After I published my article on Septimus Tebay I was contacted by Anne Kidson who has been researching his life for many years. She generously agreed to share the information she has gathered:
I have actually been interested in Septimus for quite a long time. I am descended from his brother William through my maternal grandmother Isabel Tebay. I heard through my mother that he was a drunken schoolmaster! Family stories are notoriously unreliable but my interest was piqued quite early on, especially as I knew that he had been a schoolmaster at Rivington and was buried in Rivington churchyard. Alas, despite being born in Bolton, we moved when I was three and after quite a bit of moving around I am now living in Oxford and have never managed to get to Rivington (I’ve hardly ever been to Bolton since I moved). I’ve never visited Preston either!
I do feel that Septimus is completely forgotten which is a shame considering how he came from a very poor background and yet managed to make it to Cambridge on the strength of his abilities. You’re absolutely right about the working-class family background and also about his own children as far as I can see (I’m still trying to make contact with any of his descendants who could shed a bit more light on the family). My own branch of the Tebays all worked in the mills but my grandmother and my mother were teachers in Bolton and I myself have a History and Archaeology degree (Exeter University) and have worked in publishing and the library service.
Anyway, here is the information to help fill in some of the gaps:
1) British Weekly article 1 July 1897
(source: original copies in the Bodleian Library, Oxford)
The bit at the end is interesting: “I heard that he fell into habits of dissipation and drunkenness and lost his situation. He afterwards kept a public house at Farnworth, Bolton”. The reference to drunkenness does fit in with my family story but there’s no indication that he lost the job at Rivington because of it! I don’t know whether he did run a public house in Farnworth but it might be possible to find out – I’ll have a look at the pub history site on the Internet.
2) Workhouse records
These were obtained 10 years ago from the Bolton Museum and Archive Service. I attach the email correspondence. This shows he was in and out of the workhouse at Farnworth for the last few years of his life due to old age and destitution. No mention of drunkenness but I do find it a bit odd that he did not move in with any of his family members after his wife died in 1891. Perhaps it was too much for them. He could have been suffering from dementia I suppose and they couldn’t cope. We will probably never get to the bottom of it – a really sad end.
[The Bolton Museum and Archive Service correspondence includes the following information relating to Septimus’s periods in the workhouse:
The Register of Deaths reveals that Septimus Tebay did indeed pass away on 13th April 1897 in the Workhouse. He was recorded in this register as being aged 76 and of Farnworth Parish. There is a notation that he was ‘interred by friends.’
Unfortunately, the admission and discharge register for April to November 1897 did not survive to be deposited, so it was not possible to view the discharge entry in this book, which might have given an indication of how long he had been present in the Workhouse for.
… On 23rd June 1893, Septimus was recorded in the [religious] creed register for an admission on that date. He was discharged on 30th June 1893. This record shows that he was from Farnworth, he was a follower of the Church of England faith. His ‘nearest friend or relative’ was recorded as Walker Tebay of 94 Presto Street, Farnworth.
The later creed registers … show the same information as mentioned above, except that the entry of ‘nearest friend or relative’ was recorded as Percival Tebay of 20 Lock Street, Moses Gate, Farnworth. These record periods of residence in the Fishpool Workhouse from 11th-19th June 1895, 27th June to 23rd July 1895, 01st August to 5th November 1895, 14th November to 18th November 1895 and 28th November to 28th December 1895. In 1896 he was in from 5th to 25th January, 5th to 22nd February, 10th March to 22nd June and 26th June to 31st December.
In his last entry in the creed registers, covering his admission to the Workhouse dated 7th January 1897 it was recorded that he had remained until he died. This admission and discharge register for 7th January 1897 has survived and been microfilmed, and a check of the admission entry on this date reveals that Septimus had been a Schoolteacher. He was admitted by reason of ‘old age and destitution’.]
3) Gravestone in Rivington Churchyard
Kindly sent me recently by a photographer on the Find a Grave website: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/209797501/septimus-tebay#
By kind permission of Bob the Greenacre Cat (the photographer!)
It’s interesting that although Septimus was destitute, someone obviously paid for the tombstone (possibly put up after Walter died) and we know from the workhouse record that he was interred by friends.
4) Septimus’s schooling
[Anne contacted Heversham School to try to establish a connection but was unsuccessful because the admissions register did not start until 1835, by which time, if indeed he was a pupil, Septimus would probably already have been admitted.]