History - 1870 Survey

 

Sections: Please click the links below for further detail

Introduction and Summary (this page)

Chelsworth Families

Houses & Households summary 

Households in detail: Click below for the different zones of the village:

 - Old Farm & Cakebridge Lane
 - Lindsey Road & The Common
 - Upper Street - Part One
 - Upper Street - Part Two
 - Lower Street - Part One
 - Lower Street - Part Two 

 

Where does one start to compile such data and represent it in a form easily understood? : you talk to Bernard Quinlan.

Sadly Bernard is no longer with us but his prolific research and published findings most certainly are.  Each of the documents Bernard created and used has been digitally re-mastered and converted into web format.  

 

In 1870, a survey was made of the population and homes of the whole of Chelsworth.  As part of this process, photographs were taken of every house and cottage in the village, and every resident was listed. The results were recorded in a pre-printed and bound ledger.

In "snapshot" form, the archive records the state of the community in a unique way which helps us to understand the patterns of family life and housing at that point in time.

Together with the census carried out just a few months later - in April 1871 - which records the origins and occupations of the residents, it provides us with a good picture of life in those days, whereby we who live in Chelsworth at the beginning of the 2nd following century, can contrast our own circumstances with those of our predecessors.

The original 1870 document cannot be found (it may be held in the Suffolk Records Office). We do though have Bernard's summaries, and it's these we have recreated here

These following started life as a commentary by Bernard Quinlan. We have reproduced them here in web page format to aide the reader with the specific links that you will find elsewhere on the site appertaining to the 1870 Survey.

 

CHELSWORTH PEOPLE IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY

In the late 19th century, two surveys of Chelsworth's households were carried out (in 1870 and 1871).  The late Bernard Quinlan, our village historian, who spent many hours in the 1990's researching and cataloguing local information, drew this information together with that in parish registers, censuses and other archive information to build up a picture of Chelsworth at that time.

 

1. Origin of the Survey

It is not altogether clear who initiated the survey, nor for what reason. However, the evidence indicates that the original idea, along with some of the first entries, was the work of Col. Frederick Pocklington, who had recently returned to England from military service overseas,  first to Aldershot and then for two years, from July 1868 until June 1870, to be the Superintendent of Gymnastics at Colchester Garrison.

It is plausible that, during the time Fred Pocklington was at Colchester, his instinct for an orderly and well-managed life, coupled with an interest in photography and in recording the events of life in his day, led him to adapt an official ledger for use in the village where he grew up.

The survey itself was compiled in several stages, judging by the different styles used, and one entry is as late as the year 1873, while others were evidently made in 1869.

There were several corrections, and a number of simple errors still remain, suggesting that other hands, including some unfamiliar with the people in the village, came into the task of collecting information over the course of time.

Finally, the ledger bears the name of Arthur Bishop, of Old Forge Cottage, who was Fred Pocklington’s gardener. He must have been the custodian of the ledger at some point. However, the immediate provenance of the document lies with Miss Penelope (Pen) Powell, the child of Fred Pocklington’s eldest surviving daughter Frances Emily.

 

2. How can we use the survey?

Notwithstanding the qualfications noted below, this survey is an invaluable archive, and one to study with great interest. Among the many questions that seem to arise are these:

• What was the average size of family in those days?

• With many large, often poor, families, were infant and child deaths much higher than today?

• How does the age distribution of the residents compare with modern Chelsworth?

• What were the main occupations?

• How readily did people move to find employment, marriage or opportunity?

As well as the survey, we have the 1871 and 1881 censuses, together with the parish registers, to help us trace the patterns of work and movement over the years.

It will be seen that many of the families were related, as we might expect, given the difficulties of transport in those days. The account of these relationships may appear rather extended. However, apart from the Gages, Raynhams and Pocklingtons, we have few records of the family trees of these long-standing Chelsworth families, including the Goslings, Goymers, Harveys and Listers - so the details seem to be worth recording.

 

3. The Quality of the Survey Data

Careful study of the data may lead us to treat these archives with some caution. In the first place, the 1870 and 1871 records do not always tally. The reason for this may simply be that families of farm workers were removed from one cottage to another, because the landowner who employed them required them to move or because the size of the family called for a larger, or sometimes a smaller house.

More seriously, it is apparent from comparing these records that one or more of those who carried out the survey were not exactly scrupulous about enquiring into people’s names, of wives in particular. There are several instances where, for example, Sarah was recorded as Susan, or Emma for Emily. Domestic servants were often ignored, or at best listed without their names or ages.

One interesting feature of the survey is that, initially, many dates of birth were precisely recorded, but where they were not noted in this fashion, the data were later added in the form of years of age. Obviously, the second form of record is likely to be less reliable, especially if there was reason to conceal the actual date of birth, or if had been forgotten.

 

4. Households

There were 69 dwellings in those days, seven of them unoccupied, located within a total of 41 buildings. Thus many of the buildings were shared between two or more households, though each generally had its own entrance door.

This was the overall picture of the households:

Family of husband, wife and children. 34
Family of husband and wife. 9
Widows living alone 8
Widows with children 3
Widowers living alone 3
Widowers with children 1
Unmarried 4

 

It is interesting to note that, although very large families were common, barely half the households included both parents and children.

In five instances, there were three households in a single building, but in seven small cottages (as well as in 11 houses occupied by the well-to-do) there was just one household. The commonest arrangement, in 18 buildings, was for two families to live side-by-side.

 

5. Family Sizes

This is the summary picture of family sizes built up from the records of the  fifteen “key family” groups in the village:

2 to 4  Children 14
5 to 7 13
8 to 10 15
11 or more 5

 

This meant that a total of 49 families had 327 children between them, an average of more than 6 children per family.

Within the larger households, the crowding must have been severe, and the effect on the lives of those families correspondingly constricting. In later years, we have heard, this meant sleeping three or more to a bed, with all the limitations on privacy, and even decency, that this must have entailed. Still, as country people, they were no doubt well used to the more intimate needs and habits of their fellow creatures.

 

6. Ages 

This table shows how the population was made up, in broad age bands, as well as the proportions born in the village itself:

 

0-19

128

46% of the total, of which

95

(74%) were born here

20-39

55

20%

15

(27%)

40-59

64

23%                     

22

(34%)

60+

29

11%

13

(34%)

Total

276

100%

145

(53%)

 

As we would expect, the numbers decrease over time. However, it is interesting to observe that there were more 40-somethings (35) than 30-somethings (26). The evidence suggests that 20- and 30-year-olds were significantly more mobile, both into and out of the village, than in the previous generation. Indeed, in the over-70s - some fifteen in all - some three-quarters were born in Chelsworth.

Within these groups, there were two principal occupations - school and the land. The next two tables, based on the 1871 census, look at the numbers in each, divided into age groups:

 

                Scholars

3-4

6

The spread of ages is surprising,

 

5-6

13

with four three-year-olds

 

7-8

11

and half-a-dozen aged 14 –

 

9-10

17

an age at which in those days

 

11-12

9

most would be expected to be at work.

 

13-14

9

 

 

Total

65

The total, too, far exceeds the 35 initially admitted to the school.

                        

Farm workers

13-19

12

Again, the small numbers of young

 

20-39

10

adults stands out - no doubt, then

 

40-59

16

as today, a source of much concern

 

60+

3

for those who stayed in the village.

 

Total

41

Amazingly, three active farm workers were over 70 years of age.

 

 

 

7. Infant & Child Deaths

It is of course well known that premature deaths were common in those days. Illnesses now largely forgotten were responsible for many deaths in childhood, including smallpox, scarlet fever, typhus and diphtheria.

The risks faced by mother and infant were also desperately serious, and many women died young, leaving husbands to marry again and probably father a second or even a third or fourth family. (And yet, as we saw earlier, there were many more widows than widowers surviving into old age - a phenomenon quite familiar to us today).

This table summarises the pattern of young deaths in the village in the period 1850-1890, as it affected our fifteen key family groups where we have the relevant information from the parish registers:

 

 

Number of families 23
Total number of children 148
Infant deaths (0-2 years) 20
Other young deaths (3-18) 18
Total young deaths 38

 

 

 

In other words, one in every seven children died in infancy, and more than 1 in 4 did not live to adulthood.

A particular hazard seems to have attended those children who were born to single women. Both of the infants so born in this group died within a few weeks, and from our broader records this appears not to have been uncommon. In all likelihood, both mother and child would have received little support or care whether from the church, their families or the community at large.

 

 

8. Occupations

As one would expect, most of the men worked on the land while many women worked as servants, as the following summary shows:

 

On the land or with animals

46

Craftsmen/self-employed

16

Shopkeepers

3

Domestic servants, living in

19

Domestic employment, at home

8

Other employment

13

Farmers, rector, army officer

8

Retired, living on capital

8

Scholars

65

No occupation shown

90

Total

276

 

 

9. Class

Social class was perhaps the over-riding feature of the community in those days.

One way to assess the status of an individual might be the nature of one’s occupation. An alternative suggested here is the number and description of household servants employed in the most well-to-do households:

 

 

At The Hall

5

Butler, 28; page, 14; housemaid, 24; cook, 16; coachman, 24

(Lt Col GH Pocklington, Lord of the Manor, Army officer)

At The Rectory

3

Housemaids, 29 and 12; cook, 46

(Rev Thomas Platten, Rector)

At The Old Manor

2

Parlour maid, 30; cook, 31

(Lt Col Frederic Pocklington, Army officer)

At Barrards

2

Housemaid, 16; general servant, 58

(Miss Cautley, Landed proprietor)

At The Grange

1

General servant, 16

(Miss Pocklington, income from mortgages)

At Jackdaws Ford

1

General servant, 17

(Frederick Gage, farmer)

At The Granary

1

General servant, 16

(Smith Gage, butcher and landowner)

At The Peacock

1

General servant, 12

(George Gage, grocer and innkeeper)

 

 

 

The list does not include another farmer, William Raynham, who had his unmarried daughter to keep house for him.

 

10. Origins

Most of the heads of household - mainly men - had been born in Chelsworth at this time. The records indicate, however, that their spouses were most unlikely to have been Chelsworth girls.

The following summary of the origins of the wives of Chelsworth shows the picture in the key families, so far as we know them:

 

 

Born in Chelsworth

5

 

Adjacent villages

17

(chiefly Monks Eleigh & Bildeston)

Other nearby places

18

 

Other Suffolk places

3

 

Essex

1

 

Other

2

(Hackney, Newbury)

 

How did the young people of 1870 get to meet and marry, given the problems of travelling on the poor roads of the time, and the lack of leisure time and facilities ?

Perhaps they met at markets and agricultural shows, and at the occasional travelling circus, or at some rural sporting event.

Whatever the situation, though, the young men and women did get together quite well enough to ensure that most became parents, often beginning at an early age and continuing over a considerable number of years.

And by marrying outside the village, no doubt they helped to diversify the family stock - even if that was not their prime motive.

 

11. Emigration

The 1881 Census has been well indexed and made widely available. As a result, it is possible to trace the movement of many people born in Chelsworth. This is especially useful with the younger ones, as they left the village to find employment or marriage, or perhaps just to follow the dream of a better and more exciting life further away.

Using the same definitions as in the Origins table, we find them, young and old, in the following areas:

Adjacent villages

19

 

Other nearby places

15

 

Other Suffolk places

16

 

Essex      

5

 

Inner London

7

 

Home Counties

5

 

Other

1

(Cheshire)

 

Our last table contrasts the occupations of those who left with those who stayed:

 

 

Leavers

Stayers

Agricultural

15

20

Service   

13

5

Trade/craftsmen

14

3

Manual work

7

2

Other/unstated

9

3

 

The “service” category was mostly work as coachmen or grooms, so the change from working in Chelsworth was relatively minor, but the circumstances in which they lived, particularly in the towns and cities, must have been very different.