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History of Ratley (information from John Ashby and Dan Batchelor's Book)
Sections: Early history, 1800s, Arch's union, Village surnames, England/Hitchcox/Golby families in 1881, more on families, bits and pieces
(1) Ratley is near the site of an Iron Age fort, Nadbury (800BC). The fort is on Edge Hill so it overlooks much of what is now Warwickshire. It was also near a source of ironstone which can be used to produce iron. Nadbury was a northern camp of the British tribe called the Duboni. When the Romans occupied the Duboni they offered little resistance. The Romans put a garrison close to the Nadbury fort and it was used as one of a system of signaling hills.
The parish of Ratley has Nadbury on its border. It includes the village of Ratley, the village of Edgehill, the site of a motte and bailey castle, and old quarries. The area is on a prominent hill. From the mound in Ratley where the castle was, you can see Oxfordshire farmland over many miles. From Edgehill, above the site of the famous battle, you can see over Warwickshire farmland even further. This ridge is narrow and Ratley almost touches Edgehill. After the Romans the area was held by Saxons. The last Saxon lord of the manor was Ordric. When the Normans took it, they built the motte and bailey castle. The central mount (motte) had a wooden tower stockade and bridge. It was enclosed by stone embankments (bailey). It was built about 1040 by the de Arden family to protect the labourers and livestock of their tenants in the troubled time of the early Norman occupation. Order was established and in 1154, Henry II ordered that all these small defences, throughout the kingdom, should be demolished. The stone was used in other buildings. The mound remains.
At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Ratley was the estate of a man called Almeric, who held it under feudal tenure from Turchil de Arden. Turchil held this 'knight's fee' along with several others under Henry, Earl of Warwick. There were 31 families, the manor residents and the priest, 135 people in all.

(2) In 1893 Ratley was described thus, "Even with its close proximity to the brow of Edge Hill it cannot be seen until approached. The village is built on a rugged peak which falls away into a deep valley, which stretches away towards the village of Hornton in Oxfordshire. The first sheet of the Banbury road abuts on the side of a steep hill which tries the muscular power of both man and beast. Away over the village green to the left one approaches the peak of the hill, from which one of the finest views of Oxfordshire may be obtained." At that time (this is about 20 years after our pair of brothers left the area) the cottages were in poor condition,below average in the area. The villagers had a reputation for drink.
The farm land was also described. "The land is extremely light, and is of a marked red colour. It is, as need hardly be said, very high and dry. Much of the ploughing is done with two horses. The condition of the land in this neighbourhood shows, generally speaking, a much better management, than is too often the case. The leading crops of the farms of Ratley and neighbourhood might be said to be barley and roots. Besides these crops, wheat, oats, peas and clover are the crops grown... There is but a comparatively small quantity of pasture in this district, and of that which there is it cannot be said to be of the best. In any season in which there is more than an average of sunshine and dry weather the pasture is necessarily quickly dried up. This follows, of course, very largely from the fact that in most fields the rock, for which this hilly district is noted, comes within a few inches of the soil."
The Enclosure Movement in the 18th century resulted in the disappearance of the small peasant holdings; and, wealthy farmers were able to lease large amounts of land from the landowners. In Ratley, the poor had not been taking full advantage of their rights to use common land. Few, if any, owned sheep or cattle. This may be because in Ratley's case, unlike so many other areas of the county, none of the cottages had an acre or so of land attached to them.
Some years later, a further blow to any independence the agricultural labourer might assume, was that he was forbidden to combine with fellow labourers in negotating with farmers.
In the late 1700s the price of wheat was high and so were the rents that tenant farmers paid their landlords. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, foreign competition arose and corn (wheat) could be shipped to England at half its previous price. Many farms that had flourished during the war were not viable. Landlords who could not collect high rents wanted a remedy. The Corn Laws were passed in 1815 stopping imports of foreign grain until the price for domestic wheat rose to a particular value. Unemployment was high (due to the end of the war) and use of Poor Relief increased dramatically. In the 1820s the Corn Laws were made less strict with a lower price for wheat from the colonies.
In 1834 there was the infamous amendment to the Poor Laws. It set up workhouses into which the able-bodied and destitute poor were sent instead of the previous arrangement of relief while remaining in their homes. The workhouses were made terrible to discourage people asking for relief. The sexes were separated, breaking up families. If agricultural workers were unable to manage on their meager wages and these wages could not be augmented by relief at home then either the family went to the workhouse and the farmer lost his worker or the farmer had to raise the wages. The farm labourer had to be able to afford food. In times of low unemployment he could go to the industrial cities but in times of high unemployment he could not even do that.
The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846 and things started to improve. But it was not until the 1900s had started that the Poor Law was significantly reformed and pensions introduced.

(3) In the later part of the 1800s there was a change, the Trade Union Act of 1871. The fight against low wages and tied cottages etc. on the farms was led by Joseph Arch. He lived about 11 miles from Ratley. Agitation grew and there were many meetings and even some arson. Arch formed the National Agricultural Labourer's Union which soon reached a membership of over 80,000. In February 1872 there was a strike in the Ratley area led by the Primitive Methodist preacher. During this strike most of the workers left the 6 farms in the parish. A man called John England of Ratley was committed to 3 months hard labour for 'compelling' Thomas Barnes, a farm labourer, employed by Thomas Berridge, to leave his employer and join the strike.
1875 was a very bad year. Many took advantage of agents who were touring the country recruiting agricultural labourers for farms in Australia and Canada. The union offered assistance with the passages. About 2500 took advantage of this assistance in Warwickshire. Arch later wrote, "the bulk of these were picked men; the drones would not go - not they - so they were left more or less on our hands and there is no doubt of it but they proved a drag on us." (This is about when our pair of brothers left for Canada so they may have taken this assistance.) The strong union did not last long - it was too scattered and its members isolated in very small communities. With Arch's help, labourers did get the vote in 1884. Wages did rise slowly.
In 1891 it was written, "There were few instances, however, in which this tendency (wage increases) was so marked as in the case at Ratley. It may be remembered by readers who followed closely the movement among agricultural labourers in the year 1872, that feeling ran as high, or perhaps higher, than in any village in the county. I observe among my notes of this village that there is considerable employment of women in the fields during the summer months. This is, I believe, the only case in which field work by women was reported to be at all extensive."
Besides agriculture, there were also the quarries, employing stone masons. Employment in this industry had ups and downs.

(4) It does not appear that the families in Ratley in 1881 had been there forever. A list of households was compiled in the 1680s for a tax on hearths. Both those rich enough to be taxed and those too poor to tax are recorded. When this is compared to the households in the parish in 1881, there are only 3 surnames in common. Of the 25 surnames in 1689 and the 43 surnames in 1881, the only common ones are Golby, Hitchcocke and Hitchcox if they are the same, and Cox/Coox if the same. 22 surnames had been lost and 40 gained. Ashby and Batchelor do not have much to say about this population change except that it happened. Two Hitchcocke and one Golby households were taxed and no one by those names was exempt. As Hitchcox was at some point a 'farmer' rather than a labourer, this family probably survived the enclosures and became tenant farmers, although they lost that status during the 1800s. In 1881 there were more England households then any other surname, 16 England homes out of 97 total homes in the parish. The Englands may have come to the village as stone workers. There is a photo of men working in the Hornton Edgehill Quarry in the 1930s. There are 21 new names that do not appear in the 1881 record. There are 5 names common to the two lists Gilkes, England, Stanley and French. Among the 39 workers there were 5 Englands. Sometime after the Hearth Tax, an England family/families probably arrived as experienced stone masons. Some became farm labourers over time. One became the first licensee of a pub in the village when, in 1775, William England opened the 'Rose and Crown'. The building in which the pub was created was previously a farm house. The Enclosure Award of 1796 had John Hitchcox as the tenant farmer on this site. The landlord of the farm appears to have been the local church. So the Golbys and Hitchcoxes were probably there 'forever' but the Englands arrived between 1689 and 1775.
No reason for a Hitchcox to change name to England was seen but there is a report of a man named Harris who was charged with assaulting 'Daisy Hitchcox, otherwise called Daisy England' who was 6 years of age. The report date was 1894, an unknown time after the offence, when Harris was out on bail awaiting trail. This appears to imply that at least one family had changed from using the name Hitchcox to use England, at least for some children, and this makes it more comfortable to suppose that our pair of brothers did the same.

(5) The 1881 record is not just from the census but also from a list made by the vicar for his visits in the parish. Although there were three religions in the parish: the Church of England, a Methodist chapel and a Primitive Methodist chapel, this CE vicar felt the responsibility to visit all the parishioners whether they were 'Church or Chapel'.  This list is annotated with remarks on the families. Here are entries for the names England, Hitchcox, and Golby

William England, stonemason - Sarah (Prue) England
        Children:         Agnes Prue illegitimate 1861
                        Rueben England 1869
                        Martin 1870
                        Isabella 1873
                        Kate 1876
                        Florence 1878
                        Sidney 1881

Charles England, bellringer - Elizabeth
        Children:        Mary Ann (in Essex)
                        Joseph (away)
                        Aminda (in Burton on Trent)
                        Alfred - Martha
                                Children:        Mary Ann 1873
                                                Ernest 1875
                                                Edith Sarah 1877
                                                Aminder 1879
                                                Owen 1881
                        Harriet 1858 (in service)
                        Alban 1859, farm labourer - Sarah 1858 from Northants
                        Noah 1862, works for Jones - Mary Maria
                                Children:        Ida 1886
                                                Archibald 1889
                        Amos - Hannah
                                Children:         Herbert 1885
                                                Ellen Kathleen 1887
                        Charles Henry 1867
                        Ellen 1870

Joseph England, Rose & Crown publician - Anna
        Children:        Ann (in Warmington) - Mr Castle
                                Children:         Joseph Castle 1865
                                                Mary Ann Castle 1867
                        Joseph (in America)
                        George 1850 publician after Joseph died before 1889
                        Eli (publician in Warmington)
                        Mary Ann 1856 (in service - head nurse)

Mary England 1804 widow

 Joseph England's widow Mary (Sister of Ann Horsley) 1803
        Children:        Rueben (away)
                        Ann (died)
                        Caroline (in Leamington)
                        Elizabeth (in Leamington)
                        Rebecca (in Northhampton)

Thomas England 1811-1886, stonemason - Elizabeth (Arnold) England, 1st wife
Children:        George England, vicarage groom/gardener - Mary (Batchelor) England, dressmaker
                                Children:         Thomas 1859 - Annie
Children: Francis 'Frank' 1889
                                                Priscilla 1861 (in service)
Elizabeth Ann 1863 (in service)
Louisa 1865 (in service)
Frank 1867 (in service)
Emily 1869
Albert 1871
Edward 1873
Mary Ann 1875
George 1878
Willie 1880
Shem 1881
                        Isaac (in Sheffield)
-        Anna, 2nd wife
Children:        Henry (in Hargrove)
                Frederic (in Warwick)
                William (in America)
                Sarah Ann - William Batchelor
                        Children:        Sarah Ann 1869
                                        Elizabeth 1870
                                        Thomas 1872
                                        Harriet 18 75
                                        Amy 1877
William England 1878 (England not surname)
Emily 1881

Eliza 'Frederick' England, widow, charwoman at Vicarage
        Children:        George 1847, organist (away) - Martha
                                Children:        Walter
                                                Anna Maria
                                                Eliza Jane

Elizabeth England 1808/1804 - 1883, 'Nurse Bet', widow of William England
        Children:         William (in Birmingham)
                        Thomas (in Oldbury)
                        Robert (in Drayton Lodge)
                        David (in Oldbury)
                        Elizabeth (widow in Fenny Stratford)
                        Sophia (Mrs Dumbleton in Banbury)
                        Sarah (Mrs. Dicks away)
                        John - Eliza from Warmington, 1st wife, died before 1889
                                Children:        George 1869
                                                Ann Cecelia 1871
                                                John Edward 1873
                                                Sarah Ann 1875
                                                Elizabeth 1877
                                                Joseph William 1880
                                - Carlotte Wilks nee Soden, 2nd wife, married July 1888
                                Children:        Mabel 1889

Brothers David and Joseph England, very old, in 1889 one dead and the other in workhouse

Ezekial England, blind - Mary
        Children:        Louisa 1861 (in Northampton)
                        Ada 1867 (in service)
                        Amy 1870
                        Joseph 1872
                        David 1874
                        William 1877
                        Thomas Henry 1879
                        Frederic 1881

James Hitchcox 1842, widower, farm labourer
        Children:        James 1867, farm labourer
                        George 1869, farm labourer
                        John 1870, farm labourer
                        Caroline 1872
                        Charles 1874
                        Robert 1876
                        Mary Ann 1878

Thomas Hitchcox - Eliza, was a cook

Sarah Hitchcox widow of Richard Hitchcox, Mr. Brown's shephard
        Children:         Joseph Henry
                        George 1851, deaf dumb
                        Francis Edward 1859 (in Worchester)
                        Sarah 1869, silly

Richard Golby - Mary, both work for Mr. Jones
        Children:        Sarah (away)
                        Elizabeth (Mrs. Collicott, away)
                        Caroline (in Shennington)
                        Mary (Mrs. Golding in Avon Dassett)
John 1852 (groom to Mr. Berridge)- Louisa Emily (Smith) Golby (servant at Uplands)
Clarence (gardener at Upton House)
Richard 1859 - Emma Jane (Townsend) Golby 1860
        Children:         Anna Townsend illegitimate child of Emma
                        Kate 1881
                        Fred 1883
                        Ida May
                        Henry 1888
Joseph 1861 (militia and labourer)
Jane 1863 (in service Kineton)
Anna 1865 (in service Adderbury)

 Elias - Charlotte (Horseley) Golby
        Children:        John (in Leamington)
                        William (at Upton)
                        Edward (away)
                        Mary Ann (Mrs. Hopkins Sugarwell Farm)
                        Betsy (married in Tysoe)
                        George (wagoner for Mr. Brown) - Marina Golby (cook)
                                Children:        George Henry  1879
                                                James 1881
                        Charlotte 1859 (in service)
                        James 1861 (imbecile)

John Golby (widower, worked for Mr. Jones)
        Children:        William (soldier)
                        Charles (Warden)
                        Emma (in service)

William - Sarah Golby (he was 'odd man' at Upton House, took cart to Banbury daily)
        Children:         Edward 1871
                        Elias 1874
                        Arthur 1876
                        Alfred 1878
                        William 1881

(6) Other information sources:
(a)  The names of the soldiers in WW1. Ratley sent 62 men of which 17 had the surname England. Their initials were: A, A, A, E, E, E, F, F, F, H, O, R R, S, W, W, W. 4 died: Charles Edward 25 in 1915, Ernest 21 in 1918, Ralph 20 in 1916, and Shem age and date of death unknown. Soldiers from this area were apparently used as skilled horse handlers.
(b)  The quarrymen in the 1930s picture had the names John, Albert Eleazar, Edward and George England.
(c)   Ratley school had a sampler made in 1860 by Sarah England aged 11 (born circa 1849).
(d)   In 1861 the census shows child labourers, John Golby 9yrs farm labourer, Reuben England 12 yrs stone-cutter. And the 1871 census shows Henry Hitchcox 6 yrs farm boy, Noah England 10 years farm labourer. 
(e)   Children in a 1931 school picture include Fred, Edith, Albert, Alice, Winnie, Connie, Dick, Ron, David and Gerald England. There were no Hitchcox or Golby.
(f)   Children in a 1934 school picture include Fred, Winnie, Mary, David, Ron and Dick England.
(g)   Children in 1951 school picture contain no Englands, Hitchcox, Golbys.
(h)   Children in 1956 school picture include Linda, Dennis, Keith, Jeff and George England but no Hitchcox or Golby.
(i)    John England remembered that his father Amos and brother Henry worked at Church farm. His uncle Charles, an asthmatic managed the farm.
(j)   John England was involved in taking down and re-hanging the church bells in 1979-80 when they were re-tuned in Loughborough. In 1967 (Amos) John England became bell-ringer following his grandfather. 
(k)  Sarah Ann Batchelor is incorrectly listed as Sarah Ann England in 1881 census. William England Batchelor born 1878 has sometimes been mistakenly listed with England as his surname rather than a given name.

None of the people in the 1881 vicar's list fit our two brothers. We are looking for a Mary England and a William Hitchcox born shortly after 1800 who had sons named Richard and David born about 1831 and 1833.
Nurse Bet has two sons Richard and David about the right age. But at the time that their location was marked as Oldbury  and Drayton Lodge, our Richard and David would have been in Canada for several years. Also a younger son John is definitely recorded at his marriage as the son of William England. The mother could be remarried. However, her name is wrong too. It is Elizabeth rather than Mary.
There was a widow, Mary England, living alone about whom we know nothing.
Most likely the family moved to Ackerton and there is no trace of them in 1881 in Ratley. Ackerton is where Richard returned to from Birmingham and probably where he changed his name from Hitchcox to England. There is not a vicar's record for Ackerton.

(7) The buildings in Ratley are mostly from the 1700s and 1800s. In the 1600s there was building by the upper classes but the ordinary people remained in their 'hovels' until many years later. There was a field called 'England's Ground' where a council estate was built in 1953. I found no record of why it would have had that name. Englands were known to have lived in: one of the thatched cottages opposite the Tower in Edgehill (birthplace of Connie (England) Jeacock; house in Chapel Lane (Mrs. Harry England reported fire); Rose and Crown.
There was a school in the village since about 1820. A newer school was built in 1849 and closed 1976. Schooling was done by the National Society for the 'church' and the British Society for the 'chapels'. In 1833 the State began to support these schools and appoint inspectors. This early schooling was extremely poor education, more a daycare system. The school master in 1850 held evening classes for the adult men. In 1889 a Board of Education was set up and the Church of England School became the only village school. The village appears to have resented religious education in the school and there were several protests over the years. Children often left school at age 10. The school and many other activities in the surrounding parishes were supported in part by the Earl and Countess of Jersey who resided in Upton House. The school was also supported by rents on allotments, other wealthy members of the parish, Government grants, and a school fee that the children had to bring to attend (2 pence a week in 1880s).
Small children were sometimes employed in 'crow scaring'. They walked through fields making noise, and using catapults and shot guns on vermin. It earned a few pennies for the family. For younger boys it was sometimes difficult to be alone in the fields for hours in bad weather. Some remembered making noise while trying to keep from crying. This was truancy as far as the schoolmasters were concerned and usually meant a punishment the next time they were in school. Some children had more substantial jobs at ages around 10. Small children also helped their mothers with gleaning or 'leasin' for grain left in the field after harvest.
The 1881 census shows a population of 407 in the village: 59% of the men worked in agriculture, 18% of the men worked in quarries, 23% of the women were in service (servants in large houses), 92% of the children were in school. The age of 14 was used as the separation of child and adult.
There was a community barn, and later a Village Hall. John England remembered his uncle Noah with a flail (long and short sticks connected by a leather hinge), working on the flag stone floor, threashing in the community barn. The wheat and chaff were separated (winnowed) with a bellows.
The Rose and Crown has a sign saying it was built in the 1000s. This is clearly mistaken. This would make it the oldest pub in England. Its various parts were built in the 1600s and 1700s and additions are even more modern. The building was a farmhouse and vicarage before being a pub.
There is a family, Wrench, who arrived in the 1600s to the Banbury area and who were Huguenot Protestants fleeing from Belgium. Some later moved to Ratley. George Wrench went abroad and returned to married Priscilla England (22) in 1883. Her father was George England and her mother Mary Batchelor. Then the family went to Brisbane Australia where sons James and Tom were born. After fighting in the Boer War he returned and the family ran pubs in Hornton and Warmington. The house Innisfree came to the family from the Englands through Priscilla. It had been purchased in mid 1700s by Eli England.
The son Tom was living at Innisfree. A friend call Beatice Barnes asked Tom to bid at auction on a piece of property, Church Yard Cottage, neighbouring Innisfree. He did but then the two friends had a falling out and Tom would not re-sell it to her. Later William Wrench and Alice, James and John moved into the cottage. 
St. Peter Ad Vincula (St. Peter in chains) is the Ratley church. It was started in 1340. The porch was added in the 1400s. It appears there was a previous church on the site (Saxon rather than Norman in style). During the Civil War (the opening battle was here), there was non-conformist feeling against the adoration of saints. Parlimentarian forces frequently desecrated churches. St. Peter's is very plain perhaps because of Puritans cleaning the church of ornamentation after the battle of Edge Hill. In the 1600s Parliament ensured that all remaining idolatry was obliterated from churches.
There is a cross in the church yard called the Preaching Cross which was probably erected by a Spanish Order, the Friar Preachers, who were based in Warwick the 1400s.
The Black Death went through the area in 1347. This slowed the building of the church. The number of serfs declined. The 'lords of the manor' attempted to check the rise in wages with the Statute of Labourers (1349) that fixed wages at the level in 1347. Lords attempted to revert to service in place of cash for rent. They attempted to raise sheep rather than crops to cut the need for labour. The result was soon low wages and unemployment. When a poll tax was introduced, many of the poor were hit hard.
Mains water was developed in 1957. Prior to that the water came from springs. "If we had a dry summer the pump in the High Street and the spring in Chapel Lane would run dry, leaving only the Goggs spring near the Church as the sole water supply. The man of the house usually fetched the buckets of water before going off to work in the morning and that would have to last the family all day." Some carvings on other buildings could have been carved for the Gogg spring over 2000 years ago by Celts. The spring's name may also be Celtic.
There was a Working Men's Club and Reading Room in the village that was given to the village by Lord Jersey in 1878. In 1880 it was extensively vandalized by the men of the village. Feelings were running high - about the union, the people in Upton House and the religious differences. It was refurbished and opened later that year. At the same time the men were meeting at night to learn to read but they did it elsewhere than the Reading Room.
The building called the Old Post Office was converted in 1932 from two cottages by local stonemasons Frank and Willis England.
The Edgehill Tower 'ruins' were built by Sanderson Miller in 1742 to 1750 to mark the 100 anniversary of the Battle of Edge Hill.
Early in 1909 George Horsfield Nicholson of Wentworth near Rotherham purchased 'Edge Hill House'. On 24th April that same year his daughter Jessie married a local Edge Hill man named George Henry England. It was alleged that Jessie had an arrangement with her father that the newly-weds could live at the house until he and his wife Mary required it for their own use. Whilst there was never any written agreement it appears that there was an arrangement whereby a sum of 17 pounds/year would be paid as rent. Mary Nicholson died in October 1921 and a couple of years later George married Sarah Elizabeth. In 1925 Sarah (but not her husband) took her step-daughter to court accusing her of not paying rent for 15 years. The court ruled in Jessie's favour but Sarah lodged an appeal. She lost the appeal. Jessie told the court that she had given her father 300 pounds, 200 for him to invest on her behalf and the remainder for rent. In testimony the father agreed. Sarah Nicholson was ordered to pay costs.
Upton estate was a grant of land to one of the Arden family by Richard I (called Hoptone then). John de Upton was lord of the manor in 1315, later Verneys' of Wolford owned it. The hamlet of Upton was destroyed about 1500. The area was then owned by Sir William Danvers. It was sold to Sir Rushout Cullen in 1688 and he demolished the farm/manor buildings and built the present Upton House, completed 1695. The next owner was William Bumstead in 1730 and then Francis Child. It was inherited by Lady Sarah Fane, wife of the 5th Earl of Jersey, George Villiers. The Earl became Lord of the Manor and added Child to his name. Briefly Upton was owned by the Earl of Chesham, then Andrew Motion, then Viscount Walter Samuel. Finally it became a National Trust property. Many local people were 'in service' or farm labourers on this estate over the years.
Quarrying in the area started well before the Norman Conquest. Most buildings in the area are made from the local stone. The activity was done in many small quarries. Over the 1800s many small workings closed and by WW1 there were only 3 in the area and they were struggling. Captain Booth established modern processes and his Hornton Stone Quarry is still operating today. In 1987, John England wrote about stone work in earlier times. First top-soil was removed, followed by a layer of loose stone (known as 'hazard' and used for crazy paving). The next layer was called Rag and was very hard, used for road foundations and flag-stones. Blue Rag was next and was popular for stone walls and was dressed for building stone. The final layer contained large blocks weighing several tons, all dressed for building or monument stone. Early in his time, 40 masons were employed but this decreased rapidly in the 1900s. Eleazer England had responsibility for sharpening some of the saws used to produce paving-stones, in a trade known as Frig Bob. On Saturdays he earned some money sharpening village tools. M.K. Ashby wrote in the late 1800s, "The Ratley men, working in a section of the quarry at Edge Hill to which (Joseph) most often went, were silent old fashioned fellows, lost in their heavy, skilled work  Their village at the time was a strange, poor, hillside place, with, it is said, only three surnames among the families (an exaggeration). But the men had great knowledge of their stone - in what year this and that part of the valley had been cut, and which houses scattered over Oxfordshire and Warwickshire had been built with it." 

Beautiful Muskoka
paintingIn my memory of primary schooling in Saskatchewan there was always certain pictures on the wall, in every school and in every room it seemed. There was the official picture of the king, sometimes with family and sometimes alone. And there was a print of a Group of Seven painting. Over the years I think I studied under about 10 different views by Jackson or Thompson or some other of the Seven. That view of pines, maples, rocks and water was the quintessential Canada. We were also expected to identify with the Rockies, all three oceans, the snowy north and in Saskatchewan with elevators seen in sunsets. But the big thing across the country was whatever the Group of Seven had decided to paint. I never realized that I was looking at the landscape that my grandmother grew up in - beautiful Muskoka.
The Group of Seven loved that country. Their first and greatest love was Muskoka. This one is Rosseau Muskoka by AJ Casson.
Grandmother's parents homesteaded was in Chaffe, the township that includes Huntsville.  "The historic little town of Huntsville is the northernmost point in Muskoka, recognized as the gateway to Algonquin Park, where Tom Thomson and many of the original Group of Seven artists painted in the early twentieth century. The region of Muskoka includes the towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst in the south, and the districts of Muskoka Lakes to the east and Lake of Bays to the west, which borders on the province's largest wilderness park, Algonquin." This was good country for painting, for canoeing, for logging, for holiday cottages, for army exercises, for listening to wolves and all sorts of similar things - but it was not great country for farming. When I looked at this scenery as a child, I would have been amazed that anyone would try to farm that sort of land but that is where grandmother's parents homesteaded.
 "To help encourage settlement to the area the Free Land Grant and Homestead Act of 1868 was created.  Before this it was suggested that Muskoka be turned into a large Indian reservation.  The realization of Muskoka's timber and the immigration of settlers into southern Ontario changed officials minds. The Free Land Grand and Homestead Act gave 200 acres of land with extra land granted for rocky sections in Muskoka to families which meet the following conditions.  The applicant had to be at least 18 years of age and wanted to use the land for settlement and cultivation.  The settler had to clear 15 acres of land, build a house at lease sixteen feet by twenty feet in size, live on the property at lease 6 months of a year for a period of 5 years.  If all the requirements were met he could then apply for a land patent and become the owner.  This was to stop people from land speculation.  The Province retained all mineral rights to the area, including pine trees and quarry stones. The Province would grant timber licenses to lumbermen on a settler's land.  Loggers c
paintingould cut trees and build logging roads across a settler's property without their permission.  The Province collected timber dues on all pine timber taken down in the area, even the settlers were charged this due if they cut down more timber than their allowance.  This was so profitable for the government that it was said that the dues collected paid all the administration costs for the Province."
It would not be an easy life and so many homesteads were abandoned but Emma England stuck it out after Richard died and raised her children and step-children in this beautiful but difficult place. It
is a good thing they came from the rocky land around Alkerton in northern Oxfordshire.

The photo is an abandoned homestead in Muskoka.

My grandmother, Sophia Barmby, had big, oval, dark picture on the wall. When I was young I knew the picture as 'the Spanish lady'.  One of grandma's ancestors was Spanish and that had caused trouble in the family…or so is my memory of what Grandma told me. Grandpa used to point at the picture when he teased Grandma about her Spanish blood if she got angry. (See the grandparent pictures)
After Grandma died the picture ended up with a cousin, Marcia, who copied it for all the cousins. There was a note on the back giving the information that the lady was Mrs. Richard England (nee Emma Woodward) and she was the daughter of George Woodward and his Spanish war-bride. She was Grandma's mother. I don't remember Grandma ever telling me that.
Emma Woodward is the nearest ancestor, only three generations away, who is a dead-end in tracing the family tree. Her parents are the first blank spots. There is her picture, so reminiscent of Grandma's house, but very little more. I gave a copy of my copy to someone who was also an England but it turned out she was not descended from Emma, Emma was her grandfather's step mother. From her, the copy went to a distant relative in California who was a descendant. Slowly information started to accumulate from various grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Richard Hitchcox married Mary Hannah Golby in Alkerton Oxfordshire in 1845 and they had children George, Walter (Lorna B's gf), and Alice (Jack B's ggm). Mary died and then Richard married Emma Woodward in April 1874 in Aston Birmingham and they had children Sophia (my gm) and Richard Alfred (Art E's gf).
It seems this was Emma's second marriage; she was a widow. Her name when she married Richard was Emma Joyner although her father was given as George Woodward, labourer from Warwickshire. They were married in Aston in Birmingham Warwickshire. Emma was born 1839/40. Her previous marriage accounts for some of the children in the family, James and Henry. Rcihard and Emma, two widowed middle-aged people with children, married; this was not unusual among the poor in those days. He was a labourer and a railway porter.
A year after their marriage they sailed for Canada on the Moravian out of Liverpool. The family was Richard, Emma and their children by their first marriages: George 18, Walter 16, James 12, Mary 7 and Henry 5. They received assistance (bread and temporary shelter) in Toronto. Sophia was born in London in December of that same year, 1875. By 1877 they were on their homestead in Chaffe and Richard Alfred was born there. Son Walter and brother David also took homesteads in the area. In the next year 1878, Richard was killed when a tree falling broke his spine. This left Emma to raise the family on a new, perhaps not completed, homestead. In 1881 Emma was listed on the census as the Head of Household, all the children were there and Walter was listed as Farmer. In 1891 Walter was Head of Household and Emma was listed as Mother. George and James had left home by then. Emma died in 1897. Walter, Richard Alfred and Sophia were soon all in Saskatchewan.
She raised her children and Richard's children by his first marriage under very difficult circumstances but there is no hint that her step-children resented her. It would be nice to know more about her parents and her life before Richard. There are just three clues: her father was George Woodward, there was a Spanish war bride and there was a split in the family.
I think we can understand the split in the family without any reference to Emma. Richard and David changed their names from Hitchcox to England. England was their mother's name. So, apparently, did all their bothers and sisters. The youngest of this family was Mercy Sarah (Barry H's ggm). She was the Sarah, housekeeper, who lived in Birmingham with Richard and his first wife in 1871. She had an illegitimate son who was raised by her parents and therefore carried the name Hitchcox. But she called herself England and she never visited her son at her parent's home. If my grandmother told me about a split in her family, it would have been this disowning of William Hitchcox by his children. The reason for this split is not known.
Emma's father was called George Woodward. Unfortunately George Woodward was a very common name and Warwickshire is a big county. No one has yet identified which George Woodward is her father. He may have been local to the Alkerton/Ratley area, which would put him in a particular area of Warwickshire. Barry H fancies him drinking at a particular pub between the two villages. (see second trip to Banbury for picture of the pub)
He was, according to the story, a soldier in the Peninsular War and brought back a Spanish bride. This is next to impossible. If George was about as young as a soldier could be and his bride about as young as she could be  to marry - both 14 years of age when the war ended - they would have been born in 1800. That would make them 40 when Emma was born - which is about as old as the Spanish lady could have been and having children. If she was an older bride then she would have been an older mother. This is possible but not likely. It is more likely that George Woodward's father was also called George and father George was a soldier in Spain. The son George would have been a labourer. The Spanish lady would then be Emma's grandmother.
Emma's parents may just remain a puzzle and a dead end as may the cause of the split in the Hitchocox/England family.

The England brothers Richard and David with their families (and for a while their sister Mercy) lived in Birmingham in the 1860s.
Why move to Birmingham? Everyone did.

Actually Birmingham had a lot to recommend it compared to other industrial cities of the time. (Birmingham is pronounced burmingum unlike the American city which is pronounced phonetically; it is shortened to brum; adjectives brummie and brummagem are applied to its people and their unique accent). Birmingham just sort of exploded. It grew threefold it the 1700s. Then, for every person who lived in Birmingham in 1800 there were 10 people in 1900. At its height, 5 million lived in the greater Birmingham area. Birmingham is England's second city and its central hub.
So many canals came into the city that it had 35 miles of canal within its boundaries, more than Venice. Beginning in 1837 the railways came and it became a junction where five important railway lines met, connected/crossed. Roads also crossed at Birmingham. Today it is the home of 'spaghetti conjunction' where the traffic from many motorways (super-highways) is exchanged.
It was close to the iron and coal fields of the Black Country. It had water power. It was the home of metalworkers and even before the Industrial Revolution and was called the 'town of a thousand trades'. It made buttons, pins, guns, cutlery, locks, swords, wire, hinges, screws, nails and thousands of other such things. In the Civil War, it equipped both armies from its Gun Quarter. Boulton and Watt built their first steam engines in Brum. The Jewellery Quarter was the largest concentration of jewellers in Europe. There were watchmakers, goldsmiths, brewers, chemists, metal works, makers of bicycles and railway carriages. Every sort of thing was made in Brum. It had many attorneys, surgeons and other professionals and was a center of this sort of service for those that did not want to deal with London.
Other cities that grew during the Industrial Revolution were dependent on a small number of industries and industrialists. They (London, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow etc.) were the towns of 'satanic mills' and of slums, squalor, child-labour, penny-a-pint-gin drunkenness, epidemics, crime and all the horrors of that time. There is a big break in English culture around the worst of the Industrial revolution. Parents were not able to teach their culture to their children (mothers were not able to teach their daughters to cook) and everything else that was passed from parents to children was lost in very many families in the industrial cities. Fathers, mothers and their children all worked long hours.
Birmingham was spared the worst (although conditions were still terrible by modern standards). There were three reasons for this. One is that the workshops were smaller, more personal, the work was skilled and children who worked tended to work for or with relatives. Second is that the industry was more varied and less prone to the ups and downs of the market. The third factor was that Birmingham had some remarkable individual citizens who made the city 'the best governed city in world'. They had: efficient sewer system in1860, gas lights in 1818, piped in clean water in 1826 etc. And although slums appear from time to time, they were cleared fairly quickly and housing re-built. Birmingham had an influential society of scientists (the Lunar Society), a great mayor, Joseph Chamberlain, who oversaw the 'municipal revolution', and three preachers (Dale, Dawson and Crosskey) who developed and preached the Civic Gospel. Their message was equal rights, personal responsibility, unity between classes, Christianity in working life. So if you were looking for work, Birmingham was the place to go.

England pcitures  updated
Lorna gave me three pictures of England relatives and Jean gave me the Alice picture. Susan sent Richard A's wedding picture. Richard England had children Walter, George and Alice with Hannah Golby and had Sophia and Richard A. with Emma Woodward.

Walter and George
england england
Richard A. - from a newpaper clipping marked 'Uncle Dick' in Phyllis' things.

Left: Walter with daughter Phyllis.
Alice (center) with her daughters and Grandma Barmby 2nd from left.
Richard A. and Jane at wedding  richard and jane

Shakespeare's Country
edge hillWhen you look down from Edge Hill, you look across a wide valley formed by the Avon river as it flows down to the Severn. About 13 miles away is Stratford-upon-Avon with the Vale of Evesham in front of Stratford the the Forest of Ardon beyond it. This area of south Warwickshire bordering Oxfordshire is called Shakespeare's country. There is much to see around the villages that the England family came from.
From Illustrated Guide to Britain, a classy tourist guide that I was once given:
“The countryside round Stratford-upon-Avon seems a world apart from the urban centres of the Midlands, and untouched by time. Much of its character is formed by the River Avon, edged with willows and flowing in a broad, peaceful valley through pasture land where cattle graze....
stratfordAt Stratford the swans gather round the arches of Clopton Bridge, and the view from the bridge of Holy Trinity Church in its riverside setting is one of the best known in Britain....
Little now remains of the great Forest of Arden of Shakespeare's day, but there are wooded walks and many great picnic spots on the river bank, not far from the places associated with Shakespeare's life. The gentle green countryside has few spectacular view points, but Edge Hill is a dramatic exception. This high ridge gave its name to the first major battle of the Civil War. There is also a notable link with the more distant past in this corner of Warwickshire. A neolithic pillar, the King Stone, stands on its southern boundary. It is one of the Rollright Stones, a Bronze Age stone circle, the remainder of which lie in Oxfordshire...
Magnificent beech trees line the road running along the top of the Edge Hill ridge, at the foot of which the battle took place in 1642. The castellated Edge Hill Tower, now part of the local inn, The Castle, was built as a folly by Sanderson Miller, a local squire and architect in the 18th century. There is a fine view from the top of the tower.
Farnborough Hall, built in Italianate style, lies in a hollow near by and is owned by the National Trust. The principle rooms contain Italian paintings and sculptures, and look out across an artificial lake to Edge Hill. The best view of the tree-lined ridge, however, is obtained from the top of a landscaped terrace which has two temples and an obelisk...
Upton House is a William-and-Mary mansion owned by the National Trust near Edge Hill. The gardens surrounding the house are laid out on gentle slopes against a background of woods. There is a large collection of paintings which includes works by the England artist George Stubbs and the Dutch master Peter Breughel, as well as a fine collection of Sevres porcelain...
shakespeareShakespeare never lost touch with his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon,even at the height of his success in London, and much of the homely imagery in his plays derives from Stratford's busy streets and peaceful countryside. In Shakespeare's youth, Stratford was an important market centre, and market days gave the boy a chance to note the manners, dress and speech of its tradesmen, farmers, milkmaids, lawyers and 'poor market-folks the come to sell their corn', as he was later to describe them in Henry VI. Throughout his life Shakespeare remembered with delight the herbs and flowers in Stratford's gardens and fields: 'Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram; the marigold that goes to bed wi' the sun'; and in Love's Labour's Lost he may have been thinking of winter visits to his grandparent's farm as he wrote: 'When icicles hang 'ov the wall, and Disk the shepherd blows his nail.'”
Traveling between Edge Hill and Stratford, you cross the Foss Way (the B4455), a straight Roman road.

England’s on Ratley, Warwickshire, Roll of Honour at St Peter’s Ad Vincula Church
This was sent to me by a researcher, Stephen Potts. It adds to material on Ratley, although I do not know how closely we are related to these people.
4. Edward England Charles Edward England, Private 9782 Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 1st Btn. Born Ratley, son of Sarah Ann Turner of Broughton, Banbury, Oxon. Enlisted Stratford, residence given as Banbury. Killed in Action 12th December 1915, age 25. Buried Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, France. The 1st Btn was part of the 4th Division.
5. Ernest England Private 37916 East Yorkshire Regiment, 10th Btn. Son of Amos England, Ratley. Date of Death 4th December 1918. Buried at Newport (Christchurch) Cemetery, Monmouthshire. The Regiment was part of the 31st Division. The Division moved to Egypt on 4th December 1915 and went to France in March 1916.
6. Ralph England Guardsman 24714 Grenadier Guards 3rd Btn. Born Ratley, enlisted Leamington. Killed in Action France and Flanders, 14th September 1916.
Name inscribed on Thiepval memorial, France. The Btn was part of the Guards Division and fought the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15th September, a Somme Battle.
7. Shem England Sapper 5663 Canadian Signal Corps, 1st Division Signal Company. Son of George and Mary England Ratley, Date of Birth 11th April 1883. Served 8 years Rifle Brigade and 2 years Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to war. Joined Canadian Over-seas expeditionary force 23rd September 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec. Details taken from Attestation Paper. Date of death 8th May 1918. Memorial, Brookwood, Surrey.
17. Richard England Richard William England, Sergeant W.Op (air) 1602359, RAF VR died 23rd May 1944. Buried Reichswald Forest Cemetery, Germany. Only other Richard England - Wing Commander Richard England of Glamorgan

Upton House
In the area of Ratley and Ackerton villages is the stately house of Upton. Some of our ancestors in this area would have been servants or agricultural workers on this estate. Although others would be worked for other large farmers in the area or the stone quarries.
The house is now owned by the National Trust and is open to visitors. The National Trust buys buildings of significance as they become available (often because of the financial problems of the owners). In the case of Upton house it is not architecturally important or remarkable. The reason that the NT acquired the house was the significance of its art collection and its garden.
The collect of paintings and porcelain was amassed by Walter Samuel, second Viscount Bearsted, who inherited the Shell Oil money. He gifted it to the NT in 1948, probably in lieu of taxes. The collection includes English and Continental old masters by artists such as George Stubbs, Jan Steen, Melchior de Hondecoeter, William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, El Greco, Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Tintoretto, Rogier van der Weyden and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. There is a collection of English porcelain, including Chelsea, Derby, Bow and Worcester, and some French Sèvres porcelain. There are also Shell museum items. The garden has the National Collection of Asters.

Victorian Servants
Without doubt many of our ancestors were 'in service'. The young boys in the rural poor may have been farmer labourers but the young girls were likely to be domestic servants. The only other life for the rural poor was to be apprenticed into a trade. In the Edge Hill area the options were working in the quarries, as a farm labourer, servant, other tradesman or moving to a larger town with more employment opportunities. There was work for female servants at Upton house and a number of large farms in the area. Here is a description of domestic service in the 1800s from the Ward website.

A large majority of working-class girls in Victorian England entered domestic service at a young age. Many began searching for placement by the time they had reached the age of twelve or thirteen, and by mid-century, the age when girls began searching for placement dropped to even younger ages, some girls were as young as eight years old when they first hired on! Most domestic servants were from a rural background because country boys and girls were considered more manageable and adaptable, as well as harder working than urban children.
The young servant’s first position was usually in a local country household before being placed into service in an urban household some 20-30 miles away because most employers did not wish to take into employment domestics from their own immediate area. They feared the young girls would take gossip about the family back to the local community; or they might have suitors following after them; or they might, at the first opportunity, run away back to their own homes. It would be in this first position where a young girl could gain a little experience by helping with household chores, cooking, or taking care of children.
As noted in the 1871 census, almost 20% of all “nurses” in full-time domestic service were under the age of 15. In fact, on the 1871 census, there were 710 girls listed that were employed as nurses, who were under the age of ten!
For most of these very young girls, life away from their own homes would be very different for them. These first insignificant positions taught the girls some of the strict household standards they could expect in their future placements. Even in the most unpretentious middle-class home, life was apt to be undeniably more demanding than they had experienced in their own cramped and impecunious living situation. Many of these children would be placed in homes without even knowing the proper names of and uses for the common kitchen utensils and pieces of furniture that they would be expected to clean. For most, this lack of knowledge was simply due to having never seen or used these items in their own lives, and this particular difficulty was most evident when children who came from orphanages and workhouses were placed into services. Although these youngsters were no strangers to hard work (having been expected to scrub floors, walls, and clean heavy rough wooden furniture in the orphanage), they had not a clue about the handling of expensive and delicate china pieces, or how to balance a tea tray, etc. Sometimes the girls were just considered “stupid” because they were unfamiliar with the precious items found in even the humblest of middle-class homes. Because of this, it was not uncommon for “better” families to avoid hiring workhouse girls. Typically, it was among artisans, small shopkeepers, and other employers where these young girls were most likely to find work.
As soon as a servant had received his or her placement, the daily rounds of hard work immediately began. Hard work was, of course, the only way in which to accomplish the cleaning of a Victorian home.
Specific tasks were carried out, as defined by the strict , yet necessary daily routines of each staff member.
Each individual position carried its own list of expectations, which the servant was required to meet.
Here is an example of some of the rules that the servants had to follow
1 - When being spoken to, stand still, keeping your hands quiet, and always look at the person speaking.
2 - Never let your voice be heard by the ladies and gentlemen of the household, unless they have spoken directly to you a question or statement which requires a response, at which time, speak as little as possible.
3 - In the presence of your mistress, never speak to another servant or person of your own rank, or to a child, unless only for necessity, and then as little as possible and as quietly as possible.
4 - Never begin to talk to the ladies or gentlemen, unless to deliver a message or to ask a necessary question, and then, do it in as few words as possible.
5 - Whenever possible, items that have been dropped, such as spectacles or handkerchiefs, and other small items, should be returned to their owners on a salver.
6 - Always respond when you have received an order, and always use the proper address: “Sir”, “Ma’am”, “Miss” or “Mrs,” as the case may be.
7 - Never offer your opinion to your employer.
8 - Always “give room”: that is, if you encounter one of your betters in the house or on the stairs, you are to make yourself as invisible as possible, turning yourself toward the wall and averting your eyes.

9 - Except in reply to a salutation offered, never say “good morning” or “good night” to your employer.
10 - If you are required to walk with a lady or gentleman in order to carry packages, or for any other reason, always keep a few paces back.
11 - You are expected to be punctual to your place at mealtime
12 - You shall not receive any Relative, Visitor or Friend into the house, nor shall you introduce any person into the Servant’s Hall, without the consent of the Butler or Housekeeper.
13 -Followers are strictly forbidden. Any member of the female staff who is found to be fraternizing shall be immediately dismissed.
14 - Expect that any breakages or damages in the house shall be deducted from your wages.
Female Servants Wages
In Victorian times, live-in servants, who had all their expenses (food, lodging, clothes etc) taken care of, earned as little as £10 a year, (which is only the equivalent of £77 in today's money).
Because most mistresses preferred their personal maids to be young (and this was reflected by the lady’s maid’s salary growing smaller each year she grew older)

Here is a list of the average wages of female servants - These figures were collected by the Board of Trade in the 1890's.

Age Annual Wage
Between Maid 19 £10 - 7s
Scullery Maid 19 £13
Kitchen Maid 20 £15
Housemaid 21 - 25 £16 - 2s
Parlour Maid 25 - 30 £20 - 6s
Cook 25 - 30 £20 - 2s
Lady's Maid 30 - 36 £24 - 7s
Cook / Housekeeper 40 £35 - 6s
Housekeeper 40 £52 - 5s

In 1888 Butlers earned £45 per annum and had no expenses except clothes. They would make up their income from such perks as tradesman offering discounts to receive continued orders. Butlers would also collect the end of candles and one bottle of wine for every six opened.
The Servants Social Life
In the early 1800s, servants slept in the kitchen or in cupboards under the stairs. Later in the century, they were given the attics as bedrooms, which were cold, damp and dimly lit. Often, however, men continued to sleep downstairs to guard the plate.
After 1900, steps were made toward improving the condition of servants’ rooms, mostly in an attempt to make going into service more attractive to young girls, but employers still forbade their domestic staff from displaying in their rooms any pictures or decorations, and other personal belongings. In addition, they assumed the right to search through their servants’ belongings whenever they chose. Employers were instructed - “a servant’s bedroom should have as few articles in it as are consistent with comfort”. This meant that the limited furnishings in a servant’s room might only include a simple, small wooden bed; a wooden ladder-back chair; a simple dresser; and a basic washstand.
Like the servants' bedrooms, furnishings in the Servants’ Hall were simple and in ornate, as well, consisting only of the basics and essentials. There would have been a large central table with ladder-back chairs all around, perhaps some dressers along the walls, and light was provided by candles or oil and kerosene lamps. Although most large Victorian household utilized gas lighting, it was reserved for use “Upstairs”.
Of course there was a large open fire in the Servants’ Hall, which kept the domestic staff warm, if and when they found a moment to gather in front of it. The daily work of servants was strenuous and laborious, and the hours were long, but for many domestics, in spite of an exhausting workload, life was not always melancholy and woe. There were pleasures to be had at times, and there were moments of joy and contentment.
One of the most common and difficult obstacles for servants to overcome was the loneliness and isolation they felt. For most servants, “social life below stairs” was restricted to contact only with one or two fellow servants, or possibly extended to include a couple of delivery men who came to the house on a regular weekly basis. Despite the often boring and frequently frustrating nature of their positions, most servants took pride in their work, and provided efficient and skillful services to their employers. Still, their work was monotonous, and most often, thankless. Because of this, any type of entertainment, leisure activities, or time off was greatly appreciated by the staff.
In the earlier part of the century, servants were given no regular time off, but had to ask permission for even short periods of personal time, which of course, was typically frowned upon by their employers.

Sometimes time off was given as a reward for good work done, but could just as easily be taken away as punishment. By the 1880s, servants were given a half-day off on Sundays, starting after lunch (and only if all their chores for that morning had been completed), and they were usually given one day off each month, starting after breakfast, and again, their chores all had to be finished first.
By about 1900, an evening a week was added for many servants, but this took place more often in households with more than one servant so that they could “cover” for each other.
By the 1890s, servants also received one week’s holiday per year (in later years this increased to two weeks), and because home-sickness and loneliness were so prevalent among servants, many tried to save up all year long in order to afford the train fare home during this break. The cost of travel meant that many servants might not see their friends and families for several months or even years!
In many households there was a strict rule against servants having visitors, but in most cases, callers continued to make covert visits, especially when the master or mistress was not at home.
Indeed, when “no one was looking” there existed, especially in larger houses, a special pleasure below stairs known as “The High Life”. This was the time when servants (especially the male staff) played cards, (and sometimes even, when their bookmakers visited). This was the time when the domestic staff had pillow fights; when there was laughter; when there was music, fiddling, piano-playing, dancing and singing; when some servants got drunk; when some played practical jokes on each other, and some flirted with each other—and when some even went as far as to “cohabitate” with each other.
Although many employers felt they were all too generous by allowing their servants any leisure time at all, many were kind hearted enough to ensure some simple pleasures for their staff, such as a sunny sitting room for reading, for example, or a piano in the servants’ hall.

On their days off servants would go out for walks; visit friends and relatives; go to tea gardens or into the city to music halls. But, the ever-strict requirement that they be back on duty at 9 or 10 o’clock p.m. frequently cut their leisure time short, and because employers enforced a “no followers” rule, female employees always had to meet their boyfriends secretly.
Naturally there were cases, especially in larger households, when unions were made between female and male staff members. Should the relationship have become known, however, one or both of the employees would have been dismissed. Granted, there are documented exceptions to this rule, sometimes with the servants even gaining the approval and encouragement of their employers, but for the most part, breaking the “no followers rule” generally carried severe penalties for domestics, especially when the rule was broken with fellow employees.
A great majority of female domestic servants did get married, of course. On the average, they were about 25 years old when they married. By the time of marriage, they had, on average, been in service for some twelve years, and had been placed in between three to five situations. Once they married, however, girls who had been in domestic service found few ways in which to earn money. They could not go back to their jobs as live-in servants, because they were married, and were now expected to care for their husband and children.
Attitudes regarding domestic service began changing toward the end of the 19th century, but even by 1911, domestic service was still considered the largest employer for women and girls.
There were, of course, by far fewer servants in proportion to families in the 1900s than there had been in the 1880s.
Always referred to as “Mrs.” by the other servants, whether she was married or not, the housekeeper was second in command of the household, and was the immediate representative of her mistress. It was necessary for the housekeeper to have an understanding of accounts. She was expected to keep an account book where she accurately and precisely noted all sums paid for any and every purpose, the current expenses of the house, tradesmen’s bills, etc. These accounts were balanced and examined by the Mistress.
The housekeeper was responsible for maintaining order in the house and directing the female staff. She allocated duties and made sure that they were satisfactorily completed. In addition to overseeing the female staff, the housekeeper was also in charge of the household linens. She kept inventory, and made sure that the family and staff always had a clean supply of linens and bedding. The housekeeper was responsible for the inventory of other household necessities, such as soap and candles, sugar, flour and spices. As well, she supervised the china closet and the stillroom department, where cordials and preserves were made and stored. In addition, she was to see that all the furniture in the house was cleaned and polished, and she attended to all the necessary marketing details, and ordering goods from the tradesmen.
The Lady’s Maid was hired by and reported directly to the mistress of the house, rather than the Housekeeper. Because her position necessitated a close proximity to her mistress, the lady’s maid was often mistrusted and generally disliked by the lower servants, who possibly felt that she was haughty, or might “tattle” on them. Often, this treatment of the lady’s maid caused her to feel isolated, as if she didn’t quite fit into either world: her position allowed privileges of comfort and luxury not enjoyed by the lower servants, yet no matter how high-ranking her position was, her station remained among the “poor domestic servants”.
To qualify for the position, the lady’s maid was to be neat in appearance; have stronger verbal skills; be pleasant; be able to read and write well; be proficient with her needle and handwork; and was expected to tell the truth, without gossiping. Honesty was an absolute necessity, as the lady’s maid would be handling her mistress’ clothing, jewels and personal items.
The daily duties of the Lady’s Maid included helping her mistress dress and undress, and maintaining her mistress’ wardrobe, including laundering the most delicate items and using her dressmaking skills to create new articles of clothing for any and all occasions. In addition, the lady’s maid prepared beauty lotions for her mistress’ delicate skin, and she styled her mistress’ hair.

Although the tasks and duties of the Lady’s Maid were not as physically taxing as those of the lower servants, she was most definitely at her mistress’ bidding—all day, every day—and she maintained a certain fear of losing her place as she aged. Because most mistresses preferred their personal maids to be young (and this was reflected by the lady’s maid’s salary growing smaller each year she grew older), unless the position of “Housekeeper” became available and she could step into it, (although this method of promotion was not very popular with the other servants), the future of the middle-aged lady’s maid was indeed grim.
A professed cook would not do any general housecleaning, nor any ‘plain cooking’, and her ingredients would generally be prepared for her by the kitchen staff. In larger homes, where there was a “Professed Cook”, she was assisted by both kitchen maids and scullery-maids, whose duties included lighting the kitchen fires early in the morning, and cleaning the kitchen for Cook’s use during the day. In some households, it was the responsibility of the senior kitchen maid to cook meals for other servants, while Cook focused her attention on provisions for the household “above stairs.
The busiest times of the day for the cook were the morning and the early evening. In the morning hours, Cook would first meet with the mistress of the house for her to review and approve menus, then she would prepare soup for the following day, as soup was “not usually meant to be eaten the same day it was made”. Next, Cook would prepare the jellies, pastries, creams and entrées required for the evening meal, and then luncheon was prepared for those “above stairs”. The afternoon hours allowed Cook a little bit of down time, unless guests were staying in the house, or if a dinner party was to be held. Then, on such occasions as these, servants found no time for rest. The hours between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. were extremely hectic for Cook. Once dinner had been served, Cook’s work for the day was finished, and the remainder of the clean up and chores fell to the kitchen maids and scullery maids. These remaining chores, in and of themselves, were extremely laborious, as a full dinner for 18 people could easily produce some 500 separate items of china, glassware, kitchenware and cutlery that needed to be cleaned

The “Plain Cook”, unlike the aforementioned “professed cook”, would have general housekeeping duties to perform, many which were not related to cooking at all, especially in households where there were no kitchen or scullery maids. She might be expected to dust and sweep the dining room or parlor, light the fires, sweep the front hall and/or door-step, and even clean the grates—all in addition to maintaining the work of the kitchen. She would need to rise early, 6:00 in the summer months, and 6:30 in the winter, to light the kitchen fire, and then complete all her work upstairs before cooking breakfast. Plain Cooks were usually expected to only cook simple meals. For example, for luncheon, she might serve a joint of meat, vegetables and pudding. For dinner, she would prepare much the same meal, or she might vary it by serving fish, vegetables, potatoes and tarts.
Following dinner, the plain cook would need to clean the dishes, and scour tables and kitchen counters, and perhaps mop the kitchen floor so that it would be clean for the next morning. These were all tasks that the scullery maid would typically perform, but in a household where there was no scullery maid, these chores were left to the plain cook. She was to see to it that all these duties were completed before going to bed, and finally, it was her responsibility to see that the kitchen fires had burnt low; that the gas (in homes that had gas) in the kitchen and passages was turned off; and that the basement doors and windows were securely fastened. At last, she could retire for the night.
Under the supervision of the Housekeeper, there were several house maid positions, including parlour maids, chambermaids, laundry maids, still-room maids, “between maids”- these maids performed double-duty as both kitchen and housemaid, and maids-of-all-work. These were the employees who really maintained the house.
Each had their own set of duties and responsibilities, which included lighting fires and keeping them stoked, bringing up clean hot water for washing and bathing, and removing the dirty water after (four times a day—before breakfast, at noon, before dinner, and at bedtime); emptying and cleaning chamber pots; thoroughly cleaning all the public rooms of the house, making beds, sweeping, dusting and cleaning the bedrooms, as well as all the other rooms and areas of the house, scrubbing floors on their hands and knees, sweeping ashes, cleaning and polishing grates, candlesticks, marble floors and all the furniture, brushing carpets and beating rugs, washing loads of laundry, which needed to be soaked, blued, washed, rinsed, rinsed again, wrung out, hung to dry and then ironed.
The housemaid’s work was back-breaking and exhausting, more so than we can truly imagine.
There were lamps to clean and fill, each and every day, and because the working area was in the basement, maids frequently had to lug hot water up to the third floor of the house where the bedrooms were. In addition, in order to tend the fires in the house and keep them lit, a maid also had to carry loads of coal up each flight of stairs to all the fireplaces in the house.
Indeed, the housemaid’s day was long, intensive and painfully strenuous, beginning at 6:00 a.m. when she rose and dressed, then made tea for the Lady’s Maid and Housekeeper and served them by 6:30 a.m. on until 10:30 p.m. or later, when she could finally retire for the night with the house completely in order and ready for her to start all over again the following day.
In smaller households, they might only have afforded one servant: a “maid-of-all-work” the most common form of English domestic servant.
She was typically a very young girl, whose day began at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. and ended about 11:00 p.m.
She was expected to carry out, all on her own, the work that in larger households was completed by a full range of very busy servants, that is, the work of: the housemaids, nursemaid, parlour maid, chambermaid, cook, lady’s maid, etc.
With all the scrubbing, cleaning, cooking, caring for children sweeping, dusting, and on and on, that was required by each of those positions
Scullery maids worked in the kitchen, assisting the kitchen maids and the cook.
They were in charge of scrubbing pots and pans, and cleaning dishes and utensils after each meal of the day, as well as afternoon and evening tea.
These young girls fell at the very bottom of the ladder in both status and respect, yet they slaved away each day, while the upper servants mocked or ridiculed them and members of the household literally paid them no attention at all.
The butler wore gentlemen’s period-fashions.
He was often a distinguished figure of a man with an imposing presence, which demanded respect from his subordinates. The list of duties required by the butler varied with the position and status of his employer.
In smaller households, the butler’s work was fairly difficult. He hired and dismissed the lower staff (male), and he was personally responsible for their conduct. He was to be certain that all the work of the staff ran smoothly, and that any issues were quickly handled.
If the house contained a plate room, it was usually located near the butler’s pantry. Each night the butler would need to be sure it was securely locked. Either the butler or the footman was expected to sleep nearby, as guard. In the morning the butler passed out the pieces of plate that needed to be cleaned, and occasionally he cleaned them himself, at the same time he cleaned the household’s ornamental items of silver.

The butler was responsible for the arrangement of the dining table and the announcing of dinner. Together with the footmen, he waited at table. It was the butler’s job to carve the joint of meat, and to remove the covers from other dishes. He served wine and set out each additional course. While dessert was being enjoyed, the butler made sure that the drawing room—where the family would soon retreat for coffee or tea—was in order.
He made sure that lamps or candles were in proper working order, and that the fire was warmly glowing.
He then returned to his pantry and awaited the ring of the bell, which signalled he may return to the company.
He would then announce that the drawing room was ready. Once the family had settled into the drawing room, the butler would hand around cups and saucers, while the footman followed behind, carrying a pot of tea or coffee. The butler’s final tasks of the day were to see that all doors and windows were locked; that the plate was safely secured; and that all the fires in the house were safe.
Directly below the butler was the footman. If more than one footman was employed, they were distinguished as “First Footman”, “Second Footman”, etc., and they were typically placed in rank according to their height, size and good looks. Most footmen were over six-feet tall, and additional inches could add additional income. Often footmen were matched in size to maintain conformity in their joint appearance, and they were trained to act in unison, or in perfect harmony.
The footman’s position was indeed multifarious, and included a wide variety of duties that ranged from accompanying the mistress in her carriage as she paid calls or went shopping, to polishing the household copper and plate; or from waiting at table, to cleaning knives, cutlery, shoes and boots.
The duties of the ‘First Footman’ (who was frequently referred to as “James” or “John”, no matter what his real name might have been), would have included acting as the Lady’s personal footman. That is, among his other duties, he would have prepared her early morning or breakfast tray; cleaned her shoes; brushed any mud off her dress hems and riding habits; paid small charges of her traveling expenses such as toll gates and handsome cabs (he could reclaim these expenses from the House Steward); and if she owned a dog, he would be the one to take it for a walk. He would also accompany her when she went out in the carriage, sitting on the box with the coachman (then in later days, with the chauffeur), and would open and close for her the carriage door, as well as the door to any stores she entered, unless there was already a doorman. He waited for her return, carried any packages for her, and once he helped her back into the carriage, he covered her knees with a blanket or fur rug. When the mistress went calling and no one was at home, she waited in the carriage while the footman left her visiting card at the front door.
The ‘Second Footman’ acted as valet to the eldest son, and sometimes to the master, himself. He was responsible for laying the luncheon table; he cleaned all the mirrors in the household; he carried coal and wood, and similar tasks, unless there was a “Third Footman’, in which case jobs of heavier labour would fall to him while he gained experience in pursuit of advancement in rank.
Other general duties of the footman included trimming lamps; running all errands; carrying coal; lighting the house at dusk; cleaning silver and gold; answering the drawing room and/or parlour bells; announcing visitors; waiting at dinner; attending the gentlemen in the smoking room following dinner; and attending in the front hall as dinner guests were leaving.
Because of their public exposure at dinner and to guests, footmen were expected to be the most presentable of the male servants. In addition to there being an “ideal height” requirement for footmen, they were also assessed on their appearance in “full livery” (Uniform), which for outdoors consisted of an ornate tail coat, knee breeches, stockings, white gloves, buckled shoes and powered hair with cocked hat. For indoors their livery was sometimes a bit less formal. Instead of a tail coat and buckled shoes, they usually wore a dress coat and pumps. Later in the century it was more common to see a uniform of white tie and tails with brass buttons that were stamped with the family crest.