A Woman’s Work…
This article is undergoing some corrections, therefore, where a letter (F) appears in the main body of the article, please refer to the footnote.
Elizabeth Crawshaw was born in 1776 in Yorkshire. She married her husband John who was 5 years her senior and by the year 1799 and at the age of just 23, she was a farmer of over 150 acres at Warmsworth.
My wife often likes to point out the various hardships she endures as she juggles being a mum, a wife, a house-wife and a full time employee. I try not to argue with her on this as 12 years of experience has taught me to bow to her superior knowledge on the subject.
Let us think though, for a few paragraphs, about the workload of Elizabeth Crawshaw and how she managed to successfully run a farm and a family in the early 1800s.
The land that Elizabeth farmed was not her own. She rented it from William Battie-Wrightson Esq. As with all landlords, occasionally there would be rent increases and for this to be administered fairly, a valuation of the property had to take place. One such valuation was undertaken in 1799 commissioned by Battie-Wrightson and is a fantastic insight into the extent of Elizabeth’s responsibilities. As landlord, he leased out a total of four farms in Warmsworth. Elizabeth’s farm was one of the larger estates and consisted of Croft, Pickhill, Lime Kiln Close, Low West Yard, Spittle Yard and Common, Ridding Close, Wood Nook Close, Beck Close, Great Wood Nook, Glebe in Turnpike Close, Burr Flatt, Middle Field, Don Field, and Church Field, to name just some of it. The whole estate was surveyed at 150 acres, 1 rood, 28 perches (or today, 150.425 acres) and the yearly rental value was £151 4s 0d (or approximately £9000).
Some of the place names that are listed above are still hinted at today with road names such as Glebe Street, Common Lane, and Croft Road. Middle Field is now the site of the huge Warmsworth quarry just off the A630 Sheffield Road, and Church Field is now the extensive housing estate which has Tenter Lane as its spine.
It is unclear to me without further research exactly where Elizabeth lived although the survey does make mention of a rather large house with outbuildings and a yard *(see footnote). Under closer scrutiny I would guess that the area immediately surrounding Warmsworth Hall was its location, one of the reasons being, that Lime Kilns are mentioned and there were such kilns on land adjacent to the Warmsworth Hall around this time.
Certain restrictions were placed on the lease and one such is as follows:
“Elizabeth Crawshaw should be allowed to have no more than 24 acres of enclosed land in tillage (or ploughed) at one time, which will complete a regular round of fallow (uncultivated) with the field lands. She may change the other enclosed land by taking up and seeding down, but should not plough High and Low West Yard, Lime Kiln Close, Crofts, and the Don Ings”.
She also had Tithes to pay, on top of her rent which amounted to somewhere in the region of £30 (£1,700) per year.
Later in life, she and her husband John, although still living in Warmsworth, had handed the running of the farm over to their Daughter, also called Elizabeth (F). This Elizabeth was a single parent to Edward age 14, Eliza age 13, Catherine age 10, and Jessy age 7. She did have help from her Father (now 70 years of age!) and from 3 female and 3 male servants, all of whom are listed in the 1841 census, a luxury that my wife wishes for from time to time.
As we try to imagine farming in those times, we think of horse-drawn ploughs and jolly plough boys taking their lunch of bread and cheese under the shade of a stately oak tree, warm summer days in the great Yorkshire countryside. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It was a life of hardship and toil as Elizabeth’s father would tell us if he were here now.
There are those of us that complain from time to time at the thought of retirement age increasing and of the responsibilities that go hand in hand with providing for our families but, spare a thought for Elizabeth and her Father, John. While ever there was breath in their bodies and they were physically able, they worked the land in Warmsworth in order to put bread on the table for their families.
* Footnote – This article had generated a great deal of interest both online and offline. I have enlisted the help of an extremely good genealogist and local researcher who is in the process of correcting some of my mis-translations. In addition, two separate individuals have come forward suggesting that their properties migh be the house of the Crawshaw’s. I will attempt to correct this article down here in the footnote and you can monitor the progress here, when the article is as acurate as I can make it I will re-write it and replace this existing one.
- It turns out that the younger Elizabeth Crawshaw is, in fact, a daughter-in-law of Elizabeth and John Crawshaw, not a daughter as I once thought. So, where I refer to the relationship between Elizabeth and her Father, it really ought to be Elizabeth and her Father-in-law.