Sally was born in 1812 at Todmorden Edge, the fourth child of John and Susan Mills. She had two sisters and a brother and they were all baptised at St. Mary's. When the first child, Betty, was born in 1803 they were living at WOODFIELD TOP at Sourhall, and in 1806 when daughter Peggy came along they had moved to Todmorden Edge. Here they stayed for a while, son John being born in 1808 and Sally in 1812.



High Barn

By 1828 they had to move on account of their home being in danger of collapsing around them, such was the state of the building. They moved to Old Webster's, High Barn, and Sally went into service as it was a means of earning more money than hand loom weaving was paying at that time.

Her brother John was to turn out to be a well-known character and was an expert weaver on the new "Dandy looms". These enabled two pieces of cloth to be woven at the same time by one weaver and were the invention of Robert Parker of Knowlwood. John was known to weave like a fool and drink like a fool, alternating the two. Weaving for money, drinking the wages then weaving again for more money for drink. A never ending circle.


Their mother died in 1814 when she was only 34 and John, her husband, died in 1839 aged 60. They are both buried in St. Mary's.


In memory of Susan wife of John Mills of Todmorden Edge

who departed this life December 2nd 1814 aged 34 years.

Also of the above named John Mills

who departed this life April 8th 1839 aged 60 years.


Sally's first marriage was to JOHN HOLT of Sourhall in 1835 and things got off to a poor start right from the beginning. Whilst celebrating their wedding with the usual spree, which would last several days as was the custom in those days, on the second day, a few of the revellers met at James Pearson's, Hollins Inn in Walsden, to have a bit of a "do".

John unfortunately broke his leg and three months later he cut off the thumb on his left hand. The swelling was a terrible sight and John must have been in great pain, only Owd Sally Fielden could ease it with one of her own remedies.

Hollins Inn

John and Sally lived in very poor circumstances at that time, only having one room in the house, with a bed in one corner and a hand loom in the other on which Sally would try to alleviate some of the poverty by using it to do some weaving, whilst her husband would do the best he could at farming. Hens roosted behind the door and there was no chamber. Not very pleasant conditions, but probably better than lots of people at that time. At least they had a roof over their heads.

Todmorden Edge

In 1841 he and Sally are at Todmorden Edge and he is a farmer. From the details of their life described above, the profession of farming isn't, as we understand it today, a good and relatively middle class occupation. He would barely scratch a living out of the poor soil and perhaps kept a cow and the hens, which would only be enough to supplement their own meagre diet.

John's circumstances began to improve and before he died in 1865, he had set up a picker making business with his brother Thomas at PEEL MILL SOURHALL. He is buried in CLOUGHFOOT CHAPEL.


Four years after John died, Sally married again. It was to be another John, but called Howarth and he came from Top of Fold, Bacup. He was said to be a genial man and was a bass singer of no mean talent and also played the bass fiddle. He had worked as a piece-looker but with income from some property, he and Sally were able to retire in comfort and they lived together at Sourhall.


They were to enjoy only 7 years together, as he died in 1876 and was also buried at Clough Foot Chapel along with Sally's first husband.


Sally continued to live at Sourhall, managing a comfortable life, with the money from the property keeping her from going back to the old days of poverty and scratching a living from the land and the hand loom.


She even managed a visit to DOBROYD CASTLE and whilst she was there, got the opportunity of displaying her newly acquired skills on the grand piano. She was a late comer to learning musical talents and it wasn't until she was 60 that she had been taught how to play, having had lessons on a piano that she had inherited. It was one of her proudest moments and she never let anyone forget it.


Sourhall cottages in 1902


Sally spent the last years of her life at Sourhall Cottages with a companion called Elizabeth Greenwood, also a widow and four years older than Sally. Is this the couple outside their cottage in 1902?

She spent her time working hard for Cloughfoot Chapel, visiting her many friends, and she also cared for a large number of cats. Sally never moved away from Sourhall, a remarkable fact in a life that spanned 93 years.

She was born in the year that Napoleon invaded Russia and wars were still being fought with cannon. She died as the age of aeroplanes was about to be launched. She had seen five sovereigns on the throne, and when she died aged 93 in 1905, she was Todmorden's oldest resident. She is buried with her two husbands at Clough Foot Chapel.

In loving memory of John Holt of Sourhall who died 27 April 1865 aged 53 years.

Gently my passing spirit fled. Sustained by grace divine.

Oh may such grace on me be shed And make my end like thine.

Also of John Haworth of Sourhall who died December 18th 1876 in the 63rd year of his age.

Farewell dear partner life is past. I loved you dearly to the last. Mourn not for me nor sorrow take.

But love my saviour for my sake.

Oh some times think of me and come Unto the quiet spot, where I now slumber long and still.

But oh not quite forgot.

Also of Sally Haworth of Sourhall who died October 15th 1905 in her 94th year. Widow of the above.

Until the day break and the shadows flee away.


Grateful thanks to Sally Hinchliffe for the photo of Sally Mills and also to Roger Birch for the

photo of Sourhall Cottages