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.


George Fieldstaff (c.1789-1864)

George Fieldstaff was someone who benefited from the Old Poor Law as a labourer who was employed for his strength but also as a supplier of accommodation.  Unusually, for histories of the Old Poor Law, he spans the boundary of pauper-ratepayer.

He was baptised George Fieldstead in 1796, the son of James and Sarah Fieldstead, but all later census entries suggest that he was up to ten years old at the time of baptism.  The family’s surname is given variously as Fieldstad and Fieldstid before finally settling on Fieldstaff in the 1820s.  George married Elizabeth Bacon in 1820 and the couple had at least two children (Elizabeth and William), but he became a widower in 1824.  He then married Maria Brough (born c. 1786), who was herself a widow, on 17 January 1825, for which event neither spouse signed their name.  The second marriage produced at least one daughter, Martha, although not until 1835.

Censuses later describe Fieldstaff as an agricultural labourer and hawker, but after the death of his first wife he needed to turn to the parish for help and spent time as an inmate of the Uttoxeter workhouse.  By 1829 he was being employed in the workhouse brickyard, presumably cutting clay or hefting bricks in the manner of an industrial labourer, because he was paid for his work in May 1829.  In July 1829 was prosecuted at the Staffordshire quarter sessions for refusing to work while in the house but was paid again after he had resumed work in September of the same year.

Census labels notwithstanding, the most characteristic and persistent aspect of his employment history (discernible at this distance) is his keeping of a lodging house.  George Fieldstaff had escaped the workhouse by 1832, as between August 1832 and March 1833 Uttoxeter parish paid repeatedly to lodge itinerant people at his house on Smithy Lane, later Smithfield Road.  He charged three pence per night for an adult and one penny for a child.  By 1834 he was paying poor rate on the property as an occupier, on the basis of a presumed rental value of £1 15s per year.  This value was downgraded for subsequent years to less than half this sum, namely 13s 4d.

This level of rent value does not suggest that the Fieldstaffs offered a high standard of accommodation.  Lodgers from 1841 onwards were occasionally listed as women of independent means, but this might have been disingenuous or even sardonic as most of the occupants of the house were labourers, or even beggars.  At the time of the 1861 census, George and Maria were playing host to their grand-daughter Mary Ann Fieldhouse (who should properly have been identified as Mary Ann Hughes), but also housed eleven boarders aged from their teens to the seventies, born nearby (Ashborne) or much further away (Ireland).

Fieldhouse’s eldest daughter Elizabeth decamped to Burton on Trent with brazier Thomas Hughes and although they probably did not marry, they had numerous children together.  They may have been itinerant workers themselves for a time, as the birthplaces of the children are given variously as Ashby in Leicestershire, Stafford, Rugby, and Cheadle as well as Burton.  Maria ‘Fieldstaff’ baptised 1839 was probably the oldest illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth and Thomas (rather than the youngest daughter of George and Maria), because when she married she gave her father’s name as Thomas ‘Ewers’, a brazier (thereby claiming mother’s common-law husband as her father for the purposes of marriage registration).

George Fieldstaff was buried at St Mary’s church in Uttoxeter apparently aged 75, and left no will.  His only known descendants arise from the union of his daughter Elizabeth with Thomas Hughes, and who took the surname Fieldstaff-Hughes.

NB: this biography is a work in progress subject to change as new research is conducted.

Sources: Staffordshire Record Office Q/SB 1829 M/20a; D3891/6/34/2/32 overseers’ voucher 1829; D3891/6/34/6/27; D3891/6/35/2/29 overseers’ voucher 1830; D3891/6/38/3/6 overseers’ voucher 1832; D3891/6/39/8/52a overseers’ voucher 1833; D3891/6/70-75 Uttoxeter poor rate books 1832-1838; 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses; baptisms of 9 November 1796,  27 March 1821, 11 December 1823, 13 May 1835, 30  August 1839, Uttoxeter, and 1860 Roman Catholic church, Burton on Trent; marriages of 2 November 1820, Milwich, 17 January 1825, Uttoxeter, and 1863, Burton on Trent; burials of 30 August 1824 and 23 August 1864, Uttoxeter;; with thanks to Dave Marriott for information about Smithy Lane/Smithfield Road.

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.


Morris Brothers, Aldridge and West Bromwich

Intrigued when examining two Poor Law vouchers for Aldridge, Staffordshire, which mentioned the trial of “the three Morrises”, my research revealed two brothers were both transported in 1819 to Australia for 7 years for Larceny (Theft).

Included in the description of costs claimed by Constable James Wakeman in a voucher (receipt): “Prosecution of the Three Morris’s” are various journeys and duties commencing 7 Jan 1818, including: taking Thomas Morris at Aldridge, executing two search warrants, attending his prosecution at Shenstone, using a chaise to take the prisoner to Stafford Prison, bringing the prisoner home from [West] Bromwich, journeys of witnesses, a journey to “West Bromwich and Wednesbury to take Mrs Morris”.

Included in the invoice for legal costs incurred on 13 March 1818 by attorneys Messrs Croxall and Holbecke, were costs “Instructions for Brief and preparing same against Thomas Morris on the prosecution of Samuel Boden, the like against Hannah, Thos and John Morris on the prosecution of Sophia Rogers…” and then on the same date “attending at Stafford conducting these prosecutions when Thomas and John Morris were transported”.

My research revealed Thomas and John Morris were born and baptised in West Bromwich, Staffordshire in November 1793 and October 1790 respectively to Hannah (nee Sheldon, 1764-1823) and James Morris (1765-1836).  There were at least four other siblings, Elizabeth, Mary, James and Anne, in the family with ancestors that can fairly easily be traced back to the seventeenth century.

Reports in The Staffordshire Advertiser revealed Thomas was tried at the Stafford Lent Assizes in March 1818 for the theft of a goose and a gander, whilst John and their mother Hannah were tried for “various other felonies”. Hannah was acquitted but John was found guilty of the “theft of wearing apparel” and was sentenced to 7 years Transportation along with brother Thomas.

It seems unlikely that the brothers were sentenced to transportation on first offences but with criminal records at that time usually only quoting names, and not ages or addresses, it is not possible to confirm what other offences might have been committed.  Transportation for 7 years seems to be the customary, albeit harsh, sentence for those convicted of larceny.

They remained at Stafford Gaol until being removed, along with 19 other convicts under sentence of transportation, to the hulks (holding prison ships) at Sheerness, Kent.  They did not leave England until 14 June 1819 when they sailed to Australia on the “Malabar” with 168 other convicts, arriving at Sydney, New South Wales, on 30 October 1819.

Various convict records describe the two brothers: Thomas was 27 years old, a locksmith and was 5ft 5 ½” with a “dark pale” complexion, black hair and hazel eyes. John was 29, a pistol maker, and shorter at 5ft 3 ½”, with a “dark pale”complexion, brown hair and grey eyes with a blemish in the right eye.

They appear to have served out their sentence in Sydney and remained there when granted Certificates of Freedom in March 1825, with Census records indicating they were living together in Market Street, Sydney, in 1828; Thomas was now a gunsmith and John a barber.  There are no apparent records of Thomas marrying or having a family although John secured permission to marry a Bonded Convict (still serving her sentence) in 1829, Catherine Richardson, who had also been sentenced to 7 years Transportation for “Coining” (passing counterfeit coins), arriving on “Competitor” the previous year.

Catherine died in 1842 and there are no records of their children, although John seems to have fathered a daughter with an “Anne D” according to other ancestry trees in 1850.

Both brothers stayed in the Sydney area, Thomas dying aged 56 years in 1850 and John in 1868, aged 78 years.  It is unlikely that they would remained in contact with their family in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, so would have been unaware that father James died in 1836 and their mother, Hannah, in 1823. Their only brother James seems to be more law-abiding, residing with his wife and family in West Bromwich and employed as a pistol filer until he died in 1860.

Written by Denise, posted by Alannah

Sources of Information:

SRO D120/A/PO/102, Aldridge Overseers’ Vouchers dated 15 Mar 1818

SRO D120/A/PO/103, Aldridge Overseers’ Vouchers dated 1818

England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892

New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842

Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868

New South Wales, Australia, Convict Applications for the Publications of Banns, 1828-1830, 1838-1839 New South Wales, Australia, Convict Records,  1810-1891

Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950

1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (Australian Copy)

New South Wales, Australia, Historical Electoral Rolls, 1842-1864

New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Freedom, 1810-1814, 1827-1867

Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985

Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922

Ancestry Family Trees


NB.  This is 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.