Nursed Petersfield (in the south of England)
February 25, 1858
My dear brother
You will think, I am afraid, that I have forgotten you entirely. As I have never written to you for so long a time, but when I tell you I have been at Richmond, and have wandered over Easly?, Clint pool, the Foss, and the old Castle, you will I think give me credit for having called you to mind.
Kate asked after you, and was evidently quite delighted to see me; the place I found much altered; and I think improved, and an excellent school built in the place of the old one. Many of the people enquired
Rhodes Letters 1846 - 1890 Part2
This is page 21! Read pages 1-20 first!
This letter is by Francis to his brother William [WR2] in Quebec.
Francis changed his last name from Rhodes to Darwin when he got married, as his wife was heiress to much of the Darwin fortunes, if she kept her name!
She is also a cousin of Charles Darwin the famous naturalist/biologist.
Francis has been given Kirskile, a large house that had been owned by his Uncle JAR and his father William Rhodes [WR1]. He is renovating Kirskile but it isn't ready so he is spending time in the south.
Gosh is Godfrey, one of the brothers, who is in the army and seems to have a tent-making business which everyone is dubious!
after you, ? under the sobriquet of ? ?, they seem to have recollection of a sad lad, always in mischief of course. Your wife will not believe this.
I have been very busy putting Kirskill in order, and a great deal was required to be done. The drawing room and passage were lowered to a level with the dining room, and all the front garden is lowered to prevent a step having to be made into the house.
I have planted between the house and the railway, and altogether I think that there is a great improvement made. I do not know what my father will say of these changes, I am afraid his conservative feelings will be sadly outraged.
I saw Gosh in town, and found him looking very well, and busy about his tent making, I am somewhat doubtful about his success, but he himself seems to be much more sanguine.
Col Saumarez, who is very well, had been with him, and gave a good account of my father and sister with whom he had been spending some days.
I am afraid I have offended my sister somehow, and understand that poor Gosh and his troubles were the cause. So we go on–
We all continue quite well, and trust to take possession of Kirskill in April. It is to be finished in March but I fancy it will be May before we really get there.
I stayed when in the north at Roundhay. My Uncle and Aunt were looking very much better, but you will see them much altered.
(no signature so probably the rest is missing)
James has checked his 2 grandfathers' wills, but has missed the will of Great-Grandfather James Armitage (1730-1803) (my 5th great grandfather!) who built a substantial fortune as a wool merchant in Leeds. He lived most of his life at Hunslet, in the suburbs of the city, but by the 1790s he bought Farnley Hall, south-west of Leeds for which he paid £49,500 in 1799. The house was then a modest but relatively recent building of the 1750s, and James seems not to have made any changes before he died in 1803. He was succeeded by his son, Edward Armitage (1764-1829), who built a large and much grander new south range onto the house in 1806.
57 Brunswick Square, Brighton
March 1, 1858
My dear Willie
You're a remark in Your last letter that I write out of spirits, and I have no doubt the remark was just, for about that time the Heir of our noble house was giving me trouble, not only on his own account, but by getting me into trouble with my Brother, who seemed not to be quite sure but that James might be managed better than by the plan which I have been carrying on for years. However after going through explanations which were very painful to me/ for no man likes to clear himself by throwing blame upon his child/ this storm is blown over, and all people are content to say, that they see no better plan than this one which I have adopted: viz: to keep them ignorant as long as I can, that he ever had a great grandfather to whom he is heir, and that when he comes to it /the property/ he can fool the whole away as he thinks fit. I may live a few years longer, and every year added to his age, takes away the desire of spending money with any woman who can get a hold of him, or any other low person; so that perhaps at my death he may be induced to resettle his property.
Be this as it may, this has been the point to which I have been working up to. So far he has been warned/ by some kind friend/ that he had expectations from his grandfather, and he has sent over to have a person look at the will of both his grandfathers. In the one he did not find his name, in the other he is put under my control; but had he looked for his great grandfather Armitage, He would have found a mine, where even during his present state he could have dug up gold.
William Rhodes [WR1] is writing this letter. Again the subject is James, and the disagreements in the family as to how to handle him.
The older section 1750-1803 on the right, the 1806 addition on the left
(March 1, 1858 continued)
Steven Nicholson of Roundhay is dead; his latter years were imbitteredby his grand nephew and heir; who has sold the right he has to Roundhay Park to Jews in London, Who last year posted bills against the park wall to say, that at the death of the young man's father and uncle, the estate was theirs, and they were willing to sell their right in it. The old man is now dead, and he has been succeeded by his nephew, and he is to be succeeded by three Jews all equally bad. The one was turned out of the Army, the other out of the Navy, and the third is of the same breed. You will see these people are worse off than I am, but yet that is but poor consolation if it even can be considered any consolation what ever. No wonder therefore that I am sometimes out of spirits, and warn you, that your paths through life may not be always so smooth as it is at present.
I know that the nephew of Stephen Nicholson, William Nicholson Nicholson (WNN), had to pay out £10,000 to get back the right to leave his Roundhay Park estate to his family. He had to bid for it in an auction in Leeds. The vendor was an Insurance company but William Rhodes was right seemingly, about some Jews to some extent. I have a list of creditors and there are Jewish sounding names among them. The bit about posting bills on the Park walls is new and fascinating. How awful! What a public shame for the Nicholson family.
William Nicholson was a man who was moving in high places coming from a lowly background. Unlike his childless uncles, he was a public figure, e.g. he was a JP with Francis Darwin and JAR (the latter was often Chairman of the Quarter Sessions), and a very hard worker.
The great value of all this is that we have a record of the effect it had on the family. I believed that Stephen Nicholson must have been told about young Thomas’s huge misdeeds and when he died in 1858 I assumed the worry could have played a major part in his death. However, he was a relatively old man by this time, 80 years old and I wondered if all this could have been kept from him but I didn't see how it could be, as Stephen would have to be involved to raise the huge amount of money to buy back the estate - in today’s terms about one million pounds!
What would be the icing on the cake (my wildest dreams) would be to find out that Thomas Nicholson junior was sent to Colonel William Rhodes to “straighten him out” and to find out anything about how he died. Thomas died in Quebec in January 1860, aged 30 years old.
This is all fascinating stuff. Thanks for making my day!
All the best Neville Hurworth
The reference to the Nicholsons led me to a contact with Neville Hurworth who lives in Leeds, and has written articles for the Oakwood and District Historical Society, including the biography of the older James Rhodes (JAR) on pages 12 and 13 above.
Very many thanks for this. It’s really precious local history for us over here.
I have written about the first three Nicholson sons in essays in our Society’s journal booklets Oak Leaves All these essays are to be found on Oakwood Church’s Website. Albert Henry Nicholson was the really clever son. I would hesitate to call him wicked but he was a selfish devious survivor.
(March 1, 1858 continuedx2)
We have the first real winter day this morning, and now, frost, and a cold wind from the NE; for the last week it has been in that quarter accompanied by clouds of dust, and everything as dry, and bright, as it could be in Canada. I hope we may have a good fall of snow which will change the wind, for in Yorkshire I have known many a deep snow in this month of March. I have your sister and her children to cheer me; I delight in hearing their little footsteps over me in a morning, and their joyous voices going down to breakfast, indeed it reminds me of years long past away when mine did the same thing. Durham is gone back to Wales for a month to look after his militia, and Annie I fancy will remain with me until the latter end of April. My usual round is this: May I go to Harrowgate which is my lead quarter for the summer, and in November return to Brighton. Annie and her bairns joining me the week before Christmas, staying with me four months: it seems agreeable to her and particularly to me. Col. Saumarez spent two days with us last week; he has been very far from well during the winter and was ordered to England for a change of air: he is now gone to his brothers at Cheltenham. His daughters are to be introduced this spring, which means the month of May I suppose.
Godfrey is at Chatham, and does not write or pay me any visits; perhaps Miss Rickman prevents his visiting Brighton, but he has not yet forgiven his sister, because she sided with me, when he was in love, and made a fool of himself. I don't think he has been used well in not getting the brevet; but then with such a rambling letters as he wrote, he could expect no better. Between ourselves I don't think him fit to have any command, much more that of a Regiment; without he was under the command of his adjutant; which many a commanding officer has been.
Francis has returned into Hampshire and as his house is much exposed to the N:E: he will wish himself back at Kirskill. For three weeks he has been lodging with Mary Walker at Bramhope, until his house at Kirskill got quit of the work people, but he found there was no chance of this for the next two months. The place no doubt will be much improved but it will be at the cost of seven or eight hundred pounds, which with his income he can well spend.
I don't know that I have anything more to say; the Times will tell you of our change of government in which I take no interest. Annie joins me in kind remembrances to your wife, and believe me ever your affectionate Father
William Rhodes [WR1] is talking about his children.
Annie (38) and her three small children are often staying with him, her husband is Capt Durham.
Col Saumarez was married to his daughter Caroline who died.
Godfrey (35) is still hoping for promotion and Miss Rickman.
Francis (32) is married to Charlotte Darwin, they have five children far. They are moving around while the renovations at Kirskile are going on.
His brother is James Rhodes (JAR) and his wife Mary.
White Hart Hotel, Harrogate
June 1rst 1859
My dear Willie
I have put off writing to you from day today, thinking the first wet day I should write you a long letter, but until this May we have not had one drop of rain since I came to Harrogate, And that was on 1rst of May, to be down in time for Riding Elections. Now you will naturally say what did your zeal take you down into Yorkshire after being so well beaten Brighton in the case of Mr. Allen McNabb? I am truth have had enough of elections, but Francis and my brother warmed up, the latter to the tune of 150 pounds; and this being the case they would not let me off, so down I came to be beaten once more. I don't care who is in or out, but I dare not say so in Yorkshire, as all my family are red hot. Annie is hot as any of them, to get their great friend Colonel Powell in; which they have done.
Public news you will learn from the Times, so I will confine myself to giving you an account of the eccentricities of those who either bear your name, or as we say in the north, who are "a kin" to you. Well I came down to Harrogate at least three weeks sooner and then I had intended, and found every thing cold, and backward, and as I had no one to speak to, went about thinking how miserable I was; but hearing that young Wm Wray was ill in a lodging near I went to see him, and got the hint to go home and be thankful. Poor fellow he is miserably ill: if a turn had not taken place for the better he had not twenty four hours to live; he had an abscess in his arm, and this being opened had an immense discharge which had very nearly done his business, but his age was in his favour; it has left him a mere bag of bones, But he may recover. So you see I returned to my Inn, regretting that I was as it were left alone, but most thankful that I was well to do in this world in every respect. A fortnight after I had been here my brother and Mary arrived, So that I
am now only a little discontented, and that is because they return home tomorrow week. We are very happy together, and all the difference I see in either of them is, that they don't walk quite so well as they did last year; and Armitage now seems contented with my plan of going out in my little carriage and walking part of the way home, by this means I tell him we break into fresh ground and he gets to know how people go on in the rural districts. The ash is not quite out yet, but this rain will bring it out, and then we shall be in full summer; all the trees between Leeds and Liverpool have a stunted appearance; not those at Ripley where we spent last Saturday, wandering about in the woods and looking at the deer in the park, and talking of old times, and friends who have been years in their graves. Your uncle is very pleasant to me, and his conversation when we are thus left alone together is most agreeable. Mary remained at home, she is just the same kind person that ever she was.
(June 1rst 1859 continued)
I have not seen much of Francis, he came over to see me once, And I called twice to see him but he was out. I am about to buy /or at least to bid for it/ the House, and field of John Walker: It is in front of Bramhope Hall, the first house on the left side going up the hill. The railroad paid for the land they took, and it is to be bought out of that money which is in the funds. As Bramhope is charged 10,000 pounds upon it for the younger children by your mother's will, it will be worth little to whoever succeed to it, for in my opinion that is its full value. Then Annie and her good man have been very busy with Col. Powell's election, and as Durham has business in London which requires his attention /he always has in June!!!/ Annie and he have gone up to town for a month. And so would I if my heart was big enough to undertake the job, for I have promised myself that pleasure the last half dozen years, but don't somehow or other accomplish it.
Godfrey is very busy as usual with his Tents, and very jealous if any question is put to him about them; and he ought not to be for he never gives one any direct answer. I wrote to him that now was the time as all these volunteers must require them if they really were worth the money he charges for them; so you may depend on it he will be more mysterious than ever he was. However this constitutes his happiness; and why should he not enjoying himself in this or other way he likes best?
You will say I am getting quite liberal in my old age. I was talking with my brother the other day, and in conversation and it came out that he had given to his nephews at one time or another eighty thousand pounds; the seven Armitages having got 50,000 pounds I think he must be a liberal also? Their father is a Great Reformer, but allows his sons that are married 200 pounds, and those that are not 100 pounds a year, and yet he got 40,000 pounds with his wife. What is it that really
(June 1rst 1859 continuedx2)
constitutes a liberal? Col. Dunn /entre nous/ does not seem to give much satisfaction at the bank; he has gone out, and wishes his money to be paid up, and is ready to receive any profit, but will not meet any loss, and now he finds that there are some deductions from his £250,000 is quite discontented, forgetting that he would have been thankful twelve months ago for £50,000: so much for the gratitude of our hearts, and if William Brown had no pleasure in making this large sum, it will be unfortunate, for Col. Dunn is quite discontented now that he has got it; so that your wife's family can be as queer as your own. Indeed I believe that all the world is queer, Only we don't know it so well as we do those who are near to us.
James is going on as usual: cannot make 200 a year do, and wrote to me the other day for 20; I sent him 50, but have received no letter from him since. I took care however to send it through a banker so I know he has got it. He is my trouble. Aunt Caroline is very poorly, and fat, and going to die, but it won't be just yet: so far as I can see, she is as well as she was 10 years ago. As for the rest of your friends I believe they are as usual. The old ones must die; and the young ones try to get married, and we all know the pleasant consequences of "Holy Matrimony". God bless you dear Willie, I fancy you understand me better than your brothers do; we have many reasons to be thankful, give my kind remembrance to your wife, and believe ever your affectionate Father WRhodes
Bramhope Hall (above) was the home of the Rhodes Family in the early 1800's, but William Rhodes [WR1] doesn't live there now, not sure who does, it sounds like it is still in the family. The house no longer exists.
William Rhodes [WR1]'s mother is Elizabeth Armitage, and her father is James Armitage who was mentioned above. He built a substantial fortune as a wool merchant in Leeds, and the family is very wealthy throughout the 1800's. WR1's brother is JAR, so when he mentions the 'nephews' he must mean the Armitage boys, who would be not nephews but cousins.
£80,000 is millions of pounds in today's £, it seems incredible.
£200 a year is less than £20,000, probably not much for a family in those days. And how does everybody know how much money everyone else has?
November 8 1915
The American war occupied a good deal of the old gentleman's thoughts.
1 Cambridge Villas Cheltenham
May 5, 1861
I have received your letter in which you tell me of the danger your wife, and daughter have been in, and your thankfulness for their restoration to health and life. And well you may be so, for a mother has far more control over a young man then a father must ever expect. If you argue with them they have plenty of words with no meaning, and if you tell them this truth they are offended; depend upon it you have had a great escape. Young men are far more patient with their mothers then with their fathers, and in matters of impatience the fathers are but far too often to blame. Such was the case in my father's time, so it was in yours, and so it will be with your sons. And then you have to go through that great event when the mother has no control, and the brother-in-law takes her place; to part with it the moment the daughter is married. And so it was from the beginning, and will be to the end of the world.
I wish you very much to read /with care/ Washington's life by Washington Irving. If you are not accustomed to read books, but confine yourself to newspapers /as most men do/ it will be a task; but by taking notes, and dates, you may get this book well up in three weeks, and it is well worth your while to do it. You will there see the actuating motive of that man: great in every respect, and enduring beyond all men; and ambitious; not bearing control from inferior spirits, but to shake them off and have command at any cost, brave and patriotic to the last degree. But when he had shaken the old country off, and Massachusetts wished in
1786 to return him the compliment, we hear no more of the "Pilgrim Fathers", these are now no better than rebels, and his sharp sword was ready to start from the scabbard. One cannot but admire what a difference our situation in life, has upon our views and actions. Remember Willie, when you read this book which I hope for your own sake you will, That it is written by a great admirer of Washington and the American government, the "Model Republic", which in our time has broken down, as all governments will do when it can no longer restrain the ambition of men who are brave and resolute, and have good fortune on their sides. Books alone, can make you a fit companion for Governors and Bishops; these have set them above other men, and I am glad to hear you keep such good company. I wrote to you only last week thinking it was long since I heard from you, and in that letter gave you an account of your family, so that I can say no more on that head; but the news from America occupies much of my attention, for as these people settle their disputes your country will come under their considerations; and as might in war constitutes right, no doubt you good people in Canada, will keep a bright look out; your neighbour seeking your friendship as suiting their convenience. We seem as if we were to have no war in Europe this summer, but Washington predicted the same thing in 1786 the very eve of the French Revolution. I am glad your son is not going into the Navy; not for the reasons you give, but because he will have no interest to get him on, and "Men of Merit" abound; and when his ship is paid off, he will have no home in England to receive him even perhaps in sickness; my generation will have passed away. I am not aware your cousins the Armitages ever did much for you, or you for them; and his cousins will no doubt resemble them. You are quite right in pitching his tent where your own stood. England has no doubt a great friendship for its friend and relation in America, but if the Americans will fight with each other,
we hope at any rate that the rough swagger will be a little polished off at home, and not reach us as it has been used to do.
The day is cold but beautiful, the wind North, and I dare not go out as I am under the Doctors hands: my old stomach not being in good order. You will say why write all this to me? For two reasons; I am confined to the house, and your letter and the news of the day reminds me of you, and how hard the Americans were and will be with each other, and you also if they can lay their hands upon you.
Remember me to your wife, as for the children and they do not know me; but when "near friends do press you, and dear friends caress you, of them remember me".
God bless you dear Willie
Monday 6th of May
This May: we have received news up to 25th of April.
When you have digested the life of Washington; then set your own house in order. But not until then; for in your case it is a serious matter. Neutral ground is the most unsafe in the time of war.
This letter is, like the first letter 6 years ago in 1846, about WR1's oldest son James, pictured at right. As the oldest son he is set to inherit a sizeable fortune, but he does not know. His father has kept this inheritance a secret from James, because his father feels he will squander the fortune.
The fortune comes from James Armitage (1730-1803), who built a substantial fortune as a wool merchant in Leeds. He is the grandfather of William Rhodes WR1, on his mother's side. Elizabeth Armitage 1763-1825 and Peter Rhodes (1759-1837) were WR1's parents.
Kirskile is mentioned again, it was a large house owned by the Rhodes family.
Annie is yet in Wales, but I expect her to pay me a visit at the latter end of this month, and if my house and plans suit her husband ideas, I hope she will remain with me some months. I have got on very well so far, fortunately I can read for hours together with great pleasure, my memory is so bad that perhaps I do not profit much, but yet it is a great source of comfort to me. I seldom turn out before two o’clock, and am at home again usually by five, when not going out to dinner which I might do if I liked almost every other day, I read until 7 o’clock, from eight to ten is the worst part of the day, as about nine, I long for a little conversation, and sometimes look at the clock more than once until it strikes ten. Had I been told forty years ago that I should have been content, and happy with this kind of monotonous life, I would not have believed it, but yet it is so; and the country, particularly at this season of the year, would not suit my plans in the least.
As your husband is away from you I have taken this occasion to write to you, as I know from experience when left alone it is a comfort to know that others care for one. And now my dear young lady, I have written you a long letter all about myself, trusting you will follow my example as depend on it I shall ever have a great interest for you, and should misfortune ever reach you and you required it, in me you will ever find a kind friend and affectionate Father
57 BK square Brighton February 12, 1857
My dear Willie
The “imperial government” as you are pleased to call it as promised to take 9? in the ?? off, which last year they took from my income, for which I feel much obliged; and as this is the only part of their conduct which interest me, I send you the news though no doubt you will have heard it long ago. So far and no further do I interest myself about the imperial government; and so much for getting old and wanting zeal.
And now about our noble family, James goes on much as usual, having got all he could out of me he has been extracting something out of the Reverend JAR: and Francis without any application, has had a present of Kirskile made to him, my brother giving me 15,000 pounds for that property, which as I only get 3 3/4% for will leave my income much the same; though Francis has done well as it is worth more than 15,000 if sold in lots, in fact it cost 18,000 pounds. Neither he or I knew anything about the matter until the proposition was made by my brother. He is gone down to take possession so that matter is over. Then as to Godfrey I continue in disgrace, and as nothing will convince Godfrey but that if I had liked I could have got the estate for him, I fear our reconciliation is far off, when God knows I was never more surprised you in my life when the proposition was made to me.
As to myself I am living much as I used to do. I have Annie, her husband, and three children in the house, and as she knows my ways all goes on in the very quiet satisfactory manner, and the children are no trouble to me. I fancy they will remain here until the middle of April when they will return into Wales. In May and I always go down into the north, as I like the spring in the country, and my
brother usually spends a fortnight or three weeks at Harrowgate , and I take a lodging near him and thus we our company for each other, and I pass the day with them, either walking out or drinking tea as the case may be.
The last week has been beautiful; bright and warm and dry, with a little frost at night, with the wind NW but very little of it, and the old man is well and enjoys the hot sun. Aunt Caroline (his sister, photo) is as large as life, much larger than the generality of women, and complains much with very little cause. Aunt Mary has been far from well but is now in her usual health, and the Rev JAR was never better in his life. In the times you will see the sad account of Lord Harwood, any turn for the worse puts his life in immediate danger, as his skull is worse than fractured it is shattered. God help him poor man.
I am very sorry for Godfrey, He has been ill used on every side; the girl turned him off after making a fool of him, and the Commander-in-Chief won't give him a promotion. But then he would take no persons advice and in some measure has brought the misery on his own head; Not that it is better to bear on that account.
Annie joins me in best love to your wife, and believe me ever your affectionate father WRhodes.
(5 years later, written by William Rhodes WR1. He is once again in Brighton, and this time we have an address, 57 Brunswick Square!
Annie is WR1's 37 year old daughter, her husband is Patrick Durham, an Army Captain.
WR1's older brother is Reverend James Rhodes, known as JAR, and his wife is Mary Turner, both shown at right. From about 1845-65 they lived at Wood End in Roundhay, shown as it is today.
The next two pages is an (abridged) biography of JAR James Armitage Rhodes, not part of the letters, written by Neville Hurworth who lives in Leeds and has researched this area.
The Reverend James Armitage Rhodes 'Clerk Without Cure of Souls'
A Remarkable Man
© By Neville Hurworth
The Reverend James Armitage Rhodes (hereon abbreviated to JAR for convenience) was a well-liked and respected member of the influential families of Roundhay and north Leeds. He was also a man of substance in local affairs and throughout the West Riding during the middle years of the nineteenth century. For about twenty years he and his wife lived in Roundhay at Wood End, now Sabourn Court, a BUPA residential home for the elderly, off Oakwood Lane.
JAR was born on 9 February 1785, the son of Peter Rhodes of the Bank, Leeds, a partner in the firm of Peter and James Rhodes, leather dressers and fellmongers of Nether Mills near Marsh Lane. Peter married Elizabeth Armitage, daughter of James Armitage, a very wealthy merchant of Hunslet. When James (Armitage) died in 1803, he left £10,000 to each of four granddaughters and seven grandsons, including JAR. James Armitage also held the manor of Farnley (which he had bought in 1799 from the Danby family in whose possession it had been for six centuries) and part of the manor of Hunslet. The Armitage ironmasters of Farnley Hall were descended from him.
Peter Rhodes decided his eldest son, JAR, would be raised as a gentleman's son so in 1802 he was sent to Queens' College Cambridge where he graduated BA in 1806, and MA in 1809. In 1812 he was ordained at Holy Trinity Church in Leeds on Boar Lane. However, the Reverend James Armitage Rhodes AM, as he was now known, never sought a benefice where he could take spiritual charge of his parishioners, so he was known as a 'clerk with no cure of souls' and his participation in the church services was limited.
In 1794 the Mayor of Leeds, Alexander Turner, responding to the threat of invasion from France, supported the creation of militia units to defend the town. Peter and James Rhodes, JAR's father and uncle, joined the Troop of Volunteer Cavalry, James as a Captain. In November 1797, the Troop was presented with their standard by JAR's mother, Mrs Peter Rhodes, on Chapeltown Moor (an area
of about 100 acres which roughly followed the line of Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, and to the south of it, to Potternewton Lane) 3 In 1810 Alexander Turner served again as Mayor of Leeds; that same year JAR married his only daughter Mary Turner at St Peter's, Leeds Parish Church.
There is no doubt JAR was a deeply religious man. He was sometimes moved to tears as he read the lessons in church, much to the amusement of some of the children in the congregation. One of these was Emily Nicholson, the eldest daughter of William Nicholson Nicholson who later married JAR's nephew William James Armitage. Emily called these occasions 'weeping Sundays'. Right up to a few weeks before he died in his 87th year JAR was still actively participating in the services at his local church.
Mary was quite a catch. Her father, Alexander Turner was a wealthy Leeds merchant with land and property and banking interests. On her mother's side, Mary was descended from the King and the Cockcroft families, who had been landed gentry in the Calderdale area for centuries. The Cockcrofts had connections by marriage with another long-established family of property and influence, the Stanhopes, and in due course by some genealogical good fortune, Mary profited by legacies from all these three families on her mother's side. In particular, she owned much land in the Hebden Bridge area. Alexander Turner moved from Leeds to Mytholm Hall not long before he died and this soon became Mary Rhodes' property.
Mary was a strong-willed woman, accustomed to having her own way. She gave land for Hebden Bridge Parish Church to be built at Mytholm. It is said the vicar had to seek her approval for the hymns and if she disliked some part of his sermon she showed her disapproval by tapping her cane loudly on the floor during the service!
In the early 1800s, JAR's father, Peter Rhodes, rented Horsforth Hall from Walter Stanhope of Cannon Hall and not long after JAR's marriage, JAR and Mary went to live there. Peter returned to Leeds to a house in Park Place where he died in 1836.
Letters have survived which show another example of Mary Rhodes' wilful reputation. The gardener at Horsforth Hall suddenly announced to JAR that he wished to leave his employment. Not wanting to lose him if at all possible, JAR pressed the man for an explanation but could only get out of him that 'there were
things in the family he could not be comfortable with'. Not satisfied with this, JAR continued to ask around and was eventually told 'Mrs Rhodes' behaviour was one principal objection'. JAR's reply was significant. 'I am sorry', he said rather sadly, but 'that, I cannot alter'.
A friend of the Bronte's, the Reverend Mr Sowden was also a special friend of JAR and his wife Mary. It seems that her reputation was not localised, as research currently underway by Mr Hunter of
Bacup, a Bronte expert, suggests that Mrs Mary Rhodes could have been the real life model for the wild child Cathy in Wuthering Heights.
JAR and his brother William Rhodes, served the community as local magistrates, for several years dispensing justice in the public house, now called 'The Seventh Earl', close to Horsforth Park gates but Horsforth Hall in the Park was largely demolished in the 1950s.
Like many men of his social standing, JAR became a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Riding and served on the bench. In due course he became a very able Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, a position he occupied for many years. In this role he was senior to dozens of his local peers and other influential men including members of the Lascelles family of Harewood House.
There are many accounts in the newspapers of court proceedings which reveal JAR's sense of fairness and humanity. Of considerable local interest is the account of his handling of the inquiry into what happened when William Nicholson Nicholson shot and killed his gamekeeper after mistaking him for a burglar
He was really impressive though in his address to the Grand Jury in 1833 as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions where he was dismayed to find ninety prisoners arraigned in front of him facing possible deportation, a greater number than at any of the preceding sessions. The Government was pressing for even larger numbers to be deported and more severe punishments to be introduced but JAR was appalled at this trend and totally against it. In his years on the bench he had seen drunkenness as a major cause of crime. This needed to be restrained, he said, and he went on to argue the case for religious instruction and more general education especially for young offenders.8.
In 1840, JAR wrote to William Williams Brown about his intention to leave Horsforth. He had heard that 'Beechwood', Mr Goodman's house in Roundhay (off Elmete Lane, which can still be seen from Wetherby Road), was to be sold but he later declared the asking price of £20,000 was too much for him and he decided he would rather have 'a little quiet place'.
A few years later JAR and Mary Rhodes moved to Wood End in Roundhay which they shared with William Cadman and leased from him. The Rhodes stayed at Wood End from about 1845 for some twenty years. They had no children.
For years JAR had a large financial stake in the Aire and Calder Navigation much of which had been given to him by his father. From the 1820s, JAR took an increasing part in managing the affairs of the Company and by 1830 he was firmly established as the most influential director. In 1847 he became Chairman of the Company, a position he held until his death in 1871. Over the years he worked tirelessly, always present at the meetings, and he kept himself informed of every aspect of the company's affairs. He was continually commuting to London to Parliament to oppose further expansion of the railways, especially when he felt the interests of the Aire and Calder Navigation were being compromised.
Throughout all this time, the Rhodes kept Mytholm Hall and each month they would spend a week there. It is interesting that JAR used his influence to prevent the railway station at Hebden Bridge from being built within a mile of Mytholm Hall. In spite of his opposition to the railways, JAR and his wife travelled between Leeds and Mytholm by train.
In the mid 1860s, JAR moved from Roundhay to Carleton, near Pontefract, to a house, Westhaugh, which he inherited from his sister, Caroline Lydia Hobson. Not long afterwards Mary Rhodes died. JAR lived on there for a few more years until he died in 1871.
Brighton March 25 1857
My dear Willie
Your letter of the 4th of this month commences with “I am sorry to hear from your letter, that old Gosh is not satisfied about the Kirskill gift"; and having taken of this hypothesis you continue to argue upon it through your letter. I never wrote anything of the kind, and if you will refer to my letter you will see, that I there stated that I feared the gift which I had nothing to do with, would confirm Godfrey in his opinions, that he (James?) was not married because I would neither myself find him money, or influence my brother to do so: he calculating more than he had a right to do upon the length of my purse, and my influence with my brother. Now I hope you will see there is a great distinction between the two, for on the latter subject I cannot be mistaken; on the former I know nothing, not having heard from him for the last six months. At the distance you are from us you must pay a little more attention to what we write, or you will continue to have very erroneous opinions of what is really taking place amongst us, and these errors may lead too very serious misunderstandings. Godfrey may say, and with justice, my father has no right to say that "I am not satisfied about the Kirskill gift". When your sons are as old as mine, you will find you will have some difficulty in keeping clear from their various interests, without running your head into a needless difficulty. Pray therefore in future, read, learn, and inwardly digest my letters, before you come to anything like an unfavorable conclusion in family matters. This gift however does not seem to have produced all the satisfaction intended, and it would be hard indeed if Godfrey should have any real complaint against me, merely because you had misunderstood what I had written to you.
Annie has had a long letter from your wife, and if in her answer she writes anything of a doubtful meaning pray give her the benefit of the
(written by William Rhodes WR1)
Old Gosh is probably Godfrey Rhodes, brother of William (WR2) and Francis, who has been given the house called Kirskile. More on this subject coming!
And he continues to discuss James and why he didn't live up to expectations!
And then he chastises William [WR2] for his comments in letters that we unfortunately do not have. William (WR2) at this point has 5 sons under the age of 10!
doubt, and always put a favorable construction on what you hear from us. I am glad you continue well and in prosperity, for the war has thrown many a young man on military service, who is now but little contended (contented?) with his former quiet and economical home.
God bless you dear Willie, and may you and yours be happy, for you will find five sons a very great charge.
Your affectionate father WRhodes
Godfrey, who wrote the "notes" in 1915,
66 Youngs Lodgings Harrogate July 6 1857
My dear Willie
I have your letter of the 10th of June, but fear I shall give you but a very unsatisfactory answer about the education of your Sons. I did not succeed in my own, though my Father gave me every chance; nor did I with my boys, though God knows I took a great deal of pains and trouble. If I had known what line of life they would be pleased to follow, then I might have had some chance, but not one of them followed up that line which I had hoped they would succeed in. You yourself are an example. Your education ought to have turned to jurisprudence, but I never could suppose that this would be your ultimate pursuit, and yet without this study, you never can hope to rise high in your present occupation. But no doubt you have made yourself in some degree master of this subject, and having done so, are a far better judge than I can be in the Education of your Sons. My prejudice is against German schools; the high-bred men in that country don't go to them, nor do they send out what we in England call gentlemen. But this prejudice/ if it is one/ may not apply to your case, because the society in Canada may not be so particular on this head as we are supposed to be in England. Again my dear Willie, what do I know of Canada? When I lived there Scotland produced the great men; and these came from obscure places and when by industry they became rich, they left the country. From such mediocrity no man rose much above his fellow, except perhaps some lawyer who remained there, knowing well he would not succeed in this. Times however are changed and you say you have no difficulty in bringing up and providing for your Sons; happy are you, For in England it is far otherwise and has been so as far as my memory can reach, and even Annie is beginning to look out ahead, over eldest boy is yet in petticoats, and the other cannot speak. Alas that we
(written by William Rhodes WR1)
He is clearly not interested in leading the life of an aristocrat with many servants, and is critical of those that do. Col. Saumarez is his deceased daughter's husband, who remarried in 1850 and has 3 children.
could but know what line of life our children would it take then we should have some chance; but not knowing this, perhaps the most safe plan is to give them the best education our purse can buy in the country in which they are to live, and this is all the advice I dare presume to give you.
As I wrote to you last week I have no news to send you. I am in much better health; and my quiet lodgings and the little maid who attends upon me, do not cost in every thing 5 pounds a week. This is different to what is now going on in Brunswick Square. There Colonel Saumarez is attended upon by his servants, and mine; men servants and maid servants;/"he asses and she asses"/ and the house is full from top to bottom. The general news the Times will give you far better than I can do, and therefore with this you must be content.
Believe me ever to remain your affectionate Father
Genesis 12:16 And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels.
longer, his time of life and long habits of misery, will unfit him for "sinning as it were with a cart rope". Annie and her family are quite well, and come to me for three months on Christmas day. She understands my ways and keeps her bairns from playing me, and her husband is very obliging, and he and I get on very well; he will be obliged to go back to Wales a part of the time, on account of the militia.
Then Godfrey and I met in London; And walked and talked and went over the J:U:S:??Club together, and parted the best of friends: he is going forward to Chatham?, I to Brighton. So all is as it ought to be in that quarter. Francis and Madame are going to pay me a visit on Monday the 23rd; but not the bairns; they are to stay at home with Madame Mere. It will be but a short visit with a few people, but they understand their plans best.
And now about Kirskile. I believe there never was a present more unfortunate then this has been: it neither contents the givers or the receivers; but I was/ happily/ never consulted, but all was agreed upon between them, before it was named to me. However we must hope for the best; and as it is a free gift, when my generation is dead and gone, Francis can sell it if he likes to the rich people at Leeds as a place for their villas; for riches will again be made when the good people of the West riding are recovered from their present over trading.
Your Uncle and Aunt Rhodes are well, and so is Aunt Caroline: the aunts are looking very fat, but my brother is getting into less? room. And now God bless you and yours; and if you want more help if I have it/ and I see no cause for thinking I shall not/we will share with each other as long as you are in want. Remember me to Madame, and believe me your affectionate Father. WRhodes.
God help you once more.
57 Brunswick Square Brighton
November 16, 1857
My dear Willie
I trust ere this reaches you you will have had a very satisfactory letter from my bankers in London, and as the kitten never brings anything to the old cat, I hope this present of 500 pounds which I now make you will be as acceptable to you, as it is pleasant to me to have it in my power to send to you, and that it will keep the wolf out of your house this winter, and then if you want further help I am your man remember? You see I have got a thousand a year by those minerals at Cottingly, but I don't intend to look upon this as any part of my income, but to invest it as it comes in, and that these orders I have given to Mr. Brown, who acted upon it in August last for the first payment.
And now for the History of the Old Man and his deeds, and why he did not write to you a week ago when first he heard of your misfortunes. I have had a lump at the back of my head for years: 10 years ago I wished to have it out, but as it gave me no pain and there would be some risk, it was thought better to let it alone. This summer it was enlarging and becoming troublesome, but then the weather was so hot that it was thought better to wait until autumn, And so this "Sword" has been hanging over my head for months. When I passed through London on 6th of November, on my road from Harrogate, I called up Caesar Hawkins one of the first surgeons in London, and he told me/ as I was in good health/ I had better have the lump out immediately, so I set out for Brighton, called on my road home on my surgeon, And he with two others were to do the job at 9 o'clock the next day. They gave me a hint that, no doubt at my time of life my house was set in order/ which was not pleasant/ and when on my reaching it, amongst other letters was one
from Francis enclosing one from you, showing your difficulties. I wrote
a letter to my bankers to relieve you for the present; resolving if all went on well you should hear from me, but not being in very good spirits, thought it best then not to trouble myself further. Now then for the result. 9 o'clock/ the 7th/ came, the job was done, and your poor old father "put to bed" as the women have it. Eight days are passed, and after being as "well as could be expected", I am dining as usual in quiet, and doing well. Two of the ligatures are come away, and we hope any day the third will follow, And then I may be pronounced cured. I was always shortsighted, and therefore have trouble in writing on account of bending my neck over the paper, but you will excuse me I am sure if all is not quite correctly written.
As to the news from east, and west, you will learn this by the papers, but little did I think when I heard of the unhappy bank at Hull, that this would cause a rapping at my door, much less yours. Tiresome so it is: but you must remember that though I cannot help you so as to enable you to help others, I can assist you to hold up your head with a larger sum, should you find it necessary. Though these speculating people in their anxiety to get rich by distress upon their neighbors, those who are not in debt will pull through their difficulties; And those who have caused it all will in a few years be just as great gamblers as ever they were, or if they die, then their sons will tread in their footsteps; and this the world calls following the honorable occupation of commerce. Four times in my life I have seen this game carried out as it is at present calling but riches "covers a multitude of sins", and poverty kills a multitude of rogues.
And now for the deeds of your family. Of James I know nothing; except that he is always in want of money; but small sums content him, as he has no idea of his future prospects, and if I should live a few years
(written by William Rhodes WR1)
Back in Brighton in November, and it seems [WR2] has some financial difficulties, and WR1 is happy to help. This is the Financial Crisis of 1857, interesting similarities to current affairs!
Lump removed from the old man's neck (he is 66)
57 Brunswick Square Brighton
December 2, 1857
My dear Willie
Your letter of 14th of Nov. has reached me, and I write to congratulate you upon the birth of a daughter, may she be as great a comfort to you as mine has been to me. As to your boys they will obey you so long as they are young and perhaps their Mother may have some control over them afterwards, but this remember is all that you are to expect; without in Canada you manage matters much better than we do in England; however I have great reason to be thankful when I make comparison with what has fallen to the lot of other people. The Nicholsons of Roundhay for instance. This family has not only an eldest son who is a reprobate, but all his brothers are nearly as bad, and they are not only wicked but clever fellows, and are bringing down poor old Mr Nicholson/Of Roundhay/ with sorrow to the grave. So far I have succeeded in keeping James ignorant of his future prospects, and therefore he only gets in debt by hundreds, but thousands would not content him if he could see his future prospects. I must therefore thank God that things are no worse, And hope that if my life is spared, he will be too old to fool away all his money when he comes to it. How he is going on, on what kind of life he is leading, I know no more than you do, as he never writes to me but when he is in distress and debt. I fancy he is not married; but then he has deceived me so often on every subject that he may upon this also, For I now do not believe him even when he speaks the truth. So much for "Poor Jim" as in pity you once called him.
And now for the bright side of the question I am in good health in my head no longer gives me any trouble, so that weight is taken off my
mind. Then Francis and Madame and two of his children are on a visit with me, and all has been most agreeable, and I hope all will be well when they get to Kirskile; but no doubt he has what I think and large views on the subject of alterations, that is in comparison of what he would call my confined ones: but then he is a Gentleman every inch of him; and as he is much taller than I am, he must necessarily be a great Gentleman, which may account for his expanded views in comparison with mine.
Then Godfrey is at Chatham: had he gone out with his regiment he would have twice been blown back again, but he has been saved that trouble as the headquarters of the 94th are I believe at this moment a second time landed in England. The unhappy man man that he is/Francis tells me/ is just as much in love with Miss Rickman as ever he was, and if she would have him would marry her tomorrow. I wonder what women don't burst out laughing in our faces when ever they meet us, seeing what fools they make of us. The mother keeps great friends with Godfrey, so that if the daughter cannot do better she may pick him out of the bottom of the Net at last, and he actually writes to me that he "has thank God a good and steady friend in Mrs. Rickman'!!
Annie is coming to me for three months at Christmas, and her husband will be obliged to leave her here for six weeks, as the government is obliged to take up the militia once more hoping the man will volunteer into that line.
And last as to money: it seems that this time the distress will be confined to trade, and those who live by it, and deal Bills of various kinds, and yet their distresses have indirectly caused a rapping at my door. About changing my security in the Canada railroad I know nothing. I thought that matter was settled for the next 20 years, and that
(written by William Rhodes WR1)
The daughter just born is Mary Elizabeth (Minnie) Rhodes 1857-1942, my great-grandmother! She married a Morewood, that's where the Morewood name joined the Rhodes family. Now there are 6 children under 10!
The Nicholsons are a prominent family of Roundhay, and their oldest son was later sent to Canada in the care or William Rhodes at Quebec, where he mysteriously died shortly after arrival.
More about James who is still in the dark about the inheritance.
the Canadian Government was my security: if I'm wrong in this I have made a very great mistake, and you must in the next letter you write give your explanations adapted to the meanest capacity. I have not heard from Yorkshire for the last ten days, but then all was going on well in that quarter: excepting that Wm Myers wrote to me that the labour would be difficult to obtain, and it was high time this change should take place; for every where the men were becoming masters and through the accommodation of the joint stock banks, every man was set up as the head of a House which he ought to have been sweeping out. I fear we shall all get through our troubles until next spring or summer, but remember if you require help you shall have it from me with a right good will, so long as I have it to give, and then we will go share and share alike. "Man wants but little here below nor wants that little long": at any rate that is my case. With kind remembrances to your wife, Believe me ever your affectionate Father WRhodes
Francis's plans for renovation at Kirskile
Godfrey's regiment and his frustration with his love life. He later married Sarah Sheepshanks, they had no children.
JAR's letter? Hard to read