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1847 Thomas Hay died aged 23

Thomas Hay, who was to be Cornet in 1847, was living in the Crown Inn on the High Street as a 12 year old in 1840, when Cornet Charles Smith and his followers were served a sumptuous dinner by the publican Mrs Ann Hay, helped no doubt by the young Thomas.
The 1840 Common Riding is described in much more detail here on the site.

Thomas’ innkeeper father Robert Hay, had died aged 51 in January 1832 [according to Wilson’s Record of Deaths], so Ann, born in Langholm, had been left as a 30 year old widow with 5 year old Thomas and 7 year old Jane, to run the Crown Inn since then.

In 1847, Thomas appears in the list of Cornets as a millwright, so he must have been apprenticed to the trade when he was 14-15 or so, in 1842 or 1843.

His mother dies in January 1848; and then Thomas himself dies in October 1851, just over 4 years after he was Cornet, at the age of 23, and he is buried with his mother and father in St Marys churchyard

His sister Jane was left to carry on the Crown Inn business as a married woman – she had married the boy next door, Robert Grieve, in May 1846 , so they had had about eighteen months to learn the business before mother Ann Hay died at the start of 1848.

Robert was a Solicitor’s Clerk from Teviothead who was lodging at Waldie the tailor’s shop next door to the Crown, and he would have been able to help with the legal transfer. Ann left £22 in cash, £202 in wines and spirits, and debts of £3 – an estate worth [though estimating “worth” is pretty tricky] £12,000 in todays money, which would be enough to buy 1,000 days of a tradesman wages or 13 horses or 40 cows = say  £100,000, which sounds right for a good-going and well established business on the High Street.

But Robert also died young in 1853, and Jane was left to carry on at the Crown as a widow for another 10 years until she had to give up the Crown Inn in 1863, with substantial debts to be settled. However, she was able to carry on as a hotel keeper till the 1870s at 8 Bridge Street, albeit on a smaller scale, with only one general domestic servant, and her daughter Annie Little Grieve, a governess.

But to return to our Cornet – what would his obituary have said about Thomas? At a guess, that he was

  • sociable – brought up in the Crown Inn on the High Street, he would know and be known by most people in the town
  • hard-working – with his father dead, he would be expected to play a full part in the running of the Inn
  • popular with girls – he deserves this in his short life. He would be used to female company, with a mother and elder sister, and with the young female servants in the inn, his would be a working female environment
  • bright and practical, good with his hands and his brain. Millwrights were key technical people in Victorian Britain – a look at The Young Mill Wrights  Guide tells us a lot about Thomas and where he worked – presumably at one of the water powered mills in the town – the current Tower Mill wasn’t built until 1852, but it may just be Thomas was involved in equipping it

About Neil Wallace

Born in the Haig Maternity, lived in Dovemount Place, and started school there at Trinity. To Burnfoot Primary then the High School. Moved away from the town to Cardiff, then Edinburgh, and now an exile in Suffolk.


One thought on “1847 Thomas Hay died aged 23

  1. Thank you so much for your research about Thomas Hay and the other cornets and especially for the link to the article about the “sumptuous” feast ‘catered’ by his mother for the 1840 riding.

    I wanted to add a little information: his sister Jane actually married Robert Grieve on May 25, 1846 and she was the sole heir to her mother’s estate when Ann Hay (nee Little) died 26 Jan 1848. On the 12th of November 1850, the estate was valued at:
    cash L. 22
    inventory (mostly wines & spirits) L. 201, 18s 9d
    book debts L.3
    total L. 223 18s 9d

    Jane Hay Grieve continued as the innkeeper at the Crown Inn after her husband’s death in June 1853 and in the 1861 census, is listed as:
    Jane Grieve, head, 37, b. abt 1824 Hawick, 22 High St., hotel keeper
    Ann “, dau, 12, b abt 1849 Hawick scholar
    Anne Paton, cousin, 38, b abt 1823 Hawick woolenframe work lumman [daughter of her father’s brother, James]
    Beatrix Paton, 11, b. abt 1850 Hawick, cousin’s dau Scholar
    Jessie Paton, 9, b. abt 1852 Hawick, cousin’s dau scholar
    Walter Paton, 6, b. abt 1855 Hawick, cousin’s son scholar
    Agnes Rawon, 20 ba abt 1841 servant b. Hawick cook
    Elizabeth Stoddart, 25, b. abt 1836, servant b. England, waiter
    Margaret Herriot, servant, 22 b. abt 1838, Hawick, bar maid
    Margaret Irvine, servant, 22, b. abt 1839, Half Morten, DUM, housemaid.

    Posted by Jessie Hislop | June 28, 2011, 20:51

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