Sarah Frances Bateman After marriage
Dublin, Great Sankey, Lancashire 1871-1882
I suspect that the Batemans may have originally come from Cork, and the Nasons certainly did, so maybe this is one of the ways in which the two families came together in the marriage of John William Washington Nason and Sarah Frances Bateman on August 3 1871 in Monkstown Parish Church, which is adjacent to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) where they both lived at the time. They were married by John’s father, the Reverend William Henry Nason, so maybe this was his church. Whatever the reason it has to be said that it’s a pretty grand looking church - Church of Ireland of course - we are talking about the gentry here, and they were rarely Roman Catholic. So I imagine a pretty lavish wedding, though the witnesses names are not recognisable to me. Sarah would have been about 22 - her husband was 24.
The key thing for me though, and the flimsy piece of evidence on which I base my imagining of Sarah’s character is her signature on the marriage register - shown below. Look at the very fanciful decoration of the initial F. To me it speaks of a vivacious if somewhat capricious personality - a social butterfly, though not without warmth and intelligence.
This is borne out by her daughter Kate’s rather flowery but evocative childhood memories of her mother:
“I can see her as clearly at this moment as though she were standing before my eyes - a lovely brunette, full of vivacity, impulsively sympathetic, brilliantly witty.”
Her new husband was a doctor, but I think he was also heir to a considerable fortune which would explain the lavish lifestyle implied in Kate’s reminiscences. Or maybe the fortune was on Sarah’s side, but fortune there definitely was, as Kate refers to it several times in her memoirs, without being explicit about its size or where it came from.
But like many of the marriages in this family tree, childbearing did not begin well - a daughter was born in June 1872, but she died. The basic records I have (the IGI) do not tell me whether she died at birth or soon after. Whichever it was it must have been a tragedy for the young couple. Not to be deterred they tried again, and this time a healthy girl, Ethel F. Maude was born in 1873 and two years later another girl, Kate Evelyn.
By now the family was living in Dun Laoghaire, otherwise known as Kingstown - a beachside suburb of Dublin, in Cambridge Terrace, York Road. The address on Kate’s birth certificate is no.24 and the house shown at right is no.23 - which, of course, would be on the opposite side of the road and therefore, very possibly not at all the same. Indeed, though grand, it does not seem quite grand enough to me. However, it gives some idea.
So after a shaky start a happy little family was beginning to form, but then tragedy struck and the promising young doctor, already published in prominent medical journals, died of meningitis at the age of 29 in 1876
Kate was only a few months old, so her memories of a glittering social life must date from a period well after her father’s death:
“I seem to remember her [Sarah] from the very beginning. One of the earliest memories I have is of some dance she gave, There were bright uniforms all around and the air was full of laughter and gaiety. I fell asleep in someone’s arms, happily, weary, only to wake with tears and howls as my nurse carried me off to bed.”
They were still living in Cambridge Terrace in 1880, though now at no. 21, which may be one of the two houses shown above, so Sarah must have inherited at least the use of the family money, possibly in trust for the two girls. And from Kate’s description of parties and nurses it would seem that, after a suitable period of mourning, Sarah resumed a social kind of lifestyle
And then in the middle of 1880 she remarried, which, given the time, was probably inevitable. This time she married a cousin, a clergyman from Lancashire. Maybe the cousin was over in Ireland on a family visit, reacquainted himself with Sarah, fell in love, or maybe he had loved her all along, married her and whisked her off to his Lancashire vicarage. I have finally found a transcript of the marriage in Rathdown which is part of Kingstown, on 3rd August 1880. Kate initially just speaks vaguely of her stepfather being from the North of England so I did not know for certain who this man was. However, after further investigation I now know him to be Edwin Sandys Jackson vicar of Great Sankey from 1879-1899, a small village about midway between Liverpool and Manchester - the church is pictured on the right. I thought I was on the right track because of a death record, and mention by Kate of Jackson cousins, and lo and behold this was all confirmed when I found the little family, safely ensconced in Great Sankey Vicarage in 1881 - there is even a widowed Isabella Bateman visiting from Ireland - Sarah’s mother? Yes indeed I now know. In fact she is the Jackson connection - and according to the marriage transcript Edwin is the sn of her brother Thomas James (also a clergyman). So Edwin was Irish too and a couple of years younger than Sarah.
Kate tells of being sent back to Ireland from her Lancashire vicarage, presumably with her sister, but Edwin stayed on as vicar until 1899, when he must have moved to a different parish. He died in 1911 aged 60 and is buried in the grave next to Sarah. In 1900 he married again - an Agnes Matthews - but this was many years after Sarah’s death, just a few years before his own. He would have been a young man still, when Sarah died, but obviously was not ready to replace her for many many years - the year after he left Great Sankey in fact. And his grave is next to Sarah’s back in Great Sankey even though he died in Youghal in Cork, a seaside town that became the home of Sarah's older daughter and her husband and family. The executors of his will were Sarah’s son-in-law, Cecil Orpin and his brother - but then this bit of the family seem to have intermarried a fair bit - Jackson, Orpin, Nason - they are all connected more than once.
It must have been quite a change from high society, dances populated by dashing men in uniform, to a ‘pleasant’ country vicarage. And daughter Kate did not take kindly to the marriage:
“How jealous I was of my new father on their wedding-day! I turned my face aside and would not kiss him. The one thought in my little brain “He’s taking my darling mother from me,” and for this tall, handsome man I could feel only hatred. Looking back now, I realise that our hate must have been mutual. We were both jealous, we both wanted all her love.”
So it must have been difficult for Sarah, sharing her love between her new husband, and her two girls. Being a vicar’s wife also brings responsibilities, but then guessing from Kate’s few words about her, I have no doubt that she threw herself into it with aplomb. Eventually Kate and her step-father may have also learnt to love each other, but it was not to be, for tragically, in 1882, after a very short marriage, Sarah died. According to the Lancashire Parish Clerk’s stirling transcriptions, Sarah Frances Jackson, aged 33 years was buried in the Great Sankey graveyard in Grave no. 131 (Section/Plot 1D). The grave was purchased by the Reverend Edwin S. Jackson on 6 December 1882 - the burial was on the same day, but her husband did not perform the burial - the curate stood in for the no doubt, grieving vicar. Indeed he is not back at work on a regular basis until the following March. Prior to that he performed a couple of burials, but mostly the curate and visiting clerics stood in for him. He was probably heart-broken. In evidence of this the church website mentions “the beautiful stained glass windows starting with The Resurrection window which was given by Rev. Edwin Sandys Jackson who was vicar of the parish from 1879 – 1899 in memory of his wife.”
Why did Sarah die? Was she pregnant and did she die in childbirth, or did she just die of one of the many diseases that flourished in those times? There was a Lizzie Annie Jackson buried in March of that year, aged 3 months, so I suppose it is possible that this was a child of Sarah and Edwin, but Jackson is not an unusual name, and the address is given as Warrington, which is not quite Great Sankey, although I have since found that it was where the vicarage was located. Further supporting evidence might be the presence of her mother there in 1881 when the census was taken. If she was their child, then maybe Sarah died of complications from the birth. Her death certificate is now on my ‘to do list’. The cemetery where she and Edwin rest, is shown at left.
She seems to have been much loved, adored even. I would so much like to know more about her. If there is anyone out there who knows more, please get in touch - send an email.