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Parish Registers

February 16, 2014

I am in the middle of a very long, painstaking job, to put the Parish Registers for Worfield Parish into a spreadsheet and then put it online for people to use. It will, of course, go online at and  a copy will be available in the Church for people to peruse.
I have wanted to do this for a very long time. Many years ago when doing a thesis on the Parish, I looked in the censuses 1841-1901 for people employed in craft-type occupations, basket weavers and the like. I found some blacksmiths and wheelwrights and nothing else, everyone else, apart from a few millers, seemed to be agricultural labourers. The pattern was disappointing and dull. The answer, of course, was that the craft occupations had long gone, but when I looked at the Parish Registers from 1562 there they were and some of them were surprising. Everyone loves surprises and Parish Registers are full of them. Take a look at a few of these.

Elenor Moore (base born) mother Mary, father not known, delivered in the open street at Newton
1609 Ismael Tirry ( base born), mother Elizabeth, delivered by the way.
1574 James (base born) surname and forenames of parents not known, delivered to a wayfaring woman.
1615 Theophilus Barney “born in ye Chapell of Lefeith,”

There are lots of things which interest me about this, not least the hardship of these women giving birth in the open. How did people survive? Yet they thought it was important to have the child baptised, even with the shame of not divulging who the father might be. In the case of the wayfaring woman, she didn’t give her names (perhaps she really didn’t have any,) but she thought it important enough to give her child a name. Assuming James survived one wonders what surname he gave himself as he grew up.

Surnames are a subject in their own right. Lucky the person who can trace his family without coming across aliases (what were they for,) or names changed for a reason at the time. My favourite is a man whose name was changed to Sing because he led the singing in Church. I know I have mentioned this before, but it always makes me smile.

Then there are the craft occupations I had looked for in the nineteenth century. There is a corser (a horse dealer), fishermen, weavers, basket makers, shearmen, tanners, glovers, carpenters, thatchers, sayers (woodcutters), tailors,  baggers, plasterer,cobbler, clothier, cowpers (barrel makers.) There is even (1607), one Francis Rowley, a merchant venturer. The agricultural labourers fall into two categories. They are either husbandmen or daylabourers which begs the question, how did the daylabourers survive when there was no casual work?

Quite often the father has already died when the child is born and the wife, if she has moved away, comes back to Worfield. So it was with Richard Tranter who was born in 1607. His father had been killed in a Broseley ‘cole pit.’ So, too, presumably with Susannah Lloyd, widow of John Lloyd ‘of Mahunclith in the County of Montgomery.’

The villages mentioned are interesting. They are several with the suffix ‘riddings,’ meaning that the land has been cleared and enclosed eg Bromley Riddings. Then there villages mentioned which no longer exist. As I do more work we will come to a time when there will be a last entry for these places and new villages will appear.

Spelling can give you an indication of how a word was pronounced. The Armitage is so much more evocative than The Hermitage as it is today. Hallon, no-one has ever been able to come to a definite view of the meaning of the place-name. The early spelling were Hawlonde, Hanlond as well as Hallon. So what was the ‘correct’ spelling. Is Hallon a shortening of Hawlonde/Hanlond?

And so I could witter on like this for a very long time. A tedious job it may be but the results justify the effort I believe.


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