Tag Archives: Leicester

Bankrupt!

In these modern times of crunched-credit, no one thinks anything of going bankrupt.  After seven years or so, a bankrupt is almost back to normal financially and I doubt there are many people who would shun them or think of them as shameful.  But back in Victorian times, when even the act of writing a cheque that you knew would bounce was a serious criminal offence, there was a huge stigma attached to bankruptcy.  Names were printed not only in the ‘official’ source (The London Gazette), but also in The Times and local newspapers.  It was whilst browsing The Times Digital Archive that I began to notice the Clarendon Park bankrupts.

The person with the dubious honour of being Clarendon Park’s first bankrupt (at least according to The Times), was Elizabeth Nancy Jackson.  Born in Poplar, London c1825, she came to Leicester 1861-71 with husband William – a commercial traveller - and their six children.  In 1881 she resided at Ramsey Villa, 1 West Avenue, describing herself as “dealer in works of art and antiquities.” 

Unfortunately Elizabeth’s businesses failed.  In October 1885 The Times printed the first notification:  “Bankrupts - Adjudications – Jackson, Elizabeth Nancy, Leicester and Clarendon-park, near Leicester, antique china and curiosity dealer, and dairy and cab proprietor.”  By February 1886 it was all over.  Elizabeth’s creditors were offered 7s 8 1/2d for each pound they were owed, i.e. less than half.  I bet the name of Jackson was mud all over Clarendon Park and half of Leicester.

By 1887 son William Maurice Jackson had taken over the cab business, which thrived for at least another 25 years.  One of these days I will look into that business properly, as it looks to me as though the premises are still standing.  In the meantime, I have plenty more tales of bankruptcy woe to share with you, so buy your handkerchieves now whilst stocks last!  Regards, Elizabeth.

The Cecilia Road Book Thief

This is a bit of an odd story.  In 1889 a man named William Alfred Haseldine (born in Syston in 1839), a blacksmith, who lived at 7 Cecilia Road – then known as Cecil Road – was sentenced to one month’s hard labour for stealing a book worth 3s 6d from the stall of Messrs Smith and Sons at the Midland Railway Station.  The Chronicle reported that Haseldine was convicted of a felony 17 years previously, which probably explains the harsh sentence.  He was also said to have been in good work since then, but was sometimes “rather strange in his manner,” and he wanted to know if he would be allowed to buy the book after he completed his prison sentence.  That sounds to me like the behaviour of a man who is mentally unwell, but he would not be awarded much sympathy in 1889.  He left his wife, Rosetta De Board Haseldine (is that not the most fantastic name?) and four children in need of support.

Later that year he committed another, more serious crime,  which was dealt with at the Quarter Sessions rather than at the police court – he stole 24 pairs of leather soles, worth £5, from his employer Willliam Wheater, and this time he was sentenced to eight months’ hard labour.  Then in 1891, barely out of prison, he stole again and was up in front of the bench.  He spent another few months at Leicester Gaol.

Things generally deteriorated for William.  In 1901 he was an inmate at Leicester Workhouse, and sometime before 1911 he was admitted as a patient at the Borough Lunatic Asylum at Humberstone, later The Towers Hospital.  On both occasions he was described as a widower, though his wife died in 1922, so perhaps she disowned him.  She too described herself as a widow in 1911 - probably because of  the shame of mental illness.

William died in 1914, probably still an inmate of the mental hospital.  He was 79.  It is sad to think of this physically strong man, a blacksmith, having been brought so low by mental illness.  I wonder whether his mental state caused him to commit the crimes, or whether it was the other way round?

I know William and his family only lived in Clarendon Park for a short time but it is so fascinating to me how every house has many different human stories,  This one is particularly poignant but I would love to know what felony William committed…another trip to the record office!  Regards, Elizabeth.

Drunken father neglects children

When I started writing this I had just seen a single newspaper article, dated 1900, about a father who went on drunken benders and neglected his children.  But when I looked into the case in more detail, I found that he was a Thoroughly Bad Man and wanted to tell his story for the sake of his poor suffering wife and children.

Edward Outram Thrall was born in Mansfield in 1863.  His father died soon after, and he was brought up by his widowed mother Martha, a mill hand.  They boarded in the home of William Marshall, a mason, which perhaps is how Edward was became a stone mason.  Between 1881 and 1885 he moved to Leicester where he married Eliza Smith Harris.  Their first daughter, Beatrice Alice, was born the following year (1886).  Then followed Benjamin Smith Thrall (1888), Harry George (1890-1892) Kathleen (1893) Arthur Edward (1896-1897) and Evelyn (1898).

In 1893 the Leicester Chronicle reported Edward for the first time.  “Edward Thrall stone mason, Lincoln-street, was charged with using obscene language, and being drunk in Green Lane-road,North Evington, on Saturday night.  He denied the offence, but two policemen gave evidence on which he was fined 10s.”  This was pretty minor stuff for him.  In October 1896 he deserted his wife and children since , forcing them to enter the workhouse to survive.  At the time he left his son Harry was very ill and unlikely to live (Harry died in April 1897), yet he went on a drunken wanderlust.  The Chronicle dated 27th March reported that “Prisoner asked for another chance, but the magistrates sent him to prison for six weeks.”  Asking for yet another chance was Edward Thrall’s constant refrain.

In September 1897, on the run from the Leicester police, Edward Thrall was charged with obtaining money by means of a fraudulent begging letter, which he was taking round the shops and inns of Loughborough.  He claimed to be collecting for a man named West, who had broken his leg and had a wife and family depending on him – how ironic that Thrall himself had a wife and children going hungry in Leicester.  Of course he pleaded guilty, having been caught in the act by a policeman, and said he was very sorry for what he had done.  He went to gaol for 28 days hard labour.

The moment he returned from prison in April 1897, he had subjected his wife to almost daily beatings.  On one occasion in October he ” banged her about, dragged her upstairs and assaulted her again there.”  Brave Eliza reported him to the police, but when Thrall received the summons to court he “thrashed her again and then, picking up a chair, said he would ‘Broughton her.’”  I haven’t been able to find a definition for this – though his intention is pretty clear.  Does anyone have any information?  Do let me know.  Anyway, predictably Thrall tried to  under play the assault and said it was not as serious as Eliza had made out, and that he had been so drunk he didn’t know what he was doing.  However, the magistrates characterised him as a very unworthy man, and sent him to prison for two months.

Unfortunately, fair divorce laws and the welfare state being many decades in the future, Eliza was forced to accept Thrall back as her husband and so-called provider.  Sometime between 1898 and 1900 the family moved to 1 Fleetwood Road, Clarendon Park.  Edward Thrall was no better.  In September 1900 the NSPCC, who had been supervising the family due to previous concerns, prosecuted him for neglect of the children.  Eliza testified against him, saying that  he was addicted to drink, and got worse and worse.   He was drunk frequently.  Her mother and other people had helped her, and she had done a little work herself.   Mrs Leicester, a Bible Woman, said she had assisted the family with food and clothing.  The NSPCC inspector said that it was a chronic case, and there did not appear to be any hope.  Sergeant Perkins, the arresting officer, had known Thrall for the last three years, and he had no been sober for many days together.  Thrall was again very sorry and asked for another chance – but was sent to prison for six months.

If there is a happy ending to this story, it is that by 1911 Edward and Eliza were living apart (Edward in a cheap boarding house with 94 other men in Lee Street, and Eliza with the children at Justice Street, of all places).   She was supporting them by making up hosiery, and the older children were also factory workers.  She did not live with Edward again, and he later that year aged just 47.  Sadly Eliza just a few years later, in 1918.  What a hard life she led.  I know that the family only lived in Clarendon Park for a few years, but their story is far from unique in its history I am sure, and I am equally sure that there will be families living with similar problems here today.  Please help if you can.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Home Ownership in 1894 (and other ramblings)

Whilst researching various house histories during November and December, I have been noting interesting facts relating to Clarendon Park where they emerge.  For example, whilst looking at the burial records for St Mary Magdalene, Knighton, I discovered lots of Clarendon Park residents – which is obvious really, but somehow I always imagined most of them spending their eternal rest at Welford Road Cemetery.  Amongst the dearly departed were Neville Thomas Hind, son of the Queens Road chemist William Tom Hind (aged just 21 months, in 1897) and William Tom himself in February 1944.  Also his son Frederick Leonard Hind (aged 77, in January 1978).  But now I am getting sidetracked.

What I really wanted to share with you is that I wasted time did some valuable research using the 1894 Electoral Register.  In 1894 suffrage (or the right to vote) was still not universal, and one of the qualifying factors - apart from needing a Y chromosome – was property ownership.  A separate register was kept of property owners.  I looked at the register for Knighton Ward and made a list of all the Clarendon Park residents who both owned a property and lived in it.  The numbers were tiny in relation to the total number of properties in Clarendon Park.  Most people rented their properties, even those living in the posher houses.  It would be very interesting to know what the proportion of owner-occupiers is today.  Much larger, I suspect.

The total number of owner-occupiers in Clarendon Park in 1894 was 55.  Several of these also owned the house next door, or even a row of houses in the same street.  There were a good many more absentee landlords, like George Colborne who owned a fair bit of Clarendon Park Road, yet lived in Havant in Hampshire.  Perhaps he let the properties through an efficient lettings agent and maintained them well.  Or then again he might not have.

If you live in or own a house in Avenue Road Extension, Cecila Road, Central Avenue,  Clarendon Park Road, Cross Road, Edward Road, Fleetwood Road, Montague Road, Queens Road, Springfield Road, St Leonards Road or West Avenue, and would be interested in finding out whether it was owner-occupied in 1894 (and who the owner was), feel free to contact me.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes

Happy new year 2011!  I am delighted to be back in the blogging saddle after a manic December 2010 full of house history research for clients.  As part of the research process I needed to visit The National Archives in Kew, and whilst there I found the time to look up just one or two little Clarendon Park history things.  One of which was an index of trust deeds, containing five references to planned buildings in Clarendon Park.  In case anyone else fancies looking them up, they are listed at the bottom of this article.

The one that particularly took my fancy was an 1893 conveyance of land adjoining Lorne Road and Clarendon Park Road, “together with the messuages thereupon,” to the Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes.   I hadn’t heard of the Aged Pilgrims Homes but a little light googling revealed that it is an undenominational society founded in 1807 by evangelical christians.  There is an Aged Pilgrims Home in Evington, which opened in 1954.  The homes provide sheltered accommodation and home support for elderly christians.  If only I had the time whilst making my last visit, I would have ordered the trust deed.  Bah.  When I get back to the NA in February, I will post here.

So, the 1901 census shows ten Aged Pilgrims Homes from number 115 Clarendon Park Road onwards.  They were lived in by the “inmates of Aged Pilgrims Homes,” and also by one of the people who helped to look after them; a nurse, Ellen Simms.  The inmates were all women except for a gardener, Samuel Mathers, who lived with his wife at number ten.  Their ages ranged from 66 to 88.  Their names were Isabella Coleman, Sarah Ingram, Sarah Woolley (who still lived there in 1911), Sarah Yarrow, Elizabeth Davies, Ellen Holland, Rachel Orton, Mary Pallett and Charlotte Wash.  All but one were widows and most of the women had been born in Leicestershire.  Being an elderly widow in Victorian Leicester was not good in terms of material wealth or status, but living in almshouses like these women suggests that only their faith kept them out of the workhouse.

Not all the elderly people helped by the society lived in almshouses.  Kelly’s 1916 directory for Leicestershire informs us that “Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society (Leicester Branch) – to give pensions of 5, 7 & 10 guineas a year &c. to aged poor persons of every Evangelical denomination.  During 1915 the 25 pensioners in this district received pensions amounting to £191, inclusive of gifts from the Morton Trustees.  President A S Gimson; Hon Sec Wilfred Tyler.  In 1891 ten almshouses were erected in Clarendon Park Road at the cost of J T Morton, a London merchant, as free homes for the pensioners in Leicester & district.”

The 1911 census tells us that each of these “homes” consisted of just one room, perhaps with a fireplace for heating and cooking.  They were occupied by Samuel Cheney Pebody, Sarah Woolley, Emma Ball and her daughter Sarah Ann who did sewing at home for money; Elizabeth Davis, Sarah Dalston, Jane Brice, Louisa Smallbones, Eliza Clarke and Maria Wills.  Again, all were widows or in Samuel’s case, a widower.  Clarendon Park Road having been built up considerably since 1901, the address had changed to 200 Clarendon Park Road.

All this is really interesting and I promise to report back after I have been to the National Archives in February.  But for now, here are the trust deeds I came across in December.  No doubt they will inspire further research!  Happy new year, Elizabeth.

1895 Trustees for the Wesleyan Methodists to build a chapel (PR84 M36 C54/19999)

1894 Trustees for the Baptists to build a hall or chapel to be called “The Clarendon Hall” (PR22 M27 C54/19835)

1893 Trustees of Leicester Aged Pilgrims Homes, conveyance of land adjoining Clarendon Park Road and Lorne Road (Pt38 M8 C54/19747)

1895 Peterborough Diocesan Trustees, conveyance of school (Pt81 M39 C54/199996)

1904 Trustees of the Clarendon Park Congregational Church, site for a school and outbuildings (Pt83 No 1048 J18/24)

She drank to death at Wistaria Villa, Howard Road

This is the sad tale of Mary Ann Pretty, wife of Clement Pretty, who drank herself to death at Wistaria Villa (now number 65) Howard Road in 1886.

Mary Ann and Clement started their married life in London, with Clement working as a commercial traveller in silks.  Several children were born there: Clement, Henry and John.  By 1877 they had settled in Leicester, and daughter Alice was born.  Perhaps due to an inheritance in 1875 from Clement’s father, formerly the landlord of The Three Crowns licensed hotel in St Martins, following his death in 1875, Clement set up in business as a coal merchant.  The 1877 White’s Directory of Leicestershire shows Clement Pretty, colliery agent, at Stanley Terrace (Humberstone Road), and in 1881 the family lived at 22 London Road.

Things started to go wrong.  In 1883 the RSPCA prosecuted an employee of Clement’s, William Lemon, for cruelty.  The animal was destroyed, being emaciated and having several sores on its back.  Later that year, In 1883 Clement was made bankrupt and his coal merchant business liquidated.  In 1885 Marian sold 5 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, to a tobacconist named Ignatius Carter.

Then on the evening of 30th April 1886, Marian got drunk.  She was an habitual  heavy drinker.  She took to her bed, complaining of a pain in her side, but this time she was taken very ill with “apoplexy” (bleeding), perhaps in her liver or her pancreas.  The local doctor was called but Marian died the following afternoon.  Clement moved out of Wistaria Villa shortly afterwards, being replaced in 1887 by Arthur Triggs, a commission agent.

Mary left £1,275 in her will and it seems that Clement decided to spend the money purchasing numbers 1-13 Edward Road, Clarendon Park, which he presumably rented out.  These he owned until at least 1904.  He moved to Holbrook Road with daughter Alice and in 1901 was “living on his own means” (or at least his late wife’s!).  However, when he died at the Infirmary in 1931, he left just £139 9s 6d, so Clement somehow spent it all. 

I wonder why Marian was such a heavy drinker?  Perhaps those years of worry about debt bankruptcy drove her to it.  Clement doesn’t seem to have been very good with money.  Perhaps she visited her in-laws at the Three Crowns too often.  Anyhow, it must have been very sad for her husband and children.  Perhaps she needed the help of the Temperance folk.  Regards, Elizabeth.

Leicester Chronicle, Saturday May 15th, 1886, p6.

Distressing Case of Sudden Death

An inquest was held at Knighton on Monday afternoon, before the coroner, Mr G.F. Harrison, on the body of Mary Ann Pretty, aged 42, the wife of Mr. Clement Pretty, Wistaria Villa, Howard-road, Knighton.  The husband stated that the wife was taken ill through drink on the 30th inst., and did not come down stairs afterwards.  About nine o’clock on Friday morning, he heard a crash in her bedroom, and on going up to see what was the matter found his wife lying on the floor.  He called in Mrs Williams, who lives next door, and she assisted him to get his wife into bed.  Deceased complained of feeling very unwell, and of having hurt her side.  He remained with her for some time, and sent for Dr. Emmerson.  He left her about three o’clock in the afternoon, and on going up to her room at 3.30 with the doctor, found her dead.  She was, he said, a woman of intemperate habits.  Dr Emmerson examined the body of the woman ,and found no suspicious appearances.  He was of the opinion that death had resulted from a natural cause, serious apoplexy, induced by drink.  He had attended her several years, and knew that she was very intemperate.  A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned. 

St John the Baptist War Remembrance Plaques

The remembrance plaques are sitauted near the altar at St John the Baptist church.  They list the 58 men in the parish who lost their lives during World War I and the 14 in World War II.  To the Glory of GOD and in memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the War 1914-19

Claude ALEXANDER, Horace J ALEXANDER, Harry ASPDEN, J Thomas BAKER, Charles BARSBY, W Henry BEAMAN, Percy C BECK, Harold S BELLAMY, J Harry BIRD, Edmund G BLAND, Frank BROWN, Tom CHAMBERS, Reginald E CHAMBERS, William G CHAMBERS, David A BALDWIN, Harold CHAPMAN, Joseph CLARKE, Sydney CLARKE, Thomas A CLARKE, H Harry COLE, Arthur EAGLE, Arthur O ELLSON, Frederick FREARSON, J Oliver GAMBLE, H William HIND*, Henry D KNIGHT, Walter E LADKIN, Herbert LAWRENCE, Ernest LEWIS, George V H LINES, Frderick J LUCK, Walter MYATT, Walter H NEALE, Horace V POSTLETHWAITE, Clement A RILETT, A Andrew ROSS, G Walter ROSS, Frank RUSH, Guy E F RUSSELL, Everard R SHAKESPEAR, B Noel SHARP, George M SHERWIN, Robert SIMONS, George SIMPKIN, Samuel SMALLEY, Harold C SMITH, George B STAPLEFORD, Alfred E SWANN, Frank N TARR, Frederick W TAYLOR, William J TILBURY, Walter J TUFFLEY, Alfred WARBURTON, George WESLEY, Arthur WHATLEY, Harry E WILLSON, Albert G YORKE, Frederick W ZANKER

* Horace William, son of William Tom Hind

This tablet was placed here by the congregation of this church to commemorate with affection and gratitude those of this parish who gave their lives in the war of 1939-1945

Gordon BODYCOTE, Cyril Denys BOOTHRIGHT, John Ambrose BUTCHER, Dennis CRAMP, Frank CUER, Anthony Kyle DAWSON, Arthur Kenneth HALL, Frederick Walter KNOTT, Clifford Herbert LILBURN, Gordon MARSH, William Arthur NEWTON, Peter SALMON, Charles Peter Keith SMITH, Kenneth Frank WHITE

These men gave their lives for us and I, for one, am grateful.  Regards, Elizabeth.

The war memorials in their setting, next to the high altar