The Smiths of Ryburgh: an update compiled and written by Carol Winfield


The Smiths of Ryburgh a.k.a. F & G Smith Ltd.



I have been asked to write an update to Betty Wharton’s book ‘The Smith’s of Ryburgh’ which was published in 1990 by Crisp Malting Ltd – Betty was the great granddaughter of Frederick Edgar Smith who together with his brother George Edgar founded F & G Smith Ltd.

Betty, whilst she didn’t have access to the wealth of records in the public domain which we have today, wrote an excellent account of this Smith family and had access to the company records held by Crisp Malting Ltd. Sadly today the company are less willing to share the archive of early company documents. We must remember that Betty’s book is 31 years past its publication date and we are fortunate to be able to update some of the information about this family and perhaps correct a few more family memories and answer a few of Betty’s questions.

Let me say that whilst I have no connection with this Smith family, I have been researching family history for over two decades and was persuaded by my husband to look at the origins of his Smith family. The Smith surname strikes terror into every genealogist but we were fortunate that his great grandfather was christened with a somewhat unusual name and discovered that our Smith family lived in Guist for 150 years. Having spent the last 15 years researching and writing a book about Guist and its families, I have recently found an early Smith family who lived in Guist in the 17th Century who were unconnected to our Smith family and wondered if they had any connection with the Ryburgh Smiths. As it happened they didn’t but in working them through I discovered the origins of the Ryburgh Smiths. So let me start at the beginning….

Betty, working on a vague idea that the two Smith brothers Frederick and George farmed in Scarning, visited Scarning churchyard where she found a Smith family, neither of the two brothers, but graves of Richard George Edgar Smith and his wife Ruth together with his first wife and two of their children. Richard George Edgar Smith, from the headstone, was born in 1829 and died in 1905, followed by his second wife Ruth who died in 1908. There is also the grave of Richard Henry, the third son of Richard George Edgar and his wife Sarah Ann who died 12 September 1884 aged 13 and his sister Alice Mary who died on 13 November 1884 aged 5 (Betty gives Alice Mary’s age as 5 months but this is more likely 5 years). Their mother Sarah Ann also died on 23 August 1884 and was buried in Scarning. Although there is no evidence they probably succumbed to a typhoid outbreak.

Betty goes on to say on page 5: -

Was Richard George Edgar Smith brother of Frederick and George at Ryburgh? This seems likely as we know that a Smith ran the mill at Toftwood when George Smith was living at Daffy Green close by.

Yes he was! A look at the 1841 census for Toftwood reveals a widow, one Mary Smith, miller, with her six children living at Toftwood – all six children were not born in Norfolk, Mary born about 1826, Frederick Edgar about 1827 occupation baker, Richard George Edgar about 1829, Emily about 1832, George Edgar about 1835 and Edgar about 1836. So who was Mary senior’s husband? He was Edgar Smith, miller, who died in 1839 aged 41 at Toftwood and was buried in East Dereham on 24 December 1839 – a copy of his Will is listed on NROCAT (NCC will register Turner 416 dated 1840) – leaving his widow Mary with six young children, the oldest Mary would have been 13 and the youngest Edgar was 3. Sight of this Will would probably yield information but Edgar senior appears to have been a wealthy man enabling his widow to carry on milling at Toftwood. So where did Edgar, Mary and six children come from? The 1851 tells us places of birth and whilst Edgar died in 1839 so we don’t know where he was born it seems likely that along with the rest of his family he was born in Suffolk, possibly into an affluent milling family. His marriage to Mary can’t be found but was likely to have been about 1825 as their first child Mary was born about 1826 probably in Suffolk – she’s no longer at home in 1851 so we don’t know where she was born and nothing more is known about her.

However the 1851 census reveals that widow Mary (occupation miller and baker) was born about 1801 in Wrentham, Suffolk and apart from Mary (1826) the younger five children were all at home and access to Parish Registers reveal that Frederick Edgar (occupation miller) was christened in Wangford cum Henham, Suffolk on 25 February 1827, Richard George Edgar (occupation baker) in Wangford on 20 December 1829, Emily (occupation dressmaker) about 1832 in Shadingfield, Suffolk, George Edgar (occupation miller) was christened in East Dereham on 14 September 1851 having been born in Shadingfield, Suffolk on 29 June 1833, and Edgar (occupation grocer’s assistant in Fakenham) about 1836 Shadingfield, Suffolk. Looking at the Suffolk map it can be seen that Wrentham, Wangford and Shadingfield are close to each other on the eastern side of Suffolk – what’s more there had been a postmill at Wangford since 1736 and a postmill in Shadingfield since 1764 so it seems likely that Edgar who was born about 1798 had been milling since his marriage to Mary, if not before, and possibly came from a milling family.

Thanks to Jonathan Neville’s excellent survey of Norfolk mills, we are able to put some more flesh on bones about the Toftwood mill. There had been a postmill on this site since 1778 when John Poulter, miller, took it over. He attempted to let or sell it over the years until it finally sold in 1786 to Robert Norton, miller. Robert Norton died in 1823 and the mill was once again put up for sale but a plan dated 1830 still shows him as owner. John Tailent, corn miller, occupied it in 1836 but he sold up in March 1837 when it seems likely that Edgar Smith bought it.

In White’s 1854 Mary Smith & Sons corn millers of Toftwood were listed. The Sons would have been Frederick Edgar, Richard George Edgar and George Edgar – with Richard remaining there after his mother died in 1861 although he lived at Daffy Green, Scarning. His brothers Frederick and George moved on to Great Ryburgh and founded what was to become F & G Smith Ltd. He ran the Toftwood mill until his death in 1905 and was succeeded by his eldest son George Richard until his death in 1920. However George Richard had closed the mill in 1914 due to war restrictions but continued to farm at Toftwood. In 1921 his executors put the mill up for sale and it was bought by H C Stammers & Co Ltd and they demolished it in 1928 leaving the mill house which by 1982 was named as The Old Mill.

Betty hints at maybe a falling out between the three brothers led to Richard staying at Toftwood whilst Frederick and George went to Ryburgh – sight of their father Edgar’s will would possibly throw some light but it seems likely that he left the mill at Toftwood to Richard but Frederick and George inherited money from their father’s estate when their mother Mary died aged 60 shortly after the 1861 census on 5 May 1861 and buried in East Dereham on 11 May 1861. Her will is not listed on NROCAT. Richard ran Toftwood independent of F & G Smith Ltd – Frederick Edgar (from Betty’s book page 9) ‘in 1859 he had gained title to 288 acres of land in Little Ryburgh and also a grain mill on the Wensum’.

This mill was Ryburgh but seems it was called Gately Road Water Mill in 1861 where Frederick was living, single, occupation miller, merchant and farmer of 288 acres employing 6 men and 4 boys with 2 live-in servants. The 288 acres of farmland was the other side of the Wensum in Little Ryburgh. Meanwhile sister Emily was living at home at Toftwood with her widowed mother in 1861 occupation housekeeper but nothing further is known about her, brother George Edgar was also at home in 1861 occupation merchant and youngest brother Edgar was also at home occupation grocer – nothing further is known about him. So when widow Mary died just weeks after the 1861 census, her son Frederick was already milling at Ryburgh and Richard took over at Toftwood.

By 1871 all had changed – although Frederick Edgar was living in Mill House at Ryburgh with his wife Annie and their growing family and his occupation was given as merchant, farmer and miller. Brother Richard was living at Toftwood with his wife Sarah Ann occupation miller (Toftwood) and farming 150 acres employing 14 men whilst living at Toftwood and brother George Edgar was living in Daffy Green with his wife Alice farming 270 acres employing 7 men and 4 boys.

At this point we need to update Betty’s book – she makes several references to Alice Susan – on page 14 she notes: -

George died at Highfields on August 1st 1882 followed by Alice Susan on 5 March 1901. They are buried in one grave close to that of Frederick in Great Ryburgh.


On page 23 she notes: -

It is interesting to note that they were only met by ‘Mrs’ G Smith of Highfield.

These cryptic references are explained by Betty on page 11: -

He (George) appears to have married, but Alice Susan was his mistress, not his wife.

Now with the help of Parish records we know that George Edgar Smith married Alice Susannah Wright in Watton on 14 August 1866 – she was christened 26 March 1841 the daughter of Robert (occupation baker) Wright and his wife Alice in Watton.

Frederick Edgar died 1 February 1881 aged 53 and was buried in Great Ryburgh on 6 February 1881. Brother Richard was farming 264 acres employing 10 men and 2 boys in Daffy Green whilst milling at Toftwood by 1881 – he was a widower and had 2 live in servants including Ruth Long whom he later married. By 1881 brother George Edgar was living at Highfields in Great Ryburgh with his wife Alice occupation farmer and maltster of 515 acres. So did Richard buy his brother George Edgar’s farm in Daffy Green?

To complete the three brothers – Richard retired from farming before 1901 leaving his son George Richard farming in Daffy Green and in 1901 he and Ruth were living in Cowper Road, East Dereham occupation retired farmer and corn merchant – he died in 1905 and was buried with his first wife Sarah Ann in Scarning, followed by Ruth in 1908. George died at Highfields, Great Ryburgh on 5 August 1882 followed by his widow Alice Susannah on 5 March 1901 also at Highfields. They are both buried together in Great Ryburgh close to Frederick’s grave.

As for the younger generations of this family, Betty had access both to company records and family archives so her book gives the rest of this family’s history.

It would appear that whilst this Smith family’s roots were Toftwood where they all grew up, this mill wasn’t part of F & G Smith Ltd incorporated in 1890 under the terms of Frederick’s will executed by his widow Annie.


Carol A Winfield September 2021



F. and G. Smith of Great Ryburgh:


The family tree 



There is an appendix at the end of this document listing the Mill’s chairman and an excellent article about the mill in its heyday.


Edgar Smith bc 1798 unknown was a miller when he died, aged 41, in 1839 at Toftwood and buried in East Dereham on 24 December 1839 – a copy of his Will is listed on NROCAT (NCC will register Turner 416 dated 1840) – leaving his widow Mary with six young children the oldest would have been 13 and the youngest was 3. A wealthy landowner, farmer and miller at the Toftwood mill. Two of their sons (and probably their first born Mary (1826)) Frederick Edgar (1827) and Richard George Edgar (1829) were born in Wangford cum Henham Suffolk where there had been a postmill since 1736 – the family then moved to Shadingfield Suffolk where there had been a postmill since 1764 where their last three children were born in 1833, 1836 and 1838. So it seems Edgar had been milling for some years and possibly followed his father into the business. Thanks to Jonathan Neville’s excellent survey of Norfolk mills, we are able to put some more flesh on bones about the Toftwood mill. There had been a Postmill on this site since 1778 when John Poulter, miller took it over. He attempted to let or sell it over the years until it finally sold in 1786 to Robert Norton, miller. Robert Norton died in 1823 and the mill was once again put up for sale but a plan dated 1830 still shows him as owner. John Tailent, corn miller occupied it in 1836 but he sold up in March 1837 when it seems likely that Edgar Smith bought it. In White’s 1854 Mary Smith & Sons corn millers of Toftwood were listed. The Sons would have been Frederick Edgar, Richard George Edgar and George Edgar – with Richard remaining there after his mother died in 1861 although he lived at Daffy Green, Scarning. His brothers Frederick and George moved on to Great Ryburgh and founded what was to become F & G Smith Ltd. He ran the Toftwood mill until his death in 1905 and succeeded by his eldest son George Richard until his death in 1920.

F & G Smith Ltd was formed in 1890 and the mill at Toftwood stayed independent of this company. However George Richard had closed the mill in 1914 due to war restrictions but continued to farm at Toftwood. In 1921 the company put the mill up for sale and it was bought by H C Stammers & Co Ltd and they demolished it in 1928 leaving the mill house which by 1982 was named as The Old Mill.

m Mary unknown about 1825 (bc 1801 Wrentham SF), 1841 widow living Toftwood Common occ miller with 5 servants living in, 1851 living Toftwood Common, East Dereham, widow, miller and baker with 2 live in servants, 1861 living Toftwood Common, widow, retired farmer with 2 live in servants. Died aged 60 shortly after the 1861 census on 05/05/1861 and buried in East Dereham on 11/05/1861.

1 Mary bc 1826 Suffolk, 1841 at home

1 Frederick Edgar bap 25/02/1827 Wangford cum Henham SF, 1841 at home occ baker, 1851 at home occ miller, 1861 living Gately Road Water Mill in Gt Ryburgh occ miller, merchant and farmer of 288 acres emp. 6 men and 4 boys with 2 live in servants – in 1859 he had gained title to 288 acres of land in Little Ryburgh and also a grain mill on the Wensum, 1871 living Mill House Gt Ryburgh with Annie occ merchant, farmer and miller with 3 live in servants, Died 01/02/1881 aged 53 and buried in Gt Ryburgh on 06/02/1881.

m Annie Jacobs 27/08/1861 Watton NF (bn 05/05/1838 Watton d/o George Jacobs, horse dealer and farmer in 1861 (bn 01/01/1814 Gooderstone) and his wife Sarah) 1881 widow living Mill House Ryburgh occ farmer of 1700 acres emp. 52 men, 20 boys and 8 women – as merchant emp. 6 men, as maltster emp. 40 men and as miller emp. 6 men – with 4 live in servants. On 19/03/1890 Annie remarried in Gt Ryburgh to George Edward Jacobs-Smith (from Brockhurst, Lutterworth in Warwickshire) who had added the Smith surname by Deed Poll 10 days before the very lavish wedding, which was reported at some length in the EDP, they honeymooned on the Continent and in August 1890 departed Ryburgh for a weekend in Cromer where she died from a massive sudden heart attack on 02/08/1890 – her body was brought back to Ryburgh where she was buried with her late husband Frederick. George Edward Jacobs was not much older than her elder sons and knew nothing about milling which caused the family some consternation. All of her children inherited money from their mother’s estate according to their father’s wishes when he died in 1881 and his considerable fortune was shared between them – the six sons received £12,000 each and the two daughters £6,000 each.

          2 George Frederick bap 16/11/1862 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home, 1881 at home occ merchant’s assistant, when his mother died in 1890 he took over as Chairman of the company, 1891 living Staithe St. Wells in a large house called Mayshiel at the top of Staithe Street bought by the family and ran the Smith family mill occ maltster with Florence and 4 servants, when his mother died in 1890 the two youngest brothers Harry and Charles were still at boarding school aged 15 and 14 so George became their guardian, 1901 still at the mill in Staithe St Wells occ corn merchant with Florence and 5 servants, 1911 still at Staithe St Wells married for 17 years with 4 children all alive, occ maltster and merchant with Florence Mary – they had a visitor one George Turner Cain bc 1891 Liverpool – and 3 servants, died aged 56 on 15/10/1917 and was buried in Wells.

m Florence Mary Wood 10/11/1886 in Morston church (bc 1867 Morston Hall – the Wood family home for 4 generations – they were tenants of the Marquess of Townshend) – her brother Charles George Wood married her sister in law Annie Mary Smith.

                     3 Jessie Mary bn 11/11/1889 Wells, 1891 at home aged 16 mths, 1901 at home, 1911 at home single, died in 1927.

m George Turner Cain 05/07/1911 Wells and had three children including Robert known as Bob, grand children and great grandchildren. Bob probably inherited his mother’s shares as he was to play an important part in company history. He had a successful army career and married Lamorna Hingston in 1937 and became a Director whilst still a serving officer so his attendance at meetings was limited. On Malcolm’s death in 1947 Vardon took over as Chairman designate which was confirmed together with Managing Director on 30/11/1947 with John Wharton as assistant manager and company secretary and Rachel a seat on the board. When Vardon retired in 1962 to join his daughter in Devon, Bob Turner Cain took over as Chairman and MD.

                   3 George Frederick Edgar bn 14/04/1892 Wells known as Geoff because of his initials GFE, 1901 at home, 1911 at home single, he was employed at Wells Maltings but found working with his father difficult so was sent to Australia in 1913 to train as a maltster brewer but he enlisted into the 9th Regiment of Infantry and was sent to France where he died in action at Rouen in 1918.

                   3 Edgar Ladas bn 24/05/1894 Wells, 1901 at home, 1913 his father employed him at the Dereham site and he seized the opportunity, his uncle Herbert Edgar appointed him as a Director of the company and on his uncle’s death in 1921 he became a very young and inexperienced Chairman, he was engaged to be married (Banns were read in Wells in March 1914 for Edgar Smith and Winifred Avey Fisk of Littleport) but apparently she spurned him and married someone else, coupled with the business problems during the Depression and lurking tax bill proceedings, Ladas committed suicide on 05/09/1929 aged 35 at Mayshiel in Wells.

                    3 Victoria Rachel bn 11/04/1897 Wells, 1901 at home, 1911 at home m John Chamberlain and had a son George, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Rachel continued to be a shareholder and as such had influence with the Board. Her only son George married Olive Girling in 1947 and they had 3 children and grandchildren. Before Malcolm’s death in 1947 Rachel felt the board needed a few more members and proposed her nephew Bob Turner Cain who was appointed.

         2 Frederick Edgar bap 31/07/1864 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home, 1881 at home occ farmer’s assistant, 1891 living near the Green Oxwick with Caroline A and 3 servants occ farmer, merchant, maltster and miller, 1901 living Hall Farm Oxwick nr Colkirk occ farmer and employer with Caroline M and 4 servants, died aged 42 in 1906 and was buried at Colkirk because the Oxwick church had been closed. His widow Caroline and their two children moved from Oxwick to the manor house at Ryburgh after his death as the next generation of the Smith family.

m Caroline Alice Dyhall 26/11/1885 South Kensington London (bc 1861 Essenden Herts) and they lived at Oxwick Hall Fakenham

                  3 Herbert Frederick Edgar bn 1886 East Dereham, 1891 at home, known as Effie – he became a Director in 1914 but showed little interest in the business but had a distinguished Army career rising to Captain in 1922, he continued as a professional soldier after his marriage and rose to rank of Lt Col by the time he retired, d 1940 married with a dau and two g’children

m Hon. Moira Plunkett 1922 Knightsbrigde St Paul’s and their daughter Fiona was born in 1923.

                  3 Muriel Mary bap 14/11/1886 Gt Ryburgh, 1891 at home, married 3 times with a son who died in WW2. She died in Ropley near Alton in 1954 having settled there with her third husband.

          2 Herbert Edgar bap 24/09/1865 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home, 1881 at home scholar, 1891 living Mill House Ryburgh single occ maltster, merchant and miller – he had his brother Edgar (Ned) living with him, single occ farmer, and 3 servants, 1901 living Mill House Ryburgh occ maltster and corn merchant with Alice with 3 live in servants, 1911 living Mill House Gt Ryburgh Fakenham occ maltster, managing director of the Ryburgh branch of the Smiths with Alice May and 4 live in servants, when George Frederick died in 1917 he took over as chairman but he was not a well man and he appointed his son Edgar Vardon as assistant manager of Ryburgh and Ladas as a Director of the company – he died on 03/09/1921 aged 56 whilst visiting his sister Edith in Devon, having been a churchwarden for 23 years and Chairman of the Parish Council for over 20 years. After a service in Great Ryburgh he was buried with his brother Ned in Little Ryburgh churchyard on 07/09/1921.


Nat Probate Calendar: SMITH Herbert Edgar of Mill House Great Ryburgh Norfolk died 3 September 1921 at Budleigh Salterton Devonshire Probate Norwich 22 October to Harry Malcolm Smith, maltster and Harry Pearce Gould chartered accountant. Effects £31,816 3s 6d.


m Alice May Mawer 01/05/1897 Wandsworth Holy Trinity bn Wandsworth (he was 32 and she was 22) and they lived in Mill House Gt Ryburgh when he succeeded his uncle Frederick Edgar in 1881? After her husband’s death in1921 it appears May moved to Eastbourne where she was living in 1936 when Malcolm married in Norwich.

                       3 Harry Malcolm bn 26/04/1898 Mill House Ryburgh and known as Malcolm, 1901 at home, 1921 when his father died and his cousin Ladas became Chairman, Malcolm was appointed to the Board of Directors. After Ladas’s death in 1929 Malcolm and his brother Vardon were left to run the company with Malcolm becoming Chairman in 1933 having spent many years in the company. He took part in the decision to close the mill at Ryburgh in 1923 to concentrate on malting and not milling. Malcolm and Vardon saw the Dereham plant bombed twice during WW2 but rebuilt it – all this took its toll and he died on 11/11/1947 aged 49 having been rushed to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with a serious haemorrhage a week earlier and he was buried in the family plot in Little Ryburgh.

m Florence (Florrie) Goude in 1936 at Norwich St Peter Mancroft with his niece Annette as bridesmaid.

                           4 Edgar Michael

                           4 Frederick Graham

                           4 Stella Mary

                3 Hester Rhoda bn 19/03/1899 Mill House Ryburgh, 1901 at home, 1911 at home

m Henry Richmond Inigo-Jones 16/11/1925 in Langham Place, London – he was Lt in the Royal Indian Marine and their two children were born in India – Dinah Wendy in 1926 in Bombay and John Richmond in 1928 in Karachi.

                3 Edgar Vardon bn 12/09/1902 Mill House Ryburgh, 1911 at home

m Violet Maud Hacon in 1930 at Fakenham Registry Office and their daughter Helen Annette was born in 1931. They lived in Mill House Ryburgh where Vardon was born and lived there for the rest of his life. Vardon retired in 1962 from MD and Chairman to join his daughter in Devon.

                3 Barbara Nancy bn 23/05/1904 Mill House Ryburgh, 1911 at home – never married but was a great friend of her cousins Peggy and Charles, the two youngest children of Annie and Charles Wood. She lived in Norfolk all her life and settled in North Elmham close to her roots.

     2 Edgar (Ned) bap 30/01/1867 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home, 1881 at home scholar, 1891 living Mill House with his brother Herbert occ farmer, 1901 living The Hall Testerton single occ farmer with 3 servants, 1911 living Testerton Hall Fakenham single occ farmer employer with 3 servants and a visitor Margaret Smith bc 1856 Crownthorpe NF aged 55 single. Died aged 47 on 01/05/1914 at Testerton Hall and was buried in the new extension of Little Ryburgh churchyard, having been a Director since 1890.

     2 Annie Mary bap 24/11/1867 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home

m Charles George Wood of Morston Hall 16/05/1888 Great Ryburgh and they lived at Church Farm Scarning where their first child Dorothy Mary was born on 27/06/1889 – they then moved to Dillington Hall where CG farmed and had another two daughters Winifred Edith bn Dillington on 25/06/1890 and Margaret Helen (known as Peggy) and a son Charles Page with grandchildren and great grandchildren. Annie Mary died aged 49 in 1916 and was buried in Dereham. C G Wood married again to Alice Bennett who was a devoted wife and popular step grandmother and he died on 28/09/1938 and buried in East Dereham. His two eldest daughters Dorothy (Dolly) and Winifred (Winnie) were close and in the early 1900’s found themselves befriending the Wharton family who had moved from Yorkshire to High House, Great Fransham. The 2 older Wharton boys Arthur and John farmed at High House and courted the Wood sisters – Arthur married Winnie in 1911 and they lived and farmed at Colkirk Hall – he was one of the first farmers to grow sugar beet just before WW1. He served in the Brigade of Guards during the war but continued to grow sugar beet. He then gave up farming to become the manager of the Ipswich Sugar factory and they moved to Ipswich. He later became secretary of the British Sugar Corporation in London. No issue from this marriage. His brother in law Charles Page Wood took over Colkirk Hall after Arthur and Winnie moved to Ipswich – he was single so sister Peggy went to housekeep for him and to pursue her passion for horses – she rode in races at Fakenham racecourse regularly. On 20/05/1937 Charles married Dorcas Brown in Huntingdon and they had 3 sons. He enlisted into 6th B Norfolk Regiment at the start of WW2 and served in Malaya where he was captured as a Japanese POW. He had given up the farm when he enlisted but on his return he divorced his wife, resigned from the Board and went to Ghana to grow cocoa. He married Mary Blake in Ghana in 1953 and died in a car accident in 1975. Meanwhile brother John married Dolly after the war had ended, having served in the Norfolk Yeomanry, and they lived and farmed at Wood Farm St Faiths near Norwich. He also became involved in the sugar industry at Cantley. They had 2 daughters Betty and Ann. John took a seat on the F & G Smith board after Malcolm’s death in 1947, having previously sold his barley to the Smith company. John lost Wood Farm to the RAF when it became St Faith’s aerodrome during WW2 so he gave up farming and devoted the rest of his life to F & G Smith Ltd as company secretary.

      2 Edith bap 24/01/1869 Gt Ryburgh, 1871 at home

m Alfred Charles Hammond 28/01/1890 Kensington Register Office (bap 26/06/1856 Warwick s/o Anthony Hammond and his wife Harriet Charlotte, he was 33 when he married Edith and his father Anthony deceased, clerk of Holy Orders). The ceremony was conducted by Rev J Beresford, uncle of the groom. They went to South Africa for their honeymoon and had 2 sons – Anthony Edgar in 1891 and Charles Herbert in 1894 who both died young. Edith divorced Alfred in 1911 and there is a full account of her divorce petition online – she claimed that Alfred Charles, after numerous affairs, had left her in February 1905 and went to Canada. He came back in January 1909 but did not live with her and the children. She petitioned in 1910 and was granted her divorce uncontested in June 1911. She lived in Budleigh Salterton Devon where her brother Herbert died in 1921. Edith died in December 1942 and was buried in Budleigh Salterton. It is not known when Alfred died as Edith spent several years looking for him but he wasn’t to be found and was declared dead on 7 November 1939.

     2 Harry Jacob bap 11/04/1875 Gt Ryburgh, 1881 at home, 1891 scholar at The Brighton School with his brother Charles George – Harry was just 15 when his mother died so his older brother George became his guardian. He came of age in 1896 and left the custody of his older brother and inherited his £12,000 and the company shares. He was appointed Director in 1907 after his brother Frederick Edgar’s death in 1906. In 1908 he applied to the Board to start up a business selling malt in the Manchester area – permission was granted with some very restrictive clauses and he moved to Stretford nr Manchester. It was Harry who proposed selling the farm and mill at Ryburgh and in 1912 it was bought by Mr Cook from Sennowe who paid £12,000 for the property. Harry resigned as a Director in 1912 and soon after he emigrated to Tasmania with his inheritance. He enlisted in the Australian army and served during WW1 reaching the rank of Major. By 1924 he was back in Norfolk and back on the Board, having married a lady called Muriel in Australia. He settled in Eastbourne and married Alice May Smith, widow of his brother Herbert so her children’s mother also became their aunt! They adopted David Smith whose origins are not known but subject to much family speculation. Harry died aged 78 in 1953.

      2 Charles George bap 30/04/1876 Gt Ryburgh, 1881 at home, 1891 scholar at The Brighton School with his brother Harry, Charles was just 14 when his mother died so his older brother George became his guardian but came of age in 1897 leaving his brother’s custody and inheriting his £12,000 and company shares left by his parents. He was appointed Director in 1920 but took no real active part in the business seeming determined to live off his fortune as a country gentleman. He was getting a good income from his inheritance and saw no reason to work. He bought The Limes, Kemble Glos which is where he was living in 1901 on private means with 3 servants. He moved to Rumwell Lodge in Taunton (1911 living Isomer Teignmouth, single, on private means with 3 servants) and then to Bradford-on-Avon Wilts where he died at Hillside, Bradford-on-Avon on 11/12/1936. He had married his housekeeper Mary Jane between 1911 and 1936 as his widow Mary placed notices in national newspapers after his death.




1 Richard George Edgar bap 20/12/1829 Wangford SF, 1841 at home, 1851 at home occ baker, 1861 at home occ miller, (seems he took over from his mother when she retired c1860 but moved to Daffy Green before 1881), 1871 living Toftwood Common Shipdham Road occ miller and farmer of 150 acres emp. 14 men with Sarah and 2 live in servants, 1881 living Daffy Green Scarning occ farmer of 264 acres emp. 10 men and 2 boys with Sarah and 2 live in servants, 1891 living High House Daffy Green Scarning occ farmer, widower with 2 live in servants – one Ruth Long aged 53 bn Thurning whom he married before 1901, 1901 Richard was a retired farmer and corn merchant living 27 Cowper Road, East Dereham with his second wife Ruth. He died in 1905 and was buried with his first wife Sarah in Scarning. Ruth died in 1908 and was also buried in Scarning.


Nat Probate Calendar: SMITH Richard George Edgar of East Dereham gentleman died 18 October 1905 Probate Norwich 15 November to George Richard Smith corn-merchant Effects £3,574 1s.


m 1 Sarah Ann Fuller 29/12/1861 Scarning, minor by licence (bc 1844 Scarning d/o Robert Fuller, farmer, died in 1884 and buried on 23/08/1884 Scarning)

     2 George Richard bc 1863 East Dereham, 1871 at home, 1881 at home occ farmer’s son, 1891 lodging with the Fitt family in Toftwood Farm House occ miller, 1911 living Mill Farm Toftwood occ miller and farmer with Minnie C, d 06/06/1920.

m Minnie C unknown about 1894 (bc 1870 Pimlico)

             3 Minnie Constance bc 1896 East Dereham, 1911 at home scholar

     2 Arthur Edgar bap 06/10/1867 East Dereham. 1871 at home, 1881 at home scholar, 1891 not found

     2 Richard Henry bc 1870 East Dereham, 1871 at home aged 6 mths, 1881 at home scholar, d 12/09/1884 aged 13.

     2 Alice Annie bc 1874 East Dereham, 1881 at home scholar, 1891 at home scholar

     2 Norman Charles bc 1875 East Dereham, 1881 at home, 1891 at home scholar, 1901 living 16 Theatre St East Dereham occ ? merchant and employer with Minnie C

m Amelia (Minnie) Caroline Crane 29/08/1899 Great Fransham (bc 1876 Gt Fransham) – they were both 23

           3 Lilian bn 1900 East Dereham, 1901 at home aged 9 mths

     2 Ethel Mary bap 12/06/1878 Toftwood East Dereham, 1881 at home, 1891 at home scholar, 1901 boarding with Barrell family in Fakenham on her own means

m Ernest Miller 27/05/1901 Fakenham

     2 poss Alice Mary bc 1879 East Dereham, d 13/11/1884 aged 5 and buried in Scarning


m 2 Ruth Long   bc 1838 Thurning, died Scarning 1908


1 Emily bc 1832 Shadingfield SF, 1841 at home, 1851 at home occ dressmaker, 1861 at home occ housekeeper

1 George Edgar bap 14/09/1851 East Dereham born 29/06/1833 Shadingfield SF, 1841 at home, 1851 at home occ miller, 1861 at home occ merchant (corn), 1871 living Daffy Green occ farmer of 270 acres emp. 7 men and 4 boys with Alice, a niece Ellen (Nellie) Goodwins bc 1858 Lowestoft and a nephew Arthur Goodwins bc 1865 Chertsey, 1881 living High Fields Gt Ryburgh occ farmer and maltster of 515 acres with Alice and a niece Nellie Goodwins bc 1858 Lowestoft, died 05/08/1882 at High Fields followed by his wife Alice Susannah on 05/03/1901. They are both buried together in Gt Ryburgh close to Frederick’s grave.


N.P.Cal:  SMITH George Edgar Personal estate £80,477 12s 6d. 9 November The Will of George Edgar Smith late of Pudding Norton Hall Wells Ryburgh and East Dereham all in the County of Norfolk Maltster and Merchant who died 5 August 1882 in Great Ryburgh in the said County was proved at Norwich by James Blomfield Wright of the City of Norwich Provision Merchant and Nathaniel Girling of East Dereham Gentlemen two of the Executors.


m Alice Susannah Wright 14/08/1866 Watton (bap 26/03/1841 Watton d/o Robert and Alice Wright occ baker)


N.P.Cal: SMITH Alice Susannah of ‘Highfield’ Great Ryburgh Norfolk widow died 5 March 1901 Probate Norwich 2 August to James Blomfield Wright wine and spirit merchant Effects £623 13s 11d.

1 Edgar bc 1836 Shadingfield SF, 1841 at home, 1851 living Tuns Street Fakenham occ grocer’s assistant to John Bushell, grocer, 1861 at home occ grocer.




Timeline of F & G Smith Ltd – Chairmen


1891 – 1917 George Frederick Smith

1917 – 1920 Herbert Edgar Smith

1921 – 1929 Ladas Smith

1929 – 1933 Edward ‘Teddy’ Hill

1933 – 1947 H Malcolm Smith

1947 – 1962 E Vardon Smith

1962 – 1982 G R (Bob) Turner Cain

1982 John Crisp and it became Crisp Malting Ltd.




Taken from Jonathan Neville’s excellent website –

The mill at Great Ryburgh had been there since before 1579 when it was leased to Simon Mussett, together with the Mill House called ‘Southemylle’ for 7 years at £13 6s 8d per annum with a clause meaning he had to grind corn there, by the Bacon family who owned it. Until 1760 when Mary Bacon died a spinster and it passed to her nephew Thomas Wodehouse the youngest son of Sir Armine Wodehouse. About 1800 the mill passed into the Boycott family.

Also from Jonathan’s website - (remember reporters were paid by the line in those days):


The Miller - 6th November 1893


Messrs F & G Smith Limited

Roller Flour Mills

Ryburgh Norfolk

In the pretty village of Ryburgh Magna, which is on the western bank of the river Wensum, four miles south-east of Fakenham, we had the pleasure of spending a day last month, in order to see the start of a new roller mill that has been erected by the well-known milling engineers, Messrs Whitmore & Binyon, of 64 Mark Lane, London, EC, and the Iron Works, Wickham Market, Suffolk, for Messrs F & G Smith Limited, who are known as the largest maltsters in East Anglia, and who have also worked a millstone mill for 30 years at Ryburgh. The history of this millstone mill is indeed identified with the firm of Messrs Whitmore & Binyon, for the old firm Messrs Whitmore & Sons, the predecessors of the present firm, erected this mill as a stone mill 35 years ago, and a most symmetrical and sound piece of work they made of it, a spur gear hurst of six parts of stones being arranged in a complete circle exactly in the middle of the mill and around the turbine shaft, which was extended to the upper floor for driving the various wheat cleaners and flour dressers, forming for that period a most elaborate system. This millstone system which was worked by a turbine fitted in the stream at the time of the alteration has, however, to make way for the more modern roller mill process, but three pairs of the millstones have been retained for whole meal and barley grinding. The mill, which is the property of Messrs F & G Smith Limited, is on the River Wensum and is a fine building, the two bottom floors being of brick and the top floor of wood, as is the construction of many of the mills in Norfolk. The opening of the new mill on the 20th ult was celebrated by a champagne luncheon, at which a goodly company of Norfolk millers and other visitors were present, the feed being turned on previously by Mrs George Smith, the wife of the chairman of the company. After the feed had been turned on, three cheers were called for by Mr W N Whitmore, the senior partner of the firm of Messrs Whitmore and Binyon, which were heartily given, and Mrs Smith acknowledged the compliment in a few words, spoken with a grace and charm which only a lady can display. The company then spent some time in examining the working of the various machines comprising the roller plant, which were placed on the different floors.

Roller Mill Plant

As mentioned before only a portion of the building is utilised for the roller mill plant, the remainder being occupied by the existing millstones, which will in future be employed in doing gristing work and grinding wholemeal. The roller plant has a capacity of three and a half to four sack of flour per hour.

Ground Floor

On the ground floor, immediately under the roller mills and other machinery of the roller mill plant, is the main line of shafting, which is carried on bearings and pedestals securely fixed on brick foundations. Arranged along the wall are the eleven elevators with their feed on this floor, and fastened to the ceiling is the exhaust trunk for carrying away the hot air exhausted from the roller mills. There still remains on this floor, as a monument to the good workmanship, the hursting for three pairs of millstones, which was erected by Mr John Whitmore in the year 1858, and started under the supervision of his son, Mr William N. Whitmore, now the senior partner of the firm of Messrs Whitmore & Binyon. This stone hursting will still drive the three pairs of millstones on the floor above and its present condition is a witness to the mathematical precision of 35 years ago. Divided off from the rest of the mill by means of a glass partition are the five double roller mills arranged in a straight line. The wheat is reduced to flour on the system of four breaks and six reductions. The first, second, third and fourth breaks are performed on two double roller mills, each fitted with four grooved chilled iron rolls 24 inches by 9 inches and we noticed that the roller mill, dealing with the third and fourth break material, is fitted with, besides its ordinary feed arrangement, a flight conveyor in the top of the hopper in order to distribute the feed more evenly. The six reductions are effected on two double roller mills, each fitted with four smooth chilled iron rolls 24 inches by 9 inches and a double roller mill, fitted with four chilled iron rolls, 18 inches by 9 inches. In the other portion of the mill are three pairs of millstones for making millstone flour and doing gristing work, and the bottom portion of a new wheat heater, which has recently been patented by Messrs Whitmore and Binyon, and we hope to give a full description, with illustration, of this apparatus in a future issue.

Second Floor

On the second floor we noticed a double rosary scalper for the first and second breaks, a reel scalper for the third break, an air belt aspirator, a clever little machine which makes three separations, and is only 4 feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide, a feed mixer, a "Goodall's" dustless purifier and a "Holgate" dustless purifier. On another portion of this floor we noticed the three wheat mixers which were placed at the bottom of the wheat bins so that they measure the quantity of wheat that has to be taken off to make the correct mixture, one barley and two cockle cylinders for removing the cockle and barley from the wheat, an "Eureka" brush machine, an elevator bottom, and the magnets for removing ferrous matter from the wheat before it passes to the first break machine.

Third Floor

The third floor is given up to six centrifugal flour-dressing machines, two and a half sheets long, a centrifugal for the fourth break material, a "Chronos" weigher, a fan to exhaust the hot air from the rolls, an "Eureka" scourer and an "Eureka" zigzag separator. We also noticed the top of the drier here and the fan attached to the drier.

Fourth Floor

We noticed on the fourth floor a chop reel, four sheets long, a "Tornado" prism dust collector and 11 elevator heads, besides other machines connected with the millstone mill.

Fifth Floor

On the top or fifth floor the wheat is received by means of a lukum and stacked or shot on to the various wheat bins, the top of which are so arranged on this floor as to facilitate this object. When the wheat on the bottom floor is required it is shot into a receiving elevator and carried to a worm conveyor on this floor and discharged into any one of the three dirty wheat bins.

Motive Power

The motive power when water is plentiful is principally derived from a Duncan's turbine water wheel, which was put down by Messrs Whitmore & Binyon in 1858, and to assist this wheel when the water is scarce, a horizontal compound condensing engine, built by Messrs Holmes & Sons Ltd., Norwich, with cylinders 10 inches by 17 inches and 22 inches stroke, running at a speed of 98 revolutions per minute, and controlled by a Turner-Hartnell governor, acting on the cut-off valve of high pressure cylinder, is employed. The main shaft of the roller plant is at right angles to the countershaft of the engine, to which it is connected by bevel gearing, and an arrangement is provided for disconnecting the engine when it is not required to drive the mill. The necessary steam to drive the engine is obtained from a double-flued Galloway boiler, 16 feet long and 6 feet 6 inches in diameter, also put down by the same firm who built the engine.

The Luncheon

A goodly company, after the inspection of the mill, at the invitation of Messrs F & G Smith Ltd., sat down to the luncheon provided by the firm, in a marquee on the lawn adjoining the mill, to inaugurate the starting of the roller plant, and amongst those present we noticed the following gentlemen:- Mr. W N Whitmore, JP, who occupied the vice-chair, and had Mrs George Smith on his right, Messrs Frederick Edgar Smith, Herbert E Smith, Edgar Smith, William Salisbury, W J Perrett (London), H Mower (Norwich), H W Mower (Norwich), B Press (Yarmouth), R Hutchinson (Kirkcaldy, N B), - Papworth (Yarmouth), P Smith (Southwold), C Horsley (Fakenham), John Jackson, Frank Callow, James Rivett, and R W Dunham (The Miller), J W Rush (The Millers' Gazette), and the representative of the East Anglian Daily Times. After the luncheon the usual loyal toast of "The Queen" was given by the chairman, and having been duly honoured, the vice-chairman, Mr W N Whitmore, JP, in a few appropriate observations, proposed the toast of the day, "Health and Prosperity to the Firm of Messrs F & G Smith Limited". They must all, he was sure, be struck by the great amount of success obtained by the firm of Messrs F & G Smith in the commercial work and he (the speaker) felt certain that the mill they had the pleasure of erecting for Messrs F & G Smith, and had seen started by Mrs George Smith that morning, would be handled by them as business men in such a manner that they would hold their own in this time of severe competition. He remembered the time when he was at that same mill in the year 1858, and started the turbine and the new hursting for their mill, and it spoke well for the firm of Messrs Whitmore & Binyon that they had been able to secure the order for the new roller mill that they had that day started. He was so satisfied with the mill that he did not think it was necessary to say anything about the roller mill, as the gentlemen present would have formed some opinion of that, and were better able to say what they thought of that then one who was so interested in the plant as the speaker was. He would merely say that he wished them as he was sure everyone did that was present, prosperity in their new enterprise. The Chairman (Mr George Smith), in responding, expressed belief in the prosperity of the new underisking, because all the practical men of business who had seen the roller mill that day in every way satisfied with it. He said that it was the proudest day of his life to stand there amongst his brother millers and hear their good wishes for their firm's prosperity, and he would conclude by proposing the toast of "Messrs Whitmore & Binyon" to whose engineering reputation he was able to pay a high compliment. After referring to the fact that Messrs Whitmore's firm started in 1788, the chairman mentioned the circumstance of their fitting up the Ryburgh Mill in 1858, when they put in a turbine, and as a testimony to their workmanship, he was able to state that their turbine had never required even looking at from that day to this, and in fact had rarely been seen by those employed in the mills. (Applause.) The directors of the firm with which he was connected spared no pains when thinking of putting in a roller plant, in coming to a conclusion as to which of the number of tenders they received should be accepted. They felt however, after visiting a number of roller mill, that as the old machinery had done such good service, they would not run away from the firm that had supplied it. (Applause.) The Vice-Chairman (Mr W N Whitmore) briefly replied, and after presenting Mrs George Smith with samples of the flour produced from the sample of wheat, alluded in the course of his remarks to the advent of Mr Perrett into the firm of Messrs Whitmore & Binyon, and gave all possible credit to that gentleman for the part he had taken securing the order and carrying it out to such a successful issue. Mr Perrett, whose name was also coupled with the toast, acknowledged the compliment in suitable terms, and at the conclusion of his speech, proposed the health of Mr Salisbury, who has filled the position of manager of the Ryburgh Flour Mills for 32 years. Mr William Salisbury, in thanking the company for the way they had drunk his health, alluded to the present position of the milling trade, and hoped they all should have better times in the near future. The other toast were "Mr Herbert Smith", "The Visitors", coupled with the names of Mr B Press, Mr Charles Horsley and Mr Kersley, the "Press", and "The British Farmer", which were duly responded to. During the intervals between the speeches songs were rendered by several of those present, and thus a most enjoyable day came to a close.

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