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Entries in Childs (3)

Friday
Sep142012

Book 2: Mary Betts, Thomas Lee, Thomas Chapman Coleman, Thomas Haines, John Childs, Andrew Bull, Thomas Austin, Joseph Scholes, Robert Woodruff: VILLAGE BAKERS:

VILLAGE BAKERS

A little after the First World War, The Millers’ Mutual Association published a colourful pamphlet on the history of bread. This opened with the words:

From time immemorial bread has been the most important food of man. Throughout history its distribution has been the chief concern of Kings and Governments. A shortage of bread has led to revolutions and the downfall of empires. A great deal of the legislation of the world has been devoted to ensuring an adequate supply of bread to the people.

There may be some local pleading here but bread has had a significant place in the social history of the western world. It has been an important Christian symbol and a constant focus for political unrest.

The eighteenth century ended with England at war with Napoleon’s France and a string of poor harvests. The price of a quartern loaf (weighing 4 pounds) in London rose to 1s 5d at a time when many were earning less than 10 shillings a week. The corn dealers and bakers’ shops were looted and the king’s carriage attacked. The Times in 1795 printed a list of rules that it said was the way to ‘Peace and Plenty’. - These included:

1                     Abolish all gravy soups and second courses.

2                     Buy no starch when wheat is dear.

3                     Destroy all useless dogs.

4                     Give no dog or other animal the smallest piece of bread or flour.

5                     Save all your skim-milk carefully and give it all to the poor or sell it at a cheap rate.

6                     Make broth, rice puddings etc., for the poor and teach them to make such things.

7                     Go to church

It is perhaps surprising to see rice as a cheap substitute for bread but this was a bonus of empire often helped by slave labour. Even in 1850 poor Lydia Attley, on the last day that she was seen alive, was going to buy some rice for her dinner. It is likely that she ate it as a rice pudding  which would have been considered good for an invalid or pregnant woman. Another staple crop was becoming popular with working families, much to the disgust of William Cobbett. In his very popular Cottage Economy, published in 1822, he railed against the potato with his usual prejudice:

. . . in the evidence given before the Agricultural Committee . . .many labourers, especially in the West of England, use potatoes instead of bread to a very great extent. And I find from the same evidence that it is the custom to allot the labourers “a potato ground” in part payment of their wages! This has the tendency to bring English labourers down to the state of the Irish whose mode of living, as to food, is but one remove from that of the pig, and of the ill-fed pig too.

Cobbett was also strongly against the ‘shop’ replacing the market stall, believing it an unnecessary, cost intrusion between producer and consumer. Further, in his book, he encouraged labourers to be as self-sufficient as possible which is why his star rose again in the 1970s. He ‘proves’ that bread, financially and in all other respects, was better than potatoes and that baking it at home was similarly better than buying the bakers’ loaves.

How wasteful then, and indeed how shameful for a labourer’s wife to go to the baker’s shop; and how negligent, how criminally careless of the welfare of his family, must the labourer be, who permits so scandalous a use of the proceeds of his labour!

Nevertheless, Ringstead had at least two bakers’ shops for most if not all of the nineteenth century. The making of bread was a time-consuming business, even if, as Cobbett suggested, the week’s supply was baked in one go. Further, many of the cottages would have only had an open fire with their cooking done in front of it or in a pot over it. The baking of bread would have been difficult or impossible for many in the poorer homes. Of course the bakers would also have catered for the trade of the emerging middle class for the whiter bread as well as cakes and pastries.

Ringstead and the parishes around seem to have maintained, at least in some form, local flour which would have been brought by horse and cart from the water and wind mills and it seems likely that the bakers continued to use this, throughout the century, even though there would have been increasing competition from the New World flour and the larger mills and bakeries in the towns and cities. Even as early as 1786 the Albion Mills, the first great steam-powered factory in London, had been established and ground 10 bushels of wheat an hour. The local millers faced ruin until it burnt down in mysterious circumstances.  

The Bett or Betts family had been bakers in Ringstead for much of the eighteenth century. They were part of a large family of farmers, the first son usually being christened, ‘White’. Samuel Bett, born in about 1703 was the first baker that we know of and his son John, born in about 1734 followed his father’s trade. I have not found an older brother called White, and we only know of a brother Samuel, born in 1737 and buried a year later. John married Mary Who????? and they had at least four children: Joseph, John, Samuel and Hannah. John died when he was only about forty-five years old in 1779 but Mary carried on with the family business until her death a quarter of a century later. She was buried in Ringstead churchyard on June 15th 1804 aged seventy-four.

The bakery and house were advertised for sale in the Northampton Mercury on 14th July 1804, with immediate possession. There is some confusion here for the ‘deceased widow’ is referred to as Hannah, not Mary, Betts and we must assume that this is a mix-up with her daughter Hannah. The list of the household furniture and effects shows that she had lived in some comfort, perhaps helped by the Betts’ yeoman background. The items auctioned by Richard Smith at the Swan, included:

Bedsteads and Furniture; Feather and Flock Beds; Blankets and Quilts; Bed and Table Linen; Dining, Tea and Dressing Tables; Chests of Drawers; Pier and Swing Glasses; neat Chairs; Clock; Pewter Dishes and Plates; Glass, China and Earthenware; Brass Pots and Kettles; Kitchen Requisites; Brewing Copper, sweet Casks, Tubs and a Variety of other Effects.

Also included in the sale was the house and bakery which are described as:

A Freehold MESSUAGE or TENEMENT, with an old-accustomed Bakehouse in Full Trade, suitable Barns, Stables, and other Out-offices belonging; also a neat GARDEN and ORCHARD, situate in RINGSTEAD aforesaid, and late in the Occupation of the said Hannah Betts.

N.B. The Fixtures, Baking Implements, and Wood, may be taken by the Purchaser at a fair Valuation;

The sale of the wood shows us that coal fired ovens had not yet reached Ringstead. The ovens would have been heated in the centuries-old way by burning bundles of sticks, or faggots, in the brick oven until it reached the correct temperature, then raking out all the ashes and putting in the dough onto the hot stones and closing the door. It was a long process and the baker would be one of the first risers in the village.

At the end of the advertisement for the sale it adds:

May be viewed in the mean Time; and further Particulars had of Mr FRANCIS TIDBURY, at Woodford Mills, Administrator of the Goods and Chattels of the said Hannah Betts.

We know that the children of Mary Betts signed over their "Right, Title and Interest of in and to the Burthen of Administration of the said chattels and credits of the said deceased". It is clear that Mary had built up large debts to Francis Tidbury, presumably for flour, and. perhaps. as she grew older and less able to run the bakery. As we have said, for most of the nineteenth century Ringstead supported two bakeries but it was not a way to make one’s fortune and some went bankrupt along the way.

We do not know exactly what the bakery would have looked like inside but it seems likely that it was little different from when it was built. In 1805, one year after Mary’s death, A Treatise on the Art of Bread-Making was published. It describes what a good bakehouses should look like:

A bakehouse is a manufactory where bread is made for the purpose of sale. In order to render it convenient, it should be attached to the dwelling house, and have an inner door opening into the kitchen, and likewise an outer door to open into a small yard. In this yard there ought to be a well or pump, as also a shed for the piling of faggots. The room should be large and commodious, and the floor laid with stone or tiles. On one side should be erected a dresser or counter , with suitable shelves above it; on the other side a kneading trough about seven feet long, three feet high, two feet and a half broad at top and sixteen inches at bottom with a sluice board to pen the dough up at one end, and a lid to shut down like that of a box. On a third side a copper will contain from three to four pails of water should be erected, which is far preferable to the filthy custom of heating the water in the oven; and on the fourth side the oven should be placed.

The production of bread was hard work, as anyone who has made bread at home by hand, can testify. Imagine it with the following quantities given by H.G. Muller in Baking and Bakeries:

About 5 imperial gallons (22.7 litres) of yeast were mixed with enough hot water to bring the whole to blood heat. 3½ pounds (1.59kg.) of salt were then dissolved in it and the whole was added to about 1 hundredweight (50.8 kg) of flour in a wooden trough. The mixture was then well worked up by hand until quite free from lumps. This was called the sponge. Its surface was then made level and a little flour sprinkled on it. The whole was then covered up and allowed to ferment for twelve hours. After that warm water containing again 3  pounds (1.59 kg) of salt as well as 3 hundredweight (152.4 kg) of flour was added and the whole worked up into a uniform dough. That was again covered and allowed to ferment for an hour and a half. It now swelled and when sufficiently spongy it was called ‘proof’ and was fit for dividing, weighing and shaping into loaves. These were then introduced into the oven by means of an oven peel.

Of course, the actual quantities used by Mary Betts and her successors would have varied but bread was a large part of most Ringstead families’ expenditure, and the number of loaves needed would have been great.

The next time that we meet the Ringstead bakers is in the 1841 Census. There are two separate bakeries now in business: Thomas Lee, who was next to Vicarage House (or Farm), and Thomas Coleman. There must have been bakers between the death of Mary Betts in 1804 and 1841 but so far we have not found them. Thomas Lee did appear in the List of Licensed Victuallers for Ringstead in 1822 but without a public house named for him. The trades of brewer and baker had long been associated as originally the froth from the beer was used to produce the yeast for the baking. At about twenty years of age, Thomas was probably too young to have bought Mary Betts’s bakery in 1804 but it may be by 1822 he was already the village baker.

The Ringstead parish registers do show the christening, on March 30th 1835, of Elizabeth, the daughter of William (not the later blacksmith, parish clerk and postmaster) and Rebecca Bradshaw. William is shown as a baker but by 1841 the family had moved to Leicester with William now a journeyman baker. By 1851 he is a hawker but by 1861 he had become a baker again. The children are shown as being born in Denford (even Elizabeth) or Leicester so it is likely that William was a journeyman working for one of the other bakers either in Ringstead or Denford.

Thomas Lee was born in East Farndon, south-west of Market Harborough in about 1786. His brother William remained in the area to become a farmer or grazier, with, in 1851 146 acres and employing two labourers. Thomas, however, moved south some twenty-five miles to Ringstead. Neither brother married and both had housekeepers. In 1841 Thomas was 55 and described as a baker. Living with him were Susannah Archer 50, female servant; Samuel Eastham [?], 15, a male servant and Elizabeth Teat, 53, whose role is indecipherable. By 1851 Thomas is a master baker employing one man who is John Hames Dainty, aged 38 a journeyman baker born in Geddington. The women, both born in Stanwick, have aged alarmingly because Susannah Archer is now seventy-five and Elizabeth Teat, a widow is a pauper and eighty years old.

Thomas calls himself a master baker and this could just be a ‘puff’, as I have seen an advertisement for a ‘master window cleaner’, but it may indicate that he considered himself superior to the other baker in the village and besides bread baked a range of cakes and biscuits. The George family kept a baker’s shop in Folkingham, in Lincolnshire, some 45 miles to the north. Between 1833 an 1838 they wrote ‘receipts’ in a small notebook. This was published by Teresa Crompton in 1997 under the title A Pound of Fine Flower (this alternative spelling was just going out of fashion). By looking at the recipes we can see the sort of fare that a village bakery at the time might offer for sale.

The main ingredients used are flour, sugar, butter and milk with a flavouring such as ginger, bitter almonds, lemon juice, caraway seeds and nutmeg. Other common ingredients included eggs, currants and ground rice. The main rising agent used was ‘’Viletta’ or Volatile salts’ which was a form of Ammonium Carbonate. As it was also used in smelling salts it can be imagined that the smell of ammonia would have hung around the bakery. Many of the names of the recipes have a familiar ring; almond cakes, gingerbread, Shrewsbury cakes, Abernethy biscuits, Madeira buns and so on. After the heavy kneading of the bread it may seem that it was a relief to make the biscuits and cakes until one sees a recipe for a, well-named, Pound Cake which, after the ingredients, includes the instruction to, ‘beat them all together for one hour’.

In these days before compressed yeast the preparation of yeast was a laborious process for each baker made his or her own from his ‘stock yeast’ The starter was made from hops, flour and malt beaten into a stiff batter, covered, and allowed to sit for twenty-four hours. This was used as the key ingredient to make the stock yeast which also had to sit for twenty-four hours. Some of this was used each day to start the next batch. Once a month the baker ought to have cleaned everything up and started again but many carried on for a year.

It was hard, time-consuming, work to turn the flour into bread, cakes and biscuits but the baker was always being accused of overcharging and short measures. This was partly because of the vital part played by bread in many people’s diet and the rising price of ‘corn’ caused by the Corn laws, passed in 1815 to protect the farmers from cheap imports from the New World and elsewhere. In many large cities there was rioting and corn factors and bakers were attacked and pillaged. On a local scale, in 1843, Thomas Lee was fined 12 shillings for deficient weights at Wellingborough Petty Sessions. Many small traders were similarly caught as the local Police Inspector began to implement the new laws which standardised and checked weights and measures throughout the country. Bread was a precious commodity and had to be sold by weight.

This suspicion of bakers can be seen from this article in the Stamford Mercury for 16th September 1842:

“How is it,” observes a correspondent, that the bread is so dear, notwithstanding the reduced price of wheat? The answer is plain. The public allow the baker to fix the price and never stay to question it. When the assize of bread was abolished, it was imagined that people would say to a baker ‘What is the price of a 4lb loaf?’ as they do to a butcher, ‘What is the price of a leg of mutton?’ – and would, if discontented with the price, walk out of the shop and make the purchase elsewhere; but habit is stronger than reason. The people had for so long a period been accustomed to think of bread as something settled at a price over which they had no means of control that the most frugal housewife among them never dreams of making a loaf a matter of bargain. Of course the baker will not lower the price, if not compelled; but they have carried the high-price matter too far; and not individual remonstrances but public attention is now directed to the matter. As bread is an article of daily manufacture, it might be as well to consider whether it would not be a good speculation to establish ovens, where for a small charge (smaller than now demanded for baking a joint) loaves might be baked, and thus people enabled, if they pleased to bake their own bread, as they bake their own dinners.

We see that the practice of roasting the Sunday joint in the baker’s ovens for a charge was a long established one and also that many, perhaps most, working-class families had stopped baking their own bread, in spite of Cobbett’s campaign.

Thomas Lee died on the 12th April 1855 and in his will left to his brother William, a grazier in Great Oxenden: 

. . . all that my messuages and tenement in Ringstead aforesaid wherein I now reside with the Bakehouse, Yards, Gardens, Premises and appurtenances thereunto belonging.

He also left nineteen guineas to his servant Susan Archer and five guineas to John Griffuth Leete, his surgeon.

As we have seen Thomas Lee was not the only baker in Ringstead but before we consider his rival it is worth just noting a certain James Wilkinson who was the alleged father of Lydia Attley’s first child before she disappeared heavy with her second, allegedly by William Weekley Ball. James was a journeyman baker from Leicestershire who married Lydia Hill, the daughter of James Hill, publican of the Black Horse. They moved to Welford and he was a baker there for over thirty years.

The other baker in the 1841 Ringstead Census was Thomas Chapman Coleman. He too came from outside the village being born in Holcot and baptised in Ringstead on 30th September 1813, some seventeen miles to the west. All his younger brothers and sisters are christened in Ringstead so it seems the family moved there soon after his birth. . He married Deborah Lawrence from Denford on 3rd May 1831 in Ringstead Parish Church. His mother, Mary, died less than a fortnight later and was buried in Ringstead churchyard. His sons, Charles Chapman Coleman, who was born on 5th November 1826, and John Joseph, born on 18th June 1835 were baptised in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Church

By 1841, as we have seen, he was a baker in Ringstead, with his wife, and sons Charles and John. By 1851 Charles has moved away and John is a butcher’s apprentice. Louise Saddington, from Denford is a house servant. The Northampton Mercury for 12th July 1851 may give a possible reason for there being no further children and the need of a servant. Among the death announcements is the following notice:

At Ringstead, July 4th, after eight years’ spinal affliction, borne with Christian fortitude, Deborah, the beloved wife of Thomas Chapman Coleman, baker, Ringstead, aged 45 years.

We do not see any of the family again in an English Census and it seems certain that soon after Deborah’s death they left England and took their chances on the other side of the world. We have chased many a Ringstead resident across the seas but this time we will only record three entries in the Birth, married and death columns of the newspapers:

On the 1st instant, [May 1852] by special licence at St. James’ Church by the Rev. J. Grylls, Mr. Charles Chapman Coleman of George-street to Miss Mary Ann Esther Chormdery, eldest daughter of Mr. J.J. Chormdery of Windmill-street, Sydney

COLEMAN – April 24 1886 at his residence, Botany-road, Waterloo [Sydney], Thomas Chapman Coleman aged 74.

John Joseph probably died in 1876 in Victoria so the following item in the Barrier Miner [Broken Hill, NSW] which may or not be relevant. It does sum up a way of life for those mining pioneers:

John Joseph Casey was found guilty at the Criminal Court of the manslaughter of John Joseph Coleman. Casey hit Coleman on the head with a stick on Good Friday. The judge fined Casey £15 and allowed him time to pay it.

Thomas Haines was the next baker to help provide the daily bread from one of Ringstead’s bakeries. He had been born in Great Catworth in Huntingdonshire and in 1841 it is probably him working for a farmer in Easton. In 1849 he married Elizabeth Vickers Wilby, whose father was a baker from Market Harborough. Perhaps as a result of this, aged just twenty-five, he is also a baker at 49 Newlands Street in Higham Ferrers. They have an eight-week-old daughter also called Elizabeth, an apprentice baker and a young servant girl. Thomas’s younger brother, William, is also staying with them. He, too, is a baker and although shown as a visitor he is perhaps also helping his brother.

He moved to Ringstead some time in the middle of the 1850s. We know that from the 1861 Census which shows him, aged 35, in the Ringstead High Street. He has two more daughters. Honoria is 6 and born in Higham Ferrers and Anne is 5 and born in Ringstead so it seems that he moved to Ringstead in 1855 or 1856. He is now described as a master baker, employing two journeyman bakers. His bakery business seems to be growing fast: perhaps too fast for his finances.

In April 1862 we learn a little about what has been happening from a newspaper report in the Northampton Mercury. Unfortunately it is from a report of a case in the Crown Court where Thomas has been indicted for obtaining the sum of £171 by false pretences from the Thrapston branch of the Northamptonshire Union Bank. The article records that Mr. Merewether, for the prosecution told the jury that:

The prisoner was a local preacher and might well have paused before he entered upon an act upon which nobody who heard of it could come to a favourable conclusion.

Thomas banked in Wellingborough and was struggling financially. He had been granted an overdraft, upon certain sureties, up to a limit of £600. He had used £535 of that permitted overdraft when he received cheques to the value of £386 [in effect, unpaid bills] from London. He tried to borrow £100 from his father without success and presented a cheque for £170 at the Thrapston branch of the Northamptonshire Union Bank and was given this amount in cash. He then paid this into the Wellingborough account so that he could pay off some of the outstanding bills. He had hoped that the cheque would go via London and take several days to clear, giving him time to borrow the money from somewhere. The Thrapston manager, however, sent the cheque directly to Wellingborough and it was immediately dishonoured.

The jury found Thomas not guilty of trying to defraud the bank but he was obviously in financial difficulties. On April 9th 1862, Thomas Haines, corn factor and baker of Ringstead, by his own petition was registered bankrupt. On 3rd June of the same year at five o’clock in the afternoon, at the White Hart Hotel Thrapston, his possessions were sold by his ‘Mortgagee’.

These were sold in four lots. These included:

Lot 1. All that roomy and convenient MESSUAGE or Farm House situate in Ringstead in the County of Northampton, with the Barns, Yards, Gardens, Homestead, Orchard and piece of Land thereto adjoining. And also all those THREE COTTAGES or Tenements thereto adjoining, with the Barns and Out-buildings.

These Premises extend from the East end of the Street of Ringstead [High Street] to the Back Lane and contain with the site of the buildings 1A. 1R. 9P. (little more or less.)

Lot 2 contained a close of pasture land containing 6 acres and 36 perch; Lot 3 arable land of 8 acres and 29 perch; and Lot 4 arable land of 8 acres 1 rood and 9 perch. This land appears to have been in one piece with Back Lane on the south and Denford Road on the east. Surprisingly there is no mention of the bakery. Of course he may have been renting it or owned both and it was the purchase of the farmhouse, cottages and land that caused his downfall. He overreached himself.

Whatever the details, his career as a baker was over and the 1871 Census finds the family living in Green Lane Terrace in Kettering. Thomas is now a ‘Traveller’ and one daughter is a haberdasher and the other a governess. His wife, Elizabeth has no paid work and they still employ a young girl as a servant. Things are similar in 1881 but by 1891, a Traveller in the Corn Trade, Thomas and Elizabeth are living at 20 Castle Road, Bedford. Their married daughter Honoria and her daughter, Maria are staying with them and they still have another young girl working as a general servant for them.

It seems likely that Thomas and Elizabeth overstretched themselves in Ringstead but he found new work in the corn trade and they managed to maintain a servant and their middle-class status.

In the 1862 edition of Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory there are three bakers in Ringstead. Alongside Thomas Haines there are John Childs and Andrew Bull. Andrew does not appear in the Melville and Co. Directory of the previous year. We see the Andrew Bull is a new village baker but does the fact that the three bakers are all recorded in 1862 mean that there were three bakeries?

Whatever the answer it does seem that probably John Childs started his bakery in 1861 and Andrew Bull in 1862. They were both to remain village bakers for many years. It is their stories that we are now going to try to discover.

John ‘Chiles’ had been baptised in Ringstead Parish Church on December 25th 1816, the son of James and Susannah. James was originally from Southoe in Huntingdonshire but had married a Ringstead girl, Elizabeth Whiteman, and settled in the village. John  married Elizabeth, (also ‘Chiles’), on June 12th 1837 also in the parish church and by the 1841 Census the young couple already had three children; Joseph 3, Sarah 2 and Martha 6 months old and had moved to Swineshead, some ten miles away, in Bedfordshire. John’s mother Susannah and his younger brother George are also staying with them. Judging by the birthplace of their eldest son, Joseph they moved to Swineshead immediately or soon after their marriage. John is a shoemaker.

By 1852 the couple have seven children living at home and two young shoemakers from Catworth are working for him. It is not clear but it appears that John is also a grocer. His wife, Elizabeth is a shoe binder and the two older girls are lacemakers.

It must have been a busy household but by 1861 they have moved back to Ringstead and John has a new career. We see him in the High Street, one of the village bakers. He is 45 years old, two years younger than his wife, and is helped in his new business by his fifteen-year-old son, Samuel. Robert, the eldest son, and still at home, is a shoemaker. His house and bakery is one house from the Chapel Road turning in the Census so we can be sure that it is what are now two houses, 47 and 49 High Street. It seems that the bakehouse was in number 47 and the house and, possibly, the shop in number 49. This position is confirmed by comparing the black and white postcard below with the earlier picture of the Post Office in the biography of the postmasters. We can see that the two shops were neighbours, although unfortunately the Post Office building has now disappeared.

 

The Old Bakehouse (47/49 High Street)

Author’s Photograph 2012

1871 finds the family still at the bakery but only daughters, Elizabeth, a dressmaker and Martha a ‘baker’s daughter’ are now at home. Does a ‘baker’s daughter’ help in the shop or the bakery?

At about the time of the Census collection in 1871, John is involved in a court case to recover 12s. from a porter called Cadman, employed by the London and North-Western Railway Company at Thrapston. The debt had actually been to his son who we learn had since emigrated. In fact Cadman’s wife, who was a witness, was too ill to attend so the case was adjourned.

The years roll by and 1881 has John (65) and Elizabeth (67) with the only family living with them being John’s widowed sister, Mary Ann (68). John does have some help, however, because lodging with them there is a sixteen-year-old assistant baker from Raunds.

 

 

A 1920s view of the Old Bakehouse from the opposite direction showing the Swan in the distance

[The Bakery is the white building on the left. You can just see the shop sign over the door. The first building on the left had been the Post Office at the end of the Nineteenth Century]

Reproduced with permission of the Northamptonshire Telegraph. 

 

 

Olde Bakery Cottage (17 High Street)

Author’s Photograph 2012

Two bakers might seem enough for a small village but it appears that there were sometimes three or more competing for trade. Perhaps as the village bakers got older others saw a chance to increase their own trade. Henry Peach was a baker in Denford and we know that at this time that he too was delivering bread in the village. On 15th May 1882 he and his ‘boy’ were on their round, in the village, unaware that Inspector Alexander was watching them. There had been ‘complaints’. Perhaps one of the village bakers was annoyed by Henry Peach coming into his patch. The Inspector:

Went to Mr. Bradshaw’s, publican [I am not sure which public house this was] and found he had left two loaves there, a “cottage” and a loaf baked in a tin. Witness weighed the bread, and found 4 ozs. Short in the two loaves, - Mr. Peach acknowledged the offence, and said he was very sorry it had occurred but he was under the impression that the loaves came within the denomination of “fancy bread” and did not require weighing. – The same defendant was also charged with selling five other loaves other than by weight on the same date and in the same parish. – Inspector Alexander deposed that these were delivered at the house of Joseph Fox. There was a deficiency of 6 ozs. In the five loaves. – Mr. Peach was then charged with delivering bread from his cart and not being provided with scales to weigh the same, at Ringstead, on the same day. – Defendant acknowledged the offence and pleaded in extenuation that the lad had accidentally left the scales at home. He was very sorry for what had occurred, and would take care it did not happen again.

Henry Peach was fined for not selling ‘by weight’. The fact that Henry Peach might consider the loaves ‘fancy’ may indicate that the standard loaf was a ‘batch loaf’ which was not baked in a tin.

Unfortunately for John, at the same court session, he was charged with having an ‘unjust flour scale’ just two days after Henry Peach was caught. The report states:

It appeared that the scale was about one ounce against the purchaser. There was dough on it, and after cleaning the scale the deficiency was reduced. – Inspector [sic?] Noble said the defendant was a most respectable man, and had never before been summoned on a similar charge. – The Bench considered that it to be rather the result of carelessness than with a fraudulent intent; they therefore imposed the mitigated fine of 5s. and 14s 6d. expenses. - On Superintendant Noble’s application the scales were (after adjustment) ordered to be given up to the defendant.

We do see that John Childs was a well-regarded man but perhaps age was catching up on him. We do not have a description of John. Was he like Grandfather Iden, who Richard Jefferies describes in Amaryllis at the Fair, which was published in 1887?

He wore a grey suit, as a true miller and baker should, and had worn the same cut and colour for years and years. In the shop too, he always had a grey suit on, perhaps its original hue was white, but it got to appear grey upon him; a large grey chimney-pot, many sizes too big for his head apparently, for it looked as if forever about to descend and put out his face like an extinguisher. Though his boots were so carefully polished, they quickly took a grey tint from the flour dust as he pottered about the bins in the morning.

John died in 1888, aged seventy-two, and was buried in the churchyard on October 20th 1888. It seems likely that the house and business was sold and by 1891 his widow, Elizabeth, aged 74 and his sister, Mary Ann, are living together in Carlow Street.

At first I had thought that his only competitor was Andrew Bull but there was one other, besides Henry Peach, who does not appear in any of the trade directories. On 29th April 1876 the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser printed a nationwide list of ‘Petitions for Liquidation by Arrangement’. Among them was:

                T. Austin, Ringstead, Northamptonshire, baker.

He must have managed to carry on with his business for, on 22nd November 1879, the Northampton Mercury records that at the Thrapston Petty Sessions on November 16th:

Thomas Austin of Ringstead was charged by Inspector Alexander of Oundle with unlawfully selling to one, Rebecca Morris, two loaves of bread otherwise than by weight. – Defendant was fined 5s. and also ordered to pay expenses amounting to £1 3s. 8d.

It may be now that baking ovens were more easily installed. Coal-fired ovens, heated externally, sometimes by pipes, were taking over from ovens needing wood fires lit in the oven space itself. In the Northampton Mercury of 5th June 1880 Hughes and Co. of the Railway Waggon [sic] Works and Coal Yard, Gas Works Wharf, Northampton advertised its list of coals for sale. These included:

                BADDESLEY         Best known kind for Bakers

[Baddesley was a pit in Warwickshire. Just two years after this advertisement, on 2nd May 1882, 32 men lost their lives when a pumping boiler set light to coal dust causing an explosion. 23 of the dead were from the rescue party.]

When we look through the Ringstead Censuses we find that Thomas Austin was a carrier in 1861. He was 33 years old and born in Podington in Bedfordshire. He and his wife, Sarah, have four young children, all born in Ringstead. By 1871 he had become a baker and a grocer in Shop [High] Street. Sarah died in 1879 and by 1881 he is shown as a widower and a ‘baker and outdoor beer house’ only two doors from the Black Horse. He died in 1890 and was buried on March 14th aged sixty-two.

We can only guess at Thomas Austin’s place in the local baking hierarchy but it seems likely that he was at the corner shop end of the market providing bread for London End rather than the emerging middle classes. We see no description of ‘Master Baker’, and no journeyman assistants. It seems that he never made more than a poor living from his shop.

 

A Baker’s Oven

This picture is from 1920s but would have changed little from nineteenth century

[From Work and Workers, Shown to the Children by Arthur O. Cook]

If we now return to Andrew Bull, we have already briefly met him in another biography. He was the younger brother of Kezia Bull who married the Chemist, Herbert Joseph Abington. He is recorded in the diary of Herbert’s son, also Herbert, as Uncle Andrew. He was born on 18th April 1826 to John and Sarah Bull who were paper makers at Ringstead Mill. They were member of the Ringstead Particular Baptist Church and there is some temptation to wonder if the bakeries were divided on sectarian lines, one for the established church and one for the nonconformists.

There is no sign of Andrew in the 1841 Census but there are two Samuel Bulls, both rounded to the age of fifteen and both tailors. One is living with one sister, Susannah and the other is with Sarah Cheney, another, widowed, sister. It may be that one of these boys was Andrew and probably he is the second ‘Samuel’ as in 1851 he is shown as living with Sarah and her second husband, George Smith. By now he is working as a shoemaker. On 6th July 1854 he married local girl, Mary Ann Partrick and had three children, Elizabeth, Ralph and Eliza before the 1861 Census where he was shown as a shoemaker and baker. The eldest child, Elizabeth is given as being born in Brigstock so presumably the couple had lived there for a time.

His wife, Mary Ann Partrick, had been born in Ringstead but in 1851, at the age of twenty-three she was a cook at Islip for Ralph Wilson (76) a wine merchant and his wife Susannah (70) who is described as a ‘gentlewoman’. When we return to the 1861 Ringstead census we see that Mary Ann is shown as the ‘Manager of the Bakehouse’ and it seems likely that she was the one with the expertise, who was in charge of the baking. There is a young apprentice shoemaker living with them and the only help is probably from Herbert Abington, their nephew, who is described as a baker. It seems that the couple had to do almost all the baking themselves with much of the work falling on Mary Ann. It would have been hard work with long hours but she would have been used to this as a cook.

It seems unlikely that the sickly Herbert worked long for his uncle and by 1871 Andrew is shown in Shop Street (High Street) as the baker and Mary Ann as the baker’s wife. Perhaps Andrew had learned his trade from his wife and had given up the shoemaking. Mary-Ann may have run the shop still but she had four children to look after, ranging in ages from three to sixteen years old, for the youngest son, George has been born

We learn from a court case in July 1875 that Andrew had a sideline as a pig dealer. He had bought a dozen, twelve-week-old pigs from Mr Brawn of Ringstead. The next day he tried to make a quick profit by selling them at auction but they did not make the price he wanted so he had to buy them in. He had a chat at the Swan Inn with Mr Holmes a coal dealer from Denford and agreed to take them there for him to examine:

Plaintiff [Andrew Bull] emptied the pigs out of his cart into the defendant’s stye. Defendant [Mr. Holmes] then examined the pigs and found a good deal of fault with them. I said, “Look here, Mr. Holmes, if the pigs are no good to you you don’t have to have them.” He said, “I will give you 16s. each” and I let him have them.

After some haggling the sale was agreed. This was on the Tuesday and on the Friday Holmes asked Andrew to look at the pigs for two of them were dead. It transpired that they had tuberculosis. The judge decided that there was no evidence to show that Andrew had known of their diseased state and ordered Holmes to pay for the pigs, with the usual costs because he ‘must consider that the defendant did make this purchase with his eyes open’.

By 1881, at 54, Andrew is still a baker and only George, the youngest child, is still at home. He is shown as a baker like his father. Ten years later and one son, George, has moved out to become a baker elsewhere and the couple’s oldest son, Ralph, a butcher, has returned home. There is also an eleven-year-old granddaughter called Elsie Marsh who is staying with them. Mary Ann died a year after the 1891 Census and Andrew, another year later, in spring 1893, re-married. His new bride was Sarah Horn, Ringstead born, but the widow of an Irthlingborough beer seller.

In spring 1895 there were high winds in the area and many houses were damaged. The Ringstead correspondent wrote in the Northampton Mercury on the 29th March:

In several cases the houses are practically unroofed. The thatched houses and other buildings, as might be expected, suffered considerably. A bakehouse chimney, belonging to Mr. Andrew Bull was blown down, smashing through the roof into the bedroom. Fortunately, no one happened to be in the room at the time, or the consequences might have been more serious

Andrew’s time was nearly up, however, and he died in 1896 and was buried on 26th June. In his will he left to his second wife:

. . .  my plate, linen china glass books pictures furniture and other household effects with the exception of a chest containing two drawers at the bottom. The said chest I bequeath to my grandson Raymond Bull of Irthlingboro’ Norths.

He appointed John Knight as his sole executor with instructions to sell everything off and divide the money equally between his son George, now a baker in Irthlingborough and his daughter Eliza Mary Marsh of London. Of his two oldest children, Ralph had died in 1892 and Elizabeth who had been a drapers assistant in Newmarket, possibly died a year later.

By this time the industrialisation of food provided competition to the producers and in the High Street. In 1880 there were some 10,000 water and wind corn mills in Britain but by 1899 there were only around 2,000 left. The hard wheats from the New World together with the steam-driven roller mills drove most local mills out of business although the Ringstead windmill and water mills hung on longer than many.

In politics, in the middle of the century, the Corn Laws repeal had split the old Tory Party with the Peelite faction joining the Whigs to form the new Liberal Party, the right wing becoming the new Conservative Party. The 1867 Reform act had given many working men in urban areas the vote and the 1884 Reform Act extended the vote to all men paying an annual rental of £10 or those holding land valued at £10. This meant that many men in Ringstead now had the vote and the Liberal Party had a Labour wing. Women were still excluded but we can see the influence of these changes in the local politics in the backgrounds of the people who later sat on the new Parish Councils, the attitude of some parents to the National School and the rise of industrial action culminating in the Raunds March.

Part of this working class movement was the growth of the Co-operative movement through the latter part of the century and as it came to a conclusion the Co-op made its appearance on the Ringstead High Street.

First we will look at the last of the individual Ringstead bakers before the new century. It seems likely that Joseph Scholes took over the bakery of John Childs. We see him in Kelly’s Directory of 1890 alongside Andrew Bull. We can also note a George Wadsworth, shown as a miller at Ringstead Water Mill showing that local flour was probably still available.

Joseph was born in Stamford in about 1835 and had become a baker at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. He had married, aged 30, to Mary Ann Whyman on February 1866 in Oundle and we see that his first wife had died for he is a widower. His father was Richard Scholes who was also a baker. He is there in the 1871 Census with his second wife. As with most bakers there is a young apprentice living with them. Presumably he was baking for Belvoir Castle and would have been able to produce fine white bread as well as the wholemeal bread for the servants.

By 1881 Joseph has set up as a baker in his own right on the Higham Ferrers High Street. There is just one son, John Joseph, born in about 1873 at Belvoir. It seems that Joseph and family moved to Ringstead to take on John Child’s bakery after his death. We know this because of a case in which Joseph was involved with, although it is a little confusing. It seems that after Higham he moved to Irthlingborough for a short period for he was there when he took on a workhouse apprentice from Bedford Union, called William Askew.

As part of the democratic political movement, which we have briefly mentioned, acts were passed by Parliament to improve the legal position of working men. In 1875 the Employers and Workmen Act put employers on an equal footing with their staff in a legal contract. Previous to this act only the workman, if he broke a contract, was subject to the criminal law and could be imprisoned or fined. This act made it that both employer and workman were only subject to the penalties of the civil law in such a case.

In The Register of Visits to Boys and Girls sent out as apprentices or servants from the Bedford Union Workhouse it reports that:

ASKEW, William, 13. 10 Dec 1884, Joseph SCHOLES, baker of Irthlingboro’ bound 31 Jan 1885,     term 5 years – in consequence of a complaint having been made by a gent. at Irthlingboro’ that the boy was ill treated I went to see the lad who said he had no complaint but the case is a suspicious one. On 5th July 1886 Mr SCHOLES applied to have the Indrs. [Indentures] cancelled. On 28th August SCHOLES brought the boy before the Bd [Board] and said that he had no use for him in consequence of the impediment in his speech. The Bd told SCHOLES that he must keep him but they would endeavour to find him another situation. In consequence of information received I visited the lad and made enquiries at several places and found that without doubt the lad had been constantly ill treated. Steps were taken before the Magistrates at Thrapston and the Indrs, were cancelled and his master fined heavily. Askew returned to the House 29 Oct 1886.

Neither here nor in the court case report do we learn what this constant ill treatment amounted to but presumably it included beatings and physical force. It certainly does not shed a good light on Joseph Scholes, even accepting that William Askew was probably a difficult youngster, and his next employer, a blacksmith in Yielden, also had problems with him.

The report on the case at the Thrapston Petty Sessions on Tuesday November 23rd 1886 states that Joseph is a baker at Ringstead so it is probably some time in 1885 or 1886 that Joseph moved to Ringstead. He is still there in 1891 and 1901 at 2 High Street, next to the Post Office. At 6 High Street is his son John Joseph, at 28 a journeyman baker, almost certainly working for his father, with his wife Martha and their two young daughters, Kathleen (4) and Rita (2). In spite of the numbering it seems most likely that this is 47/49 High Street and he took over the bakery from John Childs. Joseph died in early 1905 and John Joseph took over the family business. The 1911 Census shows us that of the three children that the couple had, only Kathleen aged 14, is still alive and she and her mother are shown as assistant bakers.

In the Ringstead cemetery is a large marble grave with the inscription:

In loving memory of our dear father John Joseph Scholes who passed away July 23rd 1945, aged 72 years. And Martha Jane Scholes who passed away March 9th 1946.

It seems that by the end of the century there were two bakers for the village but perhaps it was not as simple as that. In September 1895 the Board of Guardians of Thrapston Union Workhouse accepted a series of food tenders. Among them was one for:

                Mr. Betts, Ringstead, bread 3¼d., flour 10d. per stone;

So there was a Betts in the bread trade at the end of the century as well as at the beginning but, as yet, I have not found how he fitted in. It is possible that he was a wholesaler rather than a baker himself.

The 1901 Census alerts us to another baker for at number 25 lived Robert Woodruff aged 57 from Riseley in Bedfordshire and his wife Sarah, also 57 and born in Raunds. He is shown as, ‘baker Co-op manager’ Round the corner at 2 Chapel Road lived 19-year-old Lillian Mary Abbott whose occupation is given as a shop assistant in the Co-op stores.

The Co-operative movement probably started in Scotland in the eighteenth century but it was the Rochdale Pioneers who were the first successful example of working people getting together to set up a jointly owned shop . From the start it was also a political movement but its main aim was to provide unadulterated food at reasonable prices. We see this at a meeting of the Kettering District Cooperative Association at Desborough in October 1884:

Mr. Scotton, who was enthusiastically received, gave an instructive speech on how working men, by taking affairs into their own hands, might provide for themselves, and the good co-operation has done for the whole of the working classes throughout the whole country.

The Desborough Co-operative Stores had started in 1864 so it is perhaps surprising that Ringstead did not form its own Co-operative Stores, which included a bakery, until 1894.

 

Ringstead High Street in 1920s. Girl is leaning against Co-op window (now Londis)

1920s postcard. Author's own copy

The first manager, as we have seen, was Robert Woodruff, who had been born in about 1842 in Riseley in Bedfordshire. By 1871 he was a baker, living with his widowed mother in High Street, Raunds. He married Elizabeth Ann Green in 1877 but she died just two years later and in 1881 he is still a baker, staying with his mother-in-law, Ann Green who was a sixty-eight year old widow living in Rotton Row , Raunds.

He married again to Sarah Pentelow (nee Brown), the widow of a wealthy Raunds farmer, John Pentelow, who had had 300 acres and employed ten men and two boys. 1891 finds the couple in High Street, Raunds. Robert is 49 and Sarah is 48 years old and, living with them are Sarah’s four children, aged 9 to 15 from her first marriage.

One would have thought that Robert was well set up with a bakehouse and presumably married to a rich widow. If this was the case, something changed for by 1901 the couple, with Helen, their eldest daughter, 25 and unmarried, are living at 25 High Street, Ringstead and he is the Co-op manager. Just over a year later Robert died and by 1911 Sarah is living with her 59 year old unmarried brother, a farmer in Walgrave. Also living there are her unmarried sister and widowed brother, all in their sixties.

As an aside, Robert was probably the ‘Mr. Woodroffe’ that Mr David Ramsay, M.B. M.R.C.S., the doctor from Raunds was attending on December 7th 1901. After visiting Robert the doctor called on another patient and while there was consulted by someone with an abscess in his foot. The doctor operated but in the process the knife slipped and the point went in the, ‘principal joint of the forefinger, causing a slight but deep wound’. At the time he did little about it but when he returned home he bled and disinfected the wound, but it was too late. He was almost immediately in pain and despite the attentions of various local doctors and constant nursing he died on Monday 6th January 1902. We tend to forget how the discovery of antibiotics has changed our attitude to many infections.

In 1901 a John Kingsmith had ordered some plans from Wellingborough architects, Talbot, Brown and Fisher, to improve a bakehouse in Ringstead. John Kingsmith (originally King Smith) was from Raunds where he had grown up with his widowed mother Keziah Smith and his siblings. In 1861, aged 19 he was a rough stuff cutter and his older brother Owen was a clicker. His mother had been an Infant School Teacher but by this time was only a ‘Housekeeper’. Lodging with them is Cornelius Steven aged 52, a shoe manufacturer born in Louth. Was he part of the reason for their rise to be manufacturers also?  It seems unlikely for he married on the Isle of Wight in 1865 and the next two Censuses show him as a Schoolmaster living with his wife in Peterborough. Whatever the reason, by 1901 John Kingsmith, as he was now, was a Government Contractor, living with his second wife Mary Ellen. He had given generously to Raunds Parish Church and had also been a trustee of the Raunds Methodist Church. He had also been one of the employers who had agreed to pay the statement prices for piece work and as a result his workers continued to work during the Raunds Strike in 1905. He also gave £5 for the relief fund and promised to pay in ten shillings a week for the duration of the strike.

Why was he getting plans drawn up for a bakehouse in Ringstead? Was he the landlord or was he possibly doing it as part of his good works for the Ringstead Co-operative Society. We must remember that this was still a self funded group: Part of a big movement but not part of a large organisation. We may discover the real truth later. The plans show the building as it is and suggests two possible ways of increasing the size of the bakehouse. It does therefore give us some idea of what a bakehouse would have looked like for the latter part of the nineteenth century

  

 

 

Drawings of Bakehouse before alterations

Talbot, Brown and Fisher October 29th 1901 (NRO. TBF 221)

With permission of Northampton Record Office

 The century had seen bread move from being the main sustainer of life for many working, and pauper families, to being a part of their diet, if still an important part.

We are now into living memory and there are still a few people who recall the two bakers’ shops and the Sunday ritual of taking the Sunday joint to one or other of them to have it roasted in the bread oven. Stan Attley, who was born in 1918 was recorded by the Anchors Away Youth Group in 1998, telling of his childhood:

All food was cooked over an open fire – fried or boiled. The Sunday dinner was taken round to the bake house to be cooked, also cakes and pies etc.: and it cost 2d. There were two bake houses in the village.

References

Censuses 1841 – 1911

Ringstead Parish Registers (Northampton Record Office).

Northampton Mercury

Bedford Union Register of Apprentices 1838 – 1913 & Paupers’ Service Book 1851 – 1880. (Transcribed and published by The Eureka Partnership 2010)

Baking and Bakeries. H.G. Muller (Shire Publications 1986)

Bread in English History (The Millers Mutual Association 1920)

Cottage Economy. William Cobbett (1st pub. 1822: Peter Davies 1926)

Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson (OUP World Classics 1954)

A Pound of Fine Flower. Recipes from a Lincolnshire Village Bakery of the 1830s. Teresa Crompton. (Castle Yard Books 1997)

Work and Workers. Arthur O. Cooke. [Shown to Children Series: T.C & E.C. Jack Ltd. c.1920s]

Remembering the Past. (Evening Telegraph publication 1986).

Alterations to Bakehouse. Talbot, Brown and Fisher Octo

Wednesday
Feb082017

Do you know this CHILDS woman?

Does anyone know who this woman is? I was sent this photograph some time ago (I will acknowledge source when I can find original e-mail). The sender's family was descended from the Dearloves I believe but this serene lady was a Childs. Can anyone fill in some details? Please contact me at david@warboys.com.

Sunday
Feb012015

The Childs Family

This is a quick first attempt using my original research of many years ago plus recent internet research. Please do let me know of any additions, corrections or photographs. david@warboys.com. As usual the move from Word to the website has made a mess of some of the formatting so I have removed charts - I hope still understandable.

The Childs Family

Summary

Like the Balls, there are two distinct tribes of the Childs (or sometimes Chiles) family in Ringstead. Both came from the neighbouring counties of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire (and tend to drift back there) but we have enough evidence to see how they arrived. It is possible that they are linked further back in their ancestry and we do know that the two families link again, which sometimes confuses the evidence. One side are my direct ancestors but by looking at both sides we can see better how the people in the Censuses relate to each other.

One Childs family links back to Thomas Childs who was born, on 2nd July 1790, in Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire. His parents were Thomas Childs and Elizabeth {daughter of Thomas Swanson and his wife Mary (nee Petitt)}. Thomas Childs was a farm labourer and at some point he moved to Ringstead. It may be that this was just after the birth of their first Child Mary Ann (sometimes Marianne) who was born on 1st January 1811, according to the Baptist records, in Ringstead but, according to the Censuses in Keysoe which is some 7 miles north-east of Milton Ernest. (Ringstead is some 12 miles due north of Milton Ernest.)

Fortunately for the genealogist the family became members of the Ringstead Particular Baptist Church (although some of the children became Methodists) at a time when there is a Register of Births for the Use of Congregations of Protestant Dissenters listing the children’s births and their parentage.

One of the children of Thomas and Martha was Elizabeth, born on 7th August 1812 in Ringstead. On 13th June1837 she married John Childs who was the son of James and Susannah who were Church of England. James had been born in about 1790, the son of John and Elizabeth (nee Page) in Southoe and had moved to Ringstead and married Susannah Whiteman on June 23rd 1814 in the parish church. Their son John had been christened on March 26th of the following year.

James and Susannah had two daughters called Elizabeth but both died in childhood and their son, John married another Elizabeth who was the daughter of Thomas and Martha. [James and Susannah also had a daughter called Ann, sister of John, and she married Thomas Ball.] The marriage of two people from different Childs families does mean that we have to be careful when looking at Childs nephews and nieces to see which spouse is the direct blood relative.

Describing the siblings does sometimes make my direct line more difficult to follow but it does also help to understand the history and family context of my ancestors.

We will start with James and Susannah Childs and their family.

 

 

 

The Childs Family Descended from James and Susannah

 

JAMES CHILDS (Abt1790 - 1868)

JAMES CHILDS (CHILES)

Abt1790  - 1868

SUSANNAH WHITEMAN

Abt1790 - 1856

John

Abt1814 - 1888

Elizabeth

1816 - 1817

Elizabeth

1819 – 1827

Samuel

1821 - 1898

Ann

Abt1824 - 1912

George

 Abt1828 - 1899

William

1831 - 1832

               

 

James Childs was christened the son of John and Elizabeth Childs in Southoe in Huntingdonshire on 3rd October1790. It seems likely that he was the son of John Childs and Elizabeth Page who were married on the 1st July 1776 in Hartford in Huntingdonshire. His siblings, all baptised in Southoe, were probably Francis, baptised 19th September 1779 and buried in Toseland on 9th July 1826, Mary, baptised 1st July 1781, Sarah, baptised 21st June 1783, Elizabeth baptised 15th December 1792 and Samuel 25th December 1796. [Francis is ‘of Upwood’ so may be some doubt.]

James Chiles (Childs), bachelor, married Susannah Whiteman, spinster in Ringstead Parish Church (BOTP) on June 23rd 1814 and we see the baptisms there of their children over the next 16 years. Susannah was a local girl, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth, who was christened in the parish church on April 4th 1790

John, the eldest child was baptised on March 26th 1815; Elizabeth on December 25th 1816 (and buried on 1st October 1817 aged one year); Elizabeth on November 7th 1819 (and buried 22nd June 1827 aged 8: it says of John and Sarah but I think this is just a clerical error); Samuel baptised May 4th 1821 and again I think with his siblings on September 14th 1828 aged 7; Ann aged 4 and George also baptised September14th 1828; William on October 31st 1831 (and buried 3rd February 1832 aged 4 months).

By 1841 James is 50 and an agricultural labourer with children Samuel (20) a shoemaker and Ann (15). There is also a John Yeats (30) living with them who is an agricultural labourer. Susannah is away in Swineshead with son John and family. (John’s wife Elizabeth has a 6 months old child. There is also a Sarah Childs there who is almost certainly Elizabeth’s youngest sister).

By 1851, James and Susan (nah), both 61, are in Ringstead with granddaughter Elizabeth (child of daughter Ann and husband Thomas Ball).

Susannah was buried in Ringstead churchyard on January 11th 1856 aged 67 and by 1861 James, aged 71, is staying with daughter Ann and husband Thomas Ball and their family in Ringstead.

James was buried in the churchyard on May 18th 1868 aged 78.

 

JS1John Childs (Abt1815 – 1888)

John Childs (Chiles)

Abt1814 - 1888

Elizabeth Childs (Chiles)

20/08/1812

Joseph Abt1838 - ?

Sarah Abt1839 - ?

Martha Abt1841 – 14/11/1855

John Abt1842 - ?

Robert

Abt1844 - ?

Samuel Abt1846 - ?

Clara Abt1847 - ?

Elizabeth Abt1850 - ?

Martha Abt1857 - ?

                   

 

John Chiles (Childs), son of James and Susannah, was born in Ringstead in about 1814 and baptised in the parish church on 26th March of that year. He married Elizabeth Chiles (Childs), daughter of Thomas and Martha on 12th June 1837 in the church. It is this couple who link the two Childs families together. Soon after the marriage the couple moved to Upper Dean and then on to Swineshead, some 2 miles further on, in Huntingdonshire (transferred later to Bedfordshire). The area is midway between Ringstead and Milton Ernest.

I have not yet confirmed the baptisms of the children but it appears that Joseph was the first child, born in Upper Dean in 1838 and Sarah (Abt1839), Martha (Abt1841), John (Abt1842), Robert (Abt1844), Samuel (Abt1846), Clara (Abt1847), and Elizabeth (Abt1850) were all born in Swineshead. Martha died in Ringstead on November 14th 1855 aged 15 and another Martha was born there in about 1857.

In the 1841 Census John and Elizabeth (both25) are in Swineshead with children Joseph (3), Sarah (2) and Martha (6 months). John is a shoemaker. Also staying with them are John’s younger brother George (12), and his mother Susannah Childs (5) - and Sarah Childs (14) who I have not placed.

In the 1851 Census the family are still in Swineshead.  John and Elizabeth are both 38. She was also born in Ringstead and is a shoe binder. John’s occupation is more difficult to make out but seems to be, “Shoe maker Glove maker employing 2 men”, but the middle of this phrase could be grocer or grazer. There are seven children: the two oldest, Sarah A. (11) and Martha (10) are lace makers and the younger children; John (9), Robert (7), Samuel (6), Clara (4), and Elizabeth (4 months) are all at home. There are also the two 16 year old shoemakers that John employs, lodging with them.

By 1861 John (46) is a baker, living back in Ringstead. From the death of their daughter Martha in 1855 it would seem that they had moved back by this date. Elizabeth is 47 and the children Robert (17), Samuel (15), Clara (14), Elizabeth (11) and Martha (4) are still at home. Robert is a shoemaker but Samuel is an assistant baker, helping his father.

In the 1862 edition of Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory there are three bakers in Ringstead. Alongside Thomas Haines there are John Childs and Andrew Bull. Andrew had not appeared in the Melville and Co. Directory of the previous year. They were both to remain village bakers for many years.

 

The Childs house and bakery was one house from the Chapel Road turning in the Census so we can be sure that it is what are now two houses, 47 and 49 High Street. It seems that the bakehouse was in number 47 and the house and, possibly, the shop in number 49.

1871 finds the family still at the bakery but only daughters, Elizabeth, a dressmaker and Martha a “baker’s daughter” are now at home. Did a “baker’s daughter” help in the shop or the bakery?

At about the time of the Census collection in 1871, John is involved in a court case to recover 12s. from a porter called Cadman, employed by the London and North-Western Railway Company at Thrapston. The debt had actually been to his son who we learn had since emigrated. In fact Cadman’s wife, who was a witness, was too ill to attend so the case was adjourned.

The years roll by and the 1881 Census has John (65) and Elizabeth (67) with the only family living with them being Elizabeth’s widowed sister, Mary Ann (68). John does have some help, however, because lodging with them there is a sixteen-year-old assistant baker from Raunds.

Two bakers might seem enough for a small village but it appears that there were sometimes three or more competing for trade. Perhaps as the village bakers got older others saw a chance to increase their own trade. Henry Peach was a baker in Denford and we know that at this time that he too was delivering bread in the village. On 15th May 1882 he and his “boy” were on their round, in the village, unaware that Inspector Alexander was watching them. There had been “complaints”. Perhaps one of the village bakers was annoyed by Henry Peach coming into his patch. The Inspector:

Went to Mr. Bradshaw’s, publican [I am not sure which public house this was] and found he had left two loaves there, a “cottage” and a loaf baked in a tin. Witness weighed the bread, and found 4 ozs. Short in the two loaves, - Mr. Peach acknowledged the offence, and said he was very sorry it had occurred but he was under the impression that the loaves came within the denomination of “fancy bread” and did not require weighing. – The same defendant was also charged with selling five other loaves other than by weight on the same date and in the same parish. – Inspector Alexander deposed that these were delivered at the house of Joseph Fox. There was a deficiency of 6 ozs. In the five loaves. – Mr. Peach was then charged with delivering bread from his cart and not being provided with scales to weigh the same, at Ringstead, on the same day. – Defendant acknowledged the offence and pleaded in extenuation that the lad had accidentally left the scales at home. He was very sorry for what had occurred, and would take care it did not happen again. 

Henry Peach was fined for not selling “by weight”. The fact that Henry Peach might consider the loaves “fancy” may indicate that the standard loaf was a “batch loaf” which was not baked in a tin.

Unfortunately for John Childs, at the same court session, he was charged with having an “unjust flour scale” just two days after Henry Peach was caught. The report states:

It appeared that the scale was about one ounce against the purchaser. There was dough on it, and after cleaning the scale the deficiency was reduced. – Inspector Noble said the defendant was a most respectable man, and had never before been summoned on a similar charge. – The Bench considered that it to be rather the result of carelessness than with a fraudulent intent; they therefore imposed the mitigated fine of 5s. and 14s 6d. expenses. - On Superintendant Noble’s application the scales were (after adjustment) ordered to be given up to the defendant. 

We do see that John Childs was a well-regarded man but perhaps age was catching up on him. We do not have a description of John. Was he like Grandfather Iden, who Richard Jefferies describes in Amaryllis at the Fair, which was published in 1887?

He wore a grey suit, as a true miller and baker should, and had worn the same cut and colour for years and years. In the shop too, he always had a grey suit on, perhaps its original hue was white, but it got to appear grey upon him; a large grey chimney-pot, many sizes too big for his head apparently, for it looked as if forever about to descend and put out his face like an extinguisher. Though his boots were so carefully polished, they quickly took a grey tint from the flour dust as he pottered about the bins in the morning.

John died, aged seventy-two, and was buried in the churchyard on October 20th 1888. It seems likely that the house and business was sold and by 1891 his widow, Elizabeth, aged 74 and her sister, Mary Ann Abbott, were living together in Carlow Street. I have not yet found her death.

JS2 Elizabeth Childs (1815 – 1816)

JS3 Elizabeth Childs (1819 – 1827)

JS4 Samuel Childs Abt1821 – 1898)

Samuel Childs

Abt1821 - 1898

Jane Whiteman

Abt1821 - 1902

George

Abt1849 - ?

Elizabeth

Abt1852 - ?

Sarah Eunice

Abt1860 - ?

(Catherine) Bertha

1864 - ?

       

 

The second son, Samuel, appears to have been baptised twice, once on the 4th May 1821 and again with his sisters on 14th September 1828, both in Ringstead Parish Church. In the 1841 Census he is 20 and a shoemaker still at home with his father (his mother Susannah is away helping his brother John‘s family with his baby). On April – June 1846 he married Jane Whiteman. Jane was from Leighton Bromswold in Huntingdonshire.

Soon after their marriage they moved to Yelden in Bedfordshire, some 6 miles south of Ringstead. The 1851 Census for Yelden shows Samuel as a shoemaker and Jane as a shoemaker’s wife (does this mean she helped with closing the shoes?). There is also George who is two years old and born in Yelden, a young apprentice, George Wiggins form Clapham in Bedfordshire and Thomas Whiteman, a carpenter, who is a 39-year-old widower from Leighton and probably is Jane’s brother.

By 1861 Samuel and his family had moved nearer home to Woodford and he was now a grocer. Besides George (13) and Elizabeth (9) both born in Yelden there is Sarah (1) who was born in Woodford. By 1871 we see that the family are in the New Town area of Woodford. This was the area built to house the newcomers who had come to work in the quarries and furnaces and it was presumably these workers that 29 Newtown, Samuel’s shop, served, (although it is possible that he lived away from the shop).Both are 5o and only Sarah (10) and Bertha (6) are still at home.  It may be the family had changed their religious allegiances because Catherine Bertha Childs, daughter of Samuel and Jane was born on 26th April 1864 and christened on23rd October of the same year in Woodford on the Higham Ferrers Methodist Circuit.

By 1881 they are still in Woodford in Upper Green and now the Census makes clear that they are living in a ‘Grocer’s shop’, Now only Sarah (21) is with her parents and perhaps the two women help in the shop. By 1891 Samuel is 70 and Jane 71 but he is still a grocer. Sarah has not married and is 31. There is also a granddaughter, Jessie Fowler, 5, with them.

Samuel died on 14th January 1898 and left to Jane, his widow, and Sarah Eunice Childs, his unmarried daughter, personal effects to the value  of £374 17s. 1d. He was 77. Jane was still a grocer aged 79 in the High Street in the 1901 Woodford Census. She died in Oct-Dec 1902 aged 81 The 1911 Census shows that her daughter Sarah, aged 51 carried on the business of grocer and general dealer but in Great Addington.

 

JS5 ANN CHILDS (Abt1823 - 1902)

ANN CHILDS

Abt1823 – 4/05/1912 (Thrapston Workhouse)

THOMAS BALL

1818 - 1891

 

(Sarah) Elizabeth

Abt1844 –?

 

 

Possibly did not marry

 

CHECK

Hannah

Abt1846 – 1928

 

 

Married Gabriel Bates

 

03/07/1863

Esther

Abt1848– 1930

 

 

Married Charles Ferrey

02/07/1876

Rachel

Abt1850 – 1933

 

 

Married Henry Sykes

 

13/11/1873

John

Abt1852 –

21/09/1886

 

 

Married Susannah Phillips

14/09/1874

Annie

Abt1854 –?

 

 

Married William Smith  14/09/1874

Susan

Abt1858 – 1941 Brixworth TBC

Married

Lot Major

Oct-Dec 1878

               

 

It is Ann who links the Childs to the Ball family tree.

Ann was born in about 1823 and was baptised (with brothers George and Samuel) in Ringstead Parish Church on September 14th 1828 aged four years old.

In the 1841 Ringstead Census Ann, aged 15 is with her father James, an agricultural labourer and brother Samuel (20), a shoemaker. Her mother Susannah is with her son John‘s young family, possibly helping his wife with a young child.

On 2nd December 1844 she was married to local man, Thomas Ball in the local church and had six daughters and one son in quick succession. The first daughter, Sarah Elizabeth was born in about 1844 but was not christened until May 10th 1846 along with her new sister Anna (Hannah). Alongside the entry for Sarah Elizabeth it appears to say n. (born) 1840 but I think this is just a mistake for 1844. It may be that Sarah preceded or came shortly after the marriage. Two further daughters followed; Esther was christened on August 12th 1848 and Rachel on September 27th 1850 (soon after her birth we know from the 1851 Census).

By 1851 Ann was 27 years old and Thomas 32 and three daughters are with them; Hannah (4), Esther (2) and Rachel (7 months). The oldest child, Sarah Elizabeth, is with her grandparents James and Susannah Childs. Less than two years after the Census their first and only son John was christened. There is something of a gap in the christenings but then Annie aged 8 and Susan aged 5 are christened on November 8th 1863.

We learn at the time of Thomas’s death that he had led the Ringstead bellringers for “upwards of 50 years” so we would expect him to be diligent in his “religious duties”. We also know, however, that the church had fallen into a bad state of disrepair and for a time service were only held in the Denford Church (in 1860 there were only 2 christenings in Ringstead). We also know that Percival Sandilands took over from his uncle in 1863 and completed the renovations. A number of scenarios for the tardy christenings could arise from these facts but we can only guess at the reasons.

Returning to the 1861 Census Ann (36) was with Thomas, still an agricultural labourer, and their six daughters and one son. Sarah, 16, is a lacemaker but the other daughters are all scholars.  Poor John, however, at nine years old, was described as a labourer. Also living with them now is Ann’s father, James Childs, aged 71 and also shown as an agricultural labourer. It was a hard, long, working life for those who survived it.

It appears that there were no further children and by 1871 Ann (48) and Thomas (53) were living in Carlow Street with three of their children. Esther (22) and Ann (15) do shoe work (probably closing at home) but John (18) is an agricultural labourer like his father. Also living with them are two grandchildren Ellen (3) and Sarah E, (7months). We know that from later Censuses that Sarah E. was the illegitimate daughter of Esther and it may be that Ellen was also. It seems likely that Esther had two further illegitimate children, George and William, before her marriage to Charles Ferrey.

By 1881 Ann (57) and Thomas (62) are in Church Street with Ellen (13) wrongly described as her daughter, living with them. Also in the house are her daughter Susan and husband Lot Major with their child, Polly (8 months).  Finally, there is a grandson, Richard Smith (4) son of Annie and her husband William Smith.

Thomas Ball died aged 73 just before the next Census and his coffin was born to the grave by his fellow bellringers. The 1891 Census finds Ann in Shop Street aged 66 with grandchildren Ellen (23) a shoe stitcher, her children Eliza (3) and John (1) and lodger William Hackney (25) a bricklayer from Great Addington. Ellen married William Hackney later the same year. By 1901 Anne (aged 76, is living with the Hackneys at No 3 the Terrace in Ringstead.

By 1911 Anne Ball is 86 and living in Thrapston Union Workhouse which, like most had developed into a sort of maternity hospital (especially for the unmarried women) and old people’s home. She died there on the 4th May 1912.

 

JS6 George Childs (Abt1828 - 1899)

George Childs

Abt1828 - 1899

Mary Manning

Abt1827 - ?

Clara

Abt1855 - ?

Elizabeth

Abt1858 - ?

Georgina

Abt1860 - ?

Martha

Abt1862 - ?

Henry

Abt1864 - ?

James

Abt1870 - ?

           

 

George was baptised with Samuel and Ann in Ringstead parish Church on 14th September 1828 and was the real baby at the ceremony. By 1841, aged 12, he was with his John at Swineshead, perhaps helping his shoemaker brother. Also with the family was their mother, Susannah, helping, perhaps with John’ wife Elizabeth’s 6 months old baby.

In October – December 1850 in the Wellingborough District, (probably Irthlingborough where his wife was born and was a 14 year old servant in 1841), George married Mary Manning. The 1851 Census finds them living in Irthlingborough: George (23) is a shoemaker and Mary (24) a lacemaker. By about 1855 at the latest they had moved to Yelden in Bedfordshire, almost certainly following George’s brother Samuel, and perhaps taking over from them when Samuel moved to Woodford. We find George and Mary there in the 1861 Census with girls Elizabeth (5) and Clara (3) and son George H. (1). George is a shoemaker and Mary is now a shoe binder. There are also a young 15-year-old apprentice shoemaker and a 37-year-old shoemaker living with them.

By 1871 the family are still in Yelden and George is a 44-year-old shoemaker. Mary now 45 is not shown with paid occupation but there are six children: Clara 16 a lacemaker, Elizabeth 13, Georgina 11, Martha 9, Harry 7, and James 1, all born in Yelden. If we compare it with the 1861 Census it seems that was some confusion in the first Census. The ages of Clara and Elizabeth were transposed and George H. (male) has become Georgina (female)

By 1881 George 52 is a shoemaker but Mary, perhaps released from much of her child rearing duties is now a lacemaker again. All the girls have left and son Henry (17) is a shoe riveter and James (11) still at school. Ten years later George (62) is a shoemaker and Mary 64 has no occupation shown. It may be that the lacemaking cottage industry was now largely gone. James (21) also a shoemaker, is the only child still at home.

George died aged 70 in July – Sep 1899 in the Thrapston District.

 

JS7 William (1831 – 1832)

William was baptised in Ringstead parish Church on October 7th 1831 and buried there, aged 4 months, on February 3rd 1832.

 

 

The Other Childs Family Descending from Thomas and Martha

 

Thomas Childs (Abt1790 – 1869)

Martha Cunnington tbc (1)

 

Thomas Childs

Abt1790 - 1869

Jane Beal(e) (2)

 

Mary Ann 1811 - 1892

Elizabeth 1812 - ?

Catharine 1817 - ?

Robert 1819 - ?

Lydia     1822 - ?

Peacy   1826 - ?

Sarah     1829 - ?

All have births were registered by Ringstead Particular Baptist Church as in Ringstead but Mary Ann may have been born in Keysoe

                 

 

There are a number of Ancestry trees which give an earlier marriage for Thomas, aged 14, to Ann Elizabeth Prentice in Oakley, other children born in Oakley but I have not yet researched enough to include them and my feeling is that the earlier marriage is incorrect

Thomas Childs was christened on 14th July 1790 in Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (nee Swanson) Childs. He married a Martha Cunnington on 18th November 1810. Cunnington is a common name in the Keysoe area. A Martha Cunnington, daughter of Peter and Katherine was baptised in Keysoe on 11th June 1791 but someone of that name was also married there, to William Elderken on 22nd September 1803. More research needed). Keysoe

All the children’s exact births were recorded by the Ringstead Particular Church which shows their names and dates of birth. The oldest child, Mary Ann, was registered as being born in Ringstead on 1st January 1811 but in the later Censuses she is stated to have been born in Keysoe (some seven miles north-east of Milton Ernest). This would seem to indicate that Thomas and Martha lived in Keysoe and then moved to Ringstead soon after the birth of Mary Ann in 1811.

The other children recorded to have been born in Ringstead were Elizabeth (20th August 1812), Catharine (24th July 1817), Robert (29th July 1819), Lydia (30th May 1822), Pearcy – there are many variations - (20th February 1826) and Sarah (12th November 1829).

We do know that Martha died but again, perhaps because she was a Baptist, I have not yet found the record except a possible Martha Childs in the St Neots District in 1839. Thomas remarried, to Jane Beal (e) nee Tilley, the widow of Benjamin Beale, in Ringstead Parish Church on 11th April 1841.

Soon after, in that late 1841 Census, Thomas (50), an agricultural labourer, and Jane (25) are in Ringstead with Thomas’s daughter, Pearsey Childs (15) and Jane’s daughter Elizabeth Beal (10).

In 1851, Thomas (61) is in Riseley in Bedfordshire with his eldest child Marianne (Mary Anne) (40) and her husband Joseph Abbott (42). Also there is a nephew Joseph Childs aged 13. This is one of the complicated nephews. I think he is the son of John and Elizabeth (nee Childs) Childs and Mary Ann is the sister of Elizabeth. Jane Childs, aged 38, is still in Ringstead a married lacemaker pauper. Has Thomas deserted her and left her to fend for herself? With her are Elizabeth Beale (19) a seamstress born in Tilbrook in Bedfordshire and two new children, Charlotte (8) and Lucy (5) Childs both born in Ringstead. We know that Jonathan Tilley Childs was baptised by the couple on January 13th 1850 and buried on September 1st of the same year.

It may be just coincidence but at the next Census in 1861 the couple are again apart although both living in Ringstead. Thomas, now 75 and still shown as an agricultural labourer and is shown as head of the house with Lucy (16) and Rebecca Tilley the 51-year-old sister of Jane living with him. It may be. It may be that I am reading too much into this separation because Jane (49) is acting as a monthly nurse for her daughter Elizabeth Warren (nee Beale) and her husband Samuel, a shoemaker. Elizabeth has two children Rachel (2), and Almenlee (in later Censuses Emily) who is just one month old. A monthly nurse was a name given to a woman, often a relative who helped a woman, traditionally for the first month, after giving birth.

Thomas Childs and was buried in Ringstead churchyard on 23rd March 1869 aged 80. In 1871 Jane is living on her own in Shop Street, aged 60, a widow on parish relief. She too died in 1877 and was buried on May 8th 1877 in Ringstead churchyard.

 

The Children of Thomas and Martha Childs

 

TM1 Mary Ann Childs (1811 – 1892 tbc)

Mary Childs

1811 – 1892 tbc

Joseph Abbott

Abt1809 – Pre1891

No children found

 

Mary Ann was birth is recorded in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register as in Ringstead on 1st January 1811 but it seems likely that she was actually born in Keysoe in Bedfordshire, some two months after the marriage of her parents.

She married Joseph Abbott on 10th September 1832 in Ringstead Parish Church. Her younger sister Elizabeth was one of the witnesses. I have not found the couple in the 1841 Census but in 1851 they are living in Riseley Street in Riseley in Bedfordshire. Confusingly there are a number of Joseph and Mary Ann Abbotts including on in Great Addington but I think this is the correct couple). Joseph is 42 and a boot and shoe maker born in Ringstead and Marianne (Mary Ann) is 40 and born in Keysoe. Living with them is Joseph Childs, son of Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth, and her father Thomas Childs, aged 61 and born in Milton [Ernest].

We cannot be sure but it seems that the couple did not have any children. By 1861 they had moved back to Ringstead and Joseph was now a shoemaker and grocer. It seems likely that Mary Ann (5) mainly ran the shop which would have helped give them a regular small income when the military boot trade was in recession. Also staying with them is Joseph Collins (49) a journeyman miller.

By 1871, still in Ringstead Joseph (62) is now only a grocer withy Mary Ann a “grocer’s wife”. Staying with them is their sixteen year old nephew Childs Craxton, son of Mary Ann’s sister Pearcy, who is a porter on the Midland Railway

On the 2nd July 1878 Joseph died, aged 67, and probate was granted to his wife Mary Ann as sole executrix on the 4th June 1883 (five years later!). The amount of his personal effects was £13 10s. It was not a large amount and in 1881, aged 68, May Ann is staying with her sister Elizabeth and her husband John Childs, one of the local bakers.

By 1891 John Childs has also died and the two widowed sisters are together in Carlow Street. Elizabeth (74) is the head and Maria A. (sic) is 77. Living with them are Rennie Sawford, 13, and Arthur Childs, 12, who are shown as visitors. It seems unlikely that they are looking after the two elderly sisters.

Mary Ann Abbott probably died the following year.

 

TM2 Elizabeth Childs (1812 - ?)

Elizabeth Childs (Chiles)

20/08/1812

John Childs (Chiles)

Abt1814 - 1888

Joseph Abt1838 - ?

Sarah Abt1839 - ?

Martha Abt1841 – 14/11/1855

John Abt1842 - ?

Robert

Abt1844 - ?

Samuel Abt1846 - ?

Clara Abt1847 - ?

Elizabeth Abt1850 - ?

Martha Abt1857 - ?

                   

 

This piece is very similar to that on Elizabeth’s husband, baker, John Childs but that is the fuller account with illustrations

Elizabeth was born on 20th August 1812 in Ringstead cording to the Particular Baptist Register, Elizabeth Chiles (Childs) married John Chiles (Childs), the son of James and Susannah (and no obvious relative) on 12th June 1837 in Ringstead Parish Church (the only church in the village licensed at this time for marriages).

It appears that the couple moved first to Upper Dean where their first son was born in about 1838 and then on to nearby Swineshead where Sarah was born in about 1839 and Martha in the December 1840 – January 1841 period.

The 1841 Census shows them in Swineshead in Huntingdonshire (later transferred to Bedfordshire) with their three children Joseph (3), Sarah (2) and Martha (6 months). Also staying with them are John’s mother Susannah (50) and his brother George probably acting as an assistant to his shoemaker brother.  There is also another Sarah Child (14) who I have yet to place.

Further children followed with sons, John (Abt1842), Robert (Abt1844), Samuel (Abt1846). Then there were two daughters Clara (Abt1847), and Elizabeth (Abt1850). All were all born in Swineshead.

In the 1851 Census the family are still in Swineshead.  John and Elizabeth are both 38 and she is working as a shoe binder. John’s occupation is more difficult to make out but seems to be, “Shoe maker Glove maker employing 2 men”, but the middle of this phrase could be grocer or grazer. There are seven children: the two oldest, Sarah A. (11) and Martha (10) are lace makers and the younger children; John (9), Robert (7), Samuel (6), Clara (4), and Elizabeth (4 months) are all at home. There are also the two 16 year old shoemakers that John employs, lodging with them.

The couple returned to Ringstead for daughter Martha died there on November 14th 1855 aged 15 and another Martha was born in about 1857.

By 1861 John (46) is a baker, living back in Ringstead. Elizabeth is 47 and the children Robert (17), Samuel (15), Clara (14), Elizabeth (11) and Martha (4) are still at home. Robert is a shoemaker but Samuel is an assistant baker, helping his father.

In the 1862 edition of Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory there are three bakers in Ringstead. Alongside Thomas Haines there are John Childs and Andrew Bull. Andrew had not appeared in the Melville and Co. Directory of the previous year. They were both to remain village bakers, at either end of the High Street, for many years.

It may be that Elizabeth fell out with the Baptist Church because on the 4th February 1867 aged 52, along with her sisters Catharine (46) and Piercy (38) they were all baptised as daughters of Thomas and Martha Childs in the Higham Ferrers Circuit of the Methodist Church (the service probably being in the Ringstead Methodist Church).

1871 finds the family still at the bakery but only daughters, Elizabeth, a dressmaker and Martha a “baker’s daughter” are now at home. Does a “baker’s daughter” help in the shop or the bakery?

 The years roll by and 1881 has John (65) and Elizabeth (67) with the only family living with them being Elizabeth’s widowed sister, Mary Ann (68). John does have some help, however, because lodging with them there is a sixteen-year-old assistant baker from Raunds.

John died, aged seventy-two, and was buried in the churchyard on October 20th 1888. It seems likely that the house and business was sold and by 1891 his widow, Elizabeth, aged 74 and her sister, Mary Ann Abbott, were living together in Carlow Street. I have not yet found her death.

 

TM3 Catherine Childs (1817 - ?)

Catherine Childs

1817 – 1904tbc

Thomas Smith

Abt1817 - ?

William 1840 - ?

Walter Abt1842 - ?

Robert Abt1844 - ?

Martha Abt1848 - ?

Isaac Abt1850 - ?

Mary A, Abt1852 - ?

Edmund Abt1854 - ?

Charlotte Ellen Abt1857 - ?

Lydia Abt1859 - ?

                   

 

Catherine (sometimes Catharine) was born on 24th July 1817 in Ringstead. She married Thomas Smith on 14th October 1839, son of William Smith a cooper from Higham Ferrers, in Ringstead Parish Church. She is shown on the marriage certificate as a lacemaker.

The 1841 Census finds them both with rounded ages of 20, with their 11 month old son William. Thomas is a shoemaker. By 1851 they had moved back to Thomas’s home town of Higham Ferrers and both 32 they now have five children: William (10), Walter (9), Robert (7), Martha (3) and Isaac (1).  Robert and Martha are shown as being born in Yelden in Bedfordshire but the older children were born in Ringstead. It seems that they were in Ringstead until about 1843, then moved to Yelden for some 5 years before returning to Ringstead and then in about 1850 moving to Higham. Was Thomas chasing regular work?

Also staying with them is Pearcy Childs (23) Catherine’s younger sister who is a lacemaker and entered as a visitor.

By 1861 Thomas (43) is a leather cutter and the couple have seven children: William (20) and Robert (17) both shoemakers and Martha (15) a shoe closer. Mary A. (8), Edmund (7), Charlotte (4) and Lydia (2) are all scholars (does not mean necessarily at school).  In 1867 Catherine (46) had a Wesleyan Methodist baptism with her sisters Elizabeth and Piercy.

The family stayed in Higham Ferrers and Thomas (52) remained a leather cutter and Catharine (53) is a “leather cutter’s wife”.  Does that mean she helped Thomas (for some wives are not described as having an occupation)? The children still at home are Mary Ann (18), a machinist, Edmund (16) a clicker, Charlotte Ellen (13) a dressmaker and Lydia (12) a scholar. There is also a lodger, Thomas Eagers (?), from Barton Seagrave. Is he a “Rural Messenger”?

By 1881 they are living at 50 High Street (Chapel Yard) in Higham and Thomas Smith (63) is a “Rough Stuff Cutter for Shoes”. I think this would mean he was cutting out the soles etc rather than the uppers. Catherine is 63 and not shown with any paid occupation. Lydia (22), a shoe machinist, is the only child still at home but there is a granddaughter, Emily M. Parker aged 4 and born in Kettering, staying with them.

Thomas Smith died between the two Censuses and the 1891 Census has 74 year old widow Catherine living, still in the High Street, on her own means. Living with her are daughter Lydia (32) and her husband Tom Kent (34) a shoe machinist (?) from Horncastle in Lincolnshire. They have a baby daughter Frances aged 1. By 1901 the table have turned and Catherine, now 83, is living with the Kents at 4 Kimbolton Road in Higham. Tom is a boot and shoe finisher, probably in a factory but Lydia is a closer working at home. They now have two children Frances (11) and Mildred (10).

Catherine Smith possibly died in 1904 with her age given as 83 but this has to be checked.

 

TM4 Robert Childs (1819 – 1902tbc)

Robert Childs

1819 - 1902

Sarah Moss

1819 - 1889

William

Abt1842 - ?

Isaac

Abt1845 - ?

Mary Ann

Abt1847 -

Edward

Abt1850 - ?

Martha

 Abt1855 - ?

Thomas

Abt1860 - ?

           

 

Thomas was born on 29th July 1819 as record in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register [It may be that he became a Methodist like others in his family. A Robert Childs was baptised on 28th June 1837 the son of Thomas and Martha Childs (maiden name Cunnington): the birth date is given as 21st August 1818 not 29th July 1819 but I believe that there are enough similarities for it to be the correct person.

He married Sarah Moss in July – Sept 1840 in the Thrapston District. Sarah had been born on the 10th July 1819 and baptised on 29th September of the same year in the Higham Ferrers Wesleyan Church

1841 finds them both aged 20 (rounded) in Ringstead and staying with them is Sarah’s mother Mary Moss aged 55 and of independent means. Robert is a shoemaker and next door is James Childs (his sister’s Elizabeth’s father-in-law and two of his children. By 1851 Robert (32) is still a shoemaker and Sarah (31) is a dressmaker. They now have four children: William (8), Isaac (5), Mary A. (4), and Edward (4 months). Mother-in-law Mary Moss a 67 year-old widow is now shown as a landed proprietor, born in Titchmarsh.

Robert (42) has become a shoe agent by the 1861 Census and he and Sarah have six children with them: William (18) and Isaac (15) are shoemakers and there are also Mary (14), Edwin (10), Martha (5) and Thomas (1). His father Thomas is living a few doors away. Mary Moss (76) a proprietor of house and perhaps her companion Sophia Sharman (49) living on the “interest of money” are also part of the household.

By 1871 Robert has become a farmer of 35 acres of land as well as a shoe agent. We can surmise that the land came from his mother-in-law. Still living with them are Isaac (25) and Edward (20), both shoemakers and Martha (15) a “domestic” which may mean that she is helping her mother who is a “farmer’s wife”. They are apparently living in Shop (High) Street next door to the New Inn. By 1881 the farm and farming seems to have disappeared and at 61 Robert is a shoe agent once more, Sarah is also 61 and they just have grandson Robert (15) a shoemaker living with them.

Sarah died in July – Sept 1889, aged 70, and in 1891 the widowed Robert is 71 and a general dealer. Living with him is 29 year-old Elizabeth A. James who is acting as his housekeeper. The 1901 Census shows that Robert is living at No. 19 High Street and is an 81 year old widower who is still a dealer in hardware and furniture. Thomas Childs (31) and his wife Elizabeth with their children Mary Elkins (?) Childs (1) and William Moss Childs (3 months) are living with him.

Robert probably died in April – June 1902 in the Thrapston District aged 82.

 

TM5 Lydia Childs (1822 -1898)

Lydia Childs

1822 - 1898

John Wright

Abt1817 - 1891

Elizabeth ?

Abt1820 – Abt1863/4

Lydia had no children as far as can tell

John & Elizabeth had at least 4 children

       

 

Lydia was born on 30th May 1822 as recorded in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register. She seems to have left home early and in 1841 is a 19 and a female servant in Melchbourne in Bedfordshire for Farmer William Islip and his family. Melchbourne is some seven miles south of Ringstead in the area where has been links with the Childs families of Ringstead.

By 1851, aged 28 she is still unmarried and a servant again for William and Martha Alliott. William is an Independent Minister of the Howard Chapel in St Peter’s Street in Bedford. The Alliotts have nine children and there is one other servant. Another Census comes and Lydia is now a housekeeper and his children for stonemason, Joseph Bayes in High Street, Rushden. She is shown as 32 years old but is actually nearer 38.

It would seem fairly certain that Lydia would remain single but there was one scenario which sometimes brought a late marriage.  In the 1861 Census John Wright, a 44-year-old shoemaker and grocer from Newport Pagnell, was living in Allhallows in Bedford with his 41-year-ol wife and four children, ranging in age from 20 to 10 months. There was also a servant working as a nurse and laundress.  It seems that their youngest son Walter died, possibly in 1862 and that Elizabeth also died within the next few years. (There are possibilities but I have not established these deaths).

We do know that in April – June 1865 in the Thrapston District Lydia Childs married John Wright and in the 1871 Census Lydia Wright is 48 and born in Ringstead, a grocer’s wife, with her grocer husband, John Wright at 11 Allhallows Lane in the St Pauls areas of Bedford. Only John’s son, John Edward Wright (20), a bookseller’s assistant is still at home. By 1881 John (63) and Lydia (54), still grocers at the same address are on their own. (Perhaps coincidentally a Joseph Childs, a 29-year-old from Milton Ernest, is living with his family at No. 3 Allhallows Lane.)

 By 1891, John, now 74 has retired and with Lydia (64) has moved to 17 Queen Street in Bedford. I think John died soon after the Census, aged 75, and Lydia died in July – Sept 1898, aged 77, her age correct in death

 

TM6 Piercy Childs (1826 – 1910)

Piercy Childs

1826 - 1910

Thomas (S)Craxton

1831 - 1869

Childs

Abt1854 - ?

Thomas Robert

Abt1859 - ?

Benjamin Abt1861 - 1877

Samuel Cunnington (Charles?)

1864 - ?

Ellen

Abt1868 - ?

Married Harry Blackwell

           

The piece on the gale tragedy is based on the chapter in Ringstead People (some corrections)

PIercy had her name written in almost any way that a scribe might guess at from Peacy to Pearsey. Her birth was registered as Peacy or Pearcy for 29th February 1826 by the Ringstead Particular Church. In 1841, aged 15 she is with her father, Thomas and his new young wife Jane, at 25 younger than some of Pearsey’s (as her name appears) sisters.  Also with them is her stepsister Elizabeth Beal who is ten years old.

By 1851 she is 23 and a lacemaker staying with her sister Catherine and her husband Thomas Smith in Ringstead. The couple have 5 children including a one year-old son, Isaac so perhaps Pearcy is helping her sister.

Two years later in October – December 1853 Piercy Childs married Thomas Scraxton (or sometimes Craxton), some five years her junior, in the Wellingborough District (probably Irthlingborough).  Thomas was the son of Samuel and Susannah and was baptised on 14th August 1831 in Irthlingborough.

They had a son, apparently christened Childs Scraxton in Irthlingborough on 25th December 1854 (a traditional day for christenings and marriages). Another son, Thomas Robert, was christened on 3rd April 1859. I have not found the family in 1861 but some parts of this Census for Irthlingborough are missing but they did have another son, Benjamin christened there on 4th August 1861. [She seems to have become Percy!]

 Samuel Carrington (or Cunnington after her mother, Martha’s, maiden name) was born on 12th June1864 and christened in Ringstead Church on 25th July of the same year. A first daughter, Ellen, followed on 21st May 1868 also in Ringstead so it seems that the couple moved back there sometime between 1861 and 1864.

It may be that she had never been a strong Baptist and on 4th February 1867 along with sisters Elizabeth and Catherine, aged 38, she was had been christened as a Wesleyan Methodist.

Thomas died the following year, and was buried on 21st July 1869 aged just 39. It would have been a very difficult time for Pearcy and at 45 she is on Parish Relief. It wrongly states that she was born in Irthlingborough. She is a widow living in Butchers Lane, off Chapel Lane in Ringstead. Living with her are Robert (13), Benjamin (10), Currington who is a boy aged 6 and Ellen, the only daughter, aged 3. All the children are shown as being born in Ringstead but I think this is incorrect certainly for the older siblings. Everyone, even Robert who is thirteen, is put down as scholars. The 1870 Education Act had just made attendance compulsory at school until the age of twelve years for all children. It may be that Robert was just finishing his time at school or it is also possible that he had not managed to obtain work because of the poor state of farming. Benjamin was just ten years old and presumably attending the National School which had been erected in 1867 at a cost of £860 and was further enlarged in 1874 when it had an average of 100 pupils attending.

Some eight years after the death of Thomas a tragedy hit Ringstead and especially Pearcey’s family. The start of the third quarter of the nineteenth century was marked by extreme weather which caused much hardship and grief across England. Baking hot summers and wet harsh winters meant bad harvests and miserable working conditions, especially for the agricultural labourers.

The winter of 1876-7 was remembered particularly, for the terrible storms that pulsed across the islands that year. The Times had started weather charts (for the previous day) on April 1st 1875 and the one for Tuesday 30th January 1877 showed the strong westerly winds on the Monday veering to ‘squally’ north-west winds which raked across the country. All over England, from Liverpool and Hull to Bath, London and Portsmouth a trail of destruction was reported. Scaffolding collapsed in Lett’s Wharf Lambeth where the City Commissioners of Sewers were erecting buildings for the sorting and storage of the dust and refuse collected in the city of London. One woman was killed and many injured.

These storms, which continued into February, were part of a winter of wind and rain. An observer at Castle Ashby noted for January 1877

Excessive rainfall, which, following the very heavy fall in December 1876 of 5.42 inches produced almost continuous floods in the Nene Valley

It would have been a miserable time for farm labourers, slogging away in the cold wet mud to earn enough to survive the winter and help keep their families from the workhouse. Three of these families concern us in this story and we need to briefly tell a little about them.

At the end of January in 1877, Benjamin and his younger brother Cunnington (Charles in the reports) along with other local boys were working in the fields in that miserable winter of rain and wind. Benjamin Craxton and William Clayton were sixteen and Albert Fensom was just fourteen years old. All had probably been at work for a number of years. They may have enjoyed the outdoor life but must have wished, on a day like this that they were working in the dry with their siblings, many of whom were in the shoe trade. The three of them had managed to get some work with William Dearlove the young farmer who had taken over the farm on the death of his father, Joseph on November 5th 1874. Joseph had been born in Yorkshire of a well known ‘County’ family and had moved from a farm in St Neots to one of 500 acres in Ringstead. He was a widower in 1871 with a family who seemed in no hurry to get married and leave home.  His death at the early age of 60 had left William running the farm although it is more likely that, Mr. Warren, his bailiff, would have been the man the boys would have been hired by. They were working in what would have been part of the old Ringstead Field before the Ringstead Enclosure Act some 38 years earlier. They would have made their way through the dark of the early morning and were probably soaked to the skin before they arrived at the field to work. Below them the Nene valley was flooded and the field would have been wet and muddy and facing into the driving north-westerly winds. There was a large group of men and boys working on the field so what could they have been doing on that January day?

The Handbook of Farm Labour by John C Morton, written in 1861, gives a calendar of operations on a farm. For January it lists:

Drainage operations; carriage of manure to heaps in fields, also of lime and marl, also of grain to market; threshing grain for sale; ploughing, probably the last of the stubbles for root crops; applying clay and marl, carrying lime etc; attendance on cattle and sheep road and fence mending; to-dressing pastures.

The list for the farmworkers, for the early part of February, is not very different, with the addition of ‘gathering stones off the meadows which are to be mown’. Of c course it is possible that the bad weather had delayed operations. The Victoria County History in 1937 records that much of the parish was under grass but the chief crops were wheat, beans, barley, oats, turnips and roots. Looking back at the various Directories there was little change from the nineteenth century. The 1885 Kelly's Directory gives the same list but without the oats. Could they, like the tragic heroine of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d’Urbervilles, have been harvesting turnips and swedes, after the sheep had eaten off the tops?

We can only guess at the work they were doing in Ringstead Field. We do know that on that Tuesday morning the storm began to increase in fury. The Northampton Mercury of the 3rd February later reported:

Tuesday last will long be remembered in this village [Ringstead] as a day of hurricanes, for storms of wind, hail, rain and snow came rapidly one after the other with scarcely any intermission. Trees were uprooted and large branches blown off others along the Ringstead-road, and many pranks played during the height of the various gales. In fact it was with difficulty that people keep on their legs and maintain their equilibrium.

About 9 o’clock on that Tuesday morning of 30th January 1877 the men and boys working in the fields decided to have what the Northampton Mercury called a ‘luncheon break’ although it was an early hour for lunch even for farm workers. It is likely that the force of the wind and rain had made working almost impossible and they hoped that things might improve later. Certainly the Peterborough Advertiser reports that they had ‘taken refuge from the rain.’

They all made for the shelter of the farm buildings and gathered in a small hovel and watched the rain lashing down in the increasing gusts of wind. They had not been there long when ‘the wind blew such a gale as to take the tiles from the roof’. The younger ones decided that it was time to move and five of them, ranging in ages from 12 to 17 years ran into a nearby barn where they hoped that they would be safer. It seems as if it was a substantial structure because the Advertiser describes it as ‘stone built and thatched and stood in an exposed position.’ The Mercury continues the story: 

This barn stood with its frontage to the south-west and with the doors open. No sooner had these boys and young men got into the barn than the storm had attained the terrific force of a hurricane; a few moments more there came a whirlwind of such force as to at once take the roof completely off the barn, and threw it into the farm premises beyond. One of the gable ends immediately fell in and also the side walls burying three of them in the ruins.

High winds and hidden fears often produce high spirits in young men and you can imagine them joking and jumping about as they watched the gale lashing about them. Then in an instant their small world fell in on them. Those still in the hovel saw the barn cave in and they rushed to the scene as the storm still raged.

Two of the boys had managed to escape. One was near the door and got out uninjured. Charles Scraxton, who I think must be Currington, Benjamin’s younger brother, had been injured but also managed to get out of the ruins. Three of the lads, Benjamin Craxton, together with William Clayton and Albert Fensom, were buried under the debris of thatch, beams and masonry. The storm would still have been howling across the valley and one can imagine the group, with the wind catching and driving loose debris about them, as they desperately dragged aside the fallen timbers and masonry to find the boys. Someone was sent to fetch Dr. McIntyre from Raunds while they searched frantically for the three who were buried. The Advertiser tells us that:

The news of the accident speedily spread and a force of men from the adjacent ironstone diggings at once set to work to clear away the rubbish.

Albert Fensom and William Clayton were first pulled out but seemed already dead. Benjamin Scraxton was drawn out, still alive but with a fractured skull.

Dr McIntyre, when he arrives, seems to have gone quietly about his business among the chaos of the storm. He checked the two boys and pronounced them dead from suffocation. The Mercury says that the bodies of the two boys were taken home to their families. Benjamin and Charles were also taken home. Charles was not too badly injured and soon recovered but Benjamin only lingered a few hours, possibly until the Wednesday morning, when he also died of his injuries.

A week later the Northampton Mercury reported on the inquest that had been held the next day, on the three deaths, at the Axe and Compass Inn in Ringstead. A verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was returned. It also reported on the funeral.

On Friday the bodies of William Clayton, aged 16; Benjamin Scraxton, aged 16; and Albert Fensom, aged 14, were interred in the parish graveyard in one wide grave side by side. Amongst the followers were Mr. W. R. Dearlove and his farm bailiff, Mr. Warren; also the Misses E. and M. and A. Dearlove. There was a very large number of people present, estimated at not less than 500, and many were the tears of those who witnessed the last tribute of respect paid to those who had been cut off in the morning of life by that melancholy tragedy. Wreathes of immortelles were placed on each coffin by the Misses Dearlove as the coffins were lowered side by side in their last resting place.

The old bass bell, cast in 1682, would have been tolling out from the church tower, rattling the windows of the school next door. The inscription on the swinging bell read, ' I to the Church the Living Call, I to the Grave do Summon All'. The funeral is not mentioned in the School Log Book but one cannot believe that the children did not, in some way, acknowledge the deaths.

In the national press, the death of the three boys does not appear to have been reported. Perhaps notice of the deaths came too late to be considered ‘news’ among all the terrible loss of life caused by the hurricane across the country. Locally, however, they made a deep impression on the local communities and sermons were preached on the tragedy at Ringstead Parish Church on the following Sunday afternoon and at the Wesleyan Chapel in the evening, on both occasions to packed, weeping congregations. The Reverend Oyston also preached at the Raunds Wesleyan Chapel the following Tuesday.

A Committee was formed for defraying the funeral expenses and £23.11s was raised, any surplus to be distributed among the families. The reports of the funeral and the collection only mention the great and the good. It is the three Misses Dearlove, unmarried daughters of the late Joseph, who place the ‘wreathes of immortelles’ (dried flowers) on the three coffins in what must have been a touching scene. We hear nothing of Pearcy and the other grieving families or even whether they were at the funeral. We hear nothing about the boys who were killed.

A few days after this tragedy a young boy aged 12 called John Ball, from Denford was also killed in the driving wind and rain. After finishing his work at Woodford Lodge he was walking along the London & North Western Railway towards where it crossed under the Midland Railway. He was going to meet his father who worked on the Midland line. In the noise of the wind and rain he did not hear the train coming behind him and was killed instantly.

In the turmoil of the three boys’ deaths, his single death almost went unnoticed, as did the death of Ambrose Fensom, aged 4 months a little over three weeks later. Some deaths seem to affect a community or a nation and stir them into grief whereas others leave the families to grieve alone.

By 1881 Pearcy Scraxton a 53 year old widow is now a lodging house keeper in Bunkers Hill in Higham Ferrers, (her sister Catherine’s family had moved to Higham.  With her are S. Cru Scraxton a clicker aged 16 and Ellen, 13 a shoe closer. Obviously the Census recorder had given up on Samuel Cunnington (or Charles). Also lodging with them is unmarried Alfred Colton a twenty-one-year-old boot finisher from Northampton. By 1891 Pearcy Craxton, aged 60, is living on the New Estate in Higham. Living with her are daughter Ellen (23) and her husband Harry Blackwell, a clicker with their children Percy (5) and Harold (3)

By 1901 Harry and Ellen Blackwell have moved to Wharf Lane in Higham with children Percy (14) and Harold (13). Pearcy Claxton is now 74 and living with them. She probably died, aged 78, in 1910 (age actually nearer 83).

 

Sarah Childs (1829 - ?)

 Like all her older siblings, Sarah’s birth was registered by Ringstead Particular Baptists, in her case, for 12th November 1829. She may be the Sarah Childs (14) staying with her older sister Elizabeth and her husband John Childs in Swineshead.  Also staying there are John’s brother George and his mother Susannah Childs.

 I have not yet found what happened to Sarah next out of the many possible marriages or deaths.