Top left: the earliest photo of the Stockdale Triplets with their mother Nancy; top right: entry in the Guinness Book of Records; centre left: the birth registrations on 16 January 1858; centre right: the triplets at various stages of their lives; bottom left: as teenagers. This lovely photo of the sisters was clearly taken on a special occasion, probably a birthday or Christmas. I am unable to identify them by name but it seems likely that Faith, as the eldest, was at the front.
Faith, Hope and Charity Stockdale
Faith, Hope and Charity Stockdale were triplets who were born very near the end of the year 1857 in the little village of Cracoe in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Little could they or their proud parents have known at their birth that one day they would feature in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s longest living triplets!
The girls were born to Andrew Stockdale, a farm labourer, and his wife Nancy, nee Gregson, over the night of December 28th and 29th 1857. Faith was the first to arrive at 11.30 p.m., followed by Hope 10 minutes later at 11.40 p.m. However, the last, Charity, didn’t arrive until 2.0 a.m. the following morning – what the poor mother must have gone through while she waited for the last baby to arrive!
The children were initially baptised at their home and later additional names were added when the triplets were baptised in church at nearby Rylstone the following Easter. They became Faith Alice, Hope Fanny and Charity Sarah.
Triplets were not common in those days and the girls became immediate stars and celebrities in the little Dales village. A newspaper report in the Liverpool Mercury described the event and said that the three girls were “all living and reported by Mr David Henry Ogden, her [the mother's] medical attendant to be fine healthy children.” The report went on: “Mrs Stockdale is 22 years of age and this is her first accouchement. The event has caused much interest in the neighbourhood and the infant trio have received numerous visits from parties at home and at a distance.”
The villagers and neighbours of Andrew and Nancy Stockdale were very kind to the family and clubbed together to purchase a milch cow, so that the babies could be fed. They also received a national award known as the Queen’s Bounty from Queen Victoria. Later, the Stockdales acquired a farm at nearby Bordley and when they were growing up the triplets regularly walked three miles over the moors to school at Cracoe. They also had to assist their parents on the farm. Later, the family moved to the town of Skipton where Andrew Stockdale became a builder.
All three lived to a ripe old age, married and had children of their own. Faith became Mrs Charles Thackeray and moved to Bispham, near Blackpool, Lancashire. Hope became Mrs Henry Watson and Charity became Mrs William Rimington. Hope and Charity lived in Skipton, the major town and gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, after their marriages.
Over many years the triplets featured in newspaper reports, usually on their birthday. A report when they celebrated their 85th birthday in 1942 recorded that they had ten children between them and 15 grandchildren, so it seems very likely there are numerous descendants of the Stockdale Triplets alive today. If any of them read this, I would be very glad to hear from them!
The youngest sister, Charity, was the first to die in 1944, followed by the eldest, Faith, three years later in 1947. The middle sister Hope lived to be 98 and died in 1956. In an edition of the Guinness Book of Records published in the 1990s they were named as the longest living British triplets.
Though they were not related to me via the Stockdale line, in the course of researching the family I discovered that I had a distant link to the triplets through another of my ancestral lines in the Dales in the 19th century.