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Thomas Alfred Coward

October 28, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment

T. A. Coward, acting keeper of Manchester Museum writes to Mr. Batho in 1922 thanking him for the ‘very nice specimen of Platypus from Mrs. Greg’. I emailed the museum to find out more about him. He was an ornithologist and in the 1980’s George Fildes compiled notes on his history.

Thomas Alfred Coward, M.Sc

T.A Coward was a famous Cheshire Naturalist and author of popular ornithological books and had a long and influential association with the Manchester Museum. He served 19 years on the Museum Committee. He was born and died in Bowden, not far from the River Bollin where his house still stands marked with a blue plaque in his honour.

Coward was in his time President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and a fellow of the Zoological and Entomological Societies.

His books include…

Birds of Cheshire 1900

The Vertebrate Fauna of Cheshire and Liverpool Bay 1910

Birds of the British Isles and their Eggs 1919.


Arthur Knowles Sabin

In searching for the relatives of the correspondents I’m discovering all sorts. Mr Sabin, Mary’s friend from Bethnal Green Museum, now the V&A Museum of Childhood was a poet! His works include The Death of Icarus. He also was an  early founder of the Samurai Press.


Ernest Oswald Fordham

October 23, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment

I have documented the letters on to the database and now I’m dealing with all the copyright issues surrounding them so I am searching for correspondents dates of birth and death. This afternoon I’ve been looking into Mr. Fordham and haven’t found anything yet, but in a strange turn of events I have found some photographs of his wife taken by Bassano in 1920, that are in the National Portrait Gallery.

Emily Mary Fordham

Emily Mary Fordham 2


Thomas Bateman

October 22, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment
Thomas Bateman, pioneer archaeologist

Thomas Bateman, pioneer archaeologist

Whilst reading Mary’s letters held in the Sheffield Archive I came across a couple of references to a Thomas Bateman. In a letter dated Jan 14th 1944, Mary writes about a revolving circular table (that she wants to donate to the Guild of St George) “…which belonged to my grandfather T. Bateman the antiquarian whose collection of antiques I believe is at Sheffield“. In another letter there is a further reference to a Thomas Bateman of Middleton Hall, Youlgreave, who this time Mary say’s was her great uncle.

I was alerted by this on two counts. Firstly, there are some objects in the Bygones with a label adhered to them saying Bateman Collection. And secondly we have already identified the Rebekah Bateman of the passport (another item in the Bygones) as being Mary’s sister. I just had to find out who Thomas Bateman was and whether there was any possible connection! AND I think there is!!

A quick search took me to a site about Thomas Bateman – Pioneer Archaeologist (do read it, it’s fascinating!)

A “..nationally famous controversial pioneer archaeologist and Squire of Middleton Hall“. Apparently Thomas Bateman was regarded as a “scholar and a scoundrel” in Victorian times for his groundbreaking work in the field of archaeology in Derbyshire in the mid 1800’s.

Although his methods were crude he is responsible for some significant archaeological discoveries and his two published volumes of notes and records were instrumental in the development of modern methods of recording archeaological finds.

But how was he related to Mary? This is where it gets a bit tricky as there were THREE Thomas Batemans’, all part of the same illustrious family, so it’s a question of establishing which one! I have tried to draw a map of the link as it is too longwinded to explain in writing.

Mary's connection to the Bateman Family

Mary's connection to the Bateman Family

The connection to Mary is (I think) quite simple. Taking another look at the Hope family tree, and cross-referencing this with other records confirms that Samuel Hope (Mary’s grandfather) married a Rebekah Bateman from Middleton Hall, Derbyshire in 1816. This makes her Mary’s grandmother (and the namesake of the Rebekah Bateman in the passport!). Taking her birth date and date of death into account I am surmising that she is the daughter of Thomas Bateman Sr (potentially making this Thomas Mary’s great grandfather). His son William is the father of Thomas Bateman the archaeologist (but what relation would he be to Mary? -we really need a genealogist on the project!).

The Thomas Bateman Museum

The Thomas Bateman Museum

As well as being a pioneering archaeologist Thomas Bateman amassed a collection of artefacts at his home at Lomberdale Hall which grew so vast the Hall was extended to accommodate it and it became a museum of antiquities.

Why is any of this relevant to our research? Well, it could explain the origin of some of the objects in the Bygones collection and how they came into Mary’s hands, as the third Thomas Bateman (the archaeologists son) squandered away the family’s fortune in the late 1800’s and was forced to sell the family estate and the entire collection to pay off his debts. Did she acquire these objects then?. It also establishes a passion for collecting in Mary’s side of the family (and a maverick streak!). Who knows, perhaps she even visited the Bateman collection in her formative years! Perhaps her acquisition of objects from her family’s collection drove her to build her own.

And one final note. William Bateman moved to Derbyshire from Manchester in 1820 at the age of 32 having just married “… Mary Crompton, a Lancashire lass“. Is it too much to hope that she was somehow related to Samuel Crompton?!….. Sharon

Curious wooden SPOON

September 9, 2009 Hidden Stories Comments Off on Curious wooden SPOON


Found in the collection on our last visit.

This is another reason I love Mary Greg’s Bygones Collection.

An old wooden spoon, presented by Mr Goodwin in 1842.

“found several feet…….surface at Bakewell”

An object that has no material value, but is now a

“Curious wooden spoon” with its own museum number and a place in history.

A Forgery in the British Museum and other Objects

September 3, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment

As well as the pilgrim badges I asked the British Museum to send me a list of Mary’s objects. There are hundreds! Some are given in memory of Thomas Greg and most were accessioned in 1921, with a few from 1919 and 1924.

There are 30 badges and pilgrim badges, a host of keys and spoons and some intriguing items, like a fire-steel; an object used to strike a spark for a fire. A marrow spoon; a spoon with a long thin bowl to extract the marrow from bones in the 18th century. Another object is a loin cloth previously thought to be a belt.

Loin Cloth in the British Museum

Loin Cloth in the British Museum

Marrow Spoon used in the 18th Century

Marrow Spoon used in the 18th Century

There are 167 items that were donated by Mary and 2 items that the museum purchased from her. One of them is a forgery, it is a locket from the Shadwell Dock forgeries in the mid 19th century. I looked this up and it was a quite exciting story about two mudlarks who searched the banks of the Thames for items of value; they were called ‘Billy and Charley’, William Smith and Charles Eaton. They would take their finds to William Edwards a London antique dealer who would pay them, however as their finds became fewer they decided to make counterfeit antiquities in 1857. They made moulds and dipped the metal objects into acid to speed up the ageing process and they would make £400 a year. It is an extroadinary story and they were eventually caught for fraud and had a trial (which surprisingly increased the sales of their forgeries) where leading archaeologists of the day such as Thomas Bateman and Henry Syer Cuming challenged them. You can read more about the Billy and Charley forgeries here

A nice bit of scandal!


Elementary My Dears

August 23, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Come on, you must have had your suspicions that our Rathbones might be connected to the Basil Rathbone of Sherlock Holmes fame! Indeed it is true Dr Watson!  The Philip Rathbone, of Caroline Greg’s dance card, turns out to be his grandfather.  How fitting that we now have a bonefide detective within our fold. Perhaps he’s been guiding us all along! Sharon

Caroline’s Dance Card

Sharon asked me to find out more about Mary’s sister’s dance card, which was from a place called Greenbanks and dated September 19th 1847. There were a few names on the card including Mr. P. Rathbone and Mr. Shelley.Dance carddance card open

With the Rathbone link I found out that Greenbank’s is a house in Liverpool that was owned by another notorious  family the Rathbones, who are still known today for their philanthropist ideas.  Originally Greenbanks was their summer home but eventually it became their permanent address and was prominent for parties and functions and people would attend to ‘be seen’ and promote some philanthopic opinion or scheme.

The family home of the Rathbone's

Greenbank House

The first son always seemed to be called William (of course!) and it would have been William Rathbone V’s residence when Caroline attended a dance there. Interestingly William was married to Elizabeth Greg of Styal (daughter of Samuel and Hannah Lightbody) in 1812 so perhaps the Hope family had close links with the Greg’s for a long time. It is said that ‘He and his wife entertained lavishly at Greenbanks’.

William V’s son is Philip Henry Rathbone (1828-1895) who could well be the ‘Mr. P. Rathbone’ mentioned on the card. As for the occasion it seems like the Rathbones enjoyed entertaining and didn’t really need one! However Philip Henry’s brother William VI married Lucretia Gair in 1847 although I can’t find an exact date. Caroline might have been invited. I expect this is why Mary kept it, it must have been an exciting event in the family to attend such a renowned family’s party.

Today Greenbanks is part of the University of Liverpool, I think it might even be used as halls of residence! I’m going to email the university to see if they can tell me any more and if I can track down Mr. Shelley.



June 18, 2009 Hidden Stories Comments Off on Storytelling

‘I can teach you – yes, anybody – what the instruments are for, and the light will flash once every four seconds as it always does, but I must teach you how to keep the light. Do you know what that means?’
I didn’t.
‘The stories. That’s what you must learn. The ones I know and the ones I don’t know.’
‘How can I learn the ones you don’t know?’
‘Tell them yourself.’

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

71 Grosvenor Street

June 16, 2009 Hidden Stories 1 Comment

This is a view of the east corner of Grosvenor Street and Upper Brook Street in 1959. The block of houses on the right of the picture almost certainly includes 68 Grosvenor Street, from which the second photo is taken a year later, looking west. I think this shows the demolition of the block on the corner, including the shop. I’m guessing that 71 must have been approximately opposite the block of houses in the first picture. Manchester City Council website includes an archive of 77,000 images of Manchester. It’s amazing!