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.

Country sports were always his delight.
Tuesday January 18th 1853
Was out shooting all day  shot 3 birds & 1 hare & had Crosbys neices & nephew after tea  nephew stayed all night
John was then staying with his aunt and uncle Pick at Great Ouseburn – a day’s shooting was a fine treat for a boy about to go away to school.  A week later he met up with the young doctor Leonard Sedgwick, one of the sons of Dr Roger Sedgwick of Aldborough and his wife Mary Brown:
Friday January 21st 1853
In the morning rode with L Sedgwick to Dishforth …  went a coursing ran 3 hares killed one
The Sedgwicks, like the Stubbs, were related to the Buttery family – Dr Roger was the son of the Revd Leonard Sedgwick of Brafferton and his wife Mary Buttery. 

The Sedgwick and Stubbs children were great friends.  Leonard and James Sedgwick married John's cousins, the sisters Jane and Mary Redmayne.  Leonard and Jane later moved to London where he was in practice as a physician.  Mary and James, who was for many years the Boroughbridge doctor, remained in Yorkshire.  Tom Stubbs shared lodgings in London for a time with Tom Sedgwick, who became a tea merchant and died in China.

There were two children, Robert and Ann Sedgwick, who died young – John mentions Ann’s funeral in 1859.  Closest in age to John were the surviving sisters Jane and Mary, who never married.  The younger Sedgwicks, Henry, Roger and Albert, were several years John’s junior and are not mentioned in the 1850s diaries, but John’s mother kept him informed of news of them in her letters of the 1870s.  Henry trained with his brother James before going out to Australia.  He died in 1873: 
he was thrown from his horse and killed.  He married the widow and has left one child of his own.  It has been a great trouble to poor Mrs Sedgwick for he was a favorite [sic] son and was doing very well
wrote Mary Stubbs to her son on 18 October 1873.  Roger became a tea merchant in India:
Roger Sedgwick is here from Bombay.  He is come over to propose to a young Lady whose brother was out there and died.  He shared Rogers house with him.  He is accepted and in great spirits, but she cannot go with him at present.  He only stays here till Monday as all his time must now be devoted to her, and he must sail again the last week in March
Mary wrote on 22 February 1873.  She mentioned “Roger Sedgwick and his bride” visiting for a day or two in October 1875, “they sail for India on the 10th of Novr”.  Roger and Anna Diana Acworth later lived in Birkenhead with their children.
Schooldays once over, sport had to be fitted in around the working day.  At the noon break, after dinner, in any leisure moment, John and his friends would call up the dogs, pick up the guns, and walk by the river.
Thursday January 24th 1856
Went to the Office.   At Noon walked about.   Cut up the Goose for dinner   The water rose very fast   Had a hunt after a mouse with Pincher on the bank after dinner.   At Night Joe & I walked about watching the water   we also went to Henry Carass’   Stewart was there  we played Old Maid.   I then read Chambers
Henry Carrass, the butcher, was married to Bessie, who worked for Mrs Stubbs for many years and had been John’s nurse.  John and his brothers, Joe and Tom, and sisters, Jane, Lizzy and Alice, spent a good deal of time visiting Henry and Bessie. 
Friday January 25th 1856
Went to the Office.   At Noon went with a note for Mrs Appleton of Langthorp from Uncle Hirst   Mr Capes went with me   we had Howells Newfoundland & Nel the river was very high had some good sport.   At Night we had Uncle & Aunt Pick, Aunt Bell & Mrs Powell to tea  I & Joe went to H Carrass’ for five minutes.   I then read Blackstone
Mr Henry Hawkesley Capes was the young solicitor working for Uncle Hirst – taking the opportunity of a quiet afternoon in the office to go out for a little sport with his dog and the Newfoundland dog that belonged to John Howell, who had the steam mill at Langthorpe.  Aunt Bell was John's mother’s younger sister Isabella Henlock, who never married and was throughout her life the useful, stalwart and forthright spinster aunt.  At the end of each day, by lamplight, John is reading his law books: Chambers and Blackstone.
Tuesday April 22nd 1856
Went to office   At Noon read Blackstone in the Garden   went to Hy Carass’  At Night Joe, Capes & I walked up the River   we took Howell’s Dog & Pincher   we met Hy Carass  he had been fishing   Pincher killed a hedgehog   we all returned together   Sophy [Hirst] was at our house to supper
Mice, hedghogs, cats – this is a world far from modern sensibilities:
Tuesday June 17th 1856
Went to Office   At Noon Read Blackstone   was about home after dinner   At Night Leond Sedgwick & Jim, Steele & Edwin Charles Clarke,  Capes & his cousin Scholfield who was here trying to sell 2 houses,  Joe & I rowed up to Westwick   On our Way Tig and Pincher killed a  Cat that was in the fields   they swam in the water after it & killed it finely.   We had a little amusement at Westwick   we had some porter & we had a little racing & Leap Frog &c &c
Leonard Sedgwick was then aged twenty seven and Jim a few years younger – both were doctors, as was William Stott Steele.  Edwin Charles Clarke was the twenty-year-old son of a local farmer – he was to become Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge.  Capes’ cousins John, Tom, Nelly and Hebe Scholfield lived at South Cave, where their father farmed at Faxfleet Hall.

Rats, rabbits, mice – by 1856 John was old enough to join the annual rook shooting:
Tuesday May 13th 1856
Went to Office.   At Noon prepared for shooting rooks   At ½ past 4 Capes  Joe  Jim S[edgwick].   Steele & I set off to Humberton  had tea [at Butterys] we then went down to shoot   we shot 158 rooks   it kept raining a little  we then returned to the House  had supper   walked & got home at one o’clock rather late   Had some jolly sport & a jolly wet walk home
Steele was the son of the vicar of East Harlsey and related to the Stotts and the Fretwells.  He later practised medicine in Devon.  John’s friends also included Tom Scott of Broom Close, the Revd Charlesworth (the young vicar of Kirby Hill), Thomas Lund of Brafferton, Richard Paver, who was related to the Picks and Howes, and Tom Mason Johnson, the medical student at Dr Crosby’s.

John did not often have the chance to go out with the hunt, but in late December 1858 he borrowed his brother Joe’s mare one afternoon:
Tuesday December 28th 1858
To office   Went to Station to see Smallwood off by 12 o’clock train   Rode Joes mare & met with the York Hounds opposite Heaton House   Had a splendid gallop with them across towds Low Dunsforth & up to a barn on the Lane from Ouseburn to Marton where they struck off towds Leylands Wood & I came home by Marton.   At Night read law at office
Mark Hall Smallwood was a young relation of Dr Crosby of Great Ouseburn, who had worked as a bank clerk in Boroughbridge for a couple of years before being sent to Scarborough, where he eventually became manager of the York City & County Banking Company.

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