FRY, James Thomas
1804 – 1872
Registrar of the Court of Chancery
On 30 May 1851, James Thomas Fry bought Baston, ‘an excellent and convenient family residence with capital stabling, coach house and offices and 117 acres of land’. It had sufficient bedrooms for his large family of eight children but more rooms were added as well as a schoolroom. In 1861 five of his children were still living at home and he employed a resident cook, parlourmaid, housemaid and kitchen maid. Ten years later he had retired and described himself as a gentleman farmer employing 4 labourers and a boy and farming 97 acres. He still employed four servants but only his sons James, a solicitor and Charles, a stockbroker, were still living at home. His eldest daughter Ann died in 1870 but his daughters Joanna, Henrietta and Mary had married merchants who were all born in Germany. Henrietta’s husband, Julius Caesar, was described in the census as a British subject born in Germany.
The existence of the Common so close to his property was both an advantage and a disadvantage. In the 1850s James Fry was reminded not to extract gravel from the Common but was given permission to take the game and shoot in the area of his house. The danger of arson was always a threat and he helped to identify some boys who had set fire to the Common. He also complained about some villagers who were planning to cut down firs in front of his gate and felt the police should be taking a greater watch on what was happening. He kept some sheep and took advantage of the opportunity to turn some out onto the Common at the appropriate time of the year. On 9 November 1868, the Common Ranger Charles Spraggs recorded that Mr Fry had turned out 85 sheep and the following June 132 sheep for 28 days.
James Fry died in 1872 and was buried in Hayes Churchyard. His widow Ann put the estate up for sale and the family moved away from Hayes.