My Great (x3) Grandad James

A couple of excerpt from my mini biography of James Huddlestone, who became a publican in Thirplow, Cambridge and was the last of my Huddlestone ancestors to both live and die in Cambrigeshire and lived though the Victoria era

“James married Elizabeth Flanders on 25 August 1850 at St Lawrence Church in Foxton, Cambridgeshire where they both lived at the time according to the marriage certificate. Elizabeth was born in about 1828 and was the third child of Zachariah Flanders and Susannah Flanders (previous married name Albon nee Pitt/Pett). Elizabeth had three older half-sisters (from her mothers’ first marriage), two older full sisters, two younger full sisters and two younger full brothers. I obtained a copy of their marriage certificate as I was unsure I had the correct details for James’ father, but it confirmed I did have the correct details.

At the time of marriage James is described as a “minor” that being he was under 21 years of age and was working as a “jobber” as was his father. It may be that they worked together although I have no evidence to confirm this. By the time the 1851 census was conducted on 30 March 1851 James and Elizabeth were living at Foxton Street, Foxton. James is described as 19 years of age and Elizabeth as 22, thus James was either 18 or 19 when they got married. He is also by this time working as an agricultural labourer. The census also shows that they had one son, George, living with them by this time who is said to have been 1 month old, having therefore been born late February or early March. Given they were married in August the previous year you can deduce that Elizabeth was in fact about 3 month pregnant when they were married. This is becoming something of a common theme in my family – in the four generations I have research so far, three out of the four were expecting their first child when they got married! I wonder therefore whether this really would have been such a scandal????

As an agricultural labourer in the 1850’s James would not have been well paid. They were usually amongst the poorest in a village, with work being on a day to day basis. However I have not found James and Elizabeth in any poor relief records and by the 1861 census James was working as a “Dealer” and they were living on the High Street in Foxton. By this time they had four sons, George, Charles born c. March 1855 (baptised 15 April 1855), Frederick (my great great grandfather – see his separate blog) born c. December 1856 (Baptised 14 December 1856) and Arthur born c. June 1859 (baptised 26 June 1859).

In fact checking back to the 1851 and 1861 censuses they were at that time also living next to James’ parents, but his father was described as a “Butcher” in 1851 and a “Dealer” in 1861. I suspect what is described as “Foxton Street” in the 1851 census was in fact the “High Street” as named in the 1861 census. So it appears that by 1851 the whole family had moved to Foxton. It is further interesting to note that in the 1871 census James’ father is still living at the same address and is once again described as a “Butcher”. It is therefore very likely that they worked together and whilst I have not found out any more details as to what they were dealers in my suspicion is that they dealt in meat (hence the description of Butcher) and other food supplies.”

Foxton is described in the 1869 Post Office Directory of Cambridgeshire as “a village, parish, and station [opened in 1851 ], on the Great Northern Railway, 52 miles from London, about 7 south from Cambridge, 6 north from Royston, and 9 west from Linton, in the hundred of Thriplow, union and county court district of Royston, rural deanery of Barton, archdeaconry and diocese of Ely”. They had not moved far. The population in 1861 was 405.

However by this time (1969) James and his family were living in Thriplow. He is in fact listed in the 1864 Post Office Directory of Cambridgeshire as the publican of The Green Man public house in Thriplow. In fact I suspect James became the publican at The Green Man some time before this, as their son, Albert Henry (aka Henry) was born c.1863 being baptised on 30 August 1863 in Thriplow, his baptism record describes his father, James, as a publican. It would be interesting to know how and why James made the jump from “Dealer” to “Publican”.”

“The earliest records of the Green Man are that the property originally belonged to Barenton’s Manor and in 1657 is described as “1 messuage with orchard and garden and 3½ acres arable land”. The first record of it being a public house are of it being called the Garden and Spade in 1788 changing its name to the Gardener’s Spade in 1794 and to the Gardener’s Arms in 1798. It then changed its name back to the Gardener’s Spade in 1800 and eventually to the Green Man in 1822.

Their time at the Green Man was not with objection. In 1878 James appears in the Herts & Cambs Reporter where the following report appears under the Melbourn Petty sessions section, in an application for renewal of the annual licence for The Green Man, Thriplow :

“In the case of the license of the above house at Thriplow, held by James Huddlestone, Mr. Stretten had given notice to the holder of the license of an objection being made at the present meeting against his license being renewed. The notice set forth that Huddlestone was an unfit person to hold the license from his having when goods were offered to him at very much under value by one Walter Morley, and which there was every reason to believe might have been stolen, expressed his willingness to purchase the same, and would have done so except for the interference of his wife; and also that he concealed and denied that the said goods had been offered to him until he was informed the one of the persons had confessed the robbery, and that he (Huddlestone) had offered to purchase the goods.

Mr. C.W. Palmer, solicitor of Cambridge, appeared for Huddlestone, and submitted that the notice was bad in law. The objection, however, was eventually waived, and Mr. Stretten, in support of the facts stated on the notice, called Police-sergeant Levitt, of Chesterton, who said that in February last he received information of a robbery from Thriplow of a quantity of wheat. He went to Duxford and found the men suspected and charged them with stealing it. From what was said to him by the prisoners he called upon James Huddlestone, of the Green Man, Thriplow and told him that he (witness) was informed that a sack of wheat had been stolen from Mr Webster’s premises at Thriplow and that the wheat had changed hands at or near his (Huddlestone’s) house. He replied that he saw nor heard nothing of the wheat. In company with Huddlestone witness looked round the yard but saw nothing of any corn. On the following day February 25th, witness had further communication with the prisoners, and from what they said he went to Thriplow and saw Huddlestone again. He said to Huddlestone then, ‘These prisoners have made a very strong Implication against you. One of them said it was offered to you for sale by Walter Morley.’ Witness told him he thought as he was a licensed man he had better tell him the truth about it. He replied that he would do so, and said that Walter Morley came to him as he was drawing beer in his cellar and asked if he would buy a sack of wheat, to which he (Huddlestone) replied, “I have made up my mind to buy anything worth the money.’’

Huddlestone: “’In a straightforward way,’’ I said. Witness (continuing) said Huddlestone told him that he asked Morley the price of wheat and he said 7s. and that he should have bought it only his wife came up and he should not buy it for anybody. He never saw the wheat.

The Clerk, referring to the circumstances of the robbery, said he believed the prisoners were brought up to that bench and dealt with summarily, and that no charge was preferred against Huddlestone. Sergeant Levitt said that was so, Huddlestone was called as a witness by Deputy Chief Constable Stretten: Huddlestone did not say anything to me about it until I told him that the prisoners had confessed to stealing it and to offering it to Huddlestone for sale.

Mr. Palmer: were you present when the prisoners were convicted? Witness: I was, they pleaded guilty.

Mr. Palmer: There was not a single word said against Huddlestone upon that matter in Court-they made no statement in the Court against the applicant at all? Witness: No. I have resided in this (Melbourn) district for several years. I am not aware that any complaint has been made against Huddlestone.

Mr. Palmer said there was no proof that “he would have purchased it” as set forth in notice, and he took it that the clause in the notice was abandoned by Mr. Stretten.
Mr. Stretten said he did not abandon it at all. If a man offered to do a thing it was a matter of inference as to whether he would do it, and that must be left to the Bench to decide.

Mr. Palmer submitted to the Bench with confidence that there was nothing in the evidence adduced to justify them in withdrawing this man’s certificate. These prisoners plead guilty of having stolen the corn. They did in all probability offer it to his Client, but he did not purchase it; and the prosecution was so satisfied with his respectability that they actually would have called him as a witness to prove the case against these men had not they pleaded guilty. While as to the statement of the corn changing hands at Huddlestone’s, the witness searched the premises and could find no traces of having been the case. Then they had to look at the character of a man who had conducted his house for 17 years in a respectable manner, and never had any charges brought against him. Upon this matter coming to the knowledge of the Messers. Phillips, the owners of his house, they gave him (Huddlestone) notice to quit, but upon subsequent inquires they considered him a proper man to conduct the house, and therefore, subject to the magistrates decision now, did not propose to put the notice into force. In addition to this he had a testimonial from the clergyman of the parish as to the character of his client, which, utterly unsolicited, was sent to the owners of the house in consequence of the notice to quit.

Mr. Palmer then read a letter from the Rev. J. Watkins, Vicar of Thriplow, in which that gentleman stated that from what he had seen and heard of him (Huddlestone) during the last 4 years he considered them to be very respectable and hard working. They conducted their business-which as well-known was always a difficult one-in as honest and straight forward a way as was possible among people who were to drunkenness, as Thriplow people unfortunately were. (laughter). With regard to the question of the corn he (the writer) believed them to be entirely innocent. He should be the last to defend a publican against whom he knew any real ground of the complaint; and it was in the interests of justice both to tenant and to the owners of the house that he had written a letter. Mr. Stretten said he admitted all that had been said, and would go even further in speaking of the good character borne by the applicant during the time he had conducted his house, but it was his duty to lay the facts concerning the conduct of the houses in the division before the magistrates from year to year, and that was his only object in bringing the case before them.

The magistrates then retired, and on their return the chairman said they were unanimously of the opinion that there was no case to justify them in withholding the license, and that it was the opinion of the whole parish of all ranks that he was a most respectable man as publican. At the same time it was the duty of the police not to refuse any information they could get. The license was granted as usual.”

This report is also interesting as it confirms the Green Man public house was owned at this time by Messrs Phillips. This was the brewery known at that time as Phillips Bros, previously known as Royston Brewery and later known as J and J E Phillips Ltd and then Phillips of Royston.

I suspect James was quite a colourful character. I have found further reference to him in the Herts and Cambs Report on 28 October 1892 under the hearing “A Publican Fine” which reports

“James Huddlestone, publican and farmer, of the Green Man, Thriplow, was charged with having being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cart at Hartson, on October 15th. The defendant pleaded guilty, and, evidence having been given by P.c. Huckle, he was fined 5s and costs”.

The pub also has a colourful history. There are newspaper reports of inquests being held at the pub. During James’ time as publican I have found the following reports:

On Thursday 20th. April 1882 an inquest was held at the Green Man and reported in the Cambridge Chronicle on the death of Elizabeth Fuller aged 2 yrs and 7 months.

On 23 June 1883 again in the Cambridge Chronical it is report “On Tuesday, at the Green Man public house, Mr. C. W. Palmer, County Coroner, held an inquest touching the death of Wm. Bush, aged 70, bailiff to Mr. Perkins.- It appeared that the deceased, since the death of his wife, 2 years ago, had lived by himself. For a fortnight or so prior to Friday, the April 8th, he had been in a depressed state of mind. During Friday, the deceased had some refreshments at a neighbours house, where he said his poor head was very bad, and when it was suggested to him that the Doctor should be call on him, he said that “there was no telling where he should be”. He was missed from his home on Friday evening, and on the Saturday was found lying in a neighbouring field. A four chambered revolver, with 2 chambers empty, was lying close by, and the deceased had apparently shot himself. He was however, alive. After being taken home he admitted he had done wrong, but assigned no reason. He had been in the habit of keeping the revolver by his bedside. He died on Monday last-Mr. Earle, surgeon, give evidence showing that the death resulted from a bullet wound in the head, and said that judging from the position of the wound and the state of the ear, he believed the wound was self-inflicted.- Verdict, “suicide while of unsound mind”.

On 20 September 1890 the Cambridge Independent Press reports “An Old Man’s Presentiment – An inquest was held at the Green Man, Thriplow, on Tuesday, before the county coroner (Mr C. W. Palmer), concerning the death of Nathan Ison, aged 60 years, shepherd – Sarah Ison, the widow, said she was sent for on Monday morning to go home. When she arrived there she found her husband in bed. He complained of being unwell when he went to work, and said he could no live. A doctor was sent for, but her husband died before he arrived – James Huddlestone, publican, of Thriplow, deposed that on Monday morning he saw the deceased reeling about the road. Ison said to him “James, I am a dead man; help me home”. He took the deceased home , and assisted him to bed – Mr H. S. Reynolds, a medical gentleman living in Melbourn, state that he had made post-mortem examination. The cause of death was syncope, consequence upon fatty degeneration of the heart – Verdict accordingly”

On 29 May 1891 there is a report in the Royston Weekly News that quotes an inquiry that was held in the Green Man on the death of Emily Hannah Freeman aged 4½ who had died from scald caused by pulling a frying pan over herself. The jury found the verdict of “Accidental Death”.”

greenman wth saracen's Head on right (1847-late 1870's)

This is a painting of The Green Man with the Saracen’s Head public house on the right which operated from 1847 to the 1870’s, so during the early days of James being the publican at the Green Man. It is interesting that the Saracen’s Head closed in the 1870’s as this is following the introduction of the Licensing Act 1872 (parts of which still remains in force today) which:
• “for the first time gave magistrates the power to issue licenses to public houses; where it was thought that there were too many of these, magistrates were able to close down some of them;
• public houses now had to close in towns at midnight and at 11 p.m. in the countryside – so that agricultural labourers could walk home and arrive before midnight;
• the adulteration of beer was made illegal: it was common for salt to be added to it, to make the consumers thirsty and so drink more.”
The 1874 Licensing Act provided for longer opening hours.
It may be that the Saracen’s Head was closed by the magistrates. There were in fact at this time five public houses in Thriplow. As well as the Green Man and Saracen’s Head, there was The Fox in Church Street which burnt down in 1920; the Red Lion in Middle Street which burnt down in 1941; and the Shoulder of Mutton which closed c. 1915. It is nice to know that the Green Man is the only pub remaining in Thriplow; after a few turbulent years the pub is now a community owned pub .

The green man today
The Green Man today

It would be nice to think that his children celebrated their marriages with a wedding breakfast at the Green Man. All of his children were married during James’ lifetime and his time as the publican at the Green Man. However only three of his children, George, Charles and Ruth, were married in Cambridge.”


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