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.
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.
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.
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.