Thomas Mitchell and John Ward were the overseers of the poor for the parish of Shearsby at the time of the Enclosure Act in 1773. Among its many provisions, the enclosure re-allocated lands to these overseers and their successors to manage for the benefit of the parish in exchange for other pieces previously held. One field, called Bull Hooks, was particularly identified for that purpose.
The land was described as ‘an ancient enclosure’, so must have been marked out and known by that name before 1773. It was bounded by the Turnpike Road to the west and south and now sits between The Old Road and the modern line of the A5199. To its north and east was land allotted to George Turville and to the west by land allotted to Richard Turville. The area amounted to 3 roods and 26 perches. Bounding the field were mounds and fences which Mitchell and Ward, as overseers and George Turville were required to maintain.
The land may have stayed in village hands until the assets of many local charities were liquidated to fund the extension of the Lutterworth Union in taking on the role of supporting the poor in the surrounding villages. The proceeds from this field and other properties whose rents supported the work of the overseers was distributed at different times in the year, like the St. Thomas Day distribution of fuel to act as a winter fuel allowance. In the parochial returns sent in to the House of Commons in 1818 Shearsby’s poor, at 23 people out of 260 amounted to between 8% and 9% of the village population.
John Ward was born in Shearsby and baptised in the village church on 9 May 1742. His parents were William and Ann Ward. ‘Thomas Mitchell’ is a common name in eighteenth-century Leicestershire, but the one born nearest to Shearsby would have been son of James Mitchel of Kibworth Beauchamp, baptised on 25 Jun 1714.
“England, Leicestershire Parish Registers, 1533-1991,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QP4M-FLKQ : 6 June 2018), John Ward, 9 May 1742; 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.
“England, Leicestershire Parish Registers, 1533-1991,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QP4S-RTG2 : 6 June 2018), Thomas Mitchel, 25 Jun 1714; records extracted by findmypast, images digitized by FamilySearch; citing Baptism, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom, page , Citing the Record Office of Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland, Wigston, UK.
Great Britain (1818). A digest of parochial returns made to the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the Education of the Poor, Vol. 1. London, House of Commons [online] accessed 01/11/2018