Sometimes, you’ll come across a name that’s a straight up pun, and the only mystery is what possessed Mr and Mrs Day to progress from “Hey we could call him Time of Day – ha!” To actually baptising and officially registering the name…
‘Time Of’ was born in 1833 in Hoo, Kent. Once again he is the only child in the family with an unusual name, his siblings being David, Henry, Caroline, Sarah, Maria, Charles, Harriet and Thomas.
In the 1841 census, the enumerator has decided to give him the more sensible(ish) name of ‘Thyme’, and he is 9 years old, living with his parents George, a Shepherd and Mary, along with his 6 siblings on Cockham Farm (You may need to choose background map OS 1900’s on the drop down menu top left of the map). His poor Mum is only 30, with 7 children all just 2 years apart!
By 1851 his father is a Bailiff, and Time Of is now the Shepherd. At this time Hoo is a relatively sparsely populated area, and the Day family seem to be quite prolific! His father George is not the only person acting as a Bailiff at this time, although Farm Bailiffs were more about running the farms and estates rather than evicting people and arresting them, although depending on the availability of local law enforcement and their standing in the local community it wouldn’t be unheard of.
I haven’t been able to find him in the 1861 census, I had a look through all the records for the area but he seems to have temporarily moved somewhere else. However his future wife, Martha Blackman, is living with her parents and 7 siblings in the “The Five Bells” public house.
He marries Martha in 1866, the marriage is registered in North Aylsebury, and in 1881 Time Of is now the licensed victualler of “The Bell Inn“, which it’s current website states (it’s now named the Fenn Bell Inn) was probably named for the bells that were used to guide people across the marshes in poor weather, ringing to enable travellers to find a safe way across without getting stuck in the mud. Martha’s Father’s pub was probably named for the same reasons.
The 1881 census shows them with no less than 15 lodgers, and Time Of’s nephew Thomas. Martha and Time Of never do have any children, and on the 7th December 1890 he dies at the Inn, leaving Martha around £60,000. It gets a little difficult to trace her after this, but I’m almost 100% certain she moves over the river to Balmoral Rd, in Gillingham, and in 1911 she has a companion in the way of her sister Ellen’s niece, Blanche Spree.
However, whilst looking on the Free BMD Index for Time Of’s death I was made aware of two other Time Of Days, one before and one after the one I have just written about.
The earlier Time Of was a Journeying Blacksmith also from Hoo (you can actually see their ‘Smithy’ on the link above for the Bell Inn, a little down Fen Street) so we can actually probably pass the blame for the original people to name their child after this partial idiom to his parents, Thomas and Elizabeth. Our Time Of was no doubt a relative named for this one.
The Later Time Of Day is born in 1899, he is born to Alice and Thomas Day, I believe the nephew who grows up with Time Of and Martha at the Inn, as the birth date matches and this Thomas is Inn Keeper of The Privateer, which was to close 3 years later in 1914.
The younger Time Of marries Jennie Barker in 1924, and they have two daughters.
It seems no one else decided to carry on this name – but of course, there’s still time…