Who lived at Hadleigh in 1851?

The second in a series about Victorian Hadleigh

Hadleigh Tithe Map 1847
Copyright Essex Records Office

When the census was taken on 30th March 1851, there were 216 males and 187 females living in the village, making a total population of 403. There were 98 dwellings recorded in the village, 83 of which were occupied and 15 which were empty on that night.

As in the 1840s, {here is the article on 1841} Hadleigh was a farming community, with the land being owned by a small number of land owners.

In 1851 about 38% of Hadleigh’s population had been born in the village, 18.5% had been born in neighbouring Thundersley, Benfleet, Leigh or Rayleigh, 33.5% had been born elsewhere in the county of Essex, and the remainder elsewhere in the UK.


Place of BirthNo.
South Benfleet20
North Benfleet3
Elsewhere in Essex135
Hampshire/Isle of Wight2
Not Known4


The 1851 Hadleigh Census gives more detailed and accurate information about the occupations of the villagers.


Agricultural Labourer5474
Annuitant (Pensioner)01
Basket Maker01
Beer House Keeper11
Bricklayer’s Assistant01
Carpenter’s Apprentice01
Coal Carter01
Independent Means40
Letter Receiver11
Market Gardener01
Mole Catcher01
Pauper Labourer03
Police Constable01
Pupil Teacher01
Scholar (Boy)*27
Scholar (Girl)*27
School Mistress/Teacher12
Sempstress (Seamstress)01
Servant (Female)910
Servant (Male)10
Straw Bonnet Maker01

* not recorded on 1841 Census

For the first time the census recorded if a child attended school. Until 1855, when the National School opened (now Sandcastles Nursery), the children were taught in the parish church.

Agricultural Labourers

Over 50% of the working men in the village were employed as agricultural labourers in the local farms ~ Hall Farm, Park Farm, Blossoms Farm, Solbys Farm, Castle Farm, Common Hall Farm and Sayers Farm. There were 74 agricultural labourers in 1851 and 3 pauper labourers.

In the summer the labourers were employed to do the harvesting, with their wives raking the cut corn into rows ready to be tied into sheaves. In 1851 this had to be done by hand using the sieves made by James Ridgwell. They sowed and tended to the various crops on the farm and cared for the farm animals ~ they milked cows, fed pigs, herded and sheared sheep and looked after the poultry. Their work also included trimming and layering hedges and maintaining the farm buildings, fences, gates, farm tracks, ditches and ponds. Their children were also employed as gleaners in the fields after the harvest and as potato pickers.

The Baker

George Lloyd had now been the village baker for over twenty years and was still a prominent man in Hadleigh (Tithe Map 29). In March 1851 only the youngest of George and Mary’s children were still living with them. All four attended the village school in the church. Of their other children, Louisa and Hannah were servants in London, James was a butcher’s boy in London and George was working as a groom at Rayleigh.

The Basket Maker

In the past few years, the Ridgwell family had moved into the cottage next to George and Mary Lloyd (Tithe Map 30). James Ridgwell was the village basket and sieve maker, and was an important craftsman in the village as he supplied the containers used in both homes and businesses. James collected the osiers for his work from a stream in the meadow behind his cottage. James Ridgwell married Catherine Thorington on 14th November 1842 at Thundersley. Although she had four children to look after (Walter, James, Mary Ann and Lewis) Catherine worked as a straw bonnet maker. Fortunately, the two eldest boys attended the village school.

The Beer House Keeper

In 1851 Samuel Shelley still owned the beer house on the edge of the common (Tithe Map no. 121). Helped by his wife Sarah and a young female servant, Jane Horner, there were four lodgers living there on the night of 30th March 1851.

The Blacksmiths

George Gibbs and William Doe were still working as the village blacksmiths in 1851. George Gibbs had his forge next to the house rented by Rev. William Harvey (Tithe Map 11). He worked as the village blacksmith until his death in 1854, and was buried in St. James the Less churchyard on 12th April 1854. William Doe’s forge was on the other side of the village street (Tithe Map 37). After George Gibbs’ death, his forge was taken over by Stephen Choppen, the son of the village wheelwright. It was Stephen Choppen who was alleged to have made the ‘witch bottles’ for James ‘Cunning’ Murrell.

The Bricklayers

Stephen Raison was still the village bricklayer in 1851 (Tithe Map 41). His brother Roger, who had helped in the business, had died in 1846. Two of Stephen’s sons were now working for their father ~ William as a bricklayer and Henry as a labourer. Stephen and Harriet’s daughter, Mary Ann, had married John Stibbards in 1847. Their middle son, Stephen, was working as a sawyer, probably with his brother-in-law, John Stibbards.

The Butcher

Thomas Baldwin had now been Hadleigh’s butcher for about thirty years (Tithe Map 14). Only two of his five children now lived with him and his wife Sarah. Thomas, aged 25, was a butcher like his father, while John, now 18, was a carpenter.

The Carpenters

In 1851 there were four Hadleigh carpenters and one apprentice. Thomas Smith and William Prentice were both journeymen, which meant they had served an apprenticeship. Thomas Smith lived with his wife Mary in the cottage next to William Smith, the shoemaker (Tithe Map 125). Lodging with William Smith was his widowed uncle, Thomas Burrells, who was a carpenter. 18-year-old apprentice Thomas Smith also lived in this cottage and may have been the son of Thomas and Mary Smith (Tithe Map 126). The fourth carpenter was John Baldwin, the 18-year-old son of Thomas Baldwin, the butcher.

The Coal Carter

In the mid-19th century, coal was the most common household fuel, being used for both heating and cooking. In 1851 John Hockley would deliver the coal to the households in the village using a heavy-duty cart. John, who was born in about 1786 at Bowers Gifford, lived with his wife Sarah.

The Curate

In 1851 Hadleigh was still without a rector as the Reverend John Mavor, appointed in 1825, was still imprisoned for debt in Oxford County Gaol. As a result, the church was desperately in need of repair. Henry Whittington had been Hadleigh’s curate in 1841, but in 1851 he was the curate at Little Maplestead in Essex. By 1851 the Reverend William Harvey had been the curate of St. James the Less church  for about four years. As the rectory was dilapidated, he rented a house in the main street (Tithe Map 10)

William Harvey and his wife Jane were both born in Kent in 1824. Born at Walmer, William was the son of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Harvey, who had been British Naval Commander of the West Indies until his death. William and Jane, who were married on 11th July 1848, named their first son Thomas after his grandfather. Sadly, he died on 6th January 1850, aged 8 months, after suffering convulsions. (A memorial to Thomas Harvey may be seen in St. James the Less church.) However, the 1851 Census records that William and Jane had another baby in 1850, William, who was then aged 5 months.

The Dressmakers

In 1841 Eliza Benton was the only dressmaker working in the village. Ten years later there were two more dressmakers and a sempstress. In 1841 Eliza had been living with her sister Maria, who was working as a schoolmistress. Following their father’s death in 1846, Eliza and Maria moved back into their mother’s house (Tithe Map 9). James Benton had been a farmer and his widow Mary was to live in the village until her death in April 1851, at the age of 84. Susan Benton, who was probably Mary’s daughter-in-law, was also living in the house at the time of the census.

The other dressmaker was Mary Ann Choppen, the daughter of the wheelwright. Mrs. Hepzibah Balls, a widow who lived with her brother, worked as a sempstress to support her two young children. A sempstress would only be employed to do plain sewing, rather than dressmaking.

The Farmers

There were eight farmers in 1851: Jonathan Wood senior, Jonathan Wood junior, Henry Wood-Twin, James Tyrell, Daniel Woodard, William Emberson Benton, Mrs. Ann Harvey and Daniel Glasscock.

Jonathan Wood senior was farming 980 acres and employing 37 labourers. He and his wife Ann lived in the Solby’s Farmhouse. His son, Jonathan Wood junior, farmed 244 acres with the help of 8 agricultural labourers at Hall Farm. The farmhouse shown on the 1847 Tithe Map (Tithe Map 292) was the original Hadleigh Hall. Between 1847 and 1851, Jonathan had built a new house, where he lived with his wife Maria and their two daughters.

Henry Wood-Twin was Jonathan Wood senior’s half-brother. Born in about 1813, he was the illegitimate son of Henry Wood and Ann Twin. He rented Park Farm from Lady Olivia Sparrow, farming 500 acres and employing 28 labourers. He lived with his wife Mary Ann and their three young children ~ Henry, George and Eliza.

Blossoms Farm (Tithe Map 12) had been bought in 1833 by Eleazar Tyrrell. By 1851, his brother James (born at Rayleigh in about 1807) was farming the 200 acres at Blossoms Farm, employing 6 agricultural labourers and 2 farm boys. In 1851, James lived with his wife Mary Ann and six of their children.

Sayers Farm had been leased from James Patten in 1841 by two brothers, John and Daniel Woodard.  After Daniel’s death in 1850, the 150 acre property was run by John, employing 5 men. His eldest sister, Elizabeth, still lived with him and probably ran the house.

The Grocer

Following William Greenham’s death in 1842, the grocer’s shop had been taken over by James Carter (Tithe Map 17). A bachelor from Purleigh in Essex, he was looked after by his sister Phebe, who acted as his housekeeper. Charles Potter, aged 24 from East Hanningfield, worked as a baker in the store and lodged with the Carters. Another lodger was 18-year-old Samuel Paynter, a pupil teacher.

The Letter Receiver

William Appleton, now aged 70, was still the letter receiver in the village. Letters would be delivered to his house by foot from Rochford at 8 o’clock in the morning and letters would be despatched to Rochford every afternoon (including Sundays).

The Mole Catcher

Traditionally, mole catchers, armed with their own hand-made traps, were employed by landowners to rid them of ‘the little gentlemen in black velvet’. The Hadleigh molecatcher in 1851 was Edward Freeman, a widower born at Stock in about 1776.

The Pauper Labourers

The 1851 Census records three pauper labourers. William Coker was only 33, but was unable to work as he was blind. He had a wife and three children to support. Archibald Smith and John Snell were unable to work due to old age. Archibald Smith, aged 80, lodged with his nephew Thomas Smith, the carpenter. John Snell, aged 83, lodged with his daughter Sarah and her husband Charles Webb.

Since the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 , poor law relief was no longer available from the parish and the workhouse was  the only way of receiving help. The Hadleigh workhouse in Workhouse Lane (now Chapel Lane) had closed in 1839 and the poor had to apply to the Rochford Union Workhouse.

The Police Constable

Prior to 1848, Hadleigh had only unpaid parish constables. This was to change when Thomas Miller was employed by the Essex Constabulary. P.C. Miller was born in Scotland in about 1818. On 7th December 1849 he married Jane Raison, the daughter of Roger Raison, the village bricklayer.

The Publicans/Victuallers

In the 1851 Census Hadleigh’s two publicans were listed as victuallers, which meant they sold food as well as drink. In the 19th century, many travellers stopped at the two village inns, The Castle and The Crown, on their way to Southend.

John Pike still ran The Castle with his wife Mary Ann (Tithe Map 15). Five of their children still lived with them. Elizabeth attended school, while Mary Ann, Harwin, Henry and Robert probably helped their parents in the inn. John was to remain the publican at The Castle until his death in 1853, at the age of 68, when his widow Mary Ann took over the business.

The Crown Inn, owned by Wells and Perry brewery company, was now run by William Wayland and his wife Charlotte (Tithe Map 26). Rev. William Harvey conducted the marriage service for William and Charlotte on 1st December 1850. Charlotte, who was over 20 years older than William, was a widow when she married William.

The Sawyers

A sawyer was a man who sawed timber in a timber pit or mill. Hadleigh’s two sawyers were Stephen Raison and his brother-in-law, John Stibbards. John Stibbards, was born at Prittlewell in about 1828, and married Mary Ann Raison on 30th April 1847 at St. James the Less. By 1851 they had two sons, John and James. Presumably, Stephen Raison and John Stibbards prepared the wood cut in the many local woods by the two woodcutters, James Pepper and Henry Dale, and the woodman, Joseph Murrills.

The Shoemakers

There were three shoemakers recorded on the Hadleigh 1851 Census. The most famous was James Murrell, also known as ‘Cunning’ Murrell, { regarding whom: click here for the facts;   and click here for the legend } who lived in a cottage in the End Way (Tithe Map 238). He had worked as a shoemaker, along with William Summers, at the time of the 1841 Census. William Summers still lived with his wife Rachel in the cottage (which he owned) next door to Samuel Shelley’s beer house (Tithe Map 120).

William Smith was born at Hadleigh in about 1821 and lived in his cottage with his wife Ann and their two daughters, Emma and Jane (Tithe Map 126). William had married Mary Ann Barnard on 11th January 1845 at St. James the Less.

The Thatchers

James Adams , who was born at Hadleigh in about 1806, may have been the son of John Adams, the village thatcher in 1841. Until about 1848, he had worked as an agricultural labourer. James and his wife Sarah had seven children living with them in 1851, the eldest of whom helped their father in his thatching business. They were 19-year-old John, 17-year-old William and 12-year-old Joseph.

James Shepherd , aged 32 from Buttsbury, lived with his wife Charlotte and daughter Rebecca. Working with James as a thatcher was their lodger, the 14-year-old George Attridge.

The Wheelwrights

In 1851 John Choppen was still the village wheelwright, but he was now helped by two of his sons, John and Charles (Tithe Map 25). Six of John and Mary’s children were still living with them. (Stephen Choppen was working as an apprentice blacksmith at Bowers Gifford.) Their daughter Mary Ann was working as a dressmaker and her sister Julia as a teacher. The two youngest boys, Alfred and Henry, attended the village school held in the church.

{ Here is the article on tithe records and map from 1847 }

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  • James Adams, the thatcher, was my 3 x great grandfather. He was born on 29 December 1805. His father was John Adams (b. 14 December 1776), also a thatcher. By 1841 John seemed to be living on his own. He died in January 1845 in Rochford Union (the workhouse).

    By Ross Chestney (11/11/2020)
  • As it is 1st October (National Poetry Day,) it might be of interest to note the W B Yeats poem “Down by the Salley Gardens” references the use by basket-makers like James Ridgwell of the long flexible shoots (withies) resulting from coppicing the common willow or osier (Salix Viminalis,) also known as “sallow” or saileach in Irish.

    By Stu Edward (01/10/2020)
  • Hello Jacqui, We were thrilled to read your comments. We are great great grand daughters of Stephen and Selina Pratt Harvey! 

    Please get in touch.

    Wendy Hayes and Zoe Krmadjian ( We are double first cousins. Our grandmother was Madeline Harvey who lived at Leigh Heath Farm ). We would like to know how we are connected. How exciting!

    By Wendy Hayes (17/08/2015)
  • Dear Wendy Hayes, I was interested to read your comment to Jacqui. I am interested in the fact you had relations who lived in Leigh Heath Farm, do you by chance have any photos of the farm, I have one very bad one but have never been able to track down another. My interest is Salvation Army Farm history. Graham Cook

    By Graham Cook (17/08/2015)
  • Robert Hallmann, I emailed the people who sent me photos of the Harveys and copied the link to this site. Maybe they’ll contact you.

    Is there anywhere I can get copies of the photos that you have copies of, in case they’re different?

    Having read in the Chelmsford Chronicle about Selina Harvey’s funeral, where the children from the school lined the walls and sang hymns to her as the cortège went past, it would be great to find any more photos. Makes people from the past seem more real 🙂



    By Jacqui Watson (29/05/2014)
  • Yes. They would be my 3x great aunts, Rebecca (Polly) and Ellen (Nelly). They were spinsters and were bombed in Hart Road in November 1940, as was one of their cousins – I think he was called Stanley. Their brother, James Pratt Harvey is also buried in Thundersley churchyard. Selina Harvey’s brother, James Pratt (died 1876) is also buried there. Couldn’t find his wife, Rebecca Thorrington though. She died two years earlier. The gravestone is made of stone and has worn, so maybe she is there too. It looks as though they died childless. It was amazing to find all of the graves so close together. The marble gravestones made the reading easier as they haven’t worn away.

    Any stories about them would be great to read. It brings distant ancestors to life. The newspaper article about Selina’s funeral suggests she was well known for ‘good works’ but I haven’t found anything about that.

    I wonder if the Sarah Harvey, whose dog followed her to school, was my great great grandmother? She married my great great grandfather, David Amey and moved to Forest Gate, where he was from (although his father, Samuel, and grandfather Joseph, were born in Eastwood and his mother, Mary Ann in South Benfleet.)

    By Jacqui Watson (28/04/2014)
  • It’s going to be an old fashioned book, though it will be published by the Hadleigh and Thundersley Community Archive. When it’s published I shall put more of the material on this site and yes, even copies are welcome when the originals are not available. It’s just that the pictures I have were poorly copied. Two of the Harveys’ daughters also rest together in Thundersley churchyard.

    By Robert Hallmann (15/04/2014)
  • The large Harvey family are an intrinsic part of the Thundersley story. The farm later became the head offices of the Wiggins builders’ family. It is now a nursing home, while the land about has been built on. My forthcoming history of Thundersley and Daws Heath carries the story. There have been some very historical pictures taken of the family. I only wish one could find the originals.

    By Robert Hallmann (13/04/2014)
  • I would be very interested in that and in any photos. Are you publishing it as a book or do you mean on here? I have some photos of Stephen and Selina, alas not originals, but would need to get permission from the person who sent me copies to post them here.

    By Jacqui Watson (13/04/2014)
  • Mrs Ann Harvey (née Bewers) one of the farmers mentioned, was my 4x great grandmother. She was married to William Harvey. Their son, Stephen, was my 3x great grandfather. I have found lots about him and that he farmed Leigh Park Farm, Scudders Farm and Raymonds Farm. He married Selina Pratt in 1848. I recently came across an article describing Selina’s funeral in 1899. It sounded quite grand and said that the children from the school had lined up and sung hymns as her funeral cortège passed by. It also said that she was well known for her kindness and good works. I found her gravestone at St. Peter’s Church, Thundersley. I wondered if there was any more information about her anywhere or the ‘good works she was known for’?

    By Jacqui Watson (12/04/2014)

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