Month: March 2018

Shearsby, 1 September 1829: Thomas Simons: upwards of 60 years clerk of the parish

On Tuesday 1 September 1829, Mr. Thomas Simons died, aged 85. Both the Leicester Herald and Leicester Chronicle newspapers called him ‘deservedly respected’ and noted that he had been the clerk of the Shearsby parish for 60 years or more.
Thomas was born on 5 November 1744 and christened in the village church on 2 December that year. His parents were Thomas and Ann Simons. With his wife Elizabeth they brought up their family including:

  • Elizabeth, 1771-, who married William Burbidge on 26 September 1797.
  • Thomas, 1772-, who moved to Oadby and worked as a grocer.
  • Ann, 1774-, who married Thomas Ward on 02 Feb 1818. In 1841 both lived in Mill Street with 22 year old daughter Elizabeth.
  • Mary, 1775-
  • Susannah, 1777-, also moved to Oadby and lived with her older brother Thomas.
  • Richard, 1778-, who married Alice Burdett on the 25 March 1807
  • William, 1781-1863, who later became the schoolmaster to the village children.
  • John, 1784. Christened and buried in March 1784.

As clerk to the parish, Thomas Simons would have been involved in the regular support for the poorest members of the parish. In his over 60 years he would have helped the village through the changes brought on by the Enclosure Act in 1773; assisted in rebuilding the Church tower in 1789; and lived through the years of war against the French and the subsequent calls to reform the county’s voting system. He would have had a close view of the consequences of the arrest and trial of Hannah Read. By the time of his death, though, the role of villages and their clerks looking after the poorest of their own communities was coming to an end.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, September 12, 1829;

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018, Thomas Simons, 05 Nov 1744); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 585,287.

“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2015), Thomas Simons, 1829; Burial, Shearsby, Harborough District, Leicestershire, England, St. Mary Magdalene; citing record ID 67613106, Find a Grave,


Shearsby, 5 February 1880: Alleged stoppage by highwaymen

“The good people of Shearsby have been much alarmed by the following story:- Charles Weston, a youth 18 years of age, in the employ of Mr. John Reed, left this village with a horse and trap early on Thursday evening, the 5th inst. to meet his master at Kibworth Station. He states that at about 7:40, and when between Shearsby and Saddington, he got out of the trap to open a gate, when three men demanded his money. Weston said he was a poor chap, and had got none. They then said they were destitute, and must have some from him. The men allowed him to pass through, and then one attempted to get into the trap. The youth pushed him back with his right hand, which held the whip, but the fellow grasped the whip, and drew it from him, and he managed to get away. Weston states that the men never attempted to rifle his pockets, although he had upon him at that time a watch and some coppers, – P.C. Lee and P.C. White accompanied the youth to the spot where he alleged he met with the highwaymen, and although the ground was quite soft, not a footmark was visible, nor could they ascertain that any three men had been seen together in the vicinity on the previous night. The missing whip was picked up by a little girl on the other side of Saddington on Friday morning. The opinion is that the youth either accidentally dropped the whip and was afraid to pick it up, or that it was a ruse to escape the journey. The police feel that further enquiries are unnecessary.”

From Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, February 14, 1880; pg. 8

By the time the 1881 census was taken Charles had married Emily Price who was from Ashby-de-la-Zouch. They had several children over the next few years and by 1891 was a farmer’s wagoner living in High Street, Shearsby.

They lived in a village where stories of highway robbery were a part of the folk memory, perhaps already commemorated in the association of the nearby John Ball and Jane Ball woods with sites of brigandage, and which reacted with alarm whenever news or rumour reached them.

“England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2014), Emily Price, 1880; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing 1880, quarter 4, vol. 7A, p. 216, Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.

Image taken from page 61 of ‘The Life and Adventures of Dick Clinton, the Masked Highwayman … By the author of “Nat Blake,” “Ned Scarlet,” etc’

4 November 1823: A Shearsby lad goes to sea.

I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat aloof, and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the rest. This man interested me at once; and since the sea-gods had ordained that he should soon become my shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little description of him. Herman Melville (1851) Moby Dick; or, The Whale. Chapter 3: The Spouter Inn.

Joseph Goodman was born in Shearsby and christened in the village church on 16 March 1788. His parents were Thomas and Alice Goodman, who had married in June of the previous year. In 1823 he decided to go to sea.

Between 4 November 1823 and 31 October 1824 Joseph Goodman served on the Cambridge and again from 1 November 1825 to 27 June 1827. Goodman would have been present to observe or perhaps participate in the trial of the newly designed carriage for the twelve-pounder gun being tested on HMS Prince Regent on 15 June 1827. Captain Maling of HMS Cambridge, Captain Moorsom of HMS Prince Regent and Captain Patton of HMS Isis together inspected and approved the new design. The new gun could be worked by a crew of 3, rather than 6, and could still shave seconds off the time between shots.

Goodman then transferred to the 120-gun HMS Prince Regent for two voyages: from 19 August 1827 to 5 August 1830 and off immediately again from 6 August 1830 to 21 July 1832.

After changing ships he set off on the HMS Caledonia on 22 July 1832 operating off the coast of Portugal, returning to Plymouth on 16 May 1833, and departing for the Mediterranean from 31 May 1833 until 21 August 1834.

He joined the new HMS Thunderer at Vourla Bay, Turkey on 22 August 1834 and remained on board until 21 September when he re-joined the Caledonia at Malta from 22 to 30 September .

He was a member of the crew of the paddle-powered Spitfire from 13 October 1834 to 19 November 1834 (returning to Plymouth via Portugal), transferring to the aged HMS San Josef on 20 November until 28th of that month, remaining in the Tamar Estuary.

He next set sail on 3 December 1836 on the Griffon until 22 June 1837 as an Able Seaman.  He would have been involved with the action on 25 Apr 1837 when the 10-gun Griffon detained the 178 ton Portuguese slave brig Don Francisco,  near the Island of Dominica. The Don Francisco cargo was transporting slaves. Over 430 Africans were allowed to disembark onto Dominica on 27 April. A second slave ship, the Voltigeur, was also detained in June.

From 23 June 1837 he was on The Sheldrake until 2 August; on the Astrea for 4 and 5 August;  and then on the Wellesley, departing for the East Indies from 1 October 1837 until 4 February 1838, and the Winchester from 5 February to 5 June 1838.

He was 50 years old when he left the naval service.


Joseph GOODMAN; Rating; Born: Shearsby, Leicestershire; Age on entry: 35; Dates served: 4 November 1823-30 October 1834; Date and Type of Application: Admiralty 14 October 1836, Admiralty October 1839.  ADM 29/13/210

UK, Naval Officer and Rating Service Records. Available from

HMS Cambridge (1815) Wikipedia.

HMS Prince Regent (1823). Wikipedia.

HMS Caledonia (1808). Wikipedia, P.Benyon’s Naval Database.

HMS Thunderer (1831). Wikipedia,  P. Benyon’s Naval Database

HMS Spitfire (1834) P. Benyon’s Naval Database

HMS San Josef (1997). Wikipedia

HMS Griffon (1832) P. Benyon’s Naval Database

HMS Wellesley (1815) P. Benyon’s Naval Database

Marshall, James (1829) A Description of Commander Marshall’s new mode of mounting and working Ships’ Guns

Marriage of Thomas and Ann Goodman. “England Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Thomas Goodman and Alice Goodman, 10 Jun 1787; citing Shearsby, Leicester, England, reference V3, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 952,297.

Baptism of Joseph Goodman, March 1778. “England, Leicestershire Parish Registers, 1533-1991,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 June 2018), Joseph Goodman, 16 Mar 1788; records extracted by findmypast, images digitized by FamilySearch; citing Baptism, Shearsby, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom, page , Citing the Record Office of Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland, Wigston, UK.

Possible death of this individual in Enderby in 1843. “England, Leicestershire Parish Registers, 1533-1991,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 June 2018), Joseph Goodman, 30 Oct 1843; records extracted by findmypast, images digitized by FamilySearch; citing Burial, Enderby, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom, page 88, citing the Record Office of Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland, Wigston, UK.

A Joseph Goodman in the care of the Blaby Union Workhouse in 1841. “England and Wales Census, 1841,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 April 2019), Joseph Goodman, Enderby, Leicestershire, England; from “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

Image: By Charles Frederick de Brocktorff [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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