NOTE: I am grateful to Jacqui from the Nuneaton & North Warwickshire FHS for correcting some factual errors that appeared in this article.
page updated 22 mar 2022
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An elopement scandal
the church at Baddesley Ensor
Here is the story ...
Thomas Garrett (who became a published poet), was born in Baddeley Ensor near Atherstone (Warwickshire) in 1796, the son of a farmer. After a village school education, he received private tuition from Reverend Dr. John Adamthwaite to prepare him for the Bishop's examination for Holy Orders - but Garrett eloped to Scotland with the vicar's niece, one Ann Cooper who was also an heiress. His wife and child died within 2 years, at which point Garrett came back to England, met up again with Dr Adamthwaite and was eventually ordained in 1821. (MU/BA)
... and a possible explanation
Now this story raised some questions - was this Ann Cooper related in any way to Rev John's housekeeper Ann Cowper, to whom he bequeathed everything in his Will in 1819? And if the Ann who eloped was Rev John's niece, was she the housekeeper herself, or the housekeeper's daughter? I have not come across a sister Ann (although someone out there may know of one), but he did have a sister Jane (born in 1751) and she married one Rev John Turner in 1782. John and Jane Turner had a daughter - Ann (chr 8 dec 1782 in Pontefract) following this daughter's christening the family appear to have moved to Shackerstone where Rev Turner became Curate at Rev John Adamthwaite's church in Shackerstone. And IGI has an Ann Turner who married David Cooper in 1803 at St Peter's in Leeds ... so it looks as if Rev John could indeed have had a niece called Ann Cooper. [Note: the ages do not tie up exactly, the Ann christened in Pontefract would have been 35 at the time of the following marriage, whereas the one who died in 1820 would only have been 32. And Thomas would have been just 21]
Bob came up with some more evidence to support the story:
Thomas Garratt married Ann Cowper at Kingsbury, Warwicks on 20 July 1818 (though not in Scotland as in the story!)
and also a very sad gravestone inscription from Lancaster Priory:
Ann, an Exemplary and truly valuable woman died 5 Oct 1820 Aged 35;
John Adamthwaite Garratt died 17 Jan 1820 Aged 3 months 8 days;
Ann died 13 Oct 1820 Aged 8 days.
Followed by an illegible verse
Rev John Adamthwaite had in fact written his will in 1813 - several years before his death - at a time when Ann Cooper was still his housekeeper. And he named Ann Cooper and Rev John Adamthwaite junior (not a relative but a protegee) as Executors of the Will. As well as bequeathing everything to Ann and Rev John jr, he included a strange clause to the effect that if anyone was dissatisfied with the terms of the will they should be cut off completely and not receive anything [you can read Rev. John's will here].
Ann was still alive (though presumably no longer his housekeeper?) when he died in March 1819. The document itself is very difficult to read, but I think it says that two clerics from the Cathedral Church of Lichfield appeared personally in June 1819 to sign an affidavit that the handwriting was indeed that of Rev John Adamthwaite.
The Will was proved in July 1819 and administration granted to Jane Turner, wife of Rev John Turner, the natural and lawful sister (and I believe she is described as his only next of kin). So there is still a mystery about why Ann and the other Rev John who were named in the will as Executors and beneficiaries seem to have been left out.
Incidentally - Thomas Garratt was eventually ordained (though I don't know the actual date). He appears on the Clergy Database as curate (in 1830) and subsequent vicar (in 1833) in the parish of Audley in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield. And it seems that Rev Thomas Garratt, MA was indeed a poet ... 'the Poetical Works of Thomas Garratt, MA' were published by J Heywood in 1892. And the published volume includes an illustration of the poet himself (see left)
We have recently found more evidence to support the story, in the form of an article which was published in the Manchester Times in 1893.
This confirms that Thomas Garratt was tutored by Rev Dr Adamthwaite, that he married Rev John's niece and ward Ann Cooper, and that he was a published poet. The article also adds further information about him, including the fact that he also tutored young gentlemen (one of whom was no other than W.E. Gladstone who later became Prime Minister!), and that he was a much loved and respected vicar in the various parishes where he worked. You can read the full article here, together with some additional information about his published poetry.