John Crook, a retired inn-keeper, and his wife Grace Sophie Crook were both from Lancashire and spent almost all their lives there, inexplicably moving to London in their old age. John was born in Blackburn in 1827 the son of a grocer. His early working life was spent in the cotton mills. At the time of the 1851 census when he was 24 he was still living with his parents in Salford Street but was already married to Grace. His occupation was described as overlooker of power looms. Grace was a power loom operator; perhaps they met at work? George ,their first child, was born the following year but died at the age of 18 months. The couple did not have another child until 1860 when their daughter Sarah Theresa was born. By 1862 John was the license holder at the Bowling Green Inn in Eanam, Blackburn. He was prosecuted in July that year for selling drink during church hours; there were nine men in his house drinking at 11.50am on a Sunday morning. He admitted the offence, telling the magistrate the men were the brewer’s carters who had stabled their horses at the Inn whilst alterations were being carried out at the brewery. He was fined 10 shillings. The Bowling Green Inn must have been a profitable concern because by the 1881 census John Crook was living at 2 Maple Street in Blackburn and at the age of 54 describing himself as a retired inn keeper. The 22 year old Sarah was a pupil (i.e. student) teacher. The current 2 Maple Street is a very modest terraced house that looks like it might well have been standing in the 1880’s. There is a more substantial property across the street and perhaps the houses have been re-numbered in the last 130 years? There is no reason to think that John Crook and his family ever lived in straitened circumstances At some point in the late 1890’s they left Blackburn to come to London, buying a semi detached villa at 32 Clifton Hill, St John’s Wood, NW8, a property that is currently worth over £4 million and even at the tail end of the 19th Century would have been a substantial and expensive middle class address. John Crook died in 1902; Grace his widow lived on in the house until her own death in 1914.
|John Crook's one brush with the law - selling drink during church hours - the Blackburn Standard 09.07.1862|