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Mollie Smith, 2008
Houghton & Short Families
Samuel & Merentha Houghton
Samuel & Merentha Houghton

The Houghton Family

The Houghton family story begins from the 1841 census. Richard Houghton, born 1791 and Sarah, born 1790 had five children. They were Eliza, born 1821, Sarah, 1826, Charles, 1828, John, 1831, Eli, 1832 and Elijah 1834. Eliza married Charles Lucas in 1839 and they were the parents of Ann, born 1840, Jane, 1842, Thomas, 1843, Mary Anne, 1845, Matilda, 1846 and Elizabeth, 1850. Charles died in 1850 and the family lived at Walnut Tree Row, Higham Ferrers until his death. In the 1851 census the family were living in Lower End, Higham Ferrers. Ann Lucas gave birth to an illegitimate son George William Lucas in 1857, father unknown.

Higham Street & Walnut Tree
Higham Street & Walnut Tree

My great grandfather was John, born in 1831 who married Sarah (Bailey)in 1854, born 1831. A son William was born in 1852, a daughter Elizabeth, 1855 and another son James, 1857. Sarah died in 1863 and John married Mary Ann Bollard, born 1841, in 1865. They had the following children, Susan Ann (Rebecca?)born 1865, John 1868, Jane 1870, Samuel 1872, Elijah born 1874, Eliza born 1876, Richard born 1878 and William Charles born 1883.

By the 1891 census Walnut Tree Row had become Kennel Row.

In 1898 my grandfather, Samuel married Merentha Albertha Bailey and in 1901 they were living in Wharf Lane, Higham Ferrers. His occupation was given as a shoe pressman and her occupation was an army boot closer.

A daughter, Merentha Augusta May was born in 1903 and my father, John William in 1909.

In 1914 my grandmother died and my father was looked after by his aunt Eliza and they lived in the High Street at Higham Ferrers. His older sister, my aunt May (Merentha Augusta May), stayed with my grandfather.

In 1918 my grandfather married Edith Hewitt, a widow with three children. The family moved to 11 Windmill Road, Rushden, the home of his new wife.

My grandfather was the second cousin of George William Lucas, grandfather of H.E. Bates. He was 15 years younger but they had spent much time together. George William had been brought up by his grandmother Eliza and the Houghton family in Kennel Row.

In the early nineteen hundreds when George William Lucas had a small holding on the Fitzwilliam Estate my grandfather also had a smallholding. Pig keeping and vegetables were grown. By the early nineteen twenties my grandfather rented land at Sanders Lodge, Rushden and continued pig keeping and growing vegetables. Most Saturdays he would visit his cousin, George William Lucas at Highham Ferrers. His daughter May (my aunt) was very close to Florence, the daughter of George William. Before her marriage my aunt worked in a shoe factory along Irchester Road. The companionship of the two men continued until the death of George William Lucas in 1932.

John & Edith Houghton with milk van
John & Edith Houghton with milk van
My grandfather died in 1937, by which time my father was farming land at Sanders Lodge and had a milk delivery round. My father farmed land next to Skew bridge at Sanders Lodge until 1949. Before and during the war years it was still possible to get agricultural labourers and help in the form of Land Army girls. The government set targets of vegetables for growing and all prices were strictly controlled. My mother ran the shop at 42, Crabb Street selling vegetables and fruit in season and milk, she also helped with the fruit picking.

After the war many government regulations were announced which made life difficult for small farmers. Tuberculin Tested herds were required and modernisation of milking parlours and bottling premises. It was also very difficult to find agricultural labourers with the competition of factory wages.

Since my father had worked in the shoe factories from a boy to the depression of the thirties he returned there, after the cattle and farm machinery were sold in 1949. His skills started with pattern cutting, clicking, hand sewing to inspection. In 1955 the family moved to 5, Manor Road,, Rushden.

My aunt had married Harry Larkins in 1926 and had a farm, ‘Elm Farm’ at Lower Dean. It was a dairy farm and they also had a milk delivery round supplying the villages of Upper Dean, Shelton, Covington, Hargrave and Tilbrook.   
Harry Larkins & Aunt May
Harry Larkins & Aunt May

During the second world war when H. E. Bates was stationed at Oakington with the R.A.F. he would often visit my aunt. On some occasions the wives of fellow officers would visit and stay a few days. When he wrote his novel ‘The Darling Buds of May’ he used the name, the Larkins.

My aunt was a very generous person and the village loved her, especially the children. She was known as ‘Larky’. I know from the autobiography of H. E. that the novel was based on a family in Kent whom he saw going into a farmhouse there. However, I feel that some of the life at Dean was woven into the book.

My aunt and uncle farmed until their deaths with my cousin, Don and his wife, Con. The milk delivery round only ceased in 1992.

In their teenage years and early twenties my mother was a Sunday school teacher at Park Road Baptist Chapel and a member of the Girl’s Brigade. My father was a member of Park Road Methodist Boys’ Brigade. They regularly went to the summer camps.

From the late twenties my father had been a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade. In the fifties he was a volunteer ambulance driver at the weekends for the County Ambulance Service. He was a founder member of the Rushden Cinematograph Club which later included taking video footage. His other interests were Rushden Pensioners’ Parliament and Rushden Historical Society. Their last home was at 11 Bradfield Close, Rushden. My mother died in 1997 and my father in 2004. 

The Short Family

George & Mary Short with their children
George & Mary Short with their children

My maternal great grandparents George Frederick and Mary Short were born in Wollaston in 1858 and 1860. At the time of the 1901 census they were living at Porters Lodge. George was a shoe riveter, daughter Annie, aged 19 a shoe machinist, Eugenie aged 11 had no trades listed. Sons Thomas Frederick, aged 8, Frank, aged 6, Harry, aged 4 and Charles Reginald, aged 1 were under working age.

In 1902 the family moved to Rushden and their first home was at 60, Moor Road. By 1904 the family had moved to 13, Glassbrook Road, by 1907 to 6, Beaconsfield Terrace and 1911 to 26, Church Street.

Thomas, Frank and Harry went to Alfred Street School but Frank later transferred to Newton Road School. Charles I assume also went to Newton Road.

Annie and Elizabeth found work in the shoe factories, Arthur became a telegram boy, Eugenie worked in a bakery, Thomas and Frank entered the printing trade.

Charles & Annie with their children
Charles & Annie with their children
The family were staunch Baptists attending Park Road Baptist Chapel. In 1907 Elizabeth, born 1884, married Jesse Marriott of Rose Cottage, Allen Road, Rushden. Jesse was a shoemaker working from a building at the bottom of the family garden. His father, James and brother, James also were shoemakers working from home. A daughter, Evelyn, was born in 1908. Annie, born in 1882 married Charles Edward Church of 2 Midland Road, Rushden in 1908 and a son, Charles Edward was born in 1909 and a daughter, Edith Mary in 1911.

The family lived at 88, Crabb Street until the children married and set up homes at 40, and 42, Crabb Street.

Charles Edward married Ada Poole and had one son, Barry, and Edith Mary married John William (Bill) Houghton and had two daughters Mollie and Maureen.

When Annie was widowed she remained at 88 Crabb Street until her death. She worked as a shoe machinist at home whilst the children were young. I understand that my grandfather had poor health and could not work all of the time. Later she worked in Alfred Sargent’s factory in Portland Road as a machinist. My grandfather died in 1935 and she continued to work at Alfred Sargent’s factory until the late fifties. She died in 1967.

In 1911 my great grandparents and family, including Jesse, Elizabeth and Evelyn Marriott, but excluding Annie and her family, and Arthur, emigrated to Australia. Arthur transferred to the Post Office at Wellingborough and lodged there. He fought with the Post Office Rifles during the first war. He returned after the war to the Post Office at Wellingborough and married a war widow in the twenties. He died in 1960 leaving no children. Eugenie returned to England in 1917 and worked at the Co-operative bakery in Newton Road until the thirties. She then decided to move to Kettering and worked in a shop. She died, unmarried, in 1957.

The Short Family in Australia

In October 1911 the family with the exception of Annie and Arthur emigrated to Australia.

When the family reached Melbourne Jesse, Elizabeth and Evelyn Marriott decided to go on to Queensland. They carried with them references written by W. Chettle of Manton House and W. Whitney of Court Estate, Rushden dated May 27th 1911. In north Queensland they had a very hard life. A son Thomas and another daughter Beatrice, were born there. Jesse worked on the railways and died in 1934 as a result of an injury whilst at work. Elizabeth died in 1935. Evelyn married and had four children, Beatrice died young, unmarried, Thomas married and had eight children. By 1915 the rest of the family were living in Glenferrie, Melbourne.

Thomas and Frank Short enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force. Both were sent to England for training and they managed to visit their sister, Annie and family before their posting to Egypt. On the 20th July 1916 they were fighting on the Somme in France. Thomas was wounded on the 8th August 1916 and sent to England to recover. My great grandmother received her last letter from Frank in late 1916, having been posted in Egypt. Early in 1917 she tried to get news of Frank from the Australian authorities. There was nothing.
Thomas & Frank in uniform
Thomas & Frank in uniform

She decided to return to England, accompanied by her daughter, Eugenie, to go to the British authorities. Again there were no records of Frank. She returned to Australia alone. Eugenie had decided to stay in England. In January 1919 she was told that Frank had been killed on the Somme on 28th August 1916.

Details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Index

Surname Rank Service No. Date of Death Age Regiment/Service Nationality Cemetery/Memorial Name
SHORT, Frank Private 2853 28/08/1916
Australian Infantry A.I.F. Australian VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL

Cluden Street
Cluden Street
Sometime after 1923 George and Mary moved to 11 Cluden Street, Brighton, Victoria. George died in 1939 and Mary in 1950. Thomas never married and died in 1970, His address was 32 Cluden Street, Brighton, Victoria. Charles married and had a daughter. They lived at 3 Cluden Street, Brighton, Victoria. Harry married twice and had two children. His address was 67 Sladen Street, Cranbourne, Victoria and he died in 1978.

By a strange coincidence information regarding Australia has recently come to me via the heritage website. John Gray, now recently deceased, the nephew of H. E. Bates had written the family history of the Bates/Laurence/Lucas families.

His great grandfather, Charles Laurence had emigrated to Australia in 1907 on his own. In 1914 his wife Elizabeth followed. Charles Laurence landed in Sidney. However, his death certificate showed his address as 17 Cluden Street, Brighton, Victoria and that he had resided in Victoria since 1912.

From his autobiography, H. E. Bates does remember his grandfather returning home on a few occasions before 1914. Perhaps he was a friend of my great grandparents and they all decided to go to Melbourne.

Another Rushden connection has also come to light. A photograph of Charles Laurence and a Charles Strachan was taken at a photographers studio in the same road in Richmond, Melbourne that my great grandparents were living in in 1916. From the heritage site I have discovered that a Strachan family left Scotland and were living at Higham Park in the 1880s. Their children went to South End School. The 1901 census has them living in Pemberton Street, Irchester Road, Wellingborough Road and Church Street. There is no Charles listed but he could have been living elsewhere at the time or Charles may have been his middle name. I can find no Strachans listed living in Rushden now. Does anyone have any information?

Charles Laurence & Charles Strachan
Charles Laurence & Charles Strachan

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