Maria Branwell, mother of the Brontes

Maria Branwell, Bronte parsonage

Maria Branwell mother of the Brontes (the novelists Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë). Born Penzance, Cornwall, 15th April 1783. she left in 1812 to marry the Reverend Patrick Brontë. Died Haworth, Yorkshire, 15th September 1821.

Maria Branwell was born into a prosperous merchant family. She was the eighth of eleven children of Thomas Branwell and Anne Carne of Penzance, Cornwall. The Branwells were leading members of the Wesleyan Methodist community in Penzance.

Four family deaths between 1808 and 1811, including Maria's mother and father, meant that Maria Branwell needed to get a job. Her aunt, that is her father's sister Jane was the wife of John Fennell, a Methodist minister who, in 1812, was appointed Headmaster of the newly opened Woodhouse Grove School at Rawdon, between Leeds and Bradford in Yorkshire. Jane Fennell invited her niece to assist her in her role as Housekeeper in the school. So in he summer of 1812 Maria Branwell travelled to Yorkshire to start a new life.

Patrick Brontë, who was a friend John Fennell, was the curate at Hartshead, 12 miles from Rawdon, and John Fennell invited his former colleague to visit Woodhouse Grove School. During his visit, Patrick Brontë was introduced to the newly arrived Maria Branwell, and after a short but courtship in which Patrick Brontë had to walk the 24 mile round trip to take Maria out walking, the couple were married in Guiseley Parish Church on the 29th December 1812.

Maria Branwell was not a particularly literary person. Her only extant written work, apart from letters, is "The Advantages of Poverty, In Religious Concerns" but it was never published.

Their first home on getting married was Clough House, Hightown, near Hartshead, and their first two children, Maria and Elizabeth were born there in 1814 and 1815. In 1815 the Brontës moved to a larger living at Thornton, three miles north of Bradford, where, in a house in Market Street, the other four children were born, Charlotte (1816), Patrick Branwell (1817), Emily Jane (1818) and Anne (1820).

In 1820 the family moved to Haworth, and within a year Maria developed cancer (probably of the uterus), and after a painful seven and a half month illness, she died on the 15th September 1821.

Maria Branwell on Brontë information site.

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