William Harper Brickmaker.

William Harper was born circa 1794 but his baptism is not obvious in St. Mary’s Parish Records, Uttoxeter. There are 2 baptisms but neither corresponds exactly to his calculated date of birth from the 1851 Census or his age at death. He was baptised either on 28 Aug 1782 the son of Thomas and Jane, or 1 Apr 1798 the son of John and Mary.

St. Mary’s parish records do record his marriage on 27 Jul 1813 when William Harper, bachelor (signed X) married Elizabeth Woodward spinster, both of this parish.

Eight children were baptised in St. Mary’s Uttoxeter, to William and Elizabeth. Most record William as a labourer but in 1815 and 1830 William is recorded as a Brickmaker

  1. 21 Oct1813 James
  2. 04 Dec 1815 Mary
  3. 03 Dec 1816 Ann
  4. 21 Nov1819 Emma
  5. 28 Oct 1821 Eliza
  6. 10 Nov 1821 William
  7. 30 Sep 1823 Elizabeth
  8. 16 Jun1830 Harriet
  9. 1842 Louisa does not appear to have been baptised in Uttoxeter but is in the civil registration index gro.gov.uk with a mother’s maiden name of Woodward.


William Harper was buried in St. Mary’s Uttoxeter, on 8 Oct 1859 aged 67

Elizabeth Harper was buried in St. Mary’s Uttoxeter on 26 April 1863 aged 75


1851 Census HO107/2010 folio 90             Address – Uttoxeter Heath, Uttoxeter                William    Harper, head age 56, occupation Brickmaker,      born Uttoxeter, Staffordshire        Elizabeth Harper, wife age 57,                                                       born Uttoxeter, Staffordshire     Harriet     Harper, daughter, age 21 unmarried                         born Uttoxeter, Staffordshire     Louisa     Harper, daughter, age 9 Scholar                                   born Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

(Next neighbour is George Wigley, butcher, of the Wigley Family Blog and supplier of meat to the Workhouse)

1861 Census RG9/ 1955 folio 19 sees Elizabeth recorded as a widow and she has moved to Church St. Uttoxeter with her daughter Louisa who married that day and had the dilemma of how to record her name. The enumerator added a note of explanation under the entry and recorded her name as Skett as she married the lodger William Skett, a joiner and carpenter.

The paupers vouchers in bundles D3891/6/35 and D3891/6/37 include several payments to William Harper in the 1830s relating to Bricks and Tiles at the Workhouse Brickyard. However by 31 Oct 1837 Thos. Parker’s name appears instead. The 25 Feb 1832 receipt has “X mark of William Harper” implying that he could not write.

Brickmaking appears to have been a source of income for the Overseers of the Poor of Uttoxeter.

For the most part, the entire process of brickmaking was carried on in the open air and was subject to the uncertainties of the weather. The clay usually was dug in the autumn or winter and left in heaps to break down the lumps and make it more easily worked. Tempering and moulding only commenced in March or April after the danger of winter frosts had passed. From then until the following autumn brickmakers worked extremely long hours, sometimes as much as thirteen hours a day, to maximize production during the spring and summer months (British Parliamentary Commission, hereafter BPP, Childrens’ Employment Commission 1866, p.103).

The newly moulded “green bricks” especially were vulnerable to damage. Before burning these usually were stacked in open-air hacks to dry for up to six weeks, protected from the weather by a covering of straw matting, tarpaulins and, later, wooden boards with louvres (Cox 1989, p.9).

[After drying they were burned either in open clamps or in Kilns. Uttoxeter Overseers allocate some payments to “Brickiln”]

Excise duties were levied on bricks and tiles. The tax was originally imposed by William Pitt in 1784, along with a similar duty on seabourne shipments of stone and slate, in order to repay debts incurred by the American War for Independence. But whereas taxes on stone and slate were eventually repealed (in 1823 and 1831 respectively), the brick duties were continually amended and increased. From the original tax of 2s.6d. per thousand, the amount had doubled by 1802 with 5s. 10d. charged per thousand on ordinary bricks and 12s. 10d.for polished bricks (24 Geo. III.c.24. and 45 Geo.III.c.30.). In 1839 the Commission on Excise Inquiry repealed the previous acts and replaced them with new duties containing exact specifications relating to their collection and payment (2 & 3 Vic.c.24.). The new acts placed a duty of 5s. 10d, on all bricks not exceeding 150 cubic inches and 10s, on bricks over that size. Each brick manufacturer was required by law to register with the excise officer in his district who then was allowed to enter the brickfield at any time to inspect and count the bricks while they were drying. In addition, the act stated that “all bricks whilst drying shall be placed in such a manner that the officer may readily and securely take an account of them; penalty for placing the bricks irregularly, £50.” (2 & 3 Vic.c.24. Clause viii). All bricks found to be burned before being charged with duty also were subject to a fine of £50. While computing the duty to be paid, ten per cent was automatically allowed for bricks that were subsequently damaged. An immediate effect of the duties was a substantial increase in the price of bricks. The regulations that were intended to facilitate the administration of the act also placed particular hardships on the manufacturers. The precise requirements for arranging the bricks while drying may have assisted the excise officers in their calculations, but they also had the effect in many cases of hindering production. During the campaign to repeal the duties in the 1840’s, one author commented: “Even when the officers visit the works once a day, the inconveniences and loss to the operative at work are ever recurring. They are bound to lay their moulded clay down on certain spaces, and on those only, from which they must not remove the pieces until account had been taken of them for duty. Nor must they lay more on those given spaces than the officer allows; if full, they must stop work” (The Builder 1849, p.449). There were attempts to evade these restrictions despite the risk of penalty. One brickmaker described how sometimes false floors to conceal bricks were made in the drying sheds, but they were discovered frequently by a surprise visit by the excise official, who then ordered the brickfield owner to forfeit the fine (Wescombe 1893).[i]

Using the information above, the Duty on ordinary Bricks in 1802 was 5s 10d per thousand and the vouchers record a payment of duty on bricks on 27 July 1837 as £12 16s 8d this would work out as Duty on 44,000 bricks so it was quite a large production.  There were various other costs involved such as coal to burn the bricks as per voucher[ii] dated 28 Aug 1830 when they bought 7 loads of Coals for the Brickyard at £11 13s 9 ¼d from Charles Hales. Then there was the payment on Jan 1831 for 280 yds of clay costing £2 13s 4d[iii] and Aug 1831 for 150 yds of Clay and Sunday Work costing £3 17s 11d[iv]. Another voucher[v]  dated 9 Aug 1830 bought Cloths for Brickyard from Sam. Turner at £1 12s 0d. and a Voucher[vi] dated 30 Dec1830 bought Shovels & Spades for Brickiln from Porter & Keates at £1 12s 8d (presumably to dig the clay)

The Annual accounts 1830-1[vii]  show that the amount of cash received on the Brickyard Account was £270 1s 4d and £248 10s 8d was expended which gave a profit of £21 10s 8d. Whilst 1831-2[viii] shows that the amount had risen to £420 4s 3d received, and £318 5s 7d expended giving a profit of £101 18s 8d.

[i] BRICK Making  – Nineteenth century brickmaking innovations in Britain: building and technological change by Kathleen Ann Watt (A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy The University of York The Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies September, 1990) http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/4248/1/DX094368.pdf

[ii] D3891/6/35/2/26

[iii] D3891/6/35/3/17

[iv] D3891/6/37/5/18

[v] D3891/6/35/2/25

[vi] D3891/6/35/3/22

[vii] D3891/6/35/5/9

[viii] D3891/6/37/Accounts


Wigley Family of Uttoxeter.

Henry Wigley born circa 1756.

Henry was married at Uttoxeter, St. Mary’s on 26 Mar 1783. Henry Wigley was a bachelor when he married Sarah Dutton at Uttoxeter. Both were residents of this parish, with witnesses William Banks and William Smith.

They then had the following children:-

  1. 3 April 1785 Grace baptised at Draycott in the Moors PR St. Margaret
  2. 3 Sept 1787 John Baptised at Draycott in the Moors, St. Margaret.
  3. 31 Jan 1790 Ann baptised at Draycott in the Moors, St. Margaret.
  4. 19 Nov 1792 George Baptised at Uttoxeter, St. Mary’s
  5. 11 Jan 1797 Thomas Baptised at Uttoxeter St. Mary’s
  6. 7 Apr 1799 Charles Baptised at Uttoxeter St. Mary’s
  7. 8 April 1801 Josiah baptised at Uttoxeter St. Mary’s

It then appears that Sarah died and Henry married another Sarah, and this does appear to be the same Henry as a witness at the second marriage was Thomas Dutton who was presumably a relative of Henry’s first wife.

Seen as Banns at St. Mary’s Uttoxeter and marriage at St. Edwards, Cheddleton

Marriage 27 Dec 1802 Henry Wigley of the parish of Uttoxeter to Sarah Locket signed X, Banns. Wit: Thomas Dutton and Elizabeth Eve. Minister Edward Powys. No Marital status recorded.

St. Mary’s Uttoxeter have the baptism of the following children to this couple.

  1. Bapt 3 Feb 1804 Frederick
  2. 26 Oct 1805 Sarah
  3. 23 Sept 1807 John. This John Mar. 5 Oct 1837 to Mary Ann Booth. Occ. Cheese skin manufacturer.
  4. 27 Apr 1810 Ann
  5. Burial 15 Apr 1812 Sarah Wigley – could be mother or daughter.

Henry Wigley mentioned as a Maw Dealer in 1828/9 in the post about Uttoxeter and Cheese.

Henry Wigley was buried in St. Mary’s Uttoxeter at age 90 on 18 Jun 1846 giving a date of birth about 1756

1834 White’s Directory under Butchers lists George Wigley High St, John Wigley High St. and Josiah Wigley Church St. Also John Wigley had the Cock Inn.  Frederick Wigley was a Cheese Skin maker. Josiah Wigley also listed as a Dyer.

1835 Pigot’s Directory lists under Butchers  George Wigley High St, John Wigley High St. and Josiah Wigley, Cotton Mill. Josiah also listed as a Cheese Factor. John also listed at the Cock Inn.

John and George Wigley both supplied meat to the Overseers of the Poor in Uttoxeter.

John Wigley

Note that Henry had a child named John with both wives. The elder John son of Sarah Dutton married on 21 April 1813 at St Mary’s, Uttoxeter when John Wigley, bachelor married Hannah Armishaw, spinster. Both of this parish, Wit; Tho. Ede and Ann Wigley

John and Hannah according to the census entries had several children

1841 Census HO107/1007 folio 7

Address- High Street, Uttoxeter,

First name(s) Last name Gender Age Occupation Birth place
John Wigley 50 Victualler STS
Hannah Wigley 50 STS
Ann Wigley 20 STS
Sarah Wigley 20 STS
Charles Wigley 14 STS
William Dudley 7 STS
John Wigley junr 15 STS

1851 Census Ho107/2010 folio 73

Address High Street, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

Name Last name Relationship Gender Age Occupation Birth place
John Wigley  Head 63 Farmer And Butcher Draycott, Staffordshire
Hannah Wigley Wife 63 Stramshall, Staffs
William Dudley Grand Son Male 18 Assists His Grand Father Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
James Dudley Grand Son Male 15 Assists His Grand Father Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
Joseph Dudley Grand Son Male 13 Scholar Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

There was another child – Baptism at St. Mary’s Uttoxeter on 11 Sept 1816 John s/o John and Hannah Wigley, Butcher Buried 4 Feb 1817 age 6 moths

John was buried at St. Mary’s, Uttoxeter on 11 Aug 1852 aged 67 (DOB 1785)

Lichfield Wills calendar. Index to Death duty registers 30 Aug 1852 John Wigley of Uttoxeter with ADM to John Wigley. £50

Hannah out-lived John and the 1861 census RG09/1931 folio 10, reveals that Hannah went to live with her Daughter Ann at Church Street, Stoke upon Trent, Hanley Stoke-Upon-Trent,

William Henry Mossley a cow keeper and Town Crier and his wife Ann have with them William’s mother in law Hannah Wigley  aged 79.  Also Richard Thos. Dudley, nephew age 7 born Stoke.


George Wigley

1841 Census HO107/1007 folio 14

Address – High Street, Uttoxeter.

First name(s) Last name Age Occupation Birth place
George Wigley 45 Butcher Staffordshire
Isabella Wigley 45 Not born Sts
John Wigley 15 Staffordshire
George Wigley 12 Staffordshire
Henry Wigley 10 Staffordshire
Charles Wigley 8 Staffordshire


1851 Census.HO107/2010 folio 91

Address – Uttoxeter Heath, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire,

Name(s) Last name Age Occupation Birth place
George Wigley 57 Butcher & Innkeeper Stramshall,Sts.
Isabella Wigley 57 Lazonby, Cumb.
George Wigley 23 Milkseller Bramshall
Charles Wigley 21 Butcher Uttoxeter
Henry Wigley 19 Butcher Uttoxeter
Isabella Henderson 20 Dress Maker Lazonby, Cumb.
John Johnson 63 Butcher Uttoxeter
Edward Chatfield 19 Butcher’s Servant Uttoxeter

George Wigley was buried in St. Mary’s Uttoxeter on 23 March 1865 aged 73.

Josiah Wigley although listed in the 1834 and 35 Trade Directories as a Butcher appears to have changed occupation.

1841 Census HO107/ 1007 folio 9

Address Leasows, Uttoxter, Staffordshire

first name last name gender age occupation born
Josiah Wigley male 40 Farmer Staffs
Mary Wigley Female 35 Staffs
Eliza Wigley Female 14 Staffs
Maria Wigley Female 12 Staffs
Mary Wigley Female 11 Staffs
Ellen Wigley Female 7 Staffs
Andrew Wigley male 4 Staffs
Rosana Wigley Female 1 Staffs
William Holmes male 39 Agent Staffs


1851 Census HO107/2010 folio 160

Address – Spiceal St. Uttoxeter.


First name(s) Last name Relationship Marital status Age Occupation Birth place
Josiah Wigley Head Married 50 Tanner, Fellmonger & Cheese Factor Stramshall, Sts
Mary Ann Wigley Wife Married 45 Uttoxeter, Sts
Mary Ann Wigley Dau. Unm. 20 Uttoxeter, Sts
Ellen Wigley Dau. Unm. 16 Uttoxeter, Sts
Rosanna Wigley Dau. 11 Uttoxeter, Sts
Sarah Wigley Dau. 9 Uttoxeter, Sts
Josiah Stelle Wigley Son 7 Uttoxeter, Sts
Martha G Wigley Dau. 4 Uttoxeter, Sts
Arthur B Wigley Son 2 Uttoxeter, Sts

Not found in the 1861 Census. Wife Mary Ann Wigley buried Uttoxeter 30 Jan 1859 age 51

Mr Blurton’s Swing Frame for Cheese: Winner of the Society of Arts Silver Medal for Invention

Extract from The Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum Register, Journal and Gazette, vol. 18, 6 October 1832–31 March 1833 (London: M. Salmon, 1833), pp. 370, 372

New cheese requires to be hardened considerably by gradually drying before it become fit for market. For this purpose the cheeses are spread in a single layer on the floor of the cheese room, and are turned by hand every day, in order to expose each surface alternately to the air. This, on a large dairy farm, is a slow and laborious operation, which, as it devolves on the female servants, sometimes prevents them, in the hurry of business, from paying proper attention to keeping every implement used in the dairy in that degree of order and absolute cleanliness so essential to the good quality of the produce. Another objection to the common method is, that the floor on which the new cheeses are laid soon becomes penetrated with moisture, so that the benefit that each surface of a cheese in succession gains by exposure to air, is in part lost by being placed the next day in contact with the damp floor.

A machine, of very simple construction, has been recently contrived by Mr Blurton, of Field Hall, near Uttoxeter, by which these objections are not only completely removed, but the process of drying amazingly accelerated. We extract our present account of it from the last part of the Transactions of the Society of Arts, who have conferred their large silver medal on Mr Blurton for the invention.

The machine consists of a dozen strong shelves framed together, and having bars nailed from top to bottom of one side, in order to prevent the cheeses from falling out while in the act of turning. The frame is suspended on two strong pivots, one of which is let into the wall of the room, and the other is supported by a strong post …By first filling the shelf immediately below the axis of the frame, and then placing the cheeses alternately on the two shelves above and below that which has already been filled, the preponderance of one side over the other can never be more than the weight of one cheese … The cheeses, in the act of turning, drop onto those shelves which, in the former position of the frame, were above them, and, having been exposed to a current of air for twenty-four hours previous have become perfectly dry.

Mr Blurton has had the machine in use for five or six years, and finds by the means of it, fifty-five cheeses are turned in the same time which is required for turning two  by hand.

Coronation Celebrations 1831

On 8 September Uttoxeter celebrated the coronation of William IV and queen Adelaide. The events were reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 17 September.  A bullock and a sheep were roasted over bonfires, with very Dickensian-sounding ‘liberal portions’ being distributed to the poor alongside an ‘abundant supply of ale’. The Blithfield and Uttoxeter Troop Yeomanry assembled and dined at Thomas Taylor’s Black Swan, Sheep Market. The gentlemen of the town dined at Mr Wilkinson’s White Hart Hotel, Carter Street. No mention is made of how the women of Uttoxeter celebrated the event. The Most Noble Lodge of Oddfellows and all of the town’s clubs (none are named other than the Oddfellows, and White’s 1834 directory notes only the existence of a Book Society) dined at their respective inns, and paraded through the town with colours flying. Bands of musicians augmented the ‘hilarity of the day’. The paper reported that in the evening ‘Illumination was partial owing to the shortness of the notice’ given for the coronation. Illuminations in this sense refer to cut-outs and silhouettes placed in the windows of private houses and lit from behind by candles or oil lamps. A memorable firework display, the like of which had not been seen for some time, rounded off events.


Staffordshire Advertiser, 17 September 1831

Uttoxeter Businesses and the Staffordshire Advertiser 1831

Advertisements and notices in newspapers can help to put flesh on the bones of vouchers submitted to Uttoxeter’s overseers by providing additional information on people, their businesses, their networks, and their wider interests and concerns. Some names are already familiar; others have not yet appeared in the vouchers (and may never do).

In June 1831 Dr Herbert Taylor, glazier John Dumolo, William Lowndes, John Minors, H. Smith and Francis Cox all declared themselves supporters of the parliamentary reform bill. Alongside others, in July Clement Broughton, vicar of Uttoxeter, was calling for meeting of clergy to petition against the Beer Act.

In a highly unusual move, in January 1831 churchwardens Michael Clewley (see separate entry) and Mr Bladon wanted to borrow money in any amounts but not exceeding £1,000 for which annuities of any age would be granted and secured upon Uttoxeter’s church rates. Clewley cropped up again later in the year. In August he was offering houses to let in the Market Place, late in the occupation of Mrs E. Clewley deceased. With ‘sufficient buildings behind’, these were well adapted for a retailer, a leather cutter, or currier. An adjoining shop in the occupation of George Burton, clock and watchmaker was also being offered to let.

Land and property lettings and sales featured prominently in the paper. John French (son-in-law of William Summerland, see separate entry) was offering for sale the 14-acre Town Meadow, property of late Mr Botham, but now in the possession of French, the tenant. Further particulars could be had from solicitor Francis Blagg. In May 1831 enquiries regarding a shop measuring 20 x 15 feet in the Market Place with a cellar adapted for a ‘show shop in the upholstery line or as a market shop for any respectable trade’, for a rent moderate, could be made to ironmongers and grocers Porter and Keates. It is likely that these premises were those of the late John Jessop, cabinet maker and upholsterer of the Market Place. An auction of his modern household furniture, china, glass, and a well-built covered gig was conducted upon the premises by a Mr Brown in April. Perhaps of significant interest to the workhouse (which manufactured bricks) was that in March 1831 just over five acres of grassland ‘under great part whereof is brick clay, near the Heath, in occupation of James Walker, was being offered for sale; particulars from Mr Higgott, solicitor.

As was common for the time, a number of enterprising individuals had multiple income streams, often acting as agents for other businesses or suppliers. Chemist Thomas Woolrich was the agent for Heeley and Sons pens and for Sun Life insurance; William Smith for Phoenix insurance; Thomas Cross for Guardian Fire and Life Assurance; linen and woollen draper Joseph Norris for the Protector Fire Insurance Company; and Mr E. Hand for Atlas Insurance. Thomas Woolrich, draper; Samuel Garle (see separate entries); and bookseller, stationer, and printer Mr R. C. Tomkinson, were all stockists of Hayman’s original Maredant’s antiscorbutic drops and Blaine’s celebrated powder for distemper in dogs. Tomkinson also stocked Dr Wright’s Pearl Ointment, and Dr Boerhaave’s red pill no. 2 ‘famous for the cure of every stage and symptom of a certain complaint’, the cause of foul ulcerations and blotches which if led untreated would lead to a melancholy death. Aside from being a chemist Tomkinson appears to have operated an informal servants’ registry. On three occasions, in April, June and September 1831, adverts for servants wanted informed prospective employees to refer to Mr Tomkinson. In the first advertisement a good plain cook was required. In the second two cooks and other domestic servants were wanted in a respectable household near Uttoxeter; a good plain cook of middle aged was preferred. Housemaids and nursery maids seeking positions should enquire of Mr Woolrich, Uttoxeter or Mrs Horn and son, Cheadle. In the third notice a clergyman’s family in a country village wanted a plain cook with a good character reference from her last place. Further particulars could be had from Messrs Mort at the Advertiser Office, Stafford, or from Mr Woolrich.

Milliner and dressmaker Mrs Whittaker was the only trader in this survey of the Staffordshire Advertiser who specifically promoted the metropolitan nature of her goods. In May she announced her return from London with her selections including a fashionable assortment of stays (corsets). She also required two live-in apprentices.

A group of people whose names have not appeared in the poor law vouchers (and unless circumstances changed radically for them are unlikely to do so) were the proprietors of schools and academies. Popular times for these owners to advertise were just prior to the start of new terms. From their adverts it is clear that they were aiming at a middle-class market. Mr Doyle’s classical and commercial academy for gentlemen, for example, cost £25 per year for board, education and washing for those under 12, and £28 per year for those above. Doyle offered reading, elocution, arithmetic, bookkeeping, English grammar, geography, Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish. Day pupils were charged 2 guineas per quarter for the languages, and one guinea for the ‘minor branches of education’. Each gentleman boarder was to bring two pairs of sheets, six towels, a knife, fork and silver spoon. Girls had a range of educational establishments from which they could choose: the Misses Howes at Bank House; the Misses Sutton in Carter Street; and the Misses Godwin.

Some events were destined to bring trade to a halt. On 8 September 1831 Uttoxeter’s shops and businesses were closed for the coronation of William IV and queen Adelaide (see entry ‘Coronation Celebrations 1831). After William’s death Adelaide leased Sudbury Hall for three years between 1840 and 1843.


Staffordshire Advertiser, 1831


Uttoxeter Businesses and the Derby Mercury

The details of details of goods, services, and prices contained in vouchers submitted to Uttoxeter’s overseers of the poor are shedding light on the daily workings of the Old Poor Law, but to what extent did these suppliers advertise in local or regional newspapers?

Between January 1831 and July 1832 a survey of the Derby Mercury reveals relatively few Uttoxeter business owners placing notices or adverts specifically to promote their enterprises. Even fewer of them can be linked directly to the poor law vouchers. Initially, this may seem surprising, but is readily explainable. The Derby Mercury was just one of a number of regional papers and perhaps it would be more likely that Uttoxeter’s traders would place notices in the Staffordshire Advertiser. A survey of the Advertiser, however, is revealing a similarly limited pattern of engagement. How can this be explained? In part it was due to the high cost of adverts charged by newspaper proprietors. In 1800 the Derby Mercury charged 3s 6d per advert on top of which duty of 1s 6d was also chargeable. It may also have been the result of local traders supplying very local markets, where the need to advertise beyond the immediate vicinity was considered unnecessary. This was particularly so if the goods were perishable such as meat, fruit and vegetables. There are other things to consider, however. Where the variety (as opposed to the quantity or quality) of stock changed little business owners may have seen little point in advertising the same things week in week out. Instead, they may have preferred to save their adverts for more important events such as changes in personnel, especially the appointment of new staff or business partners, or changes in business ownership or location. The only real exceptions to these were announcements of the arrival of new or fashionable stock, especially if they came from London.

Which of Uttoxeter’s business owners did place notices in the Derby Mercury, and what was it they were announcing?

Grocer William Lovatt’s marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bakewell of Marston Montgomery was announced in October 1831. On 6 April 1831 tobacconist Jane Smith, with shops in both Uttoxeter and Ashbourne, declared that she was continuing the business of her late husband James for the benefit of herself and her large family. When in February the White Lion, Bradley Street, with stabling for 20 horses, and ‘calculated for a common brewery’, was offered to let particulars could be had from Abel Ault, or John Ault, timber merchant, Derby.

Some Uttoxeter businesses, including those of Samuel Garle (see separate entry), Thomas Woolrich, and Tompkinson and Co., were acting as agents for patent products including Heeley’s rhadiographic pens, Perryian pens, John Leeming’s genuine horse medicines, Barclay’s asthmatic candy, and Dr Sibly’s Reanimating Solar Tincture for debility, consumption, nervous complaints, rheumatism, spasms, indigestion, and lowness of spirits. Chemist Thomas Woolrich (who so far has not turned up in the overseers’ vouchers) had a national business network. His claim to fame was ‘Woolrich’s improved diuretic horse balls’ available from ‘all respectable medicine vendors in most market towns in the kingdom’. In addition to Uttoxeter, they were also sold wholesale by London agents such as Messrs Barclay & Sons, 95 Fleet Market; Mr Edwards, 66 St Paul’s Church Yard; Sutton & Co., Bow Church Yard; and Butlers’, Cheapside. They could be bought at 73 Princess Street, Edinburgh, and at 54 Sackville Street, Dublin. Closer to home they were sold retail by Drewry & Son, Derby; Whitham,  Ashbourne; and Claughton, Chesterfield.

Some people probably wished that notices regarding their businesses had not appeared. The bankruptcy of surgeon George Alsop (see separate entry) was announced in November 1831, but at least it provided work for Uttoxeter solicitors Bedson and Rushton who notified debtors and creditors of meetings about Alsop’s plight at the Red Lion on 24 and 25 November, and on 23 December. Debts owing to Alsop were to be paid to his business partner Mr Chapman or to Bedson and Rushton. Similarly, in March 1831 Bell’s bank suspended payments owing to heavy debts. A meeting of creditors, however, concluded that James Bell’s assets and credits were sufficient to meet liabilities and leave a considerable surplus. The creditors were lucky. Dividends of 10s in the pound declared within 4 months. Bell avoided bankruptcy, but it did him little good. His death was reported at the end of November.


Derby Mercury

Uttoxeter and Cheese

Uttoxeter has a long tradition of cheese-making. By the mid-seventeenth century it was already established as a major centre of the trade in the Midlands, and in the 1690s there were weekly cheese markets and extensive storage facilities. These were used by Uttoxeter’s cheese factors who were engaged as agents by London cheesemongers. By the mid-eighteenth century Uttoxeter’s importance as a centre for cheese meant that some agents retained by London merchants spent more than £500 in a single day on butter and cheese.

Pigot’s directory of 1828–9 notes that ‘the trade in cheese is also of some consequence’ and lists Thomas Earp, James Lassetter, and Orton and Arnold as cheese factors alongside  maw dealers Edward Gent, James Stringer, John Vernon and Co., and Henry Wigley. Before the commercial availability of rennet, curdling milk for cheese involved drying and salting a calf’s stomach or maw, and then soaking pieces of it in water. The resulting liquid was added to milk to create the curd.

Supplementing the  weekly cheese markets, White’s 1834 directory notes that Uttoxeter held three cheese fairs a year in March, September and November and was known for its ‘considerable trade’ in ‘preparing calves maws, to be used in curdling milk’ for cheese. Under the heading of ‘Cheese Factors & Hop & Seed merchants’ the directory lists Thomas Earp, James Lassetter, and Orton and Arnold. Ellen Gent, James Stringer, John Vernon and Co., Elizabeth Wigley, and Frederick Wigley were cheese skin makers. In 1834 William West noted that Uttoxeter was ‘remarkable for instances of longevity of its inhabitants’ and for its ‘abundant supply of cheese, butter, hogs, corn and all kinds of provisions’. Perhaps the latter was the cause of the former.

Workhouses served their inmates with food and drink according to what were known as dietaries, or daily allowances, which stipulated provision across a week. If these are taken at face value, cheese formed a considerable part of the diets of the poor. Tomkins notes, however, that dietaries should be regarded as statements of intent rather than actual evidence of practice and need to be corroborated by other sources. Until a shortage of bread and flour in the 1790s, at St Mary’s Workhouse, Lichfield, the 41 inmates (making it directly comparable in size to Uttoxeter workhouse) were served puddings, and bread and cheese dinners three times a week. With the shortages, milk pottage was served up for breakfast. Dinner on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays consisted of meat and vegetables; alternating with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays offerings of broth and cold meat. On Saturdays inmates were given bread and cheese.

In the 1820s the overseers of Uttoxeter purchased large quantities of cheese for the workhouse from a wide range  of suppliers including James and John Bamford, Ralph Bagshaw (see separate entry), Thomas Cope, Thomas Earp (see separate entry), Porter and Keates, John Rushton, William Summerland (see separate entry), Edwin and Josh Wibberley, and Sir T. Sheppard, bart. Amounts varied from the 120lb supplied by Mr Bamford in May 1821, through the 90lbs supplied by William Summerland in May 1825, to the 13.5lbs supplied by Ralph Bagshaw in September 1827.

By the 1830s, just as in the 1820s, cheese came from no single supplier. In September 1830 William Bennett supplied over 2cwt of cheese costing £5 10s 4d. Thomas Earp’s bill for cheese in March 1831 amounted to £4 9s 1d. Fifty-five cheeses weighing 4cwt were supplied by Thomas Gell at a cost of £12 4s 3d in April 1832. The variation in the amounts and the regularity of cheese supplied are probably because the workhouse was producing its own cheese. Between 24 April and 30 June 1830, for example, Thomas Hartshorn supplied the workhouse with 947 quarts of milk. This was far more than the population of 40 or so inmates could readily consume suggesting that the milk was being used to make cheese. Hartshorn also supplied 33 quarts in June 1832, followed by 180 quarts in July. The workhouse also had its own milk cart, a wheel of which was repaired and painted by Thomas Mellor in April 1829.


Julie Bunting, ‘Bygone Industries of the Peak, Cheese-Making’, The Peak Advertiser, 29 January 1996

Catherine Donnelly, The Oxford Companion to Cheese (Oxford, OUP, 2016), 153–4

London Gazette, part 2 (1836), 1369

Sir Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England 3 vols (London: 1797), edited and abridged A. G. L. Rogers London: George Routledge and Sons, 1928), 307.

John E. C. Peters, The Development of Farm Buildings in Western Lowland Staffordshire up to 1800 (Manchester: MUP, 1969), 130

Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 2: Nottinghamshire–Yorkshire and North Wales] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828), 741–2

SRO, D3891/6/8, Uttoxeter volume of parish bills, 1821–4

SRO, D3891/6/9, volume of parish bills, 1825–29

SRO, D3891/6/34/1/14, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Mellor, 3 April 1829

SRO, D3981/6/36/3/4, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, William Bennet, 11 September 1830

SRO, D3891/6/36/8/11a–d, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Hartshorn, 31 July 1830

SRO, D3891/6/37/2/7, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 26 Mar 1831

SRO, D3891/6/36/6/66, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Edwin Webberley, 23 December 1831

SRO, D3891/6/37/11/5, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, John Foster, 21 February 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/2/26, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Gell, 20 March 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/5/5, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Hartshorn, 10 June–15 July 1832

SRO, D3891/6/39/6/3, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Joseph Durose, 8 November 1832

SRO, D3891/6/40/1/10, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, R. Keates, [1833?]

Joan Thirsk, Agrarian History of England and Wales, 1640–1750, part 1 (Cambridge: CUP, 1985), 133

H. D. Symonds, The Universal Magazine, vol. 23 (November 1758), 219

William West, Picturesque Views and a Description of Cities, Towns, Castles and Mansions and other Objects of Interesting Feature in Staffordshire from original designs, taken expressly for this work by Frederick Calvert engraved on steel by Mr T. Radclyffe (Birmingham: William Emans, 1834), 96

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), 762

Thomas Earp the elder (1766–1831) and Thomas Earp the younger (c.1799–1864) Cheesefactors and Brewers, Uttoxeter

Cheesefactor and brewer Thomas Earp the elder married Mary Cockayne. They had a number of children including: Thomas (born in Derby, c.1799), Sarah (bap. 9 November 1800), Mary (bap. 3 November 1802), John (bap. 24 August 1809), Maria (bap. 17 October 1813), and Jane.

Parson’s and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory lists Earp and Lassetter as cheese factors with a business in High Street, and Thomas Earp as an ale and porter brewer, cheese factor and spirit merchant, also in High Street.

Upon Thomas the elder’s death in 1831, his probated estate amounted to £200. As the sole beneficiary and executor of his late-father’s estate, he was tasked with making appropriate provision for his mother and his siblings. In 1833 Thomas the younger was involved with a property transaction involving the Croft of the White Hart, Uttoxeter, with Michael Clewley (see separate biography).

On 21 November 1825 at Uttoxeter, Wesleyan Methodist Thomas the younger married Sarah Jane Salt (1804–1856) who was born in Liverpool. They had a large family: Thomas (b.1828), Jane (b.1830), Ann (b.1832), Mary (b.1834), Sarah (b.1836), Edwin (b.1839), William (b.1841), Maria (b.1843), Henry (b.1847), Charles  (b.1848), and Eliza (b.1849). For much of their married life Thomas, Sarah Jane and their family lived in High Street.

At the time of the 1851 Census Thomas employed eight men. Thomas and Sarah Jane were living with children Jane, Ann (a teacher), Mary, Sarah, Maria and Henry (the last three described as scholars at home), Charles and Eliza.

By 1861 Thomas Earp, now a widower, and his family had moved to Burton-upon-Trent. He is listed simply as an ‘agent’ with an address in Horninglow Street in White’s 1857 directory. The family unit now comprised Thomas, and his children Jane, Mary, Maria, Sarah and Eliza, his niece Louisa Ann (aged 13) and his nephew John B. Earp (aged six). Mary, Maria, and Sarah were all governesses, and although his niece Louisa had been born in Uttoxeter, his nephew John had been born in America. Also in the household were Mary A. Eddes (17), a teacher born in St Pancras, London, and Ann Calvert (31), a servant born in Uttoxeter. Louisa’s and John’s parents John, a brewer and Emma Brindley had married on 28 July 1846 at St Peter’s, Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Both Thomas Earps supplied the overseers of Uttoxeter with cheese, but not on a regular basis. This was probably because the workhouse was also in receipt of substantial amounts of milk from the likes of George Hartshorn, suggesting that the workhouse was also engaged in producing cheese.

In the late-1820s Thomas [the younger?] and Edward Saunders established the Uttoxeter Brewery Company. Thomas’ business was sufficiently prosperous for him to be able to invest in railways and to be a member of the Provisional Committees for the Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire, or Leeds, Wolverhampton and Dudley Direct Railway and the Tean and Dove Valley and Eastern and Western Junction Railway.

In May 1854 Thomas’ and Sarah Jane’s daughter Ann married George Jones. At some point they emigrated to Mossel Bay, South Africa. They had three children: Charles Earp Jones, Sarah Jane Jones, and George Alliebrooke Jones. George Jones died 23 May 1890, and his widow Ann on 27 November 1896 aged 62.


Bradshaw’s Railway Gazette vol. 1, (London: William James Adams; Manchester: Bradshaw and Blacklock, 1845)

Census 1841 HO107/1007/14

Census 1851 HO107/2010

Census 1861 R.G.9/1965

England and Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837–1915

Herapath’s Railway Journal, 28 June 1845


Lichfield Record Office, BC11 Will of Thomas Earp, 26 October 1831

Parson, W. and Bradshaw, T., Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: 1818)

Poll Books and Electoral Registers 1538–1893

Francis Redfern History and Antiquities of the town and neighbourhood of Uttoxeter

RG4/2701 England and Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567–1970

SRO, D3891/6/36/8/11a–d, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, George Hartshorn, 31 July 1830

SRO, D3891/6/37/2/7, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 26 Mar 1831

SRO, D3891/6/37/4/3, Uttoxeter Poor Law Vouchers, Thomas Earp, 23 July 1831

SRO, D4452/1/15/2/14 abstract of title of Thomas Earp to the White Hart Croft Uttoxeter 1833

SRO, D4452/1/15/2/15 Lease and release of part of White Hart Croft Uttoxeter 1833

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834)

White, Francis, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derbyshire with the Town of Burton-upon-Trent (Sheffield: 1857)


N.B. This biography is a work in progress and will probably be amended as further information from vouchers and other sources becomes available.


The history of child sex abuse

Historic child sex abuse is a phrase rarely out of the news in 2016.  This blog post is being written in a week when unprecedented numbers of football players are coming forward to identify abusers, and in a year when a troubled government inquiry into the issue is on its fourth Chair.  The topic has been given historical as well as contemporary-historic focus by the book Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England by Louise Jackson, a difficult and important read.  The Staffordshire overseers’ vouchers reveal that, if evidence of such wrong-doing came to light in the early nineteenth century, it was feasible that it would be prosecuted even at heavy public cost.

In 1826 Catherine Chawner aged 9 was abused by William Rogers alias Adin aged 57. Rogers met the child frequently, perhaps on her walking to and from school since the attack took place near to school house bridge.  He habitually gave her treats such as apples and halfpennies, encouraging her to trust him, until in October he started abusing her (and threatening her with flogging if she told her parents).  Rogers was tried at the Stafford Assizes in 1827 and was convicted on the evidence of Catherine’s mother, a surgeon John Allport, and another child Sarah Jump.  In summing up the judge lamented that he could not impose a more severe sentence, the offence being in his view diabolical and as heinous as some then incurring the death penalty.

In March 1827 the parish of Uttoxeter paid at least £34 16s towards costs associated with prosecuting the case, including securing counsel, horse hire between Uttoxeter and Stafford, and to compensate witnesses for loss of time when attending the trial.  This was a very substantial sum to spend out of funds officially designated for the poor, particularly given that the Chawner family’s poverty is not proven.  Very little can be learned of Catherine, since her mother is referred to in reports of the trial but not named.  The absence of her father from proceedings faintly indicates that he was already dead or otherwise absent.  Similarly no baptism can be found for her in 1817-1818.  Other members of the extended Chawner family (which was prominent in Staffordshire and neighbouring counties) were rather prosperous.  Issues of the Derby Mercury in the 1830s reveal at least four family members who were medical practitioners, namely William Chawner surgeon of Cheadle, Rupert Chawner MD of Burton, Thomas Chawner surgeon of Lichfield and the suggestively named Darwin Chawner MD of Newark.  The only additional information retrieved from the vouchers about Catherine is similarly inconclusive.  The parish paid 12s to buy her some clothes in April 1831, when she might have been around 14 years old and so the right age for apprenticeship, but no formal parish apprenticeship indenture for Catherine survives for this date.

We will continue to search for Catherine in the hope that we might be able to write a biography for her, but our interim conclusion must be that parish authorities were willing to devote extensive community resources to the prosecution of grotesque crime, even where the money was technically intended for other purposes.

Sources: SRO D3891/6/31/4, D3891/6/37/1/18.