William Jeffs, my great, great, great grandfather , was born in 1796 in what was then the hamlet of Armscott, now known as Armscote, six miles south of Stratford upon Avon. His wife, Sarah Walton, was born in 1808 in Tanworth in Arden and they were married in Lapworth on 11 October 1831.

They appear in the 1841 census (the earliest on record) living in Copt Green, near Lapworth with their five children, Hannah (then aged approximately 10), William (6), Mary (6), Eliza (4) and Peter (3). Sixth and seventh children, Sarah and Amy, were born in 1841 and 1842 respectively.

William Jeffs is recorded in the 1841 census as being an agricultural labourer. In those days the term "agricultural labourer" was used to describe "all farming servants and labourers in husbandry". William remained an agricultural labourer throughout his life, even when he was well into his seventies. He died in September 1875.

After William's death, his wife Sarah Jeffs fell into poverty, living initially at 5 Church Lane, Lapworth, where in 1881 census, she is recorded simply as "pauper". She later went to live with two of her daughters, Sarah and Mary, who by that time had both been widowed.

William and Sarah's oldest child, Hannah, married Thomas Goddard, an agricultural carter in 1853 and they settled in the village of Wasperton, five miles south of Warwick. They had at least three children - William (born 1855), Thomas (1857) and Sarah (1859). By the time of the 1861 census, however, Thomas had remarried, which almost certainly means Hannahg must have died somet time between 1861 and 1871.

William and Sarah Jeffs' second child, also called William Jeffs, became an agricultural labourer, marrying Maria Thomson and settling in Nuthurst, near Lapworth. William and Maria had eight children - Sarah, Peter, John, Amelia, Edwin, George, Thomas and Mary. He too continued working on the land until well into his old age.

Mary Jeffs became a domestic servant for the Corlett family in Hampton in Arden, Warwickshire. The head of the household, Frederic Corlett was a butcher by trade and Mary is first recorded as working for the family at the age of sixteen but it is not known when she first took up the post. At this period in history it was not unknown for girls as young as twelve years old to leave home in order to work as domestic servants. She later returned to Lapworth and married Thomas White, a gardener. They had three children - Ann, Thomas and Samuel. Their son Thomas is recorded in the 1871 census as living and working as a servant at the Lapworth home of a septuagenarian farmer, Michael Farley. Thomas was just ten years old at this time!

After the death of Thomas senior, Mary and her children went to live with her younger sister, Sarah, who was also a widow. Their mother, Sarah, by now in her eighties, joined them here. At this time the sisters were running a laundry in Lapworth.

Eliza Moseley, nee Jeffs

 

Eliza Jeffs, my great, great grandmother, was born in 1837, the same year that Queen Victoria acceded to the throne. Like her older sister Mary, as a young girl Eliza became a domestic servant in Hampton in Arden, working for the Mond family. She returned home to marry George Moseley and between them the couple had ten children, including my great grandmother Ellen Moseley.

Eliza's brother Peter Jeffs married Ann Hawkes, a servant girl, in 1862. They moved to Darlaston, Staffordshire, where he worked as a labourer in the ironworks industry. He died in 1869 at the age of just thirty one.

At the age of fifteen, Sarah Jeffs was lodging with the Neale family in Lapworth. She later married one of the sons of the family, John Neale, a farm labourer. The couple settled in Stratford Road, Lapworth and had nine children - Joseph, John, Henry, Sarah, Walter, Emily, Eunice, David and Samuel. After her husband's death, Sarah ran a laundry service in the village with her widowed sister Mary.

Amy Jeffs does not appear in any census returns after 1851 and it is likely that she died in childhood.