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THE QUAKER FIELDENS OF TODMORDEN AND WALSDEN

 
 

Bottomley

Joshua Fielden inherited the land and farm at BOTTOMLEY, Walsden, from his mother Elizabeth in about 1637. Bottomley was quite a bustling settlement in these days of the mid 17th. century. There were a few cottages along the fold and some of these are still there today.
   
Today's approach is a narrow, steep and twisting lane that culminates at the main settlement, comprising 3 neighbouring farmhouses: North, South and Middle Bottomley, an old cottage called Sweet Briar and a collection of other barns and buildings. Not one building is more than a stones throw from the next. They are built at peculiar angles to the road and to each other. The original road, a packhorse trail runs right through the middle of them and then off to the left towards DEANROYD and beyond.

The packhorse road cuts through the settlement

   
The land was only good enough for sheep, but these provided wool and meat to put clothes on their backs and food on their table. They also provided the raw material for the manufacture of woollen cloth. As was required by law at the time, Joshua and his bride were married in front of a Magistrate, Edward Hopwood J.P., on 21st. October 1656 after the banns had been read for 3 consecutive weeks at the Parish Church, St. Chad's in Rochdale. His wife was Martha Greenwood of NORTH HOLLINGWORTH in Walsden.
 
Joshua and Martha became members of the newly formed Society of Friends, or Quakers, and allowed their home to be used for Meetings. Life as a Quaker before the 1689 Toleration Act was dangerous. The Church of England had the power to punish those whose thoughts, deeds or religious loyalties were elsewhere, and the curate of Todmorden at this time was a Quaker-Hater. He was the REV. HENRY CRABTREE. On more than one occasion he raided the various farms where the Quakers had set up Meeting Houses. The Fieldens of Bottomley were fined heavily, and on refusing to pay the fine had their household goods seized. In 1684 Joshua had some bedding and a brass mortar seized in lieu of a 5 shilling fine, and in 1685 they had pewter and a Bible seized, worth together 17 shillings. Joshua died in 1693 and Martha in 1708. They are both buried at the Quaker Burial Ground at Shoebroad, Langfield.

George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, or Quakers (1624-1691)

  .

The entrance to the burial ground

The Toleration Act allowed Protestant Christians to maintain their own places of worship provided they were certified to do so and they signed a loyalty oath. THE QUAKERS of Todmorden & Walsden built such a Meeting House at Shoebroad, Langfield, in 1696, having first been given a certificate. They signed an oath of allegiance in January 1695, and amongst the signatories were John and Joshua Fielden, sons of Joshua of Bottomley.
   

Joshua and Martha had 6 sons and a daughter. The sons were brought up to work on the farm and as clothiers and "putters out'' of raw wool to the neighbouring cottage people to spin and weave. They were likewise brought up as Quakers and 5 of the brothers became successful, enterprising men. They were John, Joshua, Thomas, Nicholas and Samuel.

 

John Fielden of Todmorden Hall

 
John was the youngest of the brothers and the most successful. In 1703 he bought Todmorden Hall, which had been in the hands of the Radcliffe family for 400 years. Elizabeth Radcliffe had been the only child of the last owner and had married unwisely. Her husband, Roger Mainwaring, dissipated the family assets and ended by selling the Hall to John in order to clear his debts.
   

John started a woollen business at the Hall in partnership with his brother Samuel who had recently married Elizabeth Veepon in a Quaker ceremony. Four years later, John married Tamar Halstead, an heiress of Erringden. They married at a Quaker Meeting House on 9th November 1707. She brought a dowry of £400 to the marriage and they moved to live at the Hall. Samuel and his wife moved out to live at FLAILCROFT FARM

   

The taking in and putting out steps built by John

at the rear of Todmorden Hall

John's woollen business flourished. As a clothing manufacturer he found employment for his nephews, nieces and a great many small farmers and cottagers of the district who spun and wove his wool. They would bring back the finished pieces to the Hall, climbing the 'taking in' and 'putting out' steps to the rear of the building. John also ventured into the export market, selling his cloth to Holland. He transported the pieces via packhorse over the hills to Hull on the East coast from where they were shipped to Amsterdam.
   

He was a devout Quaker and attended meetings all over the North of England, serving as a travelling minister. He records in his diary that he often travelled to meetings in York with his wife, both of them on horse-back. They lived all their married life at the Hall, making many additions and alterations.

The Todmorden Hall Estate was vast, including a great deal of land and numerous farms and buildings such as Edge End Farm, and a great amount of land within Todmorden itself. In fact, he owned much of where the current town of Todmorden stands today. At that time, Todmorden was barely there. The only village settlements were the Hall itself and St. Mary's, with Scaitcliffe Hall and Stansfield Hall a mile or two away, each with a few cottages. The rest was farmland, woods and marshes. Most people lived on the shelf lands - narrow plateaux between the heavily wooded and marshy valley bottoms and the absolute desolate moors at the very top. There were settlements at Mankinholes, Gauxholme, Bottomley, Inchfield, Warland, Shore and Carr House Fold, but nothing in the village centre at all. In 1728 John and Tamar had the New Inn and farm built right in the centre of the village next to the church. This later became known as the WHITE HART. Sometime before he died, John gave the New Inn to his nephew Samuel Fielden, the youngest son of his brother Joshua.

In addition to his own estate, John and his brother Nicholas shared the ownership of the CORN MILL AT GAUXHOLME. When Nicholas died in 1714, leaving 3 small children, John and Tamar took responsibility for the children and ran the mill at Gauxholme for their benefit entirely.

John outlived all his siblings, and he and Tamar were childless. His enormous fortune fell to be distributed amongst his nephews and nieces - about 15 of them in all. At the time of his death he held: Todmorden Hall and estate, with gate houses and cottages then in the occupation of himself, his nephew Abraham Fielden, John Tattersall, William Farrar and William Travis; a dwelling known as Dog House; a messuage and tenement called Edge End in the tenure of Elizabeth Fielden, widow of his brother Samuel; a domain known as Buckley Wood in Todmorden and a tenement called ALLESCHOLES in Walsden.

John's will appoints as Trustees his friends William Greenwood the elder of Langfield, yeoman, Thomas Lawson of Todmorden, yeoman, John and William Greenwood of Langfield, sons of William Greenwood the elder, bachelors, and Henry Dyson of Rishworth, yeoman. In case of any of the Trustees to his will dying, the survivors are to:

 

"Select another substantial person of the people commonly called Quakers and if any Trustees turn away from the principles of the Quakers another is to be appointed in his place".

 

The greatest portion of his estate, including a life interest in Todmorden Hall, was left to his favoured nephew, Abraham Fielden, second son of his eldest brother Joshua. He was charged with the responsibility of making payments to other beneficiaries from the rental income. The choice of Abraham as main beneficiary is evidence that John had disowned Abraham's older brother, Joshua junior, his widow and his 3 children. Joshua junior had already died by this time, but he had a young widow and 3 very small children. However, they were completely disinherited by John for reasons that we will see later.

Tamar received back her original dowry of £400 plus, for her lifetime, the dining room, the new parlour, the meal house and the new chamber. William Fielden, son of his brother Nicholas deceased, was to receive the annual sum of £10 out of the estate bequeathed to Abraham. To Thomas and Samuel, sons of his late brother Samuel, he left ALLESCHOLES, in equal shares. Lower Allescholes was to go to Thomas and the rest of the estate to Samuel . The rest of the nephews and nieces were bequeathed sums of money ranging from £10 to £80.

John died on 20th May 1734 and Tamar the following year on 8th February. They are both buried at the Quaker Burial Ground at Shoebroad.

 

The burial ground in 2004

Joshua Fielden of Bottomley

 

Joshua was the eldest of the brothers. He married Mary Sutcliffe and carried on the farm and the cloth business started by his father at BOTTOMLEY. He died in 1715 at Bottomley and is buried at Shoebroad Burial Ground. Joshua and Mary had 3 sons worthy of note; Joshua junior, Abraham and Samuel.

 

Joshua junior, his oldest son, committed a great sin in the eyes of his Quaker family when he married his sweetheart Elizabeth Crossley of Walsden. She wasn't a Quaker and she stuck by her own loyalties to the established Church. They were married at the Parish Church of St. Chad's in Rochdale in 1723. Joshua junior and his family were disowned by his parents and uncles and had to make their own way in life. Sadly for Elizabeth, Joshua junior had a riding accident, suffered a gangrenous leg, and died at the age of 29 in 1731. They had 3 small sons, and very soon after she was widowed, Elizabeth had them baptised at St. Mary's in Todmorden, on 19th March 1732. This sealed their fate in the eyes of their Quaker relatives and, publicly at least, they were cut off from any inheritance that would otherwise have come their way. Joshua junior, being the eldest son of John's eldest brother, would have been a natural choice to be the main beneficiary of John's will as he would have been the legal next of kin. However, he pre-deceased his uncle John, and his widow and children were entirely by-passed in favour of his younger brother, Abraham.

Abraham was the middle son of the three. He went to live with his uncle John at Todmorden Hall, working in the clothing trade, where he later remained, becoming the favourite nephew. Abraham inherited the estate and business after his uncle John died in 1734. He lived at the Hall until his death in 1779. He, too, is buried at Shoebroad. After his death the estate was sold off to Anthony Crossley.

 

Samuel, the youngest son, was only 4 years old when his father died. When he was a young man he went to his uncle Nicholas at Edge End to learn the clothing trade, and then returned to Bottomley and took possession of the property about 1745. His uncle John of Todmorden Hall gave him, as a free gift, the WHITE HART INN and farm. However, he preferred his life at Bottomley and remained there, working at his own trade. He installed his own son, Samuel junior, as tenant at the inn and farm. After his wife died in 1770, Samuel turned his farm at Bottomley over to his son John and went to live in a cottage at Doghouse in Todmorden.

Doghouse cottages in Todmorden

 

It was whilst he was there that he sold the White Hart Inn Farm to John Greenwood of Langfield for the sum of £460. The land included the messuage, 1 barn and other outbuildings, plus "about 41 days work of land". It also included the ground rents of 9 shillings a year on some new buildings being erected on the land, namely: a preaching house (Doghouse Wesleyan Chapel established 1784) and 5 dwelling houses leased by Mr. John Crossley, Simon Whip, Richard Thomas, James Scholfield and Betty Crossley. Samuel excluded from the sale, reserving ownership for himself, 3 old cottages known as Doghouse, an old cote at the end of the cottages and a croft behind the cottages with a strip of land to the front.

SAMUEL'S WILL, dated 17 March 1786, left everything he owned to his eldest son, Samuel junior. This included the whole of the proceeds of the sale of the White Hart, including that portion not yet paid over, three cottages at Doghouse, Doghouse Croft, and a piece of land in front of these houses. He named the current tenants and occupiers as Ambrose Veevers, John Ingham, Martha Hopkinson and Samuel junior. The very next day he added a codicil to his will leaving his clothes, household goods, bed and bedding to his other children, Joshua, John and Mary the wife of JAMES SCHOLFIELD.

Samuel left Doghouse and returned to Bottomley where he lived another 12 years, dying in 1798 aged 87 at Bottomley.

 

path from Bottomley to Deanroyd

Salter Rake at Hollingworth

   

the path as it reaches the burial ground

There were 160 people at Samuel's funeral. The cortege went by Deanroyd, Hollingworth and Salter Rake, by the old highway and down by Top of Rough to the Friends Burial Place at Shewbroad.
   
Samuel's son, John, to whom the Bottomley lands passed, was always known as "Little Quaker". He started off as a butcher and then took over the farm at Bottomley and the woollen business. He extended the farm and re-built the barn and cattle shed in 1784. His initials appear over the archway. It was designed so that a long passage within the house led directly in to the cattle shed and barn, without the need to go outside.
   
Also about that time he built a small spinning mill on his land and moved over to the production of cotton. On the left is the possible site of the old mill, on the sloping banks of a small waterfall behind his home.
   
John helped to establish the first Sunday school for children in his own large home at Bottomley. The first anniversary of the school was held at DEANROYD in 1810. The collection amounted to £10 and the people wondered how such a large sum could be spent. It was decided a purpose-built school should be erected and in the year 1818 the school was completed, originally known as Bottomley Lane Foot, and then LANEBOTTOM SCHOOL. John Fielden of Bottomley donated the land on condition he could send one scholar free of charge to the day school and that the school should welcome children of all denominations.
 

A stone was placed above the door with the inscription:  

The School was built by public subscription for instructing

the children of all denominations

The school

   
John was a Trustee of the school along with his sons, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. He died in 1822 aged 80 and is buried at St. Mary's in Todmorden.
   
Nicholas Fielden of Edge End
 
Nicholas was the second of the brothers. He married Ann Helliwell and moved to Edge End Farm where he became a prosperous clothier. Ann died young, leaving Nicholas with 3 small children. He re-married, but died himself shortly afterwards, leaving his 3 children to be brought up by their step-mother. They were financially sound, thanks to their uncle John who continued to run their father's business at GAUXHOLME CORN MILL on their behalf.

Edge End Farm

   

Nicholas' son, Nicholas junior, died suddenly in 1729 when still quite young. Ann married Jonathan Craven. The third child was William. He inherited an annuity of £10 a year out of the Todmorden Hall Estate from his uncle John. This was a considerable sum in those days and he would have been very wealthy. He married Mary Armistead from Settle in a Quaker ceremony in 1730. Despite his tragic early life, losing his mother at the age of 2, his father at the age of 5, and having a step-mother to bring him up, he and Mary had 4 children and settled down......or did they?

 

Thomas Fielden of North Hollingworth

 

North Hollingworth Farm

Thomas, the third brother, married Alice Lees and took over his mother's old home at NORTH HOLLINGWORTH FARM where he became a wealthy yeoman farmer and woollen cloth manufacturer. He died in 1726. His nephew, Thomas, son of Samuel and Elizabeth, went to look after the widowed Alice at Hollingworth, and also the farm and the business, eventually inheriting the farm for himself.  
   

Samuel Fielden

The fourth brother was Samuel. He married Elizabeth Veepon of Briercliffe at the Friends Meeting House at Colne in 1703. Samuel joined his elder brother Nicholas at Edge End Farm in the woollen clothier trade, which he mixed with farming. After his marriage he moved into Todmorden Hall, which had recently been purchased by his younger brother John. Together, John and Samuel started a clothier business. After John married, Samuel and Elizabeth moved out to FLAILCROFT FARM, and it was there where their second son, Joshua, was born in 1708. The family moved to Edge End after brother Nicholas had died in 1714. Samuel himself died in 1722, leaving Elizabeth with a considerable number of young children to care for. She remained at Edge End until her death in 1747.

Two of Samuel's sons, Thomas and Samuel, inherited the farms at ALLESCHOLES from their uncle John. When Samuel junior reached the age of majority he sold his half share to Thomas. Thomas then moved to live at North Hollingworth to look after his aunty Alice, the farm and the business, which he later inherited.

 

Their other son, Joshua, married Mary Merrick of Warrington, and on 29th December 1748 they had a son, Joshua junior, born at Edge End Farm. Little did they know at the time that Joshua junior was to become the founder of a Fielden Dynasty, father of the Merchant Princes who shaped the whole future of Todmorden.