Herbert John Finn

Author: Ros Clow
Date published: 01/04/2015

Herbert John Finn

Herbert was born in 1843 in Lydd, Kent. He moved to Ipswich to train as a brewer and maltster at the Ipswich Steam Brewery under Charles Cullingham. In 1872 he married Elizabeth Cullinham and they went on to have three children: Cordelia, Marion and Dudley. They lived at 22, Lower Brook Street. Charles made him a partner in the Brewery.

During this period he was active in the church being a churchwarden and carrying out other civic duties. Then tragedy struck. Elizabeth died aged only 38 in 1882. Her death certificate states that death was caused by jaundice, hepatitis and Weil’s disease.

It was common in those days for unmarried sisters to move in and help when a widower was left with children to care for. Three of Elizabeth’s sisters are listed in the census as governesses. However it was against the law for a widower to marry his dead wife’s sister (Marriage Act 1835). It was also against Canon Law.

In 1888 Charles Cunningham decided to retire and sell the Ipswich Steam Brewery in its entirety. Two of his sons were also partners. The brewery and all its tied houses and cottages were sold to the Hon Ranulph Tollemarche for the fantastic sum of £65,800. Lord Tollemache had sold two portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds to raise the funds for this venture. The brewery later became well known as Tolly Cobbold brewery.

Herbert Finn and his children moved back to his origins, Lydd in Kent. In 1889 he married one of Elizabeth’s sisters, Margaret Maria at Lambeth, far from those who knew them. In 1891 they are living as a family as lodgers to Robert and Ellen Jones in Lydd.

In 1893 Herbert bought The Phoenix Brewery in Newbury. The family moved into 50, Bartholomew Street, Phoenix House and were still living there when Margaret died aged 43. The angel was placed there in her memory. As soon as he took over the brewery Herbert made a lot of changes. He converted the beer-house into offices and the malt-house into a store for grain and bitter. He moved the malting process to Kings Road.

He was a very successful brewer and ran the business until his death in 1922. He married again in1907, a local woman, Edith Joan Smith, 23 years younger than him. She was present at his funeral. His name was added to the angel memorial he had erected to his second wife Margaret Maria.




Sources:censuses, death certificates, Newbury Weekly News, Ipswich Journal, Auckland Star.

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