Who lived at Hadleigh in 1841?

The first in a series about Victorian Hadleigh

By 1841 Queen Victoria had been on the throne for four years. In 1840 she had married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and had given birth to the first of her nine children. There were two prime ministers in 1841. Lord Melbourne had been the head of a Whig government since 1834 but, in August 1841, was forced to resign. He was replaced by Sir Robert Peel, who formed a Conservative government.

Life was hard for the villagers of Hadleigh in 1841 as there was an economic recession. Life expectancy was only 40.2 years for men and 42.2 for women. (The oldest resident at Hadleigh in 1841 was Henry Wood, aged 87.) More than 70% of the population in the UK were under 35. For Hadleigh this figure was just under 69%. Out of every 1,000 babies, 150 died before they were one.

Sketch Map based on Hadleigh Tithe 1847

The 1841 Census

It is possible to learn who lived at Hadleigh in 1841, as the first census which provided personal details of individual people was held then. As the level of literacy was low in 1841, the enumerator may have had to fill in the form from verbal answers given by the householder. Names in particular were often misheard and misspelt, even if the answers provided by the householder were correct. The householders may not have known the precise answer to a question, even their correct age and surname spelling if they were unable to read. Other householders may have misinterpreted the question and given a misleading answer. While others adjusted the answers to suit themselves.

The 1841 Census for Hadleigh provides limited (and often inaccurate) information. The most accurate data provided is on the number of villagers and the number of dwellings. On 6th June 1841, there were 189 males and 177 females living in the village, making a total population of 366. (The population of the UK in 1841 was 26.7 million, although this figure does not include the large homeless population.) There were 96 dwellings recorded in the village – 83 of which were occupied and 13 which were empty on that night. The 1841 Census also recorded the name, sex, age, occupation and whether the villager was born in the county of Essex.

The Tithe Map of Hadleigh 1847

The term ‘tithe map’ refers to a map of a parish, prepared following the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836. This Act required the drawing of an accurate map showing all the land in the parish and an accompanying schedule giving the names of all owners and occupiers of land in the parish.

Sketch Map based on Hadleigh Tithe 1847

As can be seen from the sketch map based on the Hadleigh Tithe Map of 1847, the village’s main dwellings and businesses were along the main street (now the High Street). This street, which was not named the High Street until later in the 19th century, was to be the main street in Hadleigh until the bypass (the stretch of the current London Road from the fire station to the church) was built in 1924. If one could return in a time machine to the Hadleigh of 1847, the overall impression would be one of common land, pasture and arable land. As now, the most impressive building in the centre of the village was the parish church which had stood on the site for at least 800 years. The only other two buildings which one would recognise in 1841 would be The Castle and The Crown inns, although they would look different from today.

Pigot’s Directory of Essex 1839,  White’s Directory of Essex 1848

Further information about Hadleigh can found in both these directories.

White’s Directory of 1848 describes Hadleigh as: ‘a small village and parish, 2½ miles W.N.W. of the fishing port of Leigh, and 6½ miles W.S.W of Rochford, containing 366 souls and 1709 acres of land. . .Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow is now lady of the manor, but part of the soil belongs to the Wood, Woodard, and other families. . . . The village is pleasantly situated on the London and Southend road, and has a fair for pleasure and pedlery on the 24th of June. It anciently had a market on Wednesday’.

Hadleigh in the 1840s

Using the data contained in the 1841 census, the Tithe Map of 1847, Pigot’s Directory of 1839 and White’s Directory of 1848, it is possible to determine who lived at Hadleigh in the 1840s, who owned the land and what the main occupations were.

In the 1840s Hadleigh was a farming community and, in 1847, the land was owned by a small number of landowners, who included Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow, Eleazar Tyrrell and his brother James, Thomas Woollings, James Patten, William Hilton, Jonathan Wood, Sion College in London and Christ’s Hospital.

Occupations in 1841

Data on occupations in the 1841 Hadleigh Census is probably not completely accurate, as the enumerator did not always record the occupations of all those living in each household. Many villagers needed to rent rooms to lodgers and the occupations of these lodgers were not recorded.

Agricultural Labourer 54
Baker   1
Beer Shop Keeper   1
Blacksmith   3
Bricklayer   2
Butcher   2
Carpenter   5
Clerk (Curate)   1
Dressmaker   1
Farmer 10
Female Servant   9
Grocer   1
Independent Means   4
Mail Agent   1
Male Servant   2
Publican   2
School Mistress   1
Shoemaker   3
Thatcher   1
Wheelwright   1

Using the above chart and the Tithe Map of 1847, I hope to give an idea of who lived in the village in 1841 and exactly where their dwelling was in 1847. The numbers in each section refer to the numbers on the sketch map (which is based on the Tithe Map). I have indicated with [1851] those villagers who appeared in the Hadleigh Census in 1851.

Agricultural Labourers

Like the majority of the population of England in 1841, over 50% of the working men in the village were employed as agricultural labourers on the local farms – Hadleigh Hall Farm, Park Farm, Blossoms Farm, Solbys Farm, Castle Farm, Common Hall Farm and Sayers Farm. The labourers were at the mercy of their employers who could, without any notice, lower their wages or even turn them out of their cottages if they felt they could no longer afford to employ them or if they became too old or too sick to work.

Sketch Map based on Hadleigh Tithe 1847

Two such agricultural labourers who lived at Hadleigh all their lives were John Havis [1851] and John Gilman [1851]. John Havis was christened in the parish church at Hadleigh on 10th April 1803 and married to Eliza Cheldicks on 29 September 1834. In 1841 they had three young children – John, Susan and James. John Gilman, who was about eight years older, was also christened, married and buried at St. James the Less. In June 1821 he married Sarah Herbert and they had at least twelve children, nine of whom shared the cottage in 1841. The Gilmans lived in the group of cottages next to The Crown (Map 1).


George Lloyd [1851], the village baker, was a prominent man in Hadleigh. In Pigot’s Directory of 1839, he is listed as not only the baker, but also as the postmaster of Hadleigh. As the parish clerk, he was a witness at many weddings performed at St. James the Less in the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s.

Although George was born at Buttsbury in Essex, in about 1793, he himself was married at St. James the Less in 1830. His bride was Miss Mary Eliza Cowley, born in about 1804 at Lambeth in Surrey, but then residing at South Benfleet.

His baker’s shop, one of the few shops in the village in 1841, was next to The Crown in a cottage owned by Eleazer Tyrrell, a grocer living at Horndon-on-the-Hill (Map 2). George and Mary had six children in June 1841, with Mary pregnant with twins, who were born a few months later and christened by Rev. Whittington on 5th September 1841. Their current family comprised George, Charles, James, Henry, Louisa and Hannah.

Beer Shop Keeper

On the edge of the common, in 1841, was the beer shop belonging to Samuel Shelley [1851], on land owned by Jonathan Wood, a local farmer (Map 3). This later became The Waggon and Horses.

Beer shops were brought into existence by the Beer Act of 1830 and were usually a room in, or attached to, a cottage, generally on the outskirts of a village. The beer shop was usually more popular with agricultural labourers than the inns, as beer could often be bought using goods such as firewood or poached animals.

Samuel lived here with his wife, Sarah, and two children, Samuel, aged 19, and Mary Ann, aged 12. Samuel and Sarah were both born at Hatfield in Essex at the end of the 18th century.


In 1841 the most important means of transport was by horse and cart. Consequently, one of the most important occupations at this time was that of blacksmith. Village blacksmiths did more than just shoe horses or help wheelwrights by making and fitting metal tyres for wooden carts and wagons. They also provided the metal tools and implements needed for work and home life – they could make or repair anything in metal. The village of Hadleigh had three blacksmiths in 1841 – William Doe [1851], George Gibbs [1851] and James Lee.

George Gibbs had his forge in the building next to the house rented by Rev. Henry Whittington (Map 4). Born at North Shoebury in about 1787, he was younger than William Doe, who was born in 1784 at Alphamstone in Essex. William Doe’s forge was on the other side of the village street (Map 5).


Stephen [1851]  and Roger Raison were the village bricklayers in 1841. They were brothers, probably both born near Hatfield Peverel in Essex in the 1790s. Roger, the eldest brother, lived with his wife Sarah and their four children – Daniel, Charles, Henry and Jane. Daniel Raison was to die only a month after the 1841 Census, aged 20. Roger died five years later, aged 56, and was buried in St. James the Less churchyard.

Stephen Raison had married Harriet Button on 20th October 1821 at St. James the Less. Harriet was born at Hadleigh in about 1801, the daughter of Edward and Rebecca Button. They had four children – Henry, Mary Ann, Stephen and William. In 1841 Stephen and Harriet lived away from the village street in a house bordering Blossoms Farm (Map 6.)

Sketch Map based on Hadleigh Tithe 1847


Thomas Baldwin [1851] was the first established butcher at Hadleigh and had a shop in the village since at least 1821. His shop was next to The Castle (Map 7.)

Thomas, who was born at Grays in 1796, had married Sarah Ann Harman of Northfleet in Kent. They had at least eleven children. At the time of the 1841 census five of the children were living with them – Benjamin, John, William, Francis and Mary Ann. Their son Robert was living with his maternal grandparents on the night of the 1841 Census. Joseph and Jane Harman lived with a vicar’s widow, Mrs. Jane Squire, on the corner of what is now the London Road and Common Hall Lane.

Their daughter, Elizabeth Greenham, had married John Trew Foster at Stepney on 27th April 1841, and they were now living at Hadleigh. John Foster was a butcher, although he and Elizabeth later managed The Crown inn.


In 1841 the five Hadleigh carpenters – Thomas Smith [1851], Samuel Shelley juniorWilliam Summers junior [1851], Thomas Burrells [1851] and Joseph Harman – would have carried out all the woodworking in the village, except for the work done by John Choppen, the village wheelwright. Their raw materials were elm and oak felled on local farms with their own saws and axes, and dragged back to their yards by ox or horse.

Thomas Smith was a local man, having been born at Hadleigh in about 1811. He and his wife Mary, from Hawkwell, had several children, four of whom were living with them in 1841 – Thomas, Henry, William and Mary. His cottage was the middle one in the group of three cottages on the corner of what is now the London Road and Common Hall Lane (Map 8). Thomas Burrells and Joseph Harman lived in the cottages either side of Thomas Smith.


In 1841 the Reverend Henry Whittington was the curate of St. James the Less. Although Lincoln College, Oxford appointed the Reverend John Mavor as rector of Hadleigh in 1825, he probably visited the village only once. In 1823 he was appointed resident curate of Forest Hill, to the east of Oxford. On being appointed rector of Hadleigh, he decided to allow a curate to perform his clerical duties in the village. In 1834 he was arrested for debt and imprisoned in Oxford County Gaol.

At the time of the census Henry Whittington had been Hadleigh’s curate for less than a year, and lived in a house in the High Street with his wife Letitia, and his children Harriet, Henry and Walter. The house was rented from Mr. Frederick Fitch of Old Hall Farm at Steeple Bumpstead (Map 9).

Henry and Letitia were both aged 32 at the time of the 1841 Census. Henry was born at East Retford in Nottinghamshire, whilst Letitia was born at Aldwinkle in Northamptonshire. They were married on 11th February 1834 at All Saints church at Milwich, in Staffordshire. Whilst living in Staffordshire, their eldest two children, Henrietta and Henry, were born. Letitia had recently given birth to Walter on 27th February 1841. The baby was christened by his father in St. James the Less on 18th April.

The Whittingtons were not to stay in the village for long. On 30th January 1843 their daughter Margaret was born at Hadleigh. By 1851 Henry Whittington was the curate at Little Maplestead in Essex. In 1855 he was appointed vicar at Chilcompton in Somerset, and lived there until he died in 1899, aged 91 years.


Dressmaking was one of the few respectable occupations open to Victorian women. Miss Eliza Benton [1851], who was born at Thundersley in 1812, was the village dressmaker at this time. The daughter of James Benton, a retired farmer, and his wife Mary, she shared a cottage in 1841 with her elder sister, Maria, who was the village schoolmistress.


At the time of the 1841 Census, Hadleigh was a farming community. Among the ten farmers listed in the 1841 census were Henry WoodJonathan Wood senior [1851], Jonathan Wood junior [1851], Daniel WoodardJohn Pocklington and William Harvey.

The three members of the Wood family, who were farmers in the village, owned properties in South Benfleet, Leigh, Prittlewell and Canvey Island. Henry Wood, his son Jonathan senior and his grandson Jonathan junior farmed Castle Farm, Solbys Farm and Hadleigh Hall Farm (Map 10) during the 1830s and 1840s. The two younger men were both prominent members of the community, occupying several important positions in the parish vestry (the forerunner of the parish council) including overseer, surveyor and assessor. Jonathan senior was also a long-serving churchwarden.

Henry Wood, was born on Canvey Island in about 1754. Prior to living at Hadleigh, he had farmed at South Benfleet. He and his wife Sarah Holland had two children – Jonathan and Sarah. Jonathan Wood, born in 1784, married Ann Nash on 13th November 1810 at St. Mary’s church at South Benfleet. Ann Nash was the daughter of a South Benfleet farmer, Daniel Nash, and his wife Ann. Their son Jonathan (known as Jonathan Wood junior) was born in about 1816 at Prittlewell. On 9th February 1849 he married Maria Lockwood at Wandsworth. Henry Wood died on 17th July 1848, aged 94, and was buried in St. James the Less churchyard.

Sayers Farm, the furthest west of the farms on Hadleigh Downs, is still at the end of Chapel Lane. At the end of the 15th century, the farm was owned by William Sayer and, in 1841, the old farmhouse was still standing. At the time of the 1847 Tithe Map, Sayers Farm was owned by James Patten and leased in 1841 by two brothers – John and Daniel Woodard, the sons of John and Mary Woodard of Reading, Berkshire.

John was the eldest, born on 23rd December 1801. He was christened with his younger brother Daniel at St. Giles church at Reading on 17th February 1804. Their eldest sister, Elizabeth, who had been born in Hampshire in 1798, lived with them and probably ran the house, with the help of their live-in female servant. Both Woodard brothers became involved in parish affairs.

Blossoms Farmhouse stood to the west of the Castle Inn in the main village street (Map 11) Built in the 16th century, it was a double-roofed, brick-built house. In 1833, it was bought by Eleazar Tyrrell, who had been born at Rayleigh. The farm was then rented to John Pocklington, a local tenant farmer.

John Pocklington, himself the son of a farmer, was born at Kinoulton in Nottinghamshire in 1813. On 5th May 1840, he married Eliza Harvey Count at Holy Trinity Church, Rayleigh. Eliza was born in 1817 at Heybridge in Essex. At the time of the 1841 Census Eliza was expecting her first child. Their daughter, named after her mother, was christened by Rev. Whittington in the parish church on 2nd July 1841.

John Pocklington farmed at Blossoms for most of the 1840s, and then moved to Vange in Essex. By 1851, Eleazar Tyrrell’s brother, James, was farming the 200 acres at Blossoms Farm.

Female Servants

The most common occupation for females in Victorian Britain was domestic service and, between 1831 and 1841, the number of female servants increased by 35%. In the village of Hadleigh, there were nine female servants listed in the 1841 census. These would be defined as ‘lower’ servants who performed the dirty, heavy work, mostly in the farmhouses in the village. With the exception of one of John Pocklington’s two servants, who was aged 55, all of these girls were aged 21 or under. Three of these girls were only about fifteen years old. A ‘maid-of-all-work’ usually worked 14 to 16 hours a day. Mary Wade, who worked for the grocer William Greenham, would also have been expected to work in the shop.


There was only one grocer’s shop at Hadleigh in 1841, run by William Greenham and his wife Elizabeth(Map 12). Born in the 1770s, William was aged 66 in 1841, and his wife was two years older. William and Elizabeth had at least five children. Their son William, aged 27, was living with them in 1841 and probably helped his parents in the shop.

Independent Means

Four people were listed on the 1841 Census as being of ‘independent means’. This description can be misleading, as it does not necessarily mean they had substantial assets. Three of them were widows and may have been reliant on their children’s charity. Mrs. Jane Squire[1851] was the widow of a vicar and also earned extra money by taking in lodgers (Map 13). James Benton, a retired farmer, lived with his wife Mary, in the house next to Rev. Whittington (Map 14).

Sketch Map based on Hadleigh Tithe 1847

Mail Agent

By 1841 William Appleton [1851] had taken over the duties as Hadleigh’s post master from George Lloyd. In the census of 1841 he was recorded as a ‘mail agent’. Letters would be delivered to his house in the morning by foot from Rochford, and then letters would be despatched to Rochford every afternoon (including Sundays). William and his wife, Sarah, were both born in the 1780s – William at Maldon in Essex and Sarah at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. They were married in Hampshire in 1803.

Male Servants

There were only two male servants in the village at this time, both employed by farmers. Joseph Markwell employed 20-year-old Elijah, while Jonathan Wood senior employed Sydney Wilshire, who was aged 21.


The Castle (Map 15) was – and still is – the oldest public house in the village, built in the 17th century as the Boar’s Head. In the 18th century the name was changed to the Blue Boar and, in the 1820s, to The Castle. In the 19th century many travellers stopped at the two village inns on their way to Southend.

The licensee at The Castle in 1841 was John Pike [1851], who had moved to Hadleigh with his wife Mary Ann and their young daughter, also Mary Ann, in about 1833. John was born in Suffolk in about 1785 and his wife at South Hanningfield in 1810. At the time of the 1841 Census they had six children, all but the eldest were born and christened at Hadleigh. They were Mary Ann (born at Rayleigh in 1832), John, Susannah, Harwin, Henry and Robert.

In 1841 The Crown (Map 16) was owned by Wells and Perry, a Chelmsford brewery company, and only sold beer. Smaller than the current building, the entrance was in the main village street (now the High Street). Near to the inn were fields owned by the brewery company (Map 17).

The licensee in 1841 was Robert Cole, who had been there at least two years as he was listed in Pigot’s Directory for 1839. Robert and his wife, Mary, lived there with their two daughters. On the night of the 1841 census, there were five other occupants, probably lodgers or servants, although their occupations are not recorded on the census. When the Tithe Map was produced in 1847, Robert Cole had been replaced by John and Elizabeth Foster. John also continued in his trade as butcher and used the pasture land owned by the brewery company.

School Mistress

Prior to the introduction of state education in 1870,  many children in early Victorian England never went to school at all, and more than half of them grew up unable even to read or write. As Hadleigh was a farming community, boys would be expected to work on the farms, especially at harvest time.

Although there was no school building in the village, a Sunday School had been set up in the church and, in 1841, Miss Maria Benton [1851] was the school mistress for the village. This Sunday School had been established in 1820 using a trust fund from Mrs. Martha Lovibond of Hadleigh House. The children would have attended the school, which was held in the church chancel, on other days besides Sundays. Teaching was mainly by rote and emphasis was particularly placed on learning to read and write, as well as religious instruction.


There were three shoemakers recorded on the Hadleigh 1841 Census. The most famous was James Murrell [1851] also known as Cunning Murrell, who lived in a cottage in the End Way (Map 18). William Summers [1851], although not born at Hadleigh, was to live in the village for about thirty years, working as a shoemaker (Map 19). He and his wife Rachel were both born in about 1800.


Many of the houses in Hadleigh were thatched at this time, as it was the main roofing material available in this part of the country. John Adams, aged 60, was the thatcher listed in the 1841 Census. He lived in a cottage with his daughter Susannah and her husband William Baker, an agricultural labourer.


In the 19th century, nearly every village had its own wheelwright, a man skilled in his trade. During this time, increased use of iron in the building of wagons meant that the wheelwright became more dependent on the services of a blacksmith. Hadleigh in 1841 had the services of John Choppen [1851] as wheelwright. John Choppen was first recorded as working as a wheelwright at Hadleigh in the Pigot’s Directory of 1839. The Tithe Map of 1847 shows that his wheelwright business was near The Crown inn (Map 20).

John was born at North Benfleet in about 1798, the son of John and Esther Choppen. His widowed mother, Esther, who was aged 66 in 1841, had been born at Woodham Ferrers and lived with her son and his family. John Choppen had married Mary Welham on 4th February 1825 at Great Wakering. Mary was born at Chelsworth in Suffolk in about 1799. In 1841, John and Mary had seven children.

{Click here to link to an article on the Tithe Map of 1847.}

{Ed:  Map of 1777, Chapman and André  eight places mentioned in the text and underlined for ease of location.}

Underlining key places

Chapman and André Map of Essex, 1777

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  • William Harvey, farmer, was my 4x great grandfather.

    By Jacqui Watson (13/04/2014)
  • Thank you for all the comments. Next year I will be continuing with my articles on Victorian Hadleigh, accompanied by displays in Hadleigh Library. This year I have been writing a book about Hadleigh National School, which is being published by the archive in 2014. I am currently compiling a database of all those who were baptised, married and buried in Victorian Hadleigh, and I will be able to help people trace their ancestors.

    By Chris Worpole (11/12/2013)
  • Great site for info. My mother was Norah Choppen who lived in Church Road when she was single. I’ve given a list to my grandchildren they all think it’s pretty cool being the offspring of John Choppen wheelwright. I’ve also taken them to where the foundry was in the High Street, all great stuff many thanks.

    By Roger Shinn (10/12/2013)
  • Good work, very interesting info!  I’m searching for any old mapping of the parishes in the local area, if anyone can suggest a web-link please.

    By Giles (09/07/2013)
  • Thank you for the information. Although it has not helped me in locating my gt gt grandad William Joseph Smith, who was living in this town before he left for Australia in 1844, it gives me a good idea of the type of small town in which he lived in the UK.

    By Christine (10/01/2013)
  • The information contained in these entertaining articles are much appreciated. When investigating family history there is always a doubt that the information you have found is correct and it is encouraging for me to have so many of my details for the Choppen family confirmed. Thankyou.

    By Ann (02/01/2013)
  • I’m afraid my sketch map is misleading as I shaded in the dwellings. There were six cottages in Endway but I have shaded over the boundaries.

    By Chris Worpole (14/05/2012)
  • Thank you, Chris, for such a useful effort. A boon to us and future historians. It even explains a lot about today’s Hadleigh. Here it would seem that Cunning Murrell’s was one of only two cottages in Endway? That elongated pond along Rectory Road about the site of the Millfield property. Could that once have been a millpond?

    By Robert Hallmann (03/05/2012)

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