This post was written in 2014 but never finished and therefore never published. It concerns some information about two of the brothers of Joshua Stopford, my great x4 grandfather.

Thomas mentions seven children in his will (Thomas, Mary, Joshua, Ralph, Charles, William, and John)

Of Thomas, the eldest, nothing is known, except that he went abroad and was not heard of for some years. I have made some notes below on the others. Ralph and Charles were relatively successful and long lived, and Mary also in carrying on her father's inn-keeping business for many years. John seems to have died young and William relatively so. Joshua's final years are problematic and he certainly left a mixed legacy.

Ralph Stopford 1800-1885

Born 21 March 1800, he seems to have been the fourth child. He married Ann Lees "of Moss Side" by license on 8 March 1823, at the time he was a hatter. The license was granted on 5 March 1823 and states that they were both over the age of 21 at the time. The Lees family were prominent in Ashton and the surrounding areas and this seems like a "good" marriage.

In the trade directories of 1825-32 there is a Ralph Stopford listed as a hatter or hat manufacturer in Audenshaw and also as shopkeeper - whether this was the same man is not clear. 

He was clearly regarded as sound by his father since he is named as one of the executors of his will in 1827 and is first to swear in as such in 1835 after his father's death.

By 1837 Ralph was active in the Operative Conservative Association of Ashton-under-Lyne. 

There is a brief problem in 1838 when he is first declared bankrupt in August and then has it annulled by November, both events being documented in the London Gazette.

In the 1841 census Ralph is recorded as a hat manufacturer living in the Bulls Head area of Audenshaw (near his mother Sally). He and Ann have by this time five children: sons Francis, 14; Samuel, 10; John, 1; and daughters Elizabeth, 13; and Emma, 4.

Ralph seems to have given up hat manufacture some time after this as he is a Farmer at Old Moss Farm in the 1851 census. He is perhaps the same Ralph Stopford "of Guide Bridge" listed as one of the exhibitors of cattle at the Annual show of the Liverpool and Manchester Agricultural Society held at the North Haymarket in Liverpool in the 29 September 1849 edition of the Manchester Courier.

In the 1871 census Ralph is recorded with Ann living on Lees Lane (the location of Moss Farm) and as a farmer of 12 acres employing two labourers. They are living on their own.

In the 1881 census Ralph and Ann are still in the same place though the farm is now recorded as 13 acres, but their daughter Emma has returned to live with them now as a widow (Armitage) along with her two daughters Louise and Minnie.

At least from 1882 until 1885 Ralph is registered to vote in Dukinfield as the owner of property there, specifically houses numbered 8, 10, and 12 on West Street.

Ralph died on 24 April 1885 and was buried at St Peter's church in Ashton-under-Lyne. Ann died 4 August 1886 "in her 87th year". Their son John was also buried in the same grave it seems although he preceded them on 26 November 1880. Also recorded there: "In Loving Remembrance of Louisa Armitage died 5 June 1948 in her 78th year, interred here, and Minnie Armitage her sister died 28 November 1966 in her 95th year, cremated at Dukinfield".

In the 1891 census Emma Armitage and her two daughters (they working as dressmakers) continued to occupy Moss Farm cottage after her parents demises. By 1901 Emma had passed away and Louisa and Minnie were living together in Layard Street in Ashton where they remained in 1911 still unmarried aged 40 and 39 and still working as dressmakers.

Charles Stopford 1803-1875

Charles was born 6 April 1803 and baptised on 8 May in St Michael's church in Ashton-under-Lyne. 

When he married Mary Denton on 30 January 1830 at St John's Church on Deansgate in Manchester he was already "hatter of Gloucester". In one census, of 1861, Mary gives her birthplace as Denton.

Some information about his movements and property dealings can be gleaned form the papers deposited at the Lancashire Record Office by a firm of Bristol Solicitors in 1966 (DDX 571).

In 1841 the family is to be found in London, at least around the time of the census. They were resident at Nelson Square in Southwark at this time but by 1845 they had a child in Bristol (Mary A Stopford). At the time of the 1841 census Charles and Mary had three children: Edwin, 10; Sarah, 5; and Louisa, 2. From evidence of the baptisms in St Aldate's in Gloucester they had also lost two children - Adelaide born in 1830 and Joshua born in 1833 and buried in 1836, as well as another Sarah aged around 1.

Charles is mentioned in the Bristol Mercury of 9 January 1847 concerning the case of a 19 year old Charles Gillard who was sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour for "stealing a large number of hats, bonnets, feathers, some silk plush etc., the property of Mr Charles Stopford, hat manufacturer".

This mention of silk plush perhaps raises the interesting possibility that his father Thomas had apprenticed Charles to a silk hat manufacturer in contrast to the felt hatting that dominated Audenshaw, Denton, and surrounds. If so, his fortunes certainly benefited from the switch in contrast to the fate of Joshua (see below) and to a lesser degree of Ralph.

In the 1851 census the family, without Charles (presumably away on business), is mostly living in Bristol at 2, Queen Parade. The son Edwin is now his father's assistant, aged 20. Louisa is 11 and a new daughter Mary Amelia is 6. Sarah, the eldest daughter, is to be found as a pupil at the Ladies Seminary in Droylsden [a school with about 30 pupils aged 9 to 18 from all over the country and six teachers in their twenties from Ireland, Jamaica, and Saxony], seemingly established by the Moravian church in Fairfield and a very short distance from Audenshaw village.

In 1861 the family is to be found at the same address though now all four children are at home, but Charles is recorded as employing either 140 or 160 workers, so has established a very considerable business in Bristol.

On January 19 1861, Charles is reported as having been in court at the trial of an employee. His statement to the court was reported: "I am a hat and cap manufacturer, and have a manufactory at Castle Street, in the precincts of the Castle, in this city. A man named Samuel F. Jones was employed by me for about seven years previous to the end of April last, as foreman over the cap department in my said premises. He absconded in the latter end of the said month of April, and I subsequently ascertained that he had embezzled several sums of money belonging to me. Amongst other sums I found that he had been paid various sums of money by Mr Joseph Williams of the Quay, a customer of mine, and had never accounted to me for their receipt. I authorised him to receive money on my account, and it was his duty to pay to me every sum he received on the same day as it was paid to him, at my business aforesaid. The said sums received by the said Jones, and for which he has not accounted, amount altogether to £25 4s. 10d, and the said sum he has embezzled from me." 

In January 1863 Charles seems to have filed a patent for some invention of "improvements in the construction of hats and other coverings for the head".

In 1866, Charles was again in court, this time over the theft of a pocket handkerchief. "James Brinning was charged with stealing a pocket handkerchief, value 4s., from the pocket of Mr Charles Stopford near George Inn, Temple Gate. Mr Stopford caught the prisoner in the act, and collared him just as he was about to abstract the handkerchief from his coat pocket. On being apprehended, a second silk pocket handkerchief that Mr Stopford had lost a fortnight ago was found in the prisoner's possession. The magistrates thought the complainant seemed particularly unfortunate in this respect. The prisoner was sentenced to six week's hard labour." (Bristol Mercury February 16 1866).

By 1871 Charles has moved to a grander address in Bristol - Rock House, Clifton. Two of the daughters, Sarah H. and Mary A. were still living with their parents. Louisa Denton Stopford had married in 1868 to the wonderfully named John Comely Wickham son of Fitzwilliam Wickham (timber merchants at Temple Gate according to the London Gazette of 29 December 1868).