Research of Sarah Tanner


Reminiscences by Isabella Jamieson (daughter of Henry Green) c.1931-34


            My daughter Evelyn has asked me to write anything I can remember about my life and things I have been told about the older relations that the younger ones never knew.

I was born at Heathfield, Knutsford in Cheshire on January 13th 1841, and was the youngest of my family. My sister Emily was the eldest, then my brother John Philip. Then Annie Louisa who married Charles Falcon - she had a twin brother who was still born. Then Mary Ellen, then Alice who died as a little girl when she was 4 or 5 years old.  She was a greatly loved child and was loved and tenderly regretted especially by my Mother and my sister Ellen [There is a photograph of Alice JJA but her burial does not appear in the Brook Street Registers]   Lastly myself Isabella who married Arthur Jamison. My brother married first Theresa, the second daughter of John Herbert the painter and had no children. Secondly Cecilia Pacca, a daughter of Marchese Pacca of Benevento in S. Italy. My brother was a barrister (Lincoln's Inn). He practised in Bombay very successfully and later was appointed Judge of the High Court there. They had three sons - Carlo, Harry, and Philip.

Our father was Henry Green and was the minister of the Chapel in Brook Street. It was built in 1688 and has a curious trust deed - the only condition being (as I was told) that it should only be used by a sect that was not a state religion. At the time I knew it, it belonged to Unitarians. It is a dear old place standing high above the road and is reached by flights of steps.  A large sycamore tree grows at the top of them and we wondered how so large a tree could grow so near to the brick wall which bordered the steps and supported the soil in which the tree grew. The graveyard which surrounds the chapel is the burial place of my Grandparents and parents, my aunts and cousins and Longs, Holland's, and Gaskells - Mrs. Gaskell the authoress and her daughters (two of them) and I think her husband. 

           Lately I have been reading a life of Mrs. Gaskell by Miss Haldane and in it I found twice over she said in a letter to a friend that Annie and Ellen Green were coming to stay with them in order to have singing and music lessons. The Gaskells had then removed to a nice large house in Plymouth Grove but my sister Ellen told me there was a piano in it at which she was told to practice every day. Mrs. Gaskell also used the room to write in and my sister used to wonder much what she was writing and looking back my sister reflected that it was most inexpressibly kind of her to let a girl come and practice while she was writing. The other long visit they paid to the Gaskells was to hear all Thackeray’s lectures on the English Humourists.  A delightful experience for them. Mr. Gaskell was a friend of my fathers when they were both at Glasgow University and Mrs. Gaskell was a great friend of my Mothers and we and the four Gaskell girls were great friends. The whole family once came to stay with us at Christmas and I have been told since that Mr. Gaskell reads Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’ aloud to them - it had just come out, but this was before I was old enough to hear the reading.

My father Henry Green was the eldest son of John Green of Hayle Mill, near Maidstone who was a successful paper manufacturer, but he had great losses after my Father married so that the latter began a school for boys and later removed to Heathfield when a larger house was needed before my birth.

          When my sister Annie was about 14 or 15 she became very ill. It was said to be indigestion and she spent her days lying on a sofa and eating only things that could be taken without pain. At last, she ate only porterjelly and Captain’s biscuits. I think she must have been ill about 2 years. Once my mother and we four girls went to Harrogate and stayed there about 7 weeks. It was hoped it would do Annie good and Emily also and the latter used to drink the waters every morning. I think before breakfast.  We used to go delightful drives and saw Fountain’s Abbey - the Portimom Rocks.   A great tragedy happened to my doll. I left it on a table near a window and while we were out the sun came in and melted her poor face and when I touched it, it fell in!  I used to take her (before the tragedy) on my knee with a large shawl over her face and I imagined people were deceived and thought I had got a real baby! The end of Annie’s illness came thus.  A brother-in-law of my fathers was a very clever doctor in London [probably Henry Powell] and he wrote and begged my Mother to take Annie to London as he felt sure something could be done. He came to see her and said there was nothing wrong but weakness in consequence of doing nothing and eating nothing. He said she was to have a mutton chop the next day. She protested, however, the next day she ate a mutton chop and I expect other things were done.

  In 1851 my brother Philip went to Germany after he had taken his degree at the University of London which had been then recently founded.  He told us of Xmas Trees and Father Xmas and all the festivities in Germany about Xmas, and my Mother thought it would be very pleasant to have one.  So she got a lovely firtree and lighted it with little candles fastened with wire in the boughs and the presents were all arranged on tables (in front) and at the sides of the tree. I had a lovely brown silk umbrella with a lovely brown stick ending in a hook. I had many other things but the umbrella was my delight and it was cherished for many years. On the stick were engraved my initials. The Longs came from Grove House  (or was it still at Brook Louse that they lived?)

My brother was educated at home by my Father who had a small private school which he began when his Father’s business became much less good. I have understood that the cause of his business not doing well was caused by his second son believing that he was discovering better ways of paper making and he stopped the work on the profitable old ways to try out his experiments. I was told by my cousin Henry Powell that many of the new ideas were clever and promising but the fault lay in interrupting the regular work. A cousin of my Grandfather’s took over the mill and house and revived the old business successfully.  All this has come to my knowledge long after the event which happened before I was born in 1841.

To return to my brother at my Father’s school. There used to be an assistant master and French and German were taught by French and German masters who taught those subjects. One of the French masters was a French émigré who lost all in France and came to England and made a living by teaching beautiful French. He taught my sister Emily her first French and she acquired a beautiful pronunciation - later in life she used to be told in Paris that her accent was as nearly perfect as a foreigner’s could attain. I think his name was Turpin. One of the German teachers said to my Father “Your son is very clever, He can alugh with one eye and learn his lessons with the other”. When my brother was 16 he went to the London University - at that time newly established on liberal principles and at that time Oxford and Cambridge were closed to all who were not members of the English Church. Several of the boys at my Father’s school also went there and were my brother’s lifelong friends - one, John Thornely was one of the executors of my brothers will - and his sons’ knew his well and used to go to his house at Esher, and his sisters and brothers were lifelong friends of my sisters and myself as well as many of the other boys.

          I remember looking out for the cab in which my dear sister Emily was coming home for good from school, and I set off to scamper across the lawn, with my head down to meet her,  and when I got to the gate she had driven round the lawn and was at the house! We did our lessons (with) my dear sister Emily and she was so kind to me.  The pleasures of life were spending afternoons in playing Flags, Rounders and Hide and Seek with my friends.

My mother, Mary Brandreth was the daughter of John Brandreth who lived at Bolton and was a cotton spinner in the early days when fortunes were made in that business. He was the youngest son of Joseph Brandreth and Catherine Pilkington and was twenty years younger than his next brother. He was a man of high character and greatly beloved by my mother and Aunts. His only son Thomas was also greatly beloved by his parents and sisters and I believe was making a successful business in cotton but he died of typhus fever when he was 33 in 1838.

            My Grandfather had been unsuccessful in his business and the early life of his family was difficult, his wife Anna Grundy was one of four little girls who were left orphans very early. Their father was Edmund Grundy who had married Betty Byrom and I think the four little girls must have gone to live with their grandfather and grandmother. They were Sarah (who married Mr. Langshaw and lived at Lancaster) and who I think remained with the Grandparents and also the youngest Elizabeth who married Mr. Green and lived at Manchester, but my Grandmother Anne, the second was adopted by her Great Aunt Hannah and her husband Mr. Kaye, and Jane the third was adopted by her Great Aunt Mrs. Pearson and her husband. Jane married Col. Fletcher who was the head of the spy system and is now written about by Mr. and Mrs. Hammond. Jane and my Grandmother Anna lived at Bolton and were close friends in spite of the divisions in religion and politics and prosperity. My Grandmother Anna (e) (the second little girl) married John Brandreth. He had before married Miss Horridge and had a daughter Alice (who married Mr. Casey (Carey), a surgeon at St. Helens). My grandfather was a great lover of horses and hunted  and the tradition was that coming home from hunting he got off his horse and walked with my Grandmother if he met her. The Brandreths belonged to the C. of E. and so did the Grundys, but the Kayes must have been Presbyterians as they went to Chapel and I suppose developed into Unitarians as many did.  My Grandfather heard violent attacks made by the Vicar in his sermons against Unitarians, and wondering if it was true he went to the Chapel to hear for himself what was said and finally himself became one. He was also a radical and an admirer of Cobbett, not quite a chartist, my mother said, but he was in the carriage with Mr. Hunt when he drove through Manchester during the procession which led to the Peterloo Massacre, My Mother told me that if soldiers marched past their house afterwards the blinds used to be drawn down. I found among my Grandmothers things when she died, a little pincushion made of black crepe and round it marked in white silk ‘remember the fatal June 1848’ [this was still in the possession of the Jamieson family in 2003]

            I believe Col. Fletcher said he regretted my Grandfather’s politics as, if he had been different he would have been able to help him to satisfactory employment after his business losses. Both of them respected the character of the other in spite of political and religious differences. My Mother told me that Col. Fletcher would not let his wife sew, saying ‘anyone could be got to sew, but his wife was far more useful to him helping him with accounts and letters and paying the colliers’ wages’ and this she used to do. On Shrove Tuesday, they had large old and black earthenware pails filled with batter and anyone could come to the house and have a pancake. I think it must have been the colliers' families who might come, it could hardly have been anyone.

            I remember when I was very small we had a pony called Sheltie, it was rather stupid and would only canter on the homeward way. I think it soon went and then for some time we had a dear dear donkey called Billy.   He came to us very young, and quite untrained but I chiefly rode on him because I was not too heavy for his young legs. He lived in a field and came to us when we called him to eat bread and sometimes we gave him gorse for fun, but he could eat it up with pleasure. Once when he was older, I came in at the garden gate expecting him as usual to canter round the drive which had a lawn or rather grass on either side -once he suddenly went onto the grass and was going under the branch of the beech tree at full pace. The branch was too low for me to pass under and I remember catching hold of it and letting Billy continue his course and leaving me hanging to the branch!  I have always thought it was lucky I had presence of mind to hang on!  Billy used to canter round the lawn and go to the back door where we used to give him a soup plate full of oatmeal and water, which he loved. Twice Billy was lost! The second time for many weeks and we feared he would never be found, but to our joy, we heard where he had been taken and it was arranged for him to be brought back. I made a large wreath of wild daffodils to greet him and hung it on the gate through which he would come from the high road, but, alas! some one took it away. However I made another and he wore it when I went for a ride.  My father wrote two delightful poems about him – ‘His Loss’ and ‘Billy’s Return’. They are in an MS book in which I wrote poetry that I liked. Miss  Cousins had a donkey called Neddy. He was brown, Billy was grey and was exactly like a large donkey’s head of which I made a copy, but mine being on grey paper always was a better likeness than the copy [still held by the JJA]. I still have both and hope sometime I may have great grandchildren who may have it in their nursery. For sometime I had a plait of hair from Billy’s tail which I wore as a bracelet with a little gold clasp. When we wanted him no longer he was given to a friend but would not settle and finally was found as our friends had supposed making his way across the fields home again. Then we heard that Mr. Egerton of Tatton would like him for his grandchildren. He lived in Tatton Park where I once saw him. How long he lived I do not know? We also had a pony ‘Forester’ and our cousins had one called' Fanny’.   She was very beautiful with an arched neck and she had been trained at a circus, and would dance if she heard a band. It was an untold pleasure, we were allowed to ride together where we liked and we used to come upon gypsy encampments in the lanes, and the gypsies asked us what the time was, but as we had no watches we could not tell them and they never troubled us, though we did think it rather an adventure. Forester went to the Ralph Fletchers at Atherton for the children to ride when we got too big for him and I don’t know how long he lived!  My cousin Catherine Long had a basket carriage and drove the pony in it when she got too big to ride him.

            The earliest thing that I remember was standing by my mother when she and my sisters were choosing the colour that the drawing room walls were to be painted and feeling quite able to have an opinion. Years after when the drawing room was to be painted again I said, “Why cannot the painters paint different shades of colour on a board like they did when it was last painted?”   They exclaimed, you cannot possibly remember it  you were only two years old

            There was a straight gravel path from the front door to the drive round the lawn, and I remember standing at my nursery window and seeing my Grandfather coming to see us, and he shook his stick and smiled at me.  He called me ‘Little-wide-awake”. I was taken in to see him in bed during his last illness  but I only knew that he was ill. I was about four years old.

            Knutsford, as I remember it, consisted of two longish streets - ‘The higher street and the lower street.’ The ‘lower street’ ended with the approach to Yatten Park with a lodge and large iron gates where the Egertons lived. The other end of it became a country road on the left leading to Chelford. Brook House stood at the turning and on the right was Adams Hill. My mothers’ youngest sister Jane married John Long and they lived at Brook House. There was a lawn and three houses in front and a large garden behind. A steep lawn rose on the left of the house to a low brick wall and at the top was the Chapel and graveyard where so many friends and relations are buried. Upon the level of Chapel was Grove House, which also belonged to my Uncle, John Long.  He removed to it when I was quite young. Grove House stood in a large field or small park and was bounded in front by the Toft Road. I think his children were all born at Brook House. Louisa, Catherine who was five days younger than I was - John Brandreth and William Herbert and a little girl. The two last died quite young babies. At the Tatton Park end of the Lower Street was the house where my Uncle's brother Henry lived. He married Miss Mary Gaskell, a cousin of Wm. Gaskell whose wife was the novelist. They had seven daughters, the eldest six months younger than myself. In this part of the street my Father and Mother lived when they married and in another house later. Before I was born, they removed to Heathfield where my father lived till he died in 1873.

          From the top of Adams Hill the Higher Street became a continuation of the Toft Road with the County Jail and the Goodman’s House on the left.  This is now being taken down and I hear a huge garage is taking its place  (AD 1931) opposite it was Church House and the Parish Church. Mr. Peter Holland, who was the doctor for Knutsford had a large circle round it. I remember him as a very old man riding on a horse after he had given up practice and often going to Sandle Bridge which was a farm belonging to the Holland family for a long period. Mr. Peter Holland married a Miss Willis and through her they were cousins of the Wedgwoods, the great pottery owners. The children of this marriage were Henry, Mary, Bessie and Lucy, and Arthur who died early — and of his second marriage Charles and Susan. They were interesting people and Miss Holland and Miss Lucy Holland were great friends of my parents and all of us. Henry was a doctor and well-known in London where he practiced. He was medical to the unhappy Queen Caroline. He was made a Baronet and was the father of the late Lord Knutsford and Grandfather of the present Chairman of the London Hospital. Mary and Lucy were unmarried and lived at Church House till they died. Bessie married and had no children. Susan married Mr. Deane (as his second wife) who succeeded Mr. Holland as the chief doctor in Knutsford and the neighbourhood. The Deanes lived in a delightful old house in the Higher Street which was perfectly adapted to playing Hide and Seek as it had 3 (if not 4) staircases in its various parts. Mr. Deane's first wife was Miss Sharpe whose sister and brother married cousins of my Mothers. Their children were Emily, Arthur and Margaret who were friends of ours and rather older than I. Arthur became a clergyman and had many children. He had a living in the Diocese of Chichester.        Emily did not marry and Margaret married a clergyman and had no children.   (Page 5a was an insert) The second Mrs. Deane had two dear little boys - Herbert and Edmund - but they died when they were quite small children, and their half brother Wa1ter all had scarlet fever and all died from it, as in those days whole families died from it. After this Mrs. Deane had a little girl ’Mary’.  She went with her Mother to stay with a cousin Mrs. ……at Warwick (this was after Mr. Deane’s death). Little Mary had an illness and died while they were there. Poor Mrs. Deane was heartbroken, but she devoted herself to the two stepdaughters and son and was a most charming and delightful woman.

            Miss Holland made her house into the social centre of the Knutsford Society and often had interesting visitors and their nephews and nieces from London paid visits to them most years. Between the further end of the Higher Street was the Heath, a large common with two sandpits in it and it was surrounded by a race course — where I believe there were good races and all the neighbouring people drove in to them. My Grandmother Brandreth’s house looked out onto the common and racecourse and we used to go there to see the races. I have a charming sketch of the races done by my Aunt Anna Brandreth from their drawing-room window. We enjoyed seeing the races and the crowd, though I believe the races were not good and my Aunt Anna greatly disliked the round-abouts and Aunt Sallys etc., which established themselves not far from their house and were noisy and disreputable till very late.

          There was no railway and there were omnibuses to Altrincham -  7 miles -   where we could go by railway to Manchester. Another omnibus went to Chelford - 4 miles - where we went to the railway to go to London. A third omnibus went to Warrington - 14 miles - whence the railway took us to Liverpool. I think there was only one each day at about 8 a.m. and one back which got in about 6 p.m.

            In 1851 I had my choice between going to London to see the Great Exhibition built of glass in Hyde  Park, or going to Patterdale.   My father and Mother went to London but we four sisters went with our Aunt Anna Brandreth to Potterdale.  How lovely it was and how I enjoyed it.   My Aunt and Emily sketched a great deal. We went up Helvellyn guided by our landlord who was the manager of the lead works. We saw over the lead works and at that time the silver found was extracted from the load. Before we reached the top of Helvellyn, rain and thick mist came on and we had to turn back and got very wet. Two years later I was invited to go to Ambleside by Mrs. Henry Long and the three elder girls and Mrs. Long’s sister Mrs. Harvey and John, Frank and Herbert her three youngest sons.   (My Aunt Mrs. Long).  We had a lovely time it was at a house at the head of Windermere Lake with her children and sometimes they joined in. The John Fletchers then lived at the Water Head. One morning Mary Long and I had leave to get up when we wakened and also John and Frank Harvey and walk up to Stock Ghyll Force and climb along the rocks in the stream. She and I were 12 and the boys older so we were quite safe and oh it was fun and lovely and we got back for breakfast. I was a worshipper of Mathew Arnold’s poetry and also of Mr. Arnold. The latter had lately died and his widow lived in their house Fox House. One day we went a walk round there and went into the garden (the family being away) and I gathered a lovely yellow pansy and then was seized with conscientious horror at having taken it without leave   - so I went up to the house and confessed to the maid who seemed hardly to think I had committed a sin.

           Evelyn wishes me to write down the following account which I was told many years ago. I cannot remember that I heard Miss Holland give the account or whether she told some one else who repeated it but I think I  heard it direct from herself. I am writing it to show the difficulties of travelling in the past and the way that relations took care of one another - No Nurses or Nursing Homes.      Dr. Peter Holland had been the doctor at Knutsford and I remember seeing him riding about and hearing that he had often a fall from his pony but was

never hurt. He had retired from practice (I think) before I was born. His son Sir Henry Holland was also a doctor and attended George IV’s wife Queen Caroline on her travels and practiced in London and lived in Brook Street where I often went when his daughters Caroline and Gertrude lived till about 1890 or rather later? At the time I am writing about Sir H. Holland’s first wife was living, her sister-in-law Miss Holland received a letter telling her that her sister-in-law (then Mrs. Holland) had a very serious illness. She was much grieved and wished to go to her at once. The date must have been after 1829. The coach to London passed about 2 miles from Knutsford. The usual custom was to write and secure places beforehand, but Miss Holland wished to go at once to her sister-in-law and therefore set of before daylight to walk the two miles with a man wheeling her luggage in a wheelbarrow, on the chance of finding a vacant place. This she was fortunate enough to do – she arrived in London in the evening and found her sister-in-law beautifully dressed and just setting out to a ball!  The shock was naturally very great. It was true that her sister-in-law had a serious illness but at that early time she was able to go about as usual.

At Knutsford we had many friends. My Mother’s sister Jane married John Long who was in business and owned a good deal of property in Knutsford and Allostock and a farm at Mere Heyes which had come into his family 200 or 300 years before (I think this cottage) but I only knew it quite a few years ago. I knew the place very well. We used to go and stay there for a few weeks in the summer.

         There was a nice large house in the back part of which the Cheese and Butter making was carried on. The head dairymaid was always a nice woman with a round rosy face. She was very fond of my cousin Catherine and I was later told that one morning she took Catherine (a very little girl) when the cows were brought up from the fields in the morning and let her ride on the bull’s back. I think my Aunt must have given leave and none of the other children knew till afterwards. My uncle rode over to Mere Hayes most afternoons and very often one of my cousins on her pony and one of us on ours went with him. The domestic part of the house was at the back and the rooms in front were kept for my Uncle’s use with his family. There were three greyhounds and one of them was good tempered and safe and we might take him on a chain on our walks. There was a very old spinet in one of the rooms we used. The wires were many of them broken and it could not be played upon, but it had a lovely mahogany case. Many years later Alfred Holt who married my cousin Catherine had it made into a beautiful writing table and it was brought and used at Grove House, Knutsford and I expect (1934) it is now at Halcombe House, Minchinhampton, where my Uncle’s Great Granddaughters now live.



1935    Brook Street Chapel, Knutsford.  Calendar for March 1935

A Link with Old Knutsford

There are those in Knutsford who speak with gratitude of the Rev.Henry Green, who was Minister of the Chapel from 1827 to 1872.  They will be glad to know that news was recently received of Mr. Green’s daughter, Mrs Jamison,   as still living in London, at the age of 94, and that she retained happy memories of the Chapel, and of the Gaskell’s, Hollands and Holts, as well as of well-known Unitarian families, such as the Martineaus, Herfords, Winkworths and Wicksteeds.  If these remarks should come to the notice of Mrs. Jamison, we should like to assure her that there are persons still living here who like to assure her that there are persons still living here who hold Mr. Green and his family in affectionate remembrance.  Mr. Payne’s recent history of the Chapel helps to keep alive an interest in the scholar and able Minister whose Emblem Books and other works have left their mark in Literary history (Mr Green successfully maintained that Sir Isaac Newton held Unitarian views and his latest biographer comes to the same conclusion).  And the old “Heathfield” house still stands as a monument of old times, when Mr. Alfred Holt was a scholar there and the Misses Green and two of Mrs Gaskell’s daughters as pupils.


Edited and updated Summer 2014.    Sarah Tanner


Copyright Sarah Tanner 2008