Month: September 2017

13 April 1918: Private Robert Simons, Service Number 21373

The Grave Registration Report for the Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainault, Belgium has only brief details about Robert Simons. He is just one of the 11,401 casualties buried and commemorated there. It states that he was the son of Reuben Simons, of Fleckney, Leicester; husband of Grace Lilian Simons, of 103, St. Leonards Rd., Clarendon Park, Leicester.

He was a member of the Third Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, service number 21373. Around the date of his death there was action in the Ypres/Armentiers area in the Battle of the Lys.

In the 1901 census, Robert, aged 14, was registered with his sisters; Mary E. (14), Frances Helen (11) and Florence Rebecca (9). He had been born in 1887, but was already working as a hosiery hand. At the next census in 1911 he was found visiting the Briggs family of Sutton In Ashfield, Nottinghamshire and working as a hosiery maker.

His first appearance in the census returns though was in 1891 as Bob Simons living on Mill Lane, Shearsby with his parents Reuben (born in 1850) and Eliza, and older brothers Charley and Harry. Reuben had married Eliza Weston in 1872. She was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Weston of Shearsby and had been christened there in April 1848.


“England and Wales Census, 1901,” database, FamilySearch ( : 8 April 2016), Robert Simons in household of Mary E Simons, Shearsby, Leicestershire, England; from “1901 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing Lutterworth subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

“England and Wales Census, 1911,” database, FamilySearch ( : 2 August 2017), Robert Simons in household of Mabel Briggs, Hucknall Under Huthwater, Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire, England; from “1911 England and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO RG 14, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

“England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2014), Reuben Simons, 1872; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing 1872, quarter 3, vol. 7A, p. 17, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.

“England and Wales Census, 1891,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 April 2016), Bob Simons in household of Ruben Simons, Shearsby, Leicestershire, England; from “1891 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO RG 12, Leicestershire county, subdistrict, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014, Eliza Weston, 02 Apr 1848); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 595,767.


Shearsby, 1629: An example of the use of gossip as a weapon

The case of John Moore v Elizabeth Turvile (1629) arose from the Rector of Knaptoft and Shearsby wishing to defend himself from insults directed his way by one of his female neighbours and parishioners. Elizabeth Turvile, it was alleged, had said that he ‘had preached false doctrine and delivered many things in his sermon that might better have been left out, and that he had kissed Motley’s wife, and that one Black Dick’s wife was coming to the town and that she would be a more fit woman for Mr John Moore to kiss’.

This powerful mix of literary criticism and sexual gossip had left the Rector with little option but to sue his neighbour. The legal discussions relating to the case can still be found UK’s National Archives.

This altercation is included in Bernard Capp’s 2004 book ‘When Gossips Meet’ as an example of how women might use gossip as a tactical device as a way of keeping clergymen in their place. Turvile was a member of the major land-holding family in the village, and John Moore a leading campaigner against enclosure. Witnesses to the dispute suggested that Turvile felt some of the Rector’s sermon material was intended as personal criticism of her, but that the immediate context was his attempt to impound her pigs.

Her comments also reflected badly on other neighbours: the wives of Motley and Black Dick, effecting either intentional or collateral damage to their reputations.

Whether he felt that recourse to the law had cleared his name or not, the Rev. Moore found himself repeatedly bringing cases to the courts, often revolving around land disputes with his son.


Capp, B 2004, When Gossips Meet, Oxford University Press, UK, Oxford. [online] [accessed 1 March 2017].

[Moore v Turvile, 1629] LRO, 1D 41/4, Box 6/88– 90.

Short title: Turvile v Moore. Plaintiffs: William Turvile and others. Defendants: John Moore, clerk.

Short title: Moore v Moore. Plaintiffs: John Moore the younger. Defendants: John Moore the elder.

Short title: Moore v Moore. Plaintiffs: John Moore the elder. Defendants: John Moore the younger and Joan Moore his wife.

Shearsby, 14 January 1835: William Simons’ Insolvency

By the end of 1835 hard times had caught up with 54 year old William Simons. The debts had piled up beyond his ability ever to discharge them and he had had to sign the legal papers to end his tailoring business by insolvency. William Walker, a Shearsby farmer (and friend) and Thomas Davies, a Leicester grocer, took responsibly for managing affairs on his behalf. They were hoping to sort out as much as possible within two months. Anyone who owed money to Simons was asked to pay the estate or risk being sued themselves.

That was not the only trial William and Ann had to face that year. On 26th May their 25-year-old son Thomas passed away and was buried in the village churchyard.

In April 1939 William Simons was selling land that he owned in the parish. However, eventually things may not have worked out too badly for him, as in 1846 William Simons was noted as the School-Master for the Shearsby village children.

William was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Simons and had been christened in the village church on 5 August 1781. In the 1851 census, William Simons, aged 69 and a teacher, was living in Mill Street, with his wife Ann. She was a few years older than him and originally from Wanlip.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, January 17, 1835; pg. [1];

Shearsby, 6 Edward III: Lay Subsidy assessment

The hamlet of Shearsby as a whole contributed 40 shillings to the amount collected for Leicestershire in 1332, the sixth year of Edward III’s reign. Those who paid the tax are listed here. There are people recognisable from the 1327 Assessment given that different transcribers have been at work in copying the details.

Name Shillings Pence
William Charnells 5
Laurence Chaplain 6
Clemence Dancelot 18
John Heyne 3 6
 John Ravenhed  18
 John son of Hugh  20
 Roger Heyne  2  6
 Isolda de Veer  2
 John Petlyng  2  6
 Roger Swan  3
 William Helewys  3 6
 John Gode  18
 Henry Dorewood  5  10
Total 40

Farnham, George F. (1931) Leicestershire Medieval Villages. Vol.5. Leicester, W. Thornley. [Accessed at the Leicestershire Record Office].

Image: Edward III and his son the Black Prince. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons