Price and Provenance 4

Mansfield Park published by Miles and Miles

In the previous two posts, we examined the identity and provenance of the two editions of Mansfield Park, both published by Routledge, shown in the left hand and central panel of Figure 1 below. In this blog I am examining the Miles and Miles edition shown in the right hand panel of Figure 1, which was established in Price and Provenance 2 to be published between 1900 and 1906.

There was no helpful information printed in the Miles and Miles edition to help with the establishment of a firm date, unlike the situation with the two Routledge editions. However, we do find a prize label on the front paste down. It is shown in Figure 2 below, along with the title page and the top board again.

The label is for a prize for regular attendance given by the Primitive Methodist Sunday School at Pye Nest, Halifax to Gladys Briggs in 1906. The label is signed by two superintendents, John Brearley and A. Mitchell Bell, and by the secretary, Fred Lacey. This is a wealth of information that can help us to work out where and when the book was awarded. As in the previous examples, I am showing the process which I use for this sort of investigation.

The first thing to note is that the date, 1906, written at the top of the label gives us the latest possible year of publication for the book, and confirms the suggested range 1900 – 1906. Now let’s look for the place where the prize was given.


Firstly, we need to establish exactly which Halifax this is, as there are several places called Halifax such as:

  • Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Halifax, Queensland, Australia
  • Halifax in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia in the USA.
  • and probably several others as well.

Pye Nest

Fortunately, Pye Nest gives us the answer as this. Pye Nest was an outer south-west suburb of Halifax in Yorkshire in the last part of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. The area is now found between the A58 Halifax – Rochdale Road, bounded by the River Calder to the south and the A646 Skircoat Moor Road to the east. Already, in the first years of the 20th century, the area was beginning to lose its original name and identity and was being subsumed into the neighbouring suburb of King’s Cross. Pye Nest does still exist, and the name is retained today by a cluster of road names in the area, such as Pye Nest Road (A4162) and the residential streets Pye Nest Drive, Pye Nest Gardens, Pye Nest Avenue, Pye Nest Grove and Pye Nest Rise. The following section of a map for Halifax (Figure 3) from 1907 shows the Pye Nest area.

Figure 3. Pye Nest, Sowerby Bridge and SW Halifax in 1907

The name Pye Nest supposedly originated from magpies roosting in a small wood on the site, and there is a large park to the west still called Crow Wood Park. The name Pye Nest was given to a famous country house built on the site in 1767 for the Edwards family by the noted York architect John Carr. The last member of the Edwards family died in 1932 and the house was demolished in 1935. Fortunately, there is an impressive engraving of the house published in 1855.

Figure 4. Pye Nest House in 1855

Halifax was an important wool industry town throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and the first part of the 20th century. It had many wool and worsted mills which employed thousands of workers, who lived in areas like Kings Cross and Pye Nest.

Primitive Methodist Sunday School

In towns like Halifax in the north of England, Methodism, which had been effectively founded by the brothers John and Charles Wesley in 1738, became very popular among the mill workers between 1760 and 1820. The Primitive Methodist movement was founded in 1810 as a breakaway from the mainstream Wesleyan movement, particularly in the mill town areas of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Their first chapel or church was opened in 1811 at Tunstall, Staffordshire.

The Primitive Methodists held that the mainstream Wesleyans had strayed from the purity of the original tenets of the movement, as expounded by the Wesley brothers. In Halifax, by the beginning of the 20th century, there were several Primitive Methodist churches, several traditional Wesleyan Methodist Chapels, and breakaway groups like the Methodist New Connexion movement mentioned in Price and Provenance 3. This was largely resolved by a coming together of all the different Methodists to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1932.

All branches of Methodism in the UK have embraced education, particularly of the children of factory workers. The Methodist Sunday Schools were providing much more than religious education; they were teaching basic literacy to children at a time well before the Education Act of 1870 mandated primary school education up to the age of 12 for all children. The Sunday School was particularly important, as many children were working for the other six days of the week.

Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church

The Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church was founded relatively late in the history of the movement. The foundation stone of the church had the date 27 July 1901 engraved on it, and the church started its activities in 1902. The church was built at 1 Edwards Road, which runs between Pye Nest Road and Upper Washer Lane. Its position is indicated by the yellow marker pin on the map in Figure 3. It no longer operates as a Methodist Church, and from 1996 has been the Pye Nest Day Nursery. The Calderdale Records Office holds the register of marriages recorded at the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church from 1925 to 1965. Presumably, the church continued to operate within the mainstream Methodist movement after the amalgamation of 1932, until at least 1965. A History of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church, 1902-1932 was written by a John Brearley, but I have not been able to find a copy.

As a book collector, I have always taken an interest in prize books, and have noticed that the Methodist Church, in all of its sub-denominations, has been very active in the giving of prizes for attendance and performance at its schools, particularly its Sunday Schools. I will now continue in this blog to see what can be found about the people identified on the prize label.

Gladys Briggs

Gladys Briggs was the recipient of the Miles and Miles Mansfield Park as a prize for attendance in 1906. It seems at first sight like a handsome book, due the ornately decorated binding, but the print quality and paper quality is rather poor. I estimate that the book would have cost one or two shillings, which is the normal range for prize books at that time.

Gladys Briggs seems a reasonably uncommon combination of names, but a search on for women and girls called Gladys Briggs living in the Halifax region between 1901 and 1911, the dates of the two closest censuses to the award of the prize, yielded quite a few candidates: I list the main ones here with their birth year and quarter from the registration records, derived from both the census data and birth registers. Note that, typically, birth registration occurs sometimes in the same quarter as the actual birth and sometimes in the following quarter.

  1. Gladys Edith Briggs, b Q3, 1892 in Halifax.
  2. Gladys Mary Briggs, b Q3 1895 in Bradford but living in Halifax in 1911.
  3. Gladys Briggs, b Q4 1895 in Halifax.
  4. Gladys Briggs, b Q1 1896 in Halifax
  5. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1896 in Halifax
  6. Gladys Briggs, b Q3 1897 in Halifax
  7. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1898 in Halifax
  8. Gladys Briggs, b Q3 1898 in Halifax
  9. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1900 in Sowerby Bridge, a town about 2 km SW on Pye Nest Road
  10. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1900 in Halifax

The age range of these ten girls called Gladys Briggs ranges from 6 to 14 years. Surprisingly, there were no records that I could find for anyone called Gladys Briggs born between 1885 and 1890, and living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911. There were several born after 1900, whom I discounted as being infants in 1906.

I next looked at matching the birth records with the addresses in the two censuses and found that they lived quite widely distributed across the Halifax urban area. None of them lived in Pye Nest, but the closest was number 4 in the table above, who lived the same address in Kings Cross in 1901 and 1911, 8 Ackroyd Terrace Kings Cross. Ackroyd Terrace is a small cul-de-sac that is less than 200 metres from the site of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist church. Ackroyd Terrace was possibly named for James Ackroyd and Co., a long established wool and worsted mill in Halifax. A later owner, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Ackroyd was a noted citizen of Halifax in the later 19th century, and there is a statue of him in front of All Saints Church which is still there today.

The next nearest candidate was the Gladys Briggs (9) born in Sowerby Bridge. She lived about 2km from the Pye Nest church, but probably would have attended church or chapel in Sowerby Bridge.

I decided to investigate Gladys Briggs (4) of 8 Ackroyd Terrace in greater detail.

Gladys Briggs (4) was born on 25th October 1895 in Halifax. She was the youngest of the six children of Miles Briggs (1861-1945) and Mary Ann Briggs nee Broadbent (1862-1935); both of her parents were descended from Methodist families and both were buried in the Methodist section of the Calderdale cemetery. In the 1911 census, the 15 year-old Gladys was living at home at 8 Ackroyd Terrace with her parents and her 19 year-old sister Annie Louise Briggs (1891-1962); Gladys was described as a Long Wool Weaver and Annie as a Comb Minder, both working in a Wool Factory. Their father was described as a Joiner and Carpenter.

In 1916, Gladys Briggs was training as a nurse at the Leeds Township Infirmary in Beckett Street, where she was living in the nurses’ quarters. She was certified as a nurse in 1920 at Leeds, and remained working and living at the Infirmary until 1923. On 16th March 1923, she was registered as a fully qualified nurse by the General Nursing Council. This is very useful in tracking her movements, as she had to re-register as a nurse every three years, and each new registration records her current residence and gives her name and her date of original registration.

In 1925, she was working as a nurse in the Crossland Moor Infirmary in Huddersfield, and by 1928, she was back in Halifax, working as a nurse and living with her parents at their new address 38 Undercliffe Terrace, Kings Cross. This is only 400 metres from 8 Ackroyd Terrace. She remained living there with her parents until her mother’s death on 14th August 1935. By 1937, she had moved to south-eastern London, living at Flat 1, 159 Woolacomb Road, Kidbrooke in Greenwich, still registered as a nurse. In the 1939 small census, she was still living in the flat, which she shared with a Mary Hannah Sutcliffe. Gladys was described as a Sanitary Inspector and Mary as a Health Visitor.

Gladys remained at the same address, still registered as a nurse until her death on 16th June 1943 at the Lambeth Hospital in Southwark, at the age of 47. I don’t know the cause of her death, but it is known that the Lambeth Hospital was hit on several occasions by bombs during World War II, and that, as a consequence, more than 20 staff members were killed between 1940 and 1944. I would need to see her death certificate to investigate this further.

Her body was returned to Halifax, where she was buried in the same Methodist cemetery as her mother on 19th June 1943. Her father was buried there two years later in 1945. When probate was granted on Gladys Briggs’ estate, the executors were Mary Hannah Sutcliffe and Gladys’ brother George Briggs. I have not been able to find any photographs of Gladys Briggs. The closest I can get is a small picture (Figure 5) of her older sister Ethel Broadbent Briggs (1882 -1938).

Figure 5. Ethel Briggs

I have been able to trace the Briggs family back through four more generations to a James Briggs, who was baptised on 30th October 1758 at Ripponden in Yorkshire, a small village to the south-east of Halifax. In fact, most of Gladys Briggs’ ancestors lived in the small villages and towns of Ripponden, Greetland and Elland which are all within 5 km of each other, and are 3 to 5 km to the south or south-east of Halifax. Presumably it was the prospect of work in the mills and factories which drew them into the bigger town of Halifax. Many were weavers. presumably working individually in their villages before they became factory hands. You can see from their inability to sign their own names on their wedding banns or certificates that many of them were illiterate. I can’t tell if Gladys Brigg’s parents were able to sign their wedding papers in 1882, as the certificate was not available on line. They were born a little too early to get the full benefit of the 1870 Education Act, and lived in small villages in their childhoods.. Gladys’ grandfather, Edwin Briggs signed his marriage certificate in 1858 with a cross, whereas his wife, Mary Ann Thomas, could sign her own name. Both Edwin and his son Miles Briggs were brought up in the village of Greetland, but Mary Ann lived in Halifax. Gladys Briggs must have been literate, or else she could not have become a nurse.

We can never know what Gladys thought of Mansfield Park, nor even whether she read it. There is, however, another name, C. Marsh, written with a black ball point pen on the ffep of the book. There is no other information on C. Marsh; one can only conclude that he or she owned the book after Gladys Briggs, presumably sometime after 1946, when the ball point pen was first available in the UK. I bought the book from a dealer in Brighton, Sussex in 2015.

John Brearley, Superintendent of the Pye Nest Sunday School

John Brearley was the one of the superintendents to sign the prize label. I mentioned earlier a the history of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church written by a John Brearley. Surely, these two men must be the same John Brearley. There were seven men called John Brearley living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911, but this time, we have an extra aid to his identification. The 1911 census of the UK was the first one to be filled in and signed by each head of household. Since we have John Brearley’s signature on the prize label, then a comparison of the signature on the label with the signatures on the 1911 census forms, which can be viewed on line, will allow us to identify the correct John Brearley.

When I went through this process, there was one very clear match, and that was John Brearley (1868 – 1944), a hairdresser living at 68 Kings Cross Road Halifax. He was from a Methodist family and married to Annie Elizabeth Culpan (1872-1938), also from a Methodist family. His parents lived at Spring Edge, a street within 250 metres of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist church, and 68 Kings Cross Road, where he lived from 1901 until 1916, was less than 500 metres away from the Pye Nest chapel. It was also on the direct tram route to the church. This was not without hazard, as in 1907 there was a tram accident on Pye Nest Road, when a tram overturned, killing three passengers.

John Brearley’s address from 1916 until 1938 is not known. From 1938 until his death in 1944, he lived at 1 Plane Tree Nest, about 250 metres north of the Pye Nest church. I have no doubt that this is the John Brearley who signed the prize label.

There is a surviving memorial to this family. John and Annie Brearley had two sons. The eldest, Cyril, married and moved to Preston in Lancashire where he died childless in 1966. Their younger son, Eric Brearley (1905-1997) did not marry, and lived his whole life in Halifax. He gained local fame as a keen cyclist and supporter of cyclists and their clubs, and is remembered by a memorial that stands next to one of the main cycling paths in Halifax.

Figure 6. Memorial to Eric Brearley

A Mitchell Bell, Superintendent of the Pye Nest Sunday School

“A Mitchell Bell” seems like a relatively easy name to find, even though the gender is not clear. A simple search on for this name for a person living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911 only yielded one result. Arthur Mitchell Bell (1868-1944) was a Head Teacher of Textiles who was living at 56 Stanley Road, Halifax in 1911. His signature on his 1911 census return, which he signed in full as Arthur Mitchell Bell, is an excellent match with the “A Mitchell Bell” signature on the Mansfield Park prize label.

Arthur Mitchell Bell was born on 1st May 1868 in Churwell in Yorkshire, which was a village between Morley and Leeds, as the illegitimate son of Mary Ann Bell and John Mitchell. His name on his birth registration was given as Arthur Bell. John Mitchell and Mary Bell married on 25th December 1868 in Churwell and had another son, Hartwell Mitchell, who was born there in mid 1869. Both Hartwell Mitchell and Arthur Bell were baptised on 16th January 1870 at Morley, Yorkshire, and even though his parents were now married, Arthur was baptised as Arthur Bell against his mother’s name as illegitimate, while his younger brother was simultaneously baptised against his father’s name as the very next entry in the church register.

John Mitchell, who was a coal miner, was killed along with 33 others, in a gas explosion in the Ackroyd Brothers Colliery at Morley on 7th Oct 1872.

Arthur Bell was calling himself Arthur Mitchell Bell by 1891, and in 1901 was a textile teacher at a School in Churwell. He was married 8th August 1903 at the Prospect Methodist Chapel at Holbeck, a suburb of Leeds, and he must have moved to Halifax, between 1903 and 1906, when he was a superintendent of Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Sunday School. He lived the rest of his life at Halifax and was buried there on 3rd January 1944, in the same Methodist cemetery as Gladys Briggs, about six months after her.

Fred Lacey, Secretary of the Pye Nest Sunday School

Fred Lacey was born in Halifax on 30th December 1883 to Harry and Mary Ann Lacey. He was baptised on 25th May 1884 in the parish of St James in Halifax. In the 1891 census, the family was reported to be living at 11 Joy Street, Skircoat, Halifax, in the Parish of St Paul’s, which was within one km of the Pye Nest church. The family moved to Bradford and was reported there in the 1901 census, but was back in Halifax by the time of the 1911 census. Fred Lacey was living with his parents in Bradford in 1901, but was not back in Halifax with them in 1911. In fact, by October 1906 he had emigrated to Pennsylvania in the USA, via Ontario in Canada. He lived the rest of his life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he died on 22 Dec 1963.

Fred Lacey’s tenure as secretary of the Pye Nest Sunday School must have been very short if he had been living in Bradford in April 1901 and had moved to the USA by October 1906. He also was only 23 years old in 1906. However, he was the only Fred Lacey in the area at the time, and he recorded himself as a Methodist from Halifax on two later US census forms. All of this suggests that the presentation of the book to Gladys Briggs must have occurred earlier in 1906 than October. One possibility could be at the end of the school year in June 1906, but I have no real evidence for that.

So, in conclusion, I hope this shows how part of the story of a particular community of more than 100 years ago can be gleaned from an investigation of a simple book prize plate. From my perspective, this adds a great depth of human interest to collecting old books.

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