Hubert Ellis

Photo:Hubert Ellis

Hubert Ellis

from "Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Leaders" by Ernest Gaskell, 1913

"always a fighter in whatever cause he took up."*

By Angus Bell


Photo:Hubert Ellis pictured in June 1949, aged 93

Hubert Ellis pictured in June 1949, aged 93

Cambridgeshire Collection Ref YMeld K49 41367

Hubert Ellis was a local celebrity who played an active role in many local organisations.  However, he did not shy away from conflict. This page describes just some examples of his causes and disputes.

Hubert Oslar Shepherd Ellis, the eldest son of Charles and Maria (nee Oslar) Ellis was born in Meldreth on 27 June 1856.  He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he read law. He became a member of the Inner Temple in 1879 and practised as a barrister attached to the South East circuit. His recreation is recorded as cricket.

Hubert was a partner in the Meldreth Portland Cement and Brick Co (1898 – 1911) and was instrumental in establishing the tramway which ran between Meldreth Station and the works at Whaddon Road. He was actively engaged in politics and, like his father before him, served as President of the Meldreth Conservative Club. He was also Chairman of Meldreth Parish Council and a Cambridgeshire County Council member.

At Holy Trinity Church he was a churchwarden, vice-chairman and treasurer of the PCC and a prime mover in raising £300 for restoration of the church bells. As a consequence of purchasing land, Hubert was also a lay-rector with responsibility for the upkeep of the chancel at Holy Trinity.

Marriage to Emily Vere Mortlock

Hubert married twice. His first marriage to Emily Vere Mortlock on 26th July 1882 was followed by a legal dispute in which Emily took her father, John George Mortlock, to court.

In dispute was whether Mortlock had made a legally binding agreement to give Emily an allowance after her marriage. The action was for £6 1s 2d representing a weekly instalment of £315 per annum allegedly promised by Mortlock in consideration of her marrying Hubert Ellis. The case, heard by the County Court Judge of Royston, was not upheld and was taken to appeal  at the High Court. At  a hearing in November 1882 the application was dismissed.

Dispute with George Palmer

In 1904, Hubert Ellis presented his High Street neighbour, George Palmer, with a bill for damages incurred to his garden by the felling of unlopped elm trees upon his lawn, shrubbery and fence.

Accompanying the bill was a detailed list of damaged trees and shrubs which in some cases gave their age. The total bill of £37 11s 6d included £5 to cover:

“annoyance by people passing along the highway seeing over on to private lawn and other nuisances which cannot be remedied for over ten years by large trees destroyed in being taken up to get elm trees out of shrubbery and onto the highway”.

Opening of the Elementary School

Photo:Tea to mark the opening of the school

Tea to mark the opening of the school

The Royston Crow, 8th July 1910

Hubert Ellis took a keen interest in the the building of what is now Meldreth Primary School in 1910.  The school log book records that in the capacity of manager he attended the school opening on 4th April and returned two days later to check the registers.  On 24th June of that year, Hubert and his wife provided a special tea for all the school pupils.

“Through Mr Ellis’ energy on the County Council, the Parish of Meldreth have to thank him for one of the best Elementary Schools in the County” quoted in Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire Leaders, Ernest Gaskill, c1911

School Protest

In December 1937, the school received notification from the Education Secretary that it should be reorganised as a junior and infant school. When parents of children over the age of eleven were asked to send their children to Melbourn School, unhappy parents were encouraged  by Hubert Ellis to stage a protest.

On 6th January 1938, eighteen senior children presented themselves for admission but were sent home.  This was repeated in the afternoon and again the following day for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Having duly warned them, the Education Authority brought summons against the parents. A spokesman was elected for the subsequent London Court hearing but the case was lost. Mr Ellis washed his hands of the affair and the spokesman was ordered to pay the costs. Various village events were organised in order to raise the cash.

Opposition to Mains Water

Until the early 1940s Meldreth had no mains water. Although the larger houses had wells, most villagers had to rely on fountains and open ditches for their water. However, when the Rural District Council proposed that Meldreth should have piped water residents strongly opposed it.

At a meeting in July 1939, Hubert Ellis was the spokesman for the village.  He said it was a shame and a disgrace that people who already had a plentiful supply of water should be made to pay. He added that it would be cheaper for the Parish Council to install pumps and pipes.

He said, “It’s not going to end here, it will be a “sewage farm” next and we shall have the devil to pay.”


Hubert Ellis died at the age of 93 in 1949.  Within a year his second wife, Marion, whom he had married in 1938 also died. Although the parish records show that Hubert and both his wives are buried in the family vault at Holy Trinity Church there appears to be no memorial. There is some evidence to suggest that this was as a consequence of a dispute between the Church and Hubert's executors.

Photo:Hubert married Mrs Marion Fullagar on 3rd September 1938

Hubert married Mrs Marion Fullagar on 3rd September 1938

Photograph supplied by Ann Handscombe

*Hubert Ellis' obituary in the Royston Crow, 1949 

This page was added by Angus Bell on 06/03/2013.