Mary Martin – A Seven Year Old Apprentice
Between 1563 and 1572 the first Acts of Parliament were passed compelling parishes to form a system of relief of the poor. Rather than paying continually for the upkeep of illegitimate children until adulthood, town-wardens sometimes arranged for them to become apprentices. They checked the suitability of the person applying to take an apprentice and issued a certificate to that effect. They then paid a set sum of money in return for the upkeep and training of a child up to sixteen or eighteen years of age. The system was, of course, open to abuse: it was a matter of chance whether a child was well treated and taught a trade. Some apprentices did well, even being remembered in the will of their masters.
Transcription of the Apprentice Certificate
‘The Condic(i)on of this obligac(i)on is suche that whereas the above bounden henry Rowse in Co(n)siderac(i)on of the Sum(m)e of three pounds three shelinges and fower pence of lawfull Englysh monye in hande all Redye payed by the handes of John Raynberd Wyll(ia)m Wether and Wyll(ia)m Hawys towne wardens for the tyme beinge of Walsh(a)m aforesayd whereof he acknowledg hym selffe to be fully Satisfyed contented and payed and the sayd John Rayneberd Will(ia)m Wether and Will(ia)m Hawys theyre heyers and successers thereof to be adymtted and Discharged for ever by these p(re)sentes hath Taken unto his servis one marye martyn the bast Chylde of Wyll(ia)m Porryt beinge of the age of Seven yeares or there aboutes untyll she shall attayne or Come to the age of eyghtene yeares yf therefore the above bounden henrye Rowse hys heyeres Executors administrators or assignes shall kepe and maynetayne the said Marye w(it)h meate Drynke lodginge and apparrelll both linnyne and wollen hosses and shoes sufficyently for suche a servant to have Duringe all the said tearme and to brynge her up in vertue and other exersyses that is to spyni(n)ge of the stock and knyttinge of hosses and to rede of the boke and to any other exersyes (th)at the wyffe of the said henrye Dothe nowe frequent and use So that the towneshep of Walsh(a)m aforesayd frome henceforth be no more Charged w(i)th the sayd Mary During the tearme aforesayd That then this p(re)sent obligac(i)on shalbe voyde and of none effect or else the same to Remayne and abyde in full power vertue and Force
(Mar)ked Sealed and Deli(vere)d in the p(re)sense of us to the use od John Rayberd Wyll(ia)m Ryse Augustyne Vinsent and Will(ia)m Wether and me Wyll(ia)m Hawyes’
Walsham – 600 Years Ago
At a general court of Walsham manor held on 27th July 1400 the meeting started, as meetings do today, with excuses for absence. The following men were essoined – John Lester, Stephen Swilpot, Robert Syre, John Canute, John Tiptot junior, William Margery, Thomas Hereward, Adam Frances, John Pye, John Marler, Walter Tuddenham, Robert Margery senior, Walter Robwood, Richard Rampley, Robert Sare and Nicholas Tiptot (all names have been given modern spellings). John Frances was amerced (fined) 3d for failing to warrant his essoin of the last court.
The jury (the twelve good men and true) consisted of John Spilman, Robert Poye, John Jay, John Syre, John Vincent, William Hawes, Thomas Fuller, John Hereward, William Swift, John Hawes, John Spicer and John Payne. Notice the proliferation of Johns – it doesn’t make research easy.
There were thirteen cases of debts, mostly of money but some of peas settled by payment of a 2d or 3d fine (the daily wage for a workman) and costs. John Hawes was fined 2d for detaining 19d and 4 bushels of peas from John Spicer and 2d for detaining 2 bushels of peas from Matilda Grocer. He was also fined 2d in settlement of a plea of debt and trespass done to William Lakenham.
John Jay was fined 3d on three occasions for detention of sums of money – 12s, 9s 8d and 6s – from John Rampley a chaplain who was probably acting as a moneylender. John and Robert Margery were fined 2d each for detaining 14s from the same chaplain and Roger Prede 2d for detaining 6s from him.
John Syre was fined 2d to settle a debt with Adam Blayer and Peter Robwood was fined 2d for detaining 17d from Robert Poye. John Manser and John Frances were both fined 3d for owing money to each other.
There was one other case of trespass – John Fuller of Eastend paid 3d for trespassing against Walter Pertre.
Robert Ashfield, John Green, Roger Grigg and Mr John Farmer were ordered to appear at the next court to show by what right they had entered into and occupied land recently of Robert Farmer (they were probably trying to avoid paying the lord the entry fee).
There was one death of a villein tenant – Robert Payne who held Paynes tenement (in the vicinity of Old Hall) comprising a messuage and 32 acres of land, meadow and pasture. His son John was the heir who paid the heriot (death duty) of a cow priced at 10s.
There were six surrenders of houses and/or land. Changes of villein land holding could only be done through the court by paying an entry fine (fee) to the lord.
John Grocer chaplain surrendered a pightle built and 3 roods of land – Fine 3s
Matilda Levy surrendered one rood of meadow to Adam Blayer – Fine 6d
Robert Springald surrendered a sixth part of 1 acre and 5 feet of meadow lying in Mickle Meadow (Lammas Meadow) to Peter and Catherine Robwood – Fine 12d
Walter Frances surrendered ½ acre of meadow to John Rampley the chaplain – Fine 2s
Amory Windowt and his wife Agnes (who was questioned privately to ensure that she was not being pressured into the deal) surrendered a messuage and 1 acre 3 roods of land to John Man – Fine 40d
Robert Man of Upstrete (Crownland Road) surrendered a messuage and 17 acres of land and pasture to Amory and Agnes Windowt – Fine 13s 4d
Walter Rampley sold a cottage to Robert Syre without permission and was fined 3d and the property was ordered to be seized by the bailiff and held by the lord until it was dealt with according to custom.
Three men dug pits in the “common way” – Edmund Patel in Upstrete where he lived, Robert Lester in West Street and William Lakenham (who lived where Bank House now stands) in Ayledesway at Eastend. They were probably digging clay for building material and were ordered to fill in the holes and pay a fine.
John Coggeshall, who lived where Dages is now built, damaged the lord’s barley and pasture with his sow and her piglets. Mr John Farmer hunted on the lord’s land taking hares with his dogs without a licence and was fined 6s 8d.
John Marler and Eleanor Martin sold bread contrary to the assize and paid a fine that was an annual payment for permission to bake and sell bread. Few people were allowed ovens and there were rules concerning weight and quality of bread for sale. John Lester, Peter Poye, William Lakenham, John Frances and John Poyken brewed and sold ale against the assize. Ale was the most common drink and was regulated regarding strength and capacity. Alice Smith also sold ale. John Hawes and Walter Frances were the ale-tasters for the year and failed in their duty paying 2d each. Again this was a regular payment more in the way of a licence then a fine.
The homage (the main tenants of the manor) were ordered to place a boundary between the meadows of two tenants. If they failed to do so before the next court they would be fined half a mark (6s 8d). One of the meadows was free and one villein which would have led to difficulties regarding manor customs of rent etc.
Finally, the Jay family was causing trouble. John Jay entered the lord’s close and assaulted John Ermitt who was the reeve (in charge of works due to the lord) “… beating and ill-treating him to the grave loss of the lord and in contempt of the lord”. He was fined 20s. His daughter Marion then unlawfully took a horse out of the lord’s custody that had been taken from her father in the name of distraint for services and customs in arrears She was fined 6s 8d.
The affeerers of the court were John Hawes, William Hawes and John Hereward. It was their task to fix the amount of fines taking circumstances into account – hence the amercement, or mercy.
Who Lived in Your House 100 Years Ago?
Next year the national census takes place in Britain thus activating the hundred-year rule which will allow the publication of the 1901 survey, an event that will be of great interest to local historians and genealogists. The information provided in these surveys of the population gives an informative picture of life in those earlier years as can be shown in the last available census that was taken in the previous decade – 1891.
In Walsham le Willows, in April of that year, two enumerators were appointed to collect the required information about the inhabitants of the village. Mr William Kerridge was given charge of the area approximately covering the west of the village. He was a solicitor’s clerk who lived with his family at Four Ashes in the house then called The Laurels and now called Foxglove Cottage. The eastern half of the village was surveyed by Mr Henry Colson who was later to own the White Swan public house, now Cygnet House near Clarkes Ltd.
On completion of the census it was found that Walsham had a population of 1,033 comprising exactly 500 males and 533 females. There were 250 inhabited houses and 20 uninhabited. Among the inhabitants were one blind person, two deaf and dumb, one idiot and one imbecile. Over 60% of the population ie. 630 persons were born in the village and the majority of the remainder were born within a twenty mile radius.
In 1891 Walsham was almost a self-sufficient unit with most tradesmen living in the community. There were tailors, carpenters, builders, dressmakers, butchers, blacksmiths, grocers, plumbers, shoemakers, drapers, bakers, clockmakers, hairdressers, saddlers, grooms, seamstresses and a marine store dealer (fishmonger). There were farmers, a doctor, a surgeon, a solicitor, a school master and mistress and two carriers who took goods and people by cart to Bury St. Edmunds on Wednesdays and Saturdays and to Elmswell daily. The mail was delivered three times a week.
In those days one could be born, educated, live and work in the village until Mr Nunn the builder hammered your brass name-plate on one of his coffins.
In 1891 few of the properties in the village were numbered or named which makes it difficult to match the inhabitants of those days with the dwellings of today. We would be pleased to hear from anyone who has knowledge of past residents of their property, perhaps from the deeds of their houses.
We can make educated guesses by trying to trace the footsteps of the enumerator as he wrote his findings on the census form.
In the main village street, then called Church Street, the Six Bells is named on the form and we can see that here lived Jacob Cash (aged 46) the innkeeper, his wife Lucy (44), their daughter Annie (19) a barmaid, son Benjamin (17) a groom and son Frederick (11) still at school.
The next entry on the form shows that in the adjoining cottage lived Henry Morley a carpenter, and his wife Emma. In the next cottage, now Wagner House, lived Hugh Mapleton (53) a tailor born in Surrey, his wife Elizabeth (47) born in Kent, their daughter Grace (20) a teacher in the girls’ school and son William (17) a pupil teacher in the boys’ school.
It then seems that William Kerridge crossed the street to get details of James and Fanny Frost and their eight children (aged 3–19) and also that of George and Mary Barber who had five children plus two orphans living with them These were Ada and Jessie Waters whose birthplace was unknown but it was stated they were from Barnardo’s Homes.
The Frosts may have lived in what is now St. Catherines and the Barbers in a cottage that used to stand in front of the Blue Boar, now its car park.
In the Blue Boar, named on the census, lived innkeeper William Baker (37), his wife whose name appears to be Salena (the name is difficult to read on the form) and three children. Also living there were two lodgers, John Beckett (32) a hawker and his wife Bella (30).
Going back across the street to the Guildhall, then the workhouse, William Kerridge found widow Sarah Paine (59) a seamstress living in two rooms, Robert Death (59) a widower living in four rooms with his son Harry (18) a carpenter. Living in three rooms was widow Charlotte Clarke (50) with her four sons, John, Albert, James and George and in two rooms was Caroline Booty (60) a widow living on parish allowance. Also here was the flour room, the store from which flour was distributed to the poor.
Next door in the house now called Dages lived wheelwright Louis Stevens (52) with his mother Hannah (76) and a nephew Ernest (21). Part of the house was occupied by George Spinks (34) a blacksmith, his wife Maria (33) and five children, Ellen, Emma, George, Agnes and Daisy – they lived in three rooms.
William Clamp (37) a grocer and draper lived at what is now the Old Stores with his wife Alice (40). They had three children, Willie? (12), Ernest (10) and an infant son of 3 days. Also at the house was a nurse, perhaps tending an ailing baby or mother. We do know that Alice lived for another twenty years and the, then un-named baby, to be called Lawrence, survived only to be killed in action twenty-seven years later in the First World War.
The work on this historical jigsaw is ongoing and any knowledge on where the past inhabitants of our village lived would be of great help.
What the Papers Said
The large house at Four Ashes now called The Rosary was once a girls’ day and boarding school. It had been run by Edmund Rogers since the 1760s.
The Bury Post of 14th January 1807 reported his death: “On Friday last died, in the 74th year of his age, after a severe illness which he supported with Christian fortitude, Mr Edmund Rogers, who kept the respectable boarding school at Walsham le Willows for 46 years. He possessed a truly benevolent heart and for uprightness and integrity in every transaction of life was exemplary. His charities far exceeded the sphere in which he moved, and they were not merely confined to daily feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, but his advice and assistance were devoted to them on every trying occasion. The widow, the orphan, as well as the blind were particular objects of his regard (having frequently interested himself to obtain for the latter the charities specially bequeathed for their benefit). He never thought any trouble or inconvenience too great if he could render those in need effectual service, which he often had the happiness of accomplishing. In truth he loved his neighbour as himself, and the poor will lose in him such a benefactor as it is hoped his example may incite others to imitate. How deeply his loss is regretted by family and friends, more poignantly felt than can here be expressed.”
On the 28th January 1807 the Bury Post reported: “Mrs Rogers widow of the late Edmund Rogers, takes the earliest opportunity that her feelings would permit after the recent severe loss she has sustained, to return sincere thanks to the patrons and friends of Walsham School for the distinguished encouragement it has received during a period of forty-six years, from which she now retires, and respectfully solicits a continuance of their favours on behalf of her son Mr Arthur Rogers and his wife (who has for several years been engaged in the scholastic line at Chelmsford). They will, with proper assistants, continue the business. The school will not be reopened till Lady’s Day next; during the interval the premises will undergo some alterations and new furnishings.”
In the same issue: “To be sold at auction: All the household furniture and effects belonging to Mr Rogers at his late dwelling house in Walsham le Willows.”
The Bury Post dated 18th February 1807 reports: “Miss Rogers, late of Walsham le Willows, respectfully informs the public that she purposes to open a boarding and day school in a commodious house in Botesdale, where she hopes to receive a share of those favours which were for many years liberally bestowed on her late father. Every exertion will be used to merit the most strict attention to the health and morals of those children who attend. Writing, arithmetic, dancing etc. will be taught by proper masters”.
In the same issue: “Mr Arthur Rogers respectfully informs the friends of his late father and the public that the Walsham School will open for the reception of boarders and day scholars on the 23rd March 1807 and begs to inform that both himself and his wife will give their utmost endeavours to promote the pupils entrusted to their care. They hope to merit a continuance of the patronage which the above school has experienced over many years.”
The Bury Post of 11th March 1807 gave notice to debtors and creditors: “All persons indebted to the estate and effects of the late Mr. Edmund Rogers, schoolmaster at the time of his decease, are requested to pay the same within one month from this date to Mr John Elliot, surgeon of Walsham, executor. Any person having demands on the estate must send their account to the executor in order that the same may be discharged.”
Just over a year later the Bury Post of 18th May 1808 reported: “Died last night at the residence of her daughter (Mrs Haddock of Botesdale) Mrs Rogers aged 72, relict of the late Mr Edmund Rogers of Walsham le Willows. The above lady had, for nearly half a century, kept the celebrated school at Walsham for the education of the female sex, during which period, by her meekness of disposition, affability and benevolence of character, she endeared her memory to all who ever had the happiness of deriving benefit from her instructions which were strictly in conformity with the mildest principles of Christianity Her charity was unbounded to the poor of her village, who in the hour of sickness or difficulty were sure of relief from her table. In the private circles of an extensive acquaintance she was highly esteemed and reverenced as an example worth the imitation of her sex, as a wife and parent of moral virtues.”
A family tomb at the rear of Walsham church contains Edmund Rogers, died 9th January 1807 aged 72; his wife Frances died 10th May 1808 aged 72; their daughter Rebecca and her husband the Rev. William Haddock of Botesdale and their son Arthur who became curate of Sapiston who died in 1840 aged 68.