A story about Henry Hargreaves & his son William

The Halifax Guardian [Saturday 18th November 1843] published a story about Henry Hargreaves & his son William

Heptonstall – Honesty in the Depths of Poverty and Affliction.

On Wednesday last week, an individual connected with the Guardian, having occasion to visit Heptonstall on business, happened to meet a little lad sitting on a wall at the top of the ascent leading to Heptonstall. He asked the lad the distance to Heptonstall Slack. Being told it was half a mile, he offered the lad a penny to show him the residence of Mr John Foster, Esq, of the Slack.

The lad, who was aged about 7 years, agreed, and began to talk about the

old church wi' five bells on it

saying that he went to the church school on Sundays but nowhere on other days. He said he was a good boy and gave his father everything that he addled and would give his dad the penny he had just got. But, he said

my father is badly, he can't work

Asked what his father was the lad replied

a rag-gatherer

and added that his name was Hargreaves.

The distress of the father was evidently weighing upon the child's mind and asked the man

just to see him

The lad waited until the man left the house of Mr Foster and the lad reminded the man about his father and conducted him down some steps into a small dark hovel in which was a scanty fire with a man having on a nightcap, two children on the hearth and a bed on the floor in the corner.

The scene was too wretched to require a word of appeal and the stranger gave the poor man what he thought was a shilling.

On his return home, the man found himself minus a sovereign for which he could not account except on the supposition that it had been paid to the driver of the mail-gig with whom he came home.

This was found to be erroneous.

On Saturday last, a man arrived at the Guardian office with the sovereign which he states had been paid to one Henry Hargreaves of Heptonstall.

It appears that the old man had realised a mistake had been made and asked his son which house the man had visited. He therefore sent the son up to Mr Foster with a request that Mr Foster send the sovereign to the man who had called at his house.

Mr Foster, struck with the peculiar honesty of the afflicted man, gave him half a crown and having a long time allowed him six pence a week, doubled that allowance.

The individual who benefited by the honesty of poor old Hargreaves sent half a crown for his noble conduct. The man who had been sent by Mr Foster stated that, at the time Hargreaves was visited, he had not a morsel of bread in the house.

Hargreaves was well known for being a poor but industrious and peaceable man. He had a wife and three children, one of them is unhealthy, and his wife has for many years been a pitiful object having three fingers of both hands disjointed by rheumatic pain.

This newspaper, as would Mr Foster, be happy to receive any trifle on behalf of the indigent man which will help him through the winter


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 16:07 / 11th May 2021 / 5163

Page Ref: X523

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