The quest to find out more about Hannah Raw has produced some excellent information, thanks in a large part to reader Marion Atkinson’s endeavours. Best of all, Marion told me where she was buried.
If you remember, nine-year-old Hannah’s 19th century sampler is on my mum’s kitchen wall alongside two by my ancestors Mary Atkinson and Jane Lacy. We didn’t know anything about Hannah or how we came to have her sampler, but for many years it was kept rolled up with Jane Lacy’s at my Nana’s home. I wanted to find out who Hannah was, and why we had possession of her pretty piece of sewing. Thanks to Marion, and to sampler and family history enthusiast Gillian Hunt, we had started to build a picture of Hannah’s life (we also discovered that, remarkably, Marion and I are distant relatives!).
We found out that sadly Hannah’s parents had died when she was young, her mum Ellis in the same year that Hannah created her sampler (1835) and her father Matthew when she was just 13. By the time of the 1841 census, 15-year-old orphan Hannah was in service living with the Adamson family. Initially we thought that there was no trace of her after the 1841 census. But we were wrong!
Thanks to Marion’s detective work, we can now flesh out much of the rest of Hannah’s story.
On 23rd December 1850 when she was 24, Hannah married John Hall, 34, a grocer and draper born in Castleton and they set up home in Lealholm. By the time of the next census ten years later, the couple had had two children, Sarah, aged nine, and six-year-old Ellis, named after Hannah’s late mother. Husband John was now listed as a joiner and wheelwright. Not much of note changed for the next ten years, but by the 1881 census, when Hannah was 55 and John 65, 26-year-old Ellis had left home, while 29-year-old Sarah, listed as a dressmaker, was still living with her parents.
In fact Sarah never married, and lived with Hannah and John all their lives. Sadly, Hannah died in 1890 at Lealholm aged 64 (and not in the Whitby district a year later, as we had wondered in my last piece about her). Marion also told me that John died in 1903 at Lealholm when he was aged 87 and that both were buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Thomas, Glaisdale.
Now I don’t need much of an excuse to go for a spin across the North York Moors, especially to the village where my dad was born, so last Sunday, a friend and I jumped in the car and set off on the hunt for Hannah’s grave. I was determined to lay some flowers and pay my respects to this child/woman whose nearly 200-year-old piece of embroidery on our kitchen wall sparked such curiosity, and whose start in life had been so difficult.
The grave wasn’t hard to find, as I was armed with a picture of it that was already available online. Finally I was as close as I was ever going to get to meeting Hannah Raw. I lay down my tulips, and read the inscription:
‘In Affectionate Remembrance OF HANNAH, BELOVED WIFE OF JOHN HALL, OF LEALHOLM BRIDGE, WHOE DIED JUNE 30, 1890, AGED 64 YEARS.
ALSO THE ABOVE, JOHN HALL, WHO DIED MAY 5TH 1903, AGED 87 YEARS.’
I spent a quiet moment thinking of Hannah, of how difficult her childhood must have been and hoping that, against the odds, she had found some happiness in life.
And it seems she did. Her youngest daughter Ellis married Glaisdale joiner William Hodgson in 1878, and thanks to them, Hannah became a grandmother to eight children, four boys and four girls.
Therefore, we can conclude that there must be some living descendants of Hannah Hall (nee Raw), and wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of them is reading this piece? If you think that is you, then please get in touch by either contacting this paper, or through my contact page at countrymansdaughter.com.
One of my goals was to find a picture of Hannah, but as photography was in still its infancy when she was alive, it’s unlikely one exists. There is a tiny glimmer of hope though. Famous Moors photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941) was active during Hannah’s lifetime, so who knows? Maybe he snapped our long lost lady!
Read more at countrymansdaughter.com. Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug
This column appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on 24th and Ryedale Gazette and Herald on 22nd February 2023