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 here 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 died, 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?