran the pub employing Thomas Newall of Strines as
is not clear precisely when Jinny was widowed for the first
time but the death of a John Hill was registered at Rochdale
in the June quarter of 1838. 'Topper' would have been about
29-years-old at the time.
29-years-old, Jinny married for the second time. This time
her choice fell on John Fielden of Henshaw. (Born 15th April,
1810 at Todmorden, the son of Thomas Fielden and Mally Halliwell,
John was connected to the FIELDENS that built the White Hart Inn in Todmorden.) The marriage took place on 10th January
1839 at St Chad's, Rochdale. Sadly, they did not celebrate
their first wedding anniversary. John died on 3rd October
1839 and was buried at St Mary's, Todmorden on the 6th October
1839. Obviously cut from practical cloth, Jinny also had their
daughter Grace christened on the same day at the same place!
1841 Census was taken on the 7th June. Staying in the Waggon
and Horses at Bottoms that night were Jane Fielden, innkeeper,
her one-year-old daughter Grace and two servants. Younger
brother Samuel Haigh was one of those servants; one of the
family being an ideal candidate to come to her assistance
during a time of need.
married for the third time on the 16th September 1841 at St
Chad's, Rochdale. Travis tells us that the intrepid bridegroom
was one "Joseph Firth, of Stackhills". They were still at
the Waggon and Horses in 1842 but soon after they moved to
the WHITE HART INN in Todmorden. This time the marriage survived
the first year. Joseph died at the White Hart on the 18th
August 1849 and was buried four days later at St Paul's, Cross
White Hart in the 1930's
1851 Census was taken on the 30th March. Staying at the White
Hart Inn in Eccles Fold that night were Jane Firth, 42-year-old
widowed innkeeper from Walsden, her 3-year-old son Reuben,
three servants and a lodger. Once again younger brother Samuel
was there for her in her time of need.
where were the other children? Travis tells us that Jinny
had one child from her second marriage and four or five from
letters written by Jinny's daughter Grace in the 1880s, I
have been able to piece together the following. Jinny had
four surviving children with her husband Joseph Firth. In
a letter dated June, 1885 from Grace to her Uncle Luke Hamer
Haigh in London she wrote:
had a letter from my sister Jane last Saturday, it is a
long time since she wrote before, she states in her letter
that my brother William is dead. I was sorry to hear such
a bad account of him in your last letter, he must have had
ill luck & and taken it to heart, poor lad, but he never
was strong & robust like my brothers Joseph & Reuben".
various clues in the letters and the 1881 Census I believe
Jinny's children from her third marriage were William (1843),
Joseph (1844), Jane (1846) and Reuben (1848). In 1881 William,
wife Elizabeth and children Nesta and John were living in
Oldbury, Worcester. He was a chemist. Joseph and Reuben were
butchers. Joseph, wife Sarah and children Walter and Sarah
were living in Castleton, Lancashire. Reuben, wife Sarah and
children Joseph, Herbert, Richard and Sarah were living in
Heptonstall. Grace's sister Jane had married well to John
Clay from Hebden Bridge and in 1881 was living there with
him and their children John Henry and William. John's occupation
was listed as "Cotton Manufacturer Employing 159 Work People".
after March 1851, and before her death in late 1857, Jinny
married for the fourth and last time. This time the lucky
man was William Crossley, "butcher, of Todmorden". William's
occupation could explain that of his two stepsons, Joseph
where were all of Jinny's children apart from baby Reuben
in March 1851? Perhaps at boarding school! In a letter dated
the 28th August, 1885, Luke Hamer Haigh wrote to his niece:
"A considerable exodus to less densely peopled countries
would benefit the old Country - the worn-out old Country
- as my friend & neighbour Tom Stansfield calls it.
He often reminds me that he went to Moss's School at Hebden
Bridge when you were there."
what became of Jinny's eldest child, Grace Fielden? Grace
was barely 18-years-old when her mother died and would have
inherited one fifth of her mother's share of Reuben of Moorcock's
the time of her marriage on the 15th January, 1859 to James
Watson she was living at 105 Ashton Old Road, Ardwick , Manchester
which was the home of her uncle Luke Hamer Haigh. She was
19-years-old. James also lived with the Haighs. He was a railway
guard and the younger brother of Luke's wife, Sarah Watson.
He was twelve years older than Grace at the time but his age
on the marriage certificate is listed as twenty-seven. We
may never know the truth of the matter but, family tradition
has it that they eloped.
and Grace's first child was born in her uncle's house in 1861;
a daughter named Jane Ann after both grandmothers. Later that
year James and Grace decided to emigrate to New Zealand.
Rawson Brame, a journalist, had conceived the idea of a Nonconformist
settlement in New Zealand as a kind of celebration of the
bicentenary of the expulsion from the Church of England of
the non-conformists. He formed the Albertland Christian Colonisation
Movement and land was bought in the north island of New Zealand
north of Auckland. About 3,000 settlers joined the movement.
James Watson and two friends (James and Benjamin Ramsbottom)
who were members of the Church of Christ in Grosvenor Street,
Manchester, and their families were amongst the 3,000. James
had written to his cousin, James Bowker at Rishton, that he
was doing so "to become his own master".
hardships the pioneers encountered are another story but ten
more children were born to James and Grace. My grandfather,
Riley Coates Watson, was amongst the first children to be
born in the new settlement in 1865. Keeping up tradition,
their youngest son was named Reuben.
who write about Walsden often dismiss Jinny's short-lived
marriage to John Fielden in a few words. However, I would
not be writing this story if it had not been. John and Jinny
were my Walsden great-great-grandparents and they have dozens
of descendents in Australia and hundreds in New Zealand including
Dr James (Jim) Watson who was elected President of the Royal
Society of New Zealand in March 2003. Reuben Watson was his
eldest daughter died on 10th January 1920. She was in her