The Addisons

When Mr. Cross took up residence at Red Scar, number 7 Winckley Street was taken over by Mr. John Addison, a barrister, and descendant of one of the oldest families in the history of Preston.

Before coming to this house, the Addisons, like Mr. Cross, had lived in Fishergate, on the corner of Chapel Walks. The Addison family originated in 1622 at Maulds Meaburn in Westmorland, being of the same stock as the famous essayist, Joseph Addison. This family has an ancient role in Preston's history, the grandfather of John Addison Senior being Mayor in 1727 and 1735.

John Addison Senior and Agnes Batty were married on the 13th September 1784. He was twenty-nine years of age; she was eighteen, and in the next twenty-five years, at the house in Fishergate, Mrs. Addison bore her husband eleven children of whom only four survived to become adults. These were the three sons and one daughter, Susanna, who was born in November 1794 and died in December 1818, just before her second wedding anniversary and just after her twenty-fourth birthday.

By 1818 the Addisons were well-established in Winckley Square, and in her Diary for the year 1821 Mrs. Addison records many social occasions with neighbouring families. January was a very busy month. On the 5th a 'Party of ladies at home' - on the 18th 'At Mrs. Fieldings' - on the 19th 'Party of Gentlemen' - on the 29th 'Mrs. Gorsts' - (that would be Mrs. Edward Gorst) - on the 30th 'Mrs. J. Gorsts'. In February she visited Mifs Dalton and on December 10th there was a 'Dinner Party of 12', whilst on December 27th - 'Mr. Aspden's Rout'.

The Addisons were great travellers. In this same year of 1821, Mr. and Mrs. Addison Senior and their youngest son Richard went on a long holiday to France and the Netherlands, their journeys always being recorded in Diaries and Sketch-books.

Thomas Batty Addison and John Addison Junior were, like their father, barristers, and they conducted a very busy legal practice from their home in Winckley Street. On the 21st June 1823, John Addison Junior married Louisa Caroline Mary Anne Hulton, and on 1st of August 1824, a daughter Anne Agnes, was born to them. Only a year later, on August 20th 1825, her mother died, aged twenty-six. John Addison never remarried and Anne Agnes in her infancy was brought up by Aunt Charlotte, the wife of her uncle Richard Addison at the house in Winckley Square. When Anne Agnes was twelve years of age she was sent to a private school in Bryanston Square, London, where she remained many years, studying hard and conscientiously and making many visits of a cultural nature.

On the 15th October 1845, the twenty-one year old Anne Agnes Addison was married to Major John ffolliott Crofton who was forty-five years of age. The marriage had been opposed by her father because of this great disparity in age, and since the Addisons were so prominent a family in the town, the event had "for some days previous been the general theme of conversation. By nine o'clock, Fishergate, Church Street and Winckley Street exhibited signs of unusual excitement."

"Many were flocking to Winckley Street to obtain a glimpse of the bridal party as they stepped into the carriages, of which there were nine in number. A crowded Parish Church saw Miss Addison arrive attired in a splendid white watered-silk gown covered with a rich lace veil, which was suspended by a wreath of orange blossoms." There were five bridesmaids, "all elegantly attired in white satin dresses, covered with white net. At the conclusion of the ceremony as Major and Mrs. Crofton entered the first carriage they were welcomed by a merry peal from the church bells - a large amount of silver was scattered among the crowd in the street, and the party returned to the house of Mr. Addison where an elegant dejeuner had been prepared. To this repast, about thirty ladies and gentlemen sat down. The domestics were not forgotten on the occasion, for in the evening they were allowed, with their friends, to enjoy themselves in singing and dancing, which they kept up with great spirit, to a late hour." The marriage proved to be a happy one and was blessed with four sons and two daughters. The early years were in Preston, the later ones in London.

Anne Agnes's father, John Addison, continued to live at number 7 Winckley Street with his elder brother, Thomas Batty, until some time after 1851 when they built and moved to number 23 Winckley Square. Throughout their lives both these gentlemen were closely associated with the town of Preston. John Addison was twice the Mayor, in 1832 and 1843, and in 1847 he was appointed a County Court Judge. He was a very kindly man who always strove most anxiously to arrive at an honest decision. His death came very suddenly on 14th July 1859, at the age of sixty-eight years.

His elder brother, Thomas Batty Addison, lived on until 1874. He was described in his obituary as "a man of strong will and firm purpose... a feature in his character which frequently brought him into personal conflict with other public men in the town." Such a man was Joseph Livesey. On the introduction of the new Poor Law Act in 1834, Thomas Batty Addison had been appointed first Chairman of the Preston Union and had, from the first, advocated the building of a Union Workhouse for the relief of in-door poor.

The whole town was up in arms against this proposal, which Mr. Joseph Livesey opposed with vigour. Long discussions took place both in print and in public places, and thirty years elapsed before the Poor Law authorities adopted Mr. Addison's plan. A Union Workhouse in Fulwood was decided upon and Mr. Addison laid the foundation stone. The building was opened in December 1868 and Joseph Livesey continued to oppose Thomas Batty Addison. "His views and mine as to the character and merits of the poor," he wrote, "were so utterly at variance... I knew their condition from actual visitation and he did not. He was very severe, and I was lenient." In that workhouse, in the name of 'classification', husbands, wives and children were all separated from each other. "My heart has bled many a time to see the poor pleading for a small pittance of outdoor relief. Mr. Addison's response was uniformly 'the house'."

On the 24th March 1832, Thomas Batty Addison was appointed the Recorder of Preston, an office he held until his death. He was also the Chairman of the Preston Court of Quarter Sessions, an appointment he resigned in April 1874, when he was eighty-six years of age. Two months later, on the 6th June, he died.

When Thomas Batty Addison was nearly eight-three years of age, Anthony Hewitson described him In 'Preston Town council Portraits' as "a diminutive, fresh-featured gentleman, wonderfully active for his age. He has an intensely sharp eye in his head, has a brisk temper, soon kindles up into a lively mood, stoops considerably, always walks with his hands behind him; has a sanguine and rather fierce disposition; likes castigating rogues and vagabonds; has precious little respect for the brains of common jurymen, and once nearly got into a mess by calling a parcel of them, who wouldn't use their reason, dunces or blockheads; walks in a trotting sort of way, and blows his cheeks often... sits with remarkable endurance at the court house during sessions business, but persists in going late to work and keeping everybody waiting; is about the clearest headed gentleman that we know of, for his years; has a small, round, quaint looking head, full of mental strength and shrewdness; is vivacious, witty, and buoyant in spirit; is well versed in law and general literature; has led a life of thorough rectitude and independence of action; has, like his brother John, been a great peacemaker and settler of disputes and grievances in private life; has been of much use to the town and the county; and merits what we cheerfully give him - our highest reverence and esteem."

Richard, the youngest son of the Addison family, did not live locally, but was engaged in the cotton industry in Holywell, Wales. After his death at the early age of forty-seven, his widow Charlotte lived with John and Thomas Batty Addison in Winckley Square.

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© Marian Roberts 1996