Percy Laurence

Obituary from Essex Review, Volume 30, 1921, p.182
“Percy E. Laurence, J.P., of the Grove Witham, who died in a London nursing home after an operation, on 24 May, was a man than whom no-one of his district was better loved. He was born at Clapham Park, Surrey, son of Sydney Laurence, was educated at Harrow, and came in 1874 to Witham as a farming partner with the Hon C H Strutt, his lifelong friend. He gave up farming in 1883 on the death of a brother to join his fathr’s firm on the Stock Exchange. He married in 1881 Mary, daughter of the Rev C B Leigh, rector  of Goldhanger, and in 1896 purchased the Grove. He was made a JP of Essex in 1897. His local gifts were highly valued, among them being the site of the War Memorial, the Witham Cricket Ground, and the new Constitutional Club, built aftr the old one had been burnt down. Mr Laurence served as a Lieutenant to the Royal Suffolk Hussars from 1877 to 1884 and was Hon Colonel of the Essex Volunteers during th war. Mrs Laurence died some years ago. Two daughters are married, Miss Grace O Laurence, well known for her work during the war, was with her father at his death. The funeral was at Witham on 28 May.”

Assorted notes
From various sources in the past I have noted the following relating to Percy Laurence.

Essex Almanac, 1910
J.P.  Justice of Witham Petty Sessions
One of the Vice-Presidents of Essex County Bowling Association.
A Vice-President of the Old Age Relief Fund, Maldon Division.
President of the Constitutional Club, Witham.
President of Witham Town Band, formed 1902.
President of the Cricket Club of Witham.
A Vice-President of Witham Football Club.

Congregational Church records (ERO D/NC 3/32)
In 1909 he bought property previously the Witham Literary Institute, and in 1910 sold it to the Congregational church on condition there should be no building there.

1876? Bought part of the Park

ERO A10510
President of Witham Cricket Club before Dr Karl Gimson.
Gave ground for War Memorial.
Gave the new clock after the old one burnt down at the old Constitutional Club.

A search will no doubt reveal other references to him, for instance during the First World War. And also to his daughters, Grace and Madeleine. Grace, usually known as Gracie, organised the women farm workers during the First World War.

Some of my interviewees refer to the Laurences, for instance Mrs Amy Taylor, who lived as a child in the lodge at the top of the Avenue  (the Grove, the home of the Laurences, being at the bottom.) Amy’s father looked after the machinery at the Grove. See:

Tape 136. Mrs Amy Taylor (nee Burton), sides 1 and 2

I have never knowingly seen a photo of Percy Laurence but I have one of Gracie (M1865) (M149 is the same)





Women and Witham, 19th and 20th centuries


 Chelmsford Chronicle, 23 June 1848
Witham Literary Institution. Two lectures by Mrs Balfour, ‘Moral and Intellectual Influence of Women in Society’. [i.e Mrs Sarah Lucas Balfour, see Wikipedia.

Debate about proposed new rating system whereby owners would pay rates of lesser properties instead of tenants as hitherto. Opposed by many tenants because it would take away their voting rights, though some workers supported it so they would not have to pay rates.

Women did not speak at the public meeting but the voting details include women as follows (18 women out of 309 who voted, 5.8%)

For the resolution (7 out of 126, 5½%)
Maria Mead
Mary Carlick
Widow Curtis
Widow Sayer
Widow Coney
Widow Love
Widow Dazeley

Against the resolution: 11 out of 183 (6 %)
Miss Bramston
Miss Du Cane
Sarah Heskins
Mrs Vandervord
Mrs R Du Cane
Miss Matthews
Miss Foster
Eliza Trew
Miss Hubbard
Mary Ann Norton
Mrs Humphreys

9 November 1887 (in review of year, Essex County Chronicle, 30 December, page 6)
‘Meeting of the British Women’s Liberal Association at Kelvedon; speech by Mr Joseph Arch’.

Strike of pea sorters, Taber, Cullen and Co, 1891
Essex Weekly News, 3 April 1891, page 7, 10 April 1891, page 8, 10 April 1891, page 7

Essex Weekly News, 30 November 1894, page 7
Meeting ‘in connection with the Young Women’s Christian Society’. Held at Congregational Lecture Hall. Large gathering. A ‘lecturette’ by Mrs Albert Smith of Kelvedon ‘are we better than our grandmothers, or is the present better than the past’. Lecturer said yes. Discussion afterwards. Mrs Everard, Miss Brenes, Miss M A Garrett, said no, Misses Adnams and Jewell said yes. Vote in favour. Sec of Society, Miss Ward, presided.

Essex Weekly News, 27 October 1905, page 8
‘The Council Schools. At the monthly meeting on Monday, Mr Coker presiding, Miss A Luard wrote declining to fill the office of chairman’. Mr Coker retiring. F P Bawtree chosen.

Essex Weekly News, 3 November 1905, page 5
Literary Society. Evening of impromptu speeches at Congregational Lecture Hall. Officers include one of Vice presidents Mrs A Wilson, and Treasurer Miss Afford, and Committee Mrs Everard and three men.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 November 1905, page 5
‘Women’s Liberal Association’. Social meeting. Officers elected – President, Miss E E Butler. Treasurer Mrs Ernest Smith. Secretary Mrs Pinkham. Vice-presidents Mrs Edmunds and Mrs Garrett. Balance in hand.

Essex County Chronicle, 12 January 1906
‘To the Electors of the Maldon Division of Essex. Gentlemen and Brother Electors … C H Strutt, Blunts Hall’.

Essex Weekly News, 10 January 1908, page 5
‘C E T S …[probably Church of England Temperance Society] annual meeting .. chairmanship of Canon Ingles … Committee included Mrs Eldred, Misses D Ingles, Combe and Evers and 5 men. Hon sec and treasurer to be Miss Vaux in place of Mr H M English who had resigned after 20 years’.

Essex County Chronicle, 4 February 1910
Witham Liberals on Defeat. … On Wednesday evening the workers (both ladies and gentlemen) of the Liberal side at the recent election in the Witham district, were entertained to an “At Home” given at the Collingwood Hall by Mr and Mrs Bevington Smith of Wickham Hall, and Mr and Mrs Ernest Smith of Chipping Hill. Speeches (by men).

Essex County Chronicle, 16 June 1911
… Mr Percy Laurence, J P, president of the Witham Conservative Club, gave a garden party in the grounds of the Grove to members of the club and friends. There was a gathering of 250. … Mr Laurence … said he was particularly pleased to see the ladies, whose co-operation in political work he warmly welcomed’.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 November, 1911, page 3
‘Women’s Suffrage Meeting at Witham. Lord Rayleigh as a supporter’. ‘Crowded meeting … Public Hall, … under the auspices of the Women’s Conservative and Unionist Franchise Association. Lady Rayleigh presided, supported by Lord Rayleigh, O.M., Lady Betty Balfour, Sir John Rolleston, MP for East Herts, and Mrs Cooper, from Lancashire’. Lady Rayleigh said Lord Rayleigh agreed with cause. She says every householder should vote (but should not give two votes to one house, nor should women become MPs). Mrs Cooper spoke of her earlier life working in a cotton mill and that women were entitled to the franchise by their economic contribution. Mrs Balfour said her sister Lady Lytton had been arrested the previous night but she didn’t agree with those tactics. She had canvassed Witham and found a lot of interest. They should found a branch of the organisation here.

[Mrs Selina Cooper a very well-known suffragist with a hard upbringing in Lancs. Involved with Women’s Co-op Guild and ILP. Mrs BB big wheel also, in Conservative circles; see biogs of both filed with the newspaper item in the newspaper file] and word docs with biogs from new dnb. Canon Ingles, the Vicar spoke. Unconvinced. In a house with nine women and they agreed time not come for women to be involved in politics. Should form public opinion and use their influence on men.]

 Essex Weekly News, 2 May 1913, page 3 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]
Report of Braintree Guardians’ annual meeting. Mrs Marriott had left and she had ‘been very useful on the Cottage Home and Boarding-out Committees (Hear, hear)’. ‘The Captain’s Joke. Capt Abrey before the appointment of committees remarked: Mr Chairman, I should like to ask if we have any suffragettes here, because if so I should like some guarantee that we shall not be blown up. I think we ought to have some protection (Laughter). The Chairman: I think you can take care of yourself, Captain. (Renewed laughter). Capt Abrey: If there is to be any shooting I shall have to provide myself with a shooting iron. I am very fond of shooting. But I should like an answer to my question. The Chairman: I don’t think there is much fear of that. Miss Tabor: I should just like to say that nobody can object to militant tactics more than I do (Hear, hear). Mr Bartram: May I say that I have sat for many years with Miss Tabor on the Education Committee, and we had no more intelligent and excellent member on that Committee. Miss Tabor had always shown sound judgment and had done excellent work (Hear, hear). Mr B S Wood: I also have known Miss Tabor a good many years, and I will go bail for her good behavior (Laughter)

(see notes on ERO G/Br M35-M39, Braintree Guardians, Minutes 1911-1930 for other items re women)

Essex County Chronicle, 2 May, 1913, page 5
Two paragraphs of comment on Miss Tabor’s election to the Braintree Board of Guardians and especially the reaction of Captain Abrey, who ‘wanted to know in effect if the lady intended to introduce bombs’. Regarded as humorous be he ‘he didn’t seem to mean it in that way’. Miss T said ‘she was not a militant Suffragette, and that she strongly objected to militant tactics’. Several vouched for Miss Tabor’s character.

[A Miss M E Tabor of ‘Fennes’, Bocking, was on Guardians in 1934, Braintree and Witham Times, 17 May 1934]

Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1913 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]
‘Suffragist “Pilgrims” in Essex. Banner smashed at Chelmsford’. March of ‘Non-militant Suffragists’ from East Anglia to London to take part in demo in Hyde Park on 26 July. Stopped and held open-air meetings along the way.

‘Lady Rayleigh presided at the Witham meeting, and the speakers were Mrs Rackham, Miss Taylor, Miss Vaughan, and Miss Courtauld. With the exception of a few interjections such as “You’re trying to wear the trousers” and “We can’t help laughing”, the meeting was very orderly’. Further meeting at Hatfield and Chelmsford where banner taken.

According to earlier part of the report, Miss Courtauld was of Colne Engaine, Mrs Rackham of Cambridge (who had frequently spoken in the area and was a sister of Miss ME Tabor who presided at Braintree meeting), Miss Vaughan of Rayne. Don’t think it explains Miss Taylor.

Another story afterwards is about ‘disturbance at the London Pavilion on Monday, when Mrs Pankhurst was re-arrested at a meeting of the WSPU, several women surrounded the police and detectives and attempted to rescue Mrs Pankhurst’. Several arrested including Miss Madeline Rook [or Rock?] of Ingatestone. Released on bail. Described as a poet aged 30. At court she and two others refused to sign recognisance to keep the peace but ‘sureties were eventually forthcoming’.

UDC 31 August 1914
page 208. Letter from County Council, please constitute District Committee to assist the Special Committee appointed for County ‘to assist them in dealing with distress caused by the War, and where necessary in distributing relief, and also in collection of subscriptions to the National Relief Fund’. Form Committee, of Council representative Q D Greatrex, Board of Guardians representatives Capt S Abrey and Mr W Pinkham, one, representative of railway Trade union to be appointed by selves. Mr M Hanson Pullen. The Misses Gimson, Howard-Vyses, and Pattisson as representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association.

Essex Weekly News, 1 October 1915
page 5 (see xerox on newspaper file). ‘Presentation to Canon and Mrs Ingles. Parting gifts from Witham parishioners’. Long report. Gifts to Mrs Ingles also, by Mrs Hutley on behalf of Mothers Union. Spoke. Hope you and Canon Ingles and daughters will be happy. Gave her armchair. Also Miss Keeble of Kelvedon on behalf of Witham GFS of which she is the oldest member, small clock,. This because Miss Edith Luard away. ‘Mrs Pelly, on behalf of the Working Party, presented Mrs Ingles with as handsome Japanese screen, in remembrance of the meetings at the Vicarage and the many gatherings Mrs Ingles had organised for their benefit. Canon spoke for her. Recognise vicars wives. ‘Mrs Ingles came to him from a very beautiful home, not having been specially trained, he should say, for such work as she had had to do’.

UDC 25 October 1915
page 288. Letter from Lady Paget[?whether I typed this right] asking for co-operation on November 18th, to be known throughout British Isles as ‘Russias Day’ and arrange flag day. Ask Miss Pattisson to do it.

 UDC 4 November 1915, Extraordinary meeting
Clerk had invited ‘3 Ladies’ to undertake work re Russias Day but other duties meant they couldn’t. Ask Miss Edith Luard.

Essex County Chronicle, 14 January 1916
page 1. Advert – Lady Clerks in offices urgently required.
page 4. Meeting of Essex War Agricultural Committee. E G Smith presided. Men (about 12), Miss K M Courtauld of Earls Colne co-opted.

Essex County Chronicle, 18 February 1916
page 3 (see xerox on newspaper files). ‘Women and agriculture. Meeting of Essex Ladies’. Under auspices of Essex War Agricultural Committee ‘to make the necessary preliminary arrangements in connection with the organisation in Essex of women’s labour on the land’. Hon E G Strutt presided. Lots of ladies, many named. Included Lady Rayleigh, Mrs Christopher Parker.
‘Chairman said some people had expressed the opinion that farmers did not want the assistance of women.’ Might have been so earlier in War but not now because of call-up of men etc. Long speech. One speaker on other counties and another on ‘Women’s National Land Service Corps’, one of whose objects was ‘to get women of the professional classes in towns to undertake a course of training to fit themselves for acting as forewomen of local village corps, and to make the various arrangements with the farmers’. Lady Petre to be president of the women’s organisation. Executive Committee provisionally appointed.

Essex County Chronicle, 10 March 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file.
Witham Tribunal. ‘The need of Milkers. Is women Labour “All Fudge”. Lots appealed for by Mr H T Isted on behalf of Lord Rayleigh’s farms. Military rep (E Pelly) said how could chairman Hon Ed Strutt get up on platform and tell farmers to employ women, and then excuse farmworkers from service. Details of farms and numbers. ‘Mr Hutley questioned where they would lodge the women. It would be absolutely impossible to lodge them in the cottages’. Concerning one case, Captain Abrey said ‘You don’t want all these men for 368[? – or could even be 36½] acres of arable land. The Chairman: You must try to teach my brother how to farm. Capt Abrey: Yes, I can (Laughter).

 Essex County Chronicle, 17 March 1916
page 5 (see xerox). ‘Bishop at Witham. Address to Scottish soldiers. On Sunday morning the Bishop of Chelmsford visited Witham, and gave the address at the church parade of the Lowland Scottish Regt., RE, at the Parish Church. The Lowland Scottish are mostly Presbyterians, and their Sunday services had been fixed for Witham Congregational Church, but in view of the visit of the Bishop, it was arranged that the troops should attend the Parish Church to give his Lordship the opportunity to speak to them. There was a parade of 500 of the soldiers, headed by their brass band. The Chaplain, Capt Yuill, conducted the service from the pulpit’. Pep talk. Clean living men survived injuries in War but others didn’t.

Essex County Chronicle, 24 March 1916
page 3. Meeting of Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association. Lady Petre presided. [there are regular meetings of this body reported through the year]

Essex County Chronicle, 14 April 1916
page 3, see xerox on newspaper file. County Appeal Tribunal. At Witham Police Court. Six hours. Lots of appeals from several areas. Chair was Mr Collingwood Hope, KC.
Women and Horses. Mr H Isted, manager to Messrs Strutt and Parker, re Great Bardfield. Long discussion. Exemption. Ditto some in Faulkbourne and Hat Peverel, Terling, Sible Hedingham. ‘The Chairman … There was the possibility of training women to do the work of cowmen. – Mr Isted: We have a school of women being trained at a farm at Little Baddow.- The Chairman: We shall expect an honest effort to be made to replace these cowmen by women. It might also be possible to economise in the ploughmen by the same means. – Mr Isted: We cannot train the women to take the place of ploughmen: it would not be safe to put the women with horses, even if they would go, but we are training them to take charge of the cows. I will withdrw this application for the two cowmen’.

‘The Daughter’s chance. Mr E M Blyth, miller, Witham Mill, appealed for exemption for Frank Green, 24, married, manager of a branch shop at Witham, whose claim to the Local Tribunal had been refused. It was stated this man gave up his former occupation of a baker, and was now engaged in selling chicken food and biscuits at a retail shop. – Mr Blyth stated that this man was the only man engaged at the shop, and had worked there since a boy. He (Mr Blyth) had two sons serving with the Army in France, and they had lost several men from the mill This shop was in the town, where orders were taken and transferred by telephone to the mill. There was no one else to manage the shop. Ladies who wanted to order biscuits for their dogs would not go down to the mill: the trade would go to someone else if the town shop was closed. – Capt Howard: You have a daughter; could not she manage this shop? – Mr Blyth: She has never been brought up to that kind of work. – Capt Howard: But ladies are doing all kinds of things now they did not do before the war, and your daughter might like to do this shop? – Mr Blyth; She is busy at home, where we have soldiers billeted. – Capt Howard: then a sharp lad might manage the shop, by the aid of the telephone? – The Chairman: People will have to put up with inconvenience due to the war; instead of having things sent to them, they will have to go and fetch the goods. – One month was allowed to enable Mr Blyth to make other arrangements for the shop.’

Hatfield Peverel case.


Essex County Chronicle, 30 June 1916

see xerox on newspaper file. Witham Tribunal. Includes:

‘Mr E Spurge, Witham, applied for Frank Cundy, 31, cashier for three businesses, as an expert. – The Chairman: We cannot understand why a women cannot do this? – Mr Spurge: I cannot find such a woman. – It was reported that Cundy was passed only as fit for garrison duty. – Four months exemption was granted’.

Essex Weekly News, 14 July 1916, page 5
‘A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Essex Women’s War Agricultural Association was held in London, on Wednesday, Lady Petre presiding.

The Hon Mrs Champion R Russell reported that in the Romford district the same number of women were at work as was recorded last month. She had experienced some difficulties with regard to people who wanted to get work, as when she sought information from farmers as to what they wanted she sometimes got not reply. The farmers generally seemed well supplied. She feared, however, that some of the women were taking advantage of the position, and one farmer had stated that he thought he was spending 100[?] per cent more in wages because their women got through their work so slowly. The Chairman asked if it would be possible to put the women on piece work ? Mrs Russell said the farmer referred to did not seem to think so.

Reports as follows were also received from the districts:-

Witham – Mrs Parker. 385 women were registered, and 100 had armlets. She believed they were working extremely well, and that local farmers were quite satisfied. [this probably in district or division or whatever]

Rochford – Miss Ta[?]ke. … There was a difficulty with regard to the educated classes, everyone apparently thinking they ought to do something they had never done before [Laughter].

Miss Imago, of the Board of Trade, in reply to questions, said it should be clearly understood that the armlets were only for women who were engaged on farms and in kitchen gardens, and could not be issued to those employed in the cultivation of flowers’.


UDC 25 September 1916

page 342. Finance Committee reported Mr Roberts joining HM forces so resigned, and Mrs Mens application for vacancy [probably rate collector].

page 344. Letter Mr C C Roberts resigned as deputy rate collector, thanks. Letter from Mrs M A Mens for same job. Accepted.


UDC 30 October 1916

page 349. Letter re arranging ‘a Rumanian Flag Day;. Write to Miss Luard and ask if she with Miss Afford and Mrs Hanson Pullen could do it.


UDC 26 March 1917

page 374. Letter from Mrs Mens (Deputy Rate Collector) she observed the water rates were to be collected quarterly under the new regulations, if so she couldn’t do it. Resolved that they be yearly during war and every 6 months after.

page 376. Letter from Lady Carson, re street collection for British and Foreign Sailors Society. Refer her ‘to Miss Luard who doubtless would organise a collection’.


17 August 1917 (ERO L/P 3/35, Lieutenancy papers, correspondence, 1916-1918)

Includes: Maldon District Emergency Committee, 17 August 1917, to Shire Hall

Re correspondence about clearing banks etc. of money in case of invasion. ‘I am also to ask you if a woman can be sworn in as a Special Constable to be in charge of the Bank’s property on this car’.

Forwarded to Major Gen Hay[?] Pall Mall, Central Force and Emergency [?]

His reply doesn’t mention women. But Goold clerk to county, says to Maldon:

‘I believe no woman has yet been sworn in as a Special Constable for this County and I think it would be better for a man to be in charge of the Bank’s property in the event of it having to be removed’.


UDC 20 August 1917, extraordinary meeting

page 396. Necessary to appoint Food Control Committee. To be the seven ‘active members’ plus representative from Co-op, and also ‘Mr Ebenezer Smith’ as ‘labour representative’. Also Miss Afford be asked, and also Messrs F J Hayward and Mr E C Quick.


UDC 27 August 1917

page 401. People invited to Food Control committee had agreed.


UDC 24 September 1917

page 406. Accept Finance Committee report; re letter from ‘Mrs Mens (Collector)’ ‘ for more money. Give her £7 10s for extra work done and no additional salary.


UDC 10 December 1917

page 418. Letter from Sir Arthur Pearson re collection ‘for the Blinded Soldiers Children’s fund’ ‘Ask Miss Pattisson if she could arrange for the Boy-Scouts to distribute and collect envelopes for subscriptions as suggested in the letter’.


UDC 28 January 1918

page 431. Letter from French Red Cross (British Committee) re arranging ‘France’ Red Cross day. ‘Ask some Witham Ladies to try and fix a date’.


UDC 25 February 1918

page 437. Re letter from National War Savings Committee ‘as to “Business Mens week” campaign, leave to Mr Pinkham to see Mrs Peecock, Secretary of War Savings Committee at Witham.



Vote given to ‘Women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 or graduates of British universities. MPs rejected the idea of granting the vote to women on the same terms as men. Women had their first opportunity to vote in a General Election in December, 1918. Several of the women involved in the suffrage campaign stood for Parliament. Only one, Constance Markiewicz, standing for Sinn Fein, was elected. However, as a member of Sinn Fein, she refused to take her seat in the House of Commons’ (schoolnet web site)


Essex Weekly News, 1 March 1918, page 4

Essex Education Committee. One of members Miss Chisenhale Marsh.


1919 ‘In 1919 Parliament passed the Sex Disqualification Removal Act which made it illegal to exclude women from jobs because of their sex. Women could now become solicitors, barristers and magistrates. Later that year, Nancy Astor became the first woman in England to become a MP when she won Sutton, Plymouth in a by-election. Other women were also elected over the next few years. This included Dorothy Jewson, Susan Lawrence, Margaret Winteringham, Katharine Stewart-Murray, Mabel Philipson, Vera Terrington and Margaret Bondfield’ (schoolnet web site).


Glove Factory strike, 1919.

See Essex County Chronicle, 28 February, page 6, 7 March, page 5, 14 March, page 5, 21 March, page 2. Essex Weekly News, 18 April, page 6

One of the representatives from the Workers Union in Chelmsford who helped the girls was Miss Florence Saward (as Mrs Balaam she became a magistrate in 1932, see below)


Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1919, page 6

Committee for Peace celebrations, all men. Miss Pattisson gave away the prizes.


Essex Weekly News, 15 August 1919, page 8

‘An interesting presentation has been made by a large number of Essex farmers to Miss Grace O Laurence, of the Grove, Witham, as a “slight recognition of her valuable assistance in obtaining labour for the land during her voluntary work under the War Agricultural Executive Committee at Chelmsford, 1917-1919”. The presentation consists of a very handsome Louis Quinze writing table and chair of the same date. The farmers have also presented Miss Cicely Pelly with a beautiful cabinet appreciation of her voluntary services under the same organisation. For over two years these young ladies gave their ungrudging services under the Committee for the benefit of the farmers, and the success of their efforts may be judged by this gratifying and spontaneous token of appreciation.

In reference to the presentation we have received for publication the following letter:-

Dear Sir, May we ask you in your courtesy to allow us through your valued paper to acknowledge with grateful thanks the most handsome gifts that have been presented to us by the farmers of Essex ?

We are both greatly touched and gratified by this spontaneous and all too generous appreciation of the small se4ices we were able to render during the war under the Essex War Agricultural Committee. To us the work has been in all sincerity a labour of love, and we shall value our trophies for all time beyond anything on our possession.

Our heartfelt thanks are due to each and everyone of those who have so kindly contributed to the presentation. Yours faithfully, Grace O Laurence, Cicely Pelly. Witham, 14th August 1919’.


Essex Weekly News, 29 August 1919, page 8

At Witham Bowling Club there was ‘a novelty … in the form of a ladies’ Bowling competition’. Whist afterwards, ladies and gentlemen separate.


Essex Weekly News, 21 November 1919, page 3

Exec Cttee elected for building Nurses’ Bungalow. Mrs Pelly, Mrs Brandt, Mrs Kellock, Mrs P Brown, Dr Knight (convenor), Drs K and E Gimson, Messrs Christopher W Parker, S Franklin, Eb Smith, E G Smith, W Pinkham, and W P Perkins – The Chairman : I think we have done some good to the honour and glory of the town’.


Essex Weekly News, 30 April 1920, page 6

page 3. Witham Urban District Council, 26 April. Annual Meeting. Agreed that the whole of the Council should be the Housing Committee instead of just five members as previously.

Councillor Ebenezer Smith said that at the next meeting he would propose the co-option of four others from outside the Council onto this committee.


Essex Weekly News, 4 June 1920

Witham Urban District Council, held 31 May. ‘Mr Eb Smith moved that four additional persons be co-opted onto the Housing Committee, two being women – but the motion was not seconded’.


Essex Chronicle, 7 April 1922

Urban District Council elections:


J Ernest Smith, 462?

Miss C A Pattisson, 463?

R Little (Lab), 414

Not elected:

R W Wakelin, ???

J T Hayward, 325 or 225?

Mr A W Garrett did not seek re-election. Mr Little gains a seat for Labour.

[another page:-]

‘The Ladies. Witham is the first town in the Braintree and Maldon areas to elect a lady member to its Urban Council. Miss Charlotte Alice Pattisson, who at the first venture rose to within one vote of the top of the poll, is a daughter of the late Mr William Pattisson, of Writtle, where she was born. Her grandfather practised as a solicitor in Witham many years ago, and the late Admiral Sir William Luard was her great-uncle. She takes an active part in nearly everything going on in the township, her offices ranging from that of quartermaster in the Witham Boy Scouts to a leading part in the Women’s Institute. Another noteworthy victory, at the top of the poll, was that of Mrs Trotter, at Epping, who stood as the nominee of the Women’s Institute, which also supported Miss Pattisson. Ladies likewise had some signal successes for the Boards of Guardians, whereon they are almost indispensable, with their kind hearts and their anxious care for the women and children’.

‘Lady Voters Preponderate.

Witham is one of the very few towns n England where lady voters actually preponderate. They are in a majority of [??] on the electoral strength. Miss Pattisson, after her election, told a representative of the Essex Chronicle an interesting story of how she became selected as the first woman candidate for the Council. The subject was discussed at the Women’s Institute, and she agreed to “break the ice”. “As to my position on the Urban Council”, proceeded Miss Pattisson, “I shall be quite willing to learn all about the town affairs, and see what can be done. We cannot spend much money, because we have not got it, and the rates must be watched, but there are many ways in which I hope to assist”. There can be no doubt that the choice of the women of Witham will be fully justified’.

‘Some Results :- …A notable feature is the growing strength of the Women’s Institute movement, which put forward candidates with success in every instance. The Essex Chronicle has already called attention to this new factor in public affairs. The Institutes, all honour to them, discuss and agree how women can best use their votes, and if the men do not mind, and do not take more care generally about this matter, they will be finding themselves out-voted as well as outnumbered by the opposite sex. Not that any harm would be done, but women are naturally more interested n women, although theirs are the concerns of man and children also, if “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”’


Essex Weekly News, 27 April 1922

UDC meeting, 24 April

‘First Lady member. Mr Pelly formally welcomed Miss Pattisson, the first lady member of the Council. Ladies, he said, were taking a tremendous part in national matters, and he was sure she would be of great assistance in their work. The Chairman said knowing what Miss Pattisson had done for the town he was sure she would be an acquisition to the Council’.


1924 ‘When Ramsay McDonald became Prime Minister in 1924 he appointed Margaret Bondfield as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Labour. Five years later Bondfield became the first woman in history to gain a place in the British Cabinet’.(schoolnet web site).


Essex Chronicle, 1 April 1925

UDC elections. Elected:

Miss C A Pattisson,

J Ernest Smith

Layton Church

Not elected

R Little (Lab)

A G Bright (Lab)

Miss Pattisson, the only Lady Member, had the active support of the Women’s Institute. Mr R Little, a former Labour member, lost his seat.

[note: at Great Easton the Countess of Warwick failed to get elected to the Dunmow Rural District Council]


Essex Weekly News, 27 August 1926, page 10

‘On Wednesday a gala was held on the cricket ground in order to raise funds for the Chelmsford and Colchester Hospitals… another match Witham Ladies v Witham C C was played. … The cricket match ladies v gentlemen provided a good deal of fun, as the gentlemen had to bat, bowl and field left-handed; the match also served to show that the ladies could play good cricket. The ladies went in first and compiled 109 for 7, at which they declared. Miss Littlehales, of Langford, who captained the ladies’ side, made 51 all out, the other scores being Miss Fern 9, Miss Green 8, Miss Evitt and Miss Beardwell 6 each, Miss Croxall 5, Miss Foster 4. The gentlemen won by knocking up 111 for 7 … bowling for the ladies Miss Littlehales 4 for 41, Miss Fern 2 for 16’.

Also a mixed doubles tennis tournament.


1928 ‘A bill was introduced in March 1928 to give women the vote on the same terms as men. There was little opposition in Parliament to the bill and it became law on 2nd July 1928. As a result, all women over the age of 21 could now vote in elections’ (schoolnet web ste)


C/M/Pa 1-5, Minutes of Public Assistance Committee 1929-1932


Braintree and Witham Times, 22 November 1929, page 1

Whist drive organised by Women’s section of Witham Labour Party.


Braintree and Witham Times, 6 December 1929, page 1

Witham Labour Party Women’s section had whist ‘in the Club’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1930, page 3

‘A great Institution holds its last meeting. Braintree Board of Guardians’. Include Miss S E Vaux, Colonel E L Geere, W W Burrows, Eb Smith, T Speakman. Tributes to late members. And officials. Matron reported 87 inmates, as against 208 last year. Casual men 162 (against 128), casual women 14 (against 5).

First lady Guardian, in 1895, was the late Mrs Alice Joseph of Bocking, then Miss Lucy Docwra and Miss Sarah Butler.


14 May 1930, Minutes of County Public Assistance Committee (ERO C/MPa 1)

Braintree area Guardians have asked whether they may have Ladies’ visiting committee including ladies not Guardians. No, not if not Guardians.


Braintree and Witham Times, 5 December 1930, page 5

Federation of Labour women formed in Labour Club at Witham.


Essex Chronicle, 2 January 1931

Miss E Luard was one of a committee chosen at a meeting to consider what action for the unemployed.


January 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932

‘Mrs F Balaam (Silver End), Mrs E M Packe (Langford Place), and Mr C Stewart Richardson (Witham) sworn in Justices of the Peace’.


1932 from Q/JL 19 List of magistrates, 20th century, Witham Division.

Name Address Date qualified Comments
Mrs Florence May Balaam 71 Francis Way, Silver End near Witham, (altered to Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon Herts) 6 January 1932 To Unattached list June 1935


Essex Chronicle, 22 July 1932

Witham branch of Maldon Division Women’s Conservative Association, annual garden fete in the grounds of Roslyn House by invitation of MR and Mrs Gerald Bright.


Braintree and Witham Times, 14 January 1932

page 3, col 4. New Witham magistrates. No details. ‘Include Mrs Florence May Balaam, Francis Way, Silver End, Mrs Elizabeth Margaret Packe, Langford Place, and Mr Charles Stewart Richardson, Beech Knowe, Witham’. No more details about them.


Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 2. ‘Bride not to obey. The New service at a Witham wedding … crowd of over a hundred … Miss Ellen Bright, youngest daughter of Mrs and the late Mr S Bright of Church Street, married to Mr Hugh Derrett, eldest son of Mrs M G Derrett of Severn Stoke, Worcs’ at St Nicholas church’. Graceful. Eldest brother Albert Bright gave her away. Six attendants including nieces Misses Vera, Pamela and Betty Bright. Master John Bright a page boy. William Bright, brother, best man. Curate Rev A J T Lewis. ‘The new marriage service was taken, the word “obey” being omitted’. Mr William Blood, cousin of the bridegroom, at the organ. 50-60 guests at the reception at the YMCA. The bride formerly worked at Crittall’s. Both were well known in Witham. Bride from old Witham family, the groom was employed here many years. Will live in Gidea Park.


September 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times review of the year, 29 December 1932 page 2

‘The word “obey” omitted from a wedding service at Witham Parish Church’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932

page 8, col.3. ‘Means Test Protest’. Conference organised by Braintree Co-op Committee at Co-op Hall, Bocking End. Reps from Co-op, Trade Unions, and Labour Party, about 60 in all. Discussed ways of opposing means test. Resolution. Committee to arrange public demonstration included Mesdames Balaam and Horridge [other names given too].


Braintree and Witham Times, 15 September 1932

page 4 ‘Means Test Tragedies. Acute situation in Braintree. Unemployment problem gets more acute every day’. Reaching alarming proportions, and much misery and distress is now emerging. Daily meetings in Braintree, eg the Market Place on Saturday night, 800 people. ‘Well reasoned addresses were delivered by Mrs F Balaam, JP, of Silver End, and Councillor Parker of Halstead’. Protests against the application of the means test and reduction of allowances to the unemployed. ‘We understand that hot words were exchanged at the Means Test meeting of the Braintree Area Guardians on Monday when the Ministry of Labour’s new “scale” was again enforced. Nearly 200 cases were dealt with, and more than 50, including all the females – struck off the list of recipients, while all the others were reduced in benefit … Applicants must now be treated as if they were applying for Poor Law out relief. In resigning membership Mrs F Balaam, JP, has written to the clerk to the Public Assistance Committee at Braintree in the following terms. “After giving careful thought to the question of the future treatment of the unemployed men and women who we subjected to a Poor Law Means Test when claiming transitional unemployment benefit, I have definitely decided that I cannot attend any more committee meetings in connection with the same. The poorest section of the community, namely the unemployed, are now being treated by the National Government as paupers, and my principles are such that I am not going to be a party in giving scales of Poor Law out-relief to my unfortunate fellow men and women who are unemployed. I only trust that the public will be stirred and opinion aroused over this inhuman treatment meted out to men, women and children. Every member of the Public Assistance Committee ought to be fired with anger over the latest regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour on behalf, I suppose, of the National Government, which orders us to regard the unemployed as paupers”. [Newspaper comment continues:-] The situation is so serious that the possibility of developments of a grave nature should not be overlooked. We trust no effort is being spared to examine every possible avenue likely to produce at least some amelioration of the lot of these unhappy out-of works and their families’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 13 October 1932

page 4. ‘First time ever’. Lady members of the St Nicholas church choir made appearance. In the way of an experiment. Vicar has had the idea in mind. Six ladies. They didn’t process. Remained in lady chapel, throughout. Understood that in future they will ‘wear the regulation cassock, surplice and mortar-board’.


1933 Kellys directory, Essex

Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory).


Braintree and Witham Times, 16 March 1933

page 6 (see xerox in newspaper files) ‘Witham Church affairs’. Long report of meeting of Parochial Church Council in Rowley’s rooms. PCC at present is ‘Mr C Ashby, Mrs Ashby, Miss E M Blyth, Mr R Briggs, Mr F G Doole, Mr P C Evitt, Mrs B Hancock, Mrs E Hayes, Mrs M W Horner, Mr E King, Miss Maxlow, Mr E S Page, Mr F Redman, Mr H J Rowles, Mr H W Richards, Mr W Thoroughgood, Miss H J Watson, Mr A W Wright, Col E Lake Geere and Mrs A Peecock’. [12 men, 8 women]Col Geere and Mrs Peecock are new.

Long discussion that one third hadn’t retired as they ought. Miss Pattisson got applause for suggesting this should start next year.


June 1933 in review of the year in Braintree and Witham Times, 28 December 1933, page 6

‘Departure from the district of Mrs. Florence Balaam, JP, social worker and formerly trades union organiser (Miss Florence Sayward before her marriage), on taking an appointment in Hertfordshire’.

Note from Kelly’s directories (lists of Essex magistrates at front, and of those for Witham Division under Witham). In 1933, Magistrates for Witham Division include Mrs F M Balaam (seems to be first woman; not there in 1929 directory). In 1937, Mrs Balaam is still a magistrate for Witham Division, but her address is Geddings, Essex Road, Hoddesdon, Herts.

Miss Saward was involved in the glove factory strike in 1919 q.v.


Essex Chronicle, 26 May 1933

Meeting of General Committee of Maldon Divisional Labour Party at Co-operative Hall, Witham. Delegates representing local Labour parties, women’s sections and other affiliated organisations. Congrats to Mr Eb Smith and Mrs E L Mabbs on appointment of Witham and Braintree UDCs respectively.


Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

‘Women Conservatives. About 72 members of the Witham Women’s Conservative Association on Tuesday enjoyed the hospitality of Mr and Mrs Waller of Glenridge, Wickham Bishops, and attended the meeting held in their garden. Miss Ruggles-Brise gave a short talk on current politics, and later proposed a vote of thanks to MR and Mrs Waller. The host and hostess entertained the party to tea in the village hall.’


Essex Weekly News, 4 August 1933, page 11

Meeting of Maldon Divisional Labour Party Executive at Witham Co-op Hall. Resignation of Mrs Balaam JP and Mr F Balaam received with regret. Vacancies filled by Miss E Cathcart, membership secretary and Mrs J D Horridge, treasurer.


Essex Chronicle, 10 November 1933, page 10

‘Women Conservatives’. Monthly meeting. Song solos. Competitions.


December 1933, in Braintree and Witham Times, review of 1933, 4 Jan 1934, page 2

‘Final meeting of Witham Urban Council before amalgamation with Silver End and Rivenhall. Captain H L Evitt, a retiring member not seeking re-election, entertained his colleagues to supper at ‘Spread Eagle’ Hotel, also the officials, members of the fire brigade, and others. Mr B O Blyth and Miss Pattisson also intimated decision not to seek re-election.


Essex Weekly News, 19 June 1936, page 15

‘Women’s Guild. Reports from Mrs Woodwards on the Silver End conference, and from Mrs Hales on the Colchester conference were received at the monthly meeting of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. Mrs Hales, president, was in the chair. The whist drive winners were Mrs Benson, Mrs Hales, Mrs Christy and Mrs Oakley’.


Essex Weekly News, 24 July 1936, page 15

British Legion. About 70 members of the Women’s section, entertained by the President, Mrs H L Evitt, in the Grove Hall. Tea and games.


Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

‘Liberal Association. Mr M Barnard of White Notley initiated an interesting discussion at the monthly meeting of the Witham Liberal Association on Tuesday. Mrs Alderton presided. Mrs Claydon was tea hostess …’


Essex Weekly News, 11 June 1937, page 15

British Legion Women’s section. Entertainment provided by members of Silver End section. Report on London conference.


Essex Weekly News, 7 January 1938, page 15

‘Women’s Conservative Party. The annual New Year party organised by the Witham Women’s Conservative Association was held in the Constitutional Club on Tuesday, Mrs Geere, president, in the chair. Mr J P G Warboys, secretary and agent, was introduced to the members, and spoke of the need for political activity throughout the Division. An entertainment was arranged by Mrs Turner, and prizes were won by Mrs H Redman, Mrs J Glover, Mrs Hawkes, and Mrs Parkin. A chicken was won by Mrs Wincott, White Notley. Mrs Brandt presented the prizes. There was community singing, with Mrs Hancock at the piano. The arrangements were made by Mrs Geere and Mrs Andrews, secretary’.


Braintree and Witham Times, 2 November 1939, page 1

Witham Petty Sessions. Magistrates include Mrs Reid-Scott.


Essex Weekly News, 17 November 1939, page 8

Women’s section British Legion. Books collected for the forces. Wool distributed to make knitted garments. (A men’s meeting the same week).


Essex Weekly News, 23 August 1940

Flag day instead of Carnival. Miss Dorothy L Sayers, first public appearance locally urging donations and offering 6d for every £1 collected. Mrs C E Richards hon sec of organising committee.


Essex Weekly News, 6 September 1940, page 6

Flag day. Meeting of Witham Hospital Carnival Committee. Pres, sec and treas all men. Mrs C Richards had organised good flag day.


Essex Weekly News, 13 September 1940, page 6

Brotherhood. Sunday meeting . Mr W H Powling presided. “Mr P Bowyer gave saxophone selections. Mrs Walker read the lesson and Mrs A Tucker offered prayer. Mr Herbert Sadd of Maldon gave an address on “Prayer”’ [first time I noticed woman there; were some at other B meetings after this].


Essex Weekly News, 18 May 1945, page 14

During War, WVS with asst of women’s sect of British Legion have sent weekly or fortnightly hampers of fresh fruit and veg to Parkeston Quay for minesweeper crews. Weighed between 1 cwt and 3 cwt. Mrs B E Hancock was in charge.


Essex Weekly News, 18 January 1946, page 2

‘Dr Summerskill’s visit. British Restaurants to continue. Dr Edith Summerskill, M P, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Food, visited Chelmsford yesterday’. Went to Food Office, and Victoria Rd British Restaurant which serves 300 meals a day. Impressed. Said to reporter that ‘”We hope to make the British Restaurants a permanent feature in the life of the nation. As a feminist, I welcome this on any account, but also because I feel that they will ease the burden of the most overworked person in the world, the housewife”’.


Essex Weekly News, 15 March 1946, page 5


WITHAM husbands have been going through an anxious period – awaiting . the result of a debate at the monthly meeting of the local Women’s Institute.

For at that gathering a. motion had been tabled, “That a club would be of benefit to the Women of Witham”. After a spirited discussion the proposal was turned down, but not before some very outspoken comments had been made. Mrs Shaw, who initiated the debate, criticised men for. holding the purse strings, and erecting badly-planned houses with sinks, cupboards, meters, stop cocks, etc. all inconveniently placed. She wanted a club for women, with full social facilities, to provide an opportunity for them to get together on an organised basis, so that they could deal with their problems.

But the husbands had. a heroine in Mrs. Tarling, .who      opposed the motion with such conviction that the members threw it out. She pleaded for “things that will strengthen home life,” not things that will encourage “splits and divisions.” “No,” she added, “we don’t want a. women’s club in Witham … What we want is more co-operation and the fullest understanding as between man and wife, based on love and give and take.”

And so the husbands of Witham gave a last sigh of relief:; and since then the toast of the evening has been “To the woman who led the opposition.”

Cullen’s seeds and family


Cullen’s beautiful seed trial grounds are shown in photos M3127 to M3137. These are pioneering photographs taken by Angela and Ted Dersley in the 1950s and ’60s, when they worked for Cullen’s. They deserve great praise both for taking the photos in those unusual surroundings, and for keeping them safely ever since. Many of the pictures also show interesting features in the background, such as Crittall’s metal window factory.

Angela Dersley tending sweet peas in 1959 (photo M3127)

Some of the ground is now occupied by houses, such as those in Walnut Drive and thereabouts. And the part which is now the allotments, used to be the HQ for the workers and also their sandwich-eating space.

The plants and flowers which were grown there, and also their seeds, had to be minutely examined as they grew. This was to find any defects, and to reveal any invasion by other species, which would make the seeds corrupted and worthless.
Above. The former Cullen’s seed warehouses in White Horse Lane. The white one was built in the 1890s, and the other in 1908. The photograph was taken in September 2022.

Then in due course, the seeds were checked and packed for sale. For this they were taken to Cullen’s warehouses in White Horse Lane, shown above.  The checking was an arduous job in itself, and in addition Mr Cullen was very particular. For instance, Sellotape was banned. All the fastening and fixing was done with sealing wax.

After 1975 the company was involved in a series of mergers, which entailed moving to Leicester during the 1980s. After that the warehouse buildings in Witham were used for various purposes including the Witham Technology Centre. They are now (2022) occupied by flats.


Below are the two pages about Thomas Cullen’s business from the book “The Pictorial Record: Special Local Edition for Witham and District”, published c.1899.

As you can see, only the white warehouse was here at this time. When it was built, in the 1890s, Thomas Cullen was just setting up on his own. Sadly, the name which was painted on the front of the building has been obliterated in relatively recent times.

Above: Thomas Cullen, the founder of the firm. I have taken this photo from the late Elinor Roper’s book ‘Seedtime’; she took it from ‘Dorothy Taber’s collection’.

The second warehouse, in brick, was added in 1908. They were actually at the end of Thomas Cullen’s very long garden, which stretched all the way from his house in Chipping Hill along White Horse Lane. The house is the one known as “Bramstons”, now 16 Chipping Hill, on the left of the map. The first warehouse is on the right. There was a gate in the centre.

Above: From the O.S. 2nd edition 1:2500 map, dated 1897.
The distance between the house and the
warehouse is about 200 yards (c.180 metres).

Thomas Cullen died in 1935. At his funeral his friendliness was widely praised and he was referred to as a “wonderful personality” and a “doyen of the seed trade”. His son Frank Cullen took charge of the seed business; he farmed at Cressing Temple. Then Frank’s son Tony took over. Violet Cullen, who was so well-known in Witham, and lived to be 108, was married to Thomas William, Frank’s brother.

In those days of the early 20th century, people didn’t think to take photos of the actual seed trial grounds like the Dersleys did, and if they had tried, their cameras would have been unwieldy and expensive. But in the official railway photo below, taken in 1911, the flowers have crept in by accident (on the left) (my ref. M2787, from the late John Newman’s impressive collection of railway photos). The Braintree railway line adjoins them.

Above: a corner of the seed trial grounds is at the front left.
The rails next to them are the Braintree branch line.

Angela explains:
“You are right about the bottom left being part of the trial ground, We worked in that field a lot which was called The bottom field. I had the job of riding back along the lane, through the crossing gate to lock up two gates, one gate near the crossing gate and the other gate right on the corner which is now the car park. All the straight lines [behind the shed] are the Allotments with a fence across from the old lane to the main railway line. Our greenhouse was about where you can see the sheds. The first railway track near the trial ground, bottom left, led into Crittalls.”

For a detailed and interesting account which includes all the seed companies in and around Witham, including Cullen’s, do read the book Seed Time: The History of Essex Seeds, by the late Elinor M C Roper, published in 1989 by Phillimore. At the moment (November 2020) it’s available for about £6 – a bargain.


See also INTERVIEWS for oral history tape 56 and oral history files for Mrs Violet Cullen

Sources of Information include the Braintree and Witham Times, and the book Seedtime by Elinor Roper.

homas Cullen

Born c.1846

Assistant to George Taber in seed business. Partner 1881

To Rose Cottage, Rivenhall, after George Taber left.

Left business 1894 – not keen on merge with Cooper

By 1894 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham, and seed warehouse behind, facing Braintree Road (now 41 Braintree Road).

Died 1935 at Bramstons, 16 Chipping Hill, Witham



Frank Cullen
1894 Director of business
1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons
1912 to Cressing Temple

Thomas William Cullen

1909 Partner, Thomas Cullen and sons

1918 To Ulting after army in First World War

1924 married Violet Grout of Ulting


L J Cullen

of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon


Capt. Leonard Cullen

1923 Died. IARO


GRANDSONS included:

Anthony L Cullen (Tony)
Thomas H Cullen

Michael [?[Cullen. 1944. Killed in Italy.




Mrs W Taber
Mrs A Taber

Miss E M Cullen
Mrs Fairweather







Year Commercial Residential
1895 Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill
1899 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping hill


1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 55, page 2, Chipping Hill [now no. 16]

Thomas Cullen Head M 55 Seed grower and merchant, employer born Somerset, Wearne
Elizabeth Cullen Wife M 51 born Wiltshire, Box
Francis J Cullen Son S 26 Clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Maud Cullen Dau S 16 born Essex, Rivenhall
Leonard Cullen Son S 14 Junior clerk to seed merchant born Essex, Rivenhall
Ella Cullen Dau 9 born Essex, Rivenhall
Beatrice A Richards Niece S 22 Lady Help (domestic) born Wiltshire, Box
Ethel Smith Ser S 17 General servant (domestic) born Essex, Wickham


C/DF 11 /7 Motorbikes, first register, 1904-1905

Sixth Witham one in the list is:

F1064, 25 June 1904

Leonard Cullen, Chipping Hill, Witham

Cycle, “Brown” 2¾ HP, 1 cwt, for private and trade.

In 1912 to Archibald William Alliston, Chipping Hill, Witham.



Year Commercial Residential
1902 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1902 Cullen Francis John frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John. Oliver’s farm
1906 Cullen Thomas seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1906 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Olivers frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm
1908 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & mercht Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1908 Cullen Francis John, frmr. Oliver’s frm Cullen Francis John, Oliver’s farm


Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

(haven’t found a plan for the first warehouse, weatherboarded; this here is the second one in brick)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
190 Seed Warehouse White Horse Lane Thomas Cullen, Witham (O) 1908 49 Braintree Road, fronting White Horse Lane Nice elevations and plans



1910 Cullen Thomas, seed grower & merchant Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1910 Cullen Leonard, motor carriage & engineering works, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, “Karworks, Witham”



Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
242 Office Newland Street Messrs Cullen & Nicholls, Witham (O); Joseph Smith and Son, Witham (B) 1911 97 Newland Street Layout of forge, paint shop etc (C and N were motor engineers)
249 Additions to house Chipping Hill T Cullen (O); H W Mann (A) 1912 16 Chipping Hill



1912 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1912 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1912 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams, ” Karworks, Witham”


Essex Weekly News, 28 March and 4 April 1913 et al., page 1

Advert for ‘Cullen and Nicholls, Witham. Re ‘All British Car, Swift’. Different sizes. ‘Ready for the Road’. Trial run can be arranged. No picture.



1914 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas. Chipping Hill
1914 Cullen Leonard, motor body & carriage builder, High street
1914 Cullen & Nicholls, motor engineers, High street. Tel. P.O. 27; Telegrams “Karworks, Witham”
1917 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1917 Cullen Leonard, Row cottage


Building plans in ERO

(190, 242 and 249 are ref D/UWi/Pb1, rest are Acc A7280)

No Description Address given People Year of consent Probable address today Comment
300 Offices Braintree Road Messrs T Cullen and Sons (O); C Blade Wenden, Witham (B) 1920 Part of 49 Braintree Road (single storey building on Braintree Road frontage)
319 Seed warehouse Braintree Road Messrs Thomas Cullen and Sons (O); J D Dean, Witham (B) 1921 Part of 49 Braintree Road (in yard, in front of entrance from Braintree Road.



1922 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas, Chipping Hill
1926 Cullen Mrs. Avenue road
1929 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill
1933 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. TN 7 Cullen Thomas Chipping Hill


Braintree and Witham Times, 29 March 1934

page 8 ‘The Editor’s letter bag. A “Fountain” of Free Speech’. Lot of letters including:

‘The Discipline of Fascism’, from ‘A L Cullen, Acting Asst Propaganda Officer, Witham Branch’. “A Young Worker” seems to be under the impression that Fascism is a protégé of the present uncontrolled capitalism. If that were so we could not stand as we do, for the control and transformation of the capitalist system, for the mastery of that which has demoralised the nation. Capitalism is in its fundamentals un-national and international, and Fascism to combat it has of necessity adopted a strictly national basis, demanding the organisation and control of the nation as a unit of disciplined life.


Braintree and Witham Times, 10 May 1934

page 8. See xerox on newspaper file. ‘What our readers think. Letters to the editor which reflect the views of the “Man in the Street”. Fascism, Communism, Fire Precautions and many divers subjects’. Include:

‘Pride in Fascism’ from ‘Witham Fascist. ‘May I quote the names of A L Cullen, E P R Allen, and Malcolm MacPherson, a at least three valiant champions of Fascism who have most certainly revealed their names in your columns? I shall soon grow tired of telling Mr Barnard he is wrong – it is growing so obvious !  As for myself, it may seem strange to Mr Barnard to learn that I take no pleasure in seeing my name constantly “in the paper”; and further, as one engaged in business, I believe the latter and politics are better kept apart. Nevertheless, this noble and incoherent defender of democracy throws down the challenge, and I take pleasure to inform him that my name is Robert East (Junior) and that in common with all Blackshirts, I am passionately proud to be a Fascist. Once again, Mr Barnard’s criticisms of our policy are so fatuous as to be unworthy of consideration, but I should like to point out that our foreign policy is embodied in our motto: “Britain buys from those who buy from Britain,” thus using for the first time our vast buying power as a commercial asset. With regard to Russia, she would be treated commercially on the same basis as every other country, while we should at the same time insist upon straight dealing and commercial integrity comparable to our own’.

‘Fox-Trotski?’ from ‘Britain for Britons’. ‘Mr Barnard states that: “Not one of the valiant champions of Fascism in your columns reveal their identity”. This is a lie. Mr Cullen, M Allen and Mr Blind all append their names. Some of us do not, for very good reasons, but not because we are ashamed of Fascism.’

‘When the world is united?’ from A L Cullen, Witham. Fascism will get country to adapt, not stay same as Conservatives wish. Various detailed points, answer to Mr Turnbull.


Braintree and Witham Times, 20 September 1934

page 4. Robbery at ‘North Corner’ residence of Mrs L Cullen, jewellery worth about £100 missing in break-in. Also new suit of clothing belonging to Mr Anthony Cullen. Mrs Cullen is widow of late Mr L Cullen former well known Witham resident. Two sons Anthony and Michael. Window on ground floor. Witham Stock market in progress c 50 yards away and some stockmen and farmers had parked on either side of the house.


Braintree and Witham Times, 28 March 1935 [see xerox for complete report]  

(page 7) ‘Doyen of seed trade. Death of merchant with world-wide business connections.’ ‘Senior partner of Thomas Cullen and Sons, wholesale seed growers and merchants of Witham.’ In his 90th year. Born at Huish in Somerset in 1846. Apprenticed to London wholesaler then to Rivenhall in 1864 to partnership with late Mr George Tabor. Founded his own firm at Witham in 1894, ‘with two of his sons, Mr F J Cullen, now of Cressing Temple, and Mr T W Cullen, now of The Elms, Ulting. The business, now of world-wide repute, has been built up greatly on its founder’s sterling business quality’ and tireless work. ‘Wonderful personality’. ‘Affectionate regard by his staff and workmen’. Mrs Cullen died in 1922. Youngest son Capt Leonard Cullen IARO died in 1923. Third surviving Son is L J Cullen of Clarks Farm, Kelvedon. Four daughters are Mrs W Taber, Mrs A Taber, Miss E M Cullen and Mrs Fairweather. Mourners at funeral were Frank J Cullen and L J Cullen (sons), Anthony L Cullen and Thomas H Cullen (grandsons), Mr W Taber, Mr A G Taber, Mr F H Fairweather (sons in law). T W Cullen (son) absent through illness.





Year Commercial Residential
1937 Cullen Thomas & Sons, seed growers. T A “Cullen, Witham” T N 7
1937 Cullen Miss E M, Chipping hill



The French family of Powershall End

Correspondence between David Bennett and Janet Gyford (oldest first)
The four photos referred to are in the Photos section:

On Sun, Jan 9, 2022, at 11:15 PM, David Bennett wrote:

Good evening Janet, I hope you won’t mind me e-mailing out of the blue, but I have been browsing your very interesting pages on the history of Witham. My mother’s family came from Witham, and I have found many connections, especially after downloading their page on the 1921 Census, which was released this week.

In 1911, Edwin and Eliza French, my great grandparents, lived at Powers Hall End, and although I can’t identify exactly where it is/was, the attached photos show their wisteria-covered house. Edwin originally came from Kent and was a retired coachman and groom, but Eliza (nee Hicks) was from Witham. The children in the first photo (both photos seem to be from around 1908) are Gladys French (my grandmother), (Daisy) Cicely French, and Sydney French (with the outsized bicycle). Uncle Sid later served in the Essex Regiment in WW1 but was invalided out in July 1917, just before Paschendale. He doesn’t seem to appear on the Muster transcribed on your site (although I see there is a D French, who could have been his older brother Douglas, whose war service records I haven’t been able to find).

By 1921, Edwin and Eliza lived at Avenue Lodge. Four of their nine children appear at that address on the 1921 census, but most seem to have moved away – mostly to Chelmsford – soon afterwards. Cicely lived in Wickham Bishops until her death. Another French daughter, Etta, married into the Wadley family, who ran the village bakery in Newbridge Road, Tiptree for many years.

If you were interested in using these photos on your website, I would be only too pleased to share them. I do have further information on my Ancestry family tree, if anyone is interested, which I would also be very happy to share.

With best wishes
David Bennett (now living in Lancashire)


On 16 Jan 2022, at 14:35, Janet Gyford <> wrote:

Hello David,

Thank you very much for your email and the fascinating photos. It must be a bit frustrating for you living so far from Witham !

I haven’t managed to find much more about the people; there are some people named French in places like the football teams, but if you do a search of the website for the name, you would know better than I whether they belonged to you.

But I think I’ve found the house. Powershall End can be rather difficult to decipher, because there were not many landmarks, and even its name changed – sometimes it was just called Chipping Hill, and so potentially indistinguishable from the real Chipping. But I’ve found that the houses in the census returns are usually given in the right order, as they are on the ground.

So I looked in the 1901 census returns (the latest which I’ve got – always so nice to be looking at the census) and found the French family. They are at RG13/1725, f.78, p.10., schedule 65. Immediately below them is the Victoria Inn, which is at the end of the road. Three places up in the other direction are the Turner family – I knew one of them, Edith Raven, who told me where their house was, a few places along from the Victoria.

If you look at photo M504 on my website, you can see the Victoria at the end of the road, left of centre, and your house on the right, in front of the tree (easiest just to type M504 into a search box). Also see
M812, M1577 (the Victoria),
m136 and M137 (the Turners’ house, with a grapevine – these houses faced south – hence your wisteria.

Also tape 010-013, interview with Mrs Edith Raven including map. This is quite long but she mentions ‘a French’  quite near the beginning – click Menu and choose Interviews, she’s number 10  onwards. I just had a quick glance and there are quite a few references including Mr French being ill and poor as a result.

Just a couple more points from your letter. I’ve found that documents like the muster rolls, and even the War Memorial, depended on a rather arbitrary interpretation of where people lived, especially if they had connections with several places. Second, the Wadleys. John Wadley came to live in Witham for a long time, married a schoolmistress. He ran the shop that came to be our corner shop, lived in a big house in my road (Chalks Road), and also had a row of four houses built here, that I can see from my desk out of the window. I’m sending a photo of the four houses, the diamond-shaped plaque reads JW. Mrs Ireland, another much interviewed lady, knew him well. I don’t know what relation he was to your Wadley.

And yes, it would be good to have your photos for my website, thank you. I’m a bit behind with doing the transfer of photos, but I have a queue of them waiting patiently.

All the best



On 19 Jan 2022, at 00:15, David Bennett <> wrote:

How very interesting Janet, and thank you so much for replying and sharing.

The information about the numbering of Powers Hall End/Chipping Hill explains why I was struggling to make sense of the different addresses shown on official documents. I can see now that the French’s house, as per my pictures, is the one in the middle of your photo M504. Since this is around 1904, the two little girls just visible in the centre of the photo are very likely to be Gladys and Cicely French. At the time, no-one could afford a camera, but professional photographers would tour towns and villages offering to take photos of people outside their houses, and would return later on spec with prints, in the hope that people would want to buy them, often as post cards; this is the reason that there are so many photos with the same pose of a family standing outside their house!

Mrs Edith Raven’s tapes definitely mention Edwin and Eliza (my additions in italics):

Mrs R:    Do you know, in those days, in my young day, I, Father, I don’t remember Father having it. But, er, in the first house, along of there, along Powershall End, from the Victoria, next – , just before you got to the Victoria, there was a cottage there [Powershall End]. There was a man, man French [Edwin], lived there and a Mrs French [Eliza]. And I wasn’t very old. And Father used to go every night. ’Cos he was ill. Used to go every night. And lift him, off of one bed on to another. So that he could get washed and changed. And I was horrified. I shall never forget it. They evidently were on ‘the parish’. See. Well, when I say ‘the parish’, dear. That was a very very small money. And the dreadful man that come round with that. And I heard him say. He went in. I heard him say ‘This is the last week I’m going to bring you any money. You won’t get another half a crown next week. You’d better get up and get to work’. And he was ill. So ill, that my father used to go and, I tell you, he couldn’t lift him up. He had to find – another man the other end of the sheets and put him over the bed like that. I thought, how dreadful. And I can remember, and that was half a crown, they got and it’d got to last them the week. (Q: Mm mm.) See dear. So you see .…

Q:    Who was that, that used to come round?

Mrs R:    That was from the Braintree Union people. Poor law, see. [Parish relief – pre-welfare state handouts for the destitute]

So that would be around 1915-20, they were living on 2/6 a week (12.5p, equivalent to perhaps £20 today). They must have had to move to a smaller and cheaper single storey dwelling in their old age. In 1901 Edwin is described as “domestic groom”; in 1911 “disabled coachman” and in 1921 “old age pensioner” while Eliza is an “invalid” by 1921. I must admit to being surprised at just how poor the family were. That may be why the French family all moved away, as there wasn’t much to keep them in Witham. Gladys (my grandmother) married a Chelmsford man, Billy Cowell, who subsequently became an auctioneer and very respectable and middle class, owning a new house in 1938, and being the first in the street to have a radio, car, telephone and television. Cis never married but stayed “in service”, and was gifted her little cottage in Wickham Bishops on her retirement, now Grade II* listed and no doubt worth a fortune. Con French married John Cole, who was a chauffeur in Uxbridge to Miss Tetley, of the Tetley’s Tea family. Olive French married Willliam Gray, who worked for HM Customs & Excise in London.

The French family were all linked to the Wadleys and the Hicks, which I suppose is not surprising in a fairly small town when everyone had such big families. Harry Wadley, the Tiptree baker who married Edwin and Eliza’s daughter Etta, was John the builder’s older brother. His son Dennis Wadley went off to fight in the second world war, but came back to carry on running the bakery in Tiptree, and even after retiring he got up at 3 every day as he had for years to make bread; he lived his last days in a caravan next door to the bakery. Cicely Wadley, Harry’s daughter and therefore John’s niece, and also one of Edwin and Eliza French’s granddaughters, had an interesting life. My sister records “Cicely was the youngest headmistress in the county, having been sponsored to be educated to that level by her aunt Gertrude Wadley (Harry’s sister and thus Etta’s sister-in-law). Gertrude, known as Gertie, was a headmistress herself and saw potential in her brother’s daughter and paid for her to be trained and helped her get a good post. Gertrude was unmarried and rich, owning several properties in the area and was head of King’s Road Infants school. The union of her protegee Cicely and Luther Howard was not a happy one: Cicely carried on teaching, he took up with their housekeeper and when Cicely found out, she shot herself in the stomach with one of Luther’s hunting guns. She survived somehow, eventually dying of tetanus from an infected scratch from the garden, in Attleborough”.

Then, curiously, also on Mrs Raven’s tapes, there is a mention of Winifred French (who was always known to the family as Gar), who was the companion to Mrs Raven’s sister Madge:

Mrs R:    My house was just here. (Q: Off the edge.) Yes, on the edge, here. So, that’s, that’s the other house starting there (Q: Yes.) Well, our house was here. (Q: Yes.) Then there’s the Vic, you see [Victoria Inn]. [Q: Fine one, isn’t it?] The person that I’m still friendly with [Winifred], was born in that house [ie the Frenches’ house]. In fact, she was my sister’s companion, and, of course, I’ve lost my sister [Mrs Raven’s sister Madge (Margaret) Turner 1889-1969] so of course, she’s not there now. She is over in Bocking, in one of the Homes, there now [presumably Georgian House in Braintree, a onetime Abbeyfield old people’s home, now made into flats]. I couldn’t have her.

Q:    What, the ….(Mrs R: Not that person.) The lady that lived there, what was her name?

Mrs R:    French (Q: Oh, that was French) French, Um, Miss Winnie French, Winifred French. And she was, likely, four years with my sister, five years. She did work in a shipping office [this ties in with my research]. And that, she got retired. And the flat that she was in, they wanted so that’s how my sister took her in. And she took her in more or less as a companion. (Q: Yes.) My sister was better off than I am, I was. She lived .…

Q:    Is she the one you said went to London?

Mrs R:    Yes. She, um, she lived at 68 Prince’s Square, Bayswater [Madge Turner’s house, where Gar lived too]. She had a very nice house …. [Noise on tape, Mrs R moved?] I used to go up every September, when this person [ie Gar] went on a holiday, to be with my sister. After she lost …. [noise on tape, sounds as if microphone disconnected]

Gar (Winifred) was something of an enigma, she never married but used to turn up with all sorts of interesting antiques, and seemed to have a somewhat mysertious past, she was very entertaining.

You should be able to link to my Ancestry page here including a picture of Sydney French (in his Essex Regiment uniform). I knew him as an elderly man shuffling about his garden growing beans, strange to think of him fighting at Ypres.

Thank you again for sharing your research, it has been really interesting for us!

With very best wishes, David









Janet Gyford <>

Good afternon Janet, I hope you are well.

A couple more photos of Ponders [Powers] Hall End/Chipping Hill have turned up that match our conversation below, which you would be welcome to add to your website as before if they are of any use to you. The first is Sydney French, seemingly taken on the same day as the one of Edwin and Eliza, as it is an exact match for the flowers etc; these appear to be from around 1910-1915. The other one is dated “July 1934” and is clearly the same now-demolished house, but since Edwin and Eliza were dead by then, I’m puzzling over who the people are, especially that rather overgrown schoolboy! I’ll let you know if I do work it out. Kind regards, David


Margaret Tabor

Margaret Tabor of Bocking

A few notes compiled by Janet Gyford, February 2005

See also Clara Rackham (her sister, a prominent suffragist)

Although she was not a Witham person, Margaret Tabor occupied many positions in the area and in the county. So when you read about some parts of Witham’s history, she will often appear, with all her wisdom and ability. She was really an amazing person, way ahead of her time, and I would feel moved to write about her wherever she came from !  I wish I had known her. When I first wrote these notes in 2005, I had the feeling that she was neglected in her own home parishes. Perhaps with the passage of time she has been noticed more, I hope so.       JG 2022


 1871 census

RG 10/38, folio 46, page 6, schedule 26, 16 Lansdowne Road, London, Middlesex

Henry S Tabor Head Marr 31 Landowner and house proprietor born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma F? Tabor Wife Marr 28 born Lancashire, Wigan
Edward H Tabor Son 5 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Margaret E Tabor Dau 3 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Francis S Tabor Son 1 born Middlesex, Kensington
Clara L Woodcock Sister in Law and ?Director? Unmarr 21 Annuitant born Lancashire, Wigan
Mary Smith Servant Unmarr 27 Cook (domestic) born Essex, Sible Hedingham
Elizabeth Holland Servant Unmarr 22 Housemaid (domestic) born Essex, Great Saling
Emily Bragg Servant Unmarr 23? Nurse (domestic) born Essex, Bocking


1881 census (from online version)

RG 11/30, f.63, p.11, 44 Lansdowne Rd, London, Middlesex

Henry S Tabor Head M 44 Landowner born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma F? Tabor Wife M 38 born Lancashire, Wigan
Margaret E Tabor Daur U 13 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Francis S Tabor Son 11 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Robert W Tabor Son 8 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Clara D Tabor Daur 5 Scholar born Middlesex, Kensington
Henrietta L Morant Servant U 24 Cook Domestic Servant born Lancashire, Salford
Charlotte Harrington Servant U 22 Housemaid Domestic Servant born Essex, Felsted
Lilian Tyler Servant U 23 Nurse Domestic Servant born Middlesex, Stoke Newington


1891 census

RG 12/1422, f.71, p.20, schedule 154, The Fenns, Bocking

Henry Samuel Tabor Head Marr 54 Landowner and farmer born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma Frances Tabor Wife Marr 48 born Lancashire, Wigan
Margaret Emma Tabor Daur Single 25 Student born London, Kensington
Ellen Rebecca Hardy Serv Single 32 Cook, domestic born Essex, Finchingfield
Ellen Stock Serv Single 27 Housemaid, domestic born Essex, Bocking
Ada Thomason Serv Single 46 Under-housemaid, domestic born Essex, New Samford


  1. New Dictionary of National Biography (2004), entry for Clara Rackham

‘In [1895] Clara Tabor (later Rackham) followed her elder sister Margaret to Newnham College, Cambridge …’

‘[Clara and her husband, married 1901] had no children, but her marriage exempted her from the role of daughter-at-home, which was assumed by her sister Margaret in her place’.


1901 census

RG 13/3495, f.6, p.4, schedule 14, 163 Edge Lane, parish of West Derby, ward of Kensington, Borough of Liverpool

Margaret E Tabor Head S 33 Warden of Hall of Residence born London
Catherine G Watkin Boarder S 19 Art Student born Manchester
Mary Thomas Serv S 34 Cook Domestic born Lancs, Liverpool
Margaret Little Serv S 24 Parlour maid domestic born Lancs, Liverpool
Mary Howard Serv S 28 Housemaid born Lancs, Liverpool


1901 census

RG 13/1723, f.66, p.20, schedule 120, Fennes Farm, Bocking, Essex

Henry Samuel Tabor Head M 64 Landowner and Farmer (employer) born Essex, Little Stambridge
Emma T Tabor Wife M 58 born Lancs, Wigan
Robert W Tabor Son S 27 Law student born Middlesex, Kensington
John V Parfue[?] Visitor S 22 Law student born Hants, Bournemouth
Mary A Stock Servant S 20 Cook domestic born Essex, Bocking
Emma E Hale Servant S 21 Parlour maid domestic born Essex, S Hedingham
Lily Daines Servant S 17 Housemaid born Essex, Bocking


British Library online catalogue, books by Margaret Tabor

(I have arranged these in date order of the first editions)

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Saints in Art, with their attributes and symbols alphabetically arranged … With twenty illustrations, pp. xxxi. 208. Methuen & Co.: London, 1908. 8o, Shelfmark:   

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Saints in Art … Second edition, pp. xxxi. 128. Methuen & Co.: London, 1913. 8o, Shelfmark:

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The City Churches: a short guide with illustrations & maps, etc., pp. 122. Headley Bros.: London, [1917.] 8o., Shelfmark: , 07816.f.23.

Tabor. Margaret E., The City Churches. a short guide with illustrations and maps, [S.l.], Headley Bros., 1917, Control Number: U100366023, Shelfmark: W21/5927

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The City Churches, etc. (Revised edition.), pp. 135. Swarthmore Press: London, 1924. 8o., Shelfmark: , 010349.g.57.

Tabor. Margaret E., The City Churches. a short guide with illustrations & maps. [S.l.], Headley, [n.d.], Control Number: U100366022, Shelfmark: W11/4907

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The National Gallery for the Young … With 24 illustrations, pp. viii. 115. Methuen & Co.: London, 1924. 8o., Shelfmark: 7860.a.24.

Tabor. Margaret E., The National Gallery for the young. Margaret E. Tabor, [S.l.]., Methuen, 1924, Control Number: U100366026, Shelfmark: W10/1512

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The National Gallery for the Young … Second edition, pp. viii. 117. Methuen & Co.: London, 1931. 8o., Shelfmark: 7852.p.3.

Tabor. M. E., Elizabeth Blackwell. the first medical woman, Series: Pioneer Women, [S.l.], Sheldon Press, 1925, Control Number: U100366024, Shelfmark: W11/0220

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Pioneer Women … With portraits. [Additional headings: BELL. Gertrude Margaret Lowthian, BIRD, afterwards BISHOP. Isabella Lucy, BLACKWELL. Elizabeth. M.D., BUTT, afterwards SHERWOOD. Mary Martha. Appendix, CARPENTER. Mary, EDGEWORTH. Maria. Appendix, FRY. Elizabeth. Mrs., HERSCHEL. Caroline Lucretia, HILL. Octavia, JONES. Agnes Elizabeth, MORE. Hannah. Appendix, NIGHTINGALE. Florence. Appendix, SIDDONS. Sarah, SLESSOR. Mary Mitchell, SOMERVILLE. Mary. Writer on Science], 4 set. Sheldon Press: London, 1925-33. 8o. Shelfmark: 10804.l.31.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Other London Galleries. A sequel to “The National Gallery for the Young” … With twenty-four illustrations, pp. x. 116. Methuen & Co.: London, 1926. 8o, Shelfmark: 7854.bbb.58.

Tabor. Margaret E., The other London Galleries. A sequel to “The National Gallery for the Young”, [S.l.], Methuen & Co., 1926, Control Number: U100366027, Shelfmark: X20/5198

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Round the British Museum. A beginner’s guide. [With plates.], pp. xiv. 112. Methuen & Co.: London, 1927. 8o, Shelfmark: 07805.e.24.

TABOR. Margaret Emma, Four Margarets. The Lady Margaret [Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby]-Margaret Roper [formerly MORE],-Margaret Fell [afterwards FOX]-Margaret Godolphin. [With portraits.], pp. xii. 113. Sheldon Press: London, 1929. 8o.

Tabor. Margaret Emma, Four Margarets, [S.l.], [s.n.], 1929, Control Number: U100366025, X28/1484

TABOR. Margaret Emma, The Pictures in the Fitzwilliam Museum. A short guide. [With plates.], pp. vii. 64. W. Heffer & Sons: Cambridge, 1933. 8o., Shelfmark: 7852.p.30.


Essex County Chronicle, 21 and 28 February 1913

Miss Tabor president of Braintree and Bocking Women’s Liberal Association.


Essex Weekly News,  2 May 1913, page 3 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]

Report of Braintree Guardians’ annual meeting. Mrs Marriott had left and she had ‘been very useful on the Cottage Home and Boarding-out Committees (Hear, hear)’. ‘The Captain’s Joke. Capt Abrey before the appointment of committees remarked: Mr Chairman, I should like to ask if we have any suffragettes here, because if so I should like some guarantee that we shall not be blown up. I think we ought to have some protection (Laughter). The Chairman: I think you can take care of yourself, Captain. (Renewed laughter). Capt Abrey: If there is to be any shooting I shall have to provide myself with a shooting iron. I am very fond of shooting. But I should like an answer to my question. The Chairman: I don’t think there is much fear of that. Miss Tabor: I should just like to say that nobody can object to militant tactics more than I do (Hear, hear). Mr Bartram: May I say that I have sat for many years with Miss Tabor on the Education Committee, and we had no more intelligent and excellent member on that Committee. Miss Tabor had always shown sound judgment and had done excellent work (Hear, hear). Mr B S Wood: I also have known Miss Tabor a good many years, and I will go bail for her good behavior (Laughter)


Essex County Chronicle, 2 May 1913, page 5

Two paragraphs of comment on Miss Tabor’s election to the Braintree Board of Guardians and especially the reaction of Captain Abrey, who ‘wanted to know in effect if the lady intended to introduce bombs’. Regarded as humorous be he ‘he didn’t seem to mean it in that way’. Miss T said ‘she was not a militant Suffragette, and that she strongly objected to militant tactics’. Several vouched for Miss Tabor’s character.

[A Miss M E Tabor of ‘Fennes’, Bocking, was on Guardians in 1934, Braintree and Witham Times, 17 May 1934]


Essex Weekly News, 25 July 1913 [also see xerox of whole report on newspaper files]

‘Suffragist “Pilgrims” in Essex. Banner smashed at Chelmsford’. March of ‘Non-militant Suffragists’ from East Anglia to London to take part in demo in Hyde Park on 26 July. Stopped and held open-air meetings along the way.

‘Lady Rayleigh presided at the Witham meeting, and the speakers were Mrs Rackham, Miss Taylor, Miss Vaughan, and Miss Courtauld. With the exception of a few interjections such as “You’re trying to wear the trousers” and “We can’t help laughing”, the meeting was very orderly’. Further meeting at Hatfield and Chelmsford where banner taken.

According to earlier part of the report, Miss Courtauld was of Colne Engaine, Mrs Rackham of Cambridge (who had frequently spoken in the area and was a sister of Miss M E Tabor who presided at Braintree meeting), Miss Vaughan of Rayne. Don’t think it explains Miss Taylor.

Another story afterwards is about ‘disturbance at the London Pavilion on Monday, when Mrs Pankhurst was re-arrested at a meeting of the WSPU, several women surrounded the police and detectives and attempted to rescue Mrs Pankhurst’. Several arrested including Miss Madeline Rook [or Rock?] of Ingatestone. Released on bail. Described as a poet aged 30. At court she and two others refused to sign recognisance to keep the peace but ‘sureties were eventually forthcoming’.


ERO G/Br M35-M39, Braintree Guardians, Minutes 1911-1930

Miss M E Tabor (Bocking) member 1913-27

Mrs M H Tabor 1922-27 member

28 April 1913, AGM

Has printed information on elections.

Margaret Emma Tabor of Bocking elected for Bocking (4th out of 5, 4 elected)

Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux are on: House Committee; Nursing Committee; Boarding Out Committee; Cottage Home Committee

26 May 1913

Re Feeble Minded. Special Committee had met with Mr L H Joscelyne (chair), Miss Tabor, Miss Vaux and R C Seabrook. Only a small number of such people so not prepared to recommend Board to join scheme for central institution. Arrangements to use one of workhouses in the county now only partly occupied, would be preferable. Discussion. Adopt.

9 June 1913

(first meeting, page 1)

Women present are Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux.

8 December 1913

House Committee including Miss Vaux and Miss Tabor and three men, about two cases, discussed at length. One about not letting man called Sutton visit his children, and another about a boy placed out in Wales, where the son of the family is now setting up a dairy business in London and wanted to take the boy. Committee recommended not. Report only adopted by 12 to 3.

AGM 27 April 1914, AGM, page 173

Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux are on: House Committee; Nursing Committee; Boarding Out Committee; Cottage Home Committee; Visiting Committee (General)

All men on: Finance Committee; Farm Committee; Assessment Committee (Mr W Pinkham for Witham on latter)

Visiting Committee (Ladies): Mrs H Pryke, Mrs W Gordon, Miss Vaughan, Miss G Harrisson, Miss M E Tabor, Mrs T Speakman, Mrs Richardson, Mrs R C Seabrook, Miss Packe, Mrs G Cousin, Mrs Eddleston, Miss Harrison, Mrs Brownrigg.

28 April 1915, AGM

Committees as before, Miss Tabor and Miss Vaux on the House, Nursing, Cottage Home and Boarding Out committees.

8 May 1916, AGM

Committees as before. Miss M E Tabor to be chair of Boarding out and Cottage Home Committee (didn’t give names of chairs before)

6 May 1918, AGM

[page 806]


House and Works Committee (13 members including Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Farm Committee (3 members, all men)

Assessment Committee (12 members, all men)

Nursing and Midwives Committee (7 members including Miss M E Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Finance Committee (10 members, all men)

Boarding Out Committee (9 members including  Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Miss Vaux).

Cottage Home Committee of Management (14 members including  Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Miss Vaux).

Also Assessment Committees in districts, all men.

16 December 1918

[page 882] Miss Tabor and Mr H W Golding to go to a Poor Law conference in February.

26 April 1920, AGM

Committees similar to before but now Miss Vaux is chairman of Cottage Home Committee instead of Miss Tabor, though latter is still on it.

25 April 1921, AGM

Still just the two ladies. Miss Vaux seconded Mr L H Joscelyne as Vice Chair (and Capt Abrey proposed) but he defeated by G A Newman .

10 April 1922 [last meeting in book]

Miss Vaux and Miss Tabor still only ladies.

24 April 1922, AGM

Committees similar to before but now have Mrs M H Tabor as well as Miss M E Tabor

House and Works Committee (including Mrs M H Tabor and Miss S E Vaux).

Farm Committee (all men)

Finance Committee (all men)

Boarding Out Committee (including  Miss S E Vaux (chairman), Miss M E Tabor (chairman) and Mrs M H Tabor).

Cottage Home Committee of Management (including  Miss S E Vaux (chairman), Mrs M H Tabor, but not Miss Tabor).

Assessment Committees in districts, all men. Captain Abrey for Witham.

12 May 1924, AGM

[page 1775] Committees Mrs C P Brown is now a member as well as Miss V, Mrs and Miss T, so now four ladies (as well as Mr C P B).

House and Works includes Mrs Tabor and Miss Vaux

Boarding out now has man as chair and includes the four ladies.

Cottage Home. Mrs Tabor as chair and Miss Vaux as member

27 April 1925, AGM

[page 1907]

Committees, members now include Miss M M Ruggles Brise, making 5 women.

House includes Miss M M Ruggles Brise, Miss S E Vaux

Boarding Out includes Mrs C P Brown, Miss M M Ruggles Brise, Mrs M H Tabor, Miss M E Tabor, Miss S E Vaux, i.e. 5 women out of 11 members.


Death certificate

In Cambridge. 4 Feb 1954, 9 Park Terrace. Margaret Emma Tabor, 86 years

Occupation: ‘spinster of no occupation, daughter of Henry Samuel Tabor a farmer deceased’.

Cause of death: ‘(a) Coronary thrombosis. (b) Arterio-sclerosis. Certified by M G P Reed, M B

Informant: ‘Clara D Rackham, sister. In attendance, 9 Park Terrace, Cambridge’.

Registered: 5 February.


Essex Weekly News, 12 February 1954, page 2

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

Death of Miss Tabor. Work for Essex Education. One of first Women County Aldermen.

Miss Margaret Emma Tabor, MA, JP, for many years a leading figure in the public life of Essex, died on February 4 at Park terrace, Cambridge. She was 86 years of age.

Elder daughter of the late Mr Henry S Tabor, of Fennes, Bocking, Miss Tabor was educated at Notting Hill High School and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she took honours in the Mathematical Tripos. On leaving the University Miss Tabor plunged at once into many forms of activity. She started university extension classes in Braintree, and she was elected in 1893 as a member of the Bocking School Board.

Became Chairman.

Education was to be her chief interest throughout a long life of service, although it was far from being her sole interest. Her work on the County Education Committee was soon recognised, first by her appointment as vice-chairman, and later as chairman: she soon proved that she had all the ability and experience to guide the Committee aright. Her continuous service on the committee covered 33 years.

Miss Tabor was one of the first governors of Braintree County High School. For a considerable time she was on the Council of Bedford College, London University, had been governor of Homerton College, Cambridge, representing the Essex County Council; and on the Council of the Royal Society of Art.

She was a founder-member of the Executive of the Rural Community Council.

Miss Tabor was among the early pioneers in promoting better opportunities for University education for pupils from County Schools. As the provision of County Scholarships increased, she devoted much personal effort to the selection of these awards, and the need for widening university education remained one of her chief interests.

An event in which she was deeply concerned was the opening of the St Osyth Teachers’ Training College at Clacton in 1949; one of the Halls of the College is named after her and she served on the Governing Body until her death.

Claim Recognised.

Miss Tabor was one of the first two women to become a county alderman in 1937 – the other was Mrs Arthur Williams – for it was obvious that their claims to recognition could no longer be overlooked. First elected to the County Council in 1931, she remained until her resignation from the Aldermanic Bench in 1949.

Other ways in which Miss Tabor displayed marked ability were as a member of the Essex Insurance Committee, of the Braintree Rural Council, and in former years as a Guardian of the poor. She was on the Council of the Rural Housing Association for some time, and her interest in architecture led her to write a Guide to the City Churches. She also wrote many other books.

In 1924 Miss Tabor was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Essex and she sat on the Braintree Bench.

Among many more local interests was the Bocking Women’s Institute, of which she was the first president in 1919.

Miss Tabor was a very early woman cyclist and for some years she bicycled regularly to Felsted to teach the three daughters of Canon Dalton, the headmaster. She was a keen hockey player, and taught the game to the factory girls in Bocking, for whom she ran a club.

In addition to her public work Miss Tabor led a full home life. In 1915, on the death of her eldest brother’s wife, she brought up his three children – Miss M L Tabor, Mrs Dixon, JP, and Mr John Tabor, urban and county councillor.

In 1948 Miss Tabor left her Essex home and went to live with her sister, Mrs Rackham, in Cambridge. To occupy some of her leisure she took up the study of Braille and spent much time in correspondence with the blind. Five months ago came her last illness.

She will be mourned by a host of friends and her family, and especially the three children of her brother, whom she brought up.

The funeral took place privately.

Great Loss.
Sympathetic reference to the death of Miss Tabor was made at Monday’s meeting of Essex Education Committee by the vice-chairman, Mr E C Hardy. He referred to her passing as “a great loss to education in Essex” and gave particulars of her 50 years public work, which included the chairmanship of the Education Committee.

Mr A L Clarke said Miss Tabor devoted her life to the cause of education and had a profound belief that the future of this country depended on the kind of education people received. She was loved and respected by all who knew her.

“Miss Tabor”, said Mr S S Wilson, “was one of a large family of distinguished people – surely the greatest family Braintree has ever produced”.

Several other members spoke in similar vein, and the meeting stood in silent tribute for a few moments.


Braintree and Witham Times, 11 February 1954, page 3

Obituary of Margaret Tabor. Xeroxed. Reads as follows:

Education Pioneer Dies. Miss Margaret Tabor’s great social work. A pioneer in educational work, Miss Margaret Emma Tabor, died, aged 86, at her home 9, Park Terrace, Cambridge, on Thursday. The private funeral took place at Cambridge on Saturday.

Miss Tabor was born in London in 1867, the daughter of Mr Henry Samuel Tabor of Fennes, Bocking. Starting her school life at Notting Hill High School she won a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge. There she took honours in the Mathematical Tripos and in 1891 returned home to Braintree, and there lived for the rest of her life.

Immediately she started university extension lectures in the town. In 1893 she became a member of the Bocking School Board. An enthusiastic cyclist for several years, she cycled daily to Felsted to teach the three daughters of Canon Dalton, the headmaster.

A keen hockey player, she opened a club for factory girls at Bocking and taught them the game.

From 1893 to 1903 she went to Liverpool where she started the first hostel for women students at the university. She was elected a member of the Braintree Rural Council and to the Board of Guardians in 1913. For several years she was chairman of the Local District Education Committee. She was one of the earliest women magistrates in the town.

Miss Taber’s greatest contribution was undoubtedly in the field of education. In 1916 she was co-opted on to the Essex Education committee and remained a member for 33 years until she resigned in 1949.

She became a member of the County Council in 1931, and represented the Bocking Division until 1937, when she was made an alderman.

She was chairman of the Higher Education Committee and County Library Committee for a number of years, and was chairman of the Essex Education Committee from 1935 till 1939.

Miss Tabor was one of the early pioneers in promoting better opportunities for University education for pupils from county schools.

From the Start. An event she was greatly concerned with was the opening in 1949 of the St Osyth’s Teacher’s Training College at Clacton. One of the halls is named after her, and she served on the governing body until her death.

Miss Tabor also served for many years on the governing body of Bedford College, London University, and on the council of the Royal Society of Art. She was the founder member of the executive of the Rural Community Council.

A great love of travel took Miss Tabor to North and South America, North and South Africa, the Sudan, to India and Palestine. She was a frequent speaker at village meetings upon her experiences.

Author of several works, Miss Tabor wrote a series of four volumes on the lives and work of women, entitled “Pioneer Women”. “The National Gallery for the Young” was another of her works. Other books included “Saints in Art” and “The City Churches”.

First president of the Bocking Women’s Institute in 1919, Miss Tabor was also manager and governor of various local schools. Of those, her greatest interest was in the Braintree High School of which she became founder-governor in 1906 and served in that capacity till her resignation in 1951.

In 1948 she left Essex to live with her sister, Mrs Rackham, in Cambridge. There she studied braille and spent much time corresponding with blind people. Five months ago she became ill and died on February 4, after more than 60 years of active public life.

At Chelmsford on Monday members of the Essex Education Committee stood in silence to her memory and several members paid tributes.

In a tribute to Miss Tabor, Mr F A Parish, chairman of Braintree Bench, said on Wednesday: “Her service to this Bench was all that could be desired”.

The Balladeers


Account by a member, Jon Robinson: typed from Jon’s manuscript by Janet Gyford. See also photos M2134 and M2135.

 The Balladeers – Folk Rock and Cabaret Band


Formed in approx 1962-63.

Original members: Jonathan L Robinson (lead singer), Patrick Elligott (rhythm guitar), Alan Battley (lead guitar), Trevor Rudkin (drums). We were all members of 1st Witham Scout Troop.

The band started practising in the ‘Scout Hut’ at the bottom of Newland Street. Entrance opposite the Crotchet Inn.

The Balladeers were formed in preparation for a reception at Witham Public Hall in honour of a Scout Troop from Essen in Germany.

We had camped with this troop in 1962 at a site near Venho in the Netherlands, and the Germans were always marching into camp playing their guitars.

We rather envied this so when the 1st Witham Troop returned hospitality after the 1964 Essex Jamboree we wanted to prove we could put on a show as good as them.

The Civic Reception was held in 1964. We had a good response from the public.

By this time Alan Battley and Trevor Rudkin had left and they were replaced by David Ainsworth and Trevor Gilbert (both 1st Witham Scouts).

Trevor Gilbert (son of Ted the Bread) became lead guitar and mandolin, and David Ainsworth became bass guitar. Bob Ashcroft (one of our Scout leaders) became our manager.

We then started to practise behind Gilbert’s bakery (in between the dough machines).

From then on we had lots of local bookings, e.g. Constitutional Club, Red Lion, The George Folk Club and British Legion Hall.

At the British Legion Club we used to hold Social and Theme nights. One such night was a ‘St Trinians’ evening. All the band members and party goers dressed as ‘School children’.

All these socials were compered by Bob Ashcroft. Bob was a very good compere and we had full houses every time.

The troup played Gigs in London and Home Counties and Francis Golightly’s week-long revue at Braintree Institute.

Whilst on holiday at Caistor on Sea we entered a talent competition. This we won and for our hard work we won a torch/screwdriver.

In approx 1966-67 we recorded an EP at studios in Luton. We were transported there by Trevor’s uncle in his Dormobile.

One number, ‘Kinky Creature’, was written by ourselves. Word and music by Robinson / Elligott.

I think it as in 1968 we were voted the most talented and up and coming band by the ‘Stage’ newspaper – the next ‘Seekers’.

We started to take on bookings – i.e. Hartlepool Football Club and Sunderland Working Men’s clubs.

At Sunderland on the Sunday lunchtime we were on the same bill as female strippers. We shared just one changing room, much to the dismay of our girl friends.

We also played clubs in the Rhonda Valley, South Wales, e.g. Treorchy, Mountain Ash, Tony pandy, etc.

In fact in one club we were ‘Top of the Bill’ in Tom Jones’ club, before he became famous.

We also played the ‘First Club’ in Ipswich, where we supported Diana Dors – a very kind and lovely lady.

The Balladeers performed at several showcases and were asked to play at the opening of the new Civic Centre in Gravesend. We topped the bill and there is a plaque on the wall at the Centre which mentions all the entertainers on the bill. I think it is still there.

Dave left the group sometime later as he had other commitments, and we engaged Richard Gowers from Chelmsford. He fitted in very well.

In the mid-seventies, the band, because of work commitments, was unfortunately disbanded.

The Balladeers were temporarily re-formed in the 1980s in honour of Trevor who was leaving the area. The gig was held in Marks Tey Village Hall and a great success it was.

David and Jonathan joined different bands, Trevor moved away and Patrick concentrated on his career.


Jon L Robinson, 14/01/05




From: “Bedenham, Dot” <>
Subject: The Balladeers
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 13:01:56 -0000

Just going through my sent mails to delete them and came across your email. I have found a reference to a folk group called the Balladeers – it was an advert in the Essex Chronicle for 8th October 1971. The Balladeers Folk Group were to play at The Beehive Great Waltham.

Hope this is useful

Best wishes, Dot.


The Bull family


Assorted notes on the Bull family of Witham.   By Janet Gyford.

From Images of England, Witham by Janet Gyford
‘During the 1920s and 30s, ‘Billy’ Bull took over the studio at no. 34 Newland Street, where his wife had a ladies’ dress shop. His father William had kept the Red Lion. His was a ‘daylight’ establishment, specialising in portraits.’
[previously, 34 Newland Street had been occupied by other photographers, i.e. Harry Hall, Fred Hayward (briefly)]


Directories (these stop in 1937)

1906 Bull William, Lion P.H
1908 Bull William, Lion P.H
1910 Bull William, Lion P.H
1912 Bull William Lion P.H
1914 Bull William, Lion P.H
1914 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1917 Bull Catherine (Mrs.), Red Lion P.H
1922 Bull William Ernest, Red Lion P.H.
1922 Bull William Ernest, photographer
1926 Bull William Ernest, photographer, 34 Newland street
1929 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1929 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 Newland st
1933 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1933 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st
1937 Bull Wm. Ernest, photographer, 34 High st
1937 Anita (Mrs. A. G. Bull), milliner, 34 High st



Census returns

1881 census, RG11/1809, folio 38, schedule 20, Collingwood Road Cottage

(one of 3 with this address)

William Bull Head M 26 Coachman born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 25 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate Hemsell Bull Dau 2 born Essex, Witham
William Ernest Bull Son 9 mo born Essex, Witham
John Kennett Hogben Boarder U 21 Postman born Kent, Ramsgate


1891 census, RG 12/1425, folio 49, schedule 30, Braintree Road

William Bull Head M 36 Coachman, servant (employed) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 35 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Dau 12 Scholar born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son 10 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Dau 8 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son 7 Scholar born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 2 born Essex, Witham


1901 census, RG 13/1725, folio 22, page 6, schedule 34, Newland Street

[between Angel Inn (39-41) and Spread Eagle (49-51)]

William Bull Head M 46 Coachman, domestic (worker) born Essex, Rivenhall
Catherine Bull Wife M 45 born Lincs, Bourne
Kate H Bull Daur S 22 Dressmaker (own account) born Essex, Witham
William E Bull Son S 20 Photographer’s assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Emily M Bull Daur S 18 Grocers cashier (worker) born Essex, Witham
Sidney G Bull Son S 17 Grocers assistant (worker) born Essex, Witham
Victor L Bull Son 12 born Essex, Witham
Catherine Hunt Aunt Wid 75 Living on own means born Leicester, Gt Glen
Gwendoline Starkey Visitor 8 born Southwark St George, London

Military Tribunals
These were introduced in 1916 during the First World War, when conscription into the army started. Men appealed to them to be postponed or excused altogether.

Essex County Chronicle, 26 May 1916
page 6, 
Military Tribunal. Hon C H Strutt presiding. Also ‘Messrs S Abrey, Q D Greatrex, P Hutley, JP, CA, E J Smith, Eb Smith, E Wood, with the military representative, Mr E Pelly, and the Clerk, Mr S Daniels’.
‘Wm E Bull, married, professional photographer, Witham, with a branch at Braintree, appealed on grounds of business hardship. The Chairman: The Government are meeting cases of hardship by a system of grants. Mr Pelly contended that photography was not of national importance in war time. Applicant urged that photographs were really a necessity, as soldiers and their relatives wanted photographs. Postponed two months’.

Essex Weekly News, 26 May 1916, page 5
Married professional photographer, Witham, with a branch business at Braintree, applied on the grounds of business hardship. He was working single-handed with the exception of an apprentice, who, however, would be leaving shortly to join the Army. He was the only photographer over a wide radius, and if he had to go the business would be closed. – The Chairman pointed out that the Government were meeting cases of hardship by their system of grants; and Mr Pelly argued that photography was not of national importance in war time. Two months were allowed.

William E Bull, Military Tribunal. Chairman Hon C H Strutt.

The Witham Muster Roll recorded the men who served and survived in the First World War- see a copy on this website at:
The original is in the Braintree and District Museum.

It shows that, “W Bull” from Witham served in the Forces but I don’t have any more details.

Bill to Mrs Sneezum, 9 September 1916
Two of Mrs Sneezum’s sons had died in the First World War. George was killed in action in May 1916 and his brother Charlie had died from wounds in 1915. So Mrs Sneezum’s large photographic order may well have been for photos of her sons.
I have a copy of the bill to Mrs Sneezum from W Bull for photographs. I haven’t yet succeeded in putting it onto this website.

Essex Weekly News, 12 September 1919, in Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings compiled by Mrs Ena Macpherson
“Died in husband’s arms. Mrs Annie Gertrude Bull, aged 66, wife of Mr W E Bull, photographer, Witham, died suddenly on Sunday evening. She had been in bed with heart trouble for three days. Telling her husband she felt faint, she died almost immediately in his arms. Mrs Bull, who before her marriage 40 years ago, was a Miss Kent of Maldon, had lived in Witham 50 years. She was employed in the milliner’s shop of Mr Lake near the Old Post Office, and in 1926 opened her own shop under the title of “Anita”. There is one son”.

Comments from people who knew the Bull family.

From tape 190, interview with Mrs Ena MacPherson
“And there was Mr Bull, who was a friend of my father’s, who had a photographer’s just by his, [near the George] Yes, Billy Bull. And his wife, she opened a little dress shop called Anita, in that corner [near the George]. He was a great friend of my father’s. They used to play billiards once a week in each other’s houses, you know…

He had a little studio in Braintree. He used to go there once a week and have, yes, photographs, yes portraits, that would have been. I don’t think he went out. No, he had a studio at the bottom of the garden.

“Where did they live?” Bulls? Next to the, what’s the pub on (Q: George, the George). The George, yes That was, she had that little shop, she had a little shop built in that corner, a little gown shop. And everybody was pleased …

From tape 41 interview with Mr and Mrs Ager
Mr A:  “I mean the pubs were open at six o’clock in the morning. (Q: Yes?) Six o’clock in the morning old Billy Bull, at the Red Lion, he used to dump his matting on the path, that was to let people know he was open. Great big old door mat. And they see that laying there and in they’d go. (Q: Yes.) That’s six o’clock in the morning.”

 From Tape 122 ‘The Good Old Days’, meeting held 30 November, 1988
Dr Bill Foster:     ‘Can you remember the photographer, in Newland Street, called Mr Bull. I got my first passport photograph from him. He seemed quite surprised when I went in, I said ‘Can I have a photograph please’ and he stood there, he had a big room and enormous apparatus, put the black thing over his head and there was dust blew these things, dust blew all over the place. Produced a very good picture though.’

Letter from Peggy Blake (former photographer)
(nee Butcher) 5 March 1999
There was another photographer in Witham during my childhood – he was still going, I think, in 1936. His name was Billy Bull, and he had a daylight portrait studio above his wife’s dress shop. He had no shop window beyond a wall-hung showcase, exhibiting sepia postcards, at a time when they were fast following the Dodo. He was a nice man….. Billy Bull and wife lived and worked in Newland Street, their premises right next door to the George pub.


There is a photo of the Studio when it was occupied by Harry Hall, the Bull’s predecessor (Roy Poulter’s photo 59)

Photo M428 (on this website) shows the George, and in the corner to the right of it is Modes, which used to be Anitas run by Mrs Bull, and then part of what was Bull’s studio behind that.

I am having trouble inserting the first onto this page so it will have to come later, but you can see the second one at
and in fact I see in the published version of this post it has inserted itself !


Ebenezer Smith


Ebenezer Smith in 1936


Signalman on the railway until his retirement from work in 1936.

Held innumerable voluntary posts, including especially:-

First Labour member of the Witham Urban District Council (1920), and then:
First Labour Chairman of the Council (1933-1935).

Pioneer of the Council’s new housing schemes in the 1920s, and then:
First Labour Chairman of the Council’s Housing Committee (1926-1933).

President of Maldon Divisional Labour Party.
President of the Brotherhood.
Justice of the Peace (magistrate).



From “Who’s Who in Essex”, published in 1935


This section is mostly taken from the Braintree and Witham Times (which was founded in 1929).  Sometimes I have written the item out in full, and sometimes I have summarised it. Only a selection of the reports is given here – there are many smaller ones that I have not included.

29 November 1929
Witham Urban District Council.
The report of the Housing Committee was accepted, presented by Councillor Eb Smith. Approved a plan to build 44 new houses, ‘of the parlour type’ to be sold to owner occupiers in easy payment terms, the first ten to be erected fronting Highfields Road.

31 January 1930
Labour Annual meeting was presided over by Mr George Hubbard (Mr A G Bright was indisposed). Progress had been made. V G Crittall to be President. Messrs A Franklin and Eb Smith Vice Presidents. A G Bright Chairman. A Franklin and C Rumsey Vice Chairmen. Mr G Butcher treasurer. Mr S Rice General Secretary. Messrs Palmer and Royce added to the Executive.

28 March 1930, page 3.
‘A great Institution holds its last meeting. Braintree Board of Guardians’. It includes Miss S E Vaux, Colonel E L Geere, W W Burrows, Eb Smith, T Speakman. Tributes made to the late members and officials. Matron reported there were 87 inmates, as against 208 last year.

1930, 4 July, page 4.
A summary of Eb Smith’s life before becoming  a JP in 1930.
Witham’s new Labour JP [magistrate]. Eb Smith. Born in 1871 at Sible Hedingham. Porter at Thorpe railway station. To Witham in 1900. Became signalman at Witham in 1910. Treasurer of Witham NUR since 1913. In Wesleyan church, Brotherhood etc. Sits on Military service Tribunal.

President of Maldon Divisional Labour Party in 1919, Vice- President 5 years, Hon Treasurer 5 years and now President again.

First elected to Witham Urban District Council in 1920. Now its Vice Chairman. Since 1924 has been largely responsible for the Council housing schemes under which 132 houses have been erected on Cressing Road estate, 12 are in progress, and also 20 being built on Guithavon Road for purchase by tenant owners. He was on the old Braintree Board of Guardians and is now on the Public Assistance Cttee [which replaced it].”

28 April 1932, page 3.
Discussion at UDC meeting about the rebuff from the Ministry of Health, who refused to let them build 6 more houses at Cross Road. Eb Smith said he didn’t suppose the present Government would last for ever.

2 June 1932, page 8.
Captain Evitt, Ebenezer Smith, G Ogden (surveyor) and H Crook (deputy clerk) represented Witham in a plane trip at the opening of Chelmsford aerodrome [at Broomfield], on Wednesday last week. It was a ‘10 seater air liner’. Came over Witham. 20 minute trip. They ‘all agreed that Witham looked splendid from the air’.

22 Sept 1932, col 1.
‘The “Mean” Test. Another J.P. resigns in protest. The resignation of Mrs Florence Balaam, J.P., from the duties associated with the administration of the Means Test, has been followed by that of Mr Eb Smith, J.P., of Witham, who has written signifying his decision in this respect to Mr C H F Hunt, clerk to the Braintree Area Public Assistance Committee’.

He won’t attend any more meetings while the present scale of allowances have to be ‘rigidly enforced’. While it was possible to exercise discretion, he attended, but he said ‘I will not be a party to enforcing a scale which, in my opinion, is utterly inadequate for the needs of the unemployed and those depending on them’.

He intended to send a copy of the letter to the press and to the UDC. If the latter want to replace him they may. ‘Otherwise I shall endeavour to attend the meetings of the Guardians Committee whenever possible’. Regrets this – he loves the work, and his leaving is only because of the ‘inhuman and degrading restrictions’ now imposed.

The reporter says that meanwhile, there are changes pending in the Poor Law system, arising from the suggestion that Public Assistance Committees ‘shall deal only with the sick and infirm’. At present lots of able-bodied unemployed, have to ‘seek relief because of the refusal of unemployment benefit, or because of the operation of the Means Test applied to those who have exhausted their benefit’.
[Long discussion about means test, rates of relief etc.].

15 December 1932
Brotherhood meeting. Harry Smith from Colchester addressed it. Eb Smith presided and gave a monologue, Mr Bowyer played a saxophone solo, the lesson was read by Mr Walker, and the prayer conducted by Mr Wheeler. 57 people attended.

‘Women’s Bright Hour’. Meeting of same. Mr Eb Smith gave an address and, by special request, a recitation.

Report of Witham Urban District Council meeting, 27 April 1933, when Ebenezer Smith became Chairman.
‘Commencing his 14th year as a member of the Witham Urban Council, Mr Ebenezer Smith JP, was elected chairman in succession to Capt H L Evitt, in whose favour Mr Smith withdrew last year. Mr Smith has been vice-chairman … for a
number of years’. Proposed by Mr E L Smith, with great pleasure. Seconded by Mr B O Blyth. Unanimous. Also various thanks to Capt Evitt.

Eb Smith made a speech. ‘When first elected, he felt himself to be an unwelcome intruder. Certainly no welcome was accorded him, but that was now a thing of the past. Had there been any other nomination that night, he would have withdrawn. When he first became a member of the Council he did not really think that he would ever be chairman, although he had always hoped that if he did, it would be with the unanimous support of the Council.

Frequently in the past he had been in the minority and at one time had thought that his name should have been “Ishmael” and not “Ebenezer”, because in the early days his hand was against everybody else and everybody else was against him. however, the last few years had seen a welcome change. He had been pleased to support the retiring chairman, under whom they as a body had done so well’.

W W Burrows was unanimously elected vice chair, nominated by Evitt and Manning.

5 October 1933
Mr Ebenezer Smith, chairman of the late Council, emerged at the top of the poll of this ward, to the great delight of his supporters, who, like the majority of other ratepayers, had expressed surprise when Mr Smith chose to contest the Central [probably means South] Ward. Indeed, the opinion was freely expressed in the town that Mr Smith would have considerable difficulty in retaining a seat.

31 May 1934, col 4.
Witham Methodists. Yesterday, at Witham, the stone laying ceremony, in connection with a schoolroom of the Witham Methodist Church, took place, and it is doubtful if the movement in Witham has ever had such a day since the church was erected.

‘Eleven years have elapsed since the first move was made [to build a] school-room’. Various people’s efforts. Amongst the donors ‘was Mr Joseph Rank, the miller, who sent a cheque for £50’. List of people who couldn’t come. Short service presided over by Rev James Lewis.

The inscriptions on the eight stones were:

Rev James and Mrs Lewis (laid by Rev Lewis)
Joseph Rank Esq, May 30th, 1934 (laid by Mr J Ellis, chair of London NE District)
H V Norfolk and F Powell, Circuit Stewards (laid by Mr Powell of Maldon)
Oscar Heddle Esq (laid by Mr Heddle)
Mr and Mrs G Wheeler (laid by Mr Wheeler)
Mr and Mrs W W Marskell (by Mrs Marskell)
Ebenezer Smith JP and Mabel Digby (by Mr Smith)
Mr and Mrs W Alderton (by Mrs Alderton)’

Report about Ebenezer Smith on the occasion of his retirement from the railway.

Written by Winston Alderton, 22 September 1936
Probably for the Essex County Standard
The following was typed by JG in October 2001, from the typed original in the possession of Simon Alderton, Winston’s son.

Mr Ebenezer Smith, Witham railwayman J.P., is shortly to retire from the railway after 47 years service. He will cease work in this connection at the end of the month.

Mr Smith, who has reached the age limit of 65 years, is probably the most public man in Witham for in spite of his railway duties he has contrived for many years to fulfil many public duties.

Born at Sible Hedingham he was first of all, at quite a young age, a bricklayers labourer. Later he became a lad-porter at Thorpe-le-Soken [station], with three Sundays duty out of every four and 12/- per week of 82 hours. He was a bright lad however and inside three weeks he was entrusted with shunting goods and passenger trains single handed, regulations being not quite so stringent then as at the present time.

Later he went to Parham, Suffolk, and when his wages were raised to 17/- a week he decided to get married. He and his wife lived for some time in what he described to an ‘Essex County Standard’ representative as a ‘wooden hut’.

For a short time he was at Orwell on the Felixstowe line, and then he moved to Cold Norton, remaining there for some years.

From Cold Norton he came to the Witham district, occupying Chantry Box between Witham and Hatfield Peverel, having gained promotion to signalman. Chantry Box is one of the loneliest on this line but again regulations were not so strict then as now, and often passenger and goods trains would stop specially to give Mr Smith a ride to or from his work. Mr Smith’s appointment to this box was curious for when offered it he refused but had to go all the same. His wages then were £1 per week, with 10 hours each day duty and one Sunday off in every thirteen.

Difficulty in finding a suitable house led to letters to head office and ultimately Mr Smith had to appear in London where he was severely reprimanded. ‘Yet’ said Mr Smith, ‘that interview had good effect. My extra allowance for lodgings which had been discontinued, was restored and so too was that of several other railwaymen in similar circumstances’.

It was in 1900 that Mr Smith came to live at Witham and in 1910 he was appointed to Witham Railway Station box. He has been there ever since. Always keen on ambulance work, he was for 12 years the local station division secretary, and he is the proud holder of the Railway Company’s gold medal and bar, for 20 years efficient ambulance work.

He recalls the railway disaster at Witham on Sept 5th 1905. He was at the Chantry Box at the time but on coming off duty he immediately hurried to the station and saw the wreckage lying about the station and assisted in clearing the line. Eleven people were killed when the Cromer Express left the metals.

Mr Smith’s record of public life is one that can rarely have been surpassed in the county, and many times instead of going to bed during the day in readiness for night duty, he has forgone his sleep and attended various meetings, and it was nothing for him to go anything up to 48 hours without sleep.

From 1916-18 he was a member of the Local (Military Service) Tribunal and Local Food Control, Fuel and Lighting Committees. From 1920-22 he was a member of the Braintree & Dist., War Pensions Committee. From 1922-35, he was a Voluntary Worker for the London Area War Pensions Committee. From 1920-36 he was a Member of the Witham Urban District Council.

For many years Mr Smith has been an active member of the Labour Party and over his political sympathies he has never made any secret, being frequently seen on Labour platforms. He has been president of the Maldon Divisional Labour Party and is at present vice-president. In addition he has held numerous offices in connection with the local Labour Party.

He has, for a number of years and, in fact since its formation, been actively associated with the Witham United Brotherhood and has spoken at Brotherhood meetings all over the county. He is the present Correspondence Secretary of the local movement.

As a local preacher too, Mr Smith is widely known and respected and in this and other connections the best description that can be applied to him is that of a utility man, for, even at the last moment he is always ready to step into the shoes of a speaker or preacher who has been prevented from attending as arranged. His services on behalf of the local Methodist (formerly Wesleyan) Church will not readily be forgotten.

One of Mr Smith’s ambitions is to become a member of the Essex County Council. His attempt in December 1935 in the Coggeshall Division failed by the narrow majority of 13, the successful candidate being Mr Cyril Deal.

Mr Smith plans to continue to lead an active life. Both he and Mrs Smith happily enjoy good health and their numerous friends and acquaintances will wish them long life and happiness.

Always a champion of the poor and needy, Mr Smith’s efforts on their behalf will not readily be forgotten. ‘I remember’ he said ‘my own difficulties and my own housing problems and this knowledge spurs me on to do my very best in these matters’.

27 April 1933, page 6, cols 1-2
Election as Chairman of Witham Urban District Council
‘Commencing his 14th year as a member of the Witham Urban Council, Mr Ebenezer Smith JP, was elected chairman in succession to Capt H L Evitt, in whose favour Mr Smith withdrew last year. Mr Smith has been vice-chairman … for a number of years’. Proposed by Mr E L Smith, with great pleasure. Seconded by Mr B O Blyth. Unanimous. Also various thanks to Capt Evitt.

Eb Smith speech. ‘When first elected he felt himself to be an unwelcome intruder. Certainly no welcome was accorded him, but that was now a thing of the past. Had there been any other nomination that night, he would have withdrawn. When he first became a member of the Council he did not really think that he would ever be chairman, although he had always hoped that if he did, it would be with the unanimous support of the Council.

Frequently in the past he had been in the minority and at one time had thought that his name should have been “Ishmael” and not “Ebenezer”, because in the early days his hand was against everybody else and everybody else was against him. however, the last few years had seen a welcome change. He had been pleased to support he retiring chairman, under whom they as a body had done so well’.

W W Burrows was unanimously elected vice chair, nominated by Messrs Evitt and Manning.

28 September 1933, page 2
[Probably on the occasion of new larger Council.]
Mr Eb Smith responded on behalf of the Council and remarked that as the oldest member of the Council he was often held responsible for the misdeeds of the past. (Laughter). But the work had been interesting and had been a great education to him. The first time he stood for the Council he missed election by five votes and on the second occasion succeeded by only seven votes. The first chairman under whom he sat only endured him for one year and then resigned as apparently he (Mr Smith) was unruly – and that gentleman had been associated with the Council for over 50 years.

Since then he (Mr Smith) had sat under four chairmen and he thought he could safely say that his most pleasant experiences had been obtained under the chairmanship of Capt. Evitt. (Hear, hear). He sincerely regretted that Capt Evitt had resigned from the Witham authority, especially at this particular juncture when they were faced with situations more difficult than ever before. It would have been a good thing if all the members had stood again (Hear, hear)

The resignation of Miss Pattisson would also be received with regret. Miss Pattisson had been of material assistance to him during the development of the Council’s housing schemes, which had proved very successful; in fact, he thought the Guithavon scheme was one of the best of its kind in the country (Hear hear). He (Mr Smith) was glad they had been able to progress so satisfactorily, because the future held great difficulties, particularly during the first twelve months of the new Council.

Personally, he was not shrinking from the tasks confronting them, and, as in the past, he would endeavour to do his best from day to day. (Applause). However, they looked into the future with a certain amount of anxiety, possibly because many of their problems would have to be dealt with by a newly-constituted personnel of the Council.

He personally would have welcomed Capt Evitt at their deliberations – providing, of course, he (Mr Smith) was successful in seeking re-election – because Capt Evitt was a wise counsellor, one who exercised sound judgement. (Applause). … He personally had been a member of the Council for more than 13 years, and four years ago was on the verge of resigning, but came to the conclusion eventually that there was much useful work to be done … … [more people speaking]
Ebenezer Smith. Have represented you since 1920. Held several important offices including Chairmanship of Council. ‘Knowledge and experience’. ‘As a Labour representative I have given special attention to the provision of houses for the working classes’. Taken full share in what UDC has done to benefit the town.

5 October 1933, page 2, column 4 (after the incorporation of Silver End and Rivenhall into Witham)
‘The Greater Witham. Result of the poll for the new Urban Council’. Held on Saturday. Six retiring members who offered themselves were all returned .

The election will go down in history as one which furnished several surprises. The first came with the figures for Central [probably means South] Ward, so at this early stage the crowd, which, probably because of the rather early hour, was rather numerically small, was given some inkling as to what to expect from the succeeding decisions. Mr Ebenezer Smith, chairman of the late Council, emerged at the top of the poll of this ward, to the great delight of his supporters, who, like the majority of other ratepayers, had expressed surprise when Mr Smith chose to contest the Central [probably means South] Ward. Indeed, the opinion was freely expressed in the town that Mr Smith would have considerable difficulty in retaining a seat.

Witham people are now asking what will happen when the 15 councillors, together with the officials and the Press, hold their first meeting in the present Council Chamber, where the accommodation is at the moment anything but adequate.

29 March 1934 [wrong date or page] page 8.
‘Railwaymen’s Sunday’ was observed at the Brotherhood. Mr A E Bright (porter) presided. Address by Mr Eb Smith (signalman). Mr J Eggett (goods foreman) offered a prayer. Mr J Birch, [sic] porter, read lesson. Mr R B Stoakley, station master of Kelvedon ‘rendered two excellent solos’. Good attendance.

19 April 1934, page 2.
‘Witham Council Chairman Re-elected. Members agree not to swop horses while “crossing the stream”. “A happy decision” says Mr Eb Smith’.

Annual meeting. ‘Col Geere proposed Mr Burrows for the chairmanship. In Mr Eb Smith, he said, they had had an excellent chairman, a good, clean-living man and one who had no “fish to fry”, but now the Council’s area was enlarged it had become necessary to have a man, in these commercial days, who had had business training’.

Mr Eb Smith had been excellent and Col G had nothing against his ability. Esmond L Smith seconded. Said Eb Smith had ‘undoubted abilities’. ‘But Mr Burrows had been the Council’s vice-chairman and had the next longest service as a member of the Council’. Said Mr B very able. Before the motion put, Mr Burrows said did not desire to be chair. Had said so before. ‘So far as he personally was concerned, the members of the Council were quite free to continue with their old chairman, Mr Eb Smith, if they so wished.

Mr Cuthbe proposed the re-election of Eb Smith. It was ‘Entirely false’ to say only successful businessmen would do. ‘It had, in fact, been proved on many occasions that ordinary working men who had no knowledge of what were commonly known as business affairs, were able to satisfactorily conduct such public affairs …’ Wrong to change now. Mr Mott seconded. Discussion. Eb Smith therefore elected.   Thanked members, especially Mr Burrows. He hadn’t discussed it before. Did not wish to remain but felt continuity was necessary ‘He agreed that he was a man who had a will of his own, but even when, in the past, they had clashed, there had been no reason to doubt that their desire had been something for the benefit of the town – they had always adhered to the principles they thought best.

Mr Manning proposed and sec for vice-chair. A business man. Mr Cuthbe proposed Mr Burrows. Mr B declined. So Mr Manning elected.

19 April 1934, page 2
Suggestions that the Witham Council was run by the local Brotherhood were made at a meeting of the urban authority on Monday night. The matter arose when the chairman (Mr Eb Smith) invited the members to follow the usual custom and to attend the Brotherhood gathering on the Sunday immediately following the annual meeting of the Council – next Sunday.

Arrangements had been made for the Vicar of the parish to give the address on this occasion, and although duty would prevent him from attending, he hoped as many members of the Council as possible would be present to take part in the service. Mr. Esmond L. Smith was to be the soloist, and Mr. Manning would
also take part.

The Church Lads’ Brigade had promised to attend and Mr. Ingram had asked if they should take any part. The conduct of that special service had previously been in the hands of the members of the Council, but possibly the Church Lads’ Brigade could participate as the members were budding citizens.
Mr. Naylor said that surely a Council consisting of 15 members could run a Brotherhood service for one afternoon ‑ surely they had talent enough for that purpose. He did not know why the Vicar should have been asked, or why the Church Lads’ Brigade were asked either.

Col. E. L. Geere. We are all wrong in discussing this matter in public. Politics should not enter into the question. The Chairman: There are no politics in the matter at all. Mr. Rowles: Before discussing the matter we should have gone into committee. The Chairman: I am sure the Press will exercise their discretion.

Mr. E. L. Smith: Why we can’t settle this matter without all this discussion, I fail to see. Mr. Manning: The whole question seems to hinge on the Church Lads’ Brigade. I suggest we keep the service in the hands of the Council, as in former years. Mr. Naylor: Perhaps we could appoint the Vicar as hon. chaplain to the Council .(Laughter.)

Mr. Richards said the new Vicar would have no axes to grind. The chairman was one of the “leading lights” in the Brotherhood and if he had invited the Vicar ‑ “well and good.” The chairman said that on this occasion he was asked to invite the Vicar to attend and give an address.

Mr. Burrows added that it was fitting that they should ask the Vicar. He would no doubt give an excellent address. So far as the Church Lads’ Brigade was concerned they had also invited the Crittall Works Band, and they hoped to have “a full house.”
Some discussion ensued on the question of the debate being reported in the Press, and Mr. Cuthbe moved that no request to keep the discussion out of the newspapers be made to the reporters. It was ridiculous to attempt to suppress every little discussion they had ‑ theirs was a public body.

The Chairman: We don’t want to do anything which will make things difficult either for us or for the Vicar. I take it that in my absence Mr. Burrows will preside, and perhaps Col. Geere will read the lesson. Col. Geere: I won’t attend to read the lesson – I hear this Council is run by the Brotherhood. Mr. Rowles also declined an invitation to read the lesson. The Chairman: I should have thought you would have supported the Council in this matter. Will you read the lesson, Mr. Crook ? Mr. Crook (the deputy-clerk): I have read it on several occasions, but I really think a member of the Council should.

Eventually Mr. Cuthbe was prevailed upon to perform this part of the service. “Yes, I will,” he said. “I am not ashamed to stand up and be seen at the Brotherhood.”

31 January 1935, page 2
Chairman (Ebenezer Smith) pleased with new offices. Business all in one building. ‘He felt particularly proud of the work which had been done during his tenure of office resulting in the new swimming pool, the new cemetery and now, the new Council offices. Tribute to Surveyor.

7 March 1935, page 1
Advert. ‘Maldon Divisional Labour Party. PEACE. Great Public Meeting. Co-operative Hall, Braintree. Saturday next, March 9th. Commence 7 p.m. Admission Free. Speakers Rt Hon W Wedgewood Benn, DSO, DFC, ex secretary of State for India and Mr William F Toynbee, prospective Labour Candidate. Chairman Councillor Eb Smith, JP. SOCIALISM MEANS PEACE, PROGRESS AND SECURITY’.

28 March 1935, page 7
Obituary of Thomas Cullen, seed merchant, and account of retirement of Ebenezer Smith from chairmanship of Witham UDC.

Also discussion of Jubilee celebrations and whether or not they should be supported from the rates (yes) and of resolution criticising national defence.

20 June 1935, page 6, col 4. Retirement of Ebenezer Smith as chairman of council
Large number of delegates and members of local Labour Parties, Women’s sections, Co-op Guilds, Trade Unions and other organisations at the Co-op Hall on Saturday for meeting of General Committee of Maldon Divisional Labour Party.

Preceded by pleasing event. Gift was a ‘handsome walnut clock with Westminster chimes’. Et al. Subscribed for by 300 people. Sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, presentation to Mr and Mrs Eb Smith. Head and shoulders photo [bit fatter in the face than earlier ones]. D J Maidment, divisional chairman, present. Also W F Toynbee, Labour candidate, K Cuthbe, party secretary, and Mr P Astins, County Councillor. Mrs Mabbs wrote…

17 December 1936
National Union of Railwaymen presentation to Mr Ebenezer Smith. At their HQ at the White Horse. He said conditions were much better than when he first started on railways, largely due to efforts of NUR.

6 May 1937, p.2
‘29th annual conference of Essex and Suffolk Brotherhood and Sisterhood Federation’. Ebenezer Smith, JP, CC, of Witham, president elect of Brotherhood. Honour. Long report. Says interdenominational.

Chelmsford Chronicle
, 26 April 1946, death of Ebenezer Smith

By the death of Mr. Ebenezer  Smith, J.P., Witham has lost one of her best-known residents. Mr. Smith, who was in his 75th year, died at Black Notley Hospital Good Friday. He leaves a widow, son (Mr. Stanley Smith), and daughter (Mrs. Betts).

Mr. Smith, who was born at Sible Hedingham, spent nearly 50 years in the service of the old Great Eastern Railway and L.N.E.R. Co., starting as a porter at Thorpe-le-Soken in 1889. and becoming signalman in Witham for 26 years, retiring in 1936.

A great part of his life was spent in public service. In the First World war he was a member of the Local (Military Service) Tribunal, and Food, Fuel and Lighting Committees, and became a member of the Braintree and District War Pensions Committee. For 26 years, from 1920. he was a member of the Witham Urban Council, and was chairman 1933-34.

For a period he was a member of the Braintree Board of Guardians. In 1930 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. A few years later he was elected to the Essex County Council, retiring only last March. He was president of the Witham Hospital Carnival, 1933-34, and was appointed a life governor of Colchester Hospital.

Mr. Smith was an active member of the Labour Party, speaking at gatherings in many parts of Essex, and was for some time president of the Maldon Divisional Labour Party.

Keenly interested in the Brotherhood movement, he frequently presided at the Witham gatherings, and was a past president of the Essex and Suffolk Brotherhood Federation. He was also a tireless worker for the Methodist Church, and his services as a lay preacher were in demand. Mr. and Mrs. Smith celebrated their golden wedding in July, 1944.

Ebenezer Close
A new road on the Church Street housing site is to be named “Ebenezer Close” in memory of the late Mr. Ebenezer Smith, J.P., a former chairman.”


The Cage

The Cage at Witham

The cage was a small lockup on the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane, where wayward residents could be restrained for short periods. I’m not aware of any surviving photos. This one shows where it used to be.

It would have been in the centre of this photo, to the left of the yellow brick building, which is now 132 Newland Street, and which in many old photos was the Globe Inn. It was Frank’s Café most of the 1970s, A J M Glass’s in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and is now Past Times. The photo was taken in 1975 when, as you see, it was Mill Lane Tropicals.

The cage was demolished in the 1920s, being old and unused, and in a space needed for the widening of the Mill Lane corner.

The rest of this account will consist of quotations  from old documents. Any comments that I’ve added myself, are in square brackets . Coloured text shows different parts of the document.

​Information, 1641
The Information of Jane Earle widdowe, taken upon Oath before Sir Beniamin Ayloffe, Barronet, Sir Thomas Wiseman, knight, and Henry Nevill, Esq. This 27th day of November. Anno Domini 1641.
“Shee saith that on Sunday was sennight shee was laid on her Bed, shee being then weary of a Jorney haveing come on Foot Fifteen miles the day before, and about three of the Clocke in the afternoon Robert Garrard, Philomen Pledger, John Freborne and Nathaniell Garrard, came to her house, and knocked at her doore, wheareupon shee arose from her Bed, and let them in, and they requiring a reason why shee was absent from Church, shee tould them that shee came Fifteen Miles the day before, and was very weary and Sicke, yet they not being satisfied, but by force carried her to the Cage, wheare they imprisoned her about a quarter, or halfe an hower.”
Signed:                         Signed:
Benj.Ayloffe                Tho.Wyseman

(Essex Record Office. Epiphany 1641/2. Q/SBa 2/45)

Recognisance, 1641/2
27 Nov. Jane Earle widow; to indict Rob.Garrard, Philomen Pledger, John Freeborne, and Nath’l Garrard for assaulting her in her own house and violently carrying her into the cage [all of Witham].
Essex Record Office. Epiphany 1641/2  Calendar of Quarter Sessions. Q/SR 315/76.)

: Jane Earle also made several appearances in the Church courts – one of them was because she was “commonly reputed and taken to be a woman of very rude behaviour”.
The four Witham men were probably parish officers.
The three distinguished men at the beginning, Ayloffe, Wiseman and Nevill, were local magistrates.]

Presentation against the inhabitants of Witham, 1669. [translated from Latin]
“Catasta (in English the Cage) in Witham, within the precincts of this lete, is exceedingly ruined so that it is a sin against the law, so that it is not possible to make it secure. Therefore it is ordered that the inhabitants of Witham shall mend and repair those same Catastam before the next first of May, under pain of forfeiting to the Lord five pounds.”
(Essex Record Office, 1669 Manor Court Roll for manor of Newland , ERO D/DBw M28)

Tithe map and award, 1839
The site which is now 132 Newland Street comprised four  plots on the Tithe Map, as shown in the table: they are also shown on my (very) rough map. The cage was plot 137A. This confirms its location as suggested by other documents, on the corner of Newland Street and Mill Lane.

No. Owner Occupier Description Size
137 Rolfe, Edward Self The Globe PH 4 roods
137a Witham Parish Officers Unoccupied The cage and yard 2 roods
138 Pattisson, Jacob Howell William Goldsmith Garden 28 roods
138a Rolfe, Edward John Brown and 2 others Tenements 6 roods

(Essex Record Office D/CT 405 and 405A)

Witham rate and vestry meetings book, 1851
21 April 1851.
‘The subject of the Old Cage and the ground whereon it stands was brought before the meeting and it was resolved that the Churchwardens be requested to sell the Cage and the ground whereon it stands and to hand over the purchase money to the Engine House Committee”
22 September 1851
Extracts from accounts ‘for the repair of engines, buckets, etc’
Dr: Mr Cook’s Sale Bill £2 11s 0d
Cr: ‘By sale of cage by auction by Jno Cook to C Douglas esq, £30.’
(part of Essex Record Office Acc A5605)

An Essay about Witham, by someone who first came in 1883
“Sometimes you might find one in the Village Cage . The people in Witham are aware of the fact that such a one still stands in Witham. It is a building about 10 ft square, timber built and brick nogged, with slated roof, it consisted of two compartments, with a ring bolt let in the floor, where the prisoner was chained to. It fell into disuse at the passing of Sir Robert Peel Police Act nearly a century ago [1829?], and was rented by Mr Thomas Bailey at 2£ per annum, he used it as a general store, and although patched up is still to be seen opposite the Gas Works” (Essex Record Office T/P 116/83)
[the Gas Works was on the other [south] corner of Mill Lane and Newland Street; the site is now the Mill Lane car park].

Witham Urban District Council, minutes, 1921
31 October 1921, page 163
Mr H Lawrence offered to the Council for purchase, ‘the Historic Drunkard’s Cage now standing on his premises’. Clerk to ask price etc.
2 November 1921, page 168
Mr H Lawrence said he required £30 for the Cage. Clerk to thank him and say could not at present purchase it. “Mr E Smith proposed and Mr E Pelly seconded that the Clerk inform the Antiquarian Society of the offer now made to the Council, and should the Society be desirous of the Cage remaining in the Town the Council were willing that same should be placed in the Recreation Ground”.
[The proposers were Councillors Ebenezer Smith, newly elected the previous year, and Edmund Pelly of Witham Lodge]
19 December 1921
The Surveyor had had a letter from Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings re the Cage [no details]

From an account of Witham for  the Women’s Institute  Essay Competition, 1935
“Other Ancient Landmarks which have disappeared are the Tithe Barn, the pound, and the ‘lock-up’. …. Just at the bottom of Newland Street stood the lock-up for the temporary accommodation of local drunkards. It had a high gate and wooden fence. When the corner of Mill Lane was widened it was removed”. (Essex Record Office T/P 133/1)

 Witham Urban District Council in Essex Weekly News, 1937
29 October 1937  “WORTHY OF PRESERVATION. – The Town and Country Planning Committee of the County Council are to be informed that the following buildings are worthy of preservation. The Old Pound, Newland Street: properties at Chipping Hill and facing the Parish Church: timbered properties in Bridge Street, owned by Mr W J Marshall; and Blue Posts House, Newland Street.” (Essex Weekly News, 29 October, 1937)
[The Pound was a place for keeping stray animals, and Witham’s Pound was near the top of Collingwood Road, not in Newland Street (see below). So we don’t know whether the writer meant the Pound or whether they really meant the Cage]

Old Days in Witham, no date, probably written about 1930
The old lock-up was at the corner of Mill Lane, part of the property known  as the Globe Inn, now, I believe, a paper shop. The Globe Inn had as landlord for many years a Mr Bailey, and I believe his son is still living in Braintree. I have been in this lock-up many times as a boy (not as a prisoner). It was then known as the Cage, and I have heard my grandfather state that he had seen people in the stocks which were at the  corner of Mill Lane opposite the Gas House, and quite close to the Cage.
(Essex Record Office, Acc 10510, page 2. No date but perhaps about 1930, because said to be written about 50 years after the workhouse closed, which was in about 1880. This the only reference that I [JG] found to the Stocks being near the Cage -see below for Stocks)

I’ll finish by briefly noting some of the other punitive structures in Witham.

The Pounds in general

The Pound of the Manor of Blunts Hall, 1570
(for keeping stray animals)
The jury present that the servants of James Stamford have broken the Lord’s pound and taken their cattle away.
(ERO T/B 71/1, p.60)

The Pound of the Manor of Newland
(for keeping stray animals)
1663 the Pound is out of repair. (ERO D/DBw M28)
1785  to be sold with the Manor of Newland, to which it belonged. (ERO SC B462)
c.1930s. Was at the corner opposite the Market Place (the Market Place is now the site of Labour Hall). Taken away at the end of the 19th century (ERO T/P 133/1,19,21).
It was an enclosure where J B Slythe’s was (now a site for selling white vans, near the station) (ERO Acc 10510, p.39).
See also the end paper and page 70 of “Making a Living”.
[There are also a number of references to the Pound Cottage, maybe next to the Pound, which I have not noted.]

Stocks in general
I [JG] have seen a postcard of Stocks claiming to be at Witham, and I believe there is another picture in the George P.H. But there is no information about where exactly they were, or if indeed they really were in Witham. If anyone comes up with more detail, that would be interesting. 

Stocks in the manor of Chipping, 1588
It is presented that all the inhabitants of Chipping Witham shall repair the stocks before the feast of Pentecost, on pain of 40 shillings.
(ERO D/DBw M26)

Stocks in the manors of Chipping and Newland, 1596
It was ordered “that any person who henceforth breaks any person’s hedge within this Leet against the will of the owner shall forfeit to the Lord 12d. for each offence or else to be placed in the stocks for the space of one hour”.
(ERO T/B 1/1, page 105)

Stocks in the manors of Chipping and Newland, 
From “Old Days in Witham”, also quoted above.
No date for
stocks, but written c.1930
I have heard my grandfather state that he had seen people in the stocks which were at the  corner of Mill Lane opposite the Gas House, and quite close to the Cage.
(Essex Record Office, Acc 10510, page 2. No date but perhaps about 1930, because said to be written about 50 years after the workhouse closed, which was in about 1880. This the only reference I [JG] found to the Stocks being near the Cage.)


The Whipping Post

The Whipping Post in Newland Street, 1629
A young boy tied red Irish crosses to it during a dispute with Irish soldiers on St Patrick’s Day.
(G E Aylmer, St Patrick’s Day 1629, in Witham Essex, Past and Present, 1973, p.92)

Witham Carnival in the 1930s

This was written for me in 2001 by Mrs Peggy Blake (nee Butcher).

‘Notting Hill’, it wasn’t, but the effort, enthusiasm and hard work of everyone made up for any modern glitter ! Mums sewed miles of crepe paper into frilly dresses – “Don’t sit down until after the judging dear”.

There was usually a Ghandhi – one sheet and a pair of underpants took no sewing. Grown men in prams wearing bonnets and sucking dummies were always evident – and at any age used to make me cringe !

Crittall’s Band always stood out in their bright orange and saxe blue uniforms – a mixture I hated – but then the firm only made metal windows ! It was a good band, though.

The tradesmen and their workers used to go to a lot of trouble dressing their floats (and themselves), bowers and trails of paper roses etc – all had to be made. Whatever the hospitals gained from the carnivals, the crepe paper industry must have been laughing too !

Notes by JG:-
Money collected at the carnival went to support hospitals, which were all privately funded.
The first Witham Carnival was in 1929. Peggy and her friends were photographed in 1936 – see photos M1122 to M1128.
A search for Carnival will show that they have all been a popular subject for photography.