Matthew Woodward (1794–1857), Woollen and Linen Draper, Haberdasher and Deputy Postmaster, Rugeley, Staffordshire

Between November 1826 and July 1832 Woodward submitted four bills to the Colwich overseers totalling £1 11s 0½d for flannel, linen cloth, worsted stockings and haberdashery items. Parson and Bradshaw’s directory does not list Woodward, however, Pigot’s 1828 directory reveals that he was a linen and woollen draper. Like many in his trade, his billheads show that he was also a silk mercer, hosier and haberdasher. He also had another occupation as Rugeley’s deputy post master.

The Rugeley post office was established in January 1830. The position of deputy (for which a bond of £300 was payable marking Woodward out as a person of means) was held initially by John Wood, but he resigned within 12 months. Woodward (listed as a draper in the post office appointment books) was engaged on 6 January 1831.

The roles of deputy postmaster and postmaster were ones that carried with them responsibility, and depended upon trustworthiness and creditworthiness so it comes as something of a surprise to note that in November 1831, less than a year into his new job, the London Gazette records that a commission of bankruptcy was issued against Woodward, ‘mercer and draper, dealer and chapman’ on 3 November 1831. The commissioners proposed to meet at 12 noon in the Talbot Arms, Rugeley, on 23 February 1832 to make a first and final dividend.

During this period, and indeed afterwards, Woodward kept the position of deputy postmaster. As limited liability in business did not come into being until the 1850s, those declared bankrupt were required by law to declare all their assets, not just those in the business affected by bankruptcy. Technically, therefore, the income derived from Woodward’s position in the post office would have been taken into consideration by the bankruptcy commissioners. They may have decided that the best and quickest way to ensure that Woodward’s creditors received a dividend was to allow him to continue to operate as the deputy postmaster. Indeed, it may be surmised that despite the bankruptcy proceedings, Woodward was not fundamentally poor at business. In a credit-dependent era, it is likely that his bankruptcy was occasioned by demand for payment by another person in the credit chain who was in difficulty. Whatever the cause, the outcome was that Woodward ceased to operate as a draper. White’s 1834 directory lists his only occupation as that of postmaster in Horse Fair, as does the 1841 Census (in a property owned by William Otty according to the tithe award). The 1844 Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons list Woodward as one of the people to whom ‘half-sheets of postage free paper will be sent for sale’. He resigned from his position in 1847; bookbinder Samuel Cheshire the younger was appointed in his stead.

Woodward married Jane Fortescue by licence at St Augustine’s, Rugeley, on 23 December 1823. The ceremony was witnessed by Rebecca Hart and Samuel Fortescue. All were literate. Samuel Fortescue was a surgeon in Horse Fair.

In the Census returns of 1841, 1851 and 1861 no children of Matthew and Jane Woodward are recorded. The 1851 Census records the pair as having a house servant, Elizabeth Marlow, aged 23. Intriguingly, the 1851 Census lists Woodward as a maltster, but he does not appear as such in any trade directory of the 1820s or ‘30s. In White’s 1851 directory, however, Woodward is listed as a maltster in Heron’s Nest Street. How Woodward moved from being a draper to post master to maltster is unknown, but he must have made or acquired money somewhere along the line to set up or take over a malthouse because malting was an expensive, highly regulated and heavily taxed trade. The law required commercial maltsters to be registered and to take out annual licences backed by guarantors. Few could afford the costs involved. Furthermore, the complexity of the malting process meant that it was not a business easily accessible to newcomers.

Woodward died in 1857. His funeral took place on 14 December at St Augustine’s, Rugeley. His widow, aged 70, was living alone by the time of the 1861 Census.


HMSO, Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, 20 vols (1844), vol. XLV

Henry D. Barton, Analytical Digest of Cases Published in the Law Journal Reports, vol. XI, new series vol. II (London:  James Holmes, 1833)

British Postal Museum, POST 58/39, Appointments Register for Deputy Postmasters, 1777–1849

Peter Collinge, ‘A Genteel Hand in the Malt Business: Barbara Ford (1755–1841) of Ashbourne’, Midland History 39:1 (2014), 110–132

George Elwick, The Bankrupt Directory being a complete register of all the bankrupts with their residences, trades and dates when they appeared in the London Gazette December 1820–April 1843 (1843)

London Gazette, vol. 1 (London: 1833), 212

William Parson and Thomas Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

Pigot, Directory of Staffordshire (1828)

Staffordshire Name Index, B/A/15/644, Tithe awards, 1836–1845

SRO, D24/A/PO/1496, Colwich Overseers’ Vouchers, 17 Nov 1826

SRO, D24/A/PO/1510, Colwich Overseers’ Vouchers, 27 Mar 1827

SRO, D24/A/PO/1705, Colwich Overseers’ Vouchers, 7 April 1831

SRO, D24/A/PO/1816b, Colwich Overseers’ Vouchers, 19 Jul 1832

SRO, D1454/1/12–17, St Augustine’s, Rugeley, Parish Register

TNA, HO 107/973/18, Census 1841

TNA, HO 107/2015, Census 1851

TNA, RG 9/1978, Census 1861

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1851)

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research becomes available.


Richard Hayne’s (1723–1787) Memorandum on Uttoxeter Workhouse, 1782

Amongst the papers of the Fitzherbert family of Tissington, Derbyshire, there is a bundle of miscellaneous items including a description of Uttoxeter workhouse, its management and the activities of its inmates in the second half of the eighteenth century. From the document, it is not clear why the memorandum was written or to whom it was addressed, but it may have been prompted by planned changes to the way in which workhouses were established as a result of Gilbert’s Act of the same year.

Richard Hayne was the second of five children born to John Hayne (b. circa 1688) of Uttoxeter and his wife Lettice Leighton (bapt. 11 Jan 1690). Richard was baptised on 26 March 1723. He was apprenticed to a Derby attorney William Turner in 1742 and appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Derbyshire in 1755, the year after he married Mary Newton at St Oswald’s parish church, Ashbourne. He spent some years living in Uttoxeter, but his main residence was Ashbourne Green Hall. The Hayne family also owned a number of other properties in Ashbourne including the Green Man inn and the Old House in Church Street used as a dower house. Richard died at Bath in 1787 and was buried in the churchyard of All Saints’, Weston. After Richard’s death, his widow moved to the Old House, remaining there until her death in 1802.

The memorandum offers one person’s perspective of the state of the Uttoxeter workhouse and its management before the construction of the one designed by Thomas Gardener which opened in 1789. Hayne’s views emphasise its poor state before his appointment as an inspector, the improvements made whilst he was in post and its decline once again after he left.

He starts the memorandum by recalling events of more than thirty years previously when Uttoxeter’s numerous poor were ‘constantly erecting cottages and enclosing small [plots] of land which they considered as their own, making careful not to change their place of settlement’. The workhouse itself was ‘mostly filled with old persons and children perhaps from 40–60’. Many other poor people received outdoor relief ranging from one to three or four shillings a week. The overseers, chosen usually from ‘the lower sort of Trades People’, sent provisions to the workhouse where ‘some of the old men there distributed it’, not just to the inmates but to others who came for their dinners. The problem was exacerbated, according to Hayne, because those who went to the workhouse for their meal had a tendency to pocket the victuals and carry them away.

Hayne’s other main concern was that the ‘Poor of the workhouse had no employ and ran about the town at pleasure by which habit the children were ignorant, idle and impudent’. The problem of how to ‘amend this bad and expensive conduct’ was discussed frequently by the gentlemen of Uttoxeter who attended the parish vestry. Remonstrating with the overseers proved ineffectual. Consequently the vestry proposed that ‘two Gentlemen should be added to the official overseers who could spare time to inspect’ the workhouse. Hayne and a Major Gardener were thus appointed. ‘Our first step’, wrote Hayne, was to ‘advertise for a person as Manager of the Workhouse’. They got one from Wolverhampton at £24 a year ‘or thereabouts for himself, his wife and his daughter’.

Hayne’s and Gardener’s next step was to inspect the workhouse where they ‘found a room full of broken spinning wheels … We directed these implements to be thoroughly repaired’. The boys and girls were then taught to spin and knit linen and wool, and the ‘old people as were able had their allotment of such work as suited them best’. The House was ‘whitewashed and cleaned in a wholesome manner’. Rooms were inspected on a weekly basis. As the workhouse manager was ‘qualified to instruct the children … in reading, writing and accompting’, copy books and reading books were procured for their education. For the sake of their health the children were permitted to play in a large yard attached to the workhouse where a palisade and locked gate were fixed. A boy, seated in a box, was to unlock the gate and admit in or out ‘all proper persons’.

Gardener’s and Hayne’s role as inspectors lasted for a year, during which time they alternated their duties every two weeks. Hayne claimed that he scarcely missed a day, sometimes carrying out unannounced inspections twice a day. He visited the market to see the butcher’s meat (usually animal muscle tissue) being weighed and put his mark next to the entry in the general account book. He also did this for the flour, wool, hemp and other materials brought into the workhouse. Outdoor relief (except during sickness) was stopped as was the practice of feeding any other than workhouse inmates.

As a result of the inspectors’ endeavours the workhouse was transformed: ‘From a most filthy, dirty place the House became perfectly sweet, clean and wholesome’. The inmates became industrious and the children ‘attained an attention to Business & were (from Parental Homebread (sic)  Brutality) Civilised and fited (sic) to be put out as Parish Apprentices into any decent families’. The spinning of linen yarn for shirts and worsted produced a sufficient amount to make stockings and ‘to be sent out to be woven into liney wolsey for coats and waistcoats for the Men and Boys and Gowns and Petticoats for the Women and Girls’.

After his term of office Hayne removed to Ashbourne, the major returned to his regiment and a contested county election ‘divided the friendship of the Gentlemen [of Uttoxeter and the] workhouse gradually sunk into its former state’.

How much of Hayne’s account we accept at face value is difficult to say. Frederick Eden’s State of the Poor certainly confirms many of the practices Hayne found on his arrival at Uttoxeter workhouse, but the extent to which the workhouse and its inmates were transformed within the space of a year is open to question.


Derbyshire Record Office, D239/Z/6, Fitzherbert of Tissington Papers, Memorandum Uttoxeter Workhouse 10 May 1782

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England, 3 vols (London: 1797)

Adrian Henstock (ed.), A Georgian Country Town: Ashbourne 17251825:  Fashionable Society (Ashbourne: Ashbourne Local History Group, 1989)

Alannah Tomkins, The Experience of Urban Poverty, 1723–82 (Manchester: MUP, 2006) accessed 6 Mar 2018 accessed 6 Mar 2018

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.

The Poor Law: Small Bills and Petty Finance, 1700-1834 Elizabeth Higginbotham (b.1804), Seamstress, Colwich, Staffordshire

Thus far Elizabeth Higginbotham is one of the few businesswomen to emerge from the vouchers who supplied any of Staffordshire’s parish overseers with goods or services. The explanation for this is not clear at present. It is certainly not because it was unusual to find women in business at this time, but may reflect the types of goods and services required by the overseers and the nature of the businesses in which many women could be found. Occasionally, we come across bills signed by women working in a family business but whose names do not appear in trade directories or on billheads.

Between 12 March 1829 and 22 January 1835 Elizabeth Higginbotham submitted 16 bills to Colwich’s overseers of the poor for a range of items she made including petticoats, frocks, caps, dresses and shirts. She also supplied drapery items. The aggregated value of goods totalled £6 11s 2d. The highest bill, for making clothes for Thomas Buckley’s three daughters and two sons totalled £0 19s 8d. It was submitted on 26 November 1829 and settled on 29, a quick turnaround for a parish bill. The lowest value bill for drapery items, costing £0 2s 2d, was settled on 7 November 1834. Like the bill for Buckley’s children, most of the bills provide the names of the families in receipt of the goods including Jane Tooth, Widow Tooth’s daughter; Margaret Bowvin and Francis Elsmore (four times); Thomas Buckley; Mary Rocks child, John Ansell’s boys (twice), Mary Shelly (three times); Sarah Yates’ children (six times); Edward Ansell, and Richard Ansell.

Elizabeth, born in Staffordshire in 1804, was married to Joseph Higginbotham, (b.1805 in Warwickshire). The Higginbothams lived in Great Haywood. In the 1851 Census Joseph, a stone cutter, and Elizabeth were living with two daughters, Ann, a ‘servant at home’ aged 19, and Henryetta aged 13. Ten years later, Joseph described himself as an agricultural labourer in the census and Ann was the only daughter listed. No daughters are listed in the 1871 Census, but living with Joseph and Elizabeth was a granddaughter Henrietta aged seven. For the first time in the 1881 Census another daughter Elizabeth (b.1837) is mentioned; like her mother she was a seamstress. Elizabeth the elder was a widow by this time. In all the census returns, Elizabeth’s occupation is not listed.  Neither Parson and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory nor White’s 1834 directory has any listing for either Joseph or Elizabeth Higginbotham.


SRO, D24/A/PO/1592–2016, Colwich Overseers’ Vouchers, 12 Mar 1829–22 Jan 1835

TNA, HO107/1999, Census 1851

TNA, RG9/1909, Census 1861

TNA, RG10/2820, Census 1871

TNA, RG11/2691, Census 1881

This is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.


Archangel Mats is not a Swedish Tennis Player

Archangel mats appear a number of times in the overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter prompting us to ask what they were and what they were used for.

Archangel mats (sometimes referred to as Russian mats in the vouchers) were produced in substantial numbers and exported through the port of Archangel averaging 905,000 pieces annually in the period 1837–1842. The mats, made from sedge and flags (aquatic plants with long narrow leaves), were durable and close textured. They had several uses including for packing around household furniture when moving and for covering trunks and cases. They were supplied to Uttoxeter’s brickyard where they may have been used to protect the clay bricks whilst they were being dried out before firing. They were also supplied to the workhouse garden where they would have been used to protect fruit trees and to cover cold frames and cloches to protect young and tender plants from frost and bright sunlight early in the growing season. Aquatias noted that, ‘Experienced growers only spread the mats when the bell-glasses turn white with frost, and take them away as soon as the glass is thawed. To save the trouble of shading with mats, certain growers prefer shading with limewash’.

Gardener and nurseryman William Rogers (see separate entry) supplied mats on three occasions between 1824 and 1834. On the last occasion ‘24 large Russia mats’ were supplied at a cost of £1 18s 0d. Rogers appears to have been making a decent profit on this transaction as in the early 1840s Archangel mats were being sold on the London market at £3 10s per 100 including duty at five per cent. Two years earlier Porter and Keates had supplied two dozen Archangel mats for £1 13s 0d.


P. Aquatias, Intensive Culture of Vegetables on the French System (1913. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 2009)

Graham Brooks, ‘Industrial History of Cumbria, brick-making’, accessed 10/01/18

J. R. McCulloch, A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical and Historical of Commerce and Navigation (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1844)

SRO, D3891/6/32/4/11, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 Mar 1826

SRO, D3891/6/32/18/4, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 4 Aug 1824

SRO, D3891/6/39/5/15, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 March 1832

SRO, D3891/6/40/10/9, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 Jan 1834

The Tradesman or Commercial Magazine, vol.11 (July–December 1813) (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1813)

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


Charles Green (1778–1856), Overseer, Darlaston, Staffordshire

Charles Green was the parish overseer for Darlaston in 1816. Green, born in London, married Elizabeth Bayley (1779–1844). They had four children. The first two George Washington (b.1810) and Charles Allen (1812–1892) were both born in New York. Their two sisters Mary Bayley (1815–1903) and Elizabeth Bills (b.1817) were born in Darlaston. George, Charles and Mary were all baptised on 3 September 1815 at St Lawrence’s parish church, Darlaston. Mary was married twice, first to John Whitehouse and then after his death to Joseph Whitehouse. Elizabeth married James Corbet[t] Lister.

George Washington Green and his wife Anne had at least three children: Martha, Henry and Frederick. In 1850, aged 38, Charles Allen Green married the 22-year-old Mary Yates at St Lawrence’s. They had five children: Charles (b.1851), George (b.1854), Thomas (b.1855), Joseph (b.1861) and Lizzie (b.1868).

The Report to the Commissioners on the Employment of Children 1843 took evidence from Charles Green and George Washington Green. Aged 62 at the time, Charles stated that he was a maltster and farmer. He had been a resident of Darlaston for 28 years meaning he and his family had arrived in Darlaston in 1814, two years before he became the overseer. He may have lived in Darlaston before he and Elizabeth went to New York: the 1798 land tax redemption for the parish lists a   Chas Green as the occupier of a property owned by ‘Thacker’. Charles may have been related to George Green, listed in the 1818 directory as a victualler and maltster, at the White Lion, King Street. Pigot’s 1828–1829 directory gives Charles Green’s address as Church Street; White’s 1834 directory lists Charles Green as an innkeeper at the White Lion.

In the Commission report both Charles and George Washington Green spoke about the treatment of apprentices. Charles believed that previously they were ‘badly treated by some masters, ill-clothed and ill-fed’ and in rare cases ‘beaten unmercifully’.  Those treated in such a manner, he declared, were parish apprentices from Lichfield, Stratford and Coventry who had premiums of four or five pounds. Premiums were amounts of money paid to a master or mistress to take the apprentice off a parish’s hands and it was Green’s conviction that masters cared little for their apprentices once the premiums had been received. Such treatment, he thought however, was less common than it used to be. Although there was more interest than previously, he was concerned about the lack of and desire for education in the area.

Coach-spring and file manufacturer George Washington Green, aged 30, thought the treatment of apprentices were ‘generally good; they have plenty to eat, are well-clothed, though roughly … and not cruelly beaten’. Judging from attendance at Sunday schools and subscriptions to them, he thought there was a desire for education. The standard of teaching he thought was generally low; better in the dissenting chapels than in the established church.

Until 1846 when the carriage spring and file making partnership at the Soho Works, Darlaston, was dissolved by mutual consent, George’s partners were Samuel Mills and Thomas Wells. He then seems to have changed direction. By the time of the 1851 Census when he was living in Church Street with his widowed father and their servant Sarah Horton, he described himself as a surveyor and architect.

Charles died in 1856. His will is extensive and shows his desire to ensure an equal, if gendered, distribution of his estate. It reveals that Charles was a significant property owner in addition to the 80 acres he farmed. The first two pages are largely concerned with the distribution of real estate and the income derived from it to be given to his two daughters. Through a series of trusts Mary Bayley Whitehouse inherited seven tenanted houses in Cock Street, Darlaston from which she was to receive the rents. These, Charles instructed, were to be kept in good order and repair. Elizabeth Bills Lister was to receive the same and in the same manner from property she inherited in Blakemore Lane, shops and houses in Pinfold Lane, and two houses and shops in Eldon Street. Elizabeth also received the land at Heath Fields ‘late in the occupation of Joseph Cockram’. In the event of the death of either sister without lawful issue, their share of Charles’ property was to be divided equally between the surviving sister and her two brothers. In leaving his daughters’ shares of his estate in trust, a common practice for the time, Charles Green’s legal authority extended beyond his death. Whilst in some ways this limited his daughters’ financial freedom, his stipulation that the money so derived was, in each case, for their ‘sole use and benefit’ protected it legally from their present or any future husbands. Such inheritance strategies attempted to give married women some financial security at a time when, upon marriage, women became the ‘property’ of their husbands and lost control of their finances unless marriage settlements had been drawn up beforehand.

Charles’ property in Church Street together with a brewhouse and malthouses in the occupation of his sons and the houses (about eight) in Washington Row were given to his son George. Five properties in King Street were given to son Charles. Both sons inherited their share of their father’s estate outright.

Lengthy instructions were given in the event of Charles’ trustees, Samuel Mills and William Carter, dying, neglecting, refusing or desiring to be discharged from their duties. In addition, the trustees were to sell Charles’ personal estate including his household goods and furniture and to call in the money owed to him to settle any outstanding debts and to pay his funeral and testamentary expenses. The residue was to be divided into four equal parts amongst his four children. In order that the trustees and executors of his estate could carry out their responsibilities, they were empowered from time to time to deduct from the estate the costs and expenses they incurred.

The 1849 Poll Books for Darlaston (recording those eligible to vote) gives Charles Green’s place of abode as a freehold house Church Street. Charles Allen Green of Church Street had a freehold house in Washington Row, and George Washington Green, also resident in Church Street, had a freehold warehouse and shops Bell Street.

What is unknown at present is when and why the Greens went to New York and what prompted their return.


London Gazette, 12 March 1846 (1846) part 1, p.1049

W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

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

Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory, [Derby–South Wales] (London: J. Pigot and Co. 1835)

Poll Books Darlaston (1849)

Report to the Commissioners on the Employment of Children (1843)

SRO, D1149/1, St Lawrence’s Parish Register, 1539–1855, Darlaston

SRO, D5728/1, St Lawrence’s Parish Register, 1838–1987, Darlaston

TNA, HO 107/979/4, Census 1841

TNA, HO 107/2022, Census 1851

TNA, RG 9/2010, Census 1861

TNA, IR23/80, Land Tax Redemption, Darlaston, Staffordshire, (1798)

TNA, PROB 11/2240, will of Charles Green, 17 Oct 1856

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)

Thanks to Abigail Mackay for assisting with this research.

This is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.


George Foster (1788-1845), Gardener and Seedsman, Uttoxeter

George Foster supplied the parish overseers with an extensive range of seeds and plants for the workhouse garden. One bill for February 1833 consisted of:

6 Quarts Beans,  6 Pints Peas £0.2.10d
4oz Onion, 3oz Carrots,  Turnip 2, Lettuce 2, Celery 2, Savoy 3 £0.0.9d
Leek 6, Radish 4, Parsley 2 £0.1.0d
Quart Green Beans, Carrots 4oz £0.0.11d
100 Plants £0.0.9d
300 Winter Plants £0.2.3d
4oz Early Turnip £0.0.8d
100 Savoy Cabbage £0.0.9d
Score Cauliflowers £0.0.6d
2 Score Broccoli, 6oz Cabbage seed £0.1.6d
½oz Winter Cabbage £0.0.4d
200 Strong Quick Cabbage £0.3.0d
100 Strong Quick Cabbage £0.1.6d

Another bill for beans, onions, leek seeds and cabbage, costing £2 3s 6d, was submitted in March 1830.

Listed as resident in Carter Street in the 1818 directory, Foster had removed to Smithy Lane by 1834.

George, the son of William and Mary Foster, was baptised on 10 August 1788. He married Hannah Martin at St Mary’s, Uttoxeter, on 13 July 1816. Hannah was older than George. The 1841 Census, when Foster’s address was given as ‘Yew Tree’ (the same as that given in Pigot’s directory of 1835), gives George’s age as 52 and that of Hannah as 65. The instructions to Census enumerators were that the ages of people above the age of 15 should be rounded down to the nearest five years. This may have happened in Hannah’s case, but William’s age was recorded accurately. Also living with the Fosters was Joseph Martin, probably Hannah’s brother. He was aged 70 and described as being of independent means.

In his will, dated 29 February 1840, Foster’s dwelling house near Smithy Lane, Uttoxeter and an additional dwelling house, garden and croft and land in the possessions of John Burton and James Lassetter together with all other property, monies, securities, goods, chattels, rights, credits and personal estate were bequeathed to his wife. Hannah was appointed his executrix. His probated estate did not exceed £100.


J. Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Derbyshire to Wales] (1835)

W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

SRO, B/C/11, George Foster of Uttoxeter, 23 April 1845

SRO, D3891/6/42/184, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 15 Feb 1833

SRO, D3891/6/36/6/69, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 24 Mar 1830

TNA, HO 107/1007/14, Census 1841

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)

This is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.


John Gee (active 1830s), Gardener and Nurseryman, Uttoxeter

John Gee is proving to be a rather elusive character. What follows is short, although hopefully other information will come to light.

Just one bill from John Gee, dated November 1832, for garden seeds and plants for the workhouse, survives amongst the overseers’ vouchers. The total value of the items was £1 6s 10½d.

Gee was married to Ann. On 29 April 1828 their daughter Sarah was baptised at the Carter Street independent chapel (formerly Bear Hill). The following year another daughter, Mary, was baptised on 1 October.

Gee was resident in Bridge Street according to White’s 1834 directory and Pigot’s 1835 directory. He does not appear in the 1841 Census although Ann Gee (55) an innkeeper, Ann (20), Mary (15) and Sarah (13) are listed for Bridge Street. Census enumerators were instructed to record the ages of children accurately but for those people above 15 their ages were to be rounded down to the nearest five years. A little more information is provided in the 1851 Census. Ann (65) described herself as a beer house keeper; daughter Ann, then 32, was a dressmaker; Sarah, then 23, was a straw bonnet maker; and there was a lodger James Driver ageJ 22, a cooper. There is no mention of Mary.


J. Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Derbyshire to Wales] (1835)

SRO, D3891/6/39/6/5, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 14 Nov 1832

TNA, HO 107/1007/44, Census 1841

TNA, HO 107/2010, Census 1851

TNA, RG4/2928, England and Wales Non-conformist and Non-parochial Registers, Uttoxeter Carter Street independent chapel (formerly Bear Hill), 1793–1836

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)

This is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.


William Rogers, (d.1845) Gardener, Uttoxeter

Three bills, totalling £6 3s 4½d, survive for William Rogers. They cover the period August 1824 to September 1836 and list plants or seeds including beans, onion, radish, lettuce, parsley, winter cabbage, carrots, leeks, Prussian peas, Savoy cabbage, cauliflower and turnips. Two of the bills also include mats.

Rogers is listed as resident in High Street in the 1818 and 1834 directories. His probated will of 20 June 1845 (£300) is extensive, showing an accumulation of property in and around Uttoxeter. To his son Henry Rogers he gave his messuage, garden and premises situated on the Heath in the occupation of John Arnold. Son Isaac was given another dwelling house, garden and premises on Uttoxeter Heath adjoining the one given to Henry, and occupied by James Appleby. Isaac was given an additional £5 as William considered that the house he given to Isaac was not as valuable as that given to Henry.

Sons Thomas and John each received £80. Daughter Mary, the wife of Edward West, received £90 for her separate use whilst another daughter Ann, the wife of John Street, was bequeathed £40 for her separate use. William had intended giving Ann £100 but she had already received £60. Mary Rogers, the daughter of his deceased son William, was given £20.

William’s wife Mary was given £10 (increased to £30 in a codicil) to be paid within one calendar month of his decease. She was also to be given such articles of furniture and household effects as his executors saw sufficient to furnish a small house. His wife was permitted to reside in the dwelling house adjoining the one in the High Street William was living in at the time of his decease together with the use of the brewhouse and premises belonging to the house he resided in. Mary was also to receive an annuity of £30 chargeable on the real estate given to son George. After Mary’s decease the property was to be inherited by to George.

William’s shop, house and garden in High Street were to be inherited by his son George with the proviso that, 12 months after the death of William’s wife, George should raise the sum of £128. This was to be divided equally amongst William’s sons Henry, Isaac, John, and Thomas Rogers and his daughters Mary West and Ann Street. His daughters’ shares were to be for their separate use. If it was necessary the properties were to be sold or mortgaged to raise the £128. George was to inherit his father’s stock-in-trade, tools and gardening implements and all remaining household goods and furniture (after the executors had made their selections regarding the furniture to be given to Mary Rogers). George was to ‘give and allow’ his mother ‘such vegetables as she may require’ out of the garden.

A parcel of land in Smithy Lane which William used as ‘garden ground’ together with the ‘garden house’ were bequeathed upon trust to William Smith, linen draper of the Market place and Thomas Bagshaw, grocer. They were to sell and dispose of the land by public auction or private contract.

Although somewhat labyrinthine, taking into account in-life gifts William’s will attempted to make a roughly equal division of his of estate. The decision to grant his wife such articles of furniture and household effects as his executors saw sufficient to furnish a small house, however, had the potential for dispute.


  1. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

SRO, B/C/11, will of William Rogers, Uttoxeter, 20 June 1845

SRO, D3891/6/32/18/4, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 4 Aug 1824

SRO, D3891/6/32/4/11, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 31 Mar 1826

SRO, D3891/6/40/19/24, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 30 Sep 1836

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)


Samuel Brassington (c.1782–1858), Cooper, Uttoxeter

Overseers’ vouchers survive for Samuel Brassington for the period 1829–1837. For the financial year 1829–1830 he was the parish overseer and in 1831 was a juror at the quarter sessions. In 1824 he had been the parish constable. It was not unusual in Uttoxeter for people to ‘graduate’ from the position of constable to overseer. His role as a supplier of goods and services to the parish, however, potentially brought him into conflict with his position as overseer. As noted in the blog entry ‘Penalties for profiteering overseers’ (October 2017), by a parliamentary Act of 1815 churchwardens and overseers were barred from supplying goods and services (and hence profiting from their positions) during their period in office. There is the possibility that Brassington contravened this Act. One bill, for new buckets for the brick kiln dated April 1829 for ‘cooperage work’, appears to have been settled soon after he took office as overseer. Two other bills suggest also that Brassington may have been circumventing the Act, by supplying goods but not receiving payment for them until after his year of office had ended. Both bills were for miscellaneous items including ladles, buckets and hoops. The first for £2 1s 8d covers the period 26 May–31 August 1829 was settled on 18 April 1830; the second for £0 2s 6d is dated 18 April 1829, but settled on 28 April 1830. From then on no further bills are recorded until 1832.

Some bills took a long time to be settled. One dated 1 July 1828 was not settled until 25 March 1830. Others were presented as part of his responsibility as parish overseer including journeys made to Birmingham and Stafford to bind apprentices.

Tubs, hoops, trenchers, ladles, buckets, barrels, pails and corks were supplied to the work house and to the brick yard on a regular basis.  A typical itemised bill was settled in January 1830. As with most of his supplies, the majority of items were of small value.

2 New Buckets £0.8.0d
1 Barrel 2 Iron Hoops £0.1.4d
21 New Trenchers £0.8.9d
1 New Bowl £0.20d
6 New Trenchers £0.2.6d
1 New bath Tub £1.18.0d
1 Wood Spoon £0.0.4d
1 New Gown £0.3.9d
3 New Cork Bungs £0.1.0d
1 New Sieve £0.0.8d
1 New Lantern £0.2.6.d
1 Barrel 3 Iron Hoops £0.1.9d
2 Rings for breaking stones £0.1.0d
1 New Cork Bung £0.0.4d
1 New Barrel £1.1.0d
1 New Tub £0.5.0d
1 Cup £0.0.4d

Brassington was born in Rugeley, Staffordshire. For much of his life he lived in High Street, Uttoxeter. He married twice; first to Mary (1780–1818) the daughter of Josiah and Mary Piddock of Uttoxeter, and second to Julia (c.1787–1871) from Church Broughton, Derbyshire. Samuel and Mary married in Uttoxeter on 21 April 1814. Samuel and Julia had two children: Julie, baptised on 31 January 1823, and Samuel, baptised in on 26 December 1824

In 1841 Samuel and Julia were living in Uttoxeter’s High Street. No children or servants are listed in the Census. By 1851 Samuel described himself as a cooper employing one man. This was Thomas Allen, a cooper’s assistant, who lived with the Brassingtons. In 1861 Julia, now a widow, was living alone in Balance Street Yard.

In 1871, the year in which she died, Julia, describing herself as an annuitant, was assisted by a servant, Emily Beech. She had moved again to Sheep Market.


W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

Poll Books and Electoral Registers, Totmonslow South, Uttoxeter, 1832

SRO, Samuel Brassington, Marriage Bond and Allegation, 1814

SRO, B/C/11, Samuel Brassington, 1858

SRO, D3891/6/33/3/008, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 20 April 1829

SRO, D3891/6/34/12/043, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, July 1829 –15 March 1830

SRO, D3891/6/34/12/066, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 18 April 1830

SRO, D3891/6/34/12/114, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 28 April 1830

SRO, D3891/6/37/10/44, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 28 January 1832

SRO, D3891/6/37/10/50, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 28 January 1832

SRO, D3891/6/38/4002f, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 18 September 1832

SRO, D3891/6/38/4002i, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 12 January– 8 October 1832

SRO, D3891/6/38/4002k, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, settled 22 February 1833

SRO, D3891/6/41/7/44, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 25 March 1835

SRO, D3891/6/41/7/50, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 26 March 1835

SRO, D3891/6/41/7/66, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 26 March 1835

SRO, D3891/6/43/5/8, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 17 February 1836

SRO, D3891/6/45/9/1r, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 11 December 1837

SRO, D3891/6/34/12/055, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 25 March 1830

SRO, D3891/6/36/9/42, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 23 January 1830

SRO, Marriage Allegations and Bonds, Samuel Brassington, 20 April 1814

SRO, Q/RJr, Quarter Sessions Jurors’ Index 1811–1831

TNA, HO/107/1007, Census 1841

TNA, HO107/2010, Census 1851

TNA, R.G. 9/1954, Census 1861

TNA, R.G. 10/2892, Census 1871

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1834)

William White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield: 1851)

This is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.


Thomas Woolrich (active 1820s-1830s), Chemist and Druggist, Uttoxeter

A bill sent by Thomas Woolrich turns up just once in the overseers’ vouchers for Uttoxeter when, in 1835, he charged 6s for supplying sulphuric acid and a further 6s for manganese. With extensive business interests and multiple income streams, notably as a purveyor of his own ‘horse balls’, as an agent for Sun Life insurance, agent for Heeley and Sons pens, and the supplier of patent medicines, perhaps he had little need to rely on business from the parish overseers. He may also have faced competition from George Alsop and Samuel Garle.

As Woolrich’s business network extended far beyond Uttoxeter, it is no surprise to find that like a number of other residents of the town he was on the provisional committee of the Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and South Staffordshire, or Leeds, Wolverhampton and Dudley Direct Railway. His claim to fame, however, rested on ‘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.

His shop in High Street offered a wide range of patent medicines including John Leeming’s genuine horse medicines; Dr Sibly’s Reanimating Solar Tincture for debility, consumption, nervous complaints, rheumatism, spasms, indigestion, and  lowness of spirits; Barclay’s asthmatic candy; Hayman’s Meredant’s antiscorbutic drops; Lignum’s antiscorbutic drops; Blaine’s celebrated powder for distemper in dogs; 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’.  Regarding such medicines, Alan Mackintosh notes ‘A few of the supposed inventors were dead and certainly had no real link with the medicine, as in the case of … the enigmatically named Dr Boerhaave’s Red Pill Number Two’.

Woolrich may also have operated an informal registry office for servants. In March 1831 a cook was ‘wanted for a small genteel family where a kitchen maid is kept’. For particulars interested persons should apply to Mr Woolrich. In June 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, or Mrs Horn and Son, Cheadle. In September a clergyman’s family in a country village wanted a plain cook with a good character reference from her last place. Particulars could be had from Messrs Mort at the Advertiser Office, Stafford, or from Mr Woolrich.

Woolrich subscribed to Thomas Fernyhough’s wonderfully titled Military Memoirs of Four Brothers, Natives of Staffordshire Engaged in the Service of their Country as Well in the New World and Africa, as on the Continent of Europe, by the Survivor.

No specific dates have been given for Thomas Woolrich as there were several in Uttoxeter. In 1787 a Thomas Woolrich apprenticed Francis Woolley as a druggist; another, James Walters was apprenticed in 1790 and a third, William Morley was apprenticed in 1796. Thomas Woolrich senior of High Street, was registered as a voter in the 1832 poll book. Another Thomas, son of Thomas and Sarah Woolrich was baptised in Uttoxeter on 14 April 1782 and was buried 20 September 1853.

Woolrich served as a juror at the quarter sessions in1811 and 1821.


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

Hyde Clark (ed.), The Railway Register and Record of Public Enterprise for Railways (London, John Weale, 1845), pt II, 166

Derby Mercury, 6 Apr, 27 Jul, 2 Nov 1831, 1 Feb, 8 Feb, 9 May 1832

Thomas Fernyhough, Military Memoirs of Four Brothers, Natives of Staffordshire Engaged in the Service of their Country as Well in the New World and Africa, as on the Continent of Europe, by the Survivor (London: 1829)

Alan Mackintosh, The Patent Medicines Industry in Georgian England: Constructing the Market by the Potency of Print (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) p.244

W. Parson and T. Bradshaw, Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory, (1818)

Poll Books and Electoral Registers, Totmonslow South, Uttoxeter, 1832

Staffordshire Advertiser 1 Jan, 12 Mar, 26 Mar, 2 Apr, 23 Apr, 11 Jun, 10 Sep 1831

Staffordshire Record Office, D3891/6/41/7/71, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers, 1 April 1835

SRO, D3891/1/7–20, Uttoxeter, St Mary’s Parish Registers

SRO, Q/RJr, Quarter Sessions Jurors’ Index 1811–1831

TNA, IR 1/34, 1/64, 1/68, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710–1811

This is a work in progress, subject to change as research continues.