Manuel López Jonte was born in Spain, although we don't yet know where. He had certainly arrived in England by 1868, when he married Sarah Chaffin (1846-1922) in Camberwell, South London. Manuel and Sarah moved to Liverpool soon after their marriage, and all of their children were born in the city: Josefa Ema (1868-1896), Elvira Beatrice (1870-1885), Sarita Fidelia (1871-1872), Juan Francesco (1873- aft.1902), Adela Leonor (1876- aft. 1911), Alberto Vicente (1878-1879), and Estrella Ines (1884- 1963).
The family moved frequently around south Liverpool, climbing the property ladder over the years to larger and more prestigious properties. In 1871, we find them in Dombey St (top left), which was also home to a close-knit middle-class Basque community. During the following two decades, they moved regularly: in 1872, they were living in Foxhill St, and in 1876, they were in Jolliffe St. By 1881 they were in elegant Upper Canning St, where Manuel gave Spanish classes from home. Three years later, in 1884, they are recorded at 5 Cairns Terrace, later moving one road over to Beaconsfield House (bottom left) on Beaconsfield Rd, where they are recorded in both 1891 and 1901. Their last Liverpool residence was 86 Hartington Rd, where Manuel died in 1918 and Sarah in 1922. Manuel's death announcement in the Liverpool Echo (12 June 1918) reads as follows:
Only four of Manuel and Sarah's eight children lived to adulthood. Pepita became a schoolteacher and died in 1896 at the early age of 28, just weeks after her marriage to the naturalist Thomas Gerrard. Juan Francesco started out as a translator like his father, but later became a merchant and moved to Argentina, probably in the early 1890s. Adela married Diego Medina y Cardoso in Liverpool in 1902, and they too settled in Argentina. The youngest child, Estrella, lived with her parents until her marriage to Andrew Lowry in 1915; as the only surviving child still living in the UK, Estella was executrix of her mother's will in 1922. For more than thirty years, Estrella lived at a property in Mossley Hill named 'Casita' ('Little House' in Spanish).
Manuel's story illustrates the complexity of the networks underpinning Hispanic Liverpool. He himself was a migrant from Spain, who as a professor, translator and author, facilitated intercultural exchange in his adopted city while maintaining close contacts with his homeland. His children and grandchildren included Anglo-Spanish Liverpudlians, British emigrants, and Argentinean citizens. Eventually, his family's journey would come almost full circle when eighty years after Manuel had made the cross-channel journey to Liverpool from Spain, his grand-daughter and namesake, Juan Francesco's daughter Manuela (1904-1996), would also take ship for Liverpool, but this time from Buenos Aires, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
A Pioneer of Spanish Teaching in Liverpool
As soon as he arrived in Liverpool in 1868, Manuel began to build up his business. He described himself as a 'Professor of Languages,' which in the 19th century meant a language teacher, working either independently, or at a college or school. Between 1868 and the mid-1870s, Manuel worked out of a classroom at 62 South Castle St, in Liverpool's waterfront business district. As well as teaching, Manuel also worked as a translator from Spanish, Portuguese and French. He was a public translator for the Provisional Government that ruled Spain for three years after the 1868 revolution and overthrow of Queen Isabel II, which may indicate he had Republican sympathies.
We can trace Manuel's career in Liverpool from his regular advertisements in the Liverpool local press, such as this early one from the Liverpool Daily Post in August 1868:
The following month, another advertisement announced that for one guinea, pupils could sign up for a Beginners' Evening Class, where they would 'find an easy system, strictly in accordance with rules in the Grammar of La Academia Espanola,' but, more importantly, would 'obtain the pure Castilian accent and the personal attention of DON MANUEL LOPEZ JONTE' (Liverpool Daily Post, September 1868). He also offered the 'Largest stock of Spanish Books in Liverpool' (Liverpool Daily Post, July 1869).
Authenticity was one of Manuel's chief selling points. During the 1870s and 1880s, his adverts promote him as 'the only Spanish Professor Teaching his Native Language in Liverpool.' By 1878, he was offering Italian along with Spanish and Portuguese and running a Translation Office alongside his classes, now at 40 Castle Street. He also gave classes at a location on Mount Pleasant, and from his home at 144 Canning St. By 1885, the offices of 'Professors Lopez Jonte and Co' were at 3 Cook St, and the company had added French and German to their offerings. The advertisements ceased to appear in around 1892.
Manuel was one of the co-authors of A Phraseological Dictionary of Commercial Correspondence in the English, German, French, & Spanish Languages, published in Liverpool by C Scholl in 1891 (reprinted 1902). It has an entry on Google Books, but the original text hasn't yet been digitized.