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Grandma's story as she told us.

Grandma's Story.
 

 

In the latter part of the 18th Century, a City of London merchant  had grown fat and wealthy from the spice trade with the East Indies. It would seem that he must have been well regarded, as our Spice-Boy was appointed by the King to be the High Sheriff of London, even then a mainly ceremonial post but still a great honour. Around the same time he doubtlessly thought that a man of such consequence as himself would need a “Country Seat” to establish himself and his heirs as not just vulgar “New Money” but as knocking on the door of true nobility. 

 

The place he alighted on was the Bedfordshire estate of Turvey which he had inherited from a distant cousin who had died a few years earlier. including the villages of Turvey, Pavenham and Weston Underwood. The newly minted Lord Higgins built himself a substantial house that is still lived in by his descendants.

 

Now according to Grandma,  around the time of the Napoleonic wars, the then Lord of Turvey had a daughter who somewhat unwisely fell in love with one of the Grooms.  No doubt you can see where this one is going!  These situations in even the best fiction, never seem to end well, in true life they are probably worse. Needless to say Daddy was not delighted at the prospect of having one of his grooms as his son -in-law and the match was predictably banned.

 

You can almost hear the conversation can’t you ! But Daddy I love him and he loves me.  “ No the man’s just a gold-digging cad I forbid you to even see him “  etc.  etc.  etc.  Anyone who has ever had a teenage daughter can no doubt write the script from here.   She was just being a silly empty headed little girl and had fallen in love with his scarlet coat, whilst he was being hidebound, old fashioned and inflexible. Grandma was very insistent about the  red coat bit, so one can only assume that he had been a soldier but that either the wars were over or he had been invalided out of the army.

This is the tale as it was told to us, there are a number of inconsistencies and details that are incorrect however this is a family story handed down orally over at least four generations, so some "factual drift" is only to be expected even if it is not total rubbish !!

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It would no doubt have been explained to her that as a Higgins daughter, who she did or didn't love was really not of any interest or importance. She would marry whoever Daddy and Mummy decided would be of the greatest benefit to the family in terms of money and even more important, social climbing.  Until such time as a suitable match was found for her, she would remain a chaste virgin, unsullied by the ravishing hands of this Groom or any similar low life.  This would have been backed up with the promise that if she dared to so much as look at this Groom again, then she would cease to be their daughter so far as Daddy was concerned and would be legally cut off from the family and dis-inherited.

As in all the best romantic fiction, being the headstrong girl that she was, nobody was going to forbid her to be with her one true love.  Needless to say they eloped, and were married. Equally needless to say Daddy was good unto his word and she was indeed cast out of the family into the outer darkness of those without a thumping great inheritance to look forward to.  This may have come as a bit of a shock to our soldier boy, who would probably have hoped that Mummy would get around Daddy at least enough for them to be kept comfortable without him having to be so common as to have to work for his living.

 

So he got this one a bit wrong, as it would seem that neither Daddy or even Mummy would have any thing to do with either of them. 

 

It would not have taken Soldier Boy long to drink his way through what little money she may have been able to take with her, and poverty would have beckoned. It was probably around this time that the shine may have started to wear of their romantic adventure. One might even surmise that pregnant, with no money, no proper place to live and a husband who was rarely sober, the enormity of what she had done would have dawned on her.

The story has it, that seeing the error of her ways, she decides that the only thing she can do  is to either sell herself for a bit of cash, or crawl back to Mummy & Daddy and beg forgiveness.  She chose the latter course of action and set off to try to get home. It is possible that she may have written to her mother first and been told that she could return, or she may have been planning on just turning up and hoping that the shock may soften one or other parent. 

 

Whatever she planned, what happened was that finding the fare somehow, she was heavily pregnant and on a train back to Bedford when she went into labour. She was taken off the train and delivered her baby in the cottage of a Kindly railway worker who took pity on her.  It seems that Husband may have sobered up enough to go after her, as she never did get back to her family and she remained cut off and dis-inherited. From the baby she delivered in a line-side cottage we are descended. Or so says Grandma's tale.

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