A name in a book

In the lovely 1940’s knitting book I came across in a charity shop, I was intrigued not just by the book but by the inscription; the lady whose book it was had written her name inside, no doubt because she was lending it to someone and wanted to make sure it was returned. These days I’d write my name, maybe just my first name, but would certainly not write as she did, ‘Mrs’.

She wrote her name, ‘Mrs P. Spearing, Frome’, the town where she lived, and further down, when she obviously actually gave the book to someone else, she wrote ‘M.A. Harte, from Mrs Spearing’… or was it M.A. Haste? There are Hursts and Hastes in Somerset! I think Mrs Spearing was Peggy, née Peggy Isolene Sargent, born in 1908. I can’t find much more about her, but I found her husband’s family, and I was interested to see how the different occupations of the young men in the family changed over the century of censuses from 1841…. although in 1841, the occupations weren’t mentioned. However in 1851 the men and boys in the house were all agricultural labourers and it’s interesting to think hundreds of miles across the country in Cambridgeshire my own family were too.

There are changes in occupation… in 1851, one man was a horseman, twenty years later he was a groom, and ten years after that he was still working with horses, but as a carter carrying coal… yes there were coal mines in Somerset. Three of his sons and a lodger were all coal miners, another son-in-law was a miner in Wales, an assistant timberman below ground. Ten years further on, the man who had spent his life working with horses was now an agricultural labourer, his sons? Two of them worked on the land with their father, another was a shepherd, one worked in a quarry and one was a soldier in the Coldstream Guards.


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