Buried Stories – The Shore Sisters

Buried in HH 115 in the non-conformist section are three of the daughters of Samuel Shore of Norton. Samuel came from a Sheffield family of bankers and tradesmen and married Urith Offley, who inherited Norton Hall. The family was wealthy and moved in the highest circles – Lady Urith Shore was painted by George Romney, the most celebrated portrait artist of his day.

Samuel and Urith had six daughters and two sons. There is a famous story often told in Sheffield history books of an incident when King George III was taking a walk on Weymouth beach. He saw some children playing with their nurse and asked who the children were. He was told that they were Mr Shore’s children, of Norton, Sheffield. ‘Sheffield! Sheffield! Damn bad place, Sheffield’ the King is reported to have remarked! These children were also related to Florence Nightingale – her father was a Shore who changed his name to Nightingale to benefit from an inheritance – and the cousins used to play together when they were young.

Three of the daughters, Urith Lydia, Ameila Theophila and Maria Theodosia remained unmarried and lived together at Meersbrook. In the 1851 census Urith is described as a ‘Landed proprietor’. The three women had five servants to look after them.

When Samuel died he was buried in the graveyard of Norton Church, in spite of being a prominent non-conformist. However when his daughter Maria Amelia died in 1855 the vicar of Norton was away and the Curate refused to buy her in the churchyard as she was not of the Anglican faith. Urith bought a grave at the Sheffield General Cemetery and Maria was laid to rest there. The idea of a Shore being shut out of Norton Church created much angry feeling and there were letters to the newspaper, condemning the ‘churlish priest’.

This is from the Sheffield Independent of 29th September 1855

‘The old Sheffield family of Shore, long known to entertain Unitarian sentiments, has been settled in the parish of Norton for generations. Its past members, and in an eminent degree its present members, have been the general benefactors of the neighbourhood. For more than a century Norton Church has been the family burial place. The present members of the family have been on the most friendly and neighbourly terms with the Vicar of Norton, the Rev. H. H. Pearson, as well as with his father, the late Vicar, whom he succeeded. The death of Miss Maria Theodosia Shore, of Meersbrook, youngest daughter of the late Samuel Shore, Esq., was announced in our last, and the family proposed that her interment should take place, according to their custom, at Norton Church. But strange to say, the Rev. Mr. Sale, the curate of the parish, gave them to understand that he should refuse to read the funeral service over the deceased, because she was a Unitarian. The Vicar was from home at the time, but it is understood that he adopted, and sanctioned by letter, the conduct of his curate. The result has been that Miss M. T. Shore is interred at the Sheffield Cemetery. Thus do the Shores, from no change in themselves, but from a new reading of church law, or at least from a new practice, find that they are deprived of their ancient burying place; and clergymen, with whom they have been on most friendly terms in life, pronounce them in death to be unfit for Christian burial.’

Urith and Amelia were also buried in SGC. The only name on the Memorial Inscription is that of Maria’s but her sisters obviously decided that that they should all be buried together.