In 1802, Patrick entered St John's College, Cambridge. This was no small achievement considering the modest financial means of his family. It was also during this time that he changed the spelling of his name from Brunty to Bronte. No one knows for certain why he did this. Maybe he wanted to hide his humble origins? But what does Bronte mean? It is the name of a Greek god and means thunder, but he could also have chosen the name in honour of Lord Nelson, on which was bestowed the honour of Duke of Bronte by King Ferdinand of Naples. Patrick graduated from college in 1806.Share
After his graduation he went to Ireland to see his family. That was the last time he ever set foot on Ireland. The following year he was ordained into the Church of England and then held several curacies. In 1812, Patrick met Maria Branwell. The couple married in December of that same year and had six children: Maria (1814), Elizabeth (1815), Charlotte (1816), Branwell (1817), Emily (1818) and Anne (1820). The year his younger daughter was born, he was appointed perpetual curate of Haworth. His wife Maria died here of cancer the following year.
Maria's sister Elizabeth moved in with the Brontes to assist her during her illness and decided to stay even after her death to help Patrick take care of his many children. Struggling to bring up his large family and failing to remarry to give a mother to his children, in 1823 he decided to send his four eldest daughters - Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily - to the Cowan Bridge school, a school for clergymen's daughters. During their second year there, Maria and Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died. Charlotte blamed the harsh regimen and the poor sanitary condition of the school for their death. After that, he personally took charge of his children's education. (Read entire post.)