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                                  JAMES AND ELIZABETH MURRAY The wedding of James Murray, the youngest of the family of James and Agnes, took place on 29 April 1878 at Gorton Parish Church. James was registered then as a warehouseman, no doubt in the textile trade, like most other family members. His bride was  Elizabeth Ann Simpson,  daughter of  Wilkinson Simpson  and  Ann Spink. Wilkinson was a man who turned his hand to several skills. In the census returns he is recorded variously as being an engineer, a grocer and a tea merchant. He seems to have followed his father’s trade initially training, according to family rumours, in the Byron Peacock workshops, which built and maintained steam railway engines. He and his sister, Martha, were born in Bingley, Yorkshire. Martha married John Clayton, another Bingley engineer. They seem to have prospered and engaged Ann Spink as their servant. No doubt this is how the couple met. In 1881 Will and Ann were living at 38, Queen St. and had two daughters, Elizabeth (7) and Louisa (2). Will was then a grocer and provision merchant. Ten year later, they were living in Clowes St, Gorton, a few doors away from James and Elizabeth, and by then they had a third daughter, Mary always known as Polly. James was an enterprising young man. Not content with being a warehouseman, he established himself as what was popularly known as a scotch draper. This was a home grown cottage industry, which consisted of buying cloth at warehouse rates, measuring clients and making cut-price suits for them, which they paid for on an instalment basis. His customers were working people who lived in the streets around him, who could not afford to go to a tailor’s shop and pay the going rate. As time went on he developed other sides to this business. One census return describes him as a furniture dealer. In due course, he moved into the property business, buying small houses in the local streets and letting them out for a weekly rent. Towards the end of the century, he had done well enough to purchase a shop on Piccadilly, Manchester and establish himself as a gentleman’s outfitter. Later he bought the upper rooms and established work-places there for tailoring staff. He called the enterprise, Murray House. James and Elizabeth had eight children.  Edith and Helena (Nell), Harold, then two boys, Frank and Percy, who both died young, and three more girls, Clare, Ethel and Elsie, whose stories are all told in following chapters. On Sunday, they attended a Unitarian Chapel in Gorton, which was popular with people of Scottish descent.  It had a less rigid approach than the Presbyterian Scottish churches, which were springing up, and allowed scope for free thinking. The largest Unitarian Church in Manchester was the Cross Street Chapel, where the minister was Rev William Gaskell, husband of the novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell. Although James was a careful businessman, he had a human approach, maintaining friendly relations with his customers and workers. In politics, he supported William Gladstone and the Liberal Party, and when the Manchester docks were opened, James was one of the first to buy shares in the new ship canal. One summer, he took the family on holiday to Blackpool, which was then beginning to develop its tourist trade. Two other families with young children joined them, Elizabeth’s sister, Louisa, with her husband, William Crighton, and Robert and Annie Harrower, neighbours who owned a shoe shop. The holiday proved a disaster because William was so fond of his drink that he began to run out of money. Hearing that horse races were being held, he made enquiries in a pub and was given a tip-off about a particular horse. James and Robert were not interested, both being thrifty tee- totalers, but William went and lost all his money. When he discovered he could not pay the landlady he disappeared, leaving the others to settle the bill.    Asthma dogged James in later years. The smoke and the winter fogs in the town centre gave him coughing fits and a wheezy chest, so the idea of moving o the seaside appealed. The new garden resort of Southport was being built in the 1880’s. James bought two properties there and let one of them at a rental which brought him a steady income, using the other one as a retreat, until the time came when he could actually move the whole family there and afford to travel daily to Manchester on the newly built railway line. The address was 9, Maple St. St. Luke’s. By then, Edith and Nellie had left school, so Harold was enrolled at a private academy in Southport and the younger girls were admitted at St. Philip’s Primary School. When Harold left school, he joined his father’s business, and gradually took on the major responsibility. As years went by, Nell went abroad, Edith married and moved to London, but James’s health did not improve much, despite a cruise to the Canary Islands, which the doctor had recommended. Harold was then married and living in Manchester. James lived quietly at Southport with his wife and younger daughters. He died at home on 9 Dec. 1911 at the age of 59, from cardiac failure and emphysema. Elizabeth took over the running of the household, but Harold had become the main breadwinner now for two families. She lived to see her youngest daughter, Elsie, married to Stanley Harrower, the son of the Manchester shoe-shop owner, and she always loved to welcome her six grandchildren whenever any of them came to Southport for holidays. I remember her as a gentle old lady, always dressed in black, who liked to read me stories, and recall the day she tumbled in her bedroom whilst we were staying at Southport for New Year shortly before the outbreak of the second World War.  She died on 7 th  January, 1939, after the fall which broke her femur.                                                                                                  Noel Harrower                                                                                                   23/12/10      
JAMES AND ELIZABETH MURRAY
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