Our gamekeeping heritage

Hornby Castle in its 19th century glory. From Morris’s “Country Seats” (1880).

Finally, we reach the last in this series of 3xg grandparents biographies, that of Elizabeth Prout (1822 – 1875) & Thomas Barrett (1820 – 1890), Grandpy’s great grandparents through his father’s father, Henry. Born outside of Yorkshire, to parents with no previous connection to the county they are the couple I think of as being responsible for the almost in “An almost Yorkshire family”. Not that I hold that against them, but is has left me with an almost unanswerable question – why did a woman from Wales and a man from Gloucestershire choose to build their life together in Yorkshire?

It doesn’t help that I am unable to find half the birth certificates for this apparently well-researched family. Nor a reliable marriage certificate. Yet the censuses and other documents all consistently record the same detailed information, down to which property the children were born at. In the end I have decided to focus this blog on what I do know and explore their earlier lives in the future.

Thomas was born c. 1820 in Tetbury, Gloucestershire and Elizabeth c. 1822 in Amroth, Llanelli, Pembrokeshire. By the time Thomas died, in 1890, he had just completed fifty years of service as a gamekeeper for the Dukes of Leeds (the 7th duke succeeded in 1838, the 9th in 1872) and at some date before 1845 must have moved to Hornby Castle, near Bedale, Yorkshire, where the couple were to spend the remainder of their lives. The connection with the estate has to be the best guess as to how the couple met. 

Intriguingly, Elizabeth wasn’t the only Prout sister to end up in Yorkshire as Mary, too, married a man from Bedale. I do wonder if Elizabeth had spotted an opportunity for her to work in the big house. Another reason for me to try and find those estate records. 

In the nineteenth century, Hornby Castle was simply stunning worthy of being made the main seat of residence for the Dukes of Leeds. It contained all the usual trappings of a major stately home including a detached Banqueting House, no less than three icehouses, an eagle aviary and landscaped parkland as good as any designed by Capability Brown.

Mum & I in front of Hornby Castle. Summer 2021. We did knock at a couple of the doors to see if we could take a peek inside, but sadly non-one was at home. Own photo

It’s now a shadow of its former self. In 1930, the 11th duke was forced to sell the property after a “no-holds barred baccarat game” in Monte Carlo, more fool him. The house was due to be demolished with the rubble to be used to build roads. Fortunately, one of those tasked with stripping the property thought better, and a proportion was saved. The tower, inner courtyard and a few other remaining parts are now split into several smaller properties.

Holy Bible with dates of birth of the Barrett children. Mum’s collection. Strangely one son, James, born 1858, seems to be missing.

The 1845 date, with which I can start this couples’ story, comes from the birth of their first child, Reuben, who was born at Barn House in nearby Ainderby Miers. Eleven more children followed: Margaret Ann (b. 1847), Thomas Philip (b. 1849), John (b. 1850), Charles (b. 1852), Elizabeth (b. 1854), Henry (b. 1856) (our ancestor), James (b. 1858), James (b. 1860), Richard (b. 1864), Mary (b. 1864) & William (b. 1865).

1861 census listing children’s birthplace as Barn House, parish of Hornby. I am very thankful that the enumerator, Mr Francis Jameson, took his job so seriously. Reuben, the couple’s first child, appears on the previous page, a live-in servant at the big house. His birthplace is listed the same.

Through the wonderfully detailed censuses we can tell that the family moved to West Appleton at some point between Richard & Mary’s births (4 July 1862 and 2 April 1864).

The 1871 enumerator, Mr Edward Fisher, wasn’t quite as particular in his facts though as his predecessor. For in this census another “daughter” Isabel has appeared on the census. Isabel turned out to be a granddaughter, the illegitimate child of Margaret Ann. Margaret went on to marry and have two more legitimate children, taking her Isabel with her. Alice was not so fortunate. You might have thought the family would have learnt from this necessary deceit, but no, for four years later, Elizabeth, the second Barrett daughter, also had a child, Alice (b. 1872), out of wedlock. Something about being a female servant on a large estate perhaps. Sadly, Elizabeth died in childbirth and Alice too, died young at the relatively young age of twenty-one.

Elizabeth (the daughter) & Alice (the granddaughter) were not alone in dying young for this was not a long-lived clan: The Richmond & Ripon Chronicle was awash with notices for the Barrett children. The two James’s both died in infancy, which would be fairly typical, but then, in what must have been an annus horriblis in 1871/1872, John, Charles and Elizabeth all died as teenagers. Richard & Mary too died relatively young. They outlived both parents only because they were amongst the last to be born for both were barely thirty when they died.

Elizabeth herself was just 53 when she died on 24 September 1875.

Thomas remarried, another Elizabeth, a widow, on 20 December 1876. This second Elizabeth was born in Moffatt, Dumfriesshire neatly bringing Great Britain’s three nations together in one family.

There may well have been a good reason for Thomas to choose another outsider as his second wife for gamekeepers occupied a somewhat controversial position in the Victorian countryside. On the one hand they were one of the more respected senior servants on the estate and developed a deep knowledge of the local countryside. On the other they were the upholders of fiercely contested laws preventing public access to land and to game, regularly required to catch and prosecute poachers who were often their neighbours. Many gamekeepers felt a swift hiding was more effective than bringing the offenders to court, but Thomas seems to be quite a regular at the local petty sessions.

Nor was Thomas always on the right side of the law. The following, lengthy, report details a game trespass claim made against Thomas and his son Reuben. Ultimately the magistrates decided that “as the tenant of the farm had allowed the Duke of Leeds to shoot over the land for a number of years without using the right of letting the shooting himself, and as he had stated that he had a perfect right to the shooting, he not having signed any agreement, they would dismiss the case.” Phew.

The Knaresborough Post article, Saturday, 27 November 1880.

The above article also illustrates the strong tradition of gamekeeping being handed down from father to son. Reuben, the eldest, was ultimately to take over his father’s position at Hornby Castle. Henry, our ancestor, moved to work for the Yorke family on their Bewerley Estate at Middlesmoor. Like any profession, the younger training starts, the more skilled an individual could become and in, what was a twenty-four-hour, seven-days-a-week occupation, children with a gamekeeper for a father had a tremendous head start.

And it was a skilled profession. Gamekeepers had to master a variety of countryside skills to raise the game and keep it safe from poachers and vermin. Each gamekeeper developed his own means of doing so and these tips and recipes would be passed on from father to son. I think that’s what this receipt is. It was found in my great uncle Henry Barrett’s papers, but it clearly written in his father, my great grandfather, George Thomas Barrett’s, handwriting. I’d love to think that he, in turn, had inherited from his grandfather, Thomas.

A receipt to draw vermin, believed to be in George Thomas Barrett’s handwriting. Own collection.

5 drops of Roses, 5 drops of Rhodium, 10 drops of Anyseeds [Aniseed], 10 drops of Carayway [Caraway] Seeds

For drawing Cat dog or anything you like. Keep closed corked.

Gamekeepers, the least violent ones at least, also had to be skilled at handling a wide range of people, from local labourers caught poaching to the highest toffs in the land during major shoots. Thomas, I feel, had this cracked. For after he died, on 7 June 1890, after fifty years of service, his well-attended funeral, was considered of sufficient worth as to have been reported on in detail in none other than the York Herald.

“Funeral of Mr Thomas Barrett, of Hornby Castle – On Tuesday afternoon the remains of Mr T Barrett were interred in the Hornby Churchyard amidst every token of respect. Mr Barrett had just completed a service of 50 years, having been head gamekeeper to the Duke of Leeds the largest portion of that time. Several beautiful wreaths were sent by Mr S T Jones, steward on the Dukes Estate, Mr Nichol, head gardener, Mrs Waters, the housekeeper, and Mr Hutchinson and Mr Hallam of Leeds and others. A very large number of tenants and workspeople on the estate as well as tradespeople and relatives and friends paid their last tribute of respect. The service at the grave and in the church was most impressively read by the Rev D Moore, vicar of Hornby””. (York Herald on 14 June 1890)

The gravestone of Thomas Barrett in Hornby Church. Note the lack of any mention of his wives. Own photo. Thus, this series of biographies of our great, great, great grandparents come to an end. Although this not the end of the tales!

Thus, this series of biographies of our great, great, great grandparents come to an end. Although this not the end of the tales as each one has left me with something new to research.

With much gratitude to all my great, great, great grandparents who have provided me with such a rich range of material through which to get to know them just a little bit better.

Elizabeth Hornby (1823 – 1858) and “Rogue” Robert Walker (1823 – 1873)

In all the history of our Yorkshire born ancestors only two have chosen to leave “God’s Own County”. The first was Isabella Dean who crossed the border into Lancashire, had an illegitimate daughter Elizabeth (Nana’s great grandmother), married and then promptly crossed back into Yorkshire. The second was Robert Walker.

I thought of him as being a bit of a rogue. Three wives is, well, either careless or greedy. And honestly who would want to leave Yorkshire for the environs of London? (Says the woman whose postcode starts NW1).

If anything, it was Robert’s wife, Elizabeth Hornby, who had left the mark on our family as at least three grandchildren and two great grandchildren were given her maiden name as their first: Ellen Hornby Parker (b. 1882), Hornby Wellock (b. 1888), Hornby Walker (b. 1892), Hornby Moor (b. 1899) and lastly Hornby Wellock born in Canada in 1905.

Yet settling down to review the documentary evidence, I was presented with a very different story. For Robert was a man (& a boy) who’s life was beset by tragedy and emigration yet time and again he picked himself up and carried on.

So, who were Robert Walker & Elizabeth Hornby?

Robert was born in Hebden in 1823, the fifth of ten children of Anne Pratt (1793 – 1855) & Thomas Walker (1793 – 1835), nine of whom were boys and, all of whom (bar the twins, Thomas & Elizabeth born in 1826) survived infancy. Thomas & his growing brood must have felt confident. They were descended (through Thomas’s mother) from the Hebdens, Bollands & Inmans, families who had run liveable farming tenancies in the area for centuries and with an expanding free workforce, his main worry was most likely that of securing decent tenancies for his sons when they came of age. Indeed the Walker brothers had all been schooled in an age when schooling was a sign of relative affluence in the village.

1844 tithe map of Hebden from www.hebdenhistory.uk. The highlighted plots were those occupied by James Walker and, therefore I assumed also by his father, Thomas before him and his brother Robert after. Own picture.
A close up from the 1844 tithe map of Hebden from www.hebdenhistory.uk showing the village. Again, the highlighted properties are those occupied by James. Own collection.

A note to help with the rest of the article, the ten Walker siblings were: John (1815 – 1868), James (1817 – 1848), Richard (1820 – 1843), William (1822 – 1863), Robert (1823 – 1873), Thomas (1826 – 1826?), Elizabeth (1826 – 1830), Thomas (1829 – 1842), Edward (1831 – aft. 1910) and Joseph (1835 – 1927).

Then on 6 December 1835 life changed.

At the comparatively young age of 42 and just three days after the birth of his youngest son Joseph, Robert’s father, Thomas Walker, died. Frustratingly it was just before all the best records kick in, so I have no way of knowing what happened although B. J Harker provides a potential clue in his book Rambles in Upper Wharfedale “Previous to the year 1862, Hebden was very subject to typhus fever, and other epidemic diseases, through want of drainage and a proper supply of water”. This was to become a theme for the Walker family.

Life for the twelve-year-old Robert & his brothers would never be the same.

John (Robert’s eldest brother) took the opportunity to emigrate to the US leaving eighteen-year-old brother James to head up the household, together with his mother Anne (at least until 1840 when she took the only truly sensible option for a middle-aged widow at the time and married local widower, William Waddilove).

By 1841, two of the boys, Richard & Robert, had left the family farm. Richard was probably the “17-year-old” manual labourer working for the Pettys in Scosthrop, Kirkby Malham. Of Robert we can be more certain as he went to work for his maternal grandfather, James Pratt, at West Side House, Malham Moor. James ran a farm of 290 acres with two of his sons, James & William, William’s new wife, Margery Hornby, and a female servant Elizabeth Simpson (possibly also a relative). Robert would have known he had no chance of inheriting the tenancy, but for a fatherless sixteen-year-old this was a much better deal than his brother’s.

Map from archiuk.org showing the relative locations of West Side House and Capon Hall in Malham Moor. Scosthrop, where Richard could be found in 1841, is just off the south side of this map

Malham is a beautiful place – the tarn & the cove attract thousands of visitors (including my sister last year). But the moor? It’s a remote place. A sprinking of stone farmhouses can be found hunkered down in slight hollows in an attempt to escape the worst of the weather. No chance of meeting a match. Unless of course your uncle’s new wife had a younger sister, Elizabeth, living a mile down the road at Capon Hall. And if Elizabeth & Margery had only one sibling, a sister, Ellen, there had to be a shot at inheriting that tenancy? (see my sister is also my aunt)

So it was that on 23 December 1844, Elizabeth Hornby & Robert Walker were married at St Michael the Archangel, Kirkby Malham witnessed by Elizabeth’s older sister Ellen & Robert’s cousin John.

As Robert moved in with his wife & her family it’s time to talk about Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the youngest of the three daughters of Mary Coates & John Hornby. John had been born in Giggleswick & Mary in Gisburn and they’d moved to Capon Hall at some point between the birth of their first daughter, Ellen, in 1816 and their second daughter, Margery, in 1819. The Capon Hall tenancy was about 200 acres of desolate moorland. Glorious when the sun was shining, harsh when the wind and snow blew through in winter.

Capon Hall, Malham Moor, taken from a property listing in 2022

The first two of Robert & Elizabeth’s children were born at Capon Hall: Mary (my great, great grandmother) in 1845 and Thomas in 1847.

Birth certificate of Mary Walker in 1845 showing her birthplace of Capon Hall.

Their third child, John, born in 1849, was baptised back in Hebden.

So, what had happened? Well, the 1840s hadn’t been good to the Walker brothers. Thomas had died first, of measles, aged 13 in 1842. Richard died the following year, aged 23, this time the cause of death was consumption. When this same highly infectious disease killed James on 5 July 1848, a vacancy for head of Walker household appeared. Would it be 27-year-old William or 24-year-old Robert who took up the role?

Had William & his new wife had already booked the transatlantic tickets that would deposit them in New York on 6 November 1848? Where they seduced by tales of gold from their older brother John or scared away from Hebden by the infectious diseases which seemed to plague the family? Or had the two remaining older brothers sat down and amicably discussed the decision between them? I certainly hope it wasn’t a hostile takeover by Robert forcing William’s emigration.

These movements also paved the way for a much more joyous occasion – the marriage of Elizabeth’s eldest sister, Ellen, to the younger James Howarth. I can’t be sure if this was before or after the girls’ father, John Hornby, died on 12 March 1850 but no doubt both father and husband had the future of the Capon Hall tenancy in mind.

The Old School House, Publisher: Walter Scott, Bradford. Code: 21030. Date: 1930s? From the collection of Peter Hodge. From www.hebdenhistory.uk. Believed to be the home of the Walker family from the 1830s to the mid 1860s before it became the School House and then the Old School House by which name it is known today. The windows look towards Church Lane.

By 1851, Robert & Elizabeth were established in Hebden. Robert farmed 60 acres and worked as a butter factor too. Three more children, James (b. 1852), Ann (b. 1853) and Elizabeth (b. 1856) followed. The growing family was surely the prompt for the two remaining Walker brothers, Edward & Joseph, to follow John & William across the Atlantic leaving Robert the sole remaining Walker brother in Hebden.

All was going well until June 1858 when the couple’s seventh baby, named Robert for his father, was born. Peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen, is commonly caused by a hole in the bowel or a burst appendix. It is more rarely a complication of childbirth but the quick succession of birth and the onset of the condition which was to cause Elizabeth’s death two weeks later would suggest these were connected. She is buried, without a marker, in St Wilfred’s church in nearby Burnsall. Baby Robert was to follow just nine months later spending just the same amount of time inside Elizabeth’s womb as out of it. I hope he lies by his mother’s side.

What was a successful man in his thirties with seven children going to do? Well marry of course!

Hannah Fawcett Whitaker was twenty-nine, illegitimate, living between relatives, with no apparent occupation. Love at first sight or a practical solution for both? Robert & Hannah married on 15 November 1859 at St Michael’s and All Angels and Linton, fifteen months after Elizabeth died. Baby Edward arrived around a year later. By 1861, the family should have been prospering, Robert having doubled the size of his farm to 116 acres. He was, or was about to become, church warden for St Peter’s handily located just a couple of minutes from the farm and was respected enough to be asked to judge the butter classes in local agricultural shows.

Robert Walker as the butter judge at Netherdale [Nidderdale] Agricultural Show. Article from the Leeds Mercury, 19 October 1850 accessed via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

But early death seemed to stalk the Walkers of Hebden. Robert’s daughter, Ann, died from diphtheria, aged just eight on 2 October 1861 and his son Thomas, who had reached the age (fourteen) at which he might almost be considered a man, followed just two months later. Then the birth of a son on 23 January 1863 almost immediately caused Hannah’s death from a uterine haemorrhage and nor did the second baby Robert survive beyond the night.

If all that wasn’t enough, Robert, in his capacity as churchwarden, was taken to court in November of the same year in a “case of unusual character, being the first that has even been tried by this [Sheriff’s County] court” (Yorkshire Gazette, 21 November 1863). The moorland enclosures in Hebden in 1857 had been contentious as had been the distribution of various charitable funds for the poor. So much so, that the charity commission had stepped in to change those who were entitled to their receipt.

Yorkshire gazette, 21 November 1863 – the “case of an unusual character” which may have been the final straw for Robert. From the British Newspaper Archive.

I believe it was at this point Robert felt Hebden just didn’t want him. He’d buried two wives and four children three siblings in less than six years. His remaining brothers had all emigrated and now village politics seemed to be against him so in 1864 Robert left Hebden for good.

What else to do but hotfoot it down to Hampshire? I really couldn’t believe this marriage – Walker is too common a name – but the later evidence fully stacks up. On 16 June 1868, when Robert is apparently living in Long Ditton, Surrey, he married one Harriett Jones at Ellisfield church on 16 June 1868. (Yup, Walker marries a Jones….)

By 1871 they were living on Wellington Road, Heston, somewhere between Flowerpot Cottage and Berkhams farm & dairy. I am guessing that latter address had more to do with the location as Robert was either a Coisman or Cowman and grocer during this period. That butter factoring knowledge is proved useful (although what exactly butter factoring and butter classes are will have to wait as I have a whole blog on butter to write).

Robert seems to have had little if any contact with any of his surviving children. His youngest child, Edward, had died in 1866 at the Anchor Inn, home of his great aunt Sarah and he doesn’t appear in any of the family records I have inherited. Indeed his grandson, Benjamin Wellock, brother to my great grandmother, who as the last surviving family member wrote some family history down in 1960, remembered only that his  grandfather’s name was James…..

Living down South wass evidently not any better for his health than Hebden and he died, aged 49, on 22 April 1873 of typhus, the disease he perhaps fled to escape and was buried at St Leonard’s church in Heston. Our one and only ancestor buried in London. It would take me just over an hour (and five changes) to get there. It takes me two hours on one train to get back to Yorkshire.

Was he Rogue Robert? Maybe. But in the mid-1800s men had the pick of wives and maybe he was forced to be responsible, to take over the farm after his father died and his elder brothers died or emigrated. Hebden was undoubtably fractious in the early 1860s and it had not been happy place for the Walkers. Robert has left me wanting to find out more, especially in relation to the last decade of his life. Perhaps this blog is just the start of reinstating Robert back into his rightful place in our family history.

Robert Walker’s death certificate in the County of Middlesex, 1873

I could not have written this blog without the wealth of wonderful resources at https://hebdenhistory.uk/ invaluable to those of with ancestors from the village. Thanks to must go to https://curiousdescendants.co.uk/ who provide endless encouragement and guidance to “storify” these bios. Finally I must beg forgiveness of Rogue Robert, our one ancestor who moved out of Yorkshire and whom I underestimated for so long.

My sister is also my aunt

Atticus: Double first cousin. Scout: How can that be? Atticus: Two sisters married two brothers.” (From To Kill a Mockingbird).

Eric Houseman (the young boy in the photo) is both my Grandma’s cousin (Laura, his mother, being Grandma’s mother’s sister) and my Grandma’s first cousin once removed (John Taylor, his father, being Grandma’s father’s nephew). Own collection.

It’s the stuff of fairy (or scary) tales – pairs of siblings marrying either together in a double wedding or perhaps with the second relationship arising as a result of the first union.  

Whilst we have at least one example of this classic tale in our tree – the marriage of Elizabeth Furniss & George Downs (3 x great grandparents) in 1866 followed on from that of their siblings Mary Downs & John Furniss in 1859 – I’ve just this week come across a third example of a different double relationship – two sisters marrying an uncle & a nephew.

It’s not as strange as it seems. Mothers frequently bore children for up to twenty years meaning uncle and nephew could be much closer in age than the uncle was to his own sibling. In larger families, children would often go to work as farm servants on their relatives’ farms. And in remote villages there wasn’t always a great deal of choice of partner….. Add to the mix a deceased or otherwise missing father and which requires elder siblings to look after their younger ones and I am only surprised I haven’t found more cases of these dual relationships where one man is both uncle and brother-in-law to another.

Here are the stories of those three double relationships.

Elizabeth Hornby & Robert Walker

I am currently researching our 3x great grandparents Elizabeth & Robert’s story. They are Grandpy‘s mother’s mother’s parents. In short, Robert’s father died when he was just twelve. By 1841 he was living at West Side House, Malham Moor with his maternal grandfather, uncles and his Uncle William Pratt’s new wife, Margery. In this instance, Robert was over twenty years younger than his Uncle, but then so was William’s new wife – generationally Margery & Robert were very similar.

Malham Moor is a bleak remote place but fortunately Margery had only moved a mile up the road from her family home and she likely saw a lot of her younger sister Elizabeth which means Robert probably saw a lot of her too. They married in 1844.

The Bentley girls and the Greenwood boys

A slightly more complex set of relationships underpins not just two, but three linked marriages between the Bentleys & the Greenwoods.

The Bentley side is straightforward: Abigail (b. 1882), Ada (b. 1883) and Florence (b. 1886) Bentley were all sisters of my great great grandmother (Nana‘s mother’s mother), Annie. Abigail was the first of the three sisters to marry a Greenwood (Richard, b. 1879) in 1908. Florence was next in 1909 marrying Richard’s brother, John (b. 1881) at which point Florence and Abigail became both sisters and sisters-in-law.

It was the third Bentley – Greenwood marriage in 1910, between Ada and Hanson (b. 1883), which left me stumped. The Bentley family and the two Greenwood brothers all lived in the same parish, Sitlington so their marriages made sense. Hanson, however, came from Wadsworth some thirty miles away and past the major urban centre of Halifax. There had to be some sort of family connection.

1891 census showing the Greenwood clan. Charles with his second wife Alice, mother to Richard & John (Richard is missing from this census) and his grandson Hanson. From ancestry.com.

The 1891 census furnished a vital clue as Hanson was living with his grandfather, Charles Greenwood and Charles’s son, John, who’s vital statistics matched those of Florence’s Greenwood husband. After a lengthy bit of research I discovered that Alice, mother of John & Richard, was Charles’s second wife. They had a much half sibling, Mary Ann (b. 1862) who had an illegitimate child named Hanson! Whilst I haven’t been able to discover much about Mary Ann, Hanson appears to have grown up with his uncles and this no doubt led to him meeting Ada. This makes Abigail & Florence both sister & aunt to Ada as well as sister & sister-in-law to each other!

Hilda Mary Scott & Jesse Houseman

Hilda & Jesse are my Grandma‘s parents and as such I know a lot more about them and their relationships including that Hilda’s sister Laura married Jesse’s nephew, Jack.

Hilda (b. 1891) had a particularly close relationship with her younger sister Laura (b. 1895) as these two photos clearly demonstrate.

What intrigued me more was Jesse’s relationship with his nephew John Taylor “Jack” Houseman (b. 1894), son of Jesse’s oldest brother, Robert.  Three of Jesse & Robert’s middle siblings had died from scarlatina in 1882 and I believe this had almost created two generations within the one family: Robert (b. 1867), Thomas Bradbury (b. 1869), Betsy Jane (b. 1871) and John Charles (b. 1873) being the first and then Alice (b. 1882), Jesse (b. 1885), Beatrice Maud (b. 1888) and Emma (b. 1892) being the second. This would have been more pronounced after the death of Robert & Jesse’s father, Michael, in 1892 when Jesse was just seven. It would have been natural for Robert, as eldest brother and with three children of his own of similar age to the younger group, to have stepped in.

These WW1 postcards from “Jack” to his Uncle Jesse give a glimpse of the warm relationship between the two.

Hilda & Jesse were the first to marry on 28 September 1915. Five years later Laura married Jack. I wonder if Hilda & Jesse were responsible for setting the pair up?

This was not only the marriage of two sisters to an uncle & nephew but the marriage between two sets of close friends which is perhaps why the relationship between the two couples and then their children stayed strong. Aunty Laura became Grandma’s godmother for example. However, the final, sweetest tribute to this double relationship was to come at the end. Both Hilda & Laura died relatively young, Hilda aged 62 in 1954 and Laura aged 61 in 1956. On can only assume that Jesse & Jack took comfort from each other as they chose to bury their wives in next door plots. Both Jesse & Jack outlived their wives by almost 30 years with Jesse dying aged 91 in 1977 and Jack was the last to die aged 87 in 1982 bringing to an end this incredible dual relationship.

The twin gravestones of Hilda Scott & Jesse Houseman (right) and Laura Scott and John Taylor “Jack” Houseman (Left) at Otley Cemetery. Own photo