AHF and Mrs Hubbard

A version of this post was previously posted on the 1/1/2019

Sometimes when you are researching family stories, it can get rather tedious (speaking from personal experience here – one can have too many Ag Labs from Norfolk!!).  On the other hand, one twist can send you down a rabbit hole into a dimension that you couldn’t predict.

Who were AHF and Mrs Hubbard?

In trying to work out the location of the photo associated with the inscription above, I had ascertained that A H F Hubbard was the gloriously named Arthur Hill Fortescue Hubbard.  According to the 1939 register, his residence was ‘Levanne’, Bodenham Road, Hereford – his address up to his death on 28 August 1953 – so what was his connection to The Residence Private Hotel?  On the 1939 register, Arthur’s profession was given as Hotel prop and Hackney car ……… (words missing), but was he the proprietor of The Residence?

Time to do some digging!  Knowing that Arthur’s birth date was 29 August 1874, coupled with his unusual name, it was relatively easy to find him in census records.  Arthur was born to Hill Fortescue Hubbard and Delia Driffill Green in Reading.  Hill was a commercial traveller, and the birth places of their 11 children perhaps reflect the nomadic lifestyle of a travelling salesman (Croydon, Reading, Dublin, Acton and Hereford).  However, from 1885, trade directories feature Hill Fortescue Hubbard living at Walney Lodge, Aylestone Hill, Hereford.

Arthur is shown as living at Walney Lodge with his family on the 1891 census, and his trade is shown as being an apprentice ironmonger.  By the time of the next census in 1901, Arthur has followed his father into the Commercial Travelling business, and was shown as being a boarder in Paignton.  In 1906, he married Constance Emily Jeanette Parlby and they settled down at 1 Montpelier Villas, St James’ Road, Hereford.

Constance was born in Walton, a hamlet in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in 1874.  She moved with her family to Sheffield around 1876 when her father, William Parlby, became the assistant manager of the gasworks in Sheffield.  In 1884, William Parlby was given the position of Manager at the Hereford Gas Works in Holmer, Hereford and so the family moved again.

Constance had three sisters: Annie Beatrice, Mary Louise and Florence Matilda.  All four Parlby sisters attended Hereford High School for Girls, acquitting themselves honourably.  The Hereford Journal of 19 August 1893 reports that “among the successful candidates in the first Oxford University Examinations for women who have gained University certificates are Constance Emily Jeanette Parlby and Blanche Walmsley, students at Hereford High School for Girls”.  At this point, it was still unusual for women to be educated to a level recognised by universities (and women were still not allowed to become full members of Oxford University) so this really sets the Parlby sisters apart. 

This link http://www.herefordshirelore.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ioa23.pdf suggests that all of the Parlby sisters were staunch suffragettes.  So where did Constance (and her sisters) get their drive?  Looking at her parents give some indication.

William Parlby was born in Woodhouse, Barrow on Soar, Leicester in 1849, the second of three sons born to William and Ann Parlby (the other two sons were Henry Hugh Parlby and Thomas Edward Parlby).

This snippet from the Hereford Journal (7th October 1905) gives a precis of the career of William Parlby junior:

All three of William and Ann’s sons became leading Wesleyan preachers as this article from the Western Mail (27 July 1943) explains:

William Parlby junior’s wife, Annie M Hook, was also involved in the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  She was baptised at the Wesleyan chapel in St Owen’s Street, Hereford in 1842 and remained a lifelong Methodist supporter.  It is tempting to wonder whether that is how William Parlby and Annie Hook met – did William preach at one of the local Methodist churches?  We may not know that, but it is likely that their shared faith contributed to the enhanced educational experiences that their four daughters received.  John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, was a strong advocate for education – he believed that through education, people were able to discover what is meant by truth in order to receive the grace of God.  The all-encompassing view that education was for everyone, regardless of gender, age or social status is an echo of the Methodist belief that salvation is for all.

So there you go – from a pondering of where a black and white photograph was taken, through the world of the commercial traveller and into the fundamental principles of Methodism.  Not bad going, that!

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