Young father was killed in mine's gas explosion
MADAM , – Continuing with my late uncle Jack Cross's memoirs, he writes:
'My gran, Sarah Cross, had the maiden name Bayley and was born at Butterbank Farm, Seighford, Staffordshire.
Her father Joseph was a farmer and a court sheriff in Staffordshire Assizes.
When my gran was a young girl of about 15 years old she asked her father if she could attend a particular notorious murder case.
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When the man, a Doctor Palmer, was found guilty, the judge donned the black cap and sentenced him to death for murder and it was at this point that my gran, as a young girl, fainted in court.
Another thing is she liked to have a game of cards and I remember my brothers, Harry and George, playing cards with her but being typical children they liked to cheat and Gran hated that, so the game would end abruptly. Gran was a strict disciplinarian.
My grandfather, Thomas Cross, came from a place called Kings Sutton, near Banbury Cross, Northamptonshire.
Thomas must have travelled from Kings Sutton looking for work in Staffordshire where he became a collier.
When my grandfather first came to work in the Staffordshire coal mines he was a lodger at my gran's home and worked at Talke Pits.
She was a widow and her first husband was called William Moore.
Sarah already had six children and I remember particularly from that side of the family, my Uncle Will, Uncle Joe, Aunt Ginny (Jane) and Aunt Annie (Sarah Ann).
Sarah was 11 years older than Thomas – a bit of an age gap. They were married in 1874 and had three children. James, born February 19, 1875, who died one month later, Emma, born February 14, 1876 and George (my father), born January 2, 1878.
Thomas and Sarah moved from Talke to reside in High Street, Halmerend to be nearer to Thomas's workplace, the Fair Lady Pit, Leycett. This cottage was the last place they lived and was situated opposite the Minnie Pit (in 1996 I retrieved an old brick from the outhouse of this cottage for a keepsake before it was completely demolished).
There was a story which Gran told us of how Thomas had stood in for a fighting contest. The original fighter had failed to turn up.
He was up against the best contender in his village and apparently he fought a good fight.
On January 21, 1880, Thomas was one of 62 killed in a gas explosion down the mine at the Fair Lady Pit, Leycett, where he worked for the Madeley Colliery Company.
Gran Cross said Thomas was starting a new seam on that fatal day.
He was only 27 when he died and was buried in Audley churchyard.
Reverend Pauli conducted the burial service at St James's Church, in Audley.
My gran was again left a widow and she told us of the hard times and the only parish relief given in those days was known as 'the parish shilling'.
My gran was born in 1836 and when she died in 1921, I can remember her being laid out in our front parlour, which was the way of things in those days.'
DAVID CROSS Neston