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


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] 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 ( : 1 October 2014), Horace Alfred H Hensman, 1896; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast ( : 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]


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.


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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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

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, 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, 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

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

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