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The Jackal Public House Thurleigh

The Jackal January 2015
The Jackal January 2015

The countywide licensing register of 1876 states that the Jackal Public House had been licensed “over 46 years” – that is before 1830. This is confirmed by deed to the Jackal which go back to 1656. The first mention of the property being licensed is in 1817 when it is referred to as the Trefoil Public House [WL1000/1/Thur1/12].

The earlier deeds describe a cottage in Church End being mortgaged by John Hunte, weaver to Oliver Tomson of Keysoe, tailor for £8 in 1656 [WL1000/1/Thur1/1]. Hunt then sold the cottage to William Earl of Thurleigh, yeoman in 1676 for £22 [WL1000/1/Thur1/2] this deed tells us that John Hunt, deceased, presumably father of the seller in 1676, had originally purchased the cottage from Robert Norris and that Thomas Norris had purchased it from Sir Henry Grey, Lord Ruthin, Lord of the Manor (he was Lord Ruthin from 1639 to 1643 and later became 10th Earl of Kent).

In 1735 William Earl’s son, of the same name, conveyed the cottage to John Savidge of Thurleigh, blacksmith for £40 [WL1000/1/Thur1/6]. Savidge left “a little house standing in my yard” to his son John in his will of 1742 which was proved in 1749 [WL1000/1/Thur1/9]. John Savage, as the name is now spelled, grandson of the buyer of 1735, was a flax dresser living in Holbeach [Lincolnshire] and in 1762 to sold the little cottage to Thurleigh yeoman William Gale [WL1000/1/Thur1/11]. This little cottage may be the older part of the current Jackal.

The next deed is that of 1817 which first names the Trefoil. In it John Gale of Thurleigh, farmer, William’s son, mortgages the Trefoil, in the occupation of Patrick Favell, along with a nearby cottage to Cople gentleman Robert Jefferies for £300. It is not clear but the description suggests that the little cottage of 1742 may already have been joined by the modern building forming the left hand side of the pub. The other cottage named at this date may be today's Sunnyside. When John Gale made his will in 1818 he calls the Trefoil the Flower de Lis and leaves it to his son John [WL1000/1/Thur1/14].

In 1832 John Gale sold the public house and adjoining cottage to the mortgagee Robert Jefferies for £30 over and above the mortgage still owed to him [WL1000/1/Thur1/18]. At this date the pub’s name had changed to the Jackal. In his will of 1841 Jefferies devised the Jackal and two other cottages in Thurleigh along with a cottage called Robin’s Folly, to his nephew John Jefferies.

Around this time the Jackal knew some shady characters. In 1839 Thomas Martin of Wells Street, Bedford, labourer told the Quarter Sessions that he and William Bettles had been to work together for Mr Hinde of Knotting and Mr Whitmee at his farm at Thurleigh [QSR1839/4/5/11/a]. They worked together all the previous week except Friday and Saturday when they could not work because it was wet, but they were together both days at the Jack Hall [sic] Public House at Thurleigh where they lodged. They left together on Saturday afternoon, drinking at various establishments en route to Bedford but before reaching the town Bettles assaulted Martin and robbed him of his money. The Bedford Gaol register [QGV10/2] tells us that Bettles was acquitted. He was 34, 5 feet 6 inches tall with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was in trouble with the law again three years later, being charged with assault [QGV10/2]. This time he was found guilty and sentenced to one month in prison or a fine of twenty shillings.

In 1844 Thomas Sabey of Thurleigh, labourer told the Quarter Sessions [QSR1844/3/5/21] that he was at Thurleigh Feast dancing in a room at the Jackal about 12.30 am. He had his watch in his fob when he went into the room. He had wound it up just as he entered at 12 o’clock. He missed it at 12.30am. He never left the room during that time. He saw George Mayes in the room standing close to the fiddler.

Thomas Biggs of Thurleigh, labourer said he was in the dancing room at the Jackal. He ws sitting near George Mayes and as Mayes rose to stand he saw Thomas Sabey’s watch fall to the ground as if someone had thrown it down. He saw Mayes take it up. Mayes nudged him and said “don’t you say a word it is a knife”. Mayes then went out and returned in about five minutes with a pint of beer and gave it to him to drink saying “don’t you say a word for if you do you will be marked”. All George Mayes said to the court was: “I am quite innocent. I never touched the watch and known nothing about it.” His denial did him no good as he was convicted and sentenced to three months hard labour [QGV10/2]. He was 5 feet 7 inches with brown hair and hazel eyes and had been born in London, though he lived in Wilden. His behaviour in prison is recorded as “indifferent”. No sooner had he got our than he committed an assault for which he was given another month’s imprisonment, or a fine of twenty shillings [QGV10/2]

In the same year the landlord, Charles Austin, accused two men of stealing some silver sugar tongs, or nippesr, from him [QSR1844/3/5/30-31/a]. The two men, Samuel Partridge and Thomas Freshwater the two prisoners were at his house on 18th June. They remained some time then went away. They returned about noon of the same day and stayed for one and a half or two hours. There was a pair of sugar nippers lying on the mantelpiece close to where the prisoners were sitting. He saw the nippers while the prisoners were there and missed them after they had left.

George Hilson of Thurleigh, labourer stated that he was threshing wheat when Freshwater came to the barn and asked him which was the way to Bedford. Hillson had some conversation that night with Austin who told him what he had lost and also where Partridge and Freshwater had lain asleep drunk in a field. The next day Hilson looked along the hedge bottoms as he and another man were coming home from work. Between 5 and 6 feet from where Partridge had been lying he found two pairs of sugar nippers, a pair of candle snuffers and a blacking brush.

Both men were convicted. Freshwater, aged 22, 4 feet 5 inches tall and with brown hair, hazel eyes and a broken nose was given twelve months hard labour [QGV10/2]. He came from Chalton. His partner in crime was given ten years transportation. He was 5 feet 6½ inches tall with brown hair and hazel eyes and was a Thurleigh native.

John Jefferies sold the Jackal and three cottages in Thurleigh to Bedford brewers Lewis Page Jarvis and Robert Page Jarvis in 1869 for £570 [WL1000/1/Thur1/20]. In 1917 the Jarvis business was taken over by Bedford rival Charles Wells. The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Jackal [DV1/C73/20] found it still owned by Wells. The tenant, Charles Hart (“been here 9 years”) had paid £10 rent since he took the licence.

The premises contained: a public bar; a bar parlour; a kitchen; a cellar; a kitchen and scullery and four bedrooms. The valuer noted: "Does not average more than ½ barrel. No bottled beer. 2 bottles of spirits a week = 1/3 gallon say. Small tobacco trade". A stable for one horse, a wood barn, a hen house and a two bay cart shed stool in an adjoining field of 0.643 of an acre.

Charles wells closed the Jackal for the last time on 26th July 2015. This left no pub in the parish.


  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/1: cottage mortgaged: 1656;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/2-3: cottage enfeoffed: 1676;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/5-6: cottage conveyed: 1735;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/7: cottage mortgaged: 1735;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/8: cottage mortgaged: 1747;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/9: will of John Savidge: 1742, proved 1749;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/10: assignment of mortgage: 1756;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/11: mortgage of a property standing in the cottage yard: 1762;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/12: mortgage of the Trefoil: 1817;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/14: will of John Gale: 1818;
  • CLP13: countywide register of alehouse licences: 1822;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/18: conveyance of equity in the Jackal: 1832;
  • QSR1839/4/5/11/a: suspect in a robbery lodging at the inn: 1839;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/19: will of Robert Jefferies: 1841;
  • QSR1844/3/5/21: robbery of a watch at the inn during Thurleigh Feast: 1844;
  • QSR1844/3/5/30-31/a: theft of the landlord's sugar nippers: 1844;
  • FA6: auction sale held at the inn: 1849;
  • WL1000/1/THUR/1/20: memorandum of agreement: 1869;
  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930;
  • WL800/3: photograph: c. 1925;
  • WL801/48: negative: c. 1925;
  • X657/12/1: negative: c. 1960s;
  • PCThurleigh9/5: change of licensees: 1967-1983;
  • WL722/12: photograph: 1974;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

1817: Patrick Favell;
1818: Roger Goss;
1822-1828: William Williams;
Edward Wildman;
1832: James Brightman;
1844: Charles Austin;
1869-1876: Thomas Jefferies (also butcher);
1890: Edmund Feazey;
1918: Peter Henry Horn;
1918-1936: Charles Hart;
1936: Miriam Jane Hart;
1940: Robert Perkins;
1963-1967: Robert Rees Taverner;
1967-1969: Lawrence Ayre;
1969-1970: Frederick Drake;
1970-1972: George Joseph Couzins;
1972-1978: William Edwin Finch;
1978-1981: Eric Endersby;
1981-1984: Dennis William Hill;
1984-1988: Anthony Hiom;
1988-1989: Derek Bruce Riley;
1989-1990: Gordon Clifford Toms;
1990-1994: Charles Douglas William Dossett;
1994-1995: Dennis Whitmore