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Elizabeth Firth, born in 1797, welcomed the Brontës to Thornton when they arrived in 1815: the Firths subsequently formed a close friendship with Patrick and Maria. Elizabeth became one of the two godmothers of Anne (the other was Elizabeth's friend, Fanny Outhwaite). After Maria's death, Patrick made a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth: she declined, but the family friendship remained intact, and she continued to take an active interest in the Brontë children's welfare. In September 1825 she married the Reverend James Franks, vicar of St. Paul's church in Huddersfield. This was only about five miles away from Roe Head School, and on 17 June 1836, at the commencement of the girls' summer holidays, Charlotte and Anne went to stay, for a week, with the Franks at the Huddersfield vicarage. The girls were not totally enthusiastic about the visit as, naturally, they were anxious to return home to Haworth. Patrick pressured them a little to accept the Franks' invitation: he had earlier written to the Franks over his daughters' visit: 'I esteem it a high privilege that they should be under your roof, for a time - where, I am sure, they will see, and hear nothing, but what, under Providence, must necessarily tend, to their best interest, in both the worlds . . .'. Juliet Barker reports: 'The eldest child, John Firth Franks, recollected that Charlotte never spoke to him during the whole time she was there though Anne brought toys to him in the nursery.' 55n Elizabeth Franks died in September 1837 at the age of 40.
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