Joseph Green, Jobbing Gardener and the tragic death of his father on Black Tuesday 18th January 1881.

This very old photograph (shown below) was recently sent to me by my friend Vivienne. Joe had been her Grandfather’s (Herbert Ernest Bragg 1857-1936) gardener when he lived in Hope Cottage, Nightingale Avenue.  Joe was a very popular man, his Saturday morning visit, along with his dog Baden, was eagerly anticipated. The picture is undated but likely taken around1920, probably outside the Dry Street cottage where he lived with his elderly landlady Mrs Kemp.  She made seed cake especially for Joe. Vivienne’s father, also Herbert Bragg, expressing that it was ‘excellent indeed’ after a visit to the cottage and recalled making a fire for Joe who would cook bacon over it.  He also remembered enjoying the wonderful homemade bread that Joe made.

Joe was very good at telling many strange stories of fearsome nocturnal happenings, holding all those who were listening in total awe.

Vivienne’s father described him as a real old Essex character, superstitious, fatalistic and quite a philosopher who apparently remembered his father (James Green) losing his life in the snow on Black Tuesday.

Vivienne’s father summed up Joe by saying ‘he was a happy and simple man who expected very little from life’.

I found Joe on the 1911 Census, described as ‘a jobbing gardener’. He was born 1867 in Horndon-on-the-Hill.  His parents according to the 1871 Census were James and Ann Green (nee Fletcher, born Laindon) and he appears to have had siblings. William, Herbert. Elijah, George, Arthur, Ada and Alfred.

Moving on to ‘Black Tuesday’. I decided to research this event as I hadn’t heard of it before.  Apparently it occurred on 18th January 1881. An extremely severe snow storm took place which claimed the lives of around 100 people around the Country, including Joe’s father James.  I found the record of his death and sent for a copy of the Certificate (shown below).

Upon searching the British Newspaper Archive website, I found an article in the Essex Herald dated 24th January 1881 which features this very James Green.   James Green’s death appears to have taken place somewhere between Upminster, Dunton and Blue House Farm, although the Certificate states ‘East Horndon’ which was where the family lived at the time.  He died on 18th January although it appears his body wasn’t found until a few days later.

A further search found a report of the Inquest published in the Essex Chronicle (also shown below).

This is the very sad story of a father, who being very concerned for his son’s welfare, put his own life at risk by searching for him on foot in the terrible artic conditions.

I also include a copy of the 1881 Census showing the family just a few weeks after James Green’s tragic death.

Note: The only reference to Blue House Farm that can be found on maps refers to what is now a multi-business industrial park off the A128 opposite Barnards Farm, the well-known open garden.

At the bottom of the page there is a link to a clearer, PDF version of the Inquest  report.


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  • James Green was my great grandfather. His daughter Ada my grandmother. I was delighted to read this article. I had searched for further information about James’ death for quite a while. My mother spoke of it but details were a little hazy. Also I much appreciate being able to read about Joe. I have often wondered what happened to my grandmother’s siblings. My thanks to the researcher.

    By Julie Warren (02/01/2021)

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