Thursday, 24 February 2011

Henry Haylett of the Norfolk police ... the story of Henry and his father Robert, also a policeman!

Henry Haylett, wife Elizabeth nee Harding and family
Cuckoo Lodge, Holkham Estate

The photograph of the family at Cuckoo Lodge shows Edward, Jane and Alfred, wife Elizabeth, Henry and the dog! and four girls who are likely to be Charlotte, Clara, Rachel and Maria ( in 1901 Clara and Maria were both housemaids, not at Holkham Hall, but somewhere locally) - it is very likely the photograph was taken at the turn of the century.


When Henry was born, on 24 February 1850, father Robert was a Police Officer and in 1851 the family lived in Beachamwell, Norfolk, just outside Swaffham.  Robert was 34, his wife Charlotte was just 27 and the Haylett girls: Charlotte 7, Jane 5, Rachel 3 and Maria 2 were the elder sisters of baby Henry.

At this time there was a serious poaching problem in rural areas.  On Monday 1 December 1851, Superintendent Parker, with a dozen rural policemen left Swaffham and went to Letton Park; Robert was one of the men.  The neighbourhood was "infested with gangs of poachers" and the police were hoping to help catch them.  They secreted themselves for many nights, until Saturday 6 December, a bright moonlit night, when they heard shots and moved into the woods.  The poachers fired and severely injured Superintendent Parker and also injured Constable Greenacre. Robert  chased two poachers and he shot at them, he thought he had at least injured them, then he turned back to help Superintendent Parker.  The police were in fact criticised for being involved in this way, but three men were later transported for ten years and another three were imprisoned for two years with hard labour.

Ten years later, in 1861, the family had moved to Fincham and lived on the Main Street and by 1871 Henry had moved out of the family home, Robert was a Sergeant of Police living in Town Street, Upwell and by 1891 Robert was living in Victoria Street, Littleport on his police pension.

In his early years Henry was a gamekeeper, before joining the policeforce in 1868 in the Isle of Ely, when the Chief Constable was Mr Foster, it is amazing to think Henry was just 18.

On 4 July 1870 Henry moved to the Norfolk Constabulary.  His examination documents show how he was 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a swarthy complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.  His figure was described as "proportionate"!

His career in the police force progressed well:
  • He was raised to 2nd Class on 17 July 1871
  • To 1st Class on 13 January 1873
  • On 24th June 1878 his salary rose to 24 shillings
  • On 5th July 1880 it went up to 25 shillings and then on 19th July 1880 up to 26 shillings.
It was good that he had these increases in salary.  He married Elizabeth (Harding) and when he joined the Norfolk Constabulary he already had a son, Henry Harding Haylett, and by 1881 he had other children: Charlotte, Robert Harding (who later became a Prison Warder at Portland, Dorset), John Macdonald, William, Clara, Rachel (my adoptive maternal Grandmother) and George.  The family were living at Back Street Cottage, Horsham St Faith.

On 27th July 1885 Henry was "raised" to 1st Class Sergeant and by 1891 the family had moved to Wells next the Sea and Charles, Maria, Edward, Alfred and Jane had been born.  Then in 1892, on 1st August Henry became a 2nd Class Inspector, a 1st Class Inspector on 4 December 1893 and a 3rd Class Superintendent on 3rd October 1898.  It was in 1898 that he retired on a pension.

Henry had actually been known to the Holkham Estate Office at Holkham Hall since at least 1889, when he had been a police sergeant in Wells-Next-the Sea.  On his retirement he had moved into Cuckoo Lodge, shortly after building work had been undertaken there - in fact the date 1898 is on the house.  At this point he appeared in the accounts as an employee of the estate.  In the 1901 and 1911 censuses, Henry is reported as being a Private Inspector, working for the Earl of Leicester of Holkham Hall and was living in Cuckoo Lodge, Wells.  The 1911 census states the family included 13 children, all were living.  In fact he was listed in the 'Park and Demesne' section of the accounts until 1913 and was listed as 'Inspector Haylett', on an annual wage of £60.  His rent at Cuckoo Lodge was £2. 7 shillings per annum.

In the mid 1890s when Henry was Sergeant Haylett, he had been asked to keep an eye on goods awaiting transport to Holkham, that were stored on Freeman Street in Wells and to arrange for police to be on duty at an unspecified event.  After his appointment as an estate employee in 1898, he appears to have been responsible for such matters as closure of the park gates on special occasions; prosecuting poachers and cautioning men for shooting in the wrong area; serving notices to quit on cottage tenants and collecting  minor payments due to the estate.

His police background must have been useful.  On one occasion, in February 1913, when a car had run into one of the park gates at night, the agent sent a note to Henry the next morning:
         "Please go at once & see what evidence you can get from the ground & make enquiries as to what cars were in Wells last evening.  Try the Fleece as there were several there".

Fleece Inn, Wells Next the Sea

Henry lived at Cuckoo Lodge, rent free for the last few years, until 1912, when he moved to another estate house in Wells, until June 1917.  Holkham Hall found what is thought to be their last letter to him in Wells in 1924, he had continued to work for the estate until his death later that year.

On 13 June, the Holkham agent, Arthur Tower, wrote to Robert Haylett (Henry's son), in Norwich:
            " I am very sorry indeed to hear that your father has passed away and you have my sincere sympathy in your bereavement.  Your father served this estate for many years in a most satisfactory manner and we shall all feel his loss in many ways."

Cuckoo Lodge was probably built in the 1860s, for its name appears in the 1871 census for Wells.  It still stands in an isolated position just outside the south-east corner of Holkham Park.

With thanks to the Holkham Hall archive
- Copy out-letter books 1889 et seq
- Cottage Rental books 1889 et seq
- Estate Accounts A/280 1898
- Cash Book 1898-99

This photograph shows Henry's sons: Charles, William, Robert with Henry
and Robert's wife Lily, Aunt Lil, daughter Jane and her mother Elizabeth
It is most likely this was taken just after 1911

What an interesting insight into the Police and this particular family!