Chesterfield family history · Griffin Family History

Joseph Henry Griffin, the disappearing seaman.

Joseph was the second child of Joseph Griffin and Ann Budd, whilst Joseph senior was working as a coachbuilder in Clevedon, Bristol. He appears to have been christened the year after he was born and is last listed in the 1870 census, living with his parents in Chesterfield.

He left home to join the merchant navy and never returned. The cadet ship on which he was training was lost in the Bermuda Triangle. He was unmarried.

HMS Atalanta
HMS Atalanta there is more on the story, including this image, here:

griffin grave.jpg

There is a full list of names on this website and a picture of the memorial in St Ann’s Church, Portsmouth. But it lists him as “Griffon” not “Griffin”-

Chesterfield family history · Green Family History · Griffin Family History · Somerset Family History

Joseph Griffin and Ann Budd in Chesterfield


Married life for Joseph and Ann had not started well in Bristol. You can read what happened there in Joseph’s story.

The whole story of Joseph’s life is an odd one. Born into generations of relative prosperity in Somerset, he finds himself working as a bootboy in his uncle’s hotel in Cardiff. It is clear that something had gone wrong before the tragic events which occurred shortly after his wedding. Anne too had come from a huge family marked by tragedy. It seems unlikely that she ever met the youngest members of her family, or knew the fate of her father, Charles. Her wedding certificate is marked with a cross instead of a signature, from which we know she could not sign her name. Both families were constantly on the move. A letter written on their behalf might take months to reach the other party, if it did at all.

From newspaper articles describing the events of …… we know that Ann was living with friends in Bristol. The address at which they were living turns out to have been an inn, not a private address, known as The Falcon Inn, the licensee of which was John Tippett from 1840- 1858. We also know that Joseph continued to work for his uncle as late as 1854, a year before his daughter’s birth. He is called as a witness in a minor crime in Cardiff and is described as living with his uncle. But, by Emily Jane’s birth in 1855, he is described as a “labourer at a coach factory”.



By the time of their son Joseph’s birth, the family have moved to Clifton. It is not, unfortunately, possible to find out how long they stayed for.

Bristol to Chesterfield is some 160 miles, by a reasonably straight road. But we do not know whether that journey was broken, because I have not yet found them in the 1861 census, or indeed, exactly when they made the break from Somerset. It is reasonable to assume, if you read the first part of the story. that there was much to put behind them in Bristol.

Family legend dictates that their reason for leaving Bristol was to deliver a new coach to the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. Unfortunately, that lead has not turned up a link in Chatsworth’s archives. What we do know is, that by 1868, Joseph and Ann had reached Chesterfield and were established enough members of the community, for Joseph to be a signatory to a notice in many local newspapers.

joseph griffin chesterfield 1868
Various Chesterfield newspapers carried this notice in 1868, to which Joseph Henry Griffin was a signatory.

Joseph and Ann were very religious and Joseph was a lay preacher, his preaching advertised regularly in the Chesterfield area of Derbyshire.

By the 1871 census, Joseph is working for a flour dealer and living in Spencer Street. We can tell that the flour dealer was Thomas Irving of Gluman Gate from contemporary newspaper articles. This is a picture of his shop and an advert for the business from 1876.


It would seem to have half a mill wheel in the wall, making me think it had been a mill before it was a meal merchant’s.

joseph griffin a Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 22 January 1876 flour advert
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – Saturday 22 January 1876 flour advert

Far from selling only flour, the shop sold a wide range of goods, mainly of the type bought from farmers locally.

joseph henry griffin 1871
The 1871 census with the Griffin family.
Spencer Street, Chesterfield
Spencer Street, Chesterfield

The couple were clearly happy in Spencer Street and don’t leave. In 1877, Emily, a milliner, marries Robert Lichtenstein Green. They move into number 32 Spencer Street, as their first married home. Joseph leaves home too and dies at sea in 1880, on board HMS Atlanta. We know that Emily’s children visited every Sunday and were allowed to see giant dolls from Japan, that their “uncle” had sent home. But no record of Joseph entering Japan has been found, perhaps he visited whilst in the merchant navy and he died during training.

On August 24th, 1893, Ann Budd died. Her death announcement was short and to the point. Joseph had lost his beloved Annie.

annie budd Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 02 September 1893
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – Saturday 02 September 1893

By the 1901 census, Emily and her family had moved in with her widowed father. It must have been quite a squeeze. Six children, aged between 4 and 23 and their parents. The second and middle daughter (although the sixth child) was named after her grandmother, Annie and born the year before her death. At the time of Annie’s accident in 1899, the family are already living at the Griffins. The oldest two boys still at home, Joseph and David, are already working.

joseph henry  griffin 1901
The 1901 census with the Griffin and Green families.


On 18th December 1802, Joseph Griffin died at home, in Spencer Street, Chesterfield.

The death announcement of Joseph Henry Griffin, from the Derbyshire Courier of Saturday 18 December 1902
The death announcement of Joseph Henry Griffin, from the Derbyshire Courier of Saturday 18 December 1902. The death announced the day of the death.
Griffin Family History · Somerset Family History

A Pippin post.

Everyone has heard of a Cox’s Orange Pippin, which accounts for half the apple sales in the UK. But when I was researching Joseph Griffin, I discovered a different kind of pippin apple, the Pound Pippin, which I had never heard of before. It proved difficult in fact to find anything out at all about a Pound Pippin. It isn’t listed on any of the apple websites and the idea of an apple weighing in at as much as pound a time seems likely a crop would break a tree before it would ripen.

The Pound Pippin Bristol Mercury 26 December 1840
Bristol Mercury 26 December 1840

After a little research I discovered the first mention of a Pound Pippin was in 1840, when a man called Marshall from Cheddar grew a 14 1/2 ounce apple. Sadly, this is the only mention of it. Was it the only one on the tree? Where had the seedling come from? Pippin refers only to the fact that the tree has been grown from seed. At this date, a Cox’s Orange Pippin was a new introduction and not sold commercially until 1850. So the parentage of the Pound Pippin remains a mystery. It is possible, that as is suggested with a Cox’s pippin, one of the parents was the long lived Ribston Pippin, which was grown from French seed and was definitely grown in Somerset at this time.

The second mention of the Pound Pippin is on a whole new scale, when Joseph Griffin of Congresbury grows a 22 ounce apple in 1842 and exhibits it at the Clevedon Agricultural Show.

1 pp Bristol Mercury - Saturday 10 December 1842

It is clear, that at this date, big is beautiful at the Clevedon Show, From super sized vegetables and fruit to massive pigs and machinery for turning supersized cheeses!

Bristol Mercury - Saturday 10 December 1842
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 10 December 1842

Curiously, having made this great entrance to apple exhibiting, Joseph Griffin returns to his more established pursuit of stock showing  and all goes quiet on the giant apple front.

The next mention of a Pound Pippin is not until 1863 and then it is on the other side of the Atlantic!

Pound Pippin Apple Tiverton Gazette (Mid-Devon Gazette) - Tuesday 20 January 1863
Tiverton Gazette (Mid-Devon Gazette) – Tuesday 20 January 1863

To me, keeping one’s apples packed in dry fertiliser doesn’t seem the most appetising of storage methods, but the Victorians were far less worried about such things and it would seem so were the Americans of Victorian times. Keeping a large crop of apples can be difficult even now and those not bred for their longevity, as we have today, would doubtlessly spoil very easily.

The question about this article is whether he means the Pound Pippin, or whether the writer in Devon has attributed the name to his apple?

A year later, on 15th November 1864, the Western Times discusses the dessert apples shown at the Devon Botanical and Agricultural Society Show. The Pound Pippin is mentioned, but no prize is given. The list of apples shown and given prizes is full of character and amazingly long- Braddick’s Non Pariel, Cox’s Golden Drop, Cornish Gillflower, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Golden Reinette (no award this year), Hertfordshire Pearmain (only one entry!), Lemon Orange, Maigre, Martin’s Non Pariel, Old Golden Pippin, Pearson’s Plate, Red Ribbed Greening, Ribston Pippin, Sam Young (no award this year), Stormer Pippin, Taunton Golden Pippin, Winter Warden (no award this year), Anysort Prize (a collection of no less than 12 sorts with two of a sort), Dressing Apples, Alexander, Blenheim Orange, Dunelow’s Seedling, and the Fair Maid of Wiltshire, Ford’s Flat, Golden Harvey, Hawthornden, Keswick Codlin, King of Pippins, Knott’s Seedling, Irish Red Streak, Lord Nelson, Monstrous Pippin, Warner’s King….the colour, smell and general excitement of the show can be felt in the massive choice and wonderful names. Was a Monstrous Pippin more or less than a Pound Pippin?  Was Ford’s Flat a placename, or was it a flat apple! To my knowledge, few of these varieties have made it to modern consumption.

A few years goes by without mention of a Pound Pippin. Then, in 1870, J. Burch, Cottager wins first prize and Mr C. Adams, second. In the description of the Show of Chrysanthemums and Summer Fruits, Devon in November 1870 the Western Times describes them thus-

“J. Burch, Cottager, who successfully competes with the dwellers of mansions”

“Mr C. Adams, our City Amateur”

Mr C. Adams is almost impossible to find. John Burch however, of Dawlish Water Cottages, Dawlish, was born in about 1819 and lived in Dawlish all his life. There seems absolutely no connection with the Griffin Family. Sadly, the weights of Burch’s apples are not given, so we have no idea if his apples weighed in at Joseph Griffin’s supreme 22 ounces. Was Joseph’s apple the heaviest ever recorded? I would love to know. Like Joseph, Burch seems to have retired in glory from apple exhibiting. Perhaps the tree was short lived. Certainly, I can find no mention of the Pound Pippin existing after 1870 and I have no way of knowing how common a tree it was during this period.

Incidentally, John Burch’s wife was called Grace Cox. Again, there seems no connection with Richard Cox, breeder of the Cox’s Orange Pippin, even if I would rather have liked there to be!



Griffin Family History · Somerset Family History

The many Joseph Griffins, of Congresbury, Clevedon & Churchill

This is a somewhat epic tale of a family who didn’t leave a small area of fertile Somerset, until the Americas called and the railways arrived. Even now, the surname is more common in Somerset than anywhere else in the world. They had a confusing tradition- calling a son of each family “Joseph”. In fact, it would be easy to get lost in Josephs and sorting out which boy belonged to which father is a time consuming activity, one which many people have confused further by publishing incorrect family trees.

This is the story of five of them, who were all born and brought up within a few miles of each other. They all came from relatively prosperous farming families which leads me to assume they were well fed and had the chance of an education. Although being called “Joseph Griffin” could have led to something of an identity crisis, another locally occurring Christian name was “Goodenough”, so they probably felt lucky to have got plain old Joseph!

The first Joseph isn’t the first ever Joseph Griffin, but he is the first it is possible to find out much about. He was born the year his father died, 1747, in Clevedon, a seaside town near Bristol. He married in 1767, a local girl called Mary Hollyman (another surname it is hard to escape from in that part of the world!) and successfully farmed in the parish of Congresbury, a parish in the hundred of Winterstoke, said to have been founded around 700 AD. It wasn’t difficult to obtain farm land here, the fields were small and it had an unusual custom-“CONGRESBURY, A singular custom of distributing annually the common lands by lot in single acres, hence called Dolemoors, formerly prevailed in this manor.” From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

But until the 1820s, the area was flooded for up to three months of the year, losing stock and making arable farming particularly hard.

Joseph and Mary had two sons, Joseph (of course!) and John and three daughters, Nancy, Mary and Sarah.

His son Joseph marries Hannah Wall in 1791 and they have five sons, Joseph (born 1795). Thomas, George (born 1803), James and William and seven girls Mary Ann, Ann, Eliza, Temperance, Hannah and Jane. The name “Temperance” perhaps suggests the kind of people the Griffins were!

Joseph Griffin dispersal sale Bristol Mirror - Saturday 04 March 1809
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 04 March 1809

Joseph (born 1770)  and John (born 1772) both become farmers nearby. So it perhaps was not surprising that aged 65, Joseph decides to have a roup of the contents of the farm and to shrink his part of the business. The contents tell much about the family at this time. They are producing cheese and cider, have a selection of stock and they have a lot of furniture, some of it mahogany, which none of the family is in need of.

Dispersal sale Bristol Mirror - Saturday 04 March 1809
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 04 March 1809

Joseph Griffin, despite cutting the size of his farm, was still active in Congresbury, making sure that law and order was kept by being a member of the “Congresbury Association for the Prevention of Depredations”

The Congresbury Association Bristol Mirror - Saturday 18 March 1809
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 18 March 1809

It wasn’t until 1839 that the Rural Constabulary Act allowed county areas to establish police forces if they chose to at a local level; so until then it was up to local groups of people to enforce the law locally to them. John Griffin is a member of a similar group in Clevedon.

Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Saturday 17 March 1810 , Bristol Mirror , Bristol, England
Saturday 17 March 1810 , Bristol Mirror.

By 1810, the younger Joseph has taken over the reigns of the committee, although resident in nearby Clevedon.

“CLEVEDON, a parish in the hundred of Portbury, in the county of Somerset, 11 miles W. of Bristol. It is a railway station of the Great Western line, and is resorted to in summer as a pleasant watering-place. The town is situated on the cliffs at the mouth of the river Severn, commanding a fine view of the channel. It was called Clevedun by the Saxons, from the cliff (cleve) terminating at this point in a valley (dun). It contains a lecture-hall, public baths, numerous hotels and boarding-houses, and is well lighted with gas.The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, in the patronage of the Bishop of Worcester. The tithes are commuted for a rent-charge of £500 per annum. There are two district churches, both of which are perpetual curacies, viz. Christ Church, in the patronage of trustees, and East Clevedon, in the patronage of Sir A. H. Elton, Bart. The parish church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is an ancient building in the mixed style, with monuments. Christ Church is a modern stone building in the early English style. The church at East Clevedon, dedicated to All Saints, is a fine edifice, in the decorated style. The Plymouth Brethren, Congregationalists, and Society of Friends have places of worship. There are National and infant schools, as well as those of the British and Foreign Union, and a servants’ school, supported by ladies. The charities produce about £24 per annum. Clevedon Court, the seat of Sir A. Hallam Elton, Bart., is a fine specimen of the Elizabethan style of architecture. Here are exhausted lead-mines, and the refuse ore is often found near the surface. The air is so mild in winter that the most delicate plants may be reared, and the village is consequently well suited as a residence for invalids. The poet Coleridge once resided here.” The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

Clevedon and Kenn are very close together in modern terms and the Griffins appear to have had pockets of land throughout the area. Joseph of Congresbury died in 1811, followed by his wife Mary in 1813.

Joseph Griffin of Clevedon
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 16 October 1813
Clevedon farm
An old picture of a Clevedon farm from the website

Although I cannot identify the exact location of their house at this point, the photo of farm is typical and possibly was a Griffin farmhouse.

Joseph griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 10 March 1821
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 10 March 1821

Joseph Griffin’s daughters start to marry, an expensive business with so many of them, marrying into trades, oastlers and grocers. His son Joseph marries Louisa (?) and his son George marries Ann Stubbs in 1826. Both have sons called Joseph, Josephs’s son being born in 1833 and George’s son Joseph was born in 1831. From here, I am going to ignore 1833 Joseph, it gets too complicated and he leaves the area as an adult. Suffice to say he is very clever, continually winning prizes for English and Mathematics at school and becoming a successful mineral water entrepreneur.

Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 21 June 1828
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 21 June 1828 the adverts for land are very descriptive, but it seems this field is now built over.

George is a butcher and listed in various trade directories, from 1830 onwards as being in Clevedon and St Nicholas Street, Bristol. He seems to lead an unspectacular life, having five sons, including Joseph and two daughters.

Clevedon butcher's shop
A picture of a Clevedon butcher’s shop, although a little later than George, it shows just how much meat a shop would stock. (picture from
Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 15 May 1830
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 15 May 1830

The same summer the 60 acres he farms is advertised for sale and one has to wonder if the two things are connected.

Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 21 August 1830
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 21 August 1830

The same Saturday that the sale of the land is advertised the hanging of one John Rowley for stealing potatoes is mentioned. Losing one’s life seems a huge punishment for stealing potatoes, their punishment was also for fire raising, although that is not mentioned in the Bristol Mirror. It was the last hanging on the site of a crime in England.

Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 21 August 1830
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 21 August 1830
Joseph Griffin of Clevedon Bristol Mirror - Saturday 07 February 1835
Bristol Mirror – Saturday 07 February 1835

Land is still advertised as having been in the hands of the elder Joseph Griffin, as late as 1835.

In 1837, Joseph senior and sister Jane are listed as giving money for the building of Clevedon New Church. But both Farmer Joseph and his son, also Farmer Joseph, seem to have been chiefly interested in breeding enormous specimens of animal and enormous vegetables at Clevedon annual show, which starts in 1837.


Joseph Griffin of Churchill 1839
Joseph Griffin junior 7 December 1839


Joseph Griffin of Churchill Bristol Mercury - Saturday 20 June 1840
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 20 June 1840
Clevedon Fourth Annual Show Bristol Times and Mirror - Saturday 11 December 1841
Bristol Times and Mirror – Saturday 11 December 1841


In the Clevedon of this period, there is not only the annual summer show, but also the “Christmas Fare”, which reads as a vegetarian’s nightmare and takes place on Christmas Day, the annual holiday. It would seem, that even if you were unable to afford to buy the meat to eat, people cared to go and look at it. Quite the opposite of people today who often find the sight of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop a hard one to stomach!

Bristol Christmas fare 1841
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 25 December 1841
Bristol Christmas Fare 1841
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 25 December 1841

In 1842  the newspaper states  there are at the Clevedon Show “very superior apples, the Pound Pippin, (one weighing 22 ounces) by Mr Joseph Griffin” and two prize bulls at Clevedon show 1842 and in he wins a prize for the “best cwt of cheese” and at Christmas the best cwt of cheese and the second best bull. The Pound Pippen apple seems to be lost in the mists of time, but was clearly enormous. It being Cheddar producing country a cheese measured in a unit usually associated with sacks of coal is perhaps not so surprising! A “curiously fat lamb” is also mentioned!

The census of 1841 sees Joseph senior and junior and George all listed as living on the road “Clevedon to the Strode”, the Josephs as farmers and George as a butcher.

Joseph Griffin Bristol Mercury - Saturday 11 January 1845
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 11 January 1845

Joseph senior and his wife Hannah died within  a year of  each other,  Joseph in 1845 and Hannah in 1846.

Hannah Griffin nee Wall Bristol Times and Mirror - Saturday 19 September 1846
Bristol Times and Mirror – Saturday 19 September 1846

Hannah was clearly sorely missed by many, Joseph’s death seems not to have been announced in the papers. Joseph’s brother, John, dies in 1847 and it is left to his nephew Joseph to deal with his estate. On first reading it seems like a huge amount of land, but as seems to have been the case in this area, similarly to his father, John as many pockets of a few acres here and there. Each is named and so the advert makes charming and interesting reading. I am sure with more local knowledge it would be easy to identify where each is.

Bristol Times and Mirror - Saturday 15 May 1847

Bristol Times and Mirror - Saturday 15 May 1847

Bristol Times and Mirror - Saturday 15 May 1847
Bristol Times and Mirror – Saturday 15 May 1847


Bristol Mercury - Saturday 21 August 1847
Bristol MercurySaturday 21 August 1847


The Clevedon Show continued to grow in status and instead of money is presenting silverware by 1850 and Joseph the farmer continues to win it.

But it is here that I admit to being confused. By the census of 1851, George is no longer a butcher but had become a “labourer” (one assumes agricultural from the fact he is still in Clevedon) and Joseph had become the butcher, not a farmer. Is this something to do with their father dying? I don’t know. By 1861 Joseph had become a “labourer” too and is listed as that again in 1871 (he died in 1874) and George was still a “labourer” in 1861.

George’s son Joseph was a patient in a Bristol hospital in 1851 and it would seem romance blossomed, because his future wife was a nurse there at the same time. Despite scouring the newspapers, I cannot find why he was in hospital. All accidents seem to have been reported in the paper as they are admitted to hospital, so one must assume he is ill, not injured. The girl Joseph met was Ann Budd, born 1828 in Finchdean, Hampshire, the daughter of a blacksmith. They marry a year later, on 25th July 1852, in Bristol. But here things take an unexpected twist. You will gather from what you have read that Joseph seems, as far as one can tell, to have led a reasonably happy and stable life. What makes him take the action you will now read, it is impossible to guess.

our joseph griffin suicide Bristol Mercury - Saturday 21 August 1852

our joseph griffin suicide 2 Bristol Mercury - Saturday 21 August 1852
Bristol Mercury Saturday August 21st, 1852

Three years later his daughter Emily Jane was born in College Street and two years after that, their son Joseph Henry was born in Clifton, Bristol. They all disappear from the 1861 census, but between the births and the 1871 census, they move to Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The family story is that they delivered a coach for the Duke of Devonshire, but as yet I have found no evidence for that claim.

Joseph and Ann appear to have lived happily together, with the exception of another tragedy in 1880. Joseph placed an announcement in the local paper to say his father had died. He had a full family life, a good job as manager of a flour merchants and is remembered well, was loved by his family and died in 1902. Who knows what went wrong in August 1852. To read the rest of their story together, click here.

George Griffin death Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 10 December 1870
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 10 December 1870- George Griffin’s death.