Jane Davidson (1748-1863), Grocer, Brompton, Cumberland

Jane Davidson was a grocer who was used by the overseers of Brampton to supply the workhouse with standard dry goods such as tea, sugar, barley and tobacco.[1] For one bill in 1819 she received £1 6s 11 ½ d. This was for supplies of grocer’s goods that she had made on 11 occasions between January and April. Although we only have one voucher, this shows that she was in regular contract with the workhouse. It gives the impression that she was not just used once and was actually a frequent supplier to the workhouse. The supply of tea in a small amount such as 2oz, as written in the voucher, suggests that it was not for the general use of the inmates and that it was more likely used for medicinal purposes, or for the use of the master and mistress of the workhouse.

Davidson was born in 1748.[2] She married Robert Davidson, a grocer, however we do not know when but we know it was before 1816 as this was when Robert passed away.[3] Jane Davidson had two daughters and a son; Mary who married George Hadden; Jane who married Thomas Hobson; and Thomas. [4] As well as this she also had at least 13 grandchildren, eight by Mary and George Hadden, and five by Jane and Thomas Hobson.[5] She also had a stepson via Robert’s first wife of which nothing is known.

In his will Robert Davidson left the business to his wife Jane and not to his eldest son.[6] This suggests that he had trust in her to run the business and to look after it. The stereotype is that the eldest son would inherit the business, however, it was quite common that businesses were inherited by widows. Robert was illiterate as he signed his will with a cross. This probably meant that the accounts and the books for the business were not done by him but most likely by Jane. This could be why he trusted her to run the business.

Jane Davidson, grocer, is not registered in either Jollie’s 1811 directory or Pigot’s 1828-29 National directory.[7] This suggests that their business could have been a more stable, locally based one so therefore they did not need to advertise nationally, and even after the death of Robert in 1816 Jane Davidson did not place herself in any other directory suggesting that she had maintained the stable business.

Jane Davidson used at least one local shop to maintain her stocks. The ledgers of Isaac Bird, grocer, Brampton, state that she settled a bill adding up to 15s 11d in 1819.[8] One example of this is that she bought ¼ stone of shag tobacco at 2s 7d presumably to stock her own shop as the amount is too much for her own personal use.[9]

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


[1] Cumbria Archives, PR60/21/13/5/101, Brampton overseers’ vouchers, Jane Davidson, 20January-6 April 1820.

[2] In the Burial ledger her age was given as 79. Cumbria Archives, G.Bell and C. Yellowley (ed.), Brampton Denary Burials Part 1, 1813-39, 49.

[3] Cumbria Archives, G.Bell and C. Yellowley (ed.), Brampton Denary Burials Part 1, 1813-39, 49.

[4] Cumbria Archives PROB/1816/WI462A C/1/18/9/5, Will and Inventory of Robert Davidson, 9 September 1816.

[5] Cumbria Archives, G.Bell (ed.), Brampton Baptism, Marriage and Burials, 1813-39.

[6] Cumbria Archives PROB/1816/WI462A C/1/18/9/5, Will and Inventory of Robert Davidson, 9 September 1816.

[7] F.Jollie and Sons, Jollie’s Cumberland Guide and Directory 1811 (Carlisle:1811); John Pigot and Co., Pigot and Co.’s National Directory, 1828-1829, part 1 (Manchester and London, 1828).

[8] Cumbria Archives, DCLP8/38, Isaac Bird, Grocery, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

[9] Cumbria Archives, DCLP8/39, Isaac Bird, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

Sarah Oliver (c.1778–1852), Grocer, Brampton

The reconstructed life of Sarah Oliver is a combination of a few ‘definitelys’ and many ‘maybes’. She is most visible in historic records as a widow, but even then the traces she left are few. She has come to attention because she supplied Brampton’s overseers with groceries.

The Marriage Bond Index held at Carlisle, lists Sarah Bell, a minor, who married Henry Brough Oliver, bachelor.[1] The bond was dated 22 October 1798. Sarah’s mother Jane was her guardian and the bondsman was Thomas Bell. This may be Thomas Bell the younger who ran the Howard Arms in Brampton and or Thomas Bell the elder, of the Bush Inn and a carrier operating a service between Carlisle, Brampton and Newcastle.[2] There were, however, many people in Brampton with the surname ‘Bell’.

There is a record of a Henry Brough Oliver born 11 November 1776, baptised 10 December 1776, at St John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, the son of Richard and Jane Oliver.[3] A Henry Brough Oliver and a Richard Oliver served as officers in the Eighth (King’s) Foot Regiment c.1792–98.[4] Henry and Richard Oliver of Intack, Cumberland, both held game certificates and were thus licensed to shoot game.[5] Henry Brough Oliver died in 1808, and was buried in Knarsdale, Northumberland.[6]

Henry and Sarah Oliver had several children: twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, baptised in Brampton 24 March 1803; and two other twin sisters Isabella and Sarah baptised in Brampton 13 March 1807.[7] There was possibly a fifth daughter Mary born 1 September 1808, in Knarsdale. There was also a son Richard Brough (23 January 1800) who became a doctor with a practice in Carlisle, before becoming the medical superintendent of Bicton Heath Lunatic Asylum, near Shrewsbury.

The Olivers are not listed in the Universal British Directory of the 1790s, but S. Oliver is listed as a grocer in Jollie’s 1811 directory.[8]

Henry was a cotton manufacturer, but a notice in the Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, and later in the London Gazette show that a commission of bankruptcy was brought against him in July 1808.[9] In 1811 the London Gazette, carried the following notice:

The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt, bearing Date the 6th Day of July 1808, awarded and issued forth against Henry Brough Oliver, late of Brampton, in the County of Cumberland, Cotton-Manufacturer, Dealer and Chapman, intend to meet on the 26th Day of December next, at Eleven of the Clock in the Forenoon, at the Bush, in the City of Carlisle, in the County of Cumberland, in order to make a Final Dividend of the Estate and Effects of the said Bankrupt; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their Debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded the Benefit of the said Dividend. And all Claims not then proved will be disallowed.[10]

Despite the declaration that a final dividend was to be paid on this occasion, this was not the end of the matter. Fifteen years later, another notice in the Gazette called the creditors of Henry Brough Oliver to a meeting at the Office of Messrs. Mounsey, Solicitors, Carlisle, ‘to take into consideration and determine upon the best mode of proceeding as to a certain sum of money, lately become due to the said Bankrupt’s estate; and on other matters and things relative thereto’.[11]

As a grocer, Sarah Oliver was in regular contact with Brampton’s overseers between 1818 and 1820.[12]  In the 139 days between 22 December 1818 and 10 May 1819, for example, purchases were made on 70 separate occasions. Some of her stock came from fellow Brampton grocer Isaac Bird. She settled her account with him in cash, and once in tobacco.[13]

Oliver supplied Brampton’s workhouse with imported items including tea, coffee, sugar, and pepper; and domestic items including, candles, soap, starch and flour.[14] Oliver did not sell a more restricted range of goods than male grocers also located in Brampton. Her goods were identical in name to the flour, soap, starch, blue, candles, tobacco, barley, tea, coffee and sugar supplied by Joseph Forster.[15]  Moreover, prices paid per stone, pound or ounce, were very similar. It is entirely possible that the quality of goods differed, but neither the vouchers nor Forster’s ledger make such distinctions possible.

In the early 1820s Oliver moved her business to Scotch Street, Carlisle, where she acted as agent to the London Genuine Tea Company.[16] Daughters Elizabeth and Jane, became milliners and dressmakers; they are listed in Jollie’s1828–29 directory, as also being resident in Scotch Street.[17] In 1834 Richard Hind, ironmonger, of English Street, Carlisle, married Mary Oliver, of Scotch Street.[18]

Sarah Oliver died Carlisle in 1852.  Her death was reported in the Carlisle Patriot: ‘Yesterday, in this city, aged 52, Sarah, relict of the late Mr. Henry Brough Oliver, of Brampton, deeply lamented by her family’.[19]

This is a work-in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


[1] Cumbria Archives, Carlisle, Marriage Bond Index.

[2] Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce and Manufacture, 5 vols. (London: c.1795), V, Appendix, 27–9. 

[3] St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, London, born 11 November, Baptised 10 December 1776, Henry Brough, son of Richard and Jane Oliver.

[4] Historical Record of the King’s Liverpool Regiment of Foot; http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U197827 accessed 12 Feb. 2019

[5] Carlisle Journal, 4 September 1802, p.1; Carlisle Journal, 24 September 1803, 3.

[6] The Monthly Magazine, vol. 26 (R. Philips, 1808), 492.

[7] Cumbria Archives, PR60, Brampton, St Martin’s Parish Registers, 1663–1993.

[8] F. Jollie, Jollies Cumberland Guide & Directory (Carlisle: 1811)

[9] Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, 1, (July–December 1808), (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1808), 271.

[10] London Gazette, 26 November 1811, 2301.

[11] The London Gazette, 25 February 1826, 437.

[12] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/5/100, 6 April 1819; PR60/21/13/5/124, 8 January 1819; PR60/21/13/6/710 February 1820, Brampton Overseers’ Vouchers, Sarah Oliver.

[13] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, DCLP/8/38, Isaac Bird, Grocer, Brampton, Ledger, 1817-19.

[14] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/5/124; Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, Sarah Oliver, 8 January 1819.

[15] Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, DCL P/8/47, Joseph Forster, grocer, Brampton, ledger, 1819–31; William Parson and William White, History, Directory and Gazetteer of Cumberland and Westmorland (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 426.

[16] Carlisle Patriot, 30 August 1823 and 3 December 1825.

[17] J. Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 1: Cheshire – Northumberland] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828), 71; W. Parson and W. White, History, Directory & Gazetteer of Cumberland & Westmorland, (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 165

[18] Carlisle Journal, 1 November 1834, 3.

[19] Carlisle Patriot, 27 October 1832, 3.

Wild Boar Stuff

A draper’s bill presented to the overseers of Brampton listed three items as ‘wild boar stuff’. What exactly was ‘wild boar stuff’ and was it really made from ‘wild boar’? ‘Stuff’ was a generic name given to cloth used for making garments. Often the fabric was made from wool, or a mixture of wool and other fibres.

The OED defines ‘hog wool’, as ‘wool from a yearling sheep; the fleece produced by a sheep’s first shearing’. The term originated in the mid-eighteenth century.

John Luccock’s 1809 essay on wool notes, ‘The hog wool, or the first fleece produced by a lamb more than a year old, was greatly esteemed under the old modes of manufacture; and had not the machinery recently adopted rendered it desirable to obtain staples of a uniform length, which is not so easily effected in this class of fleeces, it would still maintain its pre-eminence, as it does in all places where the yarn is spun by hand’.[1]  Might this explanation mean that ‘wild boar stuff’ was actually derived from hand spun hog wool?

The Journals of the House of Lords vol. 60 contains a discussion on South Down wool, noting the increase in demand for hog wool: ‘All the Cloth made from the better Sorts of Foreign Wools have a more felting Property in them. That (producing a sample of Worsted Stuff) is made of South Down Hogs, probably South Down and Merinos together.’[2]

One suggestion is that it might be wool from the mangalitsa pig. This long-haired breed was not developed until the mid-nineteenth century by cross-breeding wild boar with Hungarian domesticated pigs, so cannot have been used to make the ‘wild boar stuff’ listed in the draper’s bill. Equally, there seems to be no reference to the use of its fleece for textile production. Another suggestion is that the ‘boar’ might refer to the colour of the textile, or perhaps the texture.

Any further information on ‘wild boar stuff’ would be welcomed.

John Styles adds that in Florence Montgomery’s Textiles in America
‘Wildbore’ [spellings varied] is defined as a fairly coarse worsted used for women’s gowns. ‘Stuff’ at this period generally means a worsted fabric, the sort of thing made either at Norwich or in the West Riding.

Sources

William Beck, The Drapers’ Dictionary: a manual of textile fabrics, their history and applications (London: The Warehousemen and Draper’s Journal Office, 1882).

Polly Hamilton, ‘Haberdashery for use in dress, 1550–1800’ (unpublished PhD, University of Wolverhampton, 2009)

Journals of the House of Lords, vol. 60 (1828), Appendix 3

Wilhelm W. Kohl and Peter Toth, The Mangalitsa Pig (2014)

Oxford English Dictionary


[1] John Luccock, An Essay on Wool, Containing a Particular Account of the English Fleece (London: J. Harding, 1809), 133.

[2] Journals of the House of Lords, vol. 60 (1828), Appendix 3, 84.

Peter Burn (1792–1877), Gardener, Brampton

Two vouchers have come to light showing Peter Burn supplying seeds and plants to Brampton workhouse. The first from 1816 includes early cabbage plants, onion, Welsh onion and leek seeds and ‘green plants’. The second from 1819 included early cauliflower. Such information adds to the current understanding of pauper diets which, derived from workhouse dietaries or daily allowances, often do not specify vegetables other than potatoes.  

Even though Burn’s bills to the overseers were modest in amount, totalling £1 5s 6d, his business was evidently profitable as he held more than £1000 of stock in the Carlisle City and District Banking Company.[1] In 1851 he employed two men and two boys.[2] He was still working in 1871, employing five boys.[3]

Burn is listed in Parson and White’s 1829 directory as a gardener with premises in Front Street.[4] By 1851 he was living in Church Lane with his wife Margaret.[5]

Burn was born in 1792 in Bellingham or Ridley, Northumberland.[6] His wife Margaret (née Johnson) was born in 1797 at Alston, Cumberland.[7] She may have been his second wife. The 1841 Census for Brampton does not list Margaret Burn, but does list a Peter Burn, and children Thomas (15), Peter (10), Elizabeth (20), Sarah (15) and Margaret (14). As was the practice at the time, most of these ages have been rounded. A quick search through FindMyPast and Ancestry show that a Peter and Sarah Burn’s children were Thomas (bap. 13 September 1822), Peter (bap. 8 September 1830), Elizabeth (bap. 20 August 1819), Sarah (bap. 13 June 1824) and Margaret (bap. 17 November 1826).[8] Sarah Burn the elder died in 1838.[9]

Living with Peter and Margaret in 1871 were his widowed brother Bryan, a retired railway guard, and two unmarried granddaughters, Sarah aged 22 (a housekeeper), and Elizabeth aged 15.[10]

Peter Burn died on 19 February 1877. His will contains three codicils and was proved at Carlisle on 26 April by two of his executors; his son Peter, a draper, and John Armstrong, a gardener. Burn’s effects were under £600.[11]

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


[1] Anon, A List of the County Banks of England and Wales, Private and Proprietary (London: M. A. Marchant, 1838), frontispiece, 138.

[2] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 9/3907, 1861 Census.

[3] TNA, RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[4] W. Parson and W. White, History, Directory & Gazetteer of Cumberland & Westmorland, (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 417.

[5] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census.

[6] The 1851 Census records Bellingham, the 1861 Census, Ridley. TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 9/3907, 1861 Census.

[7] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[8] Ancestry.co.uk; FindMyPast.co.uk, accessed 25 April 2019.

[9] Buried 26 February 1838, Ancestry.co.uk; FindMyPast.co.uk, accessed 25 April 2019.

[10] TNA, RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[11] National Probate Calendar, Peter Burn, 26 April 1877.

Blue Duffle

The Cumberland vouchers make frequent reference to the purchase of blue duffle.William Beck’s The Drapers’ Dictionary cites Booth’s Analytical English Dictionary of 1835 which describes duffle as ‘a stout milled flannel, but of greater depth and differently dressed. It may be either perched or friezed (napped), and is sold in all colours’. The name is generally thought to have derived from Duffel (now in Belgium).

In The Compleat English Tradesman Daniel Defoe notes that ‘The manufacturing towns of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland is employ’d in the coarser manufactures of those counties, such as Kersies, half-thicks, yarn stockings, Duffelds, Ruggs, Turkey-work chairs and many other useful things’.

What was the blue duffle being used for? In all likelihood it was used to make coats or cloaks for the poor, perhaps as a type of uniform for the workhouse, or as part of a set of clothes provided for parish apprentices. Joan Lane notes that clothing for apprentices, including particular items that identified them with specific trades, was a common requirement, and that factory apprentices were expected to attend church looking reasonable. She continues that male parish apprentices ‘received a shirt, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and shoes, with a coat and hat for outdoors. A girl was given a petticoat, one or two shifts … with a gown, apron, stockings and shoes … Coats and cloaks were hardly ever bought for female pauper apprentices’.[1]

Five news items provide further information on the uses of blue duffle:

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787, described how John Bell, aged 17 or 18, had run away from his apprenticeship from shoemaker George Sugding, in Workington. He was wearing a turned blue coat and vest, black breaches and a woollen hat. At the same time another apprentice, Jonathan Atch, aged 17, also absconded. He was wearing a blue upper jacket, a double-breasted blue vest and blue breaches, all duffle.

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797, detailed the elopement of Daniel Hodgson and Mary Johnston, the wife of James Johnston. Johnston, aged 67, was reported as wearing a white thickset coat, and a blue and white striped waistcoat. Johnston, ‘a stout made woman … pitted with the small pox’, was wearing a a dark stamped gown and bed gown, a brown or blue quilted petticoat, black worsted stockings , a blue duffle cloak, and a black silk bonnet.

Twenty dozen pairs of stockings and ‘some webs of blue duffle and blue worsted stuff’ were stolen from Bridekirk manufactory, Annan. Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841, William Dixon gave evidence against John Cope for stealing a jacket belonging to Isaac Sherwin of Aspatria. When apprehended in Maryport, Cope was wearing a blue duffle jacket beneath which was the stolen jacket. Cope was found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.

In 1843 the Carlisle Journal reported an inquest. The headless body of a man was washed ashore opposite Eskmeals. The clothing consisted of a blue and white striped shirt, a red flannel shirt, a blue duffle jacket, and white woollen stockings. \lsdpriority

Sources

Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/3/ no item number, Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, settled 31 May 1795

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797

Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841

Carlisle Journal, 9 December 1843

William Beck, The Drapers’ Dictionary: a manual of textile fabrics, their history and applications (London: The Warehousemen and Draper’s Journal Office, 1882), 106

Daniel Defoe, The Compleat English Tradesman vol II, (London: printed for Charles Rivington, 1727), 59–60

Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 27–29


[1] Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 29.

A Blog post about Clogs

PR10/100/18, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, An account of Grace Matthews clothes and goods, 2 June 1785

Clogs feature in both the Staffordshire and Cumberland vouchers. In 1829 and 1830, for example, the overseer of Uttoxeter Mr Wood paid John Green for the following:

2 Sept  1829 Pair of Clogs 1s 4d John Green Mr Wood
7 Nov  1829 1pr clogs 1s  8d
18 Nov 1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Wood 1s 10
21 Nov  1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Norres 1s 6d
18 Dec 1829 1pr of clogs ordered by Mr Wood 1s 10d
8s 2d

 

10 Jul 1830 4 pr boys clogs 5s 4d John Green Mr Wood

Clogs were also by the overseers of Darlaston, Staffordshire: in 1818 Thomas Challinor was paid for three pairs.

In Skelton, Cumberland, the inventory of Grace Matthews goods and clothes included one pair of clogs. There is a separate blog entry for Matthews.

In Wigton, Cumberland, Thomas Watman’s 1773 bill refers to the calking of clogs.

Details of two further vouchers from  Wigton (1771) and Skelton 1791 are shown below.

6 Dec 1771 John Barnes
John Little
Daniel Steel
Daniel Steel
John Barnes
John Little
£0-3-8
£0-0-11
for 3 pairs of clogs
Ironing 3 pairs of clogs
1 Jun 1791 Thomas Mather William Stalker Thomas Mather £4.19.0 Maintenance, repair of clogs & 6 mths house rent

In his State of the Poor Frederick Morton Eden recorded: ‘Some years ago clogs were introduced into the county of Dumfries from Cumberland, and are now very generally used over all that part of the country, in place of coarse and strong shoes. The person who makes them is called a clogger. “All the upper part of the clog, comprehending what is called the upper leather and heel quarters, is of leather, and made after the same manner as those parts of the shoe which go by the same name. The sole is of wood. It is first neatly dressed into a proper form; then, with a knife for the purpose, the inside is dressed off, and hollowed so as to easily receive the foot. Next with a different kind of instrument, a hollow or guttin, is run round the outside of the upper part of the sole, for the reception of the upper leather, which is then nailed with small tacks to the sole and the clog is completed. [The Staffordshire vouchers often contain quantities of ‘tacketts’]. After this they are generally shod, or plated with iron, by a blacksmith. [Calking clogs – adding iron strips or plates to improve their durability – appears on numerous bills for Cumberland]. The price of a pair of men’s clogs (in Dumfrieshire) is about 3s including plating; and, with the size the price diminishes in proportion. A pair of clogs, thus plated, will serve a labouring man one year … at the end of that period, by renewing the sole and plating, they may be repaired so as to serve a year longer… [Many of the Cumberland bills are for making such repairs]. They keep the feet remarkably warm and comfortable, and entirely exclude all damp.”

At Lancaster, Eden noted: ‘Ironed clogs, which are much cheaper, more durable, and more wholesome than shoes, are very generally worn by labouring people’.

The noise clogs made alarmed those unused to it. In August 1797 Henry Kitt recorded: ‘We were annoyed at first by the harsh clatter made by the clogs of the boys playing in the street … We were soon, however, convinced that these wooden shoes, capped with plates of iron, were well adapted to the use of the peasants who inhabit a rough and marshy country’.

Sources

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, vols. I & II (1797)

Henry Kitt, Kett’s Tour to the Lakes of Cumberland and Westmorland, vol. 5 (1797)

Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle

PR10/100/18, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, An account of Grace Matthews clothes and goods, 2 June 1785

PR36/v/2/49, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, 6 December 1771

PR V/36/3, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, Thomas Watman 1773

Staffordshire Record Office

D1149/6/2/3/93, Darlaston Overseers’ Voucher, 19 October 1818

D3891/6/34/9/018, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Voucher, 2 September to 18 December 1829

D3891/6/36/8/12, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Voucher, 10 July 1830

Elizabeth Wilson, (fl.1785-1788)

Elizabeth Wilson Voucher PR10/V/16 Skelton

 

Brief research shows that Elizabeth Wilson’s maiden name was Mathews.  Where or when she was married is unknown. She was the daughter of John Mathews (1700-1783) and Grace Sewell (1704- 1788). Their marriage was registered in Skelton parish 15 July 1731. Grace was baptised 13 April 1732 and her brother Joseph on 21 May 1735.

Elizabeth Wilson received money to help with the care of her mother on 1st November 1785. Other vouchers signed by Isaac Dodd, Vestry Clerk,  are of a similar freehand format. The payment to Elizabeth  was  delivered by the hand of Isaac Holm. It is assumed that the money was collected from or sent to a predetermined place known to Skelton people. Very often this would have been an inn or a well-known shop.

Letters from Elizabeth Wilson to Isaac Dodd were addressed with instructions to be left at the Black Bull, Penrith. The Black Bull was situated in the Corn Market area of Penrith. It had eight lodging rooms and stabling for 21 horses. In 1790 a Mr Murthwaite was the victualler there. Rye was sold outside the Black Bull, wheat at the Black Lion, oats at the Fish Inn and White Hart Inn, and barley at the Griffin. All were situated in or near the Cornmarket area.

By 1785 it appears that  Elizabeth was looking after her mother probably at her home, following John Mathews’ death two years earlier aged 83. He is described as a poor man in the parish register. A voucher of June 1785 lists the clothes and property of Grace Mathews to be delivered to her daughter. Isaac Dodd and Thomas Moses signed at the bottom. Her belongings may have been all she possessed. They Included:

  • 1 Chaf bed
  • 3 blankets
  • 1 pare [pair] of harden sheets
  • 1 bolster and pillow and draw
  • 2 Toppings 1 Rug
  • Bed hangings
  • 1 Bedstead
  • Two Gowns
  • 3 Petticoats
  • 1 Hankerchief
  • 2 Blue Aprons
  • 7 Checked Do[Aprons]
  • 1 pare[pair] of shoes
  • 4 Shifts
  • 2 pare[pair] of Stockings
  • 1 pare[pair] of Clogs
  • 6 Caps
  • 1 chair

The first letter to Dodd in November 1787 has Tindal [Tindale near Farlam] written at the top. She expressed her concern that he has not sent cloth for shifts as the money is not enough to buy clothing on top of her other outgoings. Saying she needed to be able to keep her mother clean and cannot do this without a change of clothes. Asking him to show the letter to the Overseers’, she continues:

I have  tobacco and everything to find. She has been a year and a half that she could not dress herself nor go to bed without help. If you don’t send cloth or money I must be obliged to send her back. I have now had her 3 years at May day.’ 

Elizabeth did get the money sent to her, however, as stated in her letter:

‘I received the money but had a great deal of trouble with a guinea which was not weight. When you send again write on the letter full weight or I shall have no chance with the carrier.’  

Counterfeit coins were problematic around this time and up until the 1830s. Punishment could be severe. Weighing a coin was a way of trying to determine its authenticity. It may have been that Elizabeth thought she had been given money that had been clipped, or that it was a newer design of coin recently minted that she did not recognise. 

The last letter of 15  June 1788 updates Isaac Dodd:

‘I received your letter with cash £0.2.9 in due time as for my mother and me we have had a very bad winter for she lay ever since Martinmass, but thanks be to God she has got it over. She was buried May the 29th 1788. So the money as it happened deferred the expenses of the funeral.’

The hand writing in the two letters differs so Elizabeth may have sought help to write them.

John and Grace Mathews

Further vouchers from the parish of Skelton have been found since this original blog was written that show Elizabeth Wilson’s parents John and Grace received help from the Parish prior to Grace being cared for by Elizabeth. In February 1781 an account of their belongings at Skelton poorhouse was made. The overseer for the poor being a John Pool of Unthank quarter. [photo below] After John’s death on 26 February 1783 Ann Steele  received a payment of £1.6s.6d. for the maintenance of Grace. The payment was made by Isaac Dodd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Cumbria archives and Library.

Andrew Graham, Secret Penrith  (Amberley 2016)

The Register of the parish of Skelton Cumberland 1580-1812 Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

PR 10/110-112 Letters to the Vestry Clerk

PR 10/V/15 Voucher Cumberland. Small Bills and Petty Finance 1700-1834

Newspapers accessed at www.britishnewspaperarchives.co.uk

Carlisle Patriot, 20 September 1823

Carlisle Journal, 19 October 1839

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 21 August 1771

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 30 July 1782

 

 

 

Thomas Gill c.1737-1789. A Pauper Funeral. Skelton Parish

Voucher PR10/V/14

Thomas Gill lived in Lamonby and Leath in Skelton parish. He was described as a labourer in the parish  according to the records available. It is assumed that he took on labouring work most of his life and that his income and ability to make a living would be very dependent on his ability to work. Skelton being a rural area the work would most likely involve that related to agriculture.

Family

He married Elizabeth (Betty) Gibson when he was 37 and she was 21 on 23 November 1774. It is possible that Gill had been married before as Skelton poor law vouchers show that the parish overseer arranged a binding into an apprenticeship for a Thomas Gill’s son in 1772. Whether this was this Thomas Gill’s son is not known. Thomas and Elizabeth had 5 children William (b.1775) , Hannah (b.1776), Mary (b.1779), Margaret (b.1781) and Elizabeth (b.1786.) When Elizabeth was born Gill was referred to as a pauper. By the 10 March 1789 Gill had died aged 49;  his family were presumably left  to struggle on. His son William had already died in 1775 aged 2 months. Hannah, his daughter, was alive in 1799 and had a son, Thomas. His birth is recorded as illegitimate on 23 May of that year. If his wife Elizabeth remarried or how long she lived is unknown.

Funeral Expenses

Assuming the family were unable to pay for his funeral, Skelton parish appears to have borne the cost. The parish  provided similar provisions for the pauper funeral of Edward Tinkler in 1793 as well as others. With similar items on the small bills and petty cash vouchers, the expense for Gill’s funeral included bread from Wm Nicholson,  £0.4s.0d, Ale and Beer from Ann Todd £0.2s.0d,  butter from Wm Hodgson £1.6s.0d, cheese £0.2s.0d, sugar £0.1s.6d, barley 2 quarters £0.0s.5d, cakespice £0.0s.2d, tobacco 2 0z £0.0s.3d, candles £0.0s.4d,  a shroud £0.2s.6d, 10oz tea, a coffin £0.12s.0, and Church fees £0.1s.6d; the total cost being £1.8s.5d.  Who consumed the food is not known. This may not be comparable with a pauper’s funeral in the larger cities. The respect afforded the poor in death may have been dependent on parish finance and those who administered them.

Footnotes

In rural areas the fear of resurrectionists and anatomists was probably less than in the larger cities with medical schools. These schools could procure  bodies for research in unethical ways. The Anatomy Act of 1832 proposed to address this by allowing poorhouses, workhouses and hospitals to give up bodies not claimed by friends of relatives to surgeons and teachers of anatomy. Some argued that this would benefit the poor by reducing the cost of medical advice while also helping medical science. The likelihood is it perpetuated the poor’s fear of the workhouse.

The following is taken from Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society iv, 425-435, Rev R.W. Dixon, ‘Hayton: The Old Registers’.

Before poor law unions the poorhouse Hayton was at Street House. It is to this the agreement between Thomas Wharton of Faugh and the churchwardens refers to. Thomas Wharton  had an agreement with Hayton Parish for a year in 1773 for ‘letting of the poor’ for a year. The Parish provided clothing and apparel. Wharton was to mend their clothes and stockings. £5 being appointed for the purpose. Under 1 year olds to be counted with their mother as one person. He was to provide meat, drink, washing and lodgings for the paupers. He was given a weekly allowance of £0.1s. 2d for each pauper adjusted if they left before the week was out. A yearly salary of £12.10s was given to him. If the pauper died in the house he was to be buried at the expense of the parish. What this provision entailed can only be surmised. This practice may have continued with an arrangement  with Thomas Milbourn of Towtop in 1776 for letting of the poor for one year.

Sources

Cumbria Archives

PR 102/30 Churchwardens and overseers account book 1740-1796. Includes memorandum on agreement for letting of poor for one year to Thomas Milbourn of Towtop p Hayton,Yeoman, 1776

PR 10/V/14 item 12 March 10 1789 Skelton Overseers Vouchers 

The Register of the Parish Church of Skelton:  Baptisms, Burials and Marriages 1580-1812

Liverpool Mercury, 20 January 1832

 Rev R W Dixon Hayton: The Old Registers’, Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. vol iv, 425-435

E.S Thomson, Beloved Poison (London: Churchill, 2016)

www.gutenberg.org. Bygone Cumberland and Westmorland. (accessed 9 Dec 2018)

archaeologydataservice.ac.uk

This is a work in progress subject to change.

Isaac Lightfoot’s Will, Wigton, 1817

Many testators endeavoured to make an equal distribution of their estate amongst their surviving children. Often the distribution to women consisted of personal estate with money placed in the hands of trustees. Men tended to inherit real and personal estate outright. As an attorney, we might have expected Isaac Lightfoot to have followed this pattern. His will, however, shows what appears to be an unequal distribution of his estate with his eldest son receiving nothing and the favouring of his youngest son Osmotherly. We should be careful, however, as it is entirely possible that John and some of his other siblings had received in-life gifts not mentioned in the will. This may account for the distribution that was made.

In his will of 15 June 1814 (proved 27 March 1817) Isaac Lightfoot described himself as a gentleman. After his just debts and funeral expenses had been paid out of the real estate he owned in Greystoke, his daughters Mary and Margaret were to receive £200 each and £20 each yearly for ten years. They were also given a bed and bedding. Mary was to receive the chest of drawers in the parlour and Margaret the clock and case from the kitchen.

If either daughter died before the expiration of the ten years, leaving lawful issue, then their children would stand in place of their mother and receive their share of Isaac’s estate. If the daughters died leaving no children then the clock and chest of drawers were to go to Isaac’s son Osmotherly. Osmotherly was also to receive all of Isaac’s real estate in Greystoke.

Sons Isaac, Joseph and Osmotherly, were to receive money amounting to £640 due to Isaac the elder on bond or otherwise from John Lightfoot, the brother of Isaac, Joseph and Osmotherly. The amount was to be divided as follows: Joseph £100; Isaac £100 (but if Isaac died the sum or the remainder of it was to be given to Joseph); and £440 to Osmotherly. Osmotherly was also to inherit Isaac’s goods, chattels, bills, bonds, securities for money and personal estate.

Isaac, Joseph and Osmotherly were appointed as executors.

The will was witnessed by Robert Norman and John Mingins.

The value of his effects was under £100.

Sources

Cumbria Archives, W184, Will of Isaac Lightfoot of Wigton, 1817

This is a work in progress, subject to change as further research is conducted.

Rules of Wigton Female Friendly Society from Frederick Morton Eden’s ‘The State of the Poor’ (1797)

Morton summarises the main rules of the society and adds his own comments.

Healthy women under 43 years of age are admitted, on paying 1s 9d, entrance money, 7d box money, and 1d towards providing a doctor.

A member of 3 years standing is allowed, in case of sickness, 5s a week for the first 10 weeks; 3s a week there afterwards; but no sickness, or lameness, in the time of pregnancy, entitles a member to relief from the Society; but if they are the consequence of pregnancy, such member is entitled to the allowance, to commence one month after her lying in. £5 are allowed towards the funeral expenses of a member, and £2 towards the funeral expenses of a husband; but a member cannot receive the last allowance more than once in her life.

Widows are allowed £2 on the death of a child; and unmarried members £2 on the death of a father, brother &c.

Members disclosing the secrets of the Society, upbraiding one another, refusing to be silent, after due notice, &c are liable to a fine; the framers of these rules, which are very minute, seem to have entertained strong ideas of the loquacity of the sex.

The following rule seems well calculated to punish dissoluteness of manners, among the female part of the labouring class.

If any single or unmarried woman, having had a child, before she entered the Society, shall commit the same crime, when in the Society, she shall be excluded; or, if any married woman shall have a child in the absence of her husband, she also shall be excluded, provided she cannot satisfy the Society in six months.

Members of 20 years standing are allowed 2s a week for life, while the fund consists of £100 and upwards.

For managing the concerns, and keeping the keys of the strong box of this Society, two stewardesses are taken by rotation, and continue six months in office; two collectors, who are chosen by the stewardesses, collect fines, &c: a beadle, and warden, (both females), are likewise taken by rotation; the former is the message bearer, and the latter inspects the public affairs of the Society, to see that the officers discharge their duty, and attends the door on club nights. A committee of six women, is taken by rotation, from the roll every six months, whose business is to determine all controversies, to accept members, with the concurrence of the stewardesses, and to give their assent to the lending or disposing of money, or other things, belonging to this Society. The club meets once a month at an ale house in Wigton, the landlady of which is bound under the penalty of 2s 6d to find them good ale.