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Reverend Patrick Brontë (Drumballyroney, County Down, Irelandmarker, 17 March 1777 – 7 June 1861 in Haworthmarker) was an Irishmarker Anglican curate and writer, who spent most of his adult life in England and was the father of the writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, and of Branwell Brontë, his only son.


He was the first of ten children born to Hugh Brunty and Alice McClory, in Drumballyroney (near Rathfrilandmarker), County Down. At one point in his adult life, he formally changed the spelling of his name from Brunty to Brontë. (See the article Brontë for theories for the change). Alice's grandson Kevin McClory also went on to be a film writer.

He had several apprenticeships (to a blacksmith, a linen draper, and a weaver) until he became a teacher in 1798 and eventually moved to Cambridgemarker in 1802 to study theology at St. John's Collegemarker. He gained his BA degree in 1806 and was appointed curate at Wethersfield, Essex, where he was ordained a deacon of the Church of England, and ordained into the priesthood in 1807.


In 1809 he became assistant curate at Wellington in Shropshiremarker and in 1810 he published his first poem Winter Evening Thoughts in a local newspaper, followed in 1811 by a collection of moral verse, Cottage Poems. The following year (1812) he was appointed school examiner at a Wesleyan academy, Woodhouse Grove Schoolmarker, near Guiseleymarker.


At Guisely he met Maria Branwell (1783–1821), whom he married on 29 December 1812. Their first child Maria (1814–1825) was born after their move to Hartsheadmarker, Yorkshire, and their second, Elizabeth (1815–1825), after the family moved to Thorntonmarker. There the rest of the family were born; Charlotte (1816–1855), Patrick Branwell (1817–1848), Emily (1818–1848) and Anne (1820–1849). Patrick was offered the Perpetual Curacy of Haworthmarker in June 1819, and took the family there in April 1820.

His sister-in-law Elizabeth Branwell (1776–1842), who had lived with the family at Thornton in 1815, joined the household in 1821 to help look after the children and to care for Maria Brontë, who was suffering the final stages of cancer. She decided to move permanently to Haworth to act as Patrick's housekeeper.He was responsible for the building of a Sunday School in Haworth, which he opened in 1832. He remained active for local causes into his old age and between 1849 and 1850 organised action to procure a clean water supply for the village, which was eventually supplied in 1856.

After the death of his last surviving child, Charlotte, nine months after she married, he co-operated with Elizabeth Gaskell on the biography of his daughter, and was responsible for the posthumous publication of Charlotte's first novel The Professor in 1857. Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls (1819–1906), who had been Patrick's curate, stayed in Patrick's household until he returned to Ireland after Patrick's death in 1861.

Under the collective title Brotherly Sisters, Terence Pettigrew tells the Brontë story in fifty-three individual narrative poems. The collection starts with their father's farewell to his native Ireland in 1802 (The Road From Drumballyroney) and ends with a poignant description of Anne Brontë's death, in Scarborough, in 1849 (Do Angels Feel The Cold ?).


  1. Banbridge, Culture Northern Ireland

Further reading

  • The Letters of the Reverend Patrick Brontë Edited by Dudley Green Foreword by Asa Briggs (Nonsuch Publishing Ltd 2005)
  • A Man of Sorrow: The Life, Letters, and Times of the Rev. Patrick Brontë, John Lock and Canon W.T. Dixon, (1965)
  • The Brontës, Juliet Barker (1995)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Evolution of Genius Winifred Gerin,(1967)
  • The Letters of Charlotte Brontë (3 vols, edited by Margaret Smith), (1995–2003)
  • The Book of General Ignorance, Foreword by Stephen Fry (Mackays of Chatham, plc 2006)

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