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, 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.

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

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.