Ralph Bagshaw was a grocer in Uttoxeter who supplied the poor law with both everyday items like rice but also spices and other goods like nutmeg and dried fruit – and not necessarily just at Christmas time. His bill-head represented him as a global trader, with barrels carrying his initials prominent in a non-specific but probably eastern location.
Bagshaw was born in approximately 1772, married Maria Taylor in Uttoxeter in 1796, and went on to run his grocery business in the town with his two eldest sons, Edward Stanford Bagshaw and Thomas Bagshaw. His third son and namesake Ralph became a solicitor.
Bagshaw was prominent among the grocers supplying the poor law, but his importance could fluctuate quite significantly from year to year. In 1821-2 for example he was paid £18 0s 2d for groceries, which represented nearly a third of the parish’s outlay on similar goods. Other grocers in the town such as James Smith, Lewis Hall, and Michael Clewley, along with the firm Porter and Keates, competed with him to supply the workhouse with groceries, but none of them were paid so much as Bagshaw. Compare this with grocery suppliers in 1823-4, and the picture had utterly changed. Bagshaw was paid just £5 19s 6d, less than a tenth of the total outlay on groceries, whereas Michael Clewley was paid £20 1s 4.5d. Clewley had supplanted Bagshaw for the supply of rice and other goods, but it is not yet clear whether this was simply because firms took equitable ‘turns’ in different years, or whether the well-connected churchwarden Clewley had more leverage.
After Ralph senior’s death in 1841 the grocery was carried on by Edward and Thomas. The will was witnessed by surgeon George Alsop whose biography (along with Clewley’s) is included in this blog.
Sources: Uttoxeter St Mary marriage of 20 October 1796; D 3891/6/8 Uttoxeter volume of parish bills, 1821-4; D 3891/6/35/3/41 Uttoxeter overseers’ voucher for groceries 27 January 1831; D 3891/6/40/7/29 Uttoxeter overseers’ voucher for groceries 31 October 1833; Ralph Bagshaw will proved 1841.