Now we come to Mary Brown. She was still running the farm in Yardley Gobion in 1844 that I have seen in print. She must have been the mother of Jonah, also Henry, Johnny, George and William.
Jonah and the last two named [George and William] went to America. William had to go quick for nearly killing three keepers who tried to take a deer from him. When the police came for Billy, his folks gave them home brewed beer. Little did they know that the Hogshead, a huge barrel, had a false bottom in which was the deer. The Police got as drunk as lords, and whilst they were in this state, Billy got away and sailed. But he had a bit of a fright that did not make a bright outlook.
In three weeks they had made little headway as it was a sailing ship, but he did in the end get to America. He came home 42 years after he had sailed from England. He said why he did not come to England again before this was because they might remember him, but I think he was leg pulling, because being a naturalised American they would not interfere with him.
He brought over with him 700 cattle for slaughter at Birkenhead, as they used to do in them days, because freezing meat in them days was unknown. He also brought his two sons with him, both were at Harvard College America. Billy had a very large ranch not far from Chicago. He was in England for six weeks.
He tried to get the three nephews, my father and mother, uncle George and Elizabeth his wife, aunt Flo and her husband to go back to America with him and he would set them all with a good start in whatever they liked. The men were willing to go but the females did not like the idea. But anyhow fate stepped in and stopped any further talks about going abroad. There was a close cloudburst near Billy’s home and his wife was drowned. Very quickly he had to leave, as his home had gone as well. We never heard from him or about him any more, but he was a very rich man.
When he came to my Grandfather’s under the old shed at the Barge where Grandfather sat, he ordered drinks. At that time that was a pint pot. One did have small glasses with a quart pot which had a spout to it. Well they started talking to each other. So Grampy said to Billy “You talk like an American.” So Billy said yea, he had been to that country. So Grampy said, yes, so had he, so had two more brothers, Billy and George. He said he knew that George had been shot and robbed of his gold of £800, but his brother Billy he had not heard of for over forty years.
So Uncle Billy pulling Grandpa’s leg said, how was he named, and Grandpa said “Billy Brown, did you come across him?” Billy replied he knew one of that name. Well, Billy’s two sons were enjoying this talk between the two aged men. Grandpa asked Billy if the man Brown he knew belonged to these parts, and Billy replied, no, he belonged to a place called Yardley Gobion!
Grandpa was dazed for a second or two, then he jumped up and said “That was my brother!” and Billy said “No, he was not your brother I made that up, but I am your brother and these are my two sons!” The two old fellows were clasping hands for a very long time, and were so happy.
Grandma Brown was the widow of a man called Atkins before she married Grandpa, with a son Jimmy and Elizabeth, a daughter. Grandma’s maiden name was Sarah Greenwood. Before marrying she lived at Wicken, about seven miles from Cosgrove. Grandpa [Jonah Brown] bought a lot of property at Cosgrove. He turned the Canal House into a public house and had two stables at the bottom of the yard made for boat horses which could be stabled there for the night, as the boats did not travel after dark. He bought two rows of houses, six in the first row and three in the second row. He bought the Bakehouse and a big yard with a lot of outbuildings and a large shop with the Post Office included, and some property at Stony Stratford adjoining the College.
Grandma had a little shop at the Barge. A door opened on the canal path, and she sold all foodstuffs, tobacco, clay pipes and cigarettes to the boat people. Grandpa used to have two boatloads of coal every so often. Peter Littlemore was the boatman with his wife, sons and daughters who worked the boats, which belonged to Charles Roberts of Deanshanger. The coal was took to the villagers in a wheelbarrow.
Now to Grandma again when she was a young girl they used to hold prize fights at Sutfield Green [near Puxley]. This was bare knuckle fighting which had been disallowed, and the police in this period of our history could not interfere with anyone in another County. Well at Sutfield Green four Counties joined one another Bucks, Oxford, Warwick and Northants. Perhaps the police of one County were aware of the fight and would be there, so the fighters and the public stepped into the next County.
I will mention one championship fight, which Grandma and her father attended. Gaunt and Bendigo fight. Bendigo was a Nottingham man and he came to Wolverton station through Stony Stratford and Deanshanger and turned for Sutfield Green just this side of Wicken, With him came 10,000 Nottingham miners bringing with them their pick handles ready for any trouble, which they caused at Stony Stratford and Deanshanger, stealing everything from every shop leaving them bare.
Well the fight started. Grandma sold water here at sixpence a glass, and her father who was a keeper and another keeper were up a large tree to watch the fight. The fight had gone on 70 rounds when someone shouted “police!”. They all tried to get away, both fighters were in a poor state and were trod on and rolled on. Their flashes, or handkerchief belts were taken off them and pickpockets became busy. And some of them could not get away because they hid their loot at the foot of a tree close to the one in which the two keepers were hid.
When the police and mob were gone the two men came down the tree and dug the loot up which was only covered up with twigs, earth and leaves, They handed all the money and jewels up. I don’t know if the police gave them the silk handkerchiefs I think they would be allowed to keep them as only money and jewels are Treasure Trove. One keeper kept one flash and the other kept the other one which Grandma brought to the Barge with her. It was still at the Barge until Aunt Liz died.
The Northampton Football Echo said that the Brown family had this flash about 12 years ago but it is no longer with us. Persons had it who did not understand its value, I kept asking about it. Could I have found it I would have given it to Northampton Museum. It has been gone some years. I knew where it was, but its end was lighting a garden fire. So has gone a link with the past.
The only things I have are Grandpa’s old cap and ball pistol which he carried in the ’49 Gold Rush in America the Forty Niners as they were known.
In another fight for a Championship Tom Crib fought Mendoza the Jew. Crib’s painting hangs in the White Lion public house over the fireplace at Wicken. The posts of the ring in which Gaunt and Bendigo fought still stood, My father took me to see them after the 1914 war, but the forest was cut down for the timbers in the same war.
Grandma used to make pillow lace and I had many a farthing off her bobbins. We could get a nice lot of sweets for a farthing. The ladies, when making lace in the cold weather always had an iron pot with hot embers in it under their frock to keep their legs and feet warm. Their frocks were so warm they rested on the floor.
Another thing they always cooked their joints of meat with a spit and jack. You would wind the jack up like a clock and it kept revolving in front of the fire and a drip tin caught the fat below the joint. The high class people always cooked this way. I was Grandma’s favourite so I could do no wrong, or did I want for anything.
My father’s uncles one lived at Yardley Gobion. Johnny lived with Mrs Kirk in his old age. He held the last of the land belonging to our family, and the last today is known as Johnny Brown’s field at the time of writing. Henry lived at Cosgrove with Mrs Holman these were the last of Jonah’s brothers.
My father, he lived at Cosgrove until I was nine years old, then took over the Black Horse Inn at Old Stratford. Frank, Doris and Reginald were born there. Mother died when I was just fifteen, Norah Frank and Doris went to live with Aunt Elizabeth at the Barge and Mrs Claydon at old Stratford had Reg.
When I was nineteen the war broke out in Europe - Austria and Hungary against little Serbia. Germany went to the aid of Austria and Russia to the aid of Serbia, then Germany turned on Russia. Germany was going to attack Belgium as well. England and France told the Germans that if they attacked Belgium they would go to Belgium’s aid, which England did on August 4th 1914, also France did.
George was already in the 1st Northants Regiment. I joined up in the Oxford and Bucks, Fred joined the Army Service Corps. Mrs Claydon died in September 1914, so Reg was without a mother again, just at the very time he needed one.
I went to France and up to Albert, from there to Bray on the Somme, from there to Loos. We came out of there and went through France to the help of Serbia. Our regiment suffered very many casualties. Three Cosgrove lads were killed in two battles, and a great lot from this part of the two Counties, Northants and Bucks. I was wounded three times, Fred was wounded a few times, but I think George came through without hurt.
I married Lottie Olney of Castlethorpe but had no children. George married Millie Webster of Potterspury and had two daughters, Fred married Florence ________ of Northampton and had a son and two daughters. Norah married Don Giddings of Northampton and had three sons and one daughter. Frank married Rose _____ of Aldershot. Doris married Charlie Hill of London and had three sons. One son, George, who was a Sergeant Cadet in the Home Guard, died [of pneumonia contracted on manoevres]. .Reginald married Edie Odell of Yardley Gobion and had fiev sons and two daughters.
Father married twice, His first wife, Emily Nicholls of Castlethorpe, mother of the above family, and his second wife was Margaret Whitehead. She was a widow of the First World War with three children, Charlie, __________, ___________.
With my father she had eight children, Beatrice, William, Margaret, Edward, Hilda, Mary, Peter and Sheila. One of her first family was killed in Malaya. Father and the second wife are buried together at Cosgrove.
This is the end of this short, short history, which may interest some of the family, which was farming at Yardley in the time of Charles the First of England.