Starved Family Remembered

VILLAGERS are to remember a family left to starve to death. After 240 years Datchworth residents are attempting to right the wrongs of their forefathers who left a family to die in a house on the village green. James Eaves, his wife, son and daughter p

VILLAGERS are to remember a family left to starve to death.

After 240 years Datchworth residents are attempting to right the wrongs of their forefathers who left a family to die in a house on the village green.

James Eaves, his wife, son and daughter "perished from want of food, raiment, attendance and a habitable dwelling," according to a contemporary account.

And when the bodies were discovered they were "emaciated beyond any conception, lying on a very small quantity of dirty peas straw spread on the bare earthen floor". A third child, a son, was said to have survived, but had been driven mad.

Parish officers tried to cover up the deaths at the time but the events were recorded in a pamphlet written by a former soldier, Philip Thicknesse, who discovered villagers burying the bodies before an inquest could take place.

The pamphlet was recently found in The British Library and The Rev Coralie McCluskey, the vicar of the village church, was contacted.

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The villagers hope to lay the ghost of their past to rest by putting up a memorial plaque to the family.