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Grandad's Story
Arms of East Suffolk (Coastal)

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jesse teager precious as young man

Grandad's Story

My Grandad, Jesse Teager Precious, was born on 24th August 1877 in the small village of Marlesford, Suffolk, the youngest son of Jesse Precious and Rosa Wenden Precious (nee Barker), who already had four other children: Stanley (born 1870), Thomas (born 1871), Eva Wenden (born 1873) and Kate Eliza (born 1876). The farmhouse where he was born lies close to the main A12 Ipswich to Lowestoft/Great Yarmouth road and, according to my late Uncle Hugh, the room where he was born could be seen from the road as you drive by. His middle name came from his grandmother, Sarah Precious (nee Teager), the Teagers being tenants of a neighbouring farm when his grandfather, John Precious, began farming in North Green, Parham in the 1830's.

After the birth of another sister, Gertrude Hart in 1878, the family moved to the nearby village of Bredfield, Suffolk about 1879, where another sister, Bessie, was born, before moving to Home Farm, North Green, Parham, Suffolk about 1886. Following the death of his grandfather, John Precious, in 1885, his father, Jesse Precious, took over the running of Home Farm. Not much information survives in the local records but Jesse Precious was active on the Parham Parish Council in the late 1880's. It is also recorded that J. Precious Jnr. took first place in the 200 yards flat race at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Sports Day in Parham in 1897. His sister Bessie came first in the Girls' 200 yards flat, so clearly, the family produced good athletes!

On 15th March 1900, Jesse Teager Precious married Agnes Elder Somerville in St Paul's Church, Hammersmith. London (she was the daughter of the late Hugh Somerville of Thorington,Suffolk who had moved down to Suffolk from Carnwath, Lanark in Scotland in the 1880's). The address given for the bridegroom is that of his elder brother,Thomas, who worked as a Butcher in London, and his wife Augusta Agnes, who were witnesses to the marriage.

After the marriage, they stayed at Allshot's Farm in Kelvedon, Essex during 1900 ( the farm belonged to Jimmy Smith who had married his elder sister, Eva), where their first child, John ("Jack") Somerville Precious was born, before returning to his father's farm at North Green, Parham by the time of the 1901 Census. They then moved to a farm in Letheringham, Suffolk in 1903, where the second son Thomas Barker Precious, was born before moving to Gorleston, Norfolk about 1905, working as a dairyman/master dairyman. They stayed in Gorleston from 1905 to1909 and two more boys were born, William (1905) and Frederick James (1908).

Then came the big move to West Yorkshire about 1909. Grandad found work at Barden's Size Works in Bank Bottom, Shelley where he farmed some 400 acres and looked after the horses (about 20?). During The Great War, he ran teams of wagons (each with 4 horses) taking size to aircraft factories in Birmingham and Kidderminster, with a coachman called Skipper or Pool (?). Three more sons were born in Shelley; Jesse (my father, in 1910), Hugh (1913) and George (1915). The family lived at Barden's Yard until 1921(?) when they moved to Stove Row (?) and worked on a farm (Ponker Farm?) in Skelmanthorpe for Johnny Hinchcliffe.

In 1923 (?), he became Farm Bailiff at Wood Lea Farm (owned by Firth's Mill nearby). This was a large farm with an imposing stone farmhouse, extensive barns and outbuildings and a walled orchard, which supported the "Big House", the residence of the mill owner (the farmbuildings were finally sold for redevelopment in 2003).

He purchased Field Head Farm in Shepley about 1936, the land being adjacent to Wood Lea Farm. On the farm he kept pigs and cows, supplied milk to local residents and grew arable crops (mainly grain). As a child in the 1940's and 50's, I can remember going on the milk round with the carthorse (Beauty?), ladling out the milk from large churns and also collecting pigswill for the pigs. I can also remember harvesting with a horse-drawn harvester, stooks of corn drying in the fields and loading the hay onto carts for storage in the barn. All the work was done by hand - and horse - power and a battered old tractor.

Grandma Precious died in 1950 and Grandad in 1960, they are both buried in the churchyard at St. Paul's Church, Shepley, W.Yorkshire. The farm passed to his son Tom on his death in 1960 and was eventually sold on Tom's death in 1977. Most of the land is now farmed by neighbouring farms but some of the land, together with the farmhouse and buildings, have been redeveloped for residential purposes.



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Jesse Teager Precious as a young man

agnes elder somerville as young woman

Agnes Elder Somerville as a young woman

the precious family circa 1926 at Wood Lea

The Precious Family around 1926 at Wood Lea Farm


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