Abel Rooker, surgeon in Darlaston (1787-1867) Part 1

Among the Darlaston Poor Law vouchers are detailed bills submitted by the surgeon Abel Rooker. Unlike those for parishes previously worked on, these give much more precise information on what Mr Rooker was supplying in terms of treatments and medicines. Surgeons from earlier parishes in the project generally were retained for a fixed half-yearly fee and then sought additional re-imbursement for lengthy involvements or unusual items. Mr Rooker does not appear to receive an agreed retainer until somewhat later (certainly by 1822).

When undertaking biographical research into individuals of interest who emerge from this project it is surprising where this leads. In the case of Abel Rooker this proved to involve 18th century developments in the non-conformist tradition that became Congregationalism and links between Walsall and Bridport in Dorset, an attempted murder in Lower Gornal and female chit-chat between Charlotte Bronte and her friend Ellen Nussey.

Abel Rooker was born in Walsall on 18 October 1787, the son of James and Mary Rooker and baptised in the independent chapel in Walsall on 20 Feb 1788. He developed his skills under the Walsall surgeon Francis Watkin Weaver, who paid apprentice tax for Abel on 26 January 1803, when Abel would have been 16 years old.  Abel went on to marry Susanna Brevitt, the daughter of a Darlaston butcher, Thomas Brevitt and his wife Sarah, by licence at Darlaston St Lawrence church on 9 May 1811. Even if Abel had retained his parents’ non-conformist views the marriage would have had to take place in an Anglican church in this period before civil registration was introduced in 1837. Susanna was only 20 years old when they married.

Abel and Susanna had 4 children (James Yates Rooker, Harriet Mary Rooker, William Yates Rooker and Susanna Rooker) before they produced a son Abel who died as a baby (he was buried on 1 September 1818). Sadly Susanna had already passed away on 23 June that year. It is distressing to realise that at the time that Abel was ministering to the medical needs of the Darlaston poor, his skills could not save his own wife and son. It is interesting that Abel sought letters of administration on his wife’s estate on 5 Sep 1818. At this period, a wife’s property was considered to belong automatically at marriage to her husband.

Abel married again in 1821, by licence, on 22 May at Handsworth. His bride was Frances Fletcher, a glass maker’s daughter from Wednesbury, with whom he had 6 children (Maria, William, Ann Alice, Abel, John and Thomas Fletcher).

Frances died on 5 October 1853 and again Abel sought letters of administration in order to deal with his wife’s estate.  He retired as surgeon on 1 Oct 1854 when his partnership with Thomas William was dissolved. Abel then moved to live in Lower Gornal and the 1861 census shows him living in Church Street with his unmarried daughter Ann Alice. He died in Lower Gornal on 18 April 1867 and two of his sons acted as executors of his will (probate granted at Lichfield on 13 June 1867).

 

Sources

Baptismal, marriage, death, apprenticeship, census and probate information accessed at Ancestry www.ancestry.co.uk/ and Find my Past www.findmypast.co.uk/

Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser, 4 October 1854

 

Settlement, Redemption and Connections – Richard Ward of Alrewas and Burton, shoemaker (1789-1869)

The Covid-19 lockdown has had many of us setting about de-cluttering and tidying at home. For me a principal tidying target has been the collection of notebooks in which I’ve recorded snippets of information and jottings from research at Staffordshire and Lichfield record offices. Going through one of these a few days ago to make sure I had entered up everything on my laptop in a more organised way, I found some brief notes I’d been trying to track down for ages. These concerned a Richard Ward, shoemaker and the source was Burton St Modwen vestry minutes [1].

On 9 July 1817 these minutes reported that it had been resolved to bring Richard Ward into the workhouse to be employed in making and mending shoes and that his goods be redeemed. On 1 May 1822 the minutes reported that Richard Ward of Alrewas be allowed £5 to assist him in his rent, he being unwell at times. This money was sent to him by a courier. On 16 April 1823 Richard Ward of Alrewas was supplied with some bedding.  Now this was a puzzle. Richard was born in 1789 in Streethay, just north of Lichfield. Parish register entries indicate that his family gradually moved northwards to Fradley and then Alrewas. So why was Burton parish a good eight miles away taking responsibility for him? Clues come from the Alrewas parish register [2] where his marriage by licence to Elizabeth Wootton in 1811 indicates he was “of Burton” and this is confirmed by the associated marriage bond and allegation. [3] He may have gained a settlement in Burton, possibly through apprenticeship.

Resolving a person’s settlement could be a fraught business if they sought parish relief and the overseers suspected another parish should or could be liable. It could also be expensive for the parish if a challenge was disputed. Among the project vouchers submitted by lawyers there are many, many examples of the bills incurred by overseers to resolve matters of settlement.

Sadly, overseers’ vouchers for Burton have not found their way to Staffordshire Record Office, so it is not possible to delve further into Richard’s shoe making and mending while in the parish workhouse in Hawkins Lane. Likewise, vouchers for St Michael’s parish in Lichfield (which includes Streethay) have not survived. Vouchers for Alrewas parish were processed for the project and these show that it did not have its own workhouse but sent paupers over to nearby Rosliston in south Derbyshire. [4]

At one of the workshops held at Stafford in connection with the project, Dr Joe Harley set out how useful pauper inventories could be as sources of information. His talk drew on research published in 2015. [5] His paper sets out evidence for the able-bodied poor using the workhouse as a short-term survival strategy. This may well have been the case for Richard.

Overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter [6] show that the constable was ordered on 15 Feb 1832 to grant relief to William Breeze to redeem his bundle of clothes and resume his journey to London, and that Joseph Barnes was paid 8 shillings on 20 March 1835 to redeem four articles belonging to Sarah James. Likewise overseers’ vouchers for Tettenhall [7] show payments of 2s to Francis Taylor on 24 Feb 1831 to redeem James Billingsley’s coat, of 6d on 28 June 1832 to redeem Maria Williams’ shawl and of 19s 2½d on 29 June 1832 to redeem Thomas Williams’ coat and for an inquest .

Richard Ward’s experience of Burton workhouse did not put him off returning to the town after his youngest child was born in Alrewas in 1825. It is possible to track the family living in Burton through the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses until Richard died in 1869 and was buried in Burton’s new municipal cemetery at Stapenhill. Two of his sons (William and Richard) lived out their lives in Burton, too. I have visited all their graves and stood the proverbial six feet above. Richard was my 4xgreat grandfather and William my 3xgreat grandfather. I know lots about their various doings.

During Dr Pete Collinge’s Zoom-based talk to the Erasmus Darwin Society on 28 Jan 2021 on ‘Food and the Georgian pauper: evidence from Sandford Street Workhouse Garden , c. 1770-1834’, a lady attending provided illuminating and fascinating information about cottages on Sandford Street in Lichfield and on the Sedgewick family from her own family memories. It never ceases to amaze me just what detail emerges from studying the overseers’ vouchers and other records in connection with this project and the buzz of excitement that comes from connecting with one’s own family.

[1] SRO, B12, Burton St Modwen Vestry minute book, 1805-1840

[2] SRO, D783/1/1/6 Alrewas All Saints, Register of marriages

[3] SRO, PAL/C/6,7/1811/Ward, Alrewas marriage bond and allegation

[4] SRO D783/2/3 Overseers’ vouchers for Alrewas

[5] Harley, J., ‘Material lives of the poor and their strategic use of the workhouse during the final decades of the English old poor law’. Continuity and Change, 30, (2015), pp. 71-103 doi:10.1017/S0268416015000090

[6] SRO, D3891/6/37/12/1 and D3891/6/41/7/21 Overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter

[7] SRO, D571/A/PO/65/13; D571/A/PO/69/71; D571/A/PO/69/173 Overseers’ vouchers for Tettenhall

Abel Rooker, surgeon in Darlaston (1787-1867) Part 3 Abel’s sons

The executors appointed by Abel in his will were two of his sons, one from each marriage. Interestingly these sons were Rev James Yates Rooker of Lower Gornal and Rev John Rooker of Islington, both of them Anglican clergymen. Another son, William Yates Rooker, had also been a clergyman and his wife, Mary Jemima Rooker, took out a complaint against James Yates Rooker over her husband’s estate.

James Yates Rooker led a remarkable life. As a curate at Bamford near Hathersage in Derbyshire he caught the attention of Ellen Nussey who was a lifelong correspondent of Charlotte Bronte’s. Ellen and Charlotte met at Roe Head school in Mirfield in 1831 and Charlotte visited Ellen when she lived with her brother Henry Nussey, who was vicar of Hathersage. He is believed to have proposed to Charlotte in 1839 but was rejected. Ellen and Charlotte’s letters show them indulging in some amusing girl talk about the local curate James Yates Rooker and Charlotte is moved in a letter dated 31 July 1845 to issue a gentle warning to her friend to be on her guard against James’ attractions (perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek). Charlotte’s visits to Hathersage are understood to have provided background material for her novel Jane Eyre.

James went on to become the vicar of Lower Gornal in Staffordshire and was joined there by his father after Abel’s second wife Frances died and Abel retired as a surgeon. Abel died in 1867 but some years later in 1879 James became the victim of a murderous attack by one of his parishioners. The incident is ably set out on the Sedgley manor website (http://www.sedgleymanor.com/stories/stories.html).

James survived the murder attempt and went on to serve the parish until his death in 1887.

 

Abel Rooker, surgeon in Darlaston (1787-1867) Part 2 Non-conformist antecedents

Abel was baptised into a dissenting family in Walsall in Feb 1788. His parents James and Mary Rooker apprenticed him to a Walsall surgeon, Francis Weaver, who was a member of the same dissenting congregation. Such an apprenticeship would not have been cheap but it would open up opportunities for a professional career that did not require a university degree, which Abel would not have been eligible for (at least in England) with his non-conformist background.

Abel’s non-conformist family background was a distinguished one. His great grandfather Samuel Rooker (c.1694-1768) was a cooper from West Bromwich and a member of a dissenting congregation that met at Bank Court in Walsall (on the north side of High Street). Samuel and his son Samuel junior, also a cooper, were among several people keen to secede from this congregation on doctrinal grounds. In 1751 they built a small chapel (approximately 10 ½ feet by 9 feet) on land at Hill Top in Walsall (actually more like West Bromwich). This building was registered for religious worship on 17 May 1751 and just a week later was attacked by a mob and destroyed. It was not until 1763 that the discontented group were able to secede, when twenty-eight members and two deacons began to meet in a new building erected in Dudley Street, Walsall. This congregation flourished until 1790 when, on finding that their premises were too small, laid plans to erect a new chapel in Bridge Street. This opened in September 1791 at a cost of £2, 125 13s, with all debts on the building cleared by 1795. Abel’s baptism is recorded in the Bridge Street chapel register but, as it took place in Feb 1788, it is most likely the ceremony actually happened in the Dudley Street premises.

Samuel senior had another son James who showed a vocation for church leadership and he was sent to study at the dissenting academy in Bedworth, Warwickshire under John Kirkpatrick. James was invited by a dissenting congregation in Bridport, Dorset to become their first minister in 1751. In 1764 the dissenting academy at Ottery St Mary (founded by Rev John Lavington in 1752-54) moved to Bridport, following Lavington’s death in December that year, to continue under Rev James Rooker’s tutelage. James built a house (Bridge House at the far end of East Street) in 1765 to accommodate both his family and the students. This became a hotel in the 1980s. James continued at Bridport until shortly before his death in 1780. The history of the Bridport congregation mirrored that of the Walsall one with a group seceding from the established Presbyterian congregation in the town in 1742, which went on to build a chapel at Barrack Street in 1746. It was not until 1750 that they issued an invitation to James Rooker to become their minister. He was ordained on 16 October 1751 after serving a fairly lengthy apprenticeship (a common practice followed by dissenting congregations of this type).

Links between the Rooker family in the Black Country and the West Country continued after the Rev James’ departure for the south-west as evidenced in probate and property documents well recorded in a paper by Alan Sell. One link not mentioned by Sell was the baptism of Samuel junior’s son James Rooker by his uncle Rev James at Bridport in 1757. The baby’s parents were recorded as Samuel and Joanna Rooker of West Bromwich.

A P F Sell, ‘The Walsall riots, the Rooker family and eighteenth century dissent’, Transactions of the South Staffordshire Archaeological Society (1983-4), 25, pp. 50-71.

[transferred from old blog]

William Coulston 1766-1835 Plumber, Glazier, and Tinman, Kirkby Lonsdale

William Coulston’s Bill, 1813-1814

Poorhouses were not only in need of supplies but also maintenance. William Coulston was one of the traders helping to keep Kirkby Lonsdale poorhouse running.

Coulston’s business was situated in the old Market Square of Kirkby Lonsdale, well-positioned to take advantage of trading opportunities. He supplied the poorhouse with various cutlery items, milk cans ‘chocolate’ paint and a brush. His receipted bills totalled 14s in  August 1811 and £1 17s 9d in April 1814. [1]

Presumably this paint was destined for use outside owing to its durable properties. The British manufactory Company of London supplied different colours of paint, expounding their cheapness, durability and readiness to be thinned with prepared oils. [2]

Around this time other bills were sent to Thomas Parkinson who was the governor of the poorhouse, which was built in 1811 for the use of the townships of Kirkby Lonsdale.[3]

William Coulston was baptised 16 July 1766 in Kirkby Londsdale, as were his siblings . His older brother Thomas (baptised 29 October 1758) was also a glazier while his sister Margaret (baptised 14 June 1761) married a soldier, John Dunn in 1782. [4] Coulston married Sarah Baines on 1 December 1798 in Kirkby Lonsdale where all their children were born. William, born in 1798, didn’t survive long. Another son also named William and daughter Margaret followed in 1801 and 1802. In 1804 when Elizabeth was born Christopher Ellershaw began his apprenticehip as a tinplate worker with Coulston.[5] The Coulstons had another two daughters Sarah (b.1805) and Jane (b.1807). Tragedy struck the family in 1817 when only son William, aged sixteen, drowned while swimming in the River Lune. [6]

Coulston appears to have continued in business for a number of years appearing in the 1829 trade directory. [7] He died 10 May 1835 around the time the poorhouse was closed. [8]

Thomas Parkinson had been the Governor of the poorhouse until its closure. Parkinson and his wife Mary Gill were then employed as master and mistress of the workhouse East Ward, Kirkby Stephen, in 1836  remaining there for the next nine years. [9]

By 1841 William’s widow and her unmarried daughter Margaret were living with daughter Sarah and her husband at Horse Market in the town. Both were of ‘independent means’.[10]. Sarah had married Isaac Dalkin, a currier, on 14 February 1831 in Kirkby Lonsdale. The Coulstons’  youngest daughter, Jane,  married John Carter, a tinman, in Liverpool. [11]. When Sarah Coulston the elder died on 21 January 1843 the local newspaper referred to her having been ill for some time. She was buried at  Kirkby Lonsdale alongside her husband and son William. [12]

Margaret Coulston perhaps finding herself in reduced circumstances set up in business in the busy area of Mill Brow in the town and can be fond in the trade directories in subsequent years. An Elizabeth Coulston is listed as a tea dealer in the same directory and location as Margaret in 1851 but their relationship is unknown. [13] As Margaret’s sister Elizabeth had married James Atkinson, a saddler, on 20 September 1823 it assumed it is not her. [14]. Margaret continued in business for at least the next 10 years. She died on 9 April 1868.[15]

sources

[1] Cumbria Archives, Kirkby Lonsdale Overseers’ vouchers, WPR19/7/1/5/3/13, 31 August 1811, WPR19/7/1/5/5/4, 4 March 1814
[2] Cumberland Pacquet and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser, 7 March 1815
[3] Cumbria Archives, Kirkby Lonsdale Overseers’ voucher, WPR19/7/1/5/3/61/6, 4 November 1811. .www.thepoorlaw.org, Peter Collinge, The Kirkby Lonsdale Digester, 1 June 2020
[4] Lancashire Archives, Marriage Bonds, APR 11, Thomas Coulston, glazier and Sarah Hudson, 18 November 1780, John Dunn, soldier, and Margaret Coulston, 15 April 1782
[5] The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Books: Series IR 1; Class: IR 1; Piece: 71, UK Register of Duties Paid for Apprenticeship Indentures,1710-1811 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk]
[6] Lancaster Gazette, 28 June 1817, p. 3, col. d.
[7 ] Principal Inhabitants of Cumberland and Westmorland 1829, Parson and White’s Directory compiled by R Gregg
[8] Kendal Mercury, 16 May 1835, p. 3, col. e
[9] Kendal Mercury 21 December 1850, p. 3, col. g
[10] TNA, 1841 Census HO107; Piece: 1161; Book: 9; Civil Parish: Kirkby Lonsdale; County: Westmorland; Enumeration District: 15; Folio: 39; Page: 15; Line: 18; GSU roll: 464191
[11] Lancaster Gazette 13 April 1833 p2 col e
[12] Kendal Mercury, 28 January 1843 p3 col f www.findagrave.org
[13] Mannex and Co.,  History & Directory and Topography of Westmorland (1851) [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk]
[14] Lancashire Archives, Marriage Bonds, APR 11, Elizabeth Coulston, James Atkinson, saddler, 19 September 1823
[15] Kendal Mercury, 25 April 1868, p. 3, col. g
William Coulston’s will, plumber and glazier, is held at Lancashire Archives, WRW/L/R640, 29 August 1835

An Extension to St Mary’s Workhouse Garden, Lichfield

In July 2020 the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies published my article on workhouse gardens.[1] Since then further information has come to light regarding the garden of St Mary’s Workhouse in Sandford Street, Lichfield.

The article noted that in 1769 Henry Rogers supplied the potatoes and kidney beans for the garden.[2] An entry in the overseers’ accounts for 19 July 1777 shows that the existing gardening operation was extended when the committee appointed to oversee the repair and extension of the workhouse for the ‘reception and employment of the poor’ accepted the offer ‘made generously by the Reverend Dr Falconer respecting a piece of Meadow Ground for a Garden’.[3]

Figure 1: LD20/6/3, Lichfield St Mary’s, Overseers’ Account Book 1778-1784.

The accounts for 1778 show purchases for the garden and the payments made to labourers. In April thread for ‘garden line’ was purchased, presumably for marking out the ground. A Mr Bramhall was paid for plants and seeds. Other than ‘beans’, however, the specific types of plants and seeds are not listed. Gardeners were provided with ale. Wm Marklew was paid three shillings for two days’ work digging the new garden. In April and May ‘Brindley’ and others were also paid for unspecified garden work.

One of the crops was potatoes. On 30 October 1778 the workhouse received 5s 10d from a Mr Simpson for ‘Boys getting up Tatoes’. Although workhouse inmates were given ‘pay’ for any work they undertook in the new attic work room amounting to ‘two pence out of every shilling for their use’, it seems likely that in this instance the money went to the workhouse rather than directly to the boys.

 

With thanks to JK for the above image.

[1] Peter Collinge, ‘He shall have care of the garden, its cultivation and produce’: Workhouse gardens and gardening c.1780-1835’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1754-0208.12717.

[2] SRO, D3891/6/30/32, Henry Rogers, 27 May 1769.

[3] SRO, LD20/6/3, Lichfield St Mary’s Overseers’ Account Book 1778-1784.

Grace Sandwick’s Possessions

Figure 1: PR5/43, Greystoke Poor Account Book, 1740-1812

When Grace Sandwick was granted poor relief by the parish of Greystoke and boarded out with Deborah Bushby in 1774, she brought with her a range of clothing and belongings. Apart from what is recorded in Greystoke’s Poor Account, nothing further has yet come to light to provide further information on Sandwick. Deborah Bushby was baptised in Greystoke on 13 April 1738 and buried in the parish church on 29 January 1814.

The parish recorded in its Poor Account Sandwick’s possessions. Sometimes parishes sold such goods to help defray the cost of relief. On other occasions, if the pauper was admitted to a workhouse, the items could be stored and returned should the pauper leave. In this instance, as Sandwick was boarding with Bushby, it looks as though the list was draw up so that there could be no dispute over what Sandwick owned.

April ye 7th 1774 Agreed with Deborah Bushby for Grace Sandwicks Boarding for one year at the rate of four pounds four shillings pr year to be paid quarterly.

A schedule of the Goods brought with her the said Grace when she came to lodge with the said Deborah Bushby the date afored: viz one feather bed, 2 Blanketts, 2 Feather Bolsters, one quilt, a kuggone[?] lining sheet a Bedstead a line whool [____alor?] one shag hat one stew pot a meal box and brown gown one blew gown & jacket one good quilted black petty coat Callamanca, a blew petty coat and one white one brown petty coat a blew cardinall one blue apron a corner cupboard and Box each with a lock a Check and White Apron 2 or 3 caps.

Though poor, Sandwick had a change of clothes. Some of the terms used to describe them are unfamiliar to us today but they tell us about something the quality and durability of what she wore. From the seventeenth century ‘shagg’ was used to describe the nap of cloth. It was often coarse and long. Sometimes it was used to describe worsted cloth having a velvet nap. Such material was often used for linings. Calamanco was an unprinted, plain cotton, often white. The ‘blew cardinal’ was a short cloak with a hood.

The lockable cupboard and box were important as a means of securing possessions, particularly when spaces were shared. For many people in the eighteenth century, a lockable box was the only private storage facility they had. Lockable boxes became associated with servants. They could be used to transport belongings between one job and the next. The lack of a box, as Amanda Vickery points out was ‘a sign of the meanest status’.

Sources

CAS, PR5/43, Greystoke Poor Account Book, 1740-1812.

National Burial Index for England and Wales, St Andrew, Greystoke, 29 January 1814.

Amanda Vickery, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 38-40.

 

 

William (1789-1827) and Wilkin Irving, (1791-1859) Surgeons, Greystoke Parish

When Wilkin Irving died on 9 April 1859 he was described as having a naturally timid and nervous character ‘A safe cautious judge of medical practice, who rarely made a mistake. His opinion often sought by rich and poor’. [1]

The vouchers of Greystoke contain bills for treatment given by Wilkin and his brother William John. The vouchers span the years 1818 to 1834.[2] In addition, there are also bills at a later date signed by their cousin William John Irving (1808-1870). He was the son of Christopher Irving, William and Wilkin’s father’s brother.  

Examples of recurring items appear on the brothers’ bills, including Anodyne drops 1s, diuretic drops 1s 6d, a blister and ointment 2s 6d [3] an alkaline mixture 2s 6d, enuretic solution 1s 3d, and camomile flowers 6d. [4] The procedures they undertook were varied but charges for attending women in labour occur frequently. [5 ][6] The extraction of a tooth from someone called Monkhouse [7] 18 November 1827 and the extraction of urine from someone named Berli[e]n are infrequent events. [8] The Irvings also supplied medicines to the Workhouse in Penrith.[9]

PR5/53 37A Greystoke Overseers' Voucher 1829-1830 William Irving treatment to Berlin , Fanny Cowper
PR5/53 37A Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher 1829-1830 Wilkin Irving

William was baptised on 11 January 1789 and Wilkin on 21 June 1791 in the parish of Caldbeck, as was their brother Joseph (1790-1844). They had a sister Jane (b.1793)  who may have died in infancy. Their father William and his wife Mary [Mally] Dobson had no further children. Mary died on 11 February 1795 in child birth aged 27.

Barbara Dowson (1755-1812) married the widowed William at Greystoke on 27 June 1801. [10]

Their father William had established himself as a surgeon in Hesket Newmarket. Wilkin Irving was educated at Appleby, Westmorland, and gained his surgical degree in Edinburgh before returning to Hesket Newmarket to practice in 1814, first with his father, then the following year with brother William John. [11]

Hesket Newmarket, Cumberland. Left of picture what was the Poorhouse
Hesket Newmarket, Cumberland. Left of picture what was the Poorhouse

William Irving the elder died at Hesket Newmarket on 2 September 1820. His extensive will shows he owned various parcels of land and property in the surrounding area. While he occupied some, he leased others, from which he earned an income. His will names some of those he leased the land to such as Betty Alcock, a farmer, and Hannah Peet, a shopkeeper. [12] Hannah Peet was also a witness to his will.

The three sons are named as beneficiaries in his will. Joseph and William John inherited property and land; Joseph the livestock and household furniture; Wilkin consolidated bank shares valued at £500. Medical and surgical books were left to William John and Wilkin. Wilkin inherited his father’s surgical instruments. Small bequests were made to nephews and nieces, as well as to Christine and Sarah, daughters of fellow surgeon William Blamire of Thackwood Nook, Dalston. Five pounds was left to the parish poor. [13]

While Joseph remained in Hesket Newmarket the brothers continued to practice in the surrounding area. Wilkin at some point moved to Hutton John. William John died suddenly on 23 July 1827 aged 38, [14] leaving a wife Ann Studholme (1789- 1884) who he had married at Sebergham in 1812, and three children: Mary Ann (1814-1898), Catherine (1821-1898), and William John 1823-1905). Ann and her children lived with her brother John, a farmer, at Bell Bridge, Sebergham, before they all moved to Buckabank House, Dalston.

Buckabank House, Dalston, Cumberland

According to newspaper accounts, Wilkin continued to work but his nervous disposition and pressure of work began to take its toll. He gradually withdrew from work refusing to undertake surgical procedures. He moved to Bennet Head near Watermillock overlooking the lake at Ullswater, where he died aged 68. The Carlisle Journal reporting that he hada hereditary malady which he well knew would ultimately prove fatal to him’. [15]

Ullswater from Bennet Head near Watermillock

A memorial to the brothers step-mother Barbara Dowson and her brother Rev’d Thomas Head Dowson was placed in Greystoke Church. [16] The surrounding Churchyard has one to Wilkin irving, his brother Joseph, and their father.

Memorial to Wilkin Irving, his father and brother Joseph at St Andrews Church, Greystoke.

 

Sources
[1] Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Penrith Literary Chronicle, 19 April 1859, p. 4, col.,d
[2] Cumbria Archives, PR5/67-K, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin and William Irving, (cousin) 4 June 1834
[3] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54-26, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, william John Irving 4 April 1820
[4] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54/12, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 5 August 1828
[5] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/37A, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 9 November 1830
[6] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/10, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 5 June 1833
[7] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54/12, [line 32] Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving. 5 August 1828
[8] Cumbria Archives PR5/53/5, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving, 12 May 1829
[9] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/37A, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin irving 9 November 1830
[10] Carlisle Journal, 4 July 1801, p. 3, col. c
[11] Cumbria Archives, DCC/1/47, Deeds mostly of various properties in Skelton….1714-1832
[12] England and Wales Quaker BMD Register, 1578 -1837, Cumberland and Northumberland Burials 1814-1835 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk 2 October 2020] p. 67 of 272
[13] The National Archives, Prerogative Court of Canterbury, PROB11/1636/67, Will of William Irving Surgeon Caldbeck, Cumberland, 8 November 1820
[14] Cumberland Parquet and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser, 31 July 1827
[15] Carlisle Journal, 22 April 1859, p. 5, col. e
[16] Kuper, M. E. (1888), ‘Sebergham Parish Registers’, Transactions of Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and archaeological Society, 9 (series 1), pp. 32-96, p. 73 [accessed 2 October 2020]

William Robinson (1783-1857), Flour for the Poor

The first Corn Law was enacted in 1815. One of its consequences was its detrimental effect on the poor who were already subject to the vagaries of the weather and variable harvests.[1]

Overseers’ Voucher 1835 SPC/26/12 item 5

Two Vouchers exists from the parish of Greystoke for William Robinson, a miller. One for the supply of oat meal in 1835 [2], the other a bill settled 3 April 1827. [ 3] The later is from William Hodgson, a farmer at Blencow and also overseer, for the supply of flour to the poor in November 1826. It is assumed from looking at the trade directories that this was from Robinson’s time at Hutton Mill. [4]

An undated list of people choosing to use Sparket and Greystoke Mill instead of Hutton Mill to grind their corn exists when Hutton Mill was described as in good repair.[5] Looking at the names on the list, it possibly dates from around the late-eighteenth century. Although the nature of its significance is not known it may be related to the ‘Lord of the Manor’ stipulating where the inhabitants took their corn. It is thought William leased the Corn Mill when Henry Howard of Greystoke Castle was the landowner.[6]

Sparket Mill
Greystoke castle

Those named on the bill of 1826 are Rebeckah [sic] Cowper, Barbery [sic] Parker, Ann Greenal, Frances Williamson, Esther Fox and John Johnston. The order is for a stone of flour [type unknown] supplied at a cost of 2s 8d each. It is not known if this was something done on a regular basis by Robinson.

Some of the recipients of the flour appear to have had other help from the community by means of the poor law. Rebeckah Cowper had received relief in the past. Her name being in the Overseers Account book between 1810-1814. [7] She died in 1847 aged 87. Esther Ward had married John Fox in 1815 and was widowed with a young son Ralph. She died in Penrith in 1861 aged 77 years, having worked as a charlady and general servant. Ann Greenal’s name appears on a bill for Dr W. J. Irving in 1827 for attendance in labour and subsequent medical care. By the time of the 1851 census she was a laundress/pauper living with her son, William. She died in 1864 aged 77. Barbara Parker had sought help from the parish when expecting a child in 1820. A warrant was issued for a Richard Gillespie on 27 October 1820 for him to being examined concerning her yet-to-be- born bastard child. [8]

By contrast William Robinson’s business prospered through the nineteenth century.  He could be described as being part of the Robinson dynasty of millers/corn factors.

William was baptised at Crosby Ravensworth 16 November 1783. His parents John Robinson (1749-1833) and Mary Clark (1751-1836) ran a mill at Maulds Meaburn. His other brothers took on mills in Cumberland and Westmorland. Thomas (1775-1851) at Craigs Mill, Shap; John (1778-1848) Bongate Mill Appleby; Joseph (1781-1864) Askham Mill, Westmorland; Robert (1785-1874) Maulds Meaburn mill; and Mathew (1787-1853) Sockbridge mill, near Penrith. Their only sister Mary (b.1776) married John Laycock, also a miller.[9]

William Robinson had served an apprenticeship at Millhouse near Hesket Newmarket with his cousin Robert Clark before going to Greystoke Mill where his future wife’s parents Thomas Routledge and Eleanor Smith were the millers. On 13 June 1810 he married their widowed daughter Mary, who already had two young children, Elizabeth and Isaac. They had a further five children: John, baptised 23 March 1813, and William baptised 23 April 1817, who along with Mary’s son Isaac Routledge (1807-1877) were all involved in the milling business. Thomas (1815-1897) broke the mould and became a cleric . Daughter Mary (1810-1891) married John Todhunter a blacksmith but was widowed a year later. Youngest daughter Eleanor or Ellen (1819-1881) married Isaac Kidd, a farmer, later in life. Both daughters lived in the Greystoke area. [10]

Memorial to Mary and Eleanor Robinson and Isaac Routledge daughters and Stepson William Robinson
Memorial to Mary and Eleanor Robinson and Isaac Routledge daughters and Stepson William Robinson

William Robinson returned to Greystoke Mill, where he died on 26 January 1857, aged 75. His wife predeceased him. Memorials to William and Mary Robinson, as well as some of their children, are located at St Andrew’s Church, Greystoke.

William Robinson of Greystoke Mill Memorial St Andrews Church,Greystoke
William Robinson Memorial St Andrews Church,Greystoke

Sources
[1] www.thepoorlaw.org Ann White, East Sussex, The price of bread, 31 July 2019
[2] Cumbria Archives, Hutton Soil, Overseers’ voucher, SPC/26/12 5, 10 March – 1 April 1835
[3] Cumbria Archives, Greystoke Overseers’ voucher, PR5/67-F item 5, William Robinson’s bill settled 3 April 1827
[4] Parson and White, Principal Inhabitants of Cumberland and Westmorland (1829), Compiled by Roland Gregg;  Pigot, Directory of Cumberland and Westmorland ( Pigot and Co., 1834); William Robinson, Greystoke and Hutton Mill,  www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 20 September 2020]
[5] Cumbria Archives, DHUD/8/56/20, List of Tenants of Whitbarrow, Penruddock and Hutton Soil not grinding corn last winter at Hutton Mill, who went to Sparket Mill and Greystoke mill instead. undated.
[6] Carlisle Patriot, 14 August 1841, p.1, col. d, Freehold Property in the Parish of Greystoke
[7] Cumbria Archives, PR5/45, Greystoke Overseers’ Account book, 1810-1814
[8] Cumbria Archives PR5/67A iem 1, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, April 12 1827, W. J. Irving; PR5/67A item 3,  27 October 1820 and PR5/67A item 4, 27 February 1821 [Richard Gillespie] [accessed 20 September 2020]
[9] Penrith Observer, 24 May 1949, p. 7, col. b-c. Robinson’s were Millers for 200 years.
[10] Cumbria Libraries, (920 ROB), Margaret Clark, The Black Book of the Richardson Trust, A question of Inheritance. The letter book of William Robinson, Miller of Greystoke from 1854-55, 3rd edn. (2008).

Memorial to John Robinson of Motherby son of William Robinson
Memorial to John Robinson of Motherby son of William Robinson

Medicated Vapour Baths – for paupers?

Medicated vapour baths became popular in England in the 1820s. Such things were available in earlier decades, but Sake Deen Mohamed advertised them via both his published works and his bathing establishment at Brighton. The treatment he offered for muscular and similar ailments involved massage and steamy bathing with the addition of Indian oils. He introduced the word ‘shampooing’ to popular usage, although with a slightly different meaning to its current one (ie rubbing the body, whereas we lather our hair). Mohamed was named ‘shampooing surgeon’ to George IV and William IV.

https://wellcomecollection.org/works/xg5ewh67

What did such fashionable treatments have to do with the Staffordshire poor? We might have guessed ‘none’: but we would have been wrong. Spa towns like Buxton had long made bathing facilities available to poor patients, albeit in a heavily regulated way.  In 1785 for example the poor were admitted to bathe at Buxton between the months of May and October, on Mondays only, and funded places were limited to sixteen beneficiaries at any one time.  Successful applicants to the Buxton charity had to support their appeal with ‘a letter of recommendation from some lady or gentleman from his own locality certifying whether he was a proper object of charity, and if the patient was a pauper, also a certificate signed by the Churchwardens or Overseers of the poor that the pauper’s settlement was in, and a certificate from a physician or apothecary that the case was proper for the Buxton waters’.  In the 1820s, though, copyists of Mohamed developed their own vapour bathing equipment which was not dependent on location. Charles Whitlaw patented his medicated baths which could be installed in any town, and published his Scriptural Code of Health in 1838 thanking Anglican and Dissenting clergy for funding treatments for miscellanous workhouse poor.

It was still a surprise, though, to discover that the parish of Alrewas actually sent its paupers to a medicated vapour bathing establishment in Wolverhampton. The vouchers show that in 1831 the parish sent William Riley to the baths run by surgeon Edward Hayling Coleman at Dudley Street in Wolverhampton, albeit the parish paid the resulting bill rather slowly. In early 1832 they also sent a woman called Eams, possible Ann Eams born at Fradley in 1805 or her mother Mary, who Coleman reported in March to be ‘somewhat better’ as a result.

Coleman had invested in Whitlaw’s patented bathing equipment, and set up two facilities for treatment.  There was a public bath in Dudley Street costing 3s6d a time, and he also saw the more prosperous of his patients at his own house in Salop Street for 5s per bathing session.  We do not know the diagnosis for either Riley or Eams, but Coleman promoted his baths for cases of scrofula, cutaneous diseases, liver complaints, gout, rheumatism, asthma and (very optimistically) ‘cancer in it’s incipient stage’.  When the first cholera epidemic swept Britain in 1831-2, Coleman even reserved one or more of his baths ‘for the gratuitous use of the poor’.

 

Sources:  Ernest Axon, ‘Historical Notes on Buxton, its Inhabitants and Visitors: Buxton Doctors since 1700’ (1939), among the ‘Axon Papers’ held at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery ; Charles Whitlaw, The Scriptural Code of Health (London, 1838); SRO D 783/2/3/12/8/2/2 Alrewas overseers’ voucher, bill of Edward Coleman to the parish 1831; D 783/2/3/13/7/1 Alrewas overseers’ correspondence, letter from Edward Coleman 1832; Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser 22 June 1831 and 16 November 1831.