Shearsby, 12 July 1866: Church bells rung for Woolmer’s return

Leicester Chronicle: A farmer named Samuel Palmer Woolmer, of Shearsby, who was convicted of shooting a gamekeeper on the Stanford Hall estate, at Leicestershire Midsummer Assizes, last year, and sentenced to twelve months hard labour, returned home on Thursday week his term of imprisonment having expired. On Woolmer’s arrival, the bells of the parish church were rung, and kept ringing until nearly midnight, to the great annoyance (we are told) of the respectable inhabitants in the neighbourhood.

The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 21, 1866;

The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, July 22, 1865: MIDSUMMER ASSIZES

The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, April 01, 1865; pg. 3

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, March 09, 1861; pg. 5 [A separete incident involving Woolmer and John Corbett, a cattle dealing from Oxfordshire, convicted of assault on Woolmer].


Leicestershire, 1741: Thomas Badeslade’s map

When the first edition of Thomas Badeslade’s map book, ‘Chorographia Britanniae‘ came out in 1741 it could claim to be the first in pocket book format. Badeslade’s map making interests had developed while working as a surveyor and engineer on waterway schemes, particularly around the Fens, to the East of the county. He was active in this area from 1719 to his death in 1745.

The first edition of the Leicestershire map plotted the county town and its ring of surrounding market towns. In the second edition published later the same year added a number of villages, partly to help the traveller orient themselves. So Shearsby appears at the head of a stream that flows into the Sence and later the Soar rivers.

The only roads marked south out of Leicester were the old Roman Fosse Road, running parallel to the Soar for a while and the route (now the A6) down through Oadby and Kibworth, on to Harborough, which dates back to 1726, built as the main road linking London and Scotland.


A Map of Leicester Shire : North from London / T. Badeslade delin. ; W. H. Toms sculpt. | Badeslade, Thomas (1718-1750). Cartographe and Toms, William Henry (17..-17..). Graveur [Online: accessed 21/09/2017] http://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/record/9200365/BibliographicResource_3000094695930.html?q=leicester Public Domain Marked

Baum, R.K. (1972) Antique maps of Leicestershire. Loughborough, The Book House; Syston, De Elarge.

Somme, 1 July 1916: Private Horace Alfred Hensman

Horace Alfred Hensman was born on 26 July 1896 in lower Thrift Street, Northampton. He was the eldest son of Alfred Hensman and his wife Angelina Jane Jenkins. Alfred had been born in Ecton, Northants. and he and Angelina probably met when both working as attendants at the Northampton Lunatic Asylum. Horace had a younger brother, Percy, who also enlisted (underage) in the army in October 1915. He stated that his next of kin was Lena Hensman, then keeping the Old Crown Inn, Shearsby. Both Horace’s sister Lena, and father, Alfred are buried in the Shearsby churchyard.

Horace served in the 7th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment as a private. His service number was 13015. He died on the first day of the first battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, a few days short of his 20th birthday. He is buried in the Dantzig British Cemetery at Mametz, Grave III, D.5.


“England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2FQS-N2J : 1 October 2014), Horace Alfred H Hensman, 1896; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Northampton, Northamptonshire, 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.

Private H.A. Hensman. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Featured Image: Mametz [Somme] : [photographie de presse] / [Agence Rol] [public domain]


Bell Inn, Market Harborough, 22 September 1791: The Manor of Shearsby intended to be sold

Three Shearsby farmhouses were up for sale in September 1791, with news of a Manor House that might become available for later private sale. This is one of the last mentions of the presence of a Manor House, and the fact that it was not included in the auction that month may hint that the building was not then in a saleable state of repair. The land sale was publicised in London though the sale itself was scheduled to take place in nearby Market Harborough.

The three lots that were put up for auction amounted to 283 acres of mixed agricultural and wood land. The first was a farmhouse, then occupied by John Higgs, with just over 60 acres of land. There were outhouses, conveniently nearby inclosed fields and ‘a Spinney in Hand’.

The second and third lots were linked by the turnpike road from Leicester to London that passed through Welford. Lot 2 was a farmhouse with 121 acres of land, shared between John Higgs (24 acres) and Thomas Mitchell (97.25 acres). Lot 3, again, included a farmhouse, then occupied by William Langham. There were 100 acres of land, of which more than two acres were wooded as a spinney.

There are christening records for a William Langham in Shearsby in October 1745 and a Thomas Mitchell in Kibworth Beauchamp in June 1714. A ‘John Higs’ (parents: Jno. Higs and Catherine) was christened in the village in August 1780 or 1781.

The location of the Manor House appears now to be lost. The location recorded by the records of the Archaeology Data Service seem to point out where the village is, rather than where the Manor House is to be found within the village.


Whitehall Evening Post (1770) (London, England), September 10, 1791 – September 13, 1791

Archaeology Data Service record for Shearsby Manor House.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWZY-WLV : 30 December 2014, William Langham, 31 Oct 1745); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 585,287.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NP4M-R56 : 30 December 2014, Thomas Mitchell, 25 Jun 1714); citing KIBWORTH BEAUCHAMP,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 590,793.

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NP7Q-L3J : 30 December 2014, John Higs, 19 Aug 1781); citing SHEARSBY,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 585,287.

© 2017

Shearsby, Friday 6 March 1846: To Blacksmiths and others

Under an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors



On Friday next, March 6th, 1846

ALL the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, STOCK-IN-TRADE, and WORKING TOOLS, of Mr. ATTON, Blacksmith, &c., SHEARSBY, Leicestershire : comprising (in part) large bellows, nearly new, anvil, vice, taps and screws in complete sets, grindstone and frame, and working tools in general.

The Furniture consists of deal and mahogany tables, chairs, eight-day clock, &c.

Sale to commence at eleven o’clock precisely.

Catalogues may be had at the place of sale, and of the Auctioneer, Lutterworth.

In the same issue the Leicester Chronicle was announcing news of the assignment by indenture of all the personal estate of effects of John Atton, Blacksmith, of Shearsby, to Charles Buswell, Ironmonger, of Lutterworth and Robert Atkins, Maltster, of North Kilworth. Any proceeds from the sale would be distributed to the creditors after 3 months. Any debtors were reminded to pay the amount of their respective debts, or face being sued. Creditors were asked to send in their claims to Stephen Mash, Solicitor, of Lutterworth.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, February 28, 1846; pg. [2,3]

Image taken from page 86 of ‘The Child’s Book of Poetry. A selection of poems, ballads and hymns’ 1886

Shearsby, 3 October 1822: The highwayman strikes

Daring attempt at Robbery, – Between six and seven o’clock, on Thursday evening se’nnight, as Mr. John Hidson, grazier, of Mowesly, was returning home he was overtaken by a well-dressed man mounted on a blood horse, who entered into conversation and rode alongside of him till he arrived [at] a gate near Shearsby leading up to his residence, when the stranger, without any notice, struck Mr. H. several severe blows on the arm with a bludgeon. Mr. H. not being prepared with a similar weapon to repel the attack made upon him, rode off at speed, pursued by his assailant till he arrived at another gate, when Mr. H. having intimated to the villain that he had assistance at hand and would have him secured, he turned his horse, and made a hasty retreat. The animal on which the highwayman rode, was in a high state of perspiration, and appeared much fatigued.

From the The Leicester Chronicle,  (Leicester, England), Saturday 12 October 1822; pg. 3

© 2017 These posts get tweaked and updated from time to time, so are best viewed in the original WordPress site at https://shearsbyhistory.wordpress.com/


Leicester Exchange, Friday 14 October 1836: A striking picture of matrimonial disagreement

Court Reporter: The Mayor and Messrs. Brewin, Stokes, Ryley, Oldacres and Paget spent the day examining cases of theft while of unsound mind; drunks throwing bricks; diversion of the contents of an employer’s till; cheese theft; children caught picking pockets and robbery in the context of such depravity as I will not mention here. However, the case that stood out for me was that of Thomas Ward, of Belton, Rutland, who was charged with assaulting his wife, Elizabeth Ward. This was a singular case and one which afforded a striking picture of matrimonial disagreement.

Elizabeth Ward: I was born in Husbands Bosworth, but moved from there some time ago with my father to Belton in Rutland. It was there that I met and married my husband. We had three children, but two of them have died and the other is staying with friends. About five years ago we parted and I have since maintained myself, partly by dress-making and partly by binding shoes. I lived for about three and a half years in Nottingham and about half a year in Shearsby, but since last Christmas I have lodged with Mr. Bates in Redcross Street, Leicester. I was going to Mr. Kinsman’s with some work when I was surprised to encounter my husband. He expressed a wish to come home with me, but I did not want him to know where I lived, as he had molested me before in private dwellings .  So I consented to walk with him as far as the race-course on the London Road. But when we got there he knocked me down, rudely assaulted me and tore my bonnet, gown and undergarments all to shreds.

Mr. Bell of the Granby Toll Bar: Mrs. Ward took refuge in my house. Never in my life have I seen a woman in such a condition. Her clothes were in ribbons from head to foot.

Thomas Ward: It is true that my wife maintains herself, but she is, none the less, a very bad woman. She is a faithless wife, and what’s more, she is intensely irritating. This assault, as she calls it, was not started by me. She first took off her bonnet and started buffeting me with it. Then she began to tear her own clothes and I merely helped her in that.

Elizabeth Ward: It is all lies.

Thomas Ward: I am telling you the truth. She stays away from me only because her conduct has been such that she durst not show her face again in Belton.

The Mayor: Why would she be afraid to go to Belton?

Thomas Ward: She destroyed the life of one of her infants by over-administering laudanum. That is the reason.

The Mayor: Are you aware of the serious nature of the charge that you bring against your wife?

Thomas Ward: Yes, Sir.

The Mayor: Have you ever charged her with the crime before?

Thomas Ward: I have never mentioned it to a soul before, except herself.

Town Clerk: Then, as it is not known to any person in Belton, why would she be afraid to go back? Is there any other cause?

Thomas Ward: Yes, she robbed a wagon on the turnpike-road.

Town Clerk: Was she taken before a Magistrate for the offence?

Thomas Ward: No one ever knew of it but myself!

Town Clerk: Then that could not be the cause of her being afraid to return.

Thomas Ward: Oh she is well known for a loose character in Belton and her conscience troubles her so, she will never be able to stay long anywhere. She is always moving about!

Court Reporter: Mrs Ward treated all her husband’s charges very lightly and declared them to be totally false. It was clear that, though her manner showed no symptoms of insanity, her husband’s incoherent stories indicated either derangement of intellect or the most unscrupulous recklessness.

Mrs Ward: Can you not bind him over to keep the peace?

The Mayor: He clearly has no sureties by which we can hold him to any such promise and I am reluctant to send him to gaol. There is nobody present here to day who can tell us anything about the previous lives and conduct of either party, so we can conclude nothing on the merits of the case. Yet he has assaulted the lady most unjustifiably and for that we shall fine him five shillings and costs. If he is unable to pay he shall go to prison for fourteen days. It seems highly likely to me that we have not heard the last of these goings on.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, October 15, 1836; pg. [2]

© 2017

Shearsby Baths, 6 June 1840: Broken heads and severe bruises

It all seems to have started on May 12th 1840 when John Clarke, Esq., of Peatling Hall sent his son Henry and a party of his men down the Bruntingthorpe to Shearsby Road to forcibly sort out the land dispute he was having with William Reeve at the Shearsby Baths. There were twenty-eight people in this party, including James and Thomas Loyley, and Isaac and William Gamble, all coming equipped with pick-axes and shovels to pull down the fencing recently put up by Reeve on land Clarke claimed to be his. Reeve took legal action in response, bringing the matter before the judges at the Lutterworth Petty Sessions on May 14th. William Reeve claimed that the land in question had been in possession of his forefathers for years and that previous Lords of the Manor had never claimed it before. The case was dismissed as out of the Lutterworth court’s jurisdiction, but with the understanding that Mr. Clarke would refrain from all further acts of violence in support of his claim.

On Saturday 6th of June the village peace was again disturbed by the appearance of a number of men, again headed by Henry Clarke, with shovels and axes and heading for Reeve’s fence. This time, Reeve was  ready for them with his own party of men, some from Dunton, ready with iron bars to face the intruders. A general fight broke out, leading to several ‘broken heads and severe bruises’. Things might have got worse, had not the Rural Police arrived to break things up. The village had rallied in support of Reeve, with even the old women mustering in considerable force and ‘leaving marked proofs of their prowess on the countenances of their opponents’. Henry Clarke sustained some injuries and got his clothes torn for his efforts.

Feelings were still running high the following Monday when villagers assembled and in retaliation pulled up the posts and rails around the cottage that Clarke had recently purchased from a Mr. Walker of Shearsby. These posts widened the cottage boundaries and encroached onto the road itself and were becoming an obstacle to travel. The matter was again brought to the Lutterworth Petty Sessions, who again declined to decide on the matter, referring the  land dispute to higher courts and binding the parties to keep the peace in future.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 23, 1840

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, June 13, 1840

© 2017

John Ball Hill, 7 June 1830: Alterations intended to be made in lowering the hill

The Turnpike-road that wound between Leicester and Welford followed the contours of the land closely. About mid-way it bypassed the village of Shearsby and headed south, passing the intersecting lanes between Saddington and Bruntingthorpe, and rising to 533 ft. at the top of the John Ball Hill. That would be a rise of 142 ft. from the point where the road crossed the brook between Shearsby and Arnesby: a long, steep climb for the horse-drawn carts of the day. It was a stretch of road with a poor reputation. The wooded fox coverts either side near the top were named after alleged highway robbers John and Jane Ball and there had been an incident of attempted robbery as recently as 1822.

The road was a commercial operation, charging its travelers for its use at toll booths along the way. Investing in the upkeep of the road was a part of the role of the Trustees. In June 1830 they put out a call to tender for anyone wanting to take on the proposed work to alter the height of the hill. Would-be civil engineers did not get long to decide as any proposals to engage in the work needed to be considered at the Trustees Meeting to be held at the Three Crowns Hotel on the 21st of June. The surveying work had, however, already been completed and the plans could have been viewed at the offices of Mr. Parsons, a Leicester surveyor.

It is unclear today whether any such work was undertaken. In 2017 concerns about traffic and the steepness on the hill remain, though they now focus on the speed and inattention of the drivers. There is an online petition on the website of the current operators of the Turnpike road, now the A5199 and run by the Leicestershire County Council. The petition calls for the council to ‘urgently improve traffic management and road safety on the A5199, on the roads approaching Shearsby and the nearby crossroads of Saddington Road / Bruntingthorpe Road’. If you share the Shearsby villagers’ concerns about safety along this stretch of road, please do add your name to the petition.

The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser (Leicester, England), Saturday, June 12, 1830

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.

In August 1830 John had married Ann Read, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Read. She had been born in the village and christened there on 30 July 1809.

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