Most places have individuals whose names have come down through the centuries and are easily recognisable: they stood out for their political, social, literary or religious deeds or actions. In Alcester, most of us have heard of the three Fulke Grevilles, Dr.Brandish, Harbridge of Newport Free School and the 17th century Rector, Samuel Clarke.
There is a second group of people in every place whose members were stalwarts of the community, respected by their contemporaries and remembered for many years after their deaths but who do not figure in history books, They were worthies in their time. Such an one was Joseph Lea.
Lea was a tailor: his father had the same Christian name, as did his son. This sort of thing always causes confusion when examining records. Joseph Lea lived from 1805 to 1888 and, apart from his trade, was much in the public eye for his official offices. In particular, he was elected Town Crier in 1834 (a position he held for very many years), was parish clerk and served as a bailiff. 83 years is quite a long time to live in the same place. In 1834 Joseph Lea took over the position of Town Crier from his father, who had done the job for the previous ten years. The parish church papers (at Warwick Record Off ice) include two bills, presumably presented to the churchwardens by Joseph. One in 1837 was for crying, posting and delivering the bills of the mad dogs and keeping the dogs up for 6 weeks. One in 1843 was for crying the dogs and crying the fireworks. There were many other things to cry, of course: the new Queens Accession (1837) and Coronation (1838), annual fairs and special services. As parish clerk, Joseph no doubt had the charge of the registers and on Sundays supported the Rector in the reading of the services from that peculiar piece of church furniture then in use, the 3-decker pulpit.
When Joseph became too old to carry on his duties, his son, also Joseph, became parish clerk. This third Joseph was a grocer on High Street and lived into the present century. It was at his house that Joseph,snr. lived out his last years. The first Joseph is first mentioned in 1785, so the three generations of Joseph Leas span well over a century.
Summer 1986 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991