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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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