History Blog Tour – Day 7: Bishop’s Stortford – the postcards which got away

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 7, I am back on my own blog to show some the postcards, photographs and pictures of Bishop’s Stortford which got away.  Postcards and images which I couldn’t include in my book for one reason or another.

Two mile start
Unfortunately, I was unable to identify this image of the “Two Mile Start”.  There is a group of women central to the image, which when zoomed in, shows that they are wearing very elegant Edwardian summer dresses with hats.  The official standing in front of the flag on the right is very formally dressed with what appears to be a watch on a chain.  The hoi polloi appear to be the crowd on the left edge of the postcard.

Whatever event this was, it looks to be have been supported throughout the entire town, from all ranks of Edwardian society.  Its location could have been on the cricket pitch by Cricketfield Lane on the outskirts of the town.

Where or whatever this was, it is a fantastic social history postcard of Bishop’s Stortford at play.
Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole
Distance views of the town

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole1821 etching by J Mawman showing Bishop’s Stortford in 1669. The town’s Norman castle in the foreground and the parish of St Michael’s in the distance.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate ColeEdwardian view of the town photographed from the rooftops.  The parish church’s spire in the distance.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate ColeEdwardian view of the town photographed from the top of Waytemore Castle mound.  The ever-present parish church’s spire in the distance.

The Causeway
The rural beauty of the Edwardian Causeway.  Now a busy major ring-road within the town centre.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole
Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole
Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole
Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Windhill
Victorian and Edwardian children going about their business in Windhill – compared to the modern-day influx of cars.  At least the lamp-post has remained!  The first photograph is a carte de viste photograph from 1866.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

The CDV photograph of St Michael’s church is fascinating.  I wrote a blog post about it here and explained why I think it dates from 1866.

I had great problems photographing this area of Bishop’s Stortford – I must have visited it to take photographs on varying days and at varying times at least 20 times.  But always always there were cars.  Windhill was originally going to be the front cover of my book, but the cars were just too prominent in all the modern day photographs.  So we had to ditch that idea.

On one particularly eventual day, we decided to visit early on a Saturday and take the photographs of my children and their spouses.  This is the photograph which opens Chapter 2 of my book.  Getting my children all together at the same time was the first problem and a feat in its own right.  The second problem was that as we all drove up to Windhill, my husband decided to park his car in the area exactly where the photograph was to be taken.  I wasn’t impressed with this, and nor was he when he had to move the car. (Yes, there were “words”!)

Our final problem was… After my girls and their spouses had left, I decided to pay a quick visit to the church to take a couple of photographs.  We were only gone no more than 10 minutes. But by the time we came out there was a traffic warden fast approaching our car…  I’m glad to say we (just) beat him to our car…

I suspect the Victorian and Edwardian photographers of these images didn’t have such problems!

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

Workman’s revenge
Finally, this newspaper article in the Chelmsford Chronicle in June 1912 tickled me
Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole
My blog tour
I have thoroughly enjoyed doing a blog tour around the internet.  It has felt very self-indulgent being able to talk about my hobby – history – which has been a life-long passion for me.  Thank you for taking time out and reading my posts.

To recap, I have been on the following blogs this week:-

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

History Blog Tour – Day 6: Local history & Bishop’s Stortford

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 6, you can read me on Bishop’s Stortford’s Museums blog talking about Local history and Bishop’s Stortford. Please click on the link or picture below to read my post.

My blog tour
You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”, along with explaining about my recent book, on the following dates and sites.

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

2 Comments: Please click here to leave your comment

History Blog Tour – Day 5: Vintage postcards and family or local history

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 5, you can read me on Julie Goucher’s blog Anglers Rest talking about Using vintage postcards to add to family and local history research. Please click on the link or picture below to read my post.

My blog tour
You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”, along with explaining about my recent book, on the following dates and sites.

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

History Blog Tour – Day 4: Correlation between local and family history

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 4, you can read me on Pauleen Cass’s blog Family history across the seas talking about Correlation between local and family history. Please click on the link or picture below to read my post.

My blog tour
You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”, along with explaining about my recent book, on the following dates and sites.

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

History Blog Tour – Day 3: Teaching history to children

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 3, you can read me on Ross Mountney’s Notebook talking about Home educating and history. Please click on the link or picture below to read my post.

My blog tour
You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”, along with explaining about my recent book, on the following dates and sites.

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

2 Comments: Please click here to leave your comment

History blog Tour – Day 2: How to get your history book published

In September 2014, my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time was published by  Amberley Publishing.  This week, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also writing and researching my books.

In yesterday’s blog post The process of writing a local history book on Worldwide Genealogy, I answered Julie Goucher’s questions about writing my book.  Today, day 2, it is my turn to ask the questions and for my publisher’s Amberley Publishing’s to answer.

My overriding question to Amberley is that thorny topic:

How to get a publisher interested in your book or history project?

Whilst writing my books, when I have been out and about researching or photographing, many people have asked me about how to go about getting a history book published. My book publishers are Amberley Publishing –  very successful publishers who specialise in local history and general history books. I was extremely lucky in that one of their commissioning editors stumbled across this blog just under a year ago. The editor read some of my stories, and then she contacted me and there followed a couple of weeks’ negotiation. After which, Amberley commissioned me to write 3 books for them (this has recently been updated to 4 books).

I was lucky: Amberley approached me.

Amberley Publishing

 

However, it made me ponder: how do you go about getting your local or specialist history book published? I came up with 9 questions, and posed my questions to my Commissioning Editor at Amberley Publishing. Here are my questions, and Amberley’s answers.

 

1. What makes a good history book?
The local history team tends to publish within several predetermined series, and many of our titles are heavily image led. We place a real emphasis on our books looking really good, so great images are essential. We also look for books that are well structured, clearly written and contain interesting information. With more stand-alone titles, we are always attracted to new and exciting concepts, though it is vital that these are also commercially viable.

2. What makes a good author?
Anyone who is passionate about their subject is a great potential author. It really comes across when people are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. As images are so important in Amberley’s books, it’s a real advantage for authors to have ready access to a good image source, whether this be your own collection or an archive. It’s also important for authors to have a clear writing style.

3. I don’t have any formal qualifications (degrees etc) in history or related subjects. Would you still be interested in a submission from me?
Many of our authors have no formal qualifications, and this is certainly not a prerequisite. Amberley isn’t an academic publisher. Authors should certainly be knowledgeable about their subject, but there is no need for an academic degree!

4. If I am writing a history book, should I use an agent or approach a publisher direct?
For any company with a submissions link on their website (or with details for a submissions editor) feel free to send your submission through directly to them. Amberley don’t tend to work with agents often – the vast majority of our submissions come through this channel [website]. However, larger trade publishers won’t generally accept direct submissions, so might be best using an agent.

5. The Essex Voices Past blog was read by one of Amberley’s Commissioning Editors. Do editors regularly go through the internet to discover new authors?
On the local history team, we frequently use this method to find potential new authors. If someone has a real interest in a subject and is clearly knowledgeable, we will often get in touch to see whether the blog/website owner might be interested in writing a book.

6. I want to write a local history book about my town about its experiences during the First World War. What would be your appetite and criteria for publishing this?
In general, this sounds good. Our first consideration would be the suitability of the book’s content for our target market. As the 100th anniversary of the First World War took place this year, general interest in the topic is high, so this would definitely be seen as positive. This type of book is also similar to previous successful titles, which is a real advantage. However, a key concern with any local book is the sales profile of the town in question, so we would seek advice on this from our sales department before moving ahead.

7. I want to write a very specialist history book, eg, about the Napoleonic Wars. What would you would expect to see in a submission for this?
As with any submission, we’d be looking for general details about the book, for example a summary of its content, word count, details of any images you would be looking to include. In the case of a very specialist book, we’d be looking for evidence of in-depth knowledge of the subject and a clear awareness of what makes your book stand out from others on the market. Every publisher has their own specialist subjects for which they are known in the market, so it would be best to look at the output of each publishing house before you make your approach.

8. I have an idea for a history book: what do you want to see in a submission?
Here at Amberley, we ask for potential authors to provide a single-page summary of their book. This should include a brief description of what the book is about, along with the book’s proposed word count and details of any images. There is no need to send in your entire manuscript at this point, as the commissioning editor will request this at a later stage if necessary. A sample chapter or chapter list can be very useful, though.

9. I have made a submission for a book: what happens next and how long until I hear back from you?
The first person you will hear from is our submissions editor, who is the first port of call for all submissions. If the submissions editor can see potential in your proposal, this will be passed to the relevant commissioning editor (depending on subject area) for consideration, and we’ll let you know that this handover has taken place. The commissioning editor will be the next person you hear from, and if your book looks like a good potential title we’ll take it from there. Timescales can vary significantly, but we aim to get back to everybody who contacts us as soon as we can.

My grateful thanks to Amberley Publishing for answering these questions.  I hope this helps any budding historians reading this blog. I have certainly found my contact with Amberley to be very positive and a life-changing experience.

My blog tour
Tomorrow, I am delighted that my blog tour will continue on Ross Mountney’s Notebook where I will be talking about helping children, particularly home educated children and children with special educational needs, to become passionate about the art and discipline of history.

You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history” along with my recent book.

  *_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

1 Comment: Please click here to leave your comment

History blog tour – Day 1: The process of writing a book

This week, to celebrate the publication of my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I am very excited to be doing tour around various blogs talking about various aspects of my book: not just the subject matter, but also about writing and researching “history”.

One post a day – so 7 posts in total – spread across a wide and diverse mix of history-related blogs.

Today, day 1, you can read me on the Worldwide Genealogy Blog talking about The process of writing a local history book. Please click on the link or picture below to read my post.

Sample page from my new book…

My blog tour
You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”, along with explaining about my recent book, on the following dates and sites.

About me
I have a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) – all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, I am currently taking time away from my City career to write. My first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. I have been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-

  • Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
  • Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
  • Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

I live in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on my blog.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

All things “history”: My history blog tour

I am very excited to be able to tell you that starting tomorrow (Saturday 18 October 2014), I will be celebrating the publication of my local history book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time by doing tour around various blogs all around the world talking about all aspects of “history”.  I’ll be talking about not just about the subject matter of my book – but also writing and researching a local history book, along with posts about what it is to be a family and local historian.

You can catch me on the following dates and blogs discussing “all things history”:-

  • Sunday 19 October - Essex Voices PastQ&A session with Amberley Publishing on “how to get a publisher interested in your history book”.
  • Wednesday 22 October - Anglers RestUsing vintage postcards to add to family and local history research.
  • Friday 24 October - Essex Voices PastBishop’s Stortford’s postcards which got away.

Please do click on the image below to buy my book.

Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

The scandalous story of a breach of a promise to marry

Today’s post is the story of my 4x great-grandmother and her 4 daughters who all lived in a tiny rural Suffolk village in the early 1800s.  It is a scandalous tale of a boys’ boarding school, a breach of a promise to marry, and much tippling of sherry in the local pub by my 4x great-grandmother.

I first posted this story on Worldwide Genealogy blog a couple of weeks ago.  So apologies if you’ve already read it on that blog.  Since I wrote my post for Worldwide Genealogy, I paid another visit to the tiny village where the events described in my post took place. Therefore, I have added some more modern-day photographs of the church and village to today’s post.  I have also updated this post with more details about William Parnall (husband to one of the daughters); and also more details about the man, William John Lucock, who jilted his potential wife – including his love letters to his bride-never-to-be, Emma Redit.

*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Family history
One of my female ancestor’s has always intrigued me over my many years of research: Louisa Parnall – my paternal great-grandmother – the mother of my grandfather – and her family. The Parnall family has long fascinated me (always spelt Parnall, never, ever with an “e”). But, I have always found it very difficult to retell their particular story because there just is so much evidence about them and their activities.  I have a mountain of information, documents and photos about them all.  It’s that rare occurrence when there is simply too much evidence about a particular family to make it all into a coherent story!

Louisa Parnall – shortly before her 1880 marriage

The Parnalls from Llansteffan, Wales
In a nutshell, four brothers and one sister left the tiny rural village of Llansteffan, in Carmarthenshire, Wales sometime between the 1820s and 1830, and headed for the bright lights of London. The two younger brothers and the sister (Robert, Henry and Anne) found that the pavements of London were, indeed, lined with gold and so made their fortune in the clothing industry.  They ultimately died with enough wealth to make them each the equivalent of today’s multimillionaires.

Sadly, the two older brothers (William and Thomas), did not make their fortunes, and so both, at different times, were made bankrupt and possibly thrown into debtors’ gaol. Both, probably as a consequence of their financial misfortunes, died relatively young in their 40s/50s. William was my 3x great grandfather – Louisa (above) being his grand-daughter. Fortunately, the successful siblings looked after William’s many children and grand-children – employing some of them, making others their heirs, and leaving substantial bequests in their wills to all of them – including my great-grandmother (their great-niece). Thomas appears to have not married and died childless.

When researching the story of the Parnalls, it has always been very easy to track down Robert Parnall and his brother Henry Parnall because they had a very large warehouse/factory in the City of London (Bishopsgate) and also in Suffolk, and employed many hundreds of people. I have even tracked them down on Google through a very tenuous link that one of Jack the Ripper’s (suspected) victim’s lovers worked for them! Even poor William and Thomas Parnall can be tracked down via Google because of their bankruptcies.

Tallis’s London Street views – Bishopsgate Without (1838-1840).
The Parnall’s first factory is shown at number 100.
Ultimately they had 2 factories on this very busy London high-road.

 

Henry Parnall in 1860 in the churchyard outside St Botoph’s Church, Bishopsgate.
He left a substantial will bequest to St Botoph’s Church for them to maintain their graveyard as a garden for use by the general public.  Thus my ancestor has ensured that many of today’s City-workers have somewhere to sit in the fresh air on a sunny day.
Image appears by kind permission of  City of London’s Collage Collection

But over my many years of research into the Parnalls, I’d totally ignored their wives and the impact the Parnall wives had on their menfolk.

The wives of the Parnall brothers
A few years ago, the British Newspaper Archive came online and a whole new world of genealogical and local history research opened up – newspaper articles. So I started entering in my Parnall names, and as expected, found plenty about Robert’s and Henry’s two large warehouses in Bishopsgate and also their factory in Suffolk. However, all of a sudden, my searches threw up the story of William Parnall’s wife (William being my bankrupt direct ancestor). But, rather than being a story about the Parnalls, this was the story of his wife, Mary (also my direct ancestor) and her sister, Emma.  Both were the children of the very respectful schoolmaster of Grundisburgh, Suffolk and his equally respectful wife, Mary and Nathaniel Redit (my 4x great-grandparents).

The Redit’s story starts when William was an up and coming successful businessman – long before his financial woes – and long before his brothers Robert and Henry were even old enough to come to London to seek their fortunes.  According to newspaper reports dating from 1833, William’s wife, Mary Redit, was “extremely well married, and living in London“.  The Parnall’s father, Edmund Parnall, was a tenant sheep farmer in Wales and could hardly be described as well-to-do.  Therefore, William had, by 1833, become so successful that Mary Redit had married “extremely well”.  The story of the Redit women was told through the eyes of local and national newspapers.  Reporters delighted in recounting an extremely scandalous and juicy legal story of unrequited love whilst it was played out in the court-rooms of Bury St Edmunds.  The story of the Redits even made The Times newspaper and was probably debated over the breakfast table of many middle and upper-class houses!  According to reports, the court-house itself was packed and “the ladies, to the infinite disappointment of their curiosity, were ordered out of the court.”

The Redit women of Grundisburgh, Suffolk
The newspaper account below is from The Times newspaper for Tuesday 6th August 1833. Emma’s case was also reported in the national newspaper, The Observer, along with all the local East Anglian newspapers.
Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833
By awarding Emma £500 in damages (a substantial amount in 1833), the judge and jury clearly believed that Emma had not misbehaved, nor had she had a miscarriage.  So was not of loose virtue. She was vindicated, and her potential suitor had been found guilty of the civil crime of Breach of a Promise to Marry.

Emma’s breach of marriage was retold in even greater detail in the many different local newspapers – each newspaper relaying different aspects of the case. Her mother and her 4 sisters (including Mary Parnall nee Redit) had all been called as witnesses. Many of the newspaper reports recorded their testimonies as to their own and Emma’s behaviour. This case was not just about Emma’s good virtue, but it had put into the question the entire Redit family’s morals. Emma’s mother, Mary (my 4x great-grandmother) seems to have been on the witness stand for a long period of time and she, out of all the Redit women, was personally held to account by barristers acting for Lucock.

Mary Redit testified that:-

 “I am mother of Emma Redit, who is my third child. My two elder daughters are married [this included Mary Parnall]. Emma is now 23. My husband died in February 1832; he kept a school at Grundisburgh 26 years. Defendant’s family had lived at Grundisburgh 30 years; we were intimate. Mr Lucock’s family consisted of a daughter and son. Mr Lucock [father] died in July 1831. Defendant was a scholar at my husband’s school, he was about 13 years old when he left. Defendant continued to live at the house where his father died. Mrs Grimwood (defendant’s sister) died about the end of last year. Defendant’s [Lucock] visits were frequent at my house about February and March 1831. We considered him as the intended husband of Emma. He came there much more frequently than he had previously done; and he paid more marked attentions to my daughter. He took her to Woodbridge Theatre, with her younger sister. My daughter was much attached to the defendant. [Note in the newspaper’s account: Letters were put in [to court] and identified as being in the handwriting of the defendant]. One day my daughter said she should like a letter on a plain piece of paper better than one he had given her; and he gave her another letter in which he promised to make her his wife. At that time and afterwards he was received in [the] witness’s family as her daughter’s future husband. Witness heard defendant say, he should not have a house to seek for, as he had one, and an income. He said the house was left in his father’s will to him (this was before his father’s death). He said rather more than half the property was coming to him. The latter part of March, defendant’s visits became less frequent. (Another letter was then put in [to court] and read, in which the defendant apologized for omitting to perform some engagement). When his visits were less frequent, I called a third time on Mrs Grimwood; it was not till I called a third time on Mrs Grimwood that I saw the defendant. I than asked him what he meant by not paying his visits to my daughter, as he promised; he had promised to take her to the theatre. I asked him why had had not answered my daughter’s two notes. He said, he never intended to come or to answer any notes. I asked him for his reasons, and he said he had none. I told him he must have heard something***; he replied he, he had not. He said, he never intended to make any explanation of his conduct, for if he loved the girl one day, it was no reason he should the next. I asked what he had done with the notes; he said he had burnt them. Defendant never renewed his acquaintance with my daughter after this period, and he never assigned a reason for his conduct.”

***My note: Is Emma’s mother unwittingly telling us that there had been rumours about Emma’s virtue and her alleged miscarriage?  Had Lucock heard rumours about Emma – hence him breaking off the engagement? Was this just the very excuse he was looking for to get out of marrying her.

Mrs Redit was cross-examined by Lucock’s barrister. Through the newspaper’s account of the cross-examination, it is clear that Lucock’s barrister was putting her own name, and that of her late husband’s Nathaniel’s name, into disrepute.  Thus, the entire Redit family was on trial.  Moreover, the implications are clear in the newspaper reports: Lucock thought Emma and her family were gold-diggers and after his money.  Mrs Redit testified that:-

“My husband [Nathaniel] did not die in very good circumstances. I did not dictate the letter produced. Nothing was said about a stamp for that letter. [This appears to have been the letter where Lucock had declared that he would marry Emma] Young Lucock kept his birthday at the public-house, called the Dog; I was not there. I never took wine or spirits at that house in an unbecoming way; never took more than two glasses. I may have gone to the public-house sometimes three times in the year. Defendant came of age on the 22nd and gave the promise of marriage on the 28th. I never saw defendant intoxicated in my life. He came home with my husband about three o’clock one day. They came to have a beef steak together, they had a little wine.”

The implication above was that Mrs Redit had made young Lucock write the letter of his intention to marry Emma whilst he was drunk after a heavy drinking session with Mr and Mrs Redit on his 21st birthday.  The landlord of the Dog public house was called as a witness to repudiate Mrs Redit’s testimony. He testified that:-

“The defendant’s birthday was kept at his house [i.e. The Dog] in February 1831: eleven people were present and Redit [i.e. Nathaniel, Emma’s father] and the plaintiff left the house [pub] together and proceeded to Redit’s house. Mrs Redit was once at his house in company with Captain Drury (since dead) and her husband, and on that occasion drank nine glasses of sherry. He saw her take five, and the Captain said she had drank nine”.

(An eyewitness account of five sherries – but more than likely nine sherries!!! My 4x great-grandmother seemed to have liked her drink!)

In yet another newspaper report, The Ipswich and Bury Post, Lucock’s love letters to Emma were published in detail:-
Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833

Consequences of bringing a legal case regarding a breach of a promise
When the Redits first decided to bring the breach of a promise to marry to court, they had no idea that Lucock was going to attempt to blacken Emma’s name. As far as they were concerned, Emma had Lucock’s love letters and promises to marry her, but he breached the promise without explanation.

We know that the Redits initially did not know the extent of Lucock’s attempts to wriggle out of the court case via two further newspaper reports in local papers: one report 4 months before the August trial, and one report 3 months afterwards.

Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Bury and Norwich Post – Wednesday 20th March 1833

Emma Redit - Breach of Marriage Contract 1833Ipswich Journal – Saturday 30 November 1833

From these two reports 8 months apart, it can be determined that the Redit family must have seriously considered the consequences of bringing their case to court. An action in which Lucock had clearly told the Redits that he intended to blacken Emma’s name. Between the first attempt at suing Lucock in March, until the eventual trial in August, the Redit family must have spent a great deal of time and money on finding all the witnesses required to testify on her behalf. Thus all 3 of Emma’s sisters took the stand, as did the husband of the eldest sister, along with former pupils of the school. All testified as to Emma’s good character: that she had not had a miscarriage; nor had her behaviour in the boy’s dorms been in anyway questionable.

That the Redits went to such a length to bring the case twice to court, and they did so the second time fully aware of Lucock’s defence, they must have been convinced of their case and Emma’s innocence.

However, sadly, it seems that although Lucock lost his case, and Emma’s good name was upheld, he was determined to make her suffer by bringing a costs action against her for the costs of the first trial in March which didn’t go ahead. And it didn’t go ahead because Lucock, at the very last minute, warned the Redits that he was going to blacken her name. Fortunately the courts decided in the November hearing that this delay in having to abandon the hearing could only have helped Lucock’s case, but he still lost.  So he was not awarded any money from Emma.

From the distance of nearly 200 years, and from my (perhaps?) biased viewpoint that the Redits were my ancestors, Lucock appeared to have been an absolute cad and bounder. Emma was better off not marrying him!

In the end, as we have seen, despite all the mud-slinging, Emma’s good name was proved, and she won her case for breach of marriage.  It must have been unbearable for this family to be thrown into such an intense spotlight.  Even though Emma won her case, the Redit name would have been ruined locally.  After all, as the old saying goes, there is no smoke without fire…

Emma’s story could have ended here, despite her winning in court, her good name and virtue (and that of her family’s) ruined forever and her reputation in tatters.  She must have been very notorious, and would have had extremely poor marriage prospects.

The Redits of Suffolk and the Parnalls of Wales
However,  Emma’s story did have a happy ending. On the 7th August 1836, three years almost to the day after the court case, Emma married her sister Mary’s husband’s brother, Robert Parnall in Soho, London. (I wonder if the date of her marriage was merely coincidence? Or did she use the date to reinforce the message that she was the innocent victim of scandalous gossip…)

This was the very same Robert, who, as I previously recounted further up this post went on to find his fame and vast fortune on the streets of London. At the time of their marriage Robert was 20 and Emma was 26 years old. Whatever earlier escapades Emma got up to, the Parnall family obviously believed her story and all the Parnalls stood by her and the other Redit family members. Emma died in the 1860s and lived much of her life in London, Brighton, and Llansteffan as a rich wife to a highly successful and well-connected Victorian merchant. It is not a far leap of the imagination to speculate that Emma’s £500 damages from her breach of marriage to Lucock might have been used to found the Parnall’s substantial business empire.

The newspaper reports show how close the Redit family had been, and how they all testified for Emma and her virtue.  It is perhaps of a consequence of this that when William Parnall was made bankrupt in 1847, his brothers and their wives stuck by him and supported his vast family for many many years.*** The Parnalls and Redits were doubly related with sisters Emma and Mary marrying brothers Robert and William; and they really did look after their own.  When Mary fell on hard times with the bankruptcy of her husband, Emma must have repaid the debt of the sisterly loyalty by financially supporting Mary’s children (and even later, Mary’s grandchildren) through the businesses of Robert and Henry Parnall. They say that revenge is best tasted cold.  Emma certainly did get her revenge on Lucock: the Parnalls became so much wealthier than Lucock could ever have imagined. Emma was far from the gold-digger Lucock accused her of being, as Robert Parnall was not wealthy when they married.  But, she did became fantastically wealthy through the business of her incredibly successful husband.

***My note: October 2014- Since first writing this original article in September 2014 for Worldwide Genealogy Blog, I carried out some further research into William’s bankruptcy and was extremely shocked to discover that the person who sued him for bankruptcy was none other than his wife’s sister’s husband. That is, his own brother-in-law, Marmaduke Drake, husband of the eldest Redit sister, Anne.  This was extremely surprising to me because all my other research had shown that the Parnalls were an extremely close knit family and they looked after their own.  Indeed, Marmaduke’s name appeared in other local newspaper’s accounts on the breach of marriage as giving evidence in favour of his sister-in-law, the jilted Emma.  When William fell into financial hardship, Marmaduke Drake appears to have been the family’s turn-coat, and so William’s own brother-in-law sued him for his bankruptcy!

Grundisburgh churchyard, Suffolk
During my years researching the Parnalls, I have come across many “internet cousins” who have researched various parts of the Parnall story (Although I am the only one to have tracked down Emma Redit’s story and her breach of promise to marry court-case, and William’s bankruptcy). One thing that has always puzzled all of us is why did Robert and Henry Parnall set up a large clothing factory in the rural Suffolk village of Chevington when they were all from Wales? This factory in rural Suffolk, at its height of success in the 1850s, employed over 600 people! That is a tremendous number of people for a tiny rural village, although, most workers were probably women working piece-rate in their own homes.

The story of the Redit sisters from Suffolk and their marriage to the Welsh Parnalls part way gives one explanation why the Parnalls might have set up their clothes-making empire in Suffolk.

But, perhaps even more reason for the Parnall’s connection to Suffolk, is the tiny grave I discovered this summer in the churchyard of Grundisburgh’s parish church  – a tiny grave laid next to the grave of Nathaniel Redit, schoolmaster of Grundisburgh.  Nathaniel, the father of the scandalous Redit sisters, and the husband of the sherry-loving Mary Redit. The tiny grave next to Nathaniel’s is that of an infant, Robert, the eldest child of Robert and Emma (nee Redit) Parnall. Long before their vast riches came their way, their first born child died as an infant, and instead of being buried with his father’s Parnall family in Llansteffan in Wales, was laid to rest in the tiny Suffolk churchyard in Grundisburgh – the home of the Redit family.

Nathaniel Redit
School master in this parish 30 years.
Highly esteemed.
Born 17th July 1778.  Died 8th February 1832.

 

Robert Redit Parnall.
Infant son of Robert & Emma Parnall of London.
Grandson of the late Nathaniel Redit school master of this parish.
Born 16th June 1837. Died 16th January 1838.

 

The taller gravestone of Nathaniel’s overlooking his baby grandson’s grave

It is interesting that Nathaniel was “Highly esteemed“.  With his death occurring just 18 months before his daughter’s Emma’s court case, it could be speculated that his headstone was put up after the court case (perhaps at the time of the infant Robert’s death) and, with his epitaph, the Redit’s were, once again, asserting that they were a respectable family.  The infant Robert’s epitaph also shows that the Redits and Parnalls still considered themselves to be firm respectable members of this small rural community.  Robert Parnall was an extremely shrewd business-man: it might have made considerable financial reasons to have part of his empire so far out of London in rural Suffolk.  But perhaps even more so, he was appeasing his wife, the redoubtable Emma (nee Redit) so she could visit her family still living in Suffolk, and visit the grave of her only child, Robert Redit Parnall.

William John Lucock
Of Emma’s hapless one-time suitor, Lucock (who, according to the newspaper reports was born in February 1810), I now know the following information:***

- His name was William John Lucock.
- He died in 1849 – from the newspaper reports of the trial, it is known he was born in February 1810).  So he was 39 when he died.
- His father was William Lucock, gentleman of Grundisburgh who died in 1831.
- He married Anne (1809-1874) and they lived at Seckford Hall, Great Bealings (Just look at pictures of the Hall to imagine how grand this house must have been when the Lucocks were living here!)

***This is extra information is due to Anne Young - who read my original post on Worldwide Genealogy blog and then researched this extra information about Lucock.

Grundisburgh village through time

The Dog Inn, Grundisburgh.
The location of Lucock’s coming-of-age party when he drunk heavily with Emma’s father, the school-master Nathaniel Redit.  Also the scene of Mary Redit’s tippling of no less than 9 sherries in one session.

 

The village of Grundisburgh on a postcard from the early 1900s – some 70 years after the scandalous events of the Redit women.  The school on this postcard is still there in the village – but now residential apartments and flats.  However, as it was constructed in the Victorian period, this was not Nathaniel Redit’s school.  The village of Grundisburgh is tiny, it is therefore possible that Nathaniel’s school was located in roughly the same position as the later Victorian building.

 

Grundisburgh Church.  Underneath the round tree on the right of this picture lies the remains of Nathaniel Redit and his baby grandson, Robert Redit Parnall.  There is a tree at this location today (probably the same tree as the one in this Edwardian photograph) and this tree has ensured that Nathaniel’s and Robert’s graves are relatively untouched and unmarked from nearly 200 years of standing in a rural churchyard.  Their graves having been protected from the elements was there waiting for me, their direct descendant, to find and finally link together the story of the Parnalls of Llansteffan, Wales and the Redits of Grundisburgh,Suffolk.

Grundisburgh Village today
In late September 2014, following my post on the Worldwide Genealogy blog, I paid another visit to the village of Grundisburgh. The village is beautiful, but tiny. The scandal of the Redits and the Lucocks must have been the subject of gossip from the lowest to the highest in the village during the 1830s. Villagers must have taken sides as to whom they believed. I found it extremely interesting that the Emma’s baby was buried next to his grandfather in the churchyard; and William John Lucock was also laid to rest in the same churchyard a few yards away from the Redit graves. The rivalry and dislike between the two families must have gone on for years after the events of 1831 when Lucock jilted Emma.  But now the two families are reunited in death in the same churchyard.

Grundisburgh
Grundisburgh Parish Church – if you follow the path on the right up to the very end of the church, you will see two large rectangle monuments just by the church.  The monument on the left (very white one, with ivy on it) is the grave of the cad and bounder William John Lucock (1810-1849), his wife Anne (1809-1874), his father William Lucock (died 1831), and (possibly) his mother Mary Lucock (died 1817 aged 63). (I’m not sure if Mary was William John’s mother as Mary would have been 56 when William John was born.  But they are all buried in the same grave – so I’m not sure Mary’s relationship to William John and his father.) The large white monument on the right of the path is to another Lucock – John Lucock (1772-1821) and his wife Susannah (died 1826 aged 47) – John and Susanna were possibly William John’s grandparents. Just beyond John and Susanna’s grave are the two Redit/Parnall gravestones.
Grundisburgh
The hapless William John Lucock’s memorial inscription on the family tombstone
Grundisburgh
Inside Grundisburgh church – looking towards the 14th century rood screen and the altar. In 1833, the gossip must have been rife in this church with all the parishioners gossiping about Emma and her allegedly outrageous behaviour in the village’s boarding school. In my mind’s eye, at the height of the scandal, I can see the matriarch Mary Redit sweeping into Sunday church with her 4 daughters, their husbands, and Emma’s supporters and putting on a massive display that they were the wronged family. From reports of the court case, I cannot for one minute imagine that the Redits hid away at home during the scandal. Sunday church would have been the family’s one significant chance of putting on a great display.
Grundisburgh
Inside Grundisburgh church – looking towards the back of the church and the church’s tower. The picture on the right is an exquisitely beautiful 15th century medieval wall painting – it was only uncovered in the 1950s. Until that time it lay undiscovered as had been white-washed over during time of the English Reformation of the 16th century by the edicts of either Henry VIII or his son Edward VI. The Redits and the Lucocks of the nineteenth century would not have known about the existence of such devotional beauty in their church.
Grundisburgh
Medieval wall painting of St Christopher. Because the painting appears to disappear into the church’s windows, this shows that the windows were possibly added into the church after the date of the painting.
Grundisburgh
15th century baptismal font.
The four Redit sisters – Anne, Mary, Emma, and Francis – were all baptised in this font – as was their mother, Mary Redit (nee Smith)
Grundisburgh
The beautiful, but tiny, village of Grundisburgh.  The building on the left is the Victorian school (now converted to flats) – this is the possibly location of  Nathaniel Redit’s boarding school. Behind the weeping willow is the beautiful parish church.  Behind the photographer, and about 50 paces to the right, is the village pub, The Dog.
Grundisburgh
The Dog Inn. It would have been a short stagger from the pub to Nathaniel’s school in February 1831, when Nathaniel Redit, his wife Mary, along with a newly 21 year old William John Lucock returned to Nathaniel’s school.  Back at the school, they continued the birthday celebrations by tucking into beef steak, whilst William John wrote his incriminating love letters and intention to marry to Emma.

You may also be interested to read these websites
- Breach of Promise to Marry: A disturbing case
- Breach of Promise to Marry: Various 19th century cases
- Breach of Promise to Marry: How jilted brides were portrayed in the press

 

*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

My book
My local history book on the historic East Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford has just been published.  Please do click on the image below to buy my book.Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in
The Coles of Spitalfields Market

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment

The girls of Bishop’s Stortford

Today’s post is continuing on my posts about Edwardian postcards and Victorian photographs which didn’t make it into my new local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time.  I have published this photograph before on my blog and on Twitter, but so far have had no success in identifying it.  So I’m going to try once again to see if anyone can identify these young ladies.  Someone has suggested to me that it is probably from the inter-war period – possibly the 1920s – because of the dropped waists on the girls’ dresses.

Do you have any idea who these young ladies of Bishop’s Stortford were? The photographers were H & A Gurton who were active in the town from the First World War and on into the 1920s.

Bishop's Stortford - H & A Gurton

My book

If you want to learn more about this historic East Hertfordshire town, please do click on the image below to buy my book. Bishop's Stortford Through Time by Kate Cole

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

This blog
If you want to read more from my blog, please do subscribe either by using the Subscribe via Email button top right of my blog, or the button at the very bottom.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do Like it with the Facebook button and/or leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading this post.

You may also be interested in

Bishop’s Stortford: The ones that got away
Bishop’s Stortford Through Time – A progress update
Bishop’s Stortford 1569-1571: The Vermin Man
Happy Second Blogiversary to Me – The Future

© Essex Voices Past 2014.

Please click here to leave your comment