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Accounts of the Poor – Stories from the Overseer’s records.

The poor rarely recorded their stories in writing and oral histories frequently disappear over the years. The Overseers accounts book may seem an unlikely place to look for their experiences but are suprisingly fruitful. The language as well as the stories are theirs.


Badges for the Poor

Scouring the Swallows

Abraham Miller – Crime but no punishment

Obligal Warren and Jane Barrett -decline and fall.

Doctors and their Patients

Nicholas Burbidge – the consequences of a broken leg

Henry Vine-sudden death 

Mary Roberts-mental health 1

Henry Cox-mole catcher

Hannah Sibley -mental health 2

Rhoda Colmer – lying in

Mary Somers-seamstress

Elizabeth Frampton-illegitimacy

Alfred Barrett- a child abandoned

Badges for the Poor


Paid for badges for y[e] poore people 2s 1d


Paid for badges for y[e] poore people 2s 1d


For making ye Badges 1s

Under the Poor Act of 1697 the whole family of those in receipt of poor relief had to wear a large badge on their right shoulder. It bore the initial letter of the parish followed by a P so in the case of Evershot they would have worn a badge EP. This purchase was one of several made in the early poor records. The purpose of the act was to stigmatise the poor ; it was assumed that it would be so shameful to wear the badge that the indigent poor would prefer work to the stigma. How effective this was is not known but we can imagine that the truly indigent poor did not care much one way or the other, whilst those who became poor through no accident of their own simply became resentful. The situation was not helped by later laws that allowed the Overseers to exempt from wearing the badge  those who the Overseers deemed to be of good character.

The practice fell into disrepute and was effectively abandoned in the late 18th century before being finally abolished by Act of Parliament in 1810.

Scouring the Swallows.


Paid for old Overseer Matthew Vine for scouring y[e] the swallows 5s

For many years this entry is found in the 18th century records but not in the 19th ones. It’s precise meaning is not known but the scouring was done once a year.

Abraham Miller


Pd Mr John Pittman for Conveying of Vagabonds to the House of Correction


What constituted a vagabond? In the middle ages it simply meant a person who had no fixed home and wandered about. In time it came to mean people who maintained themselves by begging and in 1531 the Tudors attempted to distinguish between the ‘aged, poor, and impotent persons,’ who were unable to work , but were allowed to beg and those who were ‘whole and mighty in body and able to labour’  who were forbidden to beg. This latter group became classed as vagabonds and could be punished by confinement in the house of correction. In Dorset at this time it was probably at the ‘Bridewell’, a name originally applied to a hospital [ later a prison], in London. In this case they were probably confined  to a house of correction in Sherborne.

Other punishments were available for more immediate use.


Paid for Reuben Oliver for y[e] stocks



Pd a pot of colouring & labor on the stocks



April 13th paid Jos Conway a pair of stocks

paid Hugh Humber for the iron of the stocks


4s 4 ½ d


A working pair of stocks was obligatory for any manor or tything – that ancient area of land representing a tenth part of a hundred that appointed a tything man to maintain law and order in the area. There is no mention of the stocks at Evershot in the 19th century records but at Rampisham, where the Manor Court still held sway into the 1850’s, there are occasional entries rather like this pertaining to the disrepair of the stocks. Why the stocks should be paid for out of the poor rate at Evershot and by the manor in Rampisham is not known. The fact that in both parishes the stocks were frequently in a state of disrepair suggests that they were not used regularly.

Crime seems to have been rare at Evershot but 1785 was a year when emotions clearly ran high – even before the French Revolution broke out.

8th May 1785

That a watchman shall be appointed to walk and watch by night for the Security and Protection of the Inhabitants of this Town that the watchman shall give notice to the Parish Officers of any Person who shall be loitering about at any unreasonable Hour That a Watchman be allowed half a crown a week by the Overseers of the Poor and the same be allowed in their accounts – further that for every thief that the watchman detects he shall be paid one shilling and for every ### half a crown.

Unfortunately the Overseers records for this and the next few years only give the total monies paid out so we can’t be certain if anyone was appointed and whether they did catch anybody. By December 1785 the situation had got worse and despite the awkward wording in the sentence below, one can readily empathise with the villagers who took exception to the ‘alarming cries of fire and murder’.

December 1785 [day illegible]

Also it is agreed at this Vestry held in Pursuance to Public notice for that Purpose given on Sunday the illegible Instant that the following Order be made Viz;

The Profanation of the Lords Day and the frequent drunken Quarrels and fightings in this Parish as well as the Dismal and alarming Cries of Fire & Murder in the night the Consequences of the above Quarrels to the great terror of the Inhabitants call aloud for Reformation.

There appear to have been two public houses in the parish at the time. The Acorn [although it was not yet called the Acorn] was owned by the Earl of Ilchester and was then called the King’s Arms . I presume that the New Inn was the same premises that would later become the Fox. The Vestry took the unusual step of naming those who they saw as causing the problem. After the entry above the record continues,

It is therefore resolved and decided that application be made by the Overseer of the Poor to some neighbouring Magistrate that he will be pleased for the Preservation of Peace and good Order to take such methods herein as to him shall seem right Ordered also that the Overseers do immediately apply to such Magistrates for a summons for Joseph Cholsey and Abraham Miller both of this Parish to appear before those Magistrates to answer the Complaint of the Overseers for committing a Riot and fighting at the New Inn on Friday the 9th Instant in open Defiance of a Warning published in the Parish Church of Evershott [sic] on Sunday the 4th Instant against such riotous proceedings

This was a serious charge. The riot act of 1714 dealt with groups of twelve people or more gathered together and so technically the two men fighting alone could not be considered to be rioting. On the other hand “any persons unlawfully, riotously and tumultuously assembled together” might be considered to be involved in ‘riotous proceedings’ the punishment for which was death.

Miller was the younger of the two men, born in 1760 and appears to have had a fiery temprament when drunk as he was accused of fighting the following year. Cholsey should have known better; at 35 years old he had been married four years and lost a son, also Joseph, as a baby in 1782. As neither men appear in the Register of Prisoners of Dorchester Gaol it must be presumed that no more action was taken against them.

The Vestry clearly did not think that the landords of the New Inn had fulfilled their duties under the Licensing Act’s although neither man appears to he lost his license as a result of the fighting. Nevertheless the Vestry ordered,

That the said Overseers do also obtain a Summons for Richard Wood Victualler at the New Inn for suffering such Quarrelling & fighting and for James Chubb of the same Place Cordwainer to give evidence herein. It is recommended that Victuallers in the Parish not to permit Tipling in their Houses on the Lords Day not only during Divine Service but the whole day

Cholsey and Miller must have been quite a pair as the implication is that  the landlords were either unable or unwilling to break their fight up. If such circumstances were to arise again the magistrates ordered ,

And in Case either of them cannot at any Time prevent Quarrelling and Fighting that He [the victualler] will immediately apply to the Constable of this Parish for his assistance –

Today we have a national police force who have statutory powers and [more or less] the resources to enforce the law. In the 18th century none of these things obtained and like so much else in the past it had to be organised locally with the appointment [usually by the Manorial Courts] of a Constable.  The record seems to indicate that the Constable at Evershot was guilty of dereliction of his duty as he does not appear to have been keen to take up the challenge of the fight either. He was to be reminded of his duty.

And in Case the Constable shall refuse his Assistance to put a stop to such disturbances or to secure or report such offenders to such Magistrates that the Overseers shall make Complaint of such Quarrels and Disturbances and of the Victuallers or Constables Neglect or refusal to Preserve the Peace – That the Overseers or their Successors shall appear against and Prosecute such Offenders at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace to beholden in and for this County and be allowed all reasonable expenses and Charges attending such applications and Prosecutions as above That a Constables Guide of the latest Edition so be provided for the present and all succeeding Constables the same to be delivered over by the Constable going out of Office at every Court Leet for this Manor and delivered to the Constable newly sworn in at such Courts Leet that he may not plead Ignorance in the execution of his office.

Abraham Miller must have been a real problem in the village as he was to appear again in the following year,

13th June 1787

At a Vestry held the 13th day of June 1787 pursuant to public notice given on Sunday last the following order was made viz ;

That the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor do at the expense of the Parish present and prosecute in the ecclesiastical court at Blandford Abraham Miller & James Cox for getting drunk rioting quarrelling fighting and raising a great disturbance in the Parish of Evershott on Sunday the 13th of May last about the time of divine Service

The results of the prosecution are not available to us but the outcome and the punishment seems to have been anticipated in the next line.

13th June 1787

That the Stocks in this Parish be immediately repaired and a new Lock bought to put to it.

Things seemed to have settled down in the 19th century as there are only two cases noted in the Overseers reports

11th April 1820

Relieved 2 sturdy vagrants & apprehending them

Two men guarding them all night

Room fire etc




10th May 1828

Cash to a Poor Women and Child to convey her to Glostershier [sic] her Husband Been Imprisoned by Mr Trenchard


Rural crime though did not go away and Martin himself was himself a victim of crime on at least two occasions. The first, in 1845, resulted in the theft of  two tubs.

11th October 1845

Working a Little on Abbotsbury and on Farming works &c -some one stole two small Tubs from Marsh Orchard House [in which I fed my Cows with oil cake in] last night.

The second time took place ten years later when a newspaper reported,

Thursday 25th October 1855 Evershot – Turnip Stealing.- A barn belonging to John Martin Esq., was broken into a few nights since and a quantity of Swedish turnips stolen therefrom. Mr Martin has offered a reward of £1 for the discovery of the thieves. On Tuesday morning last two navvies were taken into custody having been caught stealing turnips from a field of Charles Jesty of Holywell. They were discharged with caution.

As it happened the navvies were not responsible for Martin’s  theft and the culprits , two girls from the village, were eventually apprehended,

COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS – Sarah Sartin and Jane Groves were summoned for stealing turnips, the property of Mr John Martin of Evershot. The women said that they did not go out with the intention to steal, – they only picked up the turnips up [sic] as they passed through the field.- Ordered to pay the value of the turnips and the expenses amounting to 7s each – Allowed a week.”

Obligal Warren and Jane Barrett


Pd Obligal Warren 27 weeks at 1s 3d a week

Pd for wood for Obligal Warren in her sickness

Pd for a coffin for Obligal Warren

£1 13s 9d

2s 6d


Obligal Warren’s demise was not untypical; rapid, almost certainly undiagnosed and with the state of knowledge at the time essentially untreatable; until the early 20th century medicine had little to offer. Understanding of the causes of disease was almost non- existent, diagnosis was vague and treatment ineffective. As John Broad has noted 1 before 1800 only three epidemics were sufficiently distinctive to be categorized; Bubonic plague, Smallpox and Measles. Plague with it’s swellings in the armpits and groins was easily recognisable but Creighton, writing in 1891 found most early accounts lumped them together even though they are completely different in appearance.2Even one of Dorset’s most famous medical prodigies- Dr Thomas Sydenham- was said not to have realised that small pox was infectious. Further discussion of smallpox in Evershot can be found here.

Over a century later and life was still fragile.

27th November 1819

Jane Barrett gruel etc being extremely ill


Jane had been born in 1737 and was 83yrs in the year of her death. As is usual with people born in this era, little else is known about her. It may be wondered why she was given 10d for gruel which was, for most poor people, a staple diet. The answer is almost certainly that this was a ‘medical diet’ ordered by the surgeon and would probably have contained meat in addition to the thin watery porridgy mix that constituted gruel.

14th February 1820

Reuben Groves wife 4 weeks attending on Jane Barrett


Here we see another common facet of village life. In the absence of a nursing service the villagers looked after their own. Not for free you will note, work had to be rewarded.

13th March 1820

Jane Barrett’s months attendance


11th April 1820

James Barretts wife in extreme illness


14th April 1820

James Barrett a loan to bury his wife to be repaid July 1821



Jane Barretts months washing &c


We quite frequently hear of a paupers grave and assume that their passing was unmarked and noticed. In the 18th century the parish paid for Obligal Warren’s coffin but nothing else but in the early part of the 19th century there appears to have been a change in sentiment. For just over two decades it was deemed appropriate to give the poor a good send of at public expense. Between 1819 and 1831 entries like the following are quite common.

20th April 1820

Jane Barretts funeral expenses

laying out


making ### loaf [sic] 2 lb cheese & gallon beer

bell & grave

Coffin and pall




3/11 ½d



Headstones were never included as they were expensive items but at least the dead were rememberd at the wake. The payments were generally similar, but cheaper when children died. The attitude to children in the Overseers records is interesting as they were rarely dignified with a name or remembered in any other way . Thus ‘Sarah White’s child’, was not named when she died in  March 1826 and there was no beer or cheese provided although interestingly the bell was tolled.

17th March 1826

Coffeen [sic]

Bell & Graves

for Sarah Whites Child

10s 6d

After 1831 not only are there fewer payments to the poor for funerals but the amounts do not include money for the wake. The last payment of this type occurred in January 1831. Oddly no burial record for anyone called ‘Child’ can be found at Evershot in this period.

January 18th 1831

Coffeen [sic]


Paul [sic]

Bell & Grave


to Josias Child’s Daughter






Doctors and their patients

Even though they are not medical records per se the Overseers account probably represent the vagueness of most diagnoses of the time. Most entries in the 18th century records are vague but not uncommon and usually like this one from 1706,


Gave Luce Hall in her sickness


Rather like ‘the flu’ today certain terms were used to cover almost any possibility one of which is ague.


Gave to Mary Oliver at Several times w[he]n all her children had the ague

4s 6d

Very very rarely specific diseases are mentioned although their accuracy may still be doubted.

8 January 1821

Widow White & her family Forston having been severely attacked by typhus fever £5 6s 2d

Typhus on the other hand is a specific disease but is a term that was widely used at the time for almost any feverish illness. Widow White’s husband John had died at Forston the previous August and had been allowed a guinea £1 1s to bury him. What the family were doing at Forston is not known but she was in receipt of an allowance from the Overseers even though she was out of the parish at the time. She stayed in Forston until May 1821 when she returned home to Evershot. In June she was allowed 2s to buy her son Samuel a pair of shoes and thereafter moved over to the regular payment side of the accounts being granted a meagre 4s a month maintenance.

In 1821 Forston House was owned by Francis John Browne who donated the house and grounds to the County in 1827 and it became the first County Mental Asylum.4 John Martin was involved in the plans for the new asylum a fact recorded in the 1827 diary.

17th November 1827

Waited on Mr Brown at Frampton where he gave me orders to Plan Forston House

31st December 1827

Went to Forston to take Plan of Forston House for Mr Brown but the Rain came on so much could not proceed returned Home.

The only other reference to a specific disease occurs in 1823

6 January 1823

Pd Betty Childs Blanket & Bed Mat /ill Typhoid fever

New Window in Betty Childs Chamber

11s 6d

5s 3d

A range of problems prevented people working. Charlotte Oliver was given 2s in July 1819 when she suffered “an affliction of the eyes” and in January 1821 Ruth Baggs was rendered incapable of work with “inflamed eyes”. Both were non recurring events and were probably a form of conjunctivitis. On the other hand Ruth Baggs was given an extra allowance in 1819

26th December 1819

Ruth Baggs’s months lodging 3s

Also extra being almost blind 1s

The most likely cause of incapacity was injury. In June 1820 William Squibb was awarded £1 4s for his son John’s ‘accident’ and a month later John Squibb himself got another 10s for his ‘broken leg’. In the same month “Mr White” was given 8s for “another month his knee recovering” even though there is no record of him getting anything the previous month.

References to Doctors are rare in the records. In the 80 years between between 1704 and 1804 a doctor was paid only five times. It is possible doctors were consulted at other times and in 1784 the parish began to pay a local surgeon, William Patten, an annual salary for his services.


To John Elford for going for ye surgeon 1s 6d


Doctor Sanders Curing Groves Leg £ 2 2s

for curing ### Beals daughter in ye smallpox 3s


Paid Doctor Meech for a Plaister 9d

for a Horse & man Carrying him to Beaminster & Expense 2s


Pd Doctor Meech ffor [sic] Curing Mary Coombs Legg [sic] £1 1s


Paid Dr Meech his bill for John Gillingham and his Daughter and the Widow Grace £1 6s 4d


Pd Doctor Patten as per agreement for Surgery & Medicines for the Poor one year £3 13s 6d


Paid Doctor Pattens Bill £3 13s 6d

Patten died in 1810 and John Martin was involved in the valuation and sale of his goods,

6th June 1810

Taking Inventory & valuing goods at Mr Pattens

charge £1 1s 0d

12thJune 1810

Paid John Miles for Distributing Dr Pattens Hand Bills 2s 6d

21st June 1810

Dr Pattens Sale

22nd June 1810

Do. Sale

23rd June 1810

Do. receiving &c

This was a period of time when health care was by and large ineffective and it is possible that doctors were not consulted simply because people did not think they had much to offer. We should remember that even when John Martin’s own wife was ill and died the doctor only attended twice and Martin was not short of a penny or two.

Between at least 1819 and 1822 the parish contracted with Dr Edward Henry St Quintin to provide medical care at a salary of £30 per year which fell in 1821 to £25. Although the records for 1821 note he was engaged under the same terms in 1822 there is in fact no record there after of him being paid although he resided in the village until at least 1830.

After this time they seemed to revert to occasional ad hoc payments to various people . Sometimes they even paid for people who were not at the time in the village. Thus in July 1822 they paid 9s 6d towards a doctors bill of 19s 6d for “late Bagg’s son” who was at Abbotsbury. Presumably he had been apprenticed there and the parish was sharing the load with his master.

Finally the 1830’s see the only references to the poor being referred to to hospitals. There are a surprising number of Henry Pullman’s in Dorset and this particular one cannot be reliably identified,

25th January 1831

Henry Pullman to Salisbury infirmary £1 1s 6d

26th March 1831

Henry Pullman’s expenses home from Salisbury Infirmary 10s 6d

Henry’s visit does not seem to have done him much good as he was still in need of help a year later.

26th February 1832


Paid Sarah Brett attending Henry Pullman and wife in Illness 18s

Sarah Brett 1 week attending H Pullman 2s

3rd March 1832

Wm Cox wife 1 week attending H Pullman 2s

17th March 1832

Mary Groves 2 weeks attending H Pullman 4s

The next person also to be sent to hospital also has a very common name but the most likely candidate was James Groves a thatcher living in the village born in 1793. His wife was named Mary and it may have been her that was attending Henry Pullman.

1st February 1831

Expenses of James Groves to Exeter Hospital £1 5s

Cash to James Groves at Exeter 10s

22nd February 1831

Cash sent to James Grove at Exeter Hospital to pay his expenses home 10s

The final referral was made to Bath Hospital and probably refers to Charles Childs who was born in 1797.

4th April 1831

Postage to Bath Infirmary 10d

15th April 1831

Postage from Bath Infirmary 10d

23rd April 1831

Paid Journey to Dorchester 5s

Clerks fees sining [sic] order for Charles Childs to Bath Hospital 1s

Born 1775 died 1839

27th April 1831

Expenses of Charles Childs to Bath Hospital £1 12s

Robert Way for Gig 2 days 7s

30th May 1831

Overseer and Horse Journey to Bath 2 days with Charles Childs as per vestry order £1 10s

21st June 1831

Postage to Bath 10d

24th June 1831

Postage from Bath 9d [why the penny less?]

1st August 1831

Omitted last month 4 weeks pay to Charles Childs 12s

3rd September 1831

Charles Childs 4 weeks illness 12s

2nd February 1832

Charles Childs family in illness 5s

3rd March 1832

Charles Childs family in illness 9s

17th March 1832

Charles Child pair shoes ordered 23rd January 9s 6d

It is not clear why there was this flurry of referrals in 1831 which was not seen before or repeated after this time .With the exception of the Bath hospital, which was founded from two pre-existing hospitals in 1828, they were long established institutions that could have been used in the century before. Interestingly the Bath hospital published monthly records of the patients it had treated -except of course for May 1831! All of those included in the lists were successfully treated as might be expected.

Nicholas Burbidge

Accidents could have very serious consequences. Nicholas Burbidge was 73 years old when, in May 1819 he began regular work on the road. At first he worked only a few days a month but before the year was out he was up to twenty four days a month. Compared with John Minchenton, who also worked twenty four days Burbidge got paid less – 16s compared with Minchenton who was on £1 8s.

Burbidge continued to work on the roads for the next three years with occasional spells of ill health, as in November 1823 when he was off work for a week ,but was back on the roads in December. In March 1824 he was given 9s 6d for a new pair of shoes. In June 1824 disaster struck. Perhaps unsurprisingly given that he was now 78 yr’s old he sustained a fracture for which initially at least, he was given 2s being, “1 week incapable of labour from a broken bone”. Which bone was broken is not stated but it is probable that he received medical attention from Dr St Quintin.

He made slow progress initially being allowed 10s a month for his sustenance. In November 1824 he was allowed a further 6s to pay for care that was now being provided by his [unnamed] daughter in law. Pity John Minchenton who was by now working on the roads with nobody else to help him. In the event he was never to return to work on the roads.

Who Burbidge’s daughter in law was we do not know but she put in sterling service continuing to care for him, and being paid of course, until February 1825. Thereafter he suffered a dramatic decline in fortunes. He was transferred to the regular payments side of the accounts being allowed just 2/6d maintenance with a further 1/6d for a woman to “do for” him. He appears never to have worked again. For the next four years he was paid his regular 4s a month until the last time in March 1829 . After that there is no further mention of for he died aged 83 at the end of the month. The last poor law records about him relate to a payment made [presumably] to his relatives

21st April 1829

Coffin 12s

Bell & Grave 3s

Bread & Cheese 2s

to Nicholas Burbidge 17s

Henry Vine

Death during this period was often sudden and unexpected but rarely occasioned any special interest so it is likely that the entry below relates to an accident. Henry Vine was age 57 yr’s at his death and it is likely that Mr Tucker was either the local constable or perhaps even the coroner himself.

July 19th 1825

Pd Boy going with note for Mr Tucker then at Rampisham 3d

Twelve jurymen attending an inquest held on the body of Henry Vine 8s each also by coroners request two witnesses working with deceased at the time of his death for attending 9d each 9s 6d

Constables attendance 2 s 6d

Betty Vine towards burying her husband £1

Interestingly although she received help for his burial Betty does not subsequently appear in the Overseers records possibly because her son , Henry Jnr. was able to support her being 17yr’s old at the time.

Mary Roberts

31st March 1819

Charged 5th Month 1818

Thomas Brett bell & grave Mary Roberts’s child [no amount specified]

Mary Roberts’s diet &c 18s

Mary Roberts’s girl by [ left blank] 10s

Mary Roberts buried her second child, Hariot [sic] on 29th July 1818. The child’s age is given as 0 yr’s and so Hariot may have died shortly after birth. Mary herself was already in receipt of poor relief for herself and another [unnamed] daughter. We know little about Mary other than that she was born in 1783. The record is unusual in that the amount she received, 18s, was considerably higher than other single women, almost as high as that given to a number of whole families or widows in the village. It is also unusual in that it mentions that this was for her diet and in the next entry it even mentions that she was given this for provisions. Was this because she had an eating disorder or just neglecting herself after the loss of her baby?

17th October 1819

Mary Roberts’s Provisions etc 18s

Her surviving daughter was illegitimate as indicated by the position that the payment to her is listed in the records and the fact that it is ‘Mary Roberts’s girl by’. In the records of the other illegitimate children this is usually followed by the name of the father but in Mary’s case his name is missing and she may have refused to name him, although if so she was not punished. This child’s age and name are not given. The next entry indicates that she was suffering a major mental health issue.

4th October 1819

William Cox a strait waistcoat for Mary Roberts 6s 6d

Mary must have been seriously disturbed to be restrained in what is in, other words, a strait jacket. It’s value though was limited as in December she fled the village.

7th December 1819

John Warry’s journey expenses seeking for Mary Roberts who has been absent several days, out 3 days 12s

She and her daughter continued to receive their allowances until the next entry in April 1820 at which time her condition was giving

20th April 1820

Mr Guppy to check upon Mary Roberts 1s 9 ½ d

Apart from her regular payments there are no more entries of note until the last entry in July 1821. She had in fact died on 11th April 1821 at the age of 38. It is not known to whom the money was paid.

14th April 1821

Mary Roberts’s to her decease 13s 6d

Her unnamed daughter continued to receive her allowance in May and June but as Mary’s memory faded she ceased to be referred to as ‘Mary Roberts’s daughter’. The last entry was written in July 1821 when she is referred to as ‘Late Roberts’s daughter’. However there is no amount associated with the entry and she disappears from the records entirely. Had some other tragedy struck the family? We will never know.

Henry Cox

Perhaps the most extraordinary payments made from the poor rates were made to Henry Cox,

7th April 1819

Henry Cox Lady day quarters mole catching £1 11s 6d

It is not clear where the mole catching was done or precisely how it benefited the poor but Cox was paid regularly until January 1830 when William Thorne took over and he in turn continued for another 6 years to the end of the records.

In the 4th month of John Martin’s accounts a total of £19 11s 5d was spent from the rates. Of this amount a mere 3s paid to travellers in distress might possibly have gone outside of the county whilst another £2 10s 3d was sent to Dorchester as county rates.

For money to benefit anyone it has to circulate and very often the principal beneficiaries of the poor relief were other villagers. This was a genuinely local economy, the money rarely left the village being spent on local plumbers, blacksmiths, seamstresses, unofficial nurses and many more trades. All of this supported the local economy and kept many others off the poor rates.

Henry Cox is a good example of this. For over a decade he received his regular salary for mole catching and was paid for the last time in March 1830. He appears to have survived on his own means for a few months but in December he fell, injured himself and was unable to work; he was given poor relief.  From March 1830 he began to receive 16s a month poor relief and in April his rent to his landlady Mary Groves was paid to the tune of 11s 9d, a payment to her that was to continue. This was not unusual and many people had their rents paid when they fell ill.

Throughout the period no moles had been caught and on 12th January 1831 took over his role. As the payment was three months in arrears we must assume he started around September 1830. With the appointment of a new mole catcher Henry Cox’s payments were moved from the left hand side of the accounts [occasional or extra payments] to the right hand side [those who were regular recipients], recognition of the fact that he would never work again.

It was not all bad news for Henry however. His maintenance payments increased to 18s a month and he continued to be paid until the end of the Overseers records in 1836. In fact he was to do very well as he did not die until 1851 at the grand age, for those days, of 92 yr’s.

Mole catching continued in Evershot until the end of the Overseers records in 1836. William Thorne and his [?] brother Uriah continuing in their roles throughout this time.

Hannah Sibley b 1789

What hopes did John and Jane Sibley have for their daughter Hannah when she was baptised on 14th June 1789? With universal, free education, the ability to move from place to place, a wide range of possible careers available and, perhaps above all, freed from the belief that there was a pre-ordained social order that kept people in their place, it would be a rare parent in Britain today who would not have some hopes that their child’s future would be better than their own.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries though it was very different for none of these things prevailed. We do not know what John or Jane Sibley did for a living, but her father was most likely an agricultural labourer, but with the movements of the poor restricted by the Settlement laws, with access to any form of education severely limited, and with ambitions constrained by the cultural and social milieu of the time their hopes for her must have been limited.

Hannah’s prospects cannot have been helped by the fact that her father died when she was twelve. It is not known when her mother died. There are no records about Hannah until 1823, when she was 34 yr’s old. At some stage she had moved from Evershot to Sherborne where, for a while, she lived in lodgings. How long she lived there or what she was doing in Sherborne is not known, but when she fell ill and came to the attention of the Sherborne Overseers it mattered little in any case. As an unmarried woman the place of her legal settlement was where she was born – Evershot.

Unfortunately there are no poor law records from Sherborne that cover her examination but on 6th September she was removed to Evershot as recorded in the Overseer’s records there.

6 September 1823

Hannah Sibley a Lunatic removed by an order from Sherborne to this parish – Expenses allowed for confinement support & removal £3 4 6d

Today there are nearly 55,000 diagnostic codes that can be applied to describe mental illness. In John Martin’s day one sufficed -Lunacy. A hangover from the days when it was thought that the illness was caused quite literally by the moon.

With no clear definition of what lunacy entailed it can be difficult to know from what Hannah suffered, or even whether she had a mental illness at all. There is certainly no indication from any later entry in the records that this was a long term problem.

Periodically, the Overseer’s from the village went to Dorchester with a rather curious juxtaposition of lists – Jurists and Lunatics. It is not known what was done with the lunatics list or who compiled it or on what basis it was compiled but this record from 1831 is typical.

26th September 1831

R Guppy Journey to Dorchester with Jury and Lunatic Listes 5s

Clerks fees sining [sic] do 7s

For whatever reason therefore Hannah was removed from Sherborne to be confined and supported at Evershot. The word confined might suggest an obstetric meaning but there is no evidence she was pregnant. It probably means that she was very agitated and needed to be confined in order to prevent her harming herself. She also need a lot of the basics in life.

9th September 1823

Paid Acorn Inn for Board Lodging etc for Hannah Sibley 8s 3d

Betty Childs attending on Do 4s 6d

Mrs Gilbert a Blanket for Do 4s 6d & 6 yards sheeting for 2 sheets 5s 6d

Wm Gerrard for new sacking &c to Bedstead for do 6s

Her removal must have been sudden for she had nothing with her on her return, the postman having to collect and deliver her clothes.

18 September 1823

Postman for bringing clothes from Sherborne do 6d

Nevertheless she was short of the basics which had to be made for her

19th September 1823

3yrd calico & thread for shift for do 1s 1d

3th November 1823

Sarah Vine 4 weeks board and lodging attendance on Hannah Sibley £1

6th November 1823

3 yards calico & thread for shift for Hannah Sibley 1s 1d

23rd December 1823

Mendg H Sibleys shoes 2s 6d

24th January 1824

Hannah Sibley 4 weeks board at Sarah Vines £1

What her connections with Sherborne were is not known but they must have been strong as from March 1824 she returned to Sherborne presumably with the permission of the Overseers at Sherborne based on the agreement of Evershot to continue to support her. For the next four years she continued to get 12s maintenance there and is referred to as “Hannah Sibley at Sherborne”. For two rather odd months in October and November 1828 she is referred to as “Hannah Sims at Sherborne” before reverting back to Hannah Sibley in December. There is no evidence she married and this was probably just a misunderstanding on the part of the clerk writing up the accounts.

She continued to be paid at Sherborne for a further five years but then in June 1833 she returned to Evershot and is found to be found lodging with John Groves,

12th July 1833

Hanna Sibley eating at John Groves1s 3d

13th July 1833

Carriage of Hannah Sibley’s Box from Sherborne to John Cox 6d

17th July 1833

Journey & expenses to Sherborne to seek after Hannah Sibley’s goods left at lodgings ins Sherborne 7s 5d

She continues to be paid her money until the accounts end in 1836. She is found [as Hannah Sybley] living with William Groves and his family in Evershot in the 1841 census. Although the 1861 census gives her occupation as servant this seems unlikely except in a strictly informal way. Groves was an agricultural labourer aged 28 with a wife, Mary, of the same age and two young children aged 4 and 1, it is unlikely that he could afford to employ her. Nevertheless the family and Hannah must have rubbed along together quiet well for she is to be found lodging with them in the 1851 census when her occupation is given as pauper.

Groves was a relatively young man, 28 yr’s, as was his wife Mary and stays with him for at least ten years as she is also there in the 1851 census. Her ‘occupation’ is given as ‘pauper’. By the time of the 1861 census this arrangement had finished and Hannah, now aged 72 yr’s [according to her baptismal date] is to be found in the Union Workhouse at Stoke Abbot 5. In this she is listed as a servant and her age is given wrongly. She died in the workhouse in April 1862 but was returned for burial in the churchyard at Evershot on May 14th.

Oddly the record of her burial appears on the same page as that of John Martin a year later.

Rhoda Colmer


Mrs Chubb for delivering a Soldiers wife of a Child 5s

Mary Edwards for keeping and taking care of ye woman and Child & another woman & child at ye same time 13s

Apart from the record above there are no records in the accounts of payments to doctors or midwives for women in labour and yet this can hardly have been Mrs Chubb’s first venture into the world of midwifery. On the other hand there are numerous entries about women ‘lying in’. Rhoda Colmer’s record was typical. Born in 1799 to Mary and John she was 22 yr’s old when she had her first child,

23rd January 1821

Rhoda Colmer on account of her lying in £1

For a month after child birth new born mothers were supposed to stay in bed – a process known as ‘lying in’. The rationale for this appears to have stemmed from a perfectly natural event in that after birth it is normal for women to bleed slightly – the lochia- a process which typically ends at a month to six weeks. At the end of this time they were deemed to have ‘recovered’ from child birth and their first outing was to be ‘churched’.6 As this was both a religious ceremony and social convention it would have been seen as discriminatory had the poor not been treated in the same way.

The mortality rate of children was very high; throughout the 19th century about 150 per 1000 children died under the age of 1 yr and possibly as many as a quarter to a third under the age of 5.

Rhoda’s son John Oliver was buried at Evershot on October 5th 1823,

3rd October 1823

Rhoda Colmer towards the funeral expenses of her Bastard Child 19s

Just five days later John Martin’s daughter Caroline was buried. Both children were aged three and of the twelve burials recorded at Evershot in that year two were infants, another three were under five and another two were under 12.

John Oliver was illegitimate and the records tell us who the father was and how much he had to pay for John Oliver’s upkeep.

19th February 1821

Expences [sic] in Rhoda Colmers bastardy as per Magistrates order £5 18s

Cash of Wm Davy on acct of his bastardy by R Colmer 24th August 1823 £1 12s

Jan 1824

Also of Do in full of Bastard Pay 26th October 1823 £2 10s

In 1827 at the age of 28 yr’s she married George Bridle and the couple next appear in the 1841 census living in Sydling St Nicholas. No doubt Rhoda was looking after her 73 year old father in law Thomas, but there were to be no more children. George is recorded as being an agricultural labourer and the couple are still there in 1851. The census having been taken in March 1851 Rhoda is listed but she subsequently died and was buried in June 1851.

Mary Somers

It was a great concern amongst the higher orders that the money that was given to the lower orders, by way of Poor relief, should not be used to encourage vice. In particular that it should not be dissipated on alcohol. A similar principle still applies today in that the modern child benefit is paid to the mother on the presumption that she has a greater concern for the welfare of her children than the father, who will like as not, spend it down the pub!

As a consequence of this and in order to help the local economy the poor relief was often recirculated in the community by the direct purchasing of every day items on behalf of the poor. Thus we find numerous references to payments being made to the local tradesmen. These are a few examples,


Pd For a pair of shoes for John Beall 4s

Pd For a pair shoes for Chas Combe 2s 8d


Pd John Shifts for making Mary Ollivers two Boys a Coat wast [sic] 4s

Pd a pair of Shoes for Mary Ollivers children 7s 2d

31st March 1819

Jos Jessop a pair of shoes Jon Hopkins 5s 9d

2nd May 1819

Joseph Guppy a shirt for Henry Vine jnr per vestry order 3s 2 ¾ d

17th October 1819

Betty Buck for shoes for Mary Swatridges daughter by Lake 5s

22ndJanuary 1820

Joseph Jessop a pair of Shoes Rob Hoskins Senr 10s

James Knell a pair do for Mile Swattridge 4s

13th March 1820

Mrs Guppy shirt for Jos Hobby 5s

23rd April 1820

Betty Tomkins contract to keep poor boys in shoes for a year £1

6th May 1820

Mrs Gilbert Shift ### Hoskins 2s 3d

Do Linsey ### petticoats & blanket 15s 9d

22 June 1820

Erasmus Cox in distress 2s also 6 ½ yards calico for three shifts for his children 5s

9th August 1820

Betty Tomkins to buy shirts & trousers for the Poole boys 6s

14 August 1820

Betty Back to buy Mary Swattridges girl a pair of shoes 4s also frock petticoat and shift at Mr Guppy’s 9s 5 ½ d

25th October 1820

Mr Jessop tapping Rob Hoskins shoes 2s 7d

March 25th 1822

Paid Mrs Gilbert as agreed to clothe Baggs’s girl & allow her 1s per week for 12 months from 25 March 1822 £1 6s 6d

10th December 1830

Robert Hoskins’s son smock frock 4s 9d

3rd November 1835

Pd Mrs Parfitt for bed linen blankets &c as per Bill 16s 4d

Making ditto 10d

Bedstead pd Mr Conways valuation 9s

28th January 1836

Charles Child towards ### a smock frock 3s 9d

26th February 1836

6 yards Calico for Hannah Sibley at 7 ½ d per yard 3s 9d

Making 2 shifts for Do 1s

The Pigot’s directory from 1830 is the oldest one that I have found that includes Evershot and from this we learn that Joseph Jessop was a boot and shoe maker as was James Knell, Robert Guppy was a local shopkeeper and Joseph Guppy probably his son. Betty Tomkins figures widely in the accounts and was probably another supplier of shoes and millinery. Born in 1766 she does not appear in Pigot’s. In general it may be said that all the tradespeople got a fair share of the business of the poor. Here is another example of how the money paid by the rate payers circulated within the community. Knell, Guppy, Jessop and Tom[p]kins were themselves rate payers and the money paid to them for their services was in effect a discount on the rates that they paid.

Apart from the King’s Arms and the New Inn there do not appear to have been any shops at Evershot in the 18th century and it is probable that most people were supplied by people working from their own homes which brings us to Mary Somers.

Mary Somers did not exist, at least not according to the official records. There are no baptismal, marriage or burial records for anyone of that name in or near Evershot. And yet here she is, the only evidence of her existence being the Overseers records. Before her death, which must have been in or around 1771, there are no records of her claiming poor relief which suggests that she was not a pauper. On the other hand she did not pay any poor rate’s either suggesting that she was not that rich either.

The inventory was recorded in the 18th century Overseers records and the assumption must be that she had either willed all her goods to the parish or that she died without any living relatives. Either way the proceeds of the sale came to the parish and doubtless resulted in a lower than average poor rate for the rate payers the following year. There is no evidence the poor themselves benefited.

Whilst rich in the arts of her trade, silk gowns, cloaks and the like, a broken chair, the warming pan for her bed[ without a lid], two candlesticks, rags of no value and a collection of broken pottery do not hint at a life of opulence. The inventory itself is spread over two pages which differ slightly.

An Inventory of the Goods of Mary Somers taken on the 23rd day of Nov[ember] 1771 and of Mr Wears as follows and sold by auction the 21st [day] of April 1772

Two Square Oak Tables 8s

One little square tables 6d

Two carpet chairs and one broken one 2s

One withy bottomed chair 3d

One round Withy baskett [sic] 3d

One rush do 1d

One quilting frame and stand 1s 6d

Two little pewter dishes 2s 6d

Six pewter plates 2s

One large brass kettle 8s

One little brass kettle 9d

One little brass boiler 3s 6d

One brass Candlestick & snuffers 6d

One pair of iron firedogs 8s

One coal shovel 6d

One fire shovel 100d

Two pair of tongs 1s

One gridiron 3d

One tea kettle 3s 6d

One frying pan 4s

One warming pan with the cover broke off 2s

One iron frame [no value ascribed]

One ironing box with two heaters 1s

Three little iron crooks 1d

One iron candlestick 3d

One tin saucepan 1 ½ d

One pair of bellows 1s

One pail 10d

One malet [sic] 2d

One lock and Key 1s 6d

One oak nest [sic] of Drawers 1s

One mouse trap 1d

One little barrel 6d

Three little supply boxes 1s

Two hoops and rush basket 6d

Two little pictures 1 ½ d

Two white stone plates 2d

Twelve earthen pots and pans 1s 6d

One quart bottle and two pints do 3d

In a Trunk

One blue Sattin [sic] Gown 5s

One yellow silk do 7s

One striped red and white Silk do 15s 1d

One brown Sattin do 10s 6d

Two white do 10s

One black do 6s

One pink coloured Silk petty coat 12s 6d

One white Silk Cloke [sic] 1s

One black do 3s

The second page is better preserved and gives an indication not only of the value [left]but also the amount raised at the eventual sale [right]

Three stockinges went with the gowns 1s 6d

One pin cushion 3d / 4 ½ d

Some pieces of silk went with the gowns 2s

Five white aprons 7s 6d / 7s 5d

Four white handkerchiefs 6s / 7s 11d

Four pairs of Ruffles 8s 5s / 10 ½ d

Seven caps 6s / 7s 4 ½ d

Twelve napkins 8s / 9s

In an Oaken Box

One brown Silk gown 10s 6d /10s 9d

One black Silk Cloke 6s /6s

Two White hats 2s / 2s 2d

One bolster Cloth & Pillow case / 10d

Eight Books 5s / 8s 10d

In a Bundle ty’d up

One Crimson Gown 4s /4s

One stuff do 2s / 2s ¼ d

Five Petty Coats 2s 6d / 4s 2d

One Apron / 1s 1 ½ d

Three Shifts / 1s 9d

In two Deal Boxes

Some earthenware such as teapots, cups Saucers & Glass’s [sic] mostly broke 2s /1s 3d

In another deal box some rags of no value 2s 6d / 1s 6d

Two bags with rags of no value / 2s 1d

One sheet 5s /6s

Lumber in the Oaken Box 3s / 3s

The Oak box 2s 6d / 2s 6d

26 Caps 1s 6d /3s 6d

11 pair of Shift Sleeves & hoop claws 1s / 1s

1 Apron and 3 handkerchiefs 2s 6d / 1s

One sheet & Stuff lining 1s / 1s

A Bag & Rags 6s / 1s

Pictures Old Iron box & rags 1s /1s

At J Millers

2 shifts 2 handkerchiefs 3 petty Coats 2 sheets & 1 blanket in all 7s 6d / 8s

At Mary Edwards

1 bed & bolster £2 8s / £2 8s

1 Bedsted Sacking rods & curtains 15s / 15s

1 Sheet 1 blanket & bolster cloth 2s / 2s

5 shifts & old Trunk 3s 1s 1d

A Gold ring 1 silver do and ear rings £1 / 11s

Buckles & Shirt studs 1s / 9 ½ d

Six Silver tea Spoons & tongs 10s / 9s

Two Napkins 1s 4d / 1s 6d

Two pair of Stockings 1s / 9d

Two Books 1s 6d / 1s 6d

One Apron & 1 handkerchief 2s / 1s 2 ½ d

Two Quills / 11s

An old black Gown two pairs of Stays / 2s ½ d

One red Cloke one Bonnet 4 pair of Gloves 2s 4d

Two coloured handkerchiefs & 1 check apron 1s

Necklaces & other things 2s 1d

Total as valued £15 17s 4d

Total as sold £17 15s 7d

Brot. Forward the sum for which the same Mary Somers’s Goods was sold for by Auction £17 15s 7d 7 was sold for by Auction

To Robt Olliver for crying, Appraising and attending as auctioneer the day of Sale 13s 6d

To Expenses paid by by T Maidment for Liquor 2s

To T Maidment for 2 days trouble in taking Inventory, making 2 Copies of the Goods w[hen]n sold and receiving the money 10s 6d

£1 6s 0d

bal[ance] £16 9s 7d

14th July 1772

This is a true account of what was made of the late Mrs Mary Somers Goods and the clear Sum of £16 9s 7d this day paid to Wm Joy one of the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Evershot as Witnesseth my hand

Thomas Maidment”


Elizabeth Frampton

Considerable time and energy was used in trying to trace the fathers of illegitimate children and the next few accounts show how much effort went in to the process.

Frampton is a common name throughout Dorset and in Evershot itself. Unfortunately so too was the Christian name ‘Elizabeth’. As a result which Elizabeth Frampton was involved is not known. John Martin’s year as Overseer started off trying to sort out who the father of her child was. In April he went to Dorchester with her for her to be examined before the magistrates. Unfortunately there are no ‘Bastardy’ records from Evershot to have survived but the details of what was involved are to be found here.

21st April 1821

Fees examining Elizabeth Frampton on bastardy & summons 2s

Horse hire & expenses attendg with her 7s 6d

We may assume that Elizabeth named him and immediately a summons was issued for his apprehension. As with Elizabeth there is no shortage of ‘Henry Cornicks’ who could fit the bill. As the constable at Toller is mentioned this could be Henry Cornick of Hooke who was a 41 year old carpenter. Either way he was soon caught.

28th April

Henry Cornick having been apprehended in Framptons bastardy horse hire & expenses to Dorchester 7s 6d

Constable at Toller’s expenses etc as per magistrates allowance 14s

At some time in July the baby was born but as there are no baptismal records we cannot say when. Unusually she was only paid for two weeks lying in and indeed thereafter there is no record that Elizabeth received any further poor relief.

11 July 1821

Betty Frampton 1 week lying in 5s

17July 1821

Betty Frampton 2nd week lying in 5s

In August Martin went twice more to Dorchester to get a payment order from Cornick but was unsuccessful on the first occasion. Oddly the second occasion was only recorded in his diary and it is possible that Cornick had absconded as another warrant was issued.

4thAugust 1821

Horse hire & expenses to Dorchester to get order in Betty Framptons bastardy but Cornick craving time Magistrates gave him more 7s 6d

18th August 1821

Diary entry

Went to Dorchester upon Framptons Bastardy J Pettys Acct

Paid for Warrant on Framptons Bastardy 3s

In the event it was all to no avail for the next entry in the Overseers records reads.

3rd December 1821

Shroud Elizabeth Framptons child 2s 1d

No burial record can be found however.

Alfred Barrett

Alfred’s father James Barrett [ who we will designate senior] was born in Somerton in 1769. When he was 23 yr’s old he married a Somerset girl, Tryphenia Champ on the 30th September 1792. At some stage he moved to Evershot and in 1820 we find him and his family living in Evershot.

29th January 1820

Mr Jennings a year rent due to Christmas last for house and garden occupied by Jas Barrett & family £3

In 1820 their family included John [26], Elizabeth [24], Sarah [14] and Alfred [7] although it is likely that only Sarah and Alfred were living with them in Evershot. Sadly, in April 1820 Tryphenia fell seriously ill and in due course died.

11th April 1820

James Barretts wife in extreme illness 10d

14th April 1820

James Barrett a loan to bury his wife to be repaid July 1821 15s

She was buried on the 17th April 1820.

At this point the a number of inexplicable events occur all of which are documented in the official records. The first is that over two years after her death , a baby, James Champ, was baptised on the 26th July 1822,in Evershot. The mother is recorded as being Tryphenia Champ and in brackets after the entry is [illegit] i.e. illegitimate. Young James was not to survive and in theory he could have been Tryphenia’s child but when he died and was buried on the 1st December 1822 his age was not recorded as being two yr’s but as 0 yr i.e. an infant. Furthermore a new character who we will refer to as James Barrett Jnr. appears in the Overseers records in 1822 who appears from nowhere and will eventually disappear to nowhere.

The next entry in the Overseers accounts comes from January 1821,

15th January 1821

Alfred [son of Jas] Barrett his father having absconded leaving him destitute 4 wks 4s

Why James absconded can only be conjectural but, at the age of 8, Alfred found himself abandoned and in February 1821 went to live with William Tucker in Wells. Tucker was James’s brother in law having married James’s sister Elizabeth two years previously. What happened to James Jnr. and to Sarah is not known. No money was paid by the Overseers for their upkeep.

2nd February 1821

Alfred [Son of Jas] Barrett his father having absconded 3s 6d

Also to his brother in law Wm Tucker of Wells Mason to maintain him to March 25th next 9s

14 April 1821

A fortnights relief to Alfred Barrett residing with Tucker Wells 3s

For a short while Alfred was then looked after by his brother John for a while.

12th May 1821

Alfred Barrett to his brother John 1 month to this day to buy him 2 shirts 6s

How long he stayed with John is uncertain as although regular payments were made in July and August they do not specify where he was staying. In August though we have evidence that Alfred was back in Evershot in August of 1821.

13th August 1821

Molly Groves months allowance to Alfred Barrett 6s

14th September 1821

Molly Groves last months allowance to A Barrett 6s

There is reference to two letters being written to James Barrett in October but there are no details as to what it is about. What is surprising is that since they knew where he was they appeared to make no efforts to have him apprehended. Meanwhile Alfred needed a new jacket which was provided by one of the village tailors.

1st October 1821

James Barrett letter to M Newton twice 4s

15th October 1821

William Cox jacket for Alfred Barrett

During this time Alfred was lodging with Samuel Groves who was in receipt of the 6s but in November he disappears from the records until April 1822 when he suddenly reappears. At the same time in November a new character appears in the regular payments side of the accounts which is James Barrett.

3rd November 1821

James [son of James Barrett] do 4s [lodging]

Clearly this was the son of James Snr. [the accounts tell us he was] but there is no record of him to be found elsewhere. In April 1822 Alfred reappears in the accounts and for the next two years nothing much changes the payments being made regularly throughout this period. In May 1824, when Alfred was now 11 yr’s old, his payments were reduced to 4s and although Alfred and James Jnr. were brothers they were not lodged together.

2nd April 1822

Alfred Barrett lodging at Samuel Groves 6s

James Barrett lodging at Mr Tompkins 3s

Meanwhile in January 1824 James Barrett Snr. Wrote to the Overseers ; I suspect they were not impressed.

15th January 1824

Letter [dated 12 January at Ilchester] from James Barrett demanding household goods etc

The letter seems to have stimulated the Overseers into some kind of action for in February they approached the Justices to obtain a warrant for his detention.

7th February 1824

Warrant for imprisonment of Jas Barrett 3s

Meanwhile James continued to communicate with the Overseers about his goods

14th May 1824

Postage of a letter from James Barrett at Ilchester respecting his household goods 2d

3rd June 1824

Postage of a letter from James Barrett 6d

In the meantime James Jnr. appears to have absconded himself for a short while,

27th November 1824

James Barrett left Mr Tompkins lodgings

Finally in February 1825 James Barrett Snr. Was apprehended although nothing seems to have come from this for there is no record of him ever having contributed to the maintenance of his children.

10th February 1825

Expenses allowed Mr Gibbes for apprehending James Barrett 2 Feb last £1 1 10 ½

Meanwhile James Jnr. was back again in Evershot and costing the rate payers a fair bit.

19th February 1825

Mr Knell pr Shoes for James Barrett 8s 6d

22nd February 1825

Two Shirts for James Barrett 5s 6d

In March he fell,

17th March 1825

James Barrett in illness 1s

21st March 1825

Ruth Cox for James Barrett in extreme illness 2s

29th March 1825

James Barrett in extreme illness 3s

3rd April 1825

James Barrett in illness 2/6

Ruth Cox for attendance on do in illness 5s

25th April 1825

5 weeks & 4 days lodgings for James Barrett at Jos Cox’s

In June 1825 Sarah Barrett was returned to Evershot,

June 16 1825

Sarah Barrett removed by order from Bristol to this parish in distress 3s

Once again it is not clear what happened to her for there are no more records in the accounts about her. Meanwhile Alfred’s fortunes were looking up. In April 1825 he had moved from Samuel Groves’s house to that of John Groves and in October he was apprenticed to him.

7th October 1825

John Groves Mason for the Apprenticeship of Alfred Barrett for 7 years £2 12s

Thereafter we hear no more of Alfred in the Overseer’s accounts, John Groves having assumed responsibility for his maintenance. Although there is no official record of his death [any more than his birth] it seems that James Jnr. died in early 1826.

Income 27th March


Cash of John Tompkins wife for Bedstead Bed Quilt & piece of old blanket late the property of Jas Barrett sold £1 7s

James Barrett Snr. however was still going and still writing letters although this is the last we hear from him. He was to die in Somerton in 1836 aged 67 yr’s.

30th October 1826

Letter from James Barrett 6d

And what of Alfred himself? For once this story has a reasonably happy ending. At some time he moved to Cattistock in Dorset and in 1834 married Mary Ann Frampton at Frome St Quintin. Together they had nine children, he worked as a mason, being involved with the restoration of the church at Rampisham whilst Mary Ann appears to have been boot and shoe maker. In April 1883 Mary Ann died and in September 1883 Alfred, by now about 70 yr’s, had remarried. His new wife , Charlotte Biles, died two years later and Alfred appears to have abandoned thoughts of marriage. He died in 1894.8

1 Broad J Our Pestilential past, Rural History Today published by British Agricultural History Review Feb 2021

2 Creighton C Epidemics in Britain 1891

3 Lives of British Physicians William MacMichael 1830

4 Until this time mental health services were provided by a private asylum at Halstock.

5 The Beaminster Union workhouse was built a mile out of the town at Stoke Water but the parish was Stoke Abbot!

6 This service is still included in the Book of Common Prayer but is not reproduced here as even this is copyrighted- though not seemingly by the Almighty.

7 £1,551.33 in 2017 value.

8 Additional information about the family comes from the Barrett family tree on Ancestry.

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