Saturday, 1 June 2013

Piper of Beccles

Last week, whilst researching for tweets, I found an entry in the Beccles Almanack for the death of William Piper, "an old inhabitant of Beccles", who died in 1902, aged 84. The East Suffolk Gazette newspaper of 9 December 1902 also printed a small piece about the Piper family. I honestly think William wanted me to find him and write a blog post about his family because not long after, I found a piece about Frederick Piper which I discovered was William's son.

Frederick Piper was reported in the Beccles Weekly newspaper of 9 August 1864 for the Beccles Petty Sessions, chaired by Mayor S. Wilton Rix (see my two-part blog about Samuel WIlton Rix) and attended by Revs R.C. Denny and J.C. Safford:

Frederick PIPER, pipemaker, was charged with trespassing on the Great Eastern Railway, at Beccles, on the 12th July. Benjamin AYDEN of Beccles: on Tuesday the 12th July, I saw Frederick PIPER walking on the Railway, between the Black Boy Street, and the Ingate Road crossings; he was walking in the four foot way in front of the down train from Ipswich to Beccles, about half-past eight. I asked him what he was there for, and requested him to leave. He refused to do so. Defendant had no right to be there.  It is part of my duty to keep people off the line.
Charles FARMAN: I am gate-keeper of the Ingate Street crossing, of the Great Eastern Railway, at Beccles. I have repeatedly cautioned defendant against trespassing on the Railway.
The Mayor said the bench was quite agreed that it was absolutely necessary to put a stop to this most dangerous practice of walking on the railway. The present offence was aggravated by the facts that the accused had often been warned, without effect, was abusive to the officer, and had absented himself when summoned.  Frederick PIPER must pay forthwith a fine of 20 Shillings, with 9 Shillings and 6 Pence costs, or be imprisoned for six weeks. 

Going through the 1841-1911 census returns for the Piper family, I discovered Frederick Piper's parents were William Piper and Mary Ann (nee Woolner). Frederick was found on the 1851 census aged 8, living in Northgate Street with his maternal grandfather George Woolner as well as his parents and two younger brothers.
In 1861 Frederick was a lodger at "The Race Horse Inn" at Ingate Street (James Debbage). There is a possible link with the Copeman family of Beccles here as Frederick was a Pipemaker at this time, and the Copeman's were well-known Pipemakers in Beccles in the first half of the nineteenth century. Another lodger at "The Race Horse Inn" in 1861 was David Copeman (Pipemaker, aged 50).

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In 1871 however, Frederick had moved to Lowestoft - working as a labourer - and was a lodger of John Mummery (who was a Fish Merchant and Publican of "Rose Shamrock & Thistle" in Bevan Street). In 1881 we find Frederick working as a Fruiterer, lodging with Fishmonger Thomas Powell in Grimsby, county Lincolnshire. It would appear that Frederick returned to the Lowestoft area by 1884 where he died, aged 42.

Frederick Piper's father William was not Beccles born but he lived in Beccles all his life and was well known in the town during the later half of the 1800s, along with his father Isaac Piper (not to be confused with the Beccles tailor of the same name). The East Suffolk Gazette of 9 December 1902 reported the following:

DEATH of William Piper, aged 83, son of Isaac Piper an old-time carrier or “tanner” as he was dubbed when making prolonged halts at roadside inns. [William was] rope-maker on north side of a field in Gaol Lane (adjacent to Bowling Green). Removed in 1858 when Station Road was made. Then field in Ravensmere, but had to move when Denmark Road was made. Then took meadow in Caxton Road “where he remained undisturbed until he gave up spinning hemp”. Trade connections: merchants, farmers, wherry owners & yachtsmen”. Familiar face at Beccles Corn Market, attended for more than half a century.

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