Stafford Record Office Ref D1149/6/2/8/52 Darlaston, Staffordshire Paupers’ Vouchers.
A Settled bill from Richard Meek to Richard Taylor for £1 3s 5d dated April to Oct 1823 for Shoe repairs and new shoes. The names included Stephen Foster for “shoes with high heels for a lame foot.” As a retired Podiatrist I realised that Stephen probably had a form of club foot called Talipes Equinus in which the heel cannot reach the ground; similar to a horse’s foot hence the name.
Looking for Stephen I discovered several Stephen Fosters in Darlaston and reconstructed the family using a very informative Will and the St. Lawrence Parish Records.
Transcription of part of the Will of Stephen Foster dated 1813
Stephen Foster of Darlaston, Gunlockforger I give and devise:-
- unto my wife Hannah Foster for her natural life all and every my messuages tenements or dwellinghouses shops gardens hereditaments and real estate. After her decease I give and devise unto my son in Law William Bailey all that messuage tenement or dwelling house situate in Darlaston aforesaid and the shop near the same now in the occupation of the said William Bailey And also a necessary house near the said premises which is used by the occupiers of all my buildings in Darlaston. And also a pigstie near the said necessary house.
- After the decease of my wife I give and devise to my son Stephen Foster All that messuage tenement or dwelling house in Darlaston with the shop near the same now in the occupation of my said son Stephen and also full and free liberty power and authority to throw the shop slack through the window of the said shop and to fetch and carry away the same as often as shall be necessary but so nevertheless that the said shop slack be not suffered to obstruct the road to the shop hereinbefore given and devised to the said William Bailey more than is absolutely necessary And also the coal house and pigstie adjoining the said house which is now in the occupation of my said son.
- After the decease of my wife I give unto my son Josiah All that messuage tenement or dwelling house with the shop in the garden near to property [of] my son Job Foster And all that garden ground or void land the whole width and extending from the eastern part of the last mentioned shop to the back road to the Church and are now in my own occupation except the said shop which is occupied by my said son Josiah
- I give and devise to my sons Stephen and Josiah All that newly erected shop situate in Darlaston near the said other shops and now in my own occupation To hold the same unto and to the use of my said sons Stephen and Josiah as Tenants in common and not as joint Tenants. Provided always that the owners and tenants or occupiers of all the said messuages tenements or dwellinghouses shops and premises shall have an equal right to the pump standing near and belonging thereto and to have and take water therefrom and that the said pump and the well shall from time to time be repaired amended and kept in repair at the joint and equal costs and charges of the owners of the said messuages tenements or dwellinghouses and premises. And that the owners and tenants or occupiers of the said premises aforesaid shall have an equal right to the entry or passage and to pass and repass thereby to and from the street in front of the said premises to and from the back part of the respective premises.
- I give and devise to the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah All the void land at the back of the said dwelling houses except the garden ground or void land herebefore devised to my son Josiah. To hold the same unto the use of the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah as Tenants in common and not as joint tenants
- I give and bequeath to my said son Josiah my suit of black cloaths [sic] and to the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah all other my wearing apparel equally.
- I give and bequeath to my Grandson Richard Foster son of my late son George Foster one complete set of gunlock forgers tools to be chosen from my tools by him.
- I also give and bequeath to my said son Stephen all the rest of my tools belonging to my trade of a Gunlock Forger.
- I give and bequeath to my son Josiah the sum of fifty pounds.
- I give and bequeath to my executors hereinafter named all my household goods and furniture money securities for money book debts personal estate and effects, for my wife to have the use of all my household goods furniture bedding linen and other household effects for and during the term of her natural life
- Upon further trust to put and place the remainder of my said money personal estate and effects out at Interest upon government or real security and to pay all the Interest and product thereof unto my said wife for and during the term of her natural life
- And from and immediately after the decease of my said wife I give and bequeath to my son Job the sum of one Hundred pounds, to my son Stephen the sum of fifty pounds to the said William Bailey the sum of fifty pounds to my grandson Richard Foster the sum of Twenty pounds , to my grandson John Foster the sum of twenty pounds, to my grandson Stephen Foster the sum of twenty pounds, to my grandson Stephen Carter the sum of Twenty Pounds, and to my grandson George Carter the sum of Twenty Pounds.
- And from and immediately after the decease of my said wife I give and bequeath all the rest and residue and remainder of my said household goods and furniture, money, securities for money, book debts, personal estate, and effects whatsoever and wheresoever and not herebefore given and disposed of to my daughter Elizabeth the wife of the said William Bailey and to my said sons Stephen and Josiah equally.
- And Lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my friend Francis Taylor of Darlaston, Miner my said sons Stephen and Josiah and my son in Law William Bailey joint executors of this my Will. In Witness whereof I the said Testator have to this my last Will and Testament contained and written on three sheets of paper, to the first two sheets set my hand and to this third and last sheet my hand and seal the this third day of January One Thousand and thirteen.
Signed Stephen Foster Witnesses Thos. Brevitt, Butcher, Darlaston and A. Rooker, Surgeon, Darlaston
Codicil dated 12 Mar 1813 removes Francis Taylor as an executor. A more shakey signature from Stephen. Wit: Moses Foster (Darlaston), William Foster (Darlaston) and Jno. Sketchley Clk to Messrs Crowther, Wednesbury.
The Chart above shows the family but curiously no Baptism has been found for either Job or George Foster. Job appears to have been born circa 1765 calculated from his age at burial but George who was dead before 1813 has no age given so I have guessed it based on the age of his first child.
There were 4 Stephen Fosters alive in 1823 – Stephen born 1777 s/o Stephen; Stephen born 1799 s/o Job; Stephen born 1800 s/o George and Stephen born 1817 s/o Josiah.
Stephen born 1777 and his brother Josiah inherited property from their Father so I have discounted these and their children as being less likely to need the help of the Overseers of the Poor.
That leaves the two Stephens born 1799 and 1800 as likely candidates. These were the sons of Job and George both of whom Stephen the Gun lock Forger claims in 1813 to be his sons but he leaves them considerably less than his other sons (Stephen and Josiah). It could be that he had previously provided for them, but this part of the family may be considerably less well off financially. It could be that Job and George were either adopted or illegitimate sons.
There is also a curious familiarity of the Names.
Frances Taylor is named as an executor. Could he be related to the one who went to Tettenhall to become Governor of the Workhouse? William Bailey – a William Bayley has supplied goods and services to the Darlaston Workhouse. A Rooker is also the surgeon to the Darlaston Workhouse.
Both Stephen who died 1813 and his wife Hannah are buried with an abode of Church St. Using this and the description of the various properties in the Will I am wondering if they can be identified. The Will states that he gives to Josiah ‘And all that garden ground or void land the whole width and extending from the eastern part of the last mentioned shop to the back road to the Church’. Also’And that the owners and tenants or occupiers of the said premises aforesaid shall have an equal right to the entry or passage’
Using Google Earth and Maps it appears that this property might be between Church Street and Cramp Hill as there is an entry to the Church from Cramp Hill.
There is a Passageway between what is now Hair by Wendy and Kirans Balti making me wonder if the car park etc behind might be the land in question. Or they could be a little further along to the right of the photograph.