12 September 1908 Letter from G. Saunders regarding Ann Saunders. Courtesy Roger Banks
Letter amongst a Bundle of Deeds
The above letter was written over a century ago. It was amongst a bundle of deeds relating to Holly Croft Farm in Bow Street.
The letter confirms the burial of Ann Saunders on June 18th, 1884, aged 84.
However, with no other correspondence in this respect with the deeds, is there any connection between Ann Saunders and Holly Croft Farm?
Further, as the letter was sent from Great Ellingham, can we assume that Ann Saunders was buried in the village?
Is there a connection between Ann Saunders and G.Saunders, the sender of the letter?
Burial in Great Ellingham
Great Ellingham Parish Church of St James
The parish registers for St James’s Church, Great Ellingham confirm that Ann Saunders of Great Ellingham was buried in the churchyard of St James on the 18th June, 1884. She was 84.
Ann’s brother, William Wretham, purchased the property in Bow Street (later known as Holly Croft Farm), in 1845. He owned the property until his death in 1870.
Accordingly, we have the connection between Ann Saunders and Holly Croft Farm.
Wretham Family in Bow Street
As young children, Ann and William lived with their parents and siblings in a cottage in Bow Street, which was near to the junction with the road to Rocklands. I have no doubt that the majority (if not all) of the Wretham children were born in the cottage.
However, this does not tell us why the letter was written, and why it is with the historical deeds to Holly Croft Farm.
The answer to this question lies within the will of William Wretham.
William Wretham’s Will
William Wretham died in 1870. His wife, Tabitha, had died the previous year.
For many years, carpenter William Wretham and his wife lived in Norwich. Already owning property in Norwich, Wretham purchased the farm in Bow Street in 1845. He never lived at the property but let it to tenants.
Ann Saunders receives an Annuity
In his will, William Wretham bequeathed some of his property to his nephew, John Whellum. The remainder was sold. The will also includes other gifts and legacies.
Although William gifted the farm in Bow Street to John Whellum, this was subject to John Whellum making an annual payment of £4 to William Wretham’s sister, Ann Saunders, for life.
Accordingly, when John Whellum decided to sell the farm in 1908, his buyer would need to be satisfied that the ‘charge’ on the property in the form of the annuity to Ann Saunders had been fully discharged.
Proof of the Death of Ann Saunders
To satisfy the buyer, Whellum would need proof that Ann Saunders had died and, consequently, he was no longer making the annuity payments .
As it happens, Ann Saunders had died some 24 years before Whellum sold the farm.
Accordingly, I assume that an approach was made to obtain a copy of the entry of the burial of Ann Saunders in the parish registers for St James, Great Ellingham. Indeed, the letter written by ‘G. Saunders’ confirms Ann Saunders’ burial.
However, to try to establish the identify of ‘G. Saunders’, we need to look closer at Ann Saunders and her family.
Ann Saunders nèe Wretham
On the 9th November, 1825, at the age of 26, Ann married George Saunders.
Although living in Great Ellingham at the time of the marriage, George Saunders came from either Blo’ Norton or nearby Thelnetham.
Both George and Ann put their mark ‘X’ in the marriage register. Accordingly, neither of them could read or write. However, this was not unusual for the time.
Ann’s eldest brother, Edward, was a witness to the marriage. Edward Wretham too put his mark ‘X’.
George and Ann Saunders had six known children. Baptisms for the first five children appear in the parish registers for Great Ellingham:
|Amy||26th March, 1826|
|Thomas||16th September, 1827|
|William||4th July, 1830|
|George||17th November, 1833|
|Mary Ann||1st October, 1837|
The birth of the couple’s last child, John, was registered in the Wayland District between April and June 1840.
The 1841 census captures George and Ann Saunders with six children living in Great Ellingham. Unfortunately, the census does not tell us exactly where they lived.
Ten years later, the 1851 census finds the Saunders family in Bow Street.
Both George and Ann are said to be aged 50. The couple have four of their children with them – William 21, George 17, Mary 13 and ten year old John.
Sadly, George and Ann buried their 24 year old daughter Amy two years earlier. She died in October, 1849.
George and his sons, William and George, are all working as farm labourers. Mary is at school. At 10 years old, John is already working as a farm boy.
By the time of the 1861 national head-count, George and Ann Saunders are living along the Watton Road in Great Ellingham. The have one of their children living with them – 30 year old unmarried son, William. Both William and his 60 year old father, George, are working as agricultural labourers.
Death of George Saunders
Within two years, Ann buried her 62 year old husband in the churchyard of St James, Great Ellingham. George Saunders was buried on the 8th September, 1862.
The 1871 census captures 71 year old widow Ann Saunders with her unmarried son, William, aged 39. Mother and son are living in Bow Street.
Ann’s brother, William Wretham, had died the previous year. In his will, William had provided for Ann by way of an annuity of £4 which was to be paid to her for the rest of her life.
Perhaps William had helped Ann (and other family members) financially (or otherwise) during his life – particularly after the death of Ann’s husband, George Saunders.
In 1881, Ann and her son William are still living in Bow Street. I suspect that Ann Saunders died at her home in Bow Street in the June of 1884.
She had spent all her life living in or around Bow Street.
Letter Sender G. Saunders
I believe the letter dated the 12th September, 1908, was written by Ann’s grandson, George Saunders.
Whilst Ann and George Saunders had a son George (born 1833), this George had moved to Rocklands before 1861. Further, I believe he remained in Rocklands.
Ann’s grandson, George Saunders, was born in Great Ellingham in 1860. He was the son of Ann’s son Thomas and his wife Sarah née Bush.
In 1911, carpenter and builder George Saunders is living with his wife Hannah (née Leeder) and family in Church Street.
Accordingly, I have no doubt that the letter of 1908 concerning Ann Saunders was written by her grandson, George Saunders.
In conclusion, an unremarkable piece of correspondence within a bundle of deeds, has taken us on a journey of discovery.
We now know the identify of the sender, as well as the reason for the missive.
Once again, we find further Great Ellingham family connections.
Ann Saunders’ grandson, George Saunders, married Hannah Leeder. Hannah is closely connected to William Lebbell who built ‘Roselands’ in Long Street.
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 609. Also available via www.familysearch.org
Private collection of Deeds to property in Bow Street. Thanks to Roger & Sue Banks
1841 census HO107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/114
1861 census RG9/1237/85; RG9/1237/128
1871 census RG10/1841/80
1881 census RG11/1974/84
1891 census RG12/1550/78
1911 census RG14/11483/131; RG14/11473/133