The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Gretton 1.4

The Gretton Craxfords: Chronicles I - The tangled trees

by Alan D. Craxford, Edward Ellis and Matthew Pollard


This is the fourth in a series of articles following the fortunes of the sons of Robert Craxford and Sarah Briggs who were born in Gretton, Northamptonshire at the opening of the nineteenth century. The first (From Gretton to Barrowden - 1: The Skin Trade) told of the early days of this family and how the ebb and flow of employment opportunities changed the village way of life during the century. The second article (From Gretton to Barrowden - 2: From Craxford to Wainwright and beyond) saw their third born son, Robert, marry and move over the border to Rutland and then followed the progress of their children as they spread across the country, took part in great explorations and emigrated to Canada. This current episode highlights John Craxford and his descendants.

John Craxford was the eldest son of Robert Craxford and Sarah Briggs, born in 1795 some three years after they were married. John already had a sister, Edith, who was two years older than he was. He was baptised at the Church of St James the Great on June 21st 1795. Little is known of his early life, save that he grew up surrounded by three younger brothers and two younger sisters. Edith died in February 1806 at the age of thirteen years.

St Michael

St Michael Church, Cranoe (1)

In the spring of 1816, the whole family was saddened by the death of their father, Robert. He was buried on April 3rd 1816. In his late teens John had sought work over the border in Leicestershire. He met Jane Ashby, a girl from the village of Horninghold which was about eight miles distant from Gretton. She was four years older than him. They were married at the Church of St Michael in the hamlet of Cranoe on October 21st 1816. Within a year, Jane was pregnant and they moved back to Gretton where they made their permanent home. A daughter they named Sarah was born in August 1817 but sadly the little girl died at three months of age. She was buried in the churchyard on November 26th 1817.

Over the next five years John and Jane were to experience happiness and sadness in almost equal measure. The first of their sons was born in 1818. Then one year later, John's eleven year old younger sister Mary died on June 24th 1819. Their second son, John, appeared in 1821. His mother, Sarah, died in February 1822 just six months before his younger brother, William, married Sarah Smith. Jane presented him with their third and final son, David, in 1823 just a month before John's next younger brother, Robert married Harriett Cotterill. John's youngest brother, Thomas, married Sarah Fielding in the autumn of 1824.

John spent his working life as an agricultural labourer. By 1841 his three sons has joined him in the fields. Next door was Samuel Lattimore and his family who were to remain neighbours for the next ten years. By 1851, sons Robert and David had moved out but at the same time, John and Jane had been joined by son John and his wife. The family's neighbours on the other side now were Robert Pollard, his wife Susannah and their five children. Also a few doors away was the family of Robert and Sarah Pridmore, living in the house of Sarah's widowed mother, Sarah Readyhoff.

Jane showed signs of deteriorating health as she passed through her fifties. She died on October 17th 1851 aged 61 years. The cause of death was given as 'Decay of Nature' a now abandoned term synonymous with 'Senile Decay' for a nonspecific or undiagnosed degenerative condition usually affecting the elderly. As he grew older John was continually troubled with breathing problems. He became a respiratory cripple and died of the effects of chronic bronchitis on March 30th 1853.

First son: Robert (1818 - 1885)

Oldest of the sons of John Craxford and Jane Ashby, Robert, gives a classic example of the interconnectivity of families within a village genealogy. He was born in Gretton and baptised at the Church of St James the Great on Sunday September 20th 1818, the service carried out by curate Thomas Miles. Another baptism performed in the same week was that of Ann, the daughter of Joseph Readyhoff and Sarah West.

As Robert grew up into manhood he took his place amongst the labourers in the fields. By 1840, a near neighbour of his family home was Elizabeth Waterfield and her two youngest children. Now a widow, she had been born Elizabeth Stanger in the village about 1784. She had married Matthew Waterfield in 1804 and had given him eight children - seven girls and one boy - before he died in 1832 aged 49 years. It was her second youngest daughter Catherine, who was now a 20 year old, who had attracted Robert's eye. The couple were married on November 1st 1841. His father, John, and her young sister, Charlotte, acted as witnesses. By 1851 the family were living two doors away from Robert's cousin Joseph Craxford and his wife Susannah Freeman. Their next door neighbours on the other side were the family of stonemason William Pridmore and Jane Satchell.

Over the course of the next 20 years, Robert and Catherine had nine children (one son and eight daughters). The fourth of their daughters, Eliza, was born on July 24th 1848. Fifth born in 1850, Lucy, underwent a private baptism on September 18th 1857. Then on Friday February 11th 1859, Robert and Catherine attended the Church of St James the Great when curate I.H. Bullivant carried out baptisms on four of the children (Eliza, Rachel- born 1853, Catherine Waterfield - born 1856 and John Robert - born January 1859). Eliza was never a strong girl and became increasingly disabled over the following year or so. She died on June 4th 1862. No specific cause was entered on the death certificate, just the nonspecific term "general decline". Catherine was to have one more pregnancy. On October 9th 1862 she gave birth to another baby girl which they named Eliza. Her post delivery condition was poor and she died after ten days of convulsions presumably from a brain injury.

Robert kept working as an agricultural labourer into his sixties. By the late 1860s, their daughter Caroline returned home with her son Jesse. By the census of 1881, only their son John Robert remained at home who was working on the farm. For most of their married life they lived in a small house on the High Street a few doors away from the Blue Bell Inn. Their long term next door neighbour was general dealer and haberdasher William Boon. The family of Joshua Pollard and Matilda Pridmore lived on the other side. Robert had been ill with tuberculosis for some time. He died on November 15th 1885 whilst Catherine lived on in the village for another six years.

Mrs Pridmore: Sarah (1842 - 1896)

Robert and Catherine's first child, Sarah, was born in the summer of 1842 and was baptised on March 12th 1843. A curiosity of the parish record shows that the couple were living in Barrowden, Rutland at the time of the baptism. This suggests that they may have been staying with Robert's uncle, fellmonger Robert Craxford. As she grew up, Sarah was known to her family and friends as Sally.

In her teenage years, Sarah was sent into domestic service. For a time, she lived with the family of farmer William Goodey in Little Weldon, a village about five miles south of Gretton. She was also aware of a young apprentice stone mason, William Readyhoff Pridmore. He was the eldest son of Robert Pridmore (the brother of aforementioned William Pridmore) and Ann Readyhoff whose family lived in a house just beyond the Blue Bell Inn. In his youth William had occasional brushes with the authorities including a one month sentence in 1863 for poaching (2). In the mid 1860s, the pair made their way to Leicester where William found lodgings in Wellington Street and Sarah moved into the adjacent New Walk. They married at St John the Baptist Church in the Clarendon Park area on October 29th 1866. William's near neighbours, brother and sister Thomas and Martha Throsby, acted as witnesses. They settled at 4, Court Lane, a small alley off Colton Street near St George's Church to the east of the town centre and close to the railway station. There they had their first three children: two daughters, Sarah Ann (born 1867) and Mary (1869) and one son, Robert (February 1871). The two younger children were given Craxford as a second name. Sadly, Robert was never well from birth. He was diagnosed as suffering from hydrocephalus ('water on the brain' which caused increasing pressure damage inside the skull and swelling of the head) which was then untreatable. In the autumn he developed a diarrhoeal illness from which he died aged nine months on October 16th 1871.

During the nineteenth century, there had been a rapid expansion of housing and factories in Leicester which had transformed the medieval market town into an industrial city. Its population in 1831 was 38,904 which grew in the 70 years to 1901 to 211,579 , much of which went to power the demands of the hosiery and boot and shoe trades. To accommodate these workers, cheap and poorly constructed cottages were "in-fill" built into courtyards behind or in the garden spaces of existing buildings. These overcrowded areas where concentrated in the city centre, particularly in and around Belgrave Gate, Sanvey Gate and Wharf Street. The cramped cottages were accessed through narrow passages from the main road, lacked sunlight and poor ventilation and had only shared and grossly inadequate sanitary arrangement. Toileting arrangements usually consisted of a communal soil bucket or ash pit which was emptied once a week by night soil men. Courts often shared space with small rudimentary slaughterhouses which had no proper refuse disposal or storage facilities. It is estimated that there were 104 such premises in Leicester in 1903.

Over half a century of reports by Medical Officers of Health and charitable organisations are on record deploring the delining standards and deteriorating public health conditions in the town. Joseph Dare, a Unitarian social missionary, made yearly reports between 1846 and 1877 on working class conditions in Leicester. His report of 1864 (3) includes: "I have ascertained that there are at least 1,000 dwellings in this town that have neither back doors nor windows. So that allowing five inmates to each, which will be found under the mark, as the lower the grade of the population the thicker is the crowding together, there are no less than between seven and eight thousand sweltering in these unhealthy abodes. The habits, too, of the inmates of backyards and confined courts are altogether different from those who live in sunlight and fresh air. Seldom seen by respectable people, they are heedless both of personal appearance and domestic cleanliness. From the common use of the same filthy 'midden' and vulgar familiarities between themselves , gossiping in common at each other's houses, they lose all decency and manners and sink into both moral and physical corruption. Hence it will be seen that moral causes have much to do with the sanitary conditions of towns. In addition to scarlatina, typhus fever and measles, it is also well known that smallpox spreads its fearful ravages widely amongst us".

Nowadays these outbreaks are likely to be attributed to food contaminated with the organism Escherichia (E.) coli, the so-called hamburger disease. In the days before knowledge of bacteria however, the cause of these epidemics was hotly contested. Talking about the outbreaks of summer diarrhoea, which killed one in four of Leicester's infants under the age of one year annually, the Medical Officer of Health between 1867 and 1874, Dr J. Wyatt Crane (no family relation as far as we know) did not believe in the infection theory but blamed it on the demands of factory employment preventing mothers from properly nursing their infants.

Now into his thirties, William Pridmore moved away from stone masonery to become a bricklayer. They moved into a rented house in Ash Street in the North Evington part of the town. Another son, John Robert, was born towards the end of 1872 and a third daughter, Florence, appeared in the early months of 1875. Tragedy struck just after Christmas that year. Under threat of eviction, Sarah had left her three young children in the house by themselves to look for new accommodation. While standing beside an unguarded fire John Robert's clothes caught alight. A neighbour alerted by his screams managed to put out the flames. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary but died the following morning. An inquest held on December 29th 1875 returned a verdict of accidental death. After the fire, the family moved into the adjacent Elm Street. Florence lived for only a year. She died on August 18th 1876 of gastroenteritis. All three of the children, Robert, John Robert and Florence were buried in plot cN1044 at Welford Road Cemetery.

Before the end of the decade, Sarah had two more children: another daughter they named Florence, born in 1877 and William born in 1880. Their next move was about half a mile south to Sherrard Street, which ran parallel to the Humberstone Road off Vulcan Road. One final daughter, Ada, was born in 1882. Yet another move to 20 London Street ensued the following year.

William was taken ill at the New Year 1884 with abdominal pains and weight loss. He was admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary where a diagnosis of sarcoma of the liver was made. He remained acutely ill and suffered a pulmonary embolism from which he died on January 24th 1884. He was buried at the Welford Road Cemetery four days later. After the death of her husband, Sarah sought employment as a washerwoman while she could still work. When William died, she was about three months pregnant. A son, George, was born on June 6th 1884. The little lad was subject to recurrent chest infections and in March 1887 he succumbed to an attack of acute bronchitis. His death was reported by the next door neighbour, Sarah Newcombe, who was present when he died. Meanwhile, whilst still living at home, Sarah's eldest daughter Sarah Ann became pregnant and delivered a boy she named Albert on March 20th 1887. The child was unwell from the start suffering from repeated convulsions. He died aged four months on July 21st 1887.

Welford Cemetery 1840s
Welford Road cemetery today

Left: Welford Road Cemetery: an engraving from about 1850 (5), Right: Welford Road Cemetery today (6)

William and Sarah's second oldest daughter, Mary Craxford Pridmore married Joseph Adams, a framework knitter, on August 6th 1888. They subsequently moved to Kibworth Beauchamps where they had nine children. After the death of her own infant, their oldest daughter, Sarah Ann Pridmore became a tailoress. She married boot rivetter John Tarry in 1890. The couple lived for a short time after the marriage with her mother, Sarah, in London Street. They then set up their own home just across the road to Stonebridge Street taking her mother, Sarah, with them. It was there that Sarah Pridmore died on February 12th 1896 of pneumonia. She was 54 years of age. She was buried in Welford Road Cemetery on February 15th 1896. Sarah Tarry had five children between 1891 and 1902 but she too died relatively young in December 1906.

Twice married Caroline (1844 - 1916)


Caroline Craxford

Robert and Catherine's second daughter, Caroline, was two years younger that Sarah. She was baptised on January 28th 1844 at St James the Great Church. Like her older sister she was sent into domestic service in her mid teens. By 1861 she was working at the house of Frederick Allen in Little Weldon, who operated a parchment making business in the village employing seven men and two boys.

1865 proved to be a tumultous and tragic year for 21 year old Caroline. She had met and formed a relationship with Jessie Claypole, a young agricultural labourer from Middleton. His parents were William Claypole and Harriet Newman. Although not related to the Craxford family in Gretton, they were second cousins to the Claypole family who were living and married into the Craxford line in Cottingham. During the latter part of the previous year, Caroline had discovered she was expecting a child. The couple were married at the Baptist Chapel in Gretton on February 3rd 1865 when she was about seven months pregnant. Jessie's boyhood friend Reuben Goode from Middleton and Caroline's sister Sarah and husband William Pridmore acted as witnesses. At about the same time, Jessie gave up farm work and took a job on the railway. A baby boy was born on April 2nd 1865. Then catastrophe struck on April 23rd when Jessie was struck by a wagon at Denford near Thrapston and was crushed under the wheels. At the inquest held on April 25th, William Marshall, the Northamptonshire coroner, recorded a verdict of accidental death. Jessie was buried at St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham the following day.

Uppingham School

Uppingham School, present day (9)

After her husband's death, Caroline returned to her parents house in Gretton with her young son. She named the little boy Jesse in memory of her dead husband and he was baptised in the village on August 5th 1865. Sometime during the next two years, Caroline took up a job as a cook in Uppingham, Rutland, staying with the household of Theophilus B Rowe on the High Street (7). In 1870, Uppingham was a small town with a population of two and a half thousand people but its geography and economy was dominated by the school run by headmaster Edward Thring (8). It attracted over 300 scholars from far and wide. Rowe was a clergyman and assistant master at the school, and with his wife Eliza and staff of four provided accommodation for 31 pupils in one of the residential boarding houses scattered around the town. In 1871, Caroline was catering for children from as far afield as Oxford, Cornwall, Scotland and Ireland. (Thring attracted widespread notoriety when he moved his staff, pupils and much school equipment 200 miles away to Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast in 1875 to escape a typhoid outbreak. When the Uppingham Union Workhouse closed in the 1929 its buildings were remodelled and incorporated into the school).

Caroline married for the second time at St James' Church, in Louth, Lincolnshire on May 20th 1873, . Her new husband was Enos Jackson. A fuller account of their story can be found in the article Enos and Caroline, Chronicles II

Jesse Claypole (1865 - 1953)

Caroline's first son Jesse never did return to his mother. He was brought up by Robert and Catherine, his grandparents, and on one census return he was listed as Jesse Craxford. Much of his childhood was spent in the company of his uncle John Robert Craxford who was barely six years older than him. In their early teens both lads started working on the land. Then, with the rapid development of the iron and steel industries and the coming of the railway in the 1880s, they both became ironstone labourers. By the turn of the century he had been promoted to the position of foreman. He was unfortunate to witness two fatal accidentys on the local railway.

Jesse was a keen gardener and exhibited at local shows in Corby and Rockingham. He was a regular church goer and sang in the choir for over 45 years. He married Maria Bailey, a girl from Corby, in 1885. They had three known sons. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversay in 1935. After she died in 1938, he spent his retirement in Coventry where he died in February 1953 in his eighty eighth year.

Mrs Coles: Mary Ann (1846 - 1935)

Robert and Catherine's third daughter was born in 1846 and was baptised on August 9th of that year. By her fifteenth birthday she had followed the family tradition and entered domestic service. She remained in Gretton with the family of farmer Samuel Whitmore. She remained close to her family as she was four doors away from her great uncle William Craxford and two doors further on lived her uncle, Matthew Waterfield. Living even closer to her was Mary, sister of Robert and William Pridmore mentioned above, who spent her whole working life as house maid to grazier William Satchell and his wife.

In the mid 1860s, Mary Ann became attracted to Thomas Coles, an agricultural worker who was about ten years older than she was. The Craxford and Coles families had a long genealogical association. Mary Ann and Thomas were both fourth cousins (twice removed) through different branches of their families to Mary Knight. Born in 1775, she was the oldest daughter of John Knight and Sarah Craxford who were married in September that same year. John Knight had previously been married to Sarah's older sister, Mary Craxford who had died in 1773. Thomas Coles was second son of Thomas Coles amd Eleanor Jane Swan. Thomas (the father) had a sister, Mary, who married Amos Waterfield from Lyddington at St James the Great Church in October 1820.

Mary Ann and Thomas were married at St James the Great Church on December 7th 1868. They settled in the village where Thomas continued his farm labouring duties. Their first son Edward was born in 1871 and was baptised on February 26th that year. He was followed by Samuel William in May 1874. Three daughters, Eliza Ellen (1875), Sarah Jane (1878) and Catherine (1880) were born before the end of the decade. Thomas' mother, Eleanor Jane, died on June 8th 1874 and was interred in the churchyard two days later.

Everything appeared stable at the time of the census of 1881. The family were well settled in their house towards the north east quarter of the village. Thomas' father, Thomas, had moved in with them after his wife had died some six years before. Heartbreak came for Mary Ann in May 1882 when her husband died suddenly. He had contracted rheumatic fever which was complicated by pericarditis (inflammation of the heart). He was 46 years of age. He was interred on May 23rd 1882. Although she would not have known it at the time, she was in the early stages of another pregnancy. She was delivered of another son at the beginning of the following year. She named him Thomas in memory of her husband. During this time, Robert Craxford was suffering increasingly from the effects of pulmonary tuberculosis. Mary Ann was with her father when he died on November 15th 1885.

By 1891, Mary Ann was living in East End earning a living as a dressmaker. Edward and Samuel were still at home contributing to the household budget from labouring jobs. To make ends meet she had also taken in a lodger, labourer Charles Barrow. Catherine and Thomas were still at school. Mary Ann's great aunt, Susannah (Redshaw) Craxford, now a widow, was living two doors away with William and Annie Wadwell. Thomas Coles senior had moved a few doors further down the street and was living with the family of Samuel and Annie Clarke (his married daughter). Thomas died in June 1895.

Samuel Coles married Ellen Sculthorpe at St James the Great Church on December 27th 1897. She came from the small village of Quadring, a few miles south west of Boston, Lincolnshire. Within two years, they had a son and a daughter. At the time of the census of 1901, Ellen's two younger sisters, Ada and Alice, were living with them. They were both working as machinists at the local clothing factory. Ten years later Samuel had been promoted to the post of ironstone foreman and the family had moved to Market Overton near Oakham. Four more children had arrived (one son and three daughters). Ellen's widowed mother, Emma, had moved in with them to act as their housekeeper.

Craxford House

Craxford House

Edward, who also took up work as an ironstone labourer, married Susannah Spence on January 21nd 1901. Susannah was the daughter of William Spence and Julia Craxford who in turn was the daughter of William Craxford (the second youngest of the four sons of this series of articles) and Elizabeth Hull, his second wife. This made Edward and Susannah second cousins. They initially took up residence next door to William Coles, a farmer, who was his second cousin. This William also had a distant link back to the Craxford family through the previously mentioned Mary Knight. Later in the decade, they moved back into the house in South End (now the lower end of High Street) where his grandparents had lived. Their next door neighbours on either side were from the Readyhoff family. They had two sons: Thomas born in 1903 and Jesse born in 1911. The boys therefore had two grandmothers whose maiden name was Craxford. To celebrate this fact, when Jesse moved into his own detached home in the village he named it Craxford House, a label which persists to this day.

By 1901, only daughter Sarah Jane who was working as a factory machinist and youngest son Thomas, now a fireman on an ironstone engine, remained at home with Mary Ann. Sarah Jane married bricklayer Joseph Marlow Lenton (second cousin on Ann, the wife of William Wadwell with whom Susannah Craxford had stayed for the last years of her life) in 1903 and moved to the Attercliffe district of Sheffield, next door to Joseph's married sister Lucy. Youngest son, Thomas, also moved away from home during the next decade taking up a post as a railway signalman in Settle, North Yorkshire. He married Eliza Whetzel in 1906 and had a son named John in 1912. Meanwhile, Mary Ann was resident at the home of Tansley Huffer and his family in 1911. She had taken up work as a maternity nurse and midwife. She continued to live quietly in Gretton, finally dying there at the age of 86 years in the spring of 1932.

The Youngest Quartet: Lucy, Rachel, Catherine Waterfield, John Robert

Born in 1850, Lucy went into domestic service in her late teens. By 1871 she had moved to Leicester where she met Joseph James Townsend. They were married in the autumn that year. Joseph was an engine driver. They made their home in Wigston Magna, a small conurbation on the southern edge of the town. They had five children. Lucy died in 1930. Joseph followed her in the autumn of 1932.

Three years Lucy's junior, Rachel Craxford also went into domestic service in her teenage years. By the time of the census of 1871 she was living with and working for Robert Ward (a farmer of 400 acres) and his family at Seaton Road, Harringworth. At the beginning of 1875, Rachel found herself pregnant. She returned to Gretton where she gave birth to a son she named Alfred Ware Craxford on September 11th 1875. There is no clue from the second given name as to the identity of the father.

She married horse keeper George Thomas Burnham from Bisbrooke, Rutland in Gretton on August 4th 1878. They moved first to Wittering, a small village which sits alongside the Great North Road (and is now the site of an Royal Air Force station). Her son Alfred took the Burnham name. Rachel was to give birth to ten more children up to 1896. George continued working as a yard hand and then yard foreman on a farm and the family moved to Harringworth. Rachel died there in 1930.

Catherine Waterfield Craxford was Robert and Catherine's seventh daughter born in 1856. Sometime before her eighteenth birthday she had made the move to Leicester, possibly joining her older sister Lucy. She met and married William Clarke, a show pressman, at St George's Church in the town on October 4th 1874. Their first home was in Outram Street which ran between the Infirmary and the Leicester Union Canal. They had five known children: three, Emily, Herbert and Agnes, close to gether between 1876 and 1879; and two, Ada and George, much later between 1889 and 1891. William disappears from the records after 1891 although Catherine was living with her younger son in Mill Lane in 1911. She died in Leicester in 1924.

Robert and Catherine's only son, John Robert, was baptised on February 11th 1859. He stayed in the family home until both his parents had died. He worked first as an agricultural labourer and then moved into the ironstone industry. There is some evidence that he too moved to Leicester before the turn of the century but he has not been found in the records after 1901.

Continued in column 2...

Destined for the Workhouse: John (1821 - 1890)

John Craxford and Jane Ashby's middle son John was born in the early summer and baptised on August 5th 1821. Before his twentieth birthday he was sent away to Rothwell, a market town about ten miles south of Gretton, to work as a labourer for farmer William Yeomans. He returned to Gretton in the early 1840s. He was taken before the magistrates with his brother Robert in 1842 charged with assaulting a police constable. He was discharged with a warning. (10) During that decade too he met Susannah, the daughter of carpenter Thomas Redshaw and Mary Sumpter. They lived in the village of Rockingham where she worked as a lace maker. They married at St Margaret's Church in Leicester on June 11th 1849. John brought his new bride back to Gretton where he spent the rest of his working life on the land. To begin with they lodged with John's parents where their first child, Joseph Redshaw Craxford was born on February 12th 1851. Two more children followed: David born on February 12th 1854 and Jane born on October 2nd 1856. All three children were baptised together in a family ceremony on the Tuesday before Easter, April 3rd 1860.

By 1861 John and Susannah had moved into their own house. Son Joseph, now aged 9, was already working in the fields. The Craxfords near neighbours were the families of shoemaker Thomas Lenton and farm worker Jonathon Lenton. Thomas was the father of Joseph Marlow Lenton who was to become Mary Ann Craxford's daughter Sarah Jane Cole's future husband. In the late summer of 1865, nine year old Jane contracted the prevailing infection in the village. After a few days she succombed, the cause being labelled as both scarlet fever and the archaic term 'inward fever'. She was buried on September 15th 1865.

[Her death presents a genealogical curiosity for it was registered twice. It does appear that the family had gathered around the striken girl's bedside. The first registration was made by John's sister in law (Robert's wife) Catherine Waterfield Craxford. The second was made thirteen days later by Susannah herself. When asked about this in 2009, the General Register Office replied: "Although I have never come across a death registered twice before, it does appear that the registration may be for the same child. The registrations are nearly 2 weeks apart and registered by two different people so it is possible that the Registrar may have accidentally made the registration twice. Unfortunately it is so long ago that it would be impossible to say definitely one way or the other." - ADC]

Son David moved away from the village in the 1870s but Joseph continued to live with his parents. He had minor brushes with authority. Along with Joseph, one of the Myers sons, he was fined 10s with 8s 8d costs for obstructing a footpath and making derogatory remarks to passersby in January 1874. (11). Money it seems was always in short supply. John continued labouring in the fields well into his sixties. In the late 1880s, his health failed and he was obliged to move into the Union Workhouse in Uppingham. His condition deteriorated during the winter and just before Christmas he died of chronic bronchitis and exhaustion. He was buried in Gretton on December 26th 1890. With the death of her husband, Susannah took up lodgings in East End with ironstone labourer William Wadwell and his wife. Joseph had also taken on work as an ironstone labourer. He had also fallen on hard times. At the time of the census of 1891 he was sleeping rough in the outhouse of the Old Mill.

Susannah's health progressively deteriorated over the next few years. On February 11th 1895 she in turn was admitted to the Union Workhouse in Uppingham. Joseph at the time was earning 18s a week from his employment at the Corby ironstone works and was expected to contribute 1s 6d. a week to the Union to help maintain his mother. However that summer he lost his job and stopped paying. He was summoned before the magistrates who made an order that he should pay the amount owing. Over the next two years funds remained very tight and by February 1898 he was £1 11s. 6d in arrears. Joseph was taken before the Oakham Police Court where he was ordered to make payment within fourteen days (12, 13). Susannah died in the Workhouse on March 30th 1898. She was buried in Gretton three days later.

Joseph did manage to obtain work from time to time. At the turn of the century he found lodgings with fellow ironstone worker George Foode and his family. There he remained for the next ten years. His health was not good and he suffered from chronic fatigue and breathlessness, the effects of mitral valve disease of the heart. He developed a chest infection during January and died after four days on February 2nd 1914. His death was reported by George's daughter Elizabeth Foode.

The Croxton Conundrum: David (1854 - 1904)

John and Susannah Craxford's younger son, David, was born in Gretton on April 11th 1854. He was baptised with his brother and sister four years later. Having spent his early adult years in the family home and working on the land he moved away from the village in the 1880s. To date his name has not been found in the census returns of 1881 or 1891. As a young man there is evidence that he had recurrent trouble with authority particularly with regard to poaching activities. He was fined £ 1 with 13s. 6d in September 1877 (14). In October 1886 he was fined £ 1 16s 8d. for game trespass and when he defaulted on payment he was sent to prison for fourteen days with hard labour by Kettering Police Court (15) (Coincidentally Joshua Pollard appeared at the same hearing and was fined for a similar offence). Another fine followed for poaching on the Cardigan Estate, Deene Park, in February 1887. David then appeared before the Leicestershire Quarter Sessions on July 1st 1890 charged with stealing game fowl. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment with hard labour (16).

It is however David's family life which has presented the biggest riddle to the research of this branch of the family tree and one which is as yet only partially solved. In the early 1890s he resurfaced in Leicester where he was employed doing general labouring work. There he married Mary Ann Pollard the daughter of Joshua Pollard and Matilda Pridmore at the Leicester Register Office on October 11th 1894. At the time of their wedding they were lodging in Stone Bridge Street, just a few doors away from where Sarah (Craxford) Pridmore was living with her daughter Sarah and husband John Tarry. Mary had been born in Gretton in 1865. As a young woman she was taken before the magistrates on several occasions on charges of poaching, theft and damaging property. After the death of her mother, Mary Ann remained in the family home with her younger brother, George. She became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, which she named Matilda Pridmore Pollard, on October 7th 1891.

After they were married, David and Mary Ann lived for a time in Lancaster Street, Leicester. Within months Mary Ann became pregnant but the baby was born dead in early June the following year. It was buried in Welford Road Cemetery in one of the many unconsecrated areas which accepted stillbirths and neonatal deaths. David moved the family to Dover Street, which runs between Granby Street and Wellington Street to the south west of the town centre. Another pregnancy followed in 1896 and that was where daughter Ada Jane was born on September 22nd that year. A son, John, followed on May 16th 1898. Mary Ann registered the birth in the name Croxford. At the turn of the century the family had moved again, this time to 11 Merridale Road. This was just a few hundred yards east of Elm Street where the Pridmores had lived fifteen years before. Next son, David, was born on January 7th 1901. At the time of the 1901 census, Mary Ann's daughter Matilda was known as Craxford. The little boy, David survived only seven months, dying on August 21st 1901 of a diarrhoeal disease.

It is with the arrival of the next child, daughter Susan, on June 21st 1902 that the mystery really takes off. Mary Ann again registered the birth but this time the surname was written as Croxton. It is also noteworthy Mary Ann was only able to make her mark. The following year, Mary Ann became pregnant for the seventh time and another little girl was born on Christmas Day 1903. This time Mary Ann registered the baby as Kate Craxford, although the home address was given as 3 Merridale Road. The following summer, David was taken ill with a severe chest infection. He was admitted to Leicester Infirmary but died on June 15th 1904.

The harrowing events and tragic circumstances surrounding the lives of Mary Ann Pollard, her sister Matilda and their respective children is explored in this separate article The Croxton Conundrum and Other Mysteries: The Pollard Girls

Gretton Family 1: The Pollards

The name Pollard first appears in the Gretton Parish Records around the turn of the century when William settled in the village with his new bride Mary Bates after their marriage in Ashley on the Northamptonshire border near Market Harborough on October 12th 1800. Three children (William, Mary and Thomas) were baptised between 1801 and 1807. William suffered a double loss in June 1808 when his daughter Mary died followed two days later by his wife, Mary. William may have married again in 1813 to widow Mary Eaton of Benefield. Another Pollard arrived in the villlage when Zacchariah from Stamford (no known relationship) married Jane Pruden in 1808.

William and Mary's oldest boy, Robert, was born in 1800. He married Susannah Dalby in the nearby village of Deene on October 19th 1828 but moved back to Gretton. By 1850 they were the next door neighbours of John Craxford and Jane Ashby and their son John and his wife Susannah Redshaw. Of Robert and Susannah's nine children, it is third son Joshua, born about 1836 who is of interest in this story.

Throughout his life Joshua ran into trouble with authority. He achieved some lasting notoriety in 1857 when he was one of the last miscreants to be sentenced to spend six hours in the stocks on the village green for non payment of a fine and for drunkeness (17). (He was not the last; that honour went to Nathaniel Warner the following year. -- Ed) For the best part of thirty years, Joshua was regularly brought before the Courts. Charges included poaching, trespass in pursuit of game, drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Sometimes cases were discharged through lack of evidence but more often he would be subject to a fine. By February 1874 he was noted to have had at least eight previous convictions (18). He was subjected to at least eight terms of imprisonment which included hard labour for offences ranging from the theft of 9 turnips (one month) to burglary (18 months). This history was by no means unusual for the peasantry in Victorian times. In November 1864 he was committed to Northampton County Gaol in the same session as Amos Crane (one of the Crane brothers whose story is told in The Crane family of Cottingham. Part 1: Victim or Villain?). His life was summed up in a plea of leniency delivered by his solicitor in yet another case in 1885 who said "the effects of imprisonment taken in conjunction with his previous unsteady course of life were such that he had been ill ever since his release from prison". (19) His last reported Court appearance was in February 1889 before the Northampton Assizes. He was found guilty of malicious wounding and grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 9 months hard labour. Joshua disappeared from the historical record after that date.

Joshua married Matilda, the eldest daughter of William Pridmore and Jane Satchell on September 22nd 1858. Despite his frequent enforceed abscences, Matilda did give birth to nine children over the next twenty years although three died in infancy. Their eldest daughter, Emily Satchell Pollard was baptised same day (April 3rd 1860) as the three children of John Craxford and Susannah Redshaw. After what must have been a trying life for her, Matilda died in the village on September 1st 1890. She was 54 years of age.

The Failed Infantryman: David (1823 - 1878)

The last of John Craxford and Jane Ashby's sons, David, was baptised in Gretton on November 30th 1823. He grew up to be over six feet tall with grey eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. He started work as a labourer in his teens but then went into domestic service. He soon fell foul of the law and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment 'for a misdemeanour' in August 1841. The following year David enlisted with the 75th Foot Regiment of Infantry but failed to attend for his attestation hearing. He was taken before the Court in Stamford in November 1842 where he was convicted of desertion. One month later he was taken before the Court charged with assault which caused a man's leg to be broken. He received fines and periods of imprisonment for poaching and trespass and was sentenced to two month's hard labour for stealing a scythe in October 1847.

In 1850 he moved to London. On March 18th of that year he enlisted with the 2nd Regiment, the Life Guards on a twelve year term. The census the following April found him a private with the Household Cavalry at the Hyde Park Barracks in Westminster. On August 10th 1851 he absented himself without leave for eleven days. On his return he was arrested. At his Court Marshall he was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to five months hard labour. He was discharged from the service on February 21st 1852.

David returned to civilian life taking a variety of labouring and portering jobs. It is probable that his absence from the Army coincided with his meeting Margaret Sullivan, a girl from Ireland. The pair were married at All Souls Church, Marylebone on March 22nd 1852. Within a year Margaret gave birth to a son they named David at the Queen Charlotte Hospital, Marylebone on June 11th 1853. The child was never well and developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain which caused swelling of the head) from which he died on December 13th 1854. Another two boys, Robert (born in 1856) and David (born on July 9th 1858), and a daughter, Margaret Jane (born in 1860) followed before the end of the decade. The little lad David survived barely eighteen months and died on March 19th 1860. His death was attributed to 'dentitian'. During this time they had several short term addresses in the area including North Street, James Street and Thomas Street off Hanover Square, Mayfair.

Dentition is a term synonymous with teething. It was wrongly considered a cause of death particularly during the middle of the nineteenth century. It became so widespread a diagnosis that in 1842 it accounted for 4.8% of all infants dying in London. The underlying cause of death could have been any of the common infantile ailments, including infection, which occurred at the same time that the child was teething (20)

Grosvenor Market

Grosvenor Market, a contemporary sketch (21)

Sometime during the 1860s, David moved the family to accommodation at 21 Grosvenor Market, Westminster. Grosvenor Market was designed by Earl Grosvenor as a food market and was built during the 1780s on a triangular site between Davies Street and South Molton Lane (adjacent to where Bond Street Underground Station now stands). However it failed in its primary intention in the face of competition from other local trading areas. In the early years of the nineteenth century the buildings were converted into four storey residential houses. (25)

In the 1870s, David found employment as a builder's labourer while Margaret took up work as a laundress. In the early winter of 1878 he was taken ill with a chest infection complicating bronchitis and emphysema and was admitted to the Middlesex Hospital. He died on November 28th 1878. Both her children remained with Margaret into the 1880s. Robert worked as a musician; Margaret Jane was a church chorister. Robert collapsed suddenly and died on October 12th 1882. An inquest under Deputy Coroner for Westminster Samuel F Langham declared that death was due to natural causes occasioned by 'syncope from a clot of blood in the heart". Margaret Jane married Charles Alfred Wilkes, a printer's traveller, at St John the Evangelist Church in Charlotte Street on December 28th 1897. Four years later she was dead of an acute chest infection. David's widow, Margaret, continued to work as a laundress and at the turn of the century was occupying one room in a lodging house at 16 Gray Street, Marylebone. She died there in the spring of 1908.

Gretton Family 2: Readyhoff

Was it merely a coincidence that Mary Ann (Craxford) Coles had taken in Charles Barrow as a lodger in 1891 and that her son, Edward, had Readyhoff families living on either side of him in 1911 or was there a recognised connection between the two? For a possible answer we must look back over one hundred years of interconnected family history. We have been able to trace the Readyhoff line in Gretton back to John who was born before 1725. A number of alternative spellings including Reddihoof have been noted along the way. Offspring of female lines often bore the surname as a second given name. Thomas Readyhoff, a great grandson of John, married Elizabeth Colwell in 1859. She was left a widow on his death in 1864. Their son, George Henry Readyhoff was born in 1860. In his teens George moved to Nottingham where he first became a groom and then an omnibus driver. He married Harriet Ward in 1890 and had two daughters. After his death Harriet moved her young family back to Gretton becoming one of Edward Cole's Readyhoff neighbours. Thomas' nephew, Richard Readyhoff, married Charlotte Ward (Harriet's older sister) in 1878. They were to have eight daughters. They became the other of Edward Cole's Readyhoff neighbours in 1911.

Charles Barrow was the son of Elizabeth Colwell and her second husband Tom Lenton Barrow. Their marriage took place in 1869 and Charles was the youngest of their eight children. Tom was a fellmonger employed in the village by Thomas Myers. Thomas Myers daughter, Anna, married Elizabeth's first cousin William Colwell. The story of the Myers family and fellmongering is told in Chapter 1 From Gretton to Barrowden - 1: The Skin Trade.

Gretton Family 3: Pridmore

Pridmore families were known to be living in the nearby villages of Cottingham and Harringworth before the turn of the eighteenth century. The earliest substantive Pridmore discovered in the Gretton records to date is that of the marriage of weaver William Pridmore to Mary Cardinal on August 18th 1776. There are however three child Pridmore burials (Ann 1742; William 1745; Mary 1750) from a generation earlier but no attributable parentage. It is possible that they belonged to Thomas Pridmore of Harringworth who married Cathrine Wattson in Gretton of February 7th 1740. Mary Cardinal was baptised on May 18th 1744 making her a contemporary.

Joseph Reddihoof (grandson of John) married Sarah West (1813) and had two sons and eight daughters. Their fourth daughter Ann married Robert Pridmore (the grandson of William Pridmore and Mary Cardinal) in 1841. Their sixth daughter Alice Susan married Robert's brother James Pridmore in 1853. Fifth daughter Sarah married Charles Timson whose own daughter Alice Mary Timson married George Robert Pridmore (the son of James Pridmore and Alice Susan Readyhoff) in 1889. Joseph and Sarah's seventh daughter Priscilla married William Beesworth creating a link into the histories of the Cottingham families. (See Cottingham: A Village Genealogy)

. It was Matilda Pridmore (great granddaughter of William and Mary via Robert and James older brother William) who married Joshua Pollard in 1858. It was the eldest son of Robert and Ann, William Readyhoff Pridmore who married Sarah Craxford in 1866

Footnote: The Gretton Fires of 1858 - A family affair?

In the winter of 1857/58 a spate of fires broke out in various places in Gretton. In January 1858, Alfred and Job Ingram, William Pridmore and Joshua Pollard were all summoned before the magistrates charged with setting one such fire on the premises of Jonathon Spendlove. The Court was 'densely crowded' for the event. The report of the trial can be seen in the attached cutting from the Northampton Mercury of Saturday January 30th 1858. Evidence was given by several of the villagers who, when their lineages are traced, show repeated entanglements with each other. At the end of the trial the evidence was considered inconclusive and the four men were discharged.

Alfred Ingram, born 1838, was the oldest son of William Ingram and Mary Waterfield. Alfred married Elizabeth Craxford, born 1835, the daughter of William Craxford and Elizabeth Hull. This William Craxford was the brother of John Craxford, the subject of this article and the grandfather of the David who married Mary Ann Pollard. Job Ingram was Alfred's next youngest brother. William Ingram had died well before this event took place and his widow Mary (Waterfield) remarried to David Chapman. This explains the Chapman / Ingram relationship in column 2 of the newspaper report. The Matthew Waterfield mentioned in column 3 was probably Mary's brother.

Thomas Lenton lived two doors away from William Knapp in the 1851 census. William Knapp's next door neighbours were Joseph Craxford and Susannah Freeman. Joseph was the son of Thomas, another of the brothers of William and John Craxford mentioned above. William Pridmore, the son of William Pridmore and Jane Satchell, was the sister of Matilda Pridmore, the mother of Mary Ann Pollard. It looks as if Matilda married Joshua Pollard sometime during this same year. William Pridmore mentioned going to Barrowden in the article. The fourth of the Craxford brothers, Robert, had lived in the village since the 1830s.

The Robert Craxford mentioned in the report was the older brother of John Craxford - the father of David who married Mary Ann Pollard. Robert married Catherine Waterfield, Mary's younger sister, in 1841. They had eight duaghters. Eldest daughter Sarah married William Readyhoff Pridmore, the son of Robert Pridmore.

A vote of thanks

The authors would like to express their thanks for the help, comments and suggestions from the following in the construction of this article: Contributors to the Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Forums (including Annie65115, Bunnygirl, CaroleW, Mgeneas, Sandy Hall, trish1120 and willsy) at RootsChat.Com; Alan J Clarke at Northamptonshire Family History; Jenny Moran at The Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ; michaeldr at The Great War Forum


1. Photograph St Michael Church, Cranoe Leicestershire by Robert Smith. Leicestershire Villages website. Reproduced under the terms of the Creative Commons license as stipulated on the site.
2. Northampton Commitments: Bedfordshire Mercury February 23rd 1863. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
3. Quotation from Report of the Leicester Domestic Mission: Joseph Dare 1864; pg 36 "The Slums Of Leicester" by Ned Newitt (2009), The Breedon Books Publishing Company Limited, Derby. ISBN: 978-1-85983-724-5.
4. Death from Burning: Inquest into the death of John Robert Pridmore: Leicester Chronicle January 1st 1876 The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
5. "After life's fitful fever, city's great and good sleep in pleasant spot". Lithograph of Welford Road Cemetery about 1849 Leicester Mercury October 14th 2013
6. Photograph: Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester Friends of the Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester Ancestors
7. Personal and family papers. Theophilus Barton Rowe Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
8. Richardson, Nigel: Typhoid in Uppingham: Analysis of a Victorian Town and School in Crisis, 1875-7 (Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century) ISBN-13: 978-1-851960991-3: Published by Routledge Oxford and New York. 2016 (First [published Pickering & Chatto Limited 2008)
9. Aerial view of Uppingham School Gigaclear
10. Assault on Richard Partridge, Police Constable. Wellingborough Petty Sessions: Northampton Mercury August 20th 1842. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
11. Obstructing Footpath. Kettering Petty Sessions. Northampton Mercury. January 31st 1874. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
12. Gretton: A Mother's Maintenance, Rutland Petty Sessions: Grantham Journal September 7th 1895. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
13. Maintenance. Oakham Police: Stamford Mercury February 11th 1898 The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
14. Using dogs for the purpose of taking game: Petty Sessions, Oundle Northampton Mercury October 20th 1887. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
15. In default of paying fine: Kettering Police Court: Northampton Mercury October 23rd 1886. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
16. Stealing two tame fowls value 6s. Leicestershire Quarter Sessions: Grantham Journal. July 5th 1890. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
17. Old Time Papers - In the Stocks: Blackburn Standard. November 16th 1889. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
18. Petty Sessions Oundle. Northampton Mercury February 28th 1874. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
19. Petty Sessaions Kettering. Northampton Mercury March 14th 1885. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
20. Teething Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
21. Grosvenor Market: in Chapter 5 Davies Street Area Pages 68-69. British History Online
22. The Gretton Incendiaries: Northampton Mercury Saturday January 30th 1858. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.

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Added: December 17th 2015
Updated August 2nd 2016

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