Pies, Politics and Potential Problems – The Gosnays of Wakefield

In February 2016 i undertook a brief research project into a mysterious image of a well known family of Wakefield, the Gosnay family. The image and the Gosnay’s cart were the focus of an exhibition by Wakefield Museum in March 2018. The image appeared to be a photocopy of an original image, that somehow was given an accession number, no information about the image was known, the original from which it was copied was not able to be traced and it seemed doubtful that Wakefield Museum ever had the original in its possession. The image is of the Gosnay shop at 45 Northgate, and it is probably copied from a postcard made by H. G. Glen & Co. of Wortley, which appears in the Norman Ellis book ‘Bygone Wakefield and District’ published by M. T. D. Rigg Publications in 1991. The book in question offers little else beyond that it dates to c. 1905 in the accompanying caption but that it was posted on the 12th of October 1906. The postcard manufacturer was Henry Graham Glen & Company, who traded under slightly different names over the decades as they moved around the United Kingdom. By c. 1885 the business had moved to the Leeds area, based at Ash Field House, Wortley, Leeds. Interestingly Henry Graham Glen and his brother were found guilty of misrepresenting the value of the postcard company in 1911 when selling shares in the business that was then failing.

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 11.35.32

On the 3rd of December 1853 a shop on Northgate, then occupied by John Gosnay as a bakers and provisions shop was advertised to be sold at auction in the Leeds Intelligencer. Included in the sale was the shop, living accommodation and a bakehouse. In October 1859 the Huddersfield Chronicle reported on the long running scandal of alleged bribery in Wakefield elections in the ‘Wakefield Election Enquiry’ and on the fourteenth day of the enquiry Mr John Gosnay, confectioner, gave evidence that he had been given money to not vote. In 1884 the Gosnay’s were again caught up in alleged election bribery, with the Leeds Mecury reporting on the 12th of March 1884 that Alfred Gosnay, confectioner in Wakefield, had sent a large consignment of pork pies to the polling station as part of a larger alleged plot to bribe voters. On the 16th of January 1893 the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Alfred Gosnay, maker of pork pies, had died from “congestion of the lungs.” On the 22nd of September 1905 an advertisement was placed in the Leeds Intelligencer for a “trustworthy young man” for the baking trade, applications to “Gosnay’s The Old Original Pork Pie Shop” at 45 Northgate. On the 30th of April 1915 an advertisement was placed in the Yorkshire Post, for a youth to train as a baker at “Gosnay’s The Old Original Pork Pie Shop” and the correspondence address was 45 Northgate. On the 26th of July 1919 the Yorkshire Post reported that “the well known shop known as Gosnay’s Pork Pie Shop, in Northgate, together with adjoining newsagent’s shop went to Mr Tom Dakes, baker, for £1,700.” It was also noted that Tom Dakes, baker, had been leasing part of the property prior to the auction, at the Bull Hotel in Wakefield. On the 24th of October 1923 an advertisement was placed in the Yorkshire Post to recruit a confectioner at Gosnay’s of 45 Northgate.

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The Gosnay’s appear to pass the family business on Northgate down, father to son, for three generations from 1834, before the business is leased to Mr Tom Oakes as early as 1907 (as records permit) and it was finally sold to Mr Oakes in 1919. Mr Oakes kept the shop and the trading name of Gosnay’s until at least 1922, though records from 1922 onwards are inconclusive, the Gosnay’s name continued until at least 1936 (at present the last known recorded entry for the business as a trading name). The shop at 45 Northgate was known as Gosnay’s from at least 1888 to 1936, but was owned by various people. In 1934 Wakefield Council proposed to issue a compulsory purchase order in the Northgate area as part of the ongoing slum clearances. Data before 1888 is not conclusive enough to know if the business was always in this property, though it seems likely. It is not clear if the John Gosnay, butcher, on the Shambles in 1830 was the same one that became a baker, on Northgate or a relative.

Due to the postcard being postmarked 1906 the image cannot be later than this date. Though the earliest proof that the family were specifically at 45 Northgate is the 1871 census, the fact that the postcard manufacturer only began to operate in Leeds c. 1885 means that strictly speaking the postcard can only be dated 1885 to 1906. However, generally speaking, it is acceptable to just use the date of posting as a ball park date of manufacture if needed (example c. 1906).

Below is a brief overview of the family and the Gosnay business in the city of Wakefield:

The Gosnay Male Lineage

Gosnay, John born c. 1818, Yorkshire. Married Frances. In 1871 no employment status, living at Northgate, Wakefield.

Gosnay, Alfred born c. 1836, Wakefield. Son of John and Frances Gosnay. Christened in 1836, Wakefield. Married Elizabeth Lassey in Wakefield, 1858. In 1861 employed as a baker, living at Hope Street, Wakefield. In 1871 employed as confectioner/master, living at Northgate, Wakefield.

Gosnay, John Henry born c. 1862, Yorkshire. In 1871 was a scholar, living at Northgate, Wakefield. Married Annie Poppleton in Wakefield, 1889. In 1891 was employed as confectioners assistant and living at Carter Street, Wakefield. In 1901 was “living on own means” at New Road, Middlestown. In 1911 was a retired confectioner, living at Saville Street, Wakefield.

The Shop in Trade Directories

1830. Gosnay, John. Butcher, Shambles (market place), Talbot & Falcon Yard.
1834. Gosnay, John. Confectioner, Northgate.
1837. Gosnay, John. Confectioner, Northgate.
1857. Gosnay, Anne. Baker and confectioner, Northgate
1858. Gosnay, John. Confectioner, Northgate.
1861. Gosnay, John. Baker and confectioner, Northgate.
1866. Gosnay, John. Baker and confectioner, Northgate.
1867. Gosnay, John. Baker, Northgate (between Cross Street and Shaw’s Yard intersections).
1877. Gosnay, Alfred. Baker, Northgate.
1887. Gosnay, Alfred. Confectioner, Northgate.
1888. Gosnay, Alfred. Baker and flour dealer, 54* Northgate.
1892. Gosnay, Alfred. Baker, 45 Northgate.
1904. Gosnay, John H. Baker and confectioner, 45 Northgate.
1908. Gosnay, John H. Pork pie manufacturer, 45 Northgate.
1922. Oakes, Tom. Pork pie manufacturer, 45 Northgate.
1936. Gosnay’s. Shopkeepers, 45 Northgate.**
1961. No record of 45 Northgate.
1962 Rideway’s. Caterers, 45 Northgate.

*In this year the street appears to have had a different numbering system to following years but the business stayed in the same building.

** Business name being used by an unidentified trader (TN2054).

Wakefield Electoral Register

1854. Gosnay, John. Northgate.
1855 to 1864 inc. Sporadic registers.
1865. Gosnay, John. Northgate.
1873. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1874. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1875. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1876. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1877. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1878. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1879. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1880. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1881. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1882. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1883. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1884. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1885. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1886. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1887. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1888. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1889. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1890. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1891. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1892. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1893. Gosnay, Alfred. Northgate.
1894. Missing.
1895. Gosnay, John, Henry. 45 Northgate.
1896. Gosnay, John, Henry. 45 Northgate.
1897. Gosnay, John, Henry. 40* Northgate.
1898. Gosnay, John, Henry. 45 Northgate.
1899. Gosnay, John, Henry. 45 Northgate.
1900. Gosnay, John, Henry. 45 Northgate.
1901. Missing.
1902. Missing.
1903. Missing.
1904. Missing.
1905. Missing.
1906. Missing.
1907. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1908. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1909. Missing.
1910. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1911. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1912. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1913. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1914. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1915. Oakes, Tom. 45 Northgate.
1916. Missing.
1917. Missing.
1918 to 1949 inc. No persons registered to vote at premises.
1950. Burgoyne, Mary Jane. 45 Northgate.

*Probably an error.

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