52 residents #48 Frances Strong

I have a number of 'Melchizedek' residents names after the character in Genesis 13 of whom Hebrews 7:3 says he was 'without father and mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life'. They just appeared, burst on the scene from nowhere, or disappeared into the ether. More time would, of course, track some of them down.

Frances Strong was b c1780 in Salford, Lancs. by 1851 she was living in Heightside House, approx 400 yards from Springhill as a widow and landed proprietor. So that's question number one and two, whose widow was she and how did she acquire her own means? She had a pew in the local parish church, St Nicholas (which she left to her housekeeper), but her husband appears not to have been buried there.

She was indeed landed, leaving extensive tracts of land in the area around Springhill and elsewhere in the local area. As usual these are incompletely described, though they are more specific than many in the area. So the next question is what did she own and where?

She also left one of a pair of silver opergnes to Mrs Patrick of Springhill House ('whichever she prefers') and the other to her sister Mrs Slater. One of these ornaments represented the Three Graces - I wonder if Mary Ann Patrick chose that one? I presume the ladies knew each other via the parish church but sometimes imagine afternoon teas and the like. She also leaves £100 to the two sisters Mary Ann Ashworth (Patrick) and Elizabeth Ashworth (Slater) and to one of their nieces (Mary Alice Ashworth) who was Mrs Strong's goddaughter. Presumably the other niece, Elizabeth Ann Ashworth, wasn't a goddaughter.

In her original will she named George Hargreaves and Robert Ashworth, both of Newchurch, as executors and trustees. In a codicil she replaced Robert Ashworth with John Whitaker, Esquire. So another question: what happened to bring about that change?

Her will also directs that £1000 be invested and the 'proceeds thereof in money, clothing or otherwise at [the Trustees'] discretion amongst the deserving poor people resident within Deadwen Clough in Rossendale aforesaid forever, such distribution to take place yearly on the thirteenth day of October, being my birth day'. Thanks for that clue, Frances! It also names a stash of cousins and servants which may repay more careful study. Some of the servants were later in service in Llanbedr Hall or other places in Wales - another clue.

The Frances Strong charity still exists, having filed returns for 2013-4. It is registered to an address in Newchurch (less than half a mile away from Springhill and about 200 yards from her old house) with Trustees of David Balshaw and Jesse Lord. The aim is still 'to distribute money and clothing amongst the deserving poor people resident within Deadwenclough'. Turnover is said to be in the region of £0.1K… It appears that now it supports 'elderly/old people' although this is not stipulated in Mrs Strong's will. So another question: how many applications does it receive, how many grants does it make and how does it decide?

Finally, I also wonder what Maud, widow of the late John Wood, thought of being bequeathed a copy of Dr Porter's lectures…

(I have since been contacted by the Trustees with the news that the charity was dissolved in the summer of 2015 and the capital donated to St Nicholas church funds.)

1851 census HO 107/2248.22.15
Will proved Lancaster 28 March 1859
Frances Strong Charity 258635