Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Branwell Brontë’s ‘honest and kindly friend’: Dr John Crosby of Great Ouseburn

An article of particular interest to Brontë enthusiasts:

The experiences of Anne and Branwell Brontë in the household of the Reverend Edmund Robinson of Thorp Green near York had significant and dramatic consequences for them both.

Branwell never worked again after his sudden dismissal as tutor to young Edmund Robinson in June 1845; it precipitated the self-destructive decline that ended in his death in September 1848.  Anne’s novels Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall derive much material from her five years as governess to the Robinsons’ daughters and from the painful three years at Haworth Parsonage during which Branwell descended into drunkenness, irreligion and despair.

The cause of Branwell’s dismissal has long been a subject of debate, while in recent years there has been increasing interest in Anne and appreciation of her work. The lack of information about their time at Thorp Green has therefore been most unfortunate; the following account of Branwell’s ‘honest and kindly friend’ [1]  Dr John Crosby and his friends and neighbours, whose social life Branwell probably shared, may therefore be appreciated.



Branwell himself told his family and friends that he was dismissed because of his love for Mrs Lydia Robinson:
 ‘my admiration of her mental and personal attractions which, though she is 17 years older than myself are both very great [...] All combined to make me reciprocate an attachment I had little dared to look for’  [2]
His claim, previously doubted, has been supported by the discovery that he had in fact written on the subject to his friend John Brown within months of arriving at Thorp Green in January 1843, evidence first presented by Juliet Barker in The Brontës (1994).

In May 1843 Branwell told Brown,
‘my mistress is DAMNABLY TOO FOND OF ME’, 
and by November he had apparently been given a lock of Mrs Robinson’s hair. [3]

It is not entirely clear how his family viewed this claim.

Mrs Gaskell took her information (in her Life of Charlotte Brontë, 1857) principally from later accounts by Charlotte, her father and her friend Ellen Nussey. Branwell’s papers – which were thought to have included his letters from Mrs Robinson – had been burned by his sisters after his death.  Charlotte’s letters in the summer of 1845 indicate that the family’s energies were largely absorbed in managing Branwell’s shocking reaction to his sudden dismissal, rather than enquiring too deeply into the cause.  The only written sources from that summer are Charlotte’s communications to Ellen Nussey, beginning with the letter of 31 July 1845 when she told Ellen that Branwell had
‘received a note from Mr Robinson sternly dismissing him intimating that he had discovered his proceedings which he characterised as bad beyond expression', 
and Branwell’s own letters to friends.  Charlotte seems largely to have believed Branwell’s account, though letters written after Mr Robinson’s death in 1846 suggest some reservations as to detail.  The Revd. Patrick Brontë apparently entirely believed his son’s version of events.  Emily’s opinion on the matter is not recorded.  She noted in her Diary Paper of 31 July 1845 that Branwell left Thorp Green in July 1845 and that
‘I hope [he] will be better and do better, hereafter’.
Similarly Anne, on the same day, merely wrote that Branwell had
‘been a Tutor at Thorp Green and had much tribulation and ill health’, 
and
‘we hope he will be better and do better in future’.
Anne’s silence has been felt as particularly frustrating.  Her comment in the same Diary Paper that
‘during my stay [at Thorp Green] I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt of experience of human nature’ 
(coupled with her pencilled note in her Prayer Book, ‘Sick of mankind and their disgusting ways’) has been taken to indicate that it was the behaviour of Branwell and Mrs Robinson that precipitated her resignation as governess.  On the other hand, her remaining pupils were by then aged seventeen and eighteen, so her employment would naturally be drawing to an end.

In later letters to Ellen, Charlotte appears to take it for granted that Anne’s view of Mrs Robinson and the Thorp Green episode was identical to her own.  Whether it can be safely assumed that Anne had never contradicted Branwell’s story, must be a matter of personal opinion.  It ought perhaps to be remembered firstly that Anne was accustomed to keep her own counsel, and secondly that she might have encountered grave difficulties convincing her father and elder sister of her point of view if it had differed from Branwell’s, given her position in the family dynamics as ‘dear little Anne’. [4]  Moreover, Branwell’s father and sisters may have found it impossible, given their own painful honesty, to know what to make of the consoling fictions in which he seemed to believe so fervently.

Branwell’s version was certainly believed in the Haworth area, probably with the usual village embellishments.  When publication of Mrs Gaskell’s biography resulted in threatened proceedings from the solicitors of Mrs Robinson (now Lady Scott), the publisher George Smith sent enquiry agents north to attempt to establish whether there was any evidence to prove Mrs Gaskell’s claims. They found only ‘mere unverifiable gossip’ [5].  Smith noted that the Revd. Brontë’s ‘evidence’ consisted only of the stories Branwell had told him; he had never himself seen the letters Branwell claimed to have received from Mrs Robinson.

It was thought in Haworth (and recounted by both the Revd. Brontë and, much later, his former servant Sarah Garrs) that the Thorp Green gardener had informed Mr Robinson of his wife’s indiscretions.  This was probably Haworth, rather than Thorp Green gossip; we have only Branwell’s (unreliable) testimony as to the reaction there.  It seems unlikely that the agents made enquiries in that neighbourhood, as it would have been unnecessarily provocative to send men into a sparsely-populated parish to question Edmund Robinson’s servants and tenants about his mother’s behaviour with the tutor.

The Robinson family’s version of events is also unknown.  Mr Robinson clearly felt no loss of confidence in his wife, as under his Will of January 1846 she was not only made guardian of their infant children, but also executrix and trustee of his estate with the other trustees required to attend to “her wishes and directions” in its management.  Mrs Robinson objected to Mrs Gaskell’s account and obtained a full retraction, the withdrawal of copies printed and a revised edition.  The original text did not name her, so she was not identifiable by anyone who did not already know the story, and while we might assume the worst from her failure to give her explanation for Branwell’s dismissal, she was not obliged to give one.  Both she and her son died before the growing interest in Branwell, from the 1870s onward, might have forced them to respond to increasing public speculation.  Mrs Robinson died eighteen months after Mrs Gaskell’s revised edition was published and Edmund died in 1869, one of the aristocratic huntsmen who drowned in the river Ure at Newby Park when a ferry boat crowded with men and horses overturned. [6]

Contemporary views of Mrs Robinson come to us through the Brontës and Mrs Gaskell, and differ widely.  Branwell wrote of her ‘sensitive mind’ [7] and
‘her totally unselfish generosity, sweet temper and unwearied care for all others with ill requital in return’. [8]
Her daughters told Anne and Charlotte in 1848 that their mother had previously been ‘even servilely submissive to them’ but now treated them quite harshly so that they were often afraid to speak to her. [9]

On 28 January 1848 Charlotte commented to Ellen:
‘That woman is a hapless [or hopeless] being; calculated to bring a curse wherever she goes by the mixture of weakness, perversion & deceit in her nature.’ 
For Mrs Gaskell she was simply
‘that bad woman who corrupted Branwell Brontë’ 
and whose own relations had been forced to drop her acquaintance because she had been
‘a bad heartless woman for long & long’. [10]
As the months passed after his dismissal, Branwell convinced himself of Mrs Robinson’s continuing love for him.  Her husband’s poor health opened to him the inviting prospect that her widowhood would make him happy, rich and ultimately famous:
'I had reason to hope that ere very long I should be the husband of a Lady whom I loved best in the world and with whom, in more than competence, I might live at leisure to try to make myself a name in the world of posterity, without being pestered by the small but countless botherments, which like mosquitoes sting us in the world of work-day toil'. [11]
Already in a fragile state, the destruction of his fond hopes after Mr Robinson’s death in May 1846 impelled him to seek relief in alcohol and opiates.

Juliet Barker’s analysis of subsequent events leads her to suggest that Mrs Robinson was an able manipulator of Branwell, keeping him at a safe distance by using her coachman, maid and the local surgeon to
‘portray herself in the way most calculated to appeal to Branwell’.  
However, the only source for this portrayal of Mrs Robinson
‘distracted to the verge of insanity’ ... ‘terrified by vows which she was forced to swear to’ ...‘her sensitive mind’ now ‘totally wrecked’
is Branwell’s own correspondence in the summer of 1846, and by then he had grown desperate and increasingly unreliable.

Moreover an unfortunate casualty of this interpretation is the reputation of the local surgeon, Dr John Crosby, who necessarily appears either as Mrs Robinson’s accomplice or her dupe.  In fact Juliet Barker herself points out in a footnote that the inscription on the tablet in Great Ouseburn church erected in John Crosby’s memory by
‘a large circle of friends who deeply lament his sudden removal’, 
which speaks of
‘his universal kindness, professional ability, benevolent disposition & active usefulness’, 
‘suggests that he too may have been duped by the lady’. [12]

I would suggest that Branwell’s versions of Dr Crosby’s communications cannot be relied upon and that what is known of Mrs Robinson’s behaviour (as seen, for example, in her daughters’ comments to Anne and in her hasty marriage to her cousin’s widower) is more indicative of impulsive action than of sustained and calculated manipulation. [13]

However, leaving aside my own opinion of Mrs Robinson, I can offer here an account of John Crosby’s life and his circle of friends, to enable others to make up their own minds on the matter.  It may also be of interest to admirers of Anne Brontë’s fiction; so little is known of Anne that a description of the neighbourhood in which she lived for five years might be welcome.

Shocked by John Crosby’s sudden death of a stroke at Euston railway station on 1 December 1859 at the age of sixty-two, his friends not only erected a tablet in his memory in the church at Great Ouseburn, but also an obelisk in the graveyard. The inscription on the latter has almost disappeared, but fortunately the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds holds a transcription taken before the weather obliterated much of the lettering. It recorded that
'the benevolence of his disposition, the urbanity of his manners, the sympathy he manifested for the suffering poor and the skill he evinced in the exercise of his professional duties left a name which is cherished in many abodes, that in health had been cheered by his genial spirits and in sickness had been solaced by his kindly aid.'
John Crosby was a local man from a large family.  The son of a farmer, he was baptised in 1797 in the neighbouring parish of Newton upon Ouse.

He and the survivors of his many brothers and sisters formed a close-knit and mutually supportive network.  Their fortunes varied: one sister married well and her children remained prosperous; another’s early widowhood led to a loss of income and a daughter working as a nursery governess at the age of fourteen; a niece worked as a lady’s maid until her marriage to a farming neighbour of Dr Crosby enabled her to employ her own servants; a brother was a grocer in York; a nephew was a seed merchant in Great Ouseburn, another a doctor in Salford.

John Crosby was the most successful of his siblings, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, but sadly for such a family-minded man he was childless and his wife died young.  In late 1829 or early 1830 he came to the parish of Great Ouseburn, where two of his married sisters lived.  One of his brothers-in-law, John Curteis, was an apothecary in the village and either there were sufficient patients for both of them, or Crosby’s assistance was required because of Curteis’ failing health – he died in December 1831 at the age of 32, leaving his widow with two children under the age of two.  Crosby remained in Great Ouseburn for the rest of his life.

The 1841 census (which did not record the relationships between the members of a household) records the presence in his household of a male and a female servant and a thirteen-year-old boy, William Crosby, who was almost certainly the son of his brother Mark  [14]. By 1851 Crosby employed a groom/labourer, a housekeeper and a general servant.

John Crosby’s circle of friends can be deduced from the boyhood diaries of John Richard Stubbs (1838-1916)  [15].

John was the son of Thomas Stubbs, Boroughbridge grocer and wine merchant, and Mary Henlock of Great Ouseburn.  Her family had been yeomen there for many generations and her brother now ran the family farm, where he lived with his mother and unmarried sisters.  The history of this large and closely-knit family was researched and recorded by John Stubbs’ cousin William – doubly his cousin, as their fathers were brothers and their mothers were second cousins.  This was William Stubbs, Bishop of Oxford and eminent constitutional historian (1825-1901)  [16].

John Stubbs’ earliest surviving diary is dated 1853, eight years after the departure of Anne and Branwell Brontë, when John was fourteen years old and a pupil at Giggleswick grammar school.  At sixteen, he was articled to his uncle, a Boroughbridge solicitor.  He left Boroughbridge to set up his own practice in Middlesbrough in February 1860, a few months after Dr Crosby’s death.

The kinship and friendship network of the Stubbs and Henlock families extended through the neighbouring parishes and towns, but particularly around Boroughbridge, Aldborough and Great Ouseburn.  Their social life is reflected in John’s diaries: the way of life of a traditional rural community centred on hearty meals, outdoor work and recreation and the importance of maintaining the links between families, friends and acquaintances – very similar to that of the Markham family in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Family and friends met at dinner, tea and supper.  They held evening parties, organised summer picnics and went boating together on the river.  Visitors were entertained by a round of parties and new brides were invited to all the neighbours in succession.  Religion was important to these families – letters show their faith was deeply felt and they attended church three times on Sundays – but they enjoyed a round of whist, backgammon, charades, singing round the piano and impromptu dances.

The women had fewer opportunities to go out than the young men and boys, but often John was accompanied on walks in his noon break or after work by his aunts, sisters or cousins.  They too enjoyed energetic outdoor games (perhaps too energetic for some -- during a game of ball with visitors, John’s twenty-nine-year-old cousin Dora ‘struck the ball into Miss Dixon’s face she cried poor thing’)  [17].

In the evenings the young men would take out their dogs or a gun for a little sport by the river.  They frequently walked miles to call on family and friends, who must have been constantly prepared to feed extra mouths at a moment’s notice.  Anyone setting out on foot was invariably ‘set’ at least part of the way; it was another opportunity for exercise and company.

This was a conservative and traditional society (John’s family kept up the practice of races and games after weddings until 1860) consisting of endlessly inter-related families.  Newcomers were welcomed (the new solicitor in his uncle’s office eventually married John’s sister) and they were quickly absorbed into the social round.  John’s constant companion between 1856 and 1858 was a young bank clerk who was working in Boroughbridge: Mark Hall Smallwood, the brother of Dr Crosby’s nephew’s wife.  Another friend was Tom Johnson, who was Dr Crosby’s medical assistant.

These friendships were not neglected because of distance or the passage of time – for example, when John’s sister Alice visited Scarborough in 1875, seventeen years after Mark Smallwood left Boroughbridge, she and her friends called on him (he ‘gave them champagne and other good things and made many enquiries about you’) and in August 1857 when John, his uncle and aunt Pick and his brother Tom were in Manchester to visit the Exhibition, they went on the off chance to see if Dr Crosby’s nephew William was at home:
‘took a cab to Salford called on Crosby but he was out’.
The Henlocks and the Stubbs – together with other yeomen families of the neighbourhood such as the Pavers, the Picks and the Howes, and the vicars of Little and Great Ouseburn – were the friends of Dr Crosby and he is mentioned by John Stubbs on twenty occasions between 1853 and 1860 (the diary for 1854 is missing).

Crosby held dinner parties attended by John’s elder siblings, his aunt, his cousins, and the Boroughbridge and Aldborough doctors; John went to tea there and stayed the night, and in turn Crosby’s nephew stayed overnight with John at his aunt Pick’s house in Great Ouseburn; John and Crosby played whist at uncle Henlock’s house, together with other male friends and family and the gamekeeper; John went to Crosby’s for tea, and they played Bagatelle and cards; he called at Crosby’s and met a young visitor, Miss Johnson (‘She played & sang I turned over the leaves she has a very sweet voice’).

Crosby was fond of company and evidently well-disposed to the young.  Branwell – like Mark Smallwood and Tom Johnson after him – will have been a welcome addition to this circle.  At the time of Branwell’s arrival at Thorp Green in the neighbouring parish of Little Ouseburn, he was twenty-five years old and John Crosby was forty-six, twenty years younger than Branwell’s father.  In this small society, Crosby’s friends spanned all ages – John Stubbs’ aunt Ann, for example, was only seven years older than Branwell.  Branwell was sociable and had (in Charlotte’s words) a ‘strong turn for active life’; he was probably happy to join in Crosby’s circle of friends.  Moreover, there are several minor points about this social circle that might have seemed familiar or caught his interest.

According to the landlord of the Black Bull in Haworth, in 1842 Branwell had been eager to take on mill rioters during the Chartist agitations; Thomas Stubbs had been in the Yorkshire Hussars for twenty years and a surviving letter to his wife shows that he had been posted to Bradford in May 1826 (‘You will have seen Mr Stead before you receive this, he will tell you the news and the battles we have fought.’).

Charlotte’s friend Mary Taylor, well known to Branwell, was planning her eventual move to New Zealand; two of the Henlock brothers had been living there for several years.

The many historical associations of the area may have attracted his attention.  As Bishop Stubbs said in a lecture in which he recommended ‘the following up of local and personal history as leading to a connexion with the greater streams and lines of social and political history that is full of direct interest’:
‘My grandfather’s house [John’s home] stood on the ground on which Earl Thomas of Lancaster was taken prisoner by Edward II, on the very site of the battle of Boroughbridge … The first drive that my father ever took me led us across Marston Moor.’ 
There were similarities between the circumstances of the Bishop’s family and that of the Brontës.

In 1842, before Branwell’s arrival in Thorp Green, Bishop Stubbs’ father, a solicitor, had died leaving his widow in straitened circumstances with six children aged between four and seventeen.

William was the eldest and already a very promising scholar.  He was nominated for a servitorship at Christ Church, Oxford, entering in April 1844; Branwell’s father Patrick had been in a similar position as a sizar at St John’s, Cambridge.

As soon as she was able, one of William’s sisters worked as a governess to help support the family and by 1851 his mother was, with her sister Miss Isabella Henlock, running a school in Settle and taking in Giggleswick grammar school pupils.  The school is not mentioned in W. H. Hutton’s biography of the Bishop, but is to be found in the 1851 census and directories – and in John Stubbs’ diaries, as he was one of the boarders.  His parents’ choice of school, and Mrs Stubbs and Miss Henlock’s choice of town, may have been determined by the fact that John’s Henlock grandmother was from the Settle area where the family had many connections.

It is hard to imagine that Anne Brontë would have felt much at ease amongst Dr Crosby’s friends, but it is possible that during her five years at Thorp Green she made their acquaintance.  A few years later, the governess employed by the Reverend Edward Lascelles of Little Ouseburn was known to the Stubbs family. She used to accompany the Lascelles’ daughters to tea with John’s spinster aunt Isabella Henlock, and in 1859 he recorded that,
‘Aunt Bell came with Mr Lascelles governess (Miss Welch) & one of Lascelles boys to [Great Ouseburn] church at night … I set the Governess home to Little Ouseburn but I did not go in.’ 
We do not know whether John’s mother employed a governess for her own daughters, but she had ample opportunity in her neighbourhood to observe their plight, and her comments regarding her grandchildren show that her views on child-rearing would have met with Anne Brontë’s approval.  She instructed John and his wife after the birth of their son,
‘if you get a nice nurse your darlings must be taught to obey her’, 
and her sympathy for the governess’s position is evident in a letter written from her daughter’s house:
‘about the 24th the Governess arrives so we are to give her the greeting, poor thing. I do hope she may be happy and do well for them’. 
Education was highly valued in her family – they were enormously proud of the Bishop – and letters and books indicate that the Stubbs and Henlock women were given an education sufficient to enable them to write lively and fluent letters and enjoy a variety of literature (‘Read Pope’s Life & Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to the Girls’ wrote John in 1856); the girls of John’s generation were sent to school in Ilkley and Blackheath.

John Crosby’s friends and family might well have found Branwell’s apparent lack of direction in life somewhat puzzling, especially given his three spinster sisters and the family’s lack of income.

They themselves took very seriously the duty of family members to support each other, chose their sons’ trades or professions with care (a phrenologist’s chart for John has survived, drawn up by the proto-socialist and radical campaigner Edward T Craig) and expected them to enter work in their mid-teens.  They were unlikely to condone adultery between a tutor and his employer’s wife; nor can one imagine Dr Crosby doing so.  Leaving aside the question of morality, he was an employer himself, and he had his own medical practice and the interests of his extended family to safeguard.
                                           
We do not know what Crosby believed to be the situation between Branwell and Mrs Robinson – chaste mutual passion, unrequited longing, or unfortunate delusion.

Nevertheless, according to Branwell’s surviving correspondence, Dr Crosby continued to take a sympathetic interest in him after his dismissal, as a source of kindly advice and some money.  Mrs Robinson may have been the source of the money, perhaps (ostensibly or in reality) as financial aid to employee(s) in need, but Dr Crosby may have assisted Branwell himself out of charity – especially if Branwell had also belonged to the local Oddfellows’ Lodge, in which case support for a fellow-member was a moral duty.

His concern for Branwell must not only have derived from the emphasis he and his circle set on keeping up with friends and acquaintances, but also his undoubted sympathy for those in distress.

Crosby’s care for his patients is attested by the memorials at Great Ouseburn church, and this can only have been reinforced by his own experience.  He had known deaths and disappointments in his own family, but one brother in particular required extra care.  Jabez, nearly fifteen years his junior, seems never to have worked.  He spent his life as a lodger with a farming family in Huby, near York, having lost both his parents by the age of fifteen.  He was not recorded in the censuses as blind or deaf and dumb, but some physical illness is indicated – his death certificate records that he died in 1868 as the result not only of a ‘diseased foot’, but also hypostatic pneumonia, indicating that he was bedridden at least towards the end of his life.

John Crosby made his Will several months before his death, which occurred in London where he had gone to consult a physician.  Three of his nephews were his executors and his estate (gross value nearly £1,750) was to be divided amongst his brothers and sisters and their children.  However £300 was first to be subject to a trust on behalf of Jabez, who was to receive the yearly income –
‘not doubting that my late brother Benjamin’s children will be disposed of their bounty to render him such further assistance as may be necessary for his maintenance and support’. 
(One of Benjamin’s sons was the Salford doctor, two were druggists in York and the daughter worked as a governess).

It seems probable that John Crosby had been maintaining his brother Jabez for many years.

There is no record of the local opinion of the Brontës in the Ouseburn area and there is only one reference in John Stubbs’ papers.

As a boy he had recorded the books he was reading, but by 1860 he was busy setting up in practice as a solicitor in Middlesbrough and his diary that year records only one novel: Jane Eyre.

He read it one very wet day in October during a stay at Great Ouseburn with his Uncle and Aunt Henlock, ten months after Dr Crosby’s death.  John had been spending time with Dr James Haworth, Crosby’s successor, and his wife.  The Brontës must have been the topic of conversation, and it is probable that Dr Haworth lent John the book – his uncle and aunt do not seem to have been great readers.

Unfortunately, John used his diaries only as an aide-memoire to his activities, very rarely recording comment or introspection, and there is no oral tradition amongst his descendants on the subject of the Brontës.  Given that it is probable that Bishop Stubbs met Branwell while visiting family in Great Ouseburn, it would be interesting to know whether any reference survives in his papers.




Notes
[1]   Branwell Brontë to J. B. Leyland; Haworth, 24 January 1847
[2]   Branwell Brontë to Francis Grundy; Haworth, October 1845. Juliet Barker, The Brontës: A Life in Letters (London: Penguin Books 1997)
[3]   Branwell Brontë to John Brown, sexton of Haworth, from the extracts made in 1859 by Lord Houghton. Juliet Barker, The Brontës, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1994) pp. 459-461 (Phoenix edition 1995)
[4]   As, for example, in the Revd. Brontë’s letter of 6 July 1835 to Mrs Franks explaining his initial decision not to send Anne away to school: Juliet Barker, The Brontës, p. 237. Also, Ellen Nussey’s description of Anne’s fatal diagnosis in early 1849: Ellen Nussey, Reminiscences, c1871 as quoted in Juliet Barker, The Brontës: A Life in Letters
[5]   Juliet Barker, The Brontës, p. 457: from George Smith, Recollections, [Typescript] MS Acc 6713, Box 5, Item 4, p. 105, NLS, quoted in Mildred Christian, Branwell Brontë and the Robinsons of Thorp Green, p. 20-2
[6]   For a full account of the Robinson family, including details of the Revd. Robinson’s Will, see Peter Holmes, ‘The Robinsons of Thorp Green’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, v 76 (2004) 189-208
[7]   Branwell Brontë to J. B. Leyland; Haworth, c June/July 1846
[8]   Branwell Brontë to Francis Grundy; Haworth, October 1845
[9]   Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey; Haworth, 18 August 1848
[10]   Elizabeth Gaskell to George Smith, 2 October 1856 and 29 December 1856
[11]   Branwell Brontë to J. B. Leyland; Haworth, 24 January 1847
[12]   In note 67 to Chapter 16
[13]   See Peter Holmes’ comment (p 201) that Mrs Robinson ‘seems to have behaved a little erratically’ after her husband’s death and that reading her few surviving letters gives the impression ‘of someone who lacked the structure in her life she needed for emotional stability’. I might add that my own opinion on Mrs Robinson’s character was reached before reading Mr Holmes’ paper.
[14]   Not his own son, as suggested by Juliet Barker
[15]   The diaries and family papers of John Richard Stubbs are in the writer’s possession
[16]   Peter Holmes cites the Genealogical history of the family of the late Bishop William Stubbs, ed. Francis Collins, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 55 (1915), pp 19-20, in his account of the inheritance of the Thorp Green estate by the Revd. Edmund Robinson’s father from his stepfather Mann Horsfield. Horsfield’s first wife was the widow of Richard Cass, a family to be found in the Ouseburn area. Isabella Cass (p 20) was the great great grandmother of John Richard Stubbs.
[17]   John rarely bothered with punctuation; I have reproduced his entries as they were written






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