The Moseley family, from my father's side, play a significant part in our story. Much of their lives, in the period that this history covers, revolved around the development of two key modes of transport - the canals and the railways.

My great great great great great grandfather Robert Moseley  married Hannah Nixon in the Warwickshire village of Hatton on 18 August 1765. They had three children - John (born 1776), Hannah (1768) and Betty (1871).

John Moseley married Betty Hancocks in Meriden on 12 May 1791. Betty, born in 1771, was the daughter of  Richard Hancocks and Ann Sparks.

John and Betty had six children - William (born 1791),  John (1794), Robert (1796), my great, great, great grandfather Richard Moseley (1801), Mary (1804) and Hannah (1807), all of whom were born in Hatton.

Richard Moseley's wife, Hannah Lane was born in 1802 some four miles away from Hatton in the Warwickshire village of Wolverton.  They were married in Hatton on 5 September 1824 and settled initially in the village of Snitterfield before moving finally to Rowington.

 

Parish record of the marriage of Richard Moseley and Hannah Lane in 1824. The bride and groom, together with the two witnesses, Richard's brother John and their mother Betty were illiterate, each "signing" the record with an "X"

 

Richard and Hannah had six children - William (born 1829), Richard (1832), Hannah (1835), Henry (1838), George (1841) and Charles.

At the time of Richard Moseley's birth, King George III had been on the throne for over forty years, William Pitt the Younger was the British Prime Minister, and in Europe, Napoleon Bonepart was waging war across Italy, Austria and Egypt.  

In England, and central England in particular, canal construction was in its heyday, and Hatton was by this time a canal-side village. It is no surprise therefore that Richard Moseley became a canal navigator by trade.

This is not so glamorous a job as the title might at first suggest. Canal navigators were in fact the original "Navvies". Their job was to dig out the canal using hand tools. Firstly, the soil would be loosened using picks and shovels before being loaded into wheelbarrows. These were then pushed up sloping planks onto the banks of what would become the canal itself. Once digging had finished, the canal was lined with sand and clay to make it waterproof. Canals were deliberately built narrow to minimise the amount of digging that had to be done. As a consequence, canal boats (or barges) had to be built long and narrow, and this is why they are often called 'narrow boats'. But the narrowness of the canals also made the job of a canal navigator particularly dangerous. Many men lost their lives digging the canals, usually when the banks they were working near collapsed and buried them.

Throughout the first decades of the nineteenth century there was a huge investment in the building of canals across the Midlands, mainly to support the growing industrial importance of the city of Birmingham, and to this day Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice.  

Richard Moseley would most likely have been employed in the construction of several small stretches of canal across Warwickshire which, almost a century later, were finally linked together to form what we now know as the Grand Union canal.  

But with the advent of the railways in the mid 1800s, which increasingly offered faster travel, canal construction began to decline. By 1861 Richard Moseley had left canal building to become an agricultural labourer but died nine years later, in 1870 at the age of 69. According to the 1871 census Hannah Moseley then moved to Rowington, next door to her youngest son Charles and his family. On the census return for that year, Hannah's "Rank, Profession or Occupation" is described as "Union Pay", in other words she was a pauper in receipt of subsidence. Under the Poor Law, which originally had been passed in 1601 and updated in 1834, parishes were required to form Poor Law Unions, or simply Unions, which were responsible for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in their area. Those, like Hannah, who were too old or too ill to work, were known under the terms of the legislation as the "impotent poor" and could receive relief in the form of a payment, items of food (known as "the parish loaf") or clothing. Hannah Moseley died in poverty from "chronic bronchitis and congestion of the lungs" on 6 November 1881 at the age of 78.  

By the age of ten, my great great grandfather, George Moseley was already working as a farm labourer alongside his twelve year old brother Henry. Both George and Henry went on to become railway labourers as this new mode of transport began to develop.

Henry married Ann Flecknoe, a woman three years his senior, in 1857 and they had eleven children - Louisa, who died in childhood, William, Ann, Elizabeth, who also died in infancy, Frederick, who died in childhood, Mary, Hannah, Harry, Arthur, Agnes and George.

George's younger brother Charles began his working life as "bricklayer's labourer" but later became a police constable based in Rowington. Charles would have been one of the first ever police constables in rural Warwickshire (although the Warwickshire County Constabulary, as it was then called, had been established in 1840, it did not actually extend beyond the main urban areas of the county for another two decades). Charles Moseley remained a police constable for well over thirty years. He married Ann Durden in 1865 and they had nine children - Samuel, Mary, Albert, who died in childhood, Edward, Ellen, Charles, Annie, Frank and Edward. They later settled in Ham Lane in the little village of Butlers Marston, Warwickshire, mid way between Stratford upon Avon and Banbury. 

At the age of nineteen, George Moseley had married my great, great grandmother Eliza Jeffs. The wedding took place on 25 August 1860 at St Mary the Virgin church in the Warwickshire village of Lapworth, near Solihull. This was the village where George and Eliza were to spend the rest of their lives.   

   

George Moseley 

Lapworth lies on the junction of two canals, the Stratford Canal, and the Grand Union Canal (although at the time George and Eliza were alive many of the canals which comprised the Grand Union were yet to be connected). The canal now passes through Lapworth on its way from Birmingham to Leamington Spa via Shrewley, Hatton and Warwick.

For a period of about fifty years these canals were the principal means of carrying goods and raw materials into and out of the mighty industrial city of Birmingham. Trade on the canals steadily increased to a peak in 1838. But after that date the railways began to play an increasingly dominant role in the economic development of the region.  It is no great surprise to find, therefore, that in 1852 at the age of eleven George Moseley left farm work to work as a labourer for the railways. Along with Samuel Quinn and Fred Alcock he was one of three labourers working on the railway, joining the station master William Hoston and the clerk William Lee. Lapworth railway station was under construction at this time and was finally opened in October 1854, becoming fully functioning by 1855 (although until 1902 it was known as "Kingswood"). The station lay on the Great Western Railways' Oxford and Birmingham Branch line and was, in relative terms, a station of considerable size and facilities. The line from Lapworth would have run into Birmingham's Livery Street station, which later became Snow Hill station.

But by the age of fifty, George Moseley had become a farmer - an apparent but, as yet, unexplained upturn in his social status. He moved into Kingswood Farm, Station Lane, Lapworth with Eliza and their two youngest daughters Margaret and Lilly (aged 18 and 13 respectively at the time) and a gardener/domestic servant.

Kingswood farm is not recorded in the 1881 census returns for Lapworth, but was almost certainly in existence long before then. My cousin Malcolm Preston observed that "the building looks to have been originally a timber framed building which has received a brick infill instead of the original wattle and daub. As timber framed buildings were not built in the Victorian age on cost grounds, the building must be much older." It is probable, therefore, that the name "Kingswood Farm" came into being later in the 1880s although the building itself was already well established. This is confirmed by Peter Hill of the Lapworth Local History Group, who describes the building as one of the oldest in Kingswood, probably dating back to the seventeenth century.

I believe that it is around this period that the photograph album known as the "Family Bible" began. The album would have originally belonged to George and Eliza Moseley, and its very existence was a reflection of the family's increased social status.

Ten years later, according to the 1901 census records, only their youngest daughter Lilly was still at home with George and Eliza, but the family now had two servants living with them, James Astley (listed as a "gardener/domestic") and Thomas Lane ("servant/waggoner on farm").

In total, George and Eliza Moseley had ten children - Ann (born 1860), William (1862), Sarah Ann (1863), Elizabeth (born 1865) George (1866) Henry (born 1868), my great grandmother Ellen (1870), Margaret (1873), Charles (1876) and Lilly (1878).

George and Elisa's first child, Ann Moseley, became a servant at the home of Mr John Beach, a wealthy hardware merchant who lived at Shakespeare Hall, Rowington. The house used to belong to the Shakespeare family and local legend has it that William Shakespeare wrote "As You Like It" whilst staying there. Shakespeare also owned other property in Rowington - a cottage and some land - which was left to his daughter Susanna upon his death.

George and Eliza's eldest son, William Moseley, followed his father onto the railways, working as a labourer before moving, with his wife Lucy (nee Roe), to 217 All Saints Road in what is now Hockley, in Birmingham. Here he worked as a railways parcel porter for Great Western Railways, most probably at Snow Hill station which would have been less than a mile away from his home. He and Lucy had one child, Mary, born in 1897, who is recorded in the 1911 census at the age of fourteen as working as a silversmith.

George and Eliza's third child was Sarah Ann Moseley. She left Lapworth to work as a servant at the home of John Dugdale, a wealthy, retired merchant in Paddington, west London.

It was almost certainly while she was in London that she met Henry Smith, whom she married in 1885. I have not been able to trace a marriage certificate for them to date, but they emigrated to Canada at around the same time, so the marriage may possibly have taken place there.

Sarah Ann's first daughter Elizabeth was born in Canada in 1887. By the time her second child, Laura May, was born in 1990 the family had relocated to Richford, Vermont, just across the border with the United States of America.

"Henry and Sarah Ann Smith (nee Moseley) with their daughters Elizabeth and Laura May. The photograph was taken in Richford, Vermont, USA in about 1904

Richford, is situated on the Missisquoi River which flows into Vermont from Quebec. It was first settled in 1795 and quickly thrived as a result of the rapid growth of the paddleboat industry in the early to mid 1800s. Because of its position on the Missisquoi river, Richford also became one of Vermont's largest commerce centres with docks and wharves attracting cargo boats as well as the luxurious passenger paddlewheel boats.

Two railroads came to the town in the early 1870s, and after that the paddleboat industry began to decline. Using the connections made possible by the railroads, Richford instead began to develop a thriving lumber industry, with several sawmills emerging across the town from where the lumber was loaded onto trains and sent to market. It was not long before new businesses sprang up to manufacture the lumber into a variety of products such as butter tubs, windows, furniture, and the many homes needed to house Richford's growing population.

At its peak and the town's booming population was nearing 2,000 (although interestingly, Richford's population has scarcely changed since those times and still stands at around 2000 today).

At the time of the 1900 USA population census, Harry's occupation is recorded as "railroader". Ten years later the family had moved further south to the growing town of Hartford, Connecticut where the family settled. The 1910 census for Hartford records Harry as working as a "labourer". Sarah Ann died in Hartford in 1943, Harry having died some time before her.

 

The fourth of George and Eliza's children, Elizabeth Moseley, never married and spent her life in domestic service. Her first position was as a servant in Foleshill, Coventry, at the home of Walter Dugdale, a wealthy manufacturer of "elastic web".  Later, she was employed as a domestic servant at the home of Mr Abijah Hill-Pears, an elderly magistrate living in the village of Allesley near Coventry, followed by a period working as a servant at the home of a ribbon manufacturer, Harry Steven in Park Field, Meriden. Later still, she was a servant to Mr John Hewitt, a watch manufacturer living at 50 Holyhead Road, Coventry and by the time of the 1911 census she was working as a cook at the Hagley Road, Edgbaston home of Miriam and George Nathan, a manufacturing silversmith.

 

George Moseley junior, the fifth child of George and Eliza, was apprenticed at the age of fifteen to David Dukes, the Lapworth village blacksmith. After completing an apprenticeship, it was traditional for blacksmiths to become "journeymen blacksmiths", moving away from home to gain experience before being able to finally set themselves up as a master blacksmith.

 

George took up lodgings for a time in Wolverhampton, where he worked as a journeyman blacksmith. He later married and, with his wife Caroline (nee Shaw), moved to Bourneville Lane, Kings Norton where, according to the 1901 census return, he had become a shopkeeper selling "fancy goods and baskets". In the 1911 census their address is given as "The Lodge, Bourneville Lane, Kings Norton" and George's occupation is recorded as "Storekeeper: paper"

 

George (junior), Caroline and Doris Mosley, acound 1910

 

George and Eliza's sixth child, Henry Moseley, became a career soldier. In the 1991 census he is recorded in barracks in Winchester with the Kings Royal Rifles. After this he served in the Punjab, at Jullundur, for several years before being called to serve in the second Boer War in South Africa.

This photograph of Henry Moseley was taken in about 1895 whilst he serving with the third Battallion of the Kings Royal Rifles, in Jullundur in the Punjab, India. The shoulder wings together with the badge on the upper right arm of his uniform signifies that he was  a "Bandsman", a rank equivalent to that of a "Private". The left arm shows two good conduct badges signifying at least 6 years crime free service. The medal on his chest is the India Service medal.

Henry sailed to South Africa on board The Servia on 4 November 1899, arriving around three weeks later. Initially he was sent to Durban, under ther command of Major General N G Lyttelton and would have been involved in action at the Battle of Spion Kop on 24 January 1900.

A few weeks later Henry was killed in action at Wynne Hill, Tugela Heights on 22 February 1900. He was thirty one years old. Around 500 British troops were killed or wounded in this battle and there has since been much criticism of the tactics deployed by the British commanders.

Henry Moseley's name appears on the King's Royal Rifles Memorial in Winchester cathedral.

  George and Eliza's seventh child, Ellen Moseley is my great grandmother. Prior to meeting and marrying my great grandfather Thomas Dent, Ellen worked as a domestic servant at the home of James Jordan, innkeeper of The Crown Inn, in Bridge Street, Banbury. There is more about Ellen and Thomas Dent in the "Dent" section of this family history

  

Ellen Moseley

 

Like her older sisters before her, Margaret Moseley, George and Eliza's eightth child,went into domestic service, but not until she was much older than they had been - at the age of eighteen she was still living at home with her parents. She later went to work as a cook for the family of the Reverend James R Mills, vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church in Gedney, Lincolnshire. She married Thomas Hill, a letterpress printer, in Lapworth on 3 August 1907. The settled at 84 Greenhill Road, Handsworth and had a son, Harold Stephen Hill, who was born on 12 August 1909.

Margaret Hill (nee Moseley) with husband Thomas and son Harold c 1918

George and Eliza's ninth child, Charles Moseley stayed in the village of Lapworth and became the village grocer/sub-postmaster. He married Isobel Gertrude Owens in December 1900. They had no children of their own, although by 1911 they had adopted Samuel White, the orphaned son of Mary Jeffs (Eliza Moseley's elder sister) and Thomas White.

George and Eliza's tenth and youngest child, Lily Moseley remained at home with George and Eliza until their deaths. She worked as a self-employed dressmaker.

Kingswood Farm, Lapworth, the Moseley's family home

George Moseley died on 2 February1907 at the age of 65. His death certificate records the cause of death as "morbus cordis syncope", which roughly means heart failure and loss of consciousness.

The photograph above would have been taken shortly after George's death. The woman in the centre, dressed in widow's black, is my great, great grandmother Eliza Moseley, George's widow. On the left is her youngest daughter Lily Moseley. At the back is Charles Moseley and to the right of Eliza is Gertrude, Charles' wife. Behind them is Kingswood Farm, the family home in Lapworth.

Lily Moseley subsequently married George Hewings, a gardener and domestic servant. She herself became a dressmaker. By the time of the 1911 census, Lily and George Hewings had moved, with the elderly Eliza, to Bird in Hand Cottages, still in the same village. Their five- roomed cottage was adjoined to the Bird in Hand public house. According to the Solihull branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), the Bird in Hand originally opened in 1871 for the Stratford upon Avon canal trade. The pub and the cottages on the site were cleared in the 1960s, to be replaced by flats.

Eliza Moseley died on 20 October 1919, aged 82 years. According to the church records, after her death Eliza was buried near to George at St Mary the Virgin church, Lapworth. Their graves, however, have not withstood the ravages of time.

Kingswood Farm house still stands to this day, just off Station Lane, Lapworth, as shown in the photograph below, although it has been heavily restored and is no longer a farm but the private home of the Weisenfeld family.

 

 

The Kingswood Farmhouse as it stands today