1781 – 24 Westgate Street

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucester, Local History, Nonconformist, Shops

Every time the property changed hands, it was described as being in two separate parts, one under the auspices of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral and the other under the auspices of the Mayor and Burgesses of the city of Gloucester.  By 1781, it was being described as one. 

“All that backward messuage or tenement court and brewhouse thereunto belonging with the appurtenances … and which said messuage or tenement is now thrown into one and intermixed with certain leasehold premises purchased of the said John Webb which make together one complete messuage or tenement and shop”

In November 1781, John Webb transferred the property to Meshach Charleton, a hatmaker.  In those days, the top hat was replacing the cocked hat as favourite headwear amongst the wealthier citizens of Gloucester.   Where Meshach learnt his trade is not recorded in the local apprenticeship records but it is assumed he did so with his father, also called Meshach, as the father, a feltmaker or feltmonger, is recorded as taking on a couple of apprentices. 

Meshach Charleton married Mary Washbourn in 1774 at St Mary de Crypt church.  At that time, it was required that all marriages (except for those of Quakers and Jews) should take place in a Church of England church.  Whether the couple were at that stage practising nonconformists or not is unknown but both of their children, Shadrack, in 1776 and Elizabeth in 1779, were baptised in the Barton Street Independent Chapel.

1721 – 24 Westgate Street

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucester, Shops, Uncategorized

When the earliest document was created, in 1721, the property was owned by Nicholas Lane who was an apothecary.  It was in two parts, one under the auspices of the Mayor and Burgesses of Gloucester, the other under the auspices of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral.  The former was described as:

“All that stable, summerhouse and garden situate and being in the parish of Saint Mary de Grace in the city of Gloucester, then in the tenure of the said Nicholas Lane or his under-tenant, consisting of all that piece of ground extending from Grace Lane by the College wall to other the land of the Mayor and Burgesses then in possession of Richard Elly, gent, containing in length from Grace Lane aforesaid to a summerhouse newly built on the west nineteen yards and in breadth four yards.  And all that stable and building thereon erected next to Grace Lane aforesaid.  And after some part of the summerhouse or building standing at the west end of the same piece of ground  containing in building from east to west two yards and an half.  And also all that other piece of ground extending in length from the said summerhouse on the north to the lands of Mr Fletcher on the south fourteen yards and in breadth two yards and an half having land of the Dean and Chapter on the south and divided by a brick wall from other the lands of the said Mayor and Burgesses on the west.  Also all that part of a shop on Maverdine Lane side with the building over it wherein Mr John Palmer dwelleth containing in length from the street side to the north three yards and two foot and in breadth one yard and one inch having Maverdine Lane on the west  side and the other part of the shop being College land on the east together with a purpresture of half a yard broad the length of the shop next the land together with all ways, passages,  and appurtenances to the said premises or any part thereof belonging or in any wise appertaining.  “

The second part of the property was described thus:

“All that their shop with all the rooms thereupon built mentioned to be situate lying and being on the parish of Grace Lane in the city of Gloucester in a place there called the Mercerrow having the lands of the said Dean and Chapter mentioned to be then in the possession James Wood, mercer, on the east side, a lane or passage called Maudlin Lane on the west, the land of Nicholas Lane on the north and the Kings Highway on the south and containing on the forepart from east to west four yards and one foot and from north to south seven yards and then in the possession of John Palmer, bookseller;  And also all those their four stables now converted into three tenements with two courts or gardens to the same belonging situate, lying or being in the parish of Grace Lane in the city of Gloucester aforesaid having lands then of Thomas Lugg, gent, on the south, the lands of said Nicholas Lane on the north and west and the Kings Highway on the east which said tenements do contain from east to west nine yards and an half and from south to north next the Lane twelve yards and the courts or gardens do contain from east to west ten yards and a quarter and from north to south nine yards and a half and are mentioned to be in the possession of Robert Clarke, Thomas Haines and the said Nicholas Lane; “

Nicholas Lane was born c. 1672 and married Hester Rodway in the 1690s.  Over the next twenty years, the couple had eleven children: Mary, Nicholas, Elizabeth, Kendrick, Sarah, Hester, Lucina, Christianus, Charles, another Mary and Eustace.    Of these, Kendrick, Sarah, Christianus, Charles and both Marys died young.  Nicholas, junior, does not appear in any of the documents relating to 24 Westgate Street; it is presumed he, as an adult, was living a separate life from the rest of his family by the 1720s.  His sister, Elizabeth Lane, had married in 1714 to Richard Harding, a mercer from Tetbury, whose name is prominent in the early documents.

Over the years, at least from 1701 to 1717, Nicholas took on apprentices; Richard Yarnell, Thomas Hill, Thomas Peynard, Thomas Scott, George Wilcox and Joseph Colesbourne.  His oldest son, Nicholas junior, also became an apothecary.  But, by 1821, Nicholas was not doing well in trade and was in deeply in debt.  Fearful that he would be sent to the debtor’s gaol in Gloucester Castle, Nicholas transferred the property at 24 Westgate Street into the name of his wife and those children still living at home, Hester, Lucina and Eustace, so that they would still have a roof over their heads, should the worst occur.  The property was held in trust for them by two gentlemen; Richard Harding, his son-in-law and John Rodway.  John Rodway was also a mercer and, in 1723, became Mayor of Gloucester.  He was possibly a relative of Hester Lane, Nicholas’ wife who, before their marriage, was Hester Rodway.

The financial situation did not improve for Nicholas Lane.  In 1723, he took out a mortgage for £300 from Mary Clissold but, in 1728, he obviously had not paid all of the instalments on the mortgage, was arrested and put in gaol.  After a while, the money was raised to pay his debts and he was released but the experience damaged his health and, later in 1728, he died.  His wife, Hester, went to live with her daughter, Elizabeth Harding, in Tetbury, and died there in March 1732/3.

Apprenticeships for poor children

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law

Some apprenticeships were organised by the overseers of the poor in a parish  in order to enable a poor child to provide for himself and his family in future years.  These documents may be found in the parish chest and can often give a little more information than expected.

For example, an apprentice indenture, dated 12th January 1772, found in the Down Hatherley records, relates to young William Gibbs and informs us that William was the son of the late John Gibbs who was a labourer from the hamlet of Wotton,  and that his mother was Dorothy who was then married to John Finch of Wotton, also a labourer.  William was being apprenticed to John Blanch who was a cordwainer in Down Hatherley.

Many years later, on 28th February 1801, William Gibbs was declaring to the overseers that George Piff of Down Hatherley had his apprenticeship indenture.  No reason was given for why he did not have it himself.

 A week later, William Gibbs was examined by the authorities – presumably he had become dependent on the parish for some reason.  In his examination on 4th March 1801, he declared that he had been born in the hamlet of Wotton in the parish of St Mary de Lode and, about 27 years before, had been apprenticed to John Blanch of Down Hatherley, cordwainer, with whom he had served 5 years.  This qualified William for settlement in Down Hatherley and therefore to support from the parish.

On 6th March 1801, the overseers of Down Hatherley were ordered to pay William Gibbs the vast sum of 3 shillings per week.

Guilds

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Freemen, Genealogy, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Research

Early tradesmen and women were organised into guilds.  Today, there are over 100 guilds, each with its own crest and associated patron saint, a list of which can be found online.  Some archives exist, consisting of information on apprentices, freemen, minutes of meetings and requests for help from petitioners.  However, there is no central repository of their records; most are based in London at their guild headquarters.  Some information, particularly on apprentices and freemen may be found locally.  For Gloucestershire, we have two good books which contain transcripts on apprentices between 1595 and 1834 and their masters and one which lists freemen from 1641 to 1838.   These records don’t necessarily relate to a Gloucestershire person – either the apprentice, the master or even the freeman could be from another county.  An example of an entry in the Apprentices book is:

Ref: 1/549         1641 Nov 1

Draper, John son of Thomas, upholsterer, dec’d, of Gloucester to Plomer, Robert & Christian, 8 years, pewterer, 20s.

Check out my chapter on Apprentices and Freemen to find out more about guilds, apprentices, masters and freemen.

 

The Parish Chest

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Books, Parish Chest, Parish Registers, Poor Law, Research

There’s more in the parish chest than baptism, marriage and burial registers. Back in the 16th century, each parish was required to purchase a strong oak chest, with three locks and keys, to hold the church silver, the parish registers and other documents necessary for the administration of the parish. This followed on from the Poor Law Act of 1522 which had ordered a similar chest to be bought to hold securely the alms collected for the poor. The three keys were to be given to the bishop, the minister and a religious layman.

If you have finished searching the registers and want to know more about your ancestor’s life in a parish, look at the settlements and removals, the apprenticeship records and the bastardy bonds (We’ve all got some of those!). Check out Chapter 1 in my latest book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Volume 2.

Overseers of the Poor

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Genealogy, Poor Law

Poor Law was administered by each parish following an Act of Parliament in 1597. It authorized the parish to levy a rate to be paid by those who could afford to so do. Collection of the rate was the duty of the Overseers, who also distributed the money to those in need, either in cash or in kind. Overseers had to keep accounts and they are very useful for finding out more about the poorer members of society.

As well as distributing money, the Overseers could organize apprenticeships for poor children and orphans, could question single mothers and order reputed fathers to pay maintenance so that the illegitimate children were not a charge on the parish, and could examine and remove people to their parish of origin who were in need of funds but who perhaps were not qualified to belong to that particular parish. So Overseers Papers include apprenticeships, bastardy bonds, settlement examinations and certificates and removal orders as well as rates for the poor and details of poor relief.

Gloucestershire Apprentices

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Freemen, Genealogy, Gwinnett

One way to trace the parents of your ancestor is by looking at records concerning their apprenticeships.  There are two useful books for Gloucestershire Apprentices, both produced in the Gloucestershire Record Series by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

They are: ‘A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester 1595-1700’ edited by Jill Barlow, M.A. and ”A Calendar of the Registers of the Freemen of the City of Gloucester 1641-1838′ transcribed by Peter Ripley and revised and edited by John Jurica.

The first book deals with the apprenticeship registers and has entries such as:

1690 Nov 1 Gwinnett Francis, son of Lawrence, gentleman of Great Shurdington, to Newman, Samuel 7years baker

1680 Apr 12 Gwinnet, Richard, son of George, gentleman of Badgeworth, to Randle, Josiah & Margery, 7yrs baker 2s 6d.

the second line giving the name of the apprentice’s master, the length of time of his apprenticeship, the trade and sometimes the amount paid to the master.  At the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice was entitled to become a freeman of the city.

The second book, listing the Freemen, has entries such as:

1757 Oct 24 Button Gwinnett, son of Sam., clerk
1806 Apr 14 Sam. Gwinnett, writer, son of Chas., victualler

(There is a note that Button was a signatory on the American Declaration of Independence of  1776.)

A man could become a freeman in four ways, by apprenticeship, by patrimony, by purchase or by gift of the city corporation.  Although the books, available via Amazon.co.uk, specify the city of Gloucester there are entries for people from the whole county of Gloucestershire as well as a few from elsewhere.