Monday, 14 July 2014

52 Ancestors #47 Joshua Fielden

Joshua Fielden was born in Todmorden in 1630. His parents were Abraham Fielden (1590-1644) and Elizabeth Fielden (d. 1639) - their marriage united two branches of the Fielden family. Joshua had two brothers - Abraham and John - and two sisters - Mary and Susanna.

On 21 October 1656 at St Chad's Church, Rochdale, Joshua married Martha Greenwood (1634-1608). Joshua had inherited the farm at Bottomley from his mother, possibly in 1637 and this is where he and Martha lived. Martha's family owned the farm North Hollingworth which was later owned and farmed by her son Thomas Fielden.

There were three main farmhouses at Bottomley plus a collection of small cottages and barns. A packhorse trail passed through the buildings and over the hill towards Deanroyd.
Sheep would have been raised on the farm and the wool woven into cloth on hand looms by families living in cottages at Bottomley.

Sometime after their marriage Joshua and Martha became Quakers. Joshua allowed his home to be used for Quaker meetings which at the time was not legal until the passing of the Toleration Act in 1689. A number of raids were made on the property and those attending meetings were fined or even imprisoned. As Joshua refused to pay the fines imposed bailiffs arrived at this home to seize goods they considered equivalent to the fine. In 1684 the bailiffs took bedding and a brass mortar because Joshua had not paid a 5 shilling fine. In 1865, when Joshua had been fined 17 shillings, pewter and a bible were removed from his home.

After the passing of the Toleration Act Protestant Christians had the freedom to own and operate their own places of worship provided that they signed a loyalty oath which the Quakers of the Todmorden area did in January 1695. A Meeting House was built at Shoebroad in Langfield in 1696 and a burial ground established near the Meeting Hall.
Additional information about Quakers in this region can be found on the Todmorden and Walsden website, especially the sections - The Quaker Fieldens of Todmorden and Walsden and Quakers in Todmorden.

Joshua and Martha had five sons and one daughter, that we currently have records for, who were all raised in the Quaker faith - Joshua Fielden (1654-1715), Nicholas Fielden (1660-1714), Thomas Fielden (1662-1725), Samuel Fielden (1664-1722), John Fielden (1665-1734) and Hannah Fielden (1738).

The five brothers successfully became successful farmers and clothiers in the region. Details about their farming and business enterprises can be found on Quaker Fieldens of Todmorden and Walsden.

Joshua died at Todmorden on 18 February 1693, aged 63, and was buried at Shoebroad Burial Ground on 21 February. Martha died on 5 March 1708, aged 74, and was also buried at Shoebroad.

Joshua Fielden and Martha Greenwood were my great (x7) grandparents.

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