Portrait of George Borrow

A Skeletal Oulton Timeline (with a bit of Lowestoft)

George Borrow lived in Oulton, and owned an estate there.

Oulton, an ecclesiastical parish a few miles to the west of Lowestoft, is very much associated with George Borrow and his wife MaryThis page is an initial attempt to pull together some of the Borrovian strands for Oulton, and in particular, to help understand the saga of the Oulton Estate.  Since Lowestoft was the nearest town to Oulton, some events from there have been included for context.

Many thanks to Ivan Bunn, the unequalled historian of Oulton, for his talk at the Norwich 2013 George Borrow Celebration where all of the initial information came from.  Ivan has lots more information than is listed here, and his presentations on Oulton are a treat to be savoured.

Just to be clear: Mary Skepper becomes Mary Clarke and then becomes Mary Borrow - they are all the same person.





In 1579 twice the number of people died in Lowestoft, than in 1578 — the plague being rife, with Yarmouth being forbidden to go to Newcastle for coals (least they carry it).

gil, 30


Lowestoft church in such a ruinous state that it costs £200 to repair it.  £100 is borrowed from Mr. Barthlemewe of Yarmouth for this.

gil, 124


Great sickness in Lowestoft, with 280 buried in the parish in the space of five months, 316 for the whole year.

gil, 30


Lowestoft Vicarage burnt down and never rebuilt.  Many ancient records destroyed in fire.

gil, 31


Mr. Say comes to Lowestoft as preacher to the dissenters and stays for 18 years.  He’s their leader, although he never becomes their pastor.

gil, 146–146


Mr. Say (preacher to the dissenters of Lowestoft)

10 Mar. 1644/5

Great fire in Lowestoft with so much destroyed that the damage was estimated at £10,297 2s. 4d.

gil, 31

12 Jun. 1644

Francis Jessope, under a commission from the Earl of Manchester, pillaged Lowestoft church of almost all the brass inscriptions

gil, 125


The town lands belonging to the parish of Lowestoft were let for £71 1s. per annum.

gil, 126

Feb. 1652

The Commission of Sewers make a levy to repair the breaches effected by the ocean in the break-water between Lowestoft and Kirley.  This is in order to prevent high tides flooding into Lake Lothing.

gil, 177–178


Samuel Pacy an eminent Dissenter at Lowestoft, commences a prosecution against two widows (Rose Cullender and Amy Duny) for witchcraft against his daughters.  The trial occurs at Bury, 10th March 1664, where both are convicted and were sentenced to die.  They were executed on 17 March 1664.

gil, 148


Henry Britten was appointed by Thomas London (patron) as schoolmaster to the free grammar-school and is paid £16 a year.  He was forced to resign in 1696 at which time he was owed £200 in back salary.

gil, 135

14 Dec. 1669

Admiral Sir Thomas Allen, a native of Lowestoft, after distinguishing himself in the Dutch wars, is created a baronet.  He purchases the estate of Somerley Hall and moves there from Lowestoft (where he lived in a black flint-stone house on the east side of the High Street).  One of his daughters is buried in St. Margaret’s, Lowestoft.

gil, 154

14 Aug. 1670

Six dwelling houses and two barns destroyed in fire with a loss of over £350.

gil, 31


Mr. Emlyn comes to reside in Lowestoft as minister to the Congregationalists, who previously had never had a minister.  The congregation meets in Blue Anchor lane, opposite Rant’s score.

gil, 143


Congregationalist meeting house at Lowestoft erected, on ground given by James Ward

gil, 143


The old chapel at Lowestoft (a thatched building, used since 1570) was in a ruinous state and demolished, to be replaced by a new chapel at a cost of £347 13s. 7d.

gil, 139

19 Aug. 1702

Rev. Whiston (vicar) resigned Lowestoft, to succeed Sir Isaac Newton in the mathematical professorship, at Cambridge.  He’d been appointed vicar in 1698 with a salary of £120.

gil, 141


It’s still customary for a man to stand with boots on at the shallow channel between Lake Lothing and the sea, to carry across children going from Lowestoft to Pakefield fair

gil, 178

1713 to 1734[?]

Aurora Borealis seen from Lowestoft, Oulton, Beccles etc. for the “first time” and caused panic.  “Women rose out of their beds through fear, others screamed, ships came to anchor fearing an unusual tempest...” (Mr. Say’s diary)

gil, 146

14 Dec. 1717

The sea forces it way over the break-water into Lake Lothing with such power that Mutford Bridge, two miles away, is “carried away”

gil, 178

12 Nov. 1717

About 4 a.m. a fire broke out in Lowestoft in some fish-houses and destroyed them.  Damage estimated at £1000.

gil, 32


The Monk, man-of-war, sixty guns, Captain Clinton, ran upon Corton sands.  This ship had formerly been commanded by Captain Mighells, of Lowestoft, in the fight of Malaga (13th August 1704).

gil, 163


Rev. Tanner, vicar of Lowestoft, organises a subscription to purchase the “Impropriation of Lowestoft” for the benefit of the vicar of Lowestoft.  It is purchased for £1050


Mr. Say (dissenting preacher at Lowestoft) succeeded by Rev. Whittick (who stays until 1733).  It was during Rev. Whittick’s stay that the Lowestoft congregation become a separate body, no longer an appendage to the Yarmouth body.

gil, 146

30 July 1730

Tremendous storm.  At Lowestoft hailstones of 6 to 9 inches broke all the glass windows in the west side of the town, costing £300 to repair.  Most of the corn beaten down and destroyed.

gil, 33

21 Mar. 1733

James Mighells, late Vice-Admiral and Comptroller of the Royal Navy and a Lowestoft native, dies, aged 69.  He is buried in St. Margaret’s church, Lowestoft

gil, 165


The town lands belonging to the parish of Lowestoft were let for between £90 and £100 per annum

gil, 126


Congregationalist minister, Thomas Scott, finding the air at Lowestoft “too severe for the tenderness of his constitution” leaves, and is succeeded by Mr. Alderson who then continued minister until his death in 1760.  As augment his salary Elisha Barlow (eminent merchant of Lowestoft) leaves Alderson his “considerable” estate at Mutford, which he eventually loses in a Chancery suit.

gil, 147

24 Dec. 1739

Violent gale with 16 ships driven ashore and lost between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.  After this a vary severe frost ensued.

gil, 33


A battery of six pieces of cannon, eighteen pounders, was erected at the south end of the town of Lowestoft, for protecting ships in the south roads, and guarding the passage of the Stanford

gil, 169


[*** This entry may be wrong ***] The Hunt family obtain the Ancient Manor of Fastows, which includes what the Oulton Estate.  The Hunt builds Oulton Hall, moving the title of hall from the “Old Hall” which was on the estate.


8 Oct. 1748

Philip Richardson, rector of Pakefield, died, aged 82.  He’d been rector of Pakefield for 51 years.

gil, 45


A battery of two pieces of canon, eighteen pounders, was erected upon the beach at the north end of the town of Lowestoft.  Generally they were useless as the enemy never came close enough to enable them to be used

gil, 169

15 Dec. 1757

22 ships driven ashore between Kessingland and Yarmouth

gil, 33


Rev. John Tanner, who had been vicar of Lowestoft for at least 40 years, dies.

gil, 143


Another bridge built a Mutford bridge

gil, 178


Rev. J. Arrow becomes vicar of Lowestoft, until his death on 22 June 1789, aged 55.  He’s buried in St. Margaret’s church, Lowestoft.

gil, 143

11/19 Dec. 1770

(Accounts differ on date).  Terrible storm at Lowestoft.  Between 25–30 ships lost, around 200 men drowned.

gil, 33


Rev. John Wesley introduces Methodism to Lowestoft.

gil, 150


The herring fishery at Lowestoft is in a declining state, and plans are made to start fishing off the coast of Scotland.  This led to Scotland, Liverpool and Isle of Man all trying to set up their own herring industries: the following year the market was flooded with herrings, and Lowestoft merchants failed to sell (they also had to cut prices).  However, the other herrings proving not so good as Lowestoft herrings, the Scotland, Liverpool etc. industries vanished.

gil, 175


An account taken in this year finds only 35 Independent and Congregationlist dissenting families in Lowestoft

gil, 147

19 Nov. 1776

Methodist meeting house on the north side of Frary lane, Lowestoft, was opened by Rev. John Wesley, who went to Lowestoft on purpose for the ceremony

gil, 150


War with Spain and France restricts the Lowestoft herring trade and causes hardship in the area

gil, 176


‘The Armed Neutrality’ signed but Lowestoft merchants not informed in time to sell their herrings using its protection.  Instead they sold to London fishmongers at great loss

gil, 176


War with Holland breaking out, the East Suffolk Militia under Col. Goat are quartered at Lowestoft.

gil, 169

May 1781

The East Suffolk Militia depart Lowestoft to be replaced by the 19th Regiment of light horse who then departed in October, and were replaced in turn by two companies of the East Suffolk Militia, commanded by Captain Delane, who stayed until May 1782.

gil, 169–170

13 Aug. 1781

Lowestoft was alarmed with the appearance of a fleet of large men of war in the offing, steering a direct course for Lowestoft, supposing them to be Dutch ships, but on a nearer approach they were found to be Admiral Parker’s fleet returning from a sharp engagement with a Dutch squadron

gil, 170

4 Sep. 1781

A waggon loaded with powder arrives in Lowestoft in order to check that the four cannons in the old fort are still working.  One cannot explodes and a part is thrown 175 yards.

gil, 170

11 Oct. 1781

The guns in the old fort at Lowestoft were tested.  Three of them exploded.

gil, 170


Fearing an attack on the coast Lowestoft was patrolled by soldiers every four hours each night.

gil, 171

7 Jan. 1782

A new fort to the south of Lowestoft is started with about 300 employed on the work.  It’s finished on 21 December 1782

gil, 170

13 Mar. 1782

Captain Fisher, of the engineers, came to Lowestoft, and afterwards went to East Heath, near Mutford Bridge, and marked out the ground for an encampment

gil, 171

4 Apr. 1782

Works starts on a new fort about 100 yards north of Lowestoft lighthouse.

gil, 171

24 June 1782

Lord Townshend accompanied by his aide-de-camps, went to Oulton, and surveyed the dyke there, in order to discover whether that part of the river was fordable by the enemy in case of descent

gil, 171

18 July 1782

At 10 p.m. General Tryon caused skyrockets to be let off at the several places of Caister, Gorleston Heights, Lowestoft East Battery, Pakefield, and Covehithe in order to see if this could be an early warning system.  The experiment was a success, and showed the alarm could travel from Caistor to Covehithe in two minutes.  The head-quarters at this time was at Sumerly Hall.  Such experiments continued for a few months.

gil, 171

22 July 1782

20th regiment of Light Dragoons, commanded by General Philipson, encamped on East Heath, at the bottom of Fidlers’ hill, near Kirkley bridge

gil, 171

12 Aug. 1782

Nine guns fired at the south fort in Lowestoft, in honour of the Prince of Wales’ birthday

gil, 171

20 Jan. 1783

General peace concluded and cannons at the newly erected eastern fort in Lowestoft are fired to celebrate

gil, 171

7 Apr. 1788

Lord Amherst, accompanied by his brother, came to Lowestoft and examined the forts in consequence of the survey they were making by order of the Government, of the state of all the fortifications on the coast

gil, 169

30 July 1780

At 1 a.m. a fire breaking out in the East Mill at Lowestoft was spread by a strong wind to another mill to the west of it.  Both were totally destroyed

gil, 32

6 Aug. 1784

John Adams, the first America Ambassador to England, landed at Lowestoft.

gil, 36

8 Nov. 1787

The body of John Barker (died 1st Nov 1787), a native of Lowestoft, arrives and lies in state in the Queen’s Head Inn, and is buried with great pomp in St. Margaret’s church the following day.  He was one of the elder brethren of the Trinity House, a governor of the London Assurance, vice-president of the Magdalen house, and one of the directors of Greenwich Hospital.  Amongst other bequests he left £200 for the poor of Lowestoft (in coals) immediately after his death.

gil, 131


Rev. John Arrow, vicar of Lowestoft, purchases the discharge from the 3s. 4d. and 8d. annual acquittance (for one acre of land belonging to the vicar) from the Government, at a cost of £5

gil, 119

21 Mar. 1788

Under the direction of the will of John Wilde, the minister and churchwardens of Lowestoft begin to erect a schoolroom (on the bottom of the hill to the east side of High Street)

gil, 132

June 1789

Rev. John Arrow, vicar of Lowestoft dies.  His house is purchased for £550 for a future residence of Lowestoft vicars.

gil, 131

2 Feb. 1791

Remarkably high tide bursts into Lake Lothing and carries away Mutford Bridge (this one was built 1760).  Weeks later, when the water recedes, fish are discovered in the fields and hedges

gil, 178


John Leigh Hunt dies and his estates are to be sold in 12 lots.  One of the lots is the Oulton Estate.


29 May 1810

Oulton Estate come onto the market.


4 April 1811

Edmund Skepper and his wife Ann, formerly of Beccles, purchase the Oulton Estate for £14,979.  To do this they take out a mortgage £5,000 from Elizabeth Purdy, widow of Salthouse, Norfolk (on this day).


12 April 1811

Edmund Skepper takes out a further £4,000 mortgage from Daniel *** This and the £5000 loan are to pay annual interest of around 4% on the capital borrowed (about £360) until the money is paid back.



Edmund Skepper sells his house in Lowestoft for £800 and he and Ann, together with the children Mary [later Mary Borrow] and son Breame move into Oulton Hall.  Edmund farms barley, builds a malthouse (still standing), and has miscellaneous income from the Estate.



Rev. Francis Cunningham becomes Rector of Pakefield, where he stays for 16 years.


Mr. Cubitt, county engineer, employed to make a survey “with a view of ascertaining whether or not it was practicable to open a communication with the sea at Lowestoft”.  I.e. to allow Norwich navigation to by-pass Yarmouth.  The report isn’t published until 1821

gil, 178

26*** July 1817

Mary Skepper marries Henry Clarke, a “dashing” lieutenant of the Royal Navy

Knapp i. 150

21 March 1818

Henry Clarke dies and is buried in St. Michael’s churchyard, Oulton.  Mary is pregnant with their child at this time.


14 May 1818

Mary Clarke gives birth to Henrietta Mary Clarke, Henry’s posthumous child.  She’s named Henrietta after the father, and Mary after the mother.


17 May 1818

Rev. J. G. Spurgeon, rector of Oulton, baptises Henrietta

Knapp i. 150


Mr. Cubitt publishes report recommending making a navigation from the sea to Norwich via Lowestoft, but costing it at £87,000.  Yarmouth fiercely opposes this (would mean loss of the Norwich trade there)

gil, 178


During a fever epidemic (presumably at Pakefield) Rev. Francis Cunningham risks his own life by “personal attendance on the sufferers.”



Breame Skepper marries Eleanor, the eldest child of Mr. John Bateman of Norwich.  They had a family of six children.

Knapp i. 151

28 May 1827

The Bill to make a new cut etc. to enable Norwich navigation to reach the sea via Lake Lothing and Lowestoft receives Royal Assent, and the works start later that year.  It takes over 6 years to complete.

gil, 178


Rev. Francis Cunningham with his wife Richenda move from Pakefield to Lowestoft, as he comes vicar of Lowestoft, where he’ll be vicar for the next 33 years


Rev. Francis Cunningham purchases part of a garden and right of way, costing £77 7s. 3d. and presents it to the vicarage.  He also repairs the vicarage

gil, 177

3 Jun 1831

The Ruby, a yacht of 51 tons burden, drawing 9 feet water, belonging to Edmund Gilingwater, enters Lake Lothing from the sea (i.e. first to use new channel).  She’s carrying the Chairman and Directors of the navigation company.  When the sea salt water first entered Lake Lothing “an immense quantity of yeast-like scum rose to the surface.”  Lothing fish are flushed into the sea and picked up on the breach, and a 20 lb. pike it caught at Mutford with a herring in its stomach.

gil, 178

12 Jan 1832

Town meeting held at Lowestoft resolves to build a new chapel (St. Margaret’s being some way off).  This will become St. Peters.  It was to accommodate 1,209 persons.  Those subscribing £25 are entitled to one sitting for every £5 subscribed.  Cost estimated at £2,500.  £790 immediately subscribed (i.e. that day), Rev. Francis Cunningham donates £100, and a further £30 is donated

gil, 180

16 Feb. 1832

Site for new Lowestoft chapel (St. Peters) determined, application for aid put to Incorporated Society, who shortly afterwards granted £600.

gil, 180

24 May 1832

Rev. Francis Cunningham (with others) has now raised almost £2,500 towards building the new Lowestoft chapel (St. Peters).

gil, 180–181

30 July 1832

Contract with John Bunn, of Norwich, to build new Lowestoft chapel (St. Peters) for £2,626 agreed and signed.

gil, 181

6 Aug 1832

Rev. Francis Cunningham lays first stone of St. Peters chapel Lowestoft.  240 children present from Sunday and endowed schools, and a vast concourse of inhabitants and visitors

gil, 181

22 Oct. 1832

George Borrow writes to Mary Clarke from St. Giles’ (Norwich): he encloses a translation of Bluebeard from the Turkish which he’s made for her

shorter, p. 93

Dec. 1832

George Borrow goes to Oulton, meets Rev. Francis Cunningham


15 Aug. 1833

Dr. Charles Sumner, Lord Bishop of Winchester, consecrates St. Peters, Lowestoft, Rev. Francis Cunningham reading the prayers and the Bishop preaching from Psalm 122, v. 7.  The collection raised £56 13s. 6d.

gil, 181

25 Aug. 1833

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper first administered at St. Peters, Lowestoft: 140 people partake.

gil, 181

30 Sep. 1833

The Norwich to Lowestoft navigation (“new cut”) completed.

gil, 178

25 June 1835

Ipswich Election for which John Pilgrim is eventually convicted of bribery and sentenced to imprisonment in Newgate.  John Pilgrim of the Norwich law firm [George] Jay and Pilgrim figures heavily in the Oulton story.


15th Sept. 1835

Ann Skepper (wife of Edmund, mother of Mary Clarke), dies, aged 62.


6 Oct. 1835

Edmund Skepper makes his [complex] will: John Jacob Clarke of Swaffham, Norfolk [Edmund’s brother], and his son William Bream Clarke of Southacre [Edmund’s nephew] are trustees of the estate.  Mary and Breame are executrix and tenants for life - their agreement is required for the sale of the estate.  John Pilgrim is counsel to the executrix.

ib, knapp

9 Oct. 1835

George Borrow is present (and speaks) at a Bible Society meeting in Oulton.

5 Feb. 1836

Edmund Skepper dies.

Knapp i. 314

10 Nov. 1836

Mary Clarke purchases the mortgage owed to Robert Hartt by the trustees for £4,000 (left by her father, Edmund).  She’s now one of the mortgagees of the estate.  She therefore receives the interest payments


22 May 1837

Breame Skepper dies of typhus aged 42, leaving his wife, Eleanor and six children.  He had got into arrears and had been looking to sell the Oulton estate: it had been valued at £13,080


17th Sept. 1837

John Jacob Clarke of Swaffham (one of the trustees) enters into an agreement to sell Oulton Estate for £11,000.


23 Sep 1837

Mary Skepper, Eleanor Skepper, the trustees etc. meet at the Norfolk Hotel, St. Giles’, Norwich and agree to sell the estate, by private contract to Joseph Cator Webb of Hempnall, Norfolk for £11,000.  This was never carried into effect.  Knapp claims the delay was intended to increase the price.

Knapp i. 316–7

? 1837

Oulton Estate is auctioned at the Queen’s Head [***Lowestoft***?] and bidding reaches £13,800.  The trustees then withdraw the estate from sale.


21 Sept. 1837

Eleanor Skepper (widow of Breame) finds out about the £11,000 sale agreement and goes to George Jay and John Pilgrim complaining the estate is being sold too cheaply.  Her wealthy father provides lawyers, and it looks as if John Pilgrim tears up the agreement with Joseph Cator Webb, who responds by sueing for breach of contract


5 Apr. 1838

John Pilgrim loans Mary Clarke £5,100 11s. (the principal sum and interest outstanding to Hannah and Mary Purdy by J. J. Clarke and W. B. Clarke as Trustees under the terms of her father’s will), Mary pays off the Purdy’s and takes on the mortgage herself, assigning the same to John Pilgrim


27 Apr 1839

George Borrow, currently in Seville, Spain, writes to his mother inviting Mary Clarke and Henrietta to come and stay.

June 1839

Mary Clarke and Henrietta sail on the Royal Tar for Cadiz en-route to stay with George Borrow in Seville.  They arrive in Cadiz on 16 June 1839.

3 April 1840

George Borrow, Mary Clarke, Henrietta, George’s young servant Hayim Ben Attar and Sidi Habismilk (Borrow’s famous arab steed) leave Gibralta on Peninsular Steam Navigation Company’s Packet Royal Adelaide

16 April 1840

Royal Adelaide arrives in London, George Borrow, Mary etc. disembark.

23 April 1840

Mary Clarke and George Borrow married in London.  Henrietta and John Pilgrim are witnesses.


May 1840

George and Mary Borrow arrive at Oulton on the stage coach.  They are put down at the Wherry Inn, Mutford Bridge, and then take a circuitous journey around the north of the Oulton estate (prob. in a landau hired from the Wherry Inn), to Oulton cottage which is to be their new home.

Hayim Ben Attir, George Borrow’s young servant, is reputed to sleep in a pokey room in the summer house.


March 1841

The 1841 census: everyone in the Oulton Cottage has knocked three years off their age!



Lowestoft harbour and navigation purchased from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners by Messrs. Cleveland, Everitt, Lincoln, Hickling, and Roe, of Lowestoft.  They spend considerable sums in repairs

gil, 179

April 1842

George Borrow and the Rector of Oulton (Rev. Edwin Proctor Denniss) fall out over Borrow’s dog which has “a very quarrelsome and savage disposition”.  Knapp contains letters of remonstration.

Knapp ii. 40–41

10 Dec. 1842

George Borrow’s “Bible in Spain” published - he becomes an overnight sensation.

25 Dec. 1842

Jasper Petulengro and his family visit George Borrow at Oulton.  Borrow lets them stay on the estate (prob. in the Pasture).



The Visiting Committee for the British School at Lowestoft lists George Borrow as one of its members.


27 Apr 1843

George Borrow sets off a tour of the east - he’s gone from Oulton for seven months


June 1843

George Borrow starts writing Lavengro at Oulton cottage.


July 1843

Hayim Ben Attar, George Borrow’s young servant, returns home


24–27 Jan 1844

Richard Ford stays with Borrow at Oulton

Sept. 1844

Samuel Morton Peto purchases the semi-derelict Somerleyton estate for £99,483 5s. 3d. (it’s about 3 miles North-East of Borrow’s estate at Oulton).  The Somerleyton estate was 2,868 acres and included villages.

smp 62+63

End of Sep. 1844

Samuel Morton Peto calls a meeting in (Lowestoft?) Town Hall to present his plans for the Reedham to Lowestoft Railway.  The proposed railway (which presumably Peto has already had surveyed) is to go in a cutting through the middle of the Oulton Estate.


Oct. 1844

Samuel Morton Peto purchases the Norwich & Lowestoft Navigation (company) which had built a then-derelict waterway from Norwich to Lowestoft, to bypass Yarmouth.  The waterway ran near the village of Somerleyton.

smp 62

16 Nov 1844

George Borrow returns to Oulton cottage from his seven month tour of Eastern Europe


30 Nov 1844

The plans for the Lowestoft Reedham railway are submitted the Parliament.


30 June 1845

The plans for the Lowestoft Reedham railway are passed - it’s going right through the Oulton Estate.  The railway pays £860 for the land they take, the cutting is 43 feet deep at its deepest point, and it’s claimed the railway makes more than £860 selling the grit excavated.


Spring 1846

Work starts on the Lowestoft Reedham railway

gil, 179

13 Aug 1846

Act to enable the sale etc. of certain charity and trust estates at and near Lowestoft to the Lowestoft Railway and Harbour Company receives Royal Assent

gil, 179

1846 Sept.

Settlement of the Oulton Hall Estate

Knapp ii. 40


Borrow appears as the chairman of the Oulton Vestry and his name appears (though not as chair) on the next four meetings.  Oulton Vestry was a self-electing body and it’s not known how Borrow got his position.


6 Jan. to 17 March 1847***

George Borrow seeks to become a Magistrate, but is unsuccessful.


27 May 1847

The Lowestoft Reedham railway opens for goods traffic.  Goods traffic was the major plan, with the harbour at Lowestoft being improved with the idea of capturing the Yarmouth/Norwich trade, which was subject to heavy Yarmouth tolls


27? July 1847

The Lowestoft Reedham railway opens for passenger traffic


Thomas Crowe, printer, High Street, Lowestoft, publishes his New Hand-book to Lowestoft and its Environs.


21 March 1849

George Borrow purchased the Oulton Hall Estate from the trustees for £10,850 0s. 0d.  Because Mary holds the mortgages, they are taken into account, so he only has to pay £1,749 9s. 0d.


22 March 1849

George Borrow mortgages the estate to Timothy Steward & Frederick Brown for £5,500.


5 Oct. 1849

Ann Borrow (George Borrow’s aged mother) moves from Willow Lane, Norwich and lives at Oulton Hall.  George and Mary employ a nurse (Pheobe Adams) to look after her


13 July 1850

George Borrow borrows £1,300 from Henrietta Clarke (which she’d inherited from her grandfather).  The interest is 4% per annum. and this gives Henrietta a guaranteed income.


March 1851

1851 census.  Ann Borrow, who is nearing 80, records her age as 40!  George, Mary and Henrietta are now living in lodgings (169 King Street, Yarmouth) where they stay until the start of the Welsh tour (27 July 1854)


14 Jan 1854

Mary Borrow pays farmer Thomas Goff £1 12s. for two months’ keep of a horse (to 10th January 1854).  It’s likely this is for Borrow’s famous Arab steed, Sidi Habishmilk.

ib from mbab

17 Mar. 1854

Mary Borrow writes a cheque of £5 for a horse keep bill

ib from mbab

21 Mar. 1854

Mary Borrow pays Thomas Goff £4 17s. for “horse and tax.”  It might be that as well as a farmer, Goff was a rent collector.

ib from mbab

6 June 1854

Mary Borrow writes in the account book: “Spelman cheque for H... £46 18s. 0d.”  It’s conjectured that this is William Spelman the Norwich auctioneer (who earlier surveyed the hall) and it’s him buying Borrow’s horse Sidi Habishmilk - after this date no more entries appear in the account book for horse upkeep.

ib from mbab

27 June 1854

George, Mary and Henrietta start off on the Welsh tour which is to be Wild Wales

16 Aug 1858

Ann Borrow dies at Oulton hall and is buried in St. Michael’s church, Oulton


The income from the Oulton estate between 1854 and 1859 has been £3,500.  The estate brings in around £400 per annum., the malthouse £60, as landlord Borrow gets a percentage of the potato sales of the estate and the rent from a small-holding in Mattishall Burgh.  Out of this Borrow has to pay rates, repairs etc.


11 May 1866

Samuel Morton Peto becomes bankrupt following his involvement with the heavy losses on the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.  As a bankrupt he will stand down as M.P. for Bristol in 1868


July 1868

Samuel Morton Peto and Betts (his then partner) discharged from bankrupcy.  He undertakes minor works on the Metropolitan Railway, including building Gloucester Road underground station, just round the corner from George Borrow’s home at 22 Hereford Square



St. Margaret’s church, Lowestoft, “restored” when Rev. W. Hay Chapman was Rector at cost of over £5,000

gil, 196

1 Apr 1874

George Borrow writes to Henrietta from Oulton: he’s had a great pain in his left jaw, Henrietta and Dr. M. are going to visit him

lgb 263

June 1874

Fitzgerald writes to Donne saying Borrow has come back to Oulton.  He now remains here (more or less) until his death.

? 1878

Dr and Mrs MacOubrey remove to Oulton cottage, presumably to look after George Borrow

21 Nov 1878

Mr. Palmer (tenant of Oulton Farm?) calls on Borrow demanding repairs.


Total income from Borrow’s book sales (1841-1880) is £3,395 - much less than what he would have been getting from the Oulton estate.

1 Dec 1880

Borrows sends for his solicitor from Lowestoft and makes will

26 July 1881

Borrow found dead by Henreitta and Dr. Macoubrey

26th July-4th August

Borrow’s body is detained in Oulton

Knapp ii. 255

4th August

Borrow’s body taken to London, and buried beside Mary in Brompton Cemetery

Knapp ii. 255



I’ll find and get alternative sources for the above as not every reader would have been in Norwich to hear Ivan.  Where I’ve put *** the item could be wrong and will be checked in the near future and corrected if necessary.




Alumni Cantbrigienses


Life, Writings and Correspondence of George Borrow by William I. Knapp.


Ivan Bunn’s talk at Norwich 2013 George Borrow Conference.  It is hoped this will appear in the Bulletin in due course.


Life of George Borrow, Clement Shorter.  Available from Project Gutenberg.


Mary Borrow’s account books.  Some of these (in manuscript) are held by the Norfolk Record Office


Samuel Morton Peto: A Victorian Entrepreneur by Adrian Vaughan


New Hand-book to Lowestoft and its Environs, Thomas Crowe, 1849.  Available from Project Gutenberg.


Gillingwater’s History of Lowestoft (1897 edition).  Available from Project Gutenberg.