The Pursuit of Happiness

Part Four

Copyright: Please feel free to make use of my written work, but please have the courtesy to give an acknowledgement.



Part One: The Marriage of Dr Henry Gent

Part Two: The Life of Frank Turner Gent from the death of his father to the beginning of his courtship

Part Three: The Courtship of Frank Turner Gent and Florence Barrington (1890)

Part Four: The Engagement and Marriage of Frank Turner Gent and Florence Barrington (1891)



After a happy Christmas, some severe tribulations to test their love and commitment. The saying 'if it isn't one thing it's always t'other' I remember being used by my grandfather, and by his sister, Auntie Dora.



8th January, 1891


145, Oldfield Road

Thursday evening


Dear Frank

I have no apologies to make. You sent me home last night almost heart broken. I am not too proud to own it. Therefore it's the truth. Goodness knows you have not much pity at the best of times. And I think you might have consoled me just a little on Sunday. It's something so unusual to quarrel with Ma and it upset me a deal. I never need tell you my troubles again. When there is any distraction between you and I always trouble about it, and you go and tell me all the love is on your side, which you know different.

I think you said all you could last night to hurt my feeling, after me waiting so anxious for Wednesday night to come, and I came in good spirits to enjoy myself. Life is so short to be always miserable. I try to guard against my tempers something [?], therefore you should give in a little. I hope you will believe all I am saying, as you know I can't waste my time in writing untruths, I can't make it out why you should be annoyed at Mrs Starling not coming forward for an introduction, it's the way of the world. I was strange to them. There are other reasons I have no doubt, you have given me several hints about the same people. I would not stand in your way. If I thought you wanted to be led by your best of 'friends'. You can decide. If you don't care to have me I can die an old maid.

I suppose no one can teach me to love them the same as you have done. I did not like you to put Percy's cousin name on the carpet, I don't care for him, I was satisfied with you. There is something else I like to say. You spoke about being disgusted with human nature, people's looks etc, rather strange remark but I think my appearance is quite as nice as any of your lady friends. Ma and I are friendly to-day, don't think what I have said any more, I should look foolish if it was repeated. I hope to have a better night's rest after all this is off my chest. As I have said before, if it isn't one think it's always t'other.

Perhaps you will write or come if business is not too urgent. Correct all my mistakes please.

Yours most sincerely,




Postmark: 14th January, 1891


13th January, 1890 [sic]


Dear Florrie,

I have been very busy these two nights. The directors of the Building Society will not accept my resignation or release me at any price; they say if I go the thing will squash and they will see me right, and back me up to the last, so it appears as if I was not to leave it for some reason or other.

I have to advertize for and engage a canvasser for it and look after his work, and arrange with some person to take a house of which we have to have the front rooms for our meetings and pay half the rent, as we are sick of the unlucky schools at which we now hold meetings. I am sorry I cannot get out of it, and yet I cannot help being flattered by their exalted opinion of me and their determination not to let me leave them.

Of course I am glad to receive the salary but I have got so sick of the anxiety I wanted to be clear of it, but I cannot get away so must put up with it and wait for the future to decide it.

You will forgive all this business stuff, but I am so full of it, it is a relief to tell you.

If you will meet me at quarter to seven at Trafalgar to-morrow, and bring that book of words (save 2d) we will go to the Royal, and think of the time we went to the Queen's Pantomime last year.

Believe me yet as true as ever

Your faithful




Postmark: 18th January, 1891

Mr F. Gent

79, Heywood Street

Brooks's Bar




145, Oldfield Road

Saturday evening


Dear Frank

I should like you to come to tea to-morrow. It's a long time since you had tea with us so come willingly.

I hardly expected you last night, although you always please yourself whether you come or stay away. Of course, I am not selfish and don't want you always. I think you would like to see me less often. Don't be vexed at me saying this, I am always judging people wrongly.

Well, I hope you caught your tram on Thursday night, it was almost 11 PM when I reached home, but I got off pretty fair. We must really keep better hours. Pa is having to turn over a new leaf and thinks others must do the same. But never mind, I can stand a few hard words for your sake. Tell your Mother I should be very pleased to retrim her bonnets next time I come. I can see she will think me very ungrateful for not offering to do it on Thursday night and I feel sorry I am so thoughtless.

We are having some Champion cake and turkey for tea to-morrow. Ma is sending for Frances and wants you to come. So come early to please me, won't you. I think we will go to church.

Please excuse this vulgar letter and don't forget what I told you, will you.

I remain yours affectionately,




Postmark: 20th January, 1891


My own dear Florrie,

I hope you have not thought any more about the slight disturbance of the usual sweetness, which happened on Sunday night. I should be very sorry if you had, though I am always sorry for myself for these little vexations.

If I am rather strange sometimes you know I am sure that I mean nothing, but that I do now, always have done, and always will entertain the truest fondness for you as I have said so often that I could not say more however I tried.

I never expected you to be so frightfully touchy on Sunday night as I did not mean any coolness I am sure when I spoke of not coming and am glad we made it up before we parted, as you know I never like to part with cold hearts. You really know Florrie how true I am. I have assured you again and again how much I care for you more than any other girl or any other ten girls I know, and it is only the depth of that feeling that causes the foolish thoughts that so often afflict me. As I so often say, if I cared less I should think less, so I know these very vexations are proof positive of the genuineness of my feelings. But I shall try to avoid them in future as it grieves me for any misunderstanding to arise between us when our hearts ought to be so closely united.

I hope this letter will satisfy all your wishes and that you will expect me on Tuesday evening, when I hope to renew our mutual happiness.

So do believe me dearest

Your Sweetheart



Here is a letter with the same familiar quote that I recognise: 'there's allers summat, if there isn't one thing there's another.' The prefatory phrase was also used alone.



Tuesday, 20th January, 1891


My Dear Flo,

Hasn't it been a beautiful day, so nice for a picnic outside a bus you know.

I had to change at tea time, and ought to have gone to a meeting of the Brotherly Knot to-night at an hotel near Owen's College to settle all about the Ball, but I don't feel inclined to go out to get wet through again, especially about a matter that I have no interest in.

I am sick of the committee business, I used to like it once but I have had so much of it that I want to let someone else have a turn.

I shall be all afternoon to-morrow at home with the assistant who has been with me all week, and expect to have about four hours booking to do, but I told him it would have to be shifted by six o' clock as I had an urgent appointment (of course, you know where), so I shall do my best to come up early, if I don't you will know I can't, it won't be my fault if I don't.

The son of one of the Building Society directors has just come to ask me to take down the books to his father's to do some balancing for the yearly meeting in February so I must go out you see after all. I am glad to have his assistance, it is a great help, but you see how I am hampered.

I have engaged a place at a house close to the Prince of Wales and have given notice at the old school, so I shall have a nice little job of extra work to write all the members of the change of address.

I sometimes wish I had as easy a mind and as little to think of and do as I had two years ago but I suppose it will all come out right some day.

It was very foggy on Sunday and cruelly cold. I had to wait in Deansgate till twenty-five past ten for a car home, but I did enjoy myself that day. It was a grand long day and I am always happy with you at home.

We are without water of any kind either hot or cold so I am revelling in dirt unwashed, and shall have to go and wash at my friend the director's house. But 'there's allers summat, if there isn't one thing there's another.'

Well I can't keep this boy waiting any longer, so excuse more. You know darling I would not stop if I could go on. Perhaps you may not like this letter, it is full of business, but when you have to think so much of it, it will creep in letters even, and you know what it is all for. I don't love it, it is only for the benefit I derive and the power it gives me to do what I am anxiously waiting to do (chops and tomatoes) you know.

By the way, Mrs Atkinson was here yesterday and asked us down again.

I hope your father is better and that he is taking that onion syrup, it will do him a lot of good.

Well again I must stop, so Believe me

Yours affectionately



There is a suggestion here of the physical frustrations that were experienced by a courting couple in those days.



Postmark: 30th January, 1891


Friday morning, 27th January, 1891


My Dear Florrie,

I hope you forgot all we said last night, I am sorry I said anything about it. If I thought you had said anything to your Mother I should not feel able to face up, but you promised you would not. However I have come to the conclusion to 'let things run more smoothly' in future and to enjoy myself as much as possible by staying whenever you like, as I am disappointed to come away and vex you also, and as far as anything else goes, why we shall put that right some day, so I really don't think there is really any need to be under any such foolish delicacy in the matter as I have been.

So for the future expect me to be always good and ready to do what I am told, in fact, to be always

Your faithful



You can see this is written at lightning speed, so forgive it. We had a black kitten came last night, it is here yet so we are going to have great luck I hope.



Postmark: 28th January, 1891 [Stamp at 45Ú]


Wednesday morning


Dear Frank

Well, you try not to be very late to-night as I have a lot to say to you. It was very late when we got from town yesterday. Then we made a visit after, or I would have written last night. I intend to make things run more smoothly, or not at all.

I have felt so much troubled since Sunday over what you said when we were going to Frances', however I will talk it over to-night.

Excuse writing as I am in haste, and don't be late.

I am yours sincerely,




February 6th, 1891

Brotherly Knot Ball

when Florrie went

18 6 0 Received

Stan [?] 7 0

Band 4 15 0

Dir Mem 12 0

Piano 7 6

Decora 6 0 0

Hall 7 10 0

19 11 6

Printing 2 17 6

22 9 0

Secretary 17 0

23 6 0

Less on Dem 2 4 7

Police 5/- 5 0

25 15 7



Monday, 9th February, 1891


My Dearest Flo,

I have reproached myself for being so cool and discontented last night as I know you are always sweet and blameless and I should not care for anything else. I hope you did not think me cruel and pitiless - you know - as I trust I never have been. I am sure I am not so willingly, as you know I think too much of you to be cruel. You said you would make things go smoother or - well you know. If I have made them rough this time, forget it, love can forget and forgive a little or trouble or so.

You know it 'never did run smooth' since the world stood, and these things really make us closer and fonder though they are so very unpleasant.

I have had to turn into an hotel to write this to you as I felt so upset about not behaving more kindly, so that should prove to you that I at least am willing to tell you what I feel while it is warm and fresh from my heart.

Is it nothing to have been told by your own dear self that you care for me more than any other man, and is the happiness of possessing the true, faithful warm, pure, cheerful heart of such a girl not enough to account for me loving you, and yet you have asked me what I saw in you.

When you tell me with your own lips you are all this to me I believe you, as I know I have your heart, and you as surely have mine. And as it is misery to have our hands and hearts divided I hope we shall soon have them united also.

You know how strong my opinions are on this subject. I know too well that if there is not perfect faith and confidence and strict fidelity and trueness to each other, love is no more than a mockery and a sham.

But I have told you the inmost secrets of my heart, and I think you have to me, therefore we ought in all conscience to be happy.

I hope you will not notice this wretched scrawl, the pen is so bad here, and I have written this just as I thought it, without regarding whether it is correctly put together or not. But at any rate it tells you what I feel, and that you must not think because I am sometimes a bit rough on you that I don't feel the pang of it just as much as you do.

I shall be ashamed for you to keep this letter but suppose if I asked you to destroy it you would not. Never apologize for your untidy letters after this. But I told you I felt obliged to come here and write it.

If it is fine to-morrow I would rather meet you at Regent Road corner at seven o' clock, if not I will come. I hope good old fortune will grant us a fine night and a long sweet talk direct from the heart will bring us nearer that happiness we both I hope are truly anxious for.

Believe me darling

Yours hand on heart




Postmark: 18th February, 1891


Wednesday morning


Dear Frank

It was foggy, and rather late, last night. It struck 12 PM when I was in bed, and I know you would not be half way home. I wish you had gone a little sooner, just to escape seeing Pa. I have told you that he is not in the best of tempers when he has had something to drink. He did not vex you, Frank, I hope. I know he used to talk snappy many times to Percy. So, for my sake, don't think anything of it when you come to our house. I don't want you to go, therefore it's my fault for keeping you so late.

I always get so drowsy when I have anything with my supper, you know. I don't think I made any appointment last night, you must forgive me, for I should be miserable if I did not see you. So don't go to that club. Meet me at the Trafalgar, the place I was waiting for you last night, at 7 PM. Then we will go where you wish. [?] you have to go and see. Anywhere will do, so that I am with you. I wish you was with me this morning to have your hand in all this hot water. I do so long for to-night to come that I might tell you how sorry I am for being so stupid last night. Excuse this scribble on this nice paper, I want to catch the 9 PM post. be sure to come and believe me

Yours affectionate




Postmark: 3rd March, 1891


Monday, 2nd March, 1891


My Dearest Florrie,

It is twelve months to-night since I spent that happy night with you at the Masonic Hall, and though it was only a children's party I look back to it darling with feelings and memories of great pleasure. You know how delighted I was when you appeared to my enchanted gaze like some lovely fairy dressed in white, and what a night of bliss we spent in each other's society, quite regardless of anyone, though we were observed all the time; such nights haunt the greenest spots in our memory and remain after they have passed.

I remember that night noticing how you still looked after someone else, still you are mine yet, firmer than ever, and I think you have discovered what I have always tried to teach you: that it is better and happier to have the true faithful heart of one than the empty hollow admiration of a dozen.

I can't write well as I have got a great bandage round my hand, so excuse such wretched scrawl from me, who ought to be ashamed to turn such penmanship out. But I am thankful I am not so ill as I was this night twelve month, when that wretched influenza was coming on me.

I am going to ask you to excuse me coming to-morrow as it is quarterly night at the Brotherly Knot, and I should be fined. I have to be there by eight so it will be all I can do to get there, other meetings I can send my money, but this I must appear or pay a fine. That should not keep me away but I owe a good sum and had better pay it without delay.

I hope your Father did not say anything about our late return last night when he saw you, as we did our best to get in early. I enjoyed our quiet evening at Starkie's and hope you were not stiff to-day with sitting. I was tired when I got home.

If you like we will go to the Comedy to see 'Paul Jones' on Wednesday, if you will meet me at Trafalgar at seven prompt.

I hope things will now go 'smoothly' as they have done lately, because we trust in each other, and believe with truth and faith in each other's love. Who could not, after the words we have both spoken and written. You know dear how I think of you and if we only keep our affection true and steady, happiness must be the result.

So till Wednesday when we shall again enjoy the Golden 'reality.'

Believe me

Yours affectionate



Here there is a stormy patch in Frank and Florrie's relationship.



Postmark: 11th March, 1891


Tuesday evening


Dear Frank

I suppose you will be engaged with that business you have spoke about, to-night. I should have liked to see you, but it's as well you ain't here. I think you might have said something more kind when you said good night on Sunday night than 'go on with your flirting', nice parting words, very. I have felt those words very keenly, and I am sure you care less for me than you say.

You spoke of several things I took as hints on Sunday night but I don't mind, perhaps you think I am not good enough. But somebody else would. I wonder what else I can do, I have been true and given you my love, but you call me, for all that.

Well I even cried to-night, as I was thinking about you. This you will make fun of, I suppose. But don't take advantage to-morrow night, because I was a bit upset. Burn this letter for me.

Hoping to hear from you in the morning.

Yours sincerely,




Postmark: 11th March, 1891


10th March, 1891


Dear Florrie,

I got a p.c. from Mrs Pettitt to-day to say Mr P. was poorly at home so I went to see him at 4 PM and to-night I had to see a gentleman near Paulden's on Stretford Road and was with him an hour, and then came away to see another at the side of Alexandra Park, so you see I have been rather busy and yet business is far from good. But it can't always be bright. I have felt this weather more than the severe frost of the winter, it has been so raw and cold, it is just the time I was ill last year but still I am a lot better than I was then.

I have written a gentleman to met me a seven to-morrow evening at Regent Hotel, Regent Road to ask his advice on a very important matter, so I don't know if he will, but I will get away as early as I can.

On Thursday I have to meet the auditors to audit the year's accounts of the Building Society, and they have agreed to release me from my office at this month end, but wish me to be a Director so as to still be on the job with them. I am pleased at the prospect of being free from the trouble and anxiety so as to have some time to devote more thoughts to my own affairs.

You will think this letter all business, but you want to know what I'm doing. I have often told you I am almost always busy when not with you so you so you see it is so.

I have got 'big things in my head,' it would take six sheets to tell you all, but you will know all some day.

I looked for you in town to-day but of course did not see you, that is, if you were there. You would be better in the house a day like this.

I think I have told you all important news so don't know what else to say. I see there is a grand concert at Barrett's next Saturday (Irish night). I would like to go if I can manage it, but will talk it over when I see you.

Trusting to see you to-morrow.

Believe me

Yours affectionately



One of our Directors has gone to live at 19, Hulme Street, opposite the schools. I will get you to show it me.



Postmark: 22nd March, 1891


21st March, 1891


My Dear Florrie,

I have written to Mr Pettitt to-night declining that transaction of Mr Roberts's as I think after thinking and calculating for hours that I cannot see my way to carrying it out. I have done all this, gone to all the trouble of getting advice, going to expense and thinking till I have been dazed, in the hope of doing a good thing for our mutual comfort and advantage, but find it is too expensive for me. So must decide to wait for some other more favourable chance turning up. My Mother and I went to my Brother's yesterday; it was bitterly cold there, but I don't think it did Mother's cough any harm the change of air perhaps did her good, we did not come home till ten. Sarah is better and can now walk on her toe without holding on to furniture. I hope she will still improve, she sent her best wishes to you. My Brother did not get in till half past eight, so had not much time with us. I had not been there since the day we had our photos taken, five or six months ago. We had a very pleasant day, but the house looks sadly neglected.

Have you been to the Gymnasium yet and bought yourself a set of tights? You will be able to take a situation in the ballet at the pantomime when you get them, then you can show your figure to a whole theatre.

I have to be up Rochdale Road at 3.30 to-morrow afternoon so will come as soon as I can, don't wait for me, if I am late you will know I am detained there.

I want you to give me the number of Percy's house so that I can send him a balance sheet, so don't forget.

Well it is now about eleven and I have been writing since nine, so I will leave anything else for to-morrow.

Trusting you are still the same as on Friday, and will never want to wear tights in anyone else's presence but that of

Your own true faithful friend and steadfast


Till to-morrow my dearest love.

I wonder if you are writing to-night.



Postmark: 24th March, 1891


Monday evening


Dear Frank

I have been writing to Mrs Steel to-night but don't think me foolish for writing to you and forgive me for getting in such a temper. So we will forgive one another. You were very kind, last night, when you thought you were in the wrong. I was mad to have shown my feelings so plainly. You even say that you care less for me than you did at first. If you knew the real truth I doubt that you would be so ungrateful as to hint that.

They have come again to-night, Francis I mean, and the number of their house is number sixty six.

Ma said this morning if we would like to form a party on Good Friday and go with my Dad and her somewhere. But it may be rather dry work. I wish you to please yourself, as I feel in your debt, for being so nasty.

If I am in town to-morrow I will look out for you. I may not have to go.

If you have done business in time to-morrow, come down won't you. Till then I am

Your very loving




26th March, 1891 Good Thursday


Dear Florrie,

I have just got home from Victoria Park, 4 PM. I was walking through it in that blinding snow, no shelter, and bitterly cold.

I have come to the conclusion that it would be ridiculous to go away to-morrow in this winter weather just because it happens to be Good Friday. So don't trouble to think any longer of it. We can both go away any Thursday or Friday when the weather is everything that could be wished. So why go now just because Easter happens in the depth of winter. If we went to Yorkshire, to Chester, to Clitheroe or to almost any place we should have to go at six, seven or eight o' clock about the latest at twenty to ten, and if the day was like this, what pleasure could we have We should be sick of it hours before we had to come home. We will leave Good Friday to those people who can have no other holidays except at these times, and be thankful we are so fortunate as to be able to go away any week and choose the best weather and the best time when the crowds are at home and we can get more attention and enjoy it more than taking our chance with the whole nation out for a holiday.

We have enjoyed ourself at Knutsford, Dunham, Cheadle and Didsbury, so we will wait and do so again.

I will come up to see you of course, but thought it best to write and say we had better not go away this weather. Mother will not go away as it is so cold.

Believe me dearest

Yours only,




Postmark: 26th March, 1891


March 26th, 1891


Dear Frank

The weather to-day has not been very encouraging and I am afraid it may be wet to-morrow. So suppose we transfer our visit to Belle Vue, instead of Buxton. Emily and Alice are going, about 2 PM to-morrow afternoon. If you liked we could make a party up and I should like you to bring your mother, because we should be under cover, looking at the animals etc. There is always something fresh to be seen, and I think we could spend a nice day there I wish I knew whether this would be agreeable. We could have had a nice little trip by ourselves, but you seem careless to being particular about things now.

Well suppose I meet you at the Tram Office, Deansgate, at 2.30, and if you don't care about going, will you come to-morrow morning and make arrangements.

We are doing all the work to-night so we could spend the day at home. If you come in the morning I shall have nothing to do, so come early before dinner. Excuse mistakes.

From yours affectionate




Postmark: 29th March, 1891


28th March, 1891 7 PM


My Own Darling,

This seems to be a week of letter writing: but I thought even though I saw you early to-morrow I would write, when a wave of tenderness sweeps over our heads it is best to give it expression while it is there warm and true. I have just got home feeling very flagged and tired, and found a letter on the table; in the twilight I thought it was from you and though I did not expect one at all I was disappointed to find it was not. It is from Starkie from Matlock, enclosing quarter's insurance, he says it is so cold he can't describe it, and swears about the snow on the hills round about.

You see how foolish it is to go away at these cold seasons. It is too early to talk of another Easter, but do dearest please me by not wanting to trip at Easter. I have known so many meet their death by it. I will take you other times, but last night I missed three Park cars, and it was a struggle as if for life to get in. I had to go up Market Street and ride down so as to be in to go back again, and the guards charged for two journeys. People were on the top that awful night, without umbrellas or overcoats and with little children. Can you call that anything but madness?

My Mother was much disappointed we did not come back here, she had a fire for us in the front room all day, as it was so cold she expected us back. However I enjoyed it very much and hope you did in spite of my bad temper, what a blessing it is that love is blind and we can forget and forgive each other in everything, but when two hearts have become so intertwined as to be inseparable they can believe in each other's truth even when they seem to be in the wrong.

You see, dearest, I am staying at home and going to neither of the places I was invited to, so don't think I am anxious to flutter about away from you. I repeat again my only and greatest pleasure is with you and those nights I am not with you I stay to attend to business and correspondence and have no other haunts whatever. When you show such love and truth as you do sometimes it gives me heartfelt joy, and while your heart still clings to me alone. Be sure my dearest that you have also the heart and love of

Your own


[on back of envelope: 'Will come early.']



Postmark: 2nd April, 1891


Wednesday evening


Dear Frank,

I expected you to-night, and I feel disappointed you have not come. My cold has been very bad since Monday. I was hoarse last night, but I sincerely hope your cold is no worse. If that is the reason you have not come to-night I am very sorry.

Things passed off very nicely after you went on Monday night, and I hope it was not very late when you reached home.

I enjoyed the evening very much, only you should not expose me before your Mother about not being able to play, when you know what little chance we get.

The girls have gone to the fair to-night. Young and gay, like I was once. It always take the brightness from me, when I think you might be false. I have a fit of that kind to-night. But we have trusted one another so far. I want you to believe what I say, as it's the truth from my heart, as you always say. If we really did not care enough for one another it would be a sin to say that we did. I will tell you the truth that I do, and if things are as you say, we should be happy. I have thought a little about you and the Starkies and I don't feel pleased at what I was told, but never mind, everything has an end. So I must end this letter. Wishing to hear from you in the morning,

Yours very sincerely,




Postmark: 11th April, 1891


11th April, 1891


Dear Florrie,

This is the way you always commence you know.

When I got home from your house on Thursday night I found my Mother had been to the Bazaar that night with the Batemans. So I have no need now to take her as I promised. You know I care nothing for it, and I was only going to please her. They charge very dear at those places. I don't think they bought anything worth speaking of.

I told Mother what you said about going the closing night and perhaps some bargains, but she seems to think as you are in the trade you could get things as cheap or cheaper yourself.

There is no time to hear from you, but if I thought you would be disappointed I would go. But I felt rather glad to find she had been and that I should not therefore have to go myself. I should have to finish early to-night, have tea, dress, meet you at Deansgate, crawl about the Bazaar for an hour or two, all after a hard day. So I think it best not to go, but if you are disappointed I shall be sorry I did not go. Mr Starkey wrote me a comic letter yesterday asking me to have them down on Sunday, but Mother says she cannot do with company on Sunday. So I have had to ask them for Tuesday. They want to meet you too, but they can't come till late, and you have to go so early, they don't go till about twelve, and it would be unmannerly of me to leave them while I went to town and back, after them not visiting us for so long. However we will arrange on Sunday when I see you.

Till then dearest

Believe me

Your always true




Postmark: 13th April, 1891


Monday evening


My Dear Frank

Don't meet me to-morrow, as I forgot that Ma and Francis made an arrangement to go to town. She wants to get some things for the children, so I will come after tea about 6 PM.

You may not want me to come so late. I can stay for a few hours, plenty long enough for me.

I don't know Mr and Mrs Starkie as you do, you know, but they are very nice people. I can trot up myself without you to hurry meeting me.

Hoping to please you.

Yours only,



This must be the first draft of the letter above.



Monday evening


Dear Frank,

I forgot that Ma and Francis had made an arrangement to go to town on Tuesday afternoon, they are getting some things for the children, so I will come after tea about 6 PM. Perhaps you won't like me to come so late, but I can stay a few hours. It will be plenty long enough for me, because I don't know Mr and Mrs Starkie so well. You won't have to bother meeting me, I will trot up myself this time.

Hoping this will please you.



25th April, 1891

Saturday, 10.30


My Dearest Flo,

With love although I always write to you,

Believe me it is always plain that in that love I'm true.

So as it is so long ago, since last you had a letter,

I think the good old proverb's true, that 'late than never's better.'

So as I spent last Friday night at your house with you,

I wish you to come here to-morrow shortly after two.

Some friends are calling with their girls, then in the Park we'll ramble,

to look at all the dress and style, then back to tea we'll scramble.

I hope it will be fine and warm for you to sport your jacket,

then I'll put on my lemon kids to keep up to the packet.

Tell Emily to have a care for she is such a charmer,

She'd let the light of love into the soul of even a farmer.

Now dearest don't be vexed at this, nor all this rhyme and nonsense,

for I care still for only you and for other girls care not two pence.

So to-morrow at three I expect to see

at Hulme church my Ben-my-chree.

And this rhyme is so trying and to the brain drying

that your health I've just drank,

as that is the only word to rhyme with

Your own true




Postmark: 29th April, 1891


My Dear Frank,

I hope you were not very tired on Sunday night. Now I have nothing particular to write about, only I have something to tell you to-morrow night. My dad had a little talk with me about you and your business. On Monday afternoon I am always busy ironing, so he lay on the sofa, then he began to question me about how much you got, so I told him what I could and he told me what he thought, but soon after he fell into a peaceful slumber and I felt jolly glad. I was afraid of him asking something I could not tell.

This is not a sweet letter but I find you far from sweet sometimes.

I am busy to-night so excuse a short letter, and try to come early to-morrow night to please

Your own affectionate



Frank's friend Charles Starkie expresses typical antisemitism of the time.



Postmark: 13th May, 1891


12th May, 1891


My Dear Florrie,

It is long since I wrote last, but it is owing to seeing you oftener, but now I pay back one letter so don't forget it, as you notice these things. Though it has been so hot and such a lovely day I felt low-spirited this morning and got to thinking what a dream life is. We worry ourselves and go on blundering through it without knowing anything about it, and if it were not for the bliss we derive from love what a poor dark dismal dream it would be. However, as I have often said, that is the last trace of lost paradise left for us so we should grasp it close and tight and make the most of it.

I have called and talked to Starkie to-day, who was in his usual doleful humour (when at business). He says this influenza is being brought over by the swarms of filthy Russian Jews who are pouring into the country. Yet the government don't stop them. Almost every house I go to have got it, and some have all the family down. It is dreadful, the Doctors are run off their legs almost. He says the country should rise and protest against them coming here.

Business is wretchedly bad. I can't help telling you so don't think me wrong in saying it. I cannot feel light-hearted when that is the case.

I am going to-night to see the gentleman of the sofa-rug who has just got married, this being my first night at liberty for some time. I hope to do some business there if possible. Mr Breuerd [?] the Secretary has been down to-day an detained me two hours, but he has taken all the Building Society papers etc. and given me a receipt so that is off my mind.

I wish things would turn out a bit plainer to enable me to arrange my plans for our settling down together. I have been looking round to-day and making some enquiries but without much progress. However, all will come right darling and I hope to yet accomplish my hopes and plans: 'if there's not one thing there's another.' But I shall yet be on the alert to make all happy though I am so anxious. As you say, if we cannot go through something for each other love is not what we have proved it. Love, trust, and Truth, dearest. 'That's your sort' for

Yours only




Postmark: 15th May, 1891


14th May, 1891


My Dearest,

I don't know whether it is ridiculous to write on the day I see you and when I expect to see you the next day. But you know I never care what things seem but simply do what I think the right thing, and I consider that I should not be right in neglecting to write so wish you a bright and happy birthday to-morrow, and I hope darling that you will have very many Happy Returns of it, and that you will spend the remainder of them with me.

The recollections of your last Birthday Party is still green in my memory, but I hope that this will be still happier, as I believe from all you have so often said that you are happy in the love which exists between us.

This old fashioned notepaper is like they used fifty years ago, but if it seems childish it doesn't matter, it speaks for itself besides what is written on it, and so it has a double effect.

I hope we shall always be as lenient to each other as we are now then darling we need fear nothing.

I need not say more except that I have given you the wishes of my heart

So Believe me

Yours sincerely




16th May, 1891


My Dear Frank,

I only want to write a few lines, so it won't take you long to read. I fancy that I did not thank you enough for the pretty present you gave me, but I felt what I did not say, as I always do. I am sorry you went to so much trouble. You have always been so good and kind that whatever could I do but love you in return.

They have brought another order so I shall have to go down.

Come to-morrow early, and I hope it will be warmer. If you don't write I should like you to come down. So with fond love

Yours affectionate



This following letter is Frank's justification to his mother for his intention to marry. Curiously, he gives the grounds as the need for domestic support, with no mention of love, only 'deep regard and affection.'



20th May, 1891


Dear Mother,

I am pleased to be able to wish you a very Happy Birthday and will write this as a token of my gratitude for your constant solicitude for my welfare. I look with pleasure upon the ten years we have lived together, and hope and believe you have been happy, though I perhaps have not made life as bright as I might have done when my temper was soured by the disappointments of life, especially a few years ago. But I know you knew the cause and forgave the bitterness which was its result. We have enjoyed many of your birthdays and mine during these years and my sincerest wish is that you will enjoy many more with me. I believe if you had not come to live with me I might not have been as straight as I am to-day and I have to thank you for the position I am in.

Amidst all the cares, annoyances, doubts and uncertainties we meet in our blundering course through life you have given me counsel and assistance such as I should be glad to hope I may always receive. I hope for health to earn a decent living, so as to do my duty to you and shall pray to consider it my duty to conduce to your comfort and happiness, peace and welfare. I know you hope for my happiness as much as I do myself, and I trust I have been guided aright in my choice.

You know my opinions, that the changes we are about to make may be best for our future. Before we had Prissy, the work especially in winter was too much for you, now we have her she proves almost useless, and the work of such a house as this would be too much for you alone. As I have often said, if you were ill we should be in little better condition than we were at the Grove, and should have to trust to hirelings which are a poor support at the best.

I truly think that comfortable apartments, without harass or worry or anxiety or work, would be happier for you than having the burden of a house besides having more society, liberty and leisure.

I have waited longer than many men and feel it foolish to waste all time, in case of illness we have no female at hand to look to, but should again have to beseech the aid of someone, and then only be helped from a sordid motive, whereas one who is bound by ties stronger than hope of pay will devote more thought and love and make more sacrifices than one who is only trying to wring what they can from our weakness and necessity. So for all these reasons I trust you will not regret the step I contemplate, as the means as I trust and hope of my happy settlement. I believe Florrie has a deep regard and affection for me and so think it foolish to despise it after the length of time I have lived unloved and uncared for by anyone whom I could care for enough to go through life with. The dangers of a single life sometimes lead to vices which mar our whole future and the best escape is the only honourable course left, marriage. With my word that my earnest wish and desire is for your happiness Dear Mother, may I always be

Your affectionate son




Postmark: 23rd May, 1891


Saturday afternoon

May 24th, 1891


My Dear Frank

If the weather is so nice to-morrow as it's been to-day, let us go to Peel Park in the afternoon and I will be ready early. I hope you went warm last night, it was with staying in that cold room, but we wanted to talk to one another. I know if you had gone home when you saw how cool I was, well I should have been quite as wretched as you may. You know how you trusted me last Sunday, so come early to-morrow, and we will make things more cheerful, and if we don't there will be no alteration.

Excuse bad pencil and short letter, as we can compare longer notes to-morrow, so till then Frank,

I am Your own true Florrie



Postmark: 24th May, 1891


Saturday, 23rd May, 1891 10 o' clock


My dearest,

I feel very tired but will write a few lines. I might almost as well have gone away by a trip for the business I have done (but I have saved the money). There have been a great many taking advantage of this fine day. I feel sleepy and queer so I am afraid it is a sign of a wet day to-morrow. I shall be sorry as I would like to come early and have a good walk.

I have been to see Mr Gent to-night and have asked them to speak for me if one of the houses in his street comes empty, they are very nice houses near the Park and only 6/6d a week. My brother walked in to-day while I was in at dinner and we had a long talk, he wanted to know when it was coming off. He says Sarah is still poorly and Edith is ill now, though the others are better, he was up to the neck in business and could talk of hardly anything but the building trade.

I hope it will be nice to-morrow for us to have a quiet walk as I want to have some private conversation with you about the arrangements. Just fancy you thinking I did not want to come on Friday when I had a day to spare, and when I have so often said wanting to be with you I am always wanting to be with you. You will find in one of my old letters I said you should never doubt me but believe I always am true and that I am wise enough to value your true and faithful heart.

Mr Gent was asking me if it was coming off before I left this house, he said he thought I should have got married and removed afterwards, but I never thought of it and perhaps it would not have been advisable, but I will talk of it seriously to you to-morrow.

And now I will leave the rest to say when I meet the little girl of my heart.

So darling, Believe me still yours in heart



Frank Turner Gent often kept a diary or scribbled notes about his thoughts and experiences.



Sunday, 31st May, 1891


Mrs C. with Mother morning.

Met [Flo] at 3.30 H[ulme] church half hour late. Fell out of sorts and in a bad humour. Did not like her conversation, but cannot help an inferior education. Must we lose happiness for the style of a person's talking. Remarked about a twig that it was like a girl, could not be broken off. Said instantly that that was one for her. Cool all tea time all evening. Sat in very indifferent after tea. Mother and Pris went out, Flo asked to go a walk, did not acquiesce at once. Sat quiet, no sweetness. Went at last in Park, sat there an hour. Went long walk got sweeter. Took a Seidlitz powder instead of supper. Frightful headache. Tram to town. Told me I had told her not to go on getting things ready for house. So felt no heart. Asked about four months. Said I wish it could be done in four weeks, and to go on doing things. But I did not like her being late, and talking of the fun at Blackpool. Said she only did it to vex me, and said also while in Park she would wait year, two years if I asked. I asked if she would rather and she said no. Parted affectionately, said she should go out next week if I stayed away all week on account of my Brother coming. Promised I would not. Why should I make myself miserable with happiness within my grasp.



Postmark: 1st June, 1891


Monday, 1st June, 1891


My Dearest Florrie,

My letter will not be written very fast to-night as I don't think I can spread my thoughts on paper as swiftly as usual. Sarah writes to say they are coming to-morrow and I have a most important Board Meeting I must attend to-morrow night. I am rather vexed but it can't be helped. I may see you in town to-morrow. I shall look out for you if you are there. I shall be in Deansgate about the middle of the afternoon the time you arrive there. But if you don't see me it won't do for you to waste your time by waiting. You said last night, though you were going to town, I could trust you, but you could not trust me. Why not? You have had no reason to doubt me, and we ought to trust each other. If love is true, it can be trusted, and when we have each found someone whom we love and who loves us, why can we not be content in that. Love is the only great blessing we have in life, the most priceless boon we are granted here, and when that love is deep and true and pure and strong, it only requires our own faith and trust to make it lasting, and deserves our greatest efforts to retain such happiness, as life without it is like a long dark night, and like a sandy desert without a spring.

If I grieved you yesterday you must forgive me, you know I was a little off colour and that causes us to be different to our usual nature. You know how I care for you in my heart though I am sometimes not as sweet as I could wish, but we are all subject to these disorders of the mind and have to try to resist them. My head is not right yet.

I wish I could come up these fine days to take you out in the beautiful air, but business has to be attended to night and day. I got in to dinner and tea at five, and am going to Old Trafford now, then to the Building Society and at nine to a place about a case by appointment. To-morrow, all day, and the meeting at night. Wednesday at my books all afternoon, so you see I shall have little time with my brother and the rest.

But I shall either come or write for you after the rush is over, as I really am wretched when I don't see you,

So Believe me dearest

Your own


Call me this when you talk about me to your people, and not the name that strangers call me by.



Postmark: 16th June, 1891


Monday, 15th June, 1891. 10 PM


My Dear Florrie,

I could not get up in time to-night to go to the Ballot at Woodbine Street. I only got home to tea at six since I left home this morning. I found two important letters which required my attention, then I had to see Mr Boothroyd of next door, and he has stayed till now.

I have written my brother to meet him at the Rainbow Hotel, Spring gardens at three to-morrow, about some business he has put to me. You can imagine what it is of course. But I dare not mention anything hardly to you about houses, you seem to so dislike the subject. However, our landlord has sent us word he will not let us stay in our house as weekly tenants, so I shall get married and we must stay here until I get another house or till next quarter end.

If I got one in the meantime, we could go to it and leave Mother here till the end of the quarter, it would not be a very great expense and it is the only thing left for us to do. But I am tired of this delay and am most anxious to make arrangements for our settling down together as soon as possible, and shall then be able to settle about a house at leisure. I have really felt grieved that these difficulties have disturbed you and I so much, but you know I have always been trying to do the best for our happiness and welfare, so you must not taunt me with being uncertain of my own mind as you will find I have had a steady purpose through it all. To secure your own as well as my happiness. You cannot doubt this darling, and whether you are sick or not, believe me, I have had hours of weary anxiety, which has caused my conduct to be less free and easy than before.

I shall come up on Wednesday and will see Percy about the church business, and I heartily trust we shall now get on a more definite and satisfactory understanding. When the thing is settled we shall be better able to advise and consult each other. Now dearest

Believe me

Your faithful




Postmark: 22nd June, 1891


Monday evening

22nd June, 1891


My Dear Frank,

I have attempted to write twice to-day for I have not ceased thinking about things all day. First of all Ma asked me how the property you have bought was going on. I told her that I thought you knew well enough how to go about it. Well, I said, if Pa thinks it's all right, she should think the same. But it seems on Saturday afternoon while we were away Pa spoke to her in confidence and a lot to her I will tell you to-morrow. I won't write much down. I can tell you better. If you knew how many unhappy hours I have spent lately, you may not have said anything so unkind as you did last night.

Do write to-morrow Frank

Yours faithfully Florrie



Postmark: 1st July, 1891


353, Eccles New Road,



Wednesday afternoon


My Dear Frank,

I know you always make fun of my letters, although I am writing. You will be busy to-night, but I don't like you staying away on Wednesdays. It seems a long time since Monday night.

You said I would be more contented now that you had seen Mr Watts. I was before only I listened to what other people said. You blame me, and say I was the cause of the disturbance. But you are wrong, and I hope you won't try and pay me back anything, except in kindness.

I have been with Francis to-day, as she was rather ill yesterday, there has a lot to be done, and I did my wash yesterday, so I helped her a little.

I have nothing particular to say, only I thought that I would pay you another letter back as I am in your debt.

I hope it will be fine for me to go home to-night. Try not to be late to-morrow night.

Yours very sincerely,



PS Francis said it's a dry game writing love letters.



Postmark: 2nd July, 1891


1st July, 1890


Dear Florrie,

I expected the agent to write to-day to meet me as arranged to introduce me to the folks in the houses, but he wrote that he could make no stated time for an appointment so would send me a letter of introduction to-morrow.

I put the particulars in for my church on Tuesday, so we shall have a sensation next Sunday.

You see it has been a wet night to-night. I was busy letter-writing till nine, then had to make a call near to here.

I don't know whether you feel anxious, but I must confess I have so much on my mind that I am a little. However, I trust we may be happier when we are settled down together and have no-one to please but ourselves and shall then be able to enter more heartily into the affairs of our welfare.

I will not get sentimental because you have told me you don't believe I mean it. I often have wished to look at some of my old letters to you, let me look at them to-morrow, I want to see how I used to show my love to you, so as to know where the tender points are. I will only read them of course.

We are now going to do what I fervently hope will be to our life-long happiness and I think if we are still true and faithful and yielding to each other that we shall be content with the result. Marriage is the one great event in our lives that we have the power to control and choose ourselves so we are responsible for its consequences. We then forget the past and should become all in all to one another in the future. If we so this we shall not have our comfort wrecked as we hear of others being by their own folly.

With best love

Believe me yours trustingly




Postmark: 15th July, 1891


Wednesday morning


My Dear Frank,

I am writing two letters before my breakfast this morning, Mrs Steele's one.

After you had left me last night I followed you a few yards as you did not say which end of Oldfield Road I was to meet you. But you may have got a long way off, so I went home more miserable than ever. I can't always be sweet-tempered, no more than you can, so we must forgive one another, when we have a fit of that sort one. Things vex you sometimes, as you would not like to own to. I am always sorry when I have made things unpleasant, and you thought I wanted to have a quarrel, the farest wish from my heart.

Pa asked me this morning how you was going on with that gentleman, so I said you thought of going to see him and so on.

I don't feel up to the mark this morning as I should do, and I want to go with Ma to look at the styles this afternoon in town; it would have been nice for you to have a trot with us. But be at the hospital end to-night at 7 PM if you don't come here.

So till then

with best love

Yours loving


excuse bad writing and mistakes



Postmark: 18th July, 1891


'Truth lasts longest. Good old truth.'

17th July, 1891 Friday


My Dearest,

I promised to let you know how I went on last night and suppose you have judged by my delayed reply the result of my efforts. They say life is made up of disappointments. It was one last night. He said he only wanted one house at the price he offered. I distinctly told him I should sell the three. So I had to refuse to let him choose one at such a price.

I was there till 11.30, all my arguments and proposals were thrown away. He expects it for nothing I suppose. I saw the surveyor this morning and shall next week advertize again. I shall sell even if I have to reduce further still: of course I shall not be losing but still it is giving them away compared to what they are worth if I could afford to wait, which I don't want to for reasons you know darling. I don't mean to wait. But 'by one great trial I am going to prove, the faith of woman and the force of love.'

I look forward to going away for those quiet blissful holidays together. Far from the toil and worry of town and care and work and business.

I have waited in all night for a gentleman who has not come; another disappointment.

Fred is coming to-morrow I think. You said you were coming at eight, didn't you? Bring Emily if she is with you. I shall look with pride to see you.

I long to have peace from this anxiety and then to fulfil our hope and desire. I would like to have seen you to-night and this beautiful day. But I had not got much pocket money you know or would have come up to go to Worsley. Yet this grand day has made me feel that life was really a bright cheerful thing. I hope you will have a nice day to-morrow and come for as long as you can at night. Think of me while you are at pleasure and 'always be good and true, and then I will fondly adore.'

May our love be like the ivy; green all the year round and as clinging to each other.

So dearest, my thoughts to-night still turn to those I love to those I left in Salford.

With my best love

Your constant




Postmark: 26th July, 1891


Tuesday evening


My Dear Frank

I can't write a long letter for I have been very busy this week. I wonder if you have been busy. Both of us must work a little before next week. I have washed all the new things to-day, so my harder work is done. Pa wrote to Aunt Emma on Sunday, so I am glad. He asked her about the cake, and I think he is going to get a small barrel of ale from that place he goes to. I will tell you all particulars to-morrow night really. I have so much to do, you will excuse me writing any more.

I shall expect a letter from you in the morning, so good bye Dear Frank till then

Yours affectionate




[torn page. Must have been written in early August, 1891]


My D


see I


so long

you felt

my society. But of course you will have plenty of that I suppose soon, so perhaps you did not mind. I know you had a lot to talk over about the dress and arrangements so I don't mind it.

I have been thinking of this day twelve months.



to come


and again

w, what



I did not

at the Castle

that we should[…]

and get married in twelve months. I think it was you who did not know your own mind then. But you have altered now. You are not as anxious to flutter off with every new fancy and with every new foppish boy as you were then. You have taken to solids instead of to shadows. You have chosen to give up vanity for the sake of gaining one man whom you can call your own.

Well, let bygones be bygones. You know how touched I was that night, I thought I […] deceived by woman once [again?] and it cut me […] faith would have been broken for ever if I had been but our fates meant us not to be parted so easily as that, and I now hope we shall be ever all in all to each other.

Well darling I have some good news. I am glad to say my Brother is coming and possibly may bring Henry for an hour or two. I know you won't mind, he so seldom gets on out and this is such an event to him seeing his uncle married.

I am glad to have my Brother there, and think you will be.

As it is post time I must conclude: this may be the last letter you will have from me as your sweetheart, the next character will be husband.

With dearest love

Your affectionate sweetheart




Certificate of Registry of Marriage.

Page 179 1891 Christ Church, Salford Nº 358. 5th August, 1891

Frank Gent 31 Bachelor Insurance Agent

79, Heywood St, Moss Side Henry Gent Surgeon

Florence Barrington 22 Spinster

1, Maymus St Wm Barrington Draper

Witnesses: Frederick Gent and Emily Barrington



319, Fairfield Road

12th August, 1891


My dear Florrie,

I wish to thank you very much for the beautiful bouquet you so kindly sent me, and I wish you both every success and happiness. I trust that you will have a long and happy life together; if you continue to love and cherish each other as you do at the present time, there will be no doubt about it as happiness will be the result. It must have been a sacrifice on your part to send me the flowers that you carried on your wedding day and I love and appreciate you for the kindly feeling which prompted it. I was very much disappointed that I was not able to be present at the wedding, I should like to have been with you all on that day, and I felt grieved at being obliged to stay away. I was very sorry to hear that you are both poorly with bad colds. I hope that it will pass away and that you will soon be all right again. I have been poorly myself about a week or I would have written to you sooner, and I thought I would wait until you returned home. I want you and Frank to come over to see us soon. Perhaps Aunt will be coming soon then we can arrange. My leg is still very painful and it makes things so awkward. Where there are little babies there is not much rest to be got. Please give my love to Aunt and tell her I am hoping to receive a letter from her soon to say when she is coming to see us. I will now conclude by again wishing you both long life and happiness.

With my very dear love to you both

I remain

Your very affectionate sister

S. Gent.


PS Tell Frank that the reveries of a bachelor are now realized, that he has now got to the anthracite and I hope that he will now know the meaning of the word Home in all its beauty, and that he will not spend his time out of his home as so many men do and so lose the love and confidence of those that constitute a real Happy Home. The cares of your worship are there, the altar of your confidence there, the end of your worldly faith is there, you are beloved, there you are understood, there your troubles will be smiled away. Such a house is home, sweet home indeed and as near akin to the other House that we have the promise of as we are allowed to have in this world of grief and pain. Now again with my best love

Au revoir

Henry and Edith send their love.




13th August, 1891


Dear Frank,

We have just sent off by train a small box addressed to you containing a timepiece, as a small token of esteem from my sisters and myself and wishing you and Mrs Frank Gent every happiness.

I remain

Yours sincerely

S. V. Wagstaffe.



Written from Mrs Atkinsons, August, 1891

Bolton Wood Villas


My Dear Frank and Florrie,

I received your postcards this morning, I am sorry to hear your colds are not better. I was surprised I have had a cold but Mrs Atkinson gave me some whiskey and it was very soon better. The country is beautiful and I have not felt lonely. I am enjoying myself very much, it is so nice to go strolling along and looking at creation, where it is not all worry and bustle, and no one can go to a kinder friend than Mrs Atkinson were more like her. I cannot say all I feel and have always felt it.

Well, I am coming home on Monday when Mrs Atkinson comes to town. Went to Fred's last Monday, Edith's birthday. Mrs Atkinson and I went loaded and she gave Edith 2s 6d. They had not seen us since we went to the pantomime. We had a few hours chat but it turned out a drenching day, and it was near twelve o' clock, I think, when we got home.

As to work there is plenty to be done in any house you may be sure. What a lot Mrs Atkinson has to do in this nice house and she does not count trouble or expense. I hope we shall spend an eternity together.

Yesterday we went to see poor Mr Atkinson's resting place, it looks so nice, and it turned out so wet but I have not been kept in one day, so it has been a very nice change for me. I am glad Prissy is with you this week for when she goes I want to set her off, and Florrie would have been so lonely. I have gone through it when I came to Manchester. You know I told you I would rather Prissy not go where there was children, but five is so many, but we shall see about that when I get back. She knows she had a pair of stays but I was keeping them till she got a situation to go tidy for she is a very hard wearer destructive.

Well, I am living well, you may be sure. Mrs Atkinson is such a provider, you know she has the will and means well.

Now in kind love to you and Florrie and Prissy to find her improved. I forgot to bid her goodnight when I came away. I was glad to hear baby was looking well poor darling, such Sundays.

Your loving Mother

Fred said you would not […]intruders at first, that may be the reason