Tuesday, 22 July 2014

3. A Boroughbridge boyhood in the 1850s: The Yorkshire Volunteers

Some of the young men belonged to the Territorial Army of the day, the Yorkshire Volunteers.  John’s father had been a Volunteer himself in his youth.  This letter survives, written by Thomas, then aged twenty nine, from Bradford.  The dry summer had closed mills across Yorkshire and the Volunteers had been sent to Bradford where the introduction of steam power to John Garnett Horsfall’s worsted mill had triggered unrest.  Thomas and Mary had been married eighteen months and Mary was heavily pregnant with her first child, Jane:
Bradford 3 May 1826
My Dear Mary,
I cannot at present say when I shall be able to be at home.  Lord Grantham arrived here last night, and has given orders for the whole Regiment to assemble here, I fancy to relieve those who have been on duty since Saturday.  It will please you to hear that we shall not go to York or elsewhere on permanent duty this year as our attendance here will make up for that, which makes me think that Lord Grantham will keep us the number of days we should have been at York, respecting the particulars of our marches &c I will give you by word of mouth.
Bradford is very still, and not a disorderly person to be seen in the streets, we have not had occasion to be on horseback since we arrived and if we stay some time longer it will be the case, there has not been the least disturbance but on Thursday night last, and that only the windows of Mr Horsfalls mill broken, the Inhabitants think nothing of it.
You cannot now find fault with me for not writing.  I wish I had something worth writing to you about, however I know this that a letter softens the pain of absence.
You will have seen Mr Stead before you receive this he will tell you the news and the battles we have fought.  I long to see you, if Stead returns I should like to hear from you, by him, I am now going to receive orders for our Troop, and by the time they are finished the post will have left which obliges me to conclude with best love to my dearest Mary, and all relations at Bbridge,
believe me to remain as before your loving Husbd T Stubbs

Sunday, 20 July 2014

2. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: "Good sport"

Monday January 21st 1856
…  Sat up till 4 o’clock in the morning expectg cow calving   She calved about an hour after I got to bed …  Calved red & white Heifer Calf.
The Stubbs family had once been more prosperous – in the days before the railways, when the Great North Road was filled with traffic, Boroughbridge had been a thriving, bustling town and there had been plenty of business for the wine merchant and grocer at the Bridge Foot.  The house had even featured on the five guinea note of the Boroughbridge Bank established by John’s father, together with Thomas Dew, Hugh Stott (the doctor who owned The Crown Inn) and Humphrey Fletcher of Minskip.  By 1856 trade had dwindled and the family’s fortunes with it – but they still owned a little land at Langthorpe, necessary for the house cow and the pony needed for deliveries.
Wednesday February 20th 1856
Went with Mr Roger [Buttery] to Brafferton to Murfits to see a pig which was expected to weigh 60 stones   Had breakfast   Dick [Hirst] came with me to the Station came home by 9 o’clock train
Tuesday afternoon, at the office – a letter came for John from his cousin Sophy Hirst, staying with the Buttery family at Helperby, inviting John to a party that night.  He enjoyed it “very fairly”, stayed the night and was up in time to visit the giant pig before taking the train back to Boroughbridge.  The Butterys – Mr and Mrs Roger, Mr Thomas and Mr William, were relatives of the Stubbs.  To the Butterys again in March, where his cousin Dick Hirst was learning farming:
Sunday March 16th 1856
Went twice to Brafferton Church   saw the Smiths   called at Thos Buttery   went with Dick Hirst to chop turnips for the Sheep.   At night we sat in the house
Years later, established as a solicitor in Middlesbrough and living first in Coatham and then in Ormesby, John always managed to keep a few farm animals himself – even though, as his mother reminded him, amateur farming does not pay.

Friday, 18 July 2014

1. A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: Introducing John Stubbs

Saturday January 1st 1853
Stayed at home in the morning & helped to clip the pony & had a ride in the evening on the pony
John Richard Stubbs was fourteen years old when he made his first entry in his new diary.  He lived beside the River Ure in Boroughbridge, opposite the Crown, once a famous posting house.  His home was called the Bridge Foot, where his family had lived, kept their warehouse and run their business since his grandfather’s day – wine merchants, grocers and tea dealers since 1790. 
Monday January 3rd 1853
Rode the pony to Knaresboro to the Sessions dined at the Royal Oak & rode back at night & went to Uncle Hirst’s to supper
John’s eldest brother Joseph, now aged nearly twenty-four, would take over the firm.  He had learned his trade from his father and in London and was back at home working in the business.  Eighteen-year-old Thomas was away, apprenticed to a Master Vintner.  John was destined for the law.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Boroughbridge Boyhood in the 1850s: the diaries of John Stubbs

The next series of posts will be an account of John Richard Stubbs' boyhood in Boroughbridge. 

John Richard Stubbs was born on 2 October 1838 at five minutes past three o'clock in the morning at the Bridge Foot, Boroughbridge.  His parents were Thomas Stubbs (1796-1867) and Mary Henlock (1803-91).  John was one of six children.  His brothers and sisters were Jane (1826-1902), Joseph (“Joe”) (1829-1906), Thomas (“Tom”) (1834-66), Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) (1842-1914) and Alice (1844-1921).

John married Ellis Macfarlane on 13 April 1871 at Claremont House, Helensburgh.  They had three children:  Thomas Duncan Henlock (1872-1931), Mary Kathleen (1874-1948) and William Henlock who died in 1886 at the age of seven.

John qualified as a solicitor in May 1860 and started in practice in the newly incorporated borough of Middlesbrough in February 1861; he was one of the earliest solicitors in the town.  His entry in the 1903 Contemporary Biographies of the North & East Ridings of Yorkshire reads:
John Richard Stubbs, J.P., Park End, Ormesby, near Middlesbrough; son of Thomas and Mary Stubbs (née Henlock); born at Boroughbridge, October 2nd 1838; educated at Giggleswick.  Solicitor; Notary Public; Commissioner for Oaths; Clerk to the Justices for the Division of Langbaurgh North; Official Receiver in Bankruptcy for the Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, and Northallerton Districts; Justice of the Peace for the borough of Middlesbrough.  Married, April 13th 1871 at Helensburgh, N.B. [North Britain], Elizabeth Grace Ellis, daughter of Duncan Macfarlane.
John must have initially retired from practice in 1908 when he gave his law library to Middlesbrough Town Council, but it seems that the pressure of war and the absence of so many of the younger men brought him out of retirement in January 1915.  However, he was now an old man and had suffered the loss in 1914 of his fifteen-year-old grandson, a midshipman on HMS Aboukir.  His health failing, he died on 6 December 1916 at Coatham, aged 78 years.

Alfred Pease of Pinchinthorpe Hall wrote to John's son:
… When a father dies no matter what his age it makes a gap in the family that is never filled again and in your case I am certain the loss will be deeply felt, for few men by their qualities compare with your father.  In the days when I constantly met him I learnt his worth and held him in honour and I may say too in affection – a most just, kind, gentleman …
His widow Ellis died on 30 April 1922 at Scriven Lodge, Knaresborough and was buried at Coatham on 3 May.

For much of his life, John kept a diary noting the main events of his day.  The entries for the 1850s are generally written in small pocket diaries, 4½ by 3 inches in size, with a week to a page.  They are not reflective or introspective, but offer a picture of the daily life and surroundings of John, his relatives, neighbours and friends.  As this may be of interest to local and family historians, I have tried to reflect this in my account of John's early life.

Unfortunately, as nobody remembered to write the names under the photographs in the family album, my choice of illustrations was limited!

Monday, 14 July 2014

John Richard Stubbs (1838-1916), Boroughbridge-born Middlesbrough solicitor

John Richard Stubbs (1838-1916) came to Middlesbrough in February 1861 as a newly qualified solicitor some eight years after the new town was incorporated as a borough in 1853.  An active and gregarious man and an excellent shot, he soon took his place in the social, professional and sporting life of the area.

John was born in Boroughbridge, the son of Thomas Stubbs and Mary Henlock.  His family tree is set out in The Genealogical History of the Family of the late Bishop Stubbs (1915, Volume 55 of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society).  John and Bishop William were cousins on both their fathers' and mothers' sides – their fathers were brothers and their mothers were second cousins. John's immediate family is to be found on page 71 with one error.  His sister Alice did not die in 1891 but survived until 1921.

His diaries cover the years 1853, 1855-7, 1858/9, 1860, 1862-74 and 1876-1907.  The entries are not descriptive or reflective, but consist of short notes of his activities.  They give us a glimpse of the daily life of his home town of Boroughbridge and the nearby villages, his school days in Settle and his adult life in Coatham and Middlesbrough, but the principal value to Teesside historians must lie in the record they provide of the circles of professional connection,  friendship and kinship which lay behind the municipal and business life of Middlesbrough.

I plan to begin on John Stubbs' papers next and to post pieces from research I did some years ago – one result of this can already be seen in the article on Branwell Brontë's Honest & Kindly Friend.  I have decided that the best way to make the contents of the diaries available to fellow local historians is to photograph the pages and add a note of the names mentioned to each blogpost so that they will be found by a search engine.

We shall see (eventually) how this new project goes!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Ledgers of the Stubbs business in Boroughbridge, 1790-1830

The Stubbs family business has already appeared in this blog in the account of the Five Guinea Note from the Boroughbridge Bank.

Ledgers of the Stubbs business for the years between 1790 and 1830 are held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office [NYCRO ZGB].  What follows are the notes I made for NYCRO in 2008, when the ledgers returned from conservation:-

These ledgers relate to the business established by Thomas Stubbs (1761-1838) at the house and premises known as the Bridge Foot, Boroughbridge. 

Thomas Stubbs was the grandfather of Bishop William Stubbs of Oxford, the eminent historian.   Stubbs “recommended the following up of local and personal history as leading to a connexion with the greater streams and lines of social and political history that is full of direct interest, which a man can have all to himself” [1].  He used his own family history as an example:
“... My grandfather’s house stood on the ground on which Earl Thomas of Lancaster was taken prisoner by Edward II, on the very site of the battle of Boroughbridge; he, too, was churchwarden of the chapel in which the earl was captured....” [2]
The Bridge Foot was a house the Bishop knew well.

Thomas Stubbs  was born in Ripley, the son of Thomas Stubbs (born in Hampsthwaite, 1735-1805) and Elizabeth Walls of Milby (1743-99) [3].  His father had chosen to leave Nidderdale, where the family had lived and farmed for many generations, to become a grocer in Ripley. 

In his turn, Thomas junior left Ripley for the thriving town of Boroughbridge, where he set himself up as a grocer, tea dealer and wine and spirit merchant living and working at the Bridge Foot. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Boosbeck Steam Saw Mills Co Ltd, 1874

This is rather hard to read! (The triple dots mark the point where I have given up for the moment.)  But I can't think that much can have survived from this company, which was wound up a couple of years later, so I think it is worth posting here.  Here is my (partial) transcription:
Boosbeck Steam Saw Mills Company Ltd
7 Sept 1874 
to JR Stubbs Esq Middlesbro 
Dear Sir
At a meeting of the Directors of the above company the following minute was entered
"That Mr Stubbs & Mr Macfarlane draw up a report to present to shareholders, and that the report be embodied under the following heading" viz.
"That proper machinery in first instance having been obtained, consequently the house to be taken down and suitable machinery erected in its place, thereby entailing extra cost - The dullness arising from recent strike, and the great difficulty in obtaining lathes, saws &c owing to the disturbed state of the trade [...] and the want of system in keeping the accounts and separating them under their proper headings"
"The Books have now been remodelled and all the proper machinery processed and the Directors hope to be able to write off this loss by next year"
I may add that the meeting of shareholders was fixed for Saturday September 19th at Boosbeck at 3 pm.  You will however receive due notice of this shortly.  The above resolution was proposed by Mr Walker & seconded by Mr Anderson
I am yours faithfully [...]

John Richard Stubbs was Official Receiver in Bankruptcy.