Sunday, 16 November 2014

Smithfield Market, Clerkenwell, and the tale of two horse thieves

Smithfield Market looking towards the south.
Giltspur Street is to the right of the picture. [1]

Smithfield and St John's Street Road running away to the north from the market featured in the lives of at least four of the branches in my 19th Century family tree.  At the time these twigs were all quite unconnected with each other, and my forebears could well have passed by each other in the street without having in the least noticed each others presence or significance.

 The earliest event at Clerkenwell and Smithfield, London's main meat market, that I have come across, not entirely surprisingly involves John Kirby Moore, a young farmer from Badley in Suffolk. 
His sister, Sarah later became one of my great great great grandmothers, and when John Moore died without having any children of his own, he left her his papers and other artefacts, which have in turn come down to me through the family.

John Kirby Moore in 1864 [2] 

As a boy growing up in Badley in Suffolk just outside Stowmarket, where John would have been known to Joseph Pennington for many years. 

Pennington, a very able  land surveyor who produced a magnificent map of Ipswich, and was the Steward for Lord Ashburnham, at Holly Oak Farm Combs, the next village to Badley, where John Kirby Moore appears to have worked as a teenager.

Joseph Pennington would have collected the rent from John's father James Moore, who was a tenant of Lord Asburnham at Badley Mill. At some point before 1817 Pennington moved to his employers main estate at Godstone.

During 1817 John appears to have been sent to work for Pennington at his farm at Lee Place, Godstone in Surrey, quite prossibly in order to gain wider experience.  Godstone was the country seat of Lord Ashburnham who also owned about 3,500 acres including Badley between Stowmarket and Needham Market.

Lee Place, Godstone, home of Joseph Pennington.

During John Moore's time at Godstone the theft took place of a valuable cart horse.

Morning Post - Tuesday 9th December 1817
Guildhall — Horse Stealing. — Thomas Wale and Charles Wood were yesterday charged before the Sitting Alderman with stealing a horse, the property of J. Pennington, Esq. of Godstone, in the county of Surrey, They were committed for trial. [3]"

Either Joseph Pennington, or John appear to have realised at once that because the 5th of December was a Friday, there was be a very high probability that the thief would try to sell the horse at Smithfield Market, which held horse sales every Friday.  John immediately set off for London, which was about 23 miles away, acting on their hunch that the thief would try to sell the horse on as quickly as possible. 

This turned out to be the case as the following report of the subsequent trial at the Old Bailey in January 1818 demonstrates.

179. CHARLES WOOD and JOHN VALE were indicted for stealing, on the 5th of December, at St. Sepulchre's, one gelding, price 35l. , the property of Joseph Pennington.
THOMAS HOOK. I am servant to Mr. Joseph Pennington, who lives at Godstone. On the night of the 4th of December I put the horses up in the yard, and fastened the gate at eight o'clock, the bay gelding was safe then. I returned next morning, about a quarter before six o'clock, and the gelding was gone-it came home afterwards. I am certain it was my master's.
Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Godstone is about twenty-two or twenty-three miles from Smithfield. There were four horses in the yard at night, and I only found three there the next morning. My master has had the gelding ten years; I have lived six years and a half with him, and have had the care of the gelding during that time, and knew it again.
WILLIAM COOPER. I am servant to Mr. Pennington. On the 5th of December, about five o'clock in the morning, I went to my master's premises, the yard gate stood open, there are two yard gates-the horses were in the corn-yard; the gelding was gone.
Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. I have seen the horse since; it has a white foot, and a bald face; I should know it among a thousand.
JOHN KIRBY MOORE. I manage Mr. Pennington's farm for him, he is the only occupier of it. Hook informed me that the gelding was gone, and I immediately came to London; I have known the horse about eighteen months; I saw it again in Giltspur-street, in the possession of John Ayres. After some conversation with him about it, the prisoner, Wood, came up, I asked him if he was the owner of the horse, he said, Yes. I asked the price, he said 24l. I told him it was too much, and asked him its age; he said it was six years old. I told him it was more; he said it was not more than seven. He then offered it to me for 23l. I said it was too much.
Q. Did he say any thing more about the horse-A. He said he knew it very well, and would put it into a cart to shew me how it would go. He said it was a Suffolk bred horse. I went for a constable, and on my return I met Ayres, leading the horse, in Smithfield, and Wood near him. I asked Wood if he would take 20l. for it - He said 22l. was the lowest-the constable came and took him, and I gave the landlord charge of the horse. After the examination before the magistrate I took the horse back into the country, the two witnesses saw it-it was the same horse. When I got into the country, I and Jones went and apprehended the prisoner, Vale, at Heaver, in Kent, on a Sunday, where he lived.
Cross-examined. I never saw the prisoner, Wood, until I saw him in Smithfield. I went up to him as if I meant to buy the horse-it stood alone, in the care of Ayres. Wood asked 24l. for it. I was gone about twenty-five minutes for the constable, I returned, and talked with him again about the horse.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. Did you give him any reason, at first, to suppose you suspected him - A. None at all.
JOHN AYRES . I assist the hostler at the Green Dragon, in Smithfield. On the 5th of December, between six and seven o'clock in the morning, I saw the horse in the stable, I did not see the man bring it in, but I saw the prisoners in conversation about it. Wood asked me to go and have something to drink with him, and took me to the Denmark's Head, in the Old Bailey-Vale was there. Wood asked me what time the horse-market began; I told him about one or two o'clock, and not before. He said he had bought the horse of Vale, and wished to sell it again-Vale was present. Wood said he gave Vale 18l.10s. for it; he then put his hand into his pocket, and said, I have got to give you two shillings to make up the 18l. 10s. and he gave him two shillings-Vale took it. I asked Vale who he bought the horse of; he said he bought it coming along the road that morning. I asked him if he knew the man of whom he bought it, he said no, only that he told him his name was James Buckle. I told him I thought it was a stolen horse, and if it was, I thought he had brought it to a very likely market to have it owned. Wood asked me to lead the horse into the market for him, and said he would satisfy me for my trouble - I said I would; he then told me to get him ready, and tie his tail up to take him into the market. We came out of the public-house, Vale asked the way to Pimlico, I told him, and they both went down the Old Bailey. I did not see Wood again until he came to have the horse in the market, at the time Mr. Moore was asking me the price of it - I heard him ask the price. He has spoken correctly.
Cross-examined by MR. ARABIN. I am not much acquainted with horse selling. I was not in the way when the horse came. Wood took me out of the stable to the Old Bailey, he seemed anxious to sell the horse; he said he bought it of Vale, Vale set close to me and heard him.
Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. I do not know who brought the horse, I first saw Wood at a little after seven o'clock; we found Vale in the Old Bailey; I had a bad opinion of the business, and said, before them both, that I thought if it was prigged, he had brought it to a wrong place. After this Wood still went to Smithfield with me - He never attempted to go away; when Moore came I called him to me, and he was taken. Wood said he bought it of Vale before and after I had said I thought it was stolen, and still desired me to take it to Smithfield.
STEPHEN VINCE . I am hostler at the Green Dragon, in Giltspur-street. On the morning of the 5th of December, the prisoner, Vale, alone, brought the gelding; I was opening the gates to let a waggon in, about a quarter to six o'clock - He called for the hostler, and I answered; he said he wanted to put the horse in the stable to bait; I shewed him the way - He led it in, and tied it up himself. Wood came about seven o'clock, looked at the horse, and had him ran up and down the yard; he asked Vale if he, (Vale,) was not the man who bought the horse that morning, he said he was. I asked Vale if the horse was for sale, he said, Yes. I asked him if he knew who he bought it of? He said the man told him his name, but he did not know where he lived - He did not tell me his name; he said he bought it at Kennington turnpike, coming to town. After that he went into the yard, and returned in about half an hour, Wood had not been then; he ordered his horse a quartern of corn, which I gave him. Wood came down as if he was a stranger, and asked the questions which I related before; he said, "you are the man who bought the horse, if you had not bought it I should." I said, "if you will give him something for his bargain, he will let you have it." They appeared to be strangers to each other. They talked together; the horse was ran up and down the yard, and afterwards taken into the stable again. I did not hear them make any agreement.
Cross-examined by MR. ARABIN. Q. You told all this before the magistrate-A. Yes; I will not say I told it word for word. No person has been talking to me about it. Wood is not the man who brought the horse.
Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q. You said Vale was the man-A. I will not swear to him.
COURT. Q. You have sworn before the magistrate that the person who was dressed as Vale was before the magistrate, was the man, what do you believe now of Vale-A. To the best of my belief he is the man; I have not the least doubt of his being the man.
JURY. Q. How did the horse appear when it came into the stable - A. It appeared as if it had come off the road, being very thin and dirty. It had a broken halter on.
JAMES JONES. I am constable of Edenbridge, Kent. I have known the prisoners from their childhood; they lived at Heaver, which is twenty-seven miles from town, and were very well acquainted. Edenbridge is twentysix miles from town. Godstone is between Heaver and London, but not the nearest way. I was applied to on Sunday, the 17th of December, by Moore, and took Vale into custody. I told him I was not certain what the charge was against him. As we were coming to town, he said he did not steal the horse; I had said something about a horse, but I do not remember what. He said he did not take the horse, nor yet sell it.
Cross-examined. I am a constable in the neighbourhood. I had not heard of the horse having been stolen.
Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Wood lived at Edenbridge, and had a very good character; he is a collar maker.
MR. MOORE re-examined. The value of the gelding is 35l.
WOOD'S Defence. I did not steal it.
VALE'S Defence. I know nothing of it.
WOOD - GUILTY. - DEATH . Aged 28.
VALE - GUILTY. - DEATH . Aged 28.
Recommended to Mercy .
London Jury, before Mr. Recorder.

From the description below, it would appear that the Green Dragon Inn
was situated at the bottom right-hand side of the map above.

“Green-Dragon-Inn, Giltspur-St.— at the N. end of the Compter, or the first gateway on the R. a few yards from Newgate-st. towards Smithfield.”[5]

An account of the Sessions was soon after printed in the Morning Post.

Morning Post - Wednesday 28 January 1818

OLD BAILEY.— Tuesday, Jan. 27. This day the Sessions terminated, and the RECORDER proceeded to pass sentence of death upon the following persons, capitally convicted:- Mary Alder, for stealing in dwelling-house- Joseph Thompson- for privately stealing in a shop - Ann Jones, for stealing in a dwelling-house -- Moses Daniels and John Smith for house- breaking-Charles Wood and John Vale, for horse-stealing-Lawrence Denley for stealing in a dwelling- house -- John Norton for burglary -- George Scott and Israel Chapman, for high way robbery— William White and John Read, for sheep stealing Mary Gildersleve, for stealing in a dwelling house— Wm. Kelly and Thomas Spicer, for forgery — Thomas Casey, for sheep stealing — William Henry Rawlinson and John Rawlinson, the younger, for stealing from a lag-boat on the River — Henry Hall, for stealing in a dwelling-house — Ann Cale, for privately stealing in a shop --William Grace and Charles Sims, for burglary — Charles Russell, for housebreaking — James Bennett (a boy), for stealing in a dwelling house -Matthew Sullivan (a boy, only 11 years of age., John Lucas and William Green, for stealing in a dwelling-house-Daniel Stockwell, for burglary— Rose O'Hara, Margaret Humphries, and Hannah Brian, for highway robbery -arid John Farmer, for privately stealing. Judgment upon William Bayley and Robert Spencer, for a burglary, was respited in consequence of a point of law having been reserved for the consideration of the twelve Judges. An immense number were sentenced to transportation, some for life, and others for seven and fourteen years. The DUELLISTS  — Messrs. Theodore O'Callaghan, Thomas Joseph Phelan, and Charles Newbolt, were ordered to be fined a shilling, and to be confined three calendar months in his Majesty's gaol of Newgate-. The Sessions were adjourned to Wednesday, Feb. 18.
The sentences next went to the Prince Regent for ratification, and for most this would inevitably be confirmation that they would hang.

Morning Chronicle - Friday 20 February 1818

RECORDER'S REPORT.-Yesterday the Recorder made a Report to the Prince Regent of the following prisoners, capitally convicted at the last Sessions, Charles Wood and John Vale, for horse-stealing; John Lucas, Wm. Green, Matthew Sullivan, Henry Hall, Mary Gildersleeves, Lawrence Denley, Ann Jones, Mary Alder, and James Bennett, for stealing goods in a dwelling-house; Ann Cale and Joseph Thompson, for stealing goods privately in a shop; Moses Daniels and John Smith, for house-breaking; Win. Grace, for burglary; John Norton and Daniel Stockwell, for a like offence; George Scott and Israel Chapman, for a highway robbery; Wm. White, John Reed, and Thomas Casey, for sheep-stealing; William Kelly and 'Thomas Spicer, for uttering forged Bank notes; William Henry Rawlinson and John Rawlinson, jun. for stealing goods from a boat on the navigable river Thames; Charles Sims, for burglary; Rose O'Hara, Margaret Humphreys, and Hannah Briant, for a robbery on James Redman; Charles Russell, for house-breaking; and John Farmer, for stealing goods privately in a shop.- William Kelly, Thomas Spicer, William Henry Rawlinson' and John Rawlinson the younger, were ordered for execution on Wednesday next the 25th instant.- The others were respited during pleasure.

If you have found this blog, you probably have had some connection with the events, places and people described. I would love to hear from you if this is the case. I can be reached at 

[2] Private collection.
[3] Morning Post - Tuesday 09 December 1817
[4] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 7.0, 31 December 2013), January 1818, trial of CHARLES WOOD JOHN VALE (t18180114-13).
[5] Topography of London: Giving a Concise Local Description Of, and Accurate ... By John Lockie, published 1810, and the map is extracted from
[6] Morning Post - Wednesday 28 January 1818
[7] Morning Chronicle - Friday 20 February 1818

A little bit of India in Hertfordshire

Balls Park in Hertfordshire, former home of Edward Harrison.

Many of my friends and readers are interested in Indian history, and it would be a safe assumption that most of them would expect to look towards India to find buildings and artefacts that are linked to India's history.  In fact there are a surprisingly large number of surviving buildings in Britain which are directly linked to India. Balls Park, just outside and to the south east of Hertford is one such place.

Balls Park is a house largely built out of the profits of the East India Company trade with India and China, and demonstrates just how well it was possible for employees of the East India Company to do, if only they could survive long enough to retire to Britain.

Harrison would become Governor of Madras, and his decisions were to give my great x 5 grandfather John De Morgan, the lucky break he needed to get his career under way.

Edward Harrison was born on the 3rd of December 1674, very probably at Balls Park.  The estate is thought to have been bought by his grandfather Sir John Harrison, a Royalist wealthy financier and customs official, who constructed the original house between 1637 and 1640, possibly to the designs of Nicholas Stone the king’s master-mason.

Balls Park from Chauncy History [1]

The house was re-modelled and extended a number of times by Richard Harrison, Edward's father and by Edward Harrison, himself following his retirement.

[1] From

Great Great Great Grandfather, What did you do in the war?


Oxford Loyal Volunteer Jan.1.1799,
by published by T. Taylor, High Street, Oxford [1]

Writing this blog in 2014 I am acutely aware that as is the case for almost everybody else in Europe, it is the 100 years anniversary of the First World War. Being greater than half a century old, I   remember meeting and having enormous respect for many of the veterans of that conflict.

Was this however really the First World War?

With the ever improving access now available to researchers into family history, and especially the fantastic work of the British Library in scanning and releasing the local newspapers from former years, it is now possible if you are really lucky to explore these earlier conflicts in great detail.

This exploring has led me to question if the 1914-18 was really the First World War, or even the Greatest War.  It was certainly very serious, and had enormous impacts.

Through my research into my own forebears, I have been struck by just how comprehensive the mobilisations for some of the earlier wars have been, and just how my forebears had been affected, and also how many of them had active roles in these earlier wars.

For my family, 1914-18 was certainly not the first World War, as they had already been involved in at least two previous global conflicts in 1759, and again in the 1790's that both would have merited that title. In the blogs, I will explore some of these peoples lives in more detail.

My Great Great Great Grandfather Henry Hervey Baber by 1798 already had two brothers who were already serving in the East India Company in India, and another who had just set out for India as a Civil Servant, and who by the end of the year would be heavily involved in fighting out there.

Like so many families in those days, one son, in this case the eldest, Henry was destined for the church.  He was studying Theology at Oxford, so that it was with some surprise that I came across the following extract in a Memorandum that he kept detailing the major events of his life.

It is not quite what you might expect to find, when you research an ancestor who was a clergyman. However this was a revolutionary war, and against an enemy who was intent on bringing down society and the church as they knew it.

In his memorandum Henry recorded...


May 6   Enrolled myself in the Oxford University Volunteers – a private in Captn Scowen’s Company

July 5   The Oxford University Volunteers had their colours presented by Lady Harcourt – a sermon preached in Chrischurch Meadow by Rev’d Mr: Blackstone of New Coll. – Shocking wet day. – under arms from 10 o’Clock to 4, without standing at ease once – severe duty.

The following account of the proceedings of the day are contained in the Reading Mercury published on Monday 9th of July 1798

OXFORD, SATURDAY, July 7. On Thursday morning last, the day appointed for the ceremony of presenting the colours, given by his Grace the Duke of Portland, to the Oxford University Volunteers, at half past eleven o'clock the battalion was formed in Christ Church Meadow, where a pavilion was erected for the reception of the Countess Harcourt &c. The ground was kept the City Armed Association forming an extensive line on each side of the pavilion, and the exterior parts were kept by a troop of the 11th regiment of dragoons, quartered at Abingdon, who obligingly gave their services this occasion. Upon Lady Harcourt's coming on the ground the battalion presented arms, then an order was given for the right company to prepare escort for the colours, which, preceded by the Band, advanced towards the pavilion, the line formed a close column and advanced in rear of the right company. The whole ordered arms when a sermon, suitable to the occasion, from the 4th chap. Nehemiah, verse 14,-- And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be ye not afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight; for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses," was delivered by the Rev. Charles Blackstone, Fellow of New College. After the sermon and consecration of the colours, Lady Harcourt addressed Colonel Coker- "Impressed with the sense of the honour this day conferred upon me, by the Oxford University Volunteers desiring to receive their colours from my hands, I must beg you, Sir, to accept, and to express for me to the regiment, my grateful thanks, with my warmest Wishes for the happiness and prosperity of so respectable a corps.
"The University of Oxford may proudly boast its Founder was a Hero; the Immortal Alfred was equally renowned for his military achievements, and for his patronage of learning within these sacred shades, Edward, and Henry (names ever dear to the glory of England) caught the flame that led them on to conquest, the haughty spirit of France bowed beneath their arms, and now when again she dares our country, and menace us with invasion, this venerable seat of learning finds its brave defenders in those who have here been trained in the love of every art, of every science that dignities mankind. "Long may Oxford flourish, the pride of England, the admiration of the world ! may the patriotic ardour that glows in your bosoms animate every Briton ! may every hand and heart unite to guard our Religion, our King, our Liberty, and our Laws; and may the Almighty Power, who alone can give success, protect the glorious cause."
Her Ladyship then gave the colours to the Colonel, who presented them to the two senior Lieutenants; the Colonel then addressed Lady Harcourt?" MADAM,
"You have this day shewn, that it belongs to the character of refined and dignified benevolence to adopt the language of gratitude while it confers obligation.
" But in whatever manner you may be pleased to speak of your own benignity, I should be guilty of the highest injustice to the honourable men that surround me and to own feelings, if I did not express our most grateful sense of that goodness with which you have condescended to grace and to dignify our ceremony; or, if omitted to make you our warmest acknowledgements for those gracious terms of commendation and praise, which have given not only but a celebrity our undertaking.
" The array of arms and of warlike preparation in a place hitherto devoted to the milder purposes of science and religion, announce the existence of some uncommon occasion of alarm for the welfare of our country.
"An extensive and powerful nation, having thrown off its allegiance Society, to human nature, and to Heaven, has declared hostilities against all the valuable interests and the general happiness of mankind. Under the baneful standard of anarchy and irreligion, it has attacked and destroyed the fairest establishments of human wisdom, to substitute in their place the depravities of corruption and the miseries of despotism. This country, this happy country, whose religion is purity, whole liberty is reason, and whose laws are the union of wisdom, of equity and of mercy, this country so blessed and so distinguished, could not fail to excite the hatred and to provoke the malice of those enemies of mankind; in the fury of their malignity they have daringly, but, I trust most vainly, decreed our destruction and overthrow. You have, Madam, with a most persuasive energy, pointed out to us the glorious conduct that now becomes us as Britons: and you have enforced it the appropriate examples of the brightest characters that adorn our history. In the revered name of the venerable founder, not only of this distinguished seat of learning and piety, but also of the brightest system of civil polity that ever appeared the world, we are called to the protection of our liberties, our religion, and our laws; we are summoned to defend, the example of his valour, the excellent constitution we owe to his wisdom. "In this great and momentous cause we have this day set up and consecrated our standards. "When I look to the noble person to whose liberality are indebted for them, whole protection and patronage is our peculiar boast, I consider them the banners of loyalty, patriotism, and of religion and when I look to the amiable hand from which we received them, I regard them as the ensigns of all the softer and more endearing interest and affections of our nature.
" Turning to the corps, the Colonel proceeded: "To your care, my much honoured companions in arms, to your protection are to be consided these Banners so sacred, so dignified, so endeared. " And when I reflect on the manly and spirited zeal with which you have Stood forward in obedience to the calls of your country; when I reflect on your readiness to quit for the public safety those stations in which you were placed to cultivate and to adorn the community, my heart feels big with proud expectation and hope that you will do justice to the important and honourable trust. Nay, I will not content myself with the cold and doubtful expressions of hope, I will adopt a more just and decided language, I will assert with confidence you will by your conduct at all times evince and confirm, that you have this day's solemnity most awfully and religiously devoted yourselves to the cause of your Sovereign, your Country, and your God. And may that Almighty power, whose creatures we are, in his divine goodness, prosper our humble but ardent endeavours to render ourselves the instruments of his glory and the welfare of our country.

Broad Street Oxford by Rowlandson in about 1809.
" The battalion then formed a line, the escort advanced and pasted in front of it, the line presented arms; the senior Lieutenants then delivered the colours to the two junior Lieutenants, the band playing God save the King" during the ceremony of delivery; the escort resumed its situation. The battalion then passed in review before the Colonel, performing their manoeuvres, and concluded with feu de joye; then passing in review with the Colonel at their head, before Lady Harcourt, they left the ground, and afterwards formed the Broadstreet, when the right company formed an escort and marched in front, the line presenting arms ; the escort then proceeded to lodge the colours.

Christchurch Meadow under a stormy sky.
It can have looked little different in 1798.
The regularity, exactness, and promptitude with which this newly associated body went through the different manoeuvres, would have done honour to the most veteran corps, and though the day was not so propitious as could be wished, the ladies were amply recompensed with a very splendid ball the evening. Earl Harcourt, Right Hon. Wm. Wyndham, Secretary at War, the Rev. the Vice-Chancellor, and many Ladies of distinction, accompanied Lady Harcourt in the pavilion; several temporary stands were crowded with ladies and gentlemen, and a more numerous assemblage of persons, without the smallest confusion or accident happening, has seldom been witnessed on any occasion.

History does not record if Henry took part in any further parades, or if the soaking that he had received that day put him off further soldiering.

On December the 16th 1798 he was ordained a Deacon by the Bishop of Lincoln in Buckden, and in February 1799 he left Oxford to take up a curacy at Ibstock in Leicestershire.

In August 1803 he recorded a second warlike activity.

"reached Ibstock in the evening -- held a meeting at Ibstock on Monday & harangued the people to volunteer their services in defence of their Country. 100 Volunteers enrolled."This event was almost certainly brought about by the restarting of the "Great French War" as it was described later in the 19th Century, that had been halted by the Peace of Amiens signed on the 25th of March 1802, and which had ended on the 18th of May 1803.  This was the only gap in a war that lasted from 1793 until 1814.

Henry Baber went on to become Assistant Librarian at the British Library in 1807, and only retired as Keeper of the Printed Books in 1837. Perhaps it is somehow fitting that it was the British Library that has enabled me to find out so much about his life and those of my other forebears.

Henry went out to Munich in 1814 on a mission for the British Library shortly after Napoleon had been exiled to Elba.  Napoleon's return to France forced Henry to cut short the journey, and he had a hazardous and exciting journey back to Britain via Antwerp often travelling on the same roads that the mobilising Austrian, Prussian and Russians were moving in the lead up to the Battle of Waterloo.

Sent back to France, by the Library in the immediate aftermath of the Battle, he was one of the first civilians into Paris in 1815.  In time I will post blogs on those events too.

If you have found this blog, you probably have had some connection with the events, places and people described. I would love to hear from you if this is the case. I can be reached at

[1]  From Sanders of Oxford Website

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Friends at University, Oxford 1798, a Man Midwife, a Dancing Master and a Parson.

Dotted throughout Henry Hervey Baber’s Memorandum of his life are names of long forgotten people. People who must at some time have been important in his life, and in those of their families.

For most of our forebears we can only ever hope to learn the smallest of amounts about them, and we will almost never know anything about their personal friendships, but thanks to some very brief lines I am beginning to fill in gaps in some of these late 18th Century lives.
"March 2 [1798] Mr Clarke Wootten died aged 31 at Ifley."
Searching through the British Libraries online newspaper archive I turned up the following fascinating paragraphs.

"OXFORD, Saturday, Aug. 3. On Monday se'nnight was married, Mr. John Clarke Wootten, of this city, apothecary, Clarke, daughter of the late Christopher Clarke, of Barnestone, Yorkshire."
From Reading Mercury - Monday 5th of August 1793

It appears that Clarke Wootten was an apothecary who had taken over the recently vacated business of Henry Clarson.

"OXFORD, October 27th, 1796.

ALL Persons remaining indebted to the Estate of Mr. HENRY CLARSON, late of the University of Oxford, Apothecary, deceased, are desired to pay their respective Debts to Mr. John Clark Wootten, of the said University, Apothecary, or Mr. Meysey, Attorney at Law, Oxford, who are duly authorised by the Executors to receive the same, before the First Day of January, 1797, after which Time proceedings will be had for the recovery of the laid Debts by Law, without, giving further Notice."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 8th October 1796.

John had matriculated as “Pharmacopola” on 16 August 1790, and was listed as a partner of the chemist Richard Rawlins above in the Universal Business Directory of 1794/5. [1]

I have no idea why Henry recorded the death of John Clarke Wootten, but presumably they had become friends while Henry was studying at New college.

Sadly, the friendship was not to last for long, as John Clarke Wooten died of tuberculosis, as is recorded by the following paragraph.

"Yesterday died at lfley, near this City, aged thirty-one, in a consumptive state, much lamented by his friends and acquaintances for his sincerity, sobriety, and other good qualifications, Mr. John Clark Wootten, Apothecary and Man-Midwife, and in partnership with Mr. R. Rawlins, by whom the business will be continued, with hopes for the continuation of the favours of his own and Mr. Wootten's friends."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 3rd March 1798

As Henry's Memorandum records, this was not the only tragedy that Mrs Clark Wooten faced in 1798, for on the 15 of June her son aged just six months also died.

The mention of the death of Mr Cullen opens out the possibility that my great great great grandfather may have had Scottish country dancing lessons, for it turns out that Mr Cullen was a dancing master.

In an earlier blog, I recounted how he had had his first dance in public in Banbury the previous year.

Presumably he had enjoyed the experience.


C. CULLEN, from LONDON, late Assistant to Mr. Wills, respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry, and Others, of the University and City of Oxford, and Parts adjacent, that he has fixed his Residence here, where he purposes teaching that Art, and in particular the New Stile of SCOTCH DANCING, Now universally practised in London, by the Fashionable World. Mr. Cullen may -be heard of at Mr. LEY's, Cat Street."

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 25th May 1793

Cullen's death was also recorded in the Oxford Journal.

"On Saturday evening died at his lodgings in this City, after a long and severe illness, in the 26th year of his age, Mr. Cullen, Dancing Master. He was lineally descended from the celebrated Dr. Cullen of Edinburgh. The attainment of good eminence in his profession was by no meant his chief merit; an education superior to the generality of persons in his line of life, joined to an excellent understanding, produced in him such an uniform propriety of manners and conduct, as to render him respected by all with whom he was in any way connected."
From Oxford Journal - Saturday 21st April 1798

Joshua Dix, was probably a fellow student of Henry's who came from Kent, he was the son of Joshua Dix senior, a Minor Canon at Canterbury, who had been educated at Kings School Canterbury.

Joshua had a brother Edward, who went into the Royal Navy who became a Captain, and where after 47 years of service he died during a visit to Totnes.

Henry's note of February 16th 1798, is also confirmed by the papers.

"Joshua Dix, of All Souls;… were 'admitted Bachelors of Arts."
From Oxford Journal - Saturday 17th February 1798

Joshua Dix went on to a career as a clergyman and school master.

The Archdeacon of the Diocese of Canterbury has given the sequestrations of the vicarages of River and Lydden, to the Rev. Joshua Dix, the Senior Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, vacant by the decease of the Rev. Thomas Freeman.

From the Stamford Mercury - Friday 7th August 1807

Oxford University, June 18.— On Wednesday the first day of Act Term, the Rev. Joshua Dix, M. A. of New-coll. was admitted Bachelor in Divinity.

From the Bury and Norwich Post - Wednesday 22 June 1808

On Thursday last the 11th inst. died Mrs. Dix, wife of the Rev. Joshua Dix, Vicar of Feversham, Kent.

From Oxford Journal - Saturday 20 January 1827

The Reverend Dix was appointed to run Feversham School in 1808 and continued to do so well after 1818, when in that year he gave evidence on the running of the school to a Parliamentary Session.

His death happened quite suddenly in 1832.
"Aug. 15. [1832] The Rev. Joshua Dix, Vicar of Feversham, Kent. He was of New college, Oxford, M.A. 1800, B.D. 1808; and was presented to Feversham in 1814 by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury. He was taken ill whilst walking with his daughter in the town, and expired immediately after reaching his house."

From The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 102, Part 2; Volume 152

If you happen across these blog and by chance know anything more about these peoples lives, I would love to hear from you. My email is

[1] See

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Consecration of Banbury Church September 1797

St Mary the Virgin, Banbury in Oxfordshire. 
A photograph taken in the 1880's.[1]

My great great great grandfather the Rev'd Hervey Baber, appears to have always been interested in his family history. After his death he left behind several sets of notes, including a hand written "Memorandum" in the form of a note book in which he recorded the key events of his life and also those of his friends and relatives.

The entry for 1797 in Henry Hervey Baber's Memorandum
[Please click on the image for a larger version.]
The entry above reads... 

21                Attended Dr. Bourne’s Chemical Lectures Feb.y.
        Crotch married Miss Bliss July 10.
     Went to Greenwich July 30
     Took a tour with Webb thro’ Part of Kent. From London to Gravesend in a Hoy – walked to Rochester – rode to Canterbury to Dover, coach broke down – no accident. Walked to Deal – rode to Margate – returned to Greenwich in a Margate Hoy.
Returned to Oxford Sept 1.
Mr J. Petil Andrews Esq.r Died Aug’t
James left Woolwich augt. 5
Went to Banbury with Crotch etc. to see the church consecrated – danced (for the first time in public) at a Ball the same evening.  Sept 6
Attended Dr. Pegges Anatomical Lectures &c; Course dissected for the first time a leg.  Nov.r

The challenge once I had deciphered these notes was to unravel who was who amongst the many people referred to, or the events described. Over a decade ago, I first started to research the events and people in the memorandum, however with only limited results.
With the advent of the British Libraries online newspapers, I have restarted my efforts, and am finding that it is to much greater effect.

The entries above provide the following interesting example.

"Went to Banbury with Crotch etc. to see the church consecrated – danced (for the first time in public) at a Ball the same evening.  Sept 6."

Having driven through Banbury on many occasions, I knew that it had a very fine church at the top of the hill, and that it is quite unusual for its architecture, in this region with its many fine Medieval churches, and it turns out that this was the church that Henry had visited.

St Mary the Virgin, Banbury, photo by Elliott Brown. [2]

 Turning to the newspapers I soon found several articles that had appeared in the following week of September, describing the day, and the events inside the church. The longest and most comprehensive account appears in the Oxford Journal.
Oxford Journal - Saturday 16 September 1797.
On Wednesday the 6th instant, the new-built Church at Banbury was opened for Divine Service, and the form of Consecration performed with becoming solemnity by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Oxford, attended by a respectable body of the neighbouring Clergy.
  An emulation zealous and highly commendable appeared among the Inhabitants, each striving to pay the greatest honour on the occasion. The various Societies of the Town, with the Trustees and Parishioners, entered the Church with the Mayor and Corporation in procession.
High prayers were chanted in a style of peculiar excellence,  by the Rev. Mr. Beckwith and a full choir from Oxford; and the celebration heightened beyond thought, by the inimitable execution of Professor Crotch on the Organ who very liberally gave his services for the day.
A Sermon suited, to the purpose was preached by the Rev. J.Lamb, the Vicar,[3]to a congregation of between two and three thousand persons.
This beautiful edifice is the design and architecture of S. P. Cockrell, Esq. and will remain a lasting monument of his refined taste and distinguished abilities. The inside is finished in the most simple and chaste style of the Ionic Order.
The Western Front remains for completion, by the addition of a Doric Portico, and a circular Tower of the lightest and purest proportion."
From the article it appears that Henry had travelled with Professor William Crotch to Banbury. As Henry was studying theology at All Souls, Oxford at the time, it is very possible that he may have been part of the choir.
William Crotch turns out to have lead a most interesting life, born in 1775 he was soon discovered by his mother to be a gifted musician, who was able to play the organ by the age of three and a half.  He had learnt to play the organ by tapping out the National Anthem which he had absorbed by ear, and was soon able to play it on the organ.

His mother took him up to London and to other cities to exhibit his playing, to many people including the King. 
As the following article from the Oxford Journal on Saturday 3rd of July 1779 demonstrates.
"OXFORD, July 3 Mrs. CROTCH, from Norwich, begs Leave to acquaint the Ladies and Gentlemen of this University and City, that her Child, who is not yet Four Years of Age, will, by Permission of the Vice-Chancellor and the Stewards of the Musical Society, play upon the ORGAN at the Musick Room this Day at Twelve o'clock. — Any Contributions will be gratefully received of such Ladies, and Gentlemen as shall honour Mrs. Crotch with their presence. N. B. A Striking Likeness of this Child, finely engraved by Fittler, may be had of the Printer of this Paper, Price 4s. each."
It is possible that the following engraving may be the one referred to above.
Master Crotch.
"At twelve years old, he composed an oratorio; but he had not at that time either formed his taste, or acquired correctness in composition. He took the degree of Bachelor of Music at Oxford in 1794; in 1797, was made organist at St. John's; and succeeded Dr. Hayes in the Professorship of Music, though only twenty-two years of age: he took his degree of Mus. Doct. in 1799. The substance of these lectures was read in the Music School of Oxford, in 1800 and the following four years."[4]

As William and Henry were both aged 22 it is quite possible that they had become friends during their studies in Oxford.
A possible indication of the closeness of their friendship is that Henry had recorded Crotch's wedding to Miss Bliss earlier in the same entry.

Crotch married Miss Bliss July 10.

This event was recorded in the Reading Mercury dated Monday the 17th of July 1797.

"On Monday was married, at St. Mary's church, Mr. Crotch, Professor in this University, to Miss Bliss, eldest daughter of Mr. Bliss, Bookseller, in the High-Street."

Being married to the daughter of a bookseller, appears to have had great practical benefits for William, as is demonstrated by the following advertisement that appeared in the Oxford Journal on Saturday the 6th of January 1798.

In 1798, Henry would write about a trip to London where on July 12th and 13th he visited William and his wife, and they together made an excursion to the studio of Sir William Beechey, where Crotch showed him the painting below that Beechey had done of William some years before.
William Crotch, painted by Sir William Beechey. [5]

Sadly the newspapers are silent about the festivities in Banbury on the night following the consecration.
Did the choir and all the other clergy stay on for a celebration in the town?
Was this perhaps what had caused Henry to pluck up sufficient courage to be able to dance for the first time in public?

[2] The rest of Elliott Brown's photos of this fine church are to be found here
[3] John Lamb (1781–1815) also chief burgess and aldermen of the borough.  In later life he held an additional cure in Northamptonshire, where he resided, paying Banbury's curate £40 with additional fees of about £98 in 1814.  In the early 19th century divine service was held twice on Sundays and Holy Communion was administered 10 times a year to about 50 people; prayers were said on Wednesdays and Fridays each week.  From British History Online
[4] The Eclectic Review, 1831. Page 249.