In 1872, by naming her first son Hugh Grant Forrester, Harriet Forrester left a significant clue as to the name of his father. Looking for the person behind the name took many years but now we finally have evidence as to whom the father actually was. Thanks to a tip received from a fellow enthusiast investigating the Grant family we now know without a doubt that Mark Grant, Harriet Forrester’s uncle (by marriage), was the father of Hugh Grant Forrester. See baptism image.

In order to find the father we decided to look for a Hugh Grant close to Harriet Forrester. The first clue was quickly found: a certain Mark Grant was recorded as being a witness to the second marriage of Harriet Forrester’s mother to Michael Davis. Investigating Mark Grant we quickly dicovered that his father was called Hugh :-)……finding him proved more difficult but we eventually discovered him doing quite well for himself in Altrincham.

See images: Little Hugh’s namesake was an Irishman who managed to develop a business as clothier in Altrincham1 See images

Birth certificate of HUGH_GRANT_FORRESTER 1872
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Here are the steps that led us to little Hugh’s dad.

  • When Harriet Forrester’s mother married Michael Davies in January 1871 (James Forrester had previously died) the witnesses were Maria Grant and Mark Grant.
  • Mark & Maria Grants’ marriage certificate shows that his father was called Hugh Grant and that he was clothier by trade.
  • Mark Grant was born in London but searching for his father in London was fruitless.
  • Further investigation revealed that Mark Grant’s father Hugh Grant was born in Ireland, had lived in London (where Mark was born) but had moved to Altrincham. There he remarried and had 3 daughters.
  • Mark & Maria Grant’s marriage certificate also shows that Maria Grant was born Maria Wycherley.
  • Maria Wycherley was in fact the half sister of Harriet Forrester’s mother i.e. Mary Ann Martin.
  • Their mother Ann Lockley had married several times and at the time of Hugh Grant Forrester’s birth was sharing lodgings with Harriet Forrester (her name at the time was Ann Stirrup). Both Ann Stirrup and Harriet Forrester were both registered as machinists during the 1871 census.
  • All these persons (with exception of Hugh Grant) lived at the time not far from each other in Liverpool.

Until October 2019 we were left with two possibilities (noted below) but since then we have discovered a baptism record indicating that Mark Grant was the actual father. Kenny Marshall’s theory (possibility 2 below) has now been proven although the bit about “Mark exercising his prerogative with the bridesmaid” may never be proven, it does add colour :-).

If your having problems trying to understand the relationships here is a downloadable sketch…..

Extract from Hugh’s baptism record.

Baptism: 21 Jul 1872 St Peter, Liverpool, Lancs.
Hugh Grant Grant – [Child] of Mark Grant & Harriet
    Born: 7 Jun 1872
    Abode: Bidder St.
    Occupation: Porter
    Baptised by: Geo. R. Burrows
    Register: Baptisms 1872 – 1873, Page 109, Entry 872
    Source: LDS Film 1656565 and 1656566

Possibility 1 (since writing disproved): It remains an educated guess but all the clues point to Hugh Grant the clothier as being the father of Hugh Grant Forrester. My theory is that Hugh Grant came regularly to Liverpool for business and that Ann Stirrup and Harriet Forrester were in fact producing garments for Hugh Grant to sell (Anne Stirrup was registered as dressmaker in the 1851 census). This leads me to consider the possibly that Harriet was a Victorian “#MeToo” victim. In 1873 Hugh Grant relocated in Altrincham to premises with a shop.

Possibility 2: Is offered by Kenny Marshall.

When Mary Ann Martin married Michael Davis in 1871 possibly Harriet (her daughter) was bridesmaid. Mark Grant, being best man, may have decided to exercise his prerogative (in this days) to have his wicked way with the bridesmaid. This may have further developed into an affair resulting in Harriet becoming pregnant some 6 months later. Mark may have had some say in naming the child and in that case would have suggested using the grandfathers name (as was the custom). In this case he would have probably supported the child until he died in 1886, possibly explaining why Harriet and her son end up in Kirkdale workhouse in 1887.

  1. A clothier during the 19th century was generally a merchant dealing in cloth. []