Women of the Wharf – Charlotte Groom

Born on 14 August 1808, Charlotte was baptised in Long Buckby on 28 May 1809. Her parents were Joseph Groom, a blacksmith, and Sarah Dunkley, and there are four known siblings who all stayed at the Wharf.

Charlotte lived at the Wharf all her life, with her mother and family, and after her mother’s death she lived with sister Ann and brother Joseph. Charlotte never married, in fact unusually only one of the five known children married and had a family of their own.

For many years Charlotte worked from home as a dressmaker, as did her sisters. By the time of the 1871 Census she was recorded as being a shopkeeper. And in February of that year she was charged at the Daventry Petty Sessions with having an unjust gallon measure:

Northampton Mercury 1871 25 February

She was lucky to get away with a small fine – a gallon is equivalent to 8 pints, and her measure was ¾ pint short, that’s not an insignificant amount. The costs of 14 shillings and sixpence would have been roughly 3 days worth of wages for a skilled tradesman, according to the National Archives currency converter.

On 23 April 1879 seventy one year old Charlotte was back in the Petty Sessions, this time being accused of stealing bed screws:

Charlotte Groom, Buckby Wharf, was charged with stealing twelve bedscrews, the property of John Hiller, of the same place. Prosecutor said he moved his furniture from one house to another on the 18th ult. About one o’clock in the afternoon, having taken down a wooden bedstead, he laid the screws, twelve in number, against the hovel door. He then went into the Anchor public-house, where he remained a quarter of an hour, and on coming out he heard something which induced him to go to the house of the prisoner, who lived twenty or thirty yards away. He said to her, “You have got them bedscrews of mine.” She said, “I have not.” He then said, “If you give them up in twenty minutes it will be all right; but if not I shall acquaint the police.” About a quarter of an hour after that he went to her again, and she said she “had not got them.” He then gave information to the police. He identified the screws produced and valued them at 1s. 6d. Police Constable White said from information he received, he went to prisoner’s house on the night of the 18th. Witness asked if she had any screws belonging to Hillier. She said she had some she picked up near Hillier’s house on the grass. She said she thought they were thrown away, and at once handed over the screws produced. She took witness to the place where she said she picked them up. The grass was on a bit of waste ground near Hillier’s house. It was partially enclosed. The Bench said that considering the age of the prisoner, and that she had not been charged before, a conviction would be recorded, and she would be discharged.

Northampton Mercury 1879 26 April

Two months later Charlotte was back in court:

Charlotte Groom, Buckby Wharf, was charged with neglecting to abate a nuisance. William White, Inspector of Nuisances to the Daventry Rural Authority, proved the case. Ordered to abate the nuisance in seven days, and to pay 11s. costs. Defendant was told that if she failed to abate the nuisance she would be liable to a penalty of £5.

Banbury Guardian 1879 19 June

The Wellcome Collection states that an Inspector of Nuisances “investigated filthy dwellings and soupy gutters, steaming accumulations of dung, or animals kept in squalor.” He also investigated foods unfit for human consumption. The penalty for Charlotte if she didn’t fix the problem was £5 – the National Archives currency converter shows that to be worth roughly £330.92 in 2017. I can only hope she wasn’t selling food unfit for human consumption in her shop.

(Charlotte was involved in another court case in 1870 when John Albert Craven took her to court to recover a piece of ground that had been enclosed as a garden. The newspaper report of the case is confusing to say the least, and I will look at that in more detail but for now, John Craven won the case and got his little patch of land back.)

On 28 June 1879 Charlotte wrote her will, witnessed by John Radburne and Robert Hagger. Her brother Joseph, blacksmith and farrier, was chosen to be her executor. She specified that her household furniture, linen, wearing apparel, books, plate, pictures and china, and her horses, carts, and carriages were shared equally between Joseph and sister Ann. The equal share also applied to any money she may have or that was invested in stocks and bonds.

Charlotte died on 19 August 1879 at home at the Wharf and was buried in Long Buckby at St Lawrence Church on 21 August 1879. There is no memorial inscription (headstone) for her, or indeed any of her family. Her Will was proved and probate granted to Joseph on 23 September 1879.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s