Ann Keen and Catherine Keen, boot and shoe dealers, Lichfield

Ann Keen’s listings in trade directories from 1818 to 1851 and her listing in the 1851 Census as a boot and shoe dealer (mistress) belies the notion of the short-lived female-owned business.

Ann Keen was born to William and Mary Keen in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, and baptised on 30 December 1771. She died, unmarried, in 1853, and was buried at Christ Church, Lichfield.

Parson and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory lists a William Keen, ironmonger, grocer, druggist and tallow chandler, with premises in Eccleshall’s High Street. By this date Ann Keen was already established as the proprietress of a shoe warehouse in Market Street, Lichfield. She was one of two female shoe dealers listed in the town; the other being Margaret Pinches of Boar Street. In comparison, ten male boot and shoemakers are listed.

Thus far 11 bills covering the period 1822 to 1829 have been discovered linking Ann Keen’s business to the overseers of St Mary’s, Lichfield. More may come to light. She was supplying men, women and children with ready-made shoes rather than making them. The vouchers show that Ann was assisted by Catherine Keen. What relation Catherine was to Ann is not clear at present, although Catherine might have been the daughter of Ann’s brother Walter baptised in Eccleshall on 31 March 1769. Until Catherine’s Keen’s marriage in 1823, it was Catherine who drew up the bills for the supply of shoes and took payment from the overseers. Following Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith, a tobacconist from Hanley, Staffordshire, Ann initially employed an assistant J. Beattie, who like Catherine drew up the bills. Later, Ann took to signing the bills herself, or they were initialled by ‘WB’. At the time of the 1851 Census Ann Keen was living on her own in a property on the south side of Market Street.

Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith was relatively short-lived. Smith died in 1831. By his will Catherine inherited all his stock-in-trade, money, securities for money, debts household furniture, plate, linen, chattels, and personal estate and effects, upon trust during her natural life. His unnamed children (a son and daughter) were to inherit on Catherine’s death. Catherine Smith and George Keen (Moses Smith’s brother-in-law and assistant in his tobacco business) were appointed the executors. An entry in White’s 1834 directory shows that Catherine continued her husband’s business as a tobacconist in Slack’s Lane, Hanley.

Sources

Staffordshire Record Office

BC/11, Will of Moses Smith of Hanley, Staffordshire, proved 7 March 1832

D20/1/11, St Mary’s Parish Register, Lichfield, 30 June 1823

D286/2/11, Christ Church Parish Register, Lichfield, 9 July 1853

D3767/1/5, Holy Trinity Parish Register, Eccleshall, 31 March 1769, 30 December 1771

LD20/6/6/21, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Voucher, Ann Keen, settled 18 June 1822

LD20/6/6/, no item number, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Vouchers, 14 August 1822, 25 June 1825, one undated [1825], and 29 June 1826, for example

TNA, HO107/2014, 1851 Census

Parson, W. and Bradshaw, T., Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: J. Leigh, 1818), 165, 175, 184, 188, 189

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), 157, 569

White, William, History, Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire, 2nd edn. (Sheffield, printed by Robert Leader, 1851), 5

Halberber Root or Halbert Weed?

Darlaston Pauper’s Vouchers at Stafford Record Office contain  an account from 23 April to 22 May 1817. (ref. D1149/6/2/2/20)

This is a list of all bills received, and presumably paid, during the month and a list of smaller cash payments one of which is for Halberber Root.  I have been unable to discover anything with this name but have found Halbert Weed or Neurolaena Lobata.

Although no reference was made to the use of the root, it appears in several references as a medicinal plant such as:

  1. MEDlCINAL PLANTS OF JAMAICA. PARTS 1 & 11. By G. F. Asprey, M.Sc., Ph.D. (B’ham.), Professor of Botany, U.C.W.l. and Phyllis Thornton, B.Sc. (Liverpool), Botanist Vomiting Sickness Survey. Attached to Botany Department, U.C.W.l. NEUROLAENA LOBATA (Sw.) R. Br. Cow Gall Bitter: Halbert Weed; Bitter Wood; Bitter Bush;  Goldenrod. In Jamaica Neurolaena lobata is thought to be useful for treating stomach disorders. Early writers speak of its use as a bitter and also as a dressing for sores, wounds and ulcers. Barham thought it to be diuretic. In Honduras it has a reputation as a malaria remedy.
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3971758/The Journal of Natural Products.  Neurolaena lobata (L.) R. Br. ex Cass. (Asteraceae) is a herbaceous plant distributed widely in Central America and north western parts of South America. In Caribbean traditional medicine, the leaves of this plant have been used for the treatment of different types of cancer, ulcers, inflammatory skin disorders, diabetes, and pain of various origins. In some regions, N. lobata is also used to treat or prevent a variety of parasitic ailments, such as malaria, fungus, ringworm, and amoebic and intestinal parasites.13

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

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.

Thomas Earp the elder (1766–1831) and Thomas Earp the younger (c.1799–1864) Cheesefactors and Brewers, Uttoxeter

Cheesefactor and brewer Thomas Earp the elder married Mary Cockayne. They had a number of children including: Thomas (born in Derby, c.1799), Sarah (bap. 9 November 1800), Mary (bap. 3 November 1802), John (bap. 24 August 1809), Maria (bap. 17 October 1813), and Jane.

Parson’s and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory lists Earp and Lassetter as cheese factors with a business in High Street, and Thomas Earp as an ale and porter brewer, cheese factor and spirit merchant, also in High Street.

Upon Thomas the elder’s death in 1831, his probated estate amounted to £200. As the sole beneficiary and executor of his late-father’s estate, he was tasked with making appropriate provision for his mother and his siblings. In 1833 Thomas the younger was involved with a property transaction involving the Croft of the White Hart, Uttoxeter, with Michael Clewley (see separate biography).

On 21 November 1825 at Uttoxeter, Wesleyan Methodist Thomas the younger married Sarah Jane Salt (1804–1856) who was born in Liverpool. They had a large family: Thomas (b.1828), Jane (b.1830), Ann (b.1832), Mary (b.1834), Sarah (b.1836), Edwin (b.1839), William (b.1841), Maria (b.1843), Henry (b.1847), Charles  (b.1848), and Eliza (b.1849). For much of their married life Thomas, Sarah Jane and their family lived in High Street.

At the time of the 1851 Census Thomas employed eight men. Thomas and Sarah Jane were living with children Jane, Ann (a teacher), Mary, Sarah, Maria and Henry (the last three described as scholars at home), Charles and Eliza.

By 1861 Thomas Earp, now a widower, and his family had moved to Burton-upon-Trent. He is listed simply as an ‘agent’ with an address in Horninglow Street in White’s 1857 directory. The family unit now comprised Thomas, and his children Jane, Mary, Maria, Sarah and Eliza, his niece Louisa Ann (aged 13) and his nephew John B. Earp (aged six). Mary, Maria, and Sarah were all governesses, and although his niece Louisa had been born in Uttoxeter, his nephew John had been born in America. Also in the household were Mary A. Eddes (17), a teacher born in St Pancras, London, and Ann Calvert (31), a servant born in Uttoxeter. Louisa’s and John’s parents John, a brewer and Emma Brindley had married on 28 July 1846 at St Peter’s, Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Both Thomas Earps supplied the overseers of Uttoxeter with cheese, but not on a regular basis. This was probably because the workhouse was also in receipt of substantial amounts of milk from the likes of George Hartshorn, suggesting that the workhouse was also engaged in producing cheese.

In the late-1820s Thomas [the younger?] and Edward Saunders established the Uttoxeter Brewery Company. Thomas’ business was sufficiently prosperous for him to be able to invest in railways and to be a member of the Provisional Committees for the Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire, or Leeds, Wolverhampton and Dudley Direct Railway and the Tean and Dove Valley and Eastern and Western Junction Railway.

In May 1854 Thomas’ and Sarah Jane’s daughter Ann married George Jones. At some point they emigrated to Mossel Bay, South Africa. They had three children: Charles Earp Jones, Sarah Jane Jones, and George Alliebrooke Jones. George Jones died 23 May 1890, and his widow Ann on 27 November 1896 aged 62.

Sources

Bradshaw’s Railway Gazette vol. 1, (London: William James Adams; Manchester: Bradshaw and Blacklock, 1845)

Census 1841 HO107/1007/14

Census 1851 HO107/2010

Census 1861 R.G.9/1965

England and Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837–1915

Herapath’s Railway Journal, 28 June 1845

http://www.lan.-opc.org.uk/Fleetwood/stpeter/marriages_1842-1874.html

Lichfield Record Office, BC11 Will of Thomas Earp, 26 October 1831

Parson, W. and Bradshaw, T., Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: 1818)

Poll Books and Electoral Registers 1538–1893

Francis Redfern History and Antiquities of the town and neighbourhood of Uttoxeter

RG4/2701 England and Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567–1970

SRO, D3891/6/36/8/11a–d, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, George Hartshorn, 31 July 1830

SRO, D3891/6/37/2/7, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 26 Mar 1831

SRO, D3891/6/37/4/3, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 23 July 1831

SRO, D4452/1/15/2/14 abstract of title of Thomas Earp to the White Hart Croft Uttoxeter 1833

SRO, D4452/1/15/2/15 Lease and release of part of White Hart Croft Uttoxeter 1833

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834)

White, Francis, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derbyshire with the Town of Burton-upon-Trent (Sheffield: 1857)

www.southafricansettlers.com/?cat=9&paged=479

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

Cheese-Making in Uttoxeter

Uttoxeter has a long tradition of cheese-making. By the mid-seventeenth century it was already established as a major centre of the trade in the Midlands, and in the 1690s there were weekly cheese markets and extensive storage facilities. These were used by Uttoxeter’s cheese factors who were engaged as agents by London cheesemongers. By the mid-eighteenth century Uttoxeter’s importance as a centre for cheese meant that some agents retained by London merchants spent more than £500 in a single day on butter and cheese.

Pigot’s directory of 1828–9 notes that ‘the trade in cheese is also of some consequence’ and lists Thomas Earp, James Lassetter, and Orton and Arnold as cheese factors alongside  maw dealers Edward Gent, James Stringer, John Vernon and Co., and Henry Wigley. Before the commercial availability of rennet, curdling milk for cheese involved drying and salting a calf’s stomach or maw, and then soaking pieces of it in water. The resulting liquid was added to milk to create the curd.

Supplementing the  weekly cheese markets, White’s 1834 directory notes that Uttoxeter held three cheese fairs a year in March, September and November and was known for its ‘considerable trade’ in ‘preparing calves maws, to be used in curdling milk’ for cheese. Under the heading of ‘Cheese Factors & Hop & Seed merchants’ the directory lists Thomas Earp, James Lassetter, and Orton and Arnold. Ellen Gent, James Stringer, John Vernon and Co., Elizabeth Wigley, and Frederick Wigley were cheese skin makers. In 1834 William West noted that Uttoxeter was ‘remarkable for instances of longevity of its inhabitants’ and for its ‘abundant supply of cheese, butter, hogs, corn and all kinds of provisions’. Perhaps the latter was the cause of the former.

Workhouses served their inmates with food and drink according to what were known as dietaries, or daily allowances, which stipulated provision across a week. If these are taken at face value, cheese formed a considerable part of the diets of the poor. Tomkins notes, however, that dietaries should be regarded as statements of intent rather than actual evidence of practice and need to be corroborated by other sources. Until a shortage of bread and flour in the 1790s, at St Mary’s Workhouse, Lichfield, the 41 inmates (making it directly comparable in size to Uttoxeter workhouse) were served puddings, and bread and cheese dinners three times a week. With the shortages, milk pottage was served up for breakfast. Dinner on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays consisted of meat and vegetables; alternating with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays offerings of broth and cold meat. On Saturdays inmates were given bread and cheese.

In the 1820s the overseers of Uttoxeter purchased large quantities of cheese for the workhouse from a wide range  of suppliers including James and John Bamford, Ralph Bagshaw (see separate entry), Thomas Cope, Thomas Earp (see separate entry), Porter and Keates, John Rushton, William Summerland (see separate entry), Edwin and Josh Wibberley, and Sir T. Sheppard, bart. Amounts varied from the 120lb supplied by Mr Bamford in May 1821, through the 90lbs supplied by William Summerland in May 1825, to the 13.5lbs supplied by Ralph Bagshaw in September 1827.

By the 1830s, just as in the 1820s, cheese came from no single supplier. In September 1830 William Bennett supplied over 2cwt of cheese costing £5 10s 4d. Thomas Earp’s bill for cheese in March 1831 amounted to £4 9s 1d. Fifty-five cheeses weighing 4cwt were supplied by Thomas Gell at a cost of £12 4s 3d in April 1832. The variation in the amounts and the regularity of cheese supplied are probably because the workhouse was producing its own cheese. Between 24 April and 30 June 1830, for example, Thomas Hartshorn supplied the workhouse with 947 quarts of milk. This was far more than the population of 40 or so inmates could readily consume suggesting that the milk was being used to make cheese. Hartshorn also supplied 33 quarts in June 1832, followed by 180 quarts in July. The workhouse also had its own milk cart, a wheel of which was repaired and painted by Thomas Mellor in April 1829.

Sources

Julie Bunting, ‘Bygone Industries of the Peak, Cheese-Making’, The Peak Advertiser, 29 January 1996

Catherine Donnelly, The Oxford Companion to Cheese (Oxford, OUP, 2016), 153–4

London Gazette, part 2 (1836), 1369

Sir Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England 3 vols (London: 1797), edited and abridged A. G. L. Rogers London: George Routledge and Sons, 1928), 307.

John E. C. Peters, The Development of Farm Buildings in Western Lowland Staffordshire up to 1800 (Manchester: MUP, 1969), 130

Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 2: Nottinghamshire–Yorkshire and North Wales] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828), 741–2

SRO, D3891/6/8, Uttoxeter volume of parish bills, 1821–4

SRO, D3891/6/9, volume of parish bills, 1825–29

SRO, D3891/6/34/1/14, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Mellor, 3 April 1829

SRO, D3981/6/36/3/4, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, William Bennet, 11 September 1830

SRO, D3891/6/36/8/11a–d, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Hartshorn, 31 July 1830

SRO, D3891/6/37/2/7, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 26 Mar 1831

SRO, D3891/6/36/6/66, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Edwin Webberley, 23 December 1831

SRO, D3891/6/37/11/5, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, John Foster, 21 February 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/2/26, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Gell, 20 March 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/5/5, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Hartshorn, 10 June–15 July 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/6/3, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Joseph Durose, 8 November 1832

SRO, D3891/6/40/1/10, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, R. Keates, [1833?]

Joan Thirsk, Agrarian History of England and Wales, 1640–1750, part 1 (Cambridge: CUP, 1985), 133

H. D. Symonds, The Universal Magazine, vol. 23 (November 1758), 219

William West, Picturesque Views and a Description of Cities, Towns, Castles and Mansions and other Objects of Interesting Feature in Staffordshire from original designs, taken expressly for this work by Frederick Calvert engraved on steel by Mr T. Radclyffe (Birmingham: William Emans, 1834), 96

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), 762

Uttoxeter Businesses and the Derby Mercury

The details of details of goods, services, and prices contained in vouchers submitted to Uttoxeter’s overseers of the poor are shedding light on the daily workings of the Old Poor Law, but to what extent did these suppliers advertise in local or regional newspapers?

Between January 1831 and July 1832 a survey of the Derby Mercury reveals relatively few Uttoxeter business owners placing notices or adverts specifically to promote their enterprises. Even fewer of them can be linked directly to the poor law vouchers. Initially, this may seem surprising, but is readily explainable. The Derby Mercury was just one of a number of regional papers and perhaps it would be more likely that Uttoxeter’s traders would place notices in the Staffordshire Advertiser. A survey of the Advertiser, however, is revealing a similarly limited pattern of engagement. How can this be explained? In part it was due to the high cost of adverts charged by newspaper proprietors. In 1800 the Derby Mercury charged 3s 6d per advert on top of which duty of 1s 6d was also chargeable. It may also have been the result of local traders supplying very local markets, where the need to advertise beyond the immediate vicinity was considered unnecessary. This was particularly so if the goods were perishable such as meat, fruit and vegetables. There are other things to consider, however. Where the variety (as opposed to the quantity or quality) of stock changed little business owners may have seen little point in advertising the same things week in week out. Instead, they may have preferred to save their adverts for more important events such as changes in personnel, especially the appointment of new staff or business partners, or changes in business ownership or location. The only real exceptions to these were announcements of the arrival of new or fashionable stock, especially if they came from London.

Which of Uttoxeter’s business owners did place notices in the Derby Mercury, and what were they announcing?

Grocer William Lovatt’s marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bakewell of Marston Montgomery was announced in October 1831. On 6 April 1831 tobacconist Jane Smith, with shops in both Uttoxeter and Ashbourne, declared that she was continuing the business of her late husband James for the benefit of herself and her large family. When in February the White Lion, Bradley Street, with stabling for 20 horses, and ‘calculated for a common brewery’, was offered to let particulars could be had from Abel Ault, or John Ault, timber merchant, Derby.

Some Uttoxeter businesses, including those of Samuel Garle (see separate entry), Thomas Woolrich (see separate entry), and Tompkinson and Co., were acting as agents for patent products including Heeley’s rhadiographic pens, Perryian pens, John Leeming’s genuine horse medicines, Barclay’s asthmatic candy, and Dr Sibly’s Reanimating Solar Tincture for debility, consumption, nervous complaints, rheumatism, spasms, indigestion, and lowness of spirits. Chemist Thomas Woolrich (who so far has not turned up in the overseers’ vouchers) had a national business network. His claim to fame was ‘Woolrich’s improved diuretic horse balls’ available from ‘all respectable medicine vendors in most market towns in the kingdom’. In addition to Uttoxeter, they were also sold wholesale by London agents such as Messrs Barclay & Sons, 95 Fleet Market; Mr Edwards, 66 St Paul’s Church Yard; Sutton & Co., Bow Church Yard; and Butlers’, Cheapside. They could be bought at 73 Princess Street, Edinburgh, and at 54 Sackville Street, Dublin. Closer to home they were sold retail by Drewry & Son, Derby; Whitham,  Ashbourne; and Claughton, Chesterfield.

Some people probably wished that notices regarding their businesses had not appeared. The bankruptcy of surgeon George Alsop (see separate entry) was announced in November 1831, but at least it provided work for Uttoxeter solicitors Bedson and Rushton who notified debtors and creditors of meetings about Alsop’s plight at the Red Lion on 24 and 25 November, and on 23 December. Debts owing to Alsop were to be paid to his business partner Mr Chapman or to Bedson and Rushton. Similarly, in March 1831 Bell’s bank suspended payments owing to heavy debts. A meeting of creditors, however, concluded that James Bell’s assets and credits were sufficient to meet liabilities and leave a considerable surplus. The creditors were lucky. Dividends of 10s in the pound declared within 4 months. Bell avoided bankruptcy, but it did him little good. His death was reported at the end of November.

Sources

Derby Mercury

Mr Blurton’s Swing Frame for Cheese: Winner of the Society of Arts Silver Medal for Invention

Uttoxeter was well-know for the production of cheese. The following extract from The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum Register, Journal and Gazette, describes Mr Blurton’s new invention for producing cheese.

New cheese requires to be hardened considerably by gradually drying before it become fit for market. For this purpose the cheeses are spread in a single layer on the floor of the cheese room, and are turned by hand every day, in order to expose each surface alternately to the air. This, on a large dairy farm, is a slow and laborious operation, which, as it devolves on the female servants, sometimes prevents them, in the hurry of business, from paying proper attention to keeping every implement used in the dairy in that degree of order and absolute cleanliness so essential to the good quality of the produce. Another objection to the common method is, that the floor on which the new cheeses are laid soon becomes penetrated with moisture, so that the benefit that each surface of a cheese in succession gains by exposure to air, is in part lost by being placed the next day in contact with the damp floor.

A machine, of very simple construction, has been recently contrived by Mr Blurton, of Field Hall, near Uttoxeter, by which these objections are not only completely removed, but the process of drying amazingly accelerated. We extract our present account of it from the last part of the Transactions of the Society of Arts, who have conferred their large silver medal on Mr Blurton for the invention.

The machine consists of a dozen strong shelves framed together, and having bars nailed from top to bottom of one side, in order to prevent the cheeses from falling out while in the act of turning. The frame is suspended on two strong pivots, one of which is let into the wall of the room, and the other is supported by a strong post …By first filling the shelf immediately below the axis of the frame, and then placing the cheeses alternately on the two shelves above and below that which has already been filled, the preponderance of one side over the other can never be more than the weight of one cheese … The cheeses, in the act of turning, drop onto those shelves which, in the former position of the frame, were above them, and, having been exposed to a current of air for twenty-four hours previous have become perfectly dry.

Mr Blurton has had the machine in use for five or six years, and finds by the means of it, fifty-five cheeses are turned in the same time which is required for turning two  by hand.

Source

The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum Register, Journal and Gazette, vol. 18, 6 October 1832–31 March 1833 (London: M. Salmon, 1833), pp. 370, 372.

Thomas Parker of Uttoxeter: Notes on a Possible Scandal?

From 1815 the law forbade officers of the Poor Law from profiting from their civic positions by awarding contracts to themselves for the supply of goods and services. Thomas Parker was master of Uttoxeter workhouse in the early 1830s, but the poor law vouchers show that he was also charging the parish for goods supplied to the workhouse from his grocery business. In themselves the majority of goods are typical of those supplied by other grocers, but one item caught our attention: copperas (ferrous sulphate). This was a favourite ingredient used to ‘revive’ used tea leaves by boiling the leaves with the copperas. This set me thinking about other ingredients that were used to adulterate food and drink. Many such as cocculus indicus (an extract of the South East Asian fish berry containing a poisonous picro-toxin related to curare), opium, and oil of vitriol (dilute sulphuric acid) were illegal and harmful. Others including liquorice, treacle, pepper and ginger were often used to add flavour to beer. Although not harmful, they were cheaper substitutes for ingredients such as malt and hops. Uttoxeter workhouse produced beer, bought malt, hops, and barm to brew (fermented froth produced during the malting process); there are frequent purchases of liquorice, treacle, pepper and ginger. Were the workhouse masters using such ingredients in a fraudulent capacity?

Sources

SRO, D3891/6/34/9/10a, settled bill to Thomas Parker, 4–29 October 1829

SRO, D3891/6/37/2/8, handwritten invoice, Michael Clewley, 31 May 1831

SRO D3891/6/37/3/10, handwritten invoice Bagshaw and Son, 9 April–28 May 1831

Nancy Cox, Retailing and the Language of Goods 1550–1820 (London: Routledge, 2016)

Peter Shears, ‘Food Fraud – A Current Issue but an Old Problem’, Plymouth Law Review (2008)

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

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)