The following article is adapted from text kindly provided by Dr James "Jimmy" Whittaker, Nov 2017:
The Last Huntsman of the Royal Buckhounds:
Over the last year or so, I have been systematically recording and photographing each of the gravestones and cremation stones in St. Saviours’ Cemetery in Eddington.
There is a phrase that “every picture tells a story” and in this case, “every picture of a gravestone tells a story”.
This series of articles was inspired by the gravestones of some of Hungerford’s most famous celebrities.
One such gravestone bears the inscription “In Loving Memory of Frank Goodall, The last huntsman of the Royal Buckhounds”.
Who was Frank Goodall?
So, who was Frank Goodall and what became of the Royal Buckhounds? From the cemetery record we know that Frank died in 1921.
Genealogical research shows that Frank (Francis) James Goodall was born in the Grantham registration district of Lincolnshire in 1854. The gravestone suggests that Frank was connected at a young age with hunting and, in particular, with hounds. It turns out that this was indeed the case. The Goodall family tree shows that Frank was descended from a long line of huntsmen, starting with his great-grandfather, Stephen Goodall, who was a well-respected huntsman. Stephen’s grandson, William (or Will as he was better known) was a whipper-in with the Belvoir hounds before he became huntsman. (A whipper-in is someone who assists the huntsman during a hunt for foxes and other quarry. The whippers-in are responsible for helping the huntsman to keep the hounds organized and focused while out in the field, and they may also help to care for the hounds in the kennels, depending on the organizational structure of the hunt in question.)
After his marriage to Frances Wellbourne, they moved into a house at the Belvoir Kennels, raising 11 children.
Tragedy struck the Goodall family in 1858 when Will died of a fatal fall when his horse got its foot stuck in a rabbit hole.
By the time of his death, Will, also known as Will-o-Belvoir, had become famous for his natural way with the hounds. His widow was only 40 when Will died, and was left with eight boys and three girls to care for. Without any pension or other form of income, life and times for the Goodall family must have been difficult.
In the heyday of hunting, there were many wealthy patrons who subscribed to a memorial fund and some patrons even offered to educate individual sons of some of their most revered huntsmen. The Goodall family were duly fortunate: The Duke of Rutland offered them accommodation in an unused hunting lodge on the Croxton Park Estate in Cambridgeshire.
In the census of 1861, Frank James Goodall, then aged 7, is found living at Croxton with his mother Frances and some of his brothers and sisters, namely William, Charles, Frederick, Machin and sisters Frances and Ann. All these children were born in Belvoir.
Frank’s elder brother Will who would become known as Young Will, followed in his father’s footsteps in the hunting world, becoming a whipper-in at Belvoir, and then moved on to the Pytchley Hunt.
In 1871, just 10 years later, Frank is found living in the parish of Longworth in Berkshire. In this census, he is described as a single man but Head of the Household, quite a young age to hold such a position. His occupation is given as a whipper-in.
Frank Goodall was appointed The Queen's Huntsman in 1872:
Following the death of Henry King, the Royal Huntsman, in 1871, Frank Goodall was appointed The Queen’s Huntsman in 1872 and remained in office until his resignation in 1888 following a hunting accident. Upon Frank’s retirement, the post of The Queen’s Huntsman including a much cherished hunting horn was passed onto his successor, John Harvey.
(The Royal Huntsman was basically in charge of the hounds which were used for hunting foxes and deer. These packs of hounds belonged to the monarch of the day so during Frank’s time the packs belonged to Queen Victoria.)
...then Huntsman to the Royal Buckhounds, Windsor:
Years later, Frank became Huntsman to the Royal Buckhounds, Windsor. His sponsors were probably Lords Coalville and Cork whom he had met years earlier while working with hounds in Ireland. (see below) In the intervening years, there were no further records for Frank and his family in the censuses of 1881 and 1891 for England and Wales, so where had they been living? The answer to this question is found in the census of 1901.
In 1901 Frank is again a royal huntsman, living in Sunninghill near Ascot with his wife Amy and three of their children: Amy, b. 1884, Stephen, b. 1893 and Frank Jnr, b.1893. What is interesting is that all three children were born in Ireland. Their daughter Amy was born in Nugentstown and the two boys were born in Jigginstown.
It could well be the case that Frank had been working at the Meath Hunt Kennels near Nugentstown which was later to be officially recognised by The Irish Masters of Foxhounds.
Jigginstown back in the day was a hub for hunting and housed the kennels for the Kildare Hunt so it is probable that Frank had also been working at these kennels.
An article in The Staghound written by Lawdon Briggs Bridges in 1897 contains some interesting stories concerning Frank Goodall including the one told here in connection with Her Majesty’s buckhound, Rummager.
Some years earlier, Frank Goodall, while then The Royal Huntsman, was seriously injured in the hunting field, and as assistance was rendered as he lay insensible on the ground, Rummager was by his master’s side and for a long time would allow no one to approach him. On the story being related to Her Majesty, it was ordered that poor old Rummager should become a pensioner, have extra quarters and comfort bestowed on him, and so live out his natural life. His progeny remain in the kennels at Ascot, among the pillars of the
Frank Goodall comes to Hungerford to run The Three Swans Hotel:
So, the final bit of the jigsaw of Frank Goodall’s life is his relationship to Hungerford. We are not sure of the reason for his move but from 1913 he is found in a series of Kelly’s directories and the Town and Manor register as running the Three Swans Hotel which was classified as a family and commercial hotel and posting house. It is known that he had ridden with the Craven Hunt on a number of occasions and it may have been through this connection that he learned of the position and successfully applied for it.
Frank Goodall’s wife Amy died the same year as her husband and is interred with him at St Saviour’s. Sadly her gravestone is not readable.