CHAPTER 4 : 1859-1878


During this time, and until his death, John lived in Roche House with his wife Sarah. He was also involved with Methodist concerns and attended meetings of the circuit until at least 1872. In the 1861 Census he was described as 'gentleman - retired soap manufacturer' and in the 1871 Census as 'annuitant'.

In 1861, Charles now married to Julia née Whiteway, was still living in Waterloo House, with 5 children (4 from his second marriage)1 and two nurses. In this census he was described as being a soap manufacturer employing about 100 men and 30 boys.

Charles also supported Thomas in his religious 'undertakings'. As I mentioned above, together with Thomas, he gave the land on which St Paul's chapel was built. He also gave the land on which Trinity chapel, Halton and its adjoining classrooms, and Trinity chapel, Frodsham, together with its minister's house, were built. He was an occasional attender at the quarterly Circuit meetings.

Following the downfall of the business of the Johnson Brothers, Charles bought Halton Grange, the house which had been built by Thomas Johnson in 1872 for £10,428. As this house was outside the boundaries of the town of Runcorn at that time, Charles had to relinquish his civic positions in the town2 . Charles' previous house, Waterloo House was sold for £2,000 and became the offices of the Improvement Commissioners3 .

Thomas' son, Thomas Alfred, was a young man of much promise and he was expected to take a major part both in the business and in the Methodist church before his untimely death. His death was the result of an accident on the railway. On the morning of Whit Monday 1869 he travelled by train on the Runcorn Wesleyan Sunday school excursion with the intention of spending the day in Buxton. A former member of the church in Runcorn, a merchant called John Simpson, had moved to Bowden. It was planned that he should join the excursion at Broadheath station. However the train on which Thomas Arthur was travelling was not due to stop before Stockport and Mr Simpson was to join a later train which would stop for him at the station. A letter was written and thrown to him at the station. Thomas Arthur leant out of the train to make sure he had received the message and to give him a wave. While he was still leaning out of the window his head was struck in the region of the right temple by the supports of the bridge over the Bridgewater canal. Although the train was estimated to have been travelling at only 15 mph, he was seriously injured. He was pulled back into the train by two friends but found to be unconscious and bleeding profusely. The train stopped at Cheadle for medical help to be summoned and then went on to Stockport where he was admitted to the Infirmary. A total of ten 'medical gentlemen' attended him 'from Cheadle, Stockport, Runcorn, Liverpool and other places' but 'all except one considered the case decidedly hopeless'. He remained unconscious until he died early on the Wednesday morning at 6.45am 4. He was buried in the Parish churchyard and on the Sunday after his funeral Canon Barclay, Vicar of Runcorn preached a sermon in his memory5 .

At the time of his death preparations were in place to celebrate his forthcoming 21st birthday. It is clear that he had been destined to follow in his father's footsteps. He was organist and choirmaster at St Paul's chapel and secretary of Camden Sunday school. At his inquest he was described as being a 'chemist'. Only a few weeks earlier he had joined his father in the ceremony of laying foundation stones for Halton Road chapel. The first stone was laid by his father who gave a speech and received a commemorative silver trowel; then Thomas Arthur laid the second stone, gave a speech and received a trowel himself. Following his tragic death, public subscriptions were raised and were used to extend the chapel and school at Camden.

Thomas' only son to achieve adulthood, George Steward, also for some years played a large part in Methodist activities. After the death of Thomas Alfred, he took over the duties of organist at St Paul's chapel6 . On October 1st 1872 he married Ada Mary Edmunds in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Her father was Richard Edmunds an ironmonger and seed merchant in the town, who was a Methodist local preacher and who had been mayor of Banbury in 1863-4. From 1873 George Steward was a regular attender at the quarterly Circuit meetings. He was a trustee for the newly opened Trinity chapel in Halton in 18757 .

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