The shoemaker and the clock

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William Norman probably began his married life here, with his wife Emma and her parents. Their daughters married and moved away, but their son John remained in the family home and in due course brought his wife Alice to live Spread Eaglehere too.

John was a master shoemaker (perhaps his father had been the same.) We know he was a master because an apprenticeship indenture survives showing that he took on George Bradshaw in 1770.

Alice died in Enclosure year, having given John eight children, including two little girls who were under five when she died. Rachel, the eldest girl, was 18 by this time and could perhaps take her mother’s place with the younger children to some degree. Did she see it as a threat or a relief when three years later her father married Mary Wilson, a widow with two sons and  daughter of her own?

The house really wasn’t big enough so he seems to have extended it, with the help of a mortgage and also divided it in two (did the step families not get on?)

By the time he wrote his will he was living in one house and Mary James in the other. Who was Mary James? He wrote his will a month after his second wife had long case clock cropdied, leaving him with a four-year-old son.Was Mary acting as a sort of housekeeper?  A year or two before John made his will, a widow called Ann James made hers, by which we know that she had come from Watford. And she had a clock. It must have been a long-case clock, for it stood, rather than hung ‘in the dwelling house of John Norman of West Haddon’. But she didn’t mention any kind of relative named Mary. Did John just get her name wrong?

And then there were three

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In 1750, Abraham Colledge bought a cottage in Station Road for £12.

His youngest son, John, was a bright lad, probably educated by Henry Newton, the village schoolmaster and Parish Clerk. Henry diHenry Newton sig_edited-2ed in April, 1757 and the last time his signature appears in the marriage register, as a witness to the marriage of John Walton to Elizabeth Taylor, in January of that year, John Colledge was the other witness.

This may well have been because John Walton’s sister Elizabeth was engaged to John Colledge – they married in that November, but it could also have been the case that Henry was training John up to take over from him, for John did succeed Henry as Parish Clerk. He also served as Assistant Constable for the making of the 1771 Militia List, so perhaps had a talent for administration.

He and Elizabeth went on to have ten children, only one of whom died in infancy. They lived in John’s parental home to begin with, but perhaps all those babies were a bit much for the older couple, and two cottages were made out of one.

By 1806 there was a ‘newly erected cottage adjoining’, so the £12 cottage became three.Harday's Cott_edited-2

A fair field, full of folk…

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We have grown up in an era of modern farming, where the countryside appears largely empty, with perhaps a single tractor driver away in the distance (or on the road, right in front of us when we’re in a hurry.) But the past was different. The medieval poet who wrote The Vision of Piers Plowman described ‘a fair field full of folk’, because it used to take a lot of people to feed a community.a fair field full of folk

The old open field system, with arable land arranged in strips, evolved from the co-operation it took from all the farmers in a village to break virgin land to the plough. They pooled resources in terms of tools, muscle, oxen to pull the plough (it took eight), so when that piece of land was ready to be sown, it made sense for each contributor to have a share in the crop from it, before moving on to the next piece.

It seems crazy to us, but the system worked. It was an efficient and fair use of resources – everyone got a bit of the nice, sunny, southerly slope, as well as the windy hilltop that took so long to warm up in spring. So it lasted. For centuries. The ridge and furrow it left behind is still visible in places.

Not West Haddon, but this is a good illustration of ridge and furrow remains
Not West Haddon, but this is a good illustration of ridge and furrow remains

In West Haddon, the Vicar’s glebeland amounted to half a yardland (nearly 20 acres). It was described in detail for the Bishop’s Visitation in 1761. Strip by strip, the list gave the name of the furlong on which the strip lay, and the name of the owner of the neighbouring strip.

So there was a rood (that’s about a quarter acre – some strips were double) on Upwards Furlong, David Cox, West…a rood on Hedge Iron, Jonathan Robins, East…a rood on Wheatborough, Thomas Worster, North… a half-acre on Patty Pool, William Gulliver, East…

In all, the Vicar had 20 neighbours to one side of his lands, and another 20 on the other side. There would have been times when they (or their tenants or labourers) will have been working together on the same furlong. A sociable community enterprise, which fostered a sense of mutual interdependence and co-operation and which was threatened by Enclosure.

Most of these old furlong names have been lost now, but there’s still a modern field, off to the right, past the roundabout on the road to Nortmedieval ploughhampton, called Wheatborough, and the name goes back to at least the year 1250. (Which is even older than Piers Plowman).

Tammy is not a hat

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Weavers in West Haddon at the time of the Enclosure were producing a number of different combed wool fabrics, each of which required a loom to be set up in a different way. And once the fabrics were cut from the loom they were finished in different ways too.

Edward Hipwell passed his tammy loom on to a relative, William Earl, in 1761. (It was Edward’s widow, Elizabeth, who shared accommodation with Mary Kirtland in ‘A house divided’.)

Bolting cloth in frame, Fisher millThere were a number of grades of tammy. It was a loosely woven fabric, using a fine, strong worsted yarn and its coarsest quality was used as a bolting cloth in corn mills. It was stretched over a frame and used as a kind of sieve to catch the bran from freshly ground grain, converting wholemeal flour to white.

A rather finer quality was used like bunting in making flags – a lighbuntingt, flexible fabric that would move well in the wind.

The very best quality was pressed between hot metal plates to give it a glazed finish that, if you didn’t look silk dupiontoo closely, might look a little bit like silk. It was in great demand as a dress fabric for those who were unable to afford the real thing.

Tammy was a Coventry speciality. Earlier in the century the Northampton Mercury carried a report of an incident that befell a Northampton tammy weaver as he came home from market with the day’s takings:

June 23 1721. This day, about 7 in the evening, Mr Treslove a Tammy Weaver of this place, coming from Coventry Market, was robb’d between Crick and Haddon by two Foot-pads of £22.13s [22.65].

(A foot-pad was a highwayman without a horse.)foot-pads

A question of beds

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Richard and Nathaniel Parnell were brothers from an old village family. They appeared, along with their father, in the Pro and Con Document. But while their father was listed with the supporters of enclosure, they were both against it – not that their objections seem to have been overly strong.

Richard said he ‘can live upon it as it is, and is not certain it will improve by inclosing’. He had about 30 acres.

Nathaniel said, ‘Underwood had desired him to join in the Opposition and hePro and con 1_edited-1 had promised.’ Nice, dependable chap, Nathaniel. He had a cottage (with common right) and about four acres.

Richard was the elder brother. He had married late in life, at the age of 59, and had no children. Consequently, when he and his wife Elizabeth died, they left their property between their numerous nephews and nieces. Richard died first and left the farm to Nathaniel’s eldest son Thomas and money to everyone else.

A few years later, Elizabeth left some money, but mostly her will itemised personal possessions, including the beds in her house.

Jane Parnell, Nathaniel’s daughter, was left, ‘My best bed and best bed quilt and all the furniture in my best bedchamber’.

Ann Spokes, the daughter of Richard’s sister Rebecca (take notes if it helps) and her husband Thomas Spokes, inherited, ‘ The bed in the lodging room in which I usually sleep and the bedding thereunto, one bed quilt, the chest of drawers and looking glass in the same room.’

Thomas Boyes was bequeathed, ‘My bed in the garret which he usually sleeps in and one pair of sheets.’

Thomas Boyes was the son of William Boyes (the shepherd, remember him?) who had married Jane Parnell, another of Richard’s sisters. Now by the time Elizabeth Parnell was making her will, Thomas Boyes was a grazier with land in West Haddon and enough money to lend £70 on mortgage to William Goodman, a woolcomber, on his house (now 7, Station Road).

7, Station Road, in Jubilee mode in 2012
7, Station Road, in Jubilee mode in 2012

Why would he want a bed in a garret and a pair of sheets? (Not evenbed cords a quilt)?

And why did Elizabeth sleep in the spare room?

(Answers on a postcard, please.)

Cutting a swathe

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Hay was vital for keeping farm animals alive over the winter. Without it there would be no lambs in the spring and no oxen or horses to pull the ploughs for next year’s crops.

So haymaking was an important stage in the farming year and in the open fields it was a community affair. Meadows were divided into strips (called doles) in the same way as arable land. The width of a strip was measured in goads (a goad was about five yards, but like yardlands it was a measurement that varied from place to place.)

Haymaking in an unenclosed meadow in Gloucestershire in the early 18th century. Painting 'Countryside around Dixton Manor' in Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum.
Haymaking in an unenclosed meadow in Gloucestershire in the early 18th century. Painting ‘Countryside around Dixton Manor’ in Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum.

In 1761 the glebe terrier, or list of glebe land held by John Watkin, the Vicar, included:

in the West Field: one dole of goading on Cawle Moor, next the middle stone;

and in the South Field: one dole of goading on South Brook (possibly a meadow on the banks of the brook that marked the boundary between West Haddon and Long Buckby);

a half goad on Patty Pool (?)

and another on Hunger Wells (the slope running down from the right hand side of the road to Northampton), all ‘next the middle stone’.

Neighbours would probably all mow together (to keep an eye on each other so no-one cut over the edge of their dole). One pass of the scythe through the long grass along the length of the dole was called a swathe and ‘cutting a swathe’ has become an expression to signify a decisive clearing of an obstacle.

The mower was only one member of the haymaking team. The cut grass would be raked into rows and once it began to dry in the sun and the wind, it would be fluffed up to get more air into it to speed up the drying, by a team consisting of a man with a long hayfork and up to five women with rakes. Later it would be piled up into haycocks, before being loaded onto waggons for carting to rickyards. If the weather was doubtful, the more hands who could help with the loading, the faster it could be stacked before spoiling in the rain.

It was a time of year when (in blazing sunshine – hopefully) the communscytheity was aware of its interdependence in preparing for the winter to come.

Paid in the church porch.

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John and William Martin were brothers. They were both weavers – the middle of three generations of weavers in West Haddon, from their father in 1707 to William’s son in 1796 (though young William was moving into shop-keeping as the textile trade declined.) They both owned houses (it would be nice to know where!) but no land. There is no evidence of how enclosure affected them, or whether they were involved in the riot.

By the time John came to make his will in 1786 he was not a poor weaver. He had about £600 to bequeath, as well as his house, furniture and silver shoe-buckles.

Rather grander than John Martin, but these are shoe-buckles of the 1780s.
Rather grander than John Martin, but these are shoe-buckles of the 1780s.

He left his wife, among other things, a bed with green hangings – green was evidently a popular colour for bedrooms at this time (compare Mary Kirtland’s bed bequest in 1765).

He had no children. He had a sister, Ann, married to John Haycock the saddler, who had three children, while his brother William had six, including the future wives of John West, who developed the Crown, and Robert Earl, later a village schoolmaster.

All these nephews and nieces were well provided for and he left his wife an annuity for the rest of her life. He also left a weekly allowance to his sister. Did she seem to be struggling? Or was he particularly fond of her?

It would seem that he felt he could trust his wife, Mary, to manage her finances on an annual basis, but Ann’s money was to be paid weekly – it’s tempting to speculate why this might have been.

A whole world of possibilities is conjured up by the clause:

2s 6d per week [12.5p] to my sister Ann Haycock for life, to be paid in the church porch every Saturday morning (or 3 shillings [15p] if greater interest can be got on the principal. Church porch

The church porch was a public place, where village business might be transacted in front of witnesses, where notices might be posted, about, for example, meetings of the Parish Vestry (a forerunner of the Parish Council), or Enclosure Commissioners. And it may also have become a village schoolroom after the loss of the Free School. A chilly one perhaps, but other church porches were used in this way. ‘Master’ Newton was not only village schoolmaster, but also parish clerk.

Where there’s a will…

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…there’s a glimpse into a life. Wills offer clues about family, property and financial arrangements and can also include small details that conjure up the character or attitudes of the individual.

In West Haddon, over the twenty years surrounding the Enclosure year, there were 323 burials – about 16 a year on average. 140 of them were children and 183 adults. Of those, 24 left wills.

So rather more than 10% of the adult population made wills before they died. Most of them were men. The three women in this sample were all widows. A wife had nothing to leave as the law recognised all her property as belonging to her husband, and it was rare for an unmarried woman to leave a will (though Joan Elmes did, at the beginning of the century).

Five of the men described themselves as yeomen – a status rather than an occupation – it signified a property owner. Four were labourers, three were tailors and then there was a shepherd and a fellmonger (a dealer in sheepskins – fell wool was a lower quality than wool that had been sheared from a living sheep, but it still had a market and the skins could be tanned for leather or made into parchment.) Then there was a woolcomber and a weaver, a carpenter, a grazier, and Thomas Clarke, who mentioned no occupation in his will and no other village records have yet thrown any light on what he did for a living.

Nicholas Heygate we have already met as an apothecary, doctor and Turnpike trustee, but by the time he came to write his will he was retired. His sons were mostly set up in promising careers and he probably felt quite comfortable in describing himself as  ‘gentleman’.

The Crown Hotel as it is in 2015 on the left of the picture.
The Crown Hotel as it is in 2015 on the left of the picture.

John West called himself a shoemaker and his house, which we now know as the Crown, was still, at the time of his death, divided into two cottages with another shoemaker, John Lucas, in the other half. But when the parish clerk came to record his burial he put him down as ‘victualler’ or innkeeper, recognising his other occupation.

When William Page senior wrote his will in 1768 he left his farmhouse with the gardens and outbuildings etc to trustees ‘for the comfortable support and maintenance of my brother Edward for life, then to my brother Samuel for life then to my nephew William, eldest son of my brother Samuel, forever.’ Was his brother Edward disabled in some way? He also left bequests to his five sisters and directed his trustees to sell his newly enclosed farm to pay the bequests and also to repay his sister Elizabeth the money he owed her on a mortgage – thus distributing his share of the profits of Enclosure.

Mary Kirtland, on the other hand (whom we have already met, in her divided house) had no land to dispose of, but she left her niece £20, a blue silk quilted petticoat and a satin gown; and her nephew an oak bed with green curtains.bed with green curtains

blue silk quilt

Poor apprentices

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The Free School was not the only institution set up to serve families in West Haddon. During the 17th century the Apprenticeship Fund was set up by Edward Burnham, a gentleman, Jacob Lucas, a shoemaker and Joan Elmes, the unmarried and independent daughter of a woolman, Thomas Elmes, whose table-tomb can still be seen in the churchyard.

The tomb of Thomas Elmes, woolman, 1657.
The tomb of Thomas Elmes, woolman, 1657.

It was the responsibility of the Overseers of the Poor to provide premiums for poor boys (mostly boys, anyway) to be bound as apprentices to learn a trade, thus increasing their chances of earning a living in adulthood. But some cheaper parish apprenticeships were barely distinguishable from slave labour. The hope was that, by providing resources for higher premiums, they could secure higher quality training.

In March 1751 Thomas Hewitt died. Three of his sons had already died before him, as babies. He left a wife, two more sons and two daughters. The family were not well off.

The younger son, Thomas jun. was only a baby, but John was 8 years old. Less than a week after his father’s funeral, John found himself bound as an apprentice to William Cooke in Lilbourne. A premium of £6.10s [£6.50] would keep him bound to his master until he was 24 years old.

John Hewitt's apprenticeship indenture, 1751.
John Hewitt’s apprenticeship indenture, 1751.

In return for training him as a weaver, William was required to provide ‘meat, drink and apparel, lodging, washing and other things necessary and fit for an apprentice’ and, at the end of the term ‘a good new suit for the Holy-Days and another for the Working-Days’.

Hardly had his mother had time to come to terms with widowhood and her son’s absence when, a month later, her 12-year old daughter Elinor also died. Elinor’s funeral expenses were paid by the parish and recorded in the Overseers Account book:

A cap and jersey for Hewett’s girl                       1s 4d [6p]

Paid Old Adams for a coffin                                  6s  [30p]

Laying her out                                                          2s  [10p]

4 girls carrying her to church                               2s  [10p]

Sitting up                                                                   1s6d [7p]

Master Newton his fees                                          2s  [10p]

Life continued to be hard for the family. Elizabeth was paid a weekly allowance to support herself and the two youngest children, Mary and Thomas. What became of Thomas as he grew up, or John, after his apprenticeship, has yet to be discovered, but at the age of 20 Mary found herself an unmarried mother.

ribbonsAnd when her son John was 7 years old, Thomas Spokes and John Clarke, the Overseers for that year (1775) arranged an apprenticeship for him with a Warwickshire ribbon weaver. John Haycock, the saddler, witnessed the indenture.

The Apprenticeship Fund still survives, as part of West Haddon Charities, but now, instead of paying premiums for apprentices, it gives small grants to students.

A village schoolmaster

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In November 1729 Henry Newton, the village schoolmaster, (uncle of John Newton who was laFenchurcg St c1750 cropter to live at Manchester House) set out on a daunting journey. He travelled up to London to renew the lease on the village school. He was 52 years old and may never have left the county before.

The Free School in West Haddon was run by a Board of Trustees, including William Watkin (the Vicar), Moses Clarke, farmer at Tudor Cottage on the Green and William Worcester. It was part of an estate in the village which consisted of a farmhouse and outbuildings, the schoolhouse, a small cottage and about 46 acres of land. Henry Garrett (whose family may have set up the school) stated on oath before a local JP that the annual rent for the land and buildings ‘do not exceed £20 and that the outgoings and deductions for the Free School etc amount to a total of £17 and that the buildings are much out of repair and that in his judgement less than £30 will not repair them.’

The trip to London was necessary because the estate belonged to the Crown. It had previously been a property donated to a London charity – the Hospital of the Savoy (now the Savoy Hotel), but had been confiscated by the King following a corruption scandal.

The negotiations did not go well and the school lease was lost. By the time the estate was surveyed in 1798 there is no mention of a schoolhouse – it had apparently been converted into two tiny one-up one-down tenements.

The entire estate was put up for sale in 1827, when the section containing the site of the old school – the plot between the Green and what is now Shepherd’s Row – was purchased by one Stephen Shepard, a wheelwright.

This section of the Crown Estate survey shows West End as the road to Coventry and Dunchurch. The building labelled 1a is the farmhouse and yard, while 1b is what used to be the Free School, fronting the Green.
This section of the Crown Estate survey shows West End as the road to Coventry and Dunchurch. The building labelled 1a is the farmhouse and yard, while 1b is what used to be the Free School, fronting the Green.

What became of schooling in West Haddon after the expiry of the lease is something of a mystery. Henry Newton lived to be 80 and may have continued teaching into old age in other premises. Two years before his death, Robert Earl was born and he was identified as a schoolmaster in 1795, but whether or not anyone else was teaching in the village between these two is currently unknown.

In 1825 Robert Earl died and John Heygate of West Haddon Grange stepped in and endowed a new village school, which was built barely a stone’s throw from the old one.