Stephen Foster


Stafford Record Office Ref D1149/6/2/8/52 Darlaston, Staffordshire Pauper’s Vouchers.

A Settled bill from Richard Meek to Richard Taylor for £1 3s 5d dated April to Oct 1823 for Shoe repairs and new shoes. The names included Stephen Foster for “shoes with high heels for a lame foot.” As a retired Podiatrist I realised that Stephen probably had a form of club foot called Talipes Equinus in which the heel cannot reach the ground; similar to a horse’s foot hence the name.

Looking for Stephen I discovered several Stephen Fosters in Darlaston and reconstructed the family using a very informative Will and the St. Lawrence Parish Records.


Transcription of part of the Will of Stephen Foster dated 1813

Stephen Foster of Darlaston, Gunlockforger I give and devise:-

  1. unto my wife Hannah Foster for her natural life all and every my messuages tenements or dwellinghouses shops gardens hereditaments and real estate. After her decease I give and devise unto my son in Law William Bailey all that messuage tenement or dwelling house situate in Darlaston aforesaid and the shop near the same now in the occupation of the said William Bailey And also a necessary house near the said premises which is used by the occupiers of all my buildings in Darlaston. And also a pigstie near the said necessary house.
  2. After the decease of my wife I give and devise to my son Stephen Foster All that messuage tenement or dwelling house in Darlaston with the shop near the same now in the occupation of my said son Stephen and also full and free liberty power and authority to throw the shop slack through the window of the said shop and to fetch and carry away the same as often as shall be necessary but so nevertheless that the said shop slack be not suffered to obstruct the road to the shop hereinbefore given and devised to the said William Bailey more than is absolutely necessary And also the coal house and pigstie adjoining the said house which is now in the occupation of my said son.
  3. After the decease of my wife I give unto my son Josiah All that messuage tenement or dwelling house with the shop in the garden near to property [of] my son Job Foster And all that garden ground or void land the whole width and extending from the eastern part of the last mentioned shop to the back road to the Church and are now in my own occupation except the said shop which is occupied by my said son Josiah
  4. I give and devise to my sons Stephen and Josiah All that newly erected shop situate in Darlaston near the said other shops and now in my own occupation To hold the same unto and to the use of my said sons Stephen and Josiah as Tenants in common and not as joint Tenants. Provided always that the owners and tenants or occupiers of all the said messuages tenements or dwellinghouses shops and premises shall have an equal right to the pump standing near and belonging thereto and to have and take water therefrom and that the said pump and the well shall from time to time be repaired amended and kept in repair at the joint and equal costs and charges of the owners of the said messuages tenements or dwellinghouses and premises. And that the owners and tenants or occupiers of the said premises aforesaid shall have an equal right to the entry or passage and to pass and repass thereby to and from the street in front of the said premises to and from the back part of the respective premises.
  5. I give and devise to the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah All the void land at the back of the said dwelling houses except the garden ground or void land herebefore devised to my son Josiah. To hold the same unto the use of the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah as Tenants in common and not as joint tenants
  6. I give and bequeath to my said son Josiah my suit of black cloaths [sic] and to the said William Bailey and my said sons Stephen and Josiah all other my wearing apparel equally.
  7. I give and bequeath to my Grandson Richard Foster son of my late son George Foster one complete set of gunlock forgers tools to be chosen from my tools by him.
  8. I also give and bequeath to my said son Stephen all the rest of my tools belonging to my trade of a Gunlock Forger.
  9. I give and bequeath to my son Josiah the sum of fifty pounds.
  10. I give and bequeath to my executors hereinafter named all my household goods and furniture money securities for money book debts personal estate and effects, for my wife to have the use of all my household goods furniture bedding linen and other household effects for and during the term of her natural life
  11. Upon further trust to put and place the remainder of my said money personal estate and effects out at Interest upon government or real security and to pay all the Interest and product thereof unto my said wife for and during the term of her natural life
  12. And from and immediately after the decease of my said wife I give and bequeath to my son Job the sum of one Hundred pounds, to my son Stephen the sum of fifty pounds to the said William Bailey the sum of fifty pounds to my grandson Richard Foster the sum of Twenty pounds , to my grandson John Foster the sum of twenty pounds, to my grandson Stephen Foster the sum of twenty pounds, to my grandson Stephen Carter the sum of Twenty Pounds, and to my grandson George Carter the sum of Twenty Pounds

  13.  And from and immediately after the decease of my said wife I give and  bequeath all the rest and residue and remainder of my said household goods and furniture, money, securities for money, book debts, personal estate, and effects whatsoever and wheresoever and not herebefore given and disposed of to my daughter Elizabeth the wife of the said William Bailey and to my said sons Stephen and Josiah equally.

  1. And Lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my friend Francis Taylor of Darlaston, Miner my said sons Stephen and Josiah and my son in Law William Bailey joint executors of this my Will. In Witness whereof I the said Testator have to this my last Will and Testament contained and written on three sheets of paper, to the first two sheets set my hand and to this third and last sheet my hand and seal the this third day of January One Thousand and thirteen.

Signed Stephen Foster  Witnesses Thos. Brevitt, Butcher, Darlaston and A. Rooker, Surgeon, Darlaston                                                                                                                    Codicil dated 12 Mar 1813 removes Francis Taylor as an executor. A more shakey signature from Stephen. Wit: Moses Foster (Darlaston), William Foster (Darlaston) and Jno. Sketchley Clk to Messrs Crowther, Wednesbury.

The Chart above shows the family but curiously no Baptism has been found for either Job or George Foster. Job appears to have been born circa 1765 calculated from his age at burial but George who was dead before 1813 has no age given so I have guessed it based on the age of his first child.

There were 4 Stephen Fosters alive in 1823 – Stephen born 1777 s/o Stephen; Stephen born 1799 s/o Job; Stephen born 1800 s/o George and Stephen born 1817 s/o Josiah.

Stephen born 1777 and his brother Josiah inherited property from their Father so I have discounted these and their children as being less likely to need the help of the Overseers of the Poor.

That leaves the two Stephens born 1799 and 1800 as likely candidates. These were the sons of Job and George both of whom Stephen the Gun lock Forger claims in 1813 to be his sons but he leaves them considerably less than his other sons (Stephen and Josiah). It could be that he had previously provided for them, but this part of the family may be considerably less well off financially. It could be that Job and George were either adopted or illegitimate sons.

There is also a curious familiarity of the Names.

Frances Taylor is named as an executor. Could he be the related to the one who went to Tettenhall to become Governor of the Workhouse.                                                          William Bailey – a William Bayley has supplied goods and services to the Darlaston Workhouse.                                                                                                                                           A Rooker is also the surgeon to the Darlaston Workhouse.

Both Stephen who died 1813 and his wife Hannah are buried with an abode of Church St. Using this and the description of the various properties in the Will I am wondering if they can be identified.                                                                                                                    The Will states that he gives to Josiah “And all that garden ground or void land the whole width and extending from the eastern part of the last mentioned shop to the back road to the Church”.  Also “And that the owners and tenants or occupiers of the said premises aforesaid shall have an equal right to the entry or passage”

Using Google Earth and Maps it appears that this property might be between Church Street and Cramp Hill as there is an entry to the Church from Cramp Hill. GooglemapsChurchSt.Darl.

(Google Maps)

There is a Passageway between what is now Hair by Wendy and Kirans Balti making me wonder if the car park etc behind might be the land in question. Or they could be a little further along to the right of the photograph.


Halberber Root or Halbert Weed?

Darlaston Pauper’s Vouchers at Stafford Record Office contain  an account from 23 April to 22 May 1817. (ref. D1149/6/2/2/20)

This is a list of all bills received, and presumably paid, during the month and a list of smaller cash payments one of which is for Halberber Root.  I have been unable to discover anything with this name but have found Halbert Weed or Neurolaena Lobata.

Although no reference was made to the use of the root it appears in several references as a medicinal plant such as;-

  1. MEDlCINAL PLANTS OF JAMAICA. PARTS 1 & 11. By G. F. Asprey, M.Sc., Ph.D. (B’ham.), Professor of Botany, U.C.W.l. and Phyllis Thornton, B.Sc. (Liverpool), Botanist Vomiting Sickness Survey. Attached to Botany Department, U.C.W.l. NEUROLAENA LOBATA (Sw.) R. Br. Cow Gall Bitter: Halbert Weed; Bitter Wood; Bitter Bush;  Goldenrod. In Jamaica Neurolaena lobata is thought to be useful for treating stomach disorders. Early writers speak of its use as a bitter and also as a dressing for sores, wounds and ulcers. Barham thought it to be diuretic. In Honduras it has a reputation as a malaria remedy.
  1. Journal of Natural Products.  Neurolaena lobata (L.) R. Br. ex Cass. (Asteraceae) is a herbaceous plant distributed widely in Central America and north western parts of South America. In Caribbean traditional medicine, the leaves of this plant have been used for the treatment of different types of cancer, ulcers, inflammatory skin disorders, diabetes, and pain of various origins. In some regions, N. lobata is also used to treat or prevent a variety of parasitic ailments, such as malaria, fungus, ringworm, and amoebic and intestinal parasites.13

William Briggs, Agricultural Labourer.

William Briggs was probably baptised at St. Margaret’s, Great Barr on 10 Sept 1797 the son of William and Mary Briggs. Although there is an alternative baptism in St. Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire on 24 Nov 1788 for William the son of George and Elizabeth Briggs but this is less likely because of the relative distances of the two places.

(The name William Briggs was not very common and only 3 have been found in a 10 year span.)

Very little has been found about him as he does not appear to have married or to have had children.

William survived long enough to be recorded in the 1841 Census HO107/977 folio 22

Address – Rose cottage, Township of Great Barr, Aldridge.

Joseph Newell age 70   Occupation Ag. Lab. Born Staffordshire

Sarah Newell   age 65                                       Born Staffordshire

Elizabeth Newell age 13                                   Born Staffordshire

John Smith      age 70   occupation Ag. Lab    Born Staffordshire

William Sharrod  age 30 occupation Ag. Lab.  Born Staffordshire

William Briggs     age 50 occupation Ag. Lab.  Born Staffordshire.

Bearing in mind that in 1841 the ages were rounded down to the nearest 5 or 10 this gives William a date of birth of 1787 – 1791


William was not found in the 1851 Census but a death was found in the Walsall Union Registration District in the March Quarter 1842 for a William Briggs age 55.

Amongst Aldridge Pauper’s vouchers at Stafford Record Office is one (ref. D120/A/PO/231) dated 29 Sep 1822 which was The Parish Constable’s (William Prince) Account or bill for various items including summons, warrants, journeys to Wednesbury and Wolverhampton etc. Total £1 19s 6d.  Amongst the brief details was a summons for William Briggs for Bestiality[i] and a journey in search of him.

It is assumed that this is a follow on from a Vestry Meeting recorded in the vestry minute book (ref. D1104/4/1, 1807-29) entry for 31 August 1821 which records a meeting ‘to take into consideration the best mode of prosecuting a certain individual for committing an unnatural crime upon a Bruit[ii] Beast.’  The meeting was dissolved without coming to a decision!  No names were given.

No Newspaper Reports have been found to show that William was actually brought to Court and his name is not recorded in the Calendar of Prisoners for Stafford.  However the social stigma would have been horrific at the time if the accusation was made public.  An indication of public opinion about the offence is shown in:-

Google Books. “The History and Results of the Present Capital Punishments in England. Saunders and Benning, 1832” which has a chapter on Sodomy and Bestiality and does not appear to differentiate between the two and gives a brief history of the penalties against bestiality and sodomy.

“The punishment of death has been, however, awarded against it for many generations. So strong indeed was the vengeance which men entertained against the criminals, that the measure of punishment was the chief thing thought of. The old Goths either burnt or buried alive the victims and these tokens of vengeance continued for many centuries. But there was an interval, for although Alfred included the crime of bestiality amongst his class of capital offences, it seems that in the reign of Edgar, both that and sodomy were visited by the ecclesiastical discipline of fasting, and abstinence from the Lord’s Supper. However, matters did not long continue thus. In the reign of William I, it is probable that castration was the penalty, and very soon afterwards, we are assured that the old custom of burning and burying were the law of the land in this respect, But when Richard I. came to the throne, the punishments were again altered, and it was the rule to hang a man and drown a woman. Notwithstanding this, it is said that the Lombards introduced the vice into England in Edward the Third’s time. Probably they revived it here, and it is likely that it continued more or less until the days of Henry VIII., when an act passed, making it felony without benefit of clergy, and although the repealing act of Queen Mary interrupted the course of punishment for a moment, the fifth of Elizabeth re-enacted the statute of Henry entirely and absolutely. Women then suffered by the rope as well as men, and the law on the subject has remained the same to this present day [i.e. 1832], the consolidating act of Lord Lansdowne merely declaring that the two offences under consideration shall be punished with death.”

The offences do not appear to have had a high incidence if the table they published for London and Middlesex are an accurate indication.

table of Sod.& Best.

[i] OED definition of Bestial is an Unnatural connection with a beast. Or the quality of being bestial which could mean behaving in a cruel, brutal, beastly or obscene manner.

[ii] OED definition of Bruit is noisy.

Sarah Johnson 1823-1837

Sarah appears to have a slightly late baptism as she was nearly 7 years old when baptised at St. Giles, Whittington on 5 September 1830 resulting in her date of birth also being recorded (22 Jan 1823). She was the daughter of Ann Johnson of Whittington. No Father was recorded so the implication is that she was illegitimate.

Sarah died at the young age of 13 and was buried at St. Giles, Whittington on 17 Nov 1837 with an abode of Fisherwick.

The Burial Record does not show how she died but from the Pauper’s Vouchers for Whittington (at Stafford Record Office) it appears that she died as a result of Burns.

Voucher reference number D4834/9/3/22/3, dated 23 Dec 1837 is a Quarterly statement of receipts and payments by the Parish Officers of Whittington totalling £46 15s 3d. This Pre-printed form has the handwritten addition of travelling expences, postage, collecting Rates, Oil Cloth and Dressings for Sarah Johnson who was burnt, and collecting Bastardy Payments.

Another voucher number D4834/9/3/22/12 is a Settled Bill sent by W. Norman to the Overseers for 1½yds of Oil Cloth costing 6s 6d  dated 3 Nov 1837.

Sarah’s cause of death could be confirmed in her death certificate as she died in the first 6 months of civil registration..  

Name: JOHNSON, SARAH   Age at Death (in years): 13.  GRO Reference: 1837  D Quarter in LICHFIELD UNION  Volume 17  Page 43

So far I have not found any record of Oil cloth being used when dressing burns.

Sarah’s Mother Ann may have been one of the twin daughters of John and Ann Johnson of Whittington, baptised on 12 July 1807 (with twin sister Susanna) at St. Giles, Whittington. With siblings Richard baptised 21 Aug 1803, Catherine baptised 5 Apr 1805 and John baptised 31 Dec 1809.  If she had been born shortly before baptism in 1807 then she would only have been around 16 years old at the time of Sarah’s birth.


House Row System

The Whittington Overseers of the Poor Law make seveal references to House row system or men.

An Internet search brought up the following on Google Books. There were various statements which appeared to be from parishes in the Staffordshire Moorlands but I expect it would be the same in Whittington

The House-row system.

Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, Volume 45

Mr. Heald Salt, Guardian of the township of Wootton, states, that—

“If they (able-bodied labourers) apply in consequence of being out of work, I call a
meeting, and allot them to the rate-payers in proportion to their rate, and they are paid by the persons who employ them; this I call the house-row system.
The same plan has been pursued in our township ever since I can remember, and I was born in the township, and am now above 60 years of age. The non-resident able-bodied poor I relieve, if any of the family come over, giving as little as I can, and tell them they had better go back again. I never have sent any of the non-resident paupers to the workhouse.

The resident able-bodied have been sent to the workhouse, but not for the last five years. There have been cases where the paupers have not been satisfied with the wages paid by the house-row system.
The wages paid for the house-row system are not quite so good as those paid to independent labourers, and they have always reference to the families of the paupers. There are now two cases of persons going by house-row, the one a married man with seven children, none of whom have yet worked, and the other a married man with one child; they are tidy sort of working men, and about average labourer, one not being superior to the other. The man with seven children is paid by house-row 1s. a day and his victuals, and the other 7d, a day and his victuals, and the overseer has undertaken to pay 1s. a week for the lodgings of the latter, as his family are residing 13 miles from the parish.


Susanna Teather

Born circa 1810. She may be Susanna Dublin, baptised 1 Aug 1809 at Brierley Hill, Staffordshire the daughter of Joseph and Mary Dublin[i].

Susanna Dubling married William Tethers on 2 Mar 1829 in St. Thomas, Dudley[ii]

Susannah died in 1877 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Galena, Jo Daviess, Illinois, United States of America[iii]

Tettenhall Poor Law vouchers contain three items relating to Susanna Teathers. Firstly a Letter dated 4 Sept 1835 by [blank] Brockmore, gent to “certify that Joseph Shakespeare had read W. Teather’s letter to his wife Susanna about a fortnight ago desiring  his wife and 2 children to join him with your assistance as he has no intention to return to England”.[iv]

A Receipt dated 4 Sept 1835 for Passage Liverpool to New York £13. Susan Teather paid £7 and overseers £6.[v] There were no dates for the journey.

A settled bill for 5 shillings, dated 5 Apr 1835, for a Journey to Dudley by W. Warr regarding Susan Teathers’ emigration.[vi]

The Ships passenger lists on  indicate that William Teathers must have returned to the UK as the Ship “Manes” from Liverpool arrived in New York on 12 June 1837 and included:-

William Tether age 27 a miner, (DOB 1810) Susan Tether age 27 (DOB 1810), Ann Tether age 7 (DOB 1830) and Phebe Tether Age 5 (DOB 1832). They appear to be intending to travel to Philadelphia.

Therefore there was some delay in Susanna and the Children emigrating. The bill for the journey to Dudley looks as if the Overseers were trying to recoup some of the expenses from another Parish.

It appears that both children must have died the same year which was 1845.

Greenwood Cemetery Galena, Jo Daviess, Illinois, United States of America has a grave for Ann Tethers born 1829 died 1845 together with Phoebe 1831-1845 and the parents’ grave. There was no indication of other children born in the USA.

30 Sept 1850 US Census

Benton, Lafayette, Wisconsin, United States schedule number 159

William Tethers age 39 a Miner born in England No Value under the real Estate

Susana Tethers age 39               born in England

Gambrose Offord aged about 6 born in Illinois with real estate value $500

James Sewell aged about 30 a Miner born in England No Value under the real Estate Joseph Henry aged 20 a miner born in England No Value under the real Estate column

William Hutchins age 27 a miner born in England No Value under the real Estate column


20 July 1860 US Census

Vinegar Hill Township, Jo Daviess, Illinois, United States page 310

Wm Tethers age 50 Hotel Keeper born England real Estate value $800 personal estate value $575

Susanna Tethers age 50    born England

Gambrose Offort age 17 House Steward? born Ill[inois] no estate value

Kate Wood age 18  House Steward?  Born Eng[land] No Estate value

William Wood age 15 Farm hand born Ill[inois]  No Estate Value

Willam Sodin age 14 House servant born England No Estate Value

William Tethers may have been the child of Moses and Sarah Tether baptised on 20 May 1810 at Brierley Hill, Staffordshire[vii]

William Tethers died 1870 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Galena, Jo Daviess, Illinois, United States of America

Photographs from

Wm.TethersGrave3  Ann&Phebegrave

BestGravephotoWm    Best GravephotoSus.




[iv] SRO ref. D571/A/PO/72/20f

[v] SRO ref. D571/A/PO/72/20d

[vi] SRO ref. D571/A/PO/72/3b


Thomas Cotes, Shoemaker.

Thomas Cotes was a Shoemaker doing shoe repairs and supplying shoes to the Paupers of Tettenhall and may be either Father or son as it is impossible to tell from the Paupers’ vouchers. However comparing the signatures off the marriage records with the one on the Paupers’ vouchers I think it is most likely to have been the elder Thomas. (See the bottom of the page.)

Thomas Cotes senior was born circa 1766 but so far I have been unable to identify his baptism. However he may have been the older brother of John Cotes the tailor.

There is a first marriage for Thomas Cotes, senior to Ann Smith on14 Oct 1787 at Tettenhall with the burial on 12 Apr 1791 of Ann Cotes wife of Thomas, at Tettenhall. However I have been unable to identify a marriage to Mary.

St. Michael and all Angles, Parish Records, Tettenhall have the following baptisms for the children of Thomas Cotes senior.

  1. 24 Mar 1799 Lucy d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes.
  2. 20 June 1801 Elizabeth d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes.
  3. 25 Dec 1802 Fanny d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes
  4. 21 Aug 1803 Mary Handley d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes. (Another entry says Mary Stanley Cotes)
  5. 13 Oct 1805 Thomas s/o Thomas and Mary Cotes
  6. 8 Jan 1809 Henry s/o Thomas and Mary Cotes.
  7. 14 Oct 1810 Sarah d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes
  8. 30 Jun 1811 Ann d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes
  9. 5 Aug 1812 Jane d/o Thomas and Mary Cotes
  10. 11 Sep 1814 Benjamin s/o Thomas and Mary Cotes


1841 Census HO107/998 folio 7

Address Upper Green, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton & Seisdon, Staffordshire,

Thomas           Cotes Age 75 Shoemaker  born Staffordshire

Mary                Cotes   Age 70                     born Staffordshire

Thomas           Cotes  age  35 Shoemaker born Staffordshire

Henry               Cotes  Age 30 Shoemaker   born Staffordshire

Benjamin         cotes  Age  25  Shoemaker  born Staffordshire


The Parish Records of St. Michael and all Angels record the burial of Thomas Cotes senior aged 83 on 29 May 1847. His wife Mary had predeceased him shortly before and was buried 5 March 1847.


Thomas Cotes Junior carried on the business.

1851 Census HO107/2017 folio 82

Address – Upper Green, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton,

Thomas           Cotes  Head age  45 Cordwainer born Tettenhall, Staffordshire

Henry               Cotes  Lodger Age 42  Cordwainer  born Tettenhall, Staffordshire

On 20 April 1854 Thomas Cotes junior married Caroline Powis a spinster at St. Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall. There is no record of any children.

1861 Census RG9/1984 folio 32

Address – Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

Thomas           Cotes  Head age  55 Boot & Shoe maker  born Tettenhall, Staffordshire

Caroline           Cotes, wife age     57                                  born Tettenhall, Staffordshire.

Thomas Cotes junior died 1867 and was buried aged 61 on 18 Feb 1867 at St. Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall.


Ref D571/A/PO/72/3d Signature of Thomas Cotes Shoemaker in the Paupers’ vouchers.


Thomas Cotes Junior signature from his marriage in 1854


Signature of Thomas Cotes senior from his marriage in 1787

John Cotes Tailor.

It has been impossible so far to determine which John Cotes was supplying clothing and repairs to clothing for the paupers at Tettenhall.  It could be either Father or son or both.


ref D571/A/PO/41/4

John Cotes senior claims to have been born in Tettenhall but no baptism has been found in that Parish. There is a possible baptism in Wombourne on 18 Aug 1771 with a father John and mother Mary. This is probable as John’s Grandparents would have been Richard and Elizabeth Cotes and John called one of his sons Richard.

1841 Census HO107/998 folio 16

Address – Lower Green and Church Lane,  Tettenhall

John    Cotes age 70   Tailor                          born Staffordshire

Ann      Cotes age   60                                    born Staffordshire

John    Cotes age   40  Tailor                         born Staffordshire

Eliza    Cotes age   60*                                   born Staffordshire

William Cotes age   20 Tailor                         born Staffordshire

William Albright Cotes age 18 Ag. Lab.          Born Staffordshire

George Cotes               age 12                                   born Staffordshire

*NB I think there is an error in recording this age.

1851 Census HO107 /2017 folio 65

Address Church Lane, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

John    Cotes Snr        Head                 age 81            Tailor               born Tettenhall, Staffs.

Ann Cotes                   Wife                 age 73                                     born London, Middlesex

John Cotes Jnr.           Son  Marr        age 49             Tailor               born Tettenhall, Staffs

Elizabeth Cotes Daughter in Law       age 48                                     born Enville, Staffs

Richard Cotes             son                  age 46 unm. Bricklayer           born Tetettenhall, Staffs

William Alwright Cotes son                 age 28 unm. Bricklayer           born Birmingham, Warw.

George Cotes                         son                  age 22 unm. Traveller             born Tettenhall

John Cotes Senior married Ann Hayward on 6 Mar 1797 at St. Michael and All Saints, Tettenhall Regis and was buried in the same place on 30 June 1851 aged 81 years.

John Cotes Junior was baptised at St Michael & All Angels, Tettenhall Regis on 3 Jan 1802 confirming his father was John and Mother Ann.

His marriage was again at St Michael & All Angels, Tettenhall on 19 July 1830 when John Coates married Elizabeth Coates of Brewood. This has not been investigated but is probably the marriage of cousins.

The Index of Civil Registration of Death indicates that John Cotes junior’s Death was registered in the Wolverhampton district in the April Quarter 1869 aged 69

Paupers’ vouchers have so far been found recording his bills from 1819 to 1835 but as they have not all been recorded yet there may be more.

John had rather unconventional spelling (see voucher above) but we could usually work out what the bills were for eg Neeing and sitting Trousers, Altering pare of trousers, Mak pare trousers, mak 4 smock frocks for men in house.

Ellen Underhill (Apprentice) 1816 – 1899.

Ellen was most probably baptised Eleanor at St. Michael’s, Tettenhall Regis, on 1st Sept 1816 and was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Underhill of Tettenhall. Thomas was a Locksmith.

Thomas Underhill was probably buried at St. Peter’s Wolverhampton on 7th Jan 1825 and Ellen’s mother Hannah was probably buried on 19 Nov 1828 again at St. Peter’s, Wolverhampton.

This would have left Ellen / Eleanor an orphan at the age of 12 with a 6 year old sister and so far I have only identified the one sibling who was Mary baptised 20 Oct 1822 at Tettenhall.

Presumably Ellen was apprenticed out by the Overseers of the Poor of Tettenhall as the Poor Law vouchers at Stafford Record Office contain a letter[i] to the Overseers dated 24 April 1833. It was a “Notice of re-assignment”. This was to Re- assign Ellen Underhill, Apprentice, from John Williams, Liquor merchant to John Bingham, Gardener, of Tettenhall. This was “Objected” at the Vestry meeting 25 April 1833.  Unfortunately there does not appear to be any Vestry Minutes for that year in Stafford Record Office.

Whites 1834 Directory lists John Williams as a Baker and flour dealer in King St. Wolverhampton which may not be the same man.

In 1841[ii] Ellen was working as a female servant for Samuel Marston a victualler in Canal St. Wolverhampton. Whites 1834 Directory lists Samuel Marston at the Dog and Partridge, Canal St.

Ellen’s sister Mary was also in Wolverhampton in 1841 working for Samuel Whitehouse, a Publican, and his family in Bilston St.

Ellen was married on 4 Aug 1842 at St. Peter’s Wolverhampton, to William Fulford aged 19 a puddler, father B. Fulford, a locksmith. Ellen was of full-age and named her Father as T. Underhill, dead. Both William and Ellen signed X.

Mary married on 15 Aug 1842 again at St. Peter’s, Wolverhampton to William Tuckley of Wednesfield, of full age, Locksmith, and his father was also William and a Locksmith.  Mary names her father as Thos. Underhill, Deceased. Again both William and Mary sign X.

According to St. James’ parish records, Wolverhampton, Ellen and William Fulford had a daughter Ann baptised on 12 Oct1845 giving an abode of Wolverhampton and St. Peter’s Wolverhampton records Lucy baptised on 12 Aug 1847 when they lived in Walsall Street.

The 1851 census[iii] records them in East Street, Wolverhampton, as does the 1861 Census[iv].

By 1871[v] Ellen had moved to Pearson Street to live with her daughter Lucy and Lucy’s husband Joseph Beech a japanner, together with their children. Although Ellen is recorded as married there is no sign of William who appears to die in 1872 aged 49.[vi] Ellen’s daughter Ann is also with them having married Arthur Dolphin, a soldier[vii] in 1864. There is no sign of Arthur either but Ann has a son James Dolphin born 1867.

The 1881 Census[viii] shows that Ellen has moved again and is in 15 Steven’s Gate now recorded as a widow and she has her daughter Ann living with her also recorded as a widow.  Ann Dolphin is working as a boot fitter and her son James Dolphin age 14 is working as a brass dresser.

At St. John’s, Wolverhampton on 27 April 1890 Ann Dolphin, widow, married Henry Drickwater also a widower who was a Shoe maker Both signed.  Ann Died in Wolverhampton in Dec quarter 1908.[ix]

The 1891 Census[x] reveals that Ellen was being supported by her grandson James Dolphin who was a horse keeper and they were again living in Pearson St. Wolverhampton. On this census she is named as Eleanor Fulford.

Ellen Fulford died in 1899[xi] aged 82.

The various census entries reveal that Ellen’s daughter Lucy married Joseph Beech a Japanner and they had 8 children – William, Joseph, Lucy, Alice, Caroline, Thomas, Frank and Colin. By 1901 the family had moved to Birmingham and Lucy was widowed by 1911  and she died in Birmingham in the March quarter 1924[xii]

[i] D571/A/PO/70/80

[ii] HO107/999/4folio 49

[iii] HO107/2019 folio 462

[iv] RG9/1995 folio 51

[v] RG10/2931 folio 97



[viii] RG11/2794 folio 15


[x] RG12/2227 folio 70



Mary Willington and family of Tettenhall

Mary was probably baptised on 16 Oct 1774 at St. Michael’s, Tettenhall and she was the daughter of William and Esther Nichols.

Mary Nichols Married Charles Willington at St Michaels, Tettenhall on 26 Dec 1803 when both signed X.

Charles Willington of Tettenhall Wood was buried on 23 Dec 1837 at St Michael & All Angels, Tettenhall Regis, aged 58.

Mary Willington of Tettenhall Wood was Buried 12 Jan 1852 at St Michael & All Angels, Tettenhall Regis, age 77

Charles and Mary had 3 children. (Tettenhall Regis, St Michael & All Angels Parish Records)

  1. Ann baptised 24 Oct 1804
  2. Joseph baptised 14 Feb 1808
  3. Mary baptised 13 May 1811

Tettenhall Poor Law Vouchers include a Receipt (ref D571/A/PO69/1) dated 30 Jan 1833, when Mary Willington was paid 5s 0d for “Attendance at Sarah Blakemore’s Labour”, it was paid by the Overseers and Mary signed X.

On first seeing the receipt it was assumed that Mary was a Midwife but as she lived until 1852 she was found in the 1851 Census[i] listed as a widow aged 75, occupation Pauper/ laundress

Adjoining folios showed more laundresses so the whole of the Tettenhall parish census folios were examined to find how many more laundresses were there, and to see if there was any indication of a commercial Laundry or one belonging to the Workhouse. Nothing indicated either. No laundries are listed in the trade directories either. (Data added to a separate post)

The 1841 Census does not list many women’s occupations therefore just the 1851 Census was used and the following figures were found.

There was a total of 80 Women who listed themselves as either laundresses or washer women. Of these 16 were widows, 16 unmarried and 47 married women. In addition there was one woman with no marital status.  Two laundry maids working in the very large households were ignored as they were obviously working for just one family.  According to the Victoria County History Vol. 1 the total population of Tettenhall parish in 1851 was 3394. (This includes men, women and children) Therefore laundresses formed 2.5% of the total population.

Not knowing how this compared to other places, Uttoxeter Parish which also has a large number of Paupers Vouchers remaining was used to compare the 1851 Census.  Uttoxeter had a total population of 4990 people which was 1596 larger than Tettenhall. (i.e. nearly half as big again) However Uttoxeter only recorded 25 women working as laundresses, washer women or mangle keepers which was 0.52% of the total population.  8 were widows, 5 unmarried and 12 married women.

Of the 80 women listed in the laundry trade in Tettenhall in 1851 several were related although not all have been investigated. Using the Census Data and Parish Records available on and together with the General Register Office Mary Willington ‘s descendants who were working as Laundresses are on the Chart below.


The information on Tettenhall Laundresses agrees with the findings in:- LAUNDRESSES AND THE LAUNDRY TRADE IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND by Patricia E. Malcolmson 1981. Copyright of Victorian Studies is the property of Indiana University Press Extracts below.

She quotes Prosperity and Parenthood, “J. A. Banks has shown that the smaller the family income the greater the proportion spent on food, and that when there was a rise in income it was immediately followed by a disproportionately large increase in expenditure on washing and mangling”.

She continues that “throughout the Victorian period laundry work was predominantly married women’s work. According to one historian, “it seems to have been taken for granted that laundry work was the prerogative of married women.”[ii]

Patricia Malcolmson found that the married women had husbands in rather seasonal work. “In certain areas, then, this juxtaposition of seasonal employments formed an established part of the local economy. Most working-class women could expect to work for wages at some time during their married lives, but on the whole they worked regularly only when pressured to by necessity; thus, areas where laundry workers predominated were marked by poverty”

Throughout the Victorian period washers in full-time work earned 2s. to 2s. 6d. per day whilst ironers, who were generally pieceworkers, earned from 3s. to 3s. 6d.

“Areas in which laundry work was prominent reinforce these conclusions: the West London communities in which laundresses were most heavily concentrated were characterized by close proximity to substantial upper-middle-class residential areas; these areas generated employment for women in laundry work, charing, and to some extent needlework and prostitution.”

“An old watercress seller told Henry Mayhew that when he was at home he assisted his laundress wife by turning the mangle for her (Mayhew, III, 307).”

“Other husbands helped out as dollymen, punching or pounding clothing with a wooden instrument known as a dolly, and along with other male relatives might help with the fetching and carrying of wash, water, or coals. A husband who had a pony and cart or hand truck was invaluable since such transport would allow a laundress to take on a greater quantity of washing.”

“By far the greatest asset a woman forced to support herself and her family by laundry work could have, however, was the labour of her children, especially daughters (or occasionally other female relatives), for those will be best off who have the most of them.[iii] With the help of their daughters, many widows and wives whose husbands were unable to provide support were able to support themselves entirely by laundry work, but usually only at the cost of extremely long hours. Many mother-and-daughter teams worked until midnight or even all through the night during the busy season. Older children laboured at the washtub, mangle, and ironing board while younger children sorted and packaged bundles, carried in dried clothes for ironing, and helped to carry the laundry to their mothers’ customers and to collect work for the following day. The report of the interdepartmental committee on the employment of school children observed that “some of the worst cases of overworking of little girls of which we have heard occurred in the small laundries, which are exempt from the Factory Act.” Being “mother’s helper” was frequently the focal point of the life of the laundress’s child.

[i] HO107/2017 folio 105

[ii] Leonard Davidof, “The Employment of Married Women in England, 1850-1950” (M.A. thesis, London School of Economics, 1956), p. 216.

[iii] ‘Evelyn March-Phillips, “Factory Legislation for Women,” Fortnightly Review, 63 (1895), 735-