The Family of James Panton, Town Crier(1805-1849)

This has been updated to include the outcome of the trial of Martin Luther Parkes, husband of Rebecca Frances Panton.

As is often the case with genealogical research, the task of researching John Panton born 1804 in Lincoln, has taken many twists and turns.My newspaper archive research, revealed early on that there was a James Panton, who was town crier(He was also a shoemaker by trade) in the Bail. Initially I had believed that John’s father James Panton(1786-1857) had been the town crier. However further research has proved to my satisfaction that John’s brother James Panton, was the town crier. James Panton the town crier, is described as having expired suddenly, having been cleaning out his pig sty. He had complained of feeling unwell and had died lying next to his wife in bed, aged only forty four.The death of James Panton, crier of the Bail would have made him born in 1805(from the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 16th November, 1849.)

As he was born  in 1805, this indicated that he was the brother of John Panton born 1804. Today I have been researching James Panton(1805-1849)from Lincoln, son of James Panton(1786-1857) and his family.

Investigating each of his children in turn  has proven particularly fruitful and yielded yet another interesting court case. Rebecca Frances Panton(1843-1915), daughter of James Panton, the town crier had an eventful life.By 1881 Rebecca Frances Panton(referred to as Fanny) who is the second youngest daughter of James Panton, town crier, is living with her sister Sarah Panton and has clearly married somebody with the surname of Parks. Further research disclosed that Rebecca Frances(Fanny) Panton had married a young man, named Martin Luther Parks. This unusual name aroused my curiosity. A quick search of the newspaper archives revealed that Martin Luther Parks had been put on trial in September 1867, for having abandoned his wife and two children.Documents were produced to prove the marriage, however Martin Luther Parks had claimed he did not believe the marriage was valid, as he had been underage and had not had the permission of his parents. As revealed by later investigation, Martin Luther Parks’ father was a Methodist Minister called Robert Parks. He (Martin Luther Parks) was remanded in custody, as bail had not been paid. Later it was reported in The Nottingham and Stamford Mercury (September 13th, 1862) that the case had been discharged as he (Martin Luther Parks) had paid all expenses due and had undertaken to, “take his family off the books of the union”.

 Martin Luther Parks can be found in California in 1896, working as an engineer. Records note that he comes from England. 

By 1881 Rebecca Frances Panton and her children are living with her sister, Sarah Panton. Ten years later in 1891 Rebecca Frances Panton is described as the head of the household-by this time she has four children Robert, Eleanor(sadly Eleanor died in 1893, aged only eleven),  Florence and Lucy and her sister Sarah is now living with her. Unsure how she has managed to acquire two more children, although all the children bear the surname Parks. I note that Rebecca has retained the surname Parks.

Rebecca made straw bonnets and is living at 33 Bailgate according to the 1892 Kelly’s Directory.

Rebecca lived until she was ninety years old, despite the hardships she must have endured as a lone parent, dying and being buried in Lincoln in 1915.



Follow the pub

Sometimes in genealogy and also often in any form of detective work, it is necessary to go back to the drawing board. Today I found the need to do this myself, asking

What do I actually know for certain?

Well as it transpired, very little. I had built assumptions upon assumptions. Today I checked out John Panton’s address in the 1841 census once again. To my surprise, whilst surrounded by addresses in the Bailgate, he is actually listed as living in Angel yard 3.

My initial lofty ideals of them living in the grounds of a church, Were quickly discounted. Research seemed to indicate that whilst at a particular point in history, the area may have had ecclesiastical significance, the area was in fact occupied in 1841 by a pub. John Panton and family,( along with four other families) appear at that point in time to have lived in the grounds of an inn.

It can be interesting sometimes, to not merely focus on one’s own particular ancestor. To try to understand this area a little better, I investigated other adjacent households from the census, looking for their professions in particular.I made an amazing discovery. The innkeeper is listed as a woman, Charlotte Cherry.

I am now setting out to investigate Charlotte Cherry using the information I have been able to glean from the census. Having googled various combinations of “Charlotte Cherry” and Lincoln, I have finally found a reference to a Charlotte Cherry who ran the White Hart Inn in Lincoln in 1842.

I know detectives commonly use the phrase “follow the money”.

It seems to me that sometimes (when it comes to British family history at least) perhaps an appropriate mantra might be

“Follow the pub”.

Today’s search has indeed been fruitful. I have discovered James Panton(likely father of John) was living in the Angel Yards, Lincoln in 1809 and is described as a tenant. Up until this point I had no address for James Panton, prior to 1841. I am also now researching the papers to investigate any possible connections with his neighbours.

Also useful the names of other tenants living in the Angel Yards are given as:

Jos Brown

George Hanson

 Mary Johnson

Simon Mulgrave.

Edward Scrivener was seeking a young man to work in his grocers, candle house in 1841(Stamford Mercury,1841). It may well be that it was John Panton, who responded to that advertisement. Unfortunately things do not appear to have ended well for either John Panton or Edward Scrivener.

In 1857, Edward Scrivener’s shop was at 197 High Street, Lincoln and is described as:

grocer, tea dealer, candle manufacturer, hop merchant, cheese & bacon factor & general provision merchant,



The Tallow Chandler

Having spent some time building up a structure, it now seems time to add some texture using some of my personal research experience. I have deliberately picked somebody I have not studied for sometime, so I too will be learning as I go along.

My intention is to introduce my research into a character called John Panton. As usual I began with the minimum of facts. He was born in 1805 in Lincoln and had a daughter called Charlotte Panton. From her wedding information, (I took the rare step for me of obtaining her marriage certificate). I soon learned her father John Panton had been a tallow chandler.

Perhaps you are more knowledgeable than me, but I first needed to discover a little more about his trade, never having heard of it before. I was amazed to discover that candles had not always been made of wax but that some had been made of a somewhat cheaper substance called tallow.  Having obtained his year of birth from the 1841 census, I had learned he had once lived at a rather interesting address in a building which is still standing today. I also ascertained the identity of his father. I became very intrigued and confused by his Bail Gate addresses  as there had been other Pantons, also in Bail Gate.

However the most informative and  unique fact I had about John Panton, was that he was employed as a tallow chandler. Having ascertained this was about candles, I set out to follow this line of research in The British Newspaper Archives. I had already discovered this little gem readily available online.

BROG/1/4/3/6/1 Depositions and recognizance
Prosecutor: Edward Scrivener of the High Street,
23 Mar 1846
grocer and tallow chandler.
Witness: William Tuxford, police constable.
Accused: John Panton, labourer, worked in
Scrivener’s candle house.
Crime: stealing ¾ lb of soap and ½ lb of candles in
the parish of St Benedict, Lincoln.

Information available online Here

My initial interest was Scrivener’s Candle House itself. I conducted some research to learn a little about the proprietor of this establishment. I look for patterns. I was interested to discover exactly what kind of employer he was.

This is where delving into the British National  Newspaper Archives began to produce very rich fruit indeed.

The Lincolnshire Chronicle, and Northampton, Rutland and Nottingham advertiser of March 26th, 1846 gave a detailed account of events. More to follow..

I have found for the first time  today a date for his death, which seems to fit with the date of his birth-a document for a John Panton, which suggests he was born around 1803 and died in 1885.