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ACCOUNT OF THE BROWN FAMILY HOME IN ENGLAND
Written by Miss. Mary Brown
Aged 87 years
To her nephew Ralph Brown, son of brother Richard
New York City
New York State
I am the only remaining of my generation, and I wish to tell something of my ancestors and their homes.
My mother had three sisters, none married. Her sister Hannah died young. My father had three sisters, all married, but my Aunt Walker's two children, Charles and Sarah, and my mother's children, John, Mary, Richard, Alice, Henry are the only issue.
My parents, Mary Hunt and John Brown were married in year 1812, at Alfreton, Parish of Alfreton, County of Derby, England. Brother John was born in Alfreton, the rest of us at Hermitage Farm, near a village called Swanwick in the same parish, Alfreton. About 1823 we moved from Hermitage Farm to Hollins Farm, Crich Parish, same county. In September 1835 we left England, leaving brother Richard serving his seven years apprenticeship to Mr. W. Harrison, Belper, Derbyshire. Dear Aunt Bessie Hunt his guardian.
Hermitage farmhouse has been neglected, and I believe is not worth looking at now.
On moving day mother and her servant Hannah carried Henry and a mirror in a swing frame. I had a pretty basket, and we walked about seven miles to Hollins. No thought of being tired. Little Alice was near Aunt Alice Brown's elbow to receive us.
Grandfather Hunt said, if his children had been boys, he would have gone to Australia. When our mother was leaving England she felt she was carrying out her good father's wishes by taking her own children to a republican country.
About my grandfather's family
Mrs. Hunt lived on a farm called Wart-Mill, in Lancashire. She was a widow, with one daughter and two boys (not young men), John and Richard. Her farm was held on a long lease, as it had been for many years before, and rents were not high. The owner was Mr. Edgerton Esq. of Tatten Hall. When the old gentleman died, his successor wanted his park enlarged, so he tore down the farm fences for his deer to have more range. Mrs. Hunt went to protest. He only answered "You have the law!" Mrs. Hunt said she knew she "had the law, and justice too, but what could a widow with two boys do against him?" Then her family pride was aroused, and she said, there "had been Hunts at Wart-Mill longer than there had been Edgerton's at Tatten Hall." Her landlord said, "yes, the Edgerton's were only a modern family." Mr. Edgerton Esq. became Lord Edgerton, and I have a picture of Tatten Hall, where the Prince of Wales, now King Edward VII was received as a guest on the occasion of a great industrial celebration in Manchester.
Mrs. Hunt moved to Manchester, where her sister, Mrs. Ramsbottom lived, and with her aid, John and Richard were taken to Mr. Touchet's silk business manufactory, and remained there for many years. That Aunt Ramsbottom was a very dignified precise person. I have heard my mother and aunts speak of her very strict rules about children. Excuses for little errors were not allowed.
Richard Hunt ended his life in Manchester, and our Grandfather, John Hunt, some years after his wife died, took his four daughters to Fritchley, Derbyshire, their own mother's home.
Grandfather's sister married Mr. Leach a bookseller, and her only son, Richard, who had good talents without taste, would go for a soldier. His mother grieved, so his Uncle Richard bought him off, I think twice. Then restless Richard enlisted in the East India Company's service, for twenty years! His mother could do no more. He had a furlough once, for I have heard mother speak of the time when John and I were little children at Hermitage, and her cousin Richard told us to stop being naughty and he would give us something. John received a flute, and I had a very pretty little box from India - porcelain, I think. It was amongst the things I sent to nieces when Gracie was going to be married.
Grandfather Hunt in his young days liked music. In his church at Manchester he was a volunteer teacher to girls in the choir, and when in Fritchley, his daughters were in the choir at Heage Chapel, yet he did not teach them to read music. When young he employed leisure hours in copying that grand music - Handel's "Messiah" - the music and the words. I remember seeing the good writing and all the musical works and notes, and when Aunt Bessie spoke of her father's request to have it destroyed, I begged to have it kept. When we were at Greenbank I wrote to my Aunt, asking her to bring it with her to America. Aunt said if we had written sooner she would, for Mr. Abraham Harrison told her that there was not another man in Derbyshire who would have accomplished such a piece of work.
Grandfather had two cousins whose father - Ramsbottom, had a farm in Lancashire. John and Richard were working in the field harrowing when a horse hurt his foot. The boys knew that they would be whipped at home, so they turned the horse loose, then ran away to London. They became heads of the Ramsbottom Brewery. One daughter married into a nobleman's family. The other runaway never married, and in after years he sometimes came to look at relatives and liked to discuss mathematics with my grandfather.
John and Richard have been family names in my mother's family for nearly three hundred years.
When we were all in the light wagon leaving Fritchley, and passing by Aunt Bessie's house, our mother looked earnestly at the house of her own young days. I could understand why.
Aunt Bessie Hunt went with us to Manchester and Liverpool. She saw our ship, the "St. Cloud", Capt. Rich, where we passed six weeks pleasantly. Alice was rather sick all the time. I suffered for two weeks, parents and brothers scarcely any.
I spent ten years in boarding houses with our father near his Broadway Store, New York, and I once visited our ships captain's family in Bangor, Maine.
My father had been leasing money during twenty years of farming, and my mother would not use any more of her "good father's" money to help the annual rent.
Father was unwilling to leave England, but when we had our home at Greenbank, and no rent to pay, he was satisfied. Our dear mother was entitled to our gratitude for her judgement and energy in making the change.
We landed in New York, went to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where mother called on Mr. Bakewell. We found he was the brother of Mr. Bakewell whom she had known in Crich. He was kind. His friend, Mr. Greville, induced father to look about Canfield for a farm.
We spent one winter in Pittsburgh, and my brother John, a young man, was laid up for many weeks with what Dr. Garsam called 'acclimating'. "Greenbank" was the name my mother gave to our home in Canfield.
In England, our home, Hollins, was about at the foot of the Peak hills, and the land was not rich for grain crops, but minerals were valuable. On one side our house could be seen in the evening, perhaps five miles away, the firelight from hanks coal pits, and the figures of moving men looked like spectres. On the other side of the farm and close to Crich was the "Stand", a hill undermined for the limestone to be burned in the kilns, than carted away to the farms. Also lead ore was found in the mines nearby. A little further West about Matlock was found the beautiful spars caused by the action of mineral waters. There are petrifying wells and a museum of beautiful objects from nature, aided by man's artistic handiwork.
Crich village is one long street. You should enter from the side towards Cromford. If you enter from the side towards Belper, you will be confused by my directions. Better make friends with the Crich Vicar or Curate of our Parish. They will help you with the names and localities. If you visit Hollins Farm before going through Crich, go to one corner of the Churchyard, where you will see the headstone of my mother's father, John Hunt. He died aged 85, in 1827. Perhaps there is the name of my mother's sister Margaret Ramsbottom Hunt, who died aged 52, in 1834.
The venerable Mr. Cornthwaite was Vicar in my young days, as he had been when my mother was young and a visitor in his wife's home. Sometimes my mother called, and his house and contents, including the housekeeper were a curiosity to me. In the parlour was a great old bookcase, almost black. On the top were laid newspapers, probably weekly's, spread out large. Succeeding years separated by sheets of brown paper. As a boy he went to London with one half crown fastened in his cap lining. He studied there and was then ordained by the Bishop of London. He was eccentric, but kind to his parishioners. He disappointed his distant relatives by leaving his money to a housekeeper in Derby who nursed him in his last days.
Do not enter Hollins ground by the door in the rather high wall near the pear tree, but go along the open yard to the Hec Door, and then the house door is near a large window. The Hollins farmhouse had been modernised perhaps ten years before, when my Aunt, Miss Alice Brown, occupied the farm. On the garden walls are still a few stone balls, the size of a man's hat, which had been on the house years before. On one side of the wall of the old back kitchen is a stone frame for the back of the clock. In that old kitchen are the boilers where my mother brewed ale and beer from malt and hops for daily beverage for the manservants. The ale was kept under lock and key - one pint per day for each man, and in the harvest time more beer ad libitum. Only strong men could take the ale. Women never had it. I hope you will drink water from the never failing water taps in the kitchen.
There is a stone paved space between the kitchen and the house door, called the Hec yard. Look at the stone floors in the house. Also look at the stone benches in the pantry, where hams and sides of bacon were laid to salt, then hung overhead in the house to dry. "House place" was the name of the family room for cooking and eating and resting.
In the front were two parlours, one had stone floors, which were very old and had to be laid with carpets.
The front door, upper half glass. A bank of grass with a few grey stone steps, and a bush of Lauristinus on each side, with beautiful little flowers all over it at Christmas. Be sure to look at these bushes. Near the house on each side of the garden is an old Yew tree with the lower branches cut so as to look quite round, and the upper part left a natural shape. Two square grass plots, gravel walks, strawberries, gooseberries, currants, raspberries and vegetables. Lower down, apples and one tree of wild cherries. On one side was a damson tree; near it was a small well, dry in summer days. Some day I can tell a story about that well.
In or near a cherry tree a cuckoo had nested and sent her notes around for our enjoyment. On the West end of the house is a pear tree on a wall reaching up to the roof. Plum trees were nailed to that wall. There was a fence of boxwood, cut square, and two great bushes of that wood cut square.
On the East side of the old kitchen is a space we called the cabbage garden, and there was an immense grand sycamore tree. It could be seen in one direction five or six miles. Mother and I have often watched the great branches drooping in strong winds as though they would break, and then they would slowly rise again. It was splendid. When we moved away, Mr. Isaac Spendlove took the farm and he disliked having all the ground under that tree made useless for vegetables, so he talked of cutting it down. Our last year in England was passed in Fritchley, (two miles from Hollins), and a friend of ours, Miss. Hall, wrote to Mr. Nightingale, asking him to forbid the destruction. Mr. Nightingale answered that sycamore was not 'timber' and he could not prevent cutting it down. My mother and I mourned, and I am sure everyone who knew that tree would disapprove. Years afterwards we heard that Mr. Spendlove had left the farm with his two sons. I have no doubt that his deceased wife had suffered from the cold blast at the house place door, which that grand tree would have prevented. I think that he probably lost money on the farm as my father had done.
All our fields had names, and when you are leaving Hollins, walk up the wagon road to Slack's Hill (a short walk) on your right hand is a field named "Frog sic". It has a little well, perhaps never dry, and the daughters of the Greatorex family on Plaister-Green were coming for water, carried on kits on their heads, when we were going to school. I want you to enter that field on a footpath.
Go down the bank to the spring, then fancy that your father heard the lark singing as she rose higher up, up above that nest near the well.
A little farther on at the corner, we turned to the left, after meeting James and Isaac Lee, who were going with Richard to Mr. Walker's school, while I, with Alice and little Henry went to Mrs. Cawood's school.
On our path on that wagon road, named Plaister Green, was a very narrow row of stones, called a causeway, and said to be of Roman origin. Before quite reaching the end of that path, there is on the left side and close to the sidewalk, a small farmhouse, stable, yard and a pond for geese close to our path. When Richard was not big he did not like having that gander stretch his neck at him. Alice and Henry had very sober faces when trying to walk past that gander's family.
Richard, when a little schoolboy, could not master his numeration table. I remember evenings at Hollins when father was impatient with his slowness over reading. "Life of Peter the Great", which mother had chosen especially to make Richard read figures. In after years mother said the numerous war stories and dreadful battles had often kept her awake at nights. How much mothers will do for children.
The Hollins barnyard is open space between the back of the house and entrance to the stables. Once Richard was on a straw-heap, when a young black horse, called Dick, was going from the pond to his stable. Richard's cap had a square top. Dick took a bite at it. The head escaped by losing the hat. Look at the corn-chamber steps, I have a story about those steps. There is a footpath through the barnyard, and those great old doors for all the cottages who lived about Pothouse and Wessington.
Look in the stackyard at the shore ricks as foundation for stacks of wheat, oats and barley. One panic season, bad men had a mania for burning stacks. Our labourer James Goose saw a man 'stranger' on the outside of the great doors. The man supposed "this place was Hollins", then said, "good stacks, but they would not be there Christmas." James slept in Crich, and every morning on reaching the edge of Slack's Hill, where he could have a view of our house, he was relieved to see the stacks still there. After Christmas he told us about his fright.
The wagon road beyond the orchard is called Wild Lane, and leads towards Wingfield. That road and the road through Pothouse are the ones in Astor Library. In that Wild Lane is one of our fields called Quarry Field. The quarry was very good quarters for gypsies, and we could only trust to our great housedog to prevent thefts of poultry.
Wingfield Manor, a fine old ruin, is just visible from our front windows, and marks of shot from the Parliament Army are seen on some walls. A visit to Wingfield Manor will require a whole day. Two towers are standing, and a three cornered room, said to have been the prison of Mary Queen of Scots, before she was in her last prison Fotheringay Castle, in the south of England. The cloisters and kitchen with two great fireplaces, and one good archway is left, and a modern farmhouse has been built near and with the ruins. A Mr. Hunt's family were there, and their nice young daughter went to school when I did. She died young.
Before we left Hollins, and our things were appraised, the two bushes of Lauristinus were valued at one guinea each, in our favour. They were beauties.
Our Parish Church has been repaired and improved till it looks as pretty as any other. The tower formed of blocks of limestone, which stood on a hill called Crich Stand, has been pulled down. I suppose it was unsafe, as the hill had been undermined for limestone.
Can you contrive to be in Crich Church on Sunday, and obtain permission to sit in the pew which belongs to Hollins farm, it is in the middle isle, left hand side, and not far from the pulpit. My mother's family pew, which belonged to my grandfather's lands, is in a far off corner to the right. My mother would send her servants there when they wished to attend. Our pew was square - mother and father faced the pulpit, Aunt and Uncle Marshall with backs to the pulpit, and the children all around.
At the corner of the churchyard where grandfather John Hunt is laid is a gate, leading to a field named Church Close. Follow that footpath down the hill to a corner where three fields meet, then another footpath to the left, going to Whig Meadow. Go through that field to the wagon road. Then pass on by the end of another wagon road on the left, named Plaister Green; and go to a ridge of land, where a wagon can pass through a high rock by the opening called "Beardsley's nick" (I have a story about that Nick). I want you to be 'just there' for your first view of Hollins Farm House. It looks quite pretty. Follow the footpath down those fields to the wagon road where our land begins.
After leaving Whig Meadow we often saw Sally and her donkeys with their loads of small coal. She was a large person, and her dress - man's hat and boots, and a large labourer's smock over her skirts - made her look masculine. The smock frock was strong blue linen or cotton, made like a clergyman's gown, with gathers and needlework front and back - would last for years. Sally supported younger sisters and brothers by going from Wingfield to Wirksworth, perhaps eight miles, for coal to sell by small buckets full. She went down our Wild Lane. I remember mother's smile when she arrived home in good time. Sally never talked to us, but we felt safe from tramps when with Sally and the asses. When at Greenbank, years after, we saw in an in an English paper about Sally's life, work and her last days.
The Nightingale family pew was across the aisle, and nearer the chancel. On one collection Sunday, we were all standing up, little Florence Nightingale or her sister Padua, was standing on the seat and dropped the gold coin into the collection plate, and then looked at her father's face for approval. Who would have thought then that the name of Florence Nightingale would have become very dear to me, and some others. When about 35 years old, she was head of a party of volunteer nurses who cared for English soldiers in the Crimean War. Turkey, France, England, and Sardinia against Russia. Her judicious, brave work there made her name well known all over Europe, and Queen Victoria bestowed praise and thanks. A costly ornament of jewels was one present.
Mr. Peter Nightingale's estate entailed upon the male heir. Mr. William Edward Shore, his great-nephew, took the name Nightingale when succeeding to the estate. He had two daughters, but no sons, and when his sister, Miss. Mary Shore, became Mrs. Smith, it was believed her son would become the legal heir. Mr. William Shore Nightingale built the Lea-Hurst house, so perhaps that house did not belong to the old estate. I have heard that the Smith family were residing there. I wish you could learn something about them. I think the Curate of Crich Church could tell you, and the present tenant on the Hollins Farm would know.
Over the entrance to the chancel is a painting of the English Coat of Arms. On one side the Commandments, which I studied when waiting for the sermon to end. The vaults under the chancel contain remains of long ago. If names could be read, I believe the ancestors of the present Viceroy of India would be found - Lord Curzon of Kedleston Hall.
While you are in Fritchley, look at the high ground at the back of Mr. Wightman's bobbin mills. Woods on the edge for a background, not a stone. There once stood the mansion of Sir Ralph Fritchville. That property he had three heiresses twice, and Lord Scarsdale and Major Leacroft were heirs. They were living in our days. It was a curious kind of property. My Grandfather Hunt's land and my father's land, and many other acres round about, had to pay a very, very small rent yearly to those two estates. The land might pass to other owners and no word from the ancient families, only that very small amount of rent paid. I remember Aunt Bessie Hunt taking me with her five miles (walking) to pay that small amount of rent. I believe the reception for tenants, was in a sort of hotel. While Aunt was in the office, I was left in the grounds, and looking at grand old trees.
Heage Chapel stood alone on a road part way towards Belper. Rev. Gawthorne, who baptised all of us but John, came from his Belper chapel to preach on Sundays, and all the Fritchley people walked there to him. He also walked every week to Fritchley, held meetings in Mr. Bowmer's house opposite to aunts, and passed the night in aunt's house.
Next house was Joseph Bowmer. He had a baker business, his daughter's were my Sister Alice's schoolmates. One summer they all walked to Belper, five miles, every day, but in winter Alice boarded with Miss. Lomas, her teacher. Ann Bowmer married Smith, of Crich, and went to Australia. Alice Bowmer married Fletcher, residing near Fritchley. When Sister Alice passed away we sent a Canfield paper to inform those in Fritchley.
A son, Joseph, was brother Henry's schoolmate at Mr. Roome's school at Sutton, Nottinghamshire. My brother John was two years in Mr. Roome's school; Richard was, I think, one year, and Henry perhaps about one year; or till we left for America. It was expected that John would be a druggist, but that plan was changed, and he was a farmer.
Wood End is the name of a private house near to Cromford. It was my Aunt Swettenham's home. Mr. Swettenham was attorney and solicitor. He attended to Mr. Nightingale's law matters, try to walk there from Crich. Pass round the hill called Crich Stand. Then nearly in front of Mr. Jarvis Spendlove's farm house. His daughter was a little girl in Miss. Saxton's school when I was rather a big girl. Continuing on that road called I think Leoisure, (I may spell it wrong). It has a high hill on the right hand where once a viper sprang towards a man on horseback.
On the left is lower ground, and the home of Florence Nightingale. It is named Lea Hurst. Once Aunt Bessie took me when she wished to see Mrs Nightingale on some Bible Society business. Mrs Nightingale was not at home. We rested awhile in the housekeeper's sitting room, only disappointed. When I was a very little girl, a delicate lady, Miss Evans, Aunt to Florence Nightingale's father resided at Lea Hall, the family hall, with her good companion friend, Miss Hall.
My Aunt Swettenham, and Aunt Miss Alice Brown were visitors. One day Aunt Swettenham sent to Hollins for me, unknown to Aunt Alice. I arrived there early in the morning before the aunts were dressed. Probably I remained a few days. There was a fine garden, a pond, wild ducks and a fanciful bridge. A few years afterwards, Miss Evans and Miss Hall moved to a house called Cromford Bridge. It was very near Wood End, and the two families were sociable. I can remember visiting there with Aunt and her stepdaughters. They were young ladies when I was quite a little girl.
Some years later Aunt Swettenham sent an invitation for John, and I think Henry too (probably Richard was at school), to meet boys from Rock House for a days rambling about. So John was companion with the grandchildren of Richard Arkwright of Willersley Castle, whose ancestor invented machinery for cotton spinning, while earning his living as a barber. Aunt Swettenham passed away about four years before we left Hollins, but sometimes Aunt Marshall and I were visitors at Cromford Bridge, and my mother and Alice at another time for a few days one summer. Alice was there a good many days. Miss Hall was kind to us when we were arranging to leave England, and she found in Matlock a sort of express carriage, which took us all the way from Fritchley to Manchester. The word "Matlock" on our wagon caused surprises in Manchester.
Then walking, and a little before reaching Wood End, you will see on your right hand, a pretty small house and grounds, it is called Lea Bridge - Mr. Alsopp's residence. There is an old story that once there was an old man living nearby who was called "Indian Nebob". He dressed in the style he had used in the East Indies. He liked Mr. Alsopp's company, and so left his property to that family instead of to my uncle Marshall's relatives, who were his legal heirs.
Wood End house had a pretty green lawn, with gravel walk around, shrubbery, then a public road, then the River Derwent and meadows, then the Rock-House home of Mr. Peter Arkwright. The rooks were crawing in the trees on rock, whose bare front was near the entrance to Cromford village.
A bridge over the Derwent is near the entrance to the grounds of Willersley Castle, home of Mr. Richard Arkwright. A chapel is in the pretty grounds near the river. I remember sitting there with Aunt Swettenham and her three stepdaughters with their father. There were curtains round the pews to keep each family more private.
The Dining Room at Wood End has the inner part of the mantlepiece made of all pure black marble, and the Drawing Room, the whole mantlepiece is almost quite white. I think they both came from Matlock. In the Art Museum in Central Park, New York, I saw spars marked "Matlock". Matlock bath is on the side of a hill and the highest part of the hill is called the Heights of Abram. Higher up, the Derwent receives the little River Dove, where "The Angler" Isaac Walton, fished and dreamed.
After Aunt Swettenham passed away, her family moved to Wirksworth, a town perhaps two miles away. Mr. Milner resides at Wood End. I think you can take a picture of the front with ground. I wish you could walk just once on that gravel walk around the lawn. My sleeping room led to the window over the front door. I have lain in bed crying, thinking that John and Richard had been whipped in Mr. Walker's school in Crich. If you try to take that walk, do not enter the grounds by the gate in the shrubbery, but follow the carriage drive to the hall door, and send a card as a relative of the late Mrs. James Swettenham, asking permission. At any rate I hope you will take a picture, perhaps from the meadows.
I have searched through old papers, but so far, I can only give the date of Aunt Swettenham's death by my own school bill at Ilkeston, dated June 19th 1829. The school was about eleven miles from Crich. Aunt Bessie Hunt and my sister Alice came in the light wagon, with brother John driving. We stopped in Fritchley at Aunt Bessie's house, and when Aunt Margaret spoke words, which showed that Aunt Swettenham was not living. I turned to the window, looked at the beautiful garden and could not speak. Aunt Margaret had not heard of mother's orders that I should not be told in school. Then we rode forward to Hollins, two miles. I could not cry. When seeing mother, the tears came. Her first words were, "Poor child - it is a poor homecoming for you". My mother loved Aunt as though she had been her own sister. I am glad I sent Aunt Swettenham's portrait to Maurice. I feel as if it is safe now.
Aunt Swettenham was buried in Wirksworth, I believe in the early part of June 1829. Could you obtain the official record of her death? If not, I must try by the process required here - writing to some officer in London, with about one dollar for each name I wish for. I would like to have Grandfather Hunt and Aunt Margaret Ramsbottom Hunt. They both died in Fritchley. Crich Church must have record. Grandfather passed away about 1824 or 1825, and Aunt Margaret about 1834, or possibly 1833.
Aunt and Uncle Marshall are buried in Crich Churchyard too, but it was after we left, and I think probably they have no headstone.
Aunt Walker was my father's sister Sarah, and lived in Coventry, Warwickshire. Uncle Walker (I have never seen him) had a silver and watch manufactory. He was blind for many years. He had a son Charles, and a daughter Sarah. Mrs. Bank's family were intimate friends. Their business was making ribbons, a great work in Coventry. I did see Aunt Walker once at Hollins. I was told she was handsome when young, and I thought Cousin Sarah's young face was pretty. Cousin Sarah became the second wife to Mr. Nuttall, his first wife had been her dear friend, but cousin found he was not a good husband, and when her boy was very young she left him. Cousin Charles Walker married. I do not know if he had any children, his wife had a millinery.
Alice was Aunt Marshall's especial pet; Richard was often at Fritchley in his boyhood days.
Reverend Hubbersty's family in Wirksworth visited Aunt's family at Wood End. They had a daughter my age, and two sons older, Philip and Nathan. When I was a little girl I liked Nathan; he became a preacher in the English Church, and Philip a lawyer. Years afterwards I saw Philip at Hollins and Fritchley on business, but I did not tell him I was Mrs. Swettenham's little niece. Richard was in a shop in Paris for only a short time, I think he did not have a high opinion of the business methods there.
The Bank's business house was Charles and Banks, cousin Charles was one of them, and cousin Sarah's son (the last time we heard of him) was their agent in France, somewhere in the southern part, and living in good bachelor style.
Miss. Ann Banks married Mr. Wright of Wirksworth; she visited in Aunt Marshall's house at Fritchley the last year we were in England.
The Wright's had a shop for wine, spirits, and I think groceries. Mrs. Anne Wright would be sure to know about Cousin Sarah now, and if she is not living, her children or her brother's children would certainly know.
The family of Mrs. Wright would know about Aunt Swettenham being buried in Wirksworth, my name Mary, was her name, and I was her pet. Charles and Sarah Walker were the only cousins we ever had, and I wish very much to obtain trace of Alfred Nuttall.
We have heard that a railroad runs through the grounds of Cromford Bridge House.
Miss Hall once took Aunt Marshall riding over the grounds of Willersley Castle. We saw gardens and had a view of scenery higher up the Derwent River. The public is allowed on certain days, I hope you will go. Matlock Bath almost joins Cromford, and there is a museum containing specimens of all sizes and ornaments made from minerals. Spar of various colours is to be found in the rocks where the waters produced these curious results. You will need a good purse for little things for your children and sisters.
There is a view of a high rock called "High Tor", beyond that is the "Peak" where Sir Walter Scott's story of "Peveril of the Peak" was said to be.
Further up is Buxton, with bathrooms, which show the crutches, left there by patients in gratitude for cures of mineral waters.
Nearby is Chatsworth, house of the Duke of Devonshire often visited by tourists from all parts of Europe, I wish you could see it. Your father with a party of young Belper people once went for a pleasure trip and saw the beautiful gardens.
When Alice was at Miss Lomas's school in Belper, there was Mr. James Swettenham practising law I think, he was my Aunt Swettenham's stepson, Mrs. Ann . , when in your house at Chester Hill, told me that he has two nice little girls, I would like to know anything you hear about them in Belper.
I remember him when I was a little girl at his father's and my Aunt's home at Wood End, his sister Miss. Mary Swettenham, became the wife of Dr. Overend of Sheffield before we left England, and afterwards, Miss. Fanny Swettenham also married a doctor.
When Richard's seven years with Mr. Harrison ended, he was in Manchester a short time, then in London, in a great house where the firm of Stone and Bryer made silks and sold them. Clerks must live in the house and all be indoors before ten o'clock. Aunt Bessie visited London, and wished to see the streets where Hebrews did their business, after looking at them for a while, she said "Richard take me away". Aunt Bessie's pleasing manners made her a favourite everywhere. She spent about a year with us at Greenbank, and after she passed away in New York City about November 1845, a year after coming to be with your father, our Canfield minister spoke highly of her from his pulpit.
Dr. Evans was chief doctor in Belper, and came to Fritchley and Crich, once for Aunt Bessie who had a heart attack. Aunt Margaret sent me out for Philip, he almost ran to Belper, and Dr. Evans made him lie down and drink some wine.
When you were all at Chester Hill, you had a visitor, Mrs. Anne .. , she was a daughter to Mr. William Harrison, with whom our father served seven years. Mrs. Anne ,'s grown up daughters were with her. Her son was here on business. Mother and daughter returned to Belper. You also saw a young man .. Leam, who was one of these at Fritchley. His business was something like your father's. He went to St. Louis.
Mr. William Harrison's shop was in the market place, Belper. It is possible that his son David may be living and could talk about your father's busy days there. There were several families named Harrison. I think Mr. Abraham Harrison was most wealthy. Aunt Bessie was acquainted, and a while after we came away, some young people in his house sang that song (author Mrs. Homans) "The breaking waves dashed high". Aunt was so affected that when the song ended she had to leave the room.
Mr. Strutt's cotton mills give work to many people, and his house and grounds are objects of interest, and very pretty.
When going through Crich, walk down the street to an open space called The Cross, then move rather to the right and you will soon see a drug and grocer's shop, and a post-office on the left hand side. Opposite is the gate for the carriage entrance to the home of Mr. Travis, who had charge of Aunt Margaret's and Aunt Bessie's money, being sent to America while our mother lived. Your father had letters from him, and my sister Alice wrote my mother's letters to him. Mr. Samuel Travis had two little daughters. One may be living now and would remember Miss. Elizabeth Hunt. Mr. Travis had modernised the grounds. When I was a very little girl, his aunt, Mr. Woodhouse resided there, and my aunt, Miss. Alice Brown, was well acquainted. I attended school at Miss. Saxton's and after being "out" I waited in Mrs. Woodhouse's parlour till Billy Plant, from Mr. Walker's school, called to take me safe to Hollins.
A little farther on the street, and on the same side, is a house fronting on the street, with walks and shrubs on two sides. That was Mr. Saxton's house, and a building in the rear had been fixed with outside steps for a schoolroom, and an elder Miss. Saxton taught for many years. That house had been the house of Mr. Bakewell's family (our Mrs. Audeben's parents). Miss. Lucy Bakewell was about six years older than my mother, but she and her sisters were intimate with the family. Mr. Bakewell's removal to America was a cause of grief to my mother and her sister, and Miss Lucy wrote letters to my mother for some years afterwards. When I was in my teens, living at Hollins, I often read these letters, written in New Jersey thirty years before. They seemed a sort of romantic story, and now I think Mrs. Lucy Audeben's whole life was a romantic story. Pity these letters were lost when we left England. I wish you could take a picture of that home of Miss. Lucy Bakewell. I think Miss. Audeben would appreciate it now. Perhaps both front and side in two views would be best.
Walk along the open space or Fair Ground, and see on your left hand a good house, close to the sidewalk. Mr. Thomas Lea lived there, and a shop (best one in Crich) is across the street. Mrs. Lea had a little girl who was, I think, a pet of Aunt Bessie's when she left England, in perhaps 1843. She may be living now. I heard that Mr. James Lea, who went to Mr. Walker's school with Richard, had a shop in later years.
I have most of Sister Alice's papers, and I find, also that I have Mr. Travis's letters from July 23rd 1847 to February 9th 1854. Your father had some of his letters too, and perhaps later ones. Mr. Travis and Edward Leam had care of Aunt Margaret's money. Edward Leam held some part of it, and when called in he could not produce it. So Mr. Travis had a great deal of care and trouble, and some good money was wasted in attending to the lost funds. I want to send a note to Mr. Travis's daughter, expressing my thanks for all the care her father took for us who were so far away. After we left England, Mr. Travis was in Belper, and had charge of a bank there. In February 1854, he moved to Derby, our county town. His house was number 34 London Road.
Mr. Witham had the drug and grocery shop, and post office opposite Mr. Travis's house in Crich. His little daughter was in my Sunday School class the last year we were in England. The family may be at that shop still, and perhaps could tell you where Mr. Travis' daughter is now.
I wish you could learn how many acres the Hollins farm includes, and how many acres in Aunt's small farm in Fritchley. Perhaps you may learn the amount of that wee little rent paid to those old estates.
Walk on still further and see Mr. Walker's house on the right, farther back from the street. Near by is the schoolhouse, where boys in my days, and in my mother's days, girls too, were taught to be good writers and good accountants. Boys were whipped too. O dear!
Little below Mr. Walker's school on the same side of the street is the house which Uncle and Aunt Marshall built after we left England. They had been obliged to leave the house in Fritchley, which they rented when they left Hollins. We were in that house one-year, making ready to come to America. When we left England, good old Uncle Marshall's eyes could not see to snuff a candle, and in his new house once he fell down the cellar stairs. He liked Richard very much. Richard walked from Belper (five miles) to spend Sundays with Aunt and Uncle, and reading to Uncle. We all liked Uncle Marshall.
Soon after passing Uncle's house, a road to the left will show the beginning of Fritchley. A short distance down that road, on the left-hand side, will be seen a small chapel on a rock. I remember how the working people rejoiced about having a chapel of their own. Aunt Bessie Hunt had engaged Reverend .. Pike, from Wirksworth, to preach the first sermon. The expected crowd came; but Alice and I were surprised to see a man with a collection plate standing on the pulpit stairs. When Mr. Pike was resting in Aunt's parlour, she had to apologise for his primitive behaviour.
When Richard came to America he told us how the people had built a chapel on the open space in Fritchley, and he helped Aunt Bessie and others with a "tea-drinking celebration".
Grandfather Hunt's house stands with its end close to the street. A grey stone wall on the garden side, and a light coloured stone wall with iron gates on the back. I remember that wall being made, and Aunt Bessie's disappointment when the gates did not prevent outside inspection. Aunt Bessie made the grey wall beautiful with a covering of ivy. The sloping ground was formed into terraces with walls. A high wall made from a corner of the house and grapevines trained on it. Aunt coaxed the bunches to ripen by covering each with black crepe. Laurel, Juniper, and other pretty shrubs, flower borders round, and a grass plot looking like velvet. Aunt taught John how to mow grass properly, and when we were at Greenbank I found none could keep our dooryard grass nice except brother John.
On each side of the front door, laurel bushes formed a porch. At one corner of the garden, a large laburnum tree covered with yellow flowers in season. Sister Alice sat under it studying her lessons. A small gate at the corner of the house, and a few steps down was the front entrance. I hope that you will stand there and look.
Aunt Bessie was a busy worker for somebody always. She was volunteer treasurer and secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society for her district, a few miles in extent. Her kitchen chamber had a chest almost as large as a piano - dark polished wood, with blue lining. Bibles and testaments were kept there to supply those who subscribed for them by slow degrees. The Bible Society in that way tried to send Scriptures to everyone. Aunt often sent me round a mile or more to call for small sums, sometimes a penny a week.
I do not know if you could obtain a good picture of Aunt's house and grounds. I wonder if that Laburnum tree has had any shoots, that you might bring one for your own garden. A slip from the Lauristinus bushes at Hollins front steps would be a treasure.
Aunt's kitchen had old furniture, carved and showing very old style. In some drawers were Richard's playthings. Sundays were strictly kept so when Aunt saw Richard at his drawers, she advised "no play on Sundays", Richard answered, "no, Aunt, I am only making ready!"
The mantlepiece in the best chamber had one ear of Indian corn, yellow and hard. Aunt kept only three cows, and no other livestock. A little railroad ran through the land. I think it took coal to Whatstandwell.
The homes of the Leam family joined Aunt's land. Grandmother Hunt was Mercy Leam. When we left, there were three brothers: Samuel, a carpenter, Joseph, a farmer, and Edward, who had the only shop in Fritchley. Aunt Bessie sold her house and land to Joseph Leam, and after her death in 1853 or 1854, it was sold I believe to .. Bowmer of Barn Close. Probably the youngest son. He with his sister Sarah, who attended Miss. Saxton's school with me, called to say "goodbye" to me the last one or two evenings we were in Fritchley.
Miss. Elizabeth Roome from Sutton, called to see her father's pupils and say goodbye. I remember she expressed surprise that I was willing to leave that pretty looking house and go away to America.
When father was a very old man, we saw in an English newspaper, "died in Alfreton, Nancy Wragg, much respected." I asked father, and he said, "Oh yea, Nancy Wragg and her husband William Wragg were his servants for many years." On Sunday noon hour I told your grandfather. He enjoyed the story.
On the hill, at the back of Barn Close is a large windmill. I walked up there to call in a house nearby. A man there worked like others at making stockings. They were called "Framework Knitters." I had become familiar with the "jar-att" sound of the machines, seen in various small homes in Crich and Fritchley. Often that man could not give me one penny towards his hoped for purchase of a testament. The immense sails of that windmill had a strange fascination for me. I think - no wonder the "Don Quixote" book talked about the wonderful windmill sails.
When leaving Hollins we took our great watchdog trooper to Fritchley, and sometimes brother John amused himself with playing a violin-cello in a parlour with a low window. The music brought Trooper to the garden and he would sit near the window and add his voice to the sound of the instrument. When about to leave, we gave him to Sarah and Thomas Bowmer, who promised him very good care to please me. Afterwards, we heard that he often came to Aunt Marshall's house, appearing very despondent. Good Trooper! He missed the familiar voices and faces, and would not be consoled by others. Probably you will find some of the "Barn Close" family in that house now. It was their property.
These pages are the best account I can give of our family, and I hope you will care to keep it for a family history, though it does look rather disjointed. You can read it on shipboard.
Good wishes from your Aunt Mary Brown.
The following entries were found in the Baptism Register (1794-1846) of the Belper & Heage Independent Chapel. It will be seen that they refer to the family in the previous article.
Born 15 March 1820 / Baptised 11 May 1820
I am much indebted to Mrs. Hester Thorpe, of Wakebridge, Nr. Crich, for her kind permission to transcribe this "Account of the Brown Family Home in England". Mrs. Thorpe was herself a 'Brown' before she was married. Eventually, I do hope to add a few photographs, to illustrate some of the places identified by Miss. Mary Brown.
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