Martha Moulding 1850-1926

Born - Preston, Lancashire, 7 July 1850
Wed - St Augustine's RC Church, Preston, 23 May 1876
Died - Preston, 27 June 1926

(Words below are from an exhibition in the Harris Museum, Preston entitled "Rites of Passage - Christening, Wedding and Mourning Dress in the Victorian Era".)

Martha's grey wedding dress Martha's grey wedding dress
Martha's grey silk wedding dress

Martha Moulding married Richard Higginson on 23rd May 1876. She was 25 years old and he was 27 years old. Before they were married Martha worked as a weaver in one of the mills in Preston. Richard worked as a bookkeeper in an office. His father had been a brewer. Martha's father was a labourer, so the marriage would be a step up the social ladder, something that was very important to people in the Victorian period.

When Martha was married she was able to give up her job and stay at home to look after her husband, then her children. During the Victorian period this was expected of all new wives. The only exceptions would be those who were too poor to live on just a husband's income.

The wedding took place at St Augustine's Roman Catholic Church in Avenham, a Preston landmark that is soon to become a local community centre. Martha wore the grey silk dress that is on display here. A professional dressmaker would have made the dress. This means that it would have been quite an expensive outfit. It would then have been worn on special occasions, or for Sunday best.

Richard and Martha had a large and healthy family. The family portrait shows eight children. However this family was struck by tragedy in 1882 when two of the sons died within days of each other. They had been different ages, but had been struck down with a disease such as scarlet fever. Epidemics regularly struck Preston. It was a crowded town with poor sanitation, so germs spread quickly. Neither rich nor poor would be safe from these outbreaks.

Richard dressed up Martha dressed up
Richard and Martha c1876. This could either be a set of portraits to mark their engagement or their wedding.

Memorial card for Edwin and Richard Joseph Higginson
A memorial card for two of Richard and Martha's sons, Edwin and Richard, who both died in 1882. They died as a result of childhood illness, possibly as a result of an epidemic, such as Scarlet Fever. Epidemics regularly broke out in Victorian Preston.

Higginson family photo
A portrait of the Higginson family, c1900. From left to right - Walter, Annie, Arthur, Joe, Martha (mother), Mary, Tom, Richard (father), Nellie and William.

Nellie Higginson Martha with son Tom
Nellie Higginson wearing her mother's wedding dress, c1920. Notice it still has its decorative collar, which has since gone missing.
Martha with her son Tom, c1915. Tom was to become an architect, which would mean another step up the social ladder for the Higginson family.

Higginson family grave
The Higginson family grave in Preston Cemetery

You can read about the life of Martha's mother, Ellen, here.

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