Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter XXIII.

A TRAGIC VISITATION OF FORTY YEARS AGO.

Seventy Persons Mysteriously Cut Off.

A visitation of the town by a terrible fever forty years ago is considered the most terrible calamity that ever happened in the place. At the latter end of the year 1868 a fever of the most virulent type made its appearance, and in a few weeks cut off several persons, young and middle-aged. For a long time it completely baffled the skill of the medical men, and for the space of more than a year the whole place was in mourning. With the advent of 1869 the malady seemed to increase in virulence, and, in February of that year, of six persons attacked five succumbed to the disease. One of the victims was Thomas Middleton, who had served in the army and survived the climate of India, but returned to his native place to be cut off by this terrible pestilence. The same month a young married woman, Mrs. Levi Bradwell, was among the victims, and the enemy entered a house and snatched away brother and sister, George Edward and Jane Bradwell. The church had just been built, and the churchyard had to receive the last two victims, who were the first to be buried there. Their graves are indicated by a flagstone at the foot of the tower. This month claimed another victim, a son of Mr. John Dakin, who carried on the business of optician.

There were not many cases in the month of March, but all, with one exception, proved fatal. While it cut off Mrs. William Stafford, of Smalldale, her husband and sister-in-law recovered. Another whom it snatched away was Miss Frances Hallam, a popular singer, who was to have been married shortly. Another estimable young lady, Miss Mary Barber, and Christina Middleton were numbered with the slain. The malady showing no sign of abatement, the whole populace was almost panic-stricken, and at this time the entire town was fumigated with tar, and the mouths of all the sewers with copperas.

As summer approached the disease continued its ravages, and in April, out of twelve persons attacked, five succumbed, while those who did recover were cases of a most serious character. Strange to say, the five victims this month were all in one family, four being in one house. The angel of death located itself at Yard Head, and in three weeks had snatched away Mrs. John Hallam, her daughter Alice Ann, her two sons James and William, and her sister, Mrs. Thomas Hallam. It was a pathetic sight to see the funerals of mother, daughter, and sister, all taking place at one time on the same day. The schools and places of worship were now closed so as to lessen the risk of infection, and death appeared to reign supreme.

Although there were many cases in the month of May, the rate of mortality was the lowest, for there was only one death, that of George Maltby, a fine young leadminer, but in June the percentage of deaths was much higher, and a dreadful summer was threatened. There were several deaths this month, and no class of person seemed to escape. One of the victims was the Rev. Thomas Meredith, who then resided at Town End. He was faithful in the discharge of his pastoral duties to his suffering flock until he himself was laid low and quickly snatched away. And even the itinerant showman's household did not escape. He had pitched his tent for the coming wakes festival, and his child was snatched away.

July brought a big crop of cases, including several fatal. Thomas Meredith, junr., son of the deceased minister, was borne to his father's grave, so that the sorrowing lady had been bereft of both husband and son, and among other victims were Ann Burrows, a young woman in Smalldale, and Ada, daughter of Joshua Evans. Another pathetic case was that of Mrs. Alfred Middleton, of The Hills, who left husband and two little children, but

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the husband followed his wife to the grave a few weeks later, and the children were left orphans.

All the cases in August recovered, but the malady appeared with increased virulence in September, when there were four deaths - Mr. Alfred Mrddleton, P. Bland. Miss Dinah Ashmore, and a daughter of John Kennett, who at that time was proprietor of the Tanyard. The month of October brought sixteen fresh cases, death visiting half a dozen houses, taking away both breadwinners, their wives, and children. Those numbered with the dead this month were Michael Cheetham, a leadminer, who lived on The Hills; William Palfreyman, a fine-looking young fellow, in Smalldale; George Morton and Charlotte Bocking, who lived opposite each other on The Hills; John Frisk, who lived only a stone's throw away; and Marina Middleton. The health authorities were powerless to arrest the ravages of the disease, and a deputation from the Bakewell Sanitary Authority now visited the place and held an inquiry, consisting of Lord Denman, Dr. Fentem. and Dr. Taylor.

The inhabitants were almost panic-stricken by the virulence of the scourge, and as it continued its ravages great distress prevailed in many homes. In November there were 20 fresh cases, but only four deaths - Mrs. Slack, Miss Ruth Bramall, Smalldale, Mrs. George Bradwell, and Mr. Joseph Middleton, a well-known tradesman who carried on business in two shops, Town Bottom and top of Water Lane. The malady now appeared to be of a somewhat milder type, for although December produced another score cases there were but three deaths - Miss Hannah Hill, a son of Thomas Jennings, and Miss Elizabeth Somerset. It was a Christmas of mourning and distress, for death had stalked through the village all through the year, and continued some time during the following year.

There were several fatal cases at the latter end of 1868, Frances Taylor and Herbert Taylor succumbing to the disease; there were also a number in the early part of 1870, but the following is a list for the year 1869, from the diary of a gentleman at that time:-

January.- Recovered: Samuel Howard, Anne Howard, Alicia Evans.

February.- Recovered: John Broadbent; died: Thomas Middleton, George Edward Bradwell, Jane Bradwell, Mrs. Levi Bradwell, John Dakin's son.

March.- Recovered: William Bradwell; died: Frances Hallam, Mrs. William Stafford, Christiana Middleton, Mary Barber.

April.- Recovered: William Stafford, Nancy Stafford, Phyllis Hallam, Seth Evans, Sarah Ann Pearson, Martha Marshall, John Marshall; died: Mrs. John Hallam (mother), James Hallam (son), William Hallam (son), Alice Hallam (daughter), Mrs. Thomas Hallam (aunt).

May.- Recovered: Mrs. Charles Middleton, Dennis Evans, Maurice Evans, Richard Taylor, Thomas Bingham, Thomas Hallam's daughter, Mrs. Joseph Hibbs, Fanny Hallam, Sydney Bradwell, Samuel Dakin, Mrs. Jacob Hallam, Mary Kay, Hannah Boyes, Sarah Middleton; died: George Maltby.

June.- Recovered: Nancy Morton, Olive Walker, Humphrey Hallam, Mrs. Jason Hallam, Josephine Middleton, Rachel Hallam; died: Rev. Thomas Meredith (Primitive Minister), Nancy Maltby's son, Travelling Showman's child.

July.- Recovered: Charlotte Middleton, Abraham Andrew, Elizabeth Andrew, Mrs. Benjamin Hall, Maggie Cramond, George Middletons daughter, Isaac Bancroft's four children, Joseph Pearson's two children, Stephen Middletons two children, Delia Bradwell, Thomas Hilton, Isabella Cramond; died: Mrs. Alfred Middleton, Ann Burrows, Thomas Meredith, jun., Ada Evans.

August.- Recovered: Joseph Cramond, James Henry Cramond, Thomas Burrows, Reuben Middleton, Mary Jane Marshall.

September.- Recovered: John Hallam, Mrs John Jennings, Mrs. Samuel Longden and three children, Stephen Middleton, Mrs. George Middleton, Thomas Morton, Joseph Pearson, Hugh Morton, Robert Evans' three children; died: P. Bland, Dinah Ashmore, Alfred Middleton, John Kennett's daughter.

October- Recovered: Aquilla Marshall, Reuben Bingham, Mary Jane Marshall, Samuel Bramall, Oliver Morton, Elias Palfreyman, Mrs. Jabez Morton, Ann Bramall. Betty Elliot, Betty Walker; died: Michael Cheetham, Charlotte Bocking. William Palfreyman, Jehu Frisk, Marina Middleton, George Morton.

November.- Recovered: Mrs. Hallam, Mrs. Joseph Bramall, Mrs. Isaac Hall, Delia Middleton, Laxy Middleton, Joseph Pearson, Alice Ann Hall, Mrs. Zillah Hill, Samuel Hill, Mrs. Aaron Howe, Charlotte Hallam, Mrs. Elias Jeffrey, Emma Elliott, John Elliott, George Bancroft, Hannah Bradwell; died: Mrs. Slack, Mrs. George Bradwell, Ruth Bramall, Joseph Middleton.

December.- Recovered: Samuel Hallam, Hannah Evans, Joseph Bocking, Frank Morton, Lydia Thorpe, Hannah Bocking, Hannah Cheetham, Ann Revill, Ann Marsden, Margaret Middleton, Eliza Jeffrey, Samuel Jeffrey, John Marshall, Jane Marshall, Caroline Bocking, Frederick Archer; died: Hannah Hill, Thomas Jennings' son, Elizabeth Somerset.

Although more than forty years have passed, 55 of the above still survive. Altogether between 200 and 300 persons were attacked, and about seventy succumbed to the malady, the whole making a tragic and sorrowful chapter of local history.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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