John Hone: From poverty to patronage in Adderbury

John Hone was born in Adderbury in 1844 and lived with his parents, William and Mary Ann, plus five siblings in Parsons Street. William, his father, was a plush weaver, a skilled occupation. Nevertheless, their family circumstances were very humble. It is possible that John might have had some education at the Boys Grammar School on The Green.

By 1856 John, at just 12 years of age, was working as a carrier, a job usually performed by men. John started the hard way by carrying a basket and walking to Banbury to purchase goods for local residents that they were unable to buy in the village. Long before the advent of the railway and omnibuses (as they were known) the only way an ordinary villager could obtain goods from the outside world was via a village carrier. They took surplus produce to be sold in town, even livestock, collected items of clothing, material and bits and pieces for sewing and picked up prescriptions, charging a small fee for their efforts.

Carriers usually had a horse and cart or a trap that could transport someone who might have a hospital appointment. They would be busiest on market days. Banbury had two markets– on a Thursday and a Saturday. The Market Place and Horsefair was where the carriers usually congregated – there is a report of one market day in the mid-1800s when there were 300 carriers’ carts parked in Banbury. They brought a great deal of business to the town. Adderbury had at least two or three carriers operating at any one time.

Hone’s business prospered such that he was able to purchase a donkey to carry him and a pannier to Market, then later a cart to go with the donkey. Eventually, he was able to sport a horse and cart to do his business. By about 1880 when he was in his mid-thirties, he married and raised two children, Elizabeth and Horace. By 1891 the Hones had moved to West Adderbury, to live at The Leys just off Tanners Lane (or White Hart Lane as it would have been known as then). Hone was working as a butcher at that point and doing well enough for Elizabeth to have acquired an education to be a school teacher.

John Hone

The Hones were Wesleyan Methodists and their little chapel at the bottom of Chapel Lane was only able to house 22 congregants. At that time the congregation was growing rapidly so in October 1882 the elders made the decision to build a new and much larger building, a church. Hone by then was able to purchase for £235 the group of five cottages that were sited on the corner of the High Street and Chapel Lane. He had them demolished then he offered the site to the Methodists to build their new church on. Ten years later, on 25th October 1892, the foundation stones were laid. Towards the end of that day the chairman read out the financial statement and said that they had already collected £624.3s.3d towards the £800 needed; by the time the church was built all £800 had been collected. At the opening of the new church on 2nd May, 1893 the chairman remarked that it was rare thing for a church to be fully paid for by the time it was built. To round off that day, the chairman and Hone gave sufficient money to buy a new harmonium.

John’s uncle, Henry Hone, who also lived in the village, had been working as a butcher, but changed horses in 1890 to take over, with his wife Sarah Ann, the running of the Red Lion on The Green. This they did for four years. It is possible that John took over the butchery business for this period. In the 1901 census John Hone is shown as a retired carrier at only 56 years of age. He died in 1915.

The Methodist Church’s schoolroom has been the home to Adderbury History Association for nearly thirty-six years – I wonder how many of the eagle-eyed members have spotted a row of small, square, white foundation stones set into the front wall, about fifteen inches above ground level They have the following names carved into them: Garrett, Hone, Morris, Edmunds, Mewburn, Rowell, Horace and Elizabeth Hone and Kirby: the names of the benefactors and generous donors.

Nick Allen

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