Mourning the death of her husband James Yarrow, Mary (née Gothard) loses her thatched cottage on Guy Fawkes Night when a stray firework burns it to the ground. Just 3 months later, she too passes away.
Whilst Guy Fawkes Night is marked this weekend with bonfires and fireworks, the night was one far from celebration in the small village of Little Thetford, near Ely, Cambridgeshire.
On about the 28th October 1930, my Great Great Great Grandfather, James Yarrow died aged 84yrs. He was buried in Little Thetford on 30th. His widow, Mary (née Gothard), aged about 83-84yrs survived him.
With the memory of her husband’s death still fresh in her mind, Mary went to stay with her middle son (my Great Great Grandfather) James Yarrow at nearby Wilburton Station.
However, six days after James’ funeral, and on Guy Fawkes Night (5th November), a stray firework landed on the thatched roof of her home. The building was razed to the ground.
The Cambridgeshire Times reported the story as follows:
It was fortunate that Mary was away, and extremely fortunate that her neighbours had rallied around to rescue as many of her possessions as they could.
The effects of this double tragedy are recounted in Mary’s obituary on page 15 of The Cambridgeshire Times of the 27th February 1931 – just 3 months after the fire.
I’m very fortunate to have located 2, possibly 3 photos of James and Mary – which may have even survived only because of the bravery of those villagers who entered her burning property and retrieved her belongings.
Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
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