FROM COUNTY DOWN TO YORKSHIRE: PATRICK BRONTE (1777- 1861):
Father of the renowned literary sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
Patrick Brunty was born 17th March 1777, the eldest of ten children born to agricultural labourer Hugh Brunty and Alice (nee McClory) of the townland of Imdel in the Parish of Drumballyroney, County Down.
Following spells as an apprentice blacksmith, a linen weaver and a teacher in the local village school, he left Ireland, aged 25 years, to study in England at St John’s College, Cambridge. It appears to have been in Cambridge where he became known as Bronte.
Graduating in 1806, Patrick was ordained into the Church of England a year later. His first two posts as curate were in Essex and in Shropshire before moving in 1809 to the West Riding of Yorkshire. Appointments in Yorkshire included curacies at Dewsbury, at Hartshead, at Liversedge and at Thornton.
During his sojourn at Hartshead, he met and married Cornish-born Maria Branwell (1783 – 1821) at St Oswald’s Parish Church, Guiseley on 29th December 1812. Their six children were, Maria (1813 – 1825), Elizabeth (1814 – 1825), Charlotte (1816 -1855), Patrick Branwell (1817 – 1848), Emily (1818 – 1848) and Anne (1820 – 1849).
In 1820, Patrick was appointed Perpetual Curate of Haworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury and the Bronte Family moved into the Parsonage of St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth where his wife Maria died the following year.
Patrick suffered a series of very sad bereavements and outlived all his children. Towards the end of his life, he had very poor eyesight as a result of cataracts and was cared for by his curate and son-in-law Arthur Bell Nicholls until his death on 7th June 1861, aged 84 years. He is buried in the family vault in Haworth.