Category Archives: George Jennings Collis

George Jennings Collis: arriving at the North Bridge Inn (1870)

It’s not always a good idea to start family stories at the beginning; it can often be more intriguing to start elsewhere. Having said that, a life story told in weekly blog instalments has scope to get a little confusing if it doesn’t follow some kind of chronological order. So, at least for the time being, let’s follow convention and begin at the beginning, on a winter’s day on the cusp of 1870-1. In a room over the North Bridge Inn, Emmeline Collis is in labour.

North Bridge Inn

The North Bridge Inn stands in Frog Island, beside a lock-gate on the Leicester Navigation. Horses clip clop their way along the towpath, pulling barges laden with coal on their journey between Loughborough and Leicester. And on the road outside, carts and pedestrians arch over the canal bridge as they head into town.

In December 1870, licensed victualler John George Collis – always known as George – and his wife Emmeline have lived here for only a month; 1870 has been a busy year for them: in July they’re running the Sir Thomas White pub in Russell Street, by October they’ve moved to the Red Lion on Highcross Street, and then finally in November they swap licences with John Cooper for the North Bridge Inn. Such energetic hopping around – finishing at Frog Island – is reported in a series of newspaper clippings, ending with this one from the Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury on 19 November 1870:

John Geo Collis takes on licence of North Bridge Inn

Continue reading George Jennings Collis: arriving at the North Bridge Inn (1870)

George Jennings Collis: a life story in instalments

In late Victorian Leicester, you’d generally find my Collis ancestors pulling a pint or working in wood, earning a living as either publicans or engineers’ pattern makers. So I was surprised to find George Jennings Collis listed as a “Clerk in Holy Orders, of Evenwood Vicarage, Bishop Auckland in the County of Durham” in his father’s prob1892 George Jennings Collis graduates from Clare College, croppedate records. He was an exception to the rule, it seems, and worth a closer look.

Over recent months I’ve been piecing together cousin George’s story, with support from local historians in County Durham and some resourceful searching. To tell the full story all at once would be a bit of a marathon – and far too long for a single blog post – so instead I’ll be sharing it in weekly instalments.

Publishing in instalments was a technique favoured by Dickens, as this British Library piece explains. I don’t pretend to share Dickens’ literary flair, or have the dramatic plot and remarkable characters of David Copperfield or Hard Times, but I’m nevertheless keen to experiment and see how it works for family history writing.

At this stage, I’m not sure how many blog posts his story will need; I can see the horizon, so to speak, but I’m not quite sure how I’ll get there. In any event, it isn’t a sprint and let’s hope we enjoy the journey along the way, week by week. To whet your appetite – and introduce George – I’ve started with this rather splendid photo of him graduating from Clare College, Cambridge in 1892.

As we progress, I’ll add in links below to other blog posts in the series to make it easier for you to hop around from one instalment to the next.

Arriving at the North Bridge Inn (1870)

Counting noses and the whiff of bleach (1871)

Foul floods and four lost brothers (1870s)

Servitors and soxing at Ardingly (1881)

A summer of cricket with Wyggeston Boys (1889)

Going up to Cambridge (1889-92)

From Boston schoolmaster to Berwick curate (1894-97)

Coastal walks and the curate’s egg at Embleton (1897-1905)

Farewell to Morpeth (1908)

An Evenwood crusader (1908-1918)