Clements Hall
Nunnery Lane book cover

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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The shady side of life in Nunnery Lane

Pauline Alden has been looking at the intriguing story of Annie Caspar, a woman living locally over 100 years ago. The information was obtained from Annie’s descendant Michael Kettlewell.

The tale of this notorious woman concerns one of the former pubs in the area, the Joiners Arms, at 49 Spencer Street, which ran between Caroline Street and Nunnery Lane. This was a beerhouse from 1867, becoming a public house which remained open until 1921.

One of its occupants in 1901 had led a very colourful life. London-born in 1854, Annie Caspar descended from a family of Prussian immigrants who moved to Hull and then York. She married Clark Day, a waterman, in 1875 at St. Mary’s Church, Castlegate, York. But by 1877, the marriage was in trouble and Clark took out an advertisement in the York Herald on 7 August which read:

“THIS IS TO GIVE NOTICE that I, Clark Day, of Friar Alley, will not be ANSWERABLE for any DEBTS that my wife, Annie Day, may contract.”

By 1879 Annie and Clark had separated, but the following year, Annie bigamously married John Thomas Buckle, a joiner, at York Registry Office, falsely giving her age as 21 years old. In 1882 Annie went to visit a friend, Mrs Gibson, at Stillington Mill, and took Tom with her, who she introduced as her husband. They stayed three nights, but left with an armful of goods, later caught trying to sell them to a jeweller on Bridge Street. This report of the subsequent court case is from the York Herald of 17 July 1882:

“Tom Buckle and Annie Day were charged with stealing some linen &c., from Mr William Gibson, of Stillington Mill. The prisoners admitted they were not married. Buckle said he knew nothing about the robbery, but Day pleaded guilty. The bench committed the latter for three months, and the former for one month, to Northallerton Prison.”

Annie separated from Tom in 1886 and moved to Chatham in Kent, She then took up with another Tom, Thomas Appleby, an engineer who originated from Bishophill in York. Although they didn’t marry, she used the name Appleby. By 1890 Annie moved back to York and was living above the Friendly Tavern in Piccadilly. This and the cottage properties behind it were owned and sublet by St. Denys Church and were generally occupied by prostitutes.

In 1891 Annie’s original husband Clark Day petitioned for divorce on the grounds of her bigamy and committing adultery with various persons. However the case was rejected, surprisingly, on the grounds of his own adultery and bigamy.

By 1894, Annie and Thomas Appleby’s relationship was over, and she bigamously married again, this time Charles Bratt Spencer in Aston, Warwickshire. Spencer was a first class armourer in the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment who later died during the Boer War.

By 1901, Annie had moved back to York and was living with her daughter, Lily, in our area at the Joiners Arms in Spencer Street. Ten years later she was living alone in Mill Street, York, off Piccadilly. Her death at 73 in 1927 records her name as Spencer.