Friday, 27 May 2011

Coincidences during historic research.

For the amateur, who is perhaps researching historic data for the first time, perhaps attempting to discover their family history, there will be times when you stumble upon information which seems too good to be true. It often is!
During my own research into this family, I quickly discovered that information held by national authorities and records offices, could not always be relied on to be correct. The Brookes family, and the Sagars before them, often named their first born sons "Warwick", due to a family "legend" which I have still yet to prove. Linked to this was the fact that many family members became well known in their own right, and as a result, their own contribution to fame became archived and documented in records offices. Unfortunately, people who provided the information through the years, through no particular fault of their own, had unwittingly attributed information to the wrong person. This information then lay unseen, until people like myself came around, often decades later, and started to research it. This particular family was very "tangled up". Due to the convenience of the Internet, where you can sit in the comfort of your own office and search, cross reference, match, and prove information to be correct or not, Margaret and I have managed to unravel it all and assemble what we believe to be a fairly accurate account of the lives of the Brookes family members who lived in the past. (Although we are always open to be corrected).

During recent research I have come across the following, which, as individual pieces of information, can easily be proved. But, to put it all together, as at first it would appear to be linked, is much more difficult, and must be ignored until it can be proved.

1) Warwick Brookes 1808-1882, artist, started work at a very early age in the calico printing industry in Manchester. As an artist he was respected by, and socialized with, English nobility, including the Prime Minister, W. E Gladstone. Brookes became a lifetime friend of one Thomas Letherbrow.
2) Thomas Letherbrow 1825-1899 also started work at a very early age, for a company called Cunliffe Brooks and Co., who were originally a Blackburn based company supplying cotton and textile equipment, (and ran a bank as a sideline, for its workers). Samuel Brooks 1792-1864 was a partner, and son of the founder of the business. In 1819 his father set him and his two brothers up in three separate calico printing businesses in Manchester. Samuel went on to set up a branch of his father's bank in the corner of a warehouse at his premises in Manchester. Gradually, banking became the principal activity, and in 1826, moved into its own premises, and soon became one of Manchester's leading banks, (later becoming Lloyd's). Letherbrow was a cashier for the bank, and stayed with the company for the whole of his career. He was a committed teetotaller, artist, and author.
3) Sir William Cunliffe Brooks 1819-1900, the son of Samuel Brooks above, was a barrister, banker, and conservative MP for East Cheshire, and later, MP for Altrincham. He was a notable benefactor to the towns of Sale, Cheshire, and Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, and a committed teetotaller. He married Jane Elizabeth Orrell. In 1864, on the death of his father, became sole partner of Cunliffe Brooks and Co., Manchester, the bank where Letherbrow was employed.
4) Letherbrow was involved in, and was a member of The Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, which was founded in 1883. He became treasurer in 1889.
5) Sir William Cunliffe Brooks was also involved in, and was a member of the same Antiquarian Society, and became President of it.
6) During 1889 members of the society visited, as a group outing, Barlow Hall, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy. The owner enthusiastically greeted the group with his wife, and gave them a tour of the building and its grounds. The owner was? Sir William Cunliffe Brooks. An account of the visit was written up in the Transactions of the society for that year, with pencil drawn illustrations by none other than Thomas Letherbrow.
7) During the visit, a group photograph had been arranged, the photographer was Le Chavalier Lafosse, aka Augustus Frederick Lafosse. (He had been awarded the title "Le Chavalier" by his own country, Belgium, for his work in photography).
8) Le Chavalier Lafosse d.1927, was a pioneering Manchester photographer, and contemporary of Warwick Brookes 1843-1929, also a pioneering photographer of 350 Oxford Road, Manchester. The two of them are often referred to in photography articles, and exhibited their work at the same locations. Lafosse had studios at 32 Victoria Street, Manchester, and Knoll House, Higher Broughton, Manchester.
9) Warwick Brookes 1854-1922, son of the artist above, and cousin of Brookes the photographer above, later set up as a "photographic artist", (much to the dismay of his cousin), at a studio in Victoria Buildings, Victoria Street, Manchester. His cousin was dismayed that he was operating a photography business in the same name, in the same town as him, as he had become well respected in the art, with an international clientèle.

All the above is probably factual, but can it all be linked? Who knows.

Some of the information about the Cunliffe Brooks family has been taken from the following sources:

1 comment:

Margaret Southgate said...

Some further coincidences for your research:
Wm Cunliffe Brooks MP (surname signed without an E) was a witness to the marriage of John Brooks CLOSE who married Emily BROOKS.
- what was the relationship between WCB and Emily?
- who were the BROOKS ancestors in JBC's family, leading to him and 4 siblings all having Brooks as a middle name?
Margaret -