The nature of the records in this collection makes necessary a certain amount of explanation and background information, not in this case all to be drawn from the documents themselves. The collection falls into three parts, although these cut across the classification scheme adopted in the list.
1. Records relating to Joseph Thomas English, an archetypal Victorian figure who was twice married with ten children and a successful business man turned squire. J.T.English, born in 1819, was the younger brother of Henry Hampden English (known to have been born in Hull, Yorks). The two brothers were co - founders of English Brothers timber merchants, of Wisbech, Cambrideshire. This event, the purchase of the timber wharfs of William and Charles Jecks on the North Brink Wisbech, is assigned to the year 1843 by F.J. Gardiner in his "History of Wisbech and Neighbourhood ..." (printed, Wisbech 1898), but evidence in the present collection suggests that it may have taken place two years later (see ref. E 1/1) Successors of the firm, which became Gabriel, Wade and English in 1925, and no longer retains the "English" remain major operatives in timber and allied trades in eastern Fenland at the present time (1982).
Returning to J.T.English, he appears to have wished to escape his brother's sphere of influence, setting up house first at Stamford, Lincolnshire and later buying property of the smaller country house type at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, at Stratton, Cornwall, and at Bradford in north Devon (all during the course of the 1860's). At the same time his intention of entering the timber trade in the South West appears to have been foiled or given up by 1870, and surviving documents suggest that he gave increasing attention to his real estate. Following his death, at Southampton in 1892, his body was taken for burial at Bradford.
2. His will imposed complex trusts on his four eldest sons (all Army officers), the business including the disposal of a wide portfolio of shares in shipping, railways and finance, recovering what could be saved as a result of the bankruptcy of the tenant of Wayfield, near Stratford on Avon; and the subsequent sale of the estate to Stratford Town Council as the site for the town's waterworks. Although the two in part overlap, this section forms a link with the third and final one.
3. Alexander Emanuel English, a younger son of J. T. English, obtained the freehold of Bradford from his father's trustees in 1904, and in the same year married Frances H. King of Stratton, Cornwall. He was frequently absent in India and Burma during his career with the Indian Civil Service (1902-1920). Many letters from his wife and agents (Smyth Richards and Stapledon of Bideford) to him in Burma describe the management of the estate and piecemeal improvements to the house, and some files take the story to a more recent date.
For records relating to J.T.English's purchase of Bradford Manor, the restoration of Bradford Church and the few early deeds relating to Devon reference should be made direct to the list.
Acknowledgement is made to the County Archivist of Cambridgeshire for most material assistance in compiling this list and introduction.
Family of Joseph Thomas English (1819-1892) mentioned in the collection
Children by his first wife (?)
1. Lieut-Col. Thomas English of Dartford, Kent.
2. Edith English, d.1945 - married Rev. A. Wickes.
3. Mary English, d. 1936 - married William Usherwood of Whitby, Yorks.
Children by Rachel Anne (d. 1920) his second wife
4. Major Joseph Oxley English of Halberton, Devon, b. Stamford, Lincs. 1857.
5. Brigadier Frederick Paul English of Cardiff, b. Stamford, Lincs. 1859 d. c. 1946 (m. Winifred Crown, of Roker, Durham 1917).
6. Col. Charles Ernest English, Royal Artillery.
7. Katherine Isabel English - married Dr.Francis Voelcher of Harley St. London, on Medical Register 1886-1936.
8. (Miss) S. P. English.
9. Alexander Emanuel English, b. Stratton, Cornwall, 1871; Indian Civil Service 1892-1920; Companion of the Indian Empire, 1911. Married to Fanny Hutchinson,King of Statton Cornwall (who d. 1944). Two daughters.
10. Lieut. Oswald Mcdonough English RN married Dorothy Alice Parker 1904.