Arthur Diver Bunn 1876-1910

By Julie Smith

This is the story of Arthur Bunn who was born in Yarmouth, moved away to join the Fire Brigade but then returned to his home town to die a tragic death.

Arthur Diver Bunn was born on 7th April 1876 in Great Yarmouth and baptised in St Nicholas’ church later that year on 20th Oct. His father Charles Bunn was a piano teacher and organist whilst his mother Rosa Susanna nee Swan spent most of her time looking after Arthur and his 9 siblings!

Arthur’s baptism 20 October 1876

Long before Arthur was born, his great grandfather on his mother’s side, died in a terrible boating accident. Abraham Wooden was a pilot and along with four colleagues was in a boat that was capsized in terrible weather. 61 year old Abraham and two of his colleagues were drowned.

The Sun (London) 17 March 1853

In 1881 Arthur and his family are living in 63 Havelock Road Great Yarmouth and by 1891 the ever expanding family have moved to St Pauls Terrace.

At some stage Arthur moved down to London and in March 1899 at the age of 22 joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Throughout his short career he was stationed at Whitefriars, Greenwich, Shadwell, Burdett Road, Kentish Town, Highbury, Holloway and finally Deptford.

On 30 Sept 1900 at St Bride’s City of London he married 18 year old Olive Eliza Davis who was employed as a Druggists assistant

Marriage certificate for Arthur and Olive 1900

Their marriage was reported in the Bournemouth Daily Echo on 3rd October due to the presence of a very unusual guest – the station dog!

A Dog at a Wedding

Fireman Bunn, of the Whitefriars station, London was married at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street the other day, in the presence of all the men who could be spared off duty. Even the dog – a boarhound*- attached to the station took part in the ceremony. Wearing a white silk bow round its neck, the dog sedately joined in the procession, and walked right up the aisle. It was with difficulty that the animal, which had a large regard for Bunn, could be induced to leave the church. During the ceremony it sat outside whining, but when the newly-married couple walked out the church the dog followed them home and barked its congratulations.

* Also known as a Great Dane.

Olives father James Pool Davis was a City of London Police Constable. When she was born her family were living at 42 Cloth Fair (76 years later I would join the bank just a few hundred yards from this address and would walk passed it every day to and from work! Four times if we went to the nearby pub for lunch!) It is now considered to be the oldest inhabited house in the City of London dating from about 1614.

By the time of the 1901 census Arthur was based at Greenwich Fire station at 10 Lindsell St and the couple were living in the married quarters.

Records indicate that Arthur suffered from ill health and after a spell in the infirmary the Fire Brigade gave him 30 days leave, so on 9th of April 1910 he went to Yarmouth to spend time with his parents Rosa and Charles Bunn to recuperate.

On Tuesday his body was found hanging from an iron girder in the pit fronting the targets at the Rifle Butts on the North Denes.

The following has been put together from various newspaper reports.

His widow, Olive Bunn said that since about March Arthur had been suffering with sleeplessness and pains in his muscles and on recommendation of his Medical Officer it was intended that he should go to St Andrew’s Convalescent and Nursing Home in Folkestone. However, it would seem that he suffered from bouts of depression so due to the state of his mind he was removed to the Greenwich Union Infirmary and discharged on 4th April. Declared better he left for Yarmouth on 9th to stay with his parents.

Olive had identified the body as that of her husband who was 34 years old and a Fireman in the London Brigade based at Evelyn Street Fire Station, Deptford.

Deptford Fire Station 1907

During the Inquest his widow would state that her husband suffered from depression which had lasted about ten weeks. She could not account for this as he was a jolly man. As far as she was aware there was no history of insanity in his family although on a previous occasion whilst in the infirmary he had attempted to commit suicide.

On Saturday Arthur had caught the train from London to Yarmouth. Olive did not see him off at the station and although he had seemed alright he didn’t want to go. Later that evening she received a telegram to let her know that he had arrived safely and on Monday morning she received a postcard from him.

When he arrived at his parent’s home in Walpole Road his mother thought he seemed very tired, however, on Sunday and Monday he was more cheerful. On Monday evening he left home to post a letter and the family never saw him alive again. When he hadn’t come home the following day they reported his disappearance to the Police.

About one 0’clock on Tuesday his body was discovered by Ernest Bacon, a Platelayer for GWR who found him hanging from a girder on the Rifle Butts. His feet were roughly three or four feet of the ground and it was assumed that he had thrown himself off the bank. The depth of the pit altogether was some thirteen feet.

North Yarmouth area

The yellow dot on the above map indicates the area where Arthur’s body was discovered at the rifle range on the North Denes. The Green is Walpole Street where Arthur was staying with his parents and finally the mauve shows the location of the hospital.

Bacon, with the assistance of his companion cut down the body and whilst Bowdry remained with the deceased Bacon went to the workhouse to fetch help. From there he was able to telephone the Police Station and Police Constable Yellup along with the Mortuary Attendant went to the Butts in the ambulance.

The Constable arranged for the body to be removed from the ground by the side of the target pit and taken to the mortuary by ambulance where it was seen by Dr Thomas Lettis. He confirmed that Arthur had been dead for some hours and that apart from the rope marks around his throat there were no signs of violence on the body.

On searching Arthur’s body he was found to have on him half a sovereign, a sixpence and some coppers. In addition they also found a small bottle containing Sulphonyl Tabloids which would have been taken to help him sleep but taken in moderation they were not looked upon as dangerous.

According to Arthur’s boss Superintendent Charles Ulse Deakin, he was one of his men who was always bright and there was nothing bad to say about him. He had recently passed his exanimation for Sub-Officer and was to be promoted at the end of the month. He confirmed that although Arthur had suffered from mental derangement he was a good Officer and a loss to the Fire Brigade. There was no record of him ever having an accident whilst in the service.

Throughout his short time as a Fireman he was in charge of the land steam fire engines and may even be one of the Fireman on the vehicle below!

Fire Steamer London HQ 1909

Eventually all the evidence was presented and the Coroner confirmed that it was very evident that Arthur had suffered from depression and restlessness and on this basis a verdict of “Suicide whilst temporarily insane” was returned.

Arthur Diver Bunn’s funeral took place on 16th April and he was buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth in cemetery section C grave number 828.

At the time of his death 28 year old Olive was 7 months pregnant with their 5th child Ivy who was born in June of that year. Their other four children, all girls were 9 year old Rosa, 8 year old Olive, Bertha who 6 and finally for the time being, the youngest was 4 year old Florence.

In 1917, Olive now 35 years old married Edgar Bell and they went on to have at least one child – another daughter! Olive died in Battersea at the age of 80.

At some stage Arthur was awarded the Coronation Medal but at present I have not been able to find out when and why this was awarded.

I would like to thank Sophie Walter who is the Assistant Curator at the London Fire Brigade Museum who has provided me with some of the information, however, most of the Museum’s archives are in storage pending their planned move to a new Museum in 2024. Perhaps I will find out more about Arthur when all their records are more accessible!

Thomas Henry Styles

By Steve Smith

It’s very satisfying to have amongst the tangles of your tree, a relative for whom something was named. I am particularly proud that the name of a great uncle adorned a well-known building in Great Yarmouth for almost a quarter of a century. The building was the Styles Secondary Modern School and the relative was Thomas Henry Styles. This is his story.

The Styles family can be traced back to Wicklewood near Wymondham but Thomas Styles’ father –Thomas Sr. – was a Norwich born slater who had moved to Yarmouth with his wife Maud (nee Foxhall) in 1900. Three of Thomas’ older sisters were born in Norwich and the fourth came along in 1901 once they were settled in Yarmouth. Thomas was the fifth child and the oldest of three boys. He was born on the 9th December 1902. I didn’t know him, though his son would become an important figure in my life, and of all Thomas’ siblings I only ever met Lucy, who we visited at her home by the cemetery wall each year when we were on our holiday. She died in 1980. Another sister, Ellen, survived longer (Until 1989) but lived in the USA and I don’t believe I ever met her. However Thomas’ widow was my (Great) Auntie Flo, whom we spent our summer holiday with in Gorleston every year and she was very dear to me.

The Styles family were living at no.15 Row 47 when Thomas was born. Page the Pipe Maker’s row ran between North Quay and George Street. At the time the Styles family moved in, James Taylor the most recent owner of the pipe factory was still alive. His ‘Churchwardens’ were shipped all over the country from the factory in Row 47. Part of the row remains and can be found at the west end of the George Street car park running parallel to Saint Francis Way. It emerges on North Quay next to the St John’s Head.

From what we know, Thomas seemed to move around infant schools attending St Andrews and St George’s before moving to the Daniel Tomkins School, which was the old British School on Nelson Road.  Tomkins was a former headmaster of the British School and it was named for him in 1906 following his death – an act that would be mirrored for Thomas fifty years later. Tomkins also started Travers House School on South Quay, an establishment known as Great Yarmouth College and – with his wife – the Sutherland House School for Girls. He was a member of the Great Yarmouth and Norwich School Boards and his dedication to education may well have had an influence on the young Thomas Styles.

Thomas ended his school career at the Great Yarmouth Hospital Boys School which he joined September 1910 at the age of seven, leaving on the 10th November 1916. The records show he had attained his Certificate otherwise, still being under 14 (albeit just) he would not have been able to get a job.

Meanwhile Thomas was only nine when his father died on the 25th June 1913. Thomas Sr. was not yet 40 years old. An inquest found he had died from toxaemia arising from peritonitis during an operation. Maud remarried three years later and Louis Frederick Grey became Thomas’ stepfather.

Thomas (right) with his younger brother Frederick

At the age of 15 Thomas became a Flag Boy for Great Eastern Railways (GER). This presumably involved walking around near where trains were shunting and working with a flag to warn people off. Given that in Great Yarmouth the trains moved along the public quays and highways, this would have been a very busy and perhaps dangerous job. It marked the beginning of a lifelong career on the railways for Thomas. He also got his first real taste of union life when he was admitted into the National Union Railwaymen on the 13th September 1918.

At some point before 1919, the Styles family moved to 36 Tottenham Street, a row of terraced houses between Beach Station and the churchyard. He was still living here when he married Florence Lilian Smith on the 11th March 1926. Flo was my grandad’s sister and this was the event that brought the Styles family into my family tree. It was also the starting place for one of those old family lore stories that got handed down. According to my mum, there was intense rivalry between the Smith and Styles families. The origins of this conflict are unknown. If there is any truth to be had then the enmity peaked with an incident we have not been able to find any evidence for. Both families contained men who were slaters and it is said that whilst working together on a building (One version says the Royal Aquarium), there was a row and one of the Smiths pushed one of the Styles from the roof. One thinks one would be able to find a newspaper report to corroborate this if it were true and as yet we haven’t been able to do so.

There is another family rumour that the wedding was kept a secret for some time afterwards but again, we have nothing to confirm this. It may have been the Styles family kept in the dark as they lived across the river in Tottenham Street but the newlyweds moved into 2 Providence Place in Critten’s Road, Cobholm. This was just around the corner from the Breydon Arms in Tyrolean Square run by Florrie’s parents.

Florence Smith who Thomas married in 1926

And it was here that Thomas Harry Styles was born on the 13th July 1927. This man grew up to become like a brother to my own mother – as we shall see later – and was an important influence on my life too. To try and reduce confusion, I shall refer to Thomas Jr as Tom.

Meanwhile on the 30th March 1928 Thomas was admitted to the National Union of Railwaymen again, this time listed as a Carriage Cleaner. By now, his employer was the London and North Eastern Railway as the GER and several other old railway companies had merged in 1923. Thomas and Flo (and little Tom) were still living at 2 Providence Place in 1929 but the following year had moved to 37 Tyrolean Square.

The family were still in Tyrolean Square in 1932 when Thomas was caught up in criminal proceedings when he unwittingly bought a stolen radio off a man believing it to be a second-hand traveller’s sample. Thomas was not charged but called as a witness and the man he bought it from was committed to trial over a number of similar cases.

It would certainly have been out of character for Thomas to have been in trouble with the police as he was, by all accounts, an honest and good man. It was around this time that he began getting involved with one the great passions of his life. Precisely what motivated him to be involved in the world of First Aid is unclear but Thomas became a member of the St John Ambulance.

Thomas’ St John Ambulance Brigade badge

Formed in 1877 the St John Ambulance Association’s mission was to improve the knowledge and training around First Aid. It was followed ten years later by the St John’s Ambulance Brigade to provide trained men (and eventually women) at events where large crowds were expected. The first groups, or ambulances, were focused in mining communities, in the big railway centres, and – in Great Yarmouth’s case – on the Mission Wherries, that provided pastoral care to the Wherry men.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the GER was one of the railways that established ambulances. In fact it had 35 separate ones in 1908. Many other organisations had their own ambulances and there were also Red Cross units and other bodies offering First Aid services.

To bring them all together an Ambulance Centre was established in Yarmouth in 1919 inspired by the pre-war ambulance teams and the work of the VAD during the war. It had its own committee but seemed to be guided by St John; from at least 1927 it was known as the St John’s Ambulance Association Great Yarmouth Centre. They formed a St John Ambulance Brigade in 1928 to attend events. As well this a big part of ambulance life was taking part in competitions.

I’m reasonably certain this is the St John team that came third in the Dewar Shield. Thomas marked with a cross

The first time we see Thomas’ name in this context is when he is the reserve in the Great Yarmouth Division of St John Ambulance team who came third in the June 1932 Dewar Shield competition, a national First Aid contest and the greatest prize in the industry. He received an aneroid barometer for this victory.

However, Thomas’ real First Aid glory was to come as part of the LNER Ambulance team. The Great Eastern Ambulance Centre Cup was established in 1894 and in 1933 Tom was part of the team that came third – with 206 marks – in the annual final. Harwich and Parkeston-A won with Harwich and Parkeston-B also finishing ahead of Yarmouth. The rest of the team – it seems for several years – were Herbert Winter, James Gowan, and William Page, the captain. The same line-up represented Yarmouth the following year when the improved their ranking to second place, once again behind the Harwich and Parkeston-A team.

St John LNER Centre badge

Another competition, the Borough Bowl was started in 1909 for various Yarmouth ambulances. In 1921 the Bowl and the associated Sir Arthur Fell Cup were taken on by Great Yarmouth Ambulance Centre. The competition now saw teams from the police force and institutions like the LNER competing against companies such as Grouts, Lacons, Johnsons, and Palmers. St John also had their own scratch team. In 1935 Thomas was in the LNER Junior team that took the Fell Cup and the following year was on senior LNER team who took the Bowl from the police, the reigning champions, by 2½ points.

1936 was a great year for the team as they took the Norwich District Cup in the spring and qualified for the Great Eastern Ambulance Centre final in London again. They ended up coming second and took home the Thomas Mein Cup. Each member, including Thomas, received a canteen of cutlery. They were unable to hold on to the Borough Bowl in 1937 and the police took it back with the actual St John’s team pushing LNER into third place. In 1938 Thomas became captain of the LNER Ambulance team and took them to second place in the District Officers’ Cup.

Competition Advert 1935

These were not formal written or oral examinations in some musty hall but very practical demonstrations of their skills. One test was as follows:

A passenger suffering from air-sickness staggers from his seat in an air liner. The plane pitches in rough weather and he collapses in a heap on the floor. This scenario took place in a mock-up of a monoplane complete with air crew, stewardesses and passengers. The teams had to diagnose a fractured spine and arterial haemorrhage, treat them, improvise a stretcher, organise a wireless message to the airport to arrange an ambulance and carry the passenger to said ambulance – all in 20 minutes!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of Thomas’ competition successes nor his other work with the ambulances but it gives an idea of his commitment to the cause.

Thomas’ next civic duty appears to start around 1937 when he becomes the first secretary of the re-established Cobholm and Southtown Ward Labour Association. He will later stand for council (See below)

On the eve of war Thomas and Flo are living at 10 Stone Road, not far from their previous home in Providence Place. In the register compiled for the war, Thomas is still listed as Carriage Cleaner but his entry also notes that he is a qualified guard and shunter. His position as an LNER First Aid Warden is also recorded as is his position with St Johns.

From the same register his mum is still living in Tottenham Street but his stepdad was in hospital. He appeared to have a long term condition as he would still be in, or be back in, hospital at his death 9 years later.

It was the war that also brought my mum to live with Thomas and Flo. My grandad, Flo’s brother, wanted to join the police force and since his parents ran a pub it was considered a conflict of interest to join the Yarmouth force so he ‘ran away’ to London to join the Met. Here he met my nan whose family were from Terrington St Clement and my mum and her siblings were born in North London. At the outbreak of the phoney war mum and her sister were sent to North West Norfolk to live with a childless aunt and uncle. They struggled to cope and after my 4 year old mum unchained their dog because she thought it was cruel, the children were dispatched back to Tottenham. When the Blitz actually got underway she was sent to Thomas and Flo where she lived for a time, which was when she got to know Tom so well. Mind you, when Yarmouth started to get bombed they had to ship her out to a bungalow on the river bank at Repps where my Great Grandfather Henry had gone when his wife died and he gave up the pub. Mum would also live with Thomas and Flo after the war when my nan was in the sanatorium recovering from TB.

Thomas, Flo and my mum shortly after the war

Thomas and Flo’s son Tom, who, as I have said was like another brother to my mum although actually her cousin, would join the army and train as an officer at Sandhurst. He was fortunate that he was able to do this because whilst a teenager he was playing around on the roller-coaster at the Pleasure Beach when he trapped his foot between the car and the famous wooden track. He was in hospital for some time and was lucky that it didn’t disable him too much. I believe he had a short spell in the Marines before deciding the army was more his thing and joined the Royal Norfolk Regiment serving in the Far East. I imagine Thomas and Flo were exceptionally proud of their son to have risen from his working class roots to earn a commission in the British Army. His post army business career was also successful and included a spell as Personnel Manager at Smedleys in North Walsham. Though he didn’t suffer fools gladly, he had an amazing sense of humour and while we didn’t always see eye to eye he had a major – pun intended – influence on my life. Sadly, Tom had an aneurysm whilst I was on holiday with him and his second wife in New England, and though he survived several months, he died in 2001.

Thomas and Flo’s son Tom in the uniform of the Royal Norfolk Regiment

Meanwhile, back to his father. Or rather to his uncle because another event came in 1944 when Thomas must have been feeling proud of his brother. Frederick Styles was awarded the MBE for his part in fighting a fire aboard the Port Fairy, the merchant ship he served as Chief Purser on.

Immediately after the war, Thomas took the next step from his membership of the local Labour party and successfully stood for the Britannia Ward in the Town Council elections. Interestingly, his LNER First Aid comrade William Page was a militant Labour Councillor and one wonders if one got the other involved.

By 1946 he was a member of the Education Committee and one of the gritty problems he was involved with was whether or not to re-establish the pen pal scheme with German children that had run before the war. Thomas was, unsurprisingly, very much in favour of doing so.

In 1947 he lost his seat on Britannia Ward but was moved to St George’s Ward where he was re-elected.  Two years later he stood for St Peter’s Ward in a straight fight against the Conservative Montague Middleton in the 5th July elections but it would be 1952 when he was successfully elected to represent Shrublands Ward for three years, a position he would retain until his death, winning again in 1955. There is more about his work as a Councillor below. Meanwhile, what about the man behind all these roles?

At some point in the 1940s Thomas and Flo moved from Cobholm to Gorleston and lived at 44 Springfield Road. Beryl Rowse grew up next door and remembers ‘Uncle Tom’ with great affection. She says he and Flo looked after her on many occasions and that their home was always an open house for anyone who needed help, comfort or accommodation. Beryl says Thomas organised a Christmas party for local children every year. She recalls that he was still a member of St John’s and he encourage her to join, starting her off on a career of nursing. Thomas and Flo later moved to 33 Middleton Road, a house I remember as she remained there after Thomas died.

In 1952 Councillor Styles was made Vice Chairman of the Education Committee. Thanks largely to the 1944 Education Act (The Butler Act) this was at a time of incredible change and progress in the British educational system. A sharp distinction was made between Primary and Secondary Education; the first Comprehensive schools were being trialled; school meals were being provided as well as free school milk; and the Ministry of Education had more powers than its predecessor the Board of Education. This made for turbulent and busy times on the Great Yarmouth Education Committee and Thomas played a full and vital role.

In 1953 he stood for Chair but was soundly defeated by the extant chair Katherine Mable Adlington by 12 votes to 3. Adlington took the chair in 1952 replacing Mr Harry Thomas Greenacre who had held the position since 1925, and he replaced Edward Worlledge who had been chair since 1888. Two chairmen in 63 years until 1952! Adlington proposed Thomas as her Vice Chair and he was duly elected. I get the impression that despite being on opposite sides of the political divide, they were both passionate about their cause and got on well.

Thomas and Flo at a Civic event. Labour Mayor Laura Gilham is talking to the seated lady

Another friend was Herbert George (Known as Bert) Holmes who ran the H A Holmes building company. Like Thomas, Mr Holmes had a big interest in the schools and education system of Yarmouth.

Thomas was also on the Health Committee from 1952 and by 1956 was Vice Chair of this board too until his death. In 1956 Thomas lost the election for Education chair to Adlington again but now only by two votes. He remained as Vice Chair.

That same year his only child Tom married Audrey and by now Tom was a Travelling Ticket Collector on the railways.

The following year saw controversy at the council. Some councillors felt that the Education Committee was too powerful and wanted to relieve it of some of its delegatory powers. Ironically it was the Labour councillor Leonard Bunnewell, famed for his pacifist stance during the war, who was most vociferous about this. Thomas counter argued that the Education Committee was virtually a council in its own right with 34 subcommittees and boards and it would be impossible for the council to manage it well.

Another Civic event. Thomas peering over Mayor Gilham’s shoulder

That spring Adlington was elected as Mayor of Great Yarmouth and the position of Chair of the committee opened up to Thomas. In May 1957 he became the first ever Labour Chairman of Great Yarmouth Education Committee. Sadly, it would not be for very long.

I’m not sure how ill Thomas had been and for how long but in photos of him and Flo at my auntie Jean’s wedding in June 1957, you can clearly see a mark on his neck. It is possibly the site of a tracheotomy or possibly some other procedure to his throat. Clearly something was amiss.

And on the 18th October 1957 Thomas Styles, husband, father, councillor and big-hearted man, died in Gorleston Hospital. The cause of death was given as Bronchial Carcinoma, a form of lung cancer. He was just 54 years old.

Thomas and Flo at my auntie Jean’s wedding in June 1957

His funeral was attended by Aunt Flo, of course, and his son Tom flew home from Singapore where he was serving, attached to the Singapore Regiment. There were several other family members present and although his mother Maud was still alive – she died in 1962 aged 85 – she is not listed as attending. Perhaps she was too infirm.

However, the true mark of the man was shown by the fact that representatives from virtually every school in the Borough were present along with several Aldermen and Councillors. The Mayor (Katherine Adlington), her Deputy (Laura Gilham), the Town Clerk (Farra Conway), and Chief Constable (C.F. Jelliff) also attended. The Revd. A. G. G. Thurlow described Thomas as “a man of courage to whom friendship with God was a natural part of life”. Thomas was buried in Gorleston Old Cemetery. His wife Flo would join him there when she died in 1975.

There was still one more tribute to this remarkable man to come. On the 25th March 1958, a new Secondary school was opened by Mayor Adlington in Yarmouth in the buildings in Trafalgar Road that used to be the Girls’ High School and before that the Boys’ Grammar. It was named the Styles Secondary Modern, a name it would retain until its closure in 1982 (it was demolished the following year). My parents were at the opening night whilst staying with Aunt Flo on their honeymoon.

Mr Birchenhall, the current chair of the education committee said:

He was a great friend to education in this town and the present educational position was due in some part to what he has seen and experienced in his time

In fact Thomas Henry Styles was a great friend to all the people of the town and I am proud to count him as a relative.

The Styles School

Robert Moon Brand 1823 – 1900

By Julie Smith

Robert Moon Brand was our great, great, great grandfather and out of all our ancestors I have researched he is the one person I would love to have met. I don’t know what he looked like although I can picture him in my mind. I would love to know his story, why did he do the things he did that caused him to be “unpopular” with his family?

All I can do is relate his life as best I can, this is Robert’s story.

Robert Moon Brand was born on 8 January 1823 to William Jermyn Brand a woollen draper and his wife Prudence Moon. He was baptised just 5 days later on 13th in the parish church of St Nicholas.

In 1841 Robert is living with his parents and ten siblings in Broad Row. Both Robert and his father William are listed as tailors and drapers.

The following announcement reported in the Norfolk News 18 October 1845 is rather perplexing, the same day being “Thursday last” so I would assume that was 16th.

I have not been able to find anything else alluding to this marriage and indeed when Lydia married in 1847 she stated she was a spinster and Robert confirmed he was a bachelor when he married Jane in 1851.

Lydia was about 12 years older than Robert so perhaps she was his “cougar” of the day and they just wanted a dirty weekend away although I find it hard to believe that this was printed in a local paper and no member of either family disputed it!

It would appear that at some stage Robert started out on his own and in 1846 he was a victim of theft along with his brother in law William Algar Burton who was married to Robert’s eldest sister Elizabeth Prudence.

Bury & Norwich Post

11 March 1846

The most important cases in the calendar were those of five of the Norwich gang of thieves, who were indicted for stealing goods from Messrs W.A. Burton, R.M. Brand and F Dendy, three drapers in the town. Henry Reed, James Galer and Benjamin Howes were found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation. Wm Davis and Charles Ostler were acquitted.

In 1851 Robert was running his own business as a tailor and draper in Broad Row employing 8 men. His shop was just a few doors down from his parents and siblings. William and his younger son are now running the business as woollen drapers.

In the parish church of Great Yarmouth on 1 April 1851 just 2 days after the census was taken, Robert married 27 year old Jane Elizabeth Simpson the eldest daughter of William Marfrey Simpson a watch and clockmaker in the town.

At the time of their marriage Jane was already pregnant and gave birth to their first son – Robert William on 25th August 1851. Sadly he died only 6 days later on 31st and cause of death was given as diarrhoea which was certified. The death was registered by a lady by the name of Elizabeth Shingles of row 36 who said she was present when he died. According to the census of that year she was a midwife so had probably been called in to help Jane.

Within seven years, Jane would give birth to at least another 6 children starting with Alice Elizabeth on 17 July 1852, swiftly followed by Robert William on 10 October 1853, Arthur Simpson on 16 December 1854, Florence Mary came along on 15 October 1856, George Joseph on 7 April 1858 and finally, for the time being at least, our great, great grandfather William George entered the world on 29 July 1859. George Joseph would only live for five months and died on 26 September whilst the family were living at Bowling Green Walk.

Theft was not uncommon and the warren of rows enabled thieves to make a quick get a way but not all succeeded!

On the 7th June 1851 the Norfolk News reported that at the Police Court on Saturday 31st May Robert Brown was committed for trial for stealing a pair of trowsers (sic) from the shop of Mr Robert Brand, a draper of the Broad Row.

It would appear that Robert had an interest in husbandry and won prizes for his domestic chickens. Judging by newspaper reports this would continue for many years.

In 1852 he entered two competitions, both of which took place in Vauxhall Gardens.

In August he won prizes at the Vauxhall Floricultural and Horticultural Show with his Cochin China, Boulton Greys and Polish. This appears to be a competition for locals, however, later in the year in September he entered the “Yarmouth and Eastern Counties Association for Promoting the Improvement of Domestic Poultry”. He won £1 which today would be in the region of £100, for his “Polands”.

These were not every day chickens, the Poland which was also known as the Polish in some parts, is one of the oldest breeds of poultry, whereas the Cochin China had only been introduced to the UK in 1843. I cannot find anything about the Boulton Greys so it may have been called something else and this was a local name.

At the time Robert would have been living in Broad Row so I do not know where he would have kept his birds.

In 1852 Robert was witness to a robbery that took place near his shop in Broad row and the following article was reported in –  

Norfolk News

23 October 1852

Walter Self Layton was brought up charged with having stolen three pairs of worsted stockings from the shop of Mr Robins of the Broad row on Saturday night.

Mr Robins said that on Saturday night he had three pairs of worsted stockings hanging from his door, between seven and eight o’clock. He was told about eight o’clock they were gone, and soon afterwards they were brought to his shop by some young man. The stockings produced by the police were those stolen.

Mr R M Brand was standing by his shop on Saturday night when he heard a string snap, and witness saw prisoner put something under his slop and run away. Witness followed and stopped him by Johnson’s row, where something was dropped which turned out to be the stockings in question. The prisoner struggled and got away from witness.

Corba Sunman deposed to have seen the prisoner and Mr Brand run into Johnson’s row. Mr Brand asked witness to go into the row and pick something up which proved to be three pairs of worsted stockings. The prisoner said he would walk to the shop quietly, when Mr Brand left hold of him, but he immediately ran away. Witness took the stockings to Mr Robins shop and afterwards gave them to the police.

The prisoner said he was innocent of the charge but the magistrates committed him for trial at the next sessions.

On 19th April 1853 Robert’s father William Jermyn died at the age of 71. It would appear that from his will everything was left to his wife to dispose of accordingly. Whether Robert received any financial gain from his later father we do not know however, according to the Morning Chronicle published on 24 September 1853 Robert Moore (sic) Brand – Tailor and Draper had shares in the Unity Fire Insurance Assoc. It is also possible that Robert came into funds when the following was reported –

Norwich Mercury

30 April 1853

Great Yarmouth

Capital Business Premises to Let – Situate in Broad Row now in the occupation of R.M. Brand: a very compact shop with plate grass front.

House in good condition: The present occupier removing to larger premises, very suitable for a light fancy trader.

Particulars can be had on application to Mr R.M. Brand.

In 1855 Robert was once again a victim of theft and the following report appeared in the Norfolk News on 17th February –

“On Thursday evening, the 8th inst, a pair of trousers and a waistcoat were stolen from the shop of Mr Robert Brand, a draper, situate in the Broad Row”. This time there is no mention of the culprit so I assume they managed to get away.

In October 1855, 179 Merchants, Traders and Inhabitants of Great Yarmouth and its vicinity called for a public meeting to take place to discuss the possibility of the railway line (Yarmouth to Norwich had opened in 1844) from Yarmouth to join the East Suffolk Railway at Haddiscoe, and considered   a matter of great importance and financial gain to the town.. Amongst those who put their names to the petition were Robert M Brand and his brother Henry.

The mayor, Charles John Palmer convened a public meeting of the inhabitants to take place on Friday 2nd of November at 12 0’clock noon at the Town Hall to discuss the possibility of the extension.

Eventually authority was obtained for an extension of the line which was constructed by the newly formed Yarmouth and Haddiscoe Railway and opened on 1st June 1859. By this time Robert had changed career from draper to fish merchant and must have benefited from the new line.

The following article appeared in the Norfolk News on 12th April 1856 and it would appear that Robert was throwing in the towel!

We have no way of telling why Robert took this action but can only assume that it was because he was in financial difficulties and this seems to allow him to pass over his debts without the need to be declared bankrupt. Certainly by 1858 he has changed occupations and is now running a business as a fish merchant.

A good source of tracking where your (male) ancestors may have lived is the Electoral Registers which have been taken annually since 1832 apart from 1916 & 17 and 1940-44.

In the case of Borough voters, men were eligible to vote if they were owners of property worth £10 a year. In the case of County voters, men were eligible if they either owned freehold property worth 40 shillings a year, were £10 copyholders (holding land from a manor), £10 leaseholders (as long as the lease was for 60 years or more) or were £50 tenants. Not all years are available, however, we can get a rough idea with the years we have as well as the census’s to find where Robert had lived.

Between 1846 and 1852 he is listed as having a house and shop in Broad Row and by 1853 until at least 1855 he is shown as having a house in Charlotte Street.

By 1858 we know he is now working as a fish merchant and the sheet below shows where he was living that year. (Third from bottom)

The next time I can find him is in 1885 where he is listed as having a dwelling House in Bridge Road. This would remain the same for the next few years. The last time I can find him in the register is possibly 1890 when there is a Robert Brand listed as having a dwelling house in Cemetery Road, however, this address has never appeared before or after that date for him.

The census taken on 7 April 1861 confirms that Robert is now employed as a fish merchant and he, his wife and four of their children are living in Bowling Green Walk, Yarmouth. Their eldest daughter, 8 year old Alice is visiting her aunt, Roberts sister Mary Ann and her husband George Giles and their 7 children in South Quay.

At the time of the census Jane was pregnant and would give birth to their last child as far as we are aware, on 17 October 1861 – Marian Alleyne. Sadly, Marian, who had been named after her maternal grandmother, would not reach her second birthday and died on 17 October 1863. Cause of death was given as convulsions – 3 days.

Sadly, Jane died on 1 October 1869, cause of death is given as “debility, 1 month – congestion of lungs – 48 hours”.

Robert was left to look after 5 children, Alice 17, Robert 16, Arthur 14, Florence now 11 and William just 10. I should imagine the burden of bringing up the younger children fell onto the shoulders of Alice, barely an adult herself.

By 1871, Robert and his children are living 1 Prospect Place, Caister Road and he has gone back to his original occupation and is listed as a tailor and cutter whilst Alice is employed as a milliner. Arthur and William are both at school whereas young Robert is living with his widowed aunt, Elizabeth Burton a Woollen Draper, in 96 High Street, Lowestoft where he is employed as her apprentice and 15 year old Florence is living with another aunt and uncle, Ann and William Jermyn Brand in Stokesley where she is attending school.

Robert was involved as a witness to a nasty accident which occurred near his house. Although he is only mentioned briefly I have covered the article in depth as it gives us an idea of where he lived and how close to the river his home was.

The Norwich Mercury

April 26th 1873

Melancholy Accident

Loss of Two Lives

An accident at Runham on Tuesday which involved the loss of two lives.

Mr Parmenter salt and manure merchant residing on the Runham side of the river Bure, about a quarter of a mile from the Suspension Bridge and just opposite what are known as the Muck-holes, had arranged to take a day’s holiday and with his wife, child and servant attend the Great Yarmouth Spring Race Meeting.

To get better understanding of the accident a description of the spot where the casualty occurred will be necessary.

The house occupied by Mr Parmenter is situated in close proximity to the river Bure and is only separated from the river bank by a narrow roadway leading to the marshes. This road is some seven or eight feet above the level of the river at high water, and is banked up next the stream by earth faced with large flints.

Just before 2 0’clock when the tide was about to flood, Mr Parmenter had arranged to drive onto the course and his wife, child and servant were in the dog cart. Mr Parmenter having seen to the security of the child by fastening it to the rail of the cart, and was in the act of going round to take his seat in the vehicle when the horse suddenly became restive turned quite round and commenced backing towards the river only a few feet distant. Mr Parmenter seeing the danger caught the reins and endeavoured to get the horse forward but it continued backing and forced the cart and its occupants over the edge of the bank into the river. Immediately the animal found itself in the water it turned and made towards the other side of the river, where there is a sloping bank.

At the inquest Mr R M Brand deposed to having seen the horse and cart standing against Mr Parmenter’s house, the wife was seated in front and Mr Parmenter was in the act of assisting the servant up at the back of the vehicle. Witness then entered his own house which was situated not far from Mr Parmenter’s and in a minute or so he heard an alarm and on running out to ascertain the cause, he saw the horse and cart in the river and Mr and Mrs Parmenter being assisted out. The servant was picked up by a wherry man who was sailing his craft not far from the spot. Witness went on board the wherry and found the servant dead. He did his best to restore animation but life seemed extinct. He was present when the body of the child was recovered. Both bodies were landed on the Runham side of the stream.

The river was very much unprotected at that spot and witness had known an instance previously where a horse and cart belonging to Mr Bellamy had backed into the stream. Other accidents of a similar nature had also happened.

The inquest took place on Wednesday afternoon at the Suspension Bridge beer-house and the coroner made a few observations to the jury. He asked whether something could not be done to protect the river where the accident happened, which in its present state was certainly very dangerous.

Mr Royal, one of the jury said the road was vested in him and other owners of property there. He should be ready to contribute his quota with others but he was afraid the money could not be raised to put posts and palings along the bank of the river for the whole distance – three quarters of a mile. It would cost a great deal of money and there were only five or six owners who could contribute anything.

Besides, he did not think the Port and Haven Commissioners would allow anything to be put up because the road was used as a towing path. The road was eighteen feet wide where the accident happened and twenty foot in some places.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death on 4 year old Lilian Maude Parmenter and 16 year old Jane Barnard.

Later that same year in October the Norwich Mercury reported the case of attempted suicide by a young lady called Ann Michell. At that time suicide was seen as a crime so Ann was placed in the dock and charged for this offence.

Once again one of the witnesses was Robert. The article goes on to say that “Mr RM Brand who resides in the Runham side of the river Bure said on Saturday afternoon he saw defendant walking on the other side of the river and soon after his attention was attracted by hearing a shout and looking round he saw the defendant in the river about four yards from the bank. Witness immediately ran to a boat and with assistance managed to get the woman out.

When rescued she was in a very exhausted state and quite unconscious. Medical assistance was sent for and defendant was removed to the Workhouse. The magistrates thought the defendant could not be sane and ordered her to be remanded for a week that she could be visited by a medical man and the state of her mind ascertained”.

On 21st August 1873, Robert’s father in law William Marfrey Simpson died. In his will which had been written in 1870, he left the sum of £200 (c£15k) which was to be placed in the names of his trustees for the benefit of the children of Robert Moon and Jane Elizabeth Brand. The principal sum to remain out of interest until the youngest child attained the age of 21 years. This would have been William George Brand, our great, great grandfather who was born in 1859. Robert would receive the interest as long as he remained a widower. Should he remarry the interest would be added to the principal sum with the executors and trustees and to use discretion if Robert is entitled to one half of the trust money and William gave instructions that the £50 (c£3800) for which he had acted as surety was not repaid by the time of his demise should be paid out of Roberts share (which I take to be the interest he will receive on the invested sum) and not from William’s real or personal estate.

William appears to have added a codicil in which he makes mention of having two daughters, one being Jane Elizabeth Simpson who had married Robert Moon Brand and that on 1st October 1869 she had died leaving 2 boys and 3 girls. He reiterates that £50 surety he had put up on behalf of Robert was to be paid by him and not from the estate. The sum left in trust for the children was increased to £300 (c.£22,800) and again was to be held in trust until the youngest child turned 21 years at which time the aforesaid amount was to be equally divided share and share alike. The other difference was that the interest shall be entirely at their discretion and makes no mention that Robert would be in receipt of this.

William also stressed that Robert Moon Brand should have nothing to do with my business and that when the legacy is divided amongst the survivors (i.e. the children) they alone should be in receipt.

It would appear that Robert could not be trusted with money and had borrowed quite a large sum for which his father in law acted as guarantor.

I have not yet been able to find out why he needed the money and from whom he borrowed it!

At some stage Florence returned from Stokesley and when she was 20 years old she gave birth to her first illegitimate child, Lilian Collinson born on 13 May 1876 in Runham Vauxhall. Shortly after she was pregnant again and gave birth to Frank William on 22 August 1878. Just a few weeks later on 7th October Lilian died and cause of death was recorded as “probable cause of death – Bronchitis” certified by Dr Thomas Lettis. Just over a year later Frank died of Tabes Mesenteric a form of TB, on the 30 December 1879. Both deaths were registered by Florence’s sister Alice.

By 1881 Robert is living in 11 Bure Place, Runham Vauxhall with Arthur who is a Postman, William a tailor like his father and Florence is working as a seamstress.

Robert is still showing his poultry and in the Lowestoft Journal 12 Feb 1887 there is an article reporting the Lowestoft and District Poultry Society completion that had been held on Monday 31st January 1887. The meeting was well patronized especially in the evening. By now apart from showing his birds, Robert is also on the committee.

Robert was among the principal exhibitors for poultry and won many prizes at that particular competition –

1st Prize for a beautiful black bantam cock

2nd Prize for a black and red bantam hen

Highly commended for his red hen

In the tumblers (from what I can find out, Tumblers are a variety of domestic pigeons) he got a 2nd and 3rd with a cock and a hen.

In the Antwerps (a breed of chicken) he obtained 1st with a red chequered cock.

The champion bird of the show was a bantam cock exhibited by Robert.

In 1891 it is just Robert and his daughter Florence living at 55 Maygrove Place as Arthur is already married and William was getting married on the day the census was taken on 6th April 1891.

Robert appears to have started life so well and as we know at one stage his business was substantial enough to employ 8 men. When and why it went wrong I do not know but by all accounts he seems to have been the black sheep of the family and even his own brother did not trust him with money!.

Perhaps he was a womaniser as we have the unexplained “marriage” in 1846. Having said that it was unusual for the time that as widower with a young family he didn’t marry again after Jane died, although this in part may be to do with his father in laws will which I have already covered.

Was he a gambler or drinker? After all it looked like his business was going to the wall in 1856 so perhaps he had huge debts outstanding and sold the business before it was taken from him.

In any event he certainly wasn’t “son of the month”! When Prudence died in 1870 she left her estate between seven of her eleven children. Mary Ann had pre deceased her mother and Louisa and her family were in Canada, however, both Elizabeth and Robert were omitted from the will. Elizabeth was running the family business in Lowestoft so perhaps her mother thought that was sufficient for her eldest daughter. Robert is now a widower but obviously not thought of as being responsible enough to benefit financially.

When his brother Henry died in August 1898 he was left a legacy but not without restrictions! Most of his siblings received large one off payment, however, Henry must have thought that Robert could not be trusted with this amount of money and he was left a weekly allowance instead. Furthermore, it could be withdrawn at any time! In his will Henry wrote “A sum of twelve shillings a week to my brother Robert Moon Brand for his life or until he shall attempt to change or anticipate payment and thereof in which case it is to fall into the residue of my estate”.

I assume that Robert was back on the straight and narrow although we have no way of knowing if the weekly payment was ever withdrawn.

On 27th January 1900 Robert died at 28 Maygrove Road of Bronchitis and senile decay. Florence was present at the time of death. His funeral took place on 1st February and was buried alongside his wife in Yarmouth cemetery, Section Q, Grave 159.


Heading South

The Development of the South Denes (Part One)

By Steve Smith

I developed an interest in the South Denes whilst researching a book on a relative, Henry Howard Brand, who moved part of his Yarmouth and Lowestoft tailoring empire here in the late 19th century. I wanted to understand more about the area he chose to site his oilskins factory in. I quickly realised that this was an area of the town that was developing rapidly after centuries of remaining virtually unchanged. As so often happens when I am researching, I was distracted and I found myself being drawn down a sandy path of exploration. I also realised I had bitten off an awful lot to chew, particularly during the rapid expansion of the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus this first article looks only at the development of the South Denes as far as the early 1800s.

I also soon recognised that there is a lot of vague and often contradictory information about the subject. I have done my best to sift carefully through this mire and use the most evidenced information that I can. I accept that I will have perpetuated previous errors and probably created some of my own so I welcome corrections, clarifications and virtual clouts around my ear. The article is written in good faith and with a love of Yarmouth and its history at its heart.

Speaking of which, there is nowadays a little dispute over the long assumed history of exactly when a spit of sand and shingle formed across the mouth of the estuary and became Yarmouth. Some evidence has been interpreted as proof of Roman occupation. However, most agree that the first settlement of the medieval era was probably fishermen on Fuller’s Hill by around 900 AD and was likely seasonal as they moved around after the shoals of fish. By the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 it was a small but flourishing borough and by the end of the fourteenth century the townsfolk were crammed within an area bounded by a wall some 2238 yards long on three sides, and by the river on the west. All around this medieval town were areas of largely wasteland known as Denes.

The Hutch Map, so called because it was found in the Hutch in the Town Hall with Corporation papers, purports to show the Great Estuary around 1000AD
(It is of course reversed with South at the top). It was probably drawn by Damet to accompany his manuscript on the town’s history.

Fishermen were entitled through ancient rights of ‘den and strond’ to run their boats ashore on any beach where they could be unloaded. ‘Den and strond’ being Dene (a word closely related to Dune, the sandbanks above the high water mark) and Strand (meaning beach, particularly that part between the high water and low water marks).

Driage rights – the right of the fishermen to dry their nets on the Denes were also established early on. It is thought that most of the entire sandbank was first used for this purpose. In fact there is a school of thought that says the way the nets were staked out in a grid system with passages between them, led to the famous Rows of Yarmouth.

By the time the town was established and enclosed by its wall, there were vast swathes of sand left to the north, east, and south of the town. Most driage now took place on the eastern Denes between the town and the beach where the fishermen’s boats landed. However it is those lying to the south, from the southern end of the town wall to where river currently enters the sea that this article concerns itself with.

Apart from the fishermen, usage of the Denes was limited. Certainly townsmen let their animals roam here and windmills were built on the Eastern denes from the time of Edward I. These were opposed by the fishermen as they interfered with the drying of nets. The beach was also used as an area for building ships, while old, derelict ships were abandoned there. The southern Denes were less used by the fishermen or the townspeople. Part of the reason was that until the sixteenth century the area of land altered quite often.

Perhaps first we need a quick reminder of how the watercourse around Yarmouth changed. Once a great estuary stretching from Lothingland in the south to Flegg Island in the north, the sandbank that became Yarmouth appeared right across the entrance to the estuary creating a large bar. Channels ran north and south of this bar with the northern one close to what is now the boundary of Yarmouth and Caister.

The southern channel ran down through Gorleston and south to the Gunton area where it entered the sea. The southern channel to the Haven had to be recut several times because if silted up or was damaged by storms. I plan to try and tell the story of the Havens in another blog soon but let us touch on those that concern us in this article.

The second man-made cut crossed the South Denes approximately 500m north of where the power station stands today. This was blocked by 1408. The fifth ran very close to the current (seventh) cut – probably very slightly closer to the town whilst the sixth Haven cut across about 400m south of the South Gate. Begun in 1548 and blocked by 1557 this one was damaged during its construction by Kett’s rebels who tried unsuccessfully to take Great Yarmouth.

This cut is shown on the Elizabethan Plan pictured below. Interestingly written history tells us the cut was damaged by Kett’s rebels before it was complete – they stopped it with manure and stone – and yet, in the plan, that was probably drawn about 1570, it appears to be complete, albeit somewhat narrower than the actual current harbour mouth.  In the 18th century, a trench showing the course of this particular entrance was still visible and was shown on maps as the Old Haven.

Elizabethan Plan c.1570 by Petrus Plancius (aka Platevoet) of Flanders. The original forms part of the Cottonian Library at the British Library

The seventh and current Haven cut was begun in 1559 and completed in 1567. This of course forms the southern boundary of the South Denes.

The old cut means that the South Denes are effectively split into two. It shows rope-making happening on the land just outside the South Gate, which certainly agrees with what we know from written documents and will be explored further in Part 2. The southernmost part of the South Denes is effectively an island with only one building on it which is discussed further on.

During the seventh Haven construction period, a significant building project outside the town walls happened with the construction of the Jetty. Although not on the South Denes but in the area known as the Beach, it is noteworthy enough to mention here. A road tracked across the Denes to the Jetty, first built in 1560, and was used by fishermen who landed their fish on the Jetty or directly on to the beach, to haul their catch to the fish market in the centre of the town. Originally called White Lion Road it became Jetty Road before ending up as St Peter’s Road. Interestingly the Jetty doesn’t feature on Petrus’ plan but there are several windmills along the Beach area of the Denes.

It is possible that one of the windmills along the eastern Denes or beach strayed into South Denes territory but far from certain. Also, there are earthworks recorded on the quay immediately north of the Spending Beach which are thought to be a medieval or post-medieval mill although they are also very close to where the Fort (See below) was so may have been misinterpreted.

The Jetty

There was actually a second Jetty about two thirds of the way between the Jetty and the pier on the north of the harbour mouth. I’m not sure when this one was built or demolished but it is shown on the 1734 plan (Spelt Jettee) but by the 1842 map it is shown as Scite of old Jetty.

The main Jetty, which stood in one form or another until 2012, originally had a crane at the end to help with unloading. It was rebuilt in 1701 and damaged by storms in 1767, 1791 and 1805. In 1809 it was rebuilt without a crane at a cost of £5,000, which was a considerable sum in those days, and emphasises the importance of the structure to the town. It was lengthened in 1846 and again in 1870. Despite public protest, demolition of the Jetty began in January 2012.

The first important piece of infrastructure to be built on the South Denes was the Ballast Quay which was first made in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada when much investment was made in Yarmouth. (This date is according to Henry Manship in his history of Yarmouth published in 1619. Several other sources say 1602 but there is little reason to suspect Manship’s earlier date is wrong).

Until then, the main quays of the port lay along that part of the river protected by the town wall and were The Lord’s Quay, North Quay, Hall Quay (Sometimes Broad Quay), and South Quay. The latter was that described by Defoe in the 1720s as the ‘finest quay in England if not in Europe’. Prior to Ballast Quay being built, ballast was “very dispersedly and disorderly taken in and laid forth at several quays to the great annoyance of the Haven”. It’s very likely this included South Quay where many ship owners had fine houses, so moving it south to the wastelands would have been a sensible and popular move.

The new quay ran along the east side of the Yare a few hundred meters south of the South Gate. At this wharf, ships would come to be loaded with ballast – an aggregate such as sand or shingle – to keep them low in the water if they weren’t carrying a cargo on their return voyage. Without it the over-buoyant vessels would be wrecked. The ballast could be gathered for next to nothing from the Denes and sold to ship’s owners for a tidy sum thus it was an important source of income for the Corporation, having acquired it from private hands in the 14th century.

The South Gate by Thomas Hearne. the gate was taken down in 1812.

Given that this Lastage (also Ballastage) was such an important source of income, the Ballast Master was an important job. Yarmouth’s Ballast masters include Samuel Costerton and Captain Henry Barrett (1775-1847). Barrett was equally famous for his book ‘Treatise on Harbours and Bars’. However, the position was often let to the highest bidder causing many accusations of abuse and misuse of power.

The Ballast Quay in Yarmouth was also where the Dutch Schuyts (Cargo barges) traditionally assembled at the start of the herring fishery except during the wars (1652-1654, 1665-1667, 1672-1674, & 1780-1784).

In 1878 Ballast Quay would be moved further south to make way for the extension of the fish wharf but more of that in Part 2.

We now come to the defence of the town; at least those fortifications that encroach onto the South Denes. First though, a small mystery. The Petrus map clearly shows a building near the river halfway between the sixth and seventh cuts. It is not clear what the building is although it looks like a warehouse being tall and having a large door in one end. It also has a path (possibly raised) leading from the door to the harbour mouth where guns were mounted so perhaps it was or included a magazine. In later paintings of the Harbour Fort (See below) it appears extant and surrounded by the fort’s walls. Perhaps it was an early naval store used by ships that tied up at The Point or landed on the Spending Beach and was later incorporated into the Fort?

Left, an extract from the Petrus map showing the warehouse like building and right, two later views of the fort both showing a similar building within the walls

The first defences on the South Denes were two of a line of ‘bulwarkes of earth’ built on the beach in 1539. One was not far from the South Gate but on the seaward side whilst the other stood near the mouth of the Haven – with three cannon planned for it – to guard the channel into Yarmouth through the Roads (St Nicholas Gat) and the Harbour mouth itself. No traces of these or the other 1539 bulwarks survive and in fact they were declared nearly useless by the Duke of Norfolk as early as 1545 when he came to report on Yarmouth’s defences for the King. A year later his point was proved when three French Privateers sailed past it and captured an English merchant ship. It is possible that it never received the cannons it was supposed to get which meant, in essence, it was a big pile of dirt! A plan in Peter Kent’s Fortifications of East Anglia shows the Bulwark to be North of the Warehouse building on the Petrus map and just north of the old 5th Haven.

Excellent plan of the South Denes defences from Peter Kent’s Fortifications of East Anglia

1n 1588 Edmund Yorke, Queen Elizabeth’s chief ordinance prepared A Plan of the Fortifications of Great Yarmouth in 1588. This plan is now known as the Yorke Map (and is featured below. On it there is a polygonal, almost star-shaped, wall hard by The Point which and a similar, smaller battery on the opposite side of the river in Gorleston. The Yorke Map is considered a plan or proposal to defend against the Armada and not all the defences shown were built, at least not at that time.

The Yorke Map – a perspective plan of intended fortifications as well as existing (1588)

After the threat of Spanish Invasion in 1588, the English Civil War now threatened Yarmouth. Specifically, around 1648 Loyalist refugees in Holland posed a real threat to the East Coast. The Town Assembly agreed to build a Harbour Fort to protect the Haven but it took a few years, and the actual outbreak of the first Dutch War to get it completed. Preston, in his book The Picture of Yarmouth, says that the date 1653 appears in a stone in the wall which would appear to give us an accurate date.

The Fort was constructed near the harbour mouth. It is shown on maps as being a many-sided brick fort with ravelins, two half-moon batteries, and brick crenulations. Inside the fort were barracks, a magazine and a storeroom. As we have discussed earlier, it is quite possible that the central building within the walls was in fact constructed almost a century earlier.  

An illustration of the Harbour Fort from Peter Kent’s book

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin’s Plan de la Ville d’Yarmouth from the mid-18th century also shows a battery on the harbour mouth. It is possible that this has also been there for some years and is why a path leads from the above building to the North pier in the Petrus plan, though this is purely speculation.

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin’s Plan de la Ville d’Yarmouth

Incidentally Bellin’s plan also shows a fanal (lantern) on the South Denes and according to Palmer’s Perlustrations, before reaching the harbour’s mouth there was “a beacon elevated on a frame as may be seen on Fleurens’ chart”. I have not been able to locate a copy of Fleurens’ chart.

One thing we know from Charles Labelye (A Swiss engineer engaged to survey the harbour in 1747) was that the Fort must have been very close to the river near the harbour entrance. Although Labelye is sceptical it is the real reason why, he accepts claims that the north pier was filled in with rubble because the sea was in danger of damaging the fort are feasible. His scepticism stems from the fact that if damage to the fort was really likely, piles would have been driven in by the proper authorities. This seems to indicate that the Fort was very close to the Haven’s mouth.

A 1730 chart of the Roads

Labelye then goes further stating that should the fort have been washed away, it would have made little difference to the town’s defences. This seems to be a common theme with Yarmouth’s fortifications: the wall was not built to withstand assault by cannon, even though cannons were already being used in battle when the wall was begun; the bulwarks built in 1539 were vulnerable to attack by raiding parties and too far from the town to be reinforced; the New Mount, in the town, was built against the wall and caused part of it to collapse, and so on. Despite being armed with eight cannon, the Fort had not long been in place when a privateer took four Hamburg ships without being troubled by the Fort. It seems Labelye’s later conclusions were quite accurate.

After the Restoration the Harbour Fort fell in disuse but was repaired when the Second Dutch War began in 1666. Sir Thomas Medowes recommended further repairs in 1683. Bizarrely these repairs included a shed built on the side of the Fort which would have allowed people to get over the walls. Medowes was reprimanded and the shed pulled down. In 1688 it was actually stormed by a mob from the town, possibly seeking weapons, but they were soon expelled.

On the 1734 plan of Yarmouth, Gorleston and Southtown  it is shown as Yarmouth Castle but should not to be confused with the much earlier medieval castle near St George’s in town. The Fort was surveyed that same year and many recommendations made to repair and improve it. It is not clear what, if anything was done, but it was still decayed when the American War of Independence broke out some years later. The Dutch joining the American colonies caused panic in Yarmouth and the Fort was stuffed with fifteen guns, however better fortifications were required (See below) and the Fort was more or less side-lined.

Early in the 19th century, the North pier was altered and the tides began to scour away the base of the Fort. One bastion fell in 1822 and in 1834 the whole building taken down and materials sold. The gate was bought by Frederick Danby Palmer and incorporated into a folly at his Gorleston home.

Views of the Harbour Fort. Clockwise from Top left George Vincent, John Preston, James Stark, & unknown.

In 1781 the Town Assembly finally agreed to put up some cash to build new Batteries along the Denes. Colonel Bramham recommended four and the town started to build one in the centre of the beach. After running out of money, the government had to step in and complete it adding two more. One to the North, and the one that concerns us on the South Denes which was built in 1782. It’s location can be seen in Kent’s plan (above)

The South Star Battery was so called because of its shape. Whilst the Star Batteries were reasonably good structures, even including furnaces to make their own shot, they suffered from drifting sand building up. The experts were starting to realise that a substantial battery on the heights of Gorleston – a small battery only was built there – should have been the way to go. However, after the French were defeated at Trafalgar, the threats against Yarmouth started to tail off and the batteries, like the Fort, were left to decay. In 1858 the Town Battery was demolished and the North and South Batteries rebuilt. We shall continue their story in Part 2.

Yarmouth Races on the South Denes

So far we have spoken so far about the appearance of permanent or semi-permanent structures on the Denes. However we should also mention some of the more transient uses of the Wastelands. Besides the historically important drying of nets, the South Denes were used for centuries for gatherings of militia for parade and rehearsal. A large force of Queen’s soldiers camped here awaiting the Armada in 1588 and numerous militia gatherings took place on the Denes until the 20th century. Of course, the 19th century would see the establishment of more enduring military bases on South Denes but more of that later. These gatherings might include dinners for visiting dignitaries under canvas.

In 1810, whilst the Berkshire Militia were camped on the Denes, some of their officers decided to organise a horse race. It was not the first time this had been done on the as back in 1715 John Holdrich and several others (mostly Publicans) sought leave to hold a horse-race there.

The 1810 race inspired some wealthy, local men to revive the races and the first thoroughbred race was held on 29th September 1810. It was won by Mr Harbord’s Patriot. They continued annually thereafter and then more frequently from 1866. As early as 1812, they were held over two days with some 18,000 racegoers watching a number of races. A band was present and there were often ‘aquatic amusements’ at the Jetty between races. There will be more on the racecourse in Part 2.

At this point, developments on the South Denes have been largely isolated civic and military projects but by the 17th century – despite a reduction in population due to the plague – the town of Yarmouth was straining at its thirteenth century wall. The last space-hogging ropewalks were kicked out in 1678 and the final bit of spare land created through this was filled in in 1714 when St George’s Chapel was built. There was a clear need for businesses and individuals to relocate outside the walls. Already a very few fishermen’s cottages were scattered about, including one with an upturned boat for a roof which was the inspiration of Peggotty’s home. One or two properties had been built up against the wall just east of the South Gate but local ordinances limited the erection of buildings on the Denes because of the driage rights and also the Denes were technically Common Ground but the Corporation were Lords of the Soil which gave them power to grant leases. This power was in the hands of a group called the Committee of Liberties. Unsurprisingly, like the entire Corporation, the Committee was filled with the ‘good and great’ of Yarmouth with many business interests!

Eventually, the Committee of Liberties yielded to pressure and slowly began to grant leases to businesses wishing to set up outside the town. On the plus side this allowed sawpits, sheds, mast-makers works on South Quay to be cleared thus improving the Quay. This particularly applied to that part of the Quay known as the Stand which ran between Friar’s Lane and the South Gate. This was previously for the exclusive use of the Dominican Friars and was acquired by the Corporation on the dissolution of the convent.

The area outside the South Gate where development started in earnest

It is difficult to establish precisely the leases which were granted as surviving records can be quite vague about locations but several we can see help us build a picture. As we saw earlier, outside of the walls, the first part of the quay to be properly developed was Ballast Quay and it was around here that further developments began.

Notably, in 1725 Nicholas Boult, an agent for Trinity House had a place assigned to him near Ballast Quay to lay his buoys. The Trinity Buoy House was at the southern end of Ballast Quay and would later expand, as Trinity Quay, to be the official Trinity House wharf.

In 1749 shipbuilders Ambrose Palmer and Nathaniel Palmer were granted leave to occupy a piece land lying next to the river near the Southgate and to make a sawpit there. This was the yard just above Ballast Quay that would be Ambrose Palmer’s shipyard for many years. Shipbuilding was long established in Yarmouth and would be continue to be a major part of Yarmouth’s industry for the next 200 years but we will look at how it developed on the South Denes in Part 2.

On 3rd Jun 1754 a Committee of Liberties’ report recorded that Robert Lancaster had been granted ground 100 feet south of Ballast Quay for laying vessels up in. Lancaster, who was mayor in 1668, also bought land close to the old South Gate in 1772. However, it would be a revival in an old maritime industry that would spark the next way of expansion.

The value of whales, for their meat, oil and other parts had been recognised since prehistoric times. Basque whalers were experts along the African coast and later followed the whales up the Atlantic to the English Channel and Southern Ireland. Later they ventured further to Newfoundland, Iceland, Norway, and then Greenland from where the industry took its local name of the Greenland Fisheries. Along with the Dutch and the French, the English joined these hunts (An English whaler sailed to Labrador as early as 1576) and we know that by 1627 Yarmouth ships were joining the fleets, Thomas Hoarth and Nathaniel Wright being the key figures from the town. It was a cut-throat industry with much competition between ships and companies. In fact in 1630 Hull and Yarmouth ships were driven away empty-handed from the fisheries by London whalers. In the 1660s the industry went into decline and didn’t revive until the 1750s.  In 1753 and 1754 Yarmouth had ships in the fleet but both were lost in 1758. In 1775 whaling once again slumped (Largely because of the American War of Independence) but would revive in 1784.

The number of Greenland whalers operating under the British flag rose from 44 in 1782 to 102 in 1784 and between 1786 and 1788 involved 250 vessels. These vessels came from 23 different ports, with London alone sending 91 vessels, followed by Hull with 36 and Whitby and Newcastle with twenty each. The market started to fail and 1788 was a year of massive loss. Vessels began to leave the trade and by 1790 only eleven ports were still involved. However, before it collapsed, Yarmouth wanted to get in the revival and 1784 saw a flurry of building activity on the quayside of the South Denes.

In 1784 Stephen Godfrey, Samuel Barker, John Shelly and Jacob Preston were leased ground on the Denes near the Engine Dock for the erection of warehouses and buildings for the Greenland Fishery trade. I believe this to be that land almost opposite Newcastle Road’s western entrance, now occupied by a petrol station.

The same year there was a petition by Nathaniel Symonds, Stephen Godfrey, Samuel Tolver, Samuel Barber, John Sayers, John Shelly, Jacob Preston and William Kett for a lease of land 150’x14’ north of the Engine Dock for the erection of buildings for the manufacture of whale blubber. This was possibly an expansion of the above operation with Samuel Barber more likely to be Samuel Barker, famous as the Yarmouth mayor who in 1800 entertained Nelson on his return from the Nile.

A Committee of Liberties’ report dated 5 July 1786 recommends that Dover Colby, John Fisher, John Sayers, Isaac Preston, Chapman Ives, John Kerrison and William Fox should have lease of ground measuring 20’ by 46’ on the Denes to the north of the present Whale Fishery warehouse, leaving an 8’ passage for tracking ships, for the purpose of erecting warehouses and other buildings for the whale fishery trade. On the 18th August either the original order was amended or they were seeking an additional lease as the committee reported the same group of people sought to lease ground where they can erect a warehouse and copper for boiler oil 30 yards x 21 yards, located 26 feet north of Whale Fishery warehouse

On 18 April 1787 the Committee recommended the petition of Edmund Lacon, John Palmer, Nathaniel Palmer (Shipwright), William Palmer, Nathaniel Palmer (merchant), William Steward, James Hurry and William Danby Palmer jun. for a lease of ground measuring 24’ by 160’ on east side of the Engine Dock and also ground measuring 60’ by 25’ on north side thereof, to erect coppers and warehouses for the whale fishery trade.

In October 1787 Edmund Lacon, James Symonds, Jeremiah Ives Esq., (Joseph Shrimpton cancelled), John Robson jun., William Danby Palmer, William Steward and Thomas Jay should have lease of ground measuring 105’ by 26’, for the erection of a warehouse for the whale fishery on the Denes north of ground lately granted to Dover Colby and others, but not to erect a boiling copper at the north end of the ground.

However, as we saw earlier, 1788 saw a turn in fortunes and the blubber bubble collapsed. This flurry of activity south of Ballast Quay came to an abrupt pause. In July 1791 a large Ware and Oil-House with copper and Vats compleat [Sic] for boiling and refining whale blubber were for sale by auction at the Star Tavern. This followed the sale of the Greenland trader Hunter.

In September 1791 the consortium led by Lacon and Symonds assigned their October 1787 lease along with the warehouses they had constructed to Trinity House. Earlier in the year Trinity House had been granted ground measuring 35’ by 25’ for a warehouse near the oil-house leased to William Danby Palmer leaving a passage to the oil-house.

In 1795 the consortium led by Dover Colby abandoned the fishery and assigned lease to another merchant and on 13 Mar 1798 the consortium headed by Stephen Godfrey assigned their lease to the Navy Commissioners (See below)

The last voyage by a Yarmouth whaler was made in 1797 and it is recorded that the last ‘incident’ occurred in 1801. However, we know from Manby’s Journal of A Voyage to Greenland, that in 1821 Palmer, Palgrave et al are given a demonstration of Captain Manby’s gun-harpoon for whaling. So there was still some interest in the industry.

Faden’s map which was published on 12th August 1797 was surveyed by Thomas Donald and Thomas Milne and their assistants between 1790 and 1794 and clearly shows buildings on the east bank of the river marked as warehouses. I submit that these are the various warehouses raised for the Greenland Fishery. Faden also showed the South Star Battery and the Fort but no other buildings are shown on the South Denes.

Faden (Survey 1790-1794)

The next major driver for development on the South Denes was the decision by the Admiralty in the late 18th century to position half of the North Sea Squadron in Great Yarmouth Roads. The area was known as North Yarmouth to distinguish it from Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.

Inevitably, the squadron would need stores locally to restock the ships and this was duly opened in Yarmouth. The exact date is difficult to pin down but we know that by February 1796 “a naval store was sitting at this place {Yarmouth} and several large cables are arriving”. A prominent townsman called Robert Warmington was appointed storekeeper.

Warmington was born c.1851 and started out as an agent to David Urquhart of Hoeland Hall. Warmington eventually succeeded Urquhart as agent for wrecks and boats captured by privateers. He was also a successful wine merchant. In 1772 he married Elizabeth Clifton and in 1786 was chosen as a Common Councilman. In 1790 he became Mayor. His wife died in 1799. In 1808 he was elected Mayor for the second time and he died in 1812 and is buried in St Nicholas’ churchyard.

Some evidence points to the fact that the Naval Store was previously a distillery and malting and given Warmington’s trade as a merchant that is a strong possibility but the evidence in the Assembly Files seems to contradict this. We know that the Navy eventually had several buildings throughout the town which might lead to the confusion. It is also a strong possibility that Warmington’s store in Row 107 was temporarily used as a Naval Store until the quayside warehouses could be obtained.

We do know that in March 1798 Navy Commissioners acquired a lease on ‘Palmer’s oil-store’ from one of the whaling consortiums (which places the Naval Store on the site of the BP garage.) The same month another whaling group were granted leave to assign their lease to the Navy Commissioners for the warehouses and ground east of that above where a sail-loft was built.  Commissioner Harwood visited the town that year and recommended getting rid of various properties in town but keeping the above combined site. Additionally on 22nd January 1799 Warmington was granted a lease on ground near the Engine Dock recently purchased from John Palmer, William and James Fisher including the right to erect a crane.

Also in January 1799 Robert Searum, block-maker, was given leave to make sawpit opposite his home, keeping it covered over when not at work. Searum will return to the picture later.

Elsewhere on the South Denes, the naval influence continued. A military hospital had existed since 1793 near the site that would become Grouts Silk Mills (and later Sainsbury’s) but in the wake of the Battle of Trafalgar it was proven to be inadequate. In 1806 the Admiralty ordered the building a new hospital on the South Denes. Work began in 1809 on what became the Royal Naval Hospital, and was completed in 1811 but the naval war with France was already more or less over. The hospital only got its first patients following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Thus in 1818 it was handed to the army. This story will continue in Part 2.

As you might imagine, the presence of the Navy in Yarmouth increased the pressure on the Corporation to expand outside the town walls. Not just for businesses but for accommodation too. After 1805 leases were assignable i.e. the lessee can sell it on without the lessors’ permission (in this case the Committee of Liberties). With this restriction lifted, a number of the best areas in the Denes which had been allocated on lease to members of the Corporation, were now sold on by them for great profit.

In 1810, a petition by the Fishing Merchants, protested the plan of intended enclosures put forward by the surveyor and demanded that the South Denes continue to be reserved for net drying. The Corporation agreed except for a small triangle south-east of Ambrose Palmer’s timber ground near Naval Hospital road to South Gates and road from the Denes to the south-east Tower, which was to be used by Jacob Preston for laying timber.

That same year, after dismissing other sites, the Committee of Liberties recommended that Robert Searum and Mr Shepherd should both have lease of ground measuring 108 yards by 35 yards and 19 yards, and that each should have leave to enclose and build workshop not obstructing the view from the Haven’s Mouth to the South Mound, the ground to be used for block and mast making only. This is the land just east of Ballast Quay that my 4xGreat Uncle Henry Brand would later have for his oilskin business.

Of course, others had already leased plots and they now turned their plots into gardens whilst waiting to see what happened next. This was soon answered as in 1811 the navy decided to quit Yarmouth and demand for accommodation plummeted. Development stagnated rapidly though in 1813 the Corporation drew up a map with plans to divide the South Dene into plots. The Admiralty sold the Naval Store back to the Corporation in 1815.

Extract from Bryant’s map 1826

In 1828 a moratorium on further leases was introduced. This is partly why when development picks up again after 1835 the Denes suffer from a mix of unplanned lets and lack of uniformity in lease terms. Again, this is to be investigated in Part 2.

William Daniell’s view of the harbour mouth from Gorleston cliffs (c.1820s)

However it would be the Navy’s most famous son that would be the inspiration for the most famous piece of development on the South Denes to date. In 1816 the corporation planned to build a new road, to be called Nelson Road along the northern boundary of the naval yard. The plan was to erect a memorial to Nelson which could be seen whilst approaching down Nelson Road. The Corporation engaged several unemployed men to build the road, but the site of the monument was altered, so that when the road was built it was called Newcastle Street. Nelson Road runs north-south, and the Monument was built much closer to the river mouth.

Original plans for the Monument as published in the Norfolk Chronicle 8 February 1817

The construction began on 15th August 1817 when the first stone of the Norfolk Naval Pillar aka the Nelson Monument or the Britannia Monument was laid to great ceremony. Standing alone with only the newly established racecourse nearby (More of which in Part 2), the column stands 144’ high and, completed in 1819, was erected 24 years before its more famous cousin in Trafalgar Square.

An Ordnance Survey from 1817 showing the Monument in place and the fort still present

An ex-sailor, James Sharman who served with Nelson on the Victory, was appointed as keeper of the monument and a house was built for him close by. Originally a lad employed at the Wrestler’s Inn, Sharman was empressed in 1799 and served initially on HMS Weazel. He then joined the Victory under hardy and was one of the sailors who carried the mortally wounded Nelson to the cockpit. On discharge he was confined to Greenwich hospital but on the recommendation of his old commander, Sir Thomas Hardy, he was appointed keeper in 1817. Sharman is said to be the inspiration for Dicken’s Ham Peggoty.

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s view from Pilfer Hill Gorleston as engraved by William MILLER in 1838

And one of the most prominent landmarks on the South Denes then and now, seems a good place to end this first article…….before the intense building on the bulk of the South Denes gets underway.

Part 2 is going to be a while. The number of lease transfers profligates and though I don’t want to list them all, I do want to go through them to work out the bigger picture. I also want to tell the story of the Victoria Building Company which will take a bit of research. It will arrive in due course.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Projects like this come together over time and the sources used are numerous. To list them all would be arduous. Yarmouth is lucky to have had several histories written but perhaps none so well-thumbed as Palmer’s Perlustration

For this project I obtained a copy of Peter Kent’s Fortifications of East Anglia which was an excellent read.

Online sources include the newspaper archives courtesy of Find My Past, articles from the GYALHS and N&NAS (The latter now freely available online) and many more.

Most of the illustrations used are out of copyright or are used under Creative Commons Fair Use licencing. I have tried to acknowledge the creators of the works where known. If I have infringed anyone’s copyright unintentionally, I apologise and will withdraw any illustrations on request.

Susannah Hastings

By Julie Smith

Susannah Hastings (1816-1869), was a spinster lady who was killed in a freak accident by her nephew Edward Hastings Forder. Originally arrested for murder Edward was found guilty of manslaughter. This is their story.

The story starts off a bit confusing but I am pretty sure I am following the same family. In order to try and clarify things I went forward another generation through one of Susannah’s brother’s line and have now linked the Hastings into our family tree! Not what I expected when I first looked at this last year! Very distant but on our tree nevertheless.

According to all three censuses that Susannah appears in, she was born in Great Yarmouth in 1816. However I have been unable to find any records of her baptism although I have found one for her sister Sarah Rebecca, mother of Edward Forder.

Baptismal records state that Sarah was baptised on 19 June 1822 and her parents were Joseph Hastings a shipwright/sail maker and his wife Susanna nee Pitcher. The couple had married in St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth on 17 May 1807 and although his parish was given as St Pauls, Deptford I believe he was born in Yarmouth.

As far as I can ascertain their other children included Joseph baptised on 16 May 1808 and died 5 months later in Oct, Susannah baptised on 26 June 1809, Joseph Pitcher on 7 October 1811, James Henry 10 February 1814, Mary Ann on 24 April 1816 and George Thomas on 31 August 1819.

Now either Susannah lied about her age and was in fact born in 1809 or there was an elder sister who died prior to 1816, however, I cannot find either a death or a second baptism for a Susannah Hastings within the appropriate timescale. Just to confuse matters Mary Ann’s year of birth ranges from 1816 to 1822 on the censuses!

I don’t think it makes a great deal of difference to my story and hopefully it will become clearer when we get to the 1861 Census which should confirm I am following the correct family.

So back to the beginning.

In the1841 Census, Susannah and Mary were living in Gaol Street working as milliners.  I have also found a Joseph Hastings aged about sixty living on South Quay with 21 year old George and 18 year old Sarah. Both men were listed as Shipwrights and I believe this to be Susannah and Mary Anne’s father and siblings.

By 1851 Susannah is living on her own in Broad Row and lists her occupation as milliner and dressmaker. Living next door is Edward Forder a hairdresser along with his wife Sarah Rebecca who is Susannah’s younger sister, and their son two year old Edward Hastings Forder who ultimately would cause the death of his Aunt Susannah.

Their sister Mary Ann is living in Colbys Road with their brother George Thomas Hastings and his wife and son. George is employed as a shipwright. Mary Ann does not give an occupation.

Another brother James is living with his wife and 4 children in Sherrington Buildings and his occupation is given as boat builder. Finally, who I believe to be the last of the surviving siblings, Joseph is living with his wife and their four children in Howards Buildings. His occupation is given as boat builder employing 2 journeymen and 2 apprentices.

According to the 1869 Post Office Directory it looks like the brothers worked together as there is a listing for Hastings Brothers Ship and Boat Builders, South Denes Road.

Sarah married Edward Homan Forder in 1846 and as far as I can tell they only had one child Edward Hastings who was born in Yarmouth on 24th August 1848 and baptised shortly after on 11 September.

It would seem that by 1861 all was not well in the Forder household as Sarah and Edward were not living together. Edward was living with his sister Martha who was a lodging house keeper, in Harrisons Buildings in the town. He was still employed as a hairdresser.

Sarah and her son Edward now 12  were living in 17 Market Row with her two sisters Susannah who is a bonnet maker and Mary Ann who gives her occupation as shop keeper. Sarah is also employed and is working as a milliner.

Although the census does not intimate that the ladies were sisters I am sure that they are from the same family mentioned at the beginning of this article, however, the years of birth do not tie up! Susannah has been consistent with her year of birth being 1816, however, Mary Ann’s year of birth is 1822 whereas Sarah’s is given as 1828!

On the 5th of January 1867, The Norfolk Chronicle reported the death of Sarah’s estranged husband Edward Harman Forder whose body had been pulled from the sea on Sunday 30th December 1866.

The article confirms that 5 years after the last census he was still living apart from his family.

Although the report makes no mention that this was nothing other than an accident, during reports of the death of Susannah is was intimated that “after a long career of dissipation (Edward) he committed suicide by drowning himself, and the son little profiting by this sad example, pursued an utterly reckless and abandoned course”.

Things did not get much better for Sarah as in Aug 1868 she was heading for bankruptcy. According to the Notice of Assignment she had a business in Market Row where she was working as a draper, haberdasher and dealer in jewellery. She assigned all her estate and effects to William Barnard also based in Market Row.

If this wasn’t bad enough what was to follow must have had a devastating effect on Sarah knowing that her sister Susannah’s death was indirectly caused by her only son.

By all accounts it would appear that Edward Hastings Forder who was spoilt as a child, turned into a very unpleasant man. His childhood must have been traumatic, his parents seemingly separated by the time he was 13 and when he was 19 his father committed suicide.

Edward had been apprenticed to a local draper but was a most untrustworthy servant.  His habits were most dissolute and he formed a discreditable liaison with a young female. He left his situation as a draper and took lodgings with the female in question in an obscure row.  At the time of the incident had no current employment and due to the dissipated life he led, him mother paid him a small weekly allowance if he would live away from home. In addition, he had been a great deal of trouble to his friends and had caused them much distress.

The 1869 Post Office Directory show that Susannah and Sarah were neighbours. Sarah lived on her own at 15 Market Row and listed her occupation as Fancy Repository. It is difficult to say exactly what she sold, bearing in mind what she was selling when she almost ended up bankrupt it could be she had started up selling toys, and gifts like embroidery and purses. Living next door at number 17 were her two spinster sisters The Misses Susannah and Mary Ann Hastings who were milliners and dressmakers. According to a newspaper report outlining the accident it says that Mary Ann was an invalid but does not go into any further detail as it isn’t relevant to the case.

Now to the incident in question.

It would seem that at about 9 o’clock on the evening of Wednesday 30th June, Edward arrived at his aunt’s shop, a little worse for wear demanding money from his mother who was sitting in a room behind the shop talking with her sisters. The ladies refused his demands for cash and he immediately started getting excited and swearing stating that “money he wanted and money he would have”.

When no funds were forthcoming he went into the shop and smashed a china mug. Susannah had followed him through and told him that he should not destroy her goods and ordered him to leave the premises immediately.

He opened the door to go out of the shop but turned and came back in. His mother still declined to give him any money and he then said he would go upstairs. At that point Susannah intervened and said “You know this is my house and I shall not allow you to go upstairs”.

Disregarding his aunt he went to the foot of the stairs, his aunt following. In addition to the three sisters a friend by the name of Mr Downing was in the room. Mr Downing, a fish merchant saw Edward raise his arm and ran to protect Susannah but he was too late and her nephew’s fist hit her under her right ear and near to her carotid artery. Susannah stumbled towards Mr Downing and exclaimed “Oh! He has killed me”. Shortly afterwards she went upstairs to her bedroom followed by her sister Sarah, and threw herself on the bed and fell into unconsciousness. The surgeon was sent for and Mr Norman (this was Richard Robert Bowles Norman, surgeon and Doctor of the town and father in law of Dr Thomas Lettis of whom I have already written about) attended her during the whole of that night. She never regained consciousness and died the following morning at about 6 o’clock.

In conjunction with Mr Charles Palmer and Mr Colley a post mortem examination was undertaken. The deceased’s head was opened up and in the right hemisphere of the brain there was a large quantity of extravasation blood caused by the recent rupture of an artery. There was previous disease of the artery which made it liable to rupture and a slight blow combined with excitement would, under these circumstances, cause death.

Edward was apprehended by Inspector Berry during the night following the unfortunate incident he was in a brothel, in Row 85 off King Street in the company of the paramour named Barlow with whom he had been cohabitating, and taken to gaol.

The incident was reported in numerous papers throughout the Country but I have used the ones issued in Norfolk as a source of information as they have gone into greater depth. Having said that, I do wonder if some of those reporters were present or even awake throughout the proceedings as there are a couple of anomalies between reports but you should get the gist of it!

Edward Hastings Forder (20) No occupation was indicted for feloniously killing and slaying Susannah Hastings (59) a maiden lady and his aunt, on 30th June 1869.

Mr Cherry prosecuted; the prisoner undefended. One reporter wrote that – “Forder seemed but little affected at the serious position in which he was placed, and was throughout the investigation quite collected and composed. He looks even younger than the age given, and is below the middle height, and of slight build”.

Mr Cherry in opening the case, said the circumstance were very simple, although of an extremely painful character, for the prisoner was a nephew of the unfortunate woman whose death he is charged with accelerating.

They then go into great depth of how the incident came about followed by the testimony of the surgeon, Mr Norman which I have already covered.

His Lordship told the jury that what happened did not justify the act of the prisoner or reduce the measure of manslaughter, even though it was possible that she could have died a natural death shortly afterwards. 

Mr Norman had said that he should have thought she died from apoplexy and both he and another surgeon, Mr Palmer, said that her death might have been caused by excitement alone considering the state of her health at the time.

The prisoner asked Mr Palmer if there was any marks of a blow either internal or external on the head of the deceased. Mr Palmer said there was not but a blow might have been struck without leaving any marks. When the prisoner was apprehended by Inspector Berry, he said in answer to the charge “It was only a bit of a push”, and afterwards at the station house he refuted what the doctor had said, and told him he was exaggerating – it was an accident. In defence the prisoner called the attention of the jury to the evidence of the medical men, and alluded to the absence of any proof that a blow had been struck.

The inquest lasted upwards of four hours and his Lordship having summed up, the jury, after just a few minutes deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty, and his Lordship asked Mr Downing what had been the previous conduct of the prisoner; he said he had been the terror of his family for a long time past.

His Lordship told Forder that if he went on in his course of ruffiany (sic) violence the probability was that his end would be an ignominious death on the scaffold and said that he was not at all sure that he ought not to send him to penal servitude. He did not, however, suppose that he intended to kill his aunt, and in consideration of his youth his sentence would be eighteen months’ hard labour.

After sentencing Edward was received into custody at the county gaol from the prison at Great Yarmouth.

He more than likely served his sentence in Norwich castle which was used as gaol for felons and debtors until1887, when it was bought by the city of Norwich to be used as a museum.

His prison sentence of hard labour meant that he would have been subject to tiring physical work which served no purpose. He most likely would have spent endless hours walking on the wheel of a treadmill.

If Edward had served him full sentence which is more than likely, he would have been released sometime in early 1871. He was soon on his way to the United States and arrived from Liverpool at Ellis Island, New York on 24 July 1871. The journey aboard “The City of Baltimore” would have taken about 6 weeks and cost £5 for steerage (also called tween decks) and today would be in the region of about £400.

I don’t know whether or not he visited his mother and Aunt Mary Ann prior to his departure, however, as he had no money before he was incarcerated he would need funds to enable him to pay his travel and living expenses for his journey and I assume his mother would be his obvious choice.

It would appear that Edward made a new life for himself and settled in Brooklyn, New York and on 14 June 1875 he married 25 year old Emily Ann Johnson who had been born in Chatham, Kent.

I do not know when she came to America but her mother had died when she was only 33 years old leaving her husband with 3 children under the age of 6. Things did not get better for the family and sometime at the beginning of 1866 her father served 3 months in Maidstone Gaol during which time his father and 2 of his children died.

According to the 1880 Census taken on 1st June, Edward who was employed as a Law copyist, Emily and their two daughters, Lilian born in 1875 and Florence in 1879 were living in Kings, Brooklyn where they seemed to remain for the foreseeable future.

Edward died on 23 July 1911 at the age of 61 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn a few days later on 26th.

I wonder how much of his previous life, if any, his wife and children knew. He certainly seems to have changed his life around and I wonder if his mother Sarah knew about his new life and family. Certainly things did not end up well for her.

She and her sister remained in Market Row, the 1871 census shows that they were living together with Sarah running a Fancy Shop and Mary Ann continuing as a milliner. However, at some stage Sarah ended up in Yarmouth Workhouse and died there in December 1879 at the age of 57 and was buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas on 23rd Dec.

As for Mary Ann, she continued working as a milliner and by 1881 was living in Row 57, No 1. The 1891 Census shows her living in Marshall Buildings, Nelson Road where she died the following year and was buried on 26th May 1892 at the age of 76 in the churchyard cemetery.

Susannah had also been buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas on 4th July 1869 and yet having spent their lives together, in death they would be buried in different parts of the cemetery.


Great Yarmouth Rows

A year or so ago I was involved in a project organised by the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust that was researching theRows. Some of the results of which can be found here The Rows or on their facebook page The Rows of Great Yarmouth. During that time I pieced together a database listing the Rows and the various names I had found for each one. I thought it may be useful to reproduce that list here.

A few caveats.

  1. I do not claim this list is complete. You may well be aware of other names for these rows
  2. It’s a simple list and in most cases there are no dates against the names. It’s never that simple anyway as Rows were called different things by different people at the same time
  3. They have been shortened in that I don’t append the word ‘Row’ to them. Most did have that appendage – though not all
  4. The sources are varied but Palmer’s Perlustrations, the Yarmouth Independent 1916 list, and Harry B. Johnson’s 1926 list are all key. As for images, the collection at Picture Norfolk is one of the best publicly available collections of Row photographs and I am grateful for them making it available
Row 1 courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 1
Common Ramp

Row 2
Bird In Hand
Black Horse
East and West
East and West Flegg

Row 3
Boulter the Baker’s

Row 4
Ecclestone the Grocer’s
Rolling the Baker’s
Thornton the Grocer’s
Wiltshire Arms

Row 5
Split Gutter

Row 6
Body Snatchers’
Snatch Body

Row 7
Golden Keys
White Horse

Row 8
Ferry Boat
Yew Tree

Row 8½
Brown’s Buildings

Row 9
Bessey’s Half

Row 10
Brown the Candlemaker’s

Row 11
North Garden
Rainbow Corner
Whitler the Baker’s

Row 12 from the book The Day Before Yesterday

Row 12
George and Dragon

Row 13
South Garden

Row 14
Baptist Meeting
Brett’s North
Goymer’s Meeting North
Rev. Green’s Meeting

Row 15
Brett’s South
Goymer’s Meeting South
Jeffreys the Surgeon’s

Row 16
Lacon’s Brewery

Row 17
North Say’s Corner
Say’s Corner North

Row 18
Say’s Corner South
South Say’s Corner

Row 19
Lacon’s Office

Row 20
Bailiff Barett’s
Steward’s Chemist
Two Necked Swan
Wrestler’s Tap

Row 21
Fill the Auctioneer’s
Smith the Cabinet Maker’s

Row 22
Barnes the Grocer’s
Shuckford the Basket Maker’s
Shuckforth Basket Maker’s

Row 23
Fromrow the Barber’s
Tooke the Baker’s
Traynier’s Fish House

Row 24 courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 24
Blue Anchor

Row 25
Coach and Horses
Doughty the Leather Cutter’s
Doughty’s North
Fighting Cock
Golden Lion

Row 26
Bee Hive
Dr Smith’s
Half Moon North
Half Moon Tap
Lorimer the Grocer’s
Taylor the Surgeon’s
Wild the Baker’s

Row 27
Cobb the Currier’s South
Doughty the Leather Cutter’s
Doughty’s South

Row 28

Row 29
Davy the Watchmaker’s
Half Moon
Half Moon South
King’s Head North
Queen’s Head North

Row 30
Barnaby the Baker’s
Wheel of Fortune

Row 31
Nine Parish

Row 32
King’s Head
King’s Head South
Queen’s Head South

Row 33
Dr Farington’s
Nightingale the Barber’s
Nightingale the Hairdresser’s

Row 34
Key Mill
Quay Mill

Row 34½
Eagle Half
Half Eagle
Quay Mill Alley

Row 35
Freemason’s Arm’s

Row 36
Ames’ the Shoemaker’s
Mouse the Pawnbroker’s
Neal the Shoemaker’s

Row 37
Glass House

Row 38
Charles Moore’s
Ellis the Brushmaker’s

Row 39
Blowers the Cabinet Maker
Norman the Cabinet Maker’s

Row 40
Fulcher the Grocer’s
Taylor and Fulcher’s North
Wall the Linen Draper’s

Row 41
King the Baker’s
Rose and C

Row 42
Barn(a)by the Liquor Merchant’s
Hunt the Glazier’s

Row 43
Moon the Cabinet maker’s
Taylor and Fulcher’s South

Row 44

Row 45
St John’s Head
Woolsey’s School

Row 46
Nag’s Head
Sewell the Grocer’s

Row 47
Golden Ball
Page the Pipe Maker’s

White Swan

Row 48
Wheat Sheaf
William the Fourth

Unnumbered Row
Kyngstone House
La Brodde
Old Broad

Unnumbered Row

Row 49
Blake the (Linen) Draper’s

Row 50
Lane the Taylor’s
Richmond the Cabinet Maker’s
Symonds the Hairdresser’s

Row 51
Black Swan

Row 51½
British Lion
British Lion Alley

Row 52
Costerton the Surgeon’s
Dr Costerton’s

Row 53
Bank Paved
Turner’s Bank North

Row 53½
British Lion Alley

Row 54
Palmer’s Arcade
Smith the Baker’s

Row 55
Barber the Stationer’s
Cobb’s the Printers
Gurney’s Bank
Turner’s Bank South

Row 56
Excise Office
Savings Bank

Row 57
Carpenter’s Arms
Mr Brightwen’s
Sarah Martin’s
Star and Garter

Row 58
Elephant and Castle
Last the Baker’s
Red House

Row 59
Crown and Anchor
Mitchell’s School

Row 60 courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 60
Bassingthwaite the Baker’s
Dene Side Austin
Ostend Market

Row 61
Ostend Quay
Ostend West
Quay Austin
S Palmer’s

Row 62
B(en) Dowson’s

Row 63
Bond the Druggist’s
Old Post Office
Post Office

Row 63½
Post Office Half
Tomlinson’s Half

Row 64
James Burton’s Half

Row 65
Dakin the Brazier’s
Jay the Chemist’s

Row 66
Savings Bank
Stamp Office

Row 67
Mayor Ramsey’s
Nicholas Cutting’s
Star Tavern

Row 68
Regent Street
Thomas Lucas’

Row 69
Regent Street
Rev. Welham’s

Row 70
Craske the Baker’s
Foreman the Baker’s
Male the Chemist’s

Row 71
Cubitt the Painter’s

Row 72
Haynes the Peruke Maker’s
Moore the Blacksmith’s
Moore the Whitesmith’s

Row 73
(S) Cobb’s North
Barker’s North
Boatswain’s Call
Miller the Basket Maker’s

Row 74
(S) Cobb’s South
Barker’s South

Row 75
Old Fountain North

Row 76
Police Station
Samuel Tolver’s

Row 77
Coach and Horses
Norfolk Tavern
Old Fountain
Old Fountain North
Old Fountain Tap
Three Feathers

Row 78
Brown(e) the Grocer’s
Pot In Hand
Pot In Hand North
Starling the Hatter’s

Row 79
Jolly Maltsters
Pot In Hand South
Three Pigeons

Row 80
Harbord the Pastry Cook’s
Lone the Pawn Broker’s
Miss Patterson’s
Worship the Attorney’s North
Worship’s North

Row 81
John Barney’s/Berney’s
Rumble the China Dealer’s

Row 82
Baptist Meeting North
Swindon the Historian’s
Worship the attorney’s South
Worship’s South

Row 83
J D Palmer’s
Charles Palmer’s
Sayers the Attorney’s

Row 84
John Ireland’s
Ship Tavern

Row 85
Arbon the Painter’s
Baptist Meeting South
Crown and Heart
Old Library
Sir Sidney Smith’s

Row 86
J C Smith’s

Row 87
George the Fourth
Money Office

Row 87½

Row 88
Ames the Antiquary’s
Fowler’s the Grocer
Row opposite Queen Street

Row 89
Hans Herring’s
Old Hannah’s Back

Row 90
Balls and Pownall Fruiterer’s
Mews Half
Old Hannah’s

Row 91
Mews Half

Row 91½ courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 91½

Row 92
Carrington’s (1776)
Hurry’s (1798)
Old Meeting House
Unitarian Chapel

Row 93
Goddard the Whitesmith’s
King the Baker’s (1734)
King’s Head
Rivett the Baker’s

Row 94
(A) Wood’s
Joseph Cotman’s (1745)
Prenice/Penrice Back

Row 95
Draper the Butcher’s (1863)

Row 96
Bush Tavern
Fuller’s South
Old Meeting South
Town Arms (1642)
Turk’s Head
Wilgres/Wildgres North

Row 97
Barnes (1690)
Bayly the Surgeon’s (1874)
Blick’s (1785)
Lawyer Bell’s
Nightingale the Confectioner’s
Norfolk Hero’s (1878)

Row 98
Urquahart’s Back

Row 99
Le castel

Row 100
Fuller’s South
J F Costerton’s (1814)
Sons of Commerce
Sowell the Painter’s (1836)
Spooner’s (1699)

Row 101
Charles Symond’s
Penrice Stable
Reynold’s (1781)
Victualling Office

Row 102
Arnold the Brewer’s
Benett the Cooper’s (1863)
Packet Office
William and Bell’s
William’s (1760)

Row 103
Andrew’s (1720)
Custom House
Custom House North
North Custom House
Royal Exchange (1698)
Saffrey the Brewer’s (1836)

Row 104
Custom House South
Dr Collier’s (1898)
Friendly Society
Martin’s (1750)
Robert Warmington’s (1790)
Swanard’s (1583)

Row 105
Chapel (1715)
Doughty the Grocer’s (1870)
Dr Penrice’s (1837)
Rev. Cooper’s (1802)

Row 106
Couldham’s (1578)
Dutch Chapel
Gaol North
Three Cranes
Town House

Row 107
Chapel Paved
Old Post House
Post House (1660)
St George’s East
Step Paved

Row 108
Anthony Taylor’s (1771)
England’s (1676)
Free Library
Gaol Paved
John Fisher’s
St George’s Paved West (1802)

Row 109
Dr Borrett’s
Dr Meadow’s
Lion and Lamb
Red Lion (1746)

Row 110
Bellamy the Butcher’s
New Prison
Perry the Oatmakers (1836)
Perry the Oatmeal Maker’s

Row 111
Luson’s (1756)
Sir Eaton Traver’s

Row 112
Brown the Maltster’s
Chambers the Sailmaker’s
Holmes South (1623)
Tomkins School

Row 113
Errington’s (1714)
Ferrier the Surgeon’s (1836)
Tilson’s (1626)
Tilson’s South

Row 114
Lieutenant White’s
Willis’s Half
Row (1867)

Row 115
Nathaniel Fish’s (1714)

Row 116 courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 116
Hastings the Pawnbroker’s
Plummer’s School (1835)
Sam Hurry’s (1750)
Thomas Hurry’s

Row 117
Ballast Keel
Gallon Can
Josh Peartree’s (1700)
Matthew Ward’s
The George (1774)

Row 118
Blue Bell
Hall the Blacksmith’s
White Swan

Row 119
Couldham’s (1534)
Dawson’s (1675)
Robinson the Grocer’s (1834)

Row 120
Drum (1800)
Duncan’s Head (1790)
Humber Keel (1834)

Row 121
Captain Christmas’s
Huke the Carpenter’s
Huke the Joiner’s (1916 List)

Row 122
Martin the Shoemaker’s (1834)
Spread Eagle (1800)

Row 123
Colby’s North
Dover Colby’s North Wall (1796)
Fulcher the Pawnbroker’s
John Fisher’s (1754)
Quay Angel (1800)

Row 124
Cat and Monkey (1750)
Colby’s South
Dover Colby’s South Wall
Laws and Lamb the Butcher’s
Trotter Bar

Row 125
Mack the Tinsmith’s (1867)

Row 126
Good the Grocer’s
Robin’s Half (1678)
St Peter’s Half Alley

Row 127
Scott the Baker’s
Yett’s Foundry

Row 128
Garwood the Glazier’s (1830)
Spanton’s Factory

Row 129
(St) Peter’s Paved West
Gregory Harrison’s
John Taylor’s (1789)
New Quay Paved (1916 List)
Newcastle Tavern

Row 130
Old White Lion
St Peter’s
St Peter’s East
St Peter’s Paved Row East
White Lion North

Row 131
White Lion South
Woolverton the Cooper’s (1834)

Row 132
Adam the Barber’s
Cook Ellis’s
Dover Court
Pleasant’s (1916 List)
Present the Butcher’s (1836)

Row 133
Bellamy the Baker’s
Crisp the Carter’s
Graves the Pieman’s
John Cooper’s North
Lee the Pawnbroker’s
Spratt the Shoemaker’s
Trendle’s (1624)
Union (1707)

Row 134
Erchard’s/Echard’s (1537)
Knight’s the Baker’s
New White Lion

Row 135
Hayes the Butcher’s (1867)
M. Butcher’s (1916 List)
Old Prison
Tomlinson Arms (1870)

Row 135½
Blanchflower’s Half
Cock Half

Row 136
Bracey’s (1714)
John Cooper’s South
New Fountain
Three Herrings

Row 137
Cart and Horse
G D Palmer’s
Grief’s (1856)
Horse and Cart
Rose and Crown

Row 138
Dog and Duck (1836)

Row 139
Matthew the Baker’s
Mission to Seaman (1898)

Row 140
Dene Well
Earl St Vincent
Ives the Antiquary’s
Liverpool Tavern

Row 141
Child the Blacksmith’s
Houghton the Baker’s
Nelson Tavern (1845)
Spotted Cow (1836)

Row 142
Felstead’s (1649)
Fishing Boat
Kerrison’s Coffee Tavern
Mariner’s Compass
Tavern Fishing Boat
Thaxter’s (1666)

Row 142 courtesy Picture Norfolk

Row 143
Grosse’s (1590)
Maye the Baker’s (1630)
Morling the Grocer’s (1836)
Pleasant the Grocer’s
Woodroffe the Grocer’s (1652)

Row 144
Southgate the Butcher’s

Row 145
Fourteen Stars (1834)
Hat and Feather (1730)
Nag’s Head (1700)
Nottingham Arms (1867)

Great Yarmouth Mayors 1684-2019

A list compiled by Steve Smith

Originally Yarmouth’s local government structure was headed by Bailiffs. In 1684 a Mayor was introduced for the first time but only for 5 years. In 1702, a Mayor was once again introduced by Charter and although the position was removed for a decade in the 1990s it was restored and remains in place to this day. The Mayor normally takes Office in October and the year given is that in which they begin their term

Frederick Danby Palmer 1888

1684 Sir Thomas Medowe
1685 Thomas Bradford
1686 Samuel Fenn
1687 Mitchel Mew
1688 John Albertson

1702 Benjamin England
1703 Benjamin England
1704 Joseph Cotman
1705 Anthony Elys Jnr.
1706 Richard Ferrier
1707 Samuel Fuller
1708 Anthony Elys
1709 William Browne
1710 James Artis
1711 Henry Borrett (Died in Office)
1711 Samuel Wakeman
1712 John Spurgeon
1713 William Spooner
1714 Andrew Bracey
1715 George England
1716 John Ireland
1717 Thomas le Grice
1718 Jonathan Pue
1719 Anthony Elys
1720 Richard Ferrier
1721 Christopher Brightin
1722 William Pacey
1723 John Pearson
1724 Richard Ferrier Jnr.
1725 Henry Lombe
1726 Nathaniel Simonds
1727 Samuel Artis
1728 George Ward
1729 Robert Ward
1730 John Bird
1731 Anthony Taylor
1732 Thomas Cooke
1733 William Brown
1734 Barry Love
1735 Samuel Wakeman
1736 John Parson
1737 Thomas Milles
1738 Thomas Horsley
1739 Thomas Ellys
1740 Christopher Bernard (Died in office)
1740 George Ward
1741 William Harmer
1742 John Cotman
1743 Joseph Neech
1744 Wm. Browne Snr.
1745 Joseph Cotman
1746 Samuel Killett
1747 Thomas Martin
1748 William Browne
1749 Robert Abbon
1750 Robert Ferrier
1751 James Ward
1752 Christopher Taylor (Died in office)
1752 Giles Wakeman
1753 William Butcher
1754 Richard Baker
1755 John Cotman
1756 William Browne
1757 Joseph Cotman
1758 Giles Wakeman
1759 Joseph Cotman
1760 John Ramey
1761 Thomas Martin
1762 John Barnby
1763 John Goslin Love
1764 Richard Moyse
1765 John Narfor
1766 William Fisher
1767 John Fisher
1768 Robert Lancaster
1769 Richard Baker
1770 Colman Manclarke
1771 Anthony Taylor
1772 Henry Gooch
1773 John Ramey
1774 James Fisher
1775 William Taylor
1776 Thomas Pitt
1777 Nathaniel Pitt
1778 Joseph Ramey
1779 James Turner
1780 William Fisher
1781 John Reynolds
1782 William Palgrave
1783 William Taylor
1784 John Reynolds
1785 John Watson
1786 William Fisher Jnr.
1787 Benjamin Fielding
1788 James Fisher Jnr.
1789 Samuel Tolver
1790 Robert Warmington
1791 George Thompson
1792 Edmund Lacon
1793 Jacob Preston
1794 William Taylor
1795 Sir Edmund Lacon
1796 Dover Colby
1797 James Fisher Jnr.
1798 Sir Edmund Lacon
1799 William Fisher Jnr.
1800 Samuel Barker
1801 Jacob Preston
1802 James Fisher
1803 Robert Cory
1804 Francis Riddell Reynolds
1805 William Palgrave
1806 William Fisher
1807 Edmund Knowles Lacon
1808 Robert Warmington
1809 James Fisher
1810 Benjamin Fielding
1811 John Fisher
1812 Sir Edmund Lacon
1813 Jacob Preston
1814 William Palgrave
1815 Robert Cory
1816 Isaac Preston
1817 Samuel Paget
1818 Edmund Preston
1819 Thomas Bateman
1820 John Goate Fisher
1821 John Danby Palmer
1822 Isaac Preston
1823 Francis Riddell Reynolds
1824 William Barth
1825 Samuel Costerton
1826 William Barth
1827 John Mortlock Lacon
1828 John Preston
1829 George Bateman
1830 Edmund Preston
1831 John Preston
1832 John Baker
1833 John Danby Palmer
1834 Isaac Preston
1835 Isaac Preston
1836 William Barth
1837 George Penrice
1838 Simon Cobb
1839 Samuel Jay
1840 Samuel Thurtell Palmer
1841 William Johnson
1842 Samuel Thurtell Palmer
1843 Samuel Charles Marsh
1844 William Hurry Palmer
1845 Samuel Thurtell Palmer
1846 William Norton Burroughs
1847 Phillip Pullyn
1848 Phillip Pullyn
1849 David Abraham Gourlay
1850 Charles Pearson
1851 Charles Pearson
1852 Samuel Charles Marsh
1853 James Cherry
1854 Charles John Palmer
1855 Charles John Palmer
1856 Charles Cory Aldred
1857 James Worship
1858 Robert Steward
1859 William Worship
1860 Samuel Nightingale
1861 Robert Steward
1862 Robert Steward
1863 Robert Steward
1864 Robert Steward
1865 Charles Cory Aldred
1866 Edward Pitt Youell
1967 William Worship
1868 Samuel Nightingale
1869 Charles Woolverton
1870 Edward Harbord Lushington Preston
1871 Edward Harbord Lushington Preston
1872 Charles Woolverton
1873 Henry Teasdel
1874 Robert David Barber
1875 John Eager Barnby
1876 Thomas Burton Steward
1877 Charles Diver
1878 Edward Henry Harvey Combe
1879 Charles Cory Aldred
1880 Thomas Burton Steward
1881 Charles Cory Aldred
1882 Charles Cory Aldred
1883 William Barnard
1884 Edward William Worlledge
1885 Thomas Burton Steward
1886 Thomas Burton Steward
1887 Richard Martins
1888 Frederick Danby Palmer
1889 John William Budds Johnson
1890 James Sutton
1891 Frank Burton
1892 Charles Henry Wiltshire
1893 Richard Martins
1894 Frank Arnold
1895 Thomas Alfred Rising
1896 Henry Edmund Buxton
1897 Ernest De Montesquiou Lacon
1898 James Ryley
1899 Benjamin Howard Press
1900 Charles Somerville Orde
1901 Walter Diver
1902 Walter Diver
1903 Thomas Green
1904 Alfred Charles Mayo
1905 Robert Nudd (Died in Office)
1906 Charles N. Brown
1906 Edward William Worlledge
1907 Frank Arnold
1908 Charles Alfred Campling
1909 Theophilus Witter Swindell
1910 Thomas Alfred Rising
1911 Frank Arnold
1912 Reginald Granville Westmacott
1913 David McGowan
1914 David McGowan
1915 Edward William Worlledge
1916 Edward William Worlledge
1917 Arthur Harbord
1918 Arthur Harbord
1919 William Henry Bayfield
1920 William George Knights
1921 Frederick Brett
1922 Ernest James Middleton
1923 Richard Frederick Ernest Ferrier
1924 Mary Ethel Leach
1925 Alfred William Yallop
1926 Ernest James Middleton
1927 George Platten
1928 Harry Thomas Greenacre
1929 Arthur Henry Beevor
1930 Frederick William Lawn
1931 Arthur Henry Beevor
1932 Harry Robert Middleton
1933 Percy Cecil Ellis
1934 Arthur Harbord
1935 Ada Mary Perrett
1936 Harry Thomas Greenacre
1937 Eve Keturah Carr
1938 Arthur William Hollis
1939 Ernest Robert Herman
1940 Ernest Robert Herman
1941 Frederick Henry Debbage
1942 Frederick Henry Debbage
1943 Frederick William Lawn
1944 Philip Robert Hill
1945 John William Beckett
1946 Herbert Stewart Matthes
1947 Frank Herbert Stone
1948 Frank Herbert Stone
1949 Frederick Kruber
1950 Cecil R.E. Matthews
1951 Herbert James Shorten
1952 William Alfred Barfield
1953 Frederick James Page
1954 Thomas Cotton
1955 Laura Madeline Gilham
1956 Laura Madeline Gilham
1957 Katherine Mable Adlington
1958 Herbert Ronald Muskett
1959 Ernest William Applegate
1960 William Edward Mobbs
1961 Edgar Barker
1962 John Birchenall
1963 John Phillip Winter
1964 Henry Duncan McGee
1965 Arthur William Ecclestone
1966 Frank Herbert Stone
1967 Kenneth Lionel Collett
1968 Ethel Violet Fleet
1969 John Malley
1970 Kenneth Henry Hammerton
1971 Alfred William Harvey
1972 Cora Batley
1973 William John Davy

Borough restructured and now includes Flegg UDC and parts of Lothingland UDC
1974 John Milton Bishop
1975 Ernest James Craske
1976 Joseph Alexander Laird
1977 Henry Samuel Miller
1978 George Trevor Scott
1979 John Phillip Alexander Clymer
1980 Ronald George Webb
1981 Frank Gordon Chapman
1982 David Ernest Arnold
1983 Barry George Coleman
1984 Henry Duncan McKee
1985 James Minion Benson
1986 Brenda Margaret June Mills
1987 George Sherratt Johnson
1988 Derrick John Henry Maddeys
1989 James Robert Shrimplin
1990 William Dougal
The role of Mayor is removed for a ten year period

2000 Bertie James Edmund Collins
2001 David Walter Thompson
2002 John Hudson
2003 Jonathan Miles Russell
2004 Michael Taylor
2005 George William Jermany
2006 Susan Bette Robinson
2007 Paul Andrew Newton Garrod
2008 Terence Robert Easter
2009 Anthony Thomas Smith
2010 Michael Thomas Jeal
2011 Barry George Coleman
2012 Colleen Monica Walker
2013 John Markham Burroughs
2014 Marlene Ellen Fairhead
2015 Shirley Ann Weymouth
2016 Malcolm Dudley Bird
2017 Kerry Susanne Robinson Payne
2018 Mary Susan Clare Coleman
2019 Michael Thomas Jeal

Frederick Pigg 1841- 1912

By Julie Smith


Fire has been destroying properties and lives since it was first discovered and I am sure it will continue to do so until the end of time. Such is the nature of the beast.

Frederick Pigg only spent a short time in Yarmouth having moved from Norwich but in a brief moment his life was changed forever. Not only does this article cover his sad story but it goes into depth about the horrendous fire that stole almost everything from him.

On 1st February 1868 the Yarmouth Independent printed a long article reporting the tragic fire although this was a much more detailed and perhaps more accurate description than they and other papers had printed almost immediately after the event. I will cover that report in more detail later, however, their opening paragraph was quite poignant –

“No event that has occurred in Yarmouth for many years has created so painful an impression as the fire in the Market Row whose disastrous results we reported in our last impression. We are accustomed to greater losses of life by sea, sometimes taking place almost under our eyes, but there is something more appalling in the idea of death by fire, especially when a delicate woman and helpless children are its victims.”

Before I get to this horrendous life changing event, I will begin with Frederick’s life beforehand.

As far as I can tell from the various census Frederick was born in 1841 in Norwich. His father Samuel was a Woollen Merchant who had married Frances Piggin in 1821. The couple went on to have at least 10 children all of whom I have found births registered in the Non-Conformist records for, apart from Frederick’s!

In 1841 he is living with his mother and 7 siblings in Palace Plain in Norwich. Samuel wasn’t with them. I know he was still alive but I cannot find him anywhere else, however, I  did find that on 5th April, two months before the census was taken, he was listed as one of the Jurors on the City Grand Jury in Norwich.

In 1851 the family is now living on City Road, Lakenham and Frederick is in school.

By the time of the 1861 census Frederick is working as a linen draper whereas his father and two of his brothers, Clement and Walter are all woollen merchants. Visiting the family is 20 year old Sarah Hamby a farmer’s daughter from Ellough who Frederick would marry on 26th July 1864 in Beccles.

Pigg census 1861 (3)_LI

Frederick and Sarah would remain in Norwich for the foreseeable future. Their eldest daughter Edith Mary was born there in 1865 but the younger two were both born in Yarmouth, Mabel Elizabeth in 1867 and Fanny Eliza in 1868.

According to the Norfolk Electoral Register for 1868 his address was given as Park Lane, Heigham and in 1869 when his name is recorded as Frederick Theobald Pigg, the address is a Warehouse in Red Lion Street Norwich.

On 4th January 1868, Frederick took out and advertisement in the Yarmouth Independent showing off his business – “The Woollen Cloth Warehouse” in 3 Market Row Great Yarmouth.

Pigg Advert Yarmouth Independent Jan 4 1868 (2)

Then just 19 days later Frederick’s world would change forever when a devastating fire would take away his business and the lives of his wife and two younger daughters.

The terrible tragedy that befell the family was reported all over the UK. The majority of the report has come from the Bury & Norwich Post, dated 28th January 1868, however, there are a few odd bits of information that were reported in other papers and not mentioned in the Post so I have included them if they are of relevance.


Fatal and Destructive Fire –Three

Lives Lost

 Shortly after 12 o’clock on Thursday night (23rd) a fire broke out on the premises of Mr Frederick Pigg woollen cloth and boot warehouse, Market Row, which we regret to say, was attended not only with great destruction of property, but with the loss of three lives, those of Mrs Pigg and two of her young children, who unfortunately perished in the flames.


Market Row is one of those numerous narrow thoroughfares traversing the town from east to west, which are almost peculiar to Yarmouth.

Yarmouth Map2_LI (3)

It leads out of the Market Place and though no more than eight feet wide, in some parts scarcely that it is lined on each side with some of the best shops in the town, most of them being for the sale of light fancy goods. The surrounding locality is thickly populated, dense blocks of buildings extending from the Market Place to Howard and Charlotte Streets, being separated at close intervals by parallel Rows, which are all inhabited, except here and there where fish offices and warehouses alternate with dwelling houses. The alarming character of a fire, therefore, at the dead of night, in such a locality may be imagined. The premises of Mr Pigg, where the fire broke out formed the second shop at the Market Place end of the Row. Adjoining on one side is a stationers shop kept by Mr Bond and on the other a Gutta Percha shop, occupied by Mr Baird, while on the opposite side are the drapery and hosiery establishments of Messrs Fyson, Humphries, Waters and others.

Gutta Percha comes from trees found in Malaysia of the Palaquium Blanco genus of the Sapotaceae family. The juice or sap is extracted from the trees by making cuts in the trunks. In the mid-19th century Gutta Percha was used to make furniture, pistol hand grips, canes, walking stacks and especially mourning jewellery as it was dark in colour and could be easily moulded into beads.

It appeared that about midnight, Mr Pigg, who slept on the second floor was awakened by a suffocating sensation of smoke in his bedroom, and immediately called up his wife, who, with two infant children, slept in the same room. Mrs Pigg seizing the youngest child, which lay at her side, rushed upstairs where the domestic slept in the front attic with the eldest child, and roused her up. There being a great deal of smoke in the room they had to retire into a room behind. The servant besought her mistress to go downstairs, but the poor woman, in an agony of despair, cried that it was no use, they must all be burnt. The girl, hearing Mr Pigg calling out to his wife to come down rushed down with the infant in her arms, and escaped into the backyard after falling down the last flight of stairs. There she met Mr Pigg, whom she implored to go up and save her mistress, but he appeared thoroughly bewildered, and even had he made the attempt, such was the hold the fire had already got of the building, that it must inevitably have proved fatal.

He was removed in a half senseless state, in the night clothes in which he had escaped, into a neighbour’s house. Nothing more is known of the unfortunate woman and the two children, save that their charred remains were discovered next day among the smoking debris.

The fire appears to have been discovered outside almost at the same time it was perceived within. Mr A Waters, who lives nearly opposite, was aroused from his sleep by some crackling noises as if under his shop, and rushing to the window perceived jets of flame issuing from the shutters of Mr Pigg’s premises.

Hurrying on his clothes he ran to the police station and gave the alarm. The fire brigade was promptly on the spot with one of the new engines and a plentiful supply of water being turned on at the Water Work’s Company’s mains, operations were speedily commenced from the east end of the Row, the second new engine following shortly after, and being stationed at the Charlotte Street end. At this time, however, so inflammable were the materials by which the fire was fed, the building was one mass of vivid flame, illuminating the town and visible for miles around. The utmost consternation spread throughout the locality, and the inhabitants of the adjoining houses, having sent away the wives and families to the houses of friends, commenced removing what was considered most combustible of their premises. A large warehouse of Mr Blyth, extending into the rear, and filled with most inflammable goods, was partly emptied into the Market Place, the street being blocked with paraffin barrels, casks, boxes &c. The inmates of the adjoining Rows, women and children, hurried into the freezing night air, some of them half clad, huddling together in the utmost terror. At about half past twelve the fire assumed most alarming proportions, and it really seemed as if the destruction of property if not of life, must be most terrible. The roof now fell in with a crash sending up millions of sparks, and the flames flew round and caught several of the adjoining houses. The scene down the Row from the Market Place was a fearful one. The shops on both sides were in flames, the fire filling up the whole width of the Row with a tremendous blaze that roared like a furnace. Thanks, however, to the magnificent engines with which the town is now provided, to the energetic efforts of the fire brigade, assisted by plenty of willing hands, and to the abundant supply of water, such an incessant torrent was discharged on the burning premises that by a quarter to one the conflagration was almost entirely extinguished, the change from fiery glow which but a few minutes before lit up the Row from end to end, to darkness, relieved only by the gas lamps and the lanterns of the police, being startlingly sudden. The damage done has been very considerable, and it is roughly estimated at 3000L, which today would be in the region of £237,000.

On Friday labourers were busy removing the debris, and as we have already stated, came in the course of the day of the bodies of Mrs Pigg and the two children, so fearfully burned, however, that identity was impossible. Mrs Pigg was a young woman of about 26 years; the names of the children who perished were Fanny Eliza, thirteen months, and Mabel one month. The name of the child who was rescued by the servant is Edith who was two and a half years old. So sad and lamentable a catastrophe has not occurred in the town for many years, and the utmost sympathy and commiseration are expressed in behalf of the hapless husband and father so suddenly and so painfully bereaved.

“Yarmouth”, observes the Independent, from which the foregoing account is principally taken, “has had some narrow escapes from destructive fires, but in no instance has the escape been more providential than this one. We have no hesitation in saying that we owe our preservation from one of the most fearful calamities with which the town has been visited in this generation to the prompt steps taken by the corporation a few months ago in providing new fire engines. Had we had to depend last night on the old engines, or adopted the policy lately recommended by one member of the town council, half the Market Place would at this moment have been in ruins. Another providential circumstance in our favour was that the wind, which during the evening blew half a gale, at Midnight almost died away, and during the height of the fire had become a perfect calm. On the following night it blew a hurricane”.

The Inquest

The enquiry into the lamentable loss of life, referred to above, was opened by the Coroner, Mr C H Chamberlin, on Saturday morning at the Angel Hotel.

Rebecca Abbs deposed: I am a domestic in the service of Mr F Pigg, and have lived with him about 2 years. The family consisted of Mr and Mrs Pigg, three children and myself. I went to bed on Thursday night about eleven o’clock, my bedroom being the front attic. One child, Edith Mary slept in a little bed by my side. Mr Pigg’s room was on the first floor at the back of the front sitting room, the other two children, Mabel Elizabeth and Fanny Eliza, sleeping in the same room. One, the infant, slept with its parents, and the other in a cot by the bedside. Shortly after I went to bed I heard Mr and Mrs Pigg go to their room. I had been asleep but a short time when I was woke by hearing the baby crying, and about the same time Mrs Pigg came up and called me. I found a great deal of smoke in my room and observed some flames which I thought came from Mr Baird’s, the adjoining shop. I took the child that had been sleeping in my room and went with Mrs Pigg into the back upper attic where there was less smoke than in my room. Mrs Pigg had the infant with her, I heard it crying. I begged my mistress to go downstairs, but she said “No, No, it’s no use; we are all lost, we must be burned”. I heard Mr Pigg calling out “Sarah, Sarah, do come down!” I then rushed downstairs with the little girl Edith Mary. I cannot tell how I got out; I only remember falling at the foot of the stairs, where I injured my foot. I afterwards found myself in the backyard, the door of which I found to be open, and I passed out into the Row. When I was in the yard I saw Mr Pigg and said to him “Oh! Rush up and get my mistress”, but he seemed as if he scarcely knew what he was doing. Mrs Pigg made no effort to go downstairs that I am aware of. I saw no flame as I passed downstairs. I did not see the second child (Mabel) after she was put to bed in my mistress’s room. We had no gas in the house, and it was Mr Pigg’s custom the last thing before going up to bed to go over the house to see the lights were out. I cannot say if he did this Thursday night, but he was in the shop when I went upstairs. I believe the kitchen fire was out when I left. There was an open stove in the shop, but as I was seldom there I cannot tell what was usually done with regard to extinguishing the fire there. – It was not usual to turn the gas off at the meter.

Supt Tewsley said that soon after daylight on Friday morning he gave directions for the debris to be removed, and while workmen were engaged in this duty they came upon the remains the Jury had just viewed.

Mr Stafford, Surgeon, deposed to have been present when the remains were found. He had made an examination and had no doubt that they found portions of the bodies, namely of a woman and two children.

Mr Chamberlin, at this stage of the inquiry, said he had requested Mr Pigg to be in attendance to give evidence should the jury wish it, but looking at the distracted state of the gentleman’s mind, consequent upon the late melancholy catastrophe, it has occurred to him that the feelings of Mr Pigg might be spared, as without his testimony there could be no reason to doubt that the deceased met with their deaths by fire, and that the fire in question arose from purely accidental causes. The Jury concurred with Mr Chamberlin’s observations and unanimously returned a verdict of “accidental death in all three cases”.

On 1st February the Yarmouth Independent published several items in connection with the fire, one being the following –

Pigg Fire thanks yarmouth Ind 1 Feb 1868 (2)

They also reported in greater depth the inquest which had only been held on the Saturday after the fire. Bearing in mind it had only taken place on Thursday night Friday morning, I do wonder whether they had collected sufficient evidence in such a short time to have all the facts available to hold an inquest so soon in the first place.

The paper reported that apparently when Rebecca, the servant, descended the stairs the fire had not yet reached the staircase which was separated from the shop where the fire was raging by a slight partition, communicating with it by means of a door. There was therefore, a safe egress for the inmates had they availed themselves of it.

The writer of the article intimated that things might not have turned out as they did when they wrote “The painfulness of the feeling is rendered more acute by the knowledge we now possess that a very slight degree of self-possession on part of the hapless woman herself would have saved them all.”

I do not know if the paper is writing their interpretation of events or if what they wrote was reported at the inquest as later on in the article they point out the errors that occurred and basically say that if things had been done differently perhaps Mrs Pigg and her children would not have perished. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is easy to say what should have been done when you are not actually at the scene!

The report continues to say that it would appear from the position of Sarah’s body that after Rebecca had gone down stairs with her eldest daughter, she must have returned to her bedroom on the next floor down to rescue the second child lay in her cot.

The bedroom window was not more than 9 or 10 feet from the ground and close under it was the lean-to roof. A slight effort would have sent the window out, and a descent could have been effected without much risk even to the children. At the time there would have been several persons in the back of the premises.

Indeed, it is still perfectly inexplicable that no effort should have been made outside through this back window. The Policeman at any rate, knew that there were persons in the house, yet it never seems to have suggested itself to him to make any attempt for their rescue.

No doubt the rapid progress of the fire left little time for consideration, but as fully a quarter on an hour had elapsed between the fire alarm and the arrival of the engines, if within this period Mrs Pigg had descended to her bedroom, as is highly probable, an active intrepid fellow, with his wits about him, might, by mounting the lean to roof, have had the poor woman out, even if she lay senseless on the floor.

The newspaper does report, but much later on, as to why there was a delay in the fire engine getting to the scene.

It would appear that the horse used to pull the engine was not at hand and when a cabman was flagged down by Mr Isaac Preston Junior who was the first to give the alarm at the station, he refused to let them borrow his animal saying he had another engagement and drove off. In the absence of a horse, Mr Preston and two policemen on night duty attempted to get the engine out themselves. They had managed to drag it part of the way up Regent Street when the wheels became clogged with snow and they could pull it no further. At this juncture they were met by several of the curates of St Nicholas and their friends and upon learning the nature of the emergency at once came to the rescue and literally by putting their shoulders to the wheel managed to send the recalcitrant machine flying towards them.

Back at the fire it would seem that on emerging from the burning building, Frederick fainted and when coming around did not recover his senses or self-possession and if not for a policeman who found him in the row, restraining him, he would have rushed back into the burning building, the lower part which by then was inaccessible.

However, somewhere along the line it was not reported that anyone was still in the burning building as when Sergeant Major Franklin of the Volunteer Artillery arrived with his men, the first question he asked before the engine arrived was the safety of the inmates of the house and he was told by all around that the whole family had been got out and taken to a neighbour’s residence.

With respect to the origin of the fire, it was a mystery although Frederick attributed it to an incendiary who sought to avenge himself for some real or fancied affront. He even went on to name the scoundrel and the motive behind this heinous crime but very few, if any persons shared the same belief.

From newspaper reports it would appear that about 7 premises were caught up in the fire but only Fredericks had been entirely consumed. The other properties belonging to the following were –

James Baird – Boot and Shoe Shop – damaged by fire and water

Mr Fyson – premises shop front in Market Row and stock therein destroyed

Mr Humphries – premises shop front and stock therein destroyed

Mr Water- shop front and portion of furniture damaged

Mr Bond – premises shop front slightly damaged

Mr Blyth – premises slightly damaged

It also came to light that the property belonging to Mr Blyth had 17 gallons of paraffin on it although he maintained he had done nothing wrong since this amount was within the amount allowed by the Act of Parliament, being 40 gallons. Never the less it must have been of great concern to all should the fire have caused more damage to his property.

Mr Humphries was insured for 100L and Mr Baird for 400L.  Mr A Waters, draper is insured for 800L; and the house in which Mr Humphries lives, belongs to Miss Titsall, for 200L. The exterior of Mr Bond’s shop is partially burned; Mr Kemp, Mr Pigg’s landlord, is insured for 400L, but we regret to learn that the principal sufferer, Mr Pigg was not insured at all, having allowed his policy to lapse only last Christmas, with a view to insuring in another office.

Mr Water’s quick thinking saved his premises from receiving greater damage as immediately he perceived the fire almost in front of his premises he cleared all the inmates out and barricaded the window which was most exposed with blankets, replacing them as soon as they were burnt through with fresh blankets till the supply was exhausted. At this point he hauled down the featherbed itself and piled it up against the enemy, gallantly holding his ground until the shop below that of Mr Humphries, was completely gutted. Even a great portion of the bed was burned before the fire engines had succeeded in quelling the fire.

There are no reports of the funeral for Sarah and her children but I do know they were buried together on 28th January 1868 in the churchyard of All Saints in Ellough. Her death (but not the children’s) was reported in the burial records of the Middlegate Congregational which aren’t very forthcoming. All it says is –

27 January 1868 – Mrs Fred Pigg

Notes: Date of announcement of death (by fire) to the monthly church meeting.

What is strange is that according to BMD, Sarah and the children’s deaths were not registered until September ¼ of 1868 –

Fanny Eliza Pigg – Aged 0

Mabel Elizabeth Pigg – Aged 1

Sarah Pigg – Aged 27.

A couple of Months later reports were made of the amount of funds which had been raised to help Frederick resume his business.

Yarmouth Independent

28 March 1868

The Late Calamitous Fire

In the

Market Row

The dreadful fire which occurred in the Market Row on 23rd January last, when the wife and two children of Mr Frederick Pigg, were burnt to death, will be fresh in the recollection of everyone.

It will also be remembered that the life of a third child was saved by the bravery of a female servant.

Prior to this calamity Mr Pigg’s means were sufficient to meet his responsibilities, but owing to his loss by fire and to the failure of the Empire Fire Office, in which he was partially insured. He became unable to defray the claims upon him, and his creditors have generously accepted a composition on their debts.

In the belief that a little sympathy will cheer him up in his present forlorn condition, and aid him in his exertions to provide for himself and his surviving child, some friends have resolved to raise a small sum to enable him to resume business, and they heartily solicit aid in their efforts.

Contributions will be thankfully received by the mayor, Messrs John Shelly & Co, and Messrs Spelman Great Yarmouth.

According to the report they raised £90. 5s which today would be in the region of £7k. I can’t find any later reports about the fund raising so I do not know if this was the final amount raised.

Contributors included –

W & H Brand                                                  10 shillings

“A Lady”                                                          10 shillings

“A Friend”                                                   £1.00

The Mayor                                                  £2.2 shillings

Sir E H K Lacon                                           £2.2 shillings

J W Shelly                                                    £5.00

H M G Shelly                                               £2.00

Elizabeth Shelly                                          £10.00

Miss Elizabeth Piper of Cambridge         £10.00

Horace Gambling                                       £3.00

Steward, Patterson, Finch & Co               £2.2 shillings

The last time there was any mention of the tragedy was just 5 months later when the Norfolk Chronicle printed the following report on the 20th June –

Pigg Norfolk Chronicle 20 6 1868 (2)

Frederick Pigg’s story and his relationship with Yarmouth has ended, but I wanted to know what happened to him and his daughter Edith after this terrible tragedy.

The obvious start was the 1871 census but there was no sign of either of them, either together or apart. I did find their servant Rebecca Abbs who had saved Edith’s life. She had secured employment with William Turner a Druggist and Chemist and his family living in St Ives, Huntingdon.

After the fire, Rebecca was well looked after. A subscription limited to a shilling was set up in the town during the early part of the following week on her behalf as she had lost all her clothes, but so many kindly people contributed a sum more than was sufficient was received within a couple of days, the total of which was given as 20/-, which today would have been in the region of £80. It doesn’t seem much but bearing in mind the salary of a servant such as Rebecca would only have been in the region of £ must have been worth a fortune to her.

With regards to Frederick and Edith, I checked in later census for them both as well as marriage and death records but I just couldn’t find either of them, so back to checking the newspapers it was.

Pigg isn’t that common a name so I did a wider search and discovered that just 10 days before the fire, Frederick’s father Samuel had died at the age of 75.

I then found a notice placed by Frederick’s brother Edward that with effect from 14th May 1869 he would be changing his surname from Pigg to Theobald! Less than 3 months later Frederick and Edith followed suit and he took out the following notice which was reported in the Norfolk News on 14th April but was reported in various newspapers throughout the Country.

Pigg Fred name change Norfolk News 14 Aug 1869 (2)

Finally! I had a new name to trace and found that in 1869 Frederick Theobald had married a lady by the name of Margaret Lane Christie.

By 1871 Frederick who is employed as a commercial traveller is living in Bromley High Street with Margaret, her widowed mother Frances Christie, Edith who has also changed her surname to Theobald and Frederick and Margaret’s son Percy who is nine months old.

On 17th January 1872, Arthur, another of Frederick’s brother’s also changed his name to “The family surname of Theobald”. I do not know if he says this as two of his brothers are already using this name or if indeed it goes back further to the present generation but it is not relevant to this story.

In 1850 Frederick’s sister had married Henry Alexander Pigg and after his death in 1875 she too changed her surname to Theobald.

According to the 1881 census Frederick is employed as a commercial traveller selling shoes and he and Margaret have had a further 4 children, Gertrude, Edgar, Archie and Evelyn. Edith, now 16 remains at home whilst Percy had died shortly after the 1871 census.

Before 1891, the family had moved to Hove and Frederick is simply listed as “an Agent” but what off it does not say.

The family does not seem to settle in one place for very long and in 1901 Frederick who is now a Brewers Representative along with Margaret and three of their children, Edgar, Archie and Evelyn are living in Brighton.

Sadly in 1903 Margaret dies at the age of 59 and Frederick is once again a widower.

The 1911 census finds Frederick living in Bowes Park with his “new wife” Charlotte who is 23 years his junior. I cannot read his occupation details. On the census form they say they have been married 5 years but I have not been able to locate any marriage details. Living with them is Gertrude, Frederick’s daughter from his second marriage, who is widowed.

Frederick died in 1912 at the age of 70. I wonder how much his new family knew of the terrible tragedy that befell him and Edith.

As for Edith I couldn’t find her after the 1891 census. Did she die or marry, I don’t know and then all of a sudden I found her living with her half-brother Evelyn who is a widower, and his son Douglas. Edith who is single is their housekeeper and according to the 1939 Register the trio are living in Portsmouth.

But that is definitely the last time I have been able to find any trace of her.








George Shreeve 1840-1871

By Julie Smith

George Shreeve was in my opinion, an unsung hero of Great Yarmouth. He was a beachman and Police Fireman who was credited with saving at least 11 lives. He died in a tragic accident which today would never had happened with all the health and safety rules in place. George is not related, however, I came across the story of his tragic death whilst undertaking other research and the more I read about him the more I wanted to find out about this very special man. This is his story.

George was born about 1840 in Caister to William Shreeve a fisherman and beachman and his wife Lydia. According to the 1861 census, George was also employed in the same trade as his father.

Beachmen in Great Yarmouth went back to the 1700s. Their first objective was to rescue the crew and passengers of any vessel in distress, however they would also make a profit out of the salvage of any wreck. Until the RNLI came about the beachmen were the only rescue organisation.

The RNLI began life in 1824 as “National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck”. In 1849 Prince Albert became a supporter and by 1854 the name had changed to the name we are all familiar with today the “Royal National Lifeboat Institution”.

In 1862 George married Elizabeth George –

Shreeve George Banns Caister by Yarmouth

The couple went on to have three children, Mary Ann born in 1863 in Caister, whilst George William in 1864 and Jane Eliza in 1868 were both born in Great Yarmouth.

Like his father, George William will also lose his life in tragic circumstances in 1903. I will cover his story at a later date.

It is possible that George may still have worked as a beachman as in December 1866 several newspapers reported the following –

On Wednesday evening, the claim for life rendered by Police Constable Shreeve for the crew of the Smack “Betsy” of this port, came on for hearing at the Police Court.

In October last, George rescued the nine smack men aboard the “Betsy” which had been driven ashore during a strong gale just beyond Britannica Pier, on the beach almost opposite the cemetery. Police Constable Shreeve who was on duty on the Caister Road at about 11.30, was attracted by hearing loud cries for assistance. The Officer at once hastened to the beach where he found a Smack in the surf and the crew shouting lustily for help, believing the vessel would go to pieces. Shreeve quickly divested himself of some of his outer clothing and by wading into the surf and directing the crew where to jump he was able to assist them ashore one by one until the entire crew was saved.

In some papers they say George rescued the crew single handed whilst others say there were two other rescuers. Since George was the only person to be bestowed with a medal I suspect the other two may not have been so involved.

The Committee stated that for this gallant service Police Constable George Shreeve was raised from a third class to a second class Constable.
Mr Preston said that under the Merchant Shipping Act, men engaged in saving life had a lien* of goods salved. The Board of Trade also frequently remunerated men for such services. He wished to know whether any goods had been obtained from the wreck of the “Betsy” and whether Shreeve’s gallant services had been brought under the notice of the Board of Trade.
Mr Aldred was understood to say that the Coroner had promised to bring the matter before the Board of Trade. He and the committee would be most happy to do all they could in forwarding such an application. They Mayor thought the committee ought to stretch a point in the matter, however, Mr Mainprice said that little was saved from the wreck. The report was adapted, and further measures were directed to be adopted with respect to obtaining a proper recognition for the splendid services rendered by Shreeve.

The Justices considered a very meritorious service had been rendered and awarded George the sum of £15 (About £1250 in today’s terms) and costs, regretting that the value of the boat did not enable them to give a higher sum.

* A right to keep possession of a property belonging to another person.

Shreeve Ipswich Journal 6 Aug 1870 (3)
Ipswich Journal 6 Aug 1870

Following on from the rescue of Mrs Knight, George was awarded a Bronze Human Medal and the following report appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle on 12 November 1870.

Presentation of a Humane Medal to a Policeman –The Mayor read a letter which had been received from Mr Lambton Young, secretary to the Royal Humane Society, to this effect: – “Herewith I have the pleasure of transmitting to you, for presentation to George Shreeve, the Honorary Bronze medal of this Society which has been awarded to him by the committee for his courage and humanity in having saved Mrs Knights life from drowning at Yarmouth on the 2nd August last. Please cause this reward to be presented in a public a manner as possible”.

Shreeve Humane Society medal (not his)

The above medal is similar to the one George would have been presented with from the Humane Society.

The Mayor said, addressing Constable Shreeve, said the medal would be presented to him on Thursday by the Chairman of the Watch Committee. Mr Palmer enquired how many lives Shreeve had been instrumental in saving. Shreeve replied nine. The Mayor was very proud indeed to have such a Policeman in the service of the Borough. Mr Palmer thought Shreeve ought to have had the highest medal of the society. (It will be remembered that on the night of the 2nd August, on arrival of the London steamer, Mrs Knights, an elderly woman, fell overboard and would have been drowned but for the ready aid of Shreeve, who at great risk, jumped into the river and succeeded in reaching the sinking woman and holding her above water until both were rescued by a boat. Shreeve is a strong swimmer, and he has frequently exhibited his prowess at shipwrecks.)

The following year there was a report in the paper as to the potential danger to passengers when arriving aboard the steamers in Yarmouth. The Steam Navigation Company had two boats – The Albion which was faster than The Concordis. The boats which leave London Bridge on Saturday would arrive at Yarmouth Wharf normally before dusk in the evening. In the summer the first boat (which actually is the second to leave and en route, by agreement overtakes the first boat!) has no problem with their passengers disembarking, however, when the second boat arrives about nine o’clock their passengers have to disembark after night has set in and the lighting on the wharf was poor almost non-existent. It is amazing that similar accidents like that of Mrs Knights, did not occur more often!

George was obviously a man who was prepared to help his fellow humans under any circumstances as just a couple of months after rescuing Mrs Knights from a watery grave, he was at it again!

On Saturday 26th November 1870 the Norfolk News reported that a man by the name of George Godby was charged with being drunk and incapable in the River Yare at about 3 o’clock on the previous Wednesday morning. Police Constables Shreeve and George were on duty at the foot of the bridge when they heard a splash in the water on the other side of the river. They ran across the bridge on the west side of the river and there saw the defendant up to his neck in the water, clinging to one of the piles. By lying down and taking hold of each other’s hands they managed to reach Godby and drag him out. Defendant offered to pay the Officers £1 (c.£80) for the services rendered in saving his life, and having been fined 5 shillings for being drunk, he was discharged.

Death of a Hero

On 3rd March 1871 George died following a terrible accident leaving a widow and 3 children. Various newspapers all over the UK printed reports of his demise and I have taken particulars from different papers to get as full a picture of the tragedy. All the papers reported that George Shreeve was one of the most respected member of the local police force.

George had been on river duty the night before from 9pm until 4am and had not long arrived at the Police Station when shortly before 2 o’clock, he and some colleagues were directed to move the fire escape from its position in the paved yard connected with the Police Station, to the road at the back of the Town Hall in preparation for it to be cleaned out and examined to ensure that it was in good working order.

Shreeve Fire Escape

The fire escape, which was about 50 feet long, along with a splendid fire engine, had been supplied about 3 years ago by Messrs Shand & Mason. At the expense of the Town. It was kept in the station yard, leaning against the back wall of the Superintendents residence, the wheels were kept “chocked”, keeping it steady in its ordinary position. It would seem that an order was given to one of the constables for the chocks to be removed with a view to wheeling the escape into the road. For whatever reason, George was unaware or had forgotten that this instruction had been given and without being seen by the constable who had removed one of the chocks, he proceeded to climb the ladder.

By the time he had reached the top the weight of his body acted as a lever on the lower part of the machine causing it to run backwards throwing him over the top of the ladder, to the flagstones some 50 feet below.

As he fell, George attempted to grab hold of the stone coping of one of the windows in order to break his fall, however, this only caused him to fall onto his head which was smashed and caused instantaneous death.

Assistance was rendered immediately by his fellow constables who were already in the yard and within minutes Messrs Stafford and Meadows arrived but their aid was unavailing and they confirmed that poor George was dead.

The two gentlemen called to the scene were more than likely Stephen Stafford who was a Surgeon living in Market Place and Daniel Meadows a General Practitioner living in 141 King Street.

This sudden fatal accident caused shock to those on the spot and a great deal of sadness on the loss of one of their own. George was very widely respected, not only for his uniform, good conduct and uprightness of character but for several deeds of daring in saving numerous lives from positions of extreme peril. He was described as a most gallant fellow although remarkable for courage and daring, was a most quiet inoffensive and civil man and was a great favourite with the force. Furthermore, he was an expert climber and admirable swimmer.

Shreeve joined the force about 1864 and prior to that he worked alongside his father as a fisherman and a member of the “Caister Company of Beachmen” in association with whom he was enabled to render signal service on several occasions to shipwrecked crews. The experience thus gained, coupled with the power as a swimmer, rendered him often heedless of danger. (We know that over a period of time George was instrumental in saving no fewer than 11 persons from a watery grave.)

He was a man of no ordinary merit, and his loss as one of the most valuable members of our Borough Police is a matter of general regret in the town.

The deceased Officer leaves a wife and three children, who it is feared are little prepared to meet the great affliction that was so suddenly befallen them. It is believed that a subscription will be started to afford some assistance to the bereaved widow and orphans, an appeal that is to be hoped, will meet with a generous response.

The Inquest

The Inquest on the body of the deceased was held on Saturday afternoon at the Columbia Tavern in Crown Road before the Coroner C H Chamberlain Esq and a respectable jury. During the enquiry, George’s father was present throughout.

First called to bear witness was Supt. Tewsley who deposed that George Shreeve was a member of the Fire Brigade and that part of his duty was to attend to the fire escape. He confirmed that after he had given the order for the removal of the machine, he heard PC Orbell ask the deceased to take a brush and clear the escape of dust. Supt, Tewsley then said that he retired to his room to have his dinner, but had scarcely sat down when he heard a noise and looking out of his window he saw the escape falling with the deceased on the extreme end of it, his arms outstretched trying to grasp at anything to save his fall but unable to grab hold of anything he fell to the pavement with a terrible force. Witness rushed downstairs and found George dead in a pool of blood on the flagstones, his skull completely broken in. He had no doubt that the deceased died instantly.

Supt Tewsley said that there was nothing faulty with the fire escape and the accident was entirely attributable to the deceased climbing up after the chocks that kept the machine fixed in place had been removed.

Police Detective Charles Harman having been called next, deposed to having been called out of the engine house to assist getting the fire escape out of the station yard and arriving in the yard he met with Shreeve. He unfastened the covering below and then went up to the top to throw off the oil cloth and came down again. They then put the gear together ready to get the escape into the street. Shreeve then took away one of the chocks from the wheels and witness hung the other on the hook by the side of the machine.

Witness was attending to some of the gear when the deceased called out “Hold hard, I will scrape some of the rust off” At that moment PC Dann came and said the men were being paid, upon which, witness left the yard and went into the station to receive his money. As he left the yard Shreeve was scraping the pin that fixed into the escape and was waiting for oil to put on it. Witness had hardly got into the yard when he heard an alarming noise and when turning back he saw the deceased lying on the pavement and having fell on the front part of his head he was quite dead.

Shreeve must have known that the chocks had been removed as he had taken one away himself. Harman said that George must have forgotten and had climbed the escape to brush the machine. Deceased was not generally a careless man, quite the reverse.

PC Dann said as he was going into the yard he saw Shreeve ascending the fire escape with a broom and shouted to him “Sweep it clean George” to which he received the reply “All Right”. Witness then went into the urinal and a moment later heard the machine sweep past. As he rushed into the yard he saw George lying dead on the ground, the yard gate open and the escape partly outside in the street.

The Coroner having referred to the evidence which showed clearly that the deceased met his death by accident, spoke of George in feeling terms stating that he had known and respected him for many years.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” and gave up their fees to the distressed widow.

On 11 March the Yarmouth Independent reported George’s funeral which had taken place on Tuesday morning the 7th of March, just a few days after his tragic death.

“The funeral took place at the cemetery, in the presence of a large concourse of persons. Nearly the whole of the Police Force under Superintendent Tewsley attended the funeral, and marched in procession from the house of the deceased to the place of internment. The coffin was also borne by six members of the force. The burial service was performed by the Rev F.C. Clutterbuck and was very fine indeed”.

Shreeve Burial (2)

The Kindness of Strangers

Life must have been very difficult for George’s widow Elizabeth who was only 29 and had 3 fatherless children – Mary Ann 8, George 7 & 3 year old Jane to look after.

However, almost immediately the 19th century equivalent of crowd funding began. On the 8th of March the Norwich Mercury printed the following report –

Shreeve Japanese troup Norwich Mercury 8 March 1871 (2)

On the Thursday following the funeral the Watch Committee met at the police court to consider the case of the widow and children of the late Constable Reeve.

A subscription list was handed round to which the mayor and other magistrates had been appended and several members of the committee also added their names for various amounts. It was stated that Elizabeth and her children would receive twelve months pay at £1 per week (c.£82) (subject to the confirmation of the council) and that Shreeve was insured in the Police Mutual Insurance Society from which about £23 (c.£1894) would be derived. A committee was formed so as to distribute whatever money was obtained for this most deserving case in judicious and specified instalments to the widow and her children.

The following month on 11th April the Bury & Norwich Post reported that subscriptions to the amount of nearly 100L (c.£8200) had been promised in aid of the poor widow and children of George Shreeve and amongst the donations Supt. Tewsley received was a cheque for 1L 2S (c.£82) from the members of the Ramsgate Fire Brigade in aid of the same laudable object.

Life after Death

Just a month after George’s death the census for 1871 was taken and Elizabeth along with her two younger children were living in Blake’s Buildings along with her widowed mother Mary. Elizabeth is listed as “Late Policeman’s Wife”. Her eldest daughter is living with George’s widowed father William and George’s sister Kerenhappach in Caister. William is still working as a beachman and fisherman.

By the time of the 1881 census Elizabeth who is now employed as a beatster (someone who mended fishing nets) was living in 14 Row 79 South Side with Mary Ann 18 who was also a beatster, 17 year old George who was a fisherman and Jane who was just 13 was listed as a general servant.

In 1888 George married Elizabeth Howlett and in 1889 their daughter Lily was baptised and according to the baptismal records he was working as a beachman, however, by the time of the 1891 census his employment is given as general labourer and the same in 1901, however, shortly after George would also die under tragic circumstances.

At some stage Jane married Edgar Bly and in 1891 they are living with their two children in Royal Terrace Gorleston along with the widowed Elizabeth and in 1901 Elizabeth is now living in Shardlow with her eldest daughter Mary Ann, who had married Thomas Meakin, and their 7 children.

At the time George Shreeve was a man who was spoken of everywhere in the highest terms of respect and it would seem that Elizabeth never remarried. I believe she may have died in 1904 in Shardlow but I have nothing to substantiate that.

On 11 March 2016 George Shreeve’s name was added to the Firefighters Memorial Book and his name is also listed on the National Police Officers Roll of Honour

Shreeve memorial book (2)

On the 4th May 2019 on National Firefighters Memorial Day his name headed the list of Norfolk Firefighters to be remembered on the KLFM website.