Local Forsyte Saga

Anna Julia Pearson was born 1838 to John Hale Pearson and Julia nee Brown, a weaving family, living in Toprow. She appears in the 1841 and 1851 census for Wreningham; by 1861, she was in Norwich, living in a house belonging to Emanuel Cooper, a prominent Eye Surgeon.

In 1862, Anna Pearson’s first child, Charles Arthur Pearson was born; in 1864 there was a second: Ada Nemesis Pearson. Although Emanuel Cooper is not credited with being the father, he was to lavish Anna, Charles and Ada with a lifestyle far removed from that of a poor weaving family.

When Emanuel died in 1878 he left Anna and the two children comfortably off. Only he, Anna, Charles, Ada Nemesis and his housekeeper, Maria Bayes, were permitted to be buried in his private Mausoleum in Rosary Cemetery, Norwich. During life and after Emanuel’s death all three used the surname: Pearson Cooper.

Charles died young, in 1904, in Kensington London leaving an estate worth £18,500.

Anna and her daughter, Ada, travelled extensively throughout Europe so do not appear in some Census returns.

Anna Julia died in Essex in 1913 leaving £5,600.

Daughter, Ada Nemesis, was to marry Major Arthur Galsworthy in 1891; it proved to be a loveless marriage. Throughout the time they were married she had an affair with his cousin: the author John Galsworthy. John Galsworthy and Ada Nemesis P Cooper were eventually married in London, in 1905.

One of John Galsworthy’s books The Forsyte Saga is said to be loosely based on Ada and her failed marriage to Arthur. The book received significant national attention when it was serialised with a star cast on BBC Television in the 1960s.

John Galsworthy died in 1933 leaving Ada the majority of his estate and the rights to all his Books and Plays. Ada died in Devon in 1956 leaving £56,000

Today, John Hale & Julia Pearson’s headstone leans against a tree in Wreningham Churchyard.

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