Before commencing work at Palé Hall in January 1869, Thomas spent two years at Middleton Hall, Stoney Middleton in Derbyshire. During this time he married Mary Blackhall, daughter of an Edinburgh family. Mary makes a very unexpected entry to the journal coming as a great surprise to the transcriber:
1868 October 27 Tuesday I observed a very beautiful lunar rainbow; it appeared after a shower 8.15pm. It had no colour. My year being coming to a close I resolved to try and get a better situation. I was very comfortable, but it was a very out of the way place and Lord Denman (although very kind) had no money to spend on the garden. I was welcome to Dicksons of Chester so that I told Lord Denman to try and get one to succeed me. I was now married to Mary Blackhall, daughter of John Blackhall of Edinburgh and sister to the manager for Paton and Ritchie booksellers Edinburgh.
Thomas gives no hint of how they met, but their marriage certificate for the 18th December 1868 may provide a clue. Married at Stoney Middleton, Mary’s profession is stated as ‘lady’s maid’ so perhaps it was at Middleton Hall that they met. The certificate gives Mary’s father’s name as Alexander, and the naming of their first child Thomas Alexander may confirm this, as do the other records concerning Alexander.
Thomas signals his satisfaction at the beginning of 1869: January 1st The past year was a happy one for me and I had excellent health, and I took to wife a daughter of ‘Auld Reekie’. It was an unusually hot summer, about the hottest for many years, 90 or over in the shade.