That does not mean that I go actively looking for Halstead in Harrogate but if someone puts something in front of you there is no harm in looking. So when Tony Cheal posted a message on the West Riding mailing list on Rootsweb (yes mailing lists are still around and as I travel a fair amount I find them easier than forums) to say that he had extracted 12,883 snippets from papers for the Harrogate area you just have to have a look - mind I wasn't expecting to find anything.
There was just one tantalising entry that just said "come and get me" for all it said was
"Halstead Miss - Bell's Weekly Messenger - Monday 25 July 1853"
Little did I know where this was going to lead me. Within 30 minutes of sending the email I got a reply from Tony with a copy of the snippet from Bell's Weekly Messenger (this was a weekly London newspaper published on a Sunday with a reprint on Monday for national distribution).
It was titled "BREACHES OF PROMISE OF MARRIAGE" and contained the details of two cases both heard at York Assizes on the previous Saturday. The first case was of no interest but had it not been for that one I don't think that Miss Halstead would have appeared in 32 newspaper reports. Yes thirty two! The first case related to a Miss Mary TWEDDLE and Mr John RAMSHAY and the what made it interesting (not to us though) was that he was the steward to the Earl of Carlisle.
The second case simply said "At the same assizes a Miss Halstead, daughter of an ironfounder at Bradford, obtained a verdict of 400l. against Mr. Toad, a retired tradesman living at Harrogate for breach of promise of marriage". 400l in the old fashioned way of writing £400. Not a small amount of money in those days.
I am always one for a challenge, so could I possible find out who Miss Halstead was? If I could find anything then I would let Tony know to help him with his own website. Now ironfounder isn't exactly a common occupation in the Halstead name so I searched the database for any Halstead who was listed as such in a census return. As this was 1853 it also seemed sensible to restrict it to the 1851 census and there were only 8 entries. Looking at those entries they were actually only two families one in Lancashire and the other in Horton, Yorkshire and Horton is part of Bradford.
The family in question was that of Isaac HALSTEAD (1799-1867) and his wife Hannah FIELDHOUSE (1798-1869). The problem was which of the three daughters in the 1851 was Miss Halstead, it could have been either Martha, Mary or Lydia. That is when I decided to look on the British Newspaper Archive to see if I could find anything else to help identify her.
So it was at this point that I searched their index using the terms Breach of Promise and Halstead. having filtered the result down to just July 1853 it was then that I found all the entries. Being in mind that any search like this is looking for those terms on the same page there was no guarantee that they were all about the same person so I then started the slow process of checking each article, As always I do take the time to correct every article that I read, the same as I correct census entries (my philosophy is that I hope that someone will correct another somewhere else that will help me as I have helped them).
What became obvious early on was the vast range of places that it was reported and that the defendant was not Mr TOAD but a Mr TODD. Many of the reports talked about her sister Mary so that left only Lydia or Martha as the possible Miss Halstead. The next fact in the articles was that Miss Halstead was 29 years of age which ruled out Lydia and left only Martha but how to prove it.
There was one other fact that came out in a number of or reports and that was that Miss Halstead had given birth to a child on the 30th January 1853 but it gave no other clues about the child. A check of the birth indexes showed only two Halstead children born in Bradford in Q1 of 1853 and I knew where both of them was but I did double check to be on the safe side. Next port of call was my master index of baptisms extracted from both Ancestry and Findmypast - see the last blog post for details.
That index revealed the baptism in Rochdale St Chad on the 25 February 1853 of a Hannah HALSTEAD, daughter of Martha HALSTEAD a single woman living in Deake Street. There is a death in Q3 1853 in Bradford registration District and cross-checking it with the entry on YorkshireBMD shows that it was in Horton sub district but of course at that point in time age was not included in the indexes. Neither can I at present find a burial to match but only the death certificate would confirm it.
In the 1861 census Martha is again living with her parents and there is no mention of Hannah. I have also checked the 1861 census for all Hannah HALSTEAD's born in 1853 or there about and all are accounted for. Martha finally married in January 1871 after the deaths of both her parents.
The real clincher for most of this was the report that appeared in the Bradford Observer of the 28th July 1853 which confirmed all the above. The reports of the case was reported in all of the papers listed below and I have copies of them all if anyone is interested.
Bell’s Weekly Messenger – the one you sent me
London Evening Standard
Bury and Norwich Post
Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser
Exeter Flying PostBradford Observer
Durham County AdvertiserLincolnshire Chronicle
Salisbury and Winchester Journal
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette,
Leamington Spa Courier,
York Herald (one of the best accounts)Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser
Reynolds Newspaper (London)
You can find Tony's main website at www.harrogatepeopleandplaces.info he also maintains several sites in google including Harrogate Names, Harrogate Snippets and Newspaper Snippets