Monday January 21st 1856The 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.
… 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.
Wednesday February 20th 1856Tuesday 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:
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
Sunday March 16th 1856Years 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.
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
Country sports were always his delight.
Tuesday January 18th 1853John 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:
Was out shooting all day shot 3 birds & 1 hare & had Crosbys neices & nephew after tea nephew stayed all night
Friday January 21st 1853The 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.
In the morning rode with L Sedgwick to Dishforth … went a coursing ran 3 hares killed one
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
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.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
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 1856Henry 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.
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
Friday January 25th 1856Mr 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.
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
Tuesday April 22nd 1856Mice, hedghogs, cats – this is a world far from modern sensibilities:
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
Tuesday June 17th 1856Leonard 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.
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
Rats, rabbits, mice – by 1856 John was old enough to join the annual rook shooting:
Tuesday May 13th 1856Steele 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.
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
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 1858Mark 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.
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