Sarah (Mottershead) m. Samuel Wood
Henry (Mottershead)
Isaac (Wood)
Elias (Wood)
Elijah (Wood)


There is much confusion, and not a little conjecture, about the story behind Sarah (b. 1825) and Samuel Wood (b. 1826), who was a dyer, the son of William Wood (b. 1799), a blacksmith. Samuel also had a brother, Peter (b. 1836).

It would appear that Sarah and Samuel had a "relationship", although whether it was out of wedlock or not is unclear. The result of this (initial) relationship was Henry born 18th March 1845. Where the confusion sets in, is that on his Birth Certificate, only one parent (his Mother Sarah) is listed - a usual sign of illegitimacy. The "informant" was Sarah's Mother, Hannah Mottershead. Other family records indicate that Sarah and Samuel were married in 1843, so why is Samuel not listed as Henry's Father? One possibility is that Samuel may have been apprenticed to his trade in 1843, and not permitted to marry, much less father a child. The timing makes this theory very possible.

Another piece of family legend tells that the senior Mottersheads did not consider the match between their daughter Sarah and young Samuel to be "suitable", at least as far as their grandson was concerned. The Wood family were dissenters, in fact Baptists, and as such Henry would be required to undergo a complete immersion in the local River Dene when being baptized. The story relates that Peter and Hanna were dead set against this, because of the "Mottershead chest" which was a reputed family weakness. They felt that submersion in the river would result in Henry's rapid demise. Consequently, the story goes, they adopted Henry, gave him their surname and raised him. It is strange to note however, that in the 1851 Census, there is a "Henry Wood" listed as a "grandson" present in the Mottershead household!

Sarah and Samuel did subsequently marry, and had several more children, all of whom bore very religious first names, and one of these, Elijah, was the witness at Henry and Harriet's wedding in 1869.

Nobody seems to know or remember, the truth. Harry Mottershead, Henry and Harriet's son, and my grandfather, always used to tell people he was of the "illegitimate branch of the Mottershead family", but as he was a great practical joker, nobody took this seriously. It appears that there was a grain of truth in the story after all!

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