The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Charles Coughtrey 1858-1938 Ada Coughtrey 1862-1951

Grave Number 734

Charles was born in April 1858. His father George, a sawyer was born in Chesham and his mother Elizabeth in Berkhamsted. In 1881 Charles was living with his parents in Highfield Road. In that year he and Charles Smith were charged ged with being drunk and disorderly at Berkhamsted on the 13th November – he was fined 5 shillings.[1]

He married Ada Carpenter in 1887, who was born in 1862 in Hawridge.

In 1891 Charles was working as a General Labourer and living in the High Street. In 1901, they had moved to 25 Gossoms End, and Charles was described as ‘A Wood borer by Machinery’ – in 1911 as a woodwork machinist. By then they had moved to 10 Middle Road.  Janet Stupples talked about her grandfather keeping the watercress beds.

Charles was clearly a keen gardener – in 1892 he received a certificate for 10 prizes at the Co-operative Society Show held in the Castle Grounds[2] and in 1893 was presented with prize money of 3s 6d. by Lady Brownlow at the Berkhamsted and Northchurch Cottage Garden Society[3]. In 1903 he wiped the floor and was the leading prize winner with prizes amounting to £4.11 in twelve sections![4]

Charles was notorious for his poaching exploits. In 1886, he and John Austin were charged with trespassing in search of conies on the Ashlyns Estate on Dec 26th, and Coughtrey was further charged with assaulting Samuel Price at the same time and place. Coughtrey said ‘he only stood on his own defence, and there was no blow struck. If he did say “if it was only for the law he’d give it him”, that did not hurt anybody[5]. They had been ‘previously convicted of similar offences’ – in June 1885, for example where Coughtrey and Walter Eames were fined for trespassing in search of game in Northchurch, Eames standing in the road with a gun, whilst Coughtrey ‘got over the hedge and walked about the field kicking the tufts of grass’.[6] In 1889 Charles and John Batchelor were charged with trespassing in search of conies on the 10th inst. on land belonging to Mr. T.A Dorrien-Smith in Northchurch Parish. Benjamin Jones, assistant-keeper, said on Sunday morning, the 10th, he was on Long Green and saw Batchelor scramble up a rabbit net and ferret, and put them in his pocket. Coughtrey, who stood by him, afterwards threatened him, but Batchelor interposed. They were both fined £1.[7] Only two years later, in 1891, the pair were again accused of trespassing in search of game and conies on the 2nd November in the parish of Northchurch – Mr Penny for the prosecution called Mr. Fox, head keeper for Mr A.G. Lucas of Ashlyn’s Hall, who stated that he and Levi Hawes saw defendants coming from Messrs’ Lane’s Nurseries to a field between Colonel Hanbury Barclay’s residence, Cross Oak, and Barncroft, Mr Smith’s residence, in which was a footpath, soon after 9 a.m. with two dogs. He was quite sure Batchelor was one of the men. Defendants worked the dogs through two dells and pit holes, then beat a thick fence and went on towards Rossway. They put the dogs into a stubble field occupied by Mr Harvey Bedford, when a rabbit was moved, and it ran from the left into a pathway in which Batchelor was. He shot it, and gave it to the other man, who went on and he turned back, passing within five yards of witness and Hawes, who were hidden behind a hedge. Witness was not positive whether the other man was Coughtrey but at the time believed it was.’ In this case, Mr Penny asked that Coughtrey might be discharged, which was acceded to by the Bench.[8] Batchelor was fined, with costs, 25s. (Batchelor in defence said he went on Mr Lee’s land, who had told him to look out on it. He admitted that a rabbit darted across his path in front of him, and he shot it – who could resist it?’)

Charles and Ada had nine children in 17 years.

Charles George (George) (1887-1940) their first had been conceived prior to their marriage. He is buried in plot 737.

Edith Nellie was born in 1889, and died in July 1890.

Ada was born in December 1890 and  married ….. Wllliams. They farmed at Chalfont St Giles. They had a boy (always known as ‘boy’) and twin girls. Janet Stupples referred to her as her aunt.

Frederick James (Fred) was born in October 1893. He married Eva Tuffnell in December 1925 in Berkhamsted. In 1911 at the age of 17 he was described as a ‘Milk Deliverer’. He continued the watercress activities as the eldest, working as a general tradesman and odd job man. They lived in Cross Oak Road. Eva was an early pupil of Berkhamsted Girls School.  He died on 29th September 1960 in Hemel Hempstead at the age of 66.  (No known children)

Susan  (Sue) was born in 1896 and married Arthur Martin, stonemason (q.v) in Chapel Street. They had a boy and two girls, James, Olive and Pam (a keen bell ringer at St Peters).

Elizabeth (Bessie) was born in 1898. She worked as matron of the Aldbury Isolation Hospital Tring, and had married secretly. On her marriage being discovered, she resigned. She was described as ‘a member of a well-known Berkhamsted family.’

Edward Thomas (Ted) was born in 1900. He married Rose Roff and died in 1976. He worked at Star Supply Stores rising to manager during WWII. In 1948 or thereabouts he bought the sweet shop from Baldwin’s next door. it became the Chocolate Box, well known for prize winning ice cream made in the tiny building behind the shop, now a listed building

Alfred (Janet Stupple’s father) was born in 1903. He married Lizzie Curl in 1929. She was one of 12 (4 brothers all killed in WWI and 7 sisters – only 2 of whom married, the rest finding independent careers). Lizzie died in 1992, after 62 years of marriage. Alfred died in 1996.

Janet Stupples recalled that her father was determined that his future did not lie in getting up at 4.30 picking the cress like his father, so he walked along the railway track to Apsley Mill and started work there as a sweeper at 14.  He obviously worked very hard because he ended up being Chairman of Dickinson. 

Winifred Mary (Winnie) was born in 1905 and married Arthur Hart. Win played the piano for silent films at the Rex cinema, and was very popular. Arthur was concerned with the development of television  and ran a successful Radio & TV Sale and Repair shop in the High Street. Janet Stupples remembers rows of liquid batteries being recharged in the back room. They didn’t have children.

In 1911, Fred, Susan, Bessie,Ted, Alfred and Winnie were all still at home.

According to his granddaughter, Charles Coughtrey also in fact had a whole other family; the two branches did not know about each other’s existence until he died.

Charles died on 29th March 1938. Janet Stupples talked about the family having to take a plot as high up as that because it was affordable and then having to save up to buy the marble headstone, , get it inscribed and placed – the whole process taking a few years for it to be erected – after WWII when Alfred could afford to do so. All coffins were carried by family up the unmade track for cheapness. The road was constructed on the lower half for carriages and horse drawn biers. Indeed in the upper part many families dug their own graves.

Research: James Moir with additional Information from Janet Stupples

Bucks Herald 29th August 1903

[1] Hertford Mercury and Reformer 26th November 1881

[2] Bucks Herald 5th November 1892

[3] Herts Advertiser 16th September 1893

[4] Bucks Herald 29th August 1903

[5] Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser 9th January 1885).

[6] Herts Advertiser 13th June 1885

[7] Bucks Herald 23rd November 1889

[8] Bucks Herald  5th December 1891

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