This is a tale from my Mother’s family and the ‘action’ takes place in Maidstone, Kent where James Bushnell was born in 1829. His parents were Joseph Bushnell, an Ironmonger from Lambeth in London, and Elizabeth Weekes who came from (I think!) a farming background in East Sussex.
James, like all the men in this family, learned the trade of the Smith (both Black and White) and lived and worked at the family’s Ironmongery Shop in Week Street in the centre of Maidstone which is where the 22 year-old was in 1851.
(Their neighbour was a Hatter & Glover whose daughter married one of James’ three brothers, but that is incidental to this story save for it being the union from which I am descended)
The Market House Inn sits on the North side of Earl Street and was earlier known as The Coal Barge Inn. In Pigot’s 1840 Directory it appears at 14, Earl Street with John Furminger landlord. Pigots 1840
A modern-day image and description can be found on the English Heritage site here: Market House Inn
A decade later, at the time of the 1851 census, the Licensed victualler is one Charles Homer, a 36 year-old hailing from Lambeth in London and he is recorded there too in an 1855 Directory.
The Man AND The Pub
In the last-quarter of 1852 James Bushnell married Jane Usmar. Her father was a Licensed Victualler and in 1851 she was living with her brother who ran the ‘Rose and Crown’ in Maidstone High Street. Having married-into this particular pub-running dynasty, it comes as no great surprise to find Melville’s Directory of 1858 listing the landlord of the Market House as one James Bushnell.
What the directory does not tell us is that with James were his wife Jane and their two daughters, aged 4 and 3, plus their infant son. A couple of years later their world was shattered when, in May/Jun 1860, Jane Usmar died. She was just 35 years old. By September of that same year, James’ Mother was also dead and it must have been particularly devastating for his children to have lost both their mother and one of their grandmothers within a few months of each other.
Thus it was that the census next year listed the inhabitants of the Market House as:
James Bushnell, 32, Licensed Victualler, Widower, 32
Elizabeth Bushnell, 7, Daughter
Frederick Bushnell, 4, Son
Ann Jukes, 18, Barmaid
William Harding, Ostler
James’ other daughter, 6 year-old Alice, was at his father’s house but whether this was by chance or an ongoing arrangement following the trauma of the previous year I cannot be certain.
In the final-quarter of 1861 James Bushnell married 25 year-old Frances Jackson, daughter of a deceased Engineer and his Milliner wife and hailing from…Lambeth in London. Seven years later, her sister, Rosanna, married James’ brother, Joseph in what was to prove to be not the last marital link between these two particular families.
Kelly’s Directories of 1862 and 1867 each record James manning the pumps in the pub and, coincidentally, it is in each of those years that Frances bears him another child, bringing his tally to five.
However, as if fate hadn’t been cruel enough to James already, in Jan/Mar 1868 the 32 year-old Frances was taken from him. Her children were only 1 and 4 years old.
Thus it was that the 1871 census, as that of the previous decade, showed sadness at the Market House:
James Bushnell, 42, Licensed Victualler
Elizabeth Bushnell, 17, Daughter
Clara Bushnell, 7, Daughter
James A Bushnell,3, Son
Martha Maston, 51, Housekeeper
Alice was, again, ‘abroad’ but this time on the Weeks’ family farm in Sussex whilst her younger brother was ‘AWOL’ but thankfully reappears in rude health in future records! James’ sister, Elizabeth, had married a Thomas Weekes and it was with them that Alice was staying. (It is to be assumed that this Thomas Weekes was of the same Sussex family as his wife’s Mother but I have not explored that particular web in detail.)
In the final-quarter of 1871 James Bushnell married Maria Jackson, the sister of his previous wife. This was not only his third marriage but also the third marriage between a Bushnell ‘boy’ and a Jackson ‘girl’ of the same families.
Kelly’s Directory of 1874 includes the, almost inevitable, record of James in charge of pub and seven years later in 1881 the occupants are:
James Bushnell, 52, Licensed Victualler
Maria Bushnell, 44, Wife
Frederick Usmar Bushnell, 24, Son, Compositor (Printer)
Alice Bushnell, 22, Daughter, Assistant
Clara Ellen Bushnell, 17, Daughter, Assistant
James Arthur Bushnell, 13, Son
Elizabeth Weekes, 53, Visitor, Farmers Wife
Elizabeth Jackson, 55, Visitor
With the exception of James’ eldest child, daughter Elizabeth, this was the whole family living and, in most cases, working together. The two ‘Visitors’ are of note as Elizabeth Weekes was James’ sister and Elizabeth Jackson was Maria’s. In fact this record is one of those that is particularly helpful in helping to solve the three-dimensional jigsaw-puzzle of people, places and times that we call genealogy.
Another tragedy was to strike James and Maria for, although they had had no children together, his daughter, and her step-daughter and niece, Clara Ellen died in 1890 at the age of 27.
The Post Office Directory of 1891 lists James for the final time and the census of that year provides:
James Bushnell, 62, Licensed Victualler
Maria, 53, Wife
Arthur, 23, Son, General Assistant
Emily Harris, 27, Domestic Servant
Ellen Fuller, 19, Domestic Servant
By 1901, James and Maria had retired after his having been the landlord for at least 33 years and those who followed at the Market House according to the Post Office directory were:
1903 Charles Dann
1913 William James Rendell
1918 Frederick W Pearce
1922 Fredk W Pearce
1930 Wm Patrick
1938 Mrs Ellen Hamilton
A total of five different people in a period of 35 years.
And of the four remaining children, for whom the one constant in their lives appears to have been their father and his pub?
Arthur James became an Upholsterer’s Assistant,.
Frederick Usmar (who was given his second name only following the death of his mother, Jane Usmar) became a Jobbing Printer, married and had at least seven children.
Of the two girl’s, Elizabeth and Alice, I have yet to find any further record…
Note: Some of the relationships between people, places and events that I have described have only come to light in the process of writing this narrative – the facts were to hand but it was only in the weaving of the tale that they showed themselves to me.