Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parsons, Gertrude

PARSONS, Mrs. GERTRUDE (1812–1891), novelist, fourth daughter of John Hext of Trenarran, Cornwall, captain in the 22nd foot, who died 30 June 1838, by Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Thomas Staniforth of Liverpool, was born at Restormel, near Lostwithiel, in Cornwall, on 19 March 1812. She joined the church of Rome in 1844, and on 8 April 1845 was married at the Roman catholic chapel of St. Nicholas at Exeter to Daniel Parsons, son of John Parsons, vicar of Sherborne. Daniel Parsons, born in 1811, matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, on 20 May 1828, graduated B.A. 1832, and M.A. 1835. He served for a short time under his father as curate of Marden, Wiltshire, and was then curate of St. James's, Longton, Staffordshire, until 1841. In 1843 he joined the church of Rome, and on 22 Sept. 1870, under the Clerical Disabilities Relief Act, resigned his Anglican orders. He died at Stuart's Lodge, Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, on 5 July 1887. In 1836 he edited ‘The Diary of Sir H. Slingsby, Bart., with Notices and a Genealogical Memoir,’ and in 1838 printed a volume of ‘Plain Parochial Sermons.’

After her marriage Mrs. Parsons lived for some time at Begbrooke, Frenchay, near Bristol. She was a deeply religious woman of decided views, and charitable to the poor. She was a great benefactor to the mission of Little Malvern.

From 1846 onwards she wrote a long series of tales and novels, chiefly with the object of serving the church of her adoption. She also edited ‘The Workman, or Life and Leisure: a Magazine of Literature and Information,’ twenty-five numbers, 7 Jan. to 24 June 1865, and its continuation, ‘The Literary Workman, or Life and Leisure,’ 29 July to 30 Dec. 1865. To the ‘Lamp,’ ‘Once a Week,’ ‘Notes and Queries,’ and ‘London Society’ she was a frequent contributor. She died at Teignmouth, Devonshire, on 12 Feb. 1891, leaving no children, and was buried at the Priory Church, Little Malvern, on 17 Feb.

Her chief works, some of which do not bear her name, were: 1. ‘Thornberry Abbey: a Tale of the Established Church,’ 1846. 2. ‘Joe Baker,’ 1853. 3. ‘Edith Mortimer, or Trials of Life at Mortimer Manor,’ 1857. 4. ‘Emma's Cross: a Tale,’ 1859. 5. ‘George Morton, the Boy and the Man,’ 1859. 6. ‘Afternoons with Mrs. Maitland: a Book of Household Instruction,’ 1860. 7. ‘The Life of St. Ignatius of Loyola,’ 1860. 8. ‘Dyrbington Court, or the Story of John Julian's Prosperity,’ 1861. 9. ‘Ruth Baynard's Story,’ 1861. 10. ‘The Romance of Cleaveside,’ 1867, 3 vols. 11. ‘Ursula's Love Story,’ 1869, 3 vols. 12. ‘Avice Arden: the Old Man's Romance,’ 1870. 13. ‘Sun and Shade,’ 1871, 3 vols. 14. ‘The Village of Downe: a short Chronicle,’ 1872. 15. ‘Beautiful Edith,’ 1873, 3 vols. 16. ‘The Story of Fordington Hall,’ 1873. 17. ‘Twelve Tales for the Young,’ 1874. 18. ‘Married Trust,’ 1874, 3 vols. 19. ‘Major Vandermere,’ 1876, 3 vols. 20. ‘Wrecked and Saved,’ 1878. 21. ‘Under Temptation,’ 1878, 3 vols. 22. ‘The Life of St. Colette, the Reformer of the Three Orders of St. Francis,’ 1879. 23. ‘Love-knots,’ 1881, 3 vols. 24. ‘The Sisters of Ladywell,’ 1881. 25. ‘Thomas Rileton, his Family and Friends,’ 1890.

Mrs. Parsons also wrote the greater portion of ‘Rhymes Gay and Grave,’ 1864, and many small books for children.

[Tablet, 28 Feb. 1891, p. 348; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. 1874–82, pp. 425–7, 1301; Boase's Collect. Cornub. 1890, p. 653; information from A. S. Hext, esq., Trenarran, St. Austell.]

G. C. B.