Saturday, 30 August 2008

The 1880s and beyond

By the 1880s Russell, was a man of some substance but unmarried. He had effective control of two railways that would eventually be connected to form the WHR, the NWNGR and the Croesor and Portmadoc Railway. Russell's many activities continued to prosper during the 1890s and at the time of his marriage on April 26th 1893, to Eleanor Catherine Broome he was able to make a marriage settlement on his bride. Eleanor was 37 and the daughter of the late Rev Frederick Broome, formerly rector of Kenley, Shropshire and Catherine Elizabeth Broome (née Napier).

Eleanor had trained as a teacher at Chichester Training College and later became  headmistress of an Elementary Girls’ School in Cambridge. In January 1879 she had taken up a post at the Government Model Primary School for Girls in Natal, South Africa, arriving in Port Elizabeth at the height of the Anglo Zulu War. However, by March 6, 1879 she “had successfully opened the school in the west room of the High School Building”, in what is now known as the Boys’ Model School - Russell High School. Her brother Sir Fredrick Napier Broome was colonial secretary of Mauritius and Natal at the time and "his prompt action in the Isandula affair, by dispatching almost the whole of his garrison to aid Lord Chelmsford, helped to avert a disaster at a critical time in the Zulu War."

A Souvenir Edition of the school magazine reported that "The success of the first government school for girls in Natal must be attributed to Miss Broome......she stuck to it for 14 years though at times not far from a break down.......At the end of 1892 when she left, the staff and pupils.......presented her with a purse of 24 sovereigns. The story of Miss Broome ends with the happy finality common to fairy tales - her nephew, Justice Broome writes, "Eleanor....married a wealthy Barrister and lived to a good old age. Curiously, her husband's surname was Russell."

Russell apparently met Eleanor either in South Africa or on a  ship back from there following her successful setting up of the Girls' School.
The wedding ceremony was at Widcombe parish church in Bath and conducted by the Reverend Canon C H Cholmeley, rector of Beaconsfield church from 1885 until his death in 1895. Russell thus continued the tradition of being married by a cleric from his mother's side of the family. Their only child was a daughter, Margaret, born in 1894. In 1919, Margaret married Sydney Gordon Saunders and they had two daughters, Elizabeth, born in 1922, who never married and died at Oxted in Surrey in 1998 and Evelyn, born in 1926, who married Peter Pangman a Canadian Navy officer,  moved to Canada and died on April 12th 2016 .

Russell lived in a number of different houses during his life. By the time of the 1881 Census, he was living at 86, Queens Gate, London. The Census for that year lists him as head of the household and sharing the house with three of his sisters, Francis Penelope (38) who was married and two unmarried sisters Lucy Janet (33) and Jessie (27). Befitting his status he had a living-in staff of a cook, underservant and manservant. There was also a nursemaid, quite why is unclear as no children are listed. It's assumed the married sister was visiting at the time of the Census. In 1897, when Russell made his will, he was living at 10 Astwood Road London. By the time of 1901 Census, Russell aged 60 remained active in business and the Census describes him as ‘Barrister at Law and Railway Manager’ and living at The Woodlands, Merrow near Guildford. At the time of the Census apart from his wife Eleanor and daughter Margaret, he also had his mother in law, Catherine Broome living with him. The house was run with eight servants including a gardner who lived in the adjacent Gardener's Cottage.  He is also listed as living here in the 1903 Directory of Directors.

Russell was involved in property development and the will, refers to the development of the Aldershot Lodge Estate and other property in the area, including the Manor Estates. At the time of the first codicil to the will in 1906 he had moved and was living at ‘Longdene’, Haslemere, Surrey, The house still exists and is used as offices. The family photographs show a substantial property in extensive grounds. Haslemere was once described as the ‘Switzerland of England’ attracting the ‘wealthy and exotic of the time’.

Longdene House Haslemere in the 1900s

Longdene House Haslemere today


Unknown said...

James Cholmeley Russell is my great-grandfather. Evelyn (Saunders) Pangman is my grandmother. Thank you for setting up this blog! Thea Lowry

NickB said...

Thank you Thea - I'm still digging!