'132' The Man Who Had To Die!'

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Ken
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'132' The Man Who Had To Die!'

Ken
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This look back at the second half of the nineteenth century mentions two men closely connected to my large family.  The first of these is a John Warren who was my grandmothers first husband and one who I think of as the man who had to die.  He did, in 1895, of influenza, when he was just thirty six years old.  He'd been happily married to Julia and the two lived with their children, all under the age of ten, in what was then known as a tied accommodation home, probably a farm cottage.  John, a farm labourer, was unlikely to have had any assets, which would have left his twenty nine year old widow heartbroken, in dire financial straights and, perhaps, soon to be homeless.  So 1896 saw an agonising time of worry and uncertainty for the young mother of five.

We find the second of these closely associated men being arrested in 1868 for the serious crime of highway robbery. His name was Robert Mutimer and the one I thought of as the man who just had to be found not guilty.  How could he be anything else for his destiny was to become the second husband of my grandmother.  The crime he was accused of took place on October 31st, 1869, when he was just eighteen years of age and it involved stealing a purse containing 14s 7d from a Mr John Eastquit, who lived in the village of Wethingsett, near Stowmarket in Suffolk.  Immediately after he was arrested Robert was incarcerated and he would remain so for at least the next five months.  What followed, would be wholly dependent on the decisions of the jury and a certain Chief Justice Bovill.  During those long weeks of enforced waiting he and his unwanted companions were accused of crimes as varied as burglary, bestiality, bigamy and the myriad of offences handles by the Ipswich county jail region.  Few of those detainees would have been well aware that between the years 1788 and 1868, one hundred and sixty two thousand convicts had left U.K shores to be transported by convict ships to serve out their sentences in far away Australia. Such dreadful thoughts may have played on the mind of young Robert Mutimer as he awaited sentencing in the late March of 1869. When, on April 1st of that year, he was found innocent and immediately discharged, Robert's huge sigh of relief must have been heard by his anxious parents who awaited news in their home, ten miles away.

Two thoughts always enter my mind when I think of these two husbands of my grandmother, the one time Julia Smith.  Her first husband, John Warren, was the man who had to die for one obvious and simple reason.  Julia had to be free to marry the man who would father four more children with her when she accepted Robert Mutimer marriage proposal in 1897.  To his eternal credit, her new husband also accepted Julia's children as his own and soon William, Emily (Dod), Jack, Cassie and Charlie were seeing a flow of new and exiting half siblings arrive. The first of these little Mutimer's was Tom, followed by Ernie, then came Bob and then Ruby.  So Robert, the once jailed suspect of a serious crime and the much later confirmed bachelor of forty six years of freedom must have at times felt stunned to find himself the unexpected head of a happy family of nine children.  His income hadn't changed very much for he still earned the same basic council workers wage, but something had certainly changed. Love perhaps?                                              
   
Ruby was, of course, my beloved mother and Robert and Julia the grandparents who'd both died long before I was born.  However, had we met, I'm convinced I would have liked the two of them.  A story that always comes alive to me can be found within the pages of my nephews Pete's wonderful book, 'Proud To Be A Tuffs.'  Originally told to him and to me, by my sister Phyl, it evokes an age where decent men would annually tramp the British countryside close to harvest time in a search for paid work.  My grandfather became such a 'summer tramp' every year, when he would set of on what he called, 'Shank's Pony,' to trudge away the miles between the various farms.  More often than not, his stepson Jack would go with him and it speaks volumes about the closeness of these two wayfarers that they got on so well they would, and could, work together. They would often bunk down in a farmers barn or a tradesman's shed whilst they worked long days in all weathers. In return for their labour they'd be given food and cider on a daily basis until all their work was completed.  Then, with cash in their pockets to take home they'd depart with a cheery, "See you next year!"  I can picture the two of them whistling contentedly as they 'tramped' on to the next farmers barn, someone they'd probably known and worked for the previous year.

I'm always fascinated by the concept of the time the Warren/Mutimer clan grew up in.  It was an age before even radio was broadcast and as the days and weeks merged into one long sameness of routine life became predictable..  There was such a time every year that, so family legend has it, Julia would stand outside her home and, in front of her brood, sniff the air.  "Season's changing," she'd inform them, "Jack and father will be home soon!"  And within a day or two they'd be there, both full of laughter, stories and enough cash to enable their mother to get through the winter months without worry. Perhaps, this was the call of destiny that my own mother, the young Ruby, took with her to Shamley Green. In many ways it was there that she'd replicate with her man, what her parents had built together decades before in Suffolk!.  Ruby had been the ninth child of a happily married woman, just like I became the ninth child of her splendid marriage to my much loved father.  The closeness to each of these two, large, sets of siblings, separated by decades of time, was something that permeated from mother to son and onward through the generations, via our now famous happiness gene.  For that, this old man is forever grateful!
Ken
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Re: '132' The Man Who Had To Die!'

Ken
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This post was updated on .
We began seeing them as late spring settled on our quiet village, the roving scissor and knife sharpener, the dark skinned Sikhs with their turbaned headwear selling silk scarves and ties and the multitude of tramps looking for food and work. 'Summer Tramps,' we called these knights of the highways, not knowing that some of our own ancestors could be numbered amongst their ilk!