Wednesday, 9 May 2007

The Heathcotes - a family on holiday in Buxton (1881)

Bill Zeugofsge from Queensland, Australia sent me these images of three cartes de visite from his collection. Although he's unrelated and doesn't have any connections, genealogically speaking, with Derbyshire, he wondered whether I might be able to find out something about the subjects from the captions on the reverse:

Buxton is situated in north-west Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District. In the mid- to late 18oos, due to it's location and the presence of mineral springs, it developed as a fashionable resort. The photographer B.W. Bentley (1829-1886), although originally from Stockport, took advantage of the burgeoning tourist trade, settling in Buxton in the early 1850s. He, and after his death, his widow, continued to operate a studio at "The Quadrant" for almost four decades.

The implication is that the children depicted on these photographs, Agnes, John Gilbert and Rowland, could easily have been from elsewhere, and only in Buxton with their parents briefly on holiday, when they took the opportunity to visit the studio in late October/early November 1881. However, it does help that we have the exact date - 30 October - of the sitting, at least for the latter two.

Using a combination of the 1881 Census and the index of birth registration data on FreeBMD, I was able to identify them with a good degree of certainty. They were three of at least nine children of a Lancashire surgeon Rowland Heathcote senior (1841-1915) and his wife Elizabeth. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living at 5 Stockport Road, Ardwick, near Manchester, Lancashire. and his wife, Elizabeth. Rowland and John Gilbert were twins, which perhaps explains why they are dressed identically, although it was not uncommon for siblings to be attired in this manner in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

According to information in the Manchester Medical Collection Biographical Files, presented online by Cheshire for Archives, the Heathcotes were a medical family. Rowland senior was a son of Ralph Heathcote (1795-1863), the founder of the dynasty. Ralph was a surgeon who lived at Waltham-on-the-Wolds near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. He and his wife Elizabeth Hickling had eight children, including four sons who followed him into the medical profession. Robert Hickling Heathcote (1823-1864) was the eldest; he studied at the Manchester Royal School of Medicine and became a general practitioner in Grosvenor Street, Manchester. Ralph Heathcote (1825-1911) was also a student in Manchester, and set up a general practice at Piccadily in that town. The third son to attend the Manchester school was Godfrey Heathcote (1830-), who qualified in 1855 and had a general practice in Great Ancoats Street, Manchester.

October 30th 1881 - Rowland Heathcote, aged 4 years 10 months

Several of Rowland's children also studied medicine and became doctors. Rowland Heathcote junior (1876-1943) graduated from Owens College in 1905 and was in general practice in Disley, Cheshire.

October 30th 1881 - John Gilbert Heathcote, aged 4 years 10 months
His twin brother John Gilbert Heathcote (1876-1950) qualified in 1905, having also studied at Owens College, and was an assistant school medical officer for Sheffield Council. Godfrey Heathcote (b. 1878) was a graduate of the University of Manchester and was an assistant school medical officer for Salford Corporation. The youngest son, Harold Heathcote (b. 1888) was a graduate of the University of Manchester, a school medical officer for Salford Corporation and a member of Manchester Medical Society.

November ?? 1881 - Agnes Heathcote, aged 8 years 10 months

Rowland and Elizabeth's eldest daughter Agnes Heathcote (b. 1872) is shown as a medical student in the 1891 Census, but in 1893 she married John Bennett Lancelot (b. 1864), Church of England minister and Principal of Liverpool College; by the time of the 1901 Census was shown with no occupation.

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