Royal Christening celebrations,  suicides and the Agricultural Society

1842 – Royal Christening Celebrations at Pembridge

The church bells starting ringing joyfully at an early hour as preparations were made for the roasting of three fat sheep.

At lunchtime, the children of Pembridge processed after a wonderful band, carrying banners and flags, to the Rectory House where they were given plum cake and cider (it was ALWAYS plum cake and cider!) as were the parents and friends of the children.

“Long live the Prince” was drunk in nine hearty cheers, and at three o’clock the sheep were ready to be carved and distributed to the aged and large families.

A hogshead of cider was tapped and distributed freely, and the old ladies from the Almshouses were given tea, cake and wine at the Rectory.  In the evening, the New Inn held a ball for the respectable tradesmen of Pembridge, and there was not one bit of trouble reported throughout the whole day.

1846 – Suicide of Thomas Hall

Thomas Hall, 34,  of Cromes House Farm in Pembridge was found dead under a tree on his farm.

A post mortem showed that he had ingested arsenic and it was thought it had been self inflicted.

There was huge shock in Pembridge on hearing the news, because he was a much loved man, but it was known that he had been very concerned about the farm which had been badly neglected for a very long time before he took it over.  He had, however, turned things around by sheer hard work, and the crops in his fields were abundant and healthy – on the verge of a bumper harvest in fact which would have put him back on his feet.

Thomas also had a truly loving wife and children, which made it doubly hard to imagine what could have made him take his own life.

1862 – Determination to commit Suicide Foiled

A woman named only as Rogers tried to hang herself with a string over a bacon hook in her ceiling.  The string was rather long, and she had to lift her legs up to keep them off the ground.

Because death was a long time in coming, she was discovered by a small child who ran to raise the alarm, and James Carpenter who lived next door ran in to cut her down.

She was black in the face and her tongue was stuck between her teeth, and despite a doctor attending to her swiftly it was many hours before she came round.

1867 – Pembridge Agricultural Society

The Pembridge Agricultural Society was the oldest society of its kind in the county, and the anniversary was celebrated in mid November 1867.

20 teams competed for various prizes on land belonging to Mr. Pinches of Hardwicke.

Apart from the ploughing and hedge laying competitions, other classes included the following:

The labourer who had been employed by the same master for the greatest number of years (won by Thomas Evans employed by Mr. Woolley for 16 years).

The female under 23 who had been an indoor servant for the most years without changing employers (won by Jane Davies employed by Mr. Bannister for five and a half years)

The Cowman who was employed the most number of years by the same master (Thomas Mason employed by Mr. Williams for 20 years)

The Shepherd in regular employment who reared the most lambs from a proportionate number of ewes.  (won by William Webb employed by Mr. Taylor – 185 lambs from 150 ewes.

The cottager being a farm labourer, living within five miles of Pembridge market hall and never having won first prize in this class, who cultivated his garden in the best manner.  (won by John Williams, employed by Mr. Burlton of Luntley).

Later in the day, some 35 gentlemen who were supporters of the society, dined at the Greyhound Inn where a splendid feast was provided by the host, Mr. Paine.

1899 – Pembridge “The worst Parish in North Herefordshire so far as Immorality was Concerned”

Not my words you understand, but those of the Coroner when summing up a case where the child of a 14 year old girl died in Pembridge.  He said that the action of the mother and father of the girl was scandalous.

The girl was a mere 13 when she gave birth, and she and her parents made every effort to hush up what followed – the father of the child should, in his opinion, be doing a great deal of time in one of Her Majesty’s Prisons.

John Ernest Price was the illegitimate child of Alice Price – the fourteen year old daughter of Benjamin Price of Clearbrook.  The father of the child paid the  sum of £20 to buy his way out of further liability.

When he was around 6 months old, he was being looked after by his grandparents whilst his young mother was out working in domestic service, and he sadly died.

Rumour abounded very quickly, with the good people of Pembridge claiming that little John Price had been fed in such a way that defied common sense and it was this that had killed the child.  However, a doctor examined the body and declared that in his opinion death was by natural causes.

In court, the grandparents of the child, Mary and Benjamin Price said that they had had custody of John for five months, and that he was being fed from a bottle initially but was rather small and thin.  Gradually he began to thrive, although at one point he did have a chesty cold for which a doctor prescribed medicine.

Then one day, Mary noticed a strange noise in John’s throat, which gradually worsened until one day the poor child became quite black in the face and died.  At post mortem it was found that the windpipe was slightly inflamed, and the doctor declared that death was due to spasm of the throat giving rise to asphixia, which was quite rare – it could be likened to something resembling croup.  He did also say that the little boy was well cared for, in fact perhaps too well cared for as he was a tad overweight.

The verdict returned a death by natural causes, but the Coroner again showed his distaste of the whole affair by addressing the grandmother and severely reprimanding her for her conduct, and that of her husband, for accepting money for the purpose of suppressing a case which should have been before a Criminal Court.

He asked Mary, the grandmother why she did it, and she replied that she wanted to stop gossip and disgrace on the family, but the Coroner was not impressed and said that instead of saving disgrace she had made things much worse, and also had protected a man who should have been up before the Criminal Court.

He was disgusted with the whole affair.