The streets of Todmorden resounded to voices with a number of accents over the weekend as the Fielden Society held their third international reunion.
The role that John Fielden MP and his ancestors and descendants played in the development of Todmorden, its industries and its major civic buildings is well known, but there were many branches of the Fielden family.
Whilst the roots of the “Fielden “ name seem to be in Todmorden, some of the family had lived in the surrounding areas around Burnley, Halifax, Oldham, Rochdale and Blackburn and worked in the textile or farming and other industries.
However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, a small number of Fieldens sought life overseas. A father, and later one of his sons, emigrated to America and Canada respectively and the Fielden Society of America reckon there are around 7,000 Fielden descendants from these two people. There is even a Fielden Farm in Missouri.
The ancestor of some of the Australian visitors had a different story, as he was sent to Australia ‘On His Majesty’s pleasure’.
After serving his sentence, the Fielden traits shone through and he became a very successful entrepreneur, businessman and landowner in the new country.
During the weekend, the visitors from the UK and overseas met in the Town Hall, were welcomed by the Mayor of Todmorden, looked at items describing the history of the Fieldens, but of even more interest they looked over a series of family trees to find who was related to whom and were their ancestors from Lancashire or Yorkshire.
They visited many of the key buildings that were built by the Fieldens, including the Town Hall, the Unitarian Church and Dobroyd Castle.
One Australian even pulled pints of beer in a pub which had been run by one of his ancestors nearly 200 years ago.
On Sunday they visited the Grimston Park Estate near Tadcaster, which is the home of the current descendants of John Fielden.
Even the Yorkshire weather joined in the successful occasion, with many of the overseas visitors saying they had brought waterproofs, but not needed them.
Whilst this was a special occasion for the overseas visitors, the members of the Fielden Society are always interested in meeting up with the people from this area who have a Fielden in their family tree somewhere in the past.