The Benton Family
Christopher Thomas HOWE
John William BENTON was born 24 October 1857 in Richmond, Victoria. He married Mary Agnes HOWE in 1886 in Richmond, Melbourne. This page covers the life of Mary's great-great-grandfather Christopher Thomas HOWE, born in Threlkeld, Cumberland in 1765 and who was the vicar of Glossop in the Peak District for 56 years. Christopher Howe married Sarah GREENHOW at Threlkeld in 1788. They had five children. The two older boys married and had extensive families - one in Manchester the other in Australia. The three younger girls did not marry, but lived together in Glossop all of their lives. Christopher, his wife Mary and their three daughters are buried in the churchyard at Glossop.
Christopher Thomas HOWE
The transcribed parish records tell us that Christopher HOWE was baptised at the parish church at Threlkeld, Cumberland, on 19 August 1765. His parents were Robert HOWE and Sarah (COCKBAINE), farmers at High Row Farm, Threlkeld. We know nothing more about Christopher's early life until he married Sarah GREENHOW at Threlkeld Church on 24 August 1788. Christopher was just 23 and Sarah was 27. Sarah had been baptised in Greystoke, near Threlkeld on 18 April 1761, her parents were Thomas GREENHOW and Sarah NELSON.
Christopher must have obtained a good education as he first became a teacher but soon took to the ministry and was ordained at Rose Castle (near Carlisle) by the Lord Bishop of Carlisle . His first position in the church was the vicar at the small village of St-John's-in-the-Vale in Cumberland, the village his parents had come from and where his father had left a legacy of £20. From there he went to Newlands from where he officiated at Crosthwaite, another family seat. In 1793 he received his appointment through the Duke of Norfolk to the village of Glossop in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where he stayed for the next 56 years.
Christopher and Sarah had five children:
Christopher HOWE had a long association with Glossop and features in the parish records for many years. He was also attached to the parishes of Woodhead and Mottram, each a few miles out of Glossop.
In 1848 Rev Howe was a petitioner to the House of Commons on behalf of the Parish of Glossop for permission to establish a charity based on a donation by John Hague for the "benefit of the poor of the eight townships of Glossop". The "John Hague Charity" was valued at £248/8/10 which when invested was to provide £7/9 annually.
The following newspaper story (from the English Lakes Visitor 14 January 1882) illustrates his history in Glossop, although it is not accurate in all aspects - Rowland was his grandson, not son:
Sarah HOWE (née GREENHOW) died 17 November 1824 at the Vicarage in Glossop, and was buried at All Saints Church on 21 November 1824, aged 63.
Christopher HOWE died on 1 September 1849 at Glossop and was buried there on 7 September 1849. He had outlived his wife Sarah by 25 years. He did not leave a Will, so his daughter Sarah applied for probate from the Perogative Court of Lichfield, this being granted on 6 December 1849. He was survived by his three daughters (who all remained unmarried) and his two sons Robert and Thomas. Robert moved to Stockport whereas Thomas emigrated to Australia in about 1838.
The story of Rev Christopher HOWE does not end here, it continues on in the local newspapers for many years. Soon after his death there were moves to solicit donations for the erection of a memorial to the vicar in the church at Glossop. Money was donated, Rowland HOWE (grandson) appointed himself treasurer and money trickled in.
But... in 1861 (12 years later) a letter appeared in the local Glossop Record on 2 November 1861. It brought an astonishing response from Rowland HOWE:
But the following week brought more letters....
And there the matter rested, with Rowland HOWE grandson of the exalted vicar holding upwards of £20 (plus interest!) and no sign of the memorial. But Rowland did eventually succeed as this snippet from the Illustrated London News of 19 April 1873 tells. (And yes, that is 24 years after the Rev Howe's death...)
And the memorial itself...
Well, we visited All Saints Church Glossop in May 2023 to find the "family vault" and the "elaborate memorial stone of strictly ecclesiastical design". There are several elaborate family vaults in the churchyard but none for the HOWE family. After some searching (the parish is committed to "No Mow May" thus allowing the grass to grow tall) we found a diminutive stone with the name of Jane HOWE on it. It has an unusual cross on the top, which we considered might be "ecclesiastical" - more so as we had seen an almost identical stone on the grave of the late Minister at Crosthwaite Church, Keswick (where some of the HOWE family had been baptised and married and where Christopher had briefly officiated).
The stone at Glossop is badly weathered on one side (the side presumably commemorating Rev HOWE). The text on the reverse is also weathered but refers to "the said Rev C. HOWE" implying the weathered side indeed was for Rev C. HOWE. Rev Howe died in 1849 and the stone was erected in 1873. His youngest daughter Jane died in 1881, so her inscription was added eight years later. By that time only Rowland, the wayward "treasurer" was still alive, so maybe he arranged for the inscription for his aunt. Maybe there was a small sum left over from the public subscription...?
The Children of Christopher HOWE and Sarah GREENHOW
Robert,the oldest child of Christopher and Sarah was baptised at Threlkeld on 5 July 1790. Robert became a draper and cloth merchant in Glossop but later moved to Stockport, near Manchester where he became a thread manufacturer. He married Esther WRIGHT at Stockport on 26 August 1813. Robert and Esther had six children:
Robert and Esther do not appear to be in the 1841 census. In 1851 and 1861 they were living in Queen St, Marple, Stockport.
Most of the children of Robert and Esther are difficult to track with certainty. Edward Wright HOWE became a tax inspector,
married Hannah BROWN in 1839 in Stockport and had six children. They lived in many different towns before moving to
Campbeltown in Scotland where Edward was the head tax inspector. They remained in Campbeltown, Hannah dying there in 1887 and
Edward in 1889.
Esther HOWE (née WRIGHT) died at Marple on 16 January 1863 and was buried on 21 January at All Saints Church, Marple.
Robert outlived Esther by four years, dying at Marple on 27 March 1867. He was buried at All Saints Church, Marple together with his wife Esther and their daughter Sarah Ann (who had died in 1855).
Thomas Christopher HOWE
Thomas Christopher was baptised at Threlkeld on 20 August 1793. He married Hannah WILLIAMS at East Retford, Nottingham on 1 July 1819 but appears to have lived mostly in Derbyshire, near Glossop and was a draper. Thomas and Hannah had a large family of 10 children, but after Martha Ann was born in 1836 Thomas took some of his family off to Australia. He left behind Rowland and Eliza Ann to live with their grandfather, Rev Christopher HOWE and their three spinster aunts. Matilda lived with the WILLIAMS grandparents in Nottingham. Henry appears to have spent several years in California before returning to Glossop.
The three spinster daughters - Sarah, Ann and Jane HOWE
The three youngest children of Christopher and Sarah were born close together and lived all of their lives together. None married. All were baptised at Glossop by their father: Sarah (born 17 April, baptised 30 December 1796); Ann )born 27 July and baptised 28 July 1798) and Jane (born 3 August 1801 and baptised 5 September 1801).
By the time of the 1841 census, Rev HOWE and his daughters had been joined by Rowland and Eliza Ann HOWE. These two were Christopher's grandchildren and had been left in Glossop when their parents, Thomas and Hannah had emigrated to Melbourne, Australia with their other nine children in about 1838. We do not know why Rowland and Eliza were left behind, but they lived the rest of their lives with their aunts, suggesting they may have had some incapacity.
Death of Sarah HOWE Sarah, the oldest sister died in mid December 1872 and was buried at Glossop Church on 21 December. Her sister Ann followed, dying in February 1877 and buried at Glossop on 21 February.
Now Jane, the youngest of the three sisters was the Head of the household, NOT Rowland:
Death of Jane Jane HOWE, the last remainiing sister, died at Glossop on 26 August 1881 and was buried at Glossop on 31 August.
After Jane's death, Rowland and his sister Eliza were alone. At some point they moved out of the Old Manse at Glossop and to a property at Watson St, Gorton, Manchester. This area of Manchester appears to have undergone extensive redevelopment with Watson and many of the other streets on the 1891 census disappearing.
To complete the story, Rowland died in 1897 in Manchester and was buried in a public grave at Peel Green Cemetery, Salford, grave number AA/CE/4246. It is difficult to be sure what happened to his sister Eliza. There is an entry in the 1901 census for Eliza M HOWE that may be her and there is a death for an Eliza HOWE at CHORLTON in March 1905, aged 71 and a burial at Southern Cemetery, Manchester on 28 March 1905. This is likely to be Eliza Mary but we cannot be certain.
Last updated: 15 September 2023