Biographical notes – 1844-1869

> 1870s


17 February 1844 – Susan Isabel Dacre born (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire).

28 February 1844 – Annie Louisa Robinson born (Manchester).

Annie was the first of seven children, all girls: Annie (b. 1844), Emily (c. 1845), Julia (c. 1846), Sarah (c. 1849), Adela (c. 1852), Mary (c. 1855) and Frances (c. 1857).

Annie’s father, Francis Robinson (1814-89), the son of a Yorkshire carpenter, had risen from what one assumes were relatively humble beginnings, to become a solicitor with a practice in central Manchester. (Source: Elizabeth Crawford – Woman and Her Sphere, retrieved 18 Mar 2023.)


6 July 1848 – Joseph William Swynnerton born in Douglas, Isle of Man.


By the mid-1850s [Annie’s father] was sufficiently successful to be able to move his growing family from inner Manchester to a newly-built, detached house in leafy Prestwich Park, 5 km north of the city.[v]  In fact Robinson was one of the first house-owners in this development which, guarded by two entrance lodges and with fine views, was intended to appeal to the burgeoning Manchester middle-class. {Elizabeth Crawford – Woman and Her Sphere, retrieved 18 Mar 2023.)

1855-1857 (Annie aged 11-13) – Annie doing watercolours – “… from eleven to thirteen years, Annie used to delight her playfellows, visitors to the house, and the servants with exhibitions of … water-colour drawings.” (The Queen, 15 Mar 1890, p371.)


In 1857 [Isabel‘s] widowed mother became the landlady of the Stamford Arms, Altrincham, and the family settled down in comfort (Manchester Guardian, 21 Feb 1933).

MAY (Isabel aged 13) – Isabel‘s home, the Stamford Arms, Altrincham, being used for a property auction – 1857, 4 May. “… at the house of Mrs. Susan Dacre [Isabel’s mother], known by the sign of The Stamford Arms, in  Altrincham [an auction will take place].” (The Guardian, 25 Apr 1857.)

The Stamford Arms, pre-redevelopment.

The Stamford Arms ceased trading in 2012, and after a period of dereliction was redeveloped and now trades as The Stamford Public House.

The Art Treasures Exhibition is held in Manchester (huge exhibition with over 16,000 exhibits). The author Anthony Trollope stays at The Stamford Arms.

Isabel later recalled “how he would spend the mornings completing his manuscript for Barchester Towers in a deep-set bay window in the snug, surrounded with a litter of papers. In the afternoons, Trollope would don one of his natty waistcoats, put on his clean spats and visit the Exhibition. He lent the family the fmished manuscript to read. and this early association endeared the book to Miss Dacre.”

Altringham HIstory Society Journal, Sep 1998.

Miss Dacre use to recall how he sat all morning in the deep bay of the snug, writing, writing, apparently endlessly writing, surrounded by a litter of papers, and how, after lunch, he would beautify himself – he had a great taste in waistcoats and spats – and make off to the exhibition. He was finishing the manuscript of “Barchester Towers” [published 1857] at the time, and lent it to the family to read.

The Windsor Star, 27 April 1933.

JUNE 1858 – Susan Dacre [Isabel’s mother] “of the Stamford Arms Hotel,” Altrincham, married Henry Race of Oldfield at St. Margaret’s church, Altringham. The church is directly across the road from what was the Stamford Arms Hotel. (The Guardian, 24 Jun 1858.)


For the next twenty years [from 1858, Isabel] lived, for the most part, abroad, 1858-1868 in Paris, at school, first as pupil then as governess (Manchester Guardian, 21 Feb 1933).


For some years [Annie’s father] involved himself in Manchester affairs; in 1863 he was vice-president of the Manchester Law Association and from at least 1861 was a councillor for St Ann’s Ward and by 1868 its chairman. (Elizabeth Crawford – Woman and Her Sphere, retrieved 18 Mar 2023.)


DECEMBER 1864 (Annie aged 20) – The Robinson family trading at the Vale of Clwyd Hunt Ball, Denbigh – 28/29 December 1864. At Denbigh Free Reading Room (SJ 05052 66082, 46 miles west-south-west of Altrincham) the “… annual bazaar … was held in the Assembly Room … Fifth stall by Mrs. Robinson, Miss Annie Robinson and Miss Mills of Manchester … a toilet pin cushion by Mrs. Robinson … A large knitted cotton counterpane, diamond pattern, formed an object of special attraction at this stall. It was worked by Mrs. Robinson, and contained 800,000 stitches! It was sold by raffle …” (North Wales Chronicle, 31 Dec 1864.)

Reading Rooms, Denbigh (Google Earth), which had been built just a couple of years before the Robinsons were present at the bazaar (


Joseph joins the Accademia di San Luca, an art school in Rome.

Annie’s father declared bankrupt.

[Annie’s father] was declared bankrupt. The effect on the family was momentous. In March the entire contents of the home – from a ‘Splendid Walnutwood Drawing-Room Suite’, ‘a sweet-toned cottage pianoforte’, ‘stuffed Australian birds under glass shade’ to a ‘patent coffee percolator’, ‘large brass preserving pans’, and ‘300 choice greenhouse and other plants’ – were all sold at auction. Stripped from the walls were oil paintings by, among others, Sam Bough, John Brandon Smith, and David Cox, and, from the bookshelves, about 500 volumes, among which were Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. In June … the Robinsons’ house, with its drawing-room, two dining rooms, breakfast room, library, nine bedrooms, bathrooms, pantries, sculleries, and about half an acre of land, was sold. The family was then split up.

Elizabeth Crawford – Woman and Her Sphere, retrieved 18 Mar 2023.

> 1870s