Shearsby families

Scheuesby, 13 October 1311: Robert Hychekok’ and the tenements

Two weeks from St. Michael’s Day, in the fifth year of Edward II [13 October 1311] a Plea of Covenant was heard at Westminster to decide upon the ownership of some land in Scheuesby [Shearsby]. The result was that Robert Hychekok’ acknowledged the tenements [land holdings] to be the right of Robert de Brantyngthorp’ [Bruntingthorpe] and his heirs as tenants. For this Robert Hychekok’ was given 40 shillings of silver. The land amounted to 1 acre, 1 rood and a fourth part of 1 virgate of land and a moiety [one half] of 1 messuage [a dwelling with any outbuildings and adjacent land].

CP 25/1/124/47, number 63

The record of land transactions like this can provide insights into who lived in an area and their relationships with others. Although the documents use words that hint of conflict ‘querent’ [a complainant or plaintiff: OED], deforciant [one who ‘deforces’ another or keeps him wrongly out of possession of an estate: OED], in fact most of the agreements had already been resolved to mutual benefit. Nor, though these records are known as the Feet of Fines, is any money handed over the result of punishment against one of the parties. Rather they are only ‘fines’ in the modern-English sense of being finished. Each agreement was written out three times and cut in such a way that putting two halves together would authenticate them as originals. Each party would take their parts home with them, with the remaing part, at the foot of the document, remaining with the authorities in case of any further dispute.

Transcriptions of the Feet of Fines can be found on the Medieval English Genealogy website, and images of the documents can be found on the University of Houston Law Center’s Anglo-American Legal Tradition site

Earlier that year, the same Robert de Brantyngthorp’ had settled an agreement for a similar sized land holding with Ranulph Hutte and Amice, his wife, though this had cost him only 10 pounds sterling.

CP 25/1/124/47, number 69

In April 1319 Roger le Longe, the chaplain of Shearsby, had his rights to some land in Whetstone acknowledged by Robert Pollard.

CP 25/1/124/52, number 178

In November 1315 ownership of a larger tract, involving 12 messuages, 16 virgates and 1 acre of land worth 6 shillings and 3 pence of rent and a rent of 2 grains of pepper and 1 rose flower was resolved between William de Charneles and Joan, his wife and Robert de Sadyngton’ and Robert de Charneles.

CP 25/1/124/49, number 117


Taiping, Malaysia, 10 December 1941: Private Maurice A. Garner

Private Maurice Arthur Garner served in the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and died, aged 22, in Taiping, Malaysia on 10 December 1941. He was the son of Ernest and Evelyn Garner, who then lived in Leicester. His mother had been born as Evelyn Kempin in Shearsby in 1883. She was the daughter of Richard and Ann Kempin, both born in Shearsby.

Private Garner died two days into the Malaysia Campaign attempting to hold back the Japanese advance on Singapore.

On the grave of Maurice Garner in Taiping is written the inscription: “Thoughts of you ever near, as we loved you so we miss you, as it dawns another year”. Maurice is also remembered on his parent’s grave in Shearsby, with the words: “sadly missed”.


Maurice Garner, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Commemorative Certificate for Private Garner.

SCHULTKA, H., & JENKINS, R. P. (2007). Lost lives: the war dead of Countesthorpe, Kilby, Peatling Magna, Peatling Parva and Shearsby, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. [Countesthorpe], Henritetta Schultka.

Evelyn Kempin in the 1901 Census. [online] “England and Wales Census, 1901,” database, FamilySearch ( : 8 April 2016), Evelyn A M Kempin in household of Richard E Kempin, 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.


Van Dieman’s Land, 16 September 1845: Emanuel Reed disembarks

Emanuel Reed was born in Shearsby and christened in the village church on 2 February 1823. He would have been just over two years old when things outside any control of his happened that haunted him during his life in England. At his trial in Leicester on 4 January 1842 for stealing rabbits his defence made much of the fact that he was the orphan child of parents both of whom came to an untimely end. In brief: “The father had been absent for some time, and on his return found his wife had formed an illicit connection with another man. One day she led him by the side of a canal, and whilst he was in the act of drawing his smockfrock over his shoulders, she took the opportunity to push him into the water; this causing his death, for which she was afterwards executed”.

Emanuel pleaded guilty of stealing two rabbits from Thomas Marvin, at Shearsby and one tame rabbit from Hannah Herbert. The jury was perhaps already familiar with the events that led up to the arrest of Hannah Read and her subsequent trial for the murder of her husband, as with some leniency they ordered that he receive one month’s imprisonment for his crimes.

He had first drawn attention to himself in 1839 after erecting a small hut for himself in a street in Shearsby. The village constable was unhappy with this and brought him before the justices at Harborough. At that time he was described as ‘a young urchin’ (Northampton Mercury, 21 September); ‘a poor boy, who appeared quite destitute’ (Leicester Journal, 20 September) and ‘an idle and dissolute lad’ (Leicestershire Mercury, 14 September). The magistrates heard of his orphan status, his sleeping all night in a self-built small cabin in the town street, his habit of wandering about looking for work where he could find it. They ordered that the constable take him back to Shearsby and find him work and only punish him if he refused to do it.

On the census night of April 1841 he was staying in John Goode’s farmhouse on Back Lane in Shearsby. The work found for him had been sweeping chimneys. In learning this trade he is likely to have come across Thomas Pegg,  another chimney sweeper living in the village.

In September 1843 he was again in trouble with the law being charged under the Vagrant Act with being a rogue, but it was for rabbit stealing again, in Coventry on 3 January 1844 that he received a 7 year sentence of transportation. In Warwickshire his family circumstances would be less sympathetically recalled. He had to wait until the middle of the following year before leaving England.

On 14 June 1845 he set sail on the Marion 2 from Woolwich on the 94 day journey to Van Dieman’s Land (now Tasmania). He arrived in good health, according to the Marion’s Surgeon Jn. W. Elliott and was measured as 63.25 inches tall (1.6 metres). He said that he could read and write, was single and a protestant and had skills as a fellmonger. His family relationships included b [brothers] Uriah and Bennett, s [sisters] Ann and Mary, but ‘np’ [no parents].

He received a Conditional Pardon in November 1847 and a Free Certificate in February 1852. He married Bridget in Hobart and travelled to Victoria, to the Geelong area. Bridget died in 1874 (probably childbirth related) and Emanuel married Adele Fresse in 1877. He remained in the Geelong area and owned his own farm eventually at Gnawarre.

In 1879 he was called upon to help one of his neighbours whose wife had attempted to commit suicide, and despite Emanuel’s efforts to save her, she eventually died of her wounds.

Emanuel Read died aged 85 in Geelong Hospital, Victoria on 17 August 1902 of heart failure and pneumonia. He is buried in Mount Moriac Cemetery , Victoria.

Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday 14 September 1839; pg. [3];

Leicester Journal (Leicester, England) Friday 20 September 1839; pg. 3

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, January 08, 1842; pg. [2];

Northampton Mercury (Northampton, England), Saturday 23 September 1843; pg 4.

Coventry Standard (Coventry, England), Friday 04 January 1844; pg 4.

The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) Tuesday 23 September 1879; pg 6

Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) Monday 22 September 1879; pg3

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014, Emmanuel Reed, 09 Feb 1823); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 595,767.

Digital Panopticon entry for Emanuel Read

Archives Office of Tasmania. Recommendation for a pardon for Emanuel Reed in 1852.,313,223,F,60

Featured image: South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land; South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land; South West View of Hobart Town, Van Dieman’s Land. Royal Museums Greenwich. In Copyright.

Shearsby, St. Martin’s Day 1633: William Throne goes to plough

November 11th was celebrated as the feast-day of St. Martin of Tours. Martinmas marks the end of autumnal preparations and the beginning of winter; a turning point in the agricultural year. In 1633 the saint’s day fell on a Friday and the weather must have been good enough to entice one Shearsby farmer, William Throne, out to the fields with his plough. November may be late for preparing the ground for cereals, but would not have been an uncommon time for ploughing in a bean crop.

St. Martin’s Day also makes an appearance in the ecclesiastical year, with special services for prayer run where the participation of the parishioners was expected. Throne’s decision to skip prayers for ploughs got him into trouble with the church authorities when the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, visited Leicestershire to look into the lives and actions of its population. Laud was concerned to check on conformity with reverent behaviour, liturgical decorum and ceremonial discipline. William Throne was called upon to account for his actions before the Archbishop’s team.

The most likely link between the activities of Shearsby parishioners and the Archbishop’s investigators would surely have been John Moore, Rector of Knaptoft and Shearsby.

He was not alone in finding himself under such scrutiny. In Kilby, Thomas Summerfield found himself in trouble for letting his swine, ‘and other nasty beasts’ profane and pollute the churchyard by foraging there, damaging the young trees planted to create a boundary around the church. Thomas Coltman was excommunicated in Wistow for refusing to kneel to take communion. Thomas Hill of Somerby was reprimanded as churchwarden, yet a very frequent sleeper in church. Bitteswell was the home of the notorious puritans Edward and John Dillingham, who, it was noted with relief, had gone to New England.

Examples like these highlight the tensions between church and community that the Archbishop’s focus on order and the behaviour of ordinary people created. Some historians have seen the accumulation of all the individual grievances and annoyances of laud’s policies as helping to create the conditions for the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642. A Calvinist consensus in the counties was upturned and this provoked a reaction against the alliance of Church and State. Andrew Chambers has found evidence that at least one Leicestershire church pastor embraced the Archbishop’s policies. That would raise the prospect of a positive impact from an initiative that aimed, after all, to bring order where there was contention.

As to whereabouts in the village William Throne’s farm was to be found, there are some clues in later land transactions. In 1709/10 John Seale (the third of that name) sold ‘Throne’s farmhouse, situated to the south of the churchyard’ to another John Seale (the forth of that name). There remains a small corner of land south of the church on which a farmhouse might then have stood. It would have been inconveniently between the Rectory and the Church, at least from William Throne’s point of view, requiring the ploughman to cross the paths of the preacher.


Cressy, D. & Ferrell, L.A. 2005; Religion and Society in Early Modern England: A Sourcebook, 2nd ed., Routledge Ltd, Florence.

Conveyance of Thrones farmhouse, situated to the south of the churchyard, Shearsby; and of Bishop’s half yard, Turville’s half yard, Lammmas Close, and other land in Shearsby; from John Seale (3) of Shearsby, yeoman, to John Seale (4) his son.

Cambers, A. 2002, “Pastoral Laudianism? Religious Politics in the 1630s: A Leicestershire Rector’s Annotations The Midland History Prize Essay, proxime accessit”, Midland History, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 38-51.

Image: A ploughman and a ploughboy working in a field. Engraving by Hemsley after Craig, 1805. © Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

© 2017

Shearsby, 3 July 1841: Very Valuable Tithe-free Estate, called Bullivant’s Farm for sale

Up for auction at 4PM on 3 July 1841 at the Three Crowns Hotel (corner of Horsefair Street and Gallowtree Gate, Leicester) was the ‘very valuable tithe-free estate, called Bullivant’s Farm’ in Shearsby. This farm could be found near the church in the village and consisted of a good-sized substantial brick-built farm-house, with out-buildings, walled garden and the following rich grazing and arable land.

No. Area Acres. Roods. Perches.
1 House, Garden, &c. 1 1 16
2 Home Close 11 2 14
3  Cotton’s Close  1  0  15
 4  Townsend Close  7  0  14
 5  Osier-bed Close  12  1  28
 6  Bean Hill Close  14  2  32
 7  Barn Close (Arable)  9  1  15
 8  Meadow  6  2  37
 9  Far Close  13  0  27
 10  Far Long Close  12  3  20

Measurements: 40 perches = 1 rood, 4 roods = 1 acre.

The whole of the above farm land (excepting Barn Close) was said to be rich grazing land, in a high state of cultivation. It was then in the occupation of a Mrs. Walker (widow), who was under notice to quit by the next Old Michaelmas Day (29 September).

The farm was free from any tithing obligations, but subject to a land tax of £6 12s. 10d., a Fee Farm Rent of £1 and a Quit Rent of eight pence per year to the Lord of the Manor. Purchasers might take advantage of the offer for one half of the purchase price to remain on mortgage for five years at 4.5%.

In November that year the farming stock, hay, corn wool, keeping, furniture, etc. belonging to William Walker was up for auction. The first day’s sale consisted of 230 ewes and theaves (1 – 2 year old ewes, that have not yet given birth to lambs, at least in the Midlands and some southern English counties), 75 fat shearhogs (lambs after first shearing), 155 lambhogs (second year lambs), five rams, fourteen capital dairy cows, eleven in-calf heifers, two barren cows; eleven fat cows, steer, seg (“An aged bull that is castrated is called a segg.” Oxford English Dictionary), five calves, five draught mares, two hackney horses, pony, yearling colt and filly, foal, five store pigs, two sows, capital six-inch and narrow wheel wagons and carts, double and single ploughs, harrows, land roll, winnowing machine, fleaks [I have no idea what a fleak was], horse tackle, ladders, etc. Also about 770 fleeces of superior wool.

All the above was to be sold at the Saddington Keeping at an auction supervised by B. Payne & Son from 10 o’clock onwards. Later that day the sale moved to the Keeping on parry’s land for the wheat, barley oats, 170 acres of grass keeping rented until the next 25th of March, 20 acres of stubble, three acres of swedes and some stacks of hay and clover.

On the second day of the sale all the household furniture, china, glass, brewing vessels. dairy utensils, kitchen requisites and about fifty capital cheeses were to be disposed of.

In April 1842, some 70 acres of superior grass-keeping land, recently occupied by Mrs. Walker, came up for sale. This may well have been the same land as her husband had farmed during his lifetime

Two years after the initial sale, on 22 July 1843, the Leicester Chronicle’s Births, Deaths and Marriages column carried the news of the passing of Ann Dowell, who had died in Leicester, after a very painful illness, the previous Tuesday. Ann was the widow of the late William Walker, who had died on 3 April 1841, aged 52.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 03, 1841; pg. [2];

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, November 20, 1841

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 23, 1842; pg. [2];

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 22, 1843;

Image: Shearsby Parish Council (2016) The Parish of Shearsby: Map of fields by M. Jeffery.

© 2017. Comments, Likes and Pingbacks welcomed, especially if you know what the word ‘fleak’ means.

Bath Inn, Shearsby, 18 April 1839: William Simons’s land up for auction

Potential purchasers of agricultural land were invited to gather at the house of Mrs. Reeve, the Bath Inn, Shearsby, on Thursday 18th of April 1839 at 4PM. On offer was the field to the right hand side of the turnpike road from Leicester to Welford, at the foot of John Ball Hill, owned by William Simons. This field (or Close) contained 3 acres 2 roods of excellent grazing land.

Also for sale that day was the dwelling-house, then occupied by Thomas Ross, with its spinning-room, comb-shop and offices. In the 1841 census Thomas Ross was found living in Church Street with his children Grace and James.

There were also two tenements, with a shared garden, in the occupation of – Weston and – Whitmore in Mill Street. In 1841, 30-year old John Whitmore, agricultural labourer, lived with his wife Ann (25), daughter Mary (5) and sons John (2) and William (1). Robert Weston (28) was a stocking frame knitter, living with his wife, also Ann, and daughters Harriet (4) and Mary (2). Both families living just next door to  John Pallet’s smithy.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 13, 1839; pg. [2];

© 2017. Please check the timeline to view this story in the context of other village stories by date.


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’s 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.

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