William Griffin (1791 -1861) was one of a large family of Griffins who lived near Southam and was a tenant farmer of mixed arable land and pasture at Stockton Fields. His family had been farmers in Fenny Compton before 1660 and had moved via Farnborough and Avon Dassett to Stockton in the early 19th century and there they stayed for the next 150 years.
The land he worked was not merely pasture and plough, because he also realised it was excellent for lime burning and cement, and so he made a business out of it that supplemented his more meagre agricultural income. In 1841 this notice was posted with the address as ‘Stockton new Blue Lime Stone Quarry’:
‘The undersigned is desirous of extending the use of the finest lime to be procured in England, and accordingly will be happy to supply the lime stone or pure well burnt lime to any persons for building or agricultural purposes, and will contract for delivering the same in boats, at any wharf or place on the different canals with which the Warwick & Napton communicates. There will always be a supply of the finest burnt blue stone lime, or lime stone, ready at the wharf on the canal, to be loaded on boats passing, without trouble or delay. Applications to be made to me at the Farm House or to the Foreman at the lime works. William Griffin.’ (Source: John Frearson)
William left an estate of £4,873 in 1861 and his son Thomas carried on the business with his son-in-law Thomas Archer. Thomas Archer was a chemist living at the old Manor House on Market Hill, which may well explain why the Manor House was once cement rendered.
Thomas Archer was a very able businessman and kept an eye on his widowed mother-in-law and the financial affairs. There appeared to be some ill feeling between him and his brother-in-law Thomas Griffin, who was perhaps doing the daily hard grind of more physical work. Thomas Griffin died aged 42 years and his surviving brothers, William, John and George took over the lime and cement business, although they were still involved in farming.
William and John remained bachelors all their lives at Stockton Fields, but brother George lived in Southam on the High Street where he was a wine and spirit merchant. He was also a hatter and it is thought he may have made top hats for the boys of Rugby School, although that could have been his son, George Thomas Griffin who had a hatter’s business at 6 Market Place, Rugby.
George’s son John took over the wine and spirit business when his father died and after marrying his cousin Sarah Jane, also appears to have been involved in the cement business. The 1881 census described him as “Wine and spirits merchant and lime merchant. Farmer of 50 acres employing 2 labourers and 1 boy.” The photograph was taken at the Griffin Farm in Stockton.
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