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Jamison Family Archive

Date range: 1830–1971

Medium: Archive

This remarkable collection of correspondence and other papers documents several generations of the Green family of Knutsford and their close friendship with the family of Elizabeth Gaskell.

The Reverend Henry Green (1801–1873), minister of Brook Street Unitarian Chapel in Knutsford, Cheshire, was a trusted friend and colleague of the Rev. William Gaskell. Henry’s wife Mary was also an intimate friend and correspondent of Elizabeth Gaskell, who described Mary as a friend ‘to open my mind to’. Both couples had four daughters of similar ages, who were in turn very close. The youngest Green daughter, Isabella, married Dr Arthur Jamison in 1875, and the archive also includes material relating to the Jamisons and their descendants.

For Gaskell scholars the highlight of the archive is the thirteen substantial letters written by Elizabeth Gaskell to Mary Green and three letters to her daughter Isabella. The latter have never been published. There are also numerous letters from three of Gaskell’s daughters: seventeen from Florence, nine from Julia, and a single letter from Marianne. These lively letters are full of family news, discussions of social, cultural and political events, descriptions of mutual friends and reports on their daily lives.

The core of the archive comprises several hundred letters exchanged between members of the Green family over several generations. Some of this correspondence sheds important new light on the Gaskells, but the Greens also emerge as a family worthy of study in their own right. There are numerous references to travel in Europe and further afield, politics and current affairs, social events, religion, art, literature, and the minutiae of everyday life that Elizabeth Gaskell captured so well in her novels.

As well as correspondence, there are diaries and travel journals, deeds, inventories and legal papers, memoirs, family pedigrees, manuscript lectures and sermons. There is also a substantial number of letters sent to Evelyn Jamison (1877–1972), Tutor and Vice-Principal at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and a University Lecturer in History.

The archive is of significant literary and historical interest, and an important source for scholars interested in Elizabeth Gaskell and her circle, the history of Knutsford, the social and intellectual life of 19th-century Manchester, and 19th- and early 20th-century social history more generally.

See also:

Further information:

  • Collection-level overview available online via ELGAR.
  • Catalogue available via Special Collections reading rooms.


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