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

South Leicestershire, 29 September 1327: Assessments for Edward III’s Lay Subsidy

Around 1891 the Rev. W.G.D. Fletcher of St. Michael’s, Shrewsbury published his transcription and notes on the 1327 Lay Subsidy of Leicestershire as “The Earliest Leicestershire Lay Subsidy Roll, 1327”, noting that this was the oldest surviving taxation record for the county. The original document would have been used by the people responsible for collecting the receipts to fund the main item of government expenditure being planned at that time; which was the war against neighbouring Scotland.

The document records the amount each town and village in the county was assessed for and the names of the individuals making the payments. Michaelmas Day (29th September) was chosen as the day on which the assessments were to be made, and several loyal and good men were summoned from each vill to determine the tax according to its true value, amounting to a twentieth part of all movable goods.

I have transcribed the data again to a spreadsheet and visualised the results in Tableau Public. Check out the maps and charts for a snapshot of the wealth and populations for the communities in the Guthlaxton and Gartree Hundreds of South Leicestershire, in comparison with the Borough of Leicester itself.

Visualisation Content
Taxpayers Map of communities with the names of villages given in the Lay Subsidy
Assessments Map of communities with modern nmes and graded by size of subsidy paid
Averages Map with size of community graded by average of tax paid divided by number of taxpayers
Bar Chart List of communities graded by amount of contribution paid
Bubbles Group similar communities by amount of contribution
Scatter Plot Graph of taxpayers and contributions
Pareto Pareto chart showing where 80% of the tax yield can be found.