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  • Writer's pictureSarah von Allmen

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 19.

Week 19 – Food and drink

This week’s prompt made me think of a family with several members connected directly or indirectly to the food and drink trade.

My distant cousin Frederick Henry Jones was born in Westminster in 1827 and married Elmina Waterfield in Islington in 1850. They had ten children:

  • Maria Bessie 1851

  • Elmina 1852

  • Harriet 1854

  • Mary Jane 1857

  • Frances 1860

  • Ellen 1862

  • Elizabeth Kate 1864

  • Frederick William 1866

  • George Waterfield 1868

  • Ruth Clara 1872

Frederick’s connection to our theme is that he is recorded on the 1861 census as a grocer, although this wasn’t his long-term occupation: he had previously worked as a warehouseman and by 1871 he was working as a druggist’s assistant.

However, when Frederick’s ninth child George married in London in 1894, his occupation was given as “licensed victualler”, and his address was the Elephant and Castle Hotel. I don’t know whether this was also where he was working: on the 1901 and 1911 censuses he is listed as a publican in West Ham, but the name of the establishment isn’t included.

George’s younger sister Ruth married Alfred Dwarber Dodson, a “gentleman”, in Islington in 1896. Although it isn’t mentioned on the marriage record, Alfred was licensee of the Valiant Trooper in St Pancras until 1897 and was subsequently licensee of the Half Moon and (later) the Blue Boar in West Ham. The Blue Boar must have been a fairly important hostelry, as in addition to Alfred and Ruth, the resident staff on the 1901 census consisted of two barmen, two barmaids, a waitress and a kitchen maid.

Ruth and Alfred had two daughters, who seem to have spent their childhood as boarders away from the pub atmosphere: the younger daughter, for instance, was boarding with her aunt Mary Jane and Mary’s husband George Lawrance in 1901.

One other sibling had a tenuous (very tenuous!) link to the pub trade through marriage: Harriet, who married Henry Boutland in October 1881. Henry had previously been engaged to Mary Morgan, a barmaid, and when Henry’s father died in April 1881, Mary dutifully put herself into mourning clothes (apparently at her own expense), and also bought her wedding dress in preparation for the marriage, only for Henry to break off the engagement. In an action for breach of promise she was accorded £200 in damages (a respectable sum at the time), but as Henry was unable to pay her, he found himself in the bankruptcy courts before the end of the year, and it’s doubtful whether she ever received her compensation.

While Harriet’s siblings and their spouses all seem to have led the lives of respectable lower middle-class couples, she and (particularly) Henry had several further run-ins with the law.

They moved to Hampshire after their marriage and in 1883 Henry was summoned by his sister Mary Ann and his mother Sophia for an assault, while at the same time Harriet was summoned by Sophia for an assault by throwing a handful of plates at her(!). In the end the case was more or less dismissed as a family quarrel, with the Boutlands just bound over to keep the peace towards Sophia. Rather sadly, Harriet then fell ill and lost her sight: she died in 1891 aged just 36.

I love old newspaper articles!

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