#52Ancestors “Fire”

Welcome to Week 15 of my Genealogy Challenge, from the wonderful Amy Johnson Crow, of writing something about one of my Ancestors every week for a year, hashtag 52Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 15’s prompt is “Fire”.

Originally I was going to write about my “Fire Fighting” Ancestors, but I have already covered them in Week 3 with my “Long Line” of Firefighters which can be found Here

This time I am actually going to write about an actual Fire involving one of my Ancestors, namely John Chiddicks and the total destruction of the Cottage that he was living in at the time and the lucky escape for him, his wife and their grandchild.

John is my 1st Cousin 4 x removed.

The Fire occurred on 25th March 1884 at Great Mussell’s Farm, Bowers Gifford in Essex. The Farm was owned by Major Spitty, J.P. for Billericay at the time.

John Chiddicks, who was a shepherd at the time, got up around 1-30 am to check on some sheep that were laying in a yard adjacent to the cottage. He left a glass paraffin lamp burning upstairs on a chest of drawers, his wife and grandchild were still in bed at this time. He had been outside with the sheep for around half an hour when his wife came and told him that the lamp had burst and he could not go back into the bedroom as it was full of smoke.

All of the Chiddicks family possession’s were burnt, with the exception of two chairs, the beer cask and the wine bottles, which were all rescued safely. Mrs Chiddicks and her Grandchild escaped with nothing on but their nightclothes and Mrs Williams, from Bowers Rectory, kindly sent some clothing over to Mrs Chiddicks. The estimated losses were £100 which was covered by Insurance.

The Fire was entirely contained to the cottage and fortunately did not extend to the farm premises as there were around 250 lambing ewes in the yard.

The Rayleigh Fire Engine was sent for and arrived at around 5-30am but too late to save the cottage.

Chiddicks Fire 2

(Taken from The Chelmsford Chronicle)

Chiddicks Fire 3

(Taken from The Southend Standard and Essex Weekly Advertiser)

Some of my first thoughts were, all their worldly possessions amounted to only £100. Their first thought was to save the Beer Cask and Wine! The Fire Engine took three and half hours to arrive! How times change………………what would you save first after your loved ones?


All My Blogs For Family Tree Magazine in one Handy Place


17 thoughts on “#52Ancestors “Fire”

  1. Very nicely written! I want to thank you for liking my PawlakPast blog (which is about my husband’s family) and decided to check out your site. I am so glad to meet you and love your posts! I also write another blog, thelyonstracks.com about my own family. Since you are interested in WWI, I have a great uncle who fought in WWI and did write a blog about him too that you may want to read!


  2. Fascinating insights into what this family’s life was like based on their possessions and what was lost. Happy that everybody was safe! I sure wouldn’t save my wine first–family history archival boxes would be in my arms along with backup hard drives. 😉


  3. I am curious about what would THEY save if they had time. I am wondering whether they thought that beer and wine were their most valuable possessions. I think nowadays most people believe their information is the most valuable thing, hence the hard drive from the answer above. I’d say I would save my phone and possibly the laptop 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s