Frances Emily Brough is my great grandmother and she was born on 2nd July 1873 in Sheffield to parents, Charles Brough and Clara Loukes.
Frances’s parents married in 1872 in Saint Matthew’s Church, Sheffield. Frances’s father, Charles, is an enigma. Family stories that I’ve heard are that he emigrated to Australia to become a Policeman or that he went abroad to find gold. I think the idea was that he was going to make some money and then invite his wife and daughter to join him. Except he never did. He simply disappeared and was never seen again. He may never have even left the country. His wife, Clara, had to wait eighteen years before marrying again; presumably because the whereabouts of Charles were unknown. Frances and Clara both ended up in a Workhouse in Sheffield for a while before being rescued by one of Frances’s uncles.
In 1898, Frances married Fred Rowbottom in Saint Stephen’s Church, Sheffield. Together, they set up home in Parkgate near Rotherham, living on Albert Road, and issued eight children, who were called, Ethel, Fred, Lily, John, Clara, Frances Emily, Henry and Harold. Some time circa 1910, the family moved from Parkgate to Oxford Row in nearby Greasbrough. Fred’s grandparents had moved from Sheffield to Parkgate in the 1860s, perhaps at the time when the Parkgate Iron and Steel company was founded.
From accounts that I’ve read and heard about Fred, he wasn’t a particularly pleasant person. He liked to spend most of his wages in the pub and gave his wife a pittance to bring the family up on. He can’t have been much of a child lover either, as the children weren’t allowed to speak or move in his presence. Whilst pregnant with my grandfather, Fred kicked Emily in the stomach, causing her to give birth prematurely. It was thought that my grandfather was dead and he was placed in a basket underneath a bed. Signs of life were later detected however and he was fed with the aid of milk on a feather. Fred died as a consequence of the 1918 influenza pandemic when my grandfather was six years old. On top of bringing up eight children on her own, Frances had to work cleaning coaches belonging to a company called ‘Smarts’ in Greasbrough in order to ‘make ends meet’.
My mum used to visit her grandmother, Frances, every weekend. Frances was a quiet woman and never spoke of her past life to my mother (a trait passed onto my grandfather). Frances would make the tea and my mum would wash the used pots afterwards. My mum remembered a dark green rocking horse and an organ being in Frances’s home.
Frances died in 1955 and was buried in Greasbrough Cemetery with her husband, Fred. As was customary at the time, Frances was laid out in her home prior to burial. My mum remembered catching a glimpse of her grandmother’s face whilst she was laid out and described her as having a black eye/bruised face caused by a fall.
THE ADVERTISER, SAT., JULY 9th, 1955
GREASBRO’ WOMAN’S DEATH
A verdict of “Death from natural causes” was recorded by the Deputy Borough Coroner (Mr. C. Blenkinsop) at an inquest on Thursday on Frances Emily Rowbottom, aged 82, of 6, Scrooby Place, Greasbro’, who died at the Moorgate General Hospital on Tuesday.
Ethel Sennitt, of 51, Scrooby Street, Greasbro’, said her mother had not been able to get about since Christmas 1954. She had poor sight in her right eye, and was blind in her left eye. She became ill in January and had been confined to bed since then. The doctor said her heart was weak and that she had a high blood pressure. She complained of pains in her stomach. She became steadily worse and was admitted to the Moorgate General Hospital on July 1st. When the witness visited her on July 3rd she was told that her mother had fallen down while trying to get out of bed, thinking she was at home.
Dr. Sybil M. Jenkins (house physician at the Moorgate General Hospital) said the deceased had complained of difficulty in swallowing and abdominal pains. Her heart was in a very poor state. After the fall, her nose and eye were bruised and swollen.
Her condition, however, was quite good, and the next day she was still quite well. She suddenly collapsed on Tuesday morning.
Dr. Gilbert Forbes (pathologist) said Mrs. Rowbottom had a sudden heart attack. In his opinion the fall had no bearing on her death. Because of the condition of her heart she was liable to die suddenly.