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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Challis

'She Seemed to Fall Asleep': 2 January 1866

On this day 158 years ago, Ann Mary (Severn) Newton died. She had contracted measles, possibly from a boy she was drawing. The Birkenhead Family archive has the letter her husband sent to her younger sister Eleanor a few hours after she died. It certainly brought a tear to mine and Thomas Kiely's eyes when looking at it in the archive for the first time.


I have written about the impact of her loss and immense grief Newton felt elsewhere. It seems appropriate for this day just to show and transcribe that letter in full:


74 Gower St

Jan. 2. 1866


My Dear Eleanor


It has pleased God to take my dearest Mary back to himself.

She died at 10 this morning so tranquilly that she seemed to fall asleep. I leave to Arthur and Walter the task of telling your father the sad particulars of her illness.

That your life may be as true and holy as that of your dear departed sister, and that your death may be as mourned by as many loving hearts is the prayer of

Yours affectionately

C. T. Newton







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