Charles Evans 1855 - 1922

Fruiterer and poulterer Charles Evans almost certainly used his plot to grow produce for his shop. Shortly after arriving in Stamford from Shropshire he played a small but important role in one of the town's biggest ever scandals and years later his future son-in-law, nurseryman Morley Goddard, was to supply some of the trees still growing in the Waterfurlong gardens.

We know little of Charles's early years, beyond the fact he is born in Shropshire in about 1855. In some census returns he gives his birthplace as Bucknell, in others as Overbury and in 1891 he (or someone else) claims it is Manchester.

 

A baker by trade, Charles arrives in Stamford as a young man in the early 1870s and in 1876 an apparently casual conversation with local butcher, John Duncomb, is to have far-reaching consequences. It is Charles's warning about Thomas Laxton being up to no good which prompts Mr Duncomb to look deeper into a mortgage brokered by Laxton and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

In April 1881 we find Charles working for master confectioner Mark Dryard at 8 All Saints Place. The following April Charles marries Stamfordian Eliza Hibbins, who is eight years his senior. Eliza's father, Valentine Hibbins, has just died and Charles and Eliza move in to the family home at 2 Horseshoe Lane and take on Valentine's established greengrocery business. Their only child, Emma Elizabeth, is born in Horseshoe Lane in 1883.

 

On a rather different scale to the Laxton trial, 1883 also sees Charles taking a tramp to court over the theft of some celery: 

1884 brings another court case when Charles sues gardening neighbour, Austin Barnett. It also marks the beginning of a downturn in the Evans's business fortunes. Charles and Eliza have moved premises from Horse Shoe Lane to Cheyne Lane - have they overstretched themselves financially? Are they struggling with illness or other misfortune? We will probably never know, but two further court cases make it clear Charles has branched out into selling game and is using less than reliable suppliers.

'Before the Mayor and Mr Paradise — James Tricker, a tramp, who said he was a bricklayer, was charged with stealing two sticks of celery, the property of Charles Evans, greengrocer, of Horse Shoe-lane. The prosecutor saw a man take something from his stall on Saturday night: he ran after and caught him, when he delivered up one of the heads of celery: the other was found on the ground. The prisoner was sent to Spalding gaol for seven days.' Stamford Mercury (1)

Dodgy Dealers

Peterborough Petty Sessions 7 September 1888 'J W Jackson, general dealer, Werrington, was charged by Lucy Holditch, Werrington, with stealing three ducks and a drake, value 10s. Mr Hart defended. Prosecutrix stated that on the 27th ult she had 22 ducks upon her premises - four old and 18 young ones. She missed those in question on the following Monday night. Those produced by the police she believed to be hers.

 

Kate Martha Mason, domestic servant with prosecutrix, gave corroborative evidence. The Thursday she went to Stamford with PC Brightwell, and at a poulterer's named Evans she saw the brown drake, which she identified. Chas Evans, poulterer, of Stamford, deposed buying three couples of ducks of prisoner, and on the following day he received a hamper on the Midland railway containing eight ducks, five white and three coloured. Witness killed four of the white ducks, and PC Brightwell took possession of the other (produced). Prisoner called at his shop on Friday to be paid, when witness told him that the police had seized two of the ducks. Witness gave him three ducks back again, but did not pay anything. He had had no previous dealings with prisoner.

 

PC Brightwell stated that he saw prisoner on Wednesday and, referring to the loss of prosecutrix's ducks, told him he heard that he had sent some ducks to Stamford. Prisoner, in reply to the questions, stated that he bought the three white ducks of a man named Bryan for Is each, and the remainder he purchased at Spalding a month previously. The next day prisoner told him he had a stray duck, which had come during the night. There were I8 ducks on prisoner's premises at that time. On Saturday evening witness, in company with Inspector Blackman, saw prisoner again, when he said he was not sure whether he bought the ducks from Bryan or not. He had seen Bryan, who stated that he had sold some ducks to prisoner for 1s each. The Bench committed the prisoner for trial, but admitted him to bail.' Stamford Mercury (1)

Stamford Police, 2nd January 1889 before R Michelson and H Knott Esqs. 'Frederick Dennison, aged 14, of 45 Scotgate, was charged with stealing two pigeons on December 31st from a pigeon-house on Cemetery Road, the property of Wm John Manning, baker, Scotgate, value 3s. Complainant said he had seven pigeons in his house; they were safe on Sunday evening but on Monday morning he missed two of them. On Tuesday, from what was said to him, he went to Mr Evans's shop on Cheyne Lane, where he saw the two pigeons dead. Defendant had been into the yard with him, so knew pigeons were kept there...

Chas Evans, greengrocer, said he bought the pigeons on Monday, about 8 am, from a boy whom he believed to be the prisoner, but he could not swear whether it was he or not. He often bought pigeons from boys he did not know. In this case he did not ask the boy his name or where he got the pigeons from. They were alive and he gave the boy a shilling. PS King said he saw defendant on Tuesday and asked where he got the pigeons which he sold to Mr Evans. The boy said "Nowhere" and witness told him he should apprehend the boy on suspicion...The Bench have no power to deal with it now. Remanded on bail until Saturday.' Stamford Mercury (1)

On 8 July that year, Charles is declared bankrupt, the notice being posted by the Cambridge Official Receiver in The Edinburgh Gazette. On 27 September his new house and premises at 2 Cheyne Lane are advertised to be let or sold with immediate possession.

                             

In 1891 we find Charles and his family living along with his unmarried sister-in-law, Agnes Hibbins, at 36 High Street. Charles is working as a general labourer to get back on his feet and much to his credit he does, as ten years later he is again trading as a fruiterer and greengrocer from the shop in front of his High Street home.

A New Century

 

The new century brings better times. 28 August 1907 is a proud day when daughter Emma marries successful market gardener Morley Goddard at St Michael's Church and moves to the Clock House, Casterton Road. The couple's first daughter, Dorothy, sadly lives for only a few days but 1910 sees the arrival of grand-daughter Mary, followed by Jessie in 1912 and grandson Charles in 1915.

 

By 1911 Charles and Eliza have extended their business to include floristry, presumably sourcing most of their flowers from son-in-law Morley. They remain in their High Street home until Charles's death on 18 February 1922, when he is buried in the cemetery in Little Casterton Road.


Eliza moves in with Emma and Morley at Rayville, Tinwell Road Lane, where she dies in April 1931. The Goddards, who are to play an important role of their own in our gardens' history, eventually move to 63 Queen's Walk.

l-r: Eliza, Charles, n/k, Emma, Morley, George Goddard, Elizabeth Goddard (2)

We are lucky enough to have photographs of Charles outside his High Street shop and Emma and Morley's wedding, courtesy of the Goddard family.

 

SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.

(2) Kind courtesy of the Goddard family via ancestry.co.uk 

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018

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