Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground

With kind support from Skipton Town Council.

As well as coping with his own grief at the sudden and tragic loss of his wife, Daniel had to find a way of caring for his very young family of five, consisting of: Elizabeth (age 10), Anthony (age 8), Hannah (age 7), Mary (age 5) and Sarah Maria (age 2). Clearly, it was not going to be easy for him to be both the main breadwinner and carer. In such circumstances the natural thing to do would be to look to your extended family for support. Daniel did have options. He could have remained in Skipton and sought out either a housekeeper (preferably a female relative of the family) or even a new wife. Or, he could have relocated to be nearer to one of his surviving brothers or sisters. In the latter case he had a choice of Linton, Bordley, Ilkley or Liverpool.


Perhaps it was the need to draw a line and move on from the tragedy that was the death of Mary - his wife and mother of his children. Perhaps it was uncomfortable for Daniel to continue working in the brewing industry, when alcohol had played such a part in that tragedy. Whatever his reasons, Daniel decided to make a complete break by following his brothers to Liverpool and taking all of his children with him.


Although his brothers had moved to the Wavertree district of Liverpool, Daniel moved to Garston. At that time Garston was not part of the City of Liverpool, but rather was a township and a port in its own right, separate from and lying to the south of the city. Daniel set up business in Railway Street, opposite Garston Church, keeping cows at Dale Farm and selling the milk from his home.

The Joy Family.  Continued...

Their eighth child, named Abigail after one of Mary’s sisters, was born at the end of November 1871. Sadly, after being diagnosed with Pneumonia Infantitis, she only survived for two weeks. She died on 8th December 1871 and was buried at Raikes Road. It seems that this latest loss was too much for Mary to bear for she had apparently taken to drinking excessively. Not surprisingly, this situation ‘greatly marred domestic comfort’. Daniel was known to be a quiet, respectable man and it is likely he was at a loss as to how to cope with Mary’s ‘strong passion for intoxicants’. The consequences of this were to heap even greater tragedy upon the lives of Daniel and his family.


December 4th 1872 was a Wednesday. It fell just after what would have been the first birthday of Abigail Joy. On that morning Daniel arose from his bed, washed, dressed and breakfasted as he did every working day. It was about ten minutes past five when he left his home and set out for work. As far as Daniel was concerned this was a day like any other. When he left, the house was quiet, his family were still in their beds and, thankfully, he and his wife had not been quarrelling.


Not long after Daniel had gone to work, Mary called for their son, Anthony, to get up. He did so and began to prepare the house to receive the rest of the family, once they were awake. This was a task to which the eight-year-old had become accustomed since his mother’s drinking had become something of a habit. Eventually, Mary got herself up and at about seven o’clock went out saying that she would be back directly. However, Mary did not return. Instead she made her way to Spindle Mill dam. Once there, she tied her dress tightly around her own ankles using a black handkerchief. With her ankles thus bound she then threw herself into the dam and drowned.

Ordnance Survey map showing Skipton at the time.  © Crown Copyright 1854.  Surveyed 1850.

The inquest into her death was held the following morning before T. P. Brown, Esq., deputy Coroner, at the Commercial Inn, Millfields, Skipton. Both Daniel and Anthony were required to provide testimony with regard to the events of that fateful morning. P.C. Tillotson informed the inquest that shortly after eight o’clock on the morning named, he went to Mr Dinsdale’s dam and there found the deceased, who was got out by a boathook.  The water was not more than two feet above the mud at the bottom. The black handkerchief produced was tied round the deceased’s dress and was so short that no person could have fastened it without the consent of the deceased.


The jury noted that the deceased was in the habit of taking drink. They returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had drowned herself whilst in a fit of temporary insanity and after inspecting the dam, recommended that the public footpath at the side of the mill dam be stopped at both ends, as the path is of little use and is very dangerous.


The funeral card for Mary Joy states that she died on 4th December 1872 and was buried on 6th December 1872 at The Cemetery, Skipton – the same place that her daughter, Abigail, had been buried just a year before.  The location referred to on the card as The Cemetery is, of course, Raikes Road Burial Ground. The site is located no more than a hundred yards from the Mill Inn where Mary had grown up. As it was deemed that Mary had committed suicide, she would have been buried without the full rites of the church being performed and, consequently, her grave is unmarked.

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