Hannah Greg Biography
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Hannah was the wife of Samuel Greg, the founder of Quarry Bank Mill. A women of faith and intelligence, she played an extremely important role in the welfare of her husband's workers and apprentices.
A liberal upbringing
Born in 1766, the third daughter of Adam Lightbody a Unitarian merchant in Liverpool, Hannah received a humanitarian and liberal education at a private school in London. She would later endeavour to bring up her own children in the same way.
Hannah married Samuel Greg in 1789, a move which greatly benefited Samuel’s business. Hannah brought a dowry of £10,000 and extremely useful business connections through her family, including links to other textile merchants.
Town vs Country
Initially, Hannah and Samuel lived at 35 King Street in Manchester, with summers spent at Oak Farm in Styal. Hannah disliked the dirty, smoky city, and missed the more intellectual life she had before her marriage.
In 1797, Samuel began constructing Quarry Bank House, next door to the Mill. Here Hannah was much happier, she could raise her children in the fresh air, overlooking the picturesque view of the valley and the River Bollin, and was able to create a family society protected from the distractions of city life.
Raising the next generation
Samuel and Hannah had thirteen children together. Hannah ensured the boys received a balanced education of literature, philosophy and business. Their daughters also received a broad education that included history, geography and the sciences, meaning that, unusually, the girls led a life that did not revolve around marriage. She also set up a debating society at home for her children, called the ‘Duodecimo Society’.
Caring for the workers
Hannah took a great interest in the education of the apprentices, pauper children who worked at the Mill. On Sundays she addressed them on Scripture and delegated their basic education to her own children, who acted as tutors. It was also Hannah who set up the practice of the annual prize giving for the apprentices with the best work.
When Samuel began to build Styal village to house his expanding workforce in the 1820s, Hannah also made it her responsibility to guarantee the workers were provided with a good level of care. She was probably responsible for setting up the ‘Sick Club’ and ‘The Woman’s Club’, as well as Styal Infants School, which was established for the workers’ children.
Keeping the peace
In later years, when her son Robert had joined the family business and was running Quarry Bank Mill, alongside Samuel, Hannah often acted as mediator, when tensions rose between father and son, particularly in regards to the technological advancements of the Mill.
Hannah was certainly a strong and intelligent woman and very much loved by her children, who inherited many of her recognisable aspects. This is no clearer than when her youngest son, William Rathbone Greg, recalled that in her old age her sons would take it in turns to carry her up the steep hill behind Quarry Bank House to see the sunset.