Key People in Gaskell’s Journal

Individuals Referenced in the Journal:

Marianne  Gaskell  Holland

Born September 12 1834;  Died 1920

The Gaskells’ first surviving daughter, Marianne, born September 12, 1834. Marianne, often called "M.A." or simply "MA" by Gaskell, is the subject of most of the journal, and is described as gentle. She was the only one of Gaskell’s daughters to become a mother herself, though she was still unmarried at the time of Gaskell’s death. The journal has been passed down through Marianne's descendants.

William  Gaskell 

Born July 24, 1805;  Died June 11, 1884

Elizabeth Gaskell’s husband, a Unitarian minister. They married August 30, 1832. At the time, William was serving at the Cross Street Chapel, Manchester, with J. G. Robberds.

Albertine  Necker  de Saussure

Born 1766;  Died 1841

Albertine Necker de Saussure was a Swiss woman of letters, most well known for her L’Education progressive. She was related through her botanist husband to Germaine de Staël.

Andrew  Combe 

Born October 27, 1797;  Died August 9, 1847

Author, scientist. Combe was a Physician/Phrenologist, who established the Phrenological Journal with his brother and others. He was also the President of Edinburgh Phrenological Society in 1827. Gaskell quotes his Physiology applied to Health and Education (1834), which was a bestseller.

Betsy  (Unknown) 

Betsy was a servant of the Gaskells, who also appears to have worked as a nurse to the children. She is mentioned early on in the journal in several entries. Shortly after the birth of Meta (Margaret Emily, the Gaskells' second surviving daughter), she was replaced by Elizabeth.

Margaret  Jackson  GaskellDimock


Margaret Gaskell, later Dimock, was William Gaskell's mother. William (b. 1805) was the oldest of five children: including Samuel (1807), Anne (1808), Margaret (b. 1810, died 1816), Elizabeth (1812), Robert (1814) and John (b. 1816, died 1821). After her first husband's death in 1819, she married Rev. Edward Dimock, who had arrived as the Pastor of Sankey Street Chapel in 1822.

Fanny  Unknown 

A servant, mentioned in the diary. No other information is known about Fanny.

Elizabeth  Stevenson  Gaskell

Born September 29, 1810;  Died November 12, 1865

Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of the journal, was born in 1810 and died in 1865. She published her first novel, Mary Barton, in 1848, and later became a successful novelist.

Hannah  Holland  Lumb

Born July 19, 1767;  Died May 1, 1837

Hannah Lumb was the sister of Elizabeth (Holland) Stevenson, Elizabeth Gaskell's mother. After Elizabeth Stevenson’s death when Elizabeth was only 13 months old,, Hannah Lumb and her daughter, Marianne, took Gaskell to live with them in Knutsford. Marianne died shortly after, and Gaskell lived with Aunt Lumb until her marrriage.

Mrs.    Collins

Neighbor of the Gaskells'. No other information known.

Richard  Deane 

Died January 20, 1851

Dr. Richard Thomas Deane, business partner of EG’s oldest uncle, Dr. Peter Holland, of Church House in Knutsford. After his first wife died, he married Susan Holland (1811-1889), Peter Holland’s daughter and Elizabeth Gaskell’s cousin.

Mary Ann    Deane

Died March 30, 1842

Mary Ann Deane, first wife of Dr. Richard Deane. Edward and Emily were two of their children.

Emily  Deane 

Born 1835; 

Daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Deane of Knutsford

Anne  Gaskell  Robson

Born 1808; 


Margaret Emily  Gaskell 

Born February 5, 1837;  Died October 26, 1913

The Gaskells’ second surviving daughter, Margaret Emily, called “Meta”, was born on Feburay 5, 1837. The diary describes Meta as clever and lively.

Bessy  Holland  Howorth

Born February 22, 1796;  Died July 16, 1886

A cousin of Gaskell’s, Bessy was the daughter of Dr. Peter Holland, the oldest son of Gaskell’s grandfather, Samuel Holland, of Sandlebridge in Knutsford. Bessy was a friend of Maria Edgeworth.

Elizabeth  Barlow 

Elizabeth Barlowe who began working for the Gaskells in 1837, after Betsy left their service. Her name appears in the 1841 census records. No other information is known about her. (Thank you to Dr. Diane Duffy at the Gaskell House Museum for the census data).

Elizabeth  Gaskell  Holland

Born 1812; 

William Gaskell's sister, Lizzy, was one of Gaskell's early correspondents. Most of the extant early letters are written to her.

Abigail  Holland 

Born September 12, 1773;  Died July 26, 1773

An unmarried sister of Elizabeth Stevenson and Hannah Lumb, Abigail, “Aunt Ab”, lived with two of her brothers’ families (Swinton and Samuel) and taught their children before later moving to Heathside to live with Hannah and Elizabeth

Samuel  Gaskell 

Born 1807; 

William Gaskell’s brother and a doctor in Manchester. Sam had a particular affinity for patients with mental health problems, and eventually became superintendent of the Lancaster Asylum from 1840-1489, and was a member of the Luncacy Commission from 1849-1856.

James  Partington 

James E. Partington, surgeon of Oxford Road, Manchester. Also looked after the family of J.G. Robberds.

Edward  Deane 

Born 1833;  Died 1838

Son of Dr. and Mrs. Deane of Knutsford. His death of croup at the age of 5 is recorded in the journal.


Gaskell refers to God frequently in the journal, particularly in the later entries after she has judged that Marianne is old enough to begin to be taught about religious beliefs.

Caroline  Bowles  Southey

Born October 7, 1786;  Died July 20, 1854

Bowles was a poet and author who wrote frequently for Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Her poem "To A Dying Infant" is quoted by Gaskell in the second entry of the journal. Bowles married poet Robert Southey in 1839 (she was 52), after a nearly 20 year correspondence. He died three years later.

Other Important Individuals:

Florence  Gaskell  Crompton

Born October 7 1842;  Died October 5 1881

The Gaskells’ third daughter (born 1842), who married Charles Crompton, and lived in London where she died aged 39. The couple had no children.

Julia  Gaskell 

Born September 3 1846;  Died October 24 1908

The Gaskells’ fourth daughter, (born 3 Sept. 1846 - 24 Oct. 1908). She, with her older sister Meta, remained unmarried and living in Knutsford, caring for their father after Gaskell’s death in 1865.

William  Gaskell 

Born Octover 23, 1844;  Died August 10, 1845

The Gaskells’ second born (first surviving) son, who died in 1845 aged 9 months. An oft-cited anecdote recounts that Gaskell’s husband, also William, encouraged her to begin writing a novel to assist her in recovering from the grief of his death. The result was Mary Barton; his death is alluded to in the preface.

Holbrook  Gaskell 

A relative who had married William’s paternal aunt, Anne Gaskell. At this point in 1836, both Holbrook and his wife were still living. William Gaskell was left a legacy in their will in 1848/9.

Peter  Holland 

Physician. The eldest son of Gaskell's maternal grandfather, Samuel Holland, of Sandlebridge in Knutsford. Peter Holland was a physician, who served in a practice with Dr. Richard Deane.

William  Howit 

William Howitt was a prolific writer, who collaborated with his wife, Mary Howitt, on many projects. Together, they edited "Howitt's Journal, which published some of Gaskell's early work.

William  Stevenson 

Born 1770;  Died 1828

Gaskell's Father

Elizabeth  Holland  Gaskell

Born April 19, 1771;  Died October, 1811

Gaskell’s mother, fourth daughter and sixth child of Samuel and Anne Holland of Sandlebridge, in Knutsford. Tradition, passed down through narratives of family and friends, holds that only her first (John) and last (Elizabeth) of 8 children survived, though only Elizabeth’s birth is registered. She died when Gaskell was 13 months old.

John  Stevenson 

Born November 17 1798;  Died 1828

Gaskell’s older brother; a sailor, was lost at sea or in India sometime in fall 1828.

Catherine  Thompson  Stevenson

Born 1775; 

Gaskell’s stepmother. Gaskell saw little of her father after the marriage. Catherine’s brother married Katherine Byerly, who founded the school Gaskell attended.