The Swan Circle

A story of Georgian networking

A Family Album and a Mystery Solved

Family History 1 Comment »

Frederick Charles JacksonSome years ago, my uncle loaned to me a family photo album. Amongst the usual transitory moments of life captured on film, was a photograph of a man, woman and three children sitting in a horse cart. I was unaware of who they were.
   Sometime later, I was in the fortunate position to ask my now sadly departed aunt if she knew who the people in the photograph were, immediately she exclaimed, 'That's my uncle Ted and aunt Bella'. Unfortunately she did not know what the occasion was and why they were sitting in a cart.
   My aunt's family, for generations, were costermongers trading from the market at Neate Street in  Walworth, but Ted had actually been a police boxing instructor. The family, not untraditionally I would surmise, named sons 'Ted' for short after they had been officially named and christened Frederick.
   Frederick Charles Jackson was born in 1881 and despite the small insights into his life that I have gathered, I still wish I knew more about him. I regret that I did not make the most of the opportunity with my elderly aunt and that I did not gather some basic facts about these distant figures on the periphery of the family. She's gone and the opportunity has passed.
   It is a lesson to any family historian to take the opportunities when they come, and to diligently record any snippets of information that may be available, even if you find yourself heading into the loo at the family party to surreptitiously jot down a few notes!
   I was fortunate that my father was a great story teller. He told me many things about his life in post-war Germany and how his grandfather was a watch mender who kept a horse and cart! So I was curious about how this cart horse tradition was passed on amongst the London costermongers.
   I was at a Family History Fair when I came upon a book entitled 'The Story of Walworth' by Mary Boast; one of the photos in the book was captioned 'The Cart-Horse Parade of 1905' and upon seeing this I knew I had some answers to my questions. It seemed evident, that the above photograph was taken at The Cart-Horse Parade  around 1920. Interestingly, the history of The Cart-Horse Parade suggests an attempt to promote the humane treatment of working animals in Britain; much of its written history has been plagiarised on the Internet, so the best source is probably the original: London Harness Horse Parade.
   I have no idea what happened to Cart-Horse no. 227 or how uncle Ted lived out the rest of his life, but I suspect that at least two generations of my family were involved in The Cart-Horse Parades. Sadly, the world changed and my dear eccentric grandfather switched from costermonger to shop owner, and set about terrorising the citizens of Ilford in his 'Yankee Buick'

‘For the good of the poor’: the Frome Riots of 1754

18th Century Digressions, Occupations & Trades, Society and Politics No Comments »

Old Bakery

During the mid eighteenth century, the rising cost of 'white' flour led to unrest amongst the populace. In Huntingdonshire, a mill and its flour reserves were set on fire by an angry villager; whilst in Frome four men were killed as a result of a miller trying to protecting his property.
   An account of the riots at Frome, was anonymously sent to the editor of The London Chronicle in 1754:

'THE following Facts relating to the Riot at Froome in the County of Somerset having come to my Knowledge, I send them to you that you may publish them for the Information and Benefit of the Public, if you think fit. Yours. S.S.

'ABOUT six Weeks ago it was rumoured that the Mendip Colliers would come and pull down the Flour Mills in and about Froome; and in a few Days after a considerable Number of them, from the Parish of Kilmerdon, Mells, and other Places near adjoining (about four Miles from Froome) came to the Mill of Joseph Richards, standing about half a Mile out of Froome Town; and a great Number of the poorer Sort of People from Froome flocked to them; and the Colliers having broke into the Mill, and threatening to pull it down, Mr. Richards expostulated with them, and told them, it would be of no Advantage to them to destroy the Mill and ruin him, and rather than they should do so he would give them some Money; and after some Parly about the Sum, it was agreed that Mr, Richards should give them (the Colliers) twenty Pounds, and that they mould protect him and the Mill against the rest of ihe Mob; and Mr. Richards was obliged to borrow the Money and pay the twenty Pounds to one of the Colliers. But while this was in Debate and transacting, many of the Pilferers got into the House and MP, and carried off a considerable Quantity of Wheat and Flour and some of the Household Goods.

'When they had done this they went away to the Mill of one Joseph Naish, about half a Mile, from Richards's, and broke in there; and he being from Home, his Wife compounded with them for four Guineas, not to pull down their Mill; which Money they likewise had: And then went to several Publick Houses in their Way Home, and lay about drunk for several Days and Nights till the Money was spent.

'On the 16th of May last, the same Colliers came again with Sledges, Pickaxes, and Iron Bars, first to Mr. Naish's Mill; and many hiving joined them upon the Road with Bludgeons and Bags to carry away what they could meet with, they pulled down that Mill, beat the Mill Stones to Pieces with iheir Sledges, cut the Water-Wheels, Cog-Wheels, and all the Harness, and Wood-work of the Mill and Dressing Mill to Pieces; pull'd down the Walls, and filled up the Thorough with the Stones, and took what was worth carrying away. A Baker

'When they had done this for Mr. Naish, they went to Mr. Richards's Mill, which, as before observed, is about half a Mile off; and it having been rumoured about for some Days before, that the Colliers intended to come again, Mr. Richards had made Provision of Fire-Arms, in Hopes to deter them, or to oppose them if they persisted, and had got three Soldiers, in the House for the same Purpose, and strongly barricaded the Doors and Windows; and as soon as the Ringleaders came within Call, they within asked them, What they came for? To which they answered, To pull down the Mill for the Good of the Poor. Mr. Richards's Son (the old Man not being at Home) told them (as the Truth was) that his Father had bought no Wheat since they were there before, and had but three Sacks in the Mill, which was a Baker's, brought there to be ground; and if they disbelieved him, he would let two or three of them in, to search the House and the Mill, if that would content them; but if not, and they offered Violence, they were provided for them, and would shoot every one of them that should attempt to injure the Mill, or any Thing belonging to it. To which they answered, that they would not leave one Stone ot the Mill upon another; and if they so much as offered to make Resistance, they would kill every one of them that was within; and pushed on, some of them endeavouring to break open the Doors, some the Windows, some to make a Breach in the Walls, and others to draw the Hatches to let the Water off in Order to get in at the Mill-Thorough, and beset the House and Mill on every Side: Whereupon one of the Persons within shot off a Gun into the Tops of the Trees that stood by, in Hopes that would frighten them; but that only enraged them, saying, They had charged with Powder only, and durst not charge with any Thing else; so that they found it absolutely necessary for their own Safety to do every Thing in their Power in Defence of themselves, and their Property, and prevent being ruined at least, if not murthered: They did therefore shoot off several Guns with Slugs, and thereby killed two upon the Spot, and wounded several others, two of which are since dead of their Wounds, but it is believed no more will die.

'The two being killed, the Coroner was sent for to take an Inquisition upon the Bodies, and on the 27th of May last he came and impanelled and swore a Jury. One of the Depositions, by Way of Sample, being uncommon, and therefore curious, I here present you with.

'"J- D- of the Parish of K- , in the County of Somerset, Coalminer, maketh Oath, that on Yesterday Morning, this Deponent was called by some of his Neighbours to go and pull down Mr. Naish's Mill; on which a Body of twenty People from the said Parish, and this Deponent, came for that Purpose to the said Naish's; and being increased by a great Number of more People, they accordingly destroyed the said Naish's, Mill; and afterwards proceeded to a Mill belonging to Joseph Richards, with an Intent to destroy the same also for the Good of the Poor; and being asked by two Soldiers in the Mill, who had Firelocks and Bayonets fixed on them, What they came for? Some of the Mob answered, To pull down the Mill for the Good of the Poor. Whereupon a Man in Soldier's Cloaths in the Millhouse fired at this Deponent, and shot him in the Back; and then this Deponent going to the Pigstye, heard a Gun fired from the said Richard's House, and saw the Deceased, James Maggs, thereby immediately killed, but by Whom this Deponent knows not"'.

'There are other Depositions of the Colliers to the same Purpose, and nearly in the same Words so not necessary to be inserted; nor do I think it necessary to transcribe the Verdict brought in by the Jury upon this Evidence, because the Coroner's Warrant will sufficiently shew that, and is as follows.

'"To the Constable of Froome, &c. to execute and convey, and to the
Keeper of His Majesty's Gaol or Brideswell of Shepton Mallet, in
the said County, to receive an obey.

'"WHEREAS on an Inquisition this Day taken before me one of His Majesty's Coroners of the said County, upon the View of the Bodies of James Maggs and Richard Moore, the Jury hath presented and found, that eight Persons (naming them, three of them the Sons of Mr. Richards; his Servant, and three Soldiers that were in the House) have lately, in defending themselves, wilfully killed the said James Maggs and Richard Moore: These are therefore, on Sight hereof, to command you to apprehend and convey the said eight Persons [naming them] to his Majesty's Gaol or Bridewell of Shepton Mallet, and deliver them to the Keeper thereof: And you, the said Keeper, are hereby required, in His Majesty's Name, to receive them into your Custody, and them safely there to detain, until &c"'.

'Upon this Warrant, one of Mr. Richards's Sons has been so unfortunate as to be taken and carried to Goal, and there loaded with Irons; the whole Family dispersed, and his Business intirely stopped, and he himself, though not at Home when this happened, cannot appear in the Streets of Froome, but the Mob insults and abuses him.

'Several Gentlemen met in the Evening of the Day this happened, and subscribed a Crown a-piece for the Subsistence ot the Riotters, and four of them have lived publickly in Froome ever since. There is one more of them dead since and the Finding of the Jury upon that is more extraordinary still, being upon the like Evidence as the former, and which Finding is as follows, viz. "An Inquisition taken before me, one of the Coroners for the County of Somerset, upon View of the Body of Richard Singer, lying dead; the Jury present that the same eight Persons, (naming them) not having the Fear of God before their Eyes, but being moved and seduced by the Instigation of the Devil, the said Richard Singer, in the Peace of God, and of our Sovereign Lord the King, then and there being, feloniously, and of their Malice aforethought, with certain Blunderbusses, Guns, Pistols, and other Fire-Arms, did shoot the said Richard Singer, giving him one mortal Wound in the Back, of which he languished till, &c. and then of the said Wound died". And so the Jurors, upon their Oaths say, that the said eight Persons (naming them) feloniously, voluntarily, and of their Malice aforethought, him the said Richard Singer did kill and murther, against the Peace, &c'.


‘The Situation pleasant, the Neighbourhood agreeable…’

18th Century Digressions, The Georgian Home No Comments »

Consider the following advert from The London Chronicle for a house let in 1761, how would 21st century estate agents present the same 'commodious' accommodation?

'To be Lett for a Term of Years, and entered upon immediately, or at Midsummer or Michaelmas next;

A Very neat new-fitted-up House, called KELLSALE LODGE, in the Parish of KELLSALE, near YOXFORD and SAXMUNDHAM, in the County of SUFFOLK, in all Respects useful and commodious, and fit for a Gentleman's Family, with a good Wine-Vault and Cellars; the Garden and Orchard well planted with great Plenty of the best Wall-fruit, Espaliers, and Standards, now in Perfection; Stabling for Fourteen Horses; double Coach-House, Barn and Pidgeon House; with upwards of eighty Acres of fine Meadow, Pasture and Arable Land, or any less Quantity. The Situation pleasant, the Neighbourhood agreeable. Enquire of Mr. Broom at Cockfield Hail in Yoxford'.

Stephen West & the Assassination Plot: Final Part

Family History, The Swan Circle, West Family 1650-1700 No Comments »

In December 1670 two men, Stephen and Charles West, were arrested for the attempted murder of the Duke of Ormonde. The circumstances in which they were apprehended and their subsequent interrogation and trial are vague.

What follows is an attempt to bring together the proceedings as they unfolded, however an accurate time frame does not appear to be possible at this stage.

   The testimony of Thomas Greene, a tanner, provided a crucial part of the brothers' alibi, but it also endowed the story with a backdrop of town life in the 1670s. The two brothers travelled from Stapleton every Saturday for the fair at Bristol, selling their trade, supplying meat and hides. Bristol was booming and was slowly beginning to benefit from the North Atlantic trade. The merchants were growing in number and had their eyes on the profits from the Americas and the Caribbean; the outgoing human ‘goods’ from the port set sail to work on the plantations, but there was a burgeoning demand for incoming necessities that must have attracted the West brothers.
After leaving Bristol on 12 December 1670, Stephen and Charles West headed south to another port and potential market at Southampton. The detailed description of the Duke of Ormonde’s attackers and one of their horses, had been circulated to the King’s town officials via the London Gazette dated 8-12 December 1670.
Upon arrival in Southampton, the two brothers must have aroused suspicion, possibly bearing a resemblance to the published description of the assailants and being in charge of a black nag. They were subsequently arrested, their money and horses were confiscated and they were incarcerated in prison; within two or three days they were removed and sent to the Westminster Gatehouse.
The State Papers contain a nebulous document in the hand of Sir Joseph Williamson, instructing the Justices to study the examinations extracted by the Mayor of Southampton, ‘and wishing them to inquire into such particulars as relate to their [Stephen and Charles West] parts, and to lose no time in the inquiry’.
On 5 January, Stephen and Charles sent a letter entreating Thomas Greene to send a certificate to the Gatehouse, certifying the colours and marks of the horse they had bought from him, ‘for it concerns our lives and therefore for Gods sake do not fayle us this time’.
Further evidence arrived the same day from William Beveridge, the Vicar of Brentford, who having been notified of the brother’s distress, collected twenty-one signatures to confirm Stephen’s marriage in 1663 and his residence at Brentford, saying ‘the cause of his going away now was that he was overthrown in a law suit’.

The following evening, the two men were examined before Lord Arlington and other Lords of the Council:

‘when they pretended their names to be West, two brothers, by profession butchers, and that they rambled so about upon occasion of debts; but being taken in different confessions and found to be persons of an unknown life and conversation, if not the persons suspected, they were committed to the Gatehouse til better evidence be brought to clear them’.

   A certificate from Thomas Greene arrived on Saturday 7 January, confirming that he had seen the two men at Bristol market on 6 December and they did not leave until after the 10 December. On the 7 December they had bought from him ‘a black nag with certain marks’ and had given him a hide as part payment thereof.
Five days passed at the mercy of Lady Broughton, the notorious keeper of the Westminster Gatehouse, until finally Stephen and Charles West went to trial at the Old Bailey where they were acquitted within two days. The warrant issued for their release was sent on 14 January, however they were not released immediately; amongst the undated State Papers is a Petition from the brothers to Lord Arlington for relief, as they ‘… are detained by Lady Broughton, because they cannot pay the double fees which she demands’. 
Earl of Arlington  
The authorities did not catch up with Lady Broughton for another decade. Her draconian regime and ‘hard usage of the prisoners in a most barbarous manner’, emerged after she was indicted for extorting fees and sent to trial. She pleaded not guilty, but was founded culpable on all counts, stripped of her office and fined 100 marks.

The outcome of the Petition is unknown, but upon receiving the letter, the Council also received the following:

‘Petition of Katherine, wife of Rich Halliwell, tobacco cutter, to Lord Arlington for release of herself and maid from the custody of a messenger, to which they were committed, having been apprehended about three weeks ago, on suspicion that her husband is connected with the horrid attempt against the Duke of Ormonde. She hopes that he is innocent, and absents himself only from fear of prison, having endured much in that kind in respect of his religion’.

   Richard Halliwell or Hallowell was named as one of the culprits responsible for the attack on the Duke of Ormonde and described by the London Gazette as ’middle sized…, plump faced, with pock holes, of demure countenance, having a short brown periwig’. Halliwell and the remainder of his comrades were still at large, and some of them were not captured until a famously audacious attempt was made to steal the Crown Jewels in May 1671.

It seemed that both the attack on the Duke of Ormonde and the attempt to steal the Crown Jewels were perpetrated by the same man, the infamous Thomas Blood. The King pardoned Blood and gave him land in Ireland worth £500 a year, many watched on in horror as Blood became a society favourite. In his diary, John Evelyn wrote:

‘Dined at my Lord Treasurer's, where dined Mons. de Grammont and several French noblemen, and one Blood, that impudent, bold fellow, who had not long before attempted to steal the imperial crown itself out of the Tower, pretending curiosity of seeing the regalia there, when, stabbing the keeper, though not mortally, he boldly went away with it through all the guards, taken only by the accident of his horse falling down. How he came to be pardoned, and even received in favour, not only after this, but several other exploits almost as daring both in Ireland and here, I could never come to understand. Some believed he became a spy of several parties, being well with the sectaries and enthusiasts, and did his Majesties service that way, which none alive could do so well as he; but it was certainely as the boldest attempt, so the onely treason of this sort that was ever pardon’d. This man had not onely a daring, but a villainous unmerciful looke, a false countenance, but very well spoken, and dangerously insinuating‘.

   Blood died in 1680 and the Duke of Ormonde in 1685; the respective fates of Halliwell, Stephen West and Charles West are unknown. Stephen West must have returned to his family in Brentford, for his descendants built a small empire on the banks of the Thames, that would eventually propel them into the path of the royal family yet again. 

Part 3

17th Century Horse Race

17th Century Digressions, Entertainment & Culture No Comments »

Seven years after Charles II instituted the Newcastle Town Plate in 1664, the London Gazette announced that a horse race would take place in the Spring of 1671. The chosen venue would be an excellent course on the outskirts of Liverpool.

It is tempting to imagine that such an event, created to occur annually, might be the initial footprint for the greatest of all races, the Grand National; however the origins of the Grand National date from 1829.

Unfortunately, the Gazette makes no further mention of the race or its outcome, but the following announcement is a reminder of a society emerging from a period of restricted access to recreation.

“These are to give notice, that the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Derby, with many other Gentleman of Quality within the two Counties of Lancaster and Chester, together with the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Liverpooles have set forth near the said Town, a five miles course for a Horse Race, which is intended to be run upon the eighteenth day of March next, and so for ever yearly at the same time; and as it is one of the finest grounds for the length in England, so it will be for one of the most considerable Plates in the Nation; and whoever intends to put a Horse in for the same (Horses of all sizes being allowed) must have them kept within the Liberties of Liverpool, three weeks before the day, and if he be no Contributer, must pay five pounds towards the next Plate.”

12 Feb 1671

A century later, the 12th Earl of Derby Edward Smith-Stanley gave his name to the famous Epsom Derby horse race.

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