#52Ancestors – Invite to Dinner

2018 Week 4

It’s Week 4 of #52Ancestors and this week’s theme is ‘Invite to Dinner’. I’m not sure if this was an invite or if my great-great grandfather applied to attend but this event came to mind given this theme.

When I first started researching, I was lucky that my grandmother Muriel Nellie BRAYBROOK (1915-2004), known as Gran-Gran, had been given a couple of letters by her mother which she passed on to me. One of them talked of a banquet and it is this ‘dinner’ that I am writing about.

The letter is below and was written by John GARFOOT (1846-1889), Muriel’s grandfather, and was written to his wife Ann GARFOOT (nee HARDING) (1838-1915). The letter was written from 4 Norman Road (which was their residence in Bow, London) on Monday 23 June 1879. It is thought that Ann and her two daughters were staying with John’s family in Rutland.

The letter wrote about his life in London:

Dear Wife,
I trust these few lines will find you and all at home quite well and enjoying yourselves, I am quite well, but
___. Tiger has been found dead in the street, it is supposed he was poisoned, there is a man in the street strongly suspected of the deed, for Mr. Unstead’s other cat came home and died, and there are others as well. The weather still keeps very unsettled, by the looks of the crops, I do not think the farmers will be over done with straw whatever they are with corn, there are some very good crops of peas about. I was at Uncles yesterday they are quite well, and Lousia was to stay as long as she liked if her relations wished her to. They had a letter from Tel – she was quite well but busy.
The paper I sent to father last Thursday contained the account of a banquet at the Bow & Bromley Institute, at which I had the honour of being present and the pleasure of hearing a most interesting speech from the lips of the Right Hon. Sir Stafford Northcote Chancellor of the Exchequer. In Friday’s news he would have the sad account of the death of the Prince Imperial, the only son of his mother and she a widow living in exile. These unfortunate news touches the hearts of most Englishmen who have read and know anything of the history of the family.
I don’t know that I have more to say this time hoping to hear that you and the children are getting on nicely.
Please give my love to dear Father & Mother and the rest kiss the dear children for me tell them they went without their pig and its going rotten. Chicken all alive.
Love from your affect. Husband J Garfoot
Mr. Spink’s ask to let another week’s rent go.

The banquet that John GARFOOT describes was written about in a number of newspapers that I have found at the British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). The first item from the East London Observer on Saturday 7 June 1879 was an advertisement for the banquet.


The report of the event even reached Scotland as the Dundee Courier reported the event on Thursday 19 June 1879.


It was clearly quite a privilege to attend and gives an interesting insight into life at that time.

In terms of the rest of the letter, ‘Uncle’ I think is George REEVE (who married John’s aunt Marianne GARFOOT (1827-1905)). He was a beer retailer at the Lock Tavern, York Road, Walworth which is an area of London south of the river. Their daughter Louisa would have been 17 in 1879 and was clearly away with relations. However I have not been able to work out who ‘Tel’ was.

I love how this letter gives a wonderful insight into the family’s life and feel very lucky to have been given it so early in my research.

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