Shearsby, Saturday 17 April 1841: Riot and attempt to rescue a prisoner

John Pallett, the constable for Shearsby in 1841 brought a case to the Lutterworth Petty Sessions on Thursday 6 May, charging James Pawley, William Coleman, Mary Harris and Mary Allen with creating a riot and attempting to rescue a prisoner from his custody.

The previous Saturday he had been at the same court to see Sarah Whitmore committed to a House of correction for three months as a rogue and a vagabond. John Pallett, along with the other two village constables, Richard Messenger and John Wilde, had described her as a woman of loose character,  convicted before as a disorderly person who had left her illegitimate children chargeable to the parish.

On arriving back at Shearsby the constables and their charge had stopped off at a public house. The first such house on their route back from Lutterworth would have been at the Baths, a couple of fields before the village itself. It was during this break that Whitmore requested to be allowed “to retire a few minutes”. Pallett granted this request, but, after some time had elapsed and she had not come back, he went in search of the prisoner and found that she had escaped through the back of the premises. She could just be spotted heading down the street in the company of James Pawley.

John Pallett roused the other two constables and they set off in pursuit, soon re-capturing the escapee. But by now others had gathered around her. the constables described ‘a mob’ which followed the party through some fields until they arrived at a stile where a scuffle broke out and Pallett was struck by William Coleman. The constables were able to carry on into the town street in the village itself, but were followed by the mob, who used exceedingly bad language and were throwing stones (and ‘etc’). One stone thrown by Mary Harris struck John Pallett on the shoulder. Mary Allen and James Pawley were present and encouraging the mob but did not use violence themselves.

William Coleman and Mary Harris were convicted and charged 15s. 3d. each in penalty and costs while James Pawley and Mary Allen were acquitted.

In the 1841 census, James Pawley (30) was found in Hill Street a few doors up from Mary Harris (51). John Pallett (25) was a blacksmith and living on Mill Street. Mary Allen (22) lived in Mill Street. Richard Messenger (25) was a farmer living in Church Street.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 24, 1841

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 15, 1841

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NPC8-YBM : 6 December 2014), Sarah Whitmore, 23 Mar 1806; citing SHEARSBY, LEICESTER, ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 595,767

© 2017

Shearsby, 3 December 1836: Fatal accident at Mill

There is a gravestone in the Shearsby churchyard in memory of young Thomas  Weston, catched up in the mill back on the 8th September 1782. But he was not the only victim of industrial accidents at the village windmill.

On Friday 2 December 1836, the 61 year old miller,  John Wylde, was on the steps of his mill and about to enter when the door blew suddenly back and threw him to the ground. His injuries included a broken collar bone and several ribs, leaving him barely able to crawl to a neighbouring shed. It was a full three hours later when he was found there by his son. Medical aid was immediately called, but the unfortunate miller died on the Saturday morning.

The work of running the mill was carried on for a time by the son,  John Wylde, but by June the next year he was hoping to pass on the mill to new owners. The autioneers, S. Horton of Mowsley, called anyone interested to the New Inn at Shearsby on Friday 23rd June at 4 o’clock to bid for the windmill, the brick roundhouse underneath it and the surrounding grounds, estimated at one rood, or thereabouts. The mill was described as being in good repair and the business in full trade.

In December 1837 some of the household furniture, brewing vessels and carts belonging to the late Mr. Wylde were auctioned off, along with some hay and the use of some rented grass-keeping land.

It is not clear how successful these auctions were, however, as in June 1841 John Wylde was noted as a miller and living on Mill Street.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, December 10, 1836

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, June 10, 1837; pg. [1]

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, December 09, 1837

© 2017

County Office, 6 May 1843: Frightening away the fowls

Thomas Marvin, of Shearsby, was charged by Wm. Peberdy with shooting at his (complainant’s) fowls, because they had trespassed in defendant’s garden, and at such a short distance from his (complainant’s ) house, that some of the shots struck the window:- this made complainant afraid lest, on some future occasion, serious injury might be done to his family. There appeared to be no intention on defendant’s part to do anything more than frighten away the fowls, which had done much injury to his garden; and after being warned that he much not thus take the law into his own hands, the case was dismissed on defendant promising to offend so no more and paying the costs.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 13, 1843; pg. [1];

In 1841 there was a 50-year old butcher named Thomas Marvin living on what looks like ‘By the post lane‘ in Sheasrsby. He lived with his wife May and children Thomas, George, Elizabeth and Hannah. Neither of his immediate neighbours, however, were called Peberdy. It is not until several Census pages later that a William Peberdy appears living in Carts Court. He is there listed as a 45-year old agricultural labourer, along with his wife Elizabeth and children Jane, Robert, Thomas, Sophiah, Haphzabah, Marriah and Amos. Neither of these addresses are likely to be recognisable to 21st Century residents of Shearsby, but if people were living at the same locations at the times of the Census and this newspaper story, then they could be no more than the range of a shotgun apart.

Image taken from page 136 of ‘Histoire de Sornéville en Lorraine et de Jean Aubry, capitaine de grenadiers, sous l’Ancien Régime

Broughton Astley, Monday 29 August 1870: Return cricket match against Shearsby

In the same issue of the Leicester Chronicle, Saturday 10 September 1870, that brought back first hand accounts of the defeat of the French army in their fight against the invading Germans, came the report of the smaller-scale sporting content between Shearsby and Broughton Astley. “This is living in a crisis with a vengeance”, reported the Chronicle’s Special Correspondent in Paris “On the Boulevards the mob formed into bodies, and ‘trooped’ down to the French House of Commons, crying out ‘Decheance’ which means deposition, and being applied to the Imperial Dynasty might be politely interpreted, ‘kick them out’.”

The cricket scores, meanwhile, were reported in a plainer, matter-of-fact style, with just of table of runs scored and how each lost their wicket. The team from Shearsby had won by 58 runs after the first innings. The difference could be almost all credited to A.Buswell, the opening batsman for Shearsby who passed the half century mark before being caught out by Broughton Astley’s own opening batsman T. Bird at 57. P. Ringrose, meanwhile, added 15 to the total but was bowled out by J. Flint. W. Read, junior totted up the next highest score at 19 before he was caught out by Stevens, the Broughton Astley bowler. Shearsby’s other players, J. Preston 5; W. Preston 1; F. Herbert 17; J. Root 6; T. Bodycott 1; T. Read 8 and W. Read, senior 0 brought the total for the first innings up to 142.

In reply Broughton Astley started poorly with T. Bird out l.b.w at 18, J. Flint bowled by W. Read, jun. for 5 and C. Coltman hitting his own wicket at 4. W. Read, junior’s bowling accounted for w. Holyoak 26; J. Sneath 2 and P. Read 0. W. Read sen. redeemed his duck by bowling W. Pegg out for 0. T. Severns third highest score of 15, caught by F. Herbert was not high enough to raise the total about 84. There was a Second Innings for Shearsby with a further 56 runs, but Broughton were soundly defeated in this game.

Checking through the households surveyed during the 1871 census finds William Read, a 24-year-old fellmonger living in the High Street, and Thomas Read (22) a fellmonger living in Back Street. Thomas was the son of John Read, noted in the census as being a fellmonger and grazier of 32 acres and employing 17 men and 1 boy.

The Shearsby team included players from outside the village like John Preston and his son William, both cordwainers from nearby Kilby.  John Preston was the father of the Mary  Preston (1845-) who married Stephen Clowes from Shearsby. Their son John William Preston Clowes born on 31 July 1866 in Philadelphia, was living in Shearsby with his grandparents in 1871. He developed his sporting interests whilst working in a factory in the Yorkshire town of Halifax and went on to play for the town and the county at Rugby. In 1888 he was selected for the Pan-Britannic team touring Australia and New Zealand. There is more to be said about jack Clowes and his involvement in this pioneering international rugby tour.

The cricket match played in Broughton Astley back in August 1870 is evidence of the role organised sport played in the lives of his parent’s generation, and may have influenced him in taking up his involvement in organised rugby at town, county and national level.

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, September 10, 1870; pg. 3

© 2017. This page is protected by copyright and should not be re-published electronically without the author’s permission.

Shearsby, 8 May 1834: Accident while driving thrashing machine

Image: By Unknown (Dictionnaire d’arts industriels) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Threshing machine from 1881 with few safety features present.

ACCIDENT. – On Thursday 8th instant, Mr. Goode, a respectable farmer of Shearsby, met with a serious accident from a thrashing machine which he was using on his premises. Whilst in the act of driving, his foot unfortunately slipped, and came into contact with the horse-wheel, and was so dreadfully mutilated as to render amputation necessary. Owing to the skill and attention of the surgeon, Mr. Colston, of Husbands Bosworth, the case is going on well. – It would be desirable, we think, that machines should be so far enclosed as to prevent such accidents.

From: The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 17, 1834;

In the 1841 Census there was a farmer living in Back Street named John Goode. He lived with his wife Mary;  children Richard, Susannah and Caroline; a female servant named Maria Elkington and Hannah Read’s son Emmanuel. Emmanuel was working as a chimney sweep, where perhaps his youth, at age 15, would be an advantage to him.

‘Contact with machinery’ is still regarded as cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in agricultural settings.

Health and Safety Executive, Farmwise: Your essential guide to health and safety in agriculture  2nd ed. ISBN 97807176 65792 [online]

© 2017. This page is best viewed on the WordPress site on which it was written. That way the author gets to see that someone has read some of the stories, and it is kind of encouraging, you know.

Leicester Exchange, 28 October 1834: Thomas Ross takes on the Truck System. Part 2

Moses Pegg and Thomas Ross were not deterred by their failure to pursue their case of payment by truck the previous week and returned, sober, to the Leicester Petty Sessions  on 28 October 1834. Pegg got in first with information against two or three sellers of squibs and crackers sold to his agents and therefore liable to a penalty of £5. However his main purpose that day was to support Ross in his claim.

Ross took the stand and stated that when he had applied for work in 1831 Barsby, the foreman, had said that he kept a shop for his employer Bankart. Barsby enquired whether Ross was a married man and would he take part of his wages in goods. Ross agreed to this, took the job and was regularly paid in both goods and coin until the 18th of October when he was stopped seven shillings and ten pence ha’penny from his wages. Alderman Brown asked if Ross were that much in debt and was he making this complaint because the money was stopped. Ross agreed that this was the case and further explained that all the goods he could get from the shop were provided at a higher price than was available to him elsewhere. His regular purchases there were bread higher by a penny a loaf, coffee by a penny an ounce, tea by three halfpence and butter by four pence ha’penny a pound.

The Magistrates checked back on the legislation and found two possible remedies where payment in kind could be shown to have taken place. The first was to fine any employer making use of the practice; the second to summon the employer and recover the amount paid in goods. In this case both were applied for: the first by Ross and the second by Pegg.

However, that day the Magistrates were not prepared to decide the case, calling for ‘the proper particulars to be ascertained’ before they could decide on a response to Ross’s case. Pegg underlined the consequences of payment by truck which he said was common among bag hosiers and a great injury both to the workman and to honest shop-keepers.

It was to be another week before the case could be heard again.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, November 01, 1834

Shearsby, 21 December 1836: St. Thomas’s Day distribution of coals for the poor

The Parliamentary papers of 1839 list the various charities across the county of Leicestershire providing for the relief of the poor. The account for the parish of Shearsby notes two such charities and the efforts those responsible for them were making to ensure that their efforts would be, in our terms, sustainable.
Both the charities of John Seale and Simon Ward started out with a capital of 30 pounds each, with the interest to be distributed to the poor of the parish at set times of the year. Seale’s Charity provided coals on St. Thomas’s day, appropriately the shortest day of the year; while Ward’s charity gave out bread on Christmas day.

Some 50 years before 1839 Seale’s charity had evolved to provide ongoing and practical help for the housing needs of the parish. Three tenements had been built, sharing one roof and a small garden at the entrance to the village from the Leicester road. By 1836 these were in bad repair, but had been bringing in a rent of £1 10s a year. It was this rental charge that had been used to buy the coal distributed each December by the churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor, with a preference for the most aged and widows. However the tenants had recently been given notice to quit and the charge increased to a fair annual rent of £3 per year.

Ward’s Charity had followed a similar path in 1832. £20 had been spent on the purchase of a house and carpenter’s shop in the lane leading to the Old Crown pub. An additional £4 0s 2d had been spent on legal expenses and 9s on journeys to Lutterworth to arrange the purchase. The balance of £5 10s 10d was retained by the parish at 5% interest. From the interest on the capital and the rent from the carpenter’s shop the charity gained the £1 10s it distributed as bread on Christmas day. The plan was to charge £1 10s as rent so that the charity could keep up its commitments.

Great Britain. Commissioners Appointed to Enquire concerning Charities in England and Wales. (1839) The reports of the Commissioners Appointed in pursuance of Various Acts of Parliament, to Enquire concerning Charities in England and Wales [Leicester]


I found this information searching through the digitised books through the HathiTrust Digital Library. I am sure there are more interesting nuggets to be found there.

Nigel Walker has also found and transcribed the same report on the Shearsby charities and added his thoughts on the Shearsby parish history group site. The formation of the Lutterworth Poor Law Union in December 1835 would have had an impact on the continuation of the village charities.

Shearsby, 1846: A village in a pleasant valley

William White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Leicestershire was published in Sheffield in 1846 at 12s. for subscribers or 13s. 6d. if they wanted the calfskin binding and the map. Its pages contain a snapshot of the village at this, almost mid-century, point. The principal inhabitants are listed in alphabetical order with their occupations and there is brief outline of the main attractions of the village for travellers.

The village was said to be situated in a pleasant valley near to the Leicester and Welford road. The waters of the Shearsby Spa at the Baths Inn were claimed to be long held in repute for their medicinal properties, but the proportions of soda, sulphate of magnesia, lime, atmospheric air and other traces are listed for those in doubt.

The church (St. Mary Magdalen) was described as a long, low and ancient structure, though the tower, with its four bells, had been rebuilt in 1789.

Concern for the poor of the village had been expressed by the provision of four small tenements purchased  from the estates of Simon Ward and John Seale, with £60 set aside for distributions of bread. The tenements were let out and raised £4. 10s. a year. An Oddfellows Lodge meeting in the New Inn ran 13 acres of garden allotments, easing pressure on the otherwise landless poor.

The lands of the chapelry had been enclosed in 1773, with current Rector Rev. James Tindall enjoying the proceeds of 212 acres in Shearsby. The Duke of Rutland, as Lord of the Manor of Knaptoft, owned some of the land, but the majority was shared between W.K and T.Walker, William Reeve and William Ward.

Tenant farmers included Thomas Blockley, Thomas Brown, John Freer, John Goode, Richard Messenger, C. Palmer and Christina Walker. The carriers, Thomas Bottrill and Ann Robinson, made trips to Leicester on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Education was looked after by schoolmistress Mary Green, schoolmaster William Simons and Miss Sarah Weston, who ran a boarding school.

Of the inns and taverns there was Henry Morris, also a cattle dealer, at the Old Crown; William Reeve at The Baths; Robert Burdett farmed and looked after the New Inn; and Richard Elliott Bottrill, (himself a tallow chandler) at the Chandler’s Arms.

Other occupations were represented by Mary Ann Brown, milliner; Laxton Darnell, miller and baker; Edward Harris, blacksmith; Richard Heighton, wheelwright; John Herbert, bricklayer; George Kampin, carpenter; John and Thomas Read, fellmongers; Moore Smart, framework knitter; John Williams, shopkeeper; John Elliott and William Vyce were butchers; Thomas Bonser and Joseph Moore were tailors; Thomas Archer, Thomas Hunt and Henry Robinson the shoemakers and the two cowkeepers were Robert Chance and William Elliott.

White, William (1846) History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Leicestershire, and the Small County of Rutland.. Sheffield, Robert Leader. [Online] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=c2MRAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false Accessed 27 February 2017

Featured image: Ordnance Survey 1835 [online] http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~249280~5516242:63–Lutterworth,-Leicester,-SE-Quad?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&qvq=q:leicester;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=8&trs=24

Further research

Does the 1841 census for the village give any clues about where the people mentioned here lived?



Shearsby, 1835: An Analysis and Compendium of all the Returns made to Parliament

There had been a growing interest and government sponsored activity in producing statistical account of the population of the United Kingdom. This was eventually to culminate in the series of once-a-decade censuses from 1841 onwards. In 1835 an attempt was made to summarise what had been learnt since the start of the century for 6000 towns and parishes in England and Wales. This report has been digitised and made available online as a part of the UK Medical Heritage Library.

Shearsby’s entry in the statistical tables appears on page 168 and covers the area in acres for the parish; the annual value of the property, based on the 1815 property tax; the amount expended for maintenance of the poor in 1828-29 and the population in the parish for 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831. The village is marked as having a curate to look after church affairs.

Area in acres 1815 property tax amount Maintenance of the poor in 1828-29 Population in 1801 Population in 1811 Population in 1821 Population in 1831
780 £1,961 £270 249 260 310 354


Royal College Of Surgeons Of England (1835). An analysis and compendium of all the returns made to Parliament, since the commencement of the 19th century, relating to the increase of population, and the amount and appropriation of the parochial assessments, tithes, &c. [online] URL: https://data.ukmhl.historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/view?pubId=ukmhl-b22297029&terms=shearsby&pageTerms=shearsby&pageId=ukmhl-b22297029-1 Accessed 26/01/2017

Further Research

How did the village compare with its neighbouring communities at this time? Did the population continue to show a increse in the following series of national censuses from 1841 onwards?

Shearsby, 1327: Contributors to the Lay Subsidy

Shearsby as a whole contributed 34 shillings to the amount collected for Leicestershire in 1327. Those who paid the tax were:

Name Amount
Will’mo de Charnells 2sh. 9d
Isolda le Veer 3sh.
Laur’nc’ Capll’o 3sh. 6d
Jon’ne de Peatlyng’ 2sh.
Clement’ q’ fuit’ ux’ Galfr’ Danteloc’ 2sh.
Rob’to Bonde 2sh. 6d
Joh’ne de Knapetoft’ 3sh.
Joh’ne Abouenyekyrke 2sh. 6d
Joh’ne Steyn 2sh.
Rob’to de Blaby 2sh.
Will’mo de Wylughby 18d
Henr’ Donword 18d
Rog’o Heyrm 12d
Johne Crownere 2sh.

William de Charnells held a Manor in Shearsby of the fee of Marmyon.

Image: By Numisantica (http://www.numisantica.com/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons