John K Pelly and his wife Frances likely arrived in Great Ellingham in January 1869, when they took up the respective positions of schoolmaster and schoolmistress at the British School.
A report of a ‘Public Tea Meeting’ held in Great Ellingham for the benefit of the British School, which appeared in the Norwich Mercury of the 14th August, 1869, mentioned that Mr and Mrs Pelly had undertaken their duties eight months earlier. During this time, the school had seen a significant increase in the number of scholars. It was also reported that “the progress made has been exceedingly satisfactory to the committee and parents.”
Some 130 ‘friends’ attended the meeting. This figure would have been greater had it not been for the commencement of the harvest, and the heavy rain showers in the afternoon.
Following tea, the Pastor, the Reverend J C Wells, (who was described as a talented lecturer), gave a “popular and amusing” lecture on superstition.
Before the meeting concluded, the Reverend Mr Davis of Hingham (himself a former British Schoolmaster), emphasised to the congregation the “necessity of supporting the schoolmaster by quarterly subscriptions according to their means, in addition to their weekly pence.”
Who were John & Frances Pelly?
John K Pelly was born in Shoreditch, Middlesex c.1810. Accordingly, he was approaching the age of 60 when he and his wife came to Great Ellingham in 1869. The 1861 census captures John and Frances Pelly living in Poole, Dorset with their two children, Joseph aged 7 and four year old Charlotte. Some 20 years John’s junior, Frances was (at least) her husband’s second wife. The 1851 census captures John Pelly with wife Elizabeth and seven year old son Frederick in Kensington.
The 1871 census reveals 43 year old schoolmistress Frances Pelly with her sons Joseph 16 born in Kensington (described as a whitesmith), and six year old Herbert, born in Shropshire, living in Great Ellingham. Schoolmaster John K Pelly was absent from home on census night.
By 1881, the Pelly family had moved from Great Ellingham. The 1881 census finds 76 year old John K Pelly with his wife Frances (then aged 53) and their sixteen year old son, Herbert, at the Turnpike School House in Scoulton, just over 5 miles from Great Ellingham. Both John and Frances were still teaching.
Norwich Mercury 14th August 1869. Viewed via www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 18 December 2020
1851 census HO107/1468/48
1861 census RG9/1340/42
1871 census RG10/1841/82
1881 census RG11/1975/46