I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

dinsdag 26 november 2013

Patrick Bronte and Mary Fletcher. The 'Madeley Circle'

 
Mary Fletcher, nee Bosanquet, portraitPortrait of Mary Bosanquet, later Mary Fletcher (c1739-1815), who lived for 14 years at Cross Hall in Morley and was one of the pioneers of Methodism in the town; John Wesley is known to have been a visitor there. Born in London about 1739, Mary came to Morley in 1768 and bought Cross Hall as a home for the 14 orphan girls she had taken into her care. In 1781 she married the Rev. John Fletcher of Madeley in Shropshire and left Cross Hall to move there with him, but not before finding homes with local families for the orphans in her care. Photograph from the David Atkinson Archive.
Patrick Bronte left Cambridge in 1806 and, after being ordained, took up a curacy in Wethersfield, Essex. He arrived in Shropshire three years later in a move he may have secured through John Nunn (his former college room mate at Cambridge) the curate of St Chad's, Shrewsbury. In Wellington, Bronte served under the Rev John Eyton, a powerful preacher in the evangelist tradition whose sermons were among the first to be published by Houlston's printers. Eyton's own failing health ensured that Bronte was charged with a wide range of duties, both in the town itself and in the nearby parish of Eyton-Upon-The-Weald-Moors where, on one occasion, the young curate made an assessment for the relief of the local poor. During Bronte's short tenure at All Saints, the friendships of local schoolmaster John Fennell and William Morgan, his fellow curate at the church, proved particularly valuable.

Morgan was responsible for introducing Bronte to the 'Madeley Circle',
A group of like-minded individuals who met in the nearby town at the home of Mary Fletcher, the widow of prominent Methodist preacher Rev John Fletcher. It is probable that Bronte learnt of and successfully applied for the position of Curate at Dewsbury through the group, whose members included John Crosse, Vicar of Bradford. Yorkshire was regarded as a 'promised land' for those practicing the evangelical tradition and Bronte may eventually have ended up in the county at some point anyway. Indeed, it seems to have been a long-held ambition of the young curate. madeley_circle

The Methodists in Bradford
have, like other places around, opened their chapels for services in Church hours and are become wholly dissenters. What reason they had for so doing in Bradford, I could never learn: tho Mr [John] Crosse and his curates are acknowledged by the Methodists as preaching and acting as the Gospel requires, yet they have left us! We have our church as full as ever & the new church is rapidly rising with every appearance of being filled. I am sorry to say that the majority of the committee at Woodhouse Grove [School] did not act towards Mr Fennel as they ought to have done and as they promised to do. I shall not enter into detail on that subject . If however you wish to know the particulars, I have stated them in a letter to Revd. Mr Gilpin…Mr F. may perhaps write to you himself.’ archives

Letter from William Morgan in Bradford to Mary Fletcher.
Morgan is sending a few lines to inform her how he has been since leaving Shropshire. He has much to be thankful for. ‘I have great cause to bless God for my leaving Wellington. The means which led to that circumstance though crooked led me I trust strait forward in the way I should go. I see more and more that men, both good and bad, are instruments in God’s hands & that “He doth all things well”…’
He found that the Methodists at first were ‘remarkably shy; but now we go on well. The different denominations in Bradford act towards each other in a manner highly consistent with those whose religion is – love.’
[John] Crosse left him soon after he arrived, intending to go to Bath and London for two months, but he went no further than Manchester where he stayed to assist Dr [Cornelius] Bayley who has been very unwell for a long time. Crosse has returned but is to leave again for three weeks to help Bayley.
Morgan finds that his health is very good. He likes the people here very much and the work load is not heavy. ‘Religion is flourishing among us’ – Morgan has heard some speak of Fletcher and there are some now in Bradford who were once her ‘fellow pilgrims.’
Mr [Patrick] Bronte has got a living within seven miles of Bradford [Hartshead near Dewsbury, Yorkshire.] where he ‘resides very comfortably and is very useful among his people. He desired me to present his Christian regards…He and I often meet…’ [John] Crosse sends his regards and was pleased to hear how she is doing. Crosse is very ‘hearty’ in all respects other than his near blindness. Morgan boards with him at the Vicarage and they enjoy much conversation together. ‘He still retains all the correctness of a gentleman with the graces of a Christian. He is universally respected by rich and poor. And I fear that they will not fully learn his value, but by his loss.’
Morgan would be pleased to receive a letter from Fletcher. He will also write to Mr Walters. [The Anglican curate at Madeley]
His regards should be passed to [Mary] Tooth.
Annotated by Fletcher – ‘Letters to answer July 18 – [Anne] Tripp, [William] Morgan, [Eleanor] Dickinson’
[ Note: Notes William Morgan was born probably in Bradford, Yorkshire. He was educated at Cambridge University and was ordained into the Anglican ministry. Morgan was the curate of Bradford between 1815 and 1851 and was closely associated with the noted evangelical Rector of the parish John Crosse, whose biography he wrote in 1841. Morgan was Rector of Hulcott in Buckinghamshire from 1851 to 1858 and vanished from the Clergy List in 1867. Source: Dictionary of National Biography under John Crosse and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses (1951) John Crosse (1739-1816) was the son of Hammond Crosse, gent. of Kensington, London. He was educated at a school near Barnet, Hertfordshire. It is not known when and by whom Crosse was ordained into the Anglican Church but as a young man he occupied curacies in Wiltshire and the Lock Chapel in London. From 1765 for three years he traveled around Europe and then completed studies at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, from where he graduated B.A. in 1768. In 1776 Crosse was incorporated B.A. at Cambridge and later took the degree of M.A. at King's College. After graduation Crosse held several curacies in the north of England before being appointed Vicar of Bradford in 1784. Crosse was a well-regarded evangelical who despite being afflicted with blindness during the last years of his life, continued to perform the offices of the Church until a fortnight before his death. Under the terms of his will, Crosse founded three theological scholarships at Cambridge University and left money in trust for the promotion of the 'cause of true religion'. His life was made the subject of a book by Rev. William Morgan in 1841. Source: Dictionary of National Biography Cornelius Bayley (1751-1812) was born at Ashe near Whitchurch in Shropshire. His father was a leather breeches maker who appears to have moved to Manchester while Bayley was very young. Cornelius was educated at Whitchurch Grammar School and subsequently worked there as a master. He is referred to in Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses and the Dictionary of National Biography as being a Methodist preacher, but he is not recorded in the printed lists of early itinerants. Bayley was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1780. He moved to Manchester and was the first incumbent of the 'proprietary church' of St James, which he built in 1787. The degree of B.D. was conferred on him at Cambridge in 1792, and that of D.D. in 1800. Bayley published an Hebrew grammar in 1792 and a preface to an edition of the 'Homilies' of the Church, published at Manchester in 1811. His other writings include sermons and pamphlets. Bayley's wife Rachel was a close friend of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. After her husband's death, she was involved in controversies regarding ministerial oversight of Manchester St James. Source: Fletcher-Tooth collection, Alumni Cantabrigienses compiled by J. A. Venn (1940) and Dictionary of National Biography Patrick Bronte (1777-1861) was born at Emnath, Drumballrooney, Ireland. He was educated at St John’s College Cambridge where he was supported financially by the evangelicals William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton. Bronte was ordained in 1806 and served a curacy in Essex until 1809, after which he became a curate at Wellington in Shropshire for a short time. During his time in Wellington, Bronte made the acquaintance of the prominent lay Methodist Mary Fletcher. In December 1809 he moved to West Yorkshire and occupied curacies in several parishes until 1820 when he was appointed Perpetual Curate of Haworth where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He maintained very friendly relations with Methodists and served for a time as examiner at Woodhouse Grove School near Leeds. During his visits to the school, Bronte met Maria Branwell who he later married. Bronte was a published poet in his own right but his chief claim to fame lies in his daughters, the famous Bronte sisters of Haworth. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and The Story of Woodhouse Grove School by F. C. Pritchard (1978), 19-20. Eleanor Dickenson (1747-1815) was born at Horsforth near Leeds, Yorkshire, the daughter of Robert and Anne Thornton. Orphaned by the age of nine, Eleanor was converted at an early age and was a devout member of the Church of England. At the age of 21 she began to attend Methodist preaching and in 1773 married Abraham Dickinson (d.1804), a member of the Leeds Methodist Society. Eleanor was a close friend and regular correspondent of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. A generous giver to the poor, Eleanor acted as a class leader for many years and enjoyed a wide reputation for saintliness of character. Source: Methodist Magazine 1819, 683ff ] archives

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Parsonage

Parsonage

Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte



Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.


O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.


Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.


There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.


--
Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Parents
Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

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