We've been away for several days visiting relatives in different parts of the country. We returned Up North via the M1 and while passing the Woodall Services area between Junctions 30 and 31 I was reminded what an important place this is in our family history.
Woodall is a small hamlet in South Yorkshire which is part of the parish of Harthill, about a mile away. It was once just a few cottages and farms but has some contemporary residential housing too. It's now only 400 metres from the M1!
My grandfather, Sidney Henry Buckle, was born at Firvale, Harthill in 1882.
His father, John Henry Buckle, was also born at Harthill in 1852.
John Henry's father, Christopher Buckle, was born in 1821 at Sinderby over seventy miles away in an entirely different area of Yorkshire. His mother, Harriet Unwin, was born in Harthill in 1820.
Christopher and Harriet were married at the parish church, Harthill, in 1850. He was a widower employed as an agricultural labourer. Harriet was a "spinster" and employed as a domestic servant.
Harriet's father was William Unwin, born in Woodall near Harthill in 1792. Her mother, Sarah, was born in 1796 also in Woodall.
William's father and his wife Fanny Pearce were also born in Harthill: William in 1765 and Fanny in 1767. So, our family has connections in Woodhall and Harthill going back almost 250 years.
Harriet's father, William Unwin, was a Cordwainer: first a Journeyman and then a Master. A Cordwainer was a shoemaker who worked with good quality leather. After an apprenticeship of seven years, the cordwainer was employed as a journeyman which didn't mean that he necessarily travelled around for work but that he was expected to work for more than one Master if required. The Master worked for himself or employed others to assist him.
This lovely image is from the U.S.A. in 1914 but I doubt it was much different in the U.K fifty years earlier! (File from Wikimedia Commons.)
By 1871 William was, however, classified in the census as a shoemaker. He died in Harthill in 1876 a few years after his wife's death. The Kelly's Directory of 1881 lists a George, John and William Unwin as shoemakers which suggests that the occupation was passed on to all William's sons.
I guess that Christopher Buckle moved to Harthill for his work. Maybe he went to York (only about thirty miles from Sinderby) to the Martinmas Hiring Fair. Both male and female agricultural workers would gather at the fairs in order to bargain with prospective employers and, hopefully, secure a position for the coming year. They often wore some sort of badge or tool to denote their speciality. Shepherds held a crook or a tuft of wool, cowmen brought wisps of straw, dairymaids carried a milking stool or pail and housemaids held brooms or mops. The yearly hiring included board and lodging for single employees for the whole year with wages being paid at the end of the year's service Employers would look over the prospective employees and, if they were thought fit, hire them for the coming year, handing over a shilling to seal the arrangement. Alternatively, maybe Christopher somehow knew people in the area and went to live with them before he landed his job in Harthill.
How Christopher came to be in Harthill is a matter of conjecture but the facts are that after his marriage to Harriet he had four sons. The oldest, (my great grandfather John Henry Buckle) went to work in the new coal mining industry after the pit opened at nearby Kiveton Park in 1865. Subsequently John H. moved his family to Royston, near Barnsley when he got a promoted position at the colliery nearby and eventually all his extended family went there too.
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK