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Entries in Green (3)

Monday
Oct282013

Bk2 THE SOUTH AFRICAN GREENS

This is a brief addition to the references to the Greens - looking at the South African branch of the family. I have put it here so it does not get lost in the Amendments to Book 1 Chapter.

 

Chapter Twenty-four First Post

In this and a number of other chapters the Green family has been mentioned. A branch of the family, which we have only briefly alluded to, went to South Africa. There have been a number of distinguished military men in the family. John Lot Green was born in Ringstead in 1858 and his son was Luke Lot Green DSO, MC. Two of Luke’s sons were also soldiers: Group Captain Charles Llewellyn Green DSO, DFC, and Lieutenant Jack Howard Green who was killed in 1941 at El Alamein

There were other military Greens but we also mentioned Samuel Wells Green, born in Ringstead in 1829, who also went to South Africa and became a florist and Superintendant of the Dutoitspan Cemetery. His son, also Samuel Wells Green, was born in Beaconsfield in South Africa. Lynn Derriman has kindly sent me a photograph of some boys in military uniform which includes Samuel Wells junior.

It is known that Luke Lot Green was a sergeant in Baden Powell’s “cadets” at the Siege of Mafeking. Baden-Powell had decided that boys between the ages of 12 and 15 years should be organised, given a uniform and become dispatch runners. At first they were mounted on donkeys but when necessity caused the donkeys to be eaten they used bicycles. Later, slightly younger boys took part and the cadets took on other duties.

 

Samuel Green is sitting on the left

With the kind permission of Lynn Derriman

There is some argument about who was the first “scout” with Luke probably being at least the second one in line for this title.

We do not know if Samuel Wells Green was also a Mafeking cadet but the photograph does show boys, very young to be in uniform, so it is possible. Certainly it would seem from Samuel’s age that this photograph would have been taken at about the Boer War period. The cadets were often shown with wide brimmed hats but it is known that they also wore caps similar to the ones in the photograph

Samuel Wells Green junior fought in the First World War and was one of the few soldiers to survive the Battle of Delville Wood in 1916. It was the first major engagement on the Western Front by the South African 1st Infantry Brigade which suffered losses of some 80% of its men.

The Mafeking Cadets was the force that convinced Baden-Powell that boys could be organised in groups along military lines to learn discipline, do adventurous activities and be useful in the community. They were not the first Boy Scouts but they were the inspiration for a worldwide movement.

References

My thanks to Lynn Derriman for much of the family information and for permission to use the photograph.

Green Family Tree. My thanks to Robin Griffiths (via Lynn) for sharing this with me.

The Mafeking Cadets (www.scoutingmilestones.co.uk.

Linden Bradfield Webster’s Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking www.corvalliscommunitypages.com.

 

Thursday
Jan132011

Green, Noah (1799 - 1887); Bradshaw, William (1826 - 1879) and Green, John (1840 - 1913) POSTMASTERS

Green, Noah (1799 - 1887); Bradshaw, William (1826 - 1879) and Green, John (1840 - 1913) POSTMASTERS

‘Posts’ were first set up by Henry VIII. They were a series of places along a few strategic routes to enable the royal messengers carrying letters to change horses and so deliver the king’s message as rapidly as possible. Post roads were maintained along these routes (only four for many years). Charles I allowed the public to use this service and the places, where the horses and later mail coaches were changed, developed into coaching inns and those running them into the first postmasters.

This connection between innkeepers and the postal service continued through the eighteenth century. The service was still out of the reach of most of the population but, gradually, the penny post was introduced into the major towns and the mail coaches began to cover much of the country. In 1840 Rowland Hill’s famous nationwide ‘Penny Post’ was introduced and the 67 million letters posted in 1839 rapidly increased to 242 million. The era of the modern postal service had begun

There were some rural post offices throughout the nineteenth century but it was mainly in the towns and was very hit-and-miss and it was not until 1854 that Ringstead had its first sub-post office. Before this, in the1847 Post Office Directory, it states that, 'Letters received through Thrapston'. The 1854 Kelly’s Directory does not name the postmaster but it seems likely that it was Noah Green who was entered below as a grocer and draper.

The Green family had once been important landed gentry whose principal seats had been at Greens Norton and Lowick but, like many such families they lost much of their standing and land during the religious turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They had owned land in Ringstead and continued as yeoman farmers locally. In the second half of the nineteenth century a branch of the Green family went to Africa, endured the Siege of Mafeking and produced some distinguished military men.

It is not with these Greens that our story is concerned. We will be looking at some of the family who stayed in the village to serve the community. John Green, who was born in 1759, was probably a yeoman farmer. He married Jane Meadows in 1783 and the couple had eight children. A double page spread of the 1841 Ringstead Census is a sea of Greens. Living next door to each other we have the families of five of the sons: Noah, draper; Thomas, vittler; Edward, farmer, Lot, farmer and John, butcher.

Each has a story to tell but we will only tell of two here. Noah, first and then, later in the century, one of the sons of his brother Thomas, called John.

Noah was born in Ringstead on 16th October 1799 and baptised nearly a year later. His parents John and Jane Green were both Baptists and were buried in the Ringstead Baptist Burial Ground. Whether their faith was the reason for the tardy church christenings is not clear for late christenings were not unusual.

Noah married Sarah Wells, across the river in Woodford, on 7th June 1821 and their first child, Ann, was born on 3rd September 1822. She was followed by Eliza Ellen (born about 1825), James (about 1832) and Mary Jane (about 1846). Ann’s baptism is a non-conformist one and the others have so far eluded us so it is possible that they never took place. The long gap between the final two children may be just one of those surprises that nature has in store for us, or because there are missing siblings through infant mortality or, perhaps, the grandparents have taken a grandchild as a daughter. We may never know.

We also have not discovered how Noah made a living at first. We do know that in 1841, at some forty years of age, he is recorded as a draper and in 1847 and 1854 Directories he is also put down as a grocer. One suspects that the village shops were fighting to make a living and, as still happens today and they ‘poached’ each other’s stock in trade in order to make a better living. By careful selection a grocery has a fast turnover and not too much money tied up on stock for long periods. Drapery, on the other hand might have a longer period between wholesale and resale. A village draper’s shop would vary from place to place. In 1847 he is listed as a 'linen draper' but one suspects that his shop might include clothes and hats as well as fabrics. There would probably also be a ‘beer trade’ of haberdashery: ribbons, buttons, cottons, needles and pins.

It seems likely that Noah decided that the new Penny Post offered another opportunity to increase his profits a little. We know from the Kelly’s Directory of 1854 that in Ringstead, ‘Letters through Thrapston arrive at 9 am dispatched at ½ past 3 pm.’ As we have said, it seems likely that this was via Noah’s shop and certainly by 1861, in Melville’s Directory, Noah Green is the postmaster.

As we have said, Penny Post was introduced in 1840 with a simplified 1d per half-ounce fee paid for by the sender to replace the old system which required the recipient to pay according to the number of sheets of paper and the distance travelled. In the new system, which was nationwide, the sender paid one penny (1d) per half ounce, whatever the distance. This led to a huge increase in mail and ordinary people in small villages like Ringstead now found the sending of letters was within their means.

In 1843, Sir Robert Peel had laid down the principle that, ‘All places, the letters for which exceed one hundred per week, should be entitled to a receiving office and a free delivery of letters’. Later, the new criterion for the establishment of a ‘post’ was its chance of financial success and between 1851 and 1857 Post Office surveyors went around every village and hamlet to review the postal arrangements. New postal routes were established and it seems likely that Ringstead was one of the new sub-post offices that was authorised as a result. The surveyors also set area boundaries and the local postmaster was responsible for ensuring that letters were delivered within that area at no extra cost to the sender or recipient. In order to become a postmaster one had to provide references but one would imagine that a man from a well-connected family such as the Greens would have had no problem with this.

The sub-postmasters were appointed by the Treasury if the cost to the Government was less than £175 per year and by the Paymaster-General if more than this figure. It would have nearly always been a local shopkeeper, of good character, who could provide some counter space. They also had to provide a slot in a window or box, initially locally made, for the letters to be handed in. At first the service would only have been for the receiving and distribution of letters and Noah would have been paid a small annual sum based on the number of letters that he dealt with. It could not have been a business by itself and there were grumbles throughout the century that the allowance was enough to cover the expenses and work done by the sub-post masters.

In the 1861 census Noah’s entry seems to be ‘Draper etc’ which perhaps indicates that Noah did not see the post office as a major part of his income. We do not know when he gave up the post office and drapery business but it may have been when he was sixty-five which would have been around 1865. We do know from an 1869 Directory that by that date the Post Office had been taken over by a William Bradshaw.

The 1871 Census has Noah, now aged 71, as a,’retired draper’, living with his wife Sarah. Ten years later he is still retired but, at 79, his wife Sarah, together with their widowed daughter Eliza, is working as a milliner. Eliza had married her cousin Luke and, it is believed, taken her sickly son John Lot Green to South Africa. But, as we have said, that is another story. It seems likely that the draper’s shop had also sold hats and now the two women are once again having to earn a little to help them all survive in the couple’s old age. Some indication that they, like most other people were finding it hard in their old age can be seen from the Ringstead Gift Charity books which shows that the couple received nine shillings, the couple's rate, in December 1879 and 1880. The charity used one quarter of its income for the 'the inhabitants of Ringstead, over the age of 60 who are, in the opinion of the Trustees, deserving and necessitous'.

Noah and Sarah died within months of each other in 1887. They were buried in Denford Churchyard, like a number of other Ringstead people, once the small Ringstead Churchyard (The Baptist Burial Ground finally closed for burials in 1894) had stopped being used. Their epitaph reads:

Sacred to the memory of Sarah the beloved wife of Noah Green of Ringstead. Born Feb 8th 1803 died January 20th 1887. Also of Noah Green Born Oct 16th 1799 died Nov 12th 1887. “Here they bore the cross. There they wear the crown.”

Although they were buried in the churchyard of a parish church, the use of the birth dates and of the biblical text perhaps hints at a non-conformist background.

If we go back to William Bradshaw, he had been baptised on 30th April 1826 in Thrapston, the son of John Bradshaw, blacksmith, and his wife, Sarah. The 1841 census finds them living in Titchmarsh Lane, Thrapston with Williams six siblings. We must guess that William is following his father’s profession for the census only tells us the work of the ‘Head of the Household’. We do know that in a few months in 1850 the family is turned upside down. On 10th July, Sarah Bradshaw dies and within three months John Bradshaw, the widower has married again, to Emma Parsons, a farmer’s daughter from Little Addington. She is some twenty years his junior

In the following year the Census informs us that the newly married couple are still living in Titchmarsh Lane. John is not only a blacksmith but also an occupier of 23 acres of land. Living with them are three of his children, a nephew, a grandson and eight lodgers. By 1861 the couple have five new children. Mysteriously, Emma has only aged three years. Perhaps the age gap between her and her stepchildren was deliberately widened. The only two of John’s original family now living at home are Thomas (32) who is a blacksmith and Susan (22) who is put down as a ‘general servant’. Is this last description just the enumerators or an indication of how the first family were treated by John?

The family appear to be living in the same house as before but now the Census tells us it is the ‘White Hart’ and there are five lodgers. Next door are a number of houses in ‘Bradshaw’s Yard’ so perhaps John has developed some of his land or outbuildings. Soon after the Census John is dead and by 1871 Emma has remarried and has three more children. Her surname is now Hubbard.

What William made of all this we can only guess at. William had set up himself as a blacksmith in Ringstead by 1847 and had married Ann Beeby of Raunds before his mother’s death. By 1851 the couple were living in Ringstead. Did he decide to leave because he saw what was happening around him or , perhaps the more likely explanation is that he needed to move to set up on his own. Certainly, Flora Thompson records that it was usual for the sons of blacksmiths to leave the family forge and become journeymen smiths, learning and earning a living, before returning to the family business. Of course it was not far from Thrapston and it seems that there was a need for a new blacksmith in the village.

There were other blacksmiths recorded in the village during this time including John Tomlin, Charles Hitchcock, and a local journeyman called John Fairey. We write a little more about these in the biography of John Fairey. Some of these did not have their own blacksmith's shops and may, at one time, have worked for William.

William Bradshaw seems to have been an energetic and talented man who realised that he would need to diversify for his business to survive. In 1861, he is listed in the census as, ‘blacksmith, parish clerk and grocer employing one man and one woman'. His wife, Ann is not recorded as living in the house but perhaps she is visiting relatives. A stonemason and his wife from Doncaster are lodging with him. It is about this time that the Ringstead and Denford churches are being repaired so perhaps that is why he is lodging there. It may be that William was taking in the lodgers as part of his parish clerk duties.

This was before the establishment of the secular Parish Councils in 1894 as part of the elected local government of England. At this date the parish clerk was part of a church system going back a thousand years. He was appointed by the rector, and approved by the archdeacon, and acted as clerk to the rector and, sometimes, to the vestry. In some parishes he also assisted in church services and led the congregation’s responses and a few pulpits still remain that have lower tiers where the clerk stood. The clerk might also act as the sexton and even dig the graves and look after the churchyard. One can imagine that a blacksmith would be very useful in these practical capacities. William would have received a small annual fee for his clerical duties and presumably would have also been paid for any graves that he dug.

Growing up in Thrapston, William would have had access to a number of schools and it seeems that he received an education mostly denied to children in Ringstead before the establishment of the school.

As we have seen, the Post Office Directory of 1869 records that William is now also the sub-post master so he has added one more string to his bow. ‘Letters arrive through Thrapston at 7 am and are dispatched at 4.35 pm. There is no delivery on Sundays. The nearest money order office is at Raunds.’

Sunday working was a major issue in the later Victorian period, opposed by religious groups and the emerging trade unions. In the middle of the century about half of the rural posts did not work on Sundays and about half of the remainder had their walks shortened and, in some cases, a substitute was provided on alternate Sundays. In the 1870s The Government made easier for Sunday services to be discontinued. Among Post Office employees, Sunday working was one of a number of grievances which led to unrest throughout the second half of the century with strikes, especially in London, in the last decade.

 

Front of popular music hall singer Arthur Lloyd’s ‘The Postman’ song for voice and piano (c 1866)

Oh her heart it always goes pit pat

When she hears the Postman’s loud rat tat’

Coloured lithograph by H.C. Maguire 

By kind permission of The British Postal Museum and Archive

 

The sub-post offices were subject to inspection twice a year by the head postmaster of the area and also by higher officials in the Post Office hierarchy. Flora Thompson tells of one such ‘Surveyor’ who arrived in a top hat and immaculate morning suit. After inspecting the post office, he then interviewed one of the postmen who was refusing to work on a new Sunday evening collection on religious grounds. It was a brave stance for he was not a young man and ‘knew that his post and his pension he had so nearly earned hung in the balance’. Despite the Surveyor’s report the man was allowed to not work on Sunday evening. It must be remembered that , like today the sub-postmaster was self-employed ,running a business, but the postmen ,who were earlier called ‘letter carriers’, were employed directly by the Post Office. Post women, like Laura in Candleford Green, began delivering letters towards the end of the century

A blacksmith’s shop and a post office may seem an odd combination but it is just this same joint enterprise in Candleford Green that Flora Thompson writes about. Dorcas Lane did not run the blacksmith’s shop personally but she employed the blacksmiths and fed and housed the young journeyman smiths. It seems likely that William too, could not have done both jobs.

The 1871 Census has William as Parish Clerk and Sub-Postmaster but also records his wife Ann as Sub-postmistress. This is an unusual recognition of the increasing role of women in such businesses, although far from unique, and one suspects in this case that Ann did much of the work. It seems that the couple did not have any children so perhaps she had more time than many Victorian wives. Working for the Post Office was not taken lightly as Flora Thompson, perhaps the best source for what working in a rural post office was like in the last decade of the nineteenth century, tells us about her first day at work:

Once, when there had was a brisk demand for penny stamps…she tried timidly to sell one, but she was pushed gently aside, and afterwards it was explained to her that she must not handle a letter or sell a stamp until she had been through some mysterious initiation ceremony which Miss lane called being ‘sworn in’. This had to take place before a Justice of the Peace, and it had been arranged that she should go the next morning to one of the great houses in the locality for that purpose.

Laura duly goes to see ‘Sir Timothy’ and, before signing, she had to read out the oath:

‘I do solemnly promise and declare that I will not open or delay or cause to suffer to be opened or delayed any letter or anything sent by the post’, it began, and went on to promise secrecy in all things.

William and Ann are living in Chapel Road and next door, Frederick Bradshaw, probably William’s nephew, is a ‘master blacksmith’. He is just 22 years old and living with his young wife, Emma and their baby son. It seems that William has passed on the role of blacksmith and it is possible that he was beginning to have health problems. Blacksmiths do not seem often to have lived into old age which, when you consider the atmosphere that most worked in, is not so surprising.

The 1877 Post Office Directory records that William is still the postmaster. Everything is much as before but there are now two deliveries a day, at 7.15 am and 2.20 pm. There is still only one collection time, at 4.55 pm.

William died on January 30th 1879 aged just 52 and was buried in the churchyard although no stone now marks his grave. He left a will with a value of under £100. He is listed in the National Probate Calendar as, ‘shopkeeper and parish clerk’ only. Ann became a housekeeper for a farmer in Brigstock and then lived with her nephew, Harry Beeby, and his wife Ellen in Raunds. Ann died in the spring of 1907 aged 83 years.

The post office was taken over by John Green, a nephew of Noah, the first Ringstead Postmaster. Noah’s brother, Thomas, had been an innkeeper or ‘vittler’ (victualler). He had married Katherine May from Oundle and John was their youngest child, born in about 1840. The other children had been apprenticed to a number of trades including dressmaking, carpentry and butchery. John, himself, had first become a shoemaker and the 1861 Census has him living in his family’s public house, the Axe and Compass but still working at that trade.

In 1865 he married local girl, Mary Weekley, and the 1871 Census has the couple living in Shop Street (as High Street was sometimes called) and still a shoemaker. They also have a six-month-old son, John Albert. All around them are shoemakers and farm labourers apart from widow Matilda Wilson (43), who is ‘mangling’ to try to keep her, and her elderly mother, out of the workhouse.

It seems very likely that John took over the Post Office on the death of William Bradshaw in 1879. Certainly, the 1881 Census has John’s occupation as ‘Postmaster and Shoe Agent’. He and Mary now have three children, John A (10), Charlie (8) and Lizzie (5). A young local bootmaker, Joseph Smith, is also boarding with them. Perhaps he is working for John. Next door are his Uncle Noah and Aunt Sarah. Noah is now 81 and, as we have said his wife and daughter are working as milliners to earn some extra money. The elderly couple would have been still able to offer some advice although the work might have changed a little since they had run the post office.

Kelly’s Directory of 1885 records that letter still arrive from Thrapston but now at 6.55 am and 2.15pm and are dispatched at 5.25 pm. The working day has been stretched further although there is still no delivery on Sundays. It also records that the nearest money order and telegraph office is at Raunds. The telegraph first came to Ringstead in 1845, which was very early in its history, but it was only for the use of the railway. It looks as if this usage had not been extended,

Originally there had been a mishmash of companies, small and large, offering telegraph services. They tended to only offer their services in the profitable places and rates tended to vary widely. Many argued for a comprehensive service across the whole country and under Government control. In 1868 an act of Parliament enable this to happen and telegraphs were added to the Post Office services. Nevertheless Ringstead remained too small to be linked to this system during the nineteenth century.

John is still a shoe agent so, as is the case in many places today, the sub-post office had to piggy back on to some other retail business.

By 1891 John remains ‘Shoemaker and Postmaster’, and his son John Albert  and Charles are shoe riveters and his daughter, Lizzie May, a closer. Again, one suspects that John’s wife, Mary would have run the shop for much of the time but we have no way of telling. The 1894 Kelly’s Directory entry for the Post office is very similar to the 1885 version although the second delivery is now 1.15 pm. It also records that Post orders are issued but not paid. As with the telegraphs, the money order business first started as a private venture in 1791 to help prevent the frequent theft of letters containing money. It became part of the post office business in 1838 and by 1879 twenty-nine million pounds was sent in this way. During the century postal orders began to be issued at Ringstead but were never redeemed locally. For that you had to go to Raunds. One guesses that the Greens did not want to have to hold too much cash for this purpose.

In 1901 the couple are still running the Post Office. John Albert is the only child still at home and working as a shoemaker. Ten years later,John and Mary, both 70 years old continue to serve in the Post office. John Albert, their son, is 40 years old and still single. He is now an Insurance Agent and one wonders if this is part of the scheme introduced by the Post Office in 1864 to offer small life insurance policies (£5 to £100) and annuities aimed at the poorer people in the community. The charges were less than those of commercial companies and the scheme had some success in helping ordinary working class people to make their lives a little more secure.

The Enumerator’s Schedule for the 1911 Census tells us that the Post Office was at No. 3 High Street next to some farm buildings and a few houses before Chapel Yard. There is a photograph which, judging from the clothes, was taken at about this time. It shows John and Mary standing outside the shop where they had lived and worked for well over thirty years. It may be that it was taken when John retired at 70 years old and handed over the business to his son, John Albert.

 

Ringstead Post Office with John and Mary Green in the doorway

Probably taken in about 1911

With the kind permission of Martin Parfett

John died, aged 73, in 1913. The directory of 1914 tells us that John Albert Green is now the sub-postmaster. It also records that there is a wall letter-box near the New Inn which is cleared twice a day. We know that letters would be delivered over the next few years to families which they had desperately hoped that they would never receive.

As anyone who has read, or watched on television, Lark Rise to Candleford will know, the post office became through the latter half of the nineteenth century a trusted and respected institution which was the hubs of many villages. It was one of the few institutions that had an integrated network across the country and revealed itself in the day-to-day lives of villagers like those in Ringstead. It has continued in some villages in this role to this day but the internet and recent Governments’ thinking has put the existence of many under threat.

 

References

Note: I think John Green (vittler, victualler or innkeeper), the brother of Noah, is the one mentioned in the case of the stolen will in Eric Jenkins’s book (see below).

Ringstead Parish Registers

Censuses 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911

Clifton Reynes to Ringstead. Janice Morris (article produced for Thrapston District History Society)

The Amazing Greens of Ringstead. Clive Powys (Northants Life April 1989 [Northampton Library]

Kelly’s Directory of Northamptonshire  1854, 1885, 1894, 1910, 1914

Melville & Co. Directory of Northamptonshire 1861

Post Office Directory of Northants, Hunts & Beds. 1847, 1869, 1877

Ringstead Gift Charity (uncatalogued archive boxes) [Northampton Record Office]

The History of the British Post Office. Joseph Clarence Hemmeon (1912 Reprint ISBN 9781445508160)

Post Offices. Julian Stray (Shire Publications 2010)

English Country Life 1780 – 1830. E. W. Bovill (Country Book Club 1964)

Victorian Northamptonshire; the Early Years. Eric Jenkins (Cordelia 1993)

The Village Factory in Hodge and his Masters Volume II. Richard Jefferies (First published 1880: MacGibbon and Kee Ltd 1966)

Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson (OUP 1954)

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/podcasts/parish-admin-records.htm (Re Parish Clerks)

The British Postal Museum & Archive – Online Catalogue [The Postman] (http://catalogue.postalheritage.org.uk )

 

 

Wednesday
Mar302011

Hill, Thomas (c1775 – 1837) & Mary (c1777 – 1842): James (c1785 – 1856) & Ann (1787 – 1871). INNKEEPERS & BEERSELLERS

Hill, Thomas (c1775 – 1837) & Mary (c1777 – 1842): James (c1785 – 1856) & Ann (1787 – 1871). INNKEEPERS & BEERSELLERS

We usually view the nineteenth century as the great time of the temperance movement. An era when the ‘demon drink’ was confronted and the Coffee Taverns, like the one in Marshalls Road, Raunds, were established to help save the working man. But it was not quite as clear-cut as that. For many reformers it was cheap gin that had been the ruin of mothers and fathers alike. For some, even in the temperance movement, beer was seen as a wholesome drink and part of the English labourers’ tradition.

As William Cobbett tells us, in Cottage Economy, which was written in 1821, up to the1780s almost every labourer who had the space would brew his own beer. Cobbett saw beer as a healthy and nutritious drink and was scathing about the new tea-drinking fashion

I view the tea drinking as a destroyer of health, an enfeebler of the frame, an engenderer of effeminacy and laziness, a debaucher of youth and a maker of misery in old age.

He blamed the heavy taxation on malted barley and hops which had stopped the home brewer from producing, ‘the cheapest drink that a family can use except milk’. Instead, he alleged, the labourer tended to drink less beer, but it was the much more expensive ale sold at a public house where young men might be corrupted and the beer contaminated with chemicals. Of course we must remember that both beer and tea were ways of making water of uncertain purity, safer to drink and much of the home-brewed beer was very weak.

It was to encourage the small, ‘beer or cider only’, establishments that the 1830 Beer house Act was passed. This enabled anyone to brew and sell beer, ale or cider, whether from a public house or in their own homes, upon obtaining a moderately priced licence of just under £2 for beer and ale and £1 for cider. Nor did they have to go to the justices of the peace to obtain one. In the six months after it came into force nearly 25,000 excise licences were taken out. This is the reason that we see so many King William or King William IV public houses today.

We cannot be completely certain what impact the new law had on the local sellers of alcohol. It does seem likely, however, that until at least 1828 that there were only two recognized alehouses in Ringstead and that they were the Axe & Compass and the Swan. The Ale House Keepers Recognizances had to be taaken out every year until 1830 before the local Justices of the Peace. Unfortunately the Wellinborough Quarter Sessions did not record the name of the alehouse. Looking at the names of the people concerned it does seem most likely that the Black Horse came after the 1830 Act and the New Inn, as its name implies, came later still. There are, however, other sellers of beer who crop up in the Censuses and other sources which we cannot link directly to one of these four named houses. Some may have been innkeepers of the main houses who, because of missing details, we are unable to allocate. It may also be that some were beer-shops, which, after 1830, as we have heard, could be in somebody’s front room and had no name and may have been short-lived.

In his eulogy to the English Inn William Howitt makes a clear distinction between the two types.

There is nothing more characteristic in rural life than the village ale-house or inn. It is the centre of information, and the regular, or occasional rendezvous of almost every-body in the neighbourhood. You see all sorts of characters, or you hear of them. The where-about of every-body all around is there perfectly understood. I do not mean the low pot-house – the new beer-shop of the new Beer-bill, with LICENSED TO BE DRUNK ON THE PREMISES blazoned over the door in staring characters  - the Tom-and-Jerry of the midland counties –the Kidley-Wink of the west of England. No, I mean the good old-fashioned country ale-house; the substantial well-to-do old country ale-house- situated by the village green or by the road-side, with a comfortable sweep out of the road itself for carriages or carts to come round to the door, and stand out of all harm’s way.

When we look at the records of the 1795 Ale House Keepers Recognizances  for Ringstead  there are only two names. One is John Green, almost certainly at the Axe & Compass  who gave a surety of £10 and was supported by 'Richard Whiteman of Ringstead' who had to put up a similar amount. If the house was run properly during that year, the money was returned or taken forward into the next year. If the innkeeper was found to have allowed 'disorder or unlawful games', then the money could be forfeited. The other alehouse keeper, probably at the Swan, was John Mason, supported by Charles Chapman of Wellingborough.

In 1800, John Green is again there, with John Colby who is probably at the Swan. This time both are 'seconded' by John Mason of Rushden (presumably the Swan's innkeeper in 1795). Ten years later, it is still John Green at the Axe & Compass and John Mason is back at the Swan. (Of course we could have a father and son here).

John Green died in 1821 and when we look at the 1822 List of Licensed Victuallers for Ringstead it gives four licensees with Thomas Green, son of John, at the Axe & Compass and Thomas Hill at the Swan.   

Thomas Green                  Axe & Compass

                Thomas Hill                         Swan

                Lot Green                            -

                Thomas Lee                        -

The Hills and the Greens form a double helix of bloodlines in Ringstead. We have Lots of Green and Hill and, not far away a Green Hill. In this 1822 List, Lot Green is the brother of Thomas at the Axe & Compass and by 1841 is shown as ‘Independent’. It may be he was brewing for his brother or for his own needs. Thomas Lee was a baker and, again, brewing was probably something of a sideline.

The group of Justices met at the Hind Inn at Wellingborough and the innkeepers seem to have almost all attended the session because occasionally one is recorded as not present. One imagines that it was something of a social occasion with all the innkeepers, from across the district, having an annual get-together. In the early Recognizances  the innkeepers had to agree to, 'suffer no disorder or unlawful games,' but by 1825 this had developed into a lengthy inventory of wrongdoings to be avoided. It authorizes the named persons to sell:

... Bread and other Victuals, Beer, Ale and other Liquors in his, her or their house and shall not fraudulently dilute or adulterate the same and shall not use in uttering or selling thereof any pots or other measures that are not of full size and shall not wilfully or knowingly permit drunkeness or tippling, nor get drunk in his, her or their house or other premises nor knowingly suffer any gaming with cards, draughts, dice, bagatelle, or any other sendentary games in his, her or their house or any outhouses, appurtenances, covernments[?] thereto belonging by Journeymen, Laborers, Servants or Apprentices, nor knowingly introduce, permit or suffer any Bull, Bear or Badger baiting, cock fighting or other such sport or amusement in any part of his, her or their premises, nor shall knowingly or designedly and with a view to harbor and intertain such, permit or suffer men or women of notoriously bad fame or dissolute girls and boys to assemble and meet together  in his, her or their house or any of the premises thereto belonging, nor permit or suffer any drinking or tippling in any part of his, her or their premises, nor shall keep open his, her or their house during the usual hours of Divine Service on Sundays nor shall keep his, her or their house or other premises during late hours of the night or early in the morning for any other purpose than the reception of Travellers ..... 

Much of this is humane and right but many supected that the local J.P.'s were using their powers to create a cosy cartel and restrict the growth of beerhouses for working men. The reference to Journeymen, Laborers, Servnats or Apprentices', may give some credence to this view. Notice also the lack of 'u's which the emigrants to America retained.

As a small village, off the main turnpike roads, Ringstead did not have one of the larger coaching inns like The George at Huntingdon. It seems, of the three main contenders, that the Axe and Compass was the nearest to the traditional alehouse that Howitt praised. Before the advent of the village hall, it was often in inns that inquests took place, house and land auctions were held and Enclosure committee met. In the case of the Ringstead ‘Inclosure’ it was in a Thrapston Inn that the appointed Commissioner met claimants and decisions were made. A poster advertising an ‘Auction of the Freehold Property’ of John Green (occupied by Josiah Groom) is said to be happening at the Cross Keys Inn, Ringstead but I have not found any evidence that such a public house existed and I think it was a mistake and should have been the Axe & Compass. Later in the century, on 2nd December 1882, an inquest for the stillborn child of Rhoda Warren was held at the Black Horse and two years later an inquest into the sudden death of Mary Barker was held at the New Inn.

 

Axe & Compass

The left side of the building is the original. Notice the beer barrel over

what was once the front entrance (But was it the original entrance?)

Taken 29 March 2011 with the kind permission of the owner

As we have seen, Thomas Green, born in about 1795 in Ringstead is the ’victualler’ of the Axe & Compass from before 1822, until at least 1871 where, in the Census, at the age of seventy-six he is still shown as the innkeeper. His wife Katherine died soon after, in 1872, and Thomas followed her some five years later. It is not the lives of Thomas and Katherine Green that we shall be looking at here but those of the Hill family to whom they are linked. We will also not be looking at the Figgis family, first landlords of the New Inn, which, as its name implies, was built later, probably in the 1860s. It is worth briefly showing here just how interrelated the innkeepers were. Samuel Figgis had married Maria, the daughter of James Hill (who kept the Black Horse) in 1852. James himself had married Ann Green who was the sister of Thomas Green (innkeeper of the Axe & Compass).It seems very likely that Thomas Hill of the Swan, born about 1775 and James Hill, born about 1785 were brothers or at least cousins.

 

The New Inn

(February 15th 2011)

Let us start with the Swan Inn in Carlow Lane, on the edge of the village but facing down the High Street and but a stone’s throw from the Axe and Compass. Thomas Hill was born in about 1775. We only know this from the Burial Register which gives his age. I have found no other sign of his birth and it may be that he was christened elsewhere. Perhaps surprisingly, for innkeepers, the Greens and Hills have Baptist connections and this may be the reason for them not appearing in the Parish Baptism Register.

He married Mary Richards on 27th February 1797 in Ringstead Parish Church and it appears from the Register that they had four children: Lot (baptised 11 Sept 1798) – who later married Lydia Green (sister of Thomas Green of the Axe and Compass); Susannah who died in infancy; John; and Elizabeth.

 

The Swan (Now a private house)  

Notice where the pub sign was once fixed. It probably had a steeper roof, perhaps with thatch.

(July 2005) With the kind permission of Andy and Chris Havers

At present, the first we hear of Thomas is in the 1822 Licensed Victuallers’ List of 1822 but he may have been the landlord there for many years before this date. Fifteen years later, on 9th September 1837 Thomas died and was buried in the churchyard. The 1841 Census records Mary Hill on her own at the Swan Inn with just a fifteen-year-old servant girl to help her. She would have walked up and down many stairs for Alan Clipston remembers that, in the middle of the Twentieth century, there were no beer pumps and the landlady had to go down into the cellar every time to draw a pint from the barrel.

Also in 1841 the Northampton Mercury records that William Barnard from Brampton in Huntingdonshire was sent to the House of Correction for two months for, ‘wilful damage and injury to certain windows in the house of Mary Hill, Ringstead. It may be that this was revenge for her not having paid a bill, for William was a carpenter, but the wording is ambiguous.

On 23rd March 1842, Mary too died aged sixty-five and within six months, her son, John, aged just forty years old also died. The Mercury writing of his death, records that John Hill of the Swan Inn, son of Mr Thomas Hill and Mary Hill, ‘died on Sunday last after a short illness’. The newspaper also states that this is the third death in the family in the last twelve months. Thomas had died some five years earlier so who is this third death? The Burial Register gives no obvious answer.

That is the end of the Hill family at the Swan. The inn does not appear again in the Trade Directories until 1861 when the landlord is Ekins Dickens, followed by Amos Mason and Samuel William Bull who is there as the century draws to a close.

The Swan Inn is now a private house in Carlow Road but if you look carefully you can still see the square on the bricks where the pub sign once hung.

 

The Black Horse (now a private house)

The single storey part was a butcher’s shop,

February 2011 (with the kind permission and assistance of Alan Clipston)

The Black Horse is also now a private house, towards the other end of the High Street, nearly opposite the Temperance Hall. It does not appear by name until an 1847 listing in the Post Office Directory. It is likely, however, that James Hill who is in the 1841 Census, aged 55, with his wife Ann, and described as a publican is living at the Black Horse.

James Hill had been born in 1785 and married Ann Green (sister of Thomas) on 1st March 1810 in the Parish Church. It is likely that the Black Horse was always more of a Beer-House than a traditional inn and that James did other things as well as being a landlord, in order to make a living. His will describes him as a horse dealer and we know that, on some occasions at least, that it was Ann who ran the bar by herself.

The first time that the newspapers talk of James, it is of a lucky escape. The Northampton Mercury of 13th May 1843 reports that, at Wellingborough Petty Sessions:

Mr. Hill, a beer shop keeper at Ringstead, was charged with keeping his house open after ten o’clock. It was proved that the church clock at Ringstead was not going on the night in question, and the magistrates gave Hill the benefit of the circumstance, and dismissed this charge.

The church clock would have been visible from the Black Horse window but it also implies that there was no clock in the house. It is likely that this incident was part of the new county police force flexing its muscles and we have also seen that it prosecuted a number of shopkeepers for having incorrect weights. James, perhaps, made overconfident by his clever defence, was caught again. Superintendant Knight once again charged him with ‘serving beer after the stipulated hour’, and this time he was found guilty and fined forty shillings.

One suspects that keeping a public house will, almost inevitably, lead you to minor skirmishes with the law. They may also arise from the publican’s problems with the customers. In an incident a few years later we learn a little about the strength of Mary’s character and also about her physique.

The Northampton Mercury for 5th July 1845 reports on the case of two young men, John Watts aged seventeen and James Allard, aged eighteen, who believed that they had discovered a foolproof scam to make some money while enjoying themselves.

They started off their travels at Islip on 28th April where James Allard went into the shop of a Mrs. Clark and asked for an ounce of tobacco. He paid with a half-crown piece and was given his change. At this point Watts came into the shop and asked Allard why he had used his half-crown, when he (Watts) had the coppers needed to pay for it and he put them on the counter. He asked Mrs Clark to give Allard back his half-crown who then returned her two shilling pieces and the rest of the change. She took up the coppers and all seemed fine.

It has some of the elements of a famous Abbott & Costello sketch of the twentieth century. It was, however, in the various movements of the coins that the trick was played, not in the amount of money which she received for the tobacco, which was correct. All this elaborate playacting was to confuse the shopkeeper so that when Allard gave her back two shilling pieces, she did not notice that one of them was counterfeit. If they had given a single shilling at the beginning she might have realised that it was a dud coin.

They played the same convoluted trick on Abigail Talbot who kept a shop in Denford and, warming to their game went to a public house there and bought a pint of beer each and went through the same routine. They must have been feeling more confident because this would have involved more time for the person behind the bar to discover the counterfeit coin. Continuing up the Nene they arrived in Ringstead and successfully played the same trick on Mrs Major who kept a beer shop there (I am not sure which one). The Mercury tells us, however, that, ‘their career was drawing to a close because they went to a second beer shop kept by a shrewd little old lady named Hill’. This must have been Ann Hill at the Black Horse who would have been about fifty-eight years old at the time. Here we will let the reporter tell the story:

… they had a pint of ale, gave the same half-crown, received the change, and repeated the request that the half-crown might be returned as on the former occasions. But Mrs Hill had taken a keen look at her customers. She had lived long enough in the world to know that all is not gold that glitters, nor all half crowns of silver. It was her custom therefore, to examine all monies offered to her carefully, and the habit of examination had so grown that she also examined those she had paid as well as those she received. In the present instance this habit stood her in good stead: she observed that the two shillings which she gave in change for the half-crown were coined, one in the reign of William IV., and the other in that of his successor, our present sovereign lady. Her parting glance at her coin had not escaped the notice of the prisoners, and it seems to have instantly struck them that a little variation of the patent name would be necessary. When, therefore the request to restore the half-crown was made, it was not deemed safe to substitute for one of the old lady’s well examined respectable shillings one of their own base coin, lest the exchange should be at once detected. Watts, therefore offered the bad shilling in place of the half-pence. Mrs. Hill, however, who evidently had her wits about her examined this shilling also, and when she had done she refused to alter the character of the dealing and give back the half-crown The prisoners grew angry and some altercation followed, which ended in Allard boldly charging Mrs Hill with having given him a bad shilling back. She admitted that the shilling was bad, but insisted that it was the one which the prisoner had given her, and that she had refused his request precisely for that cause. This renewed the altercation in the course of which Mrs |Hill’s husband came home and having learnt of the quarrel expressed a wish that he had possession of the shilling as in that case he would transfer both the shilling and its owners into the presence of a magistrate.

The young men left but were later apprehended by the constable. He found some bad shillings on Watts but when he tried to get the bad shilling from Allard, he:

…thought it more prudent to get rid of such a witness against him, so he swallowed it; at least so the constable presumed for he did not think it prudent to carry his search within the range of the prisoner’s well-armed jaws 

Allard and Watts were found guilty and were sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour.

It seem that Ann was nobody’s fool and perhaps her carefulness had been increased because, not long before, she had seen one of her children nearly robbed of some money. James and Ann had eight children. One of these was named Green Hill in honour of her maiden name and he was baptized on 10th January 1813. One gets the idea that he was, perhaps, a little simple-minded but this may be unfair.

What we know of the incident comes from The Times of 19th July 1844 which has a report on a Crown Court case. It appears that, on the 6th July, Green(e) was sent by his master to Bythorn, to take to the wife of Mr Ashby, her Sunday bonnet. He carried out the errand and Mrs Ashby gave him some beef and ale before he set off home. She handed him some money in a sealed envelope which she told him to give to his master.

She also gave him 2d to buy a pint of beer at the public house at Keyston on the way back. The report continues:

Thus furnished, he set out, and to be sure, he did not forget that part of Mrs. Ashby’s instructions which went to his procuring a pint of beer. At the public-house at Keyston it was his misfortune to meet the prisoner whom he had known in years gone by, and who offered to treat him to more beer than he seemed inclined to bestow upon himself. He, however, remembered the parcel wherewith he was intrusted, and, like a faithful messenger, declined to drink with the prisoner, but, like an imprudent one, told him the reason for declining – namely, that he was the bearer of a sum of money of which he must take especial care. The prisoner thereupon asked him some questions relative to the money, in which pocket he carried it and so forth; and not only got all the verbal information that he sought, but induced the simple man to show him the wondrous parcel; and soon afterwards the prosecutor[Green] took his leave. The sun had gone down o’er the lofty fir-trees of Keyston when the prosecutor left the public-house and, like a prudent and well-furnished traveller, he pursued a noiseless tenor as he continued his course towards Ringstead, fearing lest he might attract the attention of some thief. The prisoner accompanied him through one or two fields and bade him good night at a stile which parted two ‘lonesome’ closes. In a few minutes the prosecutor was aware of the approach of some person from behind, but before he could turn round the prisoner had come upon him and threw a handkerchief over his head, and effectually blinded him. The traveller struggled in vain to get free and presently felt one of the assailant’s hands at the pocket which contained Mrs. Ashby’s letter and money; and with the hope of saving the treasure, he threw himself on the ground, dragging the prisoner down with him. A struggle then ensued, and the prisoner took out his knife and ‘jabbed’ it into the face immediately under one of the eyes of his opponent. Fearing for his life, [Green] now exerted his utmost strength, threw the prisoner from him and wrenched the knife out of his hand receiving, however a severe cut on his own at the same time. The prisoner, finding that he was getting the worst of it, then ran away, leaving his knife and handkerchief in the possession of the true man, who in due time arrived at Ringstead and delivered into the hands of his master the letter it had cost him so much to preserve.

The attacker, who was called John Elliot was apprehended and at the trial was found guilty and sentenced to be transported for 15 years. Green Hill might have been a rather simple, trusting young man but he was also a brave one.

James and Ann Hill continue at the Black Horse and the 1851 Census shows them still there. James is now sixty-six years old and Ann is sixty-four. Living with them are their four unmarried children, Green is thirty-seven, Harriett is thirty, Lydia is twenty-eight and Maria, the youngest is twenty-four. There is also a visitor Elizabeth Sharman who may be the daughter of their married daughter, Elizabeth. Green is put down as a ‘publican’s son, Harriett and Lydia are straw-bonnet makers and Maria is a milliner. Is it possible that Green Hill’s delivery to Mrs Ashby was connected with the hats produced by his sisters?

On 16th May 1856 James Hill died, aged seventy-one years old, and his will reveals that he was a horse-dealer. Perhaps surprisingly, by 1861 all the unmarried daughters have now left home and Green, still unmarried is working as an agricultural labourer. A sixteen-year-old girl is living in as a house servant to help Ann

We know from an 1869 Directory that Ann is still selling beer then but just a few months before the next census, on February 22nd 1871 she died. She was eighty-four years old and we can only surmise from what we have seen of her life that she was a tough, hard-working little woman.

Green, by 1871, has become a drover, lodging with William Bull and his wife, Susannah. William is a shoemaker and grocer and the Bull family are dominating the High Street almost as the Greens and Hills controlled the public houses. Green too dies on 28th December 1878 aged sixty-five years.

The Black Horse is run by the Robinson family. First it is Elijah and his wife Sarah Ann. He is a carrier born in Denford and at some time between 1871 and 1879 he becomes the innkeeper at the Black Horse. 1881 find him still there, publican, farmer and carrier, with his family. By 1891 he is just described as innkeeper and three years later his oldest son, William has taken over the business and Elijah has become a shepherd. He dies a year later.

We have taken the Ringstead public houses through to the end of the century. By the end of the next century, as with the local shop, the changing world was removing many of these village meeting places that help to make a collection of houses into a community.

Below is a list of Innkeepers and Beer Sellers. ( Note: Abbreviations – fuller title when first used). It is not complete and may contain errors. I would welcome any ideas for other sources of information. Also any photographs very welcome.

House & Date

Name

Source

Is Pub Named?

Notes

Swan Inn

 

 

 

 

1822

Thomas Hill

L Victualler’s List (LVL)

No house name given (NHNG)

 

1837

Thomas Hill died

Burial Register

NHNG

 

1841

Mary Hill

N Mercury (NM)

NHNG

‘Broken widows’ court case

1842

Mary Hill died

Burial Register

NHNG

Son John also

1847

John Fox

Directory (D)

YES (Y)

 

1861

Mr Dickens

D

Y

 

1862

Ekins Dickens

D

Y

 

1871

Amos Mason

C

Y

Innkeeper farming 9 acres

1877

Amos Mason

D

Y

 

1881

Jane Mason (widow)

C

Y

In Butchers Row

1885

Samuel William Bull

D

Y

Also Brazier and shopkeeper

1897

James Braybrook

Letter to G Capron

Y

 

1901

James Braybrook

C

NHNG

Coal Merchant & Inn Keeper

1910

William Robinson

D

Y

‘S. M Bull :beer retailer’ but no inn

 

 

 

 

 

Black Horse

 

 

 

 

1841

James Hill

Census(C)

NHNG

 

1845

James Hill

NM

NHNG

‘Counterfeit shilling’ case

1847

James Hill

D

Y

 

1851

James Hill

C

NHNG

 

1854

James Hill

D

Y

 

1856

James Hill died

Burial Register

NHNG

Will Register calls him horse dealer

1861

Ann Hill

D

Y

 

1862

Ann Hill

D

NHNG

 

1869

Ann Hill (Mrs)

D

Y

 

1871

Ann Hill dies

Burial Register

NHNG

 

1877

Elijah Robinson

D

Y

And Carrier

1885

Elijah Robinson

D

Y

And Carrier

1894

William Robinson

D

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

Axe & Compass

 

 

 

 

1822

Thomas Green

LVL

Y

 

1841

Thomas Green

C

NHNG

Licensed ‘Vitlor’

1847

Thomas Green

D

Y

 

1854

Thomas Green

D

Y

 

1861

Thomas Green

D

Y

 

1862

Thomas Green

D

Y

 

1871

Thomas Green

Census

Y

 

1877

Thomas Green died

Burial Register

NHNG

 

1877

Joseph Whittering

D

Y

 

1885

Amos Mason

D

Y

 

1894

Freeman Gaunt

D

Y

 

1901

Harry G Bailey

D

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Inn

 

 

 

 

1869

Samuel Figgis

D

Y

And Carpenter

1877

Henry Figgis

D

Y

 

1885

Henry Figgis

D

Y

 

1894

Arthur Archer

D

Y

 

1910

Arthur Archer

D

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Inn Name

 

 

 

 

1822

Lot Green

LVL

 

 

1822

Thomas Lee

LVL

 

 

1841

Elizabeth Forscutt

C

 

Beerseller. Nephew Henry shoemaker

1843

William Dolby

NM

 

Selling beer after hours

1845

Mrs. Major

NM

 

Counterfeit shilling case

1847

Henry Forscutt

D

 

Beer Retailer

1851

Thomas Austin

C

 

Tailor/Publican

1894

Alfred Sawford

D

 

Beer retailer & Carrier

1910

S. M. Bull

D

 

Beer Retailer but no inn

 

References

Ringstead BMD (Northampton Record Office and www.Rushdenheritage )

Censuses 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 (www.Ancestry.co.uk )

Ale House Keepers' Recognizances. Wellingborough Quarter Sessions (NRO)

Northamptonshire Licensed Victuallers 1822 (Eureka Partnership 2009)

Beerhouse Act 1830 http://wikipedia.org

Directories: Post Office Directory 1847, 1854, 1869, 1877 Kelly’s Directory 1854, 1885, 1894, 1910: Slater’s Directory 1862

Northampton Mercury 1841:1842: 13th May 1843: 5th July 1845:

Letter from and to James Braybrook from G Capron 1897 (Southwick Hall Archive)

The Times July 18th 1844 (Cambridgeshire Libraries online)

Wellingborough News 2nd December 1882; 15th March 1884 (www.rushdenheritage )

Cottage Economy. William Cobbett: first published 1822 (Peter Davies 1926 Reprint 1966 Cedric Chivers)

The Rural Life of England. William Howitt (Longman, Orme, Brown Green & Longmans 1838)

English Country Life 1780 – 1830. E. W Bovill (Country Book Club 1964)