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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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