Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chapter 14. Deaths, Changes & Recession: 1837 to 1842

On 20 June 1837 King William IV died.  It was a personal grief to his daughter Amelia, Lady Falkland, who had lost her sister Sophia in childbirth earlier in the year, but it was also a blow to her husband's career.

Lord Falkland had been made a Privy Councillor on 1 March, but a new reign brought a new Court and there was no hope of future favour.  His new mansion house at Skutterskelfe was nearly complete, but in the event he and his wife and son had only a short time in which to enjoy it before he left the country.  A career in public service was the answer to his financial problems, and on 30 September 1840 Lord Falkland took office as Governor of Nova Scotia, leaving a steward at Skutterskelfe Hall. 

It is not clear whether by 1840 George Brigham was still acting as Lord Falkland's agent.

His old friend John Lee of Pinchinthorpe Hall had died a few years earlier in 1836, and it is said that he shot himself.  Lee was unmarried but for some years before his death had been paying a considerable amount for the upkeep of an illegitimate child, and his estate was left heavily encumbered with debt [1].  Perhaps the personal and social difficulties arising from the Harker and Powell Chancery case also contributed to his unhappiness. 

In December 1841, George Brigham himself died at the age of fifty-one.  His brother-in-law James Dobbin registered the death, giving the cause as "general debility"; the registrar was Brigham's old enemy Thomas Harker.

George died without making a Will, as he had nothing to leave [2].  His eldest son George, who was only thirteen years old at the time, later became a clerk with Messrs Backhouse & Co, the Darlington bankers.  When asked in 1854 if he would act in the still-continuing Chancery case, in his capacity as his father's heir-at-law, he not surprisingly declined. 

The general depression in trade deepened after 1836, and while Whitby dwindled in importance as whaling declined, Middlesbrough grew ever larger.

The Exchange was built in 1836, the first school in 1837, and in 1840 the Revd Isaac Benson of Acklam became the first incumbent of the new church of St Hilda's, Middlesbrough.  In 1838 Father Dugdale began to say Mass in a house in West Street for the few Catholics of the new town; soon afterwards began the first influx of Irish labour that would forty years later produce a Catholic population of 15,000 and the establishment of a new diocese.

An unpleasant incident in March 1840 revealed the tensions that could be produced in the economic conditions of the time.

A sub-contractor working at the Middlesbrough docks hired some Irish labourers in place of Englishmen who had refused to work without higher wages.  When the Irishmen began work, a band of navvies from Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Lancashire attempted to drive them off, and it became apparent within a few days that mob violence was imminent.

The police provided protection for the Irishmen on their way to work, but when they came off to go to breakfast they were attacked by a mob of two to three hundred men, armed with stones, spades and the like, and some of the Irish were savagely beaten.  They were driven towards John Parrington's Grange Farm, where he, seeing them "hunted like beasts", called them into his yard and stable, and standing at his window kept the mob at bay with a pistol.

A magistrate who happened to be in town had sent to Stockton for help, and a combined force of constables from nearby townships eventually subdued the riot [3]

Meanwhile in Stokesley the Levenside Mill failed.  The partnership of the brothers John and Thomas Mease and Mr Blackett, a Leeds engineer whose son was married to Thomas Mease's daughter, found itself in difficulties and by March 1838 was in Chancery; as a result the Stokesley mill closed.

The Mease brothers turned all their attention to their Hutton flax-spinning mill, which itself would last only a few years longer.  Standing by the river bank on the Hutton side, it was a three-storey building 88 feet long and 38 feet wide.  The young spinners – in 1841 there were ten, mostly girls and boys in their teens – worked barefoot in the wet spinning rooms.  There were two large warehouses, the engine-house, water wheel and a single-storey dry house. [4]

The linen trade in England was badly affected, and although Hutton in 1838 still had 157 looms at work making "linen cloth, ticks, drills, checks, and diapers" the weavers felt their share of the distress.

The report of Solomon Keyser, assistant commissioner, upon the conditions of the Yorkshire linen weavers included a statement from sixteen  Hutton Rudby operative weavers, in which they explained that when the cost of winding, loom and shop rent, sizing, grease, candles, brushes, shuttles and so forth had been deducted, an average weekly wage of 11s 6½d was reduced to 9s 6d.  They were fortunate in that this was still higher than the average wage in many of the neighbouring linen villages [5].

The depression and the lure of Middlesbrough drew families away from Hutton Rudby – in 1821 there had been only one unoccupied house and in 1841 there were 31.  By late 1842, it was noted that at the hirings that autumn,
the depression in trade, and the cheerless prospects of the Farming interest, have caused many Servants to be dismissed, and, in consequence wages were curtailed by about 25 per cent. [6]
Methodism in the 19th century, it is frequently said, was closely affected by fluctuations in the economy, because Nonconformists not only had to find the money for the running of their own chapel but also, through tithes and the Church Rate, for that of the Established Church.

In Hutton Rudby, the Wesleyans were still sufficiently buoyant to open a Sunday School in 1839, and to make goodly donations to their collections.  However, membership numbers had fallen from 42 in 1836 to 29 in 1839, affected by families leaving the village for the growing towns on the Tees.

In 1840, the Wesleyan chapel still carried a debt of £40, on which interest of £2 a year had to be paid, while lighting and cleaning cost an additional £1-14s.  Income came from those of the congregation who paid for their seats.  The chapel could hold around 260 people, and rather more than half of the sittings were free.  About 100 sittings were available to rent, and 44 of these were let in 1840, at a cost per seat of ninepence a quarter, or three shillings a year, bringing an income to the chapel of £6-12s.

The Primitive Methodist chapel was rather smaller, seating nearly 200 with standing room besides, and was apparently usually nearly full.

Unlike other parishes, the question of tithes was not a particular problem for the vicar of Rudby, as (apart from the small tithes of Middleton) Mr Barlow did not receive them and the landowners to whom they were paid lived well outside the area.  Consequently, apart from disagreements over the general principle of tithing, the Tithe Commutation Act will have had little effect upon him.  He was still able to raise the money he wanted for his church – in 1835 the church rate was 5d in the pound, only a year after national dissatisfaction had resulted in the foundation of the Church Rate Abolition Society.

However by the 1850s his expenditure was considerably reduced – in 1839 the churchwardens had spent over £36, while in 1856 they spent just over £13, and it was in 1842 that Lord Falkland (as patron and responsible therefore for the chancel) for the first time paid his share of the cleaning of the church.  Perhaps local feeling about the church rate had changed over time.

Mr Barlow took a record number of baptisms in 1837 – forty-five in all.  Of these, a number must have been children of Nonconformists; Mr Barlow certainly baptised babies of Wesleyan parents in the 1830s.  Well into the 19th century there were parishes where Wesleyans were happy to continue to bring their children to Anglican baptism even as Methodism and Anglicanism drifted apart.

A major cause of the rift was a growing Wesleyan suspicion of Catholic tendencies in the Anglican church caused by the rise of the Tractarians.  This probably did not affect Hutton Rudby, as local Wesleyans would have been well aware that Mr Barlow was no friend of High Church practices.

Baptisms, like marriages, will have been increasingly affected by the new availability of civil registration.  It is also likely that Hutton Rudby parents were initially led to believe that to get a place at the new school their child must have been baptised in the parish church.  The original object of the National Society was to teach every child the Prayer Book and require them to attend services in their parish Church, but from very early on many schools exempted Dissenting children from this [7].  We do not know what the position was in Hutton Rudby, but it seems unlikely that Mr Barlow would have antagonised such significant local Nonconformists as Mr Terry of Hutton Grange, who had donated bricks to the school, nor have excluded children from education – after all, he went into the school to teach the Catechism.

Unfortunately, Mr Barlow's keeping of his registers was erratic, and consequently they cannot quite be trusted.

There are duplicate lists of entries for three years that do not tally with the original; there are references to duplicate registers no longer to be found; there are mistakes of names; and there are years in which no entries are made.

A surviving notebook shows that he sometimes jotted down a record for later entry, and then entered the details incorrectly.  It contains the notes for three burials: Charlotte Sidgwick, Mary Imeson and Nanny Sugget.  Charlotte Sidgwick is recorded in both the notebook and burials register as having been buried on 26 September 1852 aged thirty-four.  Mary Imeson, according to the notebook, was buried on 28 October 1852.  In the burial register it is recorded as 28 September, but her death certificate shows that she died on 4 October.  Nanny Sugget was buried according to the notebook on 23 October, and according to the burial register on 26 September.

Mr Barlow was equally lax in sending up the registers for Bishop's Transcripts, and in 1857 the terrier was not written up and sent to York because "no parchment could be got" [8]

Perhaps Mr Barlow also grew less compliant with official forms.  Certainly his answers to the 1841 census suggest this.  By then, his spinster sisters had come to make their home with him at Linden Grove.  They were comfortably situated, with two living-in servants – a maid, Isabella Elliot, and a lad, James Simpson, both aged fifteen.  Mr Barlow gives his own age correctly as 38, but when it came to giving the details for his wife, now nearly 60, his sister Mary Sophia, at 48, and his sister Isabella, aged 42, he evidently felt it unnecessary to be truthful.  He gave the ages of his wife and sister Mary as 30, and put Isabella's age at 20.

In the ten years he had spent in Yorkshire, much had happened to the Barlow family.

James Barlow Hoy fought his fifth election in January 1835 and was once more successfully returned as member for Southampton.  He was evidently an active member of the House of Commons with an interest in the wider world – in March 1837 he
rose to call the attention of the House to the present state of affairs in the Texas, 
which had declared itself independent of Mexico but was not yet a state of the Union.  He called for Britain to support Mexico, on the grounds that
an enormous importation of slaves took place into the Texas, and if this system were allowed to continue, all the sums which we had expended in endeavouring to suppress the traffic in slaves would have been thrown away … It was not the standard of liberty and independence which was raised in the Texas, but the pirate's flag, under cover of which the slave-trade was carried on.  We had interfered in the affairs of Holland and Belgium, Portugal and Spain; why, then, should we not remonstrate in a friendly manner with the United States upon the conduct which they were pursuing with regard to the Texas? [9]
The next speaker was the Irish Catholic radical, Daniel O'Connell, who "thought humanity was indebted to the Hon. Member for bringing this question before the House."  Texas had declared independence because the Mexican government had abolished slavery in 1829 –
Who could contemplate without horror the calculation, as in the case of stocking a farm, what was the necessary complement of men and women, and when they would be ready and ripe for the market?.  
This Hansard entry is a reminder of the notable men that James Barlow Hoy knew during his parliamentary career.  O'Connell, known as "the Liberator", is famous for his opposition to the Act of Union and his leadership in the movement for Catholic Emancipation, and was active in promoting parliamentary reform, Jewish emancipation and the abolition of slavery.

When yet another general election was called on the death of King William IV in June 1837, James decided not to stand.

There is a suggestion in the novel that he was concerned for Marian's health, and that in consequence he took her travelling on the Continent.  The change of scene evidently had a happy result, as the following year their daughter Louisa was born.  She was baptised at the British Chaplaincy in Naples on 21 June 1838 [10].  Marian was twenty-four years old at Louisa's birth, but seems never to have borne another living child, possibly as a consequence of difficulties at the birth.

James and Marian were evidently anxious that Louisa would not grow up without companionship, and soon adopted a little girl who was some four years older than their daughter.  Her name, Elencho Marie Pera, may reflect her origins.  She was born in Constantinople, of which Pera is a district, and the Greek word Elencho means 'reproof'. 

When James returned with his little family to Hampshire, it was to take up residence in the mansion house, Thornhill Park, that Michael Hoy had begun building shortly before his death.

Hoy had left his widow a life interest in his estate that remained unaffected by any subsequent remarriage, and Mrs Hoy had married a Captain George Mainwairing in 1831.  They were the first to live in Thornhill Park [11], and it was after Mrs Mainwairing's death in 1839 that James Barlow Hoy became the owner of the entire estate.

In Myshall in County Carlow, meanwhile, a son had been born to Nanny and the Revd Hector Francis Vaughan, and baptised Hector Barlow Vaughan.

Only a year later, on 4 March 1834, the Revd Vaughan died.  He was still in his forties, and he and Nanny had been married only four years.  He left his estate to her – the gross personalty was valued at under £830 [12], but there was probably also some real property, and she had her marriage settlement besides.  Nanny was left with an income, and a very small child.  She may have joined her sisters and mother in Dublin, where Mrs Ann Barlow was living in a house provided by her son John.

Less than three years later, on 30 January 1837, John Wilson Barlow died.

He had made his Will only three days earlier.  The family had always been concerned for John's health.  He had been a quaint boy – an "odd little child" according to his younger brother [13].  As a very young man his anxiety for his family's welfare had driven him to overwork, and they feared consumption.

John evidently remained very conscious of his duties towards his family even after James' good fortune, as his will reveals that he, like James, was paying his mother an allowance.  As far as the ever protective Robert was concerned, the cause of John's death was his "uncongenial" wife and the "misery of an unhappy home" [14].  Presumably he based his opinion on the accounts given by his mother and sisters, as it seems improbable he ever witnessed his brother's married life himself.

In his Will, John explained that he considered his "dear wife" to be sufficiently provided for by her jointure and left his estate to his son James John Barlow.  Nothing is known of this child beyond his name.

The executors were to be John's friend Loftus Henry Bland (of Pembroke Street, Dublin) and his brother Robert.  The latter wisely renounced probate – he would have been far too distant from Ireland to carry out the duties of an executor.  He must have been glad of his decision when he heard that problems had arisen in winding up the estate, particularly with conveyancing difficulties and over the accounts for his partnership with fellow solicitor Benjamin Ball; the matter went to Chancery [15].  How much money was left to little James John Barlow is unknown.  John's gross estate in Ireland amounted to nearly £7,000, and he also had property (probably stocks such as Consols) in the jurisdiction of the Canterbury Prerogative Court worth under £200 [16], but as he was a relatively young man and still building up his practice as a solicitor, it seems likely that he also had debts.

With nothing to keep her in Ireland, Ann Barlow left Dublin for England.  James provided her with a house, Fir Grove, on his Thornhill Park estate.  She and Nanny with little Hector seem to have settled there, while Mary Sophia and Isabella came north to Yorkshire.


[1]  Two Ancient Townships by Grace Dixon 

[2]  Affidavit by Mrs Elizabeth Marsh, niece of George Brigham, 24 Mar 1854, as to "kinship of George Brigham".

[3]  Hastings More Essays in North Riding History pp99-100

[4]  Tithe Map details

[5]  Hastings Industrial Village, c1700-1900:  Parliamentary Papers 1840

[6]  The Stokesley News & Cleveland Repertory 1 Dec 1842 [Middlesbrough Reference Library]

[7]  History of the Methodist Church Vol 2. Pub 1978. General editors: R Davies, A R George, G Rupp

[8]  churchwardens' reply to Archbishop Musgrave's Visitation of 1857 

[9]  to be found in 'The Anti-Texass Legion – Protest of some free men, states and presses against the Texass Rebellion', at  Now [2012] to be found here


[11]  Thornhill Park, near Southampton, stood in an estate of 420 acres, and was demolished in about 1923

[12]  Will of Revd Hector Francis Vaughan, proved in the Prerogative Court 22 Mar 1834 (NA ref T/20478 or 999/4/6)

[13]  Remarkable but still true

[14]  ibid

[15]  details of John Wilson Barlow's Will and surviving papers from the Chancery case are to be found in Films 592941 and 593634 (Testamentary documents in the PRO Dublin) of the Irish Records held at Salt Lake City. The Will (593634: T 11612a) is missing one page from the original, which can be obtained from Dublin

[16]  Death Duty Registers for the 1837 PCC & Country Court Wills

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