Miss Josephine Gilstrap and Lady Manners

Josephine Elizabeth Gilstrap and her younger sister Anna Sophia were born in Newark on the 28th April 1859 and the 15thOctober 1862 respectively. Whilst Josephine remained a spinster and a companion to her widowed mother Jane Catherine Gilstrap (nèe Fothergill), her sister was busy becoming a member of the aristocracy.

In London, 1884, Anna Sophia Gilstrap married George Espec John Manners of Fornham Park, Suffolk, the son of George John Manners and Adeliza Matilda Fitzalan-Howard. He was the grandson of John Henry Manners and Lady Elizabeth Howard, 5thDuke and Duchess of Rutland, and of Henry Charles Howard and Charlotte Sophia Levenson-Gower, 13th Duke and Duchess of Norfolk. The royal connections of the Dukes of Rutland and Norfolk are many and interesting, and I shall resist the temptation to go into them here!

As a little aside though, George's first middle name was a nod to Walter Espec, possibly the earliest owner of Helmsley Castle in Yorkshire, and a supporter of King Henry I and King Stephen. On Espec's death in 1154, the castle passed to his brother-in-law Peter de Roos, in whose family the castle remained almost continuously until the 16thcentury. In 1508, Sir George Manners of Etal, Northumberland, a nephew of the de Roos family, inherited the castle, and it stayed in the Manners family, the Dukes of Rutland, until the Civil War.

Miss Josephine Gilstrap and Lady Manners gravestones in the churchyard of All Saints' Church, Winthorpe - April 2008.Returning to the 19thcentury, where, in 1891, George and Anna Manners were living in Chelsea, London. At the time, George was the private secretary of a cabinet minister, but by 1901 he was a magistrate and living at his family seat, Fornham Park, still with his wife Anna. They had no children, and the rumour that they may have led separate lives seems quite likely, given that Fornham must have been a large house, staffed by 13 servants.

George Espec John Manners died in Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1939, possibly at Little Haddon Hall, by which time Anna had been living at Winthorpe House with her sister Josephine for many years. Anna Sophia Manners died 30th December 1940, and Josephine died 9thJuly 1943. They are buried side by side in the churchyard of All Saints' Church, Winthorpe and their gravestones can be found to the north of the church, not far from the vestry door. Their mother, Jane Catherine died 4th February 1904.

Christine Hasman.

April 2008.