Peter Burn (1792–1877), Gardener, Brampton

Two vouchers have come to light showing Peter Burn supplying seeds and plants to Brampton workhouse. The first from 1816 includes early cabbage plants, onion, Welsh onion and leek seeds and ‘green plants’. The second from 1819 included early cauliflower. Such information adds to the current understanding of pauper diets which, derived from workhouse dietaries or daily allowances, often do not specify vegetables other than potatoes.  

Even though Burn’s bills to the overseers were modest in amount, totalling £1 5s 6d, his business was evidently profitable as he held more than £1000 of stock in the Carlisle City and District Banking Company.[1] In 1851 he employed two men and two boys.[2] He was still working in 1871, employing five boys.[3]

Burn is listed in Parson and White’s 1829 directory as a gardener with premises in Front Street.[4] By 1851 he was living in Church Lane with his wife Margaret.[5]

Burn was born in 1792 in Bellingham or Ridley, Northumberland.[6] His wife Margaret (née Johnson) was born in 1797 at Alston, Cumberland.[7] She may have been his second wife. The 1841 Census for Brampton does not list Margaret Burn, but does list a Peter Burn, and children Thomas (15), Peter (10), Elizabeth (20), Sarah (15) and Margaret (14). As was the practice at the time, most of these ages have been rounded. A quick search through FindMyPast and Ancestry show that a Peter and Sarah Burn’s children were Thomas (bap. 13 September 1822), Peter (bap. 8 September 1830), Elizabeth (bap. 20 August 1819), Sarah (bap. 13 June 1824) and Margaret (bap. 17 November 1826).[8] Sarah Burn the elder died in 1838.[9]

Living with Peter and Margaret in 1871 were his widowed brother Bryan, a retired railway guard, and two unmarried granddaughters, Sarah aged 22 (a housekeeper), and Elizabeth aged 15.[10]

Peter Burn died on 19 February 1877. His will contains three codicils and was proved at Carlisle on 26 April by two of his executors; his son Peter, a draper, and John Armstrong, a gardener. Burn’s effects were under £600.[11]

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


[1] Anon, A List of the County Banks of England and Wales, Private and Proprietary (London: M. A. Marchant, 1838), frontispiece, 138.

[2] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 9/3907, 1861 Census.

[3] TNA, RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[4] W. Parson and W. White, History, Directory & Gazetteer of Cumberland & Westmorland, (Leeds: Edward Baines and Son, 1829), 417.

[5] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census.

[6] The 1851 Census records Bellingham, the 1861 Census, Ridley. TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 9/3907, 1861 Census.

[7] TNA, HO 107/2427, 1851 Census; RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[8] Ancestry.co.uk; FindMyPast.co.uk, accessed 25 April 2019.

[9] Buried 26 February 1838, Ancestry.co.uk; FindMyPast.co.uk, accessed 25 April 2019.

[10] TNA, RG 10/5209, 1871 Census.

[11] National Probate Calendar, Peter Burn, 26 April 1877.

Blue Duffle

The Cumberland vouchers make frequent reference to the purchase of blue duffle.William Beck’s The Drapers’ Dictionary cites Booth’s Analytical English Dictionary of 1835 which describes duffle as ‘a stout milled flannel, but of greater depth and differently dressed. It may be either perched or friezed (napped), and is sold in all colours’. The name is generally thought to have derived from Duffel (now in Belgium).

In The Compleat English Tradesman Daniel Defoe notes that ‘The manufacturing towns of Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland is employ’d in the coarser manufactures of those counties, such as Kersies, half-thicks, yarn stockings, Duffelds, Ruggs, Turkey-work chairs and many other useful things’.

What was the blue duffle being used for? In all likelihood it was used to make coats or cloaks for the poor, perhaps as a type of uniform for the workhouse, or as part of a set of clothes provided for parish apprentices. Joan Lane notes that clothing for apprentices, including particular items that identified them with specific trades, was a common requirement, and that factory apprentices were expected to attend church looking reasonable. She continues that male parish apprentices ‘received a shirt, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and shoes, with a coat and hat for outdoors. A girl was given a petticoat, one or two shifts … with a gown, apron, stockings and shoes … Coats and cloaks were hardly ever bought for female pauper apprentices’.[1]

Five news items provide further information on the uses of blue duffle:

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787, described how John Bell, aged 17 or 18, had run away from his apprenticeship from shoemaker George Sugding, in Workington. He was wearing a turned blue coat and vest, black breaches and a woollen hat. At the same time another apprentice, Jonathan Atch, aged 17, also absconded. He was wearing a blue upper jacket, a double-breasted blue vest and blue breaches, all duffle.

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797, detailed the elopement of Daniel Hodgson and Mary Johnston, the wife of James Johnston. Johnston, aged 67, was reported as wearing a white thickset coat, and a blue and white striped waistcoat. Johnston, ‘a stout made woman … pitted with the small pox’, was wearing a a dark stamped gown and bed gown, a brown or blue quilted petticoat, black worsted stockings , a blue duffle cloak, and a black silk bonnet.

Twenty dozen pairs of stockings and ‘some webs of blue duffle and blue worsted stuff’ were stolen from Bridekirk manufactory, Annan. Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841, William Dixon gave evidence against John Cope for stealing a jacket belonging to Isaac Sherwin of Aspatria. When apprehended in Maryport, Cope was wearing a blue duffle jacket beneath which was the stolen jacket. Cope was found guilty and sentenced to six months hard labour.

In 1843 the Carlisle Journal reported an inquest. The headless body of a man was washed ashore opposite Eskmeals. The clothing consisted of a blue and white striped shirt, a red flannel shirt, a blue duffle jacket, and white woollen stockings. \lsdpriority

Sources

Cumbria Archives Service, Carlisle, PR60/21/13/3/ no item number, Brampton Overseers’ Voucher, settled 31 May 1795

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 14 March 1787

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Advertiser, 23 May 1797

Carlisle Patriot, 14 March 1818.

Carlisle Journal, 7 August 1841

Carlisle Journal, 9 December 1843

William Beck, The Drapers’ Dictionary: a manual of textile fabrics, their history and applications (London: The Warehousemen and Draper’s Journal Office, 1882), 106

Daniel Defoe, The Compleat English Tradesman vol II, (London: printed for Charles Rivington, 1727), 59–60

Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 27–29


[1] Joan Lane, Apprenticeship in England, 1600–1914 (London: UCL Press, 1996), 29.