Pipe Makers of Bury St Edmunds

Samuel (1801-1855) and Elizabeth Reffell (1810-1885?)

As is evident from this website, most of the Reffell family lived in the south of England and were brewers by trade. However, there was a sizable branch in the Bury St Edmunds area of Suffolk who were pipe makers and tobacconists. The family lived and worked in the High Baxter Street part of the town, near the present day cathedral.

The family starts with Samuel Reffell, born 9 July 1801 to John Reffell and Margaret Rushbrook. The 26 year old Samuel married 17 year old Elizabeth West in the church of St James Bury St Edmund on 20 December 1827. Over the next twenty two years they produced a 13 children! In line with the times four of these did not see their first birthday and one died aged ten. However, the rest of the children thrived and there are many people alive today descended from this union.

Their children are summarised below:-
1828 Anne Maria, died 1829
1829 John Rushbrooke, died aged 10
1831 Elizabeth, married Frederick Norman
1833 Samuel, married Sarah Augusta Garnett
1835 Frederic, died 1835
1836 Sarah, died 1837
1838 Frederick, married Julia Agnes Head
1840 William, died 1840
1842 Caroline
1844 Sarah Ann, married William Nickerson
1846 Anne Marie, died aged 16 in a fire at Drury Lane, London
1848 Sophia Margaret, married Edward Frederic Bullen
1850 Rosa Jane

When Samuel died in November 1855, Elizabeth carried on the pipe making business for another twenty years or so. She is shown in the 1881 census aged 72 in the Cloptons Asylum in Bury St Edmunds, and it is believed that she died around 1885. Cloptons Asylum was more of what we would now call a retirement home, rather than an institution.  It was founded in 1744 by the will of Dr Poley Clopton, the last of a long Suffolk line of lords of the manor. The asylum was intended for 6 men and 6 women, three each from the parish of both St James and St Mary in Bury St Edmunds.  They had to be 60 years or over and had led an unblemished life. Cloptons Asylum was built in the great churchyard and today it is the Provosts’ house.