Maria's Diary 18
O how long-suffering, Lord! but Thou delightest
To win with love the wandering - Thou invitest,
By smiles of mercy - not by frowns or terrors,
Man from his errors.
December 5, 1836
Moma and I are going travelling again, back to see Aunt Alicia and see how John Charles is doing at school. Things have moved on since our last trip and we can now go from London straight to Sheffield, without changing to another carriage. It will take as long as our trip to Liverpool did, but we had an extra night there, which we won’t now need. In a way I am sorry, because it would be lovely to call in and see William and his family again. We hear from his wife at Christmas. They have two children already.
Our new route on the Hope, takes 23 hours, and we have again chosen to go without staying overnight at an inn on route. We go from the Bull and Mouth in London to Barnet, St Albans, Dunstable, Woburn, Newport Pagnell, Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Mansfiled, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Huddersfield, and Halifax. The distance for the whole trip is 196 miles. Journey time 23.50 hours. We depart London at 5.45 am and the coach finishes in Halifax 6.00 am but of course, we will have got off an hour earlier, in Sheffield. There are four seats inside, eleven outside. The operator is E Sherman & Co. We of course are sitting inside.
The longest stop of the trip at Market Harborough at the Three Swans Inn. The innkeeper is William Karr. Apparently his Inn is a crossing over point for many coaches going in various directions. And he has daily trips to London. Apparently the Inn was originally owned by his wife’s family. She died so he had to buy the Inn rather than inheriting it. The Three Swans has stabling for 70 horses and lock-up coach houses sufficient to hold 12 carriages. All this information is on the advertising sheets.
I don’t intend to do a stop by stop listing as I did before, as although our route is now through the center of the country, and therefore will take in different places, I just feel that I have done that sort of thing in my diary and don’t wish to repeat it.
December 20, 1836
We are now back from our week long visit. Everyone was very well, and it was lovely to see them all again. John Charles is very much enjoying the school. This is his last year, but he isn’t all that interested in going to University.
We spent more time with Uncle Thomas, Moma’s sister Ann’s widower, and felt like we got to know more about him. He told us that he was the first President of the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society, but that Uncle Henry, (Aunt Alicia’s husband) also held the job for awhile. They both seemed very involved in Sheffield community organisations as well as church business. Uncle Thomas works in the cutlery business, which is sort of a speciality for Sheffield. He also put himself up for the election to be an MP in Sheffield at the same time as Papa was doing it in Blackburn, and on the hand vote, he won, but the other candidates demanded a ballot, and on that he lost. But his supporters, who were mostly the disenfranchised of the area, were so angry, that they created a riot, and before it was over, the army was summoned, the Riot Act was proclaimed and five people had been killed. At least things didn’t get that bad when Papa lost.
Uncle Henry on the other hand, was not only involved in the Literary and Philosophical society, but he is a member of the Sheffield Bank Society, a founder of Sheffield Library, and involved in the Yorkshire Chess Association. We saw his trophies that he had won.
The situation with the church that Uncle Henry is in charge of is somewhat interesting. The original vicar, Dr. Phillips was well liked, but he did seem to be edging away from the Unitarian principles, and even baptising, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So people were keen to see him replaced, and for a while, joint services were held by Uncle Henry in the music room of the Norton Manor House which is owned by the Shore family who had protected religious dissenters for a hundred years or more. But with the retirement of Dr. Phillips, the church decided to ask Uncle Henry and another preacher from a nearby town to take it in turns to hold services at the church.
John Charles showed us around the school, and showed us an old advertisement for Hill-Top school from a few years ago. .
This long-established School the Pupils are instructed in the Latin and Greek Languages, Arithmetic, Mathematics, Geography, History, English Composition, and all the usual branches of Education to fit them for Professional or Mercantile life, by the Rev. Henry Hunt Piper. He has lately added a weekly familiar Lecture on some branch of Natural Philosophy, illustrated by a complete philosophical apparatus.
The Terms are Forty Guineas per annum: Three Guineas Entrance. A few Parlour Boarders are taken. The School will re-open after the Midsummer vacation, 1830.
Able Masters attend to teach French, German, Music, Drawing, and Dancing. Mr. Piper can give numerous references to Gentlemen, whose sons he has had under his care and instruction, at Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and other Towns
John Charlse said “Uncle is universally respected and beloved by most of the pupils.“
Uncle Henry is tall and has a good figure, and he wears knee breeches, which is quite different from Papa’s usual very smart apparel.
His preaching is didactic, dwelling chiefly on moral virtues and the formation of character. The school house is right next to their house, and the chapel is across the road and in the park. There is lots of land, so some of it is used for cultivation, and some for the students to use as a playing field.
While we were there, Aunt Alicia and Uncle Henry had a scheduled baptism. I asked if I could be baptised again too, since I was a baby the first time. Uncle Henry said that would be fine, but for adults, there was a different form of baptism.
I was asked to declare in front of the congregation my faith, and promise to uphold it.
I said I wished to make public witness of my commitment to Christian discipleship and the way of Jesus. I feel that Baptism will give me the chance to feel right with God. And I want my living to reflect the principles of Christ.
Coming out after the ceremony, I was congratulated by a young woman who said she felt proud of how I had taken on the responsibility of taking forward my life. Uncle introduced me to her, “This is Miss Florence Nightingale,” he said. “Her father, whose original name was Shore and he is the son of the original owners of the manor house, but he changed his name when he married and his wife came into an inheritance from the Nightingale family. He comes here every other week to worship with us. He went on, “Florence and her older sister Parthenope are benefiting from their father's advanced ideas about women's education. They study history, mathematics, Italian, classical literature and philosophy, and from an early age Florence, who is the more academic of the two girls, displays an extraordinary ability for collecting and analysing data.”
“That sounds very interesting,” I said, “and I wish you every luck with it.”