Hats off to the Hubbacks!
If you have ever wanted to visit Berwick upon Tweed then 2015 is the year to do it! A fantastic “Our Families” project forms part of the Berwick 900 celebrations, with events planned throughout the year. The project hopes to develop links worldwide with descendants of families who have an historic connection with the Town. If you have connections to Berwick upon Tweed, Spittal or Tweedmouth the project would love to hear from you. All the links you require for “Berwick 900” can be found on my project page http://www.bordersancestry.co.uk/berwick-900.html There is also a facility to sign up to a secure newsletter so you won’t miss a thing!
This month’s blog is designed to whet your appetites, and although it starts in Hexham the main focus of the post are the descendants of Joseph Hubback, Hatter of Berwick upon Tweed.
Hatters in Hexham
As much as Hexham was renowned for glove making the same was of true hat manufacturing, with some 16 “master hatters” occupying the town in the late 18th century.
Hubbuck Hatters in Berwick upon Tweed
The earliest reference I can find to the Hubback, (also spelt Hubbuck) family of Hatters in Hexham is a small entry in the “History of Northumberland” Volume 4. It relates to:-
“The names of the persons who for their free or copyhold tenements in Hexham Township received allotments in the East and West Commons….”
The list is dated 1752 and details occupations as well as the acreage each was awarded. It includes:-
“George Hubbuck, mason 1; Jane and Elizabeth Hubbuck, spinsters 3; Thomas Hubbuck the elder, hatter, 6; Thomas Hubbuck the younger, hatter 2; ….”
A death notice appearing in the Newcastle Courant 16th February 1765 for a Thomas Hubbuck, hatter of Hexham aged 80 years potentially takes the association of the Hubbuck family and hat making back to the late 17th century. Burial records including the Abbey Churchyard potentially take the family’s link to the town of Hexham itself back even further.
Okay, so these Hubbucks are Hatters in Hexham, what have they to do with Berwick upon Tweed?
The earliest record I can find here is in the “Universal Directory” of 1790 where a Robert Hubbuck is listed as a hatter. In 1799 an Administration Bond following his death, with a Penal Sum of £1200 holds the following information:-
The Hexham register hold records of a baptism on 24th October 1773 for a Joseph Hubbuck son of Thomas and on 31 October 1762 for a Robert Hubbuck, likewise a son of Thomas, but with the additional occupational information, Hatter. A further baptism at Hexham for a Thomas son of Thomas Hubbuck, Hatter in 1760 also corresponds with a death of a Thomas Hubbuck, Hatter in Stockton in 1830 aged 70.
Whilst these events may be circumstantial, it is none the less, pretty compelling evidence to suggest that this is the same family.
Joseph Hubback, Hatter of Berwick-upon-Tweed
Joseph married Sarah Clay, daughter of John Clay and Margaret Swan, by licence on 27th November 1806. Together they had seven children, three sons Thomas b.1807, John b. 1811, Joseph b.1814 and four daughters Margaret Clay b.1809, Ann b. 1816, Sarah Maddai b.1817 (died 1828 aged 11) and the youngest of them all Jane Elizabeth b.1822.
Although an “incomer” to Berwick he had by 1806 established his business as a Hatter trading from premises on the East Side of the High Street, where he also appears in Whites Trade Directory of 1827. In 1841 he is living in Sandgate, and in November 1842 was elected Town Mayor. Joseph died at the home of his youngest son Joseph junior in Everton, Liverpool on 13th July 1848 and was buried at Holy Trinity on the 17th of the same month “Joseph Hubback aged 74, of Walls, Berwick” he lies alongside his wife Sarah who passed away in December of the same year, and two of his daughters. But what of his sons?
Eldest son of Joseph and Sarah Hubback, Thomas was born in Berwick on the 24th September 1807 and on 26th September 1823 he was apprenticed to Thomas Cockburn a wine and spirit dealer a Burgess of Berwick upon Tweed. There is a note to the record that this apprenticeship was “obliterated by Order of the Guild” on 13th April 1825. Thomas however did make it to the status of Freeman and was admitted “by ticket” on 14th March 1831, his occupation given as farmer at Kelso.
It would appear that Thomas had various business interests over and above that of farming. In 1841 he is in partnership with his father Joseph in the hat manufacturing business. Following his father’s death he expands the business to include Drapery where in 1849 is the sole approved merchant in the North of England selling Swaines “Syrian Paletot” an overcoat particularly popular with colonials due to the positioning of the pockets!
Records would indicate that this business ceased to trade circa 1855. That same year Thomas appears in another trade directory as a “guano importer, ship owner and merchant (Thomas & Joseph Hubback) of Sandgate and Sunlaws Hill, Roxburghshire”.
Thomas sat on the Berwick Board of Guardians which oversaw the administration of relief to the poor from 1845 -1848 and was elected to the Workhouse Finance Committee in 1846. He, along with his youngest brother Joseph jnr, also took a keen interest in the Charity School and was at one time its Treasurer. Later that year in October Thomas was a juror in the extraordinary trial of Mrs Jane Thomson the bank manager’s wife for the alleged theft of £3,000 from Berwick Bank even though the money was later found concealed on the premises. It took the jury just forty minutes to return the verdict of “not guilty”.
Although Thomas was married, his wife Jane Brodie of Nottylees, Sprouston had suffered from ill health for many years and the union was childless. Thomas died at Berwick on 31st December 1872, but was cited as late of Borthwick Shiel, Roberton.
His last wishes were to be buried next to his wife, a family diary written six years later indicates he was interred at Sprouston, however, there is no headstone to mark the grave.
In 1844 John’s works on “Evidence of Succession to Real and Personal Property and Peerages” was published and the Briefs flowed in. Disaster struck in 1847 when John suffered a complete mental breakdown due, it is believed to overwork. Catherine tried her utmost to nurse him back to health, first rest and then a tour of the spas including Malvern in the hope of finding a cure.
When none was forthcoming a lengthy stay in rural Wales was arranged. Finances became stretched and with no money coming in due to John’s inability to work, she turned her mind to the unfinished manuscripts of her Aunt, Jane Austen. Recalling what she could from memory alone she set about writing her first novel. It was published in 1850 under the title “The Younger Sister”.
Finding herself no longer able to cope with her ailing husband, John was admitted to Brislington Lunatic Asylum in Somerset, an institution pioneering new humane techniques of treatment under the governance of Dr Edward Long Fox. It is widely reported that he was admitted in May 1850 but according to the official admission records the date is given as 13th August 1852. Catherine returned to the Austen family home at Portsdown Lodge, Hampshire where she is living with her three sons in 1851.
Encouraged by her first literary success and grateful for every penny she set about writing her second. Between the years 1850 and 1863 she published no less than nine novels. Ever thoughtful of her son’s futures when an offer came from John’s younger brother Joseph in Liverpool to apprentice his nephew, Catherine’s eldest son John Henry it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Joseph Hubback jnr
Joseph the third and youngest son of Joseph and Sarah Hubback was born in Berwick on the 1st July 1814. Following his education Joseph spent some time in America before settling in Liverpool where he soon established himself as a successful corn merchant. In 1846 he also appears as an agent selling land in West Virginia.
Joseph however, was a political animal and a staunch conservative and wrote a pro “Corn Law” pamphlet in 1843. In 1865 he stood for election as conservative candidate for Berwick-upon-Tweed.
He arrived in some style on the 22nd June aboard the “Flying Scotsman”, even if the papers managed to confuse him with his brother Thomas and print the wrong name! He lost the contest and as a consolation he was made an Alderman of Liverpool in the same year, an office he held until his resignation in 1881, serving as Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1869/1870.
But it is probably his benevolence and philanthropy for which Joseph will be best remembered both in Liverpool and his native town of Berwick. A champion of learning amongst the children of the poor, the “Certified Industrial Institution” in Everton had much to thank him for but it his works in the development of education in Berwick that are not only inspirational but staggering in their generosity, that he may be best remembered.
In 1853 he approached the Charity School with a proposal:-
“….17th November 1853 he wrote to the Trustees suggesting that they should allow him to finance a Marine Class at the School; he hoped that, if the Trustees agreed, the schoolmaster would select suitable boys each year, with their parents' consent, who would receive special tuition from a boatswain in addition to their ordinary lessons with Mr. Lister, and, after three years in the marine class, would be indentured to Mr. Hubback for the normal five-year marine apprenticeship ; he felt that his scheme would provide an interesting career for poor boys and furnish his ships with suitably trained apprentices, and, in order to achieve these benefits, he offered to be responsible e for the boatswain's salary and the provision of all the equipment necessary …..
Once the trustees had agreed the full extent of his generosity became apparent:-
“The boatswain appointed was a Mr. Warren who had served in the Royal Navy for over forty years, twenty of them as a boatswain, and who came on the recommendation of Admiral Si r F. Austen; Mr Warren travelled to Berwick from Portsmouth on 25th March 1854 to take up his new duties. Six boys were chosen initially, a complete boat's crew, and were each provided by Mr. Hubback with two special outfits of clothing: for Sundays they had "glazed hat, jacket, vest and trowsers of blue cloth, marked with a white anchor, and having buttons bearing the anchor as in the Royal Navy," and for everyday wear "guernsey jacket, white trowsers, and Kilmarnock caps marked as above." A room on the ground floor was equipped for the class and there Mr. Warren taught them "during two hours per day, to knot, splice, make mats, &c, with great success." In fine weather two afternoons each week were spent out learning to row, and Mr. Hubback had ordered "a new boat twenty six feet long, with six oars, to be built expressly for the class, under the directions of the boatswain." He also "ordered a small cutter of about thirty tons to be built in order to enable boys to go to sea and learn how to manage the ropes, trim the sails, &c."
(Excerpts from Cowe, Janet Denise (1969) “The development of education in Berwick upon Tweed to 1902”, Durham these, Durham University.
An extraordinary man indeed, who was married no less than three times. However he had to wait until his third marriage to Georgina Benison in April 1869, the widow of Scotsman Allan Eliott Lockhart when he was aged 54 and she just 28, before he would have children of his own. Their eldest son Thomas Benison was born on 13 April 1871 in Liverpool, Theodore Rathbone followed on 17th December 1872, Joseph Guy was next on 5th November 1876, a daughter Mabel Josephine on the 28th June 1878 and last but by no means least George Clay was born in West Kirby on 7th April 1882. He also acted as a father to Georgina’s daughter from her first marriage Allen Charlotte Eliott Lockhart b. Edinburgh in 1865.
I shall not attempt to tell their stories but rather refer you to the website that covers the lives of three of them http://www.thehubbacks.org/p/who-are-hubback-brothers.html as recounted by Yvonne Hubback daughter of Arthur Benison Hubback to the author of this fabulous site. I only hope they find my research into the earlier Hubbacks, the Hatters of Hexham and Berwick-upon –Tweed of some interest.
Of the remainder Joseph Guy Hubback was a Civil Engineer and sometime Rubber Broker, he married Ina Agnes Mainwairing Pitt in Singapore in 1909 he died in Maidstone Kent in August 1951. His sister Mabel Josephine married in July 1910 Hugh Bowring Mulleneux and died at Battle, Sussex in 1969. Allen Charlotte married the Rev. Earnest Clapham Bayliss in March 1892 and died at Totnes Devon the 24th September 1920.
As for Joseph of Liverpool, he passed away at his home in Wimbledon where he had retired a few years earlier on 6th December 1883 aged 69, leaving his widow Georgina to raise their young family. The flags on the civic buildings in Liverpool flew at half-mast as a mark of respect to the memory of this remarkable man.
A touching story of success and sadness, fortitude and benevolence in a family with historic links to Northumberland and to the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. It would be fascinating to follow the lives of the boys Joseph helped through the “Marine Academy” at Berwick, and I can’t help but wonder if he was acquainted with another Everton resident of the day, the dastardly Thomas Berwick of whom I wrote last month?
I hope, dear reader, that if you have ancestors from the town you will now feel inspired to write their story and share it with the “Berwick 900, Families Project”. Until next time.
Letters from America written by Catherine Hubbard between 1872 - 1876