Alfred Thomas (1) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

Alfred Thomas (1) Woodhurst was born in 1851 in Faversham to parents William (3) Woodhurst and his second wife Ann [Faversham 5 184, 1851 (June)]. A descendant reports that he was born on May 11th 1851.

The 1861 Census finds him aged "9" living with his parents at Brick Field House in Faversham.

The 1871 Census finds him aged "19" living among numerous other servants at the Suffolk Hotel, 35, Butter Market in St. James Parish, Bury St. Edmunds, where he was occupied as a head waiter.

He married Frances Jane (nee) Clarke in Suffolk in 1873 [Marriage Index: Stow, S. 4a 842, 1873 (Sept)].

Frances Jane was born in Finborough, Suffolk in 1855 to parents William Clarke and his wife Eliza. Her GRO birth reference is almost certainly [Birth Index: Stow 4a 484, 1855 (March) - indexed as simply "Frances Clarke"]. The 1861 Census finds her as "Frances J. Clarke" at age "6" living with her parents and three older siblings in Clopton Green, Rattlesden in Suffolk. William was occupied as an agricultural labourer and evidently died not long after this census. In 1867 his widow Eliza remarried to a widower Jeremiah Punchard [Marriage Index: Stow 4a 1089, 1867 (Dec)]. This account of Frances Jane's origins is established by the fact that her daughter Minnie (1) Woodhurst was staying with Jeremiah and Eliza in the 1891 Census and described as their grand-daughter. At the present time all accounts of Frances Jane's origins as stated in Ancestry public trees are incorrect.

The 1881 Census finds them living at the "Suffolk Tap" public house, also known as the Coach House Rooms, in High Baxter Street behind the Butter Market in Bury St. Edmunds, he being occupied as a waiter. With them were four children, all born in Bury St. Edmunds. This tap house was popularly known as the "Suffolk Shades".

The 1891 Census finds the family living at 21, Meat Market in St. James Parish, Bury St. Edmunds. The house is additionally marked "Exchange Stores" on the schedule. Alfred Thomas (1) was now working as a publican - the Exchange Stores may have been his licenced premises. Only their daughter Minnie (1) was absent from the household - she was staying with Jeremiah and Eliza in Rattlesden.

The 1901 Census finds them living at 17, Guildhall Street in Bury St. Edmunds. Alfred Thomas (1) was still working as a publican. Their daughter Nelly was living with them. Nos. 17-18, Guildhall Street together constituted the 15th-century inn named the "Three Goats' Heads".

In 1902 a drain at this inn became blocked and upon investigation by an employee of Alfred Thomas (1) it turned out that the drain was being obstructed by the body of a recently born baby girl. Post mortem established that the baby had been still-born. A Coroner's Inquest was held but could not identify the mother; the jury returned a verdict of "Found dead". This episode was reported in the East Anglian Daily Times on January 14th 1902.

The following year it was reported in the Framlingham Weekly News, issue of March 28th 1903, that Alfred Thomas (1) had been fined £2 for permitting roulette to be played on his premises.

Alfred Thomas (1) died aged "54" in 1905 [Death Index: Bury St. Edmunds 4a 473, 1905 (Sept)]. A descendant reports that he died on July 6th 1905.

The 1911 Census finds Frances Jane aged "55" living with her married daughter Nelly in "The Caledonian" inn at 17, St. John's Green, Colchester; she was occupied as a cook.

The National Register for England and Wales 1939 finds her again living with Nelly, but now in Ipswich at 544, Norwich Road; her birthdate is given as February 24th 1855.

Frances Jane died aged "84" in 1940 [Death Index: Deben 4a 3135, 1940 (March)]. "Deben" abbreviates Debenham in Suffolk. A brief report of her funeral was published in the Bury Free Press on January 27th 1940. It noted that she had been residing in Garrison Lane, Felixstowe and it also confirmed that her husband had been the landlord of the "Suffolk Shades", the "Exchange Stores" and the "Three Goats Inn".

His children by Frances Jane Clarke

  1. Alfred Thomas (2) Woodhurst
  2. Annie (2) Woodhurst
  3. Minnie (1) Woodhurst
  4. Nelly Woodhurst
  5. Percy Woodhurst