Judging by the number of Sowman children that attended Thomas Wright’s Cowper School, there was obviously a close relationship between the Sowman and Wright families. This relationship was enhanced by the marriage of Edwin Sowman to Martha Elizabeth Edwards, the sister of Thomas Wright’s wife. The names of the children and staff in the photograph are identified from Elizabeth Margaret (Betty) Fairey’s own notes. Betty was the second daughter of Edwin Sowman, one of the founders of Sowmans.

Click here for the family tree of the ‘Olney Sowmans’

Thomas Wright School_Sow

Sowman Children at the Cowper School
Standing, left to right, are Miss Amy Orpen, Winnie Raban? Mary Chennells, Dolly Paggett, Elsie Andrews,
Ronnie Sowman, Claude Chennells? Hector Farrell? Unknown, Mr Thomas Wright
Seated are Mrs Thomas Wright, Muriel Sowman, Alice Wright, Hilda Dimmock? Unknown, Roy Chennells
Kneeling are Betty Sowman, Sybil Paget, Philip Sowman, Arthur Sowman, John Sowman
The photograph was provided by Carol Boyd, the third daughter of Ken and Betty Fairey.
(Click the photo for a larger image)

Brief Biography of Thomas Wright
summarised from Joan Jones’s book ‘Images of England – Around Olney’

Thomas Wright (1859-1936) was a literary man who had a number of biographies and books published. In 1882 he opened a private school in Olney and, after his marriage two years later, was helped in the school by his wife. In 1890 he arranged a collection of his Cowper manuscripts and relics and staged a small exhibition, from which time he nursed the idea of a permanent museum in the town. In 1899 he approached Mr W H Collingridge, the owner of Cowper’s House, and persuaded him to present it to the town. This wonderful legacy to William Cowper and John Newton is thriving more than a century later.

Visit the next page – Early Sowman Employees

Copyright © 2007 Olney & District Historical Society

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