Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chapter 10. 1831: Mr Barlow's first year in Hutton Rudby

The area around his new home would have had much to interest Robert Barlow's lively mind.  He had a great interest in the physical world and delighted in technical and practical matters – as can be seen in his decision to design the village school himself, his appreciation of Humboldt's Cosmos, and in the surviving draft of his letter to the Lords of the Admiralty suggesting improvements in warship design.

He cannot but have been fascinated by the Mandale Cut, built in 1810 to take two miles from the distance between Stockton and the sea, and the Portrack Cut, opened only days after his arrival in the village.

He may have been less than impressed by the railway bridge over the Tees, which Isambard Kingdom Brunel described as a "wretched thing".

By the time of his arrival, ninety-five lots in the planned new town of Middlesbrough had been sold – the Revd Isaac Benson had bought two, and two men from Hutton Rudby, the builder Thomas Davison and the yeoman William Scales, had also been among the purchasers.

Mr Barlow's parishioners were people with a keen interest in matters beyond their village, and the arrival of Lord Falkland will have given them a gratifying feeling of being part of the new reign of his father-in-law King William IV.

The young nobleman had swiftly decided that Lady Amherst's cherished mansion house was not suitable for himself and his young wife, and instructed the fashionable architect Anthony Salvin to design him a much more imposing residence.  Unusually for Salvin, this was to be in the classical style.

Lord Falkland's great interest in his new house can be seen in a letter to George Brigham [1].  Written from Queen's House, later to become Buckingham Palace, it is undated and apparently written in haste.  It shows a certain lack of confidence in his agent's accuracy and thoroughness:
I have recd your letter and the plans – all the old square stone House is to come down – So let it be taken down immediately – Your plan is not a bad one and will be followed in a great degree –
The new House will be placed further back than the old one and extended 33 feet more to the west – I wish to have the road turned as it is in your plan – At the same time we find a difficulty in putting the House more than fifteen feet back, exclusive of the porch, (i.e.  the porch is fifteen feet back & the House about 21ft) – probably (as the centre of the porch of the door will be 17 ½ feet more to the westward than it is at present) – 15 feet may be enough to put the House back – (I trust it will for it will be difficult to put it more back) –
If fifteen feet will not do, write and say what number of feet will do – I wish if possible to have the road turned as you have placed it in your sketch.  As if I can succeed in doing this I shall always have the stables &c &c stand exactly where they are instead of being obliged to move them for the sake of procuring a turn for carriages. 
In short I wish to adopt your plan as far as relates to the road –
Pray measure every thing accurately with Mr Parr and let Mr Salvin hear from him and [you – blotted] and let me hear from you as soon as possible – be accurate in what you say & let there be no mistake
– The question is this –
If the present entrance door were 17 ½ feet more to the westward than it is – and 15 feet further back, could a road be traced nearly as you have traced it (and thus give a fair approach to the House) or not –
I think such a road might be traced – with the help of a little levelling –
Let the old House be taken down completely – the offices remain – Let me hear from you as soon as you can
but think the thing well over and consult and measure the distance so as to arrive at the exact spot where I have said I will have the door, with Mr Parr, I have great confidence in him –
I mean that the centre of the near door should be 17 ½ feet further westward than the centre of the old one
Have the old House taken away and cleared away directly. 
Write, Write –

PS – Pray see Mr Fowler if possible   I wish much to have his opinion.
Shew him this letter.  F
Pray send for Beckwith and tell him to set as many men as he can to work the stone, Mr Salvin wishes the stone to be got forward that we may make up for lost time
This exciting new project must have given plenty of employment to local men before its completion in 1838.  The Wesleyan class leader Edmund Taylor, a joiner who rebuilt the East Side terrace of houses north of the Wheatsheaf, was probably one of these – he was at Leven Grove on 24 December 1833 when served with a Notice to repay his mortgage by the men who had bought his East Side properties. 

Lord Falkland was now actively engaged at the House of Lords where he was a representative peer of Scotland.  He was one of the peers appointed to prepare an address following the King's speech in June, and was present in the House in early October, when he voted on the second reading of the Reform Bill.  A few weeks later, Amelia gave birth to their only child, a son Lucius. 

The people of Hutton Rudby were themselves much concerned about the great issues of the day.

On 6 July 1830 a petition from "the gentry, clergy and other inhabitants of Hutton Rudby" had been presented to the House of Lords asking
that their Lordships will not cease to pursue such Measures as will raise our Negro Fellow Subjects to the Possession and Enjoyment of that Civil and Religious Liberty of which they are unjustly deprived, and to which every Principle of our free Constitution and only Religion entitles them equally with ourselves.  
The following year, on 14 April 1831, a similar petition was presented by the congregation of the Wesleyan Methodists in Hutton Rudby [2].

English Methodism may have surprised Mr Barlow – in Ireland it was the Primitive Methodists who stayed within the established Church, while the Wesleyans had authorised their own ministers to perform baptisms and marriages.

He must have been dismayed by the comparative weakness of the Anglican church in his parish, particularly by the discovery that a number of the substantial farmers were Nonconformists.

Harrison Terry of Hutton Grange, for example, came from a family of Protestant dissenters in Newton-under-Roseberry.  James Lee, younger brother of John Lee of Pinchinthorpe Hall, eloped with Harrison's sister Mary, and her dissenting background may have contributed to John Lee's displeasure with the match [3].

It is possible that Mark Barker, who owned the title of lord of the manor of Hutton, together with the cornmill, Whacker Farm (now Manor House Farm), and other lands, was a Roman Catholic – he named as one of his executors the weaver, Edward Meynell the younger [4], who had been baptised a Catholic at Crathorne.  It certainly seems likely that Barker was not an Anglican – although prominent landowners, neither he, his heir (and presumed illegitimate son) Mark Barker Passman nor the latter's half-brother Henry Passman ever acted as churchwardens.

Nonconformity was strongly represented in the village Sunday Schools.  There was a Union Sunday School – this was an undenominational organisation, managed nationally by a committee consisting of Anglicans and Nonconformists – and the Primitive Methodists had established their own Sunday School in Hutton in 1828.

The Union Sunday School closed not long after Mr Barlow's arrival, which suggests that he did not support it.  He turned his attention instead to the daily education of the children of the village, paying for the education of a large number of them at the existing day school, of which he became manager.

The church building offered him scope for his energy and talents.  Much later, in his answers to Archbishop Thomson's Visitation in 1865, he stated that
it was very like a cowhouse when I came here – now it is the first in the District owing to my intense exertions.  
None of his parishioners would see this remark, and anyway few remained from the time before his arrival who might have taken issue with it.  During the ten years of Mr Shepherd's ministry, the churchwardens' accounts show no large items of expenditure, but certainly money was spent as usual on painting, cleaning, fencing etc.  The highest expenditure was in Mr Shepherd's first year as vicar, at £28-5s-7½d.

Nothing in the accounts suggests that the church would have resembled a cowhouse, and while expenditure was increased during Mr Barlow's first years, it subsequently fell back to the levels of Mr Shepherd's later years.

Probably Mr Barlow found the church in a rather uncared-for state due to the absence of the vicar during his last months, and in his eagerness to make a good start he would find plenty of scope for improvements.

He began by persuading the vestry to raise an additional church rate of 2½d in the pound for "New doors &c".

During his first months at Hutton Rudby, Mr Barlow also had important family affairs to preoccupy him. 

His brother John Wilson Barlow was now prospering in his profession and had invested in property in Dublin, buying a plot on Pembroke Street on which he built a house.  In March 1831 he married a young woman whose family connections show how far the Barlow family had recovered their position in society.

Georgina Theodosia Borough was the daughter of Sir Richard Borough and Anna Maria Lake.  The Borough family possessed property in County Clare, while Georgina's grandfather Gerard Lake had been an ADC to King George III and Member of Parliament for both Aylesbury and Armagh; he was made Viscount Lake of Delhi following service as commander-in-chief in India.  He had earlier been commander-in-chief in Ireland during the Rebellion of 1798.

Georgina's sister Amabel was married to the Earl of Pomfret; he was considerably her elder, and died at his great house at Easton Neston in 1833.  Georgina's younger sister Augusta married the Revd Sir John Henry Fludyer, lord of the manor and rector of Ayston in Rutland.  The Borough family is described by Robert Barlow in his novel as "sufficiently lofty". 

James Barlow Hoy had fought his seat again at the general election on 6 May 1831, called on the issue of Parliamentary Reform, after the first Reform Bill was defeated in Committee.

Political ferment in the country was at its height and the Southampton seats were hotly contested.  Polling seems to have taken place in an atmosphere of high excitement – on 3 May James accused his opponents of underhand dealings at the hustings – but his energetic efforts were unsuccessful.  In spite of his appeals to his supporters to "come forward manfully" [5] he failed to retain his seat.

A little over a year later, at the general election called in December 1832 following the passing of the Reform Act, James was called upon by his supporters to stand again, and was this time successful.

He must have been put to considerable expense by his electioneering.  Lord Shaftesbury spent over £15,000 in 1831 contesting Dorsetshire in a by-election, while George Eliot's description in Middlemarch conveys the atmosphere of the times: 
They say the last unsuccessful candidate at Middlemarch … spent ten thousand pounds and failed because he did not bribe enough … Hawley and his set bribe with treating, hot codlings, and that sort of thing; and they bring the voters drunk to the poll.
While out of Parliament, James turned his attention to his private life.

That summer he married a very young woman, Marian D'Oyley Bird, and this marriage forms a major part of the narrative of Robert Barlow's novel, written in old age.

The novel is a strange combination.  Part eulogy of his beloved mother, part lively memoir of 18th century Dublin, part account of the life of his brother James, Barlow insists throughout on the truth of the facts he relates and then finishes with a most implausible fairy-tale ending.  The narrative is filled with inconsistencies arising from his refusal to revise his work, and its most unattractive feature is his unremitting hatred of his sisters-in-law, which evidently had not dimmed with the passage of time.  We have only his version of events – and he was very much prone to exaggeration – but some balance can be achieved by facts ascertainable from other sources.

James Barlow Hoy probably knew his young wife's family from his time in India.

Marian D'Oyley Bird was born on 7 May 1814 and baptised at Fort St George in Madras on 20 June [6].  She was the daughter of Shearman Bird the younger, a senior merchant of the Honourable East India Company on their Bengal Establishment of Bhangulpore in the Province of Bengal, and his wife Louisa Cotes Blenkinsop.

Marian's father died in 1825; she was his only child, and his family property in Essex, inherited from his uncle, was entailed on her [7].  She returned with her mother to England and by 1831 they were living at Carlton Crescent in Southampton.

There were many retired naval and East India Company families in the vicinity, including Mrs Bird's sister Rose, widow of Sir John Henry Newbolt, the Chief Justice of Madras (1768-1823).  These East India Company nabobs, like the Anglo-Irish, formed a separate caste of their own, noticeably different from the usual English society.  The manners and social customs of the British in India were generally seen as being "one degree worse" [8] than those prevailing at home –
all the people I have yet seen are unpleasing and vulgar, and wishing to be Fine ladies
as Lady West wrote in her diary on 21 February 1823 [9].  Once retired to England the nabobs – often enormously wealthy, flamboyant and eccentric – were marked out from the rest of society by their years abroad.

According to Robert Barlow's novel, the Blenkinsop sisters were the daughters of a minor Canon of Westminster, described as a "low, vulgar specimen", whose wife had curried favour with someone in Court circles, so as to enable their daughters to go out to India to find husbands, under the auspices of the Queen.

However, it seems likely that this was a family with its own connections to India.  The name Blenkinsop appears in East India Company records of the time and the middle names of both Mrs Bird and her daughter suggest links with other Company families.  In fact, the names Cotes and D'Oyley are to be found linked in the marriage of Mrs Diana Cotes with Sir John Hadley D'Oyley.  Like James Barlow Hoy, Mrs Cotes was Anglo-Irish; the widow of William Cotes of Calcutta and daughter to William Rochfort of Clontarf, she was closely related to the Earl of Belvidere and the Earl of Drogheda.  She married in 1789 Sir John Hadley D'Oyley (1754-1818), 6th Baronet, of Calcutta and D'Oyley Park, Hampshire, who was a senior merchant in the Bengal Establishment.  His eldest son Charles (1781-1845) was also an official of the East India Company, but is best remembered as an artist.  Charles and his wife Marian D'Oyley were at the centre of Calcutta's musical and artistic life until her death in 1814. 

The novel mentions Mrs Bird's poor state of health, and it seems possible that she urged marriage on her daughter in her anxiety to see the girl settled before her own death; she is depicted in the novel as a manipulative woman who assisted in the entrapment of James.

Marian D'Oyley Bird was seventeen years old when she married James, who was probably nearly forty.  Her mother's advisers would have expected a proper marriage settlement, and James must have been only too aware of how much his own mother had suffered from the want of one.  Mr Hoy had made his widow a generous settlement, and James followed the same course – described by Robert in the novel as
all her own money, of course, and as much more out of his own estate as would equal that and any expectations she might have at her mother's death.  
It appears from a deed of 1841 that Robert was one of the trustees, together with George Palmer junior, probably of Palmer & Co, a well-known East India agency house.

According to the novel, in the late summer of 1831 Robert performed the marriage service at St George's, Hanover Square [10]

The eldest and youngest of the Barlow brothers both were married to women called Marian/Marianne – James's wife was young enough to be his daughter, while Robert's was old enough to be his mother.

Relations between Robert Barlow and his sister-in-law were probably poor from their first acquaintance.  He had no experience of girls of her background – the circumstances of his boyhood will have prevented him from meeting many young daughters of well-to-do families – and probably very little experience of girls of her age.  The thirty-two year difference in ages between his own wife and Marian Bird may have further complicated matters.

In his novel, Marian is depicted as mercenary, vindictive, scheming, before marriage immoral almost to the point of prostitution ("almost on the Pavé"), with a "violent and overbearing disposition", who "wanted to be the prima donna of their neighbourhood".

It is interesting to note that Robert took pains to emphasise that Marian was only a few years younger than James – this deviation from the truth serves to make Marian less vulnerable and appealing, but must also reflect his unease with the subject of age.

His unattractive insistence on Marian's bad character produces a contrary reaction in the reader, who cannot help but feel that she was a very young and possibly spoilt girl, accustomed – as Robert Barlow was not – to the society in which she moved, and very much the darling of her older husband.  Robert could not, even in the novel, deny James's devotion to his wife.  Marian must have seemed quite incomprehensible to her new brother-in-law. 

Sadly, the novel also conveys – in spite of the author's intentions – the distinct impression of an unacknowledged emotional distance between Robert and his brother.

This can hardly be surprising.  James had left Dublin when Robert was a little boy of about ten.  Their early childhood experiences had been very different, and while James spent years away from Ireland acquiring new friends, tastes and interests, Robert had remained in Dublin – the youngest, their mother's favourite, the boy who was not sent out to work at fifteen.

Now James was established in Hampshire, living in a new world, quite foreign to his family.  But the family circle, closed against the world, was of prime importance to Robert and there is a definite flavour of jealousy in his depiction of both his sisters-in-law – and he certainly viewed James's fortune as belonging more to the Barlows of Dublin than to James's wife and children.

A very different view of Marian and her husband is to be found in her mother's Will.

A few months after the wedding, Louisa Bird was in Buckinghamshire visiting her mother and sister at Great Marlow, when some sense of urgency – possibly her worsening health – prompted her to call for the local solicitor to draw up her Will.  By March 1832 she was living with her daughter and son-in-law at Midanbury House near Southampton, and there she wrote in her own hand a codicil to the Will.  It began
My long illness and increasing weakness giving me every reason to fear that I never shall again be well enough to attend to business, I am anxious lest my beloved Girl in Sorrow at her mother's death should be enabled to think of anything I may have told her in my lifetime.
Her "kind and faithful servant" Martha Hotch was to be given a legacy of £50 and
all linen that my Marian does not wish to retain may be given to her as a reward for her long tender and faithful services. 
She did not
enter the above into the body of my Will because I am certain my wishes will be laws to my best of children and her kind husband whose conduct to me since his marriage with my daughter has been such as to fill my heart with gratitude to the Almighty.
She died within the year.


[1]  Durham County Record Office D/X 107/151

[2]  petitions were also presented from Seamer, Yarm, Great Ayton, Kirklevington Wesleyans, Northallerton, Yarm Methodists, Yarm Independents, Crathorne, and Females of Yarm. See British History Online at

[3]  Two Ancient Townships by Grace Dixon

[4]  Will of Mark Barker dated 18 Aug 1838, proved 20 Feb 1839, the Borthwick Institute

[5]  Leaflet issued 5 May 1831 [British Library]

[6]  according to and an LDS member entry on

[7]  Will of Shearman Bird

[8]  The English in Western India by Philip Anderson, 1854, quoted by F Dawtrey Drewitt in Bombay in the Days of George IV 1907

[9]  quoted by F Dawtrey Drewitt in Bombay in the Days of George IV 1907 

[10]  the marriage allegation was sworn on 27 August 1841

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