James Blomfield Rush


James Bloomfield, the illegitimate son of Mary Bloomfield, was baptized in Tacolneston church on 10 January 1800. Mary's father, James Bloomfield, was a tenant farmer in Tacolneston who had three children - John, James and Mary. There has always been a mystery about who the father of James Blomfield Rush was, since most of the contemporary accounts of the Stanfield Hall murders state something to the effect that "His father is a gentleman now living, resident near Wymondham". It has subsequently been widely believed that his father may have been one of the Preston's themselves, but this is unlikely because Rush himself never claimed any sort of connection to that family. A recent book (Meeres, 1998) appears to have solved the problem by stating that "The father of Mary's child was William Howes, a young man then living with his father at Tacolneston Hall." He had promised to marry Mary but had betrayed her and she brought an action for breach of promise of marriage against him at the Assizes and was awarded damages.

On 16 September 1802 Mary Bloomfield married John Rush at Tacolneston church. He was a farmer of Old Buckenham, then farming in Felmingham, and apparently very successful in business. He treated the young James Bloomfield kindly and allowed him to take the name of Rush, as well as having him educated at the grammar school of Mr Nunn at Eye, Suffolk. In 1811 John Rush began renting a farm in Felmingham from Rev. George Preston, the rector of Beeston St Lawrence and "owner" of Stanfield Hall. In 1824, James B. Rush became tenant farmer at Aylsham under the Rev. S. Pitman.

On 28 May 1828 Rush married Susannah Soames , from a well known family in the Aylsham area. Over the next twelve years Rush and his wife had nine children that survived infancy: Mary, James, John, William, Eleanor, Johnathan, Horace, Susannah and Joseph. Also in 1828 Rush moved to Wood Dalling farm as a tenant of Mr. W.E.L. Bulwer. In 1835 J.B. Rush moved to Felmingham where he rented a farm from Rev. George Preston. George Preston died in 1837 and was succeeded by his son Isaac Preston - this was the start of the troubles!

J.B. Rush and his step-father John Rush rented neighbouring farms in Felmingham, from George, and subsequently Isaac Preston. On 17 October 1844 John Rush met his death in mysterious circumstances, due to the accidental discharge of a gun. John Rush, who was 69, left a estate worth in excess of £7000; all of which was left to his wife Mary. His step-son J.B. Rush was not mentioned in the will. Rush's wife Susannah died in November 1844 at the age of 46, leaving him with nine children. The eldest two were almost grown up, but the others ranged in age from three to ten. He subsequently advertised for a governess, and eventually employed Emily Sandford. On 13 August 1848 Rush's mother Mary also died, aged 68, in mysterious circumstances. Her will left her estate to the children, once they had reached the age of 18. Rush supposedly forged a codicil to state that the youngest child would have to turn 18 before any of them could inherit. It is clear that Rush essentially stole the inheritence of his step-father, and his wife, in order to help bail himself out from imminent bankruptcy.

All the loans owed to Isaac (Preston) Jermy (approximately £5000) fell due on 30 November 1848, two days after the murders took place ....

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After the trial and execution of James Blomfield Rush, his eldest daughter Mary Rush moved to Felmingham. The 1851 census shows her as an annuitant (aged 22), looking after her three younger brothers and two sisters - with the aid of a 15 year old house maid. The eldest son of James Blomfield Rush was named after his father. He married Eleanor Hales in April 1848 and left Norfolk shortly after the trial.