THE HISTORY OF AN ESSEX VILLAGE
SHEILA V. ROWLEY
Chapter one…….The poor……………….Page 1
Chapter two…….Education……………...Page 25
Chapter three…..The Victorian Village…
And afterwards……….Page 41
In the concluding volume of my history of the village of Little Baddow, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to the staff of the Essex Record Office who made available to me all the hundreds of documents of all kinds which have gone to the making of this history. Especially I would mention Mr. R. Bond, who has been consistently helpful. I also acknowledge with thanks the permission of the County Archivist to reproduce the extracts from documents, the drawing of the memorial hall, and the photographs of the Rev. Ady, Rev. Tayler and Mr. And Mrs. Lindsell.
My debt to many villagers, for this volume in particular, is very great. Most of the photographs reproduced have been donated to the Parish Chest by public-spirited inhabitants (following in the tradition set by their predecessors). So many of these inhabitants have been so kind and patient with my questions about the village in their young days that I have a mass of material, which would make a complete book in itself, all safely lodged in the Parish Chest. It may be invidious to mention names, but one I must – Mr. Roy Warsop, to whom I owe so much.
Mrs. Janet Shave, daughter of Mr. H. Stracy, lent and allowed me to use the photograph of her father’s bus and the one of Miss Langford. The photograph of the school children of the 1890s is a copy from the original lent me some years ago by Mrs. Norah Taylor.
For reasons of space, I have omitted maps in this volume, but they may be found in Parts one and two.
copyright. Sheila V. Rowley, Little Baddow. 1979.
Poverty was less of a problem to mediaeval villagers than it became to later generations, but nevertheless, following the Black Death, increasing vagrancy forced the government to take action to maintain law and order. Regulations were made to try to stop able-bodied beggars from wandering about the country and to induce them to seek work, while at the same time it was recognised that the impotent poor had a right to assistance from their own parish. Perhaps Johanna, a pauper living in Little Baddow in 1381, was an aged widow being cared for in the parish in which she had spent her life. The Church recognised an obligation to care for the orphans, disabled and aged, allocating to the poor some of the fines imposed by the ecclesiastical courts and also part of the tithe. Almsgiving was regarded as a Christian duty, sometimes taking the form of bequests in wills, as is shown by some of the earliest local wills. Roger Hammond, for instance, in 15 12 provided money for “poore marieges” and Thomas Grome in 1538 money to be distributed “amonges the pore people”. Joan Radley (1518) instructed that if all her children should “fayle” then her property should be sold and “dysposyd in dedys of charyte wher most nedde ys”, and in any case the residue of her late husband’s and her own apparel was to be given to poor people by her executors. Such bequests are exceddingly rare after the 1530s.
A number of Statutes from 1531 aimed at the punishment of the many vagrants and “sturdy beggars” and the relief of the increasing multitude of impotent poor. Rural parishes were to elect two Collectors who were to “gentellie aske” of every man what he would give as a contribution after church every Sunday for the relief of the parish poor. Poor boxes were put into churches for donations. By 1572 it had become necessary to substitute for voluntary weekly collections a compulsory tax upon every householder except the indigent. An Act of 1589, aiming at the prevention of poverty, decreed that only one family might live in any house and that every cottage built must have four acres of land. Anticipating this Act, Bassetts manor court in 1572 ordered William Byrd to expel and remove from his house the stranger, William Shall, while Tofts manor court in 1573 passed a by-law against “inmates”, with a fine of 3s.4d. for anyone disregarding it. The parish was prepared to support its own poor, but not those from other places. The vicar, though, sometimes had to enter in the Register that he had baptised the child “of a poore woman that came by the waie” or buried “a poore man” whose name he did not know.
Quarter Sessions dealt with a few Little Baddow cases of poverty in Elizabethan times. Richard Hammond als. Tyler was bound over to pay for the maintenance of his son (presumable illegitimate) so that “for want of sustenance and other necessary provision for him he perish not”. In 1592 Agnes Hopkynes told the magistrates that since the death of her husband Little Baddow would not allow her to remain there because of her “charge of children” and she asked the Court that she might have an abiding place appointed for her, when she would labour for her living and not be burdensome to any place. Quarter Sessions decided to ask for contributions, from all the parishes where she had lived and her children had been born, with which to provide for her. Meanwhile Little Baddow was to allow her to remain in the village. Little Baddow also found itself having to maintain the many small children of John Harrys, the tanner who by his unthriftiness had become very poor and “nothing worth”. The justices managed a solution to his complicated financial affairs.
A few incidents only show the working of the Act in Little Baddow in the first century of its operation. In 1657 Quarter Sessions received a petition from the inhabitants of the village stating that Mary Wood had been delivered of two base children who were chargeable to the parish. The suspected father, George Charles, some weeks since had departed, deserting his wife and lawful children. The wife had died and the churchwardens and overseers had thereupon seized his goods, house and lands, fearing that these children also would become chargeable. They were to authorised to retain the property for the maintenance of the lawful children until their father returned, upon which two justices were to examine him regarding the base children and “make such order as the law requires”. Among other cases reaching the courts, Nathaniel Sach in 1697 had disobeyed an order made by two justices to maintain a male bastard child by him begotten on Mary Tanner, while in 1702 Mary Beadle told the justices that she was with child and the child was likely to be born a bastard, chargeable to Little Baddow, and that the father was Edward Toby, miller, late of the parish. A few poor children were apprenticed, with the consent of two justices, the church wardens and the overseers, among them Phillip Somes to the miller at Huskards mill, John Wells to a yeoman and Nicholas Harris to a blacksmith, all until they were twenty-four years of age. The parishioners of Chatley hamlet in 1635 were annoyed because a poor child from Little Baddow had become a servant there – and so likely to become chargeable to them.
Parliament was becoming ever more concerned about both the “great and horrible abuses of idle and vagrant persons” and the “extream and miserable estate of the Godly and honest sort of the poor subjects of this realm”. After much discussion an Act was passed in 1597 and re-enacted with slight alterations in 1601, which was to form the basis of the administration of poor relief until the twentieth century. Under this Act every parish was to appoint two “overseers of the Poor” who, with the Churchwardens and under the supervision of the local Justices of the Peace, were to collect the Poor Rate and be responsible for looking after the impotent poor, the punishment of vagrants and the setting to work of the able-bodied.
This paucity of records fortunately ends in the next century, for a complete set of account books, kept by the Little Baddow Overseers of the Poor, survives for the years between 1722 and 1834. In the latter year the Poor Law Amendment Act took the care of the poor out of the hands of individual parishes. The vestry minute books survive from 1759 until 1835 and supplement the account books.
They were appointed from the wealthier families like the Taylors of the Hall, the Pledgers, the Johnsons of the Mill, the Harts of Hammonds, the Hodges of the Papermill, the Sorrells of Tofts. Of the few women appointed, some served, like Ann Lord in 1730, Sarah Pledger in 1767 and Catherine Stoneham in the 1780s and 1790s, but Widow Stokes in 1733 and Mrs. Swan in 1754 had the duties carried out by a man. When apparently trying to enlarge the circle of those who could be called upon to act, the vestry meeting appointed some poorer men, such as Thomas Saward (carpenter) in 1777, Ralph Stone (small farmer) in 17798, Henry Fool (small farmer) and James Jordan (innkeeper) in 1779, they allowed them to collect a sixpenny rate in advance of taking office and then the remainder was collected as usual. After this experiment the vestry reverted to appointing substantial householders, each of whom could expect to serve several times during his lifetime. The only recorded instance of a man refusing to serve was in 1761 when John Foster, maltseller and grocer, was fined 6d. by Quarter Sessions. Isaac Pledger, at that time churchwarden performed the duty for him, and in fact for the next two overseers as well. On several other occasions someone deputized for the elected overseer, presumably by mutual agreement. Most of them found writing and spelling extremely difficult; someone sarcastically wrote beneath a particularly bad example “ a first rate writer and speller”. One or two were illiterate, such as Robert Cobbs who in October 1732 “pd. John Belcher for keeping my Accots”, and James Chipperfield and George Taylor who put their marks instead of signatures to their accounts. Even as late as 1823 John Raven, farmer of Whitwells, was illiterate. Some accounts were written in several different hands – it is useless to speculate whose.
These books show that every Easter saw the outgoing overseer balancing his accounts, submitting them to the vestry meeting and asking them to grant the imposition of a rate to meet the expenditure he had incurred. The meeting also agreed on four names from whom the next two overseers should be chosen, to serve for six months each. The overseer then took his account book to two local justices for them to confirm both the accounts and the rate and to appoint the new overseers. Having done this, the outgoing overseer (as a note scribbled at the front of the second account book, commencing in 1748, adjured him) had to “Take care that notice be given in the parish Church on the Sunday next after every overseers rate is allowed him by two Justices otherwise his rate is null and void”. He could then go round the parish collecting the assessments from the inhabitants who were liable to pay. Meanwhile his successor was starting his period of office from Easter to Michaelmas and would collect his rate at the end of his term.
Like all parish officers, overseers were unpaid, but they were allowed to charge some of their expenses to the Poor Rate. There were fees to pay when they took their accounts to the local justices, such as 2s. “for Confearming the Book”, 1s. “for making the Rate”, or 4s. “for sining the Book and Rate and Instrurckschonis”. Expenses were incurred at Chelmsford Quarter Sessions or “at Danbury at the Seshons” (petty sessions). They had to travel some distance on occasion, such as when one overseer went to Ingatestone to pay in the “County Money”. They regularly went to pay “the Bridge money and Quarterage” (County Rate) at Chelmsford. One overseer spent 3s. “when I paid the Bills”. Another charged 2s. 6d. “for my horse 5 times to Chelmsford” and another “for a journey and expenses to Perlly” and three other journeys, but many journeys must have been made without claim. Most of their work, however, was done within the parish, entirely without charge, and the onerous nature of the day-to-day administration must have resulted in a man’s own farm or business being continually neglected during his term of office.
In the 1720s the annual expenditure on the poor was about £60 and the rate usually well under 1s. in the £ each half year, but from the 1740s and especially from the 1760s this steadily rose until in 1800 the rate reached 4s. 6d. for the half year, after which there were usually two or three rates imposed in the course of every six months. During the Napoleonic Wars, with a great deal of unemployment and poverty throughout the country, the parish was spending ever-increasing amounts on its poor until for the year 1815/6 it spent over £800. The total remained at around this figure until 1834. The population rose from perhaps 250 to 300 in 1720 to 350 in 1780, and from 456 in 1801 to 548 in 1831. In 1748 there were fifty-five occupiers who were liable to pay the Poor Rate and the figure remained about the same, although the number too poor to be rated increased to nearly half the total occupiers by the 1820s. In 1801 the vestry agreed “that the whole Parish of Little Baddow should come under a fair and just valuation by two impartial men as soon as convenient can be”, but it seems to have made little difference. The records do not state how willingly or unwillingly the parishioners paid the Poor Rate, but several men were taken to Petty Sessions after 1800 for not paying, and no doubt they were not the first defaulters.
The overseer’ accounts were divided between the “weekly collection” and the “extraordinaries”. During the period covered by the first account book (1722 to 1748) there were six to eight people at any one time who received the “weekly collection”, which was a fixed weekly pension. They were widows, old men or orphans, but there were others who were sick and temporarily in need. The “extraordinaries” included all other payments made to or on behalf of the poor and on the administration of the Poor Law.
Perhaps one of the most pathetic dependents was “the lame woman” who first appeared in the accounts in 1729 and who remained on the weekly collection at 2s. a week for twenty-seven years, never given a name, until in 1756 she was removed from the village. Sometimes these people were housed in the Poor House, but more often they were left in their own homes and their rent paid for them, or they were lodged at parish expense in the home of another poor person – often someone who needed the small board and lodging allowance to save them from having themselves to ask for poor relief. One of these people always balanced precariously on the verge of penury was John Miller. He and his wife fostered orphan children and his wife often nursed the sick and poor. On 20th April 1731 the overseer wrote in his account book “Memorandum that part of the House by the Church is let to John Meller at £1 5s. per annum to enter upon it at Michaelmas next and he to make up the fence at his own charge”. He was sometimes given malt and hops as well as firewood and clothes and once 2s. “in the snow”. Finally he was put on the weekly collection, remaining in his own home. He died in 1740 and his widow soon after. His son of the same name was in no better state. Several of the poor were sick in August 1749, among them John Miller and his wife, for whom Doctor Green prescribed “A bottle of stuff”. When his wife died her funeral was paid for by the parish, as was his own in 1764. After his death the overseer paid 2s. “for feching John Milers goods down to the Vestery”, where either they were stored until some other poor persons were in need or whatever was there of they were sold at once. On the same day the overseer paid 6d. to Abraham Cass, church clerk, “for Crien Robert Mooteney goods”; Robert Mortimer had left three-year-old twin boys, cared for by the parish for nine years.
People in receipt of a regular allowance were required to wear a badge on the shoulder, probably a large “BP” for “Baddow Parish”. Such people were forbidden to beg in the streets but could visit houses to ask for scraps of food.
Among those on the weekly collection when the accounts begin in 1722 was John Pool, receiving 1s. a week for a short period. He became ill in 1729 and the overseer had to come to his assistance again. His last days are well documented in the accounts. On 16th July Michael Pitman, the overseer, paid 4s. for cloth and the making of a shirt and 8 and a half d. for “Bread Beer and Shugar” for him. On 23rd July “a man and horse to go to John Pools mother” cost 2s. Dr. Dunkley’s fee was 14s. Dame Barker was paid 5s. for looking after the sick man, 1s. for “several things” and provided with “Bread and Cheese and Bear” costing 3s. 2d. Dame Hockley helped to look after him and received 3s. for it, together with 6d. for earthenware for him. “Hollingham wife” was paid 2s. for nursing him. A blanket was provided for 3s. 6d.,’ meat cost 1s. 6d. and beans and milk 8d. Dame Ellis for sitting up with him received 1s., and the “Candles for watching with John Pool” were 2d. On 5th August however Mr. Pitman entered in the book “for John Pools Corpse to the Grave” 2s. 6d. and to Mr. Ortons man for “putting John Pools into his coffin” 1s. Hockley received 1s. for making the affidavit that he was buried in a woollen shroud; this was in accordance with an Act of Charles 11’s reign designed to protect the wool trade. Abraham Cass, church clerk, was paid the usual fee of 3s. 4d for digging the grave.
Meanwhile Samuel Dore (as was so often the case, no overseer was sure how to spell his name and it is unlikely that he knew himself), an old man, was receiving 2s. a week from about 1723. He also received “extraordinaries”, like clothes and supplies of wood, brush and broom for his fire. In 1733 Goody Miller was paid 1s. “for looking after old Dor when sick”. Two years later 2 and a quarter yards of cloth and 1 and a quarter yerds of lining were bought for 8s. 6d. and then 2s. 6d. “payd for Samuel Dores wascoat making”. At the end of the following year he fell ill again and Dame Miller was given 5s every four weeks for nursing and doing washing for the old man. Two sheets, two shirts and a load of wood were provided for him, and John Josling supplied “milke and other things” at a cost of £1. 3. 0. “Naighbor Chiterfeld” let him have three shillings’ worth of wood. He died in April 1737 and the overseer entered into the account book-
Samuel Doars goods………………………….….s. d.
Sold to Mr Josling 2 old kettles and a hutch….…10.0.
To Mr Taylor 3 old tobbs…………………………3.0.
To Abram Cass an old friing pann………………..1.0.
To dame Miller a cask…………………………. 6.
To an old trunk…………………………………… 6.
One of the earliest funerals in the account books was that of “old Stockdale” who died in June 1732. The overseer paid for a “Burieing sute”, for “Laying him forth”, “for Beer at his Burieing”, for the “Affiedavit and the fetching”. For the coffin and the church clerk’s fees – in all about £1. Another John Stockdale received the weekly collection from 1749 until his death in 1770; it was not unusual for pauperism thus to descend from generation to generation in a family.
Widow Wood, who was receiving the weekly dole from at least 1722, seems to have been taken ill when she was away from home for Edward Hollingham was paid 3s. “for fetching Dame Wood”. Cord was bought for her bed and a sack given her, probably to lay over the cord. She was given physick, white wine and sugar and she recovered. Widow Dawson, also on the weekly collection in 1722, was granted regular supplies of fuel, such as on 1st January 1730 “halfe a stack of wood and halfe a hundred of brush”. In February £3.3.0. was paid to “Rust and Surgen for luking after Eliz. Dawcons Ledg”. Her leg continued to give her trouble but she lived on until March 1753.
The overseers in office during the early years of the account books had to provide for four orphan children. In 1729 one of the Chambers children was lodged with Mrs. Bruster and the other with Mrs. Swithen, but soon one of them disappeared from the accounts – perhaps sent off to work. On 20th April 1731 the Vestry agreed that Ann Jefferys (for whom they had been responsible for at least two years) should continue to board with Mrs. Ellis, Mary Richards (who was at Mrs. Brusters’s in 1729) should be kept at the Widow Richardson’s and Ann Chambers at Joseph Sweeting’s all at 1s.6d. a week. Joseph Brown’s wife was paid “for curing a sore leg of Mary Richards”. On 8th November 1739 the overseer “Let Mary Richards to Nat. Chetcher for a yeare”, doubtless as a general servant, and he fitted her out with “Apron and hatt” and “Hankitcher and under coat”. The following March Mary Richards and Ann Chambers were ill and were given medicine, Ann having “three purges and gallepot of stuffe”. No more is heard of Ann Chambers but Mary remained in the care of the parish. One year the overseer “paid Amb. Johnson for nursing of Mary Richards in smallpox”. She had further trouble with her leg in 1746 when Isaac Pledger, overseer, paid 2s6d. “for purges and bleeding Mary Richards severall times when lame” and 15s. to “Mrs. Sturgeon for looking after Mary Richards leg”. From 1751 she was often sick and in want and given small sums and clothes by the overseer. Perhaps it was she who was ment by “hoping Mary” who had a shift and apron bought for her in 1757. When old Wright died she was paid 6d. for sitting up with him. By this time (1767) she was receiving parish relief at 1s. a week, later raised to 1s.6d. besides extraordinaries. In March 1777 Dame Malt and Same Hales were paid 2s.6d. for “layen out Mary Richards” and Thomas Saward supplied her coffin for 9d.
One cannot feel that her life had been a happy one.
Overseers were sometimes involved in disputes at Quarter Sessions between Little Baddow and other parishes as to which parish was responsible for certain of the poor. In 1729 there was a disagreement with Orsett about Ann Dale after the overseer had entered in his book “Charges with Ann Dale going to Oset” 6s9d; “A horse to carrey Ann Dale” 2s 6d. and also “gave shoyer to loocking after Ann Deale” 7s. The overseers spent several pounds defending their case at Quarter Sessions after Orsett appealed.
The first recorded of many unmarried mothers chargeable to the poor rate was Elizabeth Chinrey who in 1732 was lodged with Goody Ketcher at 1s. a qeek, and clothes bought for her. In March the overseer wrote “pd for Elizabeth Chinrey Lying Inn” £1.11.6. and “pd. For a weeks board after her lying in” 3s. In April he “paid Nat. Ketcher for keeping Elizabeth Chinrey and her child 3 weeks. Abraham Cass received his fee as church clerk when her child was christened. Throughout May the Ketchers continued to board her and the child, until in June Goody Brewer took over at 3s.6d. or 4s a week. In July, when she was lodging with Goody Hockley, Goody Brown was awarded the sum of 10s. “for curering Chinery”. Then followed “Beer for Chinrey” several times, a “payer of Shooes” and “a payer of Clogs” at 2s. 6d. and 7d. Mrs. Spillman was looking after her in September when a new reel (for winding yarn) was bought for her. At Christmas the child died and the overseer on 27th December paid “the charch clark for barengen Ellen Chenery child” and “Goody Barker for laying it forth and the afdaved” (affidavit). The following November 5s. was given to “Goode Brown for a cuer done to Elizabeth Chinrey”, after which she disappeared from the accounts, presumably this cure being permanent.
Sometimes the parish’s obligation to look after its poor extended to paying relatives to care for them. John Kee’s mother was paid 2s. for “locken ater him”. Payment was made to John Tabor “for keeping his sister”, and when Widow Bowles, who was on the weekly collection, fell ill, first Jacob Bowles was paid 6s. and then her daughter 3s. for looking after her. Similarly the vestry agreed “to allow Mary Bruster one shilling a week to look after her father”.
In 1746 the occupant of The Cock must have been in difficulty for the overseer paid £5.12.6. “for redeeming Petter Fosters goods”. The same was done later for other people.
The widow must have found work as she did not receive a pension for the first few years. One child died but the overseers bought many clothes for the other – Mary, Isaac and James. The last payments on behalf of the boys were made in 1752 but Mary received clothes for another year. Their mother died in January 1753, the overseer paying for her coffin and “two yeards of Bayes to Bury Wido Cockley in”. In the 1780s and 1790s occasionally Isaac Cockley was in want. Widow Oliver first received her weekly dole in April 1745 when her husband died. Her children (both girls) received far fewer clothes than the Cockleys; they were living in their own home, their rent being paid to Mr. Pledger for them, and by 1753 were out of the care of the parish.
The first account book thus shows the Poor Law in action in the parish probably much as it had been since 1601 – the population had increased little and the needs could not have greatly altered. The next hundred years was to see some change, perhaps typified by the cessation in March 1730 of the occasional purchase of tobacco and pipes – a kindly gesture which the parish could no longer afford.
On 11th April 1748 the overseers began the new account book (which they had bought for 4s.) On that day the people receiving the weekly collection were Widows Dawson, Bruster and Snelock, the lame woman, Widow Cockley’s children and the Widow Oliver and her children. Widow Dawson and the Lame woman had long been receiving the allowance; Widows Bruster and Snelock for about seven years. The Cockleys had been thrown on to the care of the parish in 1740. The home seems to have been broken up after the breadwinner died for the overseer entered in the book “Recd. for Cockly goods £4.17.1” and the children were boarded with the Ketchers.
At the end of 1750 the parish was burdened with the care of five orphan children whose parents died within a few days of each other. Benjamin Harrington, overseer, told the story in his ill-spelt accounts. On 10th Novembr he “Gave Reaf Teyler when seck” 5s; on 17th “Gave Wedow Teyler when seck” 3s. and paid 8s. “for Nussen of Reaf Tiler and wife”. He then paid 10s. for two shrouds and 4s. “for laing of Reaf Tiler and his wife forth 2 affadue and seting up 4 nights”. Next he paid 16s. for the two coffins and 6s. to “Abram Cass for making 2 graves for Tiler and his wife”. Finally “Bear for the brenges” (beer for the bearers) cost 8s. Before he had finished with these payments he was making arrangements for the children so suddenly orphaned. The goods their parents left were sold for £9.10.4., but this was very soon spent on their keep and on clothing; they seem to have needed almost complete outfits. Thomas Saward took the eldest boy, Ralph; Dame Haward took John; Widow Tyler (no doubt their grandmother) looked after William; and John Bearman ( their mother had been Mary Bearman) fostered the girl, Mary. Elias Pledger appears to have taken the youngest, Thomas, for whom Mrs. Bruce covered a stay and made a “scurt” and for whom “leeding strings” and “ a frock and hat and payer of shoues” were bought. The weekly lodging allowances varied between 2s.3d. and 1s. In early 1753 Thomas was moved to the care of William Bowles and Ralph to Isaac Pledger. In October that year the overseer endeavoured to get the eldest boy off his hands “pd. To charges for going to Maldon Ralfe Tiler to try to let him” 1. 6d. whether or not he succeeded that time the overseers were still buying clothes for him for another two years. In 1757 the overseer paid Mr. Hodges £5.5.0. “for taking William Tylor and finding him with cloth for seven year to this inst.” Probably he meant from this inst. as Widow Tyler had been receiving payments for looking after William. By this time all the children except Thomas must have been found work for they disappear from the accounts. At sometime widow Haward had taken charge of Thomas but the overseer entered in the book that he had “Agreed with C. Limner for keeping Thomas Tyler a year at £1.16s. (and the parish find him with cloaths) from January the 1st 1760”. The following year the vestry “agreed to allow Thos. Tyler a coat a vescoat a shart a pair of stockings a pair of shooes a hat for the hole yeare”.
After a few years he too was earning his own living.
In July 1754 died Robert Paveley, leaving a widow, four children aged between fifteen and eight and another son born a month after his father’s death. He had been provident enough to pay into a Chelmsford Club and the overseers had continued his subscriptions during his sickness in 1752. In January 1753 they gave him malt and hops and that April some money when his wife lay in; the child died. Later in the year he was again ill, the overseers paying his Club money and making him occasional payments until his death. There must have been a coroner’s inquest for the overseer paid “part of the Charge of the Jurey and Docter for to Burry Robert Pavely”. He also paid 3s. ”To Charges at Chelmsford receve the monny of the Club for Wido Pavely”. She was thence forward given 4s. a week, her rent and extraordinaries, like fuel and many clothes for her children – three girls and two boys. Elias Pledger, overseer, bought a tub for her – perhaps she took in washing – then she was given a spinning wheel, and seems to have been able partly to support her self for the rest of her life.
As her children in turn became self-supporting Widow Paveley’s allowance was reduced. When the youngest boy was nearly twenty years old he was in want and given occasional payments, and four years later “a cofen for Tom Pavely” was bought. Widow Paveley herself, however, lived on into old age, receiving 2s. a week, with some extra help, and nursing and washing when she was unwell, until in 1795 she died and was buried at the parish’s expense. She had been a widow on parish relief for forty-one years.
The period of Mrs. Paveley’s widowhood saw changes in the condition of the poor and in the duties of the overseers. They were used to making payments to people who were temporarily in distress, but in 1758 for the first time Elias Pledger had to pay several sums to Edward Davey “when he had no worck”. Unemployment was to become a perennial problem for the later overseers, who were obliged to try to obey the precepts of the Elizabethan Poor Law to set the able-bodied poor to work as well as continuing the comparatively simple duty of relieving the impotent.
Some of the able-bodied were occupied in cultivating the town field “in spade husbandry”. Members of the Saward family, carpenters, were paid from the Poor Rate every few years “for Raling in of Graveel Pett”, so it is certain that the poor must have worked there during the eighteenth century and without doubt on the roads as well, as the surveyors’ accounts show that they did between 1814 and 1834. Elderly men like John Barker, who had a pension of 2s. 6d. a week, were paid for various jobs in connection with the Poor House and the poor. Men were sometimes given a tool – a spade, a scythe, hedging gloves etc., - which must have enabled them to take a job they would not otherwise have been able to do. John Sweeting, who was a shoemaker, in 1763 was given one guinea to buy a lathe: two years later he was able to take an orphan boy as an apprentice, for which he received two guineas. The overseer in 1775 felt it worth while to give one guinea to “Martha Gillet for to go to London to git her self a place of sarves” (service), and a few years later he “Gave Hanah Harved in want wenn vent to Londen” 6s. The overseers do not appear to have encouraged membership of a club or friendly society: the only poor man other than Robert Paveley shown by the accounts to have belonged to one was Thomas Peacock between 1763 and 1785.
The impotent poor were often the sick and in these cases the able-bodied (though sometimes elderly) poor could be set to work curing or nursing them. Payments to amateur doctors and nurses are very common, such as:-
To Ann Browne for cuering of Widdow Ailets hand 5. 0.
Paid Dame Brown for looking after the wid.Sweeting leage 7. 6.
Paid Mrs. Spilman for bleding and for stuff for the lame
girl for a paid in her seid 3. 6.
Paid Jn. Knight for the curing Lanes head 10. 6.
(This was not a success, but as the head had been “cured”
by other people during the previous eight years, this is not surprising).
Sometimes payment was made in kind: Dame Root for instance was allowed “Old Stockdales Cloaths for nursing him”, after his death. These amateurs were not always poor people – William Calcraft, papermaker, in the latter part of the century had notable success as a healer.
Overseers supplied medicine such as “a Botl of Daflixer” (Daffy’s Elixir, a popular remedy), “a botl drops” and often a “Bottle of Stuf” or “physick”. Jack Beadle was given 6d. “to cure the Ague”. Widow Milton when she was ill was bought half a pint of brandy and some sugar, Steven Sullen a bottle of port, Widow Anderson a bottle of wine and half a pint of brandy, and there were several similar instances.
Many local women were competent to act as midwives but sometimes a qualified midwife had to be sent for from a distance, as in 1757 when Mrs. Griffith lay in-
Paid Mrs. Williams for Grefeth Wife 7. 6.
For faching of Mrs Williams to Griffeth wife
And caring her home 4. 0.
The overseers called in a doctor only when necessary, as when 1s. 5d. was paid “for Docters stuff for the children at John Mellers when they had measles2. On another occasion in 1741 John Josling, overseer, “paid the Surgen for Criss Spilman” £1.11.6d. and charged 1s.6d. “Expences for going to the Surgin with Spillman. In one case crutches were provided and in another a steel truss, presumably on the advice of a doctor. In 1750 Dr. Maurice Pugh, surgeon of Chelmsford (who had married Hannah Harrington of Little Baddow, buried in the churchyard in 1769) was paid £7.7.0. One year Doctor Hancell was given £1.11.6. “towards bying him a horse”. In April 1751 Dr. Mayhew was paid £9.10.0. , Dr. Green £10 and Dr. Dunkley 3s.6d. for the previous year. The vestry must have thought this excessive, for a parish doctor was appointed and the following April £3.10.0. was paid to him for one year’s work. For a few years Dr. Wood of Danbury was paid a salary of £3 or £3.3.0. a year. The agreement made with Dr. Raven in April 1768 was written in the vestry minute book. It stated “I do agree with the Parishoners of Little Baddow to attend the poor of the said Parish for one year to come when sick or lame within 5 miles of the said Parish by Order of the Overseers (midwifery excepted) and the said parishioners do agree to pay to the said D. Raven the sum of three guineas for the said years attending the poor”. Dr. Raven continued attending the poor until about 1785 when Dr. Tweed succeeded him.
After she had gone, Dame Hollingham was engaged to nurse the patient and Griffth was given several Payments. Mrs. Griffith had difficult confinements, each one necessitating the services of a midwife and then a nurse, until her death in 1764. For other women someone would be paid “foragoing for the Mid Whife” or a horse hired to “fich and Cary” her. As was not uncommon, two and a half months after the midwife had been fetched to Mrs. Bowles in 1766, the child died and the laying out, affidavit, shroud, coffin and burial were all paid for by the parish. At her next confinement Mrs. Bowles, in spite of the midwife and Dame Hollingham’s nursing, herself died and the overseer paid her funeral expenses.
In difficult cases a second doctor might be called in or the patent might be sent to hospital, usually to the London Hospital in Whitechapel Road. In 1760 for instance the overseer “paid Stephen Sullinger charges for going to London with the Wido Milton” when she was ill.
Most illnesses were unnamed by the overseers in their accounts, but smallpox was an
Exception. The accounts tell the story of one case –
Paid for nursing at Whites wen the Smallpox was there 2 weeks £1. 0. 0.
And for coffen for White 8. 0.
Paid Sam Crampton for his horse cart man and selfe and Sam Browne
For caring of Whitte to the Grave 5. 0
The Clarks fees 3. 4.
For candle 1d.
The worst outbreak seems to have been in March 1761 when John Baker, overseer, charged “Ex Spences for hors and self for pervading a place for the pepel wich had the smallpox “ 4s. and “Paid Wm. Broox of Sandon for nursing the smallpox his bill” £10.10.0. In 1766 the two Eaton girls (the one who was blind lodging with Mrs. Sharpington in Chelmsford and the other with “Old Mother Waller”) caught smallpox and the second girl was sent to the pest house. Both recovered.
By this time inoculation was being practised and John Baker tells the story of another outbreak in the highly individual spelling of his accounts of 1775 –
Gave John Claxton for showing nurse Witcham the whay to John Swetings 6d.
Paid Marrey Wictham for nursing and enoculaten of John Sweting family £1. 2. 0.”.
Paid Mr. Jardon a bill for licker for the use of John Sweting famley 18. 10d. Paid John Barker for going for erents for them 3d
Paid Thos. Sarward for macking a cofing for Jn. Sweting whife 9. 0.
Paid Mr. Hodges for thre yards of bays for Jn. Sweting whife 3. 0.
Paid Wm. Bruster for Degin the grave for John Sweting whife 3. 4.
Paid Mr. Jerdon for caring of the corps to the ground 2. 0
Paid Mr. Jerdon for licker 2. 0
Paid to Jn. Birchell a shilling for assisting of John Sweting wife
To the ground 1. 0
The seam wheak that John Sweting whife whose bearrid gave him in want 6. 0
The cost of funerals was increasing mainly because of the price of coffins, which rose from 8s. in 1738 to 10s. in the 1780s, 10.6d in the 1790s and 12s in 1800. The payment for laying out remained at about 2s. though Sarah Pledger, overseer in 1768, paid 1s. and then “Gave the Women sixpence to drink”. Elias Pledger three years later paid Dame Duke 6s. “for the use of a sheit for the laying out of Rd. Hayward” and this happened on other occasions. In 1787 John Balls was paid 1s for shaving William Bruster and John Keys after their deaths. The beer for bearers usually cost 2s.. and so did two yards of bays for the shroud. Mrs. Sweeting was exceptional in being allowed three yards. The church clerk’s fee for digging the grave remained at 3s.4d. On a few occasions there had to be a coroner’s inquest following the death of a pauper, though the reasons are not given in the accounts. When Ambrose Bently died in 1781 William Hart made two entries – “Paid at Gurdens for maintaining the jury on Bently account” 10s. and “paid Cable for going for the crowner and to wan the Jury” 4s.6d. Gurdens was Jordan’s Warren Inn, Cable was the constable and the crowner was the coroner.
Probably in Tudor times in Little Baddow the gift was make by some benefactor, whose name was soon forgotten, of a house and acre of land for the poor. The churchwardens paid the rent, 7d a year, and performed suit of court for it at Little Baddow manor court. It was generally called the Town House or sometimes the Poor House, and was used for housing the poor families. In 1680 John Elliott leased his house, the Hen , to the churchwardens and overseers for ten years, presumably to provide additional accommodation.
The Town House must have been old by the mid-eighteenth century and perhaps quite small. The early accounts hardly mention it. In November 1767 the vestry meeting agreed to purchase “the house whare Frances Lives for to convert into a Work House”. Whether or not this was done (there is no further record of it), on 18th April 1768 at another vestry it was “agread to bild a house for the use of the Parish according to the Estament given in by Thomas Saward. The total sum £118.0.0.” The overseer, John Baker, made an entry in the account book “Paid for Bear and brenches when toocke acavay of Bado Workhoos”. 1s6d. Perhaps by “Acavay” he meant a survey. It was speedily built next to the original house at the vestry held on 4th September 1769 “Richard. Sorrell Church Warden settled the accounts concerning the building of the town house”.
The amount he “Disbursted” was £126.4.5. for which a special rate had raised £129.10.0. On 30th September 6s. was spent “for moveing the poor to the town house” and 2s.6d. for Expences for the same” – probably beer. In December there was another removal costing 7s.6d.
It is not easy to determine who were given accommodation at the Town House. The few people whom the accounts show to have been removed there were the elderly and sick. Widow Haward, who had undertaken the care of several orphans over the years, did not receive the weekly collection until about 1763 when she must have been elderly. In 1766 she was in want and her goods were removed to the old house, and presumably to the new house when it was built. Some years later the overseer “Gave Mrs. Johnson servent to remove herself to the toune house”2s.6d. and then “ Gave Mary Kees for looking after her” 2s. and “for washen the sheats” 3d. Old John Duke was moved to the house in 1777 and was no doubt still there when he died in January 1788. A few months after he had been moved there 4s. was spent for “macken the racks for Duks Chimby” (chimney) and “brick and lim and puten up the racks”. These may have been for hanging his pots but perhaps he wanted to smoke bacon. In March 1789 Mary Haward, who was ill, was taken to the house and died soon after. She was probably Widow Haward’s granddaughter who ten years previously had been sent as a young servant girl to Ulting. Christopher Turnedge was moved to the poor House and he may have been disabled following the curing of his thigh, some years previously. A probable inmate was William Bentley, who received the weekly dole. In 1784 he broke a window at the house, causing the overseer to buy “A chain for Bentley”. He was, however, soon back to his work of cutting and carting wood for the Town House folks until his death two years later, although he must have absconded on the occasion when John Campoin spent 4s. “going after William Bentley with a horse cart”. He may have been the village idiot.
The new Poor House proved a constant expense. Repairs had to be done, such as mending tiles and “Dawbin the Town House” (plastering). In 1773 lime, clay and mulch were purchased and Cornelius Limner was paid “for carting the matarels to the Town House” In 1787 12 bushells of lime, some sand, bricks and tiles were purchased and 18lb of iron – for unspecified purposes. Four years later 12 bushels of lime were used with clay, sand and 500 bricks and 200 tiles, which sound like an additional building. More bricks, tiles and lime were carted from Hatfield Peverel. Work was done on the chimneys, which were swept regularly, a casement was mended and windows glazed. Several times sums were expended “for fencing the yard in at the Poor House” or for mending the fence. John Barker and others of the elderly poor were paid from time to time for cleansing the drain and ditch. A pair of bellows was provided; the oven was repaired and given a new lid; 1s. was paid for hooping a tub; two staples and a hasp were bought – and, in 1788, a cow. Wood was regularly cut and carted usually by others of the poor “for the fokes at the Toun House”, and, to an increasing extent, coal was sent there.
In 1766 William Johnson, churchwarden, and Thomas Harrington, overseer, make inventories of the goods “of the poor which receive weekly collection”. Five of these were elderly men and four were elderly widows, most of whom died within a few years. Some may have been living in the Poor House. Only three (Charles Crow, Widow Bruce and Daniel Root) had an upstairs room. John Stockdale owned very few goods – a bed and bedstead, two sheets, a coverlet, a chair, a frying pan and a skillet- but Messrs. Johnson and Harrington must surely have left out articles which were so old as to be worthless, or perhaps he was using goods which belonged to his landlord. Widow Paveley was credited with only a table, a hutch, two cupboards, a bedstead (no mattress or coverings mentioned), bellows and two spinning wheels. Widow Haward was no better off with a bed and bedstead, two sheets, one boulster, two pillows, a hutch, a frying pan, a warming pan and a reel. Her goods were removed to the Town House a month afterwards at a cost of 6d. Edward Hollingham had once been in a more prosperous state for among his possessions were comparative luxuries like a clock, two glasses, a pewter dish, two candlesticks, a fender, a bellmetal mortar, two cobirons and a spit, two joint stools and three tables. Widow Bruce too had some possessions indicating earlier comfort, such as ten chairs, a corner cupboard, a nest of drawers and a chest of drawers, a coal grate with tongs, poker and trivet, a gridiron and two spit racks. Daniel Root was the possessor of a tea kettle, Charles Crow of three oak tables, John Willcher of two beds and bedsteads and Widow Milton of a box iron, a balance and a bed rod (for hanging bed curtains) but otherwise their goods were the simple necessities. When widow Milton was ill from July to November 1757, nursed by Old Sarah Burr, and given money, food and fuel, she pawned some of her goods, later redeemed for 13s.6d. by the overseer. Six of the inventories included a few tools like an axe, spade, bill, mattock and hammer and articles like a tub, kneading trough, wash-tub and boiler.
Some of the articles listed in the inventories could have been supplied by the overseers. Blankets and sheets were regularly bought and on one day the overseer paid for three coverlets and a bedcord. Once Dame Hales was paid 5d. “for making a bead teak and putting the feathers in”, and another time 2s.6d. was given “for macken a bed teck and bolster and sheet and straw bed”. Even bedsteads were provided in rare cases and 1s. was paid for carrying one up to the Town House. One man was given an iron pot and a pair of pot hooks. At least one of Widow Paveley’s and Widow Milton’s spinning wheels had been supplied by the parish and the latter’s wash-tub was repaired by James Meagle, cooper, at parish expense.
The articles most frequently supplied to the poor were clothes, or the materials with which to make them. Some women could sew for themselves or were paid to sew for others. Sometimes a length of cloth would be bought and divided between several people. In one instant “a piece for gounds for the poor”, containing 19 and three quarter yards, was obtained by the overseer and five women and girls had lengths from it. At other times overseers bought 12 ells (1 ell =1and a quarter yards) of cloth for linings and shifts, 22 and a half yards of drugget (coarse wool) for petticoats and gowns and 20 yards of check for aprons. Women’s gowns often had short sleeves and were low cut, a kerchief being worn round the shoulders, and the skirt was sometimes open in front to show the petticoat or undercoat. The latter could be worn, without a gown over it, but with a bodice which might be hip length. Materials for these garments were wool, like bays, serge, drugget or cabblet, or linsey woolsey (linen and wool mixture) or dowlas (coarse linen), and the bodice was normally lined. Women kept money in a pair of pockets hanging from a tape tied round the waist under the outer garment and accessible through placket holes in the gown or undercoat. The undergarments were a shift and either cloth or leather stays (often called a pair of bodies). When stays were leather the shoemaker had to be employed to mend them. Caps (mop-caps) were worn indoors, while hats and bonnets were for outdoors. Ann Chambers on one occasion was given two night caps, another girl a blue mantle (which however might have been an apron), and another a cloak, but these items were not normally deemed necessary for the poor.
In November 1777 Hannah Haward was given by Thomas Hodges, overseer, from his own shop, 6 and a quarter yards of stuff (coarse wood) at 9d. a yard for a Widow Penney on the same day needed 8 yards of stuff at 10d. a yard and a shilling’s worth of lining. A month later Hannah’s sister Mary, being sent to Ulting as a servant, was fitted out by Mr. Hodges with a set of clothes. Her gown and bodice-lining required 7 yards of stuff at 6s.10d. and cost ls to be make up for her. She had 2 and a half yards of bays at 1s. a yard for an undercoat, and a pair of stays costing 7s. Presumably she already owned one or more shifts for none was bought. Two pairs of stockings (probably woollen) cost 2s. and elevenpence halfpenny, to handkerchiefs 1s and two and a half pennies, and two caps with borders 1s.2d. A coarse apron and strings was given her together with 2 and a half yards of check for two better aprons and the “Three tapes and strings for the check aprons”. Either she or her sister had previously had a piece of material and binding for making pockets. This outfit, costing a total of £1.13.4., was completed by one pair of shoes and a pair of pattens (wooden overshoes with a metal ring raising them out of the mud).
Men wore breeches, very often of leather, which the overseers bought from the tailor. In 1794 a boy was given a pair of culottes and in 1816 a pair of trousers was provided. Shirts were frequently supplied, incidentally affording employment to the village needlewomen. The cloth, buttons and making cost about 3s. for a man and correspondingly less for boys. The type of cloth used was never stated, except a few times in the early nineteenth century when it was calico. Waistcoats were probably sleeved, at least until mid-eighteenth century. Perhaps these garments were not buttoned as, after John Clench’s waistcoat was stolen in 1819, he identified it by the fact that it had been too big for him so “he had set some buttons on it to make it button together about him”. Coats (probably double-breasted and with set-in pockets) and jackets (often of leather) were provided. Once a “fearnought” jacket was bought, probably made of thick cloth with a long pile. Especially in the nineteenth century men wore smock-frocks, which were warm, almost water-proof, coverings for working in the open, costing about 5s. Shoes were sometimes bought second-hand by the overseer and some were high shoes (boots). One fortunate boy was given a pair of buckles for his shoes. Some men used pattens. Shoemakers were constantly repairing footwear, as when John Peacock was paid 4s. for “forepeasing and heelpeas and nailing 5 pair of children shoose”. Men also required stockings – on one occasion “2 pair ribb’d stockings”. Gloves were supplied for agricultural work like hedging. Hats completed the outfit, one man being given “A shilling to by him a hat” and one boy “a wooling cap” costing 5d.
During the period covered by the first account book the overseers were generous in giving food and drink to the elderly and sick, but after that little was given until in the winter of 1785 Catherine Stoneham overseer, provided some flour for two families who were in want.
As the Poor Rate rose it became ever more necessary to ensure that no one was being supported who did not belong to the parish. Under the Law of Settlement of 1662 and later amendments, everyone had their “place of settlement”, but a settlement in a parish could be obtained in so many ways that it often took lawyers and Quarter Sessions to decide where some peoples’ settlements in fact were. Sometimes all went well from the overseers’ point of view, as when Isaac Pledger paid 6s. to a justice “for the Order he made to send Wido Lock home” with no further expenditure being involved. At other times people were taken to the local magistrate to be “examined as to their settlements” with a view to having an order made for their removal. William Gladwyn dealt with such a case when he “paid for the Order and Examination of Jas. Ratcliffe and the expences of carring him home to Romford” £3.9.8. Originally the overseer himself was supposed to escort anyone removed from the parish but later the constable usually did it. On another occasion Thomas Taylor paid 2s. “for two men swerin to thear sattelment” before a justice and 1s. “for Thear expences”. On one day in 1788 8 men were taken to the justices for swearing to their settlements, all of whome living at Little Baddow, had come from elsewhere. In 1789 the overseer “Paid for a pair of orders for Mary Leach” and the same day” Horse and Cart to send Mary Leach to Woodham” (Ferrers) and “Paid the Constable for going with Mary Leach”. A few weeks later he “Paid Constable for Driven Nan Hales out of the Parish”. On other occasions people were sent back to Little Baddow, like the son of an unmarried and now deceased mother, William Bevis, aged four, who had been “left in the said parish of Witham”. Little Baddow had to care for him until he could earn his own living. Christopher Bunting was apprehended in West Ham “as a rogue and vagabond viz. wandring abroad begging” and send back to Little Baddow, where the overseers made him several payments. Sometimes payments had to be made on behalf of a poor person whose settlement was in Little Baddow but who was living elsewhere, like in 1765 “paid to the Overseer of Southmenester £2.15. being charges for John Browen for nursing and burel of his wife”.
No more was mentioned Until in the winter of 1795, which followed a poor harvest, the overseer bought 50 pecks of flour at 9d. a peck and 200 pecks at 10d. a peck. That summer and autumn “Mr. Hodges flower Bill” (Thomas Hodges of the Papermill) amounted in all to a total of over £17. The overseers continued distributing flour, even to giving “Dame Rance a peck of flour for laying out Old Thompson etc.,” in 1799, but no other food was provided at that time.
People who wished to obtain employment elsewhere than in their own parish were sometimes able to obtain a certificate from their parish, confirmed by two justices. William Calcraft did this in 1759 when he came from Lincolnshire to work at the papermill. His own parish acknowledged him and his wife to be their inhabitants and agreed to receive them back should they become chargeable. In view of the settlement laws, it was to the parish’s advantage if the overseers could obtain apprenticeships or work for their orphans in other places, as Thomas Hodges did in 1794. He placed John Wyatt with a Maldon blacksmith for five years, paying £2.10.0. with the promise of another £2.10.0. at the end of three years, and the master to give the boy two suits of clothes at the expiration of the apprenticeship. The cost of the indentures and various unspecified expenses amounted to £2.16.2. At the same time Mr. Hodges disposed of Rachel Beadle more cheaply to the same blacksmith, who agreed to hire her for one year at the wage of one guinea, Little Baddow paying two guineas towards clothing the girl. Both would, at the end of their hiring, have gained settlements in Maldon and been the responsibility of that place if they needed relief.
In early 1795 there was a dispute between a Kent parish and Little Baddow about the Sweeting family, who had been adjudged by justices to be Little Baddow’s responsibility. The latter parish appealed. Mr. Gepp of Chelmsford, Little Baddow’s lawyer , incurred expenses of £18.2.0. which the parish paid in two instalments in June and October. He had all the legal documents to draw up, letters to write and subpoenas to serve. He had to make a journey into the Dengie Hundred to obtain evidence of James Sweeting’s marriage to his first wife, a journey to Hatfield to interview the first wife, now re-married, and another journey to Little Baddow to serve a ‘subpoena on the second wife, Elizabeth. Shortly before the case was due to be heard at Maidstone Quarter Sessions, “the pauper having absconded”, Mr. Gepp was again in Little Baddow, consulting with Mr. Johnson Clark, church warden, and Mr. Thomas Hodges and “Drawing Advertisement to be inserted in the Chelmsford paper”. This stated that James Sweeting, labourer, was “5ft. 5 in. high dark complexion rather lame being just recovered from a broken leg wrapped up in flannel, had on a thick (illegible) and round hat”. It further stated that “Whoever shall give information of the said James Sweeting to the parish officers at Little Baddow so that he be apprehended shall receive ONE GUINEA reward or if the said James Sweeting will return to his home in the parish of Little Baddow he will be well received”. James Sweeting, “having returned in consequence of the Advertisement”, was served with a subpoena. Finally there was Mr. Gepp’s journey to Maidstone, where the appeal was heard, “being necessarily from home 3 days” and “Horse hire and expences 3 days”. Mr. Clark and Mr. Hodges must have attended the court with Sweeting and his two wives, for the overseer entered in his accounts “Expenses to Medstone £9”. The court decided that Sweeting had been rightly removed to Little Baddow, but not his second wife and their three children, should have been left at High Halstow in Kent, which parish was to repay the £1.11.6. expended on them by Little Baddow. Unfortunately nothing is recorded of the fate of this separated family. It is also obscure as to how an eighteenth century labourer came to have two wives, both living. Twenty years later the parish incurred similar expanses, but amounting to £35.9.1. in legal charges and £30.16.3 in other charges, for proving that Robert Thompson (born in Little Baddow and apprenticed in Maldon by the overseers) and his family belonged to a Northamptonshire parish in which they had been living. One cannot help but think that the money could have been better spent.
Occasionally the parish were unable to transfer responsibility such as when they had to pay for burying the “Woman that died at Bowles” who was entered in the Parish Register as a “poor strange woman”. At other times they had to relieve people who were legitimately travelling, perhaps to their place of settlement, and passing through Little Baddow. Thomas Baker for instance gave 12s to “Parsons on the rode with a pass”; Johnson Clark “Gave pepple with a pass 1s. and “Releif’d a sailor with 6d. Elias Barnard gave 1s 6d to “a family in distress to help them out of the parish”.
Richard Sorrel, overseer the following year, used equal dispatch in another case. He wrote in the accounts ”Paid for swearing Hannah Root and taking up John Binder and marrying them etc., £8.2.6”. and “Paid Churchwarden and my own time going after and carrying home John Binder”£1.16.0. This time the couple remained in the village. Sometimes the man could not or would not marry the girl, as when the overseer entered in his book”4 Jan. 1796. At a Vestry held this day it is agreed with Mr. Jn. Baker for the sum of forty pounds for the maintenance of a bastard child by his son Jos. Baker upon Sarah Freeman twenty pounds to be paid down and the other twenty pounds at the expiration of one year in case the child should then be living”. The child in fact died in June. In 1778 3s.2d. was spent on the “Jorney with horse and cart” to take Ann Meade before the justices and obtain a warrant for the arrest of the reputed father of her unborn child. A further 12s. was spent by James Jordan, Thomas Hodges and his son to “jorney after Levi Lambert”. The child was born two or three weeks later and £4 was received from Lambert, who did not marry Ann Meade.
Another matter of great import was responsibility for bastard children. The overseers were anxious to put the responsibility where they considered it belonged, and either to make the father pay for the maintenance of the child or to make him marry the girl. At the beginning of 1789, out of fourteen people on weekly collection, four were children of unmarried mothers. Early the next year Mary Boosey, who had received relief from the overseers of Little Baddow at various times, was with child and chargeable to the parish . The overseers obtained an order from a justice that all parish constables in the county were to look for and apprehend the reputed father, George Ward. He was quickly found and married and then the overseers obtained another order “to remove and convey” George Ward and his wife to West Hanningfield, where the churchwardens and overseers were ordered to receive them as that was their place of settlement. A wife took her husband’s settlement on marriage. The Little Baddow overseer entered in his accounts, no doubt with great satisfaction at having so quickly rid the parish of a woman and child who might have been on their hands for years, “Expenses for taking marrying and carrying home George Ward £8.4.8.” These expenses usually included the cost of the licence and fees, the ring and a modest repast.
Several extraneous charges arose from time to time on the poor rate, amongst them the rebuilding of the Shire Hall in Chelmsford in 1789/90 to which Little Baddow contributed a total of £24.12.10. over the two years. Refreshment was supplied out of the Poor Rate “when thay went the Bounds of the paresh”; in 1777 this amounted to £1.1.0. but in 1810 it was £3.3.4. A more important charge was the Defence of the Realm, especially during the wars with France. In 1762 the overseer had paid 2s. 2d for “the Militia Act of Parliament” but apparently not until 1780 was any expenditure incurred. That year John Peacock was drawn by lot to serve in the Militia but the overseers paid £9.11.0. for a substitute to serve in his place. A similar thing happened two years later when John Hales was “chosen by Lot to serve in the Militia” but Jacob Warwicker of Boreham was “Sworn and Inrolled” as his substitute. The Deputy Lieutenants and justices ordered the churchwardens and overseers of Little Baddow to pay Hales £4.4.0. within four days, adding “Herein fail not”. The overseer duly paid him “the half price of a substitute”. Substitutes were found for other men, as in 1804 when William Spirgeon was serving for William Holmes, Mrs. Spirgeon being given 16s.6d. for eleven weeks; two years later he was still serving and his wife and child were being paid 3s. a week. In 1812 the overseers had to support “Embletons Wife and Child after he volunteered”. On the few occasions when a man from Little Baddow served in place of a drawn man from another parish, the overseers of that parish would remit money for the support of his family. In 1798 John Orton, constable, was paid 5s. “for setting the Militia down” – making a list of the men liable for service. In 1813 he was paid £1 for four days’ work making the lists and for spending one day in Chelmsford and one in Maldon “making the Local Militia Return”. The return made in 1826 by Josiah Crane is, constable, exists, showing forty-six men aged between eighteen and forty-five, with their occupations and the number of their children. Six children under fourteen years of age exempted William Tracey, schoolmaster, from Serving.
Contributions had to be made to the regular services as well. In 1795 £16.12.0. was paid “for the Navy Men”; the next year £23.4.0. In 1803 £33.7.0. was paid for one man in the “Army of Reserve”; the following year an assessment at the rate of 3d. in the £ raised £22.4.0. “for the Fine impos’d upon the Parish of Little Baddow for not finding a man for the Army of Defence”. In 1805 the parish paid £20.8.8. for one man for the Army of Defence. Occasionally a serving man or his family passed through the parish, such as the “three sailors with a Pass” to whom William Mihill, overseer, gave 2s., or the “Two Soulgers wives and five children “ who received 3s.
The nineteenth century opened with much distress among the poor of the parish. Wages were not rising at the same rate as the cost of living, which had almost doubled during 1790s, due to some bad harvests and to the French wars. The wages of farm labourers had to be supplemented from the Poor Rate if they and their families were not to starve. The Essex justices fixed a “Table of Allowances”, relating the fluctuating cost of bread to the amount by which wages should be supplemented. Those who were out of work were given sufficient to keep them and their dependents alive. In addition the overseers paid large bills for flour – on 4th August 1800 £64.10.9and a half pennies. was paid for four weeks’ supply – but the accounts do not show to whom this was distributed. The overseer’s total disbursements from Easter to Michaelmas 1800 reached £403.10.2 and a half pennies, doubling the previous highest figure for the same six months in 1795. It was to reach £432.9.1. for the following six months. The expenditure did drop after this, however to an annual total generally between £400 and £600, until 1815 when it rose again, in 1816/7 (due to the bad harvest of 1816) reaching over £1,000 for the year. It continued not far below this figure, entailing a rate of 4s. or 4s.6d. in the £ each half year, until 1820, from which time up to 1834 it remained around £700 a year.
In 1803 the overseers were required to make a return to Parliament regarding their expenditure for the year ending that Easter. They said that twenty people were relieved permanently (on the weekly collection) but none of them was in the poor house – which must have been rather unusual. In the families of these people were six children aged under five and fifteen aged between five and fourteen. There were ten persons above sixty years of age or disabled from permanent illness. The overseers spent nothing on buying materials for employing the poor and so earned nothing by their labour. (There is no evidence that they had ever done this in two centuries of operating the Poor Law). There were no members of friendly societies among the Little Baddow poor.
The 1801 Census return gives the number of people living in the Poor House as twenty-six – nine males and seventeen females, including children. In the 1821 Census the names of the inmates were given. Thomas Willshire was there with his wife, like him aged between forty-one and fifty, and their son aged between eleven and fifteen, and three daughters all under fifteen. He was called in the overseers’ accounts “Townhouse Willshire” to distinguish him from another man of the same name, and was a resident of the House for some years. The house also accommodated Joseph Baker aged about 55. He had been apprenticed to Thomas Hodges, at the Papermill, and worked for him for several years. He had then let himself to a grocer at Colchester for a year, following which, being out of work, be had received parish relief in Little Baddow, and was sometimes on the weekly collection when he was given work on the roads. Living with him were two women aged between fifty-one and sixty one no doubt his wife, one girl between sixteen and twenty, one man of thirty-one to forty and two boys between eleven and twenty. Widow Cooper was another inmate and was aged between fifty-one and sixty. She had been on the weekly collection since about 1800 and was among the women earning small amounts laying out the dead, making clothes, doing washing and so firth. The oldest inhabitant of the house, Widow Turnedge, aged between sixty-0ne and seventy, lived with another woman of twenty-one to thirty, perhaps her daughter. At the time of the 1831 census twenty-five people were living in the house, twelve of them males, of whom six were over twenty.
In 1815 another return was required and the vestry agreed ”to employ Mr. Archer or some other proper person to make out a list relative to the Expense of the poor and other purposes for three years past by order of Act of Parliament”. Mr. Archer, the clerk to the Justices in Chelmsford, ascertained that there were five persons (and their families) who were relieved permanently and were living in the Poor House in 1813. By 1814 this figure had risen to six and in 1815 it was eight. The numbers receiving the weekly collection, but not living in the Poor House, were eight, nine and eight for the three years in question. Fifty persons were said to be members of friendly societies – which (if the figure is correct) must have been doing some recruiting since 1803.
The pensions paid in 1800 to the twenty-three people on the weekly collection – many of them elderly, but some children and some mothers with children – were hardly more than those of half a century earlier so these must have been among the regular recipients of flour. The parish was however, giving a little more to foster parents – Mrs. Webb managing to have the 3s.6d. she was obtaining for keeping Susan Freeman raised to 4s., Mrs. Malt being paid 3s.6d. each for Matthew and James Freeman, but Thomas Loveday having to be content with 2s. for Robert Thompson (who was twelve years old and so must have been earning money towards his keep for the few months before he was apprenticed at Maldon). The flowing year Mrs. Malt had an additional payment of £1 “for washing and mending for Freaman Boy”. The number of people being helped to pay their rent was rising; in 1818-1820 sixteen annual payments ranging between 10s. and £3.3.0. were being made, as compared with the two or three annually during the previous century. The poor were given more than their predecessors of articles like beds and bedding, wash-tubs, tools, wood and coal, shoes and clothes. In 1821 the overseer even “Advanced John Polly towards seten him in bussness” £2. The only John Polley in the village that year was a potash-maker. The poor received occasional charity, such as from the will of Johnson Clark, retired miller, who left five guineas to be distributed to the poor in bread on the Sunday after his interment in 1818. From the start of the nineteenth century the overseers’ accounts are supplemented by minutes of the meetings of the Justices in Petty Sessions and by a number of “Pauper examinations” and other papers relating to poor relief. The work of the overseers was becoming increasingly to poor relief. The work of the overseers was becoming increasingly complex, both through the amount of poverty and by the additional duties in which they were involved. For an unexplained reason, but perhaps to lighten their duties, the weekly collection from about 1795 was paid to Mrs. Hodges (of Papermill) for transmission to the poor and she seems also to have paid out the supplementary allowances. Flour for the use of the poor was supplied by her and by Maximus Gage of the Rodney, who were in addition paid £2.2.0. in March 1801 “for there trouble of giving the poor the rice etc.” This is the sole reference to rice. Later Mrs. Hodges was supplying bread as well as flour, but from about 1809 John Polley had taken over the provision of flour (which ceased soon after) and the weekly collection. The same year William Mihill was paid a salary of £15 “for serveing overseer”; if this was an experiment it did not continue, except that in 1824 John Simmons paid himself £10 for six months service, and in 1831/2 Elias Barnard received £20 for a year’s salary. Otherwise the overseers were appointed and served as previously.
Among the extra duties assigned to the overseers was responsibility for the decennial census returns commencing in 1801. Johnson Clark in 1811 entered in his accounts “Paid for a book for the Population” 2s.6d., “Charg’d for self and Constable for the population” 12s. and “Paid…..for the Return and Oath Population” 2s.6d. Thomas Baker in 1821 charged £2.0.3., but in 1831 John Simmons and Elias Barnard were authorised by the Clerk of the Peace to reimburse themselves £3 jointly for their time and expenses. Between 1798 and 1805, when preparations against a French invasion were constantly under review, the churchwardens and overseers were required to assist the constable with local arrangements. Following the Reform Act of 1832 Elias Barnard had to pay 2s. for “Notices and Papers respecting the Reform according to act thereon” and he had some duties concerning it. He charged 7s.6d. for “Attending the Court at Chelmsford when the List of Claims to vote were revised”. In this period letters and parcels were very occasionally sent and received by the overseers; 1s. was paid to send a parcel to Ipswich and 9d. to receive a letter from there in 1816. When possible though a messenger was sent, such as “A boy carrying a note to Heybridge” 2d.
Apart from these additional duties, the work of the overseers continued much as it had done during the eighteenth century, except that there was so much more poverty to be relieved. Many parish children were cared for – and many died. The fortunate ones were apprenticed to a good trade. When apprenticing a poor child the churchwardens and overseers were instructed that “it is a very material part of the duty of the Parish Officers to enquire particularly into the character of the Master or Mistress to whose care such poor child is about to be committed”. Apprenticeship did not automatically ensure work at a reasonable wage for the rest of the lad’s working life, but it did give him a better chance than the majority of boys, like Thomas Young, who became an agricultural labourer at the age of eleven and was out of work receiving parish relief at fourteen in 1806.
In 1831, perhaps to alleviate unemployment a little, the overseers regained possession of the Town House field, which had been leased for many years, and paid some of the poor for digging, sowing “Black Oates”, harrowing and hedging. In August 15s. was paid for “Cutting Gathering and Carting the Oates from the Townhouse field”. The Following year it was dug, sown with peas, harrowed and hedged. The peas were hoed, cut, carted, stacked and thatched. The same year the vicar’s field was dug for him by the poor (towards which apparently he paid less than half the cost) and another poor man thatched Mr. Lewin’s malt-house, for which Mr. Lewin may not have paid at all.
Unemployment was a grave problem of the time which was never solved. Petty Sessions in 1815 recommended parish surveyors “to employ the necessitous poor on the highways to prevent their frequent application for relief”. Roadwork could not absorb all the unemployed all the time and the overseers sought other solutions. They continued the policy of employing some of the poor to look after or do work for others, and also of sending some people to London to seek work. One of the latter was Thomas Francis who in 1826 was given one shovel and some money with which he departed. Within a few months however the overseers were having to reimburse the overseers of Bermondsey for expenses incurred for Francis and his family; nearly two years later he was brought back to Little Baddow. When he became ill he was sent to the London Hospital where he died.
With so many men and their families to support, or partly support, the nineteenth century overseers, like their predecessors, were extremely careful to ensure that they did not provide for any whose “settlement” was not in Little Baddow. Men moved about obtaining work where they could, and those who intruded into Little Baddow were taken before magistrates to be examined as during the previous century. One overseer paid £8.6.6. “Expences at Rodney Dec. 11th 1806 Swareing people to their Settlements”. On this occasion twenty-two people were examined; three years later ten people were sworn on one day, also at the Rodney.
The law of settlement, with its many complications, still resulted in making life hard for the poor. Mary Cooper, for instance, was born in Little Baddow, where her mother was widowed in about 1800, when Mary was eleven years old. Widow Cooper received a weekly pension until at least 1833 and lived in the Poor House for a number of years. At the age of eighteen Mary was sent to work for one year at the George Inn at Southwark, thus gaining a settlement in that parish. She returned to Little Baddow in 1809, but, on needing relief, was removed to Southwark, at an expense of £1.0.6. to the parish. In January 1812, aged twenty-three, Mary was “apprehended in the Parish of Little Baddow…as a Rogue and Vagabond, videlicet being found in the said Parish of Little Baddow after being legally removed there from for which she was committed to the House of Correction..” Quarter Sessions then ordered that she be “examined and passed to her Settlement”. A justice accordingly ascertained that her settlement was in Southwark and required the Keeper of the House of Correction to convey her to the “Town of Bow…that being the first Town…through which she ought to pass in the direct way to…Southwark…and to deliver her to the Constable or other Officer of such first Town…together with this Pass and the Duplicate of the Examination of the said Mary Cooper taking his Receipt”. From there she was to be conveyed to Southwark and “delivered” to the parish overseers. A surgeon certified that he had examined Mary Cooper and found her “in good health and able to be removed without danger”. So a daughter was separated from her mother and family and any hope of a decent life.
An example of a whole family involved in removal from the parish occurred in 1825 when William Sampson, labourer, “at the time a prisoner in His Majesty’ Gaol at Chelmsford” for felony, was brought in custody to the Shire Hall to be examined as to his settlement. Petty Sessions decided that his wife (Hannah Balls of Little Baddow) and their youngest child must be removed at once to Hatfield Peverel. His nineteen-year-old daughter, being ill, was to be left in Little Baddow until fit to be removed, when the Hatfield overseers were to repay the expenses incurred on her behalf. Further consideration was needed to decide to which parish the fifteen-year-old son, an agricultural labourer, belonged.
The overseers had to spend more money in alleviating sickness that ever before. Doctors seem to have been called in rather more often than they had been in earlier periods and their fees were of course higher. Items such as the following were fairly frequent –
Pd. Docter Gackes for Doctering of Bickmore and his girl. £1.16.6.
Do. Doctor Morris for putting Thos. Wilcher wife to bed
And doctoring her. 1.17.0.
Do. Dr. Blacth for tenden Turnidge child 4.6.
Dr. Cremer a bill for attending Ollivers wife 3.15.6.
These expenses were additional to the official parish doctor’salary, who in most years was paid “for extra attendance on the poor”.
Dr. Thorpe, the parish doctor from 1809 at a salary of eight guineas a year, lived in Maldon, necessitating the payment of sums like 4s. “for going to Dr.Thorps at Maldon for Bunton 4 times” and 1s. to James Dowsett for fetching medicine. Another time 1s. was paid to “Dowsett Boy for his cart to Maldon with Rumsey boy”. One year a Witham doctor was employed, entailing entries like Paid Bibes boy going to Witham 9 times” 4s.6d. In 1833 an agreement made with “Messrs. Thorpe and Son sergons ” was entered in the vestry minute book. They agreed “to attend the poor in and blongen to the said Parish…..in all cases of Surgery operations Midwifery and Medical Treatment and all casuilteys for the sum of £18.18. yearley,
To attend all the Poor within the distance of 4 miles of the Rodney…”
Village women were still relied on for nursing by less often for effecting cures, although there were such examples as “curing the girl Bickmore’s toes” and “Paid the woman for doctring Wm. Days leg”. Old David Saward, aged well over eighty, was sharing a house with a middle-aged couple – the Freemans – and a young couple – the Bakers – who were paid by the overseer for looking after him in his last illness. Mrs. Freeman arranged his funeral and was reimbursed for it. Women still acted as midwives, like Mrs. Rumsey who was paid sums such as 7.6d. for “Delivering Sarah Wested with two children”, and 5s. for “Putten Turners wife to bad”. She was generally useful on many occasions, as “sitting up with Gage laying him out and cleaning the house up” and giving board and lodging to a “woman taken ill on the road”. For nearly twenty years until about 1830 Mrs. Maddocks was the parish midwife, paid regularly for “Labours” and “Midwifery”.
A few people were able to pay only part of the expenses of sickness and burials, in which case the overseer would make up the difference, as when Jeremiah Pledger “Gave Passfield towards doctors bill” 10s.6d. and “Thomas Wilshire towards his wifes laying in” 16s., and more for the laying out and burial fees. On another occasion £1.8.0. was paid “Towards the wid. T. Sawards funeral”. Money was given to Samuel Purkis when he had a “lame hand”. When “Jennings and family ill”, they received help, including 6s. for “3 Leeches for Jennings girl” – a reminder of one of the remedies still practised. These were expensive leeches as French’s wife had had an unspecified number for 1s. 6d. Sometimes as in previous years, food and drink was given in sickness –
Pd. Orton for 4lb. Of Mutton for Blakes when ill 2s. 4d.
Pd Dennis for meat for Bunting 2s.6d.
Pd. For a cask of Porter 9 Gallons at Mr. Dixons for Jacob Jarvis 15s.0d
Unusual items were occasionally purchased like the “Bathing Machine for Old Gibson” for 7s.
Funerals were a constant drain upon the funds, but never apparently did the overseers economise. A coffin was always provided and the shroud was not omitted. After 1814 this did not have to be of wool so inexpensive calico was used. A horse and cart were provided where necessary, but usually four men were deputed to carry the coffin to the church, for example “gave 4 men to cary her to Church” 4s. A hand-bier is never mentioned but may well have existed. For reasons which are not given, there was a greater number of instances than in previous times when an inquest had to be held following the death of a poor person.
More use was made of hospitals than in the earlier period. In 1817 the overseer paid £1.10.0. for Expences taken Homes to the London Hospital”; he recovered because a few months later there was bought “a pair of wheels” and “An axletree for Holme’s cart”. Another overseer paid 4s. 2d. for “Expences of Sarah Bird going to the Hospital”. And £3.16.0. three weeks later when she left. The following year she was laying out Dame Sturgion, so she too recovered. In 1822 Richard French was given 10s. towards his expences at the London Hospital and 7s. for his coach hire, while John Gibson was paid 1s. for “carting French to coach”. Coaches ran daily between Chelmsford and London. When Margaret Smee was ill the overseer sent twice for Dr. Thorpe, paid Smith 5s. for the use of his house and gave 19s to the “setters up” for the sick woman. It cost 8s. to take her to Witham where “Mr. Tomkin charge for Mat Smee at the Witham Dispensary” was £4.14.0.
William Grimstone had his legs amputated; in 1810 the overseer was buying “Woll for pads for Grimston Lags”, then “Grimstons Wooden lages and sterapes” and paying Mrs. Linsell for “Doing for Grimston”. In 1821 the blacksmith was paid for “shoing Grimston stump”.
The overseers in some years made a “return for Idiots”, or a “Lunitck Return”, and in 1822 took Samuel Wisby to Petty Sessions as a Lunatic Pauper. It was proved that he was at times dangerous and he was therefore ordered to be locked up pursuant to the Statute. The chain, lock and staple cost 5s.6d.
The nineteenth century overseers were as anxious as their predecessors to marry off any pregnant girl and were willing to spend some money and time in arranging it. Isaac Barnard for instance in 1808 took Frances Gowlett to Petty Sessions to swear to the father of her child and obtained a warrant against William Campion. His expenses were –
Paid for marrying Wm. Campion 15. 6.
Do. The licences and ring £3.15. 6.
Do. Expences at Chelmsford 5. 6.
Gave Gowlet 2. 0.
Expences at Rodney 11. 6.
My Expincis horse and cart and Orton 15. 6.
(Orton was the constable)
In some cases no marriage could be arranged. Jane Blanks swore before Petty Sessions to the father of her child and then a few weeks later said she had been intimidated by the real father and told to swear another man. The magistrates were perplexed as to how to deal with her case and no note was make by the Clerk of the outcome. After Elizabeth Nunn had had a daughter in May 1820 she accused James Saward, carpenter, of being the father. He denied it at Petty Sessions but was not believed so a Filiation Order was made. He was ordered to pay 3s. for maintenance of the baby since its birth, £2 for the expenses of the birth, 10s. for the Filiation order and 3s. weekly for the child’s future maintenance. The mother was to pay 1s. weekly. In September Saward was still denying paternity and refusing payment, but when threatened with imprisonment and the committal order was actually drawn up, he gave in. The overseers’ accounts show that he did in fact pay for a year or two when the child probably died. Other men went to prison rather than pay, in the case of one of them the Constable charging 2s.6d. “to take John Sampson from the Shire Hall to the Gaol”. Another who preferred prison to paying caused Hannah Oliver to go to Petty Sessions for redress, as the overseer had refused her relief. For years the parish was having to remit 1s. a week to the parish of Little Easton for a child of Robert Blake of Little Baddow who could not pay it himself.
In 1804 John Turner, labourer, absconded, leaving his wife dependent on the parish relief. The overseer obtained a warrant from Petty Sessions for his apprehension and return. Some years later another John Turner was “neglecting to maintain his family – spending his money in alehouses etc.” Petty Sessions committed him to prison for a month as “An idle and disorderly pauper who took it into his head to go out and get drunk for a week and permitting his wife and family to become chargeable to the Parish”. In extenuation it should be said that he had suffered unemployment and some dreary work on the highways during the previous few years. John Hinton was in the habit of disappearing. In November 1806 the overseer paid £1.7.6. for the warrant and for his and the Constable’s expenses before Hinton was safely “put in Prison”. Mrs. Hinton was given regular payments while her husband was missing and in prison. He went twice more, causing similar expenditure. Later he was taken to Petty Sessions “to be punished for refusing to continue in a Service where he had been placed by parish officers”, but on promising amendment he was discharged.
Some of the poor attended Petty Sessions to complain about their treatment by the overseers. In one case the overseer was told “that he must have the habitation complained of cleansed etc.,” Thomas Francis alleged that the overseer had refused “to make a Tenement habitable after placing him therein” and had not given him the relief he was entitled to according to the Table of Allowances. In another case the overseer stated that he had not granted relief because “the Pauper is a worthless girl, will never keep her place – and throws herself on the parish”. The Bench ordered her to be “set to stone picking and only allowed what she earns”. One man wanted better wages and refused to do the work set him by the overseer. He had previously been described as an “Idle and disorderly Pauper”, a man “who spends more time at the Penitentiary than at home and yet does not mend”. On one occasion the same man “finding a warrant was issued against him on Friday last left the parish and was found in a state of vagrancy”, that is “lodging on the steps of a house in the night at Chelmsford”. Finally in 1833, after many convictions and imprisonments, he was committed to Quarter Sessions as an “Incorrigible Rogue”, but his fate is unknown. Another pauper who refused either to work or to contribute towards the maintenance of his daughter while her husband was in prison, was himself sent to prison for two months. Mary Rumsey appeared before the magistrates to complain that the overseer refused to “Bury Junipers child dead at her house”. He was ordered to do it. George Moody asked for relief on the grounds that his wife was dead and he had four children, but the justices decided his case was not made out at present, though the overseer was directed to “watch it”. In 1807 an individual Justice must have been appealed to for Josiah Crane is paid 3s. to “Dame Turnage for the Boy Bob by order from the Justice”.
As the nineteenth century advanced, it became apparent that the “welfare state” set up by Queen Elizabeth’s Parliament was inadequate for contemporary problems. William 1V’s Parliament therefore in 1834 passed the Poor Law Amendment Act which established a revised system of poor relief. The last entry in the last vestry minute book records for meeting’s authorisation to Mr. John Simmons, farmer of Little Graces, churchwarden, to collect the rate, pay the poor and other outgoings and adjust the accounts up to March 25th 1835. They were in fact anticipating the formation of the Chelmsford Union, for which the fist meeting of the Board of Guardians was not held at the Black Boy Inn, Chelmsford, until Saturday, 15th August 1835. The elected Guardian for Little Baddow was John Simmons, who must have had to act as overseer until the Union commenced operation, which event the poor might well have awaited with some not unjustified trepidation.