Along the Way


All sorts of little snippets we found whilst researching our family tree, some sad, some funny, some tragic but all true.


Nothing like telling it how it is

In the Stebbing Church burial records there is an entry as follows:
November 8th 1722     Buried a Bastard Child of Lucy Choppons (a common whore) begotten on her body by William Marriot Junr of Great Canfield in Essex.


Doom and Disaster

After being convicted of the murder of Mr Steele at the Old Bailey John Holloway and Owen Haggerty were sentenced to death. On 23rd February 1807 at their execution 28 spectators were trodden to death.


Last seen in public

Michael Barrett Fenian was found guilty of the Clerkenwell explosion at the Old Bailey and was the last person to be publicly executed in England on 26th May 1868. The next execution was carried out in private on 13th August 1868 after Thomas Wells was found guilty of murdering Mr Walsh the stationmaster at Dover.


Mistakes are made

In the burial records of All Saints Church, Springfield, Essex there is the following entry: NB Samuel Archer Aged 140 years August 31st 1684 was buried in this parish.


There is a moral to this story

This is an exact copy from the Chelmsford Chronicle dated January 18 1799 and written in All Saints Church, Springfield Burial records.
A private, Charles Montague, in the Surry Regiment of militia, was drowned in our navigable canal, so long ago as Saturday se'nnight, but the body was not found till the Saturday following. It appears that the deceased was skaiting and reading at the same time, when, just below Mr Marriage's, the continual stream coming from the mill into the naviagable cut, caused the ice to be so thin as not to bear his weight, but broke in with him. A person in the mill missed the deceased on a sudden but supposing him to have quitted the ice, thought no more of it, until enquiry being made, as to lead to the discovery of the body. The deceased in his last moments seems to have made great effort to save his life, the ice being much broken around the spot, but the place was again frozen over. He was buried January 14 1799 per coroner's warrant in Springfield Church Yard with military honours.


Absent Friends

This is an exact copy of a letter from Thomas Ferguson, Secretary to the Committee relative to the British Prisoners in France, Committee Room, Lloyds Coffee House, London dated 9th April 1811. Received by Henry Gretton, Rector of the parish of Springfield, Essex on 16th April 1811.
Reverend Sir, I am directed by the Committee to acknowledge the receipt of £17 13s 6d being the amount of a Collection made at the parish of Springfield, Essex towards the relief of the British Prisoners in France. The Committee further direct me to return their thanks to you and the other Contributors for the humane attention paid to the sufferings of our unfortunate countrymen now confined in France. I have the honour to be Reverend Sir Your Obedient Servant, Thomas Ferguson Secretary


Till Death Us Do Part - For Now ???????

Fleet marriages and the State Lottery brought ruin to many people. Before the Marriage Act of 1758, though against the canons, marriage was valid without banns or licence, at any hour, in any building, and without a clergyman.

In 1686 and 1712 fines were imposed on such marriages, and they became a civil offence, but fines, like ecclesiastical penalties, were useless against those who had neither money, liberty nor credit to lose. Prisons and their precincts, being sheltering places for illicit traffic of all kinds, these marriages flourished especially in the rules of the Fleet prison; they were also performed in the Rules of the King's Bench, and in the Mint in Southwark, and by certain clergymen who chose to consider themselves outside episcopal authority.

A trade sprang up in the tenements and alehouses in the Rules of the Fleet, and pliers or touts competed for custom. Pennant describes Fleet Street as it was before 1753: "in walking along the street in my youth ... I have often been tempted by the question,`Sir, will you be pleased to walk in and be married ?' Along this most lawless space was hung up the frequent sign of a male and female hand conjoined with `Marriages performed within' written beneath. A dirty fellow invited you in. The parson was seen walking before his shop, a squalid profligate fellow clad in a tattered plaid night-gown, with a fiery face and ready to couple you for a dram of gin or a roll of tobacco".

There were endless ramifications in the evil consequences of these marriages. Entries in the Fleet registers could always, for a consideration, be forged, antedated, or expunged. The practice was a direct incitement to bigamy, fictitious marriage for purposes of seduction, or marriage as the result of a drunken frolic.


It's Not Fair in Castle Hedingham, England

The once useful Cow Fair became a thing of the past and so noted for being a great rendez-vous of vice, drunkenness and immorality that the lord of the manor abolished both it and St James' Fair altogether. It is indeed a melancholy reflection that a sad account will one day have to be rendered for deeds done on that little spot of ground. I might here allude to the drinking habits of those older times, in connection with this fair. Several cottagers, on payment of a small licence, were allowed to sell beer during fair time on their premises. This was notified by an oaken bough being placed in the ground at the garden gate or front door, and from this such cottages were called "bough-houses". Vice and profligacy were rampant there under the shelter of the "bough", and the scenes outside were sufficient indication of the orgies within. But King Beer was a great potentate in those days ruling over the sturdy labourer in every circumstance from the cradle to the grave. The hilly road side a little past the green is still called Cow Fair Hill.


Pulling the Wool over their Eyes

Acts of 1666 and 1678 encouraged the wool trade by laying down that bodies were not to be buried in anything but wool and the relatives had to make an affidavit before a justice or failing him a clergyman within eight days of the funeral stating that the law had been complied with. At the end of the service the clergyman would ask "Who makes the affidavit?" The making of a satisfactory reply was indicated in the register by the words affidavit or an abbreviation. The Act was repealed in 1814 but was by then virtually a dead letter.


The Quick and The Dead

The words below were actually recorded in the Burial Register of Bobbingworth, Essex in 1837.
George Speed, 55, (died suddenly)


The Weaker Sex 1897 Style

Reputation of Bryant and May Match girls 10/6/1897. Bryant and May have a rough set of girls. There are 2000 of them when they are busy. Rough and ready but not bad morally. They fight with their fists to settle their differences, not in the factory for that is forbidden, but in the streets when they leave work in the evening. A ring is formed they fight like men and are not interfered with by the police.


Where have I heard this before?

Millwall Football Club 28/5/1897 Occasional license is no longer granted to supply beer on the Athletic ground during football matches. This has diminished drinking on match days as there are many more people who would drink than can be supplied on the premises.


So Tragic

Epping burial records show October 1st 1856 - Sarah Fardell, aged 74, long-time schoolmistress in Epping died in London Hospital from injuries from a crushed foot from the drawbridge at London Docks after catching her foot.


Sex Discrimination 1897 Style

Penbury Arms, Amhurst Road, Hackney 10/11/1897. At the Penbury Arms there are 7 bars two of which are reserved for men only. One is for jugs and bottles. Women are never allowed in the mens compartments not even wives of customers.