The town of Oldham played an important role in the early growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (‘Mormons’ or LDS). Native son William Marsden was baptized on 7th October 1839 and in January 1840, church leader Brigham Young asked Marsden to go to Oldham to preach. By 1842 the Oldham LDS branch had 86 members; by 1843, membership had grown to nearly 120. This article is about one family who were early converts to the Church from the Oldham area.
Joseph Albiston was born in Stockport, 29th August 1820, the son of John Albiston and Hannah (nee Thacker). He married Mary Ann Clayton at St. Mary’s Oldham on 19th July 1846. Joseph and his brother John Albiston had been baptized into the LDS church in April 1840. Mary Ann was baptised 16th June 1848.
Joseph and Mary Ann Albiston had six children.
1. John, born Dukinfield on 9th January 1847, died in an accident at Brook Mill, Oldham in 1882. He was a member of the Oldham branch and was baptized on 8th June 1879.
2. James, born in Stayley on 10th April 1849, became an iron worker, lived at 94 Drury Lane, Chadderton, and never married. In 1894 he died at the Oldham Workhouse.
3. William, see below.
4. Joseph, born in Stayley on 10th February 1856, never married, and died in Utah in 1885.
5. Ann, born in Dukinfield 28th September 1858, and died in Winton on Christmas Day 1928. She married James Smith on 10th October 1877 at Christ Church Chadderton. They lived in Salford and were visited by the elders assigned to the Oldham branch in 1897. Annie was baptized in 1910 and James in 1935.
6. Thomas, see below.
By 1871 Joseph and Mary Ann had moved to 221 Manchester Road, Oldham where Joseph worked as a hairdresser. In 1879 he left for America. Mary Ann and her unmarried sons James, Joseph and Thomas resided at 292 Washbrook, Chadderton. Mary Ann, Joseph and Thomas were members of the Oldham branch through August 1883 when they too emigrated to Utah.
Joseph’s father, John Albiston, Sr. was born in Congleton, Cheshire on 3rd July 1782. He married Hannah Thacker in 1802 and together they had 9 children, most of whom were born in Stockport or Heaton Norris. Hannah died in 1827 when their youngest child, Nancy, was less than 8 months old. John, Sr. had joined the LDS Church sometime around 1840 and was a member of the Ashton-under-Lyne branch. John did not waste any time finding another bride, the details of which were published in The Chester Courant on 15th July 1828: “On 6th inst. at Astbury, Mr. John Albiston, of Duckinfield, to Mrs. [Lois] Garratt, of Congleton, after a protracted and tedious courtship of two hours and a half, in which the agreement was made, the license purchased, and all other arrangements settled.”
John Jr., and his father represented their home branches at a meeting of the Manchester conference of the LDS church that was held on Sunday, 3rd September 1843, in a room behind Manchester’s Heyward Hotel on Bridge Street. John Albiston, Sr. reported that there were 83 members in Ashton and 38 in Mottram. John Albiston, Jr. reported that there were 49 members in Dukinfield branch. Oldham branch was reported with 114 members. In 1854, John Jr. and his family emigrated to Utah.
William Albiston, son of Joseph and Mary Ann, was born on 3rd May 1856 in Stalybridge. He was an iron worker and married Elizabeth Hargreaves on 23rd October 1875 at the Oldham Registrar’s Office. They had three children: Harry, Thomas Hargreaves and Eda. Will, Elizabeth and Eda were baptized in Oldham on 21st January 1897, by Elder Joseph Samuel Broadbent. The Albistons were members of the Oldham LDS branch which, during this time, were meeting in a rented hall at the House & Mill Company offices, 127 Union Street.
[His family on the left, below]
According to Will’s descendants, he was converted to the gospel by an Elder from Alberta, Canada. That would have been Elder Abraham Marsh Wilde. Wilde was born in 1852 in Bedford Leigh, Lancashire. He was baptized into the LDS church by his father in 1865 and emigrated with his parents to Utah in 1876. He was called to serve a mission to the British Isles from 1895 to 1897, then moved to Alberta, Canada in 1902.
Elder Wilde mentioned the Albiston family in his missionary journal:
“20 January 1897. Elders Broadbent, Austin and Moss came down, we had a good time together talking on the principles of the gospel. We should have gone out tracting in the afternoon, but the weather was so cold, we didn’t go. We spent the [evening] at Mr. Albiston’s who was to [be] baptized the next evening.
21st January 1897. The weather is still cold, therefore we did not get out, in the evening Bro. Broadbent baptized twelve persons, there were the heads of five families namely Mr. Scofield and son and daughter, Mr. Wright, Mr. Kenyon and wife, Mr. Albiston and wife and daughter, Mr. Fitton and wife and daughter. They were baptized in the font of the Baptist Chapel in Oldham.”
Elder Joseph Samuel Broadbent, who was born in Lehi, Utah in 1863, had a connection to the Oldham branch beyond that of missionary service. His father, Joseph Lees Broadbent, was born in Oldham, baptized there at around age 13, and met his mother, Sarah Ann Dixon, while attending LDS church meetings in Oldham. They emigrated in 1859, crossing the American Plains in the George Rowley Handcart Company. Their son Joseph Samuel Broadbent served his mission from April 1896 to May 1898.
On 15th November 1896, presiding Elders Joseph Samuel Broadbent and Joseph Nelson took part in inauguration services of a “new meeting room at the House and Mill’s company office, Union Street.” The branch held services in this rented space through 1902 and possibly beyond.
Elder Broadbent wrote a letter dated 27th July 1897 which was published in Utah’s Desert Weekly recounting the Oldham branch’s celebration of the 50th year anniversary of Utah’s Pioneer Day with an organized outing to Alderly Edge. As part of the programme, Elder [Jabez William] West and Miss [Eda] Albiston sang ‘The Standard of Zion.’ Elder Broadbent ended the letter by describing that “the work of the Lord is growing very fast in Oldham. We have had forty-four baptisms, this year in Oldham, and the Elders feel like the Lord is blessing the humble endeavors to spread the Gospel truths, and that the honest are being brought to a knowledge thereof.”
In this group of missionaries Joseph Samuel Broadbent is seated third from the left; A.M. Wilde is standing, far right.
Photo with permission from Wilde’s great-granddaughter Glenene Robertson.
Like so many other members of the Oldham branch, Will and his family left England for America, but Will wanted to be ‘in the Empire’, so the family moved to Alberta, Canada, settling on a homestead in Cardston County. Will farmed until his death. Elizabeth died in 1908 in Cardston. Will died in 1914 in Frankberg, Alberta.
All three Albiston children were musically talented, as was their father. Tom moved to Salt Lake City, worked as a barber and sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Harry played the violin and taught music lessons. Eda sang. Will played the bass fiddle or viola, which his father had owned.
Thomas learned to play the violin in England. “He was a wonderful violinist,” his son Wilford recalled. “Father would play his violin for church singing and for all the dances for miles around. He’d play that violin day and night. Sometimes he’d be in the front room a playin’ the violin with no lights or anything. He’d sit there and play for hours at a time. And when Cardston was puttin’ on a big musical of some kind and they needed a good first violinist, why they’d send word out to Dad.” Annie Katherine died in 1912, and Thomas in 1939. Both are buried in Taylorville.
At the end of the 19th century, Oldham had become a centre of cotton spinning and the mechanical and structural engineering to support textile manufacture. At the same time, the Oldham branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was coming up on its 60th anniversary. The branch had seen many of its members emigrate to Utah but those who remained were strong and dedicated to their faith. By the end of the next decade, they would be holding services in a chapel which they built in Neville Street.
courtesy of Craig Albiston, Houston, Texas