During the closing years of the eighteenth century and for more than sixty years of the nineteenth, there resided in the parish of Wrangle, nine miles to the North East of Boston, and near the seacoast, a well-known man whose name was John West. He was born, probably in Wrangle, on June 13, 1780. He was on the whole a very important member of the community. He was for many years landlord of the old established and fully licensed village inn, known as the White Horse. He was also Parish Surveyor, and when required, measured the land for farmers and labourers in Wrangle and the adjacent parishes. He was a much respected and greatly trusted man, and did not depart this life until September 16, 1869, aged 89 1/4 years.
This John West probably had a number of brothers and sisters; and certainly he had one brother, but whether younger or older the writer cannot say. This was James or Joseph West, who for many years was a keeper of toll bars in various parts of Lincolnshire. One of these toll bars was known as Halmer Gate toll-bar, situated on the Eastern side of the town of Spalding, at the junction of what were formerly known as "Barrell's Lane" (now Queens Road) and "Willow Row" with the " Low Road" (now Halmer Gate) near the "Chestnuts". He lived to a good old age, but when and where he died the writer cannot say.
Added note: He was keeping a toll bar at West Ashby in June 1849 and at Halmer Gate, Spalding between 1850 and 1858.
John West was married twice; and rumour says he led to the altar two of the prettiest women that ever entered Wrangle Church. By these he had a very large family. I speak of the family as one; for though he had several children by his first wife, so well did the second wife discharge the duty of mother to the first wife's children that some of those children did not know that she was not their real mother! Still, it will be convenient to speak of the first and second families.
John West was a good man; a consistent member of the Church of England: but broad minded, and by no means averse to Methodism. he was a lad in his eleventh year when the good and great John Wesley died on March 2 1791; by which time there were many Methodist societies in the towns and villages of Lincolnshire; ad Mr. West - as many another good Churchman - found it both convenient and profitable to attend the Methodist service once a Sunday. This was certainly his practice toward the end of his life, as long as his strength permitted.
Of the name and parentage of John West's first wife the writer has no information whatever. But it would seem that she was a woman of rather delicate health, for she died at an early age and the majority of her children died young. She was married to her husband in 1805 and their children were the following:
- John West born March 1806. After a few years schooling at the village school he was apprenticed to a wheelwright at Sutterton. During his apprenticeship he climbed up the outside of the steeple of the Parish Church and played "God Save the King" on his flute. After serving his apprenticeship, he enlisted for a soldier and served his country in India in a regiment of "Sappers and Miners"; but the climate not being favourable to his health, he returned home and died in November 1837.
- Mary West born April 5, 1807: died January 10, 1809.
- Joanna West born September 21, 1809: died August 24 1821.
- George West born May 12, 1812. He was the only member of the family that lived to be an old man. he was for many years in business as a shoe maker at Skegness. He had a considerable family - some of his sons following the handicraft of their father. One of them has now (August 17, 1922) been living in Spalding for many years. For a number of years he was landlord of the Peacock Inn, Pinchbeck St., but is now in the employ of H.G. Hall and Son, Auctioneer and Valuer. A daughter of George West waited in the refreshment room of the Great Northern Railway, Peterboro. George West himself died about 1890 at Stamford.
- Thomas West born December 8, 1813; died December 21, 1819.
John West's second wife was Elizabeth Hall, daughter of Joseph Hall, who died August 12, 1845, aged 76 & Mary Hall who died November 22 1835, aged 67 years. She (Elizabeth) was born January 25, 1797 and did not depart this life until December 13, 1875. She became the wife of John West about 1815 - before completing her 19th year; and bore him fourteen children.
- Joseph West born May 27, 1816. We have no record of his death at hand. He was employed many years in gas works at Grimsby or Hull and lived to be an old man. He was associated with the Primitive Methodist Church.
- William West born May 27, 1816. He died suddenly - in the midst of his life - through rupture of a blood vessel November 18, 1857. His wife was a pious woman and had a great gift in prayer. They had at least two sons. One of them - George - has been in Spalding since 1868. He came to be gardener for the late Robert Everard Esq., at Fulney House and retained the situation for a number of years. Afterwards he commenced business on his own account as florist and fruiterer, living at different times at Willow Row Walk, Briad Street and 31 New Road. For some years he occupied some orchard and garden land on the South East side of the Railway, approached from the Pinchbeck Road; but later he bought other orchard and garden land, with house, on the opposite side of the Railway, and Pinchbeck Road - just in Pinchbeck Parish, then known as "Horrad's Orchard" but now as "Railway Gardens"; whereon he has built several houses, and where he still lives with his good wife. They have a considerable family, a good deal scattered. Another son of William West was John West, an older son than George, born about 1839. He went to Manchester when a young man and died there at 70 years of age, leaving in and about that city a number of children and grandchildren.
- Mary West born November 7, 1818. She married a good but poor man of the name of Johnson, somewhere in the Spilsby district, who died early, leaving a family of several children, including at least one son, Fred, and two daughters, Eliza and Naomi. Possibly there were other sons and daughters. During some considerable part of her widowhood she at least partly earned a livelihood as a maternity nurse, and well qualified for such an office she was, for she was a good motherly soul. Her daughter Eliza was in domestic service in more than one situation in Spalding, but died while she was still young. One of her sons was in business in Grimsby; and I think one of her daughters married a soda water manufacturer in that town; with whom she lived at the latter part of her life. She went to her Heavenly Home on June 21, 1909, aged 90 years and 7 1/2 months.
- Sarah West born February 9, 1820. She married a hairdresser of Louth who was not as steady as he might have been. They had a son named Fred, and other children. She died November 4, 1905.
- Henry West born April 27, 1821. He spent the whole of his life in Wrangle, and was generally recognised as a skilled agricultural labourer by the farmers of that district. He lived for years in a cottage adjoining that of his parents and was never more than a field or two away from them. After a useful but rather uneventful life he died January 20 1895.
- Elizabeth West born March 8, 1823. She was generally known as Betsy. She married William Underwood, a working tailor of Boston, to whom she bore at least two daughters. He was a musician and played the cornet in Boston Borough Brass Band. He was a brother of John Underwood of Surfleet - famous local preacher. Mrs William Underwood died November 17, 1883.
- Eliza West born July 18, 1824. After the usual years of schooling she was in a number of situations of domestic service - as general servant or housemaid, in various villages in the neighbourhood of Boston, and at Pinchbeck; and on April 9, 1846 became the wife of Mr. Isaac Elsom, Ropemaker of Spalding, whom she survived eighteen weeks, dying April 15, 1911. (See Mother of the Elsoms of Spalding.)
- Edward West born May 30, 1826. After several years of school and farm service he married either a sister of the Underwoods already referred to, or a sister of Mr. john Underwood, of Surfleet. A few years after marriage he became farm foreman or "ground-keeper" for his brother-in-law, Isaac Elsom of Spalding, at his five and twenty acre farm in Surfleet Cheal, and occupying the little farm house for several years. He afterwards held similar situations in the Whaplode Drove and Firsby districts. He was an acceptable local preacher with the Wesleyans, and could play hymn tunes on the clarionette. He had a considerable family - one of whom was killed by a train in the Firsby district while attempting to cross the line with a wagon and team of horses. In later years he had a coal agency at Mumby where he died November 18, 1901.
(End of Book 2. Book 3 continues)
- Joanna West born April 14, 1828. She was the youngest daughter of the family, who, early showing skill with her needle, became a lady's maid, and served in that capacity in a number of good families. She usually made her home at holiday times with her sister, Mrs Isaac Elsom of Spalding. During one of these visits, she became attached to Mr. John Johnson, tailor, of Spalding, and expected to become his second wife; but he jilted her and married Miss Rowtham of Moulton - much to the disappointment of the children. Her health failing her, she died at her sister's house, 31 New Road, Spalding, December 26, 1873. She was a good Christian woman and a devoted member of the Church of England.
- Thomas West born September 19, 1829. Although he attained the great age of 87 1/2 years, the writer of these notes has less information of this member of the West family than of almost any other. He appears to have lived most of his life in the neighbourhood of Skegness, where he died, May 21 1917.
- James West born July 18, 1831, on which day his sister Eliza was seven years old. He was an enthusiastic agriculturalist. He never farmed any land for himself (as far as I can make out) but was a greatly trusted, and greatly valued farm foreman. He served in that capacity with various members of the Ward family, in the neighbourhood of Louth. When too feeble to continue his usual occupation he made some attempt to retire at Mablethorpe, but not being able to settle there, he returned to the scenes of his activity where he died January 11, 1911.
- Charles West born August 13, 1833; died August 14, 1833.
- David West born August 7, 1834; dies March 21, 1838.
- Frederick West born April 21, 1837. The youngest of the family and now the only survivor. In addition to the usual school course he was taught land surveying by his father, whom he accompanied on many of his land measuring expeditions. He would be within 12 days of 9 years of age when his sister Eliza was married at which event he was present. On Horncastle Fair day - June 21, 1849 - when he was 12 years old and his father 69, they walked from Wrangle to West Ashby, near Horncastle, a distance of over 20 miles, to visit his father's brother, who kept a toll bar there. About May, 1850, he went to Spalding and entered the employ of his brother-in-law, Isaac Elsom, with whom, as lad, apprentice and man, he remained some 8 or 9 years. The writer has remembrance of him during the latter part of this period. He was of medium stature and weight, very nimble and very neat in all his work and conduct. He had also useful knowledge of how to handle carpenter's tools, and made netting needles for use in the rope walk. He was treated as one of the family and was know as Uncle Freddy. About 1859 he left Spalding and went to work, first in Yorkshire and afterwards in rope walks in Louth. After a time he commenced business for himself, but in partnership with another man. This latter he soon found to be a mistake; so he dissolved the partnership and persevered alone. Gradually he established a fairly good business, to which he added a land surveying department. On January 25th, his mother's birthday in the year 1866, he married Betsy Reeson of Leake or Wrangle, at Leake parish church, which union proved a thoroughly happy one. For some years they lived in Eastgate, Louth, but afterwards in Aswell Lane, now called Aswell Street, where they celebrated their golden wedding in 1816. Mrs. West was called home August 23, 1919 aged 81 1/2 years. Mr. & Mrs. West had a number of children, some of which are in South Africa. A son, who was brought up to the rope making and land surveying, is now keeping a shop at North Somercotes or Saltfleetby, near the Lincolnshire coast. He has a son by his first wife, but is now living with his second. Mr. West senior has an unmarried daughter keeping house for him. Owing to the decline of the rope making business locally, he is in poor circumstances, but is cheerful and very active for his years.
Addendum. Died March 21, 1926 aged 83 years 11 months.
Speaking of the Wests generally: They have been a credit to their parents, their training and their native village. As far as I know, there has not been a profane or intemperate, or dishonest or lazy person among them. In addition to home influences they have had the advantages of a good elementary Church of England School under a good master and mistress, by whom boys were grounded in reading, writing and arithmetic; and the girls, in addition, were taught plain sewing. The Bible was one of their chief lesson books. All had a considerable religious element in them, and most of them were decisively Christian.
The Elsoms of Spalding