Neal relations at Cuckoos Cup, The Wrekin

Not quite teetotal Norwich ancestors A pub for every day of the year

One of the first stories to emerge when reviewing my initial family history research some years ago was the contrast between my Norwich born grandparents tendency to alcohol abstinence and the number of pubs managed by relatives. I made some notes at the time but never quite got round to turning them into an article. A U3A group session on ‘Pubs and Publicans’ {1} has spurred me on.

A family of pubs or non-drinkers?

The Norwich side of the family seemed to frown on alcohol, with grandparents Sydney and Emily Howes virtually teetotal. Perhaps a small sherry at Christmas!

The couple had moved to London from Norwich after marrying in 1919 {2}. The Norfolk city was known for having a large number of pubs – an 1890 report claimed that Norwich was only beaten by Liverpool for having the greatest number of fully licensed public houses per head of population. And there was a well known local saying that

Norwich has a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day. {3}

Our family turns out to have plenty of connections to licensed premises after all.

Daily bread and beer

Great uncle George Neal, born 1883 and an art teacher in Harrow, married a barmaid, Beatrice Lake, in 1912. Her parents Jonas and Mary (aka Isabella) ran the Branford Stores pub in Norwich, at 3 Branford Road {4}. It is possible that a supposed falling out between George Neal and sister Emily was connected with this marriage, but there are other possibilities.

According to the Norfolk Public Houses website {5}, they were the original licensees, starting with a beerhouse licence in August 1895. He traded in licenses for 3 other pubs for this new one, and remained there until 1909, when Jonas died a day after his 63rd birthday.

Jonas and Isabella Lake, daughter Blanche behind. Image courtesy of Mrs Winnie Neal (via Norfolk Pubs).

It was originally known as the Branford Bakery – the adjacent bakery was also run by the Lakes. Indeed the probate calendar entry for Mr Lake gives his trade as baker. In August 1899 Jonas had wanted to connect the two businesses directly, but was refused permission.

A hundred years after the Lakes, in 2009 the Stores – which known for a while as the Branford Arms – closed for the final time.

A part-time business

The Lakes were not the only family publicans to carry on another trade alongside the beer business.

Born Norwich 1858, Arthur Francis Cutlock is a bricklayer according to the 1881/91 censuses, but by 1901 he is both a bricklayer and publican as well. His probate entry describes him as ‘beerhouse-keeper and bricklayer’.

Licensee of Anchor of Hope (beerhouse), 114 Oak Street, Norwich from Jan. 1893 until his death in May 1906. Wife Elizabeth took it on for a while, seemingly until she remarried in 1907 to his brother James Joseph Cutlock {6}. The Anchor of Hope was destroyed by bombing 27/29 April 1942 (the Baedeker raids) – the web link has an old photo.

Another defunct pub

More distant relations Thomas and Anne Towell, born 1792/1790 {7}, were licensees of White Cottage in Philadelphia (Norwich) from 1850 to 1864. Perhaps a job for older age?

At 1861 Anne is a widow and publican, living with son Robert, a jobbing gardener, so again not relying just on the booze business for the household income.

The pub was rebuilt 1903, closed 2007 due to retirement and demolished same year.

Popular trade for retired soldiers?

Mary Cutlock was a tailor’s machinist in Norwich, born 1844 {8}. She married late 1881 to George Lippingwell. He was 5 years younger  and a corporal in the Royal Artillery Woolwich at spring 1881.

George is publican of the Newcastle Arms, Willington Quay (Wallsend) at 1891, and manager of Dunn Cow (possibly the same pub) at 1901/11.

Popular with mariners?

Great great great grandfather John Harper Smith was licensee of the Green Man, 131 King Street. Definitely for 1830 to 1839 (according to Norfolk Pubs website), but possibly from 1822.

He is listed in a Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors notice Feb 1836, Norfolk Chronicle {9}:

“John Harper Smith, late of King Street, in the city of Norwich, Publican, Coal Dealer, and Master Mariner, trading in the Ship Nelson, of Norwich and Port of Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk (sued as John Smith)”.

Daughter Harriett’s marriage to Robert Neal records “Captain Smith” as “late of the Green Man”:

From Norfolk Chronicle, 25 Feb 1843 (British Newspaper Archive/FMP)

Everything points to John being more of a sailor than a sauce seller. For the 1861 census and aged 68 he is moored off Newcastle. He died age 80 in Yarmouth.

John’s second wife Mary Bilby (nee Payne) was a publican in St Pauls, Norwich at 1841, taking over the license from her first husband John Bilby {10}. She married the second John in London in 1858 – it’s not obvious why she had moved there or how the couple met up.

Other family fermentations

Denmark Dunch, father-in-law to 3x great aunt Lydia Smith, kept a “public house of the sign of the Maltsters in St Pauls” (Norwich) in 1857 {11}. Both 1841 and 1861 censuses record him as a waterman – he was born in 1783, so another occupation for older age?

The Osborne side of the family tree also has some bar experience in Wales. For example, distant cousin Eveline, barmaid in the Rhondda at 1901; 1st cousin (3x removed) John Osborne and wife Caroline stewards of Tonypandy Conservative Club in 1939; Morgan/Minton in-laws running a working man’s club in Blaenclydach (1911).

In conclusion

While the number of pubs has declined across Britain, this is not an entirely new phenomenon. They have not just been destroyed in favour of housing or other development in the latter half of the 20th Century – bombing, rationalisation by breweries, changes in socialising etc. have all had their impact.

Some of those Norwich churches

To illustrate the number of churches in Norwich, here are parishes which feature in the family tree. Important ones in bold.

  • St Augustine
  • St Benedict
  • St Clement
  • St Edmund
  • St Faiths
  • St George Colegate
  • St Giles
  • St Gregory
  • St James
  • St John de Sepulchre
  • St Julian
  • St Martin at Oak
  • St Martin at Palace
  • St Mary Coslany
  • St Michael at Thorn
  • St Michael Coslany
  • St Paul
  • St Peter Hungate
  • St Peter per Mungate
  • St Peter Southgate
  • St Saviour
  • St Stephen

Just 22?! Other non-church specific parishes include: Catton, Heigham, Hellesdon, Sprowston, Thorpe, Trowse Newton and more.


  1. Family history group of Malvern University of Third Age meets twice a month.
  2. Sydney had several teaching jobs in the capital before 1919.
  3. As confirmed in this blog post from Norfolk Museums, highlighting its “selection of items representing the brewing industry and Public Houses of Norwich” in their social history collection. The article also gives a potted history of the local brewery trade.
  4. Mary’s full maiden name was Isabella Mary Ann Dawson. She died in 1902.
  5. Norfolk Pubs website aims “To provide an ever expanding record of all NORFOLK PUBLIC HOUSES and many of their LICENSEES.” Over 5,000 premises listed at Jan. 2018. It also records that the Stores originally had only a ‘beerhouse’ licence – no spirits etc., full licence from 1925. The 20th century pub wasn’t built until 1904 – possibly before that the bar was in a house or other premises in the same building as the bakery. (Beerhouses were often converted front parlours?)
  6. This was still illegal, as ‘Deceased Brother’s Widow’s Marriage Act’ didn’t become law until 1921. The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s version however came in 1907. Arthur and James were cousins once removed to great gran Ann Harriet Howes nee Cutlock.
  7. “Grandparents-in-law” to John Cutlock, an uncle of Ann Harriet.
  8. Aunt of Ann Harriet Cutlock.
  9. Press clippings from British Newspaper Archive/FindMyPast.
  10. NorfolkPubs has John Bilby as licensee of The Dog, St Pauls Plain for 1836-39 (when he died), Mary from 1842-1845.
  11. He is quoted as giving evidence in a trial reported in the Norfolk News, 4th July 1857.



, , ,



2 responses to “Not quite teetotal Norwich ancestors A pub for every day of the year

  1. Kirsty avatar

    Hi! I know this post was written a while ago, but I found you after a google search! Denmark Dunch is my 5th great uncle, I’m currently looking into him but can’t find anything regarding a pub called The Maltsters Arms of St Paul, but I know he ran The Wrestlers Arms at St James from 1842-1850 :)

  2. Cutlock & Co avatar

    Hi Kirsty, thanks for the comment. I hadn’t got the Wrestlers Arms info but have a note that at 1850 Hunt & Co street directory has him as St James St. In 1854 White’s directory he is at Jolly Maltsters Cowgate St. Checking that note further, he is shown on Norfolk Public Houses website as there from 1854-1856 Hope that is of interest.

Have something to add?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.