Broad Street Wrington Website
The Lives of
John Locke & Hannah More

by Lillian Millard of Wrington

What follows is a re-print, by kind permission of Lillian Millard of Wrington,  of her history of probably the two most famous personalities to be associated with the village.

The papers and memorabilia Lillian collected during her long-term study she handed over to the safe keeping of All Saints' church.

Print copies of this booklet are available in the church at 70p.

Hannah More's grave, All Saints' churchyard    Birthplace of John Locke 

Introductory note by Lillian Millard

To celebrate the revival of the "Old Village Fair' it was suggested to
me that I write a brief history of the life of our most celebrated Wringtonians John Locke and Hannah More.

Although John Locke was born but never lived here, his maternal ancestors did and Hannah More lived here for 32 years, and her
remains rest in the Churchyard with her sisters. She was not born
in Wrington, nevertheless, I feel we can call them kin.

I hope our short record will inform those who wish to know and
create the interest to learn more about them.

Acknowledgments are gratefully given to all who have helped with permission to re-print pictures, information, printing, loan of books
and general helpfulness:

Bristol Art Gallery Mr.Bailey. Western Mercury
Editor. Clevedon Extra Cmdr.M.Lawder Mr. & Mrs.J.Herstein Mrs.M.Kinsman Mrs.Y.Cliffe


origin of studies 



The Life of Hannah More
by Lillian Millard of Wrington


Miss Hannah More, poet, playwright, founder of village schools in the
Mendip hills area of Somerset during the 18th century. She also started
female friendly societies to aid the sick, poor women, writing many books
and letters, staunchly supporting the church of England and the Christian
way of life.

Hannah's father was Jacob More, gentleman, of Harleston, Norfolk, who lost a fortune of some £5,000 a year in a lawsuit with his cousin. He obtained employment in Bristol as a supervisor of Excise. Later, upon the recommendation of his friend, Lord Bottetourt, he obtained the post of headmaster of a foundation school in Fishponds in the parish of Stapleton, Bristol.

He then married a local farmer's daughter, Mary Grace, of Stock, and they were blessed with five, very bright daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Hannah and Martha (Patty).

Hannah was born on February 2, 1745, and showed signs of literary ability at an early age, writing poems and stories which she read to iittle sister Patty. Educated by her father, she soon mastered Greek and Latin with great ease, but mathematics was banned. Her father thought it was too much for the female brain (Hannah regretted this is later life). Because of lack of money, only Mary was sent to a French tutor but she passed on her knowledge to her sisters at home.

Hannah, the apt pupil, added polish to her French by acting as interpreter for her father when he entertained French officers - prisoners of war on parole. In this way, Hannah and her sisters increased their knowledge of the outside world.

When Mary was nineteen years old, the elder sisters set about earning their living. With Elizabeth and Sarah (Sally), they set up a boarding school for young ladies at 3 Trinity Road, College Green, later moving to 43 Park Street., Bristol.

This was a great venture, as most young ladies were educated at home by a governess; they were not considered to need much in the way of knowledge but more in the art of graceful living. What schools there were came under the patronage of the rich and influential and, among the sisters patrons, were the Duke of Beaufort and his family.





earning a living

noble patronage


Hannah joined her sisters when she was about sixteen. She was very popular viith the pupils. She was not satisfied with the kind of literature available for young ladies, so she set about writing poems, little plays and Bible stories for them. These were appreciated by the parents of her pupils.

The Search for Happiness, a pastoral drama for young ladies, brought her much acclaim. It was written when she was seventeen. She also translated from Italian and Spanish works and the Odes of Horace, Metastasio's Attilio Regolo inspired The Inflexible Captive, her first professional play, which was performed on April 9, 1775, at the Theatre Royal, Bath.

Life at the school run by four lively girls, must have been happy and exciting, but not without its drama. A young man became attracted to one of the pupils, a 15 year-old heiress. He used to attract her attention when they were out for a walk in a school crocodile. He secretly communicated with her through the help of the housemaid, secret meetings were arranged and eventually they eloped and were married at Gretna Green.

Hannah, as soon as she heard set off in pursuit, but the young pair kept one step ahead. Hannah's vivid account of her search in London with the help of the Bow Street runners shed light on this. The young couple went to France, where the husband took possession of her fortune then deserted his bride and sailed for the West Indies where he is said to have amassed another fortune. His bride retuned penniless to Bath where she died soon after. Hannah, when she heard, befriended her and did what she could.

Hannah herself became engaged, at the age of 22, to Mr.John Turner, of Belmont House, Wraxall. She met him through his cousins who were pupils at Hannah's school. She gave up teaching, in order to prepare to become the wife of a rich landowner 20 years her senior.

The marriage was not to be. Three times it was arranged and cancelled by Mr.Turner; some say he was too frightened and was overshadowed by this lively, clever young woman. There is no doubt Hannah was greatly affected by this disappointment. Her poem, The Bleeding Rock, about a rejected lover turned to stone (except for the heart which bled when struck) was based on rock strata in the Wraxall area with iron deposits, which appeared to bleed after rain.

Mr.Turner begged for a fourth chance - he would marry Hannah any time, anywhere. But this time Hannah said; "No". He offered her an annuity in compensation for his breach of promise but Hannah refused.

Sir John Stonehouse, an old family friend, had long discerned Hannah's talents. He stood by her, spoke to Mr.Turner of his obligations and obtained, without her knowledge, an annuity of £200 for her.

At first Hannah refused and was indignant. Her friends persuaded her to accept, pointing out this would make her independent and she could devote her time to her writing. This she did and, armed with introductions to the famous and influential in the world of literature and the theatre, she set out for London to a life of success of which she could never have dreamed.



Letters from Hannah to her sisters in Bristol reveal all the excitement of a young woman visiting the capital for the first time. Accompanied by sister Martha, the purpose of this visit was to see her publisher Cadell and to gain those all important introductions, with letters from her influential friends like Sir John Stonehouse.

Within a week, Hannah had been introduced to David Garrick and his wife. She became close friends with them for the rest of their days. She attended dinners and assemblies and her bright conversation, her intellect and wit made her an instant success.


start of her writing

amatory adventures

Hannah's engagement


Hannah in London

David Garrick

 Her letters abound with news of these events. She had dinner at the home of Mrs.Montague (a member of the Blue Stocking Ladies (Bas Bleus) which later Hannah was invited to join. This group of intelligentsia held conversazione at regular intervals. The guest list included Mrs.Carter, Dr.Samuel Johnson, Mrs.Boscowan, Sir Joshua Reynolds and sister Francis, both artists of renown. (The portrait painted by Francis of the young Hannah now hangs in the art gallery in Bristol)

Hannah reported: "There were some persons of high rank and I felt a worm, more worm for the consequence given to me, but a very happy worm."

She made a great impression on Dr.Johnson and she later visited him with Francis Reynolds. She sat in what she thought was his favourite chair before he entered the room so that some of his genius might rub off on her. They became firm friends; he praised, encouraged and was a valued critic of her writings, but his friend Boswell did not always meet with Hannah's approval. She had occasion to reprimand him for his behaviour when in his 'cups'.

The Lord Chancellor gave a dinner in Hannah's honour where she met many politicians whose cause she supported over the years with her writings. Sir Horace Walpole, Edmund Burke, Sir Richard Ackland and William Wilberforce were amongst those with whom Hannah formed firm, lifelong friendships.

She attended the trial of the Duchess of Kingston. On a bigamy charge, the Duchess was tried by her peers in the House of Lords. "The magnificence could only be outshone by a coronation", Hannah said. She was of the Duke of Neweastle's party. A cold collation was laid for them in an ante-room, whilst other peers of the realm and their ladies had to be content with a luncheon basket. Their rank and dignity did not exempt them from villainous appetites in eating and drinking.

Commenting on the trial, Hannah wrote: "For my part, I cannot see why there was so much ceremony to know whether an infamous woman has one or two husbands. I think a lieutenant de police would be a better judge for her than her peers."

Hannah More's friendship with the Garricks became so firm that, on her annual visits to London, their Adelphi home seemingly become her headquarters. The Adelphi became her second home especially after David Garrick's death and she spent much time with his widow. Before his death, the house was the scene of many a glittering party.

A letter records: "We have passed three days at the temple of taste, nature, Shakespeare and Garrick, where everything that could please the eyes and ears and gratify the understanding passed in quick succession. At dinner at midnight he entertained us in a manner infinitely agreeable; he read to us all prose and verse, which for many years he has carried on with the first geniuses of this age...."

The next time Hannah was to carry some of her writing. The guest list at the Garricks included the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, Lady Camden and her daughter, Mr.Rigby, Sir Joshua and his sister, and some 40 guests.
"A moderate party. I must say the old Duchess was amazingly well," the letter added.

Hannah was introduced to Mr.Harris and wrote: "Mr.Harris has accepted my play 'Percy' and it is to be brought out without delay." In 1777, it was produced at Drury Lane theatre with a prologue and epilogue by Garrick, whose name on the programme must have assured a full house. The play was well received, Hannah says. She sat in a dark corner, wishing to shun the limelight just then.

Congratulations from everyone, invitations to dinners and assemblies followed. She did not care for high fashion and commented on it on occasions. She asked her hairdresser "to do enough so that she was not outmodish, but modestly fashionable, for some ladies carry on their heads a large quantity of fruit, yet despise the poor useful member of society who carried it there for the sole purpose of selling it for bread."

blue stockings

Dr Johnson
Sir Joshua Reynolds


Back to top


trial of Duchess of Kingston

staying with
the Garricks


her play accepted

dislike of high fashion

Hannah's second play of five acts (another tragedy) The Fatal Falsehood was put on the next year, at Covent Garden theatre. She seemed all set for a career as a dramatist but then came the death of David Garrick, on January 20th, 1779, and after this, her taste for the fashionable life waned.

The funeral of David Garrick was not without a traumatic incident for Hannah. Admission to the service and interment in Westminster Abbey was by ticket only, because of the expected throng.

Hannah wrote: "We (Miss Cadogan arid I) went to Charing Cross to see the melancholy procession; we received tickets from the Bishop of Rochester to admit us. We hurried away in a Hackney coach, dreading to be late... the bell of St.Martin's smote upon my soul. When we got there, we found multitudes striving for admission.

We gave up our tickets to a man, but we ought to have kept them. We followed the man who unlocked a door or iron and directly closed it upon us and two or three more. We found ourselves in a tower with dark winding steps fifty or more. When we got to the top, we ran down again, called and beat on the door, but there we stayed for half an hour, nay we thought, never to be let out, to starve ! We might perish!"

At length they were let out, exhausted and distressed, convinced their rescuer they were friends of Garrick and the Bishop, and were taken to an anteroom. There given wine to restore them and they were found a seat in the Abbey overlooking the grave.

The adulation Hannah received did not turn her head. She kept her feet firmly on the ground, her interest in the Church and her spiritual life strengthened, meeting the leading churchmen of her day. Her memoirs are strewn with their names. She held long and deep discussions with Bishop John Newton, who became a staunch friend and mentor over the next few years. He became her trusted advisor in many grave situations in later life, for she was living in troublesome times. Both the French wars and American civil war took place during her lifetime.

Nothing would persuade Hannah to take part in revelry on a Sunday. This became well known and was respected. She would retire to her room even when with her beloved friends, the Garricks, who often held musical Sunday evenings. Her Sunday was devoted to church worship and spiritual refreshment.

London life began to lose its interest for her as she disliked much of society and wrote quite forcefully against it in the book entitled Manners cf the Great. She decided to write no more plays and to retire to Bristol and Pulteney Street, Bath and to search for a country retreat.

Hannah seemed to crave for peace and solitude. All through her life, she suffered a great deal from sick headaches and more serious illnesses; possibly today we would say it was a migraine. Whatever it was, it would lay her very low for a while.

She found a country retreat at Cowslip Green, Wrington, and had what she describes as a little thatched cottage, nestling under the Mendip Hills in Somerset. She moved in, in 1785. She entertained famous friends from time to time, tidied the garden and wrote.

The life was peaceful, until the visit of William Wilberforce. It was his remark, "Oh! Miss Hannah, we must do something for the poor children of Cheddar" which precipitated the start of some amazing work.

second play

Garrick's funeral

her subsequent activities

Sunday observance

move from London

Cowslip Green


 Continue reading about Hannah Cowslip Green