Another Life Cut Short

Anne Gaskell’s father Peter Gaskell died in 1825 at the age of 18, 5 months after his marriage to Hannah Handford and 6 months before Anne’s birth.

Burial Register for Peter Gaskell - 1825
Burial Register for Stockport Chapel of Disley, County of Chester – Peter Gaskell, under Coroner’s warrant, Disley, 3 Nov 1825, age 18, J. Sumner.

A short and difficult life

The 1851 English Census lists my great-great-grandmother, Ann Bence, living with her husband William and their son, my great-grandfather, Peter. Both William and Ann worked in the cotton mills in Stockport.

Today I received a copy of Ann’s death certificate from the General Records Office.

“14 March, 1853 / 81 Love Lane / Heaton Norris, Ann Bence, Female, 27 years, Wife of William Bence Weaver, Phthisis  12 months / Tubercles in Mesentery Certified,  Wm. Bence Present at the Death / 81 Love Lane / Heaton Norris, registered 15 March 1853, A. Edmonds, Registrar.1

She died of tuberculosis that was most likely diagnosed in early 1852 and spread to her lower abdomen over the course of a year. Her second child, Ellen, was born 29 March 1852 and died 4 months later on 04 August 1852.2

William married his second wife Sarah Jane Hudson on 26 December 1853. The following year they emigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts with Peter and other members of William’s family.

1. England, death certificate for Ann Bence, died 14 March 1853; registered 15 March 1853; Stockport District 08a/27, Heaton Norris Sub-district, Lancaster County. General Registry Office.
2.England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915, Stockport District 08a/21, Heaton Norris Sub-district, Lancaster County. General Registry Office, Ellen Bence (accessed at

William Bence and Family – 1851

William Bence (1828-1900) and his family in the 1851 Great Britain Census

9 Kings Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport


Name  Position  Mar. Status  Age  Occupation  Place of birth  Relationship to me
Hannah Bence  Head  Married  62     Yorkshire Huddersfield  Great x3 grandmother
Frederic Bence  Son  Widower  26  Coach Guard   Cheshire Stockport  
William Bence  Son   Married  24   Power Loom Weaver  Cheshire Stockport  Great x2 grandfather
John Bence  Son   Unmarried  22   Self Acting Winder  Lancashire Heaton Norris  
Mary Bence  Daughter   Unmarried  20   Power Loom Weaver  Cheshire Cheadle Bulkeley  
Ann Bence  D.-in-law  Married  24  Throstle Piecer  Disley  Great x2 grandmother
Peter Bence  Grandson    1    Lancashire Heaton Norris  Great grandfather

At the time of this census Hannah’s husband John Bence was still alive though he is not listed here. According to the England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index he died in Stockport in 1855.

Throstle Piecer

Edward Baines. The History of Cotton Manufacture

Ann Gaskell was born about 1827, in Disley, Cheshire, England. She married William Bence on September 3, 1848 at Saint James, Didsbury, Lancashire, England. Their first child Peter Gaskell Bence was born in 1849. A daughter Ellen died in infancy in 1852.

In the 1851 English Census, William is listed as a “Power loom weaver” and Ann is listed as a “throstle piecer”.

Ann died in 1853 in Heaton Norris, Lancashire, England, at the age of 26. In 1854, William Bence immigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts with his son Peter and his second wife, Sarah Jane Hudson.

throstle, n.

  1. A thrush; esp. the song-thrush or mavis, Turdus musicus.
  1. A spinning-machine for cotton, wool, etc., a modification of that originally called a water-frame; differing from a mule in having a continuous action, the processes of drawing, twisting, and winding being carried on simultaneously. As to the reason of the name see quot. 1877.

1877   E. H. Knight Pract. Dict. Mech. (at cited word), The throstle derived its name from the singing or humming which it occasioned.

piecer, n.

  1. a person whose occupation is the joining together of pieces or threads, as in textile work.


Edward Baines. The History of Cotton Manufacture (1835). (accessed: 22-jun-2015).

throstle. Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2015. (accessed: 22-jun-2015).

piecer. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. (accessed: June 21, 2015).