Richard Hall 04

1780 started positively with Hall's son William being taken into the family business. Several versions of the next important and sad diary entry exist. In one Hall writes “11th January, 1780. O the affliction of this day. My very dear and affectionate wife departed after so short an illness as about six or seven hours, to my great grief and sorrow, having lived together in the conjugal state 27 years, all but 41 days. Blessed be the Lord”. Other members of the family confirm that “She was remarkable for her piety, an affectionate wife and tender parent”. She died from a stroke.
Buried in Bunhill Fields, January 18, Eleanor was interred alongside her father. To the original tombstone was added, “Underneath this tomb are also deposited the remains of Mrs. Eleanor Hall late the beloved wife of Mr. Richard Hall of London Bridge and daughter of the above named Benjamin Seward Esq.”
Hall appears to have started attending St Magnus at this time, becoming Church Warden. Bourton held attractions for him – though he never mentions what they were. He set off for the Manor House, June 16, staying with the recently widowed Mrs Snooke. His frequent mentions of Mrs Snooke might suggest he hoped to promote his cause with the wealthy widow. Maybe he tried suggests MR. He stayed a month and returned to London, July 20. Then, with no explanation, the entry for Thursday December 14 reads “This day entered into the Solemn and very important engagement of a second marriage with Betty Snooke”. Betty Snooke was not William Snooke's widow but his younger sister. Ominously, he continues “may it never lessen the Happiness of my Dear Children”.
Possibly Betty Snooke wavered, but MR says subsequent events suggest that a problem lay with Hall's children - perhaps the three, anxious to guard their Seward inheritance, thought it more appropriate that Richard should marry “an old widow” for companionship – one way past child-bearing! The diaries give the firm impression Hall's decision to re-marry was somewhat calculated but after about 10 years things slowly improved for Betty.
Reviewing events years later, Hall writes “The Lord in whose hands are all my times and ways, has suffered a further change to take place – my dear children being dissatisfied that we should continue to live together I removed to a small house at Bourton on the Water, where we slept the first night November 19th 1781.”
Not for them the grandeur of the Manor House – they moved into “a house opposite the New Inn” – rented from Mrs Snooke. Throughout October and into November they packed “to go into the Country” leaving November 7 and settling in on the 19th. “O that the Lord will be pleased to make this a peaceable and quiet dwelling”.
“December 28th – Mr, Mrs & Miss Palmer, Mrs Beddome, her Sons, Mr Boswell and Richard Boswell, Mrs Snooke and Sophy din’d. Very stormy with wind. Rain – our Parlour smoaked so I was oblig’d to put out the fire and dine without one. Had a fire made upstairs.” Fitting into a tiny house would have been a major upheaval – even more so when Anna, the first of two children, arrived March 15, 1782. Benjamin was born in 1787. He subsequently mused “The name Benjamin was probably given me from respect to the late Benjmn. Seward Esqre. and out of compliment to the Rev. Benjmn. Beddome, to whom my Father was much attached”.
Hall's first marriage had produced William Seward 14/9/1754 (married 1785, producing 8 children, 1786-1803); Martha 6/3/1756 (also married later in 1785, to Henry Griffith. They had 6 children, 1786-1794); Francis 26/12/1757 (married 1788. They had 4 children, William Snooke Hall being the only one to reach maturity, 1789-1793) and Frances 12/11/1758. The second marriage to Elizabeth Snooke (1743–1818) produced Anna Snooke Hall 15/3/1782 and Benjamin Snooke Hall 28/11/1787.
 MR has noted how a mark of Hall's esteem for his cousin, the poetess Anna Seward, was that he sent her the better oysters – those from Pyefleet at 4/3d a barrel. Friends of lesser importance (eg Beddome) had to make do with the cheaper ones from Colchester, costing 3/4d.
Beddome's death in 1795 obviously affected Hall. Writing 40 years later, his youngest son (Benjamin) mused “(I recall) the death of the Revd. Benjm. Beddome M.A. for 55 years the respected pastor of the Baptist Church at Bourton on the Water aged 78 years. This occurred September 3rd. I recollect his funeral which was on Sabbathday afternoon September 6th. My father and mother attended – the Revd. Benjmn Francis of Horseley preached the sermon to a crowded congregation from Phil. 1.21.”

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