Sarah Stansfield (1804 – 1885) & John Houseman (1805 – 1884)

This is part of a series of brief biographies of earlier ancestors.

Sarah Stansfield & John Houseman are the parents of Thomas Houseman, father of George Houseman, father of George Houseman, my Grandad, and hence are my paternal great, great, great grandparents.

Sarah was born on 8 December 1804 in Strangford, Idle to Methodist parents. It seems my family were fairly early Methodists and thanks to a dual registration I know Sarah’s birth, baptism, parents, her father’s father and where they lived. Unless of course there were two Sarah Stansfield’s born on the exact same date……

Baptism record of Sarah Stansfield – Upper Chapel, Idle, Yorkshire – 1805
Record of birth of Sarah Stansfield – St Wilfred’s church, Idle – 1805

Of John, all we know is that he was baptised in Hampsthwaite on 15 April 1805 so was maybe just a few months older.

Sarah & John married on 13 October 1830 in Hampsthwaite. At the time Sarah could write, John was illiterate. Another legacy of the Methodist tradition? By the time of their marriage Sarah was living in Hampsthwaite, perhaps with some of her mother’s family and I suspect Methodism was how they met – at least the family continued to hold the same faith for several generations.

The couple quickly settled in Tunnel Bank, Darley, close to John’s family, perhaps even taking over a family farm, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. With 64 acres to their name, the couple would have been a respected part of the Darley community.

Four children followed at regular intervals: John (ch. 1832), Thomas (my ancestor) (ch. 1834), William (ch. 1836) and Mary (ch. 1838). All seemed like the perfect, respectable, farming family. Yet, William died aged in 1844 aged just eight, John never married and Mary married a widow twelve years her senior and had just two children of her own. It was left to Thomas to carry on the family name. I was reminded about a comment my Grandma apparently made that “there wasn’t much choice.” Did this respectable family, with strong Methodist links, a focus on literacy and a family that came from 16 miles distant somehow struggle with the Darley community of the time?

Nonetheless the Methodist temperate life likely led to the last facts we know of the couple, that they lived long lives. John died on 13 November 1884 aged 79, Sarah just six months later on 4 May 1885 aged 80. Both are buried in Birstwith. Long lives, that I think, were well lived.

Postscript: it is through Sarah Stansfield that we “could” be descended from royalty.

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