14 February 2008

Maryland, Halford (Warwickshire), a Former Home of John James Britton

John James Britton, the paternal grandfather of Lionel Britton, lived for about fifteen years in the small village of Halford in Warwickshire. For some of that time he lived in Maryland, a house near the parish church of St Mary's (1). By then he would be largely – if not entirely – in retirement from his former profession as a solicitor, although he still continued writing as a poet and made contributions to the Stratford Herald. Many thanks to John James's great-great-grandson Robert Hughes for taking the photo of Maryland during his brief stay at the Halford Bridge, and for no doubt pumping the churchwarden – and probably most of the inhabitants of Halford into the bargain – for any information on a number of subsidiary subjects (including St Mary's Norman tympanum).

(1) John James's Preface to his son Herbert Eyres's The Visions of a Dreamer – dated August 1912, shortly before his death – gives his address as The Yews, Halford.


Snatch51 said...

John James Britton appears to have been the child of James Britton, a leathercutter, and Ruth Catherine Britton.
However, the census record of 1851poses a problem.
Here he is described as being born in Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Could this have been true? If so, he may not have been James Britton's son, but might for example have been a child of Ruth Catherine's by an earlier marriage. He could even have been adopted of course.
There is no record of other children, but they may have grown up and moved away from home before any of the available censuses were taken. James was about 43 when John James was born, and Ruth 33.
What is certain is that they made sure he had a good education, and he was no narrow swot either: His son, Herbert Eyres Britton, testifies to him being unfailingly good company, and he managed to marry two wives, one of whom being 25 years his junior, and to produce at least nine children.
The question is, were any of them Brittons?

Dr Tony Shaw said...

But John James's marriage certificate, his son Herbert Eyres's write-up of his father in the Staffordshire poets book, and a number of other sources say he was born in Handsworth. Could it just be that the enumerator, who lists Ruth Catherine as being born in Handsworth, just transposed the two places in error? Maybe he'd visited the local beerhouse shortly before, or perhaps was just suffering from the effects of such a visit the night before?