Elizabeth Sutton (1845-1922)


Elizabeth is the sixth child of Robert and Margaret Sutton (nee Willan). She was born in Dent in 1845. Robert and Margaret's first-born children were twins, John and Richard who were born and died in 1836. Her older, living, siblings are Richard (b. 1839), Ellen (b. 1841, and Hannah (b. 1842); all were likley to have been born at a Cowfould, a farmhouse in Dent.

Here is a link to Visit Cumbria which gives lots of information and history, as well as photographs, of Dent and here is a recent photo of one of the little streets in Dent:

This is what Dentdale looks like today:


Elizabeth can have only lived in Dent for a few years because by 1848 the family had moved to Bank farmhouse in Leck, which is just over the border in Lancashire, and it was here that, according to Dent Parish Magazine, her mother, Margaret (nee Willan) died that year and is buried in Leck churchyard. Here is Leck from the churchyard:

and here is St Peters as it looked during the period 1825-1879 (sorry about the flash). I visited St Peters in 2011 and it is a beautiful little church with wonderful Victorian stained glass windows and wall frescos.

Leck is literally next door to Cowan Bridge which is where the Brontë sisters went to school but they attended St John the Baptist in Tunstall; St Peters had not been rebuilt at this stage and was merely a chapel, as the following picture, taken from an exhibition in St Peters, shows; the dates under the picture are 1610/40-1825.

Of course, Cowan Bridge was used by Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre, as it was here that Charlotte and her older sisters Maria and Elizabeth, as well as her younger sister, Emily, attended the Clergy Daughter's School in 1824. Many of the pupils died of tuberculosis, as did Charlotte's two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Sutton's father, Robert, remarries in 1849 (at St John the Baptist, Tunstall) and so Elizabeth and her siblings now have a step-mother, Betty (nee Middleton).

In the 1851 census, Elizabeth is six years old and living with her siblings, Richard (12), Ellen (10), Hannah (8), their new step-mother, Betty, who is 26 and her new child, Barbara (spelt Barbary in the census) who was born in Leck and her father, Robert, aged 36 years who is now on the census as a farmer of yeoman.


By 1861 Elizabeth was 16 years old, had left home and was working as a general servant at a large farmhouse called Clapdale near Clapham. Here is a modern day photograph of the farmhouse:

And here is a link to more photos of Clapdale. Clapdale farmhouse is a grade II listed building and originates from the 15th century.

It is probably whilst in service here that Elizabeth met her future husband, Christopher Foster, who was three years older than her and also a general servant. According to the 1861 census, they are working for Edmund Moore, his brother John, sister Ellen (housekeeper), her husband, John (gamekeeper), and their son Richard, who is down as a farm servant. Edmund and John are farmers of 485 acres.


Elizabeth and Christopher are married on 12th November 1861 in the Parochial Chapel in the Chapelry of Ingleton; it is likely the chapel (dating from 1743) was replaced with St Mary's Parish Church which was built around 1886. The only part of the original building still standing is the tower and this dates from around the 15th century.

Elizabeth was 17 and living in Ingleton; Christopher was 20 and living in Clapham. His occupation was husbandman. Both Elizabeth and Christopher's fathers were farmers and both were called Robert. The witnesses to their marriage were Jonathan Knight and Hannah Sutton, Elizabeth's sister.

Tenant Farmers

When we look at where Elizabeth and Christopher's eleven children were born it gives us some idea of how often a tenant farmer had to move.

Their first child was a girl named Jane who was born in 1863 in Kirby Lonsdale; Robert was their second child, born in 1865 in Cray, Kettlewell; Margaret was born in 1867 in Buckton, Kettlewell and Betsy was born in 1869 in Litton, Kettlewell. This suggests that the family had moved four times before 1871 when they lived at 1 Moorend, Starbottom, Kettlewell and Christopher was a domestic servant.

Their fifth child was also called Christopher and he was born in 1871 in Kettlewell at Moorend; then came Richard (1873) who was also born in Kettlewell.

Move to Lancashire

By 1876 the family had moved to Edgworth as Annie (1876) and Emma (1881) were both born born there.

In the census of 1881, Christopher and his two sons, Christopher and Richard, are listed as living at Wheatsheaf Hill, Edgworth whilst Elizabeth and their other children are at Hazlehurst, Ramsbottom. Also living there is Elizabeth's sister-in-law, Ann Sutton age 23.

In 1886 their youngest child, Beatrice was born in Ramsbottom and in the 1891 census they are listed as living at 209 Bolton Road, Ramsbottom; Christopher is 50 and a labourer, Elizabeth is 48 and a grocer, Christopher 20 and a sawyer, Richard 18, a labourer, Annie 15, a grocer's assistant, Emma 10 and Beatrice is five years old.

By 1901 they had moved back to another farm, Higher Barn Farm, also in Ramsbottom. Christopher died in 1907.

But in the 1911 census Elizabeth is living on her own, aged 67 years, at Delph Cottages, Turton, Edgworth.

She has a visitor called Emily Viery (or Kery) who is 30 years old and was born in Edgworth. It states in the census that Elizabeth had had 11 children born alive and that seven were still living. Her occupation is a retired farmer. Delph Cottages are very near Higher Barn Farm where they lived in 1901.

Elizabeth died on 9th September 1922 at 16 Maxwell Street, Bury (this is a red-brick terrace), she was 77 years old and out-lived Christopher by 15 years. In her will she left £110.14 shillings to her son, Richard Foster, farmer.


Jane Elizabeth Foster (1863-1926)

Jane Elizabeth married Robert Collinge in 1883 in Bury. Robert was a cotton weaver. As far as I know they had four children: Alice, (1886-1886); Annie (1888-?); Elizabeth (1889-?); and David Foster (1891-1970). Annie and Elizabeth both became cotton weavers whilst David became a farm labourer (and, no doubt, a farmer after that).

Robert Foster (1865-?)

We know that Robert was a cotton weaver in 1881 when he was 16 years old but I have been unable to find him after that. We know from the 1911 census that three of Elizabeth's eleven children had died - I have been able to trace all except Robert and Annie, so it is possible Robert died young.

Margaret Foster (1867-1888)

Margaret married Edmund Rostron Grimshaw in 1887 in Holcombe. She died the following year, as did their daughter, Margaret, so it looks like Margaret may have died giving birth.

Betsy Foster (1869-1934)

Betsy married James Mawdsley in Holcombe in 1891. As far as I can ascertain they had four children: Florence (1893-?); Margaret (1897-?); James E.W. (1899-1901); and Harold (1902-?). When they first got married they lived at 20 Annie St., Tottington Lower End but by 1901 they had moved to 43 Oxford St., Bury. James was a railway foreman plate layer. James died in 1906. Betsy married William Edmund Turner in 1910 - William had clearly been married before because in the 1911 census they are living at 14 Maxwell Street with their children Florence, 18, who is a weaver; Margaret, 14, who is a catcher in a paper mill; Emma Turner who is the same age as Margaret and also does the same job; and Harold who is 9. William is a railway goods guard.

Christopher Foster (1871-1935)

Christopher is my great grandfather and has his own webpage.

Richard Foster (1873-1951)

Richard married Jane Coupe in Bury in 1898.

In 1901 they lived at 73 Lumb Carr Rd., Holcombe, with their two children, Richard Edmund (1899-1977) and Rose (1901-?); Richard was a general labourer.

By 1911 they had moved to Plant Farm, Holcombe, which is just up the road from their previous address.

There was also a boarder, William Kendal Stubbs who was an engineer's draughtsman working for Bury Corporation Electricity Works, as well as a servant, John Stott aged 12 who was also a part-time student. I'm guessing that John helped out on the farm.

Jane died in 1950 at the age of 77 whilst Richard died on 27th October 1951 at Ashen Bottom Farm Cottage, Ewood Bridge, Rossendale. In his will he left £579 13s to his son Richard Edmund and Harry Metcalfe (his son-in-law) both of whom were farmers. Here is a photograph of Richard and Jane, I am guessing they are standing either outside of their cottage or the farm:

Richard Edmund married Florence May Ormerod in 1934 in Haslingden; he died in 1977, his wife preceding him in 1965. They were living at 9 Spotland Road, Rochdale, when Florence May died.

Rose married Harry Metcalfe in 1922 in Edenfield Parish Church.

Annie Foster (1876-?)

The last record we have of Annie is when she is living at 209 Bolton Road, Tottington Lower End. She is 16 years old and a grocer's assistant. There is a record of an Ann Foster marrying a Thomas Grundy Nuttall at Holy Trinity in Bury in 1894, but I cannot find any records of these thereafter.

Elizabeth E. Foster (1877-1878)

I cannot find any records for Elizabeth E. apart from her birth and death in Edgworth.

Alice Hannah Foster (1879-1880)

Similarly, Alice Hannah was also born and died in Edgworth, also at the age of one.

Emily Foster (1881-?)

On 3rd October 1910, Emily married John Kay, at Emmanuel, Holcombe. At the time she lived at Joy Terrace, Holcombe. She was an assistant mistress (I am assuming school mistress). John was an engineer and lived at 90 Albert Street, Ramsbottom; his father, deceased, was called Thomas and was a foreman. As far as I know, they had two children, Barbara, who was born on 13th July 1911 in Alba Street, Ramsbottom and was baptised at Emmanuel, Holcombe on 6th August 1911, and John who was born on August 11th 1913, also in Alba Street, Ramsbottom, and was baptised at Emmanuel, Holcombe on 7th September 1913.

Beatrice Foster (1881-?)

Beatrice got married on 11th September 1906 at Emmanuel, Holcombe.

She married Thomas Kay (brother of John Kay) who was a professional footballer playing for Bury F.C. Beatrice lived at Higher Barns Farm, Holcombe whilst Thomas lived at 90 Albert Street, Ramsbottom. In 1911 they were living at 152 Bolton Road, Ramsbottom. They had three children: Annie who was born on 29th March 1907 and baptised on 5th May 1907; Norman was born in 1909 - I cannot find any baptismal record for him; and Bessie, born 12th November 1911 and baptsied on 3rd December the same year. Again, they were baptised at Emmanuel. Given that Tommy was a professional footballer I expected to find out more about him on the internet but came up with very little; here is his photograph:

Tom Kay was an inside forward and began his professional career playing for Blackburn Rovers (1902-03) but he didn't make the first team. He joined Nelson in 1903 then Bury in 1904 who were in the First Division. He made his League debut in 1905 against Newcastle United and became an established member of Bury's first team. He played for Bury until 1913/14 by which time he had scored 77 goals in 231 games. His last game was against Wolves in April 1914.