Jane Loe of Bishops Sutton

Back in the 1960s while at Churchill College in Cambridge, one of the new friends I made was a fellow student called Bob Loe. In a recent reunion to celebrate the Golden Wedding of another college friend, I discovered Bob was a descendant of the Loe family of Selborne, that later were farmers in Bishops Sutton, in the 1800s.

Bob’s great great grandparents were Johnson and Jane Loe, and the 1851 census shows them as a farmer of 700+ acres in Bishops Sutton, employing 20 people. Johnson Loe died in 1855, and so Jane inherited the farm, and continued to run it – she was quite a wealthy widow.

Returning to current times, yesterday saw the opening of the Old Fire Station in Alresford, which now houses a horse-drawn Merryweather Fire Engine from Tichborne Park, very similar to the new engine bought by public subscription for Alresford in 1893. A similar purchase in 1858 was of a new manual fire pump, which was purchased to improve fire safety and fire fighting in the town. Cost, with 160 feet of hose to be used on the suction side, was £138.00. This fire pump was planned to be housed in the Swan Inn, at least until the building known as the “Old Fire Station” was completed in 1881. But notable amongst the list of subscribers for this pump was Mrs Loe, of Bishops Sutton: her name can be seen on the document now on display in the Old Fire Station.

fire-engineAt first I thought this could have been the old manual pump purchased in 1858, but apparently this was a model of the original manual fire pump that was housed at one time in the porch of the West entrance to St John’s in Alresford, earlier in the C19th. The model was built by George Watson in the 1970s, and is pictured here outside the (new) Alresford Fire Station.

In 1859 Mrs Loe remarried – her new husband was Edward Parsons. Possibly fairly advanced for the time was a post-nuptial agreement dated 1859 that specified that her wealth was reserved for her children, and not for Edward Parsons. Considering that she had 11 children, possibly some of the farm was split later into several smaller units. In the 1871 census, Jane was living at New House, and an associated farm: she died in 1882. Bob tells me that there is a long memorial stone to her in the outer north vestry wall of the Bishops Sutton church.

Maybe I will be able to get some photos of this stone later – and add any comments from other descendants of Mrs Loe, or Bishops Sutton farmers! First there is the picture of the manual fire pump donor list, which started this story!

IMG_0335

A notable name on this list is that of Mr J (John) Covey, of Alresford. Later, in 1881, it would be John Covey’s widow, Susanna Eliza Covey, who bought the (run-down) dwellings and land at the bottom of Broad Street, and donated this land to the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town – for them to build what we now know as the “Old Fire Station”.

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