Hannah Rosbotham AM

b. 1858 St Helens, Lancashire.  d. 15/08/1935 Sutton, St Helens, Lancashire.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 14/10/1881 St Helens, Lancashire.

Hannah Rosbotham AM

Hannah Rosbotham was born in St. Helens, Lancashire, in 1859, one of eight children of Peter and Elizabeth Rosbotham, and was educated at the Sutton National Schools, St. Helens. ‘At the age of twenty she was appointed to be assistant mistress in the school where she herself had been educated. A slightly-built, delicate-looking girl, with quiet unassuming manners and a singularly guileless expression of countenance, she appeared to be just one of those women who go quietly through the world, doing the duty that lies nearest, and abstaining from asserting themselves in any way. No one imagined that this small, slight, modest-looking girl was capable of performing a deed of heroism whose fame would echo the length and breadth of the land.

After the storm, the people of Sutton, desiring to mark their appreciation of Miss Rosbotham’s conduct, subscribed and raised the sum of £13, which was used to purchase the presentation watch included in this lot. For her act of great gallantry she was also awarded the Albert Medal Second Class, the first women not only to receive the Albert Medal, but indeed to received any gallantry medal from the Crown, being presented with her Albert Medal on 11 January 1882. Two years later she married Mr. James Parr, and later was appointed headmistress of the school, where she remained until her retirement in 1922. She died on 15 August 1935 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Nicholas’s Church, Sutton, St. Helens.

Surprisingly Hannah’s grave at St. Nicholas Church fails to reveal that she is a rare holder of the Albert Medal and officially one of the bravest women in the country. In fact she is one of only sixteen ladies to have received it. The medal’s rarity value is enhanced as the award no longer exists, having been replaced by the George Cross. So Hannah Rosbotham of Sutton will always be in a very select band of courageous females.

Why there is no mention of the award on her gravestone is a bit of a mystery. There’s not even the letters ‘AM’ inscribed after her name. However Hannah and James don’t appear to have had any children, so those responsible for her burial in 1935, fifty-three years after the award, may not have been aware of it. Hannah’s medal has survived and is in a private collection in the United States.



During a violent gale of wind on the 14th of October last, the stone belfry of the Sutton National Schools was blown down, and fell through the roof into the Infants’ School-room (where nearly two hundred children were assembled), causing the death of one, and injuring many others, and filling the room and its gallery with stones, slates, and timber. Whilst others fled for safety, Miss ROSBOTHAM (who at the time of the accident was teaching elsewhere) deliberately entered among the falling mass and cloud of dust; and, while fully conscious of the extreme danger to which she was exposed, remained on the spot until every child had been placed in safety. At the imminent risk of her own life, Miss ROSBOTHAM removed four infants who were partially covered with the debris, and rescued therefrom a little girl who was completely buried, and who must inevitably have been suffocated had not such gallantry been displayed.