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Cockermouth Post Article January 2014 – THE RUDD FAMILY OF COCKERMOUTH

Several weeks ago Mitchell’s Auction Company sold a grandfather clock that carried a brass plaque, commemorating the fact that it had been presented to the new Cockermouth Cottage Hospital by the Reverend C L Rudd in 1902. The clock was bought back by the original makers of the clock, Charles Frodsham & Co., of London, for the sum of £5,200. Richard Stenning of the company subsequently contacted the Museum Group to find out more about the history of the clock and the Rudd family.

The Rudd family owned Derwent House (the present Trout Hotel) for many years. John Rudd (1742-1800) and later his son William (1780-1841) were both attorneys in the town, and one of William’s sons was the Reverend Charles Louis Rudd, born in 1839. We know from one of his descendants, Geoffrey Harris, that in 1873 the Reverend Rudd went to Hempstead by Holt, a small village in Norfolk, where a new vicarage was built and the interior of the church there furnished at his personal expense. One year later he also financed the building of an infant school in the village. The church is filled with items commemorating members of his family. Many people in the village have queried the source of the Rudd family fortune and Mr Harris has recently come across an intriguing, if rather gruesome, explanation that dates back to the days of slavery.

The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1803 reports the murder of Thomas Trohear Rudd (son of Mr Rudd, Attorney of Cockermouth), and his wife Mary (daughter of Mr Henry Jackson, shipbuilder of Whitehaven) at the Skiddaw plantation in Jamaica. The couple had just enjoyed breakfast with their little boy aged 2, and Captain Read, a visitor:

“About 8 Mr Rudd left the table to go to some negroes who were at work in a wood about 100 yards from the house. He had not left the room many minutes when a shrieking was heard. Captain Read and Mrs Rudd immediately rushing out of the house, the first object they beheld was two of the negroes with billhooks in their hands, covered with blood, and running towards them …”

Captain Read survived this murderous attack but Mrs Rudd and her husband were not so lucky. Their poor son survived, only to die on the journey home to England a few months later. The murderers were caught and executed, and a memorial placed near the scene of the murders, recording how Mr and Mrs Rudd were murdered in the prime of their lives. Presumably, a considerable inheritance would have been left to the Rudd family back in England. Thomas Trohear Rudd, uncle to the Reverend Rudd, had been christened at All Saints’ Church on 22nd November 1772.

Gloria Edwards

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