Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 3)

< Back to Part 2.

What an interesting evening this is turning out to be – I must travel back to Waters Upton in the late 1860s more often! ‘Local talent’ performing along with accomplished amateur vocalists and musicians from a little further afield is proving to be a great combination. Speaking of those who have come from beyond the immediate locality, here comes Mr Palmer again.

Duet, ‘Come where my love lies dreaming,’ Mr Palmer and friend.

There are murmurs of approval in the schoolroom at the sight of Moses Palmer preparing to deliver his third song this evening. Rightly so, as Mr Palmer’s musical talents are well known in north-east Shropshire – and not just as a singer.

Local papers show that Moses Palmer was conductor of the Oakengates Choral Society from the mid-1850s (Newport & Market Drayton Advertiser, 1 June 1855; Shrewsbury Chronicle, 2 November 1855), provided guidance to St George’s Choral Society when it was formed in 1859 (Wellington Journal, 7 May 1859; Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 11 May 1859), and played a leading part in the formation of the Coalpit Bank Choral Society the following year (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 9 March 1860).

Several of the concerts put on by those choral societies with Moses Palmer’s involvement were for charitable purposes. I think it’s quite likely that Mr Palmer is here tonight because the man for whom money is being raised by this event, John Preece, lives in the same part of Shropshire.

A hush is now descending, and the performance is beginning; here are the words (from The Guiding Star Songster, published a couple of years ago in 1865) if you’d like to follow along. If you haven’t jumped back in time with me to witness this live performance, I’ve also found an audio recording of a much later rendition, which although delivered by different artists (and a larger number of them) will give you a good idea of what we’re listening to, here in 1867.

Come where my love lies dreaming,
Dreaming the happy hours away,
In visions bright redeeming
The fleeting joys of day;
Dreaming the happy hours,
Dreaming the happy hours away,
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.

Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming, her beauty beaming;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.
Come with a lute, come with a lay,
My own love is sweetly dreaming, her beauty beaming;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.

Soft is her slumber, thoughts bright and free
Dance through her dreams like gushing melody;
Light is her young heart, light may it be,
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Dreaming the happy hours,
Dreaming the happy hours away;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.

Intermission…

Time travel does not always go smoothly, unfortunately –sometimes it’s as if we lose our internet connection during an online presentation and then we’re ‘back in the room’. I’m not really au fait with the mechanics behind at all, but it might be a problem with the flux capacitor, or a random burst of chroniton particles causing a kind of ‘time burp’, or maybe even eddies in the space-time continuum. Whatever the cause, in being whipped out of time and then plonked back exactly where, but not exactly when we were, we have missed four performances.

The newspaper report of this evening’s event gives us some idea of what happened in our absence, but some elements remain a mystery. “Beatrice (pianoforte and organ flutina), Miss Titley and Mr T. Hughes.” What was performed here? Quite possibly it was an air from the tragic opera Beatrice di Tenda. Mr T Hughes was presumably not the Mr Hughes we have already heard from (and who performed the next number). Miss Titley was very likely one of Waters Upton’s own, Mary Jane Titley, daughter of Thomas Titley, a butcher, and his wife Elizabeth, née Icke. If so, she was, like Miss Shakeshaft who we met earlier, another young performer.

Song, ‘The Village Blacksmith,’ Mr. Hughes.” What a shame we missed this! The words of the song can however be found woven into my article Blacksmiths in Waters Upton. And you can listen to a more recent performance of it on YouTube. Next came “Song, ‘Poor old Joe,’ Mr. Palmer.” Now, this is a ‘plantation song’ and as such, contains terminology which isn’t really acceptable in the 21st century, so I’m going to skip past it.

Grand valse, Miss S. J .Shakeshaft.” This might have been one of any number of tunes with ‘Grand Valse’ in their titles, played on the pianoforte – possibly René Favarger’s Grande Valse de Salon, published in 1860. The performer I’m much more certain about: Sarah Jane Shakeshaft of Cold Hatton, daughter of farmer Joseph Shakeshaft and his wife Martha, née Wright. She must be about 18 right now, and I think that’s her over there looking suitably pleased having acquitted herself well in what was probably her first performance in front such an audience. We are back in the schoolroom, and the next song is about to be delivered.

Song, ‘A Motto for Every Man,’ a Friend.

The vocalist here is, I think, one of the friends brought over by Moses Palmer. The song was written by Harry Clifton (pictured below) and is also known as “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.” Once again, I’ve found the words – in Songs for English Workmen to Sing, published this very year (1867)! Plus, in case the words alone make the song sound rather dull, there’s a fabulous recording of it being sung by Stanley Holloway.

Some people you’ve met in your time, no doubt,
Who never look happy or gay:
I’ll tell you the way to get jolly and stout,
If you will listen awhile to my lay.
I’ve come here to tell you a bit of my mind,
And please with the same if I can:
Advice in my song you will certainly find,
And “a motto for every man.”

Chorus.
So we will sing, and banish melancholy;
Trouble may come, we’ll do the best we can
To drive care away, for grieving is a folly;
“Put your shoulder to the wheel,” is “a motto for every man.”

We cannot all fight in this “battle of life,”
The weak must go to the wall,
So do to each other the thing that is right,
For there’s room in this world for us all.
“Credit refuse,” if you’ve “money to pay,”
You’ll find it the wiser plan;
“And a penny lay by for a rainy day,”
Is “a motto for every man.”

A coward gives in at the first repulse;
A brave man struggles again,
With a resolute eye, and a bounding pulse,
To battle his way amongst men;
For he knows he has one chance in his time
To better himself if he can;
“So make your hay while the sun doth shine!”
That’s “a motto for every man.”

Economy study, but don’t be mean:
A penny may lose a pound:
Through this world a conscience clean
Will carry you safe and sound.
It’s all very well to be free, I will own,
To do a good turn when you can;
But “charity always commences at home,”—
That’s “a motto for every man.”

To be continued.


Picture credits. Extract from sheet music for Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming: Image from University of Texas Arlington Libraries website, and used under a Creative Commons licence. The Village Blacksmith, sheet music cover: Public domain image from Picryl. Harry Clifton (1863): Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 2)

< Back to Part 1.

It’s Wednesday 20 January 1867 and we’re sat in the school room at Waters Upton, trying our best not to be noticed. Luckily the assembled audience, containing many of the neighbourhood’s farming folk and others of a similar social standing, are focussed on the Reverend Halke. As it happens, he is delivering the next ‘act’. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll continue.

Reading, ‘Mrs. Gamp’s Tea Party,’ J. T. Halke.

For those unfamiliar with the works of Charles Dickens (in our present company, surely not many!), the Reverend Halke explains that the passage he will read is from The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. A hush falls over the room as those around us, many of whom are used to hearing the cleric reading on Sundays from an altogether different book, await this new experience.

“And quite a family it is to make tea for,” said Mrs. Gamp; “and wot a happiness to do it! My good young ‘ooman”—to the servant-girl—“p’raps somebody would like to try a new-laid egg or two, not biled too hard. Likeways, a few rounds o’ buttered toast, first cuttin’ off the crust, in consequence of tender teeth, and not too many of ‘em; which Gamp himself, Mrs. Chuzzlewit, at one blow, being in liquor, struck out four, two single, and two double, as was took by Mrs. Harris for a keepsake, and is carried in her pocket at this present hour, along with two cramp-bones, a bit o’ ginger, and a grater like a blessed infant’s shoe, in tin, with a little heel to put the nutmeg in; as many times I’ve seen and said, and used for caudle when required, within the month.”

As the privileges of the side-table—besides including the small prerogatives of sitting next the toast, and taking two cups of tea to other people’s one, and always taking them at a crisis, that is to say, before putting fresh water into the tea-pot, and after it had been standing for some time; also comprehended a full view of the company, and an opportunity of addressing them as from a rostrum, Mrs. Gamp discharged the functions entrusted to her with extreme good-humour and affability. Sometimes, resting her saucer on the palm of her outspread hand, and supporting her elbow on the table, she stopped between her sips of tea to favour the circle with a smile, a wink, a roll of the head, or some other mark of notice; and at those periods her countenance was lighted up with a degree of intelligence and vivacity, which it was almost impossible to separate from the benignant influence of distilled waters.

But for Mrs. Gamp, it would have been a curiously silent party. Miss Pecksniff only spoke to her Augustus, and to him in whispers. Augustus spoke to nobody, but sighed for every one, and occasionally gave himself such a sounding slap upon the forehead as would make Mrs. Todgers, who was rather nervous, start in her chair with an involuntary exclamation. Mrs. Todgers was occupied in knitting, and seldom spoke. Poor Merry held the hand of cheerful little Ruth between her own, and listening with evident pleasure to all she said, but rarely speaking herself, sometimes smiled, and sometimes kissed her on the cheek, and sometimes turned aside to hide the tears that trembled in her eyes. Tom felt this change in her so much, and was so glad to see how tenderly Ruth dealt with her, and how she knew and answered to it, that he had not the heart to make any movement towards their departure, although he had long since given utterance to all he came to say.

The old clerk, subsiding into his usual state, remained profoundly silent, while the rest of the little assembly were thus occupied, intent upon the dreams, whatever they might be, which hardly seemed to stir the surface of his sluggish thoughts.


Duet, ‘The Minute Gun at Sea,’ Mr. Palmer and friend.

Now Mr Palmer returns to the spotlight. Last time he was part of a quartet (performing The Village Choristers), now he’s about to sing a duet from Up All Night or The Smuggler’s Cave, a comic opera written way back in 1809 by Samuel James Arnold, with music by Matthew Peter King. I took the liberty of stopping off in 1870 on my way here to pick up a copy of Diprose’s Standard Song Book and Reciter, which has the following version of the song (showing which parts are sung by each character). A minute gun, incidentally, is a cannon or gun fired at one-minute intervals as a sign of distress.

Juliana: Let him who sighs in sadness here,
Rejoice, and know a friend is near.

Heartwell: What heavenly sounds are those I hear?
What being comes the gloom to cheer?

1st: When in the storm on Albion’s coast,
The night watch guards his weary post
From thoughts of danger free,
He marks some vessel’s dusky form,
And hears amid the howling storm,
The minute gun at sea,

2nd: The minute gun at sea;

Both: And hears amid the howling storm,
The minute gun at sea.

2nd: Swift on the shore a hardy few
The life-boat man with a gallant crew,
And dare the dang’rous wave;
Through the wild surf they cleave their way,
Lost in the foam, nor know dismay—
For they go the crew to save,

1st: For they go the crew to save.

Both: Lost in the foam, nor know dismay—
For they go the crew to save.

1st: But O, what rapture fills each breast

2nd: Of the hopeless crew of the ship distressed.

Both: Then landed safe, what joys to tell
Of all the dangers that befell!—

1st: Then is heard no more,

2nd: By the watch on the shore,

Both: Then is heard no more, by the watch on the shore,

Both: Then is heard no more, by the watch on the shore,
The minute gun at sea.

Song, ‘The Fidgety Man,’ Mr. Hughes.

Now Mr Hughes is taking his second turn, but I need to pop back to 1870 to find a copy of his song even though it means missing his performance. (I think I’ve found it in Sharp’s New London Songster, but if this is it – and it’s the only song of this title I can find – it’s a strange choice for man to sing! Have a look and make your own mind up.)

Reading, ‘The Boy and the Beads,’ Mr. Weaving.

Edward Weaving is the Master of the Industrial School in the former workhouse buildings just beyond the parish boundary, near Cold Hatton. He and Mrs Weaving started there in 1860 and although they don’t yet know it, next year (1868) Mr Weaving will become the Master of the Drayton Union Workhouse. (Shhh, don’t tell – spoilers!) In the here and now, he’s going to read from Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I wonder if he also recites this passage to his inmates?

“By the bye, Bob,” said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptible glance at Mr. Pickwick’s attentive face, “we had a curious accident last night. A child was brought in, who had swallowed a necklace.”

“Swallowed what, Sir?” interrupted Mr. Pickwick.

“A necklace,” replied Jack Hopkins. “Not all at once—you know that would be too much; you couldn’t swallow that, if the child did—eh, Mr. Pickwick? ha! ha!”—Mr. Hopkins appeared highly gratified with his own pleasantry; and continued—”No, the way was this;—child’s parents were poor people who lived in a court. Child’s eldest sister bought a necklace—common necklace, made of large black wooden beads. Child being fond of toys, cribbed the necklace, hid it, played with it, cut the string, and swallowed a bead. Child thought it capital fun, went back next day, and swallowed another bead.”

“Bless my heart,” said Mr. Pickwick, “what a dreadful thing! I beg your pardon, Sir. Go on.”

“Next day, child swallowed two beads; the day after that, he treated himself to three, and so on, till, in a week’s time, he had got through the necklace, five-and-twenty beads in all. The sister, who was an industrious girl, and seldom treated herself to a bit of finery, cried her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace; looked high and low for it; but, I needn’t say, didn’t find it. A few days afterward, the family were at dinner—baked shoulder of mutton, and potatoes under it—the child, who wasn’t hungry, was playing about the room, when suddenly there was heard a singular noise, like a small hailstorm. ‘Don’t do that, my boy,’ said the father. “I ain’t a doin’ nothing,’ said the child. ‘Well, don’t do it again,’ said the father. There was a short silence, and then the noise began again, worse than ever. ‘If you don’t mind what I say, my boy,’ said the father, ‘you’ll find yourself in bed, in something less than a pig’s whisper.’ He gave the child a shake to make him obedient, and such a rattling ensued as nobody ever heard before. ‘Why, it’s in the child!’ said the father: ‘he’s got the croup in the wrong place!’ ‘No, I haven’t, father,’ said the child, beginning to cry, ‘it’s the necklace; I swallowed it, father.’—The father caught the child up, and ran with him to the hospital—the beads in the boy’s stomach rattling all the way with the jolting; and the people looking up in the air, and down in the cellars, to see where the unusual sound came from. He’s in the hospital now,” said Jack Hopkins, “and he makes such a strange noise when he walks about, that they’re obliged to muffle him in a watchman’s coat, for fear he should wake the patients!”

“That’s the most extraordinary case I ever heard of,” said Mr. Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on the table.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” said Jack Hopkins. “Is it, Bob?”

“Certainly not,” replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

“Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you, Sir,” said Hopkins.

“So I should be disposed to imagine,” replied Mr. Pickwick.


> On to Part 3.


Picture credits. Mrs. Gamp Makes Tea: Sketch by ‘Phiz’ (Hablot K Browne), scanned by Philip V Allingham and taken from The Victorian Web. Extract from sheet music for The Minute Gun At Sea: Original image from Trove; out of copyright. Mr Pickwick: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 1)

Amateur Entertainments.—An entertainment for the benefit of John Preece was given in the Schoolroom on the evening of Wednesday week. As this was the first thing of the kind ever attempted in the locality, considerable interest was manifested in its success, and the room was filled with by a respectable audience. The following programme was given in a satisfactory manner, the Rev. J. T. Halke occupying the chair […]

What a joy to find (in the Wellington Journal, 2 March 1867) details of the first amateur entertainments performed in Waters Upton! And what a joy it must have been for those who witnessed those events too. No doubt songs were sung and tales were told regularly on an informal basis in both of the village inns, and of course entertainments could be attended in Wellington (and possibly in other, larger villages in the district). Never before however had anything quite like this happened in Waters Upton itself.

Behind the joy was a tale of tragedy, and heroism (the full story of which I have written for the Railway Work, Life and Death project). On 29 December 1866 John Preece, a railway porter and gate keeper at Wombridge in Shropshire, had saved the life of a child who strayed onto the railway tracks as a train was approaching. The cost to John was a terrible one – struck by the engine, he was left with injuries so severe that he was taken to the Salop Infirmary in Shrewsbury. There, it was found necessary to amputate John’s right foot and hand, and the whole of his left arm below the shoulder. A subscription was set up “to alleviate the suffering incurred in this act of courage and humanity” (Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 16 January 1867).

The entertainments at Waters Upton were arranged to contribute to the funds being raised for the gallant Mr Preece and his family (he had a wife and two children). The first was held on Wednesday 20 January and the second, “given for the amusement of the working classes” on the following Friday (Wellington Journal, 2 March 1867).

The man occupying the chair at the entertainments, the Reverend J T Halke, was the subject of my first post to this blog: John Thomas Halke and the Church of Waters Upton. As you will soon see, he also contributed readings to the proceedings (and was clearly one of Charles Dickens’ many fans). Few if any of the other performers were Waters Upton residents, but several lived close by on the eastern side of Ercall Magna parish and others came from further afield.

Rather than simply give you the names of those who played, sang and read, and of the pieces they performed, as listed in the report from the Wellington Journal which I have quoted from above, I am going to try something a little different. Put on your most old-fashioned formal wear and prepare to step back in time, as I attempt to recreate an evening of songs, music, and readings in mid-Victorian rural Shropshire.

Grand march (pianoforte and organ flutina), Miss Humphreys and Mr. Hughes.

Unfortunately we have arrived just after the opening number, but that does mean we can make an unobtrusive entrance during the applause and take our seats at the back. The newspaper report of this evening’s programme tells us that a ‘grand march’ was just played, but there are several ‘grand marches’ so there’s no telling which one this was. I’m not sure who Miss Humphreys is. Mr Hughes on the other hand I believe have read about in the Shropshire papers, appearing at concerts as a member of the Shrewsbury Vocal Union. Have you ever seen a flutina before? It’s a type of accordion. Ah, we’re almost ready for the second item.

Glee, ‘The Village Choristers,’ Mr. Palmer and friends.

I’ve not seen him before, but I’m pretty sure this is Moses Palmer of Redlake, over in Wellington. He’s given quite a few songs and recitations, sometimes accompanied by friends as now, and also by his son and daughter (I read about that in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 8 January 1864). Would you believe he’s actually a mining agent / engineer? This is a glee for four voices, which should be interesting; here is one version of the words (which I found in a programme for the Wells Harmonic Society’s 1848-9 season) if you’d like to follow along:

Come, Brothers, tune the Lay,
For all who can must sing to-day.
Ye jovial Sons of Song!
Here at Pleasure’s summons throng.
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Beware, beware,
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Take care, take care,
That all who hear may praise the strain,
Again, and yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

Now I with PRIMO start,
I’ll take the {SECOND / BASSO} part,
The rest will try their choral art.
Now you, Sir, mind what you’re about,
Keep Time, or else you’ll all be out.
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Take care, take care,
That all who hear may praise the strain,
Again, and yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

So far there’s nothing wrong.
For ever live the Soul of Song!
Let all the burthen share,
And Music’s glorious praise declare.
Bravissimo! what Harmony:
Aha! aha!
Sweet Harmony, brave Harmony:
Aha! aha!
It is indeed a noble strain,
We’ll have it yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

Song, ‘Let us all speak our minds,’ Miss Shakeshaft.

Now, if I’m not mistaken this is young Charlotte Emma Shakeshaft, daughter of William and Sarah at Cold Hatton, just north of here in Ercall Magna. She doesn’t know it yet but she’s going to marry William Henry Atcherley from the Moortown, a little west of us and also in Ercall Magna. He’s her second cousin on their mothers’ sides (they have shared Icke ancestry) – and also my first cousin four generations removed. So many things we have to keep quiet about when we go back in time! Anyway, for those unfortunate enough not to have travelled back to 1867 with me, here are the words and a rendition of the song on YouTube:

Men tell us ‘tis fit that wives should submit
To their husbands, submissively, weakly,
Tho’ whatever they say their wives should obey,
Unquestioning, stupidly, meekly.
Our husbands would make us their own dictum take
Without ever a wherefore or why for it.
But I don’t and I can’t, and I won’t and I shan’t!
No, I will speak my mind if I die for it.

For we know it’s all fudge to say man’s the best judge
Of what should be, and shouldn’t, and so on,
That woman should bow, nor attempt to say how
She considers that matters should go on.
I never yet gave up myself thus a slave,
However my husband might try for it.
For I can’t and I won’t, and I shan’t and I don’t,
But I will speak my mind if I die for it.

And all ladies I hope who’ve with husbands to cope,
With the rights of the sex will not trifle,
We all, if we choose our tongues but to use,
Can all opposition soon stifle.
Let man if he will then bid us be still,
And silent, a price he’ll pay high for it.
For we won’t and we can’t, and we don’t and we shan’t,
Let us all speak our minds if we die for it.

This song was only published four years ago in 1863. It sound like an early feminist statement, but it might not be all that it appears. It was written by a man (William Brough), is intended as a comedic if not a satirical song, and at least one performer of the piece in the music halls sings it as “Mrs Naggit”. Mark my words though, in time the ladies will turn the tables and adopt this as a suffrage song!

> On to Part 2.


Picture credits.Musical notes: Public domain image from Pixabay. Flutina: Modified from a photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Bpierreb; used under a Creative Commons licence. Sheet music for Let us all speak our minds: From 8notes.com; used under a Creative Commons licence.

Waters Upton Tragedies: The Death of William Lloyd

Shocking Discovery at Eyton-On-The-Wild-Moors
On Sunday considerable excitement was created in the town of Wellington and the district of Eyton by a report that the mutilated remains of a man had been found in a haystack at Eyton-on-the-Wild-Moors. The statement proved to be true, but the idea that a brutal murder had been committed was soon dispelled. Deputy Chief-constable Ivins, as soon as the information reached him, took the investigation under his own personal direction.

So began a particularly sad story which appeared in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 29 June 1883. A slightly sensationalised story too, I think, for not only was the deceased not murdered, his body had not been mutilated. What were the circumstances of the body’s discovery? Who was the unfortunate man? And, since I’m telling his story here, how was he connected to Waters Upton? Let’s return to the Chronicle’s report (to which I have made one small correction).

The stack, under which the body was found, is on the farm of Mr. E. W. Bromley, Eyton House Farm, and situate at some distance from the farm-house or any road, but is easy of access from a footpath and the towing-path of the canal, which runs parallel with the field in which the stack is. When found the body was dressed and partially covered with hay. Owing to the advanced state of decomposition in which the body was the features were unrecognisable, and Mr Ivins, with a view to finding out who the man was, issued a notice which he had extensively circulated in the district. The following is a copy of the same:—
“County Constabulary Office, Wellington, D Division, 24th June, 1883. Found dead on the 24th inst. by a hay stack in a field on the Eyton Moors, parish of Eyton, by two lads, a tramp, about 50 years of age, 5ft. 6 or 7 inches high, dark whiskers and moustache going grey; dressed in old brown hard hat, dark round pilot jacket, blue guernsey, old cord trousers, old lace-up boots, all very much worn and very shabby, had no shirt or stockings on. Supposed to have been dead about a month as he was seen in the same place on the 27th May, and complained of being ill.”
This notice was seen by a man named Joseph Rogers, in the employ of Messrs Barber and Son, Wellington, who recognised it as the description of a man named William Lloyd, about 50 years of age, a native of Waters Upton […]

Poor William! How did he end up living, and dying, in such wretched circumstances?

Map of Eyton upon the Weald Moors (or Wild Moors). Circled: The possible location of the shed (and haystack) where William Lloyd was found dead. Underlined: Eyton House, a.k.a. Eyton Farm House, where the inquest took place.

A native of Waters Upton

Piecing together the story of William Lloyd’s origins and early years is not straightforward, so bear with me while I assemble all the evidence – or skip to the next section if you wish! If, as Joseph Rogers stated, William was about 50 at the time of his death, he would have been born around 1833. I believe that Joseph’s estimate of William’s age was a ‘rounding up’ and that William was the 5-year-old William Lloyd who was enumerated on the 1841 census, at Waters Upton, with John and Ann Williams (ages rounded down to 50 and 40 respectively), Joseph Lloyd (12), and Elizabeth Lloyd (7).

Unfortunately the 1841 census did not record the relationships between household members so this record provides fairly limited information about William and those he shared a home with. There’s no baptism record for him that I can find either, nor does there appear to be one for Elizabeth Lloyd. Joseph Lloyd however was baptised at Waters Upton on 22 June 1828, his parents were William Lloyd (a labourer) and Ann, whose abode was in the parish. Were these two also the parents of Elizabeth and of the younger William Lloyd?

The most likely marriage for Joseph’s parents was that which took place at Wellington on 3 February 1827. The parish register described the couple as “William Lloyd of this Parish and Anne Taylor of this Parish”. It appears that Ann’s husband William later died (I desperately need to see the post-1815 burial register for Waters Upton!) and that Ann then remarried. The Waters Upton marriage register for 1837 onward is still with the church, but FamilySearch has indexed the wedding, on 1 June 1840 in that parish, of John Williams and Ann Lloyd.

The 1851 census shows John and Ann Williams as husband and wife, but with none of the Lloyd children from 1841 living under their roof. John, aged 63 and an agricultural labourer (as he had been in 1841), was born in Waters Upton; the relevant baptism is likely that of John, son of William and Mary Williams, “in ye Sch: Room” on 1 June 1789. Ann, 51, was born in Cherrington; I believe she was “Anne Daur of James & Anne Taylor, Cherrington” baptised at Tibberton on 21 April 1799.

William Lloyd too was living in Waters Upton in 1851. Aged 15, he was a hostler residing with and working for publican William Matthews. The pub is not named on the census schedule but there is little doubt that it was the Lion, as the Swan Inn – the only other hostelry in the village – was identified by the enumerator elsewhere.

The census of 1861 adds to the evidence relating to William Lloyd’s family, as well as providing an update on his fortunes. Household schedule 42 recorded agricultural labourer John Williams, 72, with his wife Ann, 61, and two sons (actually, stepsons), Joseph and William Lloyd. Joseph, aged 32 and unmarried, was by this time working as a gardener. William, 25, also unmarried, was an ‘ag lab’ like his stepfather.

Elizabeth Lloyd had married by this time, and the record of that event – naming her father as William Lloyd – adds further evidence to back the theory that she, Joseph, and William Lloyd junior were siblings. She wed James Tomkinson on 6 November 1854, probably at Chetwynd where she had been enumerated as a servant on the 1851 census (name transcribed as Mary Hary by FamilySearch!!). She and James spent the rest of their days in nearby Newport, where they had 11 children.

John Williams of Waters Upton died on 26 November 1864, aged 75. The death of Ann Williams, formerly Lloyd, née Taylor, was registered at Wellington, in the last quarter of 1886; she was 87 but her age was recorded as 86. Joseph Lloyd’s story, which involve duck stealing, I will continue another time. That leaves William Lloyd, whose story I will now conclude.

A vagrant life

William Lloyd’s next appearance on a census, in 1871, seems to have been his last. He had left Waters Upton by this time, and was once more working, this time as a labourer, for an inn keeper: James Brown of the Green Dragon at Hadley. At some point over the next ten years however, something happened which changed William’s way of life – he became homeless. I have not found him on the 1881 census, but I can’t rule out the possibility that was enumerated as a nameless tramp found sheltering under a hedge or in a barn or outbuilding.

The report from the Shrewsbury Chronicle, part of which I quoted at the beginning of this story, was one of several arising from the inquest into William Lloyd’s death; others appeared in the Shrewsbury Journal, 27 June 1883, and the Wellington Journal, 30 June 1883. Together, they provide snippets of information which taken together give us a feel for how William spent his last years, and in particular his final months. It was said that William “had led a vagrant life for some years, sleeping in outbuildings and picking up a living as best he could.” Joseph Rogers, who “had known the deceased from a lad”, also stated that for a long time William “had been going about the country labouring with thrashing machines, and was formerly in the employ of Mr Price, of The Lees, near Walcot.” He was not married, and “had been in the habit of sleeping out.” I can only guess that at some point in the 1870s a spell of unemployment left William without the means to pay for accommodation and led to him taking advantage of whatever shelter and odd jobs he could find, whenever and wherever he was able to. Returning to the Shrewsbury Chronicle:

Rogers states that about a month ago the deceased called at his lodgings, and he had a conversation with him, when Lloyd complained of being ill, and he advised him to go to the Workhouse. He said he would, but Rogers had since ascertained that he did not do so. William Phillips, of the Ercall Hotel, also recognised the body as that of Lloyd, and states that about a month ago he engaged him to do some gardening, but Lloyd never came to do it, and he had not seen him since. A man named Beech, residing at Kynnersley, also saw the deceased about a month ago, and said that he complained of being unwell.

Another witness was John Thomas, described by one paper as a waggoner and by another as a cowman. He worked for Mr Bromley, at whose house the inquest was heldOn Sunday, the 27 May 1883, Mr Thomas saw William Lloyd lying down “on the top of an old stack bottom” with “some hay partially thrown over him.”

A drain on Eyton Moor

The two men had a conversation, in which William said that he had gone to the place where John found him “on the Saturday night, that he lay in the shed, and that he had come out to sun himself. He said he had been very poorly for some time, suffering from bronchitis”, and as a result of that illness “he had a bad cough”. William also said that “he had been following machines belonging to Mr. Nicholls and Mr. Powell, of Shrewsbury” and that “most of his food had consisted of water.”

A most melancholy case

John Thomas was probably the last person to see William Lloyd alive – and the last person to see him at all for several weeks. There was no public road where William had settled, although the canal and a path leading to Kynnersley were not far away. With the hay in which William slept not being needed at that time, no one went near the stack until Sunday 24 June 1883.

William Lloyd’s body was found that day by two boys. One of them, Walter Ruscoe, lived at Sidney (or Sydney) in the parish of Kynnersley (or Kinnersley) and was, like John Thomas, employed by Mr Bromley. On the day in question he took a bull down to the weald moors, and on his return he found the body by the haystack, half covered with hay. He quickly gave the alarm which led to the police becoming involved, and an inquest taking place the next day.

Eyton House, home of farmer Edward William Bromley and location of the inquest into the death of William Lloyd in 1883

At that inquest the jury gave a verdict of “Found dead” or, according to the Wellington Journal, “Death from natural causes.” The Coroner said “that it was a most melancholy case; but there was no ground whatever to suppose that deceased had met with any violence. He had apparently laid down and been overcome. It was a matter of regret that deceased had not taken the advice of one of the witnesses, and gone to the Workhouse.”


Picture credits. Map: Extract from Ordnance Survey Six Inch map Sheet XXXVI.NW published 1902; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence.Family tree diagram: By the author. Drain on Eyton Moor: Photo © Copyright Richard Law; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence. Eyton House: Photo © Copyright Chris Downer; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Waters Upton Landmarks – Part 2

So far (in part 1 of this article) I have looked at rivers, bridges and inns as landmarks which would have been familiar and significant to people living in, visiting, or passing through Waters Upton. There were of course other buildings besides the pubs which could be considered landmarks, contributing to the unique character and identity of the village, including the church of St Michael’s and the Hall, set in its centre. I have written about the construction of modern-day St Michael’s in John Thomas Halke and the Church of Waters Upton; the church will feature again in future stories here, along with other buildings in Waters Upton. The landmark I am going to focus on now however, is one which lies several miles away from the parish.

View to a Hill

Head south out of Waters Upton on the A422 and almost immediately you will see a hill in the far distance. (Note: If you’re driving when you do this, keep a close eye on the road as well!) It doesn’t look like much from this distance, and to be fair, it’s not even in the top twenty of the highest Shropshire hills. Size isn’t everything however, and this landmark’s stature belies its significance within and even beyond the county. Say hello to the Wrekin.

The Wrekin has been described as “our best known hill and an iconic landmark for miles around” (see link above). On learning that the hill is only 407 meters (1,335 feet) above sea level, you might wonder why it is regarded with such affection. Roly Smith, writing in the Guardian in 2000, explains: “the Wrekin, which always proudly and significantly carries the definite article, is undoubtedly a hill with a presence. It rises so sharply and unexpectedly from the pastoral Severn Plain that it forces you to notice it.” He then added, “There are few mountains in Britain, let alone hills, that have exerted the same powerful influence or sense of place on its surrounding communities.”

The Wrekin stands out. It is not a mountain, but a drop of over 150 metres on all sides gives the Wrekin a certain prominence, especially in a landscape which is otherwise relatively flat – and also qualifies it as a ‘Marilyn’. The Wrekin’s nearest Marilyn neighbours, Caer Caradoc and Brown Clee, are respectively about 20 and 30 kilometres away in Shropshire’s much hillier south.

This prominence means that the Wrekin can be seen for many miles around, particularly from the north and east. As people travel into Shropshire from that latter compass point, on the M54 for example, the Wrekin stands a welcoming beacon. It calls for people to climb to its summit, and those who do are rewarded with outstanding views.

Dead Poets Society

The Rev Richard Corfield, Vicar of Waters Upton from 1822 to 1865 (he was also Rector of Pitchford, where he spent much of his time), was one of many Shropshire souls familiar with the sights to be seen from the top of the Wrekin. He was also one of several authors who have set out their appreciation of the Wrekin in verse, albeit with a little poetic licence. The poem (dated 14 February 1833) can be read in full in Shropshire Notes and Queries; the following is an abridged version:

From Wrekin’s summit cast the eye around,
To view the objects which th’ Horizon bound;
O’er Salop’s plains with beauteous verdure drest,
The Cambrian Mountains stretch along the West.
The darksome Berwyn scowls with aspect drear,
Till Dinas Bran, and Moel Pam’ appear.
Turn to the North, and Hawkstone hills you see,
With Cheshire prospects reaching to the Dee.
When to the East, you bend th’ admiring gaze,
The barren Peak your startl’d thoughts amaze!
More Eastward still, you ken in distant view
Edge-Hill, where Charles his faithful follow’rs drew.
But dwell not here on scenes of discord past,
Look tow’rds the South, the prospect brightens fast;
The far fam’d Malvern breaks upon the eye,
And balmy breezes waft from Southern sky.
This fairy circle let us onward trace,
O’er Brecons beacons, Radnor’s forest chase;
And whilst on Caerdoc’s sister hills we stop,
In distant outline, lo! Plinlimmon’s top.
May then this mountain, fair Salopia’s pride,
Attract our footsteps to its summits side;
The summit gain’d, the weary toil’s repaid,
By prospects varied, mountain, wood, and glade;
And as the outline may be further known,
So past its limits may our love be shewn—
Love to our County—and to all held dear
By ties of kindred, friendship’s off’ring bear—
Love to our Country—and, to all friends round
The Wrekin’s circle, may our love resound—
Such wishes these all Shropshire hearts inspire,
In social converse round the Winter’s fire.

School of Rock

Waters Uptonians were as familiar with the Wrekin as any Salopians. We have already seen the hill can be seen from the road just south of the village, and in John Morgan, surgeon and apothecary of Waters Upton – Part 1 I included a notice advertising the availability of a “genteel residence” within the village which had “a commanding view of the Wrekin and surrounding country.” Such was the lure of this landmark that many made the journey to become more personally acquainted with it, including the children of the parish, for whom excursions to the Wrekin were arranged as an annual treat in the latter part of the 1800s.

The earliest reference to such visits that I have found so far actually relates to the children of the ‘Union School’ just beyond the Waters Upton parish boundary; a report published in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 7 September 1860 noted: “At the last guardians meeting it was unanimously resolved on the motion of Mr. Minor, vice chairman, to give the children of the Industrial School, at Waters Upton, holiday to visit the Wrekin.” Almost thirty years on from that, a delightfully detailed description of a trip laid on for the village’s own children appeared in the Wellington Journal of 17 August 1889:

School Treat.—The children attending Waters Upton Parish School, accompanied by many of their parents and friends from the village, had their annual treat at the Wrekin on Friday, the 9th inst. Waggons and horses were kindly lent for the purpose by Messrs. Groucock, Cornes, Percival, Owen, Shakeshaft, and W. Rider. The waggons were tastefully decorated with wreaths of evergreens and flowers, given by friends the village, Miss L. Groucock and Miss Amos.
A start was made at 10 o’clock from the Rectory in fine weather, and the children seemed to enjoy the drive immensely from the merry noise they made on the journey and through the town of Wellington until the foot of the Wrekin was reached, when the party of about 120 had to unload and commence the walk up the hill. A rest was taken at the Upper Cottage for lunch, and then the whole party proceeded to the top of the hill, which was unfortunately clouded over with a thick mist. Afterwards the weather changed, and when the party had assembled at the Cottage for tea, which was supplied by Mr. S. Tudor, Post Office, Waters Upton, in the hospitable tents adjoining the Cottage, a severe thunderstorm came on, and the rain fell heavily, making the party thankful that they were under shelter.
At length, after enjoying an excellent tea and other good things, the presents of friends accompanying the excursion, a start was made for home about six o’clock. The return journey was made in most unfavourable weather, but, although nearly all the party got a thorough wetting, no ill effects have happened, and all are looking forward to an excursion another year under more favourable circumstances.
The children in the waggons were accompanied the Rector (the Rev. J. B. Davies), Mrs. Davies and family, Miss S. Groucock, Miss Amos, Misses Minor (Meeson), Mrs. J. Shakeshaft and family, Mr. and Mrs. James Tudor, Mr. and Mrs. A. Ridgway, and many others, and were joined on the hill by Mr. and Mrs. Percival, Mrs. Cornes and party, Mr. and Mrs. Owen and friends.

You will be pleased to know that better conditions blessed at least one subsequent school outing to the Wrekin. In July 1896, when 78 children and 40 accompanying friends headed for the hill in waggons “lent by Mr. H. F. Percival, Mr. S. Dickin, and Mr. W. Jerman”, they were “favoured with fine weather” and S (Samuel) Tudor once again provided tea. Several of those named in these reports will be familiar if you have read Late Victorian Christmases in Waters Upton; the others I will have to introduce you to in future articles.

This is the end

In my conclusion to part 1 of this article, I mentioned “the usual loyal and patriotic toasts” which were honoured in Waters Upton’s Swan Inn, in 1896. These would almost certainly have included one which the Rev Richard Corfield slipped in to his poem of 1833, namely “To all friends round the Wrekin”. (This should not to be confused with the saying “all around the Wrekin”, which has a similar meaning to “all round the houses” – or in other words, taking a longer route than necessary!)

The oldest appearance I have found in print of “all friends round the Wrekin” dates back to around 1706, when playwright George Farquhar used it to open the published version of his Shropshire-based comedy The Recruiting Officer (the image above is from Google’s electronic version of this long out of copyright work). Clearly it was well-established even then. I have found many later references to this toast in Shropshire newspapers – it appears that the tradition was to make it the final toast after all the others had been offered and drunk to, by way of recognising the special bond between those connected by their county’s most revered landmark. Although I have not yet found any specific references to its use in Waters Upton, I have no doubt that it was spoken there, often, and with feeling.


Picture credits. View of the Wrekin from Waters Upton: Embedded from Google Maps. The Wrekin hill: From the electronic version of The History and Antiquities of Shrewsbury, volume II (published about 1837 and therefore out of copyright) at Google Books. View from the Wrekin: Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Northerner, modified and used under a Creative Commons licence. View of the Wrekin: From a postcard postmarked 1906, out of copyright. To all friends round the Wrekin: From the electronic version of The Recruiting Officer (published about 1706 and therefore out of copyright) at Google Books (link in text above).