Civic Society Column: ‘Grantham people travelled far and wide,’ says Ruth Crook

Ruth Crook, of Grantham Civic Society.
Ruth Crook, of Grantham Civic Society.
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We imagine that in the past most people spent their whole lives in the town where they were born.

Some families lived and worked in Grantham for many generations, and their names can be seen in records from the early 1600s to the present day. However, some men went university or to serve apprenticeships elsewhere, whilst some women moved to marry or become servants.

Charles Edward Gozna attended Grantham Grammer School.

Charles Edward Gozna attended Grantham Grammer School.

The Gozna family is first mentioned in Grantham in 1606, when John Gozna married at St Wulfram’s church. One of his descendants, William, born in 1718, became a surgeon and apothecary in Grantham. William owned land there, and in 1753 he and his father donated £1-10s each towards erecting the bells and chimes in St Wulfram’s. William’s brother Thomas later became Alderman, in 1752 and 1764.

Two of William’s sons, John and Thomas, became apothecaries and surgeons. John did so at the notorious ‘Bethlem Hospital’ in London, where he lived from 1772 until just before his death in 1795, when he returned home to Grantham. He was remembered as being ‘a man of superior feeling and humanity’. His brother Thomas, also a surgeon and apothecary in London, took over John’s job at Bethlem for a year, until a replacement was appointed. Thomas was paid 10 guineas for this year’s work.

By 1807 he was again living in Grantham with his growing family, continuing his work from his house on Westgate. His own son Thomas, born in Grantham in 1801, also trained as a surgeon and worked in London after qualifying. One of his many children, Charles Edward Gozna, born in 1828, attended Grantham Grammar school, probably about 1836. In 1840, Charles and five of his school friends were expelled for misbehaviour. They were reinstated following punishment, after their parents complained of a misunderstanding.

Charles went to live in Camberwell, Surrey, with his family, where he was an unemployed clerk, and then a painter, and later lived on his own means. His school friends temporarily expelled with him in 1840 also later moved away. Thomas Lea, who had lived on the Market Place with his father James, a hairdresser, became a Post Office clerk in Boston. Albert Tanfield, also from the Market Place, where his father William was an innkeeper, became a publisher in London. Bennett Clay, who lived on the High Street, where his father, Thomas, was a draper, became a chemist and druggist in Maidstone, Kent. Henry Bastow became a warehouse salesman in Manchester, while John Codling, whose father John was a painter from Castlegate, became a painter in London.

And so it was that Grantham people travelled far and wide, just like young people brought up and educated in the town today.