Betty (or Bethia) Robinson was born in Calverley Carr, on the border between Bradford and Leeds. It was then a rural area where livelihoods would depend on wool – either on or off the sheep.
In 1806 she married John Berry, a clothier, and they lived in Idle until the late 1820’s when they moved to Bradford. Perhaps they saw better opportunities in the woollen mills or possibly they wanted to get away from their home neighbourhood after the birth of their daughter Mary Ann.
She had a mental disability and would not have had a happy childhood in a small place like Idle in the early nineteenth century. She would literally have been the “village idiot”, as they would say in those days. In the big city where they knew nobody it may have been easier to keep her safe from bullying.
Unfortunately what may have been good for Mary Ann was definitely a bad move for her brother Benjamin. You can find his story here.
Betty’s life was not easy: her husband John was also in trouble with the law. One of her children, though living, was lost to her for ever, and one would always need looking after because of her disability. In 1847 John died and Betty had to resort to parish relief.
The 1851 census shows that Bethia has her daughter Martha and her husband, Arthur Singleton, living with her as well as Mary Ann. We think Mary Ann died in 1852 at the age of 24. Her disability may have been Down’s Syndrome which implied a short life expectancy.
By the 1861 census Bethia was working as a charwoman and taking in a lodger to help make ends meet. She was now 77 years old and this is the last record we have of her.
Baptised Betty Robinson on 2 January 1780 at Calverley, Yorkshire
Married John Berry on 22 September 1806
No record of death found