26 February 2008

The Yews, or Maryland, Halford, Warwickshire

John James Britton, solicitor, minor poet, and the paternal grandfather of Lionel Britton, spent his last years (roughly 1896–1913) in Halford. The postcard above shows his house – Maryland, or 'The Yews' as he called his home in 1912 in his Preface to his son Herbert Eyres's first book, The Visions of a Poet.

Did he call the house after the yew trees there? And here I show my ignorance: if yew trees are evident in the postcard, I would be delighted of someone could let me know of the fact either by replying to this blog (your email as username and a password required), or by directly sending an email to anottsquair@hotmail.com. Thank you.

And many thanks as ever to the Britton family's ancestral power researcher, fuelled by just a naked light bulb, the internet, and a crate of beer – Robert Hughes, John James's great-great-grandson.


Snatch51 said...

Tony has kindly credited me with about 200 more years of wisdom than I have.
Great-great-grandfather John James Britton had nine known childen, five of them by Maud May, his second wife, whose father was said to be James Eyres Coward.
James Eyres Coward was the Surgeon-superintendent on at least two voyages of the Poictiers, a barque which despite her modest draught of 500 or so tons, carried 272 people to South Australia in 1848.
On a voyage in 1850, his own wife, Lucy, and apparently twin daughters, were conveyed to Otago, New Zealand. See this link:
Journal of George Hepburn
Something nasty probably overtook them, because James Eyres returned to England, married again, and probably drank himself to death at the age of 54.
His second wife Elizabeth Denshaw Coward may have already been the mother of Maud May when she married James Eyres Coward, because there is no record of a Maud May Coward being born in Tiverton, which was her birthplace according to several census returns.
On the other hand, James Eyres Coward was a Tiverton man himself, so the mystery runs and runs!
Robert Hughes.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Thank you for pointing out this error, Robert. Fortunately, a Derridean slip is usually less embarrassing than a Freudian one. But this sets me thinking: I know there are postcards of Hewell Road, Redditch, before it fell to the bulldozers, so I wonder if Redditch Library can turn up one showing the house Samuel Thomas junior's crowd lived in.

(Come to think of it, thinking aloud in a semi-public comment like this is better than sending a private email. We must meet this way again.)