The end of a dynasty

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The Kirtlands were butchers in West Haddon for generations. When Edward Kirtland married Alice Walker and she duly presented him with two sons, there was no indecision over names – the first was Thomas, after his father and the second Edward, after himself. Sadly Alice then died and when Edward junior was seven his father married again.

The new house
The new house

His new wife was Elizabeth South, daughter of the Rector of Thornby and granddaughter of James South, a London merchant. Was it to impress his new in-laws that Edward built his bride a new house in the year after their wedding? He even put a datestone above the door – E E K 1689.

The old house
The old house

He settled the old house on Edward junior when he grew up and married Elizabeth Sandford of Long Buckby. (So now there were two couples in the village called Edward and Elizabeth Kirtland). The junior couple had four daughters. They all married locally. Hannah married John Underwood, the chief opponent of the Enclosure Bill, while Elizabeth married Robert Collis, an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill (that must have made for some jolly family parties.) Mary became Mrs John Watkins of Yelvertoft and Alice, who married late in life, ended up living at the old house with her husband Joseph Bryan from Daventry.

The family at the new house were rather more adventurous. Thomas and James stuck fairly close to the family business, Thomas as a butcher and James as a fellmonger, dealing in skins.

The Marshalsea
The Marshalsea

But George followed in his grandfather’s footsteps. He went off to Oxford and later became Vicar of Mears Ashby.  His brother Robert began as a grazier but then seems to have been inspired by his merchant great-grandfather to try his hand at commerce. He doesn’t seem to have been very good at it. In 1745 a notice appeared in the London Gazette to the effect that he had been ‘a fugitive for debt’ since 1742 and had surrendered himself to the Keeper of the Marshalsea, the infamous debtors’ prison in London.

How he got out is unclear, but by 1762 he was living at Boughton as a dealer and chapman. Living with him at that time was his sister Elizabeth, now Mrs Tarry, and her son Thomas. His sister Rachel may have kept house for her brother George at Mears Ashby vicarage until he died in 1751. She then seems to have moved to Boughton too, though when she died she was buried with George in Mears Ashby.

One way or another, by the time of the riot there were no more Kirtlands to carry the name forward in West Haddon.

Another absentee landlord

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Thomas Whitfield, of Watford in Hertfordshire, the Six Clerks’ Office in London, and Lord of the Manor of West Haddon, was not the only village property owner who lived elsewhere.

Matildas_edited-2This house in High St. had been owned by absentee landlords for the best part of a century when Sir Thomas Ward of Guilsborough put it up for sale. He had inherited it from his parents. It had been part of his mother’s marriage settlement in 1711, to provide her with a dower house during her widowhood.

Sir Thomas was a JP and friend and neighbour of John Bateman of Guilsborough, the JP who had ordered Richard Beale to be held in irons after the riot.

He sold the property in 1763, shortly after the drawing up of the Pro and Con document, in which he is shown to own two cottages as well as over 100 acres of land. Given the wide frontage of the property, this may originally have been those two cottages. Certainly in 1763 there were two tenants: Ann Spokes, a widow and William Masters, a weaver.

Thomas Smith, a butcher, bought it for £65 and convertedThe-Village-Butcher-300x241 part of it into a butcher’s shop. Since then it has undergone major rebuilding, following a fire at the end of the 19th century.

The property deed of 1763 includes this extraordinary clause:

…and also all that South wall which separates the close and premises belonging to Sir Thomas Ward from the yard and premises now in the occupation of Ann Spokes and William Masters, except and always reserving unto the said Sir Thomas Ward the liberty of erecting a necessary house against the said wall when and as often as he shall think proper.

necessary house

A necessary house was an outside lavatory.