The Hole Family Part One


Sacred/to the memory of/James Hole/who died/1 April 1860/aged 74 Years

Also Elizabeth, his wife/who died illegible May 1869/aged 85  Years

Remainder illegible

James Hole, born in Hythe, was baptised in St Leonard’s Church there on 4 March 1787. He was the son of John and Elizabeth Hole. He married a Lydd woman, Elizabeth, and they went on to have five children, Thomas, William, Elizabeth, Mary and John. James was a fishmonger with premises in Hythe High Street. We know little of their lives, but Elizabeth was admitted as a ‘sister’ of St Bartholomew’s hospital in 1867, two years before her death. (1)

Thomas, the eldest son, born in 1817, married Susan Dowle in Hythe in 1840 and went with her to live in Ashford where, like his father, he set up as a fishmonger and became the father of many children. He died there in 1872.


Inscription William Walker Hole/of illegible/who died illegible July 1882/ aged 59 years

Also of/ Olive

Remainder illegible

William, born 1822,  married Olive Tickner from Charing and took over his father’s fishmonger’s shop in Hythe High Street, while his father James, perhaps sick of fish, opened a beer shop instead. William and Olive lived in Stade Street, where Olive took in lodgers. She also assisted William in his business, ran a fruit stall on the same premises and quarrelled with the neighbours. Two of these arguments ended in court.

In 1866, Olive attended evening service at St Leonard’s and headed for her usual pew, to find it already  already occupied by Charles Nelson and Kate Godfrey.  Charles said it was his usual pew, and although there was room for one more, he would not allow her in – they were box pews then, with doors. The next Sunday, the couple were there before her again. After that, things got confused. Olive said Charles attacked her and to save herself from falling she grabbed hold of his whiskers. She then went into the pew in front, climbed over the partition and chaos ensued. The sidesman sensibly refused to get involved and sent for the vicar. Olive sued Charles and Charles sued Olive. On this occasion, Olive won.

The next year, she was back in court. She and William were on bad terms with their next-door neighbour in Stade Street, Alfred Day. The cause of most of their animosity was the height of the fence between the two back yards. One day, Olive found Alfred’s ladder in her yard, put there so that could tar the fence. When he would not move it, she did so herself, putting it in her kitchen (William gave it back that evening).  The next day, it was back and Alfred was standing on it. He dared her to move it – quite a reckless thing to do as he was tarring at the time – and Olive, who seems to have been a nimble woman,  climbed up onto the roof of her outside toilet and then onto the fence, getting covered in tar in the process. She tried, unsuccessfully to push the ladder down, but Alfred stood his ground and pushed her away. She charged him with assault, but this time the case was thrown out.

Rows with the neighbours apart, the couple must have prospered in their business, as by 1866 their house in had in the yard a new brick building with a slate roof, which housed a stable and had a herring-hang attached and a large wooden shed built against it. William woke one night to find the lot in flames. He ran into town to summon the fire brigade.

Hythe fire Brigade had been founded in 1802, the first in Kent. It had just acquired a magnificent new  Paxton fire engine at a cost of £173. 3s. 0d raised by public subscription. This was capable of discharging a hundred gallons of water a minute to a height of a hundred and twenty feet – depending, of course on there being a suitable water supply at the premises.

Eight volunteer firemen and the new engine, drawn by a horse, attended the blaze, and forty-odd men from the School of Musketry which had been based in the town for the last thirteen years, also arrived. Unfortunately, the water main in Stade Street was only two inches in diameter and useless for a major fire. The fireman had to take water from the sea and four nearby wells. They stopped the fire spreading and saved the houses in Stade Street, but had to let the fire in William’s outbuildings burn itself out.

William lost everything – his van, cart, sets of harness and fishing nets and his black mare. The total cost was between five and six hundred pounds, a huge sum, and William was not fully insured.  It must have been a terrible blow, but William had other sources of income as a property owner who rented out houses, so he was not left entirely bankrupt.

William and Olive did not have children.


In loving memory/of/Frances/wife of John Rann Hole/who died(illegible) November/1886/aged 78 years

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

Also of John Rann Hole/died 3rd November 1897/aged72 years

I have fought a good fight I have finished the course I have kept the faith

The youngest son, John, born 1826, started his working life as a footman and at the age of thirty-two married Frances Smith, who had also been in service, working as a servant to the Fagge family of Hythe. She was fifteen years John’s senior.  After their marriage, they went to live in Sheerness, where John worked as a labourer in the royal dockyard. By 1871 he was back in in East Kent, in Folkestone, working as a lay missionary at the new Church of England Mission in Sidney Street. The Mission was set up for the poorest people in the town, the railway workers. Its first premises were in a former baker’s shop in Sidney Street and housed a Mission Chapel, Sunday School and Cocoa Tavern – a teetotal alternative to the public house. John and Frances lived just around the corner in the Mission Room in Canterbury Road. After his wife’s death, John returned to Hythe where he lived in Stade Street until his death.

Continued in The Hole Family Part 2

  1. Kent Archives EK2008/2/Book 16