About AtcherleyOrgUK

My primary area of interest is the Atcherley family (my maternal ancestors and cousins). I conduct a One-Name Study of the surname, research the family's genealogy and study the family history of the Atcherleys and their descendants. I also carry out a One-Place Study of the parish of Waters Upton in Shropshire. My One Place Study of Waters Upton in Shropshire came about as a result of a trip to the parish churchyard to photograph the grave of my 3x great grandmother, who was born Mary Atcherley.

Late Victorian Christmases in Waters Upton – Part 2

Christmas carols (and other entertainments)

Pleasant Evenings with the Children.—On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, a miscellaneous entertainment was provided by the children attending Waters Upton School, consisting of duets, dialogues, musical drills, songs, in character, &c. The Rev. J. B. Davies, rector of the parish, presided each evening. The whole of the children acquitted themselves admirably, and gave much credit to Miss Taplin’s careful training. On the proposition of the Rector, hearty votes of thanks were accorded to Miss Taplin (head-teacher), Miss Union [actually Miss M Minor] for presiding at the pianoforte, and to the children for their entertainments, which were heartily applauded. The proceeds are for providing prizes for the children. — Wellington Journal, 23 December 1893.

Miss Taplin was not enumerated at Waters Upton on any of the censuses, but the entry for Waters Upton in the 1895 Kelly’s Directory includes “Miss Sarah Ann Taplin, mistress”. She had embarked on a teaching career early on, the 1881 census showing Banbury-born Sarah at the age of 19 as an Assistant Schoolmistress lodging, with two other young women of the same profession, in the Hinckley, Leicestershire household of Schoolmaster and Schoolmistress Alfred and Fanny Webb. Ten years later in 1891, Sarah was (along with another School Mistress) a visitor in a household at Wivenhoe in Essex. Her short spell at the National School in Waters Upton followed.

The newspaper report from 1893 quoted above does not explicitly connect the entertainments provided by the schoolchildren with Christmas. The timing of the events makes the association fairly clear however, and this account for the 1894 (published on 5 Jan 1895) leaves us in no doubt: “The Christmas Season has been kept in this village in the usual way. Before the Christmas holidays began the children of the Parish School gave two evenings’ entertainments of amusing songs and dialogues, in which they were well instructed by their teacher, Miss Taplin.”

I have not yet established exactly when Sarah Taplin left Waters Upton, but by 1901 she was living and teaching at Shilton in her native county of Oxfordshire. The following year she was married, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, to London & North West Railway worker William Meers. This did of course mean that her 20 year teaching career was over – but it also meant that Sarah was able to have children of her own.

The Wellington Journal’s summary of the seasonal celebrations of 1894 in Waters Upton continued by noting the beautiful decorations in the church “for the Christmas services by Mrs. L. V. Yonge, Mrs. Percival, and Miss M. Minor.” The offertories from these services were given to the Salop Infirmary, an institution I have written a partial history of (in four parts, so far) on my Atcherley family history website. The Journal’s report concluded:

At the end of the Christmas week there was also held a most successful entertainment in the Parish School. The room was well filled, and the proceeds, which realised over £5, went to pay for new church gates at the entrance to the churchyard. The programme was as follows:—Piano duet, Misses Annie and Alice Davies; song, Miss M. Minor (encored); song, Mr. Crewe; song (encored), Miss Lucy Rider; song (encored), Mr. Crewe; song (encored), Miss Sutton; piano solo, Miss Crewe; song (encored), Mr. Percival; song (encored), Miss Sutton (in place of Miss Nock, who was unable to be present). During the interval the rector (Rev. J. B. Davies) gave a short reading, and afterwards a very amusing piece was performed by four ladies and three gentlemen, the acting in which was of the highest character and was greatly appreciated. The performers were Rev. W. P. Nock, Dr. White, Mr. Ernest Rider, Mrs. L. V. Yonge, Miss Taylor, Miss Lucy Rider, and Miss Emmeline Heatley. At the conclusion the Rector proposed a hearty vote of thanks to all who had so ably taken part in the entertainment.

A whole cast of characters there, and what festive fun they had! Six of them (the Rev Davies and his daughters Annie and Alice, Mrs Yonge née Groucock, Miss Margaret Minor, and Miss Taylor) we have already met, in Part 1 of this story. Of the others, there are some I cannot identify with certainty: Doctor White, and Mr and Miss Crewe, may reveal themselves with further research. As was the case with some of their fellow celebrants, they may not have been Waters Upton residents. Emmeline Heatley appears from the 1901 census to have been from nearby Eaton upon Tern (upstream from Waters Upton), where she was born around 1875, while the 1891 and 1901 censuses show that the Rev William P Nock (born around 1861) was Rector of Longdon upon Tern (downstream from Waters Upton).

Lucy Catherine Rider was from Wellington. She was a daughter of surgeon John Rider and his wife Mary, née Tennant. Although it does not appear that the family ever lived in Waters Upton parish, John was born at nearby Crudgington and he, and his wife, were both buried at Waters Upton (in 1887 and 1919 respectively, see Memorial Inscriptions: Rider). Ernest Rider, from Shawbury parish, was Lucy’s first cousin, his father being John Rider’s brother Thomas.

A Holmes / St Michael’s Church / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Modified

That leaves Mr Percival, and also his wife (who helped to decorate the church). Herbert France Percival was born, surprisingly enough, in France (at Pau, now in Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Nouvelle-Aquitaine), on 7 March 1863 according to the Visitation of England and Wales (Volume 2) published in 1894. Mary Jane Cornes was born at Longsight in Lancashire on 26 August 1859 and baptised at Manchester Cathedral one month later. After a series of moves the Cornes family finally relocated to Crudgington where, on 3 August 1887, Mary Jane was married to Herbert Percival at Waters Upton. The couple settled (and Herbert farmed) in the parish where they wed, were enumerated there on the 1891 census, and their first two children (Geoffrey James France Percival and Sybil Mary France Percival) were born there in 1890 and 1892 respectively.

Herbert France Percival was included in the entry for the Waters Upton in the 1895 Kelly’s Directory, but he and Mary Jane had moved to Crudgington by the time their third and last child, Arthur Stanley France Percival, was born on 21 November that year. Possibly they had moved in with Mary Jane’s parents (Joseph Cornes, Mary’s father, died on 4 July 1897 and was buried at Waters Upton; see Memorial Inscriptions: Cornes).

Although the Christmas of 1894 was the last one the Percivals spent as residents of Waters Upton, it was not the last time they participated in the parish’s celebrations. The Wellington Journal of 1 January 1898 tells us this about an event which took place at Waters Upton on 29 December 1897:

Entertainment.—A concert was given in the school room, on Wednesday evening, by the church choir, assisted by a few friends. The performances were highly appreciated by a large audience, and credit is due to Miss M. Minor, the organist at the church, who had trained many of the choir to sing in public for the first time. The following took part:—The Choir, Miss A. Minor, Mr. P. Minor, Rev. L. V. Yonge, Mr. George Hall, Mr. Sam Dickin, Mr. Percival, the Misses Davies, Mr. W. A. R. Ball, Mr. Crewe, Willie Bennett, Mr. Tom Madeley, Mr. Tom Bennett.

The Percivals were still living at Crudgington in 1901, but by 1911 had moved (with Mary Jane’s widowed mother) to Towyn in Merionethshire. As for the other performers besides Mr Percival, we have already met Margaret Minor, the Rev Yonge and the Misses Davies. How wonderful to see so many other names, of people from within and outwith the parish! In the latter category were A and P Minor (relatives of Margaret of Meeson no doubt, though I have yet to identify them), and Tom (Thomas) Madeley (probably the one born about 1872 at Crudgington, a farmer’s son who was still living there in 1901 when he was a butcher).

George Hall was born in the neighbouring parish of Ercall Magna in 1878 but was probably by 1897 a resident of Waters Upton; certainly he was recorded there on the 1901 census when he was working as a sawyer. Samuel Robert Dickin was born a little further away at Little Ness, in 1875; he too must have moved to Waters Upton by 1897, and the 1901 census enumerated him there as a farmer, living with his sister Annie who was his housekeeper.

Brothers Willie (William) and Tom (Thomas) Bennett were both born at Waters Upton, in 1885 and 1880 respectively. They were sons of shoemaker Samuel Thomas Bennett and his wife Alice, née Lucas. Both were with their parents when the 1891 census was taken, and while William had moved on by 1901, Thomas remained (pursuing his father’s – and grandfather’s – profession, and appearing on the censuses of 1901 and 1911, and on the 1939 Register, at Waters Upton). Now there’s a man who saw a lot of Waters Upton Christmases!

All I want for Christmas is . . . a servant

WANTED, at Christmas, a General Servant, to do plain cooking, and make butter.—Apply, Mrs. J. B. Davies, Waters Upton Rectory, Wellington, Salop. (Wellington Journal, 17 November 1883.)

While searching for stories of Christmas at Waters Upton, I came across advertisements for servants wanted “at Christmas” or “for Christmas”. The “most wonderful time of the year” (as Christmas was christened in the well-known song penned in 1963) was also one of the busiest times, especially for servants. More relevant to the phenomenon of yuletide recruitment however is the fact that Christmas Day was one of the four Quarter Days in England and Wales, when rents were due – and servants were hired.

So as we have seen, at the end of 1883 the Rector’s wife Mrs John Bayley Davies (Susan Anslow Davies, née Juckes) was looking for a general servant who would cook, and make butter. The source of the milk for that butter was most likely cows kept on glebe land associated with the rectory.

In the Wellington Journal of 18 December 1886, two more ladies with Waters Upton addresses sought servants for Christmas. I was puzzled at first by Mrs Hoole, who was looking for a “trustworthy Servant” for “milking (two cows), attention to poultry, and plain cooking” for a family of two (“wages about £12”). Further research in the newspapers and then the censuses showed that Mr and Mrs Hoole were in fact living at Wood Farm, around 2 miles or so North of Waters Upton, in the parish of Stanton on Hine Heath. Presumably their post went through Waters Upton.

Mrs Shepherd, on the other hand, who wanted a “Servant Girl, at Christmas, age 15 to 16, who can milk or willing to learn” was definitely a Waters Upton resident. Jane Shepherd, née Rider, was recorded there on the 1891 census along with her husband Hugh, a farmer. The census shows that Hugh Shepherd was born at Old Deer (Aberdeenshire) in Scotland and that he was 15 years younger than his wife, who was born at Tattenhall in Cheshire. Baptism records for Hugh (in 1823) and Jane (at Harthill in 1803, the register giving the family’s abode as Broxton and a birth date for Jane of 8 December 1802) show that the couple were actually separated by more than 20 years. When they married on 12 Jan 1857 at Acton in Cheshire (by which time Hugh was already resident in Shropshire), both stated that they were of full age. Hugh was 33 and Jane was 54.

The 1891 census reveals something else about Jane – she was blind. This fact had also been recorded in 1881 (when the Shepherds were living at Wrockwardine), but not on censuses from previous years. Presumably she lost her sight through an age-related condition such as macular degeneration or cataracts. Whatever the cause, it is clear that Jane’s inability to see did not prevent her from running household affairs. In these matters she may have been assisted by her niece Mary Lewis, who was enumerated with her at Waters Upton in 1891 as a “Ladies Companion”. Jane Shepherd died, and was buried at Waters Upton, in 1894 (see Death notices etc. and Wills & probate after 1858).

It appears that the word ‘servant’ was accidentally omitted from the notice placed in the Wellington Journal by Miss Walker of Walker of Waters Upton: “WANTED, Girl, between 14 and 16, as General, either now or at Christmas; character required.” This I found in the edition dated 20 December 1890, but given the closeness to Christmas it seems likely that the notice had been running since November or thereabouts. Was it also placed in papers further afield, and did it result in the hiring of Sarah Ann Wilkes, the 16-yer-old Lancastrian who appears on the 1891 census as a general servant in the Waters Upton household of Sarah Ann Walker? I have found no other records for Sarah Wilkes, but Sarah Walker ran a private school in Waters Upton for more than 30 years and so saw many Waters Upton Christmases. I will write about her in more detail another time.

All uncredited images from the British Library Flickr photostream; no known copyright restrictions.

Late Victorian Christmases in Waters Upton – Part 1

The Children’s Christmas

There’s gladness and loud animation
In cottage and palace to-day;
And the children, in warmest elation,
Trill their songs, bright, merry and gay.
The floodgates of joy are now open—
Old Christmas gives out his best store;
For the season of mirth the children
Returns with its hight, hallowed lore.

The star of the far distant ages
Still gleams like a diadem rare;
Still songs of both shepherds and sages
Tell the story of Bethlehem fair.
The children ‘mid innocent pleasure
Re-echo the joyous refrain.
And, swelling the old gladsome measure,
Tell Yuletide’s sweet tale once again.

—“J. T.”, Shrewsbury. Published in the Wellington Journal, 20 December 1890.


During the 1800s, and particularly over the course of Victoria’s reign, the celebration of Christmas in Britain evolved and was enriched by innovations and importations. As a result, towards the end of the century the traditions of the ‘Victorian Christmas’ were all in place – cards, carols and crackers, decorations and dinners, a red-robed, full-figured Father Christmas / Santa Claus, and a somewhat incongruous combination of commercialism and Christian values.(The image here is from a book published in 1888. Taken from the British Library Flickr photostream; no known copyright restrictions.)

From the newspapers of the time we can learn what late Victorian Christmases were like in towns and villages across the country, and gain glimpses of the ways in which the season was celebrated in Waters Upton.

Decking the halls (and churches)

The holly berries all aglow
Are wreathed in wonted Christmas brightness
Aloft is hung the mistletoe
In all its pearly whiteness.

—“Olive,” The Children’s Visitor. Published in the Wellington Journal, 22 December 1888.

By longstanding tradition, homes were decorated with Christmas greenery: holly, mistletoe, garlands of fir, kissing boughs, with wreaths or ‘welcome rings’ hung on front doors. From newspaper reports viewed at the British Newspaper Archive it seems that flowers too were an element of Christmas decorations, at least in public institutions such as infirmaries, workhouses and churches (such reports are easier to come by for those establishments than for private homes). Thus we learn from the Wellington Journal of 26 December 1885 that:

The Parish Church [of Waters Upton] was very tastefully decorated for Christmas, the work being executed as follows:—Pulpit, lectern, and candlesticks, Miss F. Minor; chancel text, “Behold thy King cometh;” Miss F. Minor; banners and wall decorations, Miss E. Taylor and Miss L. Groucock; font, Mrs. Davies and Miss L. Groucock; windows, school children. Mr. J. B. Davies, rector, preached at both morning and evening services.

John Bayley Davies was educated at Shrewsbury School and became Rector of Waters Upton in 1866. Mrs Davies, formerly Susan Anslow Juckes, was married to the Rev Davies in 1875. If I have correctly worked out who the above-mentioned Misses E Taylor and L Groucock were – Edith Clayton Taylor and Elizabeth (a.k.a. Lizzie?) Mary Hombersley Groucock, the Rev J B Davies was related to both of them (first cousin and first cousin once removed, respectively). The family (Christmas) tree shown here illustrates how the three were related.

The Groucock family was originally of Meeson in the neighbouring parish of Bolas Magna, but by 1881 the widowed Thomas Groucock had moved to Waters Upton along with his sister. Mary Emma Groucock née Taylor was born at Burleigh Villa in Bolas Magna, where her father Thomas was still living (see Kelly’s Directory 1891).

I have not identified Miss F Minor, but members of family with that surname were resident at Meeson at this time – and we will shortly meet Miss M Minor, almost certainly Margaret Elizabeth Minor of that place. Another demonstration of the links between Meeson and Waters Upton came in 1897.

Christmas at the latter village that year was “observed at the Parish Church in the usual way” according to the New Year’s Day edition of the Wellington Journal in 1898. Celebrations of Holy Communion took place at 8.30am and 11am, with a shortened evening service at 6.30pm at which “the choir sang several carols.” “The church was prettily decorated by the ladies of the congregation, beautiful lilies and camelias being sent from Meeson Hall for the chancel decoration.”

Four years later in 1901, the year of Queen Victoria’s death, the Wellington Journal stated on 28 December that “Christmas in the churches has been kept this year with a heartiness which has probably never been surpassed, notwithstanding those who contend that its celebrations are falling into disuse.” It went on to say that “the decorations have been exceedingly appropriate and ornate, reflecting great credit the busy and untiring efforts of those responsible for the work.” With regard to Waters Upton:

The decorations in this church were, as usual, tastefully arranged. The pulpit and lectern were decorated by Mrs. L. V. Yonge, the east end windows by Miss M. Minor, and the font and nave by the Misses Davies, assisted by Miss Tompkin, Daisy Pritchard, Dolly Austin, Dorothy Tompkin, and S. H. and R. W. Davies. The choir sang carols at the morning and evening services, and the sermons were preached by the rector, the Rev. J. B. Davies.

Mrs L V Yonge was the above-mentioned Elizabeth Mary Hombersley Groucock, now married. Elizabeth had ‘tied the knot’ with the Rev Lyttleton Vernon Yonge, vicar of nearby Rowton in Ercall Magna parish, in 1892 and the couple resided at Waters Upton. I have yet to work out who Dolly Austin was, but Daisy Pritchard was enumerated on the census of 1901 at nearby Cold Hatton in Ercall Magna parish. Then aged 13, she was the daughter of agricultural labourer Edward Pritchard and his second wife Ellen, née Gough. At first I thought Daisy had no connections with Waters Upton, but her father Edward, although born in Wolverhampton, had Shropshire ancestry and was enumerated at Waters Upton with his parents in the censuses of 1871 and 1881.

The Tompkin girls were most likely Dorothy and Maggie (born 1891 and 1894 respectively), daughters of Robert Tompkin and Mary Margaret Sutton (née Barlow) Tompkin. The Tompkins had not been in Waters Upton for very long at this point, having been enumerated on the census back in April in their native county of Staffordshire. The family was still living in Waters Upton in 1911. That year’s census shows that Robert was a farm bailiff – Kelly’s Directory for 1909 shows that he was working in that capacity for the Rev L V Yonge. Sadly, Robert passed away at the age of 42 on 29 June 1911; he was buried at Waters Upton (see Memorial Inscriptions: Tompkin).

The Misses Davies would have been the Rev John and Mrs Susan Davies’ daughters Annie May (born 1879) and Alice Elizabeth (1880); with the two Davies boys “S. H. and R. W.” being Stephen Harris (1883) and Reginald Wynard (1885) – all of them were recorded on the 1901 census at Waters Upton. I will be devoting several future stories to this family, in which I will explore their lives in and beyond Waters Upton in more depth. But, as you are about to find out, that doesn’t mean they won’t get any further mentions in this one.

Adapted from a Public Domain image at Wikimedia Commons.

Rev John Bayley Davies saves Christmas

I freely admit to over-egging the (Christmas) pudding a little with that heading. However the Rev Davies, in his capacity as a member of the Wellington Poor Law Union’s Board of Guardians, did help to ‘save Christmas’ for the inmates of the Union Workhouse in Wellington in 1882.

John was present at the fortnightly meeting of the Board which took place on Thursday 14 December that year, at which the subject of “the paupers’ Christmas dinner” arose…

Mr. Lawrence said that as the master’s book was now before them, he was going to ask the Board to allow Mr. Minor to put on the book instructions that the inmates of the House should have their usual Christmas treat. It was done in all the gaols and workhouses in the country, and he did not see why their Board should set aside a custom which had been honoured in the observance ever since the Board was established. He moved that the inmates have the same treat they had last year. (Wellington Journal, 16 December 1882.)

The Clerk of the Board then “read from the minute book the allowance of beef and pudding sanctioned by the Board for the last Christmas dinner”, after which further conversation took place. I imagine, but can’t say for certain, that the Rev John Bayley Davies of Waters Upton contributed to that exchange of views, supporting the principles of Christian charity which had become a part of the Victorian Christmas. I don’t doubt at all that he was heartily pleased when Mr Lawrence’s proposition was, eventually, carried.

From a Public Domain image at Picryl. This is probably not an accurate depiction of the pudding served to the Wellington Union Workhouse inmates at Christmas, nor of the manner in which it was served to them…..

To be continued.

A Waters Upton Postcard

Although I acquired a postcard sent to Waters Upton a little back (see Lucy Alice Wylde and her secret admirer), it is only during the last week that I have finally managed to get my hands on a postcard showing a scene of the village. And here it is: Market Drayton Road, Waters Upton.

Where was ‘there’?

Now, of course, I have questions! From where exactly was the photo taken? What can we see in the picture – which houses are they on either side of the road, and in the distance? When was the photo taken? How does the view today compare with the one captured in the photo?

A virtual visit to Waters Upton via Google Street View goes a long way towards answering the first and last of my questions. It isn’t possible to match up a ‘now’ Street View to the ‘then’ postcard image exactly, because the Street View camera grabbed its images from the other side of the road. This is the closest I can manage (also, note that this picture is from 2009 rather than ‘now’).

Thanks to the National Library of Scotland’s marvellous map collection, I have also found an Ordnance Survey map showing the layout of the buildings and other features depicted in my postcard. This map, at a scale of 25 inches to the mile, is incredibly detailed. It was published in 1901, based on revisions undertaken the previous year. Whoever took the postcard photo was probably standing somewhere to the south of the spot height of 182 feet marked on the map.

Extract from Ordnance Survey 25 Inch Map XXIX.8, Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.

And when was ‘then’?

We’ve seen the scene from around ‘now’, but when was ‘then’? Although a precise answer isn’t possible at the moment, the picture on my postcard is unlikely to correspond to the date of the Ordnance Survey map above. The card was never posted so it doesn’t have a postmark, but there are other clues and they point to a later date than the turn of the century.

The back of the card doesn’t give much away. What little text there is does not name of the company which printed or sold it. All it says is “POST CARD”, with the words “BRITISH MANUFACTURE” below that, “Communication” and “Address” a little lower down on the left and right hand sides, and running up the middle of the card “A Real Bromide Photograph”. I have however seen images online of postcards matching mine in these details, posted around 1930.

I have found more evidence on the Shropshire Star website, in an article from 26 February 2010. Under the heading Pictures from the past it shows a black and white image of the only other postcard featuring Waters Upton that I have seen. This too was taken from the Market Drayton Road, but further to the south. Its title, printed in an identical typeface to that used on my postcard, is Post Office & Garage, Waters Upton. The trees in the photo, like those on my postcard, are bare. I’m willing to bet that the scene was captured by the same photographer, and on the same date, as the one I have. According to the Shropshire Star, the postcard was franked on 21 August 1936.

Life on the edge

So the scene captured on my postcard probably dates from the early 1930s or thereabouts, and is a view taken from the edge of the village and parish rather than from its centre. The photographer was looking north-north-west along the course of the road to the bend, beyond which, just out of sight, it crosses the River Tern and the parish boundary. The road then turned back the other way, following the river and eventually becoming Sytch Lane.

At the point where a road to Rowton branched off was a place known as Waterside. The Ercall Magna poorhouse – later a Wellington Poor Law Union workhouse, and later still the Union’s school – was located there (see Refuges of Last Resort: Shropshire Workhouses and the People who Built and Ran them, pages 73 – 76). After a new workhouse (with its own school) was completed in Wellington in 1876, the premises at Waterside were sold and became known as the Union Buildings. Can we see one of them, behind the first of the two telegraph poles visible in this picture? And can we see sheets hanging out to dry, to the right of the house? Unfortunately the original image can be only be enlarged so far before it begins to get fuzzy.

Extract from Ordnance Survey 25 Inch Map XXIX.8, Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.

Although the area captured on camera here was not physically in the middle of Waters Upton, it was very much a part of the village’s commercial heart. The Market Drayton road, running between that town and Wellington, was a well-used transport route in this part of Shropshire. For most of those who used it, the part of Waters Upton that lay beside this road was probably the only side of the settlement they saw.

Where everybody knew your name

Taking advantage of the passing trade while also serving the locals, both of Waters Upton’s pubs were situated here. The oldest of the two, the Swan Inn, can be seen on the right hand side of the view in my postcard – the two white-coloured buildings. The 1934 Kelly’s Directory covering Shropshire shows that Joseph Madeley was then the innkeeper. He was still there five years later when the National Identity Register (better known today as the 1939 Register) was taken, with his wife Nellie Ann, née Meller. The 1911 census shows that the Swan had nine rooms, including its kitchen. I will have much more to say about the Swan, its other occupants and some of its customers in future blog posts!

Next door to the Swan and closer to our viewpoint is a building which, Google Street View reveals, is named Sutherland Cottage. It was recorded under this name when the 1939 Register was compiled, when it was occupied by Mary Ann Woolley (née Shuker). Mary was the widow of railway ganger / platelayer Samuel Woolley, who died in 1936. His National Probate Calendar entry gave his address as 20 Waters Upton – which corresponds with Sutherland Cottage. It seems likely to me therefore that Samuel was living at Sutherland Cottage, with Mary Ann, at the time when the photo on my postcard was taken.

Was Sutherland Cottage also the home of the Woolley family when the censuses of 1891, 1901 and 1911 were taken? I think it was. Although the name of the building was not recorded on those censuses (or any prior to them), on all three occasions it was the next household to be enumerated after the Swan – just as it was in 1939. The 1911 census recorded that it contained four rooms in addition to the kitchen.

The name Sutherland Cottage indicates that the property was built by the Duke of Sutherland, who was a big landowner in Shropshire – though not in the parish of Waters Upton (the tithe maps and apportionments show that his holdings there were very small). Duke of Sutherland cottages, though not identical to each other, seem to have had a particular character; here is a great example from Burlington near Crackleybank in Shropshire.

Cottage at Burlington by Richard Law. Taken from Geograph and used under a Creative Commons licence.

Left ‘til last

Across the road from Sutherland Cottage on the left hand side of the photograph, a large brick building can be seen. It has the appearance of something built and used for agricultural purposes rather than as a dwelling. Also on the left-hand side but closer to the camera is a house with a single storey extension and a small wooden building in its grounds. I’m not 100% certain about the house’s identity, but I suspect that it is (or was) The Beeches and that whoever owned or occupied the house also owned or occupied all of the adjacent buildings.

The 1934 Kelly’s Directory covering Shropshire and the 1939 Register show that The Beeches was then occupied by John Brookes, a farmer or smallholder, and his wife Emily (née Fletcher). It was listed immediately after the Swan and Sutherland Cottage on the 1939 Register – and in the same way (with the same name!) on the enumerator’s summary schedule for the 1911 census.

In 1911 the house was occupied by John Shakeshaft, a corn merchant, along with his wife Elizabeth (née Taylor) and their sons Joseph and Robert. As with the Woolley family, it appears that the Shakeshafts were living in the same house in 1901 and 1891 as the one they occupied in 1911. John was described as a general merchant in 1901 and as a corn and coal merchant and farmer in 1891. On neither of these censuses was the house named, but as would happen in 1911 and 1939 it was enumerated immediately after the Swan and Sutherland Cottage. I suspect it was also where the Shakeshafts lived in 1881 (their first appearance on a census at Waters Upton), even though their household did not appear on the census schedule in the same sequence as in later years. John was then a corn merchant and farmer of 12 acres. He died in 1919.

And now for something completely different?

As we have seen from Google Street View, things have changed in the eighty to ninety years since the photograph on my postcard was taken – though thankfully not so much as to make the view unrecognisable. Among the most noticeable changes are:

  • The loss of the Scots pine, the deciduous trees and the wooden building, adjacent to the house which may have been The Beeches (and the appearance of non-native conifers in the vicinity)
  • The flattening of that dip in the road, and the addition of road markings
  • The loss of the smaller of the two white-coloured building that made up the Swan Inn
  • Since the Street View camera’s visit, the gutting of the Swan by fire 2015 (the front face of the building remains but the roof and much else has gone; the Shropshire Star reports that plans have been submitted to build houses and a community centre on the site)
  • The replacement of the roadside hedges at the front of The Beeches (?) and Sutherland Cottage with walls (or the removal of vegetation which had obscured walls which were there all along?)
  • The loss of the view beyond the bend in the road due to growth in roadside hedges and trees

A further change, out of sight, is that Sytch Lane and the stretch of road leading up to it has been bypassed. The ‘Market Drayton Road’ is now referred to (at least by the Shropshire Star in the report linked to above) as Long Lane, and it is classified as the A442, which goes to Whitchurch. At Hodnet however, it briefly merges with the A53 and that road takes travellers to Market Drayton.

Finally, on the subject of changes, how about a conversion of the sepia tones of the original Bromide photograph into colour? Here is the result of using the MyHeritage In Color™ tool, and tweaking the result in Paint Shop Pro.

Researching the Waters Upton one-place study on Ancestry

When I started putting this article together it was with the intention of writing about a particular couple who were living in Waters Upton at the beginning of World War 2, and how I found out more about their lives, beginning with the information I had transcribed from the 1939 Register. However it turned into a much more detailed description of how I use of Ancestry for my one-place study research, so I now present a rather different article. It’s not a ‘masterclass’, just an insight (for whatever that’s worth) into my research modus operandi, with some personal opinions along the way. Is there method in my madness, or madness in my method? I’ll let you decide!

The Waters Upton ‘family forest’

My methods, I should make clear, avoid some of the cornerstones of ‘proper’ genealogical research. In particular, when working on the family histories of hundreds of people in a one-place study (as opposed to my own family tree), the purchase of birth, marriage and death certificates in any quantity is an expense which I can’t justify. People and their relatives may grow on (family) trees, but money doesn’t; my heart and soul are committed to the project, my wallet, not so much!

Ancestry - logo

So, my favourite way of researching my own family tree, and the family trees of my Atcherley cousins (in my one-name or surname study) and my DNA matches, is to build their trees at Ancestry, attaching relevant records as I go and adding Tags, notes and details of records not held by Ancestry itself. That’s also what I am doing for my Waters Upton one-place study. The ‘tree’ is not a single family tree but a collection of them, a ‘family forest’ if you like, featuring people who lived in Waters Upton at any point in their lives, plus their families, and some of their ancestors and descendants.

If you have an Ancestry subscription you can visit A One-Place Study – Waters Upton at Ancestry.co.uk (or use these links for the .ca, .com, and .com.au iterations). If you don’t have an Ancestry subscription but have an interest in Waters Upton and its people, and would like to view the ever-growing ‘forest’, let me know and I can send you a link giving you access through Ancestry, by email.

Working with multiple trees in a single Ancestry ‘tree’ is an interesting experience. For example, Ancestry trees aren’t really geared up for the addition in a straightforward way of people who aren’t a parent, spouse or child of a person already in a tree – and to be fair, why would they be? You can find a record for the person you want to add, and from there you can add them to the tree as a new person, but that method doesn’t create an event based on the record. So I usually add my new person as a parent or child of an existing person, then quickly edit their relationship to leave them as an isolated leaf cut off from the rest of the forest.

Take a Hint – or maybe not

Once I’ve added a new person to the tree, perhaps with other family members, I check out any ‘Hints’ that Ancestry might suggest. These Hints – records selected by Ancestry’s algorithms as possibly relating to the person concerned – are very much a double-edged sword. They seem to be based partly on the information you have entered for the person, name first and foremost, and partly on the records which have been attached to people in other Ancestry trees who might be the same as the person you are working on; both of these have the capacity generate some spectacularly inaccurate hints. The results, at their best, have the potential to help you. At their worst, they can completely mislead you.

Ancestry Hints are an anathema to many experienced (and especially professional) genealogists, primarily because they are often inaccurate, and maybe also because using them is seen as laziness. To me, Hints are another search tool to be used, the results of which are to be evaluated carefully and either:

  • discarded if they clearly don’t relate to the person being researched or would disrupt the space-time continuum (sorry about the Trek-speak, I will explain later, honest!),
  • accepted (sometimes provisionally) if they look like a good fit with what I already know about the person, or
  • neither discarded nor accepted initially, but left where they are until I can build up a more complete picture of the person (with other records) and make a better judgement as to whether or not they are relevant.

Over the years that I have been working with Ancestry trees, I have dismissed a huge number of Hints (often with an audible groan or even a curse), but I have also been pleasantly surprised on many occasions by the records they have accurately flagged up in collections or record sets which I would not have thought about looking in.

Ancestry - Hints

Other people’s trees

Among the Hints provided by Ancestry – at the top of the list in fact, if they exist – are other Ancestry members’ public family trees featuring the person you are working on (or people with similar names born around the same time). They vary hugely in quality, but because of the number of them built on the back of poor research and lack of critical thinking, Ancestry member trees are the subject of much wailing and gnashing of teeth within the wider genealogical community.

And I am there wailing and gnashing with the best of them when I see trees featuring people with records attached for events which happened after the person allegedly died, or before they were born, or in two widely separated places at the same time. Children born to ‘parents’ who were under 10 or not even alive at the time can be found (one tree I’ve seen, containing over 48,000 people, has a mother and child of the same age), along with mothers giving birth to two children well within 9 months of each other, sometimes on different continents. In one Ancestry tree I have seen a man who was his own father (or his own son, depending on which way you look at it).

Wail. Gnash. See what I mean about disrupting the space-time continuum? Some people’s enthusiasm runs far ahead of their logic, and in my head right now I can see Spock raising a Vulcan eyebrow at the very thought of it.

Part of the problem is that many people accept the aforementioned Hints without evaluating them. Many also copy the contents of other trees (either directly, or through accepting Hints based on those trees) without questioning their accuracy. At the end of the day though, while these practices are frustrating to people who undertake more meticulous genealogical research, in the grand scheme of things what actual harm is being done? There are after all far worse things that people could be up to instead, like axe-murdering or drug dealing, although having said that, when I look at some of the dodgier Ancestry trees I do sometimes wonder whether mind-altering drugs might have been involved.

Dragging myself back to the subject and looking at the positives, there are some well-researched trees on Ancestry. Even the trees which become increasingly questionable as they go further back in time, as people make best guesses based on incomplete evidence (see Beyond Ancestry below), can contain useful and accurate information on the generations closest to the tree builder (typically because they knew them, or have family members who did).

So yes, I look at the trees of others to see what records and family members they have attached to the people I’m researching. And I look at their conclusions to see whether they stand up to scrutiny, often carrying out my own research to see if the evidence I can find supports or contradicts those conclusions. I do the same with the pedigrees compiled and published by people like the Burkes in the 1800s, because they too got things wrong sometimes.

One more thing about Ancestry trees, and it’s another positive. Many people attach photos of their ancestors to their Ancestry tree profiles – and those ancestors can include people you too are descended from, or people in your one-place study. Yes, people also upload images of flags, buildings and other things which can clutter up Hints and search results but hey, Ancestry subscribers have paid good money and can put what they like in their own trees!

For the record, I don’t claim that any of my family trees (on Ancestry or elsewhere) are perfect. My advice is you should always treat with caution, and double check with your own research, other people’s trees – including mine.

Just click Search

There’s another way to get Ancestry to do some of the heavy lifting, and that’s by clicking on the Search button near the top right corner of the profile page of any person in an Ancestry tree. It’s not laziness I tell you, it’s a tool, one that I’m paying for and which you can be sure I make full use of!

Ancestry - Search

The long and complicated URL in the web address bar of the search results page this generates shows that this search is based on pretty much all of the information held on that person and their immediate family in their profile (whether input directly or pulled in with attached records). That info includes their forename(s), their surname (or surnames if they had more than one, e.g. women who married), their parents’ names, their spouse’s name, their children’s names, their sex, their birth and death dates and places, the places of other events attached to them (censuses), and the default ‘collection focus’ (e.g. All Collections, or UK and Ireland, etc).

This search usually generates a much longer list of results than is seen in Hints (the latter only return results from a limited proportion of Ancestry’s record sets), with the most relevant tending to be at or near the top of the list. But those results depend on the data (including the spellings) submitted, and the data (again including the spellings) in the records indexed by Ancestry. Badly mistranscribed records will usually be missed, unless another Ancestry user has managed to find them and has kindly submitted corrections.

Once I have that results page I examine it for records which look relevant, often looking at associated record images (where they exist) to check that the names (of people and places) match what’s been indexed, and to see what other information is there. If the record looks like it relates to my person, I attach it, and usually I then run the search again to see how the new information affects the results.

If the results don’t at first contain records which appear to relate to my person, I will most likely change the parameters and have another go. I tend not to modify the Search Filters (the Broad to Exact sliders), but I do click on Edit Search and add, remove or modify things in an attempt to improve the accuracy of the search. Sometimes I bypass the Edit Search feature and monkey around with the URL, modifying or deleting parts of it to suit before hitting Enter to rerun the search. In the case of women who married, if the search isn’t picking up records from the years before their marriage removing their husband’s (and children’s) details can help. In the case of a woman who ‘disappears’ after a certain point in time, where I haven’t identified a potential marriage (or have identified several!), deleting her surname altogether and running the search might bring up records showing her under her married name.

Ancestry - FiltersSearch results can also be narrowed down by Category, which can bring to the fore records which otherwise don’t show up on the first page or two of results. If I’m thinking a man might have served in WW1 for example, I click on Military in the list of Category filters and see what comes up. Might they have left a will? Click on Court, Land, Wills & Financial. Did they maybe emigrate, or take trips overseas for business or pleasure? Click on Immigration & Emigration. Birth, marriage or death records not looking they relate? Click on Birth, Marriage & Death (and then filter further, down to an individual record set if need be) to see if a more focused search yields a more likely set of results.

Beyond Ancestry

A frequent (and accurate) refrain amongst genealogists who know the value of archives is “Not everything is online.” To which I must add, having looked so far entirely at one provider, “Not everything that is online is on Ancestry.” Even those records which Ancestry does have aren’t always easy to find, typically due to transcription errors. Some of the record sets on Ancestry are on other sites too, with different ways to search them, or more detailed indexing.

Because of this, while I’m working on a tree at Ancestry I usually have numerous other tabs open so that I can use other sites in parallel. FreeBMD continues to stand the test of time when it comes to searching English and Welsh BMD records up to 1984. Because of its inclusion of mother’s maiden names in birth records and reported ages at death on death records right the way back to 1837, the GRO birth and death register indexes are also indispensable. Shropshire BMD is growing all the time and can help with finding the exact location of a marriage for which the two previous sites only give a registration district (and the same goes for the Staffordshire and Cheshire BMD websites).

Parish registers for Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Wales – all of which are vital when researching the people who made their way to and from a north Shropshire parish – are online at Findmypast, a site which often enables me to find people on the census in a year in which I can’t locate them at Ancestry. (Once I’ve done that, I use the Piece, Folio and Page numbers to search the relevant census collection at Ancestry, and look for the mistranscribed name in the results – then I can at last attach the record to the relevant person’s profile.) FamilySearch, the Shropshire Archives collections catalogue, the British Newspaper Archive, Streetmap.co.uk, National Library of Scotland maps, Google and Google Books, the list goes on, and on (and it includes pages from this website!).

Genealogy websites
Other websites are available!

Building families

As I follow the above processes I’m usually working not just on one person but the rest of their family too, adding them to the tree as I go. Some family members I add manually (perhaps after searching for relevant birth or baptism records), others are added automatically when census records (for example) are attached to an individual. Caution is needed with the latter approach. Post-1841 censuses recorded how people in a household were related to its Head – those described as sons and daughters of a male Head of a household were not necessarily all children of his then wife. Former wives (and their role as mothers) can all too easily be missed. There are many other pitfalls which can beset attempts to accurately reconstruct of families, but they are beyond the scope of this article. I hope to illustrate some of them with examples in later stories.

A line has to be drawn somewhere in adding people to a tree within the one-place forest, but I have no hard and fast rules about where I draw it. Ultimately I want to know about the connections within and between the families of those who were born in the parish or came to live there at some point, and what happened to those who left (as so many did), in order to better understand the influence of the family on these movements. I also want to pursue interesting stories when I see them. So for example when I found a Waters Upton family which had twins in two successive generations, I followed them a further generation back, before they lived in the parish, and found twins in that generation too (plus a family member who briefly worked as a servant in the village and so appeared there on a census!).

To conclude, although Ancestry is much maligned (sometimes by myself, and often with good reason), for working on family trees and finding records which help to map out and understand the lives of the people within them – including those in my Waters Upton one-place study – I wouldn’t be without it.

Picture credits.Screen grabs from Ancestry: Used for illustrative purposes only, all rights remain with Ancestry.com. FreeBMD, Findmypast, National Library of Scotland, FamilySearch and The British Newspaper Archive logos: Composite image made from screen grabs from the respective websites, used for illustrative purposes only, all rights remain with the companies and organisations which own the logos.

John Morgan, surgeon and apothecary of Waters Upton – Part 1

John Morgan was not a native of Waters Upton (nor even of Shropshire), but he lived in the parish for almost three decades prior to his death in 1878. During that time, while conducting business as a surgeon and apothecary, he also took on two public roles. What’s more, he and his wife have descendants living in Waters Upton today.

Westcountry origins

Bath - Walcot St Swithin

I have not found a baptism record which can be attributed with certainty to John, but census records show that he was born at Bath in the county of Somerset, probably in 1807 or in the early part of 1808. He may have been the John Morgan, born April 30th, who was baptised at Walcot St Swithin (pictured above). The register gives the father, also named John, the prefix “Mr.”, indicating that he was a gentleman, but names the mother as Mary. It is the mother’s name (which may of course have been recorded incorrectly) that doesn’t fit the known facts regarding John junior’s parentage: John Flower Morgan, “of the Parish of Walcotes in the City of Bath, a batchelor”, married Rebecca Worrall of Kineton in Warwickshire on 24 Apr 1806 in the bride’s parish.

There seems to be no record of John Flower Morgan’s baptism either, but he is said (by a source that is not altogether accurate about other aspects of his life) to have been a son of Philip Morgan and Mary Flowers, a couple who were married at Bristol St Philip & St Jacob on 12 January 1785. “John Flower Morgan, Gent.” was appointed as an Ensign in the ‘Kington’ (Kineton) Volunteer Infantry in 1804. As John Flowers Morgan he then received a Commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Cheshire Militia on 17 June 1808 (Gazetted 25 June 1808). He later accepted an Ensigncy in the 2nd Battalion of the Lancashire Militia to which he was appointed on 21 Oct 1813 (Gazetted 22 January 1814). One source states that John served in that Regiment as a Surgeon’s Mate (Assistant Surgeon), but in a draft release dated 25 March 1814 (at which time he was stationed at Plymouth) he was described as “John Flower Morgan, surgeon”. (His position as Assistant Surgeon – as we will soon see – is confirmed by later records.)

Family life continued alongside John Flower Morgan’s service in these various militia units. A second child, “Mariah, dr of John & Rebecca Morgan” was baptised at Kineton on 6 March 1809. Sadly, this happy event was evidently followed not long afterwards by the untimely death of Rebecca Morgan née Worrall. John took a second wife in a wedding held on 12 September 1812 at Wells in Somerset, the marriage register of which recorded the bride’s name as Mary Goldesbrough. This lady was “Mary Daughter of Mr. Edward Goldesborough and Rebekah his Wife born 4th. July” in 1786, who was privately baptised at Wells on 10 July that year and “received into the Church 18th. January 1787”. A family tree published in Memorials of the Goldesborough family shows that Edward was a Postmaster, and that he had as elder brothers two clergymen, a Rear-Admiral – and two surgeons.

In addition to taking on John’s children by his former wife, Mary added three children of her own to the Morgan family. Charles Henry Morgan was baptised at Wells on 8 May 1816; tragically, he drowned at the Cleveland Pleasure Baths in Bath on 5 August 1840 aged just 23. He did at least live a lot longer than his sister Emma Charlotte Morgan: baptised at Wells on 23 July 1818, she was buried there on 8 October that same year, having died at the age of three months.

By the time Frederick Williams Morgan was baptised on 28 September 1822, the Morgans had moved to Walcot, at Bath. Frederick survived into adulthood, married, settled in Leamington, Warwickshire and pursued a career as a dentist, according to information I have extracted (pun intended) from the censuses. John Flower Morgan meanwhile remained in his favourite part of Bath for the rest of his life, as was shown by his entry in successive editions of The London and Provincial Medical Directory – which always followed the entry for his son, John Morgan, M.R.C.S., L.S.A. The snippet below is from the 1857 edition of that publication.

Book - London and Provincial Medical Directory (1857)

Getting out of Bath (or, One good Tern deserves another)

With immediate possession,
A Genteel RESIDENCE, situate in the pleasant Village of WATERS UPTON, the county of Salop, with two parlours in front, kitchen, back kitchen, cellar, pantry, and five good lodging rooms, with stable, cow-house, piggeries, and all other convenient out-offices, together with three acres of capital grass land. This is a very desirable situation for a small retired family, or a Medical Gentleman, as there is no one in the profession within six miles of the Village. The above premises have been recently built, and are in an excellent state of repair, and the situation is beautiful, having a commanding view of the Wrekin and surrounding country.—For further particulars, and to treat for the same, apply to Mr. Felton, Rowton, near Wellington, Shropshire; if by letter, post-paid.—This advertisement will not be continued.

Within two years of the above notice being published (on page 1 of the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 2 October 1835), there was a ‘Medical Gentleman’ within six miles of Waters Upton. Although I doubt that the former led to the latter, although exactly why and when John Morgan came to settle in Shropshire I do not know.

The earliest evidence I have found of John’s presence in the county are records of his marriage to Emma Woodfin at Stoke upon Tern in 1837 – the same year in which he became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. The marriage register stated that he, like his bride, was “of Stoke”. A notice of the wedding in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 9 June 1837 (page 3) read: “23d. ult. at Stoke-upon-Tern, by the Rev. S. H. Macauley, John, eldest son of Mr. Morgan, surgeon, Bath, to Emma, only daughter of Thomas Woodfin, Esq. of Petsey, in this county.”

Map - Stoke upon Tern and Eaton upon Tern

Emma had been baptised in the same church some 20 years earlier on 27 July 1817. Her marriage there was followed in due course by the birth of her first child with John, a son named after his father (and grandfather). John junior was also baptised at Stoke Upon Tern (on 12 April 1838), as was the next addition to the family, Sarah (baptised 20 October 1839), who was named for her maternal grandmother. Both of these children were born at Eaton upon Tern, situated about 3½ miles south of Stoke. This is where the members of the Morgan family – John Morgan, age 34, a Surgeon, with Emma (25), John (3) and Sarah (2), plus three servants – were enumerated on the 1841 census. As the maps above and below this paragraph (both to the same scale) show, Eaton is closer to Waters Upton (less than 3 miles away) than it is to the village after which the parish it lies in was named.

Map - Waters Upton and Eaton upon Tern

Downriver to Waters Upton

Ten years later in 1851, the Morgans were enumerated in Waters Upton itself, a different parish, but still adjacent to the River Tern. They had not been there for very long – perhaps about four years. Four of the five children added to the family since the previous census were born at Eaton upon Tern and three of those were baptised at Stoke upon Tern. They were: Thomas (age 9, baptised as Thomas Woodfin Morgan after his maternal grandfather on 26 September 1841), Rebecca (8, named after her paternal grandmother and baptised on 20 July 1843), and Robert (6, baptised as Robert Flower Morgan on 24 July 1845; his second forename presumably given in honour of his father’s paternal grandmother Mary Flowers).

Based on his age on the 1851 census (4), William Edward Morgan was born – at Eaton upon Tern – in 1846-47. He was not baptised there however, and neither, it seems, was his birth registered. Perhaps these matters were forgotten in the midst of a house move? This may be borne out by the fact that John Morgan’s name first appeared in the register of voters at Waters Upton in the 1847-48 edition of the register (for the Northern Division of Shropshire, prepared in the latter part of 1847). John was, incidentally, not an elector at that time but was named as the occupant of a freehold house and land which belonged to a Robert Blantern (and which entitled said Mr Blantern to vote there). John Morgan was listed as an elector himself in the electoral registers from 1850-51 onwards, but it was not until the register of 1860-61 that the location of the property he was renting from Robert Blantern became clear. “Herbert Bank”, otherwise known as Harbut or Harebutt Bank, was situated to the north-east of Waters Upton village on the road to Bolas.

William Edward Morgan was finally baptised at Waters Upton on 13 February 1848 – along with his older brother Robert Flower Morgan who had been baptised already at Stoke upon Tern!

The newest addition to the Morgan family recorded on the 1851 census was 11-month-old Emma, named after her mother. She was the first member of the family to be born in the parish of Waters Upton, and she was baptised there on 1 May 1850. One of the three servants in the household in 1851, Jane Wooley (actually Jessie Jane Wooley, or Woolley), was there specifically to look after baby Emma as she was employed as a nurse. (The other two servants in the household – Henry Cartwright, age 25, a groom and gardener, and Mary Cliff, 20, a house servant – went on to marry and raised their own family in Waters Upton – a story for another time.)

Distress and delight: the death and delivery of daughters

Sadly, little Emma was not only the first member of this Morgan family to be born at Waters Upton, she was also the first to die there – less than a week after the 1851 census was taken. On 11 April 1851 the death notices published on page 5 of the Shrewsbury Chronicle included the following: “5th inst. at Waters Upton, near Wellington, aged eleven months, Emma, daughter of Mr. Morgan, surgeon.” No hint there that nurse Woolley was in any way to blame thank goodness, but I wonder how the loss of the babe in her care affected her – not to mention the impact on the rest of the Morgan family. Infant mortality was commonplace at that time, but amongst other things I wonder how a surgeon and apothecary dealt with being unable to save the life of his own child?

The grief and the feelings of helplessness and loss that I imagine John and Emma Morgan experienced in 1851, were things they had to go through all over again the following year. This time it was their eldest daughter, Sarah, who was taken from them by death. “9th inst., aged 12 years, Sarah, eldest daughter of Mr. Morgan, surgeon, of Waters Upton, in this county”, reported the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 16 July 1852 (page 4).

At the time of her daughter Sarah’s death, Emma Morgan née Woodfin was pregnant with her next child. Mary Ann Morgan was baptised at Waters Upton on 24 January 1853 – with her mother named in the register as Hannah. And to add to the errors associated with the recording of Mary Ann, according to the General Register Office’s online index of births her mother’s maiden name was Woodvine!

It does not appear that the latter error described above occurred in respect of John and Emma’s next – and last – child, another Emma born, I suspect, in December 1857. I say this because I have not found a registration of her birth. She was however baptised, at Waters Upton, on New Year’s Day 1858 . . . although her mother was once again named as Hannah in the baptism register. John and Emma Morgan were most likely blissfully unaware of the above errors – and, even more importantly, delighted to have brought two healthy baby girls into the world after the sad loss of two of their other three daughters.

Book - The New Medical Act (1858)

Having begun with the baptism of the daughter who completed John Morgan’s family, 1858 continued with a development of significance to John from a professional point of view. After years of campaigning and sixteen unsuccessful attempts over the previous eighteen years to enact legislation on medical reform, the Medical Act was passed and the “legally qualified Medical Practitioner” was recognised by law. It is John Morgan’s life as a Medical Practitioner, Surgeon and Apothecary – to use the description he gave himself on the 1861 census – that I will look at in the next instalment of this article.

To be continued.

Picture credits. Walcot St Swithin, Bath: Photo © Copyright Derek Harper; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence. Extract from London and Provincial Medical Directory, 1857: Taken from digitised copy at Google Books (original publication out of copyright). Maps showing Stoke upon Tern, Eaton upon Tern and Waters Upton: Extracts from Ordnance Survey One Inch map Sheet 138 published 1899; 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. Extract from the title page of The New Medical Act (published 1858): From a public domain work at Internet Archive.

Lucy Alice Wylde and her secret admirer

A puzzling postcard

“Has your #OnePlaceStudy been photographed?” As you might guess from the hashtag, this question was posed on Twitter. Pam Smith’s tweet prompted me to make another online search for old photos of Waters Upton, a search which turned out to be fairly fruitful. Not only did I find an old photo, I also happened upon an intriguing postcard sent to a young lady of Waters Upton, from someone who appears to have been a secret admirer.

Postcard to A Wylde, front

The postcard was one of many being offered for sale on the British Family Tree Research website, and naturally I soon snapped it up. As you can see, the front of the card has a black and white photo of a young man standing on one side of a garden fence, looking at a young woman standing on the other side. Below the photo the following verse is printed:

So you’re going away, because your heart has gone astray,
And you promised me that you would always faithful be;
Go to him you love, and be as true as stars above;
But your heart will yearn, and some day you will return,
Goodbye my lady love, farewell my turtle dove,
You are my idol and darling of my heart;
But some day you will come back to me and love me tenderly,
So goodbye my lady love, goodbye.

Powerful stuff, so let’s go over to the other side of the postcard for the all-important details of the sender and the recipient. The lamenter of lost love was, as I suspected, anonymous. Not only was no name given, the message is almost illegible in places! That message simply said:

Thanks for paper
hope allis [= all is] well
from Your’s

Postcard to A Wylde, back

OK, what about the postmark – a vital clue or a red herring? Well, it shows that the postcard was posted at Watford, in Hertfordshire, on 24 February 1906. Did the sender live in Watford but visit Waters Upton, or live in the latter and visit the former (through employment, or maybe because of family connections), or did the sender live in Waters Upton but know someone who lived in Watford, who agreed to post the card to make its origins more mysterious?

The one person whose identity I knew, from the details provided on the BFTR website, was of course the addressee: Miss A Wylde of the Lion Inn, Waters Upton. Without a doubt Lucy Alice Wylde, who was known as Alice – presumably to avoid confusion as her mother’s name was also Lucy.

The life of Lucy Alice Wylde: part 1

Lucy Alice Wylde was born at Waters Upton in 1889, most likely in the Lion Inn; her birth was registered at Wellington in the second quarter of that year. She was the third child and first daughter of John and Lucy (née Strefford) Wylde, and appears with them at the Lion on the 1891 census, along her elder brothers Frederick and Joseph (twins) and younger sister Sarah Ann (aged 7 months).

Sadly, Lucy Alice and her siblings lost their father on 2 April 1900 (a headstone in Waters Upton churchyard surviving to tell the tale). Their widowed mother took on the running of the Lion, and she was enumerated in that capacity on the 1901 census, with her children Frederick, Joseph, Alice (the forename Lucy dropped by that time), Harry and Albert (but not Sarah who, as we will see, was staying elsewhere).

The Wellington Journal of 27 July 1901 shows that Alice took part in the Bolas and Waters Upton Flower Show, held on the afternoon of Friday 6 July. In the Children’s Division of the show she was awarded fourth place for her collection of grasses; if she entered a wild flower bouquet she was not placed. There were also sporting events held in conjunction with the show (reported on in the following week’s edition of the Journal), including egg and spoon races for married ladies and spinsters; Alice competed in the latter and came second.

The next event in Alice’s life that I know of was the delivery of the postcard from her secret admirer, which quite possibly prompted giggles from Alice’s siblings, and maybe blushes from Alice herself? Alice, who at that time was nearly 17 years old, may well have known who the sender was – but we can only guess. Was it perhaps William James or his younger brother Thomas, sons of Alfred James the butcher and his wife Ann, whose household was enumerated immediately before the Lion on the censuses of 1901 and 1911? Even if I had samples of handwriting to compare (sadly I don’t) it would probably be difficult to prove one way or the other. One reader of the first incarnation of this story suggested “a teasing card from female friends or [an] elder brother.”

In an attempt to find out more, I endeavoured to piece together what happened to Alice after 1906. The first part of this project was easy. By 1911 Alice had indeed left home and she was not with her family at the Lion Inn on that year’s census. Like her elder twin brothers, Alice had found railway-related work – she was enumerated at Manchester’s Central Station on Lower Mosley Street (pictured below in the 1910s) where she was one of seven single ladies working as bar attendants.

Manchester Central Train Station, 1910s

The life of Lucy Alice Wylde: part 2

Alice’s life after 1911 was something which, at first, I was not 100% certain about. With the aid of Ancestry and then also Findmypast, I tentatively pulled together the following sequence of events. As all the records I have found use her full name, I too will from this point refer to Lucy by her original given name.

In the last quarter of 1919, the marriage of Lucy A Wylde and John Crompton was registered at Wellington, Shropshire. Judging by his surname, John was probably a Lancashire lad whom Lucy met while working in that part of England; I think it very likely that the couple wed at Waters Upton, which was not only the bride’s native parish but also where her mother still lived and worked.

Very soon after their nuptials, the newlyweds emigrated. The passenger list for the Saxon, departing Southampton on 19 December 1919, included a Mr and Mrs J Crompton who were contracted to land at Cape Town. I have to point out that there are a number of things in this record which suggest that it relates to another couple – Mrs Crompton’s age is given as 20 (30 would have been more accurate), and the “country of last permanent residence” was indicated as being “British Possessions” for both parties (I have found no evidence of any previous periods abroad for either of them). However, Mr Crompton’s occupation was given as “Clerk”, and his age as 35, both of which tie in with later records.

On 31 May 1926 Lucy A Crompton, a housewife aged 37, arrived at London from Cape Town aboard the P&O Steamship Balranald from Sydney, Australia. The country of her last permanent residence was recorded as “Africa” – which of course is not a country. (As one of my former geography teachers said many years ago when someone gave “Africa” as an answer to a question, “Damnit man, Africa’s a big place!”) Lucy’s proposed UK address was the Grapes Hotel in Liverpool, but her intended future permanent residence was “Other parts of the British Empire”. Sure enough, on 2 September 1926, 37-year-old housewife Mrs Lucy Alice Crompton, whose last UK address was the Glasgow Arms Hotel in Deansgate, Manchester, departed London for Cape Town aboard the P&O Steamship Borda. Her country of intended future permanent residence was “S. Africa”.

A further brief visit to the UK was made in 1935. This time, 46-year-old Lucy Alice Crompton was accompanied by her husband, John Crompton, a Secretary, aged 50. The couple, whose last and intended future residences were South Africa and “Other parts of the British Empire” respectively, arrived at Southampton on 29 July, aboard the Carnarvon Castle (pictured below). Their proposed UK address – and these details are worth remembering – was “c/o Mr Doughty, 12 Hayes Ave, Bournemouth”. The Cromptons left just over a fortnight later, on the Carnarvon Castle’s return trip to South Africa which began when it departed Southampton on 9 August 1935.

Ship - Carnarvon Castle

Lucy A Crompton, aged 64, returned to the UK for what appears to have been the last time in 1954. The passenger list for the Edinburgh Castle shows that she arrived at Southampton on 9 April. John Crompton was not with her (I have yet to establish his fate, not to mention who he worked for in South Africa, and whereabouts in that country he and Lucy lived). Lucy was once again heading for 12 Hayes Avenue in Bournemouth – and she intended to remain in England permanently.

According to the National Probate Calendar for 1966, Lucy Alice Crompton of 18 Lansdowne House, Christchurch Road in Bournemouth died on 12 May that year at Christchurch Hospital. Probate was granted to the Westminster Bank, and Lucy left effects valued at an impressive £12,766.

Not a bad life for a publican’s daughter – assuming all the above records actually relate to ‘our’ Lucy Alice Wylde! How to be certain, without purchasing Lucy’s marriage certificate, or her death certificate, or perhaps a copy of the aforementioned will? I decided to follow the fortunes of Sarah Ann Wylde, the younger sister of Lucy, and see what information that turned up.

Wylde at heart: sister Sarah Ann

Sarah, as we have seen, was not with her siblings and her widowed mother at the Lion Inn, Waters Upton, at the time of the 1911 census. Instead, she was staying with her cousin William Lawrence Wylde (a son of Sarah’s late uncle Lewis Wylde) at 52 Stafford Street in Hanley, Staffordshire. William, incidentally, was a Beerhouse Manager, so his (public) house was, aside from being in an urban rather than a rural environment, ‘home from home’ for 10-year-old Sarah.

In my initial searches I failed to find Sarah on the 1911 census, but I managed to catch up with her in 1922 – on her wedding day. The marriage register of Stanmore Church in Middlesex, described by Ancestry as Harrow St John, shows that on 29 June 1922 Sarah Ann Wylde of Stanmore, a spinster aged 31 and a daughter of John Wylde deceased, married Albert Ishmael Doughty of Harrow, son of John Doughty deceased. John, who had retired from business, was a bachelor aged – wait for it – 56 (perhaps there’s hope for me yet!).

Map - Bournemouth, Hayes Avenue highlighted

Does the surname Doughty ring any bells? If it doesn’t, how about the address where Sarah and Albert were living when the National Identity Register was compiled in 1939? Albert I Doughty, a retired pawnbroker born 26 August 1865, and Sarah A Doughty, born 19 August 1890, were – along with Albert’s unmarried sister Marion – residing at 12 Hayes Avenue, Bournemouth (Hayes Avenue lies within the purple circle on the map above). Boom! Clear evidence that Sarah’s sister Lucy Alice Wylde had indeed married clerk / secretary John Crompton and emigrated with him to South Africa.

Albert Ishmael Doughty of 12 Hayes Avenue Bournemouth died on 28 November 1942; the National Probate Calendar for 1943 shows that probate was granted to the National Westminster Bank and that Albert effects were valued at a whopping £30,883 4s. 3d. His widow Sarah Ann Doughty, née Wylde, remained at the couple’s home in Bournemouth but died at Strathallan Nursing Home in Owls Road on 12 August 1962. She had evidently been the primary beneficiary of her late husband’s will, as her effects (according the National Probate Calendar of 1962) were valued at £26,901 14s. 5d.

So far away, yet so close

Lucy Alice and Sarah Ann, two sisters from Waters Upton, led very different lives, and for a large part of those lives were half a world away from each other. But despite the distance they were clearly very close to each other. Not only did they keep in touch, they also spent their last years in the same seaside resort on the south coast of England.

What of Lucy Alice’s secret admirer? That postcard wasn’t thrown away, it was kept and it was presumably only after Lucy’s death that it found its way into the old postcard trade, so it must have meant something. Well over a century after it was posted, it came to my notice and has led to a little of Lucy Alice’s life, and that of her sister Sarah, being explored and remembered. But who sent the card?

Thanks to genealogy guru Dave Annal (Lifelines Research), I think we now have a pretty good idea. Dave did a more thorough job of searching for Sarah in 1911 than I did, and guess where he found her? Living (and working as a general domestic servant) in the household of Ellen Hester Boulter at 2 Loates Lane in Watford, that’s where!

Picture credits. Postcard sent to Miss A Wylde: Posted in 1906 and therefore believed to be out of copyright. Central Train Station, Manchester: From a 1910s postcard and therefore believed to be out of copyright. The Union-Castle Royal Mail Motor Vessel “Carnarvon Castle”: From an out-of-copyright image at State Library of Queensland (John Oxley Library), Australia. Map of Bournemouth showing the location of Hayes Avenue: Extract from Ordnance Survey One Inch map Sheet 179; 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.

A fatal tricycle accident at Waters Upton – Part 2

< Back to Part 1.

PC Thomas Alexander Lee

Thos. Alexander Lee deposed: I am a police-constable, stationed at Waters Upton. On Tuesday night [11 August 1891], at 10-35, I saw William Matthews and the last witness at Matthews’s wicket [= gate]. There were two tricycles and a man on the ground. I asked “What’s up?” and Matthews said, “Sammy Dodd’s had a drop of beer and fallen off his machine.” I examined the deceased, but did not think he was hurt. The only mark I saw was a scratch on the hand. I saw that the machine was broken.
I went to my rooms, close by, and fetched some matches. Matthews also fetched light. While he was away I lit the lamp of the tricycle, and examined the deceased. I satisfied myself that no bones were broken. I told Matthews that if deceased was hurt it must be about his head, but I could find no marks. Deceased had been vomiting, and smelt strongly of drink. I asked him several times to get up, and he muttered that he should be all right directly if let alone. I was under the impression that he was drunk, and not hurt.
Matthews asked the deceased if he was going home, and he said something about bed. Matthews said, “What have you been doing, Sammy, to get into this state? I’ll not have you in my bed in this form, but I’ve plenty building, and will bed you down.” On that I left them. Owen followed me and said that deceased would be all right—that Matthews would look after him. I did not think deceased capable of going home, but I did think Matthews would take care of him.— [Questioned by] Mr. Superintendent Galliers: I knew deceased to be a friend of Matthews, and believed that Matthews would take him into his house.

Thomas Lee (Police Constable 107) was one of a number of people whose appearance on the 1891 census at Waters Upton was the only time they were enumerated at that place. He was a native of Whitchurch in Shropshire, where he was baptised on 24 February 1864; his parents were farmer William Lee and his wife Mary, née Robinson.

places - Whitchurch (The Old House)

The Old House in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

Newspaper reports of the proceedings of the Petty Sessions at Wellington in 1890 and 1891 give the (probably misleading) impression that PC Lee’s duties while stationed in Waters Upton revolved mainly around dealing with drunken patrons of the local hostelries. The earliest such report that I have found so far, in the Wellington Journal of 5 April 1890 (page 6), shows that PC Lee charged two men with drunkenness at Waters Upton on 22 March 1890. Later that year he charged one man with being drunk and disorderly at High Ercall on 11 September and two men for the same offence at Waters Upton on the 20th (Wellington Journal, 4 October 1890, page 3).

A variation on the regular theme was the man summoned by PC Lee to appear at the Petty Sessions on 15 December 1890 “for being drunk and asleep while in charge of a horse and trap on the 8th inst., on the road leading from Crudgington to Waters Upton”. It was ‘business as usual’ on Boxing Day however (two men drunk at Waters Upton, and in May 1891 Thomas charged two men with drunkenness in the village, and another with “being drunk and refusing to quit the Swan Inn, Waters Upton”. (Wellington Journal, 20 December 1891, page 6; 10 January 1891, page 2; 30 May 1891, page 3; and 13 June 1891, page 6.)

PC Lee was clearly used to seeing the effects of alcohol on people, but should he have known better in Samuel Dodd’s case? He did not remain stationed at Waters Upton for long after Dodd’s demise. A round-up of cases heard at the Wellington Petty Sessions on 28 September (Wellington Journal, 3 October 1891, page 2) indicates that he had been transferred to Wellington itself by then. I cannot help wondering whether this move was connected with his conduct on the night of Sam Dodd’s fatal accident, or if the timing was simply a coincidence.

At some point over the next ten years, Thomas and the Shropshire Constabulary parted company. He was enumerated in 1901 at Whitchurch, his birthplace, where he was living with his sister (also unmarried) and working as a County Court Bailiff. The only thing that had changed when the 1911 census was taken (apart from Thomas’s age of course) is that he was living with his widowed mother Mary. The death of Thomas Alexander Lee, aged 68, was registered in the Atcham Registration District of Shropshire in the last quarter of 1932.

Robert Nicholls, Joseph Jones, Walter Welsh and Jane Jones

Robert Nicholls said: I am a labourer, and live at Waters Upton. Yesterday morning, at five o’clock, I looked out of my bedroom window, and saw some one lying on the footpath. At half-past five I went out to see who it was, and found deceased lying on his side. He was then alive. I thought he was drunk. I spoke to him but he made answer. I called Joseph Jones, and he came and helped me to put him in a pigsty close by. Jones said thought deceased would be better after a lie down. Other people came and saw him, and I then left—[Questioned by] the Foreman: I have heard of deceased being drunk, and I thought he was drunk then. He breathed rather heavily.
Walter Welsh said: I am a blacksmith, and live at Waters Upton. Yesterday morning, shortly before six o’clock, I saw deceased in Matthews’s pigsty. He was breathing very heavily. I knew that Nicholls had put him in the pigsty. I did not know the deceased intimately, but have seen him drunk.
Jane Jones said: Yesterday morning I went into Matthews’s house. Deceased was there on sofa. Directly after I got into the house deceased passed away. I did not lay the body out I put him straight.

The 1891 census shows that Joseph Jones was a farm waggoner, and Jane was his wife. Both were residents of Waters Upton from the mid-1860s – I will return to them in another article. Robert Nicholls and Walter Welsh on the other hand were, like Samuel Owen and Thomas Lee, short-term inhabitant of the parish. I have written very briefly about Walter in Blacksmiths in Waters Upton – Part 2.

Robert Nicholls was born in the small settlement of Sleap, to the south of both Waters Upton and neighbouring Crudgington, and was baptised at the parish church of Ercall Magna on 3 June 1855. He was named after his father, and like his dad he worked as an agricultural labourer.

places - Rowtown All Hallows

Rowton All Hallows.

Robert married Emma Teece in the first quarter of 1882 (Emma was born and baptised in Waters Upton in 1856, and has a story of her own to be told).

The 1891 census shows that the couple’s first two children were born at Rowton while the next two were born in Waters Upton, giving 1887 or thereabouts as an approximate timing for the family’s relocation. In similar fashion the 1901 census suggests that the Nicholls family had moved to their next home, at Crudgington Green, in the middle of the 1890s; Robert was a waggoner at this time. They were still there in 1911, by which time Robert was a farm labourer again. The death of an 83-year-old Robert Nicholls, quite possibly this former Waters Uptonian, was registered at Wellington in the first quarter of 1939.

Medical evidence

Dr. George Hollies deposed: I am a physician and surgeon, practising in Wellington. Yesterday morning I received a telegram asking me to come to Waters Upton to a bicycle accident. I arrived about 11 o’clock. The man was then dead. He was lying on a couch in Matthews’s house. I made an external examination of the body. I found an abrasion on the back of the right hand, with sand and soil in the palm. There was also an abrasion on the left hand, and a slight abrasion on the left elbow. There was a slight scratch on the forehead, above the right eyebrow. I found blood mixed with sand and soil about three inches above the right ear. There was an abrasion of the scalp, larger than shilling. The scalp was swollen and bruised. I consider that such an accident as a fall from a tricycle would cause the injuries described.
From the evidence I have heard, and from the external examination I made, I should judge that the man died from compression of the brain, following concussion, but of course l am unable exactly say from mere external examination. It is difficult to say whether the exposure would have made any great difference in this case. No doubt the danger would be increased the fact of the deceased being moved about. I could not say that death was accelerated in this particular case. It is a common error to mistake the condition in which this man was for a state of drunkenness.

William Matthews’ deposition

William Matthews said: I am a sawyer, and live at Waters Upton. On Tuesday evening I and deceased went for a ride on our tricycles. We called at the Buck’s Head, Long Lane, had some drink there, and remained about an hour. We left about a quarter-past nine, and rode together to Crudgington Road. Deceased then went on in front of me.
I met Mr. Percival [Purcell] by the Post Office, and stopped to talk to him. Samuel Owen came to us by the Rectory, and told us that the deceased had been upset. I asked if he was hurt, and Owen said the machine was worse hurt than the man. I came down to my wicket. Deceased was then under the tree. I stayed with him for some time.
Afterwards Police-constable Lee came, and Owen left. I remained with the deceased until 11-30. I asked him stop with me, and he said he would go home. I did not think he was hurt. He had had some beer, but came as far as I rode with him all right, and I thought he was quite able to get home. I did not think that be wished to stop. I have seen him drunk before. I found him in my pigsty next morning about eight o’clock.
I went to try and get a conveyance to take him home, and sent a telegram to Dr. Hollies. I then got deceased into my house, and did all I could for him. I saw deceased’s father when he came. Dr. Hollies afterwards came, but the man was dead then. I have known and worked with the deceased for some time, and he was an intimate acquaintance of mine.

places - Long Lane, The Bucks Head

The Buck’s Head at Long Lane as it appears today.

The verdict, and a reprimand

The Coroner then summed up, and the jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased died from the result of injuries received by accidentally falling from a tricycle. They added a rider the effect that the witness Matthews was greatly to blame for not taking the deceased into his house, and requested the Coroner to censure him.—Matthews was then called in, and the Coroner severely reprimanded him for his conduct.

Was the censure of Thomas Matthews fair – was he really at fault? What would you have done in his position, and would it have made a difference? Hypothetical questions aside, would you recognise the symptoms of head injury and concussion (and know what to do) if you saw them today?

After the inquest

Two letters appeared in the Wellington Journal of 22 August 1891 (page 3). One was sent by Samuel Dodd’s sister, Margaret Wood, of Bolas Magna. She had “worked the tricycle” from which Sam had fallen, back to Bolas Magna – and found it was in good working order. She expressed, in terms which made her distress and bitterness clear, her disbelief that anyone examining the machine could say it was broken, “unless the witnesses kindly mended the machine, whilst leaving my brother to mend himself.”

The other letter was submitted by “one of the jurymen”, who was sympathetic to those who had not been able to tell that Samuel Dodd had been suffering from concussion rather than the effects of drink. Concerned that “Waters Upton is situate five miles from any medical man”, he suggested that “ambulance classes in country districts” should be established. How wonderful that his proposal was, in time, acted upon by the Waters Upton resident whose home was used for Sam Dodd’s inquest (and who may have been the anonymous juryman). The following report appeared on page 8 of the Wellington Journal of 22 October 1892:

Ambulance Class.—An ambulance class in connection with the Wellington Technical Instruction Committee has been established here by Mr. Wm. A. R. Ball, and the first lecture was delivered at the schoolroom on Monday evening by Dr. Hollies, Wellington. The register contains 25 members, and 22 of these answered to their names. The committee consists of Messrs. Walter Dugdale, H. F. Percival, J. N. Cornes, Humphreys, the Revs. J. B. Davies, L. V. Yonge, and H. T. Tetlow. The secretarial part of the duties are performed by Mr. William A. R. Ball.

Picture credits. The Old House in Whitchurch: Jaggery / South side of The Olde House, Dodington, Whitchurch / CC BY-SA 2.0; taken from Wikimedia Commons and modified, used, and made available for reuse under the same Creative Commons licence. All Hallows church at Rowton: Photo © Copyright A Holmes; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a >Creative Commons licence. The Buck’s Head at Long Lane: Photo © Copyright Row17; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence.

A fatal tricycle accident at Waters Upton – Part 1

Fatal Tricycle Accident at Waters Upton
Dying, Not Drunk
A fatal tricycle accident, under most painful circumstances, occurred in the village of Waters Upton, on Tuesday night. A carpenter named Samuel Dodd had been out with a companion, William Matthews, both riding tricycles. On their way they called at the Buck’s Head Inn, Long Lane, after which they returned towards home, Matthews and Dodd parting company at Crudgington Road, the latter proceeding on his way to his lodgings. Later on, Dodd was discovered on the side the road at Waters Upton, with his tricycle on the top of him, and in a partially insensible condition. Matthews and others, including a police-officer, subsequently came up, and arrived at the conclusion that Dodd was drunk. The unfortunate man was, under this impression, left where he fell, and it was not until the following morning that it was found he had sustained serious injuries, when he was removed to the house of Matthews, where he died.

transport - tricycles by Mike Peel (Wikimedia Commons)

Frankby Tricycle dating from 1880-1890 (left) and a Victorian/Edwardian Tricycle (right) at Clitheroe Castle Museum.

So began a detailed report in the Wellington Journal of 15 August 1891 (page 6), on the tragic death of Samuel Dodd three days before. Samuel was not a resident of Waters Upton. He was born at Wrockwardine in Shropshire and baptised there on 18 December 1859 and by 1871 his family had moved to his father’s native parish of Bolas Magna where they remained, with Sam ‘flying the nest’ some time during his 20s to move into lodgings. But Samuel was clearly well known in Waters Upton, his untimely demise took place there, and the events surrounding his death involved several of the parish’s inhabitants. We’re going to get to know some of those people in this story, starting with Samuel’s drinking (and tricycling) buddy.

William Matthews.

When the census was taken earlier in 1891, William Matthews was enumerated as an unmarried, 43-year-old sawyer living alone at Waters Upton. I have found no record of his baptism in the relevant register but William’s first appearance on a census schedule, in 1851, shows that he was the son of William Matthews senior, a cordwainer (or shoe maker), and Ann (née Hobson), and born about 1848. His birth was registered in the first quarter of 1848 at Wellington.

By 1861 William junior, age 13, was a shoe maker like his father, but ten years on in 1871 he was enumerated as an agricultural labourer. Over the course of the next decade he adopted another type of employment, one which he seems to have settled on, as the 1881 census (like that of 1891) shows he was working as a sawyer. He seems to have liked a drop of beer too, an aspect of his life that I will explore in more detail another time.

The Inquest begins

The next resident of Waters Upton to appear in the Wellington Journal’s report is someone else to whom I will have to return in another article. For now, I will simply say that William Abraham Richard Ball appeared on the 1891 census as a 42-year-old tailor, living with his Waters Upton-born wife and children.

An inquest on the body was held at the house of Mr. W. A. R. Ball, Waters Upton, on Thursday morning, before J. V. T. Lander, Esq., coroner, and a jury of which Mr. J. Cornes was foreman.—The first witness called was Thomas Dodd, who deposed: l am a gardener, and live at Bolas Heath. The body which the jury have just viewed is that of my son, Samuel Dodd, who was a carpenter, and 31 years of age. He was living in lodgings at Long Waste. I last saw him alive on Monday morning. Yesterday morning I was sent for to see him at Waters Upton. I came, and found him dead.
I saw Matthews, who said he and the deceased had gone out with their tricycles after leaving work, and went to Long Waste. Deceased stayed to get his tea at his lodgings, and then they both rode to the Buck’s Head Inn, Long Lane. After a time they left together on their way to Waters Upton. Matthews said deceased rode in front of him, and that he thought he had gone to my house at Bolas. He further added that he saw no more of him that night.
Matthews also stated that on his getting up next morning he saw the deceased in his pigsty, and that he was very sorry for it; if he had known what was the matter he should have taken him into his house. I asked Matthews what had killed my son, and he said he did not know. Matthews said they had had no beer except at the Buck’s Head, and that the deceased was not drunk.—[Questioned by] the Foreman: Matthews said they had worked the usual time, and afterwards went to the Buck’s Head.

map - Waters Upton, Longwaste, Long Lane

Map showing locations visited by Samuel Dodd on the evening before he died, including Long Waste, the Buck’s Head at Long Lane (centre of circle, between the fork in the road and the canal), and Waters Upton.

J Cornes, incidentally, was almost certainly Joseph Cornes of nearby Crudgington in the parish of Ercall Magna. Although he never lived within the parish of Waters Upton (as far as I know), he was buried there (in 1897); his gravestone and a little more information about him can be found on his Memorial Inscription page.

Samuel Owen . . .

. . . was the next to give evidence. Although he was recorded (with his wife and three young children) as a resident of Waters Upton on the 1891 census, he had not lived there for long, and would not remain there for much longer either. Born ‘next door’ in the parish of Ercall Magna in 1857, Samuel still had his abode there when he married Rosa Fanny Mary Tanswell at nearby Wellington (where the bride lived, at Street Lane) on 9 September 1884. He was a joiner at that time, and a joiner still in 1891; the fact that his and Rosa’s eldest child Ellen was then, according to the census, 5 years old and born in Waters Upton suggests that the couple settled there very soon after they wed. Their other, younger offspring Emily (3) and Frederick (1) were also born in Waters Upton.

By 1901 however the Owens were living at Walton in Samuel’s native parish, with Samuel’s occupation recorded in the census as “Joiner (Carpenters)”. The same census shows that the next child born into the family after Frederick (aged 11) was 8 year old Rosa junior, at Waters Upton. The births of younger sons Owen, Harold and Charles however, aged 6, 3 and 1 respectively, all took place at Walton, suggesting that they relocated to that hamlet sometime around 1893. With four of the aforementioned children plus another addition, John, the Owen family was still at Walton in 1911. Samuel’s death was registered at Wellington in the last quarter of 1915; he was 57.

Let’s return to the Wellington Journal and find out what Samuel had to say about the events of the evening of 14 August 1891…

Samuel Owen deposed: l am a joiner, and live Waters Upton. On Tuesday night I left home about nine o’clock and went to the Swan Inn. I was returning home by the Post Office when I saw Matthews talking to the stationmaster, Mr. Perceval. I walked up the road with them. Matthews got off his tricycle and pushed it up the bank. At the top of the bank Matthews and the stationmaster stopped talking. I took Matthews’s tricycle and pushed it down the road, and as I came past Miss Walker’s I saw something on the right-hand side of the road, on the footpath, and I went to see what it was.
I found the deceased on the ground, and a tricycle on top of him. The tricycle was bent, and the wheel would not turn. I picked up the deceased and asked if he was hurt, and he replied, “None of your old tricks.” I told him the machine was broken, and he said, “Bother,” or something of that sort. He could walk with my assistance. I helped him to the wall and left him by it. I went to look for his hat, and when I came back I found he had been vomiting. I did not think he was hurt, but that he was drunk.
I went back to Mr. Perceval and Matthews and told them that “Sammy had had a spill.” They asked if deceased was hurt, and I said I thought the tricycle was smashed up more than Sam. Matthews then came with me to where the deceased had fallen from the wall, and was then in a sitting position against the wall. I asked deceased if he was going home, and he said, “Wait five minutes, and then I’ll come.” Police-constable Lee then arrived, and picked the deceased up, and said he thought he was drunk. I tried again to start him off home, but still he asked to be allowed to stop. Matthews was there, but I heard no mention of deceased’s going to Matthews’s house.
I did not know that deceased had been out with Matthews. Deceased made no complaint. I thought he was simply drunk, and that he had run against the kerbstone and upset the machine. Matthews had had beer, but he was not drunk, and seemed capable of taking care of himself. I left him with the deceased, who was then standing against the wall, and Matthews was talking to him. I heard Matthews tell him he had better go home. I quite thought he was starting home when I left. I have seen him before when has been in beer, and have started him home several nights.

The stationmaster

map - Crudgington, Sleap and railway station

Map published 1886 showing Crudgington, Sleap, and Crudgington railway station.

Who was Mr ‘Perceval’ (Percival), the stationmaster? The only other trace of him I found when I searched the British Newspaper Archive was a report in 1889 in which it was mentioned that he sent flowers to the funeral of John Bertie Davies, who had been employed at the station as a telegraph clerk (Wellington Journal, 7 September 1889, page 8). There was a Mr Herbert F Percival living in Waters Upton in 1891, but he was a farmer. The nearby railway station – with its stationmaster’s house – was at Crudgington, situated south of Waters Upton and in the parish of Ercall Magna (the track and the station are now long gone, but the house and a railway bridge remain).

The entry for High Ercall in the 1891 Kelly’s Directory provided me with the answer: the name of the Crudgington stationmaster was actually James Purcell (which reinforces the old saying that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers)! The Wellington Journal did at least get his name right in their edition of 31 October 1891 when they included “Mr. Purcell, the popular and obliging stationmaster at Crudgington” among those who attended a concert at Crudgington. The concert had been organised at James Purcell’s request, to raise money for the Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund of the Great Western Railway. Attendees included Waters Upton residents John Bayley Davies, the rector – and the aforementioned Mr Percival, the farmer.

James Purcell, a Railway Station Master born at Cox Bank in Audlem, Cheshire, was enumerated on the 1891 census at Crudgington. He appears to have knocked a few years off his age for that census – although he said he was 34, in 1881 when he was a stationmaster at Adderley near Market Drayton, he was 27. We get to the truth by going back another ten years to the 1881 census, when James was a railway porter living with his parents and siblings in the place of his birth and his age was given as 19: a son of shoemaker James Purcell and his wife Charlotte, née Worrall, James junior was baptised at Audlem on 6 July 1851.

James’s employment took him to Shrewsbury in 1892, a report in the Wellington Journal of 26 November that year noting that: “Mr. Purcell has been stationmaster at Crudgington for upwards of 12 years [10 years at most in reality!], and his leaving seems to be generally regretted throughout the district.” James Purcell, 44, was still living in Shrewsbury when the 1901 census was taken, and was employed as a railway clerk (or more specifically, as a “Railway Canvasser”). He remained in Shrewsbury and in that employment until his death on 26 March 1912.

> On to Part 2.

Picture credits. Victorian / Edwardian tricycles: Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net); taken from Wikimedia Commons, modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. Map showing Waters Upton, Crudgington, Long Lane, and Long Waste: Composite image made from extracts of Ordnance Survey One-Inch to the mile map sheets 138 and 152 published 1899, Crown Copyright expired; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence. Map showing Crudgington, Sleap, and Crudgington railway station: Extract from Ordnance Survey Six-inch map sheet XXIX.SE published 1886, Crown Copyright expired; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a >Creative Commons licence.

Blacksmiths in Waters Upton – Part 2

< Back to Part 1.

James Ridgway, husband and father

Occupation - Blacksmith (2)

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

— The Village Blacksmith, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published 1840.

James fathered six children in all. His first wife Ann née Jones bore him two daughters and three sons before her death, when aged just 39, on 6 March 1846. Those children were Harriet Ridgway (baptised 30 September 1838), Ellen (baptised 16 February 1840), William (17 October 1841), George (born in 1843, but no baptism record found), and James junior (baptised 26 January 1845).

None of these five children remained in Waters Upton. William did not stray far: like his father he became a blacksmith, but in a move which was the complete opposite of that made by James, he relocated from Waters Upton to Ercall Magna parish. William married Emma Lawley, a daughter of fellow blacksmith Henry Lawley and his wife Jane, who I mentioned in Part 1 of this article. I did promise that I would return to them!

Ellen’s various jobs in service are took her to Staffordshire and Yorkshire, and quite possibly other parts of the country too, before she returned to Shropshire and, like her brother William, settled in Ercall Magna. Ellen did not marry. Her sister Harriet on the other hand wed coach builder Richard Denchfield at Edgbaston, Warwickshire, on 24 May 1868, and lived with him at Balsall Heath.

The Ridgway siblings who moved the furthest however were without doubt George and James junior, who emigrated to New Zealand and became farmers (a story for another time perhaps).

Some five and half years after the loss of his first wife, James Ridgway married Harriet Mayne Knot, daughter of cooper Richard Knott, at Birmingham St Phillips on 3 November 1851. James stated that he was living in Bull Street at the time, but that was likely only a short term residence purely for the purposes of the nuptials.

Ridgway and Knott: Keeping it in the family

Harriet, incidentally, was James’s sister-in-law, his younger brother George Ridgway having wed Harriet’s younger sister Elizabeth Mayne Knott on 29 December 1846, also at Birmingham St Phillips. George, whose baptism at Waters Upton on 30 May 1824 I have already mentioned, followed James’s example and became a blacksmith like their father, but he remained in Cold Hatton.

I wonder how much of a surprise it was when Harriet discovered that she was pregnant and due to give birth to her first child at the age of 42. Charles John Ridgway was baptised at Waters Upton on 15 Apr 1855, and as we have seen he remained with his parents and entered the family business. He was enumerated as John Ridgway, a 16-year-old blacksmith’s assistant, when the 1871 census was taken, and as a fully-fledged blacksmith (26 and still known as John) ten years later in 1881.

Waters Upton MIs - Ridgway, Alfred and Sarah AnnAnother Ridgway family was also living in Waters Upton in 1881, headed by 26-year-old Alfred Ridgway. Alfred was James and Harriet’s nephew and (Charles) John’s double first cousin, a son of George Ridgway and Elizabeth, née Knott. He was a wheelwright, so it is entirely possible that he worked in conjunction with his uncle James and cousin Charles John at the Waters Upton Smithy. Like his uncle, after settling in Waters Upton he stayed there until he died. He appeared on the 1891 census as a wheelwright once more, but the censuses of 1901 and 1911 show that he had broadened his business and became a carpenter and wheelwright.

An entry for the administration of his estate in the National Probate Calendar for 1925 shows that at the time of his death on 2 August that year, his residence was 8 Waters Upton. His wife Sarah Ann, née Woolley, survived him and was still living at Number 8 when the 1939 Register was taken on 29 September 1939. She lived right through the Second World War before following her late husband to grave on Christmas Eve 1945.

Tools of the trade

My searches of the British Newspaper Archive have not so far produced any newspaper reports relating to the Ridgway blacksmithing business in Waters Upton. I have however found items relating to blacksmiths in Shropshire more generally, including the fact that when established rural smiths advertised for men to work for them, they tended to look for those who were “steady”, “used to country work”, and a “good shoer” or a “good nailer on”.

Another notice relating to a sale by auction in 1884 is also of interest, as it consisted of “a Capital Lot of BLACKSMITHS’ TOOLS (in good condition), excellent anvil (nearly new), 4cwt. 1qr. 15lbs; Pair of 36in. Bellows (with frame and piping), 4 Blacksmiths’ Vices, &c., 75 dozen new Horse Shoes (various), a 3ft, 6in. Grindstone and frame, Drilling Machines, and other useful lots.” (Wellington Journal, 12 April 1884, page 1.)

Carry On Smithing: Charles John Ridgway takes over

Waters Upton MIs - Ridgway, James, Anne and HarrietJames Ridgway, blacksmith to the people of Waters Upton from at least 1837,  died on 24 February 1890 aged 78. Did he carry on smithing right to the end? In 1887 he was named as the occupier of “A FREEHOLD HOUSE and BLACKSMITH’S SHOP, with Garden and Appurtenances, situate in the Sandholes, in the village of Waters Upton” when these properties were once again put up for sale by auction. So it is entirely possible that he was still toiling at the forge in his mid-70s. On the other hand, it is perhaps also possible that as the senior Ridgway the occupancy of these properties would still have been under his name even if he had retired.

On James’s death, if not a little before, Charles John Ridgway took over the ‘family business’ and supported his widowed mother Harriet, who lived with him until her own passing on 21 March 1903 at the grand old age of 90.

Under the name John Ridgway, he appeared in the 1891 census and in trade directories for 1891 and 1895 as the blacksmith of Waters Upton. He was not always the only blacksmith in the village during that period. (If you have ever watched Little Britain, incidentally, I need to tell you that in my head I wrote part of that last sentence in the style of one of Matt Lucas’s characters.) An inquest held at Waters Upton in 1890 (about which I will shortly post an article) received evidence from, amongst others, Walter Welsh who began his short statement by saying “I am a blacksmith, and live at Waters Upton.” I suspect he was working at the Ridgway smithy, but had not been doing so for very long as he was not enumerated in the parish on the 1891 census. (He may have been the 22-year-old Walter G Welch living with his parents and a sister at Marbury in Cheshire when that census was taken; both he and his father were blacksmiths.)

By census time in 1901 Charles had reclaimed his original forename, being enumerated as Charles J Ridgway. And having reclaimed his birth name he kept it, appearing as Charles John Ridgway, blacksmith, on the 1911 census and in trade directories for 1909, 1913, and 1917, when he was 62 years old. At what point he retired, I do not yet know. He died, unmarried, at the age of 68, on 11 February 1924, leaving effects valued at £1803 19s 10d. So I think it is fair to conclude that the Ridgway ‘Vulcans’ of Waters Upton lived long and prospered.

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

— The Village Blacksmith, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published 1840.

Postscript: After the Ridgways

The only information I have on blacksmiths in Waters Upton after the passing of Charles John Ridgway comes from the 1939 Register. Living at 4 Hanford Terrace at that time was a family headed by John H Leech, born 6 August 1897, occupation “Shoeing & General Smith”. A native of Shrewsbury, by 1911 John Henry Leech was living with his parents and siblings in the parish of Stanton on Hine Heath. Aged 13, he was an apprentice wheelwright. Maybe he switched masters after that and became an apprentice to a blacksmith, or perhaps as a wheelwright he picked up metal working skills which stood him in good stead when he later turned his hand to shoeing and smithing. He died in (or just before) 1982, by which times it appears he had returned to Shrewsbury.

Did John Leech take over from Charles John Ridgway? And was he the last blacksmith of Waters Upton? Who preceded and/or followed him if the answer to either or both of those questions is No? There’s still more to find out before I can close the book on the blacksmiths of Waters Upton.

Picture credits. Blacksmith in his smithy: From an 1885 edition of Longfellow’s The Village Blacksmith; taken from the British Library Flickr photostream, no known copyright restrictions. Gravestones of Ridgway family members at Waters Upton: Both photos by Steve Jackson.

Blacksmiths in Waters Upton – Part 1

V is for Vulcan

This article is an extended version of a post I wrote as a contribution to the Society for One-Place Studies’ employment-themed A to Z Blogging Challenge in April 2020. One of the two letters I volunteered to cover was ‘V’. According to an online Dictionary of Old Occupations, “Vulcan [is] a term for a Blacksmith, possibly derived from the name of the Roman god”. So naturally I starting out by explaining: “I know what you’re thinking. I’m a big Star Trek fan, and it would be just my style to work out some way of shoehorning a green-blooded, pointy-eared alien into a one-place studies blog post! But as my Place is earth-bound Waters Upton, that would be illogical . . .”

Occupation - Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

— The Village Blacksmith, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published 1840.

The blacksmith, with his forge, hammer and anvil, is probably one of the first people we think of when considering village occupations – even a village as small as Waters Upton had one. The earliest evidence I know of confirming the presence of one in the parish is a baptism recorded in the parish register covering the early 1600s, when one child’s father was described as a “blakesmith.”

Blacksmiths worked with iron to make everything from nails and horseshoes, and they repaired tools and farm implements, so their importance to the communities they served can easily be imagined. Many also worked closely with wheelwrights, as the wooden components of wheels for carts, wagons and carriages were held together by an outer rim of metal. Originally the metal took the form of strakes, lengths of iron which were nailed to the outside of wheels. In the mid-1800s however strakes were replaced by tyres, each one a single ring of iron made to fit the wheel tightly once it was cooled, with tire-bolts added to ensure it remained in place.

Death of a blacksmith

With the fires in their forges burning all day, blacksmiths were used to working in hot conditions. Not all blacksmiths received a warm welcome at Waters Upton however. On the night of Sunday the 2nd of October 1785 “a very rash and fatal Affair” occurred when a blacksmith from Ruyton with the amazing appellation of Octavius Caesar Augustus Hithcot visited the Waters Upton watering hole of innkeeper John Gower. Unfortunately “an Affray arose about some trifling Matters, when the Landlord took his Gun and shot the Blacksmith dead on the Spot.” Gower then absconded, with a 10 guinea reward on offer for his apprehension. I have yet to discover whether he was ever brought to justice.

The Ridgway family of Cold Hatton

Thankfully Waters Upton’s own blacksmiths, at least in the 1800s, seem to have fared rather better. Prior to the census we can use the parish’s baptism register to trace some of those smiths – but only from 1815 when the new-style printed register (which recorded the occupations of all the fathers named therein) was adopted by the newly-installed incumbent Richard Hill. The first blacksmiths recorded in that register lived in the nearby hamlets of Cold Hatton and Rowton, situated in the adjacent parish of Ercall Magna.

Among the blacksmiths of that parish who had their children baptised at Waters Upton was John Ridgway of Cold Hatton, whose wife was named Ann. Their daughters Sarah and Charlotte were baptised on 27 February 1820, and that joint ceremony was followed by the baptisms of sons George on 30 May 1824 and Robert on 20 March 1827. I will return to the Ridgways later.

map - Waters Upton area, 1833 OS

Map showing Waters Upton and nearby settlements, including Cold Hatton, Rowton and Crudginton.

Humphreys, Fox and Robinson in Waters Upton

The first blacksmith who I can say for sure was a resident of Waters Upton in the 1800s was John Humphreys. He and his wife Elizabeth were living in nearby Crudgington (again in Ercall Magna parish) when their son Henry was baptised at Waters Upton on 22 April 1821. By 25 May 1823 however, when the couple’s next son, Ambrose, was baptised there, the family’s abode was Waters Upton. They were still there when daughter Rachael was baptised on 9 October 1825, but it appears that within a year of this John had moved on and a new arrival was supplying smithing services to the village.

Marianne, the daughter of blacksmith Richard Fox and his wife Elizabeth, of Waters Upton, was baptised at St Michael’s on 11 September 1826. Two years later, on 8 September 1828, the same ceremony was performed for another Fox ‘cub’, Martha. After that, no more Waters Upton blacksmiths appear in the baptism register until 2 March 1833, at which point it seems the village forge was being tended by a Thomas Robinson.

Vickers and Buttery of Rowton and Lawley of Cold Hatton

Another gap follows, during which time it is not clear who the village blacksmith was. Three baptisms for children of two more blacksmiths living beyond the parish boundary are worthy of mention here. On 17 April 1835 Wright Willett, the Curate, seethed as he recorded the baptism of Elizabeth the illegitimate daughter of George Vickers and Ann Buttery of Rowton. He described George as a “Blacksmith & Married Man!!!” and Ann as a “Widow & Sister in law to Vickers!!!” (It looks like the wayward Ann’s late husband had followed the same trade, as Mary, daughter of Joseph Buttery, blacksmith, and Ann, of Rowton, had been baptised at Waters Upton on 12 Sep 1830.)

The other two blacksmith baby baptisms I want to mention are those of Andrew and Ann, children of Henry and Jane Lawley of Cold Hatton, which took place on 8 June 1834 and 27 Mar 1836 respectively. The Lawleys will feature in this article again, in connection with the Ridgway family – to which I will now return.

James Ridgway, blacksmith of Waters Upton

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

— The Village Blacksmith, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published 1840.

James Ridgway was an elder son of the above-mentioned John and Ann Ridgway of Cold Hatton, and was baptised at Waters Upton on 10 March 1811. He followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a blacksmith, and he took his trade with him when he moved to Waters Upton. I don’t know exactly when he ‘set up shop’ there, but he was a resident of the village by 1837 when he married Ann Jones at Cound in Shropshire on 20 June.

The Tithe Commutation records and map for Waters Upton produced in 1837 show that James Ridgway occupied a “House Buildings & Garden” on the North / West side of the village’s main thoroughfare, plus the “Smith’s Shop” more or less directly opposite on the South / East side of the road.

Map - Waters Upton, Church, Smithy and Swan Inn

Map showing the Smithy in Waters Upton, and the house across the road which was occupied by James Ridgway and his family.

In May 1848 the properties occupied by James were put up for sale by auction, and were described as “Lot 2.—All that BRICK and TILE DWELLING HOUSE, erected within a short period, together with the Blacksmith’s Shop, Pent-house, Piggeries, Gardens, Pond, and Croft of Land thereto adjoining, pleasantly situate, and adjoining the Turnpike Road in Waters Upton aforesaid, containing by admeasurement 2R. 11P., now in the several possessions of Samuel Tudor and James Ridgway. This lot is exceedingly well situated for a Blacksmith […]”. The sale did not mean that James’s occupancy of the house and blacksmith’s shop came to end, in all probability the only impact was that he paid rent to someone else afterwards. One question I have, given that the dwelling house was said to be “erected within a short period”, is how long had the blacksmith’s shop been in that location?

Census records (for 1841, ’51, ’61, ’71 and ‘81) and trade directories (for 1851, ’63, ’71 and ‘80) show that James Ridgway remained in Waters Upton, working as a blacksmith, for the rest of his life. The only other blacksmiths I have discovered pursuing the same trade in the village during that time were Henry Cheshire (wife Elizabeth), who probably worked briefly for James and whose son Charles was baptised on 14 November 1848, and James’s son Charles John Ridgway.

> On to Part 2.

Picture credits. Blacksmith’s shop, late 1800s: Painting by Albert Brument; public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons. Map showing Waters Upton and nearby settlements: This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth; it is used under a Creative Commons licence. Map of Waters Upton showing the location of the smithy: From Ordnance Survey 25 Inch map XXIX.8 published 1901, Crown Copyright expired; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.