Wednesday, 8 February 2017

John Brackenbury and Alice Tether - enquiry

History of Nocton

I received a query last night from a lady researching her family tree - you may be interested in the content which I reproduce below, together with my reply.

From: Jacqui Stone
To: Geoff Hall
Dated: 07 January 2017
Time: 21.27hrs

Nocton Family Connection

Dear Geoff
I hope you don't mind me writing to you directly but I have tried to register on the MACLA family history website with no luck and also on your Blogspot page but ran into difficulties there too!

My family history research back to 1640 has revealed a strong connection with Nocton. A Google search recently  took me to your Blogspot and in particular the entry on Thursday, 15th September 2011 entitled "Revelations of an Imp - Chapter 10" where there is mention of Alice Tether (1771-1811) and John Brackenbury (1771-1844) who are noted on my family tree (Alice being a Tether.

However their marriage is the only thing noted and there is no mention of any children although from another search it appears there were eight or nine). The accompanying information was interesting to me as well as the history of Nocton and the fact that the Tether family were tenants at Manor Farm.

I have a cousin who says that there is also a connection to Dunstan Pillar Farm (which I believe is now a B & B) but is unable to confirm this. I live in Gloucestershire and don't know the area at all (I hope to visit this year) but wonder if you have access to any more information on the Tether/Brackenbury family in Nocton (or elsewhere in Lincolnshire/further afield) or would know of someone who could assist me?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Jacqui Stone

From: Geoff Hall
To: Jacqui Stone
Dated: 08 January 2017
Time: 10.17hrs

Re: Nocton Family Connection

Dear Jacqui,
Thank you for your query and I don't mind you contacting me at all - indeed I am happy to try and assist. The MACLA website is an excellent resource, but unfortunately it is no longer maintained. I have been able to locate further information which I hope will be of interest. Please see the following and the enclosure too:

The Gregory Family of Leicestershire gives a useful breakdown of the family of John Brackenbury and Alice Tether. I'm sure you will have seen this with your online research, but if not I incorporate the web-link for you. It appears John and Alice were quite active in creating a family with nine children - Justina, Damaris, Edward, Ceres, Meres, Belinda, Giles, John and Edward.

I am aware of the existence of a photocopy of an old cross-stitch sampler by Mere Brackenbury, aged 14 dated 28th March 1837 [although the year is more likely to be 1817, as it appears Mere was born 2nd March 1803]
Source: Sheila Redshaw Collection (Scrap Book No. 26) - now in the possession of Nocton Parish Council [Chairman: Ian Goldsworthy]

I am pleased to be able to provide quite a bit of background information , as the family were heavily involved in providing the first formal education for the children of Nocton and surrounding villages.

"The autumn of 1793 saw the first beginnings of a regular School at Nocton. In that year John Brackenbury, of Gedney, a grandson of Sir Edward Brackenbury, Bart, of Raithby, co. Lincoln, having quarrelled with his father on the subject of the latter's second marriage, came to  lodge at the Plough Inn - the present Wasp's Nest - at the head of Nocton Fen, and married Alice Tether, daughter of the tenant of Manor Farm. Brackenbury had been well educated; after the birth of his eldest child, Justina, he came to live at the Vicarage, by invitation of Dr. Willis, the curate, and started a private school there. Soon afterwards he moved into a house, converted from two cottages at the east end of the Town-street, and obtained leave from George Hobart - who on the 3rd of September, 1793, had succeeded his half-brother as Earl of Buckinghamshire, to build a School on the waste at his own expense, the materials being carted free by his neighbours."
Source: "Some Notes for a History of Nocton" by Kate Norgate and Maurice Henry Footman
[Reprinted from the Associated Architectural Societies' Reports and Papers, Vol. XXIV., Part II., by James Williamson, 290, High Street, Lincoln, (1900)]

There is even more information below:

Para 232
"In 1793 Nocton had its first regular school. This was principally the work of one man, John
Brackenbury, whose descendants are still to be found in the district. He was one of the grandsons of Sir Edward Brackenbury, the Baron of Raithby. His home was at Gedney where, after his father’s second marriage, and a bitter quarrel, he hurriedly left to remove himself from the sight of the stepmother of whom he so savagely disapproved.
He came to Nocton and went to lodge at the “Plough Inn”, a tavern that once occupied the site we now know as “Wasp’s Nest”. This was situated fairly close to the Car Dyke and, at the same time, the hill upon which the Old Priory had stood.

Para 233
Being by nature of a friendly disposition, he was not long in establishing himself at Nocton as a man who would be welcomed as a permanent inhabitant. There was no doubt he liked Nocton very much indeed, and there was no doubt that the inhabitants of Nocton liked him.
John Brackenbury had not been long settled in Nocton when he met and fell in love with Alice
Tether, the very attractive daughter of the tenant of the Manor Farm at Nocton. after a short
courtship he married her, and then, soon after their first baby was born, a daughter they christened Justina, the Brackenburys were invited by Dr Willis, the Nocton curate, to move from the fen and live in the vicarage.
There were no facilities open to the people of the village by which to educate their children at this particular time. There was, however, a great need and a great desire for such facilities. As Dr Willis pointed out to John Brackenbury, there were villages in which schools had been started by public spirited individuals who were not only dedicated to the advance of education, but were well qualified to teach the subjects upon which they sought to base that education.

Para 234
The idea was one that that John Brackenbury found exciting, and which his wife thought would be well rewarding. At least, all were in agreement upon the need for such a venture at Nocton. Moreover the project was one that interested George Hobart. Dr Willis had early recognised John Brackenbury’s natural aptitudes for taking upon himself the position of school-teacher at Nocton. He encouraged John to think about the prospects such an undertaking would leave open and to develop his ideas upon how best to put the project into operation.
Inspired by the idea, and helped by the curate, John very soon decided that he could best serve the community by offering to teach the village children. It not only provided him with a set purpose in life, it also gave him the means of following a profession he loved with profit. So, supported on the one side by an enthusiastic wife and on the other by the encouragement of his friend, the curate, John Brackenbury began the first school ever to be held at Nocton in one of (the) larger rooms of the vicarage that was made available for this purpose by Dr Willis.

Para 235
So gratifying was the response to John’s request for pupils that their number very soon increased to the point where the vicarage could not accommodate them all. When this happened the Brackenburys took a house at the east end of what was then called Town Street. To make these premises two cottages had been converted into a single house. It was large enough for his needs and, for a time, it made an ideal school.
And then children began to come into Nocton to attend the school from neighbouring villages, and once again the problem of finding adequate accommodation became of paramount importance. This time John Brackenbury made a personal appeal for help to the Lord of the Manor, the Honourable George Hobart. Being more than satisfied with the advance that was being made George Hobart gave John Brackenbury permission to build a new school in the waste land provided he did so at his own expense. Brackenbury never hesitated.

Para 236
He seized the opportunity with eager hands. There was not a man or woman in the village whose
interest in the progress of the school had not been stimulated by the now almost fanatical John Brackenbury. He had earned their respect even before he had started his school. Once it had become a reality he had fired their immediate imagination with his own great enthusiasm and they were prepared to help him in whatever way they could.
They carted, free of all charge, all the materials needed for the building of the school. They gave their labours freely in whatever direction they were needed whenever they were called upon to help. And so, in this way, there came to be erected at Nocton the very first building ever designed as a school, and its first schoolmaster, naturally, was John Brackenbury. It was, without any question of doubt, a glorious success.

Para 261
The retirement of John Brackenbury as the schoolmaster left no problem. That vacancy was very
adequately filled by his daughter, Justina, then the wife of Edward Scoley.

Para 262
It was about this time that the Lady Sarah came to an arrangement with Justina whereby all the children attending school paid a penny a week whilst she, the Lady Sarah, met the difference out of her own pocket.

Para 266
By this time the school that had been built by John Brackenbury was no longer big enough to
accommodate the number of pupils wanting to attend. Apart from this the building itself was
showing marked sense of deterioration. The Education Act of 1870 had established primary schools where there were no church schools, and this meant that the school at Nocton was now recognised as a primary school. This was the start of a national system of education. The Marquis, like his mother, took a keen interest in the school. He had the old school pulled down and, in 1869, built the school that still continues to be used at Nocton for the education of the village children."
Source: "The Lords of the Manor"

Finally, you may like to know there is a gravestone in All Saints Church, Nocton - but unfortunately I do not have any further information on this:

Tether, Richard, (rest unreadable)

You may also like to know there are two excellent publications about Nocton:
  1. Nocton: The Last Years of an Estate Village - Volume 1 Collected by Sheila Redshaw and Compiled by Sue Morris [ISBN 9781873257807]
  2. Nocton: The Last Years of an Estate Village - Volume 2 Presented by Sue Morris [ISBN 9781907516139]
Produced by TUCANNdesign&print
19 High Street, Heighington, Lincoln, LN4 1RG
Tel: 01522 790009

If you have difficulty sourcing these books (if you wish to make a purchase), Sue Morris can be contacted via email:

Hope this is of some use to you in your own research.

Kind regards,


I have managed to locate the headstone for Richard Tether in the churchyard and am planning to do a 'rubbing' to see if I can decipher further information inscribed upon it.

Richard TETHER - All Saints Church, Nocton
My 'rubbing' has uncovered the following details:

In Affectionate Remembrance
Richard Tether
Who Died
December 15 1889
Aged 91 Years
Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age
Like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season


  1. Richard Tether's gravestone reads as follows:

    In affectionate remembrance of / Richard Tether / who died / December 15th 1889 / aged 91 years / Thou shalt come to thy grave / in a full age, like a shock of corn / cometh in his season

    Next to him is his wife, Elizabeth:

    Sacred to the memory of / Elizabeth / the beloved wife of / Richard Tether / who died July 21st 1878 / aged 80 years / "Come unto Me, all ye that labour / and are heavy laden, and I will / give you rest"

    Should anyone ever need to know, I have an almost complete list of all the inscriptions.


    1. Thanks Liz, that's great confirmation. My rubbing wasn't particularly good, but I managed to decipher it in the end. In future I will come straight to you for the details. I've only just thawed out!


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