Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tommy Rock....confectioner

Samuel Freeman was born nearly 200 years ago, 4 March 1806, in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.  He and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, had three children before she died at a young age.  One of those children, Richard, born in 1835, was my great-great grandfather.  Samuel remaried and had another son named Thomas. Young Thomas had a real fondness for sweets.  He, and probably the other children as well, liked to hang around at their father's sweet shop.  There Samuel sold biscuits, sweets, powders for drinks and jams.  Thomas was particularly fond of hard candy, called rock candy.  Because of this he soon earned the nickname Tommy Rock.  It is unclear whether Samuel made the rock candy he sold himself, but it seems likely that he did.
From British census records, it seems that after Samuel died in 1875, his son Thomas Freeman (Tommy Rock)  took over the business at 12 High Street in Olney.  In later census records, Thomas lists his occupation as fruiterer and confectioner.  It sounds like the legacy of making candy canes continued through Tommy's family.  The census records show that Thomas eventually married Susan Adams,  who was probably the widow of Walter Willey.  Her children appear to be the only children Thomas had and raised.

The picture below appeared in a book called "Around Olney in Camera".  It is captioned as follows:

"Mr Thomas Freeman's fruit shop at 12 High Street, decorated for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.  The people were probably Mr and Mrs Freeman, with their son holding the horse, and daughter standing by."

I suspect the label is not entirely accurate.  It could indeed be members of the Thomas Freeman family.    Thomas was born in 1845 and his wife Susan, about 1843. Susan's children (Thomas' stepchildren) were Harry Willey b. 1865 and Mary Elizabeth b. abt 1867, so in 1902 they would have been adults.  More likely these are the children of Harry Willey and his wife Emma Amelia Fletcher, Thomas W. Willey b. abt 1888 and Elizabeth Amelia Willey, b. about 1889.  This would make them about 14 and 13 at the time of this picture.

Close examination shows another woman and child on the balcony just above the horse's head.  Harry Willey did have another daughter who would have been about 7 years old in 1902.  Two women are in the picture.  They are probably Susan Adams Freeman, wife of Thomas Freeman and Emma Amelia Fletcher Willey, wife of Harry Wiley.

By 1902, Thomas Freeman's older half-brother Richard and his wife, Charlotte Emma Goss Freeman had both died.  It was about the same time that Richard's oldest child, George Richard Freeman left with his wife and children to emigrate to the US.

The festive bunting on the front of the shop reads "God Save The King"

If you wonder how the Freeman family made their candy, click here!

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