Ezekiel Butler, butcher, farmer and publican, was an enterprising businessman, active in property dealing and protective of his rights (from the number of prosecutions he brought). He was the first listed publican of the Royal Oak and may have been responsible for its conversion from a cottage to an inn. Ezekiel Butler was born in Birmingham in 1792 or 1793. On 25 September 1817 he married Mary Grosvenor at Church Eaton. She was born at Church Eaton 1796 or 1798. They had children as follows:•Son Ezekiel, bapt 8/8/1825 (Father listed as Butcher, Gnosall)•Margaret, born c.1827, no baptism found •James Grosvenor, bapt 13.10.1834 (Farmer, Ginger) •Elizabeth, bapt. 10.10.1836 (Farmer, Ginger) •Ann, bapt. 17.5.1837 (Butcher, Ginger) •Mary Rebecca, bapt. 13.1.1846 (Publican, Royal Oak)Ezekiel Butler was on the Gnosall Association for the Prosecution of Felons forover 25 years, including 1825, 1827, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1838, 1839, 1841, 1842, 1844, 1845, 1851 (in 1863 his son was on it)In 1834, a couple of newspaper advertisements show him to have been publican at the Fountain Inn, Ginger (where an auction of horseswas to take place) and that he had a heifer stolen at Ginger. A reward was offered. On 19th March 1836 he advertised to let “a large commodious dwelling house” at Coton, along with garden, orchard and, if wanted, pasture. Also in 1836 he was listed at a baptism as “Farmer, Ginger” and in 1837 as “Butcher, Ginger”.In 1836 his employee James Beddows absconded with £4 17s. The following advertisement appeared:
FIVE GUINEAS REWARDWHEREAS JAMES BEDDOWS, lately residing with Mr Ezekiel Butler, of Ginger, near Gnosall, has ABSCONDED from the service of the said Mr Butler - He is about 5ft. 6in. in height; slender make. Had on whena left a blue smock frock.Whoever will apprehend him, and lodge him in confinement, shall receive a reward of Five Guineas, from the Gnosnall [sic] Association for Prosecuting Felons.Gnosnall [sic], Dec. 7th, 1836!In 1838 Beddows was caught and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.
The Tithe Awards of 1837-8, show Ezekiel Butler to have rented property as follows:•from Benjamin Lowe, 1340, 1399-1401: the Willow, Garden, House and Barn; 2376-7: Cowley arable•from the Bishop of Lichfield, 1260: garden •from Sir Thos Boughey, 1835, 1837: arable;1840-2, 1851-2, 1924, 1926-30, 2008-2010, 2014•from Richard Lees and School Land Trustees, 1945, 6, 2217, 2218-2221 He owned: •1965, house and garden in Coton (let to William Herbert) •1966, house and garden, next door, where he lived •2249, 2252, Forton PoorLand•2263 and 4, house and garden + 2268, slaughterhouse and stable let to Stephen Ashley The 1841 Census listed him as a Butcher at Ginger, born in Staffordshire, as was his wife Mary, 40, also born in Staffordshire and children Ezekiel, Margaret, James, Mary, Ann and baby Mary Rebecca. On 20/5/1847 at Gnosall his daughter Margaret married Thomas Lee Walker of Wolverhampton, butcher and son of a grocer.1In 1848 he accused John Tomkinson of stealing mutton from him, but the latter was acquitted.In June 1850 he sold off a large amount of land around Coton House for building, as well as the house itself.2On 31 August 1850 he placed an advertisement stating that anyone “found sporting or trespassing upon the Ivy House Farm in the occupation of Ezekiel Butler” wouldbe prosecuted.3An 1851 trade directory lists him as butcher and publican of Royal Oak. On the 1851 census, he was listedsoon after William Bradbury at the Red Lion as “Farmer of 130 acres, employing5labourers”. With him are his wife Mary, his son Ezekiel working as a butcher, his younger children, and his butcher son-in-law Thomas Walker with his wife Margaret and two year old daughter. Ezekiel Butler died on 27 October 1851, aged 59, and is buried at Gnosall in grave I-09: “Praise wrote on stone is vainly spent A man’s own deeds are his best monument” His debts and credits were called in December 1851 and in 1861 his widow Mary Butler sold Ivy House and Coton Farms and all the equipment in an auction at the Royal Oak.4 She died on 23 February 1862 aged 65. Ezekiel Butler, junior, 1825-1878Ezekiel Butler the younger was also a butcher and apublican at the Royal Oak. On 29th April 1851 at Gnosall he married Mary Barnes who had been born at Gosberton, Lincs. c.1831. In 1860 he brought a case against a Wolverhampton butcher for paying him with a forged note but lost.5The 1861 census shows him as a Butcher attheRoyal Oak, with his wife Mary, children Hannah, Jessie, Alice, his brother James (innkeeper), and his mother Mary (retired innkeeper).In 1862 he sold the Royal Oak (but continued as landlord) and a number of other occupied buildings in Gnosall and Gnosall Heath. The advertisement includes an interesting description of the Royal Oak’s accommodation at that period, and states “the buildings have been substantially erected with brick and tile within a few years.”6In 1866 he was appointed an Overseer for the Poor in Gnosall along with H. Newton, Thomas Pickstock and Thomas Barnes.7The 1871 census shows him as an Innkeeper and Butcher at the Royal Oak, with his wife Mary, daughter Hannah and Jessie working as barmaids, Alice at school and brother James a Broker. Ezekiel Butler the younger died on 28 August 1878 and was buried at Gnosall on 2 Sept. 1878. In 1889 his widow Mary Butler bought the Tollhouse off Henry Newton and built Oak Cottage.8 She died in 1908. Felicity Potter 1Gnosall marriage register 2Staffordshire Advertiser, 1.6.1850 2Staffordshire Advertiser. 4Staffordshire Advertiser, 9.3.1861 5Staffordshire Advertiser, 28.7.1860 6Staffordshire Advertiser, 25.10.1862 7Staffordshire Advertiser, 14.4.1866 8 Bob Johnson