The Abram family fits into Pamela Dixon's family tree.

Once upon a time there was a family with the surname ABRAM living in the far north of England in Lancashire. The Abram family were from Lancashire and can trace their family back to the mid sixteenth century. Various Abrams are mentioned in the records including Robert Abram (1661-1715) of North Meols a fisherman who lost everything in a flood in the early 1700s.

 

Our Abram story starts with Robert Abram  who was born on 2nd June 1805 and baptised on 16th June at St Cuthbert's, North Meols.  What is known of his life is largely recorded in his son William Alexander Abram's book 'Blackburn Characters of a Past Generation.'

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On the 11th March 1807, seven people formed themselves into an Independent Christian Church, at the instigation of an itinerant Preacher, George Greatbatch, and other Ministers who had been present at the opening of the little thatched cottage-style Chapel in North Meols. 

Greatbatch became their first Pastor and served until 1824.

 In 1972, the Congregationalists joined with the English Presbyterians to form the United Reformed Church. 

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In 1832 Robert Abram joined the pastorship of Revd. George Greatbatch and established the first Independent Chapel in the North Meols district. 

Robert lived at Silk Hall which was built in 1764 by Ralph (and Susannah) Richardson "for a residence and for the purpose of his business as a chapman in silks. It was later divided into two dwellings. It is in sandstone with a roof partly in stone-slates and partly felted.

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At the same time as he was establishing the chapel, Robert married Mary Faulkner at St Cuthbert's, the marriage being witnessed by George Greatbatch and Sarah Finly.  We do not know how the couple met.  Mary was the daughter of Stephen Faulkner a 'Manchester manufacturer' and described in the 'Blackburn Characters' as being of 'exceptional' education.  In the St Cuthbert's register, Mary was said to be 'of this parish' and neither of her parents were present at the wedding.  (The hunt for the story of her father took many, many hours of research and is worthy of its own chapter.)

In 1833 Robert took up the role of outstation preacher and scripture reader for the Independent Church in Formby, and he and Mary moved to Lydiate.  Their first three children, Helen Abram, William Alexander Abram, and Mary Jane Abram, were born in Lydiate.  They were baptised at the Independent Chapel and Robert is described as being an 'itinerant preacher.'

In 1837 Robert was ordained as Minister of the Salem Independent Chapel at Martin Top and the family made a rather hazardous journey over the steep moorland shoulder of Pendle Hill.

The 1841 census confirms the family home as the small manse adjoining the chapel at Martin Top.  Here three more children were born: George Greatbatch Abram, Robert Stephen Abram and Sarah Anne Abram.

 

After 6 years at Martin Top, Robert took up the appointment in 1843 as Minister of the Providence Independent Chapel at Marsden.  Another 6 years were spent here, and then Robert moved once more to be Independent Minister at Tockholes, 3 miles south of Blackburn. 

 

Tockholes at this time was a major centre of the rural silk and cotton industry and had a strong tradition of Nonconformity, so this was quite a prestigious appointment.

By 1851 Robert and his family were in residence at Silk Hall which had been acquired as Tockholes Manse.

On 30th July, Robert died at Tockholes and was buried in the small graveyard of the Bethesda Chapel.  Robert was much respected and a complete account of his ministry appears in 'History of the Old Independent Chapel, Tockholes,' written by Revd. B. Nightingale.  We know from the 'Blackburn Characters' that Robert was 'physically, short of stature, dark hair, almost black, dark brown eyes, a lustre in them, complexion of contrast red and white, very clear.' 

Robert's wife Mary had to vacate Silk Hall on the death of her husband so she and the family moved into Blackburn and in 1861 was living at 30 Redlam Brow.  Four children were still living at home.  Robert Stephen Abram was a draper's assistant.  Mary died on 13th February, 1869, 'a woman of dauntless courage, unbending will, intellectual power....in many ways a remarkable woman, loved by her Sunday school scholars; short, with keen eyes, a spare frame.'

Children of Robert and Mary Abram:

  • Helen Abram  1833-1892 married Thomas Carus

  • William Alexander Abram 1835-1894 lived in Blackburn and married Elizabeth. Had four sons. In 1891 he was a famous author and editor of a newspaper and a Justice of the Peace for the borough of Bourne. At the same time, his younger brother was dying of poverty in London

  • Mary Jane Abram 1836-1874 married John Cress and had three children

  • George Greatbatch Abram 1839-31 Oct 1880; married Mary and had 4 children

  • Sarah Ann Abram 1843 – 1924 married James C Hope and had two children

  • Robert Stephen Abram (1841-1891) was the 5th of six children and was born in Gisburn, Yorkshire where his father was a minister  for the independent church movement. Robert lived aa tumultous life - see more about him.   After the death of his mother, he moved to London where he married Maria Young (1851-1885) daughter of William Young and Elizabeth Otten.  William was a carver and gilder at St James Church,  Clapham in 1872. They lived in Clapham.  

 

This is the church where Robert worked as a guilder. A gilder was employed to carve wood and/or plaster, for furniture, picture frames, architectural elements etc. and then gilding the carving (i.e. covering it with gold leaf).

 

He would be devastated to know that the church was completely destroyed by the Nazis in World War Two. Another one has been built in its place - very modern and caters to a multicultural congragation.

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