When the sun is shining Southwold beach is a good place to be for a sniff of sea air, a play in the sand, and a dabble in the surf. If the air starts to chill then you are just minutes away from the town and a handy tea room.

The Pattman Family

menu
The Pattman Family

Ale, Sail and School - The Pattman Family

Dear Father and Mother
You must feel very anxious about me. You must want to know how I am inclined for the sea. To tell you the truth I should like to go. We had a very rough passage down. The morning we went out we got as far as Lowestoft Roads and laid there all day ....

Thus wrote thirteen years old Robert Pattman to his parents in February 1864, from Shields on the northeast coast, having ran away to sea. Robert is just one member of the Pattman family of east Suffolk in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, revealed by their descendents' research. Robert, who was born in Southwold in 1851, became a noted sea-captain, skipper of the clipper "Loch Torridon", famed for its speed, which beat all other ships in 1892 bringing Australian wool from Sydney to London in 83 days. He commanded the four-masted barque for over 26 years, until 1908 when he went into steam. He died in Falmouth hospital in 1912, after breaking his leg at sea.

Robert’s father was a bootmaker, born in Beccles, also named Robert (1822–1882). He married a Hampshire girl, Martha Cox of Milton (1822–1899), at the Church of St Martin in the Fields, London, in 1847, and moved to Southwold. All of his eleven children were born there. The 1851 census shows him living at 100 Meeting House Lane as a bootmaker employing one man. The household included his wife, two young children, his sister in law from Milton (had she come to help with the new baby?), and two lodgers. By 1861 they were living at 39 High Street Southwold. Now Robert employed four men and a boy, and there were five children, and a fifteen-years old apprentice in the household. By 1871 the Pattmans were in London, with Robert, now nearly fifty, a coffee-shop proprietor.

An elder sister of Robert senior (and aunt of the sea-captain Robert) was Harriet (1818– ), also born in Beccles. By 1841 she was living in Blythburgh at the schoolhouse with her half–sister Mary Ann (1812– ), the schoolmistress. Harriet married Henry Trueman of the village around 1845, and with him became joint innkeeper of the White Hart at Blythburgh. The census of 1871 shows their fourteen years old son John staying with his aunt the schoolmistress.

The father of Mary Ann, Harriet and Robert was John Pattman (1781–1857) of Blythburgh, a whitesmith and brassfounder, who married Ann Feaveryear in 1811. Mary Ann was their only child, and she was Blythburgh schoolmistress for at least thirty years. John married a second time in 1814, in Barsham, to Rachel Blowfield (1789–1869) who had been born in Westleton. They had seven children, all born in Beccles. In 1851, in their old age, they were living at 40 High Street, Southwold.

There are two Pattman graves in Blythburgh churchyard. Those of John (d.1857) and his wife Rachel.

Further reading:
B. Lubbock, The Colonial Clippers (Glasgow, 1921)
E.R. Cooper, Storm Warriors of the Suffolk Coast (London, 1936)

Alison Edmonds, Harpenden, February 1995.
Back to the History Index

Back to our Featured Reports

Some Favourite Websites For September 2019:

Golden Light EssencesA Gift of Transformation

Golden Light Essences comprise a range of flower and vibrational essences. These flower essences have been created to help us to understand and transform the negative beliefs we have about ourselves, and our world.

Chris Doyle PhotographyBeautiful Photos of local recent horse riding events

View extensive online galleries of recent horse shows, show jumping, cross country and other events as well as galleries of racing dogs and wildlife. Prints are available to order online.

Green Haven HolidaysCaravan and Camping Site near Halesworth

Stuart and Katherine have enthusiastically established their campsite in the village of Rumburgh just north of Halesworth. From the outset they were keen that this would be an eco-friendly business. Village CAMRA pub close by. Re-opened on 1st May for the 2015 season.

Poachers CottagePoacher's Cottage, Halesworth - Charming self-catering accommodation for three (plus cot) with beach hut option

A welcoming and charming one-bedroomed cottage, with space for a cot. Additional single sofa-bed. Highchair available. This cosy cottage is in a Conservation Area in a street of other interesting period cottages, yet countryside walks start opposite the front door. Stroll to the Market Place and the pedestrianised Thoroughfare. Just ten miles to the coast at Southwold where you have the option of renting a beach hut which is in the same ownership.

Michael BullenWalberswick based watercolourist and Artist

Watercolours are a moment in time with all the depth, light and simplicity of a haiku and just as elusive. Michael's paintings and prints can be viewed at his Studio overlooking The Market Square in Halesworth.