Ringmer Workhouse

Like many parishes in the second half of the eighteenth century, Ringmer had a small workhouse to accommodate the poor. Unlike many such houses, it has an interesting array of surviving sources, even before we start to unfold the overseers’ vouchers.

The overseers’ accounts for Ringmer contain sporadic (if not consistent) evidence about the occupancy of the house and its layout/contents.  The number of peepill/peapell in the workhouse in 1766, for example ranged from 17 to 34 inhabitants at any one time, always including a count of two for the master and mistress.  An series of inventories surviving for 1790-1806 indicate the structure of the building, which was described as a poorhouse in 1790: at that date it had a governor’s room, Kitchen, back kitchen, brewhouse, bakehouse, pantry and storeroom, plus beds in a ‘chamber’ and in the ‘garret’.  There were thirty occupants at the time suggesting there was little attempt to separate the inmates (men from women, adults from children) at this date.

There is also evidence of the way in which the house was managed. In 1758 John Pring was a salaried master, paid thirty shillings per month for his custodianship in looking after the workhouse. This means that Pring did not have a personal interest in recruiting more workhouse poor, since he was paid a flat rate rather than per head of the pauper residents.  By 1773, though, the parish had changed its approach to workhouse management.  In that year the vestry made an agreement with Jos Peckham, a cordwainer, to keep the poor in the workhouse at the rate of two shillings six pence per head per week.  From this sum Peckham was charged with feeding the poor, and washing or mending their clothes, but not with the purchase of new clothing.  In additional recompense, Peckham could keep whatever earnings or benefit from the labour of the poor he could extract.  This second sort of contract encouraged workhouse masters to fill their house to capacity, and find a form of productive work for the paupers to perform.  We have no record yet of what the paupers thought of the masterships of either Pring or Peckham.

 

Sources: The Keep, PAR 461/31/1-3, Ringmer overseers’ accounts 1754-1821; M. Diggle, ‘Ringmer Workhouse 1787-1806), Sussex History 1:8 (1979), 15-18.

Description of Lichfield from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the third volume of the Universal British Directory.

Lichfield is a pretty large town, one hundred and seventeen miles from London.

This city is uninfluenced in the election of its members of parliament.

The city has power of life and death within their jurisdiction, a court of record, and a picpowder court. Here is a gaol for both debtors and felons, a free school, and a pretty large well-endowed hospital, for a master and twelve brethren. The county of the city is ten or twelve miles in compass, which the sheriff rides yearly on the 8th of September, and then feasts the corporation and the neighbouring gentry.

The cathedral, which stands in the Close, was originally built about 300. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 766. In 1148 it was rebuilt, and greatly enlarged in 1296. In the Civil Wars it was several times taken. When the civil war broke out the nobility and gentry garrisoned the close and defended it against parliament.

Here are three other churches, one of which St Michael’s, has a churchyard of six or seven acres. In the neighbourhood are frequent horse races.

A bill is now about passing for a canal from Wyrley canal to Lichfield, to join the Coventry canal at Huddlesford. A considerable manufactory of horse-sheetings is carried on here by Mr John Hartwell.

The late Dr Samuel Johnson was born in this city, 1709. His father Michael was a bookseller. He more than once held the office of chief magistrate. When arrived at a proper age for grammatical instruction Samuel was placed in the free school of Lichfield. Mr Garrick, so famous for his talents in the dramatic line, received the first rudiments of his education at the same free school.

Markets here are on Tuesday and Friday.

The principal inns are the George kept by Mr Burton; Swan kept by Mr Luke Ward; and Talbot, kept by Mr Jackson for gentlemen travelling on horseback.

Bankers: Catharine Barker and Son, and Francis Cobb.

Seats in the neighbourhood are Elford Hall, the seat of Lady Ann Andover; Fisherwick Hall, the seat of the Marquis of Donegal; Packington, the seat of Thomas Levett; and Freeford, the seat of Richard Dyott.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 3 (London: c.1794)

Frederick Morton Eden on Lichfield in 1795

The following is an edited version of the entry in the second volume of Eden’s State of the Poor.

Lichfield contains three parishes, viz. St Mary’s, St Chad’s and St Michael’s: the first has most houses and inhabitants, but no land; the other two have few houses but a considerable quantity of land.

In 1782 the number of houses in Lichfield was 722, and of inhabitants about 3,555; it is supposed, that, since that period, the population has considerably increased.

In the whole city 408 houses pay the window tax; the number exempted could not be ascertained.

The prices of provisions are: beef and mutton, 5d the lb; veal, 4½d; bacon, 9½d and 10d the lb; milk ¾ of a quart for 1d; butter 1d the lb; potatoes, 4d the bushel; bread flour, 5d the stone; coals, 6d the cwt.

Farms are generally small: the principle articles of cultivation are, wheat, barley, oats, turnips and clover.

The poor are maintained in their own houses: about 23 pensioners, at present, receive £2.17s.6d a week; six of these are bastards: several house rents are paid, and casual reliefs are given to many of the necessitous.

St Mary’s and St Chad’s each have a workhouse. In St Mary’s workhouse there are, at present, 41 Paupers; they manufacture a little blanketing for the use of the house. The bill of fare till very lately included puddings and bread and cheese dinners about 3 days a week. On account of the scarcity of bread and flour the following diet is used: Breakfast—every day, milk pottage. Dinner — Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, meat and vegetables; Monday, Wednesday, Friday, broth and cold meat; Saturday, bread and cheese. Supper—every day, bread and cheese.

It is necessary to observe, that a great part of the other parishes bury at St Michael’s [see separate entry on Thomas Clerk], and children at their own churches: it is owing to this circumstance that burials greatly exceed births [at St Michael’s].

In 2 or 3 small parishes in this neighbourhood, which consist of large farms, there are very few Poor: the farmers, in order to prevent the introduction of Poor from other Parishes, hire their servants for 51 weeks only. I conceive, however, that this practice would be considered by a court of justice, as fraudulent, a mere evasion in the matter, and that a servant thus hired, if he remained the 52 week with his master, on a fresh contract, would acquire a settlement in the parish. August 1795

Source

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England, 3 vols (London: 1797), II.

John Summerland (b.1767), Uttoxeter

John Summerland was the son of Joseph and Hannah Summerland. He was born in Uttoxeter in May 1767. He has entered historical consciousness through Michael Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation in which Foucault describes Summerland’s treatment at the Quaker Retreat in York for mental illness. Using William Tuke’s description of John Summerland as a being a man of Herculean size and strength, restrained by chains upon arrival and subsequently rehabilitated through Tuke’s treatment, the case is often present as a pivotal moment in the treatment of mental illness. In 2015, however, Jon Mitchell used the archives of the Retreat to present a different image of the ‘wild’ John Summerland, as a man prone to periods of instability, but also a man capable of reasoned thought, contemplation and conversation.

From the correspondence between the Summerland family and the Retreat, it is evident that his father Joseph, his brother William, and his uncle Samuel Botham, all took an active interest in John’s progress organising his admission, funding his stay and hoping that he could gain useful employment as a gardener. Moreover, in his father’s will provision was made for John’s inheritance to be placed in trust. In the correspondence of Samuel Botham it is revealed that John had recently returned to Uttoxeter from America and whilst both in Uttoxeter and in America he had attended Quaker meetings on a regular basis.

Sources 

Borthwick Institute, University of York, Retreat Archives, RET 1/5/1/7 Correspondence.

Michael Foucault, Madness and Civilisation.

Staffordshire Record Office, BC/11, Will of Joseph Summerland, 29 April 1808; B/C 11, Letters of Administration for William Summerland, Uttoxeter, 13 January 1835.

Jon Mitchell www.blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2015/03/setting-the-record-straight-mania-or-sick-man? accessed 10/07/2016.

www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/92  accessed 11/07/2016.

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

The State of Uttoxeter Workhouse, 1831

Uttoxeter has had several parish workhouses. One of them  was built on the Heath in 1789 and remained until it was replaced in the late 1830s. To be strictly accurate, it was not a union workhouse in the sense that such places were to become after the 1834 Poor Law Act, but in addition to the paupers it received from Uttoxeter, it also accommodated paupers from Doveridge and Rocester. White’s 1834 trade directory informs us that the workhouse had a brickyard and a garden extending to one and a half acres in which the inmates were employed. The assistant parish overseer at the time was Thomas Norris. A summary of the workhouse’s finances at the end of March 1831 provides a glimpse into this world. There were 44 inmates: 18 men, 13 women, 8 boys (of whom, 4 were under nine years of age), and 5 girls all under the age of nine). We know that 2 of the inmates worked in the kitchens and 8 of the men worked as labourers or scavengers. The remaining adult inmates were listed under headings of ‘infirm’, ‘sick, lame and blind’ and what to modern minds is the rather offensive ‘idiots’.

The brickyard account shows a total of £270 1s 6d received, and £248 10s 8d paid out. The inmates working in the  yard earned £19 18s 6d, although it is unclear whether they actually received this amount or whether it went into the overall workhouse coffers. In addition, the workhouse received money from the sale of butter and vegetables and for the carding of wool. The existence of the brickyard and garden offer a different perspective on how workhouse paupers occupied their time. More common images are  of stone breaking (which is also mentioned in the accounts) and of picking apart old ropes to make oakum, used in caulking ships.

Amongst the workhouse expenses, more than £308 was spent on provisions, £25 on the governor’s and matron’s salary, £32 17s 10d on clothing and shoes, and £9 8s 8d on coffins and funeral fees. These figures do not include the amounts expended on the out poor (parish paupers who were not in the workhouse).

‘Principal’ inhabitants of Brampton c.1797

The following come from the Universal British Directory.

Gentry John Gill, victualler, George and Dragon
Mrs Armstrong John Graham, maltser
Lieutenant Borrough Graham, victualler, Globe
Mrs David Ewart John Haliburton, farmer
Miss Haddart Miss Haliburton, grocer
John Johnstone, Esq. Hetherington, farmer
Clergy Hodgson, agent to brewery
Rev. Richardson, vicar Holt, excise officer
Rev. Wightman, dissenting minister David Hope, victualler, King’s Arms
Physic Francis Hudless, saddler
Mr Grant, surgeon and apothecary Irving, schoolmaster
Mr Hudson, surgeon and apothecary John James, victualler, Shoulder of Mutton
Mr Martin, surgeon and apothecary Joseph James, victualler, Crown
Mr Townley, druggist Samuel Johnstone, manufacturer
Law Thomas Little, victualler
Mr Tiffin, attorney Thomas Mason, carrier
Traders Martha Maxwell, victualler, White Lion
Miss Armstrong, milliner Thomas Messenger, hatter
Jacob Armstrong, grocer Philip Milburne, ironmonger
Joseph Armstrong, saddler Thomas Moses, mercer & draper
Francis Atkinson, victualler, Horse’s Head John Nickol, mercer
Thomas Bell, sen., Carrier & victualler, Bush Nickol, victualler
Thomas Bell, jun., victualler, Howard’s Arms John Parker, grocer
Mrs Bell, milliner Thomas Parker, sen., tallow chandler
Wm & Thomas Bell, butchers Thomas Parker, jun., butcher
John Borrough, clock & watchmaker Samuel Piers, farmer
James Brown, victualler, Packhorse William Piers, currier
John Charleton, grocer Richardson, clock & watchmaker
Mrs Clarke, milliner Richardson, ironmonger
Crossfield, excise officer William Routledge, tanner
Thomas Currie, grocer John Routledge, currier
Davies, excise officer John Sloan, shoemaker
John Ewart, mercer & draper Mrs Smith, milliner
Simon Ewart, tanner Thomas Talantine, grocer
Fleming, dyer & check manufacturer Thomas Thurwall, hatter
John Foster, painter Mrs Wallace, midwife
Thomas Foster, grocer Mary Wallace, milliner
Sarah Foster, baker Richard Wallace, tailor
  Thomas Wallace, watch & clockmaker

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 5 (London: c.1797)

Description of Wigton and environs from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fifth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Wigton is in the forest of Allendale, 306 miles from London. Here is an hospital for six poor clergymen’s widows, and a free grammar school. Its market is on Tuesdays; fair, 25 March. On the approach to this place, a fine view opens to the northward: a rich vale, bounded by the Scotch hills, over which Scarfell frowns with that pre-eminence that Skiddaw assumes over the neighbouring mountains to the right.

About a mile from Wigton is that ancient Roman station Caer Leol, situate on an easy ascent, and commanding an extensive prospect towards Solway Firth and the Scotch borders. The remains here are very extensive, foundations of innumerable buildings being scattered over many acres.

Near Wigton is Burgh-upon-Sands. It lies on the north side of the river Wathimpool, which towards the north-west is washed by the sea flowing up into the foot of the river Eden.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 5 (London: c.1797)

Description of Brampton from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fifth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Brampton is an ancient but small market town, containing about fifteen hundred inhabitants. It was formerly a Roman station.

Brampton is still the capital of the Barony of Gillsland, belonging to the Earl of Carlisle; and the baron courts are held here twice a year. Its site is low and uneven; the soil is sandy. The town is rather irregularly built. It is a thoroughfare to Newcastle from Carlisle, Whitehaven, &c. It has two great fairs, at which many thousand (sic) of sheep and black cattle are sold; the fair days are the second Wednesday after Whitsuntide, and the second Wednesday in September. Here are two market days, Tuesday and Saturday; the former is by far the most considerable, the latter only for the town. Messrs. Fleming and Temporly carry on very considerable check manufactory in this place. Messrs. Ramshay, Gray and Co., have a large commodious brewery; and do a good deal of business. There is also an hospital for six poor men and six poor women.

There are two carriers, Thomas Bell and Thomas Mason, who set out with carts every Tuesday evening for Newcastle, and return on the Thursday night following; they go for Carlisle on Monday morning, and return in the evening. A diligence passes between Newcastle and Carlisle through Brampton twice a week carrying passengers, newspapers and parcels.

Immediately on the N. E. of Brampton is a high hill called the Mote, the summit of which is cast up, and appears to have been a beacon to alarm the country in times of danger. Before the union of England and Scotland, these beacons were extremely useful.

On the north of Brampton, about a mile distant, runs the famous Roman wall.

About two miles north-east of Brampton, in a low situation, and surrounded with wood, stands Naworth Castle, the seat of Lord Carlisle. It is a fine Gothic structure, of considerable antiquity. Some reparations have lately taken place, planned with great taste and judgement.

Nine miles from Brampton is Gillsland Wells, much frequented by people of fashion, both from north and south of the Tweed.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 5 (London: c.1797)

Description of Whitehaven from the Universal British Directory c.1796 and James Hogarth’s contribution to the town

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fourth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Whitehaven is a seaport and market town, distant from London three hundred and fourteen miles, one hundred and thirty four from Manchester, seventy nine from Lancaster, fifty seven from Kendal, twenty seven from Keswick, thirteen and three quarters from Cockermouth, and seven from Workington. The town is situated between two hills, and the harbour lies in a bite from the sea, and the tide formerly used to flow where the town now stands. A storm did great damage to this place in March 1793, when the tide rose six feet above its usual height. In the American war Paul Jones landed here and spiked up the guns, and set fire to two ships in the docks; but by the vigilance of the inhabitants, there was but little damage done, and he was forced to retreat.

Whitehaven has grown up by the encouragement of the Lowther family, from a small place, to be very considerable by the coal trade, which is so much increased of late, that it is the most eminent port in England for it next to Newcastle; for the city of Dublin, and all towns of Ireland on that coast, and some parts of Scotland, and the Isle of Man, are principally supplied from hence. It is frequent in time of war, or upon occasion of cross winds, to have two hundred sail of ships at a time go from this place to Dublin laden with coals.

It is a large, rectangular, well-built town, about one third bigger than the city of Carlisle, but containing three times the number of inhabitants. These inhabitants are all perfectly well lodged, all embarked in profitable employments, of one kind or another; so that they are in a continual scene of unaffected industry, and carry on their affairs with great dispatch, and yet without hurry or confusion. They have a plentiful and commodious market, supplied by and supplying both necessaries and conveniences to a very extensive neighbourhood. The country roundabout, and especially towards St Bees, is admirably cultivated, and strewed with neat and pleasant houses.

In regard to the port, which has a custom house, and a proper appointment of officers, it is now well secured by numerous and costly works, and has every convenience its situation will permit.

The number of ships belonging to this port in September 1792 was 477, tons, 56,415.

The coal mines at this place are perhaps the most extraordinary of any in the known world.

Here are three churches, viz. St James’s, Trinity and Holy church. Likewise Methodist, Quarter and Presbyterian, meetings. James Hogarth Esq. has been a very great benefactor to this town. In 1785 he built a church on Mount Pleasant, which cost sixteen hundred pounds; but as he could not get it consecrated, he opened it for the Methodists. The above gentleman continued building for forty two years, in which time he built two hundred houses, which are still his property: he also built ten square ships, from two hundred and fifty to four hundred tons each. He is the principal subscriber to the Dispensary, and wishes to advance it to an hospital. He also erected a charity school, and endowed it with twenty pounds per annum; he was the first subscriber to the Sunday schools, and still continues one of the principals. He erected and manufactory of work for the poor; he likewise gave a premium for industry. What is remarkable, he always did his business without a clerk.

Market days: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; fair day, August 12.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 4 (London: c.1796)

Description of Wednesbury from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fourth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Wednesbury is a market town, eight miles from Birmingham, six from Wolverhampton, three from Walsall and five from Dudley. The church is a very fine old Gothic structure. This place is rendered famous for its coal, the best in the kingdom for smiths work, on account of its extreme heat. It runs from three to fourteen yards in thickness, which makes it very valuable to its respective owners, who clear from one to three hundred pounds a week from the sale of that article only. This place also produces that sort of iron ore called blond-metal, used to make nails and horse shoes, and all sorts of heavy tools, as hammers, axes, &c. There are several vessels of diverse sorts made here, which are painted with a reddish sort of earth dug hereabouts, which they call slip. One of the collateral branches of the Birmingham Canal enters this parish about half a mile, to some coal mines not yet opened, and to the iron-works of Messrs. Samuel and John Hallen, iron masters. About two miles from hence are the very extensive iron-works of John Wilkinson, Esq. at Bradley Moor. Its principal manufactories are, guns, coach-springs, coach-harness, iron axel-trees, saws, trowels, edge-tools, bridle-bits, stirrups, nails, hinges, wood-screws, and cast iron goods. Enamel paintings are also done here in the highest perfection and beauty.

Here are three meeting houses, namely, Presbyterians, Quakers and Methodists.

The mail from Ireland, Shrewsbury, and a great part of Wales, passes and repasses through this place every day: the post office is open at all hours.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 4 (London: 1796)