As one of the many sayings about life goes… ‘the only certainty in life is death’.
Over the centuries, our village has seen the comings and goings of many of its inhabitants.
Some people will remain in the village all their lives. Some will come into the village, stay a while and move on. Others will move into the village and stay here for the remainder of their lives – whether the time here is long or short.
This is a brief account of John and Ellen Murton who came to Great Ellingham in the early years of the 20th century. However, their time in the village was relatively short.
John Murton’s Demise
I came across the following article in the Downham Market Gazette of 1st May, 1909:
FOUND DEAD – On Sunday afternoon, John Murton, aged 75, was found dead in his cottage. Deceased, who was an old age pensioner, had lived alone for some years, and was subject to fits. He had not been seen during the forenoon of the day in question, and, suspicion being aroused, Jacob Bales [Beales], of the Chequers’ Inn, visited the old man’s cottage.
He found the door unlatched and deceased was sitting in a chair on the hearth, his head resting on his hand, his elbow being supported by the arm of the chair. Mr Bales [Beales] realised that Murton was dead, and called Josiah Carter, the parish constable, who subsequently informed the police.
Deceased was fully dressed, and a closer examination revealed the fact that his bed had been slept in on Saturday night, while on the table was a bunch of sticks for the purpose of lighting a fire. It is surmised that deceased had been out, gathering the sticks, then, feeling exhausted, sat down and died.
Chequers Lane Home
Chequers Lane. Postcard courtesy Carol Ewin
I have no doubt that John Murton lived in one of the cottages in the background of the above postcard. The Chequers Inn is to the right of the cottages (in the background) and out of view.
Who was John Murton?
John Murton was born around 1838 in North Lopham.
The 1891 census captures single man John Murton at Market Place, Kenninghall. John is working as a tailor. The census gives John Murton’s age as 56. This suggests that his birth may have been a little earlier than 1838.
Also in the household is 56 year old single woman Ellen Coe and her daughter 15 year old Emma Coe. The census describes Ellen as a housekeeper – presumably for John Murton. Both Ellen and Emma Coe are dressmakers.
The census indicates that Emma Coe is also John Murton’s daughter. However, I do not not for sure that this is the case.
By 1901, John Murton moved to Attleborough.
The 1901 census finds 70 year old tailor John Murton living in a three-roomed property in Ellingham Road. John is still single.
I believe it likely that Ellen Coe moved with John to Attleborough. However, the 1901 census captures Ellen Coe with her daughter in Newington, London.
Emma Coe married Watton born Frederick William Macro in 1895.
In 1901, Frederick and Emma Macro are living at 57 Ralph Street, Newington in the London Borough of Southwark. They have three children – Arthur aged 3, Bertie 2 and one month old Albert.
I suspect that at the time of the 1901 census, Ellen Coe is visiting her daughter and son-in-law as 25 year old Emma Macro had recently given birth to Albert.
Move to Great Ellingham
John Murton and Ellen Coe married in 1905. Their marriage took place in the Wayland District. However, I do not know exactly where the wedding took place.
Nevertheless, it may have been soon after their marriage that the couple moved to Great Ellingham.
The Electoral Register of 1906 shows that John Murton occupied property in Great Ellingham and Attleborough. However, the 1907 Electoral Register shows John Murton to just occupy a dwelling-house in Chequers Lane.
Deaths of Ellen and John Murton
Church of St James, Great Ellingham
Ellen Murton died in April 1908 aged 69. John Murton buried his wife in the churchyard of St James on the 22nd April, 1908.
Following Ellen’s death, John Murton continued to live in the cottage in Chequers Lane.
However just a year later, and as reported in the Downham Market Gazette, John Murton died suddenly at his Chequers Lane home. He was buried in the same churchyard on the 28th April, 1909.
The newspaper account of the death of John Murton suggests that John Murton had been living alone ‘for some years‘. However, the burial entry for Ellen Murton gives her place of residence as Great Ellingham. Newspaper accounts can, of course, give inaccurate information.
1891 census RG12/1548/87
1901 census RG13/371/98, RG13/1867/32
Downham Market Gazette 1st May 1909. Viewed via the British Newspaper Archive
Norfolk, England, Register of Electors, 1832-1915. England, Norfolk Register of Electors, 1844-1952. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.Ancestry.com. Norfolk, England, Register of Electors, 1832-1915 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available via www.ancestry.co.uk and www.familysearch.org
1895 Marriage. Sep Qtr . Coe, Emma. Macro, Frederick William. Newmarket 3b 1058a. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=UkZ%2FUZzpHW%2FZCrjPibA9zQ&scan=1
1905 Marriage. Sep Qtr. Coe, Ellen. Murton, John. Wayland 4b 531. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=lOXGlFrOkY6qaxGWWiYG%2Fw&scan=1