My mantra: 200 year old advice from a Norfolk yeoman

I have a ‘motto’ stuck to the divider around my desk.

When I was about ten I diligently learnt it off by heart and have tried to live by the sentiments ever since. The motto came from a family letter written by my Great Great Great Grandfather's brother and I first became aware of it when the letter was transcribed by my Dad in the mid 90s. On the more difficult days since (bad hair, bad boss, bad bank - to mention the more minor trials!) I have tried to focus on his advice to his son. I must say that it has been particularly useful, repeated as a mantra, to psych myself up before job interviews and difficult meetings! 

Reading it, I never fail to marvel at how relevant the advice still is today. Rather than write out a whole lot of thoughts, this week I am simply going to copy out the letter my ‘motto’ is extracted from, containing wonderful advice as well as an insight into the life of a country yeoman in Norfolk in the early 1800s. It is but one of several letters I am lucky enough to have access to and part of a series of letters between Augustine, his father and brothers, during a tour for the former's health. 

I hope you find it as enjoyable (and useful!) as I have over the years…

Brockdish 28th October 1820 

My dear Augustine 

I thank you for your letter, which relieved my mind very much, as I was fearful you might have sailed to encounter the late horrendous Gales. I now hope you will have much more favourable weather, and that you will encounter no material difficulties in your destined voyage to Madeira – where I trust you will arrive safe and meet with a very satisfactory reception – your introductions appear to be very flattering and respectable, and likely I should hope to be very useful – but be prepared for some disappointments, for we must not expect to pass this life without some difficulties – suffer them not to depress your spirits, but bear up against anything of the kind manfully and with a becoming spirit. Tell G I will accommodate him as soon as in my power and that I regard his request as reasonable, Henry is also in my thoughts, but it cannot be convenient to assist him until my Bullocks are sold. Corn fetches but little money and the calls upon me here are frequent and not small – so that I find considerable difficulty. I have no reason to doubt with the blessing of God, being in town at the time mentioned in my former letter, when I will assist your brother as far as I may be able. Pray take care you run no hazard of your health etc. during your voyage, for which I hope you are provided with some fruit and refreshments – tell Henry I am much gratified by Mr Rogerson’s remembrance of such insignificant being as myself, and that when he writes to Mr R. he will not forget to make my respectful compliments to him, and inform him I cannot forget his kind attentions to you and your Brother, of which I had such strong proof during your illness. Accept my best regards for you and your Brothers, with kind remembrances to the Hunter Street Family – and believe me to be most sincerely your affectionate Father –           


PS The apples will be forwarded as soon as I can possibly send – perhaps it may be a fortnight. I wish you a prosperous voyage and God bless you and your undertakings.

Your uncle has hired a farm for your cousin Daniel of upward three hundred acres, in the parish of Bracon Ash and has taken possession I believe of about 130 acres, the remainder will be taken at Michelmas next, the whole under Mr Benney


I don't believe for a second that Thomas would have written the letter thinking that 200 years later it would be read and digested by his brother's descendants. Letters and diaries are a truly magnificent resource because they can add so much colour to your family trees. Through letters you can try to get to know people who are long gone; share a joke, feel an emotion and get a greater understanding of the social graces and economies of times past.

Today, another line of my family still raises bullocks and grows corn – this year they are facing issues with the lack of rain, an age old problem for farmers. Thomas’ home is still lived in (though not by any relation), and the village is still a small one on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. We live in a fast changing world, but not everything is so very different – sons are still funded by their fathers, and many of those dads are still giving sensible advice (although perhaps not always so eloquently!)

With any luck, if I eventually have children of my own, Thomas' thoughts can be passed down for many generations to come.....I can't see his advice becoming irrelevant any time soon.


A drink on them: Pubs and Breweries of Norwich past

It was with sadness that I noted another pub - The Marquee in Norwich - closing its doors a week or so ago. Once the Shirehall and then the One & Only, the Marquee provided a haunt for me throughout university and since.

Unfortunately it’s not such an unusual occurrence these days to hear about a pub closure. However, although greater numbers seem to have been suffering in recent years, hundreds of others have disappeared since the Victorian era, not least due to the Licensing Act of 1904 and damage during WWII.

Norwich was once known as a city with a pub for every day and a church for every Sunday of the year - indeed, at one time there were almost enough for two pubs for every day of the year (and even then not including beer houses!). This is no longer the case today, but it has been great to uncover my own family connections to pubs not just here in the city but across the land.

It wasn’t at all a shock to find ‘pub people’ in the family. My grandmother lived in a pub in Aldeburgh while growing up, starring as the town’s carnival queen one year - driven to the Moot Hall on that occasion by none other than Benjamin Britten himself.

My ancestors’ occupations span brewing, ‘landlording’ and barrel making (coopering) and I know several others enjoyed a drink or two even if they weren’t employed in the industry – I recently heard a distant cousin described as “a drunk who left to make his fortune in Australia”  - so I imagine some may have liked three or four! Let’s hope he wasn’t slurring his words on census night.

Starting with brewing I introduce you to Thomas Massey, my 5x Great Grandfather, who was born in Norwich in 1772. Thomas went on to own the ‘St Stephen’s Gate’ brewery which operated from the Champion on Chapelfield Road (still open today) and which was tied in 1845 to both the Champion itself and the London Steam Packet on St Catherine’s Plain. According to www.norfolkpubs.co.uk, The Champion was named after boxer Daniel Mendosa who visited Norwich in 1790. I would recommend this website for anybody with Norfolk pub connections – they have been incredibly helpful to me and ever so friendly with queries when I’ve been in touch.

Incidentally, in Thomas’ time, St Stephen’s Gate was still in place, being taken down in 1793 (for more see http://www.norwich.gov.uk/webapps/citywall/25/report.asp). The gates once stood close to the engraving that will be familiar to commuters heading into the city from the A11. In my own humble opinion, the roundabout and multi storey is hardly such an impressive entrance to the city proper as the gates which once stood there must have been.

Over the decades, smaller breweries were consolidated and larger breweries, like the famous Steward and Patteson, went on to dominate by the end of the 1800s. The Pockthorpe area employed scores of coopers, many of whom lived in the local yards and housing such as that at Weeds Square which once stood at the bottom of Gas Hill near the old gas works.

Licensees litter my tree. Perhaps one of the most intriguing was John Miller - one of three successive John Millers through my maternal Great Grandmother. Most likely born in Carleton, near Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire, John settled in Norwich on retirement from the 9th Regiment of Foot. In 1851, he can be found at the Yarn Factory Tavern at 152 Cowgate. Again thanks to Norfolk Pubs it seems the pub was compulsorily purchased for road widening and served it’s last pint in 1950, almost 100 years after John left, probably around 1856.

Just like the Marquee (at the time The Shirehall) the pub was damaged in air raids in 1942. As many as 100 city pubs were lost in the raids over the city. The Yarn Factory name is unsurprisingly connected to the textile industry which was once one of the dominant trades of the city – large yarn manufacturies are visible on maps of Cowgate as late as the 1880s.

While John had retired as a Chelsea Pensioner by 1861, his wife Hannah was still living in a public house. Whether she lived away from her husband for a long time or just on the night of the census is as yet unknown to me. The Old Globe on Botolph Street close by was nonetheless her boarding house on the night of the census. Supposedly, the Inn was haunted by the murdered wife of a weaver who was hung nearby in 1701. I wonder whether Hannah had the pleasure of meeting the mysterious Mrs Watts?

The pub, now somewhere under the architectural wonder that is Anglia Square, was a victim of the Licensing Act passed in 1904. The 1908 sessions determined that there were 17 other licensed houses within just 200 yards. Although it was ‘fairly well conducted’ it was ‘small and inconvenient and not wanted in the neighbourhood’ and referred to compensation, closing for good on 1st September 1908. (Again I must thank www.norfolkpubs.co.uk).

It was not unusal for so many pubs to exist in a small area. Some quote that King Street had over 50 (see heritagecity link below) – hardly the same as today where even the Ferry Boat has now changed use (although a very good use it is too!). The market was also a hub of activity for the consumption of alcohol having been a bustling meeting place for centuries. The claim of oldest Norwich pub seems to go the quirky Adam and Eve, first recorded as an alehouse in 1249 (http://www.adamandevenorwich.co.uk/history.htm) when it was favoured by labourers building the cathedral. 

However, I digress…

The Old Globe was one of 9801 pubs closed by the Act between 1905 and 1914. I would recommend visiting http://www.heritagecity.org/research-centre/at-leisure-in-norwich/norwich-pubs.htm for more information on the rise and fall of city pubs. You may also be interested to know that Norwich Heritage Projects, previously responsible for a fantastic site on the Norwich Yards, are currently working on a Norwich Pubs and Breweries project for 2011 which promises to be a fantastic resource. The website, under construction and looking for input, is situated here: http://www.norwich-pubs-breweries.co.uk/

While my publican ancestors tend to be focussed in Norwich, I also have connections across East Anglia and further afield – from the old Crown in Kenton, Suffolk to another Crown in Old Dalby, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The one thing most of the pubs in my tree have in common however is that they are no longer serving local ale, something that this area is very good at producing!

Landlords often leave a very good paper trail and hence the inclusion of a licensee in your family tree can be quite a bonus. I would love to hear from anyone that can tell more about any of the pubs and taverns mentioned in this blog, and especially anyone that can tell me about my Great Grandfather, Louis (known as John) Outerbridge during his time at The Mill in Aldeburgh – there are, I’m sure, many people that remember him.    

With that, I will raise a glass to ancestors past.



What's in my name? In the footsteps of my namesakes.

It’s very odd to see your name on a gravestone.

The first time this happened to me I was still at Primary School, exploring the old stomping grounds of my family with my parents. It was a weird sensation.

More recently I have been back to the same churches, taken photographs and done a lot of research, but no matter how many times I type ‘myself’ into a genealogy site or search engine, the bizarre twinge is still there.

There are certainly plenty of Elizabeths in the world - I can perhaps thank the Bible and a couple of famous Queens of England for that. Even in a rural primary school of 24, I was one of two. For the record, as the youngest, I was Elizabeth II not Elizabeth I. The name’s popularity may have dipped since the 80s but it’s still riding quite high in the ratings.

Despite its frequency, I think it’s a good name. True, it’s occasionally misspelt -  some people use an ‘s’ not a ‘z’ - and a lot of people assume they can call you something shorter regardless of having never met you before...but it has its benefits. Chiefly amongst these are the fact that it has at least 152 variants. It is a shame that my friends settled on ‘Liz’ when ‘Betty’ or ‘Betsy’ would be far more interesting shorts (and perhaps more suitable given my love of stockings with seams and pretty tea dresses).

My surname of course is much less common, and therefore – generally speaking - limits previous holders of my first and surnames to either ‘my’ Walnes or the ‘Lancashire’ Walnes.

For the purposes of keeping this blog short enough, I will only touch on three holders of the name here, who were, as I, ‘born to it’ as opposed to ‘married to it’!

The earliest namesake on my tree (according to ancestry probably my ‘tenth great grand aunt’), was born in 1616 in Pulham St Mary Magdalen and baptised there on 26th November of the same year. The register is in Latin: “Elizabetha filia Thos et Elizabetha bapt vicesimo sexto novembris” due to its age. Elizabeth, named for her mother, was one of three surviving children (one brother, Thomas, and one sister, Anne).

So far, I know little about her, but I am hoping to find out more from her father’s will which I have recently acquired through Documents Online (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wills.asp). I think she may have remained single, passing away in 1668 - a possible will is on fiche at the Norfolk Record Office so I'll give it a look some time in the next couple of weeks.

The next one came nearly 150 years later and is my ‘fifth great grand aunt’. She was born less than four miles away from the former Elizabeth, in Redenhall. She was baptised at St Mary’s church on 28th August 1754, about three months after her birth.

On 3rd April 1779, Elizabeth married John Gimingham at North Walsham St Nicholas. Seven years earlier, her sister Hannah had married John’s brother William in Norwich. The family tree began to tie itself into knots at this point!

Rev Thomas Lloyd, of previous blog fame, wrote of her:

Elizabeth, the sixth child, married John Gimmingham Esq. who enjoys a good appointment in a public office, by whom she has four daughters and one son, for whom he has the means of providing handsomely.”

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to move with John to London after their marriage. The romantic part of me would like to think it was all a bit Jane Austen (!) but I suspect the truth was somewhat different.

The couple went on to have four daughters – Elizabeth, Mary, Harriet and Anne – and a son, John, as well as two children that died in infancy.

The couple are closely tied to Old St Mary’s Church in Newington Butts. Only built in 1796, the church must have been relatively new when John and his wife were buried in a tomb near the alter. A book of monumental inscriptions, published in 1880 (The Old Churchyard of St Mary, Newington, Surrey. Part one with annotations) quotes the memorial as follows:

“In Memory of John Gimingham Late of Walworth who departed this life on the 17 Dec 1815 aged 66 Years Also two Daughters of the above who died in their Infancy Also Elizabeth Gimmingham Relict of the above who died 20 June 1832 Aged 78 Years Also Mary Gimingham Daughter of the above who died August 1852 Aged 65 Years Also Harriet Gimingham Daughter of the above who died 15 Sep 1854 Aged 56 years.” 

The ‘new’ church was built in 1876 after the ‘old’ was demolished for road widening in 1875. If anyone can suggest what might have happened to the Giminghams I would be interested to hear – were they moved to the graveyard on Churchyard Row which is still consecrated ground? Or do they now lie somewhere under the road or park? (http://www.southwark.anglican.org/where/lost-churches.)

To confuse the family tree even further, Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth married a cousin, Thomas Walne, and moved back to Norfolk as yet another Elizabeth Walne!

Finally for today I come to an Elizabeth Walne born another couple of decades later, my ‘fourth great grand aunt’. This one was born in Whitlingham just outside Norwich in 1787 and baptised at Kirby Bedon (Whitlingham’s church was already all but abandoned).

Living as an annuitant for several decades as the daughter of a local gent, Elizabeth was recorded in 1841 on Upper Surrey Street in Norwich with a servant. Against the idea of Victorian women being over the hill by 30, Elizabeth married David Cooper Colls - a purser and pay master in the royal navy - in 1846 at the age of 59. The couple married at All Saints Church in Norwich, a church nowadays in the middle of the city centre sandwiched between Castle Mall and John Lewis. The groom’s residence was given as Yarmouth, explaining why the couple moved to the ‘hamlet of South Town’ in Gorlestone [sic] now part of built up Gorleston/Great Yarmouth.

Marrying late must have suited Elizabeth as she lived until the age of 95, finally passing away in 1882 at 84, High Road, Southtown - the home she had lived in for at least 20 years, and possibly since her marriage. Elizabeth outlived David by nearly 30 years.

So what do I have in common with the previous owners of my name? Well, my old office at County Hall overlooked Whitlingham, I’ve visited London and I’ve also been inside Pulham St Mary Magdalen Church. In truth, I seem to have little in common with my Stuart, Georgian and Victorian ancestors, but perhaps as time goes on things will change – maybe I’ll marry late in life and settle by the sea! All of these women had gentry fathers, but none got a university education - I think I got a pretty good deal for myself by doing things the other way around.

While none of these women are my direct ancestors, I do feel a special connection to all of them. They represent women of different eras and circumstances on a path through history that eventually led to me.

...to think nobody knew ‘Elizabeth’ was a family name when I was born.


Aunt Carrie: School Mistress at Framlingham, civilian on the town memorial

Day three of my week of ancestor blogs brings me to my first foray into my maternal family history and a civilian on Framlingham’s war memorial, my Aunt Carrie.

Framlingham is close to my heart. It’s where I lived for the first two years of my life, where I went to high school and where I spent long summers ‘revising’ for exams with friends at the castle, overlooking the mere. It’s also where I have strong family roots and where my grandfather had his grain merchant business. 

Caroline Amelia Harvey was born in Liverpool in 1878 as her father James Harvey, although originally from a farming family in Stoke Ash, was part of the Liverpool Police Force from the early 1860s until 1891. She was the daughter of James’ second wife, Emma Blake, born in Thorndon, and the younger sister of Amy Eliza Harvey, my Great Great Grandmother.

Caroline came to Framlingham to teach at Sir Robert Hitcham’s School (the town primary school retains part of the name to this day) and after lodging locally for a while moved into the School House. Caroline was by all accounts a wonderful school mistress and I have seen numerous accounts from her pupils talking about how caring and kindly she was.

Aunt Carrie (as my grandmother calls her) was still at the School House when war broke out in 1939. A year later on 6th October 1940, Framlingham found itself drawn into the front line:

“I heard a sort of chatter of machine-gun fire. Looking up at the sky towards the east I saw a plane coming out of the clouds. After a few seconds I saw objects fall from the plane. They hung in the air like a string of sausages. I stood looking at them, wondering what was going on, until I realised they were bombs and they were in line with me….I heard a massive thud. Turning around I saw the School House go sky high”

Taken from a letter to the East Anglian Daily Press some years later.

An extract from the school log book the next day simply states:

“October 7th – School is closed today owing to the air raid on the town yesterday, in which Miss Harvey lost her life”.

Again on October 7th, a newspaper reported:

“Tip and Run Bombing by Day Raiders – Teacher Killed in East Anglia

German planes adopting ‘tip and run’ tactics bombed places in a wide area of South East England and the London district yesterday, lurking in the cover of clouds before dashing down to their objective and speeding away again. A few people were injured by a bomb in central Central London. Bombs were dropped in the East Midlands and East Anglia. In most places little damage was caused and the number of casualties was small…A schoolmistress Caroline Amelia Harvey (62) was the only casualty in the raid over an East Anglian town during the afternoon, She had departed her usual custom of leaving her house during the weekend. A demolition squad recovered her body from the debris.”

The plane was a lone Dornier 111/K76 medium bomber. Seven bombs exploded (some say eight were dropped) but Miss Caroline was the only person to lose her life.

The article referring to her ‘usual custom’ describes the fact that Miss Caroline generally went to the Larters' for her Sunday lunch – Isaac Larter married her sister Amy (Isaac and Amy are my Great Great Grandparents). For whatever reason - some say she felt unwell - Caroline did not go out to her sister’s for lunch after church that day, and stayed at home mending her stockings. Family tales say that she was found still with the needle in her hand when a fireman discovered her in the rubble.

Caroline was buried in Framlingham Cemetery and her name is recorded on the town war memorial, one of five civilians recorded alongside men from the forces, including my paternal Great Uncle, Sergeant Robert Neville Walne, an air gunner who was shot down over Berlin aged just 20. 

The site of the school house remained as a wild flower garden for several years before being redeveloped – now home, fittingly, to ‘Harvey House’.

I am very happy to share photos and memories of Miss Caroline and the school with any interested parties reading this blog, please just leave me a comment or send an email.

For more information about Framlingham's history, visit www.framlinghamarchive.org.uk/, a great website with a wealth of information and photographs.



Uncle Thomas: Legend of Happisburgh (in more ways than one)

For this, my second blog installment of the week denoting memorable ancestors, I turn to an uncle by marriage, Rev Thomas Lloyd. 

Those that have heard of Happisburgh (pronounced 'Hayes-brough') often first think about homes at the top of cliffs and coastal erosion. However, there is of course far more to the village. A couple of years ago, a simple search engine request threw up Thomas Lloyd as a central figure in the parish history and sent me on a path of discovery. Supposedly, I found, he is remembered for baptising an awful lot of children at once, and for holding a party for the occasion. 

The church at Happisburgh has one of the highest towers of any in Norfolk, and the graveyard overlooks the sea.

 The village sign, not far from the church, is pictured below.

At the top, a vicar is depicted, baptising a child. This vicar is Rev. Thomas Lloyd. While I was fairly sure there was some truth behind the legend of his throwing a party and baptising as many children as possible on Whit Sunday, 1793, I wanted to find out for sure. I consulted the original register and found the following - 

“Memorandum – Observing a great reluctance in the poorer inhabitants of the Parish of Happisburgh to give their children full baptism, most chiefly owing to their inability to afford their friends such little entertainment as they imagined to be suitable and necessary upon such occasions and being seriously convinced that to general a neglect of that ancient Rite, was become very detrimental to the principles and morals of the times; I invited all such as would bring their children and friends to receive full baptism on whitsonday 1793 to an entertainment; and baptised on that day one hundred and seventy persons. Thos Lloyd.”

So, if your ancestor was resident in Happisburgh in the late 1700s and you have no specific baptism record for them, maybe they were at the party! 

I know little about Thomas’ early life so far. He married my 5xGreat Grandfather’s sister Susannah Walne in Redenhall in 1782, shortly after he became vicar at Happisburgh and eleven years before the village’s memorable shindig – perhaps she helped with the catering! 

Rev Lloyd was similarly efficient with his own offspring who were both baptised within 24 hours. The couple had two sons, Thomas Henry, who followed his father into the clergy, and Randall Walne (yes, that’s two surnames as Christian names – his grandmother’s maiden name Randall, who hailed from a gentry family in the Hempnall area, and Walne for his mother) who became an Officer in the East India Army. 

Their baptisms appear in the North Walsham register, and it’s great to note the extras that you can’t get from transcriptions - if Susannah had given birth only a few days earlier they could have saved a few pence: 

“The New Stamp Duty began on the 1st Day of October 1783 for Births and Christenings, Burials and Marriages, at 3d Each- 

October 4th 1783 - Thomas Henry Lloyd, son of Thomas Lloyd Cl and Susannah his wife late Walne of N Walsham; paid 3d”


“Randall Walne son of Thos Lloyd Clk and Susannah his wife (late Susannah Walne) was born March 13th 1789, baptised privately March 13th 1789 and received into the church August 1792.”

The Stamp Duty Act 1783 imposed a charge on all baptisms, marriages and burials of 3d in order to pay for the American War of Independence. Because paupers were exempt, you may find a larger than usual amount of paupers in the registers between 1783 and 1794. 

Both also appear, together, in the register at Happisburgh out of order with the rest of the entries:

“Thomas Henry Lloyd (son of the Revd Thomas Lloyd, Vicar of this parish and Susannah his wife (daughter of Daniel Walne of Harleston in this County, Gent) was born Oct 3rd and baptised Oct 4th 1783. He was born at North Walsham. 

Randall Walne (son of the said Thomas and Susannah Lloyd) was born and baptised March 13th 1789. He was born at North Walsham.” 

A history of the family included a passage, written in Thomas’ hand, as follows:

“Susannah, the fourth child, married the Rev. Thomas Lloyd, Rector of Westwick and Vicar of Happisburgh in Norfolk, by whom she has two sons, Thomas Henry Lloyd of King’s College, Cambridge, and Randall Walne Lloyd, who completes his 15th year this 13th day of March 1804 and is far advanced in his classical studies under my own tuition.”

Sadly to my knowledge (to date) neither son went on to marry or have children as both died young. In fact mother, father and sons all died within five years, and Thomas and his wife died 'within hours' of each other.

A large tablet in North Walsham Church reads as follows:  

“Near this place were interred the remains of the Rev’d. Thomas Lloyd, LL.B., Vicar of Happisburgh and Rector of Westwick, and an active intelligent magistrate for this County who departed this life November 26th, 1813; for Susanna his wife, who died a few hours before him, aged 62; for their eldest son, Rev. Thomas Henry Lloyd, A.B., Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, bom October 3rd, 1783, died June 6th, 1808 ; also for Randall Walne Lloyd, their only other child, bom March 13th, 1789; died in the East Indies, May 23rd, 1808.” 

My next plans are to find out more about Randall Walne’s time in the East Indies (thank you to FIBIS who were very helpful at this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live) and also to follow up the rest of the Lloyd family. 

It seems Rev. Lloyd not only provided a legend, but potentially was a legend. As ever, if there are any family links reading this article, please feel free to contact me. I’d also love to hear about any other events like that at Happisburgh!

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