|Rushden & Higham Ferrers Reporter March 2015
Friends of St Mary's Newsletter - February 2015
WHEN it was suggested that the Friends of St Mary's Trustees might like to grab their saws and tree loppers to clean up an area of the churchyard to the west of the Church, little did they realise what a historical treasure trove they would discover! After a mass of branches were removed from the area the excited volunteers uncovered a piece of Higham Ferrers' history in the form of a memorial complete with iron railings and several metal plaques listing the names of the 'Jolley' family.
It was such an intriguing discovery that the Trustees were enthused enough to look deeper into the history of the family with Brenda Lofthouse volunteering to undertake the research. After many painstaking hours of searching the nineteenth century census returns, Parish and Church records, Kelly's Directories etc and with the help of Doreen Holyoake, Brenda was able to piece together some interesting facts about the family. The Trustees would like to share these facts with you, commencing with the patriarch of the family, Charles Jolley.
The Charles Jolley Plaque
Charles was the son of John Jolly (note without an 'e') who was himself born in Ringstead, but after marrying a Higham Ferrers' girl, Harriot Pack, in 1829, settled in the town of her birth. Their son Charles was born in May 1829 and was baptised in St Mary's Church - records indicate that his mother, Harriot, died in September of that same year!
Charles worked in the forever expanding local Boot and Shoe industry, initially as a leather cutter or 'clicker' as that job became known. In the 1871 census he is recorded as living in 'Back Lane', a road in Higham Ferrers which, at various times, encompassed the current Saffron Rd from the School to the cemetery and also from the cemetery to King's Meadow Lane. He married a Geddington girl, Susan Thompson, who gave birth to nine children in the twenty years from 1858 to 1878.
Not all nine children survived infanthood, however. Susan died on July 17th 1878, aged 45 years, in the same year her youngest son was born. From the date of Susan's death, until at least 1911, Charles employed a housekeeper, Mary Machell, a widow from Haselbech, near Naseby, to look after him and his surviving children. The 1881 census gives his address as High St but in the 1891 census he is shown as back living in Back Lane and also employing a servant girl, Emily Abbot, aged 15 years, who was born in Woodford.
By the time he was 50 Charles had joined the workforce of the Boot & Shoe firm Parker & Co, in Commercial St, Higham Ferrers and had been promoted to the position of Foreman. He worked at Parker's until he was over 70 years of age, by which time he had risen to the position of Factory Manager and was living at 11 Market Square, now a listed building. Parker's factory in Commercial Street burnt down in 1905, to be replaced, in 1906, with the magnificent building, still standing, in Midland Rd. No doubt this was too late in the day for Charles to be involved in the new factory.