Trading Stories, Working Lives

Trading Stories, Working Lives: Mary Jane and Clara Bramley, Victorian school mistresses and governesses

For our next Trading Stories, Working Lives article we piece together the lives of two sisters – Mary Jane and Clara Bramley – in their work as school mistresses and governesses.

It’s a fresh January morning in 1868. Let’s stand on the junction of Union Street and Freeschool Lane, a few steps north of the High Street in Leicester. Steam-powered spinning machines hiss and rattle at Fielding Johnson’s Bond Street Mills over the road. A horse clip clops past, pulling a creaky cart laden with market produce.

Now listen very carefully outside the corner house; children are chanting in unison “… 2 times 6 is 12, 3 times 6 is 18, 4 times 6 is 24…” Push open the door and peer inside. Miss Clara Bramley strides between the desks, reciting in time with the children. Her older sister Mary Jane jabs rhythmically down the multiplication table on the blackboard. Welcome to the Misses Bramley’s academy at 20 Union Street, Leicester.

The new term has just started – a fact announced in the Leicestershire Chronicle and Leicester Mercury with unfailing regularity every January and July, from 1866 until 1871.

Download the full story here: Mary Jane and Clara Bramley, Victorian school mistresses and governesses

You might also like to take a look at the other articles in our Trading Stories, Working Lives series:

Len Collis, a professional musician

John George Collis, a publican in the news

John Collins, a Victorian woolcomber and taxidermist

Naomi Cave, a purse-maker, pub landlady and devoted mother

The Barker brothers in WWI

The Caves of Leicester – Tories or Whigs?

William and Samuel Whittle, yeoman farmers and rabbit warreners of Charnwood

Nathaniel Orringe, miller and baker of Shepshed

Tom Crew, football referee and broadcaster

Samuel Taylor, beadle of Loughborough

Thomas Norman, elastic web weaver

John W Barker & Son, painters and decorators

Mary Ann Norman, Victorian laundress of Paradise Place

John Collins, Victorian fishmonger and game dealer

John and George Firn, monumental masons

Polkey boatmen of Loughborough

The Harrisons: gardeners, nurserymen and seeds merchants

George Robinson, Victorian letter carrier