26 July 2014

James Augustus Page in Tintwistle, Derbyshire

Thomas Middleton's Poets, poems, and rhymes of East Cheshire; being a history of the poetry and song lore, and a book of biographies of the poets and song writers of the eastern portion of the County Palatine of Chester (1908) really is a very significant find for me, and continues to provide me with a very interesting literary history of the east Cheshire area of the time. From this, I recently  learned of the existence of the forgotten poet James Augustus Page, who also wrote as James A. Page.

Page published several books of poetry, the first (Scattered Leaves (1839)) when he was in his late teens and attending Boteler's Free Grammar School in Warrington; and the second (Gathered Leaves (1843)) when he was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1944 he won the vice-chancellor's prize at Trinity for his poem 'The Ruined Cities of Central America', which was published the same year by J. W. Booth. The only other publication of his that I can find mention of is Protestant Ballads (1852).

The List of Vicars on the north wall of Christ Church, Tintwistle, shows James Augustus Page as the incumbent between 1846 and 1873.

Middleton records that he 'quite recently' found Page's grave 'near the path and the gate through which the dead husband and his wives must have passed often during their time at Tintwistle. It is an ideal resting-place, within sight of the everlasting hills.' Middleton's 'quite recently' meant in 1908 or a little before, but things change a bit in over a century. With the churchwarden's help, we were able to figure out that 'the path and the gate' don't relate to the main path into the church from the A628, but to the gate from the vicarage and the (now barely visible) path from it to the church, which lie to the west of the church.

The grave was pretty well hidden by vegetation, but we hadn't come prepared this time with a rubber scraper and baby wipes, etc (see John Critchley Prince's grave below), so we thought we'd be coming away with rather hazy photos of the grave. However, my partner Penny just happened to tell the churchwarden that we'd found the grave and he came out with tools and clipped away at the vegetation and rubbed off much of the moss, and here is the very unexpected result. We very much appreciate the (anonymous) churchwarden's efforts. Thank you so much.

'James Augustus Page M. A.
For 27 Years Vicar of This Parish
Died Rusholme Manchester March 25th 1880 Aged 58 Years'

Middleton states that Page's death, which was 'attended by crowds of people', 'caused a profound sensation in the parish of Tintwistle', as he was buried beside his first wife Catherine Mary Page, who died in 1866. But his second wife Margaret is also buried here a little more than three years after James's death, in 1883.
One link below is to a Page book, the other is to Middleton's Poets, Poems and Rhymes of East Cheshire:

James Augustus Page: Gathered Leaves
Thomas Middleton: Poets, Poems and Rhymes of East Cheshire

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