Berkhamsted’s monuments man: George Lingard (1839-1847)
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George Lingard (1839-1847) was a stone mason in Berkhamsted. He was active in the early years of Rectory Lane Cemetery and our graveyard owes much to his skill. George executed a number of grave stones in the cemetery, including some beautifully sculpted larger monuments in the Lower Cemetery. Several members of George’s large family are buried here, and although we do not know where George himself was buried, it is fitting that we pay tribute to his contribution to Berkhamsted’s rich heritage.
This is a rather tragic tale – a man of humble beginnings from a small township in Lincolnshire, rising to be the lead stone mason in Berkhamsted, but slowly experiencing personal loss and professional decline into bankruptcy.
George Lingard was born in 1839, at Wrawby, a township in Glanford-Brigg, Lincolnshire. In 1841, aged 2, he was living with his parents, William and Mary, both born in Lincolnshire. He also had an older brother Matthew. William was described as an agricultural labourer, so there were no ‘craft’ skills in the family for George to learn from. Indeed, his father was already quite elderly when George was born and died in 1847, at the comparatively young age of 46, when George was only 8.
Ten years later, George was still living in Wrawby. His widowed mother, aged 48 was scraping together a living as a char-woman, and also earned something extra by taking in a lodger – in 1851 this was a Charles Ward, an unmarried labourer on the railway, aged 30.
As a scholar, George presumably attended the National School in Wrawby which had opened in 1842. Perhaps on the way to school, he would pass the graveyard at Wrawby, which was closed in 1857, and would have visited the new cemetery opened on a larger site on the outskirts of Brigg.
By 1861, aged 22, George had moved all the way south from Lincolnshire to Ashford in Kent. George gave his birthplace as Hull, Yorkshire, and presumably this was where he had sailed from to take up work as a journeyman apprentice. . He now was a lodger himself, with Mary Ann Pope, age 30, described as the wife of an earthenware dealer, with a young son and 2 daughters. They lived next to the churchyard, so he was presumably engaged as an apprentice to a monumental mason nearby, who would no doubt have produced memorials for people buried there – perhaps George also left his mark on some that survive.
A year later (22 Jan 1862) he married Anne Wardle at Little Gaddesden (where she was born) so by this time he had apparently moved to Hertfordshire, possibly continuing his training. By 1866, aged 27 he was a fully experienced mason and had set himself up in Berkhamsted, having saved £200 as a journeyman.
The following year, he had already joined the rebellious band of individuals who refused to pay their church rates, but at the Great Berkhamsted Sessions held on April 16 1867, was ordered to pay.
In 1868, the Bucks Chronicle and Bucks Gazette of 26 September 1868 reported there had been:
‘On Saturday last, an accident, which might have proved very serious, took place at the goods station. As Mr G. Lingard, stone-mason of this town, who is engaged to do the stone work of the magnificent west window of the parish church, was unloading stone at the station, and as he was lowering a piece weighing several tons, the crane broke and let the stone fall, but fortunately no one was injured.’
This is revealing in two respects – firstly the importance of the railway in making available stones from across the country (and even further afield). Secondly, the restoration of the west window of the church clearly took place prior to William Butterfield’s restoration of 1870-1.
In 1869, George was heavily involved n the establishment of the Working Men’s Club, which was set up in Prince Edward Street in this year – ‘the rules bear the signatures of Wm. F. Cooper, Daniel Norris Jun., George Lingard and James W. fisher (secretary).’ The report goes on to state that ‘The club was highly favoured at the start, but, through undertaking too much, got into debt and difficulties. The president, Mr Read, however, stuck to it, and the new room, built by means of debentures, was in the course of time paid for with interest, and by carefully husbanding its resources, it has now two cottages in the High-Street, in which it is proposed to erect a club room when circumstances permitted. It has a good library, to which books were kindly contributed by the late Mr. Finch, Mr W. Longman, the present Earl Brownlow (who gave Dicken’s works) and other friends.’ Having elevated himself from his labouring roots in Lincolnshire, it is not perhaps surprising to find Lingard championing the education of the working man; as a stone mason, he perhaps played a part through his contacts in stocking the library with books donated by the local gentry.
In 1871, George and Anne were living in the High Street, probably on the corner of Holliday Street. By this time, George was aged 32 and was described as a Master Mason employing 2 men & 2 apprentices.
In this year, George was called as a witness in an embezzlement case, involving the goods clerk, Clement Ditcher at Berkhamsted Station. George gave evidence that ‘in February last I received the stone mentioned in the advice note now produced. I can produce the receipt, in the prisoner’s handwriting, for the amount £11. 6s. 7d. I paid 6s 7d. on the morning of April 15. My wife paid the £11. the previous night. When the prisoner called I was not at home, so my wife paid the £11. and he gave her the receipt for £11. 6s 7d. I paid him the 6s. 7d the next morning.’
James Smith, the station master re-called that ‘These are the invoices (produced) for stone delivered to the last witness in February, and were paid on the 15th April. No entry of the receipt of the amount appears in any of the books. I have never received the money.’ (Ditcher was found guilty).
By this time George and Anne had had two children – Leonard E. (b. 6th September 1868 and baptized 31st Jan 1869) and Mary Jane (b. 1870). Augustus George was born a year later (1872) but only lived for 5 weeks. Ann clearly experienced difficulties in childbirth and died, aged only 29. She was buried at Rectory Lane Cemetery (Plot 67) on the 1st August, with RS Coles Officiating. Augustus George survived her a short time but was buried on the 20th August, with LW Giradot officiating.
Within 6 months or so, George had remarried (first quarter of 1873). Despite Emma, who was 9 years younger than him, having been born in Berkhamsted, they got married in Southwark, London, perhaps to be discrete given the relatively short time that had elapsed after Anne’s death.
Within a year of being married, Emma gave birth to their first child, Beatrice Lilian Lingard, who again sadly only survived 5 weeks and was buried 28 March 1874 at the Cemetery, with JW Cobb officiating.
A year later, Alice was born, but only survived to the age of 5, and was buried 1st September 1880, at the Cemetery, similarly with JW Cobb officiating. (She is buried in the same grave as George’s first wife).
Ernest George was their third born (1876; baptised 28th Jan 1877); he survived only to the age of 24, and was buried on the 22 March 1901 in the Cemetery, with HC Curtis, then Assistant Curate officiating. He left effects worth £32 3s to his mother.
Another boy – Walter (b.1878) appeared. So by 1881, the family then consisted of George, age 43, Emma his wife age 34, and their two sons, Ernest, age 4, Walter age 3. They also had Ann Chennels, age 15, living with them as a servant. They lived in Castle Street – from the sequence in the census it suggests they lived on the west side (the School side).
Two further boys were born – Arthur W. (b. 1881) and (Frank b. 1883)
In 1889, the Bucks Herald reported that:
‘the memorial stones of a new Baptist Chapel in High-Street (Tring) were laid on Tuesday…the contractor for the new building is Mr. Honour, the amount of the contract being £1,628. (For the foundation ceremony) they had no silver trowels. Some of their friends said they would have nothing to do with them if they wasted money on them …Mr Marnham (of Boxmoor) then took the trowel and spread the mortar, and the stone was lowered and placed under the direction of Mr Honour, the builder’s foreman, and the foreman of Mr Lingard of Berkhampstead, who is doing the stone work.
Only a year later, George had got into severe financial difficulties. There are several reports of the proceedings: The first meeting took place at Oxford:
Re George Lingard, of Castle-Street, Great Berkhamsted, stonemason. – A first meeting of the creditors of this bankrupt was held at 1 St Aldate’s street Oxford, at mid-day on Saturday week. – Mr Bullock (of the firm of Messrs Bullock and Penny, solicitors to the debtor, Great Berkhampstead) represented Lingard, who was also in attendance. There was no creditor present in person. A summary of the debtor’s statement of affairs shows the gross liabilities to be 1,795l. expected to rank 1,745l. The assets are estimated to produce 315l 4s 1d., leaving a deficiency of 1429l 15s 11d. The debtor attributes his failure to losses in business, and failure of builders and others for whom he has done work’
Official Receiver’s observations – “Debtor began business at Berkhamsted, Herts, as a stonemason, in 1866, with a capital of £200, which he saved whilst a journeyman. The only book he kept was a ledger. His largest creditor has, it seems, for the last twenty years been lending him money amounting in all to £1,500. The two life policies held by the latter are estimated as worth £50. When he filed his petition he had one judgement and a writ out against him but no executions. The preferential claim was for rent. The deficiency account simply alleges that the whole deficiency existed on 1st January 1889. The debtor tells me that it arose largely from bad debts, amounting to some £700 or £800, which do not appear in his statement. He does not propose to offer any composition (sic). I gather from the debtor that the furniture and stock are over-estimated, and that his book debts are less by £25 at least than mentioned above.
Mr R.O. Rippon proved for 119l 18s 3d, but there was a doubt about the proof being good, as it did not show that the debt is not statute barred.
– The Official Receiver (Mr G. Mallam): Have you any friend who would buy the property?
– Debtor: None.
– None at all? No, sir.
– Mr Bullock: Do you think the goodwill would fetch anything?
– No sir
– Mr Bullock: I am afraid not.
– In answer to Mr Mallam, the debtor said that he had made over his life policies to Mr. Rippon, and they were prepared by Mr. Fell. He produced two of his account books. Most of the bills had been made out.
– Mr Bullock.: You have no idea of going on in your business, have you? – No, sir – Because, you see, we shall have to effect a sale?
– Yes, that is what I thought, because the rent and everything is going on
– Replying to the Official Receiver, the debtor stated that he had seven children – There was no resolution passed, and the meeting then terminated. The public examination of Mr Lingard took place on the 9th inst.
The second meeting (a public examination) took place on the 9th April at Aylesbury: 
On Wednesday – at the County Court Offices, Aylesbury, before Mr. Registrar Watson. Mr Mallam, Official Receiver, Oxford, was present, and conducted the examinations.
Re: George Lingard. Mr Bullock for the creditors – The debtor said he began business in 1866 at Berkhampstead as a mason with a capital of £200. He had saved that while he was a journeyman. He had not kept proper books. His largest creditor was a gentleman named Ripon, and he believed the balance now due to him was £1,198. He had had a floating account with Mr. Ripon, and at one time thought he was nearly clear, but now saw that he must all along have owed him a large amount. He admitted receiving some money for book debts since he had filed his petition. He had done it in ignorance, but his children were nearly starving, and he was much pressed for money. His time was largely taken up with these proceedings, and he did not know what to do, as he could not get any work. – Mr Mallam said he could not allow the debtor to go and get in the state and eat it up. He must have the money back, or apply for the debtor’s committal. – The debtor said he could not help it. He would do the best he could, and had no intention to defraud
In the same edition of the paper, the following appeared:
By Mr Orchard, In Re George Lingard – by order of the official receiver in bankruptcy, To stone masons, contractors, builders and others, Castle Street, Berkhamsted, Close to the L. & N.W Station, Mr Orchard Has received instructions to Sell by Auction Upon the premises as above On Tuesday Next April 15th, 1890, at 1.30 sharp The Stock-in-Trade of a STONE MASON, including blocks of Portland, York and other Stone, Quantity Slips &c, 2 Trade Trolleys, Hand Trucks and Trolley. Sack Barrows, Pulley Blocks and ropes, an Endless Chain, &c; also the TRADE ERECTIONS and the Genuine and Useful HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, an Office Desk, Sewing Machine, Patent Mangle, and various other items. Catalogues of Messrs Bullock and Penny, Solicitors, Berkhamsted, and of W/J Orchard, Land Agent and Surveyor, Berkhamsted
A year later, the family had had to move to Kitsbury Road. But significantly, Emma, aged 48, is described as married and of no occupation, but there is no sign of George. Was he in prison for debt? The strange fact is that George Lingard’s death is elusive – it has not yet been traced, and certainly does not appear in the Berkhamsted burial books. In 1911, Emma stated she had been married 36 years, which, given their marriage in 1873, would place George’s death in 1909, although she may have been calculating the years incorporating her status as both a wife and widow (in which case she was one or two years short). Alternatively, it is just possible he had ‘disappeared’ from view and didn’t return to his family.
Emma now had four sons to look after Ernest G., Walter, Arthur W. and Frank were all living at home, aged betw