Tomkin family

Tomkin family

See also a separate post on “the Retreat”, which housed the Tomkins’ Asylum.

ERO is Essex Record Office

THOMAS TOMKIN (the father)

1812-27, ERO Q/SBb 465/21, 469/22, 473/29, 477/19, 481/19, 485/9, 489/21
Reports of visitors to Mr Tomkin’s asylum at Witham.

1818, ERO D/DBw M40
Eleanor Bryckwood Royce of Woodham Mortimer, spinster, to marry Thomas Tomkin of Witham. Trustees = James Campion Wright of Writtle, clerk, and John Bryckwood Royce of Woodham Mortimer, gent (re purchase of property in Witham)

1819-??, parish registers
Baptisms of children of Thomas and Eleanor Tomkin include:
1819, August 20                       Thomas Marchant Tomkin
1821, January 30                     William Bryckwood Tomkin

1826, ERO Q/SBb 485/16
Report of the physician visitor and magistrates appointed to visit the Asylum of Thomas Tomkin surgeon of Witham for the reception and care of the insane … ‘we found it in every respect conformable to the Act for the regulation of such houses. It is also in our opinions admirably adapted to the comfort of the patients and well calculated to promote their restoration to sanity (signed John Badeley MD, Charles Dalton, William Lucio) (these notes from Jane Pearson).

1828, ERO Q/Alp 2
Plan of Mr Tomkin’s asylum, with notice of intention to apply for renewal, Sept 1828, reading: ‘Sir, I hereby give you notice it is my intention to apply for a renewal of my licence to keep a Lunatic Asylum in the Parish of Witham … I shall not reside in the Asylum myself. My Superintendent’s name is John Boltwood, previously a Farmer and innkeeper. My housekeeper’s name Elizabeth Fox. I propose receiving not more than twenty patients ‘.
Thomas Tomkin, Surgeon, Witham.
PS [happy to do another plan if this one not good enough] The rooms are all of them about eight or ten feet high.

1830, ERO Q/SBb 501/17 and 501/19
17 certifies that Dr John Badeley attended as visiting physician to Mr Thomas Tomkin’s lunatic asylum, Witham, with the visiting magistrates on four occasions Dec 1829-Sept 1830 and signed the minute book (21 October 1830).
19 is a notice from Tomkin that he intends next session to apply for a renewal of his licence ‘granted to me for keeping a House situate in Maldon Lane in the parish of Witham … for the reception of 20 insane patients viz. 18 patients not parish insane and 2 parish insane patients under the superintendence of John Boltwood’ (these notes from Jane Pearson).

1836, ERO G/WM 1
Thomas Tomkin chosen as one of two doctors for the poor, by new Board of Guardians.

ERO Q/SO 36. 16 October 1838, page 31
Witham Madhouse licence. Thomas Tomkin – notice of house proposed to be licensed. Empower George Wilson, ‘formerly a farmer’ as Superintendent as TT doesn’t intend to reside there. For ‘25 Insane persons, whereof 5 to be parish paupers’.

1840, ERO D/P 30/28/5
Thomas Tomkin lived on north side of Newland Street; 13 in the house, all attended parish church.

1841 census, HO 107/343/15, f.22, Newland Street (poss 80-84)

Thomas Tomkin 50 Surgeon N
Eleanar Tomkin 45 Y
Henry Tomkin 7 Y
Mary Cooper 35 Indt Y
Alfred Thorp 30 Surgeon N
Arthur Tailor

[see 1861 entry for TMT the son, below, and also newspaper report of 1862 below]

Ind [deleted] N
Sarah Cotton 30 FS Y
Amelia Minett 23 FS Y
Rebecca Spooner 19 FS Y
Henry Harvey 19 MS Y

 1848, White’s directory
Population in 1841 included ‘18 in the private Lunatic Asylum, which was established here in 1819 by Mr Tomkin, surgeon, and has room for 30 patients’.

1851 census, HO 107/1783, f.203, p.15, schedule 56
Newland Street (probably 82-84, Medina House)

Thomas Tomkin Head M 63 Surgeon M.R.C.S. London & Edinburgh born Kent, Yalding
Eleanor Tomkin Wife M 57 Wife of ditto born Essex, Woodham Mortimer
Jane N Tomkin Dau U 21 Dau born Essex, Witham
Mary M Tomkin Dau U 19 Dau born Essex, Witham
Henry E Tomkin Son U 17 Son born Essex, Witham
Matilda Crossley Servt U 23 Cook born Essex, Lawford
Sarah Owers Servt U 28 Housemaid born Essex, Gt Leighs
Charity Carrington Servt U 28 Housemaid born Essex, Beaumont
Joseph Newman Servt U 18 Groom born Essex, Witham

Thomas Tomkin organised a petition of 94 ratepayers against proposals by the Local Board of Health for a new drainage and water scheme for Witham (D/HWi 1).

1861 census, RG 9/1107, f.51, p.3, schedule 11
Newland Street (High House, part of 5)

Thomas Tomkin Head M 73 Physician & surgeon; member of St Andrews College, Scotland, colleg surgeons, Edinburgh, & college surgeons, London born Kent, Yalding
Eleanor Tomkin Wife M 68 born Essex, Woodham Walter
Charlotte Tokely Servt U 20 House servant born Essex, Rivenhall
Charlotte Davey Servt U 19 Cook born Essex, Brightlingsea

 1861, parish register
Thomas Tomkin was buried 25 November 1861 aged 74.

1865, ERO D/DU 56/4
Auction by trustees of late Thomas Tomkin – land etc.

1869, ERO D/DU 56/4
Auction of furniture of late Mrs Tomkin of Newland Street.

(eldest son of Thomas)

Note: Thomas’s second son was William Bryckwood Tomkin who practised with Thomas Marchant Tomkin c.1855-65, but was killed in a chaise accident in 1865)

1851 census, HO 107/1783, f.191, p.41, schedule 153
Newland Street (High House, part of 5)

Thos M Tomkin H M 32 L.A.C., M.R.C., S.E. born Essex, Witham
M.P. Tomkin W M 30 born London
Sarah Wybrew Serv U 22 Dom Serv born Essex, Marks Tey

1861, ERO T/B 266
Bills for confinement to someone at Crix, from TM and WB Tomkin of Witham, surgeons.

1861 census, RG 9/1107, f.79, p.17, schedule 91
Newland Street (prob. 96-98 Newland Street)

Thomas Marchant Tomkin Head M 42 General practitioner, MRCSL & LAC born Essex, Witham
Marian Tomkin Wife M 40 born London
Anne Grist Niece U 17 born London
Arthur Taylor

[see 1841 entry for TT the father, above, and newspaper report of 1862 below]

No relation U 52 born London
Daniel Magniac

[as DB he was at the Retreat, Tomkin’s asylum in Maldon Road, in 1871, 1881 and 1891. Also see diary and newspaper entries below]

No relation U 37 born China
Maria Hughes Serv U 20 House servant born Essex, Manningtree
Sarah Joyce Serv U 17 House servant born Essex, Boreham

Dixon diary, 25 Feb 1862:
‘A curious prosecution today before our justices at Witham. Mr Tomkin who succeeded his father in keeping a lunatic asylum at Witham has been informed against for keeping a lunatic in his private dwelling house not licensed. The Commissioners for lunacy are the prosecutors in these cases. Mr Tomkin was convicted and had to give bail to appear at the assizes where the case will be gone into for adjudication. The sentiment at Witham is very adverse to Mr Tomkin, he is considered harsh and severe in his management of these unfortunate people who come under his care.

Chelmsford Chronicle, 28 February 1862, pp. 2 and 3
Long report of the above hearing. It was Commissioners in Lunacy who brought the case and it was clear that the magistrates were somewhat embarrassed as they were all friends of Tomkin’s. But they found there was a case to answer and referred him to Assizes, on bail. There was reference to another case, about cruelty – not clear when or whether heard at another time. The man concerned was Daniel Francis Magniac. There was also reference to a Mr Taylor being kept in the house also, and a Samuel Tatson who acted as their keeper.

Chelmsford Chronicle, 6 December 1862, p 3
At Assizes Mr T pleaded guilty and the prosecution were happy, saying he had only offended against the strict letter of the law and ‘in all other respects acted with kindness and humanity to the unfortunate gentleman in question’.

1868, Poll book
T M Tomkin voted, Tory.

1870 et al, Kelly’s directory
T M Tomkin member of Local Board of Health.

1871 census, RG 10/1695, f.26, p.16, schedule 80
Newland Street (High House, part of no. 5)  

Thomas M Tomkin H M 52 Surgeon etc. born Essex, Witham
Marian Tomkin W M 53 born London
Alice Harvey Visitor 8 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Martha Black Servt U 22 Genl Servt Domestic born Norfolk, Hilhoughton
Hannah Cranmer Servt U 23 Genl Servt Domestic born Essex, Rivenhall

1881 census, RG 11/1809, f.26, p.16, schedule 83
Newland Street (High House, part of no. 5)

Thomas M Tomkin H M 62 Surgeon Guys born Essex, Witham
Marian P Tomkin W W 63 born Middx, St Brides
Alice Harvey

[she was bapt 2 Jan 1863, dau of Thomas Harvey, miller, and Hannah his wife, of Witham]

Adopted dau U 18 born Essex, Witham
Elizth Cook Servt U 19 Housemaid dom servt born Essex, Halstead
Anne Wager Servt U 23 Cook dom servt born Essex, Tolleshunt Darcy

1891 census, RG 12/1425, f.21, p.12, schedule 79
Newland Street (High House, part of no. 5)  

Thomas M Tomkin H Wid 72 Surgeon born Essex, Witham
Frank C Payne Boarder M 31 Surgeon born Essex, Birdbrook
Alice Payne

[nee Harvey, TMT’s adopted daughter, see 1881]

Boarder M 29 born Essex, Witham
Thomas Payne Boarder 5 mo born Essex, Witham
Mary Savill Serv S 21 Cook Domestic servt born Essex, Blk Notley
Ellen Scot Serv S 31 Housemaid ditto born Essex, Faulkbourne
Charlotte Bull Serv S 15 Housemaid ditto borne Essex, Rivenhall

1895 Thomas Marchant Tomkin died.

1901 census, RG 13/1725, f.21, p.3, schedule 14, Newland Street (High House, part of no. 5)  

Frank C Payne Head M 41 Surgeon (employer) born Essex, Birdbrook
Alice Payne

[nee Harvey, TMT’s adopted daughter, see 1881]

Wife M 38 born Essex, Witham
Thomas Payne Son 10 born Essex, Witham
Henry S Payne Son 8 born Essex, Witham
Marian A Payne Dau 6 born Essex, Witham
Beatrice Dazley Serv S 24 Housemaid, Domestic born Essex, Rivenhall
Annie Smith Serv S 27 Nurse, Domestic born Essex, Braintree
Elizabeth Doo Serv S 23 Cook, Domestic born Essex, Fairstead
Lilian M Sainty Serv S 19 Nurse, Domestic born Essex, Braintree

THE PAYNES (from misc other records)

Alice Payne d.1903.

By 1925 Frank C Payne was of Clacton.

Dr William Payne, their son, b. c.1901, died 1959 aged 58; surgeon at Essex Cty Hospital, Colchester, for 3 yrs.

Marian Payne married Mr John Taber

A Frederick Payne married Annie Maud Blackie, d of Thomas M Blackie owner of Chipping Hill School (now 35 Newland Sreet). She d.1904 and he d.1939.

Redhead, William John (W J)


William John (W J) Redhead, tax inspector and part-time architect, c. 1888-1941

Early life. He lived in Sheffield, and worked as an architect. After serving in the army during the First World War, he returned to Sheffield and became a Tax Inspector. He was then transferred to the tax office in Witham (information from his obituary in 1941, for which see below). The date of the transfer could be discerned from the electoral registers.

Date unknown, before 1930
He designed his own house, Nanteos, in the Avenue (later number 8) (information from his obituary of 1941 – below) (The best known place called Nanteos is an 18th-century mansion near Aberystwyth. There’s no indication that Mr Redhead was involved with it in any way.)

Mr Redhead is said to have designed the house “Gimsons” in Kings Chase for Dr Ted Gimson in 1929.  This information comes from a letter from Dr Jim Denholm in 1995, and a conversation at a similar time. He wrote about W.J.Redhead “who designed the church in the Nine Taylors. I recall attending a patient by this name in the 1940s. He lived in the Avenue about number 8. He worked in the Income Tax Office but architecture was his hobby. He did in fact design this house – Gimsons – for Dr Ted Gimson in 1929”

1930 Electoral Register
105   Annie Mary Redhead of Nanteos, The Avenue
104   William John Redhead of Nanteos, The Avenue.
Nanteos was given number 8 in 1936-1937 (as shown by a comparison of electoral registers for those years. The whole of the road was renumbered then)

1932   Braintree and Witham Times, 15 December 1932, page 6
About the new Peculiars’ (Evangelical) chapel in Guithavon Valley (information from newspaper)
Long article about the opening of the new Peculiars’ (Evangelical) chapel in Guithavon Valley in Witham on 7 December. Photos of this and the previous chapel (Maldon Road). Scheme first thought up in 1921. Main hall will seat 175 people and schoolroom at back 80. Also vestry, kitchen and heating. Lighted by electricity and centrally heated. Cost £1,515. Sunday collections raised £710, and £25 was left by late Mr J Beadel. … Built by Messrs Richards and Sons of Witham. Architect W J Redhead of Witham. Practical assistance by members etc.

1933  ERO Acc A7280, Witham Building Plans, para 727.
He designed the schoolroom at the back of the Methodist church in  Guithavon Street (information from building plan).

W J Redhead’s drawing of an imaginary Church, for Dorothy L Sayers’ novel “The Nine Tailors”.in 1934.

1934  He drew the Church (left) for Dorothy L Sayers’ novel, “The Nine Tailors”. She was also living in Witham
(information from the drawing). She wrote “My grateful thanks are due to Mr W J Redhead, who so kindly designed for me the noble parish church of Fenchurch St Paul and set it about with Cherabims”

1935  Public Health Committee of Witham Urban District Council, page 149, re. plan 809
About the site probably now 5A and 5B Newland Street (information from Committee minutes)
Referred back by Council because [the Council’s ?] consultants didn’t agree with the design and had sent a further sketch. Would result in economies. Mr W Chancellor of Essex Cambridgeshire and Herts Society of Architects, under the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and RIBA, also agree ‘that the type of building proposed by Mr Clarke would be antagonistic to the general atmosphere of Witham’. Mr Clarke and his architect Mr W J Redhead came. Prefers own plans. After long consideration, vote of 4 members for and 1 against. Recommend approve his plan 809. Consider that proposed elevations ‘would not injure the general atmosphere of the town at this spot and, in fact, other buildings of a similar appearance have been erected and others are proceeding nearby in Avenue Road’. [probably the owner of site was H G Cook, butcher, who lived nearby and is mentioned on the application.]

1939 Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday 28 July 1939 (from British Newspaper Archive)
LIGHTNING DAMAGE AT WITHAM, WOMAN’S NARROW ESCAPE. At Witham on July 21, Mrs. Redhead, of Nantoes, The Avenue, had a narrow escape when lightning struck her house. Considerable damage was caused, but Mrs. Redhead was unhurt except for shock. At the time, Mrs. Redhead, whose husband, Mr W. J. Redhead, is employed at the Inland Revenue Office, at Witham, was in the kitchen. The chimney on the roof immediately above her was split to pieces, parts being carried 30 yards away and pieces broken brick and tiles were thrown in all directions. A stove near where Mrs. Redhead was working was blown out, and fire broke out in the scullery. Apparently the lightning ran down the water pipes from the roof into the scullery, went round the water softener and on to the sink, where a gas pipe, which was just touching a water pipe, had two holes burnt in it. The leaking gas caught fire, but a serious situation was averted by a neighbour, Mr. Thurmer, who rushed in and turned off the gas supply, and then dealt with the boarded side of the sink which was blazing. The outbreak was soon quelled. Witham Fire Brigade attended very promptly under Capt. Shelley, but were not required. In addition to the shattered chimney, hundreds of tiles were smashed. In an upstair room an electric light switch was blown out of a wall and hurled into the bathroom. Mr. C. E. Richards, builder, said, after inspecting the damage, “I’ve never seen anything like it before. It must have been simply terrific, it was a nine-inch chimney—a bit larger than the average.” Mr. Redhead told an Essex Chronicle representative: “I had only just left home for the office and was near the Whitehall Cinema (250 yards away) when the crash came, but did not know it was my house that was struck until Mr. Manning fetched me from the office. My wife had a wonderfully lucky escape”

1941    Deaths in September, from free BMD online

Surname First name(s) Age District Vol Page
Redhead  William J  53  Chelmsford  4a 867

1941 Chelmsford Chronicle, 25 July 1941 (from British Newspaper Archive)
“DEATH OF MR. W. J. REDHEAD —The funeral took place at All Saints’ Church on Tuesday of Mr William John Redhead, of ” Nanteos,” The Avenue, who died on Friday in Chelmsford Hospital, after a serious operation. Deceased, who was 53, practised as an architect in Sheffield before the war of 1914-18, and when he left the Army he joined the Inland Revenue, being eventually transferred to Witham as a tax officer. He designed a number of the modern houses in Witham. including the one in which he lived. He was a good all round sportsman, and played in the cricket match in War Weapons Week. Taken ill next day, Mr. Redhead was removed to Hospital, but all help was unavailing. The Rev B. E. Payne, vicar, officiated at the interment. The mourners were : Mrs. Redhead, widow; Mr. and Mrs. T. Evans, son-in-law and daughter (Kingsbury); Mr. and Mrs. W. Alcock. brother-in-law and sister (Bedworth); Mr. Robert Redhead, brother (Whittington); Mr. and Miss Fogg, brother-in-law and niece (Hounslow). The floral tributes included those from the deceased’s colleagues in the Inland Revenue Office, and the fire-watch organisation in The Avenue and Avenue Road.”


Note by JG:  the buildings mentioned above that Mr Redhead designed, do not form a comprehensive list.  They are just ones that I looked for specially for various reasons. If he designed any other buildings in addition to the ones mentioned here, there will be information about them in the building plans at the Essex Record Office (Witham is ERO D/UWi ) But I don’t think they are catalogued yet, so it would mean unfolding each individual plan to find the architect’s name.

Lapwood family (1)

John and Ann Lapwood are the best known of this family. In 1901 they were interviewed by the well-known writer and novelist, Rider Haggard. He was collecting information for his great work “Rural England”, and found the Lapwoods to have suffered from great poverty. Below is a copy of what he wrote.


John and Ann Lapwood, who lived in Blunts Hall Road and were interviewed by Rider Haggard

“Not far from Blunts Hall I saw an old labourer named John Lapwood, whose life experience, which I verified by inquiry, is worth preserving. For half a century or more he worked on the Post Hall [Powers Hall] and Oliver Farms in Witham, and now, by the help of some kind friends, was spending his last days in a little cottage, where he lived with his old wife. We found him – an aged and withered but still an applecheeked individual – seated upon a bank, ‘enjoying of the sweet air, although it be a bit draughty.’

He told me that in his young days wages for horsemen used to be down to 9s, a week, and for daymen to 8s., when the weather allowed them to be earned. During the Crimean War bread cost him a shilling a loaf, and other food a proportionate price.

He stated that for months at a time he had existed on  nothing but a diet of bread and onions, washed down, when he was lucky, with a little small-beer. These onions he ate until they took the skin off the roof of his mouth, blistering it to whiteness, after which he was obliged to soak them salt to draw the ‘virtue’ out of them. They had no tea, but his wife imitated the appearance of that beverage by soaking a burnt crust of bread in boiling water.

On this diet he became so feeble that the reek of the muck which it was his duty to turn, made him sick and faint; and often, he said, he would walk home at night from the patch of ground where he grew the onions and some other vegetables, with swimming head and uncertain feet.

I asked if his children, of whom there were eight, lived on onions also. He answered no; they had generally a little cheese and butter in the house, but he could not put it into his own stomach when they were hungry and cried for food. ‘Things is better now,’ he added.

Well, things are better now; indeed, it is scarcely too much to say that in many cases to-day, the labourer has more than his share of the rather plumless agricultural cake. But with such a record behind him, knowing what his fathers suffered, is it wonderful that he should strive to drive home the nail of opportunity, and sometimes to take advantage of the farmers who in the past too often were so merciless ?

Let us try to understand his case and be just. Think, for instance, of this poor man Lapwood, whose condition was but that of ten thousand others, day by day forcing his hated food into a blistered mouth, starving that his children might be full. Think of him with his 9s. a week, and ten souls to feed, house, and clothe, while bread stood at a shilling a loaf. Remember, too, that from this lot there was no escape; that labour was in overflowing supply; and that to lift his voice against an employer, however tyrannous, meant instant dismissal and the hell of the poor-house – it was little better in those days – or the roadside ditch to lie in.

Is it strange that, remembering these things, he – or rather his sons – should wax fat and kick, that they should be haunted also by the fear that the evil might return upon them, and bear in their hearts resentment, cloaked but very real, against those classes at whose hands they received that evil of which no subsequent kindness can obliterate the memory ? With the agricultural labourer, as I believe, this resentment against past suffering, at any rate as yet, is deeper than gratitude for present benefits. Indeed, gratitude is scarcely his strong point. Thus, to take the example of the family of this very man, I was informed that those children for whom he starved, did not do all they might to make his last days easy”.

Next is a family tree of some of the Lapwoods prepared by myself (Janet Gyford). It is in PDF format. To reach it, click on the blue writing below and then on the grey strip below.. Then you can navigate using the grey bar on each page.

Lapwood family tree (PDF)

Duncombe, William

William Duncombe of Witham, Water engineer.

His career as the Waterworks Engineer, as told by the records of the Witham Urban District Council, i.e.

Witham UDC minutes 1911-1945. (Essex Record Office reference D/UWi 1 etc)

The troops referred to were billeted in Witham for training during the First World War.

These are notes by me, Janet Gyford, not the original words. If the original words are quoted, they are in punctuation marks.

Council, 29 May 1916
page 323. Letter from Mr J Goodey re long hours ‘he and Duncombe’ were working because of summer approaching and the number of troops. Suggest Duncombe made full time, or otherwise additional pay. To Water Works Committee.

Waterworks Committee, 2 June 1916, page 178
Mr Goodey to have extra help during the War ‘by Mr Duncombe going to the water Works at 2 p.m. each day instead of 4 p.m. as heretofore’.

26 June 1916   Council
page 327. Water works Committee, re extra help by Duncombe going in at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., adopted.
pages 329-30. Letter from eight employees of council for further increase in wages. Refuse.

Waterworks Committee, 30 September 1919, page 10
Applications for post of engineer received. Names given. Only one from Witham, William Duncombe. 3 others. Proposed to have interview and pay 3rd class rail fares.

Waterworks Committee, 8 October 1919, page 13
William Duncombe appointed at £2 10 0 with house, coal and lighting. Also to undertake the Inspection of Taps at £10 a year.

Deputy clerk to arrange to compensate Mr Goodey for fruit trees left by him in the garden at the Waterworks.

Public Health Committee, 19 September 1932
page 39. Re-arrangement of outside staff in view of a bulk supply of water being shortly taken from the Silver End Development Co Ltd’.

W Duncombe now Waterworks Engineer. Offer him Working Foreman and free occupation of present house, also Tap inspector. £2 10s a week.

Public Health Committee, 15 February 1933
page 88. Remove W Duncombe foreman from his house at the Waterworks Braintree Road to the foreman’s house at the Old Waterworks Newland Street now occ by Mr Hume, nearer to duties.

30 October 1944.   Council
Page 705. William Duncombe, one of Council’s workmen for 45 years, had to retire through ill health. Letter to be sent.

Finance and General Purposes Committee, 12 December 1944
page 465. William Duncombe, foreman, retired because of illness and doctor’s advice. Enquiries re his position afterwards. Not a good time to replace him.
page 491 Re William Duncombe [mentioned before as retiring through illness]. Recommend making him Council’s Water Inspector at 7s 6d per week. 

29 January 1945   Council
Page 720. Finance and General Purposes Committee OK, though Councillor Cuthbe didn’t agree with paragraph re. William Duncombe.


Thomasin family, and the Brush Factory

The Brush Factory was one of Witham’s most important industries in the mid 19th century. It had developed from Matthew Thomasin’s wooden patten-making business of the early 1700s (Pattens were rather like clogs, worn outside the shoe).

The Works and the Yard were just off Newland Street (behind what are now numbers 67 and 83). In the Yard there were a number of buildings, including a mop manufactory and 15 or 16 houses, some of which were used for both living and working in.

The most essential raw material for brushes, bristle from wild boars, was imported from Russia. The completed brushes were despatched far and wide.

There were about twenty brushworkers in 1829, and fifty by 1841. It was skilled work. The Witham branch of the Brushmakers Society was particularly active. Like other similar groups, it was run by the members, whose contributions entitled them to receive sick pay and other benefits. They met first at the White Hart and later at the Swan.

The national Society was a pioneer of trade unionism, which was then illegal. Its members followed a 1,200 mile tramping route round the country, looking for work. If they did not find any on the whole route, they were paid ten shillings unemployment benefit. In the list, Witham was the first stop out of London, and the local branch here would help travellers and newcomers following the route.

William Kiddier, in his book The Old Trade Unions (pp.30-31), described an occasion when “the eyes of the Trade were on Witham.” In 1826 “The Society at Witham, with its 17 men, had for Secretary James Mount: one of the INTELLECTUALS. A name adopted by the Brushmakers for their best expounders of Trade Principles. The Witham Society sent James Mount as Delegate to London, where Witham was proposing new arrangements about sick pay and benefits. He slept 4 nights at the Clubhouse, April 11-14, 1826. A keen observer was Mount, and things he saw were dealt with in the Witham Society’s Circular. A lengthy document addressed to the Trade. Done in literary style. The collaboration of 17 Men – the Witham Society, all had their say, and James Mount put it together … The eyes of the Trade were on Witham.” In due course, the Society paid for some members to emigrate to America to find work, and Witham’s James Mount was probably one of them.

The tramping system meant that Witham’s brushworkers mostly came from other parts of the country. In 1841 four out of every five of them had been born outside Essex (compared with only one in every seventy of the farmworkers). The strange accents, tarry smells, and self-sufficient welfare system must have made the brush yard a mysterious place to local residents. Much of the work entailed dipping the separate sections of the brush into a tub full of hot tar. But by 1851 the tramping system was waning and half the workers were Essex men, with a third born in Witham.

The Thomasins themselves seemed destined not to fit in very well in Witham. This was quite common with factory owners – one of the several problems being that they usually paid more than the tradesmen, and especially more than the farmers. Also the factory owners were often nonconformists in religion (usually Congregationalists). The adherents of the Church of England considered themselves to be much superior to nonconformists.

A more particular difficulty for the Thomasins was their alleged association with the Witham Fires of 1828-29. There is a fuller account in my booklet “Men of Bad Character” in the books category. Jane Eleanor, the wife of brushmaker James Thomasin, was the aunt of Edmund Potto. Edmund was accused of starting the fires with which some of the farmers and tradesmen had been suffering. James Thomasin paid for defence witnesses, including James Mount, a brushworker. They all said that Edmund was not guilty but insane. Edmund was found guilty by the jury of sending a threatening letter, but not of fire raising. The judge scolded James Thomasin and said that he should have looked after Edmund better. Edmund was transported to Australia.

In the town, feeling was running high because the young boy James Cooke had earlier been hanged for arson when it seemed he was innocent. So for Edmund Potto not to be found guilty caused a lot of resentment, against the jury and against the Pottos and the Thomasins.

The arrival of the railway in 1843 probably increased the profits of local businesses. After James Thomasin died in 1845, his son George took over, buying more properties and also helping the nonconformist cause in local debates.

In 1850 Edward Cresy, a public health official, was sent by the government to make a survey of Witham. Thomasins’ yard was found to be in a similar state to the rest of the town. Mr Cresy wrote “The narrow yard, called Thomason’s is encumbered with several nuisances, dung-pits, &c., &c. There are 15 or 16 cottages, in some of which manufactories of mops and brushes are carried on; both drainage and ventilation are exceedingly defective, and every inch of space is encumbered with the rubbish belonging to the trades.”

George wasn’t deterred by this. Appointing Samuel Spooner as manager and ‘commercial traveller’ at the Works, he moved his own family away from the yard into the imposing Roslyn House, at the best end of the street (now 16 Newland Street). He described himself as a ‘gentleman’ when he completed the 1861 census forms. However his neighbour, Joseph Howell Blood, was the registrar, and wrote him down as ‘brush manufacturer’ instead. George has posthumously had the last laugh – his great-great-grandson, Mark Thomasin Foster, was High Sheriff of Essex from 2003-2004.

George died in his fifties in 1868, after trying to ‘doctor himself upon the homeopathic system’. Shops closed for his funeral and over fifty men and boys from the brush yard joined the procession. One of them, Thomas Farrow, had worked there for 55 years.

George’s assets were worth nearly £45,000 (about £2 million at today’s values) in addition to land and buildings. His young son James was set to be a stockbroker and not a brushmaker. So his widow, Mary Elizabeth, persuaded some of her sister’s family, the Adnams, to come from Berkshire and run the brush factory with Samuel Spooner, the manager.

So in 1869 it was “Messrs Adnams and Spooner’s brush manufactory”, who put forward a cricket team to play on the newly free Saturday afternoons under the Workshops Act. Not all of their opponents arrived and the Adnams won.
The directory of 1870 still gives them as “Adnams & Spooner, brush manufacturers”. However, they closed after three years, in 1871.

The two young men George and Ernest Adnams then left their father in Witham, and went to Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, to take over a brewery.

George was restless and moved to South Africa, where is said to have drowned (or, in some versions, was eaten by a crocodile). Another possibility is that he came back to England, and was the George Adnams who was recorded blind in the 1881 census, when he was living with his uncle’s family in London. I have not investigated this further.

To return to Ernest, at the Southwold brewery, it appears that in 1895 he received a handsome loan or gift from his aunt Mary Elizabeth Thomasin. In 1895 she and her son John George took out a mortgage for £2,000 on the Thomasin family’s considerable Witham estate. In the same year, John George acquired the Southwold brewery and transferred it to his cousin Ernest whose business was by then “Adnams and Co Ltd .”

The father of George and Ernest was another George Adnams. He stayed in Witham with his wife and daughters, and set up a fruit growing business. He was described in the 1881 census as “Farmer Of 120 Acres [with] 8 Men & 4 Women”.

He was also on the Committee of Witham’s Co-operative Society. He sold one of the family properties to the Co-op for their first Witham shop (at 85 Newland Street). To many of the townspeople that was a particularly unwelcome body, undercutting the regular shops.

George Adnams died in 1902, aged 84, and is buried at All Saints church (Holy Family).



Essex Weekly News, 24 September 1869

‘One result of the suspension of business on Saturdays at two-oclock, at Messrs Adnams and Spooner’s brush manufactory, under the Workshops Act, was a match at cricket between eleven of the firm and what was to have been eleven of the firm of Messrs. Johns and Co., fellmongers, Witham and Chelmsford’. The Chelmsford people didn’t turn up so the latter team consisted of two from the Witham firm and others from Witham. The brushmakers won with 98 runs to 61. G Adnams got 0 and E Adnams got 6.

Slugocki, Wally

From Poland to Essex.   Wally Slugocki and the Second World War.

Written by Pat Slugocki,  from notes taken in December 1999

My husband, Wladyslaw (Wally) was born in 1925, in Szwejkow, a small village in what was then Poland, but is now in the Ukraine. His father, Marion, appears to have done a bit of everything. Basically, they were what we would today call peasants. They had strips of land at the rear of their smallholding where they grew all their own vegetables as well as tobacco which they sold to the nearest small town, Monazteryska (not sure about the spelling) which was about 3-4 miles away. They also sold butter in the market of this town. They had a horse and carriage of some sort, some chickens, geese, and a cow.

Wally’s family & his paternal grandparents all lived in the same house. There was no electricity, gas or sewerage. His grandfather’s brother lived next door. Wally’s mother’s parents were by then dead, but she had siblings living in the same village. Wally’s aunt, the much younger sister of his father, lived with her husband & small son only about 100 yards away. Wally remembers at the beginning of each November there would be snow about 6 foot high and it would not melt until early April. Water was obtained from a few pumps.

There were Ukrainians living in Szwejkow at the time, and there were tensions between the two nationalities. Szwejkow had previously been in the Ukraine. Wally’s father had some sort of authority and had to sort out any problems which arose.

In the village there were both an Orthodox church & a Catholic church. There was one school, & the two priests would come in and teach the children of their respective religions. There were also a couple of shops.

When the war came, the Germans invaded Poland from the West & the Russians from the East. On 10 February 1940, the Russians came in the middle of the night and took the Slugockis to the nearest railway station in their own horse & carriage. The family had to leave just as they were, they were not allowed to take anything with them. Their dog was left behind.

The Russians picked the Slugockis because Wally’s father was the Polish equivalent of the Town Clerk.  Wally was fourteen, & his sister, Bronia, was seven. This trauma affected her whole life and she suffered terrible depression for a couple of years before she died.

Wally’s aunt was not taken to Russia, she knew nothing about it until the next morning. It must have been a terrible shock to find that all her family had been taken. She believed that the Ukrainians had betrayed the family, and indeed, they removed everything they wanted from the Slugocki home. Aniela, the aunt, was still alive when we visited Szwejkow in about 2005, and the emotion, when she saw Wally, was something I shall never forget.

The family were taken by train to Siberia, the Ural mountains near Sverdlovsk (in 2000, known as Yekatarinburg, home of Yeltsin). Wally remembers the conditions on the train as standing room only, there was just about enough space to sit on the floor. There was a hole in the corner of the carriage, which people had to use as a toilet, two men held a blanket across the corner of the carriage to afford a little privacy. The train journey lasted for 27 days.

They stayed in Sverdlovsk, Siberia for one year. Wally’s paternal grandparents both died in Beresovsk, Siberia. The Camp was called Pervomayskoye- Oblast. Maria, Wally’s mother, had to work on a building site, and Marion (his father) worked in a gold mine, they all lived in one room. Wally remembers that they were paid for their work, and they had sufficient money to buy food. After some time, owing to an agreement between Russia & the Polish authorities, they were given documents enabling them to travel.

In order to get to a warmer place, the family went by train to Uzbekistan, the journey took a week. There was a typhoid epidemic in Uzbekistan, Marion (Wally’s father) and Wally both caught it, and were taken to hospital in Tashkent. There, Marion died, next to Wally. Wally was still in hospital when his father was buried, he was not buried in a proper coffin, just a plank, then a piece of board on top of the body. There was no food in Uzbekistan, so Maria, Wally and Bronia (Wally’s sister) went to Kermine. Here Wally joined the Polish cadets, and was separated from Maria and Bronia. He was trained for the Polish army, under the command of Britain’s General Montgomery, and went to a port called Krasnovodsk, Asia.

The civilians stayed behind. Wally got on a boat on the way to Teheran in Persia, and embarked at the port of Pahalev. Here Wally became very ill with dysentery, was in the sick bay in a field, and nearly died. From Pahalev he travelled by lorry to Teheran, over enormous mountains, the journey took a day. In Teheran there was a large disused factory, and the Army made a camp of it. Maria and Bronia were taken to Teheran as well, and when Maria made enquiries about Wally, she was told that he was dead. There was another Wladyslaw Slugocki who had recently died, and Maria found the grave in the nearby cemetery. However, a little later, she saw Wally in the town, but not to speak to, and she went back to the camp and found him. At that stage he was still convalescing. Maria and Bronia (Wally’s mother and sister) were staying in a civilian camp. They stayed there for three months, and came to see Wally every day during that period.

Then Wally and the army were moved to Baghdad, Persia, and the civilians were later moved to Lebanon. They lost contact again. From Lebanon, the civilians moved to Kol Harpur, Valvade, near Karachi, India. Wally stayed in Baghdad for six months, then he was picked to join the Parachute Brigade in England. He went to Bombay by boat, stayed there 3 days, then went to Cape Town, South Africa. From there he went by train to Durban, where they stayed for 8 months. Here he fell in love with bananas, and ate so many he nearly turned into one!

From Durban he went by boat to Achtertui, near Kirkcaldy, Scotland. By now, the UK did not need any more recruits for the Parachute Regiment, so Wally joined the Army, and was in the 1st Panza Division, 10th Dragoons Brigade. By now it was 1942. He trained in Scotland for 18 months. They prepared for D Day by having huge manoeuvres for two weeks, which was exactly like the real war. He travelled by lorry to Aldershot, got on a large boat at night in London Docks, and went to Normandy. He was part of the second phase. They landed on a beach in Normandy, he remembers most the dust and the thirst. He was in a light reconnaissance tank to spy out the land. He went to the first shooting line in Caen.

The Germans were pushed out of Normandy. At Ypres, Wally was shooting Germans with a machine gun to stop them getting to a huge main gun, and for this he was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. They pushed on to Holland, and the Germans retreated, leaving very many mines behind. When Wally was on patrol, his tank blew up. Wally was thrown into a ditch with heavy gear on top of him. His uniform caught fire, the tank driver’s legs were blown off and the other man in the tank suffocated. Wally scrambled out of the ditch, and managed to remove his burning uniform. An Army ambulance picked him up, but he was only grazed, and carried on fighting.

Wally in uniform

They fought through Holland and stayed there for two months, over the worst of the winter, and had a bit of a rest. The place was Osterhuit, near Breda. Wally became very friendly with a Dutch family, and he went back to see them from Wilhelmshaven after the war had ended. They then pushed on to Germany up to Wilhelmshaven, where they stayed for a year in occupation.

The whole army returned to England in 1947, after the severe winter. Wally went first to Hull, then to a big camp on Salisbury Plain, near Devizes. He was asked to go to Newton Abbott to clear fields of mines for the farmers. Here he met a girl-friend called Jean! After this, he went to Slingford Camp at Horsham, Sussex. He was later demobbed at Horsham. He was sent to Ashford, Kent, where, owing to severe dyslexia, and therefore unable to take the opportunity of further education, he worked on a building site. He lodged at 81 Essala Road, Ashford.

The surname of his landlady was Glibbery. She was a war widow with two children, Shirley, 4, and Tony, 6. She had a boy-friend, and Wally used to babysit for them. He had to pay her 35/- a week, this included all meals, and washing his laundry. He remembers seeing the Golden Arrow engine pulling trains to Dover. By this time, Maria and Bronia (Wally’s mother and sister) were in Pulborough, Sussex, in a refugee camp. Wally heard that they were there, and went to see them. He went to stay with them for a week, he told his landlady, but not the Police. As he was classed as an alien, they had to keep tabs on him! After this, he lost the lighter building job he had had, and was given a heavier job, moving cement in a wheelbarrow. When he tried to tip the wheelbarrow, it went over and smashed some pipes!

Then Maria and Bronia were moved to Rivenhall, Essex, to a camp on the now disused airfield. So Wally moved to Braintree, staying in a hostel. He worked on a building site in Panfield Lane for about three months, and then got a job at Felsted sugar beet factory, where he stayed about two years. He used to go by bus, it took about 20 minutes. Then he worked in a furniture factory in Sible Hedingham, which was a 6 mile bus trip. He then he went back to the sugar beet factory.

He met a man in Braintree who was working at W J Bush & Co, at Witham. This man was moving to the Midlands, so Wally got his job. When he got there, a man was sweeping the yard. Wally asked him where the manager was, and it turned out to be George W Pole, who was the manager! By this time, Bronia had got a job and a flat in London, so Maria was on her own. Therefore Wally moved to Rivenhall. He started working at Bush’s on 21 May 1951. He went to see the Festival of Britain with Erwin Schulz and his wife. Wally and Maria stayed in the camp until 1959, when they were moved to a council house, 14 The Fortunes, Harlow, Essex. While there, he worked in Key Glass Factory.

Wally at Holland on Sea in 1960

Then they moved to London, to live with Bronia at 66 Loftus Road, Shepherds Bush, where Wally worked at a factory in North Acton, making instruments for clocks.

He had met me in 1959, as I was working at Bush’s as George Pole’s secretary. When Wally lived in London, he used to come down by train every Saturday, and we used to spend the whole day together in Chelmsford. When we married, we bought 254 Broomfield Rd, Chelmsford, and Wally and I both got jobs in Hoffman’s. Andrew was born while we were at 254 Broomfield Rd. Chelmsford. In November 1961, we moved to 34 Highfields Rd, Witham, where Louise was born.

Wally and Pat in 2016


Picton family

The Picton family, of whom the Revd David was killed by a hand grenade in 1916

Notes by Janet Gyford, updated September 2013 

Essex County Chronicle, 8 October 1915
page 8 (see xerox). ‘Soldiers’ concert’ Congregational Schoolroom. Lieut Col Seymour Williams presided. Singers ‘included Mrs Seabrook, Lance Corporal Webber and Pt Brooks. Miss Picton played the violin’. (Essex Weekly News, 15 October 1915 )
page 8. ‘Maldon Division Liberal Council. Presentation to Mr W Pinkham. Yesterday the annual meetings of the Maldon Division Liberal Council were held at Witham … afternoon meeting … Mr Sydney Velden, the new agent, was introduced to the members. After tea a general meeting … they were met in a social way and not to discuss party questions. The Government were doing their best, and he thought they were unanimous in according them hearty support … appreciation of Mr Tweedy Smith’s services in continuing his connection with the party in that Division … Resolution … supported by the Rev D M Picton and Mr D B Smith. 

Essex County Chronicle, 26 November 1915
page 8. ‘Congregational School, Mrs Picton presented a dressing case to Mr J W Jones, treasurer of the clothing club, and a set of brushes to Mr A Rudkin, librarian of the school, on the departure of each for the Army. The Rev D M Picton gave the men a pocket testament each’.

 Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916, page 8
‘Congregational Church’. Second anniversary of settlement of Rev Picton. Preaching.

 Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1916
Including a full-length photo of the three Pictons). ‘Witham Bomb Tragedy. Inquest and funerals’. Deaths of Revd D M Picton Congregational minister, and Lieut James McLagan, R E, and serious injury to Mrs and Miss Picton’. Lieut billeted at the Manse with them. Showing a hand grenade at ten on night. The two of them killed outright. Mrs Picton injury to foot and Miss Picton to eye and arm. 17 panes of glass blown out of window.

Rev Picton 52, Lieut 22, of 3/1st Highland Field Co., attached to the 1/3rd Lowland Field Co. RE. Walter Coker chair of jury. Inspected scene etc. and viewed bodies. Jacob Marsden Picton, draper of Westminster Bridge Road, his brother. Lots of detail. The Lieut an expert.

‘Remarkable demonstration of sympathy’. Cortege from Manse, ministers etc. Down High Street to church. Flags half mast and blinds closed. Interment in All Saints. ‘It is long since such a general scene of mourning was witnessed in the town’. Rev E M Edmunds of Hadleigh, formerly of Witham, there. Address. Miss Winifred Drake at organ. Relatives from all over.

Sunday services described. Also ‘Capt Yuille, CF, at his open-air service, made an impressive allusion … also loss … McLagan’.

Letter of appreciation by WCW of Witham. Tragic. Loveable, happy knack of making friends.

 Essex Weekly News, 21 July 1916
page 6, col 6. The Picton Fund. The Picton Memorial Fund, the appeal for which was generously responded to by all classes, has now been closed, the sum contributed being £320. Mrs and Miss Picton are both making steady progress towards recovery from their injuries and shock.

Info from emails from the late Alan Smith. His mother was Gwyneth, nee Picton, Reverend David Picton’s daughter, and his father was Leslie Smith.

 11 December 2002.

Just a few words on them to amplify what you have about the bomb accident and their part in the family.

Grandpa David Picton was Welsh and, I think, was born in Cynwyl Elfed, a small village near Carmarthen. He was, again I think, a grand -son or -nephew of a brother of the General Picton who commanded the 3rd Division for Wellington in the Peninsular War and was killed at Waterloo and has a statue in Carmarthen. (Certainly his purported general’s sword came down to me but that is another story.)

Rev. David was pastor at Halesworth in Suffolk where he married Elizabeth Rignall and where my mother was born before they came to Witham. As a result of the accident my grandmother had various metal plates and tubes in her legs and my mother lost an eye and had bits of shrapnel in her legs. After the accident they both went to live with the Misses Butler who lived at Hollybank in Guithavon Valley.

Having been head girl at Milton Mount College (for the daughters of Congregational Ministers) then at Gravesend, she went on after the accident to the Royal Academy of Music where she won the medals for her years in piano and violin. Having married my father after WW1, her music as a farmer’s wife was limited, but much enjoyed, to running the Women’s Institute Choir and playing the piano at home.

Granny Picton moved to a new house, Conwyl (?English version of Cynwyl) at 7, The Avenue at Witham in the 30’s where I stayed frequently as a boy. In the 50’s my first wife, Susie, and I lived in Conwyl and where my eldest daughter and son were born and where Susie sadly died. (My present wife, Jo, was a great friend of Susie’s and was good enough to take on me and two small children – we have had 5 ever since!)

8 Jan 2003

‘What I do know is that when my father, Leslie, came out of the army and decided to be a farmer, grandpa Ernest sent him to the Writtle Agricultural College to learn the business and then bought Mounts Farm at Rayne for him to run. My father and mother [Miss Picton] were married (1921) and lived at Mounts Farm where I spent most of my first two years. (Mounts Farm is miles from anywhere so I was born (1923) at the Misses Butler’s house, Hollybank, Guithavon Valley, Witham where granny Picton was then living)’.

Summary of various info about Leslie Ernest Walter Smith who in 1921 married Gwyneth Picton, dau of Rev Picton

Born c. 1895 Witham. In army 1919. Farmer afterwards; his father sent him to Writtle Ag Coll and then bought Mounts Farm, Rayne, for him

In 1921 married Gwyneth Picton, dau of Cong min who had been killed in accident with hand grenade at the Manse in 1917.

In 1925 went to father’s farm at Moulsham Hall (though also contin to run the Rayne farm). Joseph Ernest’s four farms put into partnership of Leslie and Esmond, probably in 1920s. In 1937 was of Moat farm and Whiteheads farm

Obit says till not long before 1954 farmed Moulsham Hall Gt Leighs with his brother and also at Rayne and at Whiteheads farm Witham Sold the first two not long before 1954 and moved to Littlestones, Avenue Road, Witham, and cont to farm Whiteheads,

Died August 1954 aged 59 when of Littlestones, Avenue Road

1930 electoral register
Elizabeth Mary Picton at Conwyl, The Avenue.


 Mrs Ena MacPherson, nee Beard, born 1915

“But the Manse, oh, did you hear about the Reverend Picton that lived there? (Q: Oh yes, with the hand, the hand grenade, yes. [killed 1916]. And I was the last one he held. My mother went there to tea that day, and he nursed me, I was one. And I’d just gone home, mother had taken me home, and that happened. (Q: Oh dear.) Dreadful. Mrs Picton used to sit behind us in the chapel.”

Gerald Palmer CBE, born 1910

“That same minister, a Reverend Picton, had officers billeted on him in the Manse, now 2 Newland Street. One evening, I think in June 1916, one of the officers took a grenade in to show them. He evidently mistakenly thought it was a dummy, and as he was explaining how it worked, he took out the pin. The officer and the minister were killed outright, his wife and daughter seriously injured. My parents somewhat foolishly took me next day to see the shattered windows of the house, and I remember being terribly upset by the affair.”

Mrs Annie Ralling, nee Baldwin, born 1900

“Then we had the Reverend Picton and he was killed during the First World War. A bomb went off near the War Memorial, you know. That first house there was the Manse at one time and there was a young officer and I think he was engaged to Mr Picton’s daughter and he was there describing the workings of a hand grenade and it exploded and blew the dining room. Miss Picton lost the sight of one eye and I think Mrs Picton was hurt in the foot and this young officer was killed and so was Mr Picton. Oh it was dreadful for the town. It was indoors in the dining room. The whole of the front of that house was blown out. [2 Newland Street]. Shelley’s, yes that’s right. He was ever such a nice man Mr Picton. He taught Connie Wright that I spoke about, and me, taught us to sing Aberystwyth, you know, Jesu, Lover of my Soul. We had to sing that to the Welsh tune because he was Welsh you see. He taught us how to sing it. Oh he was a wonderful man for singing. A very nice family. Miss Picton she married one of the Smiths, Leslie Smith. They used to live at Earlsmead.”

Pinkham’s Glove Factory. Names of people in photo M480 and M502

This information about people at the Glove Factory was collected and set out by the late Mrs Pat Vojak of Chalks Road. Her mother was the late Mrs Annie Hollick who had worked at the factory.

For the photos which are large and complicated, it seems wisest to use Pat’s own layouts and explanations, as below. They should make it possible to identify people where they are known.

Photo M480, a large group dating from 1947 or 1948.
M502 is a copy of the same photograph.

Here are:
(1) The photo itself
(2) A drawing of the heads, numbered
(3) A chart with names, where known.
(4) A typed list of names, which will show up in a search if needed.

Doreen Hooker (later Mrs Smith), Shirley Brannen, Gladys Claydon (later Mrs Murton), Miss or Mrs Jiggins, Rosie Burch, Pat Driver (later Mrs Wright), Gladys Rushen, Ethel Ellis, Agnes Ellis, Doris Brown, Miss Hawkes (later Mrs Keeble), Blanche Parmenter (later Mrs Keeble), Barbara Brown (later Mrs Brown), Miss Cole (later Mrs Hammond), Miss Ewers (later Mrs Ladham), Miss ??? (later Mrs Emmens), Ada Smith, Nellie Edwards (later Mrs Barber), Miss Houson, Miss Jackson, Minnie Ottley, Freda Wade (later Mrs Ross and later Mrs Sach), Mary Hood, Herbert Keeble (manager), John Pinkham (son of owner), Leslie (Bert) Pinkham (owner), Mrs Pinkham (Leslie’s second wife), Richard Pinkham (owner’s son), John Scott, Cynthia Bickers (later Mrs Herbert), Miss ??? (canteen cook, later Mrs Driver), May King, Glynis Wright (later Mrs Owers), Edith Butcher, Joan Shelley, Edith Hawkes (later Mrs Keeble), Miss ??? (later Mrs Richmond), Marion Ottley, Gladys Clements, Cathy Barber, Bill King, Geoff Ellis, Jackie Ladkin, Jamie Andrews, Frank Taylor, Tommy Rushen, Billie Willsher, Mr Webb, Michael Smith, Fred Bell, John Albone, Vic Keeble, Reuben ???, Dolly King (later Mrs Meakins), Nell Howe, Edie Richards, Betty Rushen, Kit Shelley (later Mrs Burmby), Miss Balls, Violet Burch (later Mrs Clark), Ciss Newman (later Mrs Digby), Gladys Hayes (later Mrs Revett), Doris Parmenter, Eileen Jennings, Marlene Hayley, Eva Rushen, Glynis Claydon, Betty Hawkes, Pam Bright (later Mrs Boylan), Jean Horsnell, Kathy Andrews (later Mrs Larke), Amy Aylott.


Dixon, Dr. Henry, of Witham and Rivenhall, 1787 to 1876. Notes about work on the text of his diaries.

Dr Henry Dixon of Witham and Rivenhall, 1787 to 1876

Notes made in July 2018 by Janet Gyford about the work done so far on the text of Dr Dixon’s diaries.

One copy of these notes will be posted on and another will be given to the Essex Record Office.

Further enquiries should be directed to Brian Simpson, of whom details are given below.

Dr Dixon wrote a very remarkable and opinionated diary, covering the dates 1834-1840 and 1842-1876. It combines his own life as a Dissenter and a Doctor and a farmer, with the social life of Mid Essex (and elsewhere) and the politics of Westminster and Europe. At the beginning and end of each annual volume, he wrote further notes, copies of letters, etc.

The work would have been given far more attention by historians, were it not for its great length. Also, the handwriting is sometimes unclear. These problems have so far prevented a complete typed version from having been prepared, although a number of people have worked towards it over the years.

The original volumes are deposited in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford. The Record Office catalogue entry is below.

A8826 Diaries of Dr Henry Dixon of Witham, 1834-1840, 1842-1876; continuation probably by James Taber of Little Braxted, 1879, 1882-3; extracts and notes (2 vols.) by Maurice Smith, 1987.


The following people are the most relevant to the enterprise.

The late Dr Jim Denholm of Witham was given the volumes, I think by Mr James Taber. Dr Denholm cared for them and wrote occasional articles, particularly about the medical aspects. He eventually deposited them in the Essex Record Office

The late Maurice Smith of Witham produced a typescript of extracts while the volumes were in the possession of Dr Denholm. This was an enormous task to carry out on his own, and at one time it was wrongly thought to be a complete copy of the diaries. In fact it is an abbreviated version. Because it was done some time ago, it was made on an ordinary typewriter. I believe that Maurice’s original typescript is the one in the Record Office, deposited at the same time as the diaries themselves. Any other versions are carbon copies or photocopies.

Mrs Seona Ford of Witham ( is the daughter of the late Dr Jim Denholm, mentioned above. So she is now the depositor of the volumes in the Record Office, and is their owner. She keeps a concerned and helpful eye over progress.

Mrs Janet Gyford of Witham ( bought photocopies of the volumes (including the notes at the beginning and end) and paid or persuaded various people to make draft typescripts of some of the years in Microsoft Word, as well as typing some herself. These eventually covered the years 1834 to 1840 and 1842 to 1849 (there was no original for 1841). There are two main defects at the moment – they have not been checked for accuracy, and they still do not include the notes at the beginning and end of the volumes. On the other hand, they are at least in digital form, and could be passed to other people to make amendments and additions.

Brian Simpson of Witham ( began by continuing the typing (after a discussion in the Witham Café with Janet Gyford). He now also has all the paperwork and digital material accumulated by her. This includes the photocopies of the original diaries, the transcripts made so far, and a copy of Maurice Smith’s extracts. Brian is continuing to make transcripts of the years that have not been typed hitherto. Enquiries may be addressed to him.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­There are also seven relevant articles in the Essex Review, as follows

They were taken by H N Dixon (no relation) from Dr Dixon’s writings begun in 1873. The articles are headed “Reminiscences of an Essex Country Practitioner a Century Ago”. Mainly they cover an earlier time in Dr Dixon’s life than his diary,

Essex Review, vol.xxiii, 1914, pages 189 to 202
Includes intro by H N Dixon. Also Dr D’s childhood, schooling, then medical training and qualification, and posts held before coming to Witham in 1809. Also poor economic condition of England.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 5 to 19
Includes people and politics. Beginning of time at Witham, as assistant. Thwarted romance with Miss Kemble, his master’s daughter. Time back home.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 92 to 97
He says Witham society tended to be divided between Church and Dissent, but he was acceptable to both (though see next article). Set up own practice which gradually grew. Treated landlady. Bought practice from a doctor who was leaving.
Essex Review, vol.xxiv, 1915, pages 119 to 126
Success. Good at shooting. Some restriction from his being a Dissenter. 1814 very very cold spell. Development of steam and gas. Fate of quill pens. Severe criminal laws. Visit of young Edwin Landseer – bad shot. Sale of EL pics later.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 16 to 22
Mostly a discussion of European events late 18th and early 19th centuries, and oppression in Britain under George III. 19th century, Dixon’s success at his profession and as a radical. Farmers had good life after 1815 e.g. cock-fighting and prize-fighting.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 70 to 78
Fighting and duelling. Fear during Napoleonic Wars. Long essay about ‘Misers and Hoarders’, especially Essex farmers etc.
Essex Review, vol.xxv, 1916, pages 108 to 116
Hardships of past compared to when he is writing (1870s). E.g. old taxes. Discussion of Prime Minister Pitt and his opponent Fox. Description of arson at Witham in 1828 and hanging of James Cook. Also Dixon’s suggestion that Edmund Potto, another suspect, was suffering from Monomania, and a description of the rest of Potto’s trial. Discussion of beer and drinking.



Mott, Ted

Notes on Ted Mott

See interview tapes 102, 103, 104, 105 and 106

Grandad Mott ?

Grandma Mott died c 1923
Grandparents William Wager === Agnes Hannah i.e. Granny Wager, midwife

Brought Ted up part of time.

Trafalgar Square
father, Mott, later in Maltings Lanemarried,

Ted born 1913 Guithavon Vall.

Split up c 1919

two of young sons died c 1920, ie Ted’s brothers)
Ted’s mother, Edith Emily Mott nee Wager

(was first marr to Smith)

Went as nanny in London after split

When Granny W died, her dau (Ted’s mother Edith) came back to look after William (Ted’s grandfather)

Then c 1933 she and Ted to Guithavon St where Ted married

1913 at 11 Guithavon Valley.

Parents. Split up when he was about five, six or seven. On Mott side he only knew his grandmother who died when he was about ten.
His mother was a Wager (Edith Emily) and her parents were William Wager (on the railway, big in the National Union of Railwaymen) and Agnes Hannah Wager (second marriage, previous one to Smith, known as Granny Wager, midwife).
After the split his mother went as a nanny in London and his father stayed in Witham, eventually in Maltings Lane.

School. Maldon Road school when went to Trafalgar Square.

Moved from Valley to farm near Kelvedon briefly, after brothers had died c 1920. Back to Witham (Trafalgar Square) soon after to grandmother Wager because parents split up and his mother went to London. Elsewhere says remembers Square in First World War so perhaps there by 1918 in fact.
Then when Ted’s grandma Wager died, mother came back to look after the grandfather, William Wager.
About 1933, he and his mother to 9 Guithavon Street. Lived there at first after married in 1941.
In 1947, into prefab at 12 Bramston Green.
When prefabs rebuilt in 1983, into 22 Bramston Green.

Ted was middle one of three boys, the others died of flu about 1920 (or maybe a bit earlier in fact)

Married Doris Eley in March 1941 at St Nicholas church. She was born at Bradwell and came to Chess Lane in about 1930 in her late teens with parents

Errand boy at Palmer’s saddlers when about 11 i.e.1924
1927 started at Lewis’s builders to go into the painting and decorating trade. [at 62 Newland Street] Stayed there 51 years (except for army 1940), till retired in 1980. Got taken over by Tanner and Wicks 1978

Son Keith

Died 23 June 2001.

Extracts from documents

1920 electoral register
Trafalgar Square: William Wager, Agnes Hannah Wager.
(not possible to tell whether there were others in the same house)

1930 electoral register
73 Maldon Road: William John Wager, Agnes Hannah Wager, Arthur Kemp, Thomas Samuel Smith.

1938 electoral register
9 Guithavon Street: Edith Emily Mott, Edgar George Mott.

1947 electoral register
12 Bramston Green: Edgar G Mott, Doris M Mott.