Bronte was born at Emdale, Drumballyroney, County Down, Ireland,
the eldest of 10 children. Initially he was apprenticed to a blacksmith
but his aptitude towards education which was mostly self taught,
allowed him to pursue a university education. This was a significant
achievement considering his father Hugh Brunty was an agricultural
labourer and of modest financial means.
In October 1802 Patrick Bronte aged 25 registered as a student
at St John's College Cambridge. He corrected the spelling of his
name from Brunty to Bronte. It is not known for certain why he
did this, he may have wished to hide his humble origins. Why Bronte?
He would have been familiar with classical Greek and may have
chosen the name after the Greek mythological god "Bronte"
which translates as "thunder". Another theory is that
in 1799 King Ferdinand of Naples bestowed the honour of Duke of
Bronte in Sicily to Lord Nelson for fighting off the French Navy.
Patrick may have taken the name as respect of Lord Nelson.
His time at college although financially difficult
was successful, and as a scholar he was always in the top group
academically. He was awarded Bachelor of Arts degree in April
He was ordained into the Church of England in 1807 and took up
a number of curacies. On 29th December 1812 Patrick Bronte married
Maria Branwell at Guiseley Church. In 1814 Maria was born and
1815 Elizabeth was born. In 1815 he was appointed curate at Thornton
in Bradford. His three Daughters; Charlotte (1816), Emily (1818),
Anne (1820) and his only son Branwell (1817) were all born there.
In 1820 Patrick was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth. In
January 1821 his wife Maria was diagnosed with cancer, and after
a painful illness she died at Haworth on 15th September 1821.
Maria's sister Elizabeth moved from Penzance to help Patrick out.
Patrick found the strain of bringing up a family difficult and
decided to send Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily to the recently
opened Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge. The harsh regime,
cold and poor food took their toll on the children who were eventually
taken away, however Maria and Elizabeth died soon after returning
In 1847 Patrick campaigned strongly for improved education in
the district and in 1849 for improvements in the water supply.
A change in education and bad sanitation for local people was
seen in his lifetime.
On 30 October 1859 Patrick Bronte preached his last sermon from
the pulpit of Haworth Church. On the 7th June 1861 he died aged
84. On the 12th June he was laid to rest in the family vault at
Haworth church. He had lived and preached in the parish of Haworth
for 41 years, outliving all his children.