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Elizabeth and George Markham Tweddell.


Elizabeth and George Markham Tweddell

1824-1843 Early life - Elizabeth Cole.

1823-1843 Early life - George Tweddell.

1842-1844 George's first big assignment - a newspaper.

1843-1854 Marriage and the earliest publications,

1855-1860 Work amongst Lancashire's poor.

1860-1890 George's later publications.

c.1865 + Elizabeth enters the literary frame;

c.1875-1892 Staving off ruin.

1872-1892 George, the historian.

c.1870-c1885 The political activist - a historian making history.

1903 The declining years.



1843-1853 Tweddell History.co.uk

Marriage and the earliest publications

Edition 15 of George's newspaper, a year after his difficulties with Braithwaite, appeared on 1st January 1844 and in it he entered the announcement of his marriage to Elizabeth Cole on the previous day, 31st December 1843. Clearly the event had not been allowed to hold up publication, but what it had achieved was the bringing together of the familes of three Cleveland personalities; George's grandfather, John Tweddell; his grandmother's brother, Christopher Rowntree ("Gentleman Kitty"); and Elizabeth's grandfather, Thomas ('Tommy') Cole, the stable master to Robert Challenor, the chief landowner in Guisborough and whose descendents were to become Lord Gisborough (sic). The exploits of the three friends were legendary and were celebrated by John Jackson in his poem, The Cleveland Fox-Chase, which George republished in Bards and Authors in 1872 adding an account about each person.

As the couple started their family almost immediately, Elizabeth had little time during the next two decades to satisfy any literary aspirations she might have. Following the collapse of his newspaper, George started putting his energies into writing and publishing books and magazines. Amongst the latter (published by George's older half-brother, Thomas, 1817-85 and a former apprentice of Braithwaite) was Tweddell's Yorkshire Miscellany and Englishman's Magazine (1844-46) which John Ord encouraged by offering articles of his own for inclusion, proof-reading it and defending George from a similar, rival magazine being planned in neigh-bouring Stockton on Tees. The ambition of George's magazine was high-toned aiming to attract readers who desired "intellectual elevation and the reformation of public morals", a principle in harmony with Prince Albert's moral crusade at the time. It was published quarterly with, a mixture of poems, local legends, and tales with a moral or philosophical message. There were too a few general articles, often of quite revolutionary ideas for the time, such as 'On the advancement of Education', which advocated a universal simplified spelling system in education based on the work of Isaac Pitman, 'On the usefulness of Geography' and a series, 'Remarks on the sympathy existing between the Body and the Mind', an essay on what was later to be known as psychology, and particularly interesting because the author who submitted the article was John Ord who killed himself after enduring a number of years with a deranged mind. George's personal copy of this book survives and is annotated in his hand. There were also comments made by others about many of the items, and original letters stuck between the related pages (including one from Ord). Although published in instalments, it seems that many owners had planned to bind the separate booklets together on the completion of the series, as George did with his own copy, so four extra sheets became available to add a title page, a dedicatory page and two of contents. In the introduction the editor made an appeal to his Yorkshire audience: "With a population of one million, five hundred and ninety-one thousand, four hundred and eight souls, it cannot be denied, by any rational man, that Yorkshire stands in need of a Periodical entirely devoted to Literature, Science and the Fine Arts; …… and surely Yorkshiremen are not so completely immersed in the Stygian waters of ignorance, as to be unable to support us in our undertaking."

Sadly this appeal for support was disappointing as it became obvious to George that he had misread the financial viability of the venture. Before embarking on a second series he invited subscriptions more cautiously: "In consequent of the heavy loss incurred by the Editor in his attempt to establish a Magazine for his native County, the publication of this work is suspended. …… For a second volume subscribers' names [are] to be forwarded to the Editor, Stokesley." Unfortunately the number collected was too small to proceed, so, except for The Odd Fellows Reciter and Fireside Companion (1852), most books were offered to companies in London for publication; George's update of Goldsmith's History of England (Brittain, 1848); Shakspeare - His Times and Contemporaries (Kershaw, 1852); and Modern Yorkshire Poets (Marshall, 1855). The second book brought George considerable renown, and sufficient support to justify a second edition in 1861 prepared whilst he was working in Lancashire and published shortly after his return to North Yorkshire.