Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Cresswell Postman

A few weeks ago I wrote about Cresswell village and my family's association with the place. In 1820 Isabella Storey was born. She was the daughter of my 4x Great Grandparents, Adam and Hannah Storey

On 20 February 1846 Isabella married William Summers at St Mary the Virgin, Woodhorn. This was obviously a 'shot-gun' wedding as their son Matthew was baptised in April of the same year. Rather than the baptism taking place at Woodhorn, Matthew was baptised at St Bartholomew's, Cresswell, perhaps to spare possible embarrassment.


St Mary the Virgin, Woodhorn.

On Matthew's baptism, it was revealed that William's occupation was 'Messenger'. Only two years before William had been appointed the postman of the area by Addison John Baker Cresswell, the local esquire. Sadly, Matthew died when he was only 14 months old. 

Isabella and William went on to have another son in March 1848, whom they named Adam after Isabella's father. By this time the family had moved to nearby Ellington, and now William was being referred to as a 'postman'. When young Adam Summers was only 7 months old, his mother Isabella sadly died. 

Adam then went to Cresswell to be raised by his grandparents, aunts and uncles. Soon after, his surname was changed from Summers to Storey. 

The next year William Summers married Sarah Swinhoe and went to live at Morpeth. Sarah already had an illegitimate son named Isaac. Together she and William went on to have at least four children. 

Sometime in the 1850s William became Morpeth's town crier, or bellman. A report published in the Morpeth Herald in November 1860 stated that William received 1 shilling for this role. He was Morpeth's town crier for many years, but this was clearly not a very lucrative profession. In March 1881 William applied to receive an annuity from the Hollon Annuity Fund.




The Mary Hollon Annuity Fund was set up in October 1880, by Richard Welch Hollon Esq. as a tribute to his late wife. Mary Hollon was a charitable woman in her lifetime, and it was Richard's wish that a charity should be formed in her name to help the elderly poor of Morpeth. However there were conditions.

"Thirteen women and twelve men, not under sixty years of age, are to be elected on the annuity fund, and to receive £2 10s each, payable on the 5th November, 5th February, 5th May, and 5th August. Each person elected must be honest, sober, and of good moral character, and who has not been an inmate of a poor-house, nor received parish relief. The charity was intended for the benefit of honest poor people, or those who have been in a better position in life, and reduced to penury by unforeseen circumstances, and not in any manner to relieve the duty of the poor-law guardians in giving the customary relief. All candidates must have resided not less than fifteen years in the municipal borough of Morpeth, the annuity to cease, and the vacancy to be filled up at the ensuing quarter-day."

Every year on 5 November those selected by Morpeth Town Council were welcomed to a "liberal tea" at a "good hotel" at the cost of Richard W. Hollon. The 5 November was a special day for Richard, as this was his wedding anniversary. 

William's application to receive the funds was brought into question, as he apparently lived with one of his sons for a period of nine months, away from Morpeth. The case was dropped as William was still technically a house-holder in Morpeth at the time. He was considered along with the other applicants, but another candidate was selected. By this time William was in his seventies, and now without an occupation. 

The Mary Hollon Annuity Fund is still in existence today.

There was more sadness in William's life when in 1884 his grandson was killed. The poor boy was trampled by a horse and cart in one of Morpeth's busy streets. The verdict was that there was to be no blame attached to anyone, as the boy walked out onto the road himself. The owner of the horse and cart couldn't stop the accident, as he did not see the boy approaching from the other side. 

In 1889 William's sons, Adam Summers or Storey, a fishermen who was now living in Amble, and Joseph Summers, a plate-layer of Hull were called up in the Morpeth Petty Sessions. They were each charged with not providing necessary means of maintenance for their father - effectively making him chargeable to the Guardians of Morpeth Union.

John Dowson, the relieving officer said that William was currently residing in Morpeth Workhouse and all they wanted was one shilling per week from each of his sons. Only Adam appeared in the court, and said he could not pay anything. However the bench ordered that they each pay. 

William Summers died on 1 January 1892 at age of 83.