Martha Hanley (baptised Handley) was one of six children born to Joseph and Elizabeth Handley. There were five girls and one boy who was no doubt spoilt by all! Her father’s occupation is not recorded but it would be surprising if he were not involved in the cutlery industry.
Martha married the first John Spooner, a cutler, in 1692 and bore him eight children. He died in 1711 shortly before the birth of his youngest child Jane. Mary, the eldest, was sixteen when her father died and our ancestor John, the oldest boy, was ten years old.
We don’t know whether the family were able to make a living or if they had to rely on charity, formal or informal. John was a cutler in later life so perhaps there was some related work he could do for his father’s friends, even at ten years old. Mary, we imagine, would be a “mother” to the family, especially after Martha herself died two years later.
Martha lived for just over forty years. About half of her life was occupied in giving birth to and caring for her children. A rewarding and fulfilling time for most mothers, but in these days in the United Kingdom it’s just a part of the story. Now we can hope for a prolonged education and a career, an active and interesting life outside our homes and a retirement blessed with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Sometimes it’s good to reflect how fortunate we are.
Mother of John Spooner II, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Handley
Baptised Martha Handley on 9 February 1673 at Sheffield parish church (now cathedral)
Married John Spooner I on 22 February 1692
Buried on 19 September 1713