The year 1883 was a sad one for Emily Weddall and her siblings, for not only one but both her parents died. Her father passed away in June and her mother followed four months later in October. Rev Burke reached the relatively old age of 78, her mother not so long lived died at the age of 57.
At the time of her parents death Emily was barely 16. Her older sister, Miriam was 20, Richard, 18 and John Jasper was only 14, all under 21 and still minors. Their older half brother, William was married with his own family in Yorkshire, England, far away from the west of Ireland.
In both their wills, Rev. and Mrs Burke both named Rev. Samuel Potter as the executor. It is possible that the Reverend made sure the Burke family were looked after properly after the loss of their parents. It seemed that he was a lifelong friend Rev Burke, and similar in character too.
“A learned, eloquent, and fiery Irishman, he revelled in controversy, and was widely known on the platform and in the press. During the earlier years of his ministry there was much political and ecclesiastical strife abroad, and Dr. Potter was always to the front. He was an able Church defender. For twenty years he was Vicar of St. Luke’s, but as a zealous Orangeman…”
The similarities did not stop there he had a similar situation to Emily’s father Dr. Samuel George Potter, who came to Sheffield in 1869 as Vicar of St. Luke’s, Hollis Croft, is still remembered by some. whose parishioners were for the most part Roman Catholics, he was a square man in a round hole.
He organised lectures for Rev. Burke and initiated collections by the way of payment for him too. One such lecture tour in 1877 was in aid of building a parochial house for Emily’s family.
By the time Mrs Burke passed the funds had diminished to £170 or € 11,000 in today’s money, there was possibly some land in the family too. All in all it was hardly a fortune, just enough to educate their children.