1911 ARTICLE BY JOHN MEADOWS (TRANSCRIPT) –
from the Peterborough Advertiser 15th July 1911
a few bits unreadable, so these have been shown as —— in the text
WISTOW and its PEOPLE – a typical Huntingdonshire Parish.
The old times of a native.
The following notes of Wistow and its people are extracted from a MS written by the late John Meadows, a native of Wistow coming from a long line of an old Wistow family. He wrote the bulk of the notes, here reproduced, on or about his 86th birthday. He died at Fallowfield, Manchester in the early part of the present war at the age of 87. We are indebted to his son, Mr William Meadows, of the Lion Hotel, Ramsey for readily responding to our request and placing his fathers MS at our disposal.
I was born, writes Mr John Meadows at Rooksgrove House, Wistow on the 8th October, 1823. The village was not then as it is now. My ——- had resided there, on the self same spot for many generations. It is said that ‘Uriah Harris’ had built the house and also the great dovecot adjoining.
At the top end of the village street grew some ancient lime trees, and when walking under them, it was difficult to see through their luxuriant leafy branches. It was there the village boys and girls met to play in the evenings, but most of those whom I remember have now gone to their account.
When about five years of age I went to Mrs Wilkins school. She was a kind old lady and kept a magpie in a cage which could talk a little. The magpie so much amused us that it was no doubt a grave distraction to our infant studies. From Rooksgrove House I used to get to Mrs Wilkins by crossing several home closes.
KITES AND HAWKS.
Kites and hawks were abundant in the district in those days, their home being in Monks Wood, and I have often heard my mother lament the loss of her chickens and poultry which were continually being pounced upon by these birds of prey and carried off.
The high road from the White Stone had deep dikes on either side half full of water after rain, and this water rushed down the village at full tide. The village children made boats of wood, which they throw on the rushing stream, and great excitement was manifested in seeing which boat could go the fastest. The old brook being crooked and clearly banked up in places, the water going down it would often suddenly rise, and then the village would be flooded for several days. On these occasions, the road would be quite impossible until the water had subsided. The water ran freely down by the blacksmiths shop, then crossed the surface of the road and emptied itself again into the normal course of the brook. A footbridge had been erected here which had hand rails on either side, and this was very convenient in times of flood, especially on dark nights, enabling the villagers to pass over safely and dry.
WHEN THE FIELDS WERE OPEN.
The land throughout the parish was then all one great open field, and the yield as each succeeding harvest time —– —– was not always very ———. The parish was not then enclosed. The farmers called a parish meeting with a view to effecting this improvement, and they all agreed that the parish should be enclosed, leaving each owner to object if they thought well. It was decided to employ a Commissioner, Mr John Jackson to task a survey and fair valuation, and make the necessary apportionments, according to the number of common rights. There were sent —- —- to which the common rights belong. Each of the old farmhands had a given number of common rights, —– the owner or his tenant to —- —- on the common to graze during the summer months, according to the number of common rights they possessed. At the —– — — — — land was allotted to each owner in lieu of common rights, (next several sentences very unreadable including a new subtitle)
—– Green was choked with mud and woods where the carts went through the stream. It was therefore thought desirable to cut a new course for the brook straighter, with a bridge crossing it near to Gossum-gate. A man named Carter with his three sons from Kings Lynn came to carry out this work. Since then the flood water had got away with much greater rapidity, and it was generally considered that the money had been well spent.
The old system of cropping was the —- of the field to be fallow each year, and then either wheat or grain, and no other system was allowed.
PROPERTY OWNERS OF WISTOW I REMEMBER
At the time of the enclosure the names of the owners, occupiers, farmers, tradesmen and labourers in Wistow, are given below. All of them I well remember, many of them are now deceased, in fact there are only three living, other then myself. This was written on Mr John Meadows 80th birthday, October 8th 1903, many have left and gone to live elsewhere.
First with regard to the owners, the land in 1842. The church — was held by the Rev Geo. Mingay, who owned the tithes throughout the parish. (The next few sentences are completely unreadable.)
Mr Edward Fellowes of Ramsey Abbey owned two farms, one near the Bridge, Brook Street occupied by Mr —– Macer, and the other farm was at Kingsland, occupied by Mr John Julian of Bury. Mr Fellowes also owned Raits Wood and other small plots about the parish. Mr John Margetts owned the Hill Farm, also a farmhouse in the village where he occasionally resided and kept the farm on in his own occupation up to the time of his death. The house has since been pulled down and the premises sold to Mr Pryme. Mr Alexander Malcomb Wales owned about 20 acres of land in the parish occupied by Mr William Mitchell near to the Windmill in Wistow Field. Mr John Longland owned the Brook House Farm occupied by Mr John Fullard. Magdalen College, Cambridge owned the farm in Mill Street, occupied by Mr William Mitchell. Miss Jackson of Huntingdon, owned the Rooksgrove Farm, occupied by Mr Thos Meadowe. The Rev S Cooperowned several odd plots of land, and also occupied a farm south-west of the village, owned by the Rev W Cooper of West Rasen, Lincolnshire and he also occupied odd bits of land owned by Miss Betsy Nettleton, who resided at the top end of the village, with her uncle, the Rev Samuel Cooper. Mr Thomas Cooper Nettleton owned and occupied a house and some grass fields next the village street. Mr Jas Peppercorn owned a house and premises, and also several plots of land, where he resided. The land was on Wistow Hill, the house was on Manor Street. Mr John Cope owned and occupied a grass close called Huntingdon Close, situated beside the road leading to Huntingdon, and he resided in a house next the lane. Huntingdon Close as was owned and occupied by Arthur Cope, a descendant of the Cope family, who is a nephew of mine. His mother is also a niece of mine, named Betsy Meadows. Her father, Thomas Meadows, was my brother, who died a few years ago. Huntingdon Close has been in the family over 300 years. Mrs Macer owned and occupied a house with orchard and grass close, called Michael’s Close, next Back’s Lane. Her maiden name was Sarah Cope. Mr Hugh Jacks of Wisbech, was owner of a wood close, near Warboys Wood and next to Broad Place, Fen Lane Wood. The close and land are now in the occupation of Thos Meadows. Mr Thos Meadows Senr, owned and occupied a wood close, near Warboys Wood called Grey’s Close. There were also two plots of land belonging to Holme Poor. Also a plot of land up Wistow Hill, owned by Mrs Turner. A plot of land called —– Grounds, below the wood, was owned by Mr Edward Macer. A plot of land in Crabb Tree —- and a wood near Warboys Wood owned by Mr Macer. There was also —- —– about 50 acres, owned by the Rector, near the Wistow Poor Allotments. Land in Conduit Field was owned by the Duke of Manchester, or Lady O B Sparrow, and occupied by Mr John Rowell of Bury.
THE OLD AND NEW INNS
The Wistow Allotments contained nearly 20 acres. The Overseers and Churchwardens were the Trustees for the time being. They were situated on the Mill Road. Mr Faithful Chapman owned two plots of land which he occupied himself. There was also about 20 acres of land by Broughton owned by Mr Jonathan Martin of Broughton, which he occupied himself. Mr Joseph Saunders occupied a house (then several sentences totally unreadable.)
Then there was the ‘Fleur de Lys’ owned by Mr John Harding, with a piece of land on the Mill Road, the tenant being Mr John Piggott. The Plough Inn was owned by Mr Turner of Brampton, and with it was a plot of land, the tenant being Mr Faithful Chapman. There were afterwards three new licensed houses, via ‘The Oddfellows Arms’ built by Mr Thos Meadows, the owner, and occupied by Mr —– Allpress, ‘The Chequers’ occupied by Mr Jonas Bamworth, and ‘Uncle Toms Cabin’ built and occupied by Mr George Ross.
The tradesmen of Wistow about that time, though not all living there at one time, were as follows- Wm Cope, brewer, Thos Mitchell, shopkeeper, John Dickenson, miller, baker and shopkeeper, John Page, beer retailer and shopkeeper, John Cope, brewer and shopkeeper, Ed Foreman, carpenter and builder, Wm Shepperson, carpenter, —– and builder, George Ross, brewer and catcher, Charles Samworth, butcher and also a dealer, Henry Furnell, blacksmith, Wm Shepperson, senr, blacksmith, Henry Allpress, saddler and harness maker, John Hall, shoemaker, Jos Butler, shoemaker and shopkeeper, Wm Boast, pig dealer, Thos Howles, tailor, Jos Swinton, tailor, Wm Gifford, shopkeeper, Goods, shoemaker, and Thos Goods junr, carrier.
GENERATIONS!! OF LABOURERS
The ——— living at Wistow whom I —— —– many of whom are now deceased. —– —– was Wm Adams and his sons. (The next few lines are unreadable.) and his son John and grandson Robert and great grandson Robert, John Elmore and his sons, William, George, Flowers, Fred and John, Wm Payne (shepherd) and his sons Thomas, William, Edward, Joe and Fred, Jos Burton (shepherd) and his son William and grandson, John Tom, John Peach and his sons John, Jerry, Robert, James, Thomas, Henry, William, Robert Peach and his sons George and another, Thos Peach’s son William, and Henry Peach’s son William, Edward Ross (shepherd) and his sons William, George and his grandsons George and Edward, Wm White (farm foreman on Mr Pryme’s farm) and his son William, and grandsons William, Thomas and John, Richard Buddle and his sons John, Thomas, Samuel, Richard, and his grandsons Tom, Edward, John, Elijah and his great grandson Jackson Buddle, Henry Pettit and his brother John, John Dring and his sons, John, William, and Robert, Isaac Moulds (higgler) and his sons, Abraham, William, Isaac, his brother Jacob and his sons, Abraham, Richard, his grandson Abraham and great-grandson Elijah, Wm Phillips (parish clerk) and his sons William, John, Edward, Joe, Frank. Frances Phillips (brother of Wm Phillips senr) and his sons, George, Benjamin, William, Nathaniel Phillips (also brother of William senr, and his sons, William, Richard, George, Robert, Wm Phillips junr’s son, George, Peter Behagg and his sons, Peter, John, Charles, Daniel, and his grandson John, Wm Blowers and Charles Elmore, butchers, John Piggott and his son John and grandson William, John Godby, his son John and grandson Lewis, John Creek, and his son Charles, John Smith and his sons William, John, Matthew, Edward, Charles Elmore and his son Charles, Joseph Wilkinson, Jos Fletcher (bricklayer) and his sons, Abraham, William, Isaac, Cornelius Burton and his sons James (shepherd) and Cornelius, Frank Payne (soldier) and his sons, William, John and Thomas, Robert Squires and his sons Fred, and his brothers William, James and Samuel, Wm Garton (roadman) his son Thomas and his grandsons, William, John, Tom, and another, John Cowling and his sons John, William, Joseph, Matthew, George, Henry, David and his grandson James, John Harding and his sons William, Peter, George and John, Charles Berridge and his brother William, Joel Peacock and his son William, William Dickenson and his sons William and John, Thomas Hancock and his son William, William Williams (soldier), Thos Hart (clerk), Henry Furnell (blacksmith) and his sons Ben, John, William, Osborne, David and grandson Henry, Fred Clarke and his son, James Chaplin (labourer and watchman) and his son, William Churchman and John Adam Taylor (pinder!!) and John Chaplin (—– to the watchman.)
I do not know whether the family named Cowling, some of whom lived and died in Fenstanton, were related or not to the Wistow family, but after the death of the last of the Goslin family, the furniture of the Goslins went to the Cowlings, —- —- —–. The Goslin family I understand had lived at Wistow for nearly 300 years being —- and occupiers of land there to a considerable extent. The Goslins of Wistow were related to the Cromwell family by marriage, being so recorded in Carlyle’s History of Cromwell.
(The final paragraph is completely unreadable.)