Thursday, 20 September 2012

Sarah Fretwell, the sad tale......

Catch up on the full story of last weeks NEWS...........

Sarah Fretwell.....her sad life ~

Sarah Fretwell was in last weeks news for causing a disturbance in the Shambles in the summer of 1861.  This was her second trial of the year as she had already appeared in June of 1861 accused of stealing £2 from George Parker. George stated that the “fair one” had lured him from the Burlington Arms to her house on Church Lane, where she “fleeced” him out of the money – I wonder if this was really the case or if he was refusing to pay for Sarah’s services rendered!  The case was dismissed as his claims could not be proven – Sarah was free for now!

The 1861 census shows Sarah aged 30 years old living on Church Lane with her 4 month old baby daughter Lydia.  This census was taken on 7th April 1861, just months before the court case meaning Lydia was born around Christmas time.  Sarah was born at Ashover c.1831.

It’s now 1871 and Sarah is living at 31 Browns Yard.  She has described herself as married and has 2 children – Lydia 10 years old and Edward 7 years old.  She is now “respectable” and has work as a stocking weaver.  There are 2 other visitors to the house; Edward Gratton a 48 year old labourer and Mary Ann Warner a 28 year old char woman.

By August 1872 Sarah is in trouble again; she was charged with stealing 30s from a man named Matthew Clay a miner, whilst in the brothel.  Sarah is also given an alias of Gratton at this police hearing.  She pleaded not guilty, but after hearing the evidence she changed her plea and was given 2 months hard labour.  Her children Lydia and Edward would be left for 2 months without a mother.

The Derbyshire Times of 7th June 1873 announces the marriage of Sarah Fretwell to Edward Gratton a labourer, the man who is a “visitor” at her home at Browns Yard in 1871.  And so it looks like Sarah got her man eventually.   Ah, lovely a happy ending to Sarah’s difficult life we sigh.... sadly I think that this may not be the case............

Many years earlier in April 1861 Edward Gratton was called to the Borough Police Courts as keeper of a brothel at Church Lane.  He was charged with receiving stolen goods after another prostitute Hannah Holmes, took William Straw a collier of Staveley, back to the brothel where she stole his silver watch, steel chain and purse.  Hannah passed these items on to Edward Gratton.  The case was passed to the Crown Courts for the July sessions and at this hearing Edward gave his excuses as to how he came to have the chain in his possession – “Sarah a woman with whom he cohabited, had bought the watch and chain last harvest”.  The excuse worked and both Edward and Hannah were acquitted.  Sadly, it looks like the connection of Sarah and Edward was one of “business”, had Sarah worked for Edward? Most probably!!  On the 1861 census Edward is living just a few houses away from Sarah and her baby daughter; he was also born in Ashover so Sarah may have connections to him from there.  He was 37 years old, working as a railway labourer, unmarried with a 2 year old son also called Edward.

In April 1862 Edward was sentenced to 9 months hard labour for keeping a disorderly house.  He appeared at the Derbyshire Assize Courts on Wednesday April 9th and it was argued by the defence a Mr Bristowe that “the house had ceased to be disorderly and that the unlawful calling had been given up”.  The house had been of bad character for years.  The Court heard how Edward had been let off previously and had failed in its “leniency”. 

In February 1867 Edward was described as a “ruffian” when he was tried for assaulting the landlady Mrs Walker at the Crown and Cushion Inn.  He was given a fine of £5 costs or 2 months hard labour – he chose the later.   On to June 1871 and again in trouble for assault; Edward is charged by Sarah Wragg after a quarrel over the garden at Brown’s Yard.  This time he was fined £2 and costs or one month’s hard labour.

Two years after the marriage, in January 1875 the couple appear at the Borough Police sessions charged with assaulting a neighbour William Moore.  The couple now live on Wheeldon Lane, where the assault took place.  But, it wasn’t all as bad as at first it may seem..... William Moore was arguing with his wife as she had taken out a summons against him.  During the argument William Moore had taken a chair and threatened to strike her with it, to which she had shouted “murder”.  Sarah and Edward had arrived at her defence and William Moore had punched Sarah in the face, to which any husband would see red and Edward had joined in the fracas.  The Bench decided that too much violence had ensued and each 20s and costs. 

The marriage had it’s ups and downs and in June 1880 Edward is in front of the Chesterfield Borough Police Court again, this time accused of assault on his wife Sarah of Bradshaw’s Place, Chesterfield.  He pleaded guilty and was fined 20s and costs or 14 days. 

The 1881 census details Sarah and Edward living at 1 Bradshaw Place.  Edward is a coal higgler.  They have a 17 year old son named Edward Gratton-Fretwell who is also a coal miner.  A new edition to the family has now arrived; Ada Columbine aged 3 years old is their grand-daughter.

The trail of Sarah Fretwell / Gratton goes cold after 1881 but there is a marriage announcement for a marriage that took place on 21st September 1885 at the Parish Church, Chesterfield.   The marriage was between Mrs Sarah Gratton and Mr John Cowlishaw a labourer of Brampton.  If this is indeed the marriage of “our” Sarah then where was Edward?  I can find no possible deaths for him in the years in between 1881 and 1885, but he may have died in a different area of the country or have even left the country all together.  Assuming that this is “our” Sarah then she hopefully has a more settled and happy life now.  In 1891 John and Sarah are living at 23 Browns Yard, only a stone’s throw away from her previous home in 1871.  They live alone and John works as a gardener.  Sadly before 1901 John dies and Sarah is recorded in the 1901 census as a widow aged 70 years old (she has lost a few years here!).  She has gone up in the world though and is described as a grocery shop keeper -  a much more appropriate business than the life we first meet her trading. 

What became of Sarah after 1901? Well if she was now Mrs Sarah Cowlishaw then she is not on the 1911 census but the only death in Chesterfield is for a Sarah Cowlishaw in 1909 aged 70, so the age is out by some years. 

Was baby Lydia the daughter of Edward Gratton?

We will never know for definite but in 1851 Edward is aged 27 years old and still living with his parents David and Lydia Gratton at Ashover.  It does seem that Sarah may well have named her daughter after her paternal grandmother Lydia. Lydia’s birth was registered in 1861 she was given the middle name of Gratton.  In 1876 Lydia married Thomas Columbine, thus the grand-daughter living with Sarah and Edward in 1881 is the daughter of Lydia. 

Lydia’s life was no better than her mother’s, she was in court in January 1878 charging her husband of assault.  She stated that she had been married to Thomas for about a year but had not lived with him for the last 6 weeks.  She had returned to live with her parents in Browns Yard.  On the day the summons was issued Thomas had turned up at the Gratton’s house in a drunken state, Lydia’s parents had left the house leaving Lydia to speak with Thomas.  She told him to go if he was drunk to which he turned and hit her in the face, knocked her down into a corner and took a knife out if his pocket which he threatened to cut her throat with, he also tried to throttle her.  At this time Lydia had her child in her arms so she bit on Thomas’s finger in self defence.  The court heard how she had been unable to live with her husband as he was violent against her.  In his defence Thomas said he had never been violent towards her, however he had “frequently been provoked to it by her foul mouthed language”.  He added that at times he had been required to sit up all night to bake the bread as she refused to do the task in the day time.  The Bench found Thomas guilty and fined him 21s including costs.  

This would explain why Ada was living with her grandparents in 1881 but where was Lydia? 
On the 1881 census there is a Lydia Gratton born around 1861 in Chesterfield now living at 4 Wooleys Yard, Nottingham she is working as a lace doubler and lives with George Dills a collier. 

Edward Gratton-Fretwell the son of Sarah may well have followed in his father’s footsteps along the criminal path.  He got off with a caution in October 1873 for stealing apples along with 7 other boys, in the market place. In June 1877 he was in trouble for birdnesting and damaging the roof of an engine house at Wingerworth.  He was living at Browns Yard at the time.  There are many other mentions of an Edward Gratton which may well be this Edward, mainly for poaching related incidents.

Edward Gratton aged 2 years old in 1861, son of Edward Gratton – born around 1858/9 in Chesterfield.  There is no trace of this boy further.  There is an Edwin Gratton living with his siblings and Aunt and Uncle John and Elizabeth Walker at Stonegravels in 1871. This may or may not be him, further research would be required.



No comments:

Post a Comment