Zachariah Goddard – Suffolk to Stratford upon Avon

   Chart: Zachariah Goddard & Family

Thomas Goddard’ son, Zachariah was born on 18 April, 1784 and died 24 January 1855, aged 70 of paralysis (a stroke). He married Hannah Parmenter on 24 May 1807 in St Nicholas Church, Castle Hedingham, Essex. She was born in 1784 in Castle Hedingham and died 13 April 1862 in Caversfield, Oxfordshire.

Zach was an agricultural labourer in Great Waldingfield, near Sudbury, Suffolk, until about 1813 when poor labour conditions forced him off the land.  Great Waldingfield had a population of 564 in 1801. In 1813, 478 acres of land were enclosed under the Private Acts of Lands (1811). Zach was an agricultural labourer until about 1813/1814 when he moved to Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. Enclosure and the new agricultural machinery which could be used on the larger farming areas caused much unemployment amongst the agricultural labourers. During the French wars when the import of food from overseas was curtailed, the price of food in England doubled and immense quantities of pasture land were ploughed up in Suffolk to grow wheat. But towards the end of the wars (peace celebrations were held prematurely in several parts of Suffolk) corn prices were falling, profits were shrinking; the population was growing as soldiers were gradually returning from the Napoleonic wars and agricultural labourers were being laid off.

We found evidence of the poverty and hardship in the parish poor law books and workhouse records. The amount spent on poor relief was recorded in 1803, 1818 and 1830. It grew from £661 to £1,153 and then reduced to £893. This trend would suggest that around the time that Zachariah decided to leave Suffolk in 1813 or 1814, there was probably a very high level of poverty. There were several entries for Goddards, Godward, Godard, Gorrod, Gorward, Gorred and Goderd. An illiterate workman speaking in the gruff, guttural, very broad local accent could be recorded as any of these surnames, and indeed, we found that Goddard and Gorrod especially became interchangeable over the next hundred years.

Zach moved his family to Stratford upon Avon The records of the baptisms of his children (below) show his changing occupation. Zach was a labourer when he arrived in Stratford upon Avon, although he would probably have been used to working with horses on the land in Suffolk. In the record office in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust building on the main street we found evidence of the baptism of three children. Note his changing occupation.

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire       Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon

Parish record of Baptisms of Stratford upon Avon in the County of Warwick and Diocese of Worcester (all entries by J Davenport, Vicar)

1815 31 May Harriet daughter of Zechariah
and Hannah GODDARD
Stratford upon Avon (father)
1817 9 May John son of Zekariah
and Hannah GODDARD
Stratford upon Avon (father)
1820 26 July Benjamin son of Zekeriah
and Hannah GORROD
Stratford upon Avon (father)
Servant (Hunt)

A hunt publication in the Bodleian library described Zach as being best known during his 17 seasons with Lord Middleton in Warwickshire. As a huntsman or hunt servant Zach would have been a familiar figure around the stables, (just opposite Holy Trinity Church), belonging to Lord Middleton, Master of Hunt 1811-1821.  The following describes the sale of the stables and shows where they were in relation to Holy Trinity, Stratford upon Avon.  The sale took place on the 4 July 1823.

SoA Auction & Plan
(click image for enlargement)

The circular and fully enclosed ‘Riding House’ (Lot 33) is easy to see on the plan.  Lots 28, 29 & 30 describe how Lord Middleton had used oak stalls for his horses!

The kennels were a few miles away at Kineton (pronounced Kine rhyming with pine). ‘Huntsman’, ‘hunt servant’ and also ‘whipper-in’ seem to be interchangeable terms with many of the Goddards. It would seem that the health and age of the person at any particular time may have determined the exact job description. We found in records of the Hunt Servants Benevolent Society that sick pay was collected on a fairly regular basis later on in the century. You can imagine that a bad fall may result in a change of kennel job, perhaps for many months.

We found further evidence of Zach in the 1841 and 1851 censuses living in Milverton, Kenilworth and working in ‘kennels’; his occupation ‘whipper-in’ to the Warwickshire Hunt.

A ‘whipper-in’ enticed the fox from the covert and controlled the fox hounds during the chase, keeping the pack steady as hounds could be exposed to the temptation of other foxes, rabbits and hares.  Having ‘holloaed’ his fox away and stopped any detached hounds he would communicate with other huntsmen on the horn.  He often rode ahead of the pack to keep an eye on the fox and if sheep were running across the line of the hunt he would deflect them in good time.    Making his way home at night, it was the custom for many butlers and parlour maids to offer half a tumbler of neat whiskey to the whipper-in who had been deprived of nourishment for many long hours!

Although we don’t have a photograph or drawing of Zach’s appearence we are very lucky to have descriptions of his appearance and personality.  A 19th century sporting reminiscences publication described Zach as a ‘varmint’ and his scream as “almost unearthly in its shrillness”. On one occasion when Lord Middleton told Zach to blow his hounds away from Woolford Wood, Zach shouted to him“Hang it, my Lord; you know I never could blow a horn”, and he flung it away in the mud. Zach was much respected and is described as “Father of English Whips”.

Zach was only five foot six, and never much above nine stone. In fact, someone remarked “If I had hounds I should so like to get all men like Zach”.  Zach replied, “Oh! You should, Eh! Fond of light weights; I don’t know much difference between heavy and light weights, except that the one breaks horses’ backs, and the other breaks their hearts.”

He had a good sense of humour and often told tales of the old days.

“The men slept over the stables, and Zach would often wake them with the thunders of his stick at three in the morning, to ‘come and give those foxes a second touch’. However, they were of Billy Lackaday’s opinion on bell-ringing, and never got up, unless he ‘persewered’, and came at the door panels a second time. One sleep Zach never forgot to remind them of. It was a hot summer’s day, and the three agreed to take a copper of ale, and sit out with the hounds in Westron Park. Zach vowed that he could keep awake, if no one else did, but they slept well on into the evening, and when they awoke, there were only two hounds left. One by one they had slipped off home, and the old gentleman [the Squire] had let them in. It was quite a matter of discussion who ‘dare and go face him first,’ when they saw him hovering in the distance, about the kennel, but he put them out of difficulty by meeting them and ironically asking after his hounds.”
“Another day the Squire dropped on to Zach on the hat question. Once a year he allowed each of his men a dog-skin hat, and Zach’s had been ordered a month. Not seeing him at church, he asked Zach the reason, and he at once laid it on to his shabby hat. Oh! That’s your excuse, Zach?” he said: “a very poor one, Zach; if you had the best hat in England the parson would not let you wear it; you’d have to pull it off”. Zach didn’t quite see his way out of this argument, so he simply told his friends, “Squire had me there; old man done me again”

It is recorded that in the evening Zach “would take his pipe out of his mouth to give them some ‘view halloos’. He would talk of past horses and the mention of his Grassini was enough to “bring out a second flood of tears”. He kept a picture of his best hound called Woodman and his horse, Grassini’s foot as a memorial.We found a reference to Zachariah regarding a Warwickshire Hunt on 23 Dec 1814 describing how good a huntsman he was and in other pre 1900 books, diaries and journals other names on our family tree are mentioned, especially John, describing the Goddards in glowing terms.Zach’s children included four sons who followed him into the hunting profession.

“Besides Jack, the inventor of ‘Tailby Thursdays’, and Ben late of the Bicester, there was Jem, a very determined fellow who died when first whip to Ben Foote with Mr Villebois; and Tom, who was very distinguished as a steeple-chaser and first whip with the Pytchley, but he too died young, and is buried… at Brixworth.”

Two of them, James and Thomas, died young, at 35yrs and 34yrs respectively.  An entry in one publication referred to the four sons who followed Zach’s profession.James Goddard (aka Jem Gorrod) was born in 1808, Thomas (aka Tom) was born 1812 in Castle Hedingham, Essex, John (aka Jack) was born 1817 and Benjamin (Gorrod) was born 1820.We found another son Christopher (Gotherd), born in 1822 working as a coal dealer and innkeeper on the 1861 census and as a butler in 1871. We can only guess as to why he did not follow his father and brothers into hunting; a physical defect or perhaps a bad childhood experience? Zach had three daughters, Harriet, Elizabeth and the youngest Emma (baptised Jemima), born in 1831 who married Robert Worrall in 1860, a celebrated huntsman with the Warwickshire Hunt.The editor of one publication draws attention to those huntsmen “who have risen to the highest rank in their difficult profession who were, so to speak, born in kennels”. He lists various families including the Goddards. “All these families were the sons of hunt servants whose names stand out as cameos”. So we know that from at least 1814 the Goddards were highly regarded as huntsmen.Zach died on 24 January 1855, aged 70, of “paralysis” (a stroke) in the presence of a nurse, whilst living in Chipping Norton, where his son, John had a break from working as a ‘whipper-in’ and was innkeeper for a short time. Although the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin in Chipping Norton, where Zachariah is buried, was overgrown and the stone unreadable we found an inscription (in the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies) which was transcribed in the 1890s before the inscriptions were weathered away.

Sacred to the memory
of Zechariah GODDARD
who died
Jan 24th 1855
In the 70th year of
His age
also of
Hannah his wife
who died April 13th 1862
Aged 77 years.
This stone was erected by their sons in token of their sincere affection and love
(footstone) ZG HG

19th Century Huntsmen…