Born in 1849 in Newton Blossomville, Thomas spent his adult life in Turvey working as an agricultural labourer and it was here that he wrote over 150 poems, many featuring events, people and places in the village.
He had a difficult start in life. His father had died two months before his birth. In the 1851 census two year old Thomas and his six year old sister were recorded as ‘paupers’ and were living as lodgers in Newton Blossomville in the home of an agricultural labourer and his lacemaker wife who had five children of their own. Thomas’s four year old brother was living with his grandparents in Newton Blossomville. Thomas’s mother, Mary, was also recorded as a pauper and was living in the home of a retired farmer in Newton Blossomville where it seems she had found employment as a charwoman, but presumably was unable to have the children with her.
By the time of the 1861 census the family had been reunited and were living together in Newton Blossomville. Twelve year old Thomas was already working as an agricultural labourer and his mother was a lace collar maker.
In 1863 his mother married George Cotton, a widower from Turvey, and Thomas subsequently spent the rest of his life in Turvey. He married Ruth Freeman, a lacemaker, and the couple later lived in Mill Lane and Vine Row. By 1911 Thomas and his wife had moved to the Barton Almshouses, which later became the Barton and Royle Homes. Thomas died in 1933.
In 1927, at the age of 78, Thomas wrote his poems down in a book which is now at the Bedfordshire Archives.
Joan Hammond was born in Liverpool, later living in Gloucestershire before moving to the Barton and Royle Homes in 2017 to be nearer her daughter. Remarkably, her son’s family history research has since uncovered a Turvey connection that the family were unaware of – Joan has ancestors, Patrica Bywater and John Hawley, who were married in Turvey church in 1690!
Joan wrote her first poem when she was seven. She has self-published in aid of charity and donated the proceeds of the sale of one of her books to the All Saints Tower Fund.
Anne Ludlow was born in Paisley in Scotland in 1926 and moved to Turvey in 1969 with her husband and children. She started writing poetry in the 1990’s and gave local performances, donating the proceeds to charity. Towards the end of her life she had great success in the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama, winning 1st and 2nd prizes in several categories. Anne died in 2014.