An impressive monument at Undercliffe Cemetery marks the grave of Sergeant Major John Maude, his wife Bessie and their daughter Mary Ellen Nickson. In today’s terms, John Maude died young at only 55 years old, but his short life was full, with many great achievements.
John Maude was born in the market town of Elland in 1823 to parents Isaac (inn-keeper) and Sarah. He started his career as a painter and by the tender age of 21, he joined the Bradford troop of the 2nd West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry at its formation in 1844, being one of the first men to be enrolled.
In the autumn of 1847, John married Bessie Thornton Bower at St Peters Parish Church, now better known as Bradford Cathedral, and together they had eleven children. Sadly, seven of these died in infancy (which is marked on the grave) and were buried at St Peters which left four daughters Mary Ellen, Annie, Isabelle and Emily.
The eldest of these surviving children was Mary Ellen (fondly known as Polly) who was born in the Spring of 1850, then followed Annie (1851), Isabelle (1855) and Emily (1859).
John eventually followed in his father’s footsteps as an inn-keeper when he took over the Smithfield Hotel in Leeds where he stayed until his death in 1878. The spectacular red brick hotel, with impressive façade and magnificent clock tower was built opposite the Smithfield Cattle Market to provide a drinking place for the cattle traders attending markets, fairs and annual shows. The hotel had several floors housing a bar, snug, tap room and a billiard room as well as beer cellar, kitchen, living accommodation, out buildings and coach house. This street would have been a hive of activity in its day with busy parades of livestock and farmers, dealers and auctioneers and members of the well-populated local community.
It closed as a hotel in 1900 and went on to house Thomas Green & Son who had previously occupied the Smithfield Ironworks at the rear. Today it still stands and is used as office space and bears a Civic Trust Blue Plaque.
There are some interesting facts about John’s daughters, all of whom never had any children.
In 1878, Mary Ellen was 28 years old when she married John William Nickson at St Luke’s Church in Leeds. This was just a few months before her father’s death. Sadly, she was widowed after only one year of marriage when her husband, who was a painter, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at his business premises in Leeds. An inquest resulted in the verdict of accidental death. She never remarried.
Annie married George William Turton in 1884 when she was 31 years old. George was the eldest son of William Turton who rose from poverty to be a wealthy corn and hay merchant, coal merchant, property owner, bus owner and horse-tramway entrepreneur all over the North of England. The corn and hay business, based at Turton’s Wharf in Leeds has a Blue Plaque placed in his honour. He also built Hayfield House in 1869 on Chapeltown Road, Leeds where he lived for over fifty years. When it was built it was surrounded by countryside, grazing cattle, fields of rhubarb and many other grand houses. George worked with his father in the family business and was married to Annie for 39 years until his death in 1923.
Emily married Joseph Tinsdale in 1889 when she was aged 30 years old. He ran the Woodpecker Inn in Leeds and later represented North-East Ward on the City Council. They had been married for 26 years when he died in 1915.
Isabelle who never married, died at a comparatively young age of 31 in 1887. She was still living with her mother and three sisters, Annie and Emily who were unmarried and Mary Ellen who was widowed. Their home was at Newton Mint in Leeds near to Potternewton Park.
After George William Turton died in 1920, Mary Ellen and Emily went to live with Annie at her home on Leeds Road in Harrogate also called Hayfield House, where they lived until their deaths. Annie died in 1923 aged 70, Emily in 1936 aged 76 and Mary Ellen in 1941 aged 91. The house still exists and has now been converted into luxury flats.
John Maude died on the 27th November 1878, leaving his wife of 31 years Bessie and four surviving daughters Mary Ellen, Annie, Isabelle and Emily.
At one o’clock on Monday, 2nd December 1878, Sergeant Major John Maude was interred at Undercliffe Cemetery.
Fitting tributes to him appeared in the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer
Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer 3rd December 1878
The Late Sergeant-Major Maude – The remains of the late Mr John Maude, of the Smithfield Hotel, Leeds, were interred yesterday at Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford. The funeral was a large one, and amongst those who followed the cortege to the grave were Captain Sagar-Musgrave, Lieutenant Foster, Lieutenant F. Ripley, Captain and Adjutant Johnston, and the members of the Bradford troop of the 2nd West York Yeomanry Cavalry, of which troop the deceased had been a member for thirty-five years, as well as a large circle of relatives and friends. Sergeant Major Maude joined the A or Bradford troop of the 2nd West York Yeomanry Cavalry at its formation in 1844 and was one of the first men who was enrolled. During his long period of service, he was one of the most active members of the troop, and he was universally respected in the regiment. Although he removed from Bradford a few years ago to enter upon the possession of the hotel, he still kept up his connection with the Bradford troop, and at the time of his death he was the troop sergeant-major.
Bradford Observer Tuesday 5th December 1878
Second West York Yeomanry. On Monday last the remains of Regimental Sergeant-Major John Maude were brought from his residence at Leeds for interment at the Undercliffe Cemetery. The funeral cortege, which was very large one, was met at the corner of Otley Road by the officers and members of the Bradford (D Troop) 2nd West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry, to which the deceased belonged for upwards of thirty-four years. By Mr. Maude’s death the regiment has sustained a great loss. He was a very active and energetic-member of the D Troop and at all times ready to do what he could to further its interests. His kind and genial disposition had gained him a large circle of friends.
Bessie died 22 years later on the 6th December 1900 at her home in St Martins Terrace, Newton Park, Leeds and is buried with her husband and daughters Mary Ellen and Emily at Undercliffe Cemetery, her other daughter Annie is buried at St Matthews Church, Chapel Allerton in Leeds with her husband in the Turton family plot.
Research by Eileen O’Farrell 2022