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The Family of Georgina Henrietta Thomson

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"Brief Sketch"

Thomson Family

My paternal grandmother was born on 8th October, 1899, a Victorian&emdash;just&emdash;who grew up in the quiet rural world of the parish of Northenden in North Cheshire. Now it has all been swallowed up by the spread of Manchester, but her childhood was one of rural poverty and hard work, the eldest of her family, a status she resented for it also gave responsibility for caring for her younger brothers and sisters.

Her mother was born Georgina Henrietta Thomson, but her maternal grandparents were already dead well before my grandmother was born. Robert Augustus Thomson was the son of Scottish immigrants. He described himself as a gentleman, the census enumerator found a less distinguished euphemism for this title. James Anderson Thomson was a bookseller and stationer, his wife was born Margaret Cuthbertson Sword. Their wedding took place at the Scottish Presbyterian church in Manchester. Very brief details, but their occupations and addresses indicate solidly respectable midle-class folk.

Her mother's family, it seems, were of Welsh stock. Her mother was Manchester born, the daughter of William Henry Davies and Sarah Linney. The father's surname was presumably of Welsh origin, and my great grandmother was herself born on St David's day, 1st March, 1873, always a source of pride for her. William Henry Davies was a stationer, living in St Paul's Place, Withington, then a village outside Manchester, but now connected by railway, with a direct line to Oxford Road Station, adjacent to his stationery shop. Of his son David we have no record. Henrietta died of consumption, leaving Keziah, who named her daughter after her late sister. We have a priceless record of Henrietta's death, which gives a glimpse of Victorian family life in the Manchester suburbs. I copied it out as a child, and now the original appears to be lost.

Below are two versions: the first I have re-arranged the text so that it makes more senses, by placing the events in chronological order. The second is in the original order.

You can also see the original manuscript by clicking here.


Brief Sketch of the Illness & Death of Henrietta Davies

1864

 

 

Manchester

August 11th 1864

 

 

To Miss Wilkinson

 

Dear Friend,

 

In compliance with your request I beg to do what I can to lay before you the course of poor Etty's illness, though you will have to excuse me through all the details, the matter passing so much upon my mind it becomes painful for me to enter fully into it.

At the commencement of last year, as you are aware, her Mother was greatly afþicted and conÞned to bed for some considerable time. At the same period Grandfather also was conÞned to the house. During all the sickness had considerable charge laid upon her in attending to them both, but through the blessing of God Mother was restored and permitted again to resume her duties. The case with grandfather was otherwise. He continued to sink till the summons arrived. All this time poor Etty manifested the greatest diligence and attention to minister to his wants and soothe the bed of afþiction. Shortly after his departure she that had previously looked so well, and whose cheeks and countenance with brilliant eye shone forth with youthful beauty, began to give way: languor and debility seized her frame.

On Christmas Day she accompanied Mother and myself to Bolton. The day was very Þne, the sun shone through the trees. We called upon Mother's cousin, David Yates, whose father had recently and very suddenly died. He had lived at a place called Lever Bridge. I had only once seen him, and that was soon after Grandfather's death. At that time he looked very well and was particularly proud and glad at seeing me and accompanied me to his son's a mile distant. near to his house, where he had lived sixty years and employed by the same family, stood the pretty little church upon an eminence where the remains of his beloved partner were interred. here on this Christmas Day, after taking a little refreshment, we repaired to visit the old house and the churchyard and to walk over the grave of the departed. Etty was not so well, we remarked her being very quiet but nothing particular appeared to be wrong.

I may just state that Cousin Mary Yates was greatly afþicted and had been for a long period. She had been mostly conÞned to bed. At her Father's death her brother took her to be with him. Since that time we have not heard anything.

Christmas holidays being over, I thought to get rid of a duty which had been much upon my mind with reference to the education of Henrietta and her sister Mary Jane which had in great measure been neglected in consequence of health. I took them both to the Mechanics' Institution to attend evening classes. They attended together about a month when poor Etty was seized with a very severe cold, something of the inþuenza character, and notwithstanding every attention increased in violence with a very severe cough.

I think a little previous to this she complained of being unwell and sought advice. She was ordered to take daily exercise which she did so long as her health permitted.

We had all winter talked of getting over some Sunday to Didsbury Church. In February we did so, accompanied by Etty. She was far from being well, which was remarked by all.

I may here say we have not had another opportunity of going to see them.

On her return home from Withington she only came downstairs one day. Before retiring to rest she was very low. I led her to the foot of the stairs when she swooned away and fell upon my arm. After recovering, she said, 'Father, I will get on your back.' So I laid myself upon the stairs on my hands and knees and she threw herself upon me, and so I crept up. Upon reaching the landing she blessed the Lord.

She was a dutiful and affectionate child, and was always diligent and attentive in every duty, and like Mary, having chosen that good part which should never be taken from her. Truly it may be said of her to live was Christ, her fellowship and communion with her dear Saviour was precious.

It was a remarkable feature of her zeal for His glory when two years ago she rose to her feet in the Free Trade hall Ante-Room and invited the large assembly of anxious enquirers gathered to be spoke to, to decide for the Saviour. How great must be her gain.

During her health she made it a practice to read two or three chapters in her Bible every morning before commencing her duties and during all her occupations the songs of Zion were constantly upon her lips. Might all be constrained to follow her so far as she has followed Christ.

Her medical attendant generally found her singing, so much so that he said he had got a singing patient. It was also remarked that the clergyman of Platt Church had frequently stood at the garden rails to listen to her singing.

In the course of that week, getting much worse, Dr Golland was called in. She took to her bed. Mustard poultices were applied to the chest and every attention her medical adviser could give. Notwithstanding all, her strength rapidly gave way and she was confined to bed for three months, the weather all this time being much against her; this Spring was peculiarly trying. Dr Golland ordered her to do all she could in taking everything very nourishing and stimulating. Every attention was paid. We happened to have several young chickens which were killed, and the broth she was very fond of. Port wine, porter, milk, eggs &c was her chief diet.

About June, the weather getting a little Þner, she got out of bed and sat up a little each day, and ventured to walk about a little, and ultimately she got to venture down the stairs, and then to get out in front of the house. Then I proposed we should get a bath chair, which we did on the 21st June for a month, got her out when the weather permitted, went as far as Cousin Downs's at Withington, got tea with them and she enjoyed the change. They wished her to go and stay with them should she get a little better. After a few days she got it into her head she should like to go and we took her, one or the other of us going over, mostly each day. She was very comfortable, and no desire to return home till a fortnight passed. Then she began to feel not so well, and home was the best place for her. Cousin Ellen was, according to her wish, very attentive and with her when she died, along with Mother and myself. Upon her return home she wished her Mother not to leave her, an remained with her all night. She was very patient and resigned, and quite sensible to the last.

her brother David was having his holidays for two days and had gone to the Isle of Man; he only returned on the Wednesday. She looked very eagerly for his return and had the time reckoned up. He came in the evening, and very providential it was, the last evening she spent on earth. She being low, could not talk much to him. She said, 'Your face looks very different to mine, David.'

This day she had a very severe relapse which could not be checked. At an early hour in the morning following a change appeared to take place for the worse. Still, we scarcely expected her end so nigh at hand.

On leaving her she bid me good morning, and about noon the hand of death seized her. She was very calm and patient, quite happy and resigned.

Between three and four o'clock I reached them and found her in the last conþict. I said to her, 'You are very low, Etty.' She replied, 'Very poorly.'

For some time she had not lain down in bed but was supported with pillows, and for the last few nights had not lain at all but sat up, and departed leaning forward upon her pillow.

Her Mother having shortly before said to her, 'You are going to leave us,' 'Yes,' she said, 'I am going to be with Jesus.'

The last hour arrived and I was downstairs. During this time she lifted up her head and looked round the room. Mother said to her, 'Do you want to see father?' She answered in the afÞrmative. And while I was downstairs, singular to say, there was a sudden noise, and on hearing which I called to them to know the cause. They also heard it but could not tell.

On going to the clock as soon as she was departed I found it was the weight of the clock that had broken down just the hour before, the pendulum still in motion.

Her conversion to God, I may state, was of a striking character, which took place during a season of special religious services held in the Manchester Corn Exchange one Sabbath afternoon under the preaching of Reginald Radcliffe Esq. of Liverpool. She was so much impressed under the sermon that she was stricken own and carried to the ante-room. After recovering a little she retired to the closet, and was there found, after a short lapse of time, upon her knees in communion with her Saviour. On being spoken to, she said she had been a great sinner, but she had found Jesus to be her great Saviour.

During her last illness she remarked to her Mother what a great expense she had been. 'What a kind father, he has got me everything that I have wanted. Were I permitted to get up again, how I would work for my father.'

I have endeavoured thus brieþy to give some idea of the last illness of our departed child. She had not forgotten to mention her Aunt to her Mother; when a little better she said if she got up again she would assist her Mother with her Aunt's things and get them away.

With kind regards an desiring to be remembered to Elizabeth.

I am yours, very respectfully,

W.H. Davies

 

 

 


Manchester

August 11th 1864

 

 

To Miss Wilkinson

 

Dear Friend,

 

In compliance with your request I beg to do what I can to lay before you the course of poor Etty's illness, though you will have to excuse me through all the details, the matter passing so much upon my mind it becomes painful for me to enter fully into it.

At the commencement of last year, as you are aware, her Mother was greatly afþicted and conÞned to bed for some considerable time. At the same period Grandfather also was conÞned to the house. Etty during all the sickness had considerable charge laid upon her in attending to them both, but through the blessing of God Mother was restored and permitted again to resume her duties. The case with grandfather was otherwise. He continued to sink till the summons arrived. All this time poor Etty manifested the greatest diligence and attention to minister to his wants and soothe the bed of afþiction. Shortly after his departure she that had previously looked so well, and whose cheeks and countenance with brilliant eye shone forth with youthful beauty, began to give way: languor and debility seized her frame.

On Christmas Day she accompanied Mother and myself to Bolton. The day was very Þne, the sun shone through the trees. We called upon Mother's cousin, David Yates, whose father had recently and very suddenly died. He had lived at a place called Lever Bridge. I had only once seen him, and that was soon after Grandfather's death. At that time he looked very well and was particularly proud and glad at seeing me and accompanied me to his son's a mile distant. Near to his house, where he had lived sixty years and employed by the same family, stood the pretty little church upon an eminence where the remains of his beloved partner were interred. Here on this Christmas Day, after taking a little refreshment, we repaired to visit the old house and the churchyard and to walk over the grave of the departed. Etty was not so well, we remarked her being very quiet but nothing particular appeared to be wrong.

I may just state that Cousin Mary Yates was greatly afþicted and had been for a long period. She had been mostly conÞned to bed. At her Father's death her brother took her to be with him. Since that time we have not heard anything.

Christmas holidays being over, I thought to get rid of a duty which had been much upon my mind with reference to the education of Henrietta and her sister Mary Jane which had in great measure been neglected in consequence of health. I took them both to the Mechanics' Institution to attend evening classes. They attended together about a month when poor Etty was seized with a very severe cold, something of the inþuenza character, and notwithstanding every attention increased in violence with a very severe cough.

I think a little previous to this she complained of being unwell and sought advice. She was ordered to take daily exercise which she did so long as her health permitted.

We had all winter talked of getting over some Sunday to Didsbury Church. In February we did so, accompanied by Etty. She was far from being well, which was remarked by all.

I may here say we have not had another opportunity of going to see them.

In the course of that week, getting much worse, Dr Golland was called in. She took to her bed. Mustard poultices were applied to the chest and every attention her medical adviser could give. Notwithstanding all, her strength rapidly gave way and she was conÞned to bed for three months, the weather all this time being much against her; this Spring was peculiarly trying. Dr Golland ordered her to do all she could in taking everything very nourishing and stimulating. Every attention was paid. We happened to have several young chickens which were killed, and the broth she was very fond of. Port wine, porter, milk, eggs &c was her chief diet.

About June, the weather getting a little Þner, she got out of bed and sat up a little each day, and ventured to walk about a little, and ultimately she got to venture down the stairs, and then to get out in front of the house. Then I proposed we should get a bath chair, which we did on the 21st June for a month, got her out when the weather permitted, went as far as Cousin Downs's at Withington, got tea with them and she enjoyed the change. They wished her to go and stay with them should she get a little better. After a few days she got it into her head she should like to go and we took her, one or the other of us going over, mostly each day. She was very comfortable, and no desire to return home till a fortnight passed. Then she began to feel not so well, and home was the best place for her. Cousin Ellen was, according to her wish, very attentive and with her when she died, along with Mother and myself. Upon her return home she wished her Mother not to leave her, and remained with her all night. She was very patient and resigned, and quite sensible to the last.

Her medical attendant generally found her singing, so much so that he said he had got a singing patient. It was also remarked that the clergyman of Platt Church had frequently stood at the garden rails to listen to her singing.

Her conversion to God, I may state, was of a striking character, which took place during a season of special religious services held in the Manchester Corn Exchange one Sabbath afternoon under the preaching of Reginald Radcliffe Esq. of Liverpool. She was so much impressed under the sermon that she was stricken down and carried to the ante-room. After recovering a little she retired to the closet, and was there found, after a short lapse of time, upon her knees in communion with her Saviour. On being spoken to, she said she had been a great sinner, but she had found Jesus to be her great Saviour.

It was a remarkable feature of her zeal for His glory when two years ago she rose to her feet in the Free Trade hall Ante-Room and invited the large assembly of anxious enquirers gathered to be spoke to, to decide for the Saviour. How great must be her gain.

During her health she made it a practice to read two or three chapters in her Bible every morning before commencing her duties and during all her occupations the songs of Zion were constantly upon her lips. Might all be constrained to follow her so far as she has followed Christ.

Her brother David was having his holidays for two days and had gone to the Isle of Man; he only returned on the Wednesday. She looked very eagerly for his return and had the time reckoned up. He came in the evening, and very providential it was, the last evening she spent on earth. She being low, could not talk much to him. She said, 'Your face looks very different to mine, David.'

This day she had a very severe relapse which could not be checked. At an early hour in the morning following a change appeared to take place for the worse. Still, we scarcely expected her end so nigh at hand.

On leaving her she bid me good morning, and about noon the hand of death seized her. She was very calm and patient, quite happy and resigned.

Between three and four o'clock I reached them and found her in the last conþict. I said to her, 'You are very low, Etty.' She replied, 'Very poorly.'

For some time she had not lain down in bed but was supported with pillows, and for the last few nights had not lain at all but sat up, and departed leaning forward upon her pillow.

Her Mother having shortly before said to her, 'You are going to leave us,' 'Yes,' she said, 'I am going to be with Jesus.'

The last hour arrived and I was downstairs. During this time she lifted up her head and looked round the room. Mother said to her, 'Do you want to see father?' She answered in the afÞrmative. And while I was downstairs, singular to say, there was a sudden noise, and on hearing which I called to them to know the cause. They also heard it but could not tell.

On going to the clock as soon as she was departed I found it was the weight of the clock that had broken down just the hour before, the pendulum still in motion.

On her return home from Withington she only came downstairs one day. Before retiring to rest she was very low. I led her to the foot of the stairs when she swooned away and fell upon my arm. After recovering, she said, 'Father, I will get on your back.' So I laid myself upon the stairs on my hands and knees and she threw herself upon me, and so I crept up. Upon reaching the landing she blessed the Lord.

She was a dutiful and affectionate child, and was always diligent and attentive in every duty, and like Mary, having chosen that good part which should never be taken from her. Truly it may be said of her to live was Christ, her fellowship and communion with her dear Saviour was precious.

During her last illness she remarked to her Mother what a great expense she had been. 'What a kind father, he has got me everything that I have wanted. Were I permitted to get up again, how I would work for my father.'

I have endeavoured thus brieþy to give some idea of the last illness of our departed child. She had not forgotten to mention her Aunt to her Mother; when a little better she said if she got up again she would assist her Mother with her Aunt's things and get them away.

With kind regards an desiring to be remembered to Elizabeth.

I am yours, very respectfully,

W.H. Davies

 

 

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