Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Friday 18 January 2013

James Meeks - Landlord of The Greyhound, Maidenhead King Street

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.
Monument to James Meeks, Elizabeth Meeks and William Frederick Carter, All Saints Churchyard, Boyn Hill, Maidenhead, Berkshire.
"In loving memory of James Meeks who died April 15th 1907 aged 64 years.  Also of Elizabeth Meeks daughter of the above who died Nov. 8th 1889 aged 23 years - Rest In Peace - also of  William Frederick Carter who passed away June 17th 1932 aged 64 years - Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord for they rest from their labours. - '
James William Leigh Meeks was born in 1842 in Westerham Kent to Caroline Meeks.  There was no father's name on the records and I am unable to locate James on the census before 1871 or his mother after 1841.
In 1864 in Huntingdonshire James Meeks married Elizabeth Favell, daughter of Thomas Favell and Eliza Ward.  Their first child, a daughter, Elizabeth was born in 1865.  Sadly Elizabeth was to pass away in 1870, along with their newborn son James.  On the 1871 Census James and his daughter Elizabeth can be found living at The Greyhound Public House in King Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire.  Living with them is Elizabeth Snr's younger sister Eliza Favell.  Later in the year James was to marry Eliza Favell.  Together they had three children, Annie born in 1872, Phobe Eliza born in 1873 and James born in 1876  Sadly Eliza passed away along with baby James in 1876.
In 1877 James married Esther Elizabeth (known as Elizabeth) Berry, widow of Alexander Scott in Windsor.  In 1881 James, Esther, Annie and Phobe are living at The Greyhound in King Street, Maidenhead along with James and Esther's children, Arthur born in 1878 and Florence born in 1880.  Elizabeth Meeks Jnr is now living with her uncle and aunt Thomas and Annie Webb at 29 Pullcross Street, Lambeth London.  Sadly Elizabeth was to pass away aged only 23 years in 1886.
James and Esther begun to experience some marital strife after the 1881 Census was taken.  By the 1891 Census the couple had separated, with James, his children from his marriage to Eliza Favell, as well as Phobe, Arthur and Clara born in 1881, living at The Greyhound in King Street.  Esther had returned to live with her mother Esther Berry, her son from her first marriage, William A Scott and her younger sister Emily at The Globe Public House, Oxford Road, Clewer, New Windsor.
Esther struggled with a drinking problem, on the 20th December 1890 she was charged with being drunk and incapable outside the Globe Public House in Oxford Street, and again on 10th September 1891, she had previously been before the bench on six charges of being 'hopelessly drunk.'  On Thursday 5th December 1895 James Meeks started divorce proceeding against Esther siting an affair she had with a coal hauler named Bowley.  This affair had apparently resulted in the birth of a stillborn child in the March of 1891.  At the time of the hearing Esther was residing at Berkshire County Lunatic Asylum in Cholsey, later renamed Moulsford Asylum and then Fairmile Hospital.
It seems that James Meeks had a bit of a temper on him as in 1894 he was bound over to the sum of £10 to keep the peace for six months after assaulting a fellow publican.  The Slough, Windsor and Eton Observer reports -
'Assulted at his hotel - James Meeks, landlord of The Greyhound, King Street, was charged with having, on November the 19th, assaulted William Stanley.  He pleaded, not guilty.
The complainant, who lives at the Bell Hotel, and has done so for the past two years, stated that on the 19th, when standing at The Bell Hotel Bar, talking to Miss Wheeler, the barmaid, at just before closing time, the defendant came into the house and "and all at once he received a smack on the mouth," and looking round saw Mr. Meeks going out of the door.'
It seems the two of them had had a falling out over a horse previously, causing William to refuse to use The Greyhound Public House.  Something James took offence at.
'Mr. Meeks had a grievance against him, and wanted to cause a row.  Complainant, continuing, said that the reason of the little grievance Mr. Meeks had against him was that he did not use his house.  He did not go there because they had a row over a horse.  He and some friends wanted to go to Henley and the horse the defenant sent him was not, he considered, fit to do the journey, and he sent it back.'
In 1901 James Meeks is continuing to reside in and run The Greyhound in King Street, along with his daughter Florence Meeks.
Esther E Meeks is listed as being a patient of Berkshire County Lunatic Asylum in Cholsey on the 1901 Census.  Her marital status is given as divorced.  In 1911 Esther has returned to using the name Scott and is residing in the Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum.  She was to later pass away in 1927.
James was again in the local paper on 5th May 1906, this time for taking an unexpected dip in the River Thames.  The Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer reported -
'Maidenhead Hotel Keeper In The Thames. - On Friday last, Mr.James Meeks, of The Greyhound, King Street, had an impromptu immersion in the Thames, and but for the fact that he is a good swimmer he might have lost his life.  It appears that he drobve to Monkey Island with some friends and successfully punted across to the island, re-crossing to fetch a lady who was waiting to get on to the island.  He landed the lady safely, and then, from the stern of the punt, proceeded to place the pole in the water to put the punt into position.  The Thames, however, had been dredged recently at the spot, and Mr. Meeks, failing to the bottom with the pole, pitched into something like 15 to 16 feet of water.  Being a good swimmer he soon reached terra firma, and as his convayence was waiting he re-crossed the water and drove home as quickly as possible.  Mr. Meeks is none the worse for his experience, and desires to thank his many friends who so kindly took such an interest in his welfare when the mishap became known.'
Less than a year later on 15th April 1907, James passed away at the age of 64.  I wonder if his dip in the Thames may have been a contributing factor.
William Frederick Carter was born in 1869 in Wiltshire to Charles Henry Carter, a farmer and his wife Ellen Carter. 
I am unable to find William and his family until the 1881 Census when they're living and farming at Lodge Farm in Watlington Oxfordshire.  by 1891 the family had moved to 4 Sydenham Villas, Bray Berkshire, where William's father is now working as a commission agent and William a brewers traveller.  It is quite possible that William met his future wife Phobe Eliza Meeks through his work.
In 1894 William married Phobe Eliza Meeks.  You can read more about William and Phobe here.


  1. And by mater of fact I took this photo last night of a place mentioned. Helps liveing near it.

  2. Fascinating story! I've known a few people to be "hopelessly drunk" before.

  3. My goodness, what a story!!! Thank you for sharing it!


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