The 1830s was a difficult time for many agricultural labourers in the country. With other factors, the mechanised practices in agriculture resulted in unemployment, reduced wages and poor conditions.
The inhabitants of Great Ellingham were not immune to the struggles. The village was affected by the widespread uprising during this time. Farmer John Barnard had his barn set alight after the village received threatening letters.
Unemployment and reduced income put more pressure on the parish to provide support to the poor and the out of work labourers and their families. The handouts paid to the poor (who must prove to be ‘deserving’ and have ‘legal settlement’ in the parish), came from local taxation i.e. the Poor Rate. The parish also recovered some of the expenditure by finding paid work for some of those claiming Poor Relief.
Fork, Dig & Drop Potatoes
The following extract from the Great Ellingham Vestry Minute Book provides an insight as to how the ‘Parish Officers’ (the churchwardens and the overseers of the poor), recouped some of the expenditure of the poor relief :
|April 30th, 1834. |
It was this day agreed between the Parish Officers of Great Ellingham and Mrs Denew of Rockland that the unemployed Poor of this Parish should fork and dig and drop the Potatoes in a Husbandry Manner on two acres of Land belonging to Mrs Denew for the sum of 4 Pound 4 shillings the Money to be paid by Mrs Denew to the Parish Officers on or before the 25 Day of September next ensuing
|Benjm. Barnard |
John Barnard Churchwardens
|Nathl. Weston |
Wm Lynn Overseers
We do not know from the above extract the names of the villagers who worked on Denew’s farm. However, given that the agreement was signed by Rob. Denew (as well as the churchwardens and overseers), we are able to find out a little more about the Denews.
Robert & Naomi Denew
The 1841 census finds farmer Robert Denew and his wife Naomi with their three young sons living in Shropham Road, Rockland Saint Andrew. Robert and Naomi have two servants – 19 year old Ellis Clarke and 15 year old Maria Harvey.
Bearing in mind that the parish of Rockland Saint Andrew abuts the western boundary of Great Ellingham, the Denew family may well have farmed land in both Great Ellingham and Rocklands. Indeed, the Register of Electors for 1842-1843 shows that Manning Robert Denew occupied property in both Rockland St Andrew and in Great Ellingham near Penhill Road.
Robert and Naomi Denew were not local to Rocklands. A later census reveals that Robert was born in Cantley and his wife in Norwich.
Great Ellingham Vestry Minutes, 1822-1839. Norfolk Record Office. PD 609/39. Also available via https://www.familysearch.org
1841 census HO107/15/4
1851 cemsus HO107/1825/159
England, Norfolk Register of Electors, 1832-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6PC3-GY3?cc=1824705&wc=MX6S-529%3A161034801%2C161988401%2C161990901 : 21 May 2014), Norfolk > Western division > 1842-1843 > image 50 of 56; Record Office, Norwich.