Shearsby families

New Inn, Shearsby, June 1848: Prince Albert’s Own Yeomanry Cavalry undeceived

Leicestershire Mercury, 24 June 1848: We hear that a hoax was played upon some of P.A.O. Yeomanry Cavalry at Shearsby, last week, letters having been sent them to appear at a certain place quick as possible like good men and true. They obeyed their order, and soon appeared at Shearsby Inn, where they were undeceived. They then stopped and spent the remainder of the day in merriment, instead of with the Chartists. These hoaxes are very discreditable to the parties who play them [commented the Editor of the Leicestershire Mercury].

The site of this merriment was, most likely, the New Inn on the Leicester to Welford Turnpike Road. It was known as a popular starting point for hunts and would have been familiar to the cavalrymen of the Yeomanry. There were other public houses in the village, of course, though only one known as an Inn. What the Chartists managed to achieve in their Yeomanry-free day is not here recorded.

This is not the only 1848 connection between the village and the Yeomanry. William and Mary Elliott’s son John was serving in Captain Haymes’ troop of the Prince Albert’s Own. He had been born in the Waterloo year of 1815 so would have been in his thirties by this time. In the inspections of the Yeomanry at Leicester on 29 September, Private John Elliott, of Shearsby, won first prize for his horse.


Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday 24 June 1848.

Leicester Journal (Leicester, England), Friday 6 October 1848.

Featured image: Quartermaster J. Kirk of the Leicester Yeomanry Cavalry, 1841. Online


13 May 1915: Lionel Sidney Burton also among the killed

Lionel Sidney Burton was a serjeant in the Leicestershire Yeomanry. He was killed on 13 May 1915 and is commemorated among the names on the Menin Gate at the Ypres Memorial.

That day the Leicestershire Yeomanry had been holding the line at Frezenberg, east of Ypres and found itself under attack from German artillery for 16 consecutive hours. The bombardment began at 4am and was followed by an unsuccessful advance at 7am. A counter attack by the 10th Hussars later in the afternoon relieved the pressure, but not without cost. Serjeant Lionel Sidney Burton was one of 93 members of the Leicestershire Yeomanry  recorded as losing their lives on that  day alone.

A Sergeant Cookson, writing to the family, said: “I regret to inform you that your son was killed yesterday (13th insnt.) when doing his duty in the trenches. There is a long list of others, and as it may take some time to send information officially, I have thought it best , though it is a painful duty, to inform you privately. I cannot as yet give any details, except death was instantaneous. May I express the sympathy of the whole Squadron – I may, indeed, say the whole of the Regiment – with you and Mrs. Burton, and perhaps especially Leo’s young bride.

He had married Sarah Lilian Burchnell in the Depwade district of Norfolk two days before he left for the front on November the 1st 1914.

Lionel was born in Leicester in the second quarter of 1889. In 1911 he was living with his parents and his stated occupation was a nursery traveler. He had an older brother (by four years), Herbert Stewart who was an assistant in business. His mother Sarah Elliott,  had been born in Shearsby and was the daughter of John Elliott (born in 1816) who lived in High Street.

Many newspapers reported his death, with the Illustrated Police News reminding its readers of his developing reputation as a rugby player: “Sergeant Lionel Burton was one of the Leicester [Rugby] Football Club’s regular forwards. He had played for them for three seasons, and during that period had enjoyed the esteem alike of his colleagues and of opponents”. He was the first of the Leicester Rugby Club’s players to lose their lives in the Great War.


Leicester Chronicle, Saturday 22 May 1915, page 7

Illustrated Police News, 27 May 1915, page 10.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission website entry for Lionel Sidney Burton.

“England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch ( : 1 October 2014), Lionel Sidney Burton, 1889; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast ( : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Leicester, Leicestershire, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.

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.

Leicestershire War Memorials Project: Serjeant Lionel Sydney Burton.

Leicestershire (POA) Yeomanry 1914-1918 The Great War.

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

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014, Joseph Goodman, ); citing Shearsby, Leicester, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 952,297.

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

“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.

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

© 2018

Shearsby, 5 January 1856: Richard Goode charged with robbing his father

Court Reporter: I am reporting from the second day of the Leicestershire Lent Assizes held in Leicester Castle on Tuesday 4th March 1856. Richard Goode was charged with breaking and entering a building on the 5th of January 1856 and stealing 52lbs of barley from his father. The barley was said to be worth about 2 shillings.

T. Bell: As the prosecutor in this case, I call John Goode, a farmer of Shearsby, as a witness.

John Goode: I have to confess that the prisoner is my son. Now, by my house in Church Street is a stable, and next to the stable is a barn. On the 4th of January, there was a quantity of just-threshed barley in the barn. Young George Moore had locked up and given me the key. I kept watch that night and around one o’clock I saw Richard pass by me and stand for some little while outside the window. At that, I called Kempin, the parish constable. He lives just a few doors down from me in Church Street. Before I began watching the barn, I had made sure it was locked.

T. Bell: What happened next?

John Goode: When I went to the barn with Kempin I found the door open. There was a bag in the barn containing barley and chaff which had been dug out of the bulk. I also saw a crowbar, which was not one of mine. I did not see my son enter the barn though. Nor did I ever find any of my barley in his possession.

George Kempin: On the morning of the 5th of January I went to John Goode’s barn and found the fastened. This was at about ten o’clock in the morning. I found that there was a large hole in the door-post and through that, I could see Richard Goode putting barley in a bag. I called out “Dick, what are you doing there?” I went round to the back of the barn, but by then he had made his escape. I saw him running away, but could not catch him.

George Kempin: Later that same morning I went round to Richard Goode’s house which is about a quarter of a mile from the barn. I found him there in bed. I searched his house but did not find anything there. I do have this crowbar though, which a young lad named Moore gave me.

Court Reporter: The lad he referred to was 16 year old George Moore from Mill Street, Shearsby; Joseph Moore’s son.

George Moore: When I locked the barn up Friday night there was no bag inside. There was a crowbar by the doorway next morning and that weren’t there Friday night neither.

Superintendent Deakins: I thoroughly examined the premises and found on the barn door a gouge that corresponds exactly to the end of this here crowbar.

Richard Goode: I am out of work these days and that has got me behind with my rent. When that has happened before I have had to go round to my mother’s and she has given me the stuff I need. That is what happened this time too. She said she would give me some barley so I could make a few shillings. Come down at eleven o’clock she said. Well I went down with her to the barn, but I never took any barley away and I never stole any of it.

Court Reporter: The jury found the prisoner guilty. After this verdict, Mr. Noon revealed a previous conviction against the prisoner six years back and that itself followed another conviction for felony. In 1850 he had been sentenced to seven years’ transportation and he is now a ‘ticket-of-leave’ man. The Court now sentenced him to seven years penal servitude.

Superintendent Deakins: Was he the chap I caught ten year ago a-stealing his father’s horse?


The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, March 08, 1856; pg. [1].

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, June 13, 1846

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 21, 1853; pg. [1]; [Mary Goode convicted of shoplifting]

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch ( : 30 December 2014, John Goode, 09 Jun 1794); citing SAINT MARY,HINCKLEY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 590,785.

“England and Wales Census, 1851,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 November 2017), John Goode, Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England; citing Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England, p. 2, from “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

“England and Wales Census, 1851,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 November 2017), George Moore in household of Joseph Moore, Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England; citing Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England, p. 6, from “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

“England and Wales Census, 1851,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 November 2017), George Kempin, Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England; citing Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England, p. 1, from “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

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