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John Valentine Hewitt

of Newlands, Frenchay.




John Valentine Hewitt is seen here at a meet at Over Court.

In 1851 the Hewitt family were living in the Parish of St James’ & St Paul’s, Bristol. The father, John Hewitt, was 35 years old, born in Bramford, Suffolk, and was trading as a coal merchant. His wife, Ellen Elizabeth was 29 years old and born in Bristol. They already had three children, all born in Bristol. The oldest, Ellen, was four years old, John Valentine was three, and Clara Elizabeth was one. They had three servants; Jane Reed, 32, of Trowbridge; Elizabeth Reed, 15, of Bristol; and Ann Palmer, 27, of Kingswood.

The family may have moved to Great Malvern for a short time, because their fourth child, Edith Caroline, was born there c1856. But by c1860 they were in Bristol when their second son, William was born.

John Valentine grew up to be a coal merchant like his father and became a keen cricketer and friend of WG Grace of Downend. On Saturday 21st August 1875 he was playing on Frenchay Common and scored 2, bowled Croome, in the first innings and 2, bowled Croome, in the second, while playing for Coalpit Heath in a game against Frenchay, which Frenchay won by 54 runs.

By 1881 the family were living at The Elms, Stapleton, and had two servants. Caroline Tout, 21, of Huish, Somerset, was house & parlour maid and Emma Holcomb, 19, from Exbridge, Somerset, was the cook.

In 1885, John’s mother, Ellen Elizabeth, died and was buried at Frenchay by the Rev Shaw, Rector of Stapleton.

By 1898 the family had moved to Newlands, Frenchay, and were now neighbours of Charles HB Elliott [see other displays in this museum] of Cliff Court, Frenchay. John Valentine became a Vice-President of Frenchay Cricket Club and also became well known for his other great love, hunting. He was a member of the Clifton Foot Beagles and had his own pack of much admired hounds. The members would travel by train, hiring a saloon and taking the hounds with them, and hunt on various estates and farms far and wide.

A Beagle outing at Lyegrove.

A flavour of the sport can be illustrated by the following extracts from a local newspaper…

"Good day with the Clifton Foot Beagle. These hounds met at Pilning Station and were welcomed by the tenants and the farmers round. They were taken to a field near, where a halloa at once put them on a hare, but she turned out a soft one, running mostly up and down the railway bank – a dangerous game for both men and hounds – till, nearing a covert under Knowle Park, the hounds were stopped. Coming back towards the station a hare ran into the same field, and away they went in view, thus commencing one of the best runs that could be wished for.

They headed straight for Compton Greenfield, but, turning to the left, ran through Over Park, leaving Highwood on the right, across Hayes Farm, on over Pen Park Farm and Mr Smith’s farm, past Southmead Laundry on to Horfield Banks, where, making a circle round the drill ground, they went back to Pen Park, running into their hare about a quarter of a mile farther on.

I hear there was but one check, and the hounds behaved splendidly, and were all up at the end. Mr JV Hewitt, who hunts the pack, and is always with his hounds, Messrs JH and JE Budgett, A Burge, P Burgess, GC Gibbs, CH Richardson, PW Turner, and P Turner were up at the finish, and right well must they have gone to get there.

The distance from point to point was seven miles, and covered ten miles of ground, and the time one hour forty minutes".

From 1898 onwards there are many references to the Hewitt family in the Frenchay Parish Magazines. Miss Hewitt was making donations to the Mission Funds and subscribing to the Coal Club Fund; and John Hewitt was donating to the Frenchay National School, the Frenchay Cricket Club, church seating and the laying of water pipes.

In 1902, John Valentine Hewitt Esq, was present at the Coronation festivities at Frenchay and gave prizes.

Old John Hewitt died in 1906 aged 90 and was buried in Frenchay churchyard by the Rev Heberden, Rector of Stapleton; followed in 1908 by Clara Elizabeth, aged 57 years, who was buried on the 19th of February by the Rev William Brooke, Rector of Frenchay.

John Valentine continued to be a Vice-President of Frenchay CC until he died on 30th June 1916, aged 68. He was buried at Frenchay on the 3rd of July.

William Hewitt continued to live at Newlands with his sister, Edith Caroline. He kept the churchyard supplied with bedding plants, and Edith tended the flower beds. William also presented the organ to the church.

Edith Caroline died in 1931 at the age of 77 and was buried at Frenchay on the 4th of March.

After William died at the age of 76, and was buried at Frenchay on the 3rd of October 1935, Newlands was sold and by 1939 was the home of Dr Golla, well known for his research into mental health at the Burden Institute. But that’s another story. One which you can read more about elsewhere in this museum.