Monday, 28 July 2014

6. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: "Enjoyed ourselves extremely"

Tuesday January 15th 1856
Went to the Office   Mrs Workman  Mr Robert W  Mr Henlock & Mrs dined with us at 2 o’clock   I left the Office at  2  returned at 4   Went to the Doctors [Sedgwicks’] in the Evening   Danced   had supper & enjoyed ourselves extremely   A Family party  Leonard’s birthday
Breakfast was after a little bit of studying or opening the post at the office.  Dinner was the main meal of the day – whenever it took place – but here in rural Yorkshire it was generally in the middle of the day or the early afternoon.  Tea was in the early evening, supper later on.  Dinner, tea and supper – all were opportunities for parties and gatherings in this gregarious, sociable world.

Mr Robert Crawshaw Workman farmed at Arksey, near Doncaster.  The Workmans were connections of the Henlocks, John's mother's family – Margaret Henlock married William Workman.  Mr and Mrs Henlock were John’s uncle and aunt from Great Ouseburn. 
Tuesday January 22nd 1856
Went to office.   Retd to Breakfast   felt rather tired.   At Noon walked with Jane up the Topcliffe Road   Had tea with Aunt Hirst   went to a small party to supper at Aunt Bells.   had my fortune told by her.   Got home about ½ past eleven.   Uncle Hirst & Dora came home from London & Ann Stubbs came with them
No wonder John felt tired – he had been up till 4 o’clock in the morning waiting for the cow to calve.  Jane was his elder sister, who would soon marry young Mr Capes of her uncle Hirst’s office.  Dora was his cousin Dorothy Hirst, who died unmarried aged fifty-one.  She led a quiet life of useful works to the community and her family and is commemorated by a stained glass window in Boroughbridge church.  Ann Stubbs was one of the London relations.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

5. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: Holidays

If the working day in the 1850s was a great deal less frenetic than today, holidays were fewer.  John’s parents would generally go to a seaside resort, often Redcar, for a week or two.  They went in a large party of family and friends to stay in lodging houses – in 1856 they went twice, in July and in October.  John went on Saturday 18th October to meet them there:
Saturday October 18th 1856
Went to Office.   At Noon about home   At Night I went to Redcar   left at ¼ past six   got there ½ past nine   Mr Clark of Ellinthorp went at Noon   Father & Mother  Aunt & Uncle Redmayne  Sarah Sedgwick & Miss Cunnyngham were there   Mr Clark & I slept and had breakfast on Sunday & Monday   he pd my exps at the Inn
Heaton Clark of Ellenthorpe Hall married Miss Jane Hewit Cunynghame in November 1857 – the groom was sixty seven years old and the bride aged thirty seven.  Sarah Sedgwick married John’s brother Joe in 1857.
Sunday October 19th 1856
Clark & I went on the Sands before breakfast   Uncle R & I went to Redcar Church   the rest went to Coatham  Had a walk in the afternoon   Sarah  Aunt & I went to Coatham at night

Monday October 20th 1856
Got up had breakfast at the Inn   Saw Clark off by the 7.50 train to Yarm Fair  Saw Uncle R & Aunt & Miss Cunnyngham off by 11 train   Had a bathe in the Sea   Father & I walked to Coatham  had some porter at the Lobster   Walked about all day   Set off for home at 5.20.   Had a very jolly visit

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: "Went to office"

From 1855 John was a clerk in his uncle Hirst’s office, entering into articles later – he wrote to the legal stationers’ Butterworths in May 1857 with a postal order for fourteen shillings and sixpence for a copy of Wharton’s Manual for Articled Clerks.  He was paid £10 a year in two instalments and kept a careful account of his money: in January 1855, his expenses included a Coat for 1 shilling and Trowsers for ninepence; in May 1855 he spent threepence on a haircut and sixpence on Braces; and in June 1855 he spent five shillings on Powder & Shot.

His working day began with sorting the post, as his uncle Hirst was the Boroughbridge postmaster.  He had a break at noon, when he often records taking a walk, reading a book or calling on friends or family.  It seems to have been an hour’s break as he often writes of ‘leisure hour’ and he seems to have gone home to dinner:
Friday November 7th 1856
Had dinner at Uncles   Just went home to say I should not be at home to dine & then went back to the Office.   Had a very hard day   After tea went home & read law.   Came back to sup & looked thro’ some of the Library books.   Joe had tea with us.
Friday January 16th 1857
Went to office.   At Noon just went home & got dinner  returned immediately as we were very busy today.   At Night Aunt Bell had tea at our house  I went with her to sup at Jane’s  Joe & Tom Sedgwick walked to Ouseburn today.   They got home 12 at night

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

3. A Boroughbridge boyhood in the 1850s: The Yorkshire Volunteers

Some of the young men belonged to the Territorial Army of the day, the Yorkshire Volunteers.  John’s father had been a Volunteer himself in his youth.  This letter survives, written by Thomas, then aged twenty nine, from Bradford.  The dry summer had closed mills across Yorkshire and the Volunteers had been sent to Bradford where the introduction of steam power to John Garnett Horsfall’s worsted mill had triggered unrest.  Thomas and Mary had been married eighteen months and Mary was heavily pregnant with her first child, Jane:
Bradford 3 May 1826
My Dear Mary,
I cannot at present say when I shall be able to be at home.  Lord Grantham arrived here last night, and has given orders for the whole Regiment to assemble here, I fancy to relieve those who have been on duty since Saturday.  It will please you to hear that we shall not go to York or elsewhere on permanent duty this year as our attendance here will make up for that, which makes me think that Lord Grantham will keep us the number of days we should have been at York, respecting the particulars of our marches &c I will give you by word of mouth.
Bradford is very still, and not a disorderly person to be seen in the streets, we have not had occasion to be on horseback since we arrived and if we stay some time longer it will be the case, there has not been the least disturbance but on Thursday night last, and that only the windows of Mr Horsfalls mill broken, the Inhabitants think nothing of it.
You cannot now find fault with me for not writing.  I wish I had something worth writing to you about, however I know this that a letter softens the pain of absence.
You will have seen Mr Stead before you receive this he will tell you the news and the battles we have fought.  I long to see you, if Stead returns I should like to hear from you, by him, I am now going to receive orders for our Troop, and by the time they are finished the post will have left which obliges me to conclude with best love to my dearest Mary, and all relations at Bbridge,
believe me to remain as before your loving Husbd T Stubbs

Sunday, 20 July 2014

2. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: "Good sport"

Monday January 21st 1856
…  Sat up till 4 o’clock in the morning expectg cow calving   She calved about an hour after I got to bed …  Calved red & white Heifer Calf.
The Stubbs family had once been more prosperous – in the days before the railways, when the Great North Road was filled with traffic, Boroughbridge had been a thriving, bustling town and there had been plenty of business for the wine merchant and grocer at the Bridge Foot.  The house had even featured on the five guinea note of the Boroughbridge Bank established by John’s father, together with Thomas Dew, Hugh Stott (the doctor who owned The Crown Inn) and Humphrey Fletcher of Minskip.  By 1856 trade had dwindled and the family’s fortunes with it – but they still owned a little land at Langthorpe, necessary for the house cow and the pony needed for deliveries.
Wednesday February 20th 1856
Went with Mr Roger [Buttery] to Brafferton to Murfits to see a pig which was expected to weigh 60 stones   Had breakfast   Dick [Hirst] came with me to the Station came home by 9 o’clock train
Tuesday afternoon, at the office – a letter came for John from his cousin Sophy Hirst, staying with the Buttery family at Helperby, inviting John to a party that night.  He enjoyed it “very fairly”, stayed the night and was up in time to visit the giant pig before taking the train back to Boroughbridge.  The Butterys – Mr and Mrs Roger, Mr Thomas and Mr William, were relatives of the Stubbs.  To the Butterys again in March, where his cousin Dick Hirst was learning farming:
Sunday March 16th 1856
Went twice to Brafferton Church   saw the Smiths   called at Thos Buttery   went with Dick Hirst to chop turnips for the Sheep.   At night we sat in the house
Years later, established as a solicitor in Middlesbrough and living first in Coatham and then in Ormesby, John always managed to keep a few farm animals himself – even though, as his mother reminded him, amateur farming does not pay.

Friday, 18 July 2014

1. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: Introducing John Stubbs

Saturday January 1st 1853
Stayed at home in the morning & helped to clip the pony & had a ride in the evening on the pony
John Richard Stubbs was fourteen years old when he made his first entry in his new diary.  He lived beside the River Ure in Boroughbridge, opposite the Crown, once a famous posting house.  His home was called the Bridge Foot, where his family had lived, kept their warehouse and run their business since his grandfather’s day – wine merchants, grocers and tea dealers since 1790. 
Monday January 3rd 1853
Rode the pony to Knaresboro to the Sessions dined at the Royal Oak & rode back at night & went to Uncle Hirst’s to supper
John’s eldest brother Joseph, now aged nearly twenty-four, would take over the firm.  He had learned his trade from his father and in London and was back at home working in the business.  Eighteen-year-old Thomas was away, apprenticed to a Master Vintner.  John was destined for the law.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: the diaries of John Stubbs

The next series of posts will be an account of John Richard Stubbs' boyhood in Boroughbridge. 

John Richard Stubbs was born on 2 October 1838 at five minutes past three o'clock in the morning at the Bridge Foot, Boroughbridge.  His parents were Thomas Stubbs (1796-1867) and Mary Henlock (1803-91).  John was one of six children.  His brothers and sisters were Jane (1826-1902), Joseph (“Joe”) (1829-1906), Thomas (“Tom”) (1834-66), Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) (1842-1914) and Alice (1844-1921).

John married Ellis Macfarlane on 13 April 1871 at Claremont House, Helensburgh.  They had three children:  Thomas Duncan Henlock (1872-1931), Mary Kathleen (1874-1948) and William Henlock who died in 1886 at the age of seven.

John qualified as a solicitor in May 1860 and started in practice in the newly incorporated borough of Middlesbrough in February 1861; he was one of the earliest solicitors in the town.  His entry in the 1903 Contemporary Biographies of the North & East Ridings of Yorkshire reads:
John Richard Stubbs, J.P., Park End, Ormesby, near Middlesbrough; son of Thomas and Mary Stubbs (née Henlock); born at Boroughbridge, October 2nd 1838; educated at Giggleswick.  Solicitor; Notary Public; Commissioner for Oaths; Clerk to the Justices for the Division of Langbaurgh North; Official Receiver in Bankruptcy for the Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, and Northallerton Districts; Justice of the Peace for the borough of Middlesbrough.  Married, April 13th 1871 at Helensburgh, N.B. [North Britain], Elizabeth Grace Ellis, daughter of Duncan Macfarlane.
John must have initially retired from practice in 1908 when he gave his law library to Middlesbrough Town Council, but it seems that the pressure of war and the absence of so many of the younger men brought him out of retirement in January 1915.  However, he was now an old man and had suffered the loss in 1914 of his fifteen-year-old grandson, a midshipman on HMS Aboukir.  His health failing, he died on 6 December 1916 at Coatham, aged 78 years.

Alfred Pease of Pinchinthorpe Hall wrote to John's son:
… When a father dies no matter what his age it makes a gap in the family that is never filled again and in your case I am certain the loss will be deeply felt, for few men by their qualities compare with your father.  In the days when I constantly met him I learnt his worth and held him in honour and I may say too in affection – a most just, kind, gentleman …
His widow Ellis died on 30 April 1922 at Scriven Lodge, Knaresborough and was buried at Coatham on 3 May.

For much of his life, John kept a diary noting the main events of his day.  The entries for the 1850s are generally written in small pocket diaries, 4½ by 3 inches in size, with a week to a page.  They are not reflective or introspective, but offer a picture of the daily life and surroundings of John, his relatives, neighbours and friends.  As this may be of interest to local and family historians, I have tried to reflect this in my account of John's early life.

Unfortunately, as nobody remembered to write the names under the photographs in the family album, my choice of illustrations was limited!