9 February 2009

Great-great-gramps - blacksmith

Today's birthday boy has already had a mention in the blog (on 6th December, to be precise) but since I couldn't remember without looking it up, I can't expect anyone else to.

So, let me re-introduce my g-g-grandfather:- Millice Campbell Culpin was born in Hemingford Abbotts in 1841, the fourth child of Charles and Sophia (nee Kington). Within a few months he had achieved the distinction of being in that year's Census in two different places and by 1861 he had followed in the family tradition and become a blacksmith. In 1864 he married Naomi Fordham at Hemingford Grey and they started their married life in Bishops Stortford, returning to St Ives by 1868 for the birth of their third child (they went on to have eleven, in all). I think the Hertfordshire link was something to do with their cousins/uncles who were in the Stevenage area but I'm not sure.

Interestingly, I've just remembered that we used to have a couple of paintings of "relatives from St Ives" in the garage when we lived in Ely; no idea why they were in the garage or, indeed, who they were or why we had them but . . . I thought it was interesting!

Moving on, Millice remained a blacksmith or agricultural implement maker for the rest of his life which, sadly, he ended himself in 1899. The Hunts County News had the following rather detailed article on 3rd February of that year:


On Friday morning last the inhabitants of St Ives were shocked at the news that Mr M. C. Culpin, an old and highly-respected townsman, had taken his life by hanging himself from a beam running across the top storey of his implement warehouse situated in the Quadrant. The sad deed was committed between 7:30 and 8:30, evidently whilst the men employed at the works were having breakfast. Mr Culpin rose about 7:30 and, after having a cup of tea, went out by the side door to go, as his wife presumed, to see that the ponies were fed. Not coming in at the usual time for breakfast Mrs Culpin sought him and, mounting the ladder leading to the loft, she was horrified at seeing her husband suspended from the beam. Two men named Crouch and Jeffs were called and they cut the deceased down, at the same time sending for Dr R. W. Grove, who arrived promptly, but only to pronounce that life was extinct. The deceased was one of the best known men of the town and neighbourhood, having for nearly half a century conducted the business of an agricultural implement maker and smith, and as a business man he was respected for the honest and straightforward way he met his patrons and others that he came in contact with. He was a man of fine stature, but for three years had suffered from heart disease and diabetes, and these complaints had evidently unhinged his mind. Deceased leaves a widow and eight children - four sons and four daughters - to mourn him, for every expression of sympathy is shown in their sad and sudden bereavement.

THE INQUEST was held at the Golden Lion Hotel on Saturday morning before Mr C. B. Margetts, Coroner for the Hurstingstone division and the following jury - Messrs W. Wheatley (Foreman), H. G. Parker, W. Goulding, E. Sergeant, J. A. Stevens, E. Collinson, G. Hewson, W. Hurl, A. Hopkins, E. W. Foster, H. F. Corbett, C. W. King and B. Giddings. Supt Rayner, Mr C. P. Tebbutt and Mr J. E. Freeman were also present. The following evidence was adduced:-

Mrs Naomi Culpin, widow of the deceased, who was much distressed whilst giving evidence, said her husband was 57 years old last birthday. Her husband had suffered lately from asthma and violent pains in the head. It was about 7:30 the previous morning when he came downstairs, as he laid a little longer than usual thinking he might be better. She got up about six o'clock and the deceased was then awake. When he came downstairs he had a cup of tea but did not have his breakfast. He was compelled to be particular of what he partook as he suffered from diabetes. After drinking the tea her husband left the house but she did not see which way he went. About 7:40 witness found that he had not got his coat on, and then surmised that he had gone either to his daughter's house or in the adjoining yards to see the ponies. She watched for his coming home and asked her son if he had seen his father. Witness, sobbing bitterly, then said she went to the warehouse and there saw her husband. She called to a man named Alfred Crouch and then came away. Replying to the Coroner, witness said her husband had seemed low spirited and would not converse. He had never spoken of destroying himself. Mrs Culpin, between the sobs, said she did not expect to find her husband there - in the warehouse.

Alfred Crouch, in the employ of Mr Culpin as wheelwright, said he lived at Fenstanton. He was called by Mrs Culpin about 8:30 whilst standing in the smith's shop on the opposite side of the yard. Mrs Culpin called "Crouch, master is hanging here caught by something." He went to the warehouse at once and there he found his master hanging from the beam, with a cord round his neck. (The cord was produced by the police; it was about three feet long and apparently the top end of a leading rein). Witness took out his knife and cut him down, and with the help of a fellow workman named George Jeffs, laid the deceased of the floor of the workshop. Dr Grove arrived a few minutes after and on examination pronounced life to be extinct. He (witness) felt the hands and face of deceased, and they were quite warm. He did not see Dr Mence arrive. The Foreman asked if the ladder was in its usual place and the witness replied "yes".

Mr H. D. Mence, registered medical practitioner of St Ives, stated that he had attended deceased for some time. He had known him for a number of years. In August 1896 witness found that deceased was suffering from diabetes. For the past six months he had not seen him professionally. The tendency of this disease was to induce low spirits, and severe headache was a symptom of the diabetes. Deceased got very thin, and the tendency of the disease was to produce physical inability, mental lowness and nervous and mental disturbance.

The Coroner's remarks were brief. He said it was a very sad case for the jury to attend the inquest on the body of a respected fellow townsman. But their duty was quite clear, for it was for them to say whether at the time of committing this act the deceased was in a sound or unsound state of mind, whether he was capable of forming an opinion that he was acting rightly or wrongly whether he committed the act in a state of insanity or whether it was of malice aforethought. A jury man: I think we are agreed, Sir, as to the verdict. The foreman then asked each individual juror, and all gave the verdict that deceased took his life whilst of unsound mind."

Yet again, I learn something from doing this - when I first read and transcribed the article, I had seen "deceased leaves a widow and eight children . . . " and nodded sagely. Thing is, deceased left a widow and ten children and I only noticed that a few minutes ago.

I guess that confirmation of his temporary state of mind could be inferred from the fact that he died intestate . . . and three weeks later (if only things were that quick now) the estate was valued and granted to Naomi.

I still haven't been to St Ives to take a photo of the house in the Quadrant so it's still on the To Do list . . . . . perhaps when it gets a bit warmer. It's raining now but, alas, the weather men are suggesting that's going to turn back to snow later tonight. Oh deep joy!

Onwards . . .


Anonymous said...

Hello fellow Culpin hunter :-)
Have we been in contact before via Genes Reunited? Millice Campbell was a younger brother to my great great grandmother Sophia.
The house at the Quadrant at St Ives apparently isn't there anymore; supposedly they demolished the entire Quadrant and replace it by industrial buildings. The house father (and blacksmith) Charles Culpin lived at in Bridge Street is supposedly still there.
I didn't know about Henry brother to Blanche getting married so I'm going to add that information to my family tree.
I too am looking for the connection between the Spalding Culpins and "my" Culpins. I know it has to be there since some of the "Spalding lot" have traced their ancestry back to a Richard Culpin born in abt 1725 somewhere in Lincolnshire and his wife Mary Packstone.

Hope to get in touch somehow (Genes Reunited?) and compare Culpin notes.

best wishes,

Anonymous said...

You (probably) won't be able to read my blog but since I've got a picture there you might find interesting I'll give the link to it anyway:

It's a picture of Sophia Culpin born 1864, eldest sister to your great grandmother Blanche. I got it (well via email that is) from a descendant of hers in Australia, Maurice Robbe.

Genpen said...

Good to hear from you. I had a look at your blog and you're right - I can't read it! Your English is so very much better than my Dutch!!
If you follow the links, via my profile, to my web page you'll see a link to my email address at the bottom of the home page - sorry to sound so cautious, but I'm wary of putting my email up so publicly here as I already get too much spam!!
Looking forward to hearing from you that way.
Best Wishes.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to hear about Millice Culpin. He was a half brother to my husbands great great grandfather John Arthur Whatford Culpin. I live near St.Ives so hope to look for the houses connected with the culpins of St.Ives.

Genpen said...

Hsve you seen yesterday's entry when John Arthur Whatford gets his own mention . . ? Would be good to hear from you if you'd like to follow the clues to my email that I left above for the previous comment.