17 March 2009

Two birthday boys . . .

I'm a bit behind after time out on another project so I'll pick out just two anniversaries from the gap.

Firstly the birthday of my great-great-grandfather James Edmund Freeman who's already had a couple of mentions in this 'ere blog. He was born at 12 Johnson Street, Westminster, on 15th March 1853, the son of James & Eliza (nee Humphrey) who had, incidentally, married only eight days previously (bet the vicar was nervous!). By the age of 18 he is listed as a saleman in the 1871 census yet, when he married Mary Ann (Polly) Brown in 1875, he appears to be a ships' steward. After a further incarnation as a boot salesman, he moves with his wife and son to Hemingford Grey and turns into a farmer with a number of farms in the area. An eminent member of the local society, he became the chairman of the parish council by 1896 and, politically, an ardent Liberal. Once he gave up farming he spent more time at the firm he built up in the Borough and Stratford markets in London. According to the extensive reporting of his death, he started at the firm as a porter but hauled himself up by the proverbial bootlaces and was able to buy the company when the owner died.

There was some fantastic descriptive stuff on his funeral . . . "the floral tributes were of exquisite beauty . . " and "Certainly a more lovely collection of flowers has never before been witnessed in the little cemetery [Hemingford Grey]". Best of all, though, was the line from the Cambridge Daily News report on 9th September 1910: "On the coffin were placed four large white roses from the garden at Fulbourn, "From Mr Punch", Mr Freeman's favourite dog."

The second anniversary I picked out was the birth of John Langford, my grandmother's brother. He was born on 17th March 1876 in the village of Calver, on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire. Quite what his parents, Isaac & Emma (nee Quince) were doing up there, so far from Stretham, is completely beyond me but I have John's birth certificate so it must be true! By 1881 the family were back in Stretham where John married Harriet Sindall in 1903. They begat six children between 1904 and 1918 but both of them died relatively young; Harriet in 1918 at just 41 and John in 1920 aged 44. This meant that the younger children were scattered around the country, with Violet & Nellie going to Uncle Freeman in the Manchester area and Kate to Aunt Kate in Biggleswade. However, to this day, I still don't know who looked after the youngest daughter Rosie. I guess that, as she died in 1998, it's a bit too late to find out now. Shame.

Anyway, back to normal soon . . . I hope!

No comments: