The Barratts of Aspley Guise: Some Further Information

Readers of our previous piece on the death of Ellen Barratt, lacemaker of Aspley Guise, might be interested to know what happened to the various participants in that affair.

Let us first return to the 1851 census for Aspley Guise, to establish the membership of the household.  Samuel Barratt, 62, a shepherd born at North Crawley Buckinghamshire, was the head; his wife, Susannah [née Davis? They were married in 1819], 60, was a lacemaker born at Headington near Oxford.  The family then living in the house included their daughters Elizabeth 24, Ann 22, Susannah 17, Eliza 13, Ellen 11, Charlotte 9 and Julia 7, all described as lacemakers.  There were also two sons, Benjamin 15 and Thomas 5.  Some older siblings had already left home.  Note the ages of the youngest children compared to that of the mother; is it possible that these were actually the offspring of one of the older sisters?  That might account for what appears to be the different treatment meted out to them.

1860, Bedfordshire Times and Independent, Charlotte Barratt of Woburn convicted of theft detail

1860, Bedfordshire Times and Independent, Charlotte Barratt of Woburn convicted of theft detail

Using the resources of www.ancestry.co.uk, we (or rather Brenda Hopkin, who we have to thank for most of this information) have been able to trace some members of this household.  Of course there is the danger of making false links — the fact that someone had the right(ish) name and age and lived in the same place does not necessarily make them the same person.  For example, an Eliza Barratt was convicted at Bedford of stealing 1 sovereign and 2 shillings from her master, Joseph Fearn, landlord of the Sun Inn in Leighton Buzzard in 1857; the subsequent year the same Eliza Barratt (though in the papers she appears as Barrett) was convicted at Aylesbury of stealing half a pound of suet, worth 3 pence, from Samuel Tavernor of Linslade, for which she got twelve months hard labour (we repeat: suet worth 3 pence).  It seems plausible that this is the older sister of Ellen Barratt, but we cannot at the moment prove it.  Nonetheless, in what follows we have tried to ensure that we have been tracing the actual participants in the manslaughter case.

Elizabeth Barratt, one of the persons responsible for Ellen’s death, seems to have survived her four years of penal servitude because we find her in the 1861 census living with her elder sister, Ann, a lacemaker, in Linslade.  By the time of the 1871 census she was married to Daniel Pratt, a carter, and living in Leighton Buzzard.  The pair had married in 1868 and had at least one child, Mary.  (Elizabeth may then have been living as a servant in Leighton Buzzard, as a woman of that name, servant to Mr Lockhart appears as a witness in a case of embezzlement.)  Elizabeth had, by 1871, given up lacemaking for straw plaiting.  She died in 1877, aged 49.

Charlotte Barratt, the lead witness at the trial, was convicted, aged eighteen, of stealing a purse containing thirty shillings, a chisel and a table knife from Charles Clare of Woburn on 23 June.  At her trial in Bedford she was described as a lacemaker, and the report in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent for 7 July 1860 records the workhouse superintendent Mr Young as saying “the prisoner was in a destitute condition, and he did not believe that she was quite right in her head.”  She was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment.  We can be fairly certain of our identification in this case because the plaintiff, Charles Clare, was the husband of Charlotte’s sister Ann.  After this date we can find no definite trace of her.

Julia Barratt, the second witness at the trial, was, by the time of the 1861 census, a servant to John Giddings, a chemist in Gallowtree Gate in Leicester. Thereafter we also lose sight of her.

Susannah Barratt, the older sister of Charlotte and Julia, who confirmed their evidence at the committal proceedings, appeared in the census of 1861 as a house-servant to Robert Riddall, clockmaker of Woburn.  In 1871 she was a still a servant, though now for the Woburn schoolmaster William Robert.  Thereafter we also lose track of her.

Given the family’s history with the law it is interesting to note that the younger brother of the lacemaking siblings, Thomas Barratt (now Barrett), moved to London and became a police sergeant in Chelsea.

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1 Comment

  1. Eileen Anderson

    Fascinating, horrible and unbelievable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find the patterns they worked on and re-create them today as a positive memory of them?

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