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Archive for September, 2010

Round and About West FeltonTHE diarist of A Shropshire Squire, John Clavering Wood (1778-1835) was a regular visitor to “The Nursery”, the West Felton estate of his friend John F. M. Dovaston, and one of their common interests was trees!

One tree – in particular, a cutting from ‘Shakespeare’s crab apple tree’ at Bidford (west of Stratford) under which the Bard is said to have spent a night – is the subject of our article in the current parish magazine Round and About West Felton, edited by Patricia Mabe.

The striking photo on the issue’s front cover is Dovaston’s home ‘The Nursery’ (courtesy of Phil Dovaston, NZ), though it had been significantly added to by subsequent Dovaston owners.

Sadly, the home and its well-stocked garden are no more, but at least a little part of it grew at Shakespeare’s birthplace for almost 100 years. Read the article.

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Queensland University of Technology "Links Alumni Magazine" Aug10SPRING’S arrival has given Gloria pause to recall her start at Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College 65 years ago, a milestone marked in the latest QUT Alumni Magazine with an interesting story and superb photo. (Thanks to Sandi Hutchinson and Erika Fish).

August 28 was the day for book launches, including the very handsome volume Brisbane: Houses, Gardens, Suburbs and Congregations, edited by Rod Fisher. We contributed Chapter 9: “Reflecting the suburb… New Farm”. Also on the day’s program at the Merthyr Road Uniting Church Centre, was Gerard’s talk which sketched our approach to writing the continuing local best-seller, Reflections on New Farm.

Patrick Leslie BookletAt the same time, further up the peninsula at Newstead House, a booklet entitled Patrick Leslie Started Something Great, was enjoying its debut. Helen Gregory’s text and historic photos portray Newstead House’s first owner, as well as the remarkable social network surrounding subsequent residents of Brisbane’s oldest remaining home. Our job was to typeset, design and produce the booklet for Friends of Newstead.

Research never quite stops even once the book is published. You’ll note from recent posts (below) that intriguing links have been established between John Clavering Wood, the diarist of A Shropshire Squire, and the prominent Quaker, anti-slavery Rathbone family of Liverpool.

This connection in turn leads back to Shropshire and the ironmasters of Coalbrookdale, a spot on the Severn River which played such a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.

Family features...

Family resemblance after 5 generations?

August also saw us signing books at Angus & Robertson, Carindale in Brisbane, ably assisted not only by Boolarong Press publisher, Dan Kelly, but also by another kinswoman in the Wood family, Pam Cosgrove of Brisbane. In fact, Pam’s daughter Janice was particularly struck by the photo of her ggg-grandmother, Emilia Horsman (1809-61). Is it our imagination or is there a resemblance there?

Another happy encounter at Carindale was meeting Peter Collins of Garrison Communications, the well-known Brisbane Family History research service. Peter’s enthusiasm for the genealogical quest is truly infectious. In fact, his forebear and Tom Hurstbourne’s author are likely to have rubbed shoulders in the colonial outpost of early 1860s Brisbane. With Peter’s encouragement, we’ve taken the plunge into the Twitterosphere, as per <twitter.com/GGBooks>. The brave new world of Facebook is the next challenge…

New Farm Village News article - September 2010

Thanks to "New Farm Village News", as well as Anna Stewart's 'Village Voice', for great local support.

We also signed books at Angus & Robertson Victoria Point, where there was no shortage of people wishing to talk history. Another happenstantial encounter had us chatting to the descendant of Mabel Forrest (1872-1935), a Queensland poet who lived in Bowen Terrace, New Farm in 1902. Her most successful work was The Wild Moth (London, 1924), filmed by Charles Chauvel as The Moth of Moonbi. Chauvel chose for one of his locations, Teneriffe House in Brisbane.

Who can forget 21 August, Australia’s hung-parliament Election Day? We were on duty at the Merthyr Road polling booth, where lots preferred to talk books and history, rather than discuss their ballot paper. There was no shortage of appreciative feedback about Reflections on New Farm, plus we were kept busy signing copies and taking note of fresh stories…

On the subject of fresh stories, there are some intriguing epilogic notes to be offered on Tom Hurstbourne, including a detailed physical description of the author, but let’s leave them for another time…
Our next exciting project is to plumb the mysteries of Gloria’s Nonmus forebears which even take in a slave-ship captain and privateering on the high seas…

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NAMING their first daughter ‘Maria Helena Rathbone’ suggests that Capt William and Esther Wood were honouring a maternal ancestor, but who?

The noted Rathbone family of Liverpool were certainly acquaintances. William Rathbone IV (1757-1809) was a founding member of the Liverpool Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and a Quaker for most of his life. He married Hannah Mary (1761-1839), daughter of Richard Reynolds of Bristol and Hannah (née Darby), at the Friends Meeting House, Shrewsbury.

In this way, the Rathbones were a link to the Coalbrookdale ironmasters who paved the way for the Industrial Revolution.

Hannah Rathbone’s diary shows that Captain Wood often visited their family home, Greenbank, Liverpool, between 1798 and 1805. Indeed, Maria Wood and Miss Kewley were guests at Sunday dinner on 3 November 1805.

After one such visit, William Rathbone sent this letter to Captain Wood at his home in Hanwood, Shropshire:

My dear friend,

We partook in your feelings on your return home of finding Mrs Wood so very much indisposed, and we shall with great pleasure receive the account that you have less cause for anxiety on her account, if it be in your power to send us such a one.

Be pleased to give our affectionate remembrance to her and your family. Could our wishes avail for your relief, your portion of suffering would be of short continuance. But we know not what is best even for ourselves and still less so for others. Happily there is One who does know what is for one’s good, and administers that and that only to us, tho’ it is sometimes very hard to turn it to its appointed effect.

My Book is at length finished and I send you a copy, not expecting however that you will have time to peruse much of it, and indeed fully sensible that it cannot excite much interest out of the limits of one’s own society. You will accept it however as a token of the remembrance and good wishes of  Yours very sincerely,

W. Rathbone, G’bank [Greenbank, Liverpool], 10 April 1804

Rathbone Papers, University of Liverpool, RPII.1.168 pg 196

It seems that the Woods were very likely related to the Rathbones, but the direct link has yet to be established. Can you help us to make it?

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READERS of A Shropshire Squire will remember that on Christmas Eve 1818, the diarist received a message thus: “…Both [Mr Houlbrooke] and his good wife [Mary] express great kindness to you and say that when you next go to London, they hope to see much more of you.” (p. 58).

At last this figure has been identified as Rev. Dr. Theophilus Houlbrooke LL.B, FRS Ed. (1745-1824), originally from Shrewsbury and latterly of Barnes, Surrey. He was a president of the Liverpool Athenæum, and unanimously elected first president of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, a position in which he was succeeded by the poet, historian, botanist and politician, William Roscoe (1753-1831).

Originally a clergyman in the established church, Houlbrooke moved towards Unitarianism. He delivered “an eloquent and instructive discourse” on 15 May 1796 at the Unitarian chapel in High Street, Shrewsbury, where the diarist’s uncle Isaac Wood was secretary in 1798.

Rev Houlbrooke was considered a close friend of the Plymley (later Corbett) family of Shrewsbury where he discussed subjects including constitutional reform. Also counted in this circle were Anglicans such as Archdeacon Clive (d. 1792) [cousin of Lord Clive of India (1725-1774) and married to Lord Clive’s eldest sister Rebecca] who had recommended young William Wood to service in East India. (See Kathryn Gleadle, ‘Opinions Deliver’d in Conversation’: Conversation, Politics, and Gender in the Late Eighteenth Century, in Civil Society in British History, OUP, 2003)

Houlbrooke was a friend of both the Quaker ironmaster and philanthropist Richard Reynolds (1735–1816), and his daughter Hannah Mary, who married in 1786 William Rathbone IV of Liverpool. Houlbrooke permanently resided at the Rathbone family home, Greenbank in Liverpool, to tutor their children.

Among the many visitors to the Rathbones at Greenbank (now part of the University of Liverpool) were Capt Wood, his daughter Maria and possibly John C. Wood.

When Houlbrooke sought the company of the diarist John C. Wood, the range of common interests – whether it be philosophy, literature, politics, ecclesiastical matters or simply news of the Rathbones of Liverpool or Shropshire county matters – was likely to be considerable.

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