Newsletter Three

Summer 1972
Editor: Joan Leese
Assisted by Jean Hopkinson, Jennifer McCulloch, Mildred Shepherd and Deborah Waller

Remember that this Newsletter is for the publication of any information or queries which you have received, any theories you may have evolved, or the results of any research you have undertaken.  Interim reports are as welcome as completed papers, in fact, more so, as they are likely to be shorter.

The research group is examining each parish of Plegeliate Hundred.  They are studying the Domesday Survey and the Registers of the Bishops of Hereford, and to determine the ownership and tenure of land have turned cartographers to make maps of their own from the parish tithe maps and schedules.  More information also came their way in Mrs. M.A. Gelling’s course on place names during the winter.  Mrs. Gelling, who wears her scholarship lightly, made her classes informative, stimulating and enjoyable.

Contributions to the next Newsletter should reach me at Bird’s Eye, 12 Highwell Lane, Bromyard, by the end of October.

Note : This year the Society is having a tent at Bromyard Gala, July 8th and 9th.  Bromyard – A Local History will be on sale and exhibits of local history will be on show.  Mrs. Phyllis Williams would be grateful if anyone able to help in the tent, for any period however short during these two days, would contact her at Knightwick ***

Philip H. Crosskey

Mr. Edward Walker of Hilltop, Martley, has been kind enough to let me look at an account book of one of his relatives, Mr. Delabere Walker, who was a physician and surgeon in Bromyard in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  He was born in 1763, one of a large family and had many relations in the Bromyard area.  I have no details of his early life and training, but there is a record that land on the one side of the lane leading to Little Froome was owned by Mr. Delabere Walker in 1797.

Bromyard Parish Register records that five children, born to Meliora and Delabere Walker, were baptized in Bromyard:- Anne Maria on 13th November, 1795; Meliora on 28th April, 1797; Delabere, a boy, on 30th July, 1798; Charlotte on 25th March, 1800, and Harriott on l8th May, 1804.  Rather sadly one finds that Delabere Walker, an infant, was buried on 27th November, 1798, and Meliora, an infant, on 10th November, 1802, whilst Meliora, wife of Delabere Walker, was buried on 24th August, 1804.

The ledger book runs from 1821-1823 and consists of entries of patients’ names and addresses, dates attended and the treatments given There is no record of the diseases or diagnoses made by the physician.

The district he visited was extensive and was equal in size to that covered by the present medical practice in Bromyard.  Mr. Walker must have travelled entirely on horseback over the tracks and bridlepaths he knew so well.  On one day, 11th February, 1821, he rode to see Mrs. Pytts at Kyre House and then to Mr. Lewis of Bachelors Bridge in Suckley parish, a cross-country journey of about fourteen miles.  On, 31st March, 1823, he travelled to Mr. Storie at Froome, to the home of one of his family at Burton Court and to Mr. Lawrence at the Hedghouse. The largest number of country visits recorded for one day was on 18th August, 1822, when he visited the Reverend Mr. Barnaby at Saltmarsh, Mr. Potter at Stoke Lacy, the Reverend Mr. Apperley at Stoke Lacy and a Mr. Griffiths, near to Stoke Lacy.

A list of some of his patients, out of a total of 137 accounts, gives some idea of the extent of his district:- Mrs. Lipscomb, Seapy (Sapey); Mr. Davies of Woolverlow Park; Mrs. Pytts, Kyre House; Mr. Walker of Hatfield; Mr. Holder at Hegdon, Pencombe; Mr. Bayliss of Moorhouse, Cowarne; Mrs. Bullock of Ocle Court, Ocle Pychard; Mr. Vevers of Yarkhill; Mr. Starling near the Nupend, Cradley; Mr. Farmer of Lulsley; Mrs Harris at Gaines, Whitbourne.  It can be seen that he attended anyone within a radius of seven or eight miles of Bromyard in any direction.  He also served as physician to some of the poor in the parishes of Avenbury, Hatfield, Leominster, Pencombe, Ullenswicke (Ullingswick), and was paid by the Guardians of the Poor – sometimes more promptly than by his richer patients.

The entries in his book give us some idea of the different sorts of people he cared for.  For instance, Mrs. Pytts of Kyre House employed a large staff and at various times there are records of attendances to Mr. Baker, Mrs. Smith, Miss Irvine, a coachman, a footman, cook, coachman’s child, Hayes, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Geoffreys, a gardener, a housemaid, a servant man, besides Mrs. Pytts herself; some of the names listed may have been guests staying in the house.  The Reverend Mr. Apperley at Stoke Lacy also had a large household to fill the Rectory; Mr Walker attended Mrs. Apperley, Miss L, Miss G, Miss A, Miss Al, a nurse, a servant, Evans, a butler, Evans’ child, servant maid, footman and Bubb – whoever he or she may have been Bubb certainly needed a fair amount of laxatives.

Amongst the doctor’s patients were many of the local clergymen, solicitors, farmers, innkeepers, Miss Mason at the Library, shopkeepers such as Mr. Bray the butcher and Mrs. Willcox the mercer, and such varied tradesmen as breeches-maker, hatter, hairdresser, joiner, sexton etc.

It is impossible to deduce what illnesses were prevalent just from the types of medicines and pills which were dispensed.  Many of the remedies he employed are still listed in the 25th edition of Martindale’s Extra Pharmacopoeia (the Pharmaceutical Press, London, 1967):-

Pilulae Guiac:
A mild diuretic.

Pil. Hydrarg:
Mercury for its purgative effect.

Pil. Colcynth:

Pil. Galbani:
A gum resin formerly used as an expectorant and in the treatment of nervous disorders.

Pulv. Rhei:
Powdered rhubarb used as an astringent bitter.

Magnesium Carbonate
Antacid for treating dyspepsia.

Tincture of Valerian:
Used as a depressant of the central nervous system in hysterical cases.

Mistura Myrrh:
A carminative, expectorant and mild diuretic.

Castor Oil:
Only too well known for its purgative action.

Fol. Digitalis:
Better known as powdered foxglove leaf was used first in a scientific manner by Dr. William Withering in Shropshire and described by him in 1785 in “An account of the Foxglove”.  It was used empirically by many physicians as a treatment for dropsy and as a heart stimulant.

Mr. Delabere Walker carried out many vaccinations on children at a charge of 5/- to 7/6; leeches were applied quite frequently at a charge of about 2/6 and he did many phlebotomies (drawing blood from a vein) at a charge of 2/6.  He entered against Mr. Palmer of the Bridge the sum of 2/6 for introducing a catheter, presumably to draw off the urine, when the flow had been obstructed.  There are entries for gargles, febrifuges, draughts for coughs and for constipation, poultices, plasters, and dressings etc.  Dental surgery was also in his province; there are several entries for extractions of teeth at 1/- a time and for scarifying the gums of children.

Frequent were the calls for accidents such as broken bones, cuts, burns and scalds.  Mr. Walker was surgeon as well as physician and set many limbs, an exacting task without X-rays to confirm the position of the bones after a fracture.  Some patients had daily dressings applied by the doctor to wounds and ulcers, as there were no trained nurses who could be relied on to carry on treatment.  Mrs. Willcox, a mercer of Bromyard, must have had an ulcer of the leg as Mr. Walker dressed it daily for many weeks in the autumn of 1821 and again in the spring of 1822; the good lady was charged nothing for this assiduous attention.

There is some mention of maternity cases as, for instance, on 27th March, 1822, when he attended Mrs. Potter at Stoke Lacy and charged £2 2. 0. ‘was detained some time extracting the placenta’.  Several daily visits followed with prescriptions for aperient powders, castor oil etc.  These were standard treatments of the time but the severe purges must have severely sapped the strength of the newly-delivered woman.

All these medicaments used by Mr. Walker must have been made up in his own dispensary.  Some were probably carried by him on his rounds, but many must have been collected from the surgery for the patients.  The doctor was assisted by a Mr. James Acton whose neat, legible handwriting records the attendances, the daily prescriptions and the charges; his is the signature for the receipt of many of the bills, but it is not possible to tell what professional standing he had.  Very likely he did some of the visiting and dispensing.  There were no chemists with ready-made pills so that everything had to be weighed and compounded from the basic ingredients.  Pills were dispensed in variable quantities from 2 to 36; simple draughts were dispensed; other entries are for 8 fluid ounces of mixtures, 4 fluid ounces of linctus, 1½ fluid ounces of liniment; powders, plasters, lotions, bandages etc., are all entered in the ledger and charged at fairly standard rates for both rich and poor.

Charges for attendances varied from 7/6 to 10/6 depending a little on the distance involved; if the visit was during the night the charge was £1 1. 0.  Attendance on the poor was charged to Winslow parish at 2/6, but for Knightwick parish at 7/6.  There are few records of visits to patients living in Bromyard itself which makes one wonder how many people consulted Mr. Walker in his surgery.

It is difficult to estimate what his annual income was as many of the bills were never paid and some patients never charged.  The bill to Mr. Colley at the Falcon was balanced by washing; Mr. Williams of Sheep Street had his bill of £7 10. 0. discharged by hauling coal in a barrow; Mr. Bitterley’s bill of £6 5. 6. was ‘settled by cheese’; Mr. Benbow of Three Mills had his bill of £5 11. 6. balanced by work done at the Mill; Mr. Walker Peel of Bromyard settled his bill of £5 0. 0. with articles for building.  Some of the accounts were marked bad or no charge and crossed out.  The better off patients subsidized the poorer.

From the visits and dispensing recorded in this one account book the rough annual total comes to:- £340 0. 0. in 1821, £340 0. 0. in 1822, and £330 0. 0. for 1823.  But it is impossible to reckon his total annual income from the information given.

These are some of the interesting aspects of social life in the period which can be gleaned from one account book.  It tells us little of the man himself except that he had bold but not very legible handwriting.

Mr Delabere Walker died in Birmingham in 1838 aged 75 years; there is a large tombstone in Bromyard churchyard but, unfortunately, the inscription is so badly weathered that only the name remains.

Prebendary R.H. Hill has received the following letter from Mr. R.J. Colyer, Lecturer in Agriculture at the University College of Wales:-               

‘I am currently researching the cattle trade between Wales and England during the 19th century.  I am particularly interested in assembling material about the Welsh cattle drovers, their daily habits, overnight resting places etc.  In addition I am attempting to trace in detail the routes taken through England by the drovers.  I have established that the drovers passed through your locality and accordingly I should be most interested to hear of any local information which you may be able to provide regarding their activities.

If you are unable to help, I should be grateful if you would kindly pass this note to any local persons whom you think may be able to shed some light upon this subject.’

If you have any information about these Welsh drovers would you please give it to Miss Edna Pearson, Franklin House, 61 New Road, Bromyard.  This may be an occasion when the reminiscences of old people in your parish could be helpful.

M. E. Colville

The Registers are best introduced by passing on what Mrs. Tonkin, who transcribed the difficult first volume and examined the others, has to say about them.  They begin in 1538 when a law was passed compelling parish priests to make a written record of all marriages, baptisms and burials.  A few gaps appear in the first registers which appear to be due to a change of vicars.

It was fortunate that another law was passed in 1598 making it compulsory to send a copy on parchment of all entries to the Bishop, so that any entries missing since 1538 were able to be inserted.  Most of the early registers are in Latin and of course the handwriting varies considerably.  Most clerks had their own ideas of the spelling of names and of what extra information it was expedient to put in.  Thus we find the paternity of illegitimate infants asserted as being ‘well-known’, though presumably only in the opinion of the mother and the clerk.  The social status of a few people was mentioned, particularly if gentry or “armiger”, and the age of some who were especially old; one woman is said to have died at the age of 102.  Apart from this, we have little indication of any details about individuals until the printed registers begin in the 19th century when their occupations were added.  Cause of death is rarely given, except in the case of plague, smallpox or an unusual accident.  In the last case, we find many deaths from drowning, burning and not a few murders.  Some of these were incredibly brutal, as in the case of a boy mutilated and cut in pieces by several men whose names are given, but no mention of whether they were sentenced.  Indeed when Littleton Oseman killed William Butts on the Down in 1735, it seems that he lived peacefully on till 1741 when he had a normal Christian burial. In 1594 John Burghill murdered his own brother and they are described as ‘gentry’.

In volume III are the particulars of a census taken in 1676, but it is very vague as it includes only those over the age of sixteen.  In the same volume is a record of several charities and gifts of land for the use of the poor and it would be interesting to identify the various fields that were either let to provide income or used for the poor to grow their own crops.  The Eckley and Meadowcourt families were very generous in this respect and one of the latter left ‘5/- a year for ever to be paid from the House at Nunwell’.  We are also told in this same volume of the recasting of the bells, with their new weights.

During the 1850s the vicar copied the Registers for the years 1700-1726 from four small quarto notebooks which had been the only means of recording entries and kept in the church.  It seems that former clerks had merely kept a day-to-day record and at the end of the year, if they remembered, copied this into a larger book, but with disastrous inaccuracies.  Large portions had been lost and the vicar, in a note to this volume, deplores the slackness of his predecessors in this respect, as well as the habit of keeping records on paper instead of the longer lasting parchment. His beautiful clear writing and his care to standardise the spelling of surnames are a monument to his industry and interest.

In some of the volumes marriages, baptisms and burials are mixed and separate books for each subject are a fairly recent innovation.  Banns were not required to be recorded until the Marriage Act came into force after the change of Style in 1752, and in indexing this section I have only indicated the page numbers of names for the actual marriage and am glad to say that there is no case of a defaulting bridegroom or an unwilling bride.

It can perhaps be seen from these short notes that indexing the wonderfully complete records was a fascinating job.  I had not expected to find so much of interest in either a personal or a historical sense among them.  To watch the fortunes of so many families over several hundred years and to speculate on the survival of these families to the present day often held me up for some time while trying to picture their lives, their joys and griefs as they went about their business in the town and townships.

Those with a taste for detection will have plenty to occupy them in delving into some of the macabre happenings on Bromyard Downs or in digging out the story behind the rather confusing entry on page 50 of volume II.  This concerns the baptism of one John Doughty, the entry appearing to run, though difficult to decipher, as ‘filius peregrina viatoris Quinsdam nominata Maria et ut ditbat (doubtful) uxoris Edward Doughty et sic supponibus’.  A few pages further on, when there are only one or two entries at the top of the page, the clerk, evidently contemplating courtship at the least, let his fancy run wild in a set of ‘doodles’ which would give a psychiatrist a field day.  He designed for himself a coat of arms consisting of arrow-pierced hearts, drew hearts all over the page and even added a spirited drawing of a running hound.

Another study might be the incidence and popularity of Christian names.  Recalling the gentleman who every 1st January in The Times, gives us the ‘Top Twenty’ of babies’ names, one could reconstruct a 16th-century one.  It may not be so widely different from the present day, and would have the agelessly popular ones of John, Thomas, Richard and William for the boys, and Mary, Elizabeth, Margery, Margaret and Joan for the girls.  There are very few families where these names do not occur, though there are also names which seem to have dropped out of favour entirely now, such as Forune, for a boy, or Iseult and Betteridge for girls, the latter being an early variant of Beatrice.

The spelling of surnames was, almost all through the work, something of a problem.  Names such as Davis and Smith had so many variations that it is only in the later volumes that different branches of these families kept a particular style.  It was therefore necessary to lump them all together unless or until it was plain that different spellings were obviously adopted and insisted upon by those concerned.  Otherwise, clerks merely used the easiest form of phonetic spelling that suggested itself.

I am sure that the members of the Society will find a great deal to interest them in the study of the Registers and I shall be so happy to feel that the index may be of some help in searching, and that not too many mistakes will emerge.  I shall always look forward to hearing of the future transactions of the Society and wish it all success in the future.

J.G. Sanders

Angel House, which was demolished in 1957 and whose site is now part of the car park was where my family lived for many years.  My father had a tailor’s shop there in 1900, and it was where I was born in 1902, and also my three brothers, the older one in 1899 and the two younger ones in 1905 and 1906.   

There were our neighbours whom I remember, a Mrs. Maddy and her daughter, in 1902.  But according to Kelly’s Directory a Mr. Wilkes lived in that house in 1900.  He was Co1lector to the Guardians and also the Relieving Officer for No. 1 district of Bromyard. Then he moved his home and office to a private house in Church Street.  He was also the School Attendance Officer for the Rural District.  I do not remember him at Angel House, of course, but I very well remember him when he was living in Church Street.

Angel House was heavily timbered similar to the Falcon and Tower House; inside were many old oak timbers and an old oak staircase. There were three rooms downstairs, one of which was my father’s shop and the only one visible from Cruxwell Street or “Top of the Town” as it was very often called.  The house had three bedrooms and an attic, also two flights of stairs.

Mrs. Maddy’s house was also of old oak timber, but much larger than ours because it had two bedrooms over the archway which lead to the blacksmith’s house, shop and pentice, and garden plots for each house at the back, but the blacksmith’s premises were not part of Angel House.  I very well remember that Mrs. Maddy used to take in boarders occasionally and at General Election times to let off one or two rooms as committee rooms.  In those days much excitement was caused by the different parties, but there were only two then, Tory and Liberal.  I well remember a verse which was very well sung when the Tory candidate was Rankin and the Liberal one Lamb; it was as follows:-

“Vote, vote for Jimmy Rankin,

He’s the man to do us good.

But if it is Lamb and his wife

We’ll scare ’em with a knife

Then they won’t come voting any more.”

In front of each house was a small flower bed and lawn with railings round them, and in front of Mrs. Maddy’s house was a well with a stone trough and pump of which I have photographs.  Possibly the street name of Cruxwell may have originated from this well for I do not think there was another one in the street.  There was a council mains water pump in Cruxwell Street opposite to the White Horse Inn, also two other similar pumps, one in the Old Road and one in Pump Street, but they looked like pump heads, having mains water with a tap.

I am sure that if the plaster which covered the whole of Angel House had been removed there would have been discovered a very fine ancient building similar to the Falcon and Tower House, and also to the timbered black and white house in Sheep Street, near the new Catholic Church where my mother was born.  Her maiden name was Corbett and that was where her family lived.

I have many recollections of Bromyard.  How we spent our leisure and schooldays, and many times paid a visit each year to Powells, the Progress Stores, in Broad Street (now Pumphreys) to see the effigy of Father Christmas in the window, and what a thrill it gave us children in those days.

Daphne Davies

On Friday, 17th March, we met most appropriately at the Hop Pole Hotel to hear Mr. Inett Homes, a member of the Society and President of the Woolhope Club, speak on early Herefordshire hop growing.  A fascinating talk ensued illustrated with beautiful colour slides.

Mr. Homes told us that the first known cultivation of the hop in Great Britain was in Kent in 1542 and the beer was brewed in London ‘by Flemmings’ meaning strangers.

In an inventory in the early wills of Herefordshire he found the first mention of hops in the county at Collington where on 16th May 1667 Walker Ward had one cwt of hops valued at £2 5s. 0d.  Later that year John Hayward of Maydenhead, Pencombe had ‘malt and a parcel of hops’.  His find of a reference dated August 1670 that Thomas Evans of Bromyard had ‘hops in the ground and hop poles with Mr. Hardwick’ reminds us that before the practice of wiring hopyards and growing hops up strings they were grown up poles, the men working in the hopyards being called pole-pullers even in quite recent times.

Mr. Homes described the early process of drying hops by spreading them on the floor of a room, the evidence for this being the ‘treading hole’ in the floor/ceiling from which the bags were suspended and the dry hops packed tightly by a man standing in the bag and ‘treading’ the hops.  Some members of the Local History Society have this feature in their homes, for instance, Mr. and Mrs. C. Page, of Upper Norton, have such a hole in a downstairs room, the sacks being suspended into a cel1ar.  The first mention of a kiln was in 1682.

In October of the same year, there was reference to a ‘picking sheet’ at Whitbourne, and to the refinement of a crib at Pencombe in 1692.

We were pleased to hear that Mr. John Beale of Herefordshire claimed in 1687 that ‘Bromyard were the Hop Masters of the area’.  This was substantiated by later Excise Papers which show Bromyard to have had the highest average acreage of hops in the first two decades of the 19th century.

Mr. Homes then told us where to look for documentary and archeaological evidence, many members being surprised to hear that the round kiln with a cowl predates the modern square kiln by some 40 years.

There followed the most illustrative colour slides presenting evidence of many local examples of these features and leaving us anticipating the field day on 18th June when we may see more of the history of this industry.