Aldridge Overseers

Aldridge overseers’ accounts and vestry minutes yield the names of twenty men who held the office of overseer of the poor between 1823 and 1836.  Two men in each year were elected in this period, as the practice of employing a salaried assistant overseer was not supported continuously throughout the period.  A comparison of these names with those of local residents given in White’s Directory of 1834 reveals that, with the exception of Joseph Reynolds the beer-house keeper (and coincidentally assistant overseer 1820-2), all of the men whose names feature in the Directory were farmers.

1823  Charles Arrowsmith, Thomas Martin

1824  John Clarke, William Tookey

1825  Thomas Cook, Thomas Middleton

1826  Charles Juxon or Jaxon, Joseph Shelley

1827  John Smith, John White

1828  Thomas Crumpton, John Proffitt

1829  Thomas Keen, Thomas Martin

1830  Thomas Martin, John Nevill

1831  Thomas Martin, Joseph Reynolds

1832  Daniel Arblaster, Thomas Martin

1833  John Cliff, Thomas Martin

1834  William Bates, John Lea

1835  Daniel Allen, Joseph Shelley

1836  Daniel Allen, Joseph Shelley

 

So the important question for us will be, why did Thomas Martin do duty as an overseer so often?  He held office in seven of these fourteen years, and continuously 1829-33.  He presumably had an aptitude and taste for parish work; in addition to stints as overseer he was also the constable of the parish in 1826, when he was given five pounds ‘in consideration of his remaining in the office for the year ensuing as a bonus, for his extra duties in keeping the peace’.  The vouchers may reveal why keeping the peace was such an issue in the mid-1820s.

Sources: SRO D1104/4/1 Aldridge vestry minutes 1808-27; D4122 Aldridge overseers’ account book 1823-37.

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