George the Absconder

A young bachelor George EBBANS (far right) with two of his brothers (c1910)

The family story goes that George Ebbans (b. 1893) left his wife and children around 1927 and started a new family with another woman.

In my mother-in-law’s words:

George Ebbans married Sarah Ann Crossley. They had 2 children, Irene and George. For some reason, my mother-in-law says George spread it around and Sarah Ann (known as Sarann) was no angel.  George left their home and could not be traced for quite a few years. It later emerged that he had gone to live in Wolverhampton and lived with another woman (can’t find any record of a divorce or remarry). They raised a family, don’t know how many but one was christened George just to complicate matters. (It was also known that Sarann and her mother didn’t want George around so his reputation could well be made up).

Sarah Ebbans (nee CROSSLEY) in centre

This information seemed to come from family members who had first hand knowledge of the people, so I have no reason to doubt it.  However, I have also been unable to find any evidence of this desertion…

Until now.

Found in the Birmingham Daily Gazette, 25 November 1930, p3:

£174 ARREARS.

“I should have liked to give you another chance, but it is impossible; this has been going on for five years,” said the Mayor of Walsall yesterday in sentencing George Ebbans, aged 34, labourer, 35 Farringdon-street, to three months’ imprisonment for owing £174 maintenance arrears and costs due to his wife and two children.

Ebbans pleaded, “I have not been picking up a lot of money, and I have had to pay for my lodgings.”

The trail still ends there really.  Still no evidence of a second family in Wolverhampton – marriage or children – and I am yet to even find a death record for George himself.

But we now know that he did indeed desert his family and had done by at least 1925 – the same year his second child was born. It probably was hard for George to find enough money to support himself but I’m sure it was even harder for Sarah looking after two children and working as a hospital laundry maid (source: 1939 register).

National Registration Identity Card of George EBBANS (b.1922) showing his address listed as Farringdon Street

I’m a little confused by his address being listed as 35 Farringdon Street as his son lists it as an address on his National Registration Identity Card (c1945 – 1951) which leads me to believe it was actually the family address.  George mentions lodgings – presumably at a different address away from the family and therefore NOT Farringdon Street? Sarah (and I presume her 2 children – names currently redacted) are living on nearby Blue Lane in the 1939 register so this is unclear.

We may never know what really happened to George – the Ebbans name has been written in error and transcribed in so many different ways that it’s possible he’s hiding in the records under some alternative spelling I’ve yet to come across. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

Next Steps:

  • Find prison records/more details
  • Find George’s death record

 

The Shamrock

Oliver claimed by his affectionate friends – George Cruikshank

Since at least 1842, William LAMB of Derby, had been recorded as a bricklayer.  However in the 1871 census, he was recorded living at 59 & 60 Goodwin St “The Shamrock” and his profession was given as Bricklayer & Publican. It was common for innkeepers to have secondary jobs but it was the first mention of this family being involved with running a pub.  Goodwin Street was located within the ‘slums of Derby’ which were later cleared in the 1930s. My initial search for this pub proved fruitless but over the years, I’ve managed to glean a little more information about this ‘phantom’ pub.

The 1871 census entry for ‘The Shamrock’ and the Lamb family

In 1872, an inquest was held ‘upon the body of Rebecca Lamb, aged 51 years, wife of William Henry Lamb, landlord of “The Shamrock” beerhouse, Goodwin-street, who died on the previous day [17th April]” and the findings published in The Derby Mercury.

Rebecca Lamb’s Inquest in The Derby Mercury (24 April 1872, p5 col4)

In 1873, William Lamb of The Shamrock was among a number of ‘persons who had been called before the Bench to prove that their premises, if used for other than public-houses, would be rented at not less than 15 [pounds] a year” and received a renewal of their license.

The Derby Mercury, 27 August 1873, p2 col1

These two newspaper clippings together tell me that The Shamrock was actually a licensed beerhouse.  According to HistoryHouse.co.uk, beerhouses were “Premises which could sell only beer”.

The opening hours could be from 4am to 10pm. For a small fee of 2 guineas payable to the local excise officer, anyone could brew and sell beer. The excise licence would state whether the beer could be consumed on the premises (beerhouse) or as off-sales only (beershop).  [HistoryHouse.co.uk]

An 1874 directory also lists The Shamrock as a beerhouse:

Wright’s South Derbyshire Directory of 1874, p68

Whereas in 1878, another directory lists it as the ‘Shamrock Inn’:

Wilkins & Ellis New Borough of Derby, 1878

 

The Shamrock is also recorded twice in The Illustrated History of Derby’s Pubs by Maxwell Craven which I located when visiting Derby Central Library.  The first instance notes that it was almost certainly…

‘…named to encourage the colony of Irish families who in the early and mid-19th century lived (in some squalor, unfortunately) in this area, mainly in ‘Rookeries’ – grandish old houses split up by unscrupulous landlords. First recorded by name in 1874, but to be identified with the anonymous beerhouse listed at this address in 1857 and 1862.  The name quite probably migrated with a landlord from King Street.  Closed in 1908 after pressure from Mrs Boden and the Derby  Temperance Association.’ pp. 135-6

[NB: “First recorded by name in 1874” – does this refer to the 1874 directory entry or more official records?]

The second instance suggests it was a separate establishment located at 34 King Street from at least 1850 to 1852:

“Possibly later renamed the Mechanics’ Arms; it seems not unlikely that the landlord took the name with him to Goodwin Street, first recorded by name only a few years later.” p. 136

Although the Lambs are recorded at the same address in the 1861 census, there is no mention of the Shamrock or any publican profession.  The King Street incarnation of the Mechanics’ Arms appears in newspapers in 1862 under landlady Emily Bates [was she the Shamrock’s original landlord?]It’s still possible that The Shamrock was operating but not recorded at the time of the 1861 census and that William Lamb was the landlord who took the name from King to Goodwin Street.  As yet, there is no evidence that the Lamb family ever lived on King Street so we may never know.

Goodwin Street during demolition in the 1930s

 

 

Blind Leading the Blind

At the top of my ancestry ‘To Do’ list for many years now has been ‘Find out who Blind Wreford is’.

Today I’ve finally found out…

I’m not even sure where I first heard of Blind Wreford but I’ve kept an eye out for any mention of him.  Finally I found mention of him in obituary for another old wrestler, John Bolt.

 

He was full of anecdotes of “Blind Wreford,” a wealthy farmer of Cheriton, whodied in 1835 at a very advanced age, and who, notwithstanding his blindness, was a renowned wrestler, often followed the hounds without sustaining severe falls, and was an excellent judge of the weight and general qualities of cattle.”

 

According to this, he had been totally blind since he was 8. “He was a strongly limbed, well grown and powerful man, about 5 feet 10 in. in height, and was usually led into the ring by a boy, as a guide, and indulged with the privilege of taking hold of his antagonist by the collar…”

I’m really surprised that it’s been so hard to find mention of this guy as he really does seem quite extraordinary.

Book ’em Once More, Danno

I wrote in a previous post about pinpointing Thomas PALMER’s premises using a newspaper report of his being robbed.  Living by a police station didn’t seem to give the security you’d think it would, as Palmer was robbed again in 1869:

Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette 27 November 1869, p5 c5

A certain Henry Baker stole two books from him at the value of 4 shillings, as well as a pot of cold cream from a nearby chemist, Charles Mumby.  Funnily enough a little research shows this chemist was actually the founder of Mumby’s Mineral Waters. (Read a little more about him here.)  He also stole a letter stamp from a Mr Loveder but for some reason this wasn’t investigated.

Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette 11 December 1869, p3 c3

As the ‘well-known character‘ had been convicted of a felony twice before this incident, Henry Baker was sentenced to twelve months hard labour.  Out of curiosity, I found his record of conviction for his crime against Thomas Palmer in the Southampton Assizes records.

Henry Baker’s conviction at the Southampton Assizes 1869

I’m curious as to what Thomas’ ‘private mark’ looked like.  Was his private mark different to his store mark? Did it look anything like this…?

 

Book ’em Again, Danno

In my last post, I was trying to find a more exact address for Thomas Palmer, bookseller of Gosport.  I had narrowed him down to ‘Upper South Street’ but not being a local, still had no idea where exactly upon the street he lived.  The breakthrough came when I found a newspaper article reporting a robbery at his premises:

Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette 22 November 1862, p8 c3

John Daly, a Royal Artilleryman, was charged with attempting to break into the dwelling house of Thomas Palmer, almost opposite the Police Station, on the previous night. The prisoner was heard at the shutter by a policeman who was going to bed, and he gave information to a brother constable on duty, upon which he went outside the station gate and there saw the prisoner, without a jacket, standing by the window of the house, the shutters being open and partially broken. On seeing the policeman he ran away and was afterwards taken by P.C. Gibbs in a passage in North-street. Mr. Palmer, the occupier of the house, proved fastening up the house about 9 o’clock the previous night. Prisoner was committed for trial.

The old police station in South Street, Gosport – 1949

So now I knew that he lived “…almost opposite the Police Station…”.

Unfortunately, the police station no longer exists on South Street after being destroyed by enemy action in 1941.  I found a photograph of the building in 1949 on the Gosport Heritage site but it gave me no other details.  Luckily however I found a c.1896 map which marked the location of the police station which made the description, ‘almost opposite’ make sense.

Location of Thomas Palmer’s book store in 1862 (map c. 1896)

Interestingly, there is also a photo on the Gosport Heritage site captioned; ‘Portland Place; south side of South Street, running north-south almost opposite to the OLD police station.’  I’m pretty sure Palmer’s old book shop is just out of shot on the far left of this image (behind the first building).

Portland Place, Gosport 1941 via Gosport Heritage

That’s probably as close as I’m going to get but since the buildings on that block are long gone now, I still feel strangely accomplished.