The death of a farmer

It was late one evening in early December when the farmer left his local pub. He’d been there a little while and a pint or two had been consumed. Living next door to his parents, he worked hard to make sure their shared farm was profitable enough to support three generations. He earned the odd evening for himself. Married at the age of 22, he was now in his early thirties and his thoughts turned to his growing family. The four girls were wonderful of course, but a farmer needs a son and heir to run the farm and continue the name. A legacy. The arrival of his fifth child, a boy, earlier that year, made him beam with delight.

The farmer was not to see his son grow up, nor even see him celebrate his first birthday. For the man was to die that very night in a tragic accident just a short distance from home, declared dead the following day.

Those of you who know our family will by now be thinking of my Dad to whom all of the facts in the above tale apply. He’d been with friends in the Sun Inn at Norwood on Sunday, 9 December 1984 and was being driven home by a (completely sober) friend when a man (who had “only” had a pint in each of the four pubs he and his friends had visited that evening) drove straight into their car. Dad was pronounced dead in the early hours of the following morning. My brother, the only boy in a family of five, was just three months old.

Newspaper article describing the inquest of Benjamin Wellock, Pateley Bridge & Nidderdale Herald, Saturday, December 8th 1883. From

I was truly spooked when I read the newspaper article above for it was written one hundred and one years before my father died. This is in fact the story of my great, great, great Uncle, Benjamin Preston Wellock, son of my 3x great grandparents, Isabella (Preston) and Thomas Wellock.

Benjamin headed off to the Miner’s Arms in Greenhow Hill around 3pm on Monday, 3 December 1883. (In my Dad’s case it was Sunday, 9 December 1984) to see the landlord about a calf. As he hadn’t left the pub until around 10pm that evening, I rather assumed he’d had a pint or two as it was a rather longer stay than might have been required to negotiate a livestock purchase.

Ever the hardworking farmer, Benjamin stopped to feed the few cattle housed in their barn at Partridge Garth. He had climbed the ladder into the hayloft when a beam broke beneath him throwing Benjamin nine feet down onto the hard barn floor. Whether his was death was instant or he survived a few hours is not known for his father was not to find him until early the following morning.

Photo of a similar hayloft courtesy of one of my oldest friends, Georgina Beecroft.

The family survived. Mary, his wife, lived to the ripe old age of 84 outliving Annie (who died sometime before 1930), Isabella (who died in 1929) and Agnes (who died in 1890) and Benjamin had at least seventeen grandchildren although not all were to survive infancy. Then there was his son and heir. Just eight months old when his father died, John was to emigrate to Canada, around the same time as his cousins, David & Major. Unlike his cousins, he then crossed the border into Washington state and with him he took his father’s legacy, a son named Benjamin Preston Wellock.

As for us. We didn’t just survive, we thrived and whilst there is no George Christopher Houseman, Dad lives on in all of us.

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