2021 article for SFHS

The Joys of Genealogical Research

The richness of newspaper articles and other printed articles

illustrated by my MEAD ancestors in the WHEATSHEAF INN, 38 North Street, Great Dunmow

In the 1911 census my grandfather, William G Turner, aged 22, a carpenter, born and bred in Lindsell & Stebbing, was residing at the Wheatsheaf Inn. he was one of only 4 'visitors' there, alongside the 2 younger Mead daughters of the licensee . Also in 1911 William's parents and his 2 siblings left Stebbing for Australia: he remained in England as his fiancee, Edith Mead, would not leave her widowed mother


edith .wedd-invite . wil-george

A year later, in 1912, he married Edith Mead

After that any links with Stebbing seemed to die until their granddaughter, Chris, started researching the family history in 2008


I knew my Mead forebears had run the Wheatsheaf pub,38 North Street, Great Dunmow, during WW1 and until the late 1920s: my mother, Joan Turner, had been born there and spent idyllic holidays there with her beloved gran. But that was the sum of my knowledge


To find out more I looked at the censuses swhich showed me that gggrandfather Thomas Mead, 1821, had risen from being a servant at Easton Hall, Great Easton, to running the Wheatsheaf between 1860 and his death in 1887. Subsequently, ggrandfather Walter Mead, 1862, had taken over the license till his death in 1908, and then his widow became the licensee. So, could newspapers or books tell me anything more? The Findmypast website has a Newspaper Archive, and Essex papers are well covered in this.

I learnt that 1. my great aunt, Florence Mead 1888, had fallen as a 3 year old 15 feet from a Wheatsheaf window onto the pavement below, merely suffering a 'contusion'.

topp . .

2. And that Walter and his wife cooked for many Dunmow dinners. .


3. And that someone leaked 144 gallons of his beer

. lostbeer

Another source would be the British Newspaper Archives online, for which a subscription is needed. And. of course, the ERO - when open - is a real teasure trove with Essex newspapers, Church rate books, wills, etc .

Perhaps my best find was this 1863 Entry in the Great Dunmow National school book ( found in the Dorothy Dowsett book in Great Dunmow Library): it describes how my great great grandmother , Elizabeth Mead/ nee Saville, wrote the headmaster a threatening letter re her boys- 4 of them- having to sweep the school,

In this year there would have been 4 Mead boys in the school, aged 7-13. What a formidable lady Elizabeth Mead was!

My greatgrandfather, Walter Mead, 1862, would be one of the small boys in the 1870 school photo & his brother Alfred,1866, likely there too.

. school .

When I started my Turner and Mead research I possessed not a single male Mead photo. But I discovered, on Genes Reunited, the descendants of Walter's youngest brother, Benjamin Mead, 1873. He had died in Wales in 1952, living with a daughter: when she, in turn, died in 1997, a suitcase was discovered under his bed, with its treasure of old photos and letters from Dunmow. My favourite one of these was this one of, in my sister's words, " the six thugs" :

Walter with his 4 surviving brothers & a brother in law, in 1893


My great grandfather, Walter Mead, outside the Wheatsheaf Inn in 1887 , flanked by brothers Abner & Benjamin

Then I unearthed a funeral card in Canada for Walter's 1908 death : it had been there since 1920. in the possession of that great aunt, Florence, who had fallen out of the Wheatsheaf window in 1891. My grandmother had lost touch with her sister in 1939: in 2011 Florence's granddaughter found her father mentioned on my website, leading to another great bundle of photos and possessions.


After Walter's death his widow continued to run and, eventually, just live in the house at 38 North Street until her death in 1928. Its owner, a Colonel Tom Gibbons, likely sold it around then. I have never researched the history of buildings: maybe one of your members could write an article on that ?


The Wheatsheaf was remodelled in 1901- this date to be seen high up on one side

Such are the joys of genealogical research.

Relevant websites :





Lyons Index