A mourning ring for my brother Thomas

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Thomas Worcester had been the largest landowner resident in the parish at the time of the Pro and Con document. In the subsequent scramble of land investment John Walker, the draper had outstripped him by a few acres but he was still left with a substantial farm of nearly 140 acres after Enclosure.

Sadly, he had only three years to enjoy it before he died, but he probably at least set in motion the building of a new house in the village before he died. That house was enjoyed by his sister Esther for almost 20 years as an independent, unmarried woman.mourning ring 2

Thomas left no will, but Esther made up for it with a very long one, in 1783. She left money to relations in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, and lands in West Haddon, Guilsborough and Hillmorton. She named Charles Heygate as one of her trustees for the sale of the  West Haddon land, and to his sister Catherine she left ‘my brocaded flowered silk gown and one of the mourning rings I had for my brother Thomas’.

She probably drove herself to visit local friends and relatives in the one-horse chaise she left to one of them.Chaise_(PSF)

There were many other bequests, including a couple to non-conformist ministers in both Long Buckby and Kilsby, (which explains why she and her brother have no baptism records at All Saints’.) This echoes an earlier member of the Worcester family who, in the previous century had been Vicar of Olney. His puritan leaningflowered silk gowns led him to resign from the established church and he took his family to America, about ten years after the Mayflower sailed with the Pilgrim Fathers. He became the founding pastor of a church in Massachusetts. What would he have thought of all Esther’s brocades and rings and things?

What West Haddon manufactory?

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This advertisement appeared in the Northampton Mercury in 1795.

WH manufactory ad_edited-1

What on earth was harrateen? And where was the manufactory?

It’s those weavers again. There were four main types of fabric made by Northamptonshire weavers in the 18th century. And mostly they were cheap substitutes for something else. We’ve already come across tammy and its use as a substitute for dress silk. Shallons, or shalloons didn’t really pretend to be anything other than a cheap, all-purpose, lightweight twilled worsted for coat linings, working dresses etc. (There was a furlong in West Haddon called Shallons – perhaps used for tentering finished fabric as on Tenter Leys).

Harrateen and morine (or moreen) were both used in soft furnishings. The completed lengths were finished by variations in hot pressing. Harrateen was passed under a heated brass roller embossed with a pattern, which left the fabric with a sheen and a texture that might, in the right light, look like damask.

Moreen was sprinkled with water, layered with papers and pressed between two heated metal plates which was supposed to make it look a bit like silk moire. Both of these processes would have required workshops with quite heavy equipment, although the weaving could be done in an ordinary cottage living room or backyard workshop.

John Newton had several lengths of moreen in his houmoreen at Canons Ashbyse when he died. This is what it looked like.

John Walker was a draper. He lived at Crystal House where there were plenty of outbuildings round the back. Were any of them used to finish locally-made fabrics? And would such premises, in a world of the hand-made, be described as a manufactory? And were all those large first floor windows intended to show off products to visiting buyers?

It’s a theory, but John Walker died in 1787. But his widow, Rebecca, was still around in 1795…Stn Rd pc colour_edited-2

A daughter’s inheritance

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Richard Collins, who had inherited his uncle Thomas Ford’s land just before Enclosure, lived on into the 19th century and wrote his will in 1808. He left his son John his real estate (unspecified), but he itemised the household goods he was leaving to his daughter Ann.

The list makes interesting reading, revealing a picture of old fashioned furnishings along with newly fashionable consumer goods. The bedstead in the parlour was a fashion that was on the way out by the middle of the 18th century yet Richard seems to have stuck with it into the 19th. But the equipment for tea and coffee drinking was quite ‘on trend’ for a country village of this time.

Here is what he left her:

6 brown chairs and an elbow chair,

the bedstead, hangings and furniture in the parlour, with three blankets and four sheets, which she shall choose,

a chest of drawers, swing glass, brown folding table in the house [‘house’ is an old fashioned term for the hall, or living room]

a tea table, late her mother’s, the silver tea tongs and silver spoons, the china,teaspooons glasses and earthenware in the parlour cupboard and the clock, grate and iron stool with a set of fire irons in the parlour,

brass kettle

also the bed hilling or coverlet, late her mother’s,

two tubs and a barrel and half the pewter and a dressing table and a brass coffee boiler.


Her mother Ann, nee Dunkley, had died in 1795. Perhaps the tea table had originally been a wedding present from her family and the coverlet possibly a lavishly embroidered piece which she had made, as a showcase for her skills as a needlewoman, for her ‘bottom drawer’ to bring with her to her new home as a bride in January 1765. Tea

Where was the Red Lion?

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In 1756 members of the Elmes family sold the Red Lion in West Haddon to William Burbidge. For the best part of the next 40 years it seems to have become the most important public house in the village. red-wine-drinker-2nd-half-of-the-18th-century-credit-franz-laktanz-graf-von-firmian

The Burbidge family probably arrived in West Haddon in the late 1740s. Their daughter Elizabeth was baptised here in July 1749, but two other daughters appear to have been born earlier, elsewhere. A son John was born at the beginning of 1753. If they were already in the village for some years before buying the Red Lion, they may have been working there as tenants in those early years.

Very shortly after the purchase, William died, in January 1757. It may have been a very sudden death. He left no will. His widow Mary took almost a year to take out letters of administration on her husband’s estate. Not only was she keeping the Red Lion going, whilst also bringing up Elizabeth, Mary and John (Sarah had died in 1752), but she was also pregnant. William junior was born four months after the death of his father. Turnpike meeting at WH notice9-15-2009_013_edited-2

The Turnpike Trustees met at the Red Lion. So did the Enclosure Commissioners. Mary was an enthusiastic supporter of Enclosure, though she owned no land. She did however enjoy the rights of the two cottage commons attached to the house and she was awarded four acres of land in place of them at Enclosure (now the site of the Mower Shop and water tower on the Northampton Road) She was said to be a very industrious woman, keen to educate her sons (at Guilsborough Grammar School) and she took a pride in bringing up all her children respectably.

Property auctions were held at the house and it was also used for the transaction of local government business, such as the putting out of parish apprentices and settlement examinations – for example, on 29th December 1762 the Overseers of the Poor spent 2s6d [13p] on ale at the Red Lion ‘when William Kemshead came over from Burton Latimer about his settlement’. Mary Burbidge receipt

Until 1791 Mary kept the business going, eventually being bought out by John West of The Crown. He divided the house into cottages and enjoyed the extra business coming to the Crown.

And so Mary’s home, once such a significant centre of village life, disappeared. No-one now remembers where it was. It was described in 1791 as ‘All that long-established public house, known by the sign of the Red Lion…containing a very extensive range of building, with a good barn, stabling, yard and out-offices.’ Guesses may be made, but so far, no evidence has come to light to identify the property which was once such a familiar element in the life of the village.

The end of a dynasty

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The Kirtlands were butchers in West Haddon for generations. When Edward Kirtland married Alice Walker and she duly presented him with two sons, there was no indecision over names – the first was Thomas, after his father and the second Edward, after himself. Sadly Alice then died and when Edward junior was seven his father married again.

The new house
The new house

His new wife was Elizabeth South, daughter of the Rector of Thornby and granddaughter of James South, a London merchant. Was it to impress his new in-laws that Edward built his bride a new house in the year after their wedding? He even put a datestone above the door – E E K 1689.

The old house
The old house

He settled the old house on Edward junior when he grew up and married Elizabeth Sandford of Long Buckby. (So now there were two couples in the village called Edward and Elizabeth Kirtland). The junior couple had four daughters. They all married locally. Hannah married John Underwood, the chief opponent of the Enclosure Bill, while Elizabeth married Robert Collis, an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill (that must have made for some jolly family parties.) Mary became Mrs John Watkins of Yelvertoft and Alice, who married late in life, ended up living at the old house with her husband Joseph Bryan from Daventry.

The family at the new house were rather more adventurous. Thomas and James stuck fairly close to the family business, Thomas as a butcher and James as a fellmonger, dealing in skins.

The Marshalsea
The Marshalsea

But George followed in his grandfather’s footsteps. He went off to Oxford and later became Vicar of Mears Ashby.  His brother Robert began as a grazier but then seems to have been inspired by his merchant great-grandfather to try his hand at commerce. He doesn’t seem to have been very good at it. In 1745 a notice appeared in the London Gazette to the effect that he had been ‘a fugitive for debt’ since 1742 and had surrendered himself to the Keeper of the Marshalsea, the infamous debtors’ prison in London.

How he got out is unclear, but by 1762 he was living at Boughton as a dealer and chapman. Living with him at that time was his sister Elizabeth, now Mrs Tarry, and her son Thomas. His sister Rachel may have kept house for her brother George at Mears Ashby vicarage until he died in 1751. She then seems to have moved to Boughton too, though when she died she was buried with George in Mears Ashby.

One way or another, by the time of the riot there were no more Kirtlands to carry the name forward in West Haddon.

John West(s) at the Crown

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In 1740 John West got a fine for serving short measure and ‘breaking the assize of ale’ so he was already selling alcohol from the premises we now know as The Crown. But at the time he was also working as a shoemaker and he’d divided the house to make two cottages, with another shoemaker as a tenant next door. The building would have looked very different at that time.

Twenty years or so after the unfortunate episode of the short measure, John had become a pillar of the community and in 1763 he took his turn to serve as an Overseer of the Poor for the year. There were always two of them and his partner was John Underwood, ledgerthe leader of the opposition to Enclosure in the village. They had a busy year.

Smallpox struck the village and through the summer he had to stretch the Poor Rate to cover medical and nursing costs and pay for funerals for those families who were unable to meet the expense themselves. Widow Hall’s house was set up as an isolation unit for patients and John kept them supplied with beer. (It was safer to drink than well water and perhaps it offered them all a bit of cheer).

The following year was free of smallpox, but he still had a funeral to attend. His new daughter Frances was buried at barely a week old. He survived her by only six months.

His son John succeeded him as an energetic 25-year-old anCrownd it was his energy which turned that little pair of cottages into a thriving hub of the village, where as well as selling food and drink, he hosted auctions, hiring fairs, public meetings and even, in 1795, a performance of The Messiah.

Worth a candle?

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Thomas Bourn was a wheelwright with a keen business sense and an eye on the top of Station Road (before there was a station for the road to lead to.)

In 1750 he had approached John Walker (at Crystal House) and Dr Nicholas Heygate (at Laud’s Cottage) about an old barn and bit of orchard between their houses. He’d paid them £18 for it.

By 1776, he’d converted it into three cottages for village weavers, William Hipwell jun. (son of limping William Hipwell from the 1771 Militia List), John Barker and Thomas Naseby. At this point he put the property up for sale and Richard Harris, a tallow chandler (candle-maker) from Yelvertoft bought it – for £90.

The chandler gave the weavers their marching orders and took over the candle light1premises for his own use. But the purchase price had been a bit of a stretch and so a few months later he took out a mortgage for £50.

Bearing in mind the nature of his business, the lender advanced the money only on condition that Mr Harris insured the property with the Sun Fire Office, London ‘or other publick office of insurance’, a relatively novel idea in West Haddon at this time.

(The premises survived the hazards of candlemaking in the 18th century, only to burn down in the 19th cePhotobauble Hovis cropped resized_edited-1ntury when the baker, then in residence in half of it, had an unfortunate mishap…)

But phoenix-like it rose again to supply baked goods to 20th century villagers!)

Mr Boddington’s shoe repairs

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From the Northampton Mercury, June 28th, 1784.

WHEREAS the WORK-SHOP belonging to Benjamin Collis, cordwainer, in West Haddon was broke open on the night of the 25th or early morning of the 26th June and the following articles stolen thereout, viz. one Wax skin, two black Grain ditto, one dressed Neats leather Butt, and a piece of Neats leather ditto; and three pairs of men’s shoes, two pair of them almost new, and the other pair were new soled and heeled

Whosoever will apprehend the offender or offenders so that he or they may be brought to Justice, shall, on Conviction, receive from the said Benjamin Collis a Reward of 2 Guineas.

NB On the inside of one of the Lappets was wrote Mr Boddington.

26th June 1784. Shoemaker_edited-1

Benjamin Collis was the son of Benjamin Collis sen. and his wife Prudence, nee Parnell. By 1784 he and his wife Joyce had a family of six surviving children (four more having died young.) and he was already training up young Benjamin, his 11-year old, to follow him into the shoemaking business.

In April of Enclosure year, just months before the Riot, Benjamin had sold a workshop, part of his own premises, to John Newton, the weaver. The precise location is unclear, but it seems to have been part of the ‘market infill’ triangle between High Street and Crown Lane. Might the Collis workshop have been behind the thatched cottage shown on this postcard from 1906?Cottages and Crown pre 1906_Detail_edited-2

Robert Boddington and his wife were new to the village. His occupation is yet to be discovered, but he paid tax as an owner occupier of a house somewhere in the village and served a term as Surveyor of the Highways. He sounds like a solid and upright citizen – not one to imagine, perhaps, that his shoe repair would leave a trail through history.

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