The Georgians 

1714 to 1837


Following the turbulence of the Tudor & Stuart eras Britain entered a long period of where the country moved away from internal conflict , though war with other countries was almost continuous. Society went through great changes as the move away from a rural, agricultural society accelerated with the industrial revolution.

It was a period that also the creation and expansion of the British Empire. Even as early as 1720 Britain was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, add to this the exploitation of the countries and peoples across the Empire, and Britain became, for a period, the most powerful country in the world. 

It was during this period that the "gentlemen historians" began to produce the first written histories of the area. Two key historians were Dr John Bridges  (b:1666 at Barton Seagrave and d:1724) and John Cole (b:1792 in Weston Favell and d:1848 in Woodford). These two historians are still key sources for information and facts about Northamptonshire, and their publications are still used extensively by academics. Another useful source is John Morton (b:1671 d:1726), an English cleric, naturalist and Fellow of the Royal Society, who published the earliest Natural History in 1712 with the, Natural History of Northamptonshire.

The Georgian era is from 1714 to 1837, named after the Hanoverian Kings George I, George II, George III and George IV. The definition of the Georgian era also includes the relatively short reign of William IV, which ended with his death in 1837.  

For Great Addington in some way the Georgian period was a continuation of the quiet, agricultural community that had developed during the earlier periods. The Tudor & Stuart period had seen the dissolution of the monasteries, the emergence of Puritanism, social reform, revolution and civil war. For Great Addington, life changed little over the 18th century until, with the inclosure of 1803, came the fundamental breaking of a thousand years of tradition and community.

In looking into the history of the village during this period we have a wealth of information: the parish register that survives from 1692 onwards, written comments on events from the Rev. James Tyley, the land ownership and agricultural changes of the inclosures of 1803, newspaper archives, and the first detailed maps.

It is also during this period that many of the properties that we see in the village today were built. For instance Leopard House was built at the start of the Georgian period as we know from public house licencing reports that the Leopard Inn, as it was known, had a licence to serve alcohol as far back as the 1720's. Other properties such as Carlers Farm and the Hare and Hounds were also built at this time though accurate dates for when they were built are difficult to find, so are simply labelled as Georgian, though this was a period spanning 123 years. 

The inclosure map of 1803 mid-way through this period is the key document. It clearly shows every building in the parish, highlights if they are inhabited, and even gives the names of the owners - though not tenants. From this document we can see that much of the village as we know it today was in place by 1804. The inclosure defined the layout of the village and the surrounding landscape of fields, hedges, roads, and footpath. Much of what was defined in 1803 remains unchanged. 

John Bridges in Northamptonshire. Drawn by Peter Tillemans, September 1721.

The antiquary John Bridges and his party can be seen in the foreground of this view of Northamptonshire. They are on the outskirts of Northampton town, riding in the direction of Kingsthorpe church. Bridges was in the process of writing a county history of Northamptonshire, and Tillemans was producing the illustrations for it. During the tour Tillemans stayed at Bridges’s house at Barton Seagrave, working up sketches taken on the road into finished drawings.

The original drawing is held by the British Library

Stamford Mercury, 12 March 1724

Northampton Mercury, 24 April 1775

Georgian Newspapers

British newspapers date to the 17th century with the emergence of regular publications covering news and gossip. The relaxation of government censorship in the late 17th century led to a rise in publications, which in turn led to an increase in regulation throughout the 18th century. By 1720 there were 12 London newspapers and 24 regional publications.   

The earliest reference to Great Addington, appears to date from the start of this period with a listing in the Stamford Mercury of 12th March 1724 of a farm for sale by John Harris, Blacksmith. The Stamford Mercury has been published since 1712. An edition of the Mercury from 22 May 1718 is the earliest newspaper in the British Library's newspaper reading room.

First newspaper reference to Great Addington

Stamford Mercury, 12 March 1724

The Northampton Mercury newspaper was founded in 1720. Published in Northampton, it was sold throughout the midlands, as far west as Worcester and as far east as Cambridge. When it ceased publication in 2015, it was the oldest continuously published newspaper in the U.K. 

The first reference in the Northampton Mercury regarding Great Addington is from the 24th April 1775, with a listing of a property and land for sale, then occupied by a Mr. Beale.

Names of Great Addington: Elections for Knight of the Shire in 1730, 1745 & 1806

In 1832 the records of the votes for Knight of the Shire of Northamptonshire from early years were gathered together and published, listing all those who had voted and who they voted for by village in each hundred of Northamptonshire.  

Secret ballots were not introduced in the UK until 1872 when the law was changed, prior to that those who were eligible to vote had to declare their choice in public. Only Freeholders - those who owned their own land - could vote for the Knight of the Shire.

In 1730 the Great Addington freeholders were:

In 1748 the Great Addington freeholders were:

In 1806 the Great Addington freeholders were:

It is also worth noting that Elizabeth Bolney owned land in the village and was therefore a a freeholder, but being female was not allowed to vote.

For more information regarding the inhabitants of the village in the early 19th century see the 1804 Inclosure section below.

Employment in Georgian Northamptonshire

The Militia List of 1777 (see below) provides a wealth of additional information including the occupations of the people who lived in the area and through which we can gain an insight into the main source of employment within the area.

Northamptonshire was already "industralised", though not with factories, but rather as what would be perhaps best described as a "cottage industry. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries when worsted woollen cloth weaving became a significant industry within the county. Raw wool was procesed, spun, and woven in a individual homes across the area. The county then went through a process of de-industralisation in the later part of the 18th century as the centre of worsted manufacturing moved to Yorkshire. The shoe industry was to come to the fore in the 19th century but for a period of time the people Northamptonshire struggled as the "traditional" industry died and jobs were lost.

The 1777 Militia list gives the main occupations in the Huxloe area - which covered the parishes of Great Addington; Little Addington; Aldwinkle All Saints; Aldwinkle St. Peter; Barnwell All Saints; Barton Seagrave; Burton Latimer; Cranford St. Andrew; Cranford St. John; Denford; Finedon; Grafton Underwood; Irthlingborough; Islip; Kettering; LIlford Cum Wigsthorpe; Lowick; Slipton; Sudborough; Twywell; Warkton; Woodford. 

Of the 1,069 people named in the list for the area - though Great Addington's return did not give occupations - the eight largest occupations are:

However there was no consistency in how the information was recorded, resulting in  nearly 150 occupation being listed. However, by examining the information given we can identify occupations that were linked; for instance a "serge maker" was also a type of weaver. By adding together all the records that are related - Weaver, Serge maker, Spinner, Wool-comber, Weavers Apprentice, and Wool Winder - we arrive at a total of 216 men, out of a total of 1,069, involved in the woollen industry. There are also a further 22 employed as shepherds. It is fair to say that many of the Weavers would have lived in and around Kettering, the centre of the Worsted industry in Northamptonshire at this time.

The Militia list is only a list of men, though many women would have worked in the industry, typically as Spinners or Wool Winders. It is estimated that 3 to 4 Spinners were required to keep each Weaver busy, therefore there was probably at last 600 women involved in the industry in the area. Clearly the industry was still significant at this time.

The occupation of Weaver appears in the Great Addington parish records for many years. As previously mentioned, the militia list for Great Addington fails to list occupations, but the Little Addington give a good idea of typical occupations of the male villagers: with 10 being Farmer's Sons, 3 being Labourers, 3 being Weavers, 5 are servants, 1 is a Baker, and 1 a Cordwainer (shoe maker).

1777 Militia List

The 1777 Northamptonshire Militia List for the Huxloe Hundred gives the names of all the men in the towns and villages in this area who were eligible for service in the militia. The militia was a force raised for the defence of the realm against invasion or rebellion. It was not liable for service overseas. Under the Militia Act of 1662 all owners of property were charged with the provision of horses, arms and men, in accordance with the value of their property, but this responsibility was moved to the parish by the Militia Act of 1757. Each county had to contribute a quota of men for militia service, 640 in the case of Northamptonshire; elsewhere the quotas ranged from 1,600 for Devonshire down to only 120 for Rutland. 

Liability to serve in the militia rested on able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 years. However, peers of the realm, clergymen, articled clerks, apprentices, seamen and parish constables were exempt. So also were poor men who had three or more children born in wedlock, a number which was reduced to one in 1786.

Service in the militia was for three years and determined by ballot, but any man whose name was drawn had the right to provide a substitute. 

The Northamptonshire Militia at Brackley in 1807 by Thomas Rowlandson

Many men whose names were drawn in the ballot never actually served. Those who could afford to pay for a substitute usually did so; moreover, statutory powers were available for parishes to provide volunteers in place of drawn men who, if they served, might have dependents who would become dependent upon the parish, and groups of individuals would sometimes raise by mutual subscription a sum of money sufficient to indemnify any of their number who were unfortunate in the ballot. 

Militia men were trained and exercised for a period of 28 days annually, when they were billeted in public houses and paid according to a scale laid down by Act of Parliament. For the Northamptonshire militia regiment this usually took place at Northampton during May and June. 

When the North American colonies proclaimed their independence in July 1776, assistance to the colonies had been given by France. War was then declared between Great Britain and France in March 1778. In the following month the Northamptonshire militia, together with the militia from several other counties, was for the first time assembled for prolonged service.  In June 1778 it set out for a camp which had been formed at WarIey Common, near Brentwood in Essex, leaving Northampton, according to the enthusiastic account in the Northampton Mercury:

"with repeated huzzas, and (what is the glory of Britons!) with spirits animated to repulse the designs that may be formed by the enemies to their king and country". 

GREAT ADDINGTON, Decbr 15th, 1777

A list of all the men's names in Great Addington between the age of eighteen and forty-five thought proper to serve in the militia. 

Wm. Lovel 

Benjamin Colson 

Lau. Hudson 

John Wiles 

John Jolly 

John Beal 

Tho. Baily 

George Allen 

Samuel Allen 

Wm. Vurley (Vorley?)

Josiah Brawn (Brown?)

John Coe*

Tho. Timson

James Page

Jonathan Setchel

Tho. Sharp

John Sharp

Alexander Beeby, constable

*The John Coe shown in the translation, may actually be John Cox, father of William Cox who fought in the Napoleonic wars (see below).


A list of all persons liable to serve in the malitia for the parish of Little Addington viz: 

Japheth Abbot, farmer's son 

Jno. Beeby, do (same)

Wm. Paine, do 

George Gascoyen, do 

Green Gascoyen, do 

Thos. Beeby, do

Jos. Maycock, do 

George Abbot, do 

Wm. Nicholes, do

Jno. How, do 

Jos. Flecknoe, labourer 

Wm. Maycock, do. 

James Beeby, do. 

Thos. Bird, weaver 

Henry Willson, do.

Jno. Ball, do

Morris Noles, servant 

Saml. Dyer, do. 

Christopher Abbot, do

Jno. Sharp, do

Charles Chamberlain, do

Jno. Drage, baker 

George Mason, courdwainer 

by me, George Beeby, constable. 

During the next five years it remained on duty at various places in the home counties and for a few months during 1780-1 at Northampton itself. Newly-balloted men and substitutes who joined the colours in 1782 were marched from Northampton to Maidstone where their units were stationed. 

The regiment was discharged in March 1783, not to be called upon for other than routine training and exercises until 1793 when war was again declared between Great Britain and France. 

The list were prepared by the parish constables - before the introduction of the police service in the mid-19th century a parish constable was appointed by the local magistrate and was usually unpaid and part-time, serving the parish and enforcing the law. The Little Addington list, prepared by parish constable George Beeby, follows the agreed procedures at the time and gives the occupations of all those named. In Great Addington, the parish constable, Alexander Beeby, didn't follow procedure and simply provides the names of those eligible for service. All spellings and abbreviations are as the original documents, the word "do" used in the Little Addington list was a common abbreviation for "ditto" (same as above).

Soldier of the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot during the Napoleonic Wars

Image source unknown

William Cox the Soldier

One individual we know of who did fight in the Napoleonic wars was William Cox. 

Born in Great Addington in 1787 to John and Mary Cox, he joined the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot - "foot" was the term then used for infantry - on the 23rd July 1807. At the time he enlisted he was described as 5ft 5inch tall, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and a round face. He was 19 years old and had been working as a labourer. 

Both the 1st and 2nd Battalion of the 48th Regiment of Foot was deployed to Portugal in spring 1809 for service under General Sir Arthur Wellesley - later, the Duke of Wellington. Before the army arrived in the Portugal they had to undergo a sea voyage which took roughly three weeks, depending on the winds. Conditions on board the ships were often very cramped and claustrophobic. The space allocated for a six men berth was about the size of a large blanket.

The 48th Regiment of Foot was involved in the Peninsular War (1807 - 1814),  the Iberian Peninsular of Portugal and Spain. The military conflict was fought by an alliance of Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal against the invading and occupying forces of France for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.  The 2nd battalion saw action at the Second Battle of Porto in May 1809 and both battalions were in action at the Battle of Talavera in July 1809 when they carried out a bayonet charge and broke the French attack. The regiment were given the nickname, "The Heroes of Talavera", after Wellington stated that the 48th Foot saved the day at Talavera.

The 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot charge at the Battle of Talavera, 1809

Image source unknown

Both battalions also fought at the Battle of Albuera in May 1811 but the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Henry Duckworth was killed in action and the losses of the 2nd battalion (50% were causalties) were such that its remnants were either absorbed into the 1st battalion or sent home later that year.

The 1st battalion went on to fight at the Siege of Badajoz in March 1812, the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 and the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813. The regiment then pursued the French Army into France and fought at the Battle of the Pyrenees in July 1813, the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813, the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 and the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814. The regiment returned home later that year.

In 1814, William was transferred to the Royal Veteran Battalions; a British Army unit of the early nineteenth century that was made up of men no longer fit for front-line service. They had been previously termed "invalid battalions" but this was deemed derogatory and changed

William reappears in the village records in 1818. He and his wife Clementina are living in the village and their daughter Mary Anne is Baptised on 8th February 1818. Tragically she dies in infancy and is buried, aged 18 months, on 26th June 1819 - William is listed as Soldier & Labourer at that time. 

No record of the marriage of William to Clementina can be found, nor of her birth. Given her forename is Spanish or Portugese in origin and very different from the normal Sarah, Mary, Jane, Elizabeth, and Martha of England at that time, it is entirely possible that Clementina was Spanish and had met and married William during his active service in Europe at some point between 1809-1814.

Soldiers were allowed to marry whilst on campaign and his wife would then officially belonged to his regiment and be listed as part of the regiment’s strength. Permission to marry was sought from the colonel of the regiment and was limited to only a few soldiers of good conduct. It was also normal to check the women’s character so as to keep undesirables out. To marry without permission was a very serious offence and the women would not be recognised as a wife listed on the strength of the regiment and would not be able to draw rations or be entitled to help from any regimental charities such as they were.  A soldiers wife was allowed to live in the barracks with their husband, though the only privacy they were allowed would be to screen off a small area within the barrack block with blankets. As a wife she would be able draw half of a daily ration (children allowed a quarter but neither were allowed alcohol) the cost of any extra rations were stopped out of her husband’s pay, so wives tried to earn money; many were regimental washerwomen or they could get jobs working for the officers ladies such as cooks, or cleaners. If the officers allowed it, a women could set up a canteen and sell drink and other goodies to the soldiers.  

As the wives were on the regimental strength they were also subject to military discipline, which meant that they could be flogged.

There were also many common-law-wives who followed the camp, and who had a low status. 

Most of the women who travelled with the army, whether officially or unofficially, led a difficult life by following the army. Many could be brutally efficient body strippers and quite capable of killing the wounded enemy soldiers so they could strip the body. However it would be wrong to think that all of them were like that, many were devoted to their husbands and struggled as best they could to keep up some sort of standards. 

The next records relating to the family is another baptism entry on 5th October 1823 for James, son of William & Clementina Cox. Clementina is living in Great Addington, but William is now listed as being in the West Indies and his occupation is Soldier - at this time he was presumably serving in the 1st Royal Veterans Battalion, from which he was discharged in 1826. There is a Royal Hospital Chelsea Regimental Register of Pensioners (those entitled to a war pension) record that appears to show his discharge in 1826 and that he was invalided out due to a "fractured thigh".

In the Great Addington parish register there is an entry for 1826 of the baptism of Mary, daughter of William & Clementina Cox and then another entry in 1829 for the baptism of their 2nd daughter, Martha. In both entries, William is referred to as "Invalid Soldier". Mary Cox died aged 1 in April 1828. In 1830 they had another daughter, Sarah, though William is now only recorded as Labourer. Thereafter the entire family disappears from the records and no further information has yet been found.

The Parish Register of marriages 1714-1719 as copied out by Rev. James Tyley, c1810

Five of the six burials in 1721 are all small children

The original parish register page from 1714. It is difficult to read as many pages have been damaged by damp and vermin. The Rev. James Tyley copied out all the entries into a new register circa 1810.

The Parish Register: Love, Life & Death

The Reverend James Tyley, who was appointed to the parish in 1799, did a great service to the community - not only as the Rector for many years - but also in copying out the old register from 1692 onwards that had, by 1810, been so damaged and was in places practically illegible.

"On Easter Monday, 1810 the Rector undertook graciously to write therein a correct copy in a plain and legible hand of all the baptisms & burials, & also of the marriages...This he has done with all the care & attention he could bestow...From the imperfect & mutiliated state of the old Register, it was impossible to make a correct copy of all the entries but as far as they could be made out, they have been preserved."

The first entry in the Register from 1692 is appropriately enough a record of a marriage:

"Robert Smith, Rector of Great Addington, and Ann Hall, widow and relict of Josiah Hall, late Rector of Great Addington."

There may be an interesting story in this simple entry, as Robert Smith was only appointed as Rector following the death of Rev. Josiah Hall. Robert has a new job, a new house, and a new wife - widow of the previous Rector.

The register records the names of families long associated with the village - Beeby, Abbott, Vorley, Hudson, Hackney etc - and also names of families that appear for only a a few generations and then fade away. 

"1765. William Abbott, killed by fighting as he came from Kettering"

Many of the early records give the occupation of the men as "weaver", as long before the boot and shoe industry the area - particularly around Kettering - was known for weaving of a type of high quality woollen cloth known as worsted. 

"in many of the Pastures they have Excellent Wool, fine, white, and long hair' d ... and as there is no County in England a better Race of Sheep than here, if you take the whole County throughout, so the Wool is generally good", John Morton, 1712

What is also striking is that, contrary to what might be expected, many of those getting married are not necessarily from the village. For example on the page of marriages for the first years of the Georgian era, 1714-1719, there are the following records:

*St Alban's was a church in Wood Street in London. It was dedicated to Saint Alban. Of medieval origin, it was rebuilt in 1634 but then destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and rebuilt, this time to a Gothic design by Sir Christopher Wren. Presumably Mr. Charles Smith of St Alban was a clergyman related to Robert Smith who was the Rector of Great Addington, perhaps his son?

What is very noticeable in the register is the high levels of infant mortality. The 1721 entry of burials has six records for the year of which five are classified as infant - i.e. had not reached an age when the child could speak.  The Rev. James Tyley commented on it in the parish register when he copied them out 90 years later in 1810:

"1721 - A very high infant mortality rate was recorded, between May and November , six infants died"

It is not uncommon to read the register and find a couple getting married, and in the following years a succession of baptisms of their children, and then the deaths of those same children. One couple early on in the register, William and Freelove Vorley (the surname is spelt both as Vurley and Virley, but is probably the Vorley family who lived in the area for many years), have a new baby nearly every year for a number of years, only for that child to die within a short period of time. 

Estimates of infant mortality vary, but figures for Northampton in the first half of the 18th century show that the chance of a child dying within the first few days to be 1 in 10. Only 75% managed to  reach 2 years of age, and only 50% of children ever reached their 10th birthday. 

Babies were likely to die of infection, including tetanus often caused by the use of an unsterilized knife or pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord; or from diarrhea, thrush or even worms. Thrush a fairly common fungal infection now controlled easily by medication was a cause of death in the 18th century. In the 18th century, worms, and lice as well, were seen as a positive force, cleansing the body of corruption. Problems occurred when the infestation was severe, leading to pains, consumptions, epilepsies, frensies and divers other mischiefs. 

Across England common causes of death in childhood included whooping cough, diphtheria, dysentery, tuberculosis, typhus, typhoid fever, rickets, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox and plague. Relatively few deaths were caused by accidents, but the most common was drowning. Small children fell into laundry tubs, or played too close to ditches, ponds and wells. Older children died while playing near water, swimming or bathing, or while working. Boys drowned while fishing or gathering reeds. Older girls slipped into pits, ditches or ponds while drawing water. Burning was a less common cause of death, although babies left in cradles near the fire or unsupervised toddlers were at risk. Finally, children were occasionally killed by being run over by a cart or horse. 

Over the years there are tragedies that echo the appalling childhood mortality found across England, within the Great Addington parish register and in inquest reports children are killed by carts, drown in the mill pond, and die in home accidents: 

"1807 - John Colson, son of Thomas Colson, farmer and Mary his wife; aged 1 year and 11 months. This child was accidently scaled to death by falling into a tub of hot water."

-Rev. James Tyley, would have known Thomas, Mary and the little boy John.

You also find double tragedies such as the burial record from 1724:

"Selby, Grace, wife of Samuel Selby (and) their daughter Dinah, 8 days old, baptised the same day."

It is only relatively recently that the Church of England prayer book removed the service for the churching of women who had recently given birth which starts by giving thanks to God for:

"The safe deliverance and preservation from the great dangers of childbirth"

Deaths from puerperal fever (bacterial sepsis) is relatively rare these days, but was a major killer in previous centuries and this, linked with high infant mortality, meant that it is not uncommon to find the death of both mother and new-born child in the Great Addington register. 

The last word can go to the Rev. James Tyley who wrote in 1822:

"It is a singular fact as well as an awful admonition of the shortness of human life that all the renters of land at the time of inclosure, little over 20 years ago, not one remains. All are dead except old Miller King who has left the place sometime since, and who, in all appearance, was more likely to die first instead of surviving them all."

Great Addington Inclosure Notice 

Northampton Mercury, 6th August 1803

Inclosure Meeting at the Leopard Inn (now Leopard House) 

Northampton Mercury, 10th August 1803

The 1804 Inclosure

Perhaps one of the key milestones in the village history is the Inclosure of 1804. 

The spelling Enclosure is now more commonly used, but I will use Inclosure in this section as all the documents from the time use that spelling.

Before and after Domesday land was managed by the community in large fields with no fences or hedges - hence the term open-field. Much of the land of a parish would be managed as one field, with smaller areas allocated for animal pasture, meadow, woodland etc. The large open-field was then subdivided into strips, the marks of which can still be seen in some of the fields around Great Addington. Each family had a number of strips, but all the lands were ploughed and harvested together by the community.

Inclosure replaced the medieval open fields with the patchwork of inclosed fields surrounded by fence or hedge that we see today. In Northamptonshire it began in the fifteenth century and continued until the beginning of the twentieth century. From the first village to be fully inclosed, Potcote in the south-west of the county, in 1472 to the final inclosure taking place at Sutton in the Soke of Peterborough in 1901.The progression of inclosure across the county was neither systematic nor consistent as can be evidenced by the fact that Great Addington was inclosed in 1803, yet it was another 27 years before Little Addington was also inclosed, and Ringstead even later.

In many parishes in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries inclosure was often imposed upon the villagers by the local landowner - often resulting in families being driven from lands that they had farmed for generations. Such actions led to events such as the Newton Rebellion (see the Tudors & Stuarts page) in 1607.

In the early 18th century, inclosure by Act of Parliment began to be used as the preferred method of introducing inclosure and the first parishes to use this method in Northamptonshire were Grafton Regis and at Overstone, both in 1727.

The change that took place in Great Addington in 1803 is perhaps almost impossible for us to fully comprehend. The community had for a 1,000 years worked together to plough, to sow and to harvest the land. The villagers had worked in the open-fields together and made decisions together. Every year they would have walked the parish boundary ("walking the bounds"), and they would have met as a village community to decide whether anybody had infringed the strict rules that defined the agricultural society. Over the 17th and 18th centuries less of the villagers farmed the land and more worked in the woollen industry, or as servants, as carpenters, bakers, masons, or in the emerging shoe industry. But many were still linked to the land with about 50% of the village population working the land. The inclosure was a fundamental break with a way of living as a community that stretched back over 30 generations to the Anglo-Saxons.

The Parliamentary Act of inclosure brought an end to the communal management of the open fields, extinguishing common rights and allocating discrete portions of land to individual landowners as private property. The new allotments were usually rectangular and the hedge lines straight, producing a rectilinear pattern of fields often laid out with little reference to earlier field boundaries. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 200,000 miles of hedgerow were planted nationally between 1750 and 1850, much of it in the Midlands. The impression of uniformity was underlined by the fact that the hedges were typically made up of a single species, usually hawthorn, also known as ‘whitethorn’ or ‘may’. 

Little Addington Parish pre-inclosure showing the distribution of the grazing areas (green), not as fields but rather as thin strips woven throughout the open-fields. 

Circa 1830.

Another significant change was to how grazing animals were to be managed.  In the open-field system,  cattle, sheep, and horses would have been kept in a "pound" overnight and would graze during the day on the land on the margins of roads, bridleways, footpaths, and the "headlands" of the open-fields. The image shown here gives an idea of how the grazing land in the neighbourghing village of Little Addington was woven into the parish rather than being the dedicated pasture fields as we see today.

When a parish was inclosed it was usually the chief landowners that made the first move and it was probable that plans were well advanced before the smaller land owners and the labourers were aware of what was being planned. The wording of the Act of Parliament made it quite plain that the inclosure was planned and would then have the force of the law to uphold it.

The allotment of land was done by commissioners appointed through the Act of Parliament. The commissions were also instructed to lay out public and private roads, bridleways and footpaths. Until this point roads and footpaths had tended to thread through the open-fields. Turnpike roads - such as the A510 Finedon to A14 road (originally the Oxford to Peterborough turnpike) road that skirts the western edge of the parish were 54 feet wide. The inclosure process was an opportunity to improve the roads that were "founderous and dangerous to travellers". 

Inclosure commissioners notice of planned roads and bridleways. 

Note: The original planned Ringstead Road was to go from the bottom of Lower Street along beside the brook and across to the Nene.

Northampton Mercury, 17 Sep 1803

In January 1804 the inclosure plan was changed to alter the route of the Ringstead Road to run alongside the Hare and Hounds, rather than the original route which was to follow the brook at the bottom of Lower Street to the Nene.

The public footpaths were also laid out.

Northampton Mercury 14 Jan 1804

As part of the inclosure the roads, bridleways and footpaths were clearly defined and rules set-out as to how they would be managed:

"Inclosure Award made 28th May 1804, inrolled 1st July 1805

No lambs in new fields for 5 years unless quicksets adequately protected

No cattle grazed on the public carriageways for 7 years

Public roads warded to be thirty feet wide. Bridle roads fifteen feet. Footpaths five feet. Planks over ditches at least twelve inches broad."

Inclosure was an expensive process, in Great Addington the total cost was £3,374.12s.4d - roughly equivalent to 70 years wages for a skilled trademan. This included £473.8s.10d to fence the Rector's allotment plus £3.3s.0d allowed for a bridge to his meadow. Other costs were shown on the inclosure award:

"Inclosure costs for Great Addington, included:

Forming and making roads £382.1s.1d

To Robert Andrew for cutting part of Miller's ditch £13.4s.0d

To W.Z.L. Ward for fencing against Ringstead Road and removing the pound £49.4s.0d

John Caldicott as Solicitor received £642.4s.3d

Each of the three Commissioners, £118.2s.6d -£354.7s.6d

Rector of Great Addington allotted 10 acres of land on Lake Furlong, bounded on the East by Paper Mill hedge by the river and Ake Dyke. Also 1/5th of remaining arable land, 1/8th on common pasture called wolds, and 1/9th of other lands and grounds liable to tithe."

Its amusing to note that the biggest single cost was the solicitor. Times perhaps have not changed that much!

In the parish register the Rev. James Tyley noted the following:

The admeasurement (length) of the Highways in this Parish, as taken by Thomas Sharp, by order of the Magistrates, September 8th, 1815, is as follows:

The Cranford Road 7 furlongs 15 yards

The woodford Road 3 furlongs 20 yards

The Ringstead Road 5 furlongs 32 yards

The Little Addington Road 4 furlongs 13 yards

The Turnpike 4 furlongs 24 yards

Other changes to the landscape included the construction of new outlying farmsteads. Whereas the scattered open field strips which made up each tenants’ holding in the pre-enclosure period had been cultivated from farmsteads in the villages, enclosure tended to consolidate individual holdings into ring-fenced blocks. In these circumstances, it made sense to relocate farmhouses to sites on the newly consolidated farms. It was at this time that some of the outlying farms were probably constructed. New farms that were constructed over the next 50 years include: Rectory Farm, on the Cranford Road, Patch Lodge (beyond the Manor House), and Great Addington Lodge (also known as Poplars Farm), at the far western edge of the Parish near the A510 Finedon Road.

The commissioners also detail a bridleway - "one public Bridle Road" - that is to go to Little Addington, leading from the bottom of Lower Street and heading west following the brook for a distance, before turning south and heading across the fields directly to Little Addington. Sadly, this route, and also a footpath which also went to Little Addington across where Shooters Hill house now stands, was lost in the following years, as by the 1885 OS map the bridleway just ends in the fields. The footpath is therein 1885, but only goes as far as Shooters Hill house, which was built around 1865.  In the 1899 OS map, the bridleway and the footpath to Little Addington have both completely disappeared, presumably on the basis that the main road - in the days before cars - was quiet, direct, and well surfaced and maintained.

The Rev James Tyley helpfully recorded much of the information regarding the inclosure in the parish register, including the names of the owners and tenants of the land,  which adds to the information given on the inclosure map produced by the commissioners. James also added some additional comments which give some local information. His refers to the "quality of the land", where the word quality is used to mean value:

"The following is the Commissioners quality of the land in Great Addington field, in the year 1804.

Robert Andrews Esq.

George Allen, tenant £282.18s.6d

William Allen, tenant £110.15s.8d

William King, tenant £51.8s.10d

John Jaques, tenant £5.9s

William Beeby, tenant (weaver) 8s.9d

Thomas Ball, labourer 6s.7d

David Abbott, labourer (?), White Hall Close £1.7s.10d

W.Z.L.Ward Esq

Thomas Colson, tenant £183.17s.1d

Thomas Checkley, tenant £177.19d.5d

Samuel Harris, tenant £26.17s.5d

Edward Holditch, tenant £18.16s.7d

Several tenaments 16s.5d

The Rev. James Tyley, Rector

William Allen (Glebe) £67.8s.7d

William Allen (Stainsborough) £40.0.3d

Samuel Harris £18.15s

Thomas Colson £40.13s.1d

William Beeby £58.14s.2d

Richard Mitchel £21.13s.6d

The Rectory £8.6s.10d

William Beeby (his own land) £55.18s.8d

Parish Clerk £2.12s.7d

George Beeby £7.9s.2d

Wm Page (Little Addington) £6.14s.6d

Mrs Bolney 12s.6d

Francis Tidbury (Woodford Mill) £1.9s.5d

Churchwarden £3.13s.11d

Sir George Robinson £2.2s.7d

John Hill (Oundle) 18s.8d

Shelton tithes £1.6s.7d

William Allen 4s.2d

Samuel Vorley 3s.4d

James Vorley 3s.4d

Samuel Harris 12s

William Harris 1s.5d

Laurence Hudson 3s.4d

Saxby Vorley 1s.9d

Thomas Vorley 7s.8d

N.B. The above was copied from the accounts delivered to the parish overseer by Stephen Godson, land surveyor at the inclosure. 

James Tyley, Rector"

Robert Andrews listed above is one the largest land-owners in the village and indeed in Northamptonshire. See the Tudors & Stuarts section for information regarding the Andrew family and how they came to hold and then loose their lands in Great Addington.

Edward Holditch listed above was the tenant of the Manor House which was owned by William-Zouch Lucas Ward and is wife Mary (nee Lambe), who lived in Guilsborough Hall rather than in Great Addington (see the Buildings page for information about the Manor House). 

The reference to "shelton tithes" is recorded in the Inclosure Map produced by the commissioners, as the Rector of Sheldon, though it should be Shelton which is a hamlet east of Raunds near the village of Dean in Bedfordshire. It is not clear why a small piece of land in Great Addington was owned by the Rectory of Shelton, though the use of the word tithes by Rev. James Tyley indicates some link to the church tithes and the inclosure map shows the land to be part of the cluster of lands linked to the Church of England.

The Sir George Robinson mentioned is the 5th Baronet (1730–1815) of Cranford, landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1780. In 1766-67 he was High Sheriff of Northamptonshire. He succeeded his father in the baronetcy on 31 August 1766 and inherited estates in Northamptonshire. In the 1774 general election he was returned as Member of Parliament for Northampton, though he is not recorded as having spoken in the House. He did not stand again in 1780. His portion of land in Great Addington is small and is at the far western edge of the parish and is clearly adjacent to his lands in Cranford.

1803 Inclosure map of Great Addington village. The buildings marked in red on the original map are believed to indicate that the building was occupied. Where possible the names of the occupant - tenant or freeholders - is given. The original and the modern name for the property is also shown.

Great Addington Land Ownership 1803

The map shown here is a copy of the 1803 Incloure map hand coloured by myself to show the major land owners. 

The land owned by Robert Andrews (blue) is much of the land that had been previously owned by the de Vere family, lords of the manor, from 1086 to 1493. This land had passed into the hands of the Mordaunt family of Drayton in the 16th century before being sold.

William-Zouch Lucas-Ward, through marriage to Mary Lambe of Great Addington, had come into possession of what had once been the lands of the Abbey of Croyland (pink) until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539.

Neither Robert Andrews nor William-Zouch Lucas-Ward lived in the village.

The Rectory lands (orange) were significant, providing the Rev. James Tyley with a good income. A number of smaller enclosures within the church lands were allocated to those holding the positions of church warden and parish clerk.

A number of other villagers owned land within the village, though the remaining parcels of land were of a modest size, including Elizabeth Bolney, William Beeby and George Beeby.

There are also a number of parcels of land that are owned by others outside the village. Sir George Robinson owns one small field on the extreme west of the parish that is adjacent to his extensive lands in the parish of Cranford where he lived. Francis Tedbury (Tidbury) owns one small field on the very east of the parish and lived in Willy Watt Mill (Ringstead Mill). Lastly, amongst the church lands is a small field that is marked as being part of the tithe of the rectory of the parish of Shelton, near Raunds. This is where Rectory Farm now stands.

John Cary's map of 1801 showing quite different road and tracks for Great Addington and surrounding villages.

1807 preliminary OS map showing the roads from Great Addington only extended as far as the parish boundaries. For instance the new road towards Ringstead ends just short of Willy Watt Mill, and the road to Little Addington becomes a track in between the two villages. 

The map is captures a time when Great Addington had been inclosed, but Little Addington and Ringstead had not. The inclosed fields of Great Addington can clearly be seen, the parishes of the two other villages are open-fields and also have tracks rather than roads.

The Lost Ringstead Road

We do not give much notice to the layout of the village road today, yet prior to the inclosure the roads that link Great Addington to the surrounding villages were quite different. The most striking example is the modern Ringstead Road that very nearly didn't exist until a last minute change in 1804.

If we look in detail at John Cary's map, published in 1801 a few years before the inclosure we can see a number of the local roads are quite different:

It could be argued that John Cary's map was perhaps drawn at too large a scale and that he may have made errors - though the detail of the map is very impressive, for instance the windmill just to the west of Raunds. Yet in September 1803 when the inclosure commissioners were drawing up the roads for Great Addington parish, their first choice for a route to Ringstead was that it should follow the brook at the south of the village (at the bottom of Lower Street) and head eastwards across what was then meadow land to cross the Nene near where the lock and bridges are now situated.

"at or near the south end of the village....passing over the Millers Bridge...from thence in or near its present or near the Lower Cotton Mills."

This was all sensible to the villagers as there was an existing "tract" connecting the two active mills, one at the south of the village and one on the Nene itself. The mills would have required access for large carts to transport materials and there was no doubt a wide and well used track to the Nene, and the 1807 map shows a crossing of the river at this point, though we do not have any information as to the nature of that crossing point. The area between the mills was known as the Great Meadow, and had been the main grazing land for the village for a thousand years.

By this time the Nene was also now navigable - following improvement works during the 18th century - from Peterborough to Northampton, and produce could also be shipped by boat from this point. 

Lastly, this original route is nearly flat all the way to the river and then along to Ringstead. 

A bridleway was going to run from the village to the Upper Cotton Mills, which is what we know of as Willy Watt Mill - it is reasonable to assume that there was already some form of path or track way to Willy Watt Mill and the commissioners were going to initially just adopt that track as a bridleway.

Rather than the staggered cross shaped road layout of today, the village roads were originally therefore Y-shaped. 

However, in January 1804 the inclosure commissioners changed the planned layout:

"We have discontinued that Part of the road which extends from the south end of the village...over the miller's bridge"

Inclosure Map 1803 (1804), showing the roads, bridleways, and footpaths as defined by the Inclosure Commissioners.

The image has been rotated to give a more traditional north-south orientation to aid understanding .

The final decision on the route of Ringstead Road is shown in its current position, the original route is towards the bottom right of the map and is marked on the map as a private carriage road and bridleway.

The commissioners  describe the new Ringstead Road as starting, "opposite the dwelling-house of Samuel Vorley". There is no explanation as to why the plan changed. The new route is a more difficult route involving a steep hill that has to be ascended and descended and would not have been ideal for transporting goods.

In the 1804 variation the commissioners also set out all the remaining footpaths and bridleways from the village. The description of one of which - the footpath running from the Manor House gates on Cranford Road westwards towards Finedon - gives the name, Thomas Colson, as the occupant of the house near the entrance to the footpath. The house was where Huxloe House now stands - it is not known whether the existing building dates from the Georgian era. On the inclosure map it is referred to as "Colson's Homestead". The road near the Manor House at that point in time was also called Colson's Lane.

The footpath from near the Manor House heading towards Burton Latimer was said by the commissioners to reach "the Turn-Pike Road" (A510 Finedon Road), "near Joan Rose's Grave". Who Joan Rose was, how her grave came to be in the countryide, and why her grave was sufficiently well-known to be used in the inclosure notice, is, sadly, unknown.

The inclosure map that is held by Northamptonshire Archives, though dated 1803, is actually the 1804 map showing the final agreed roads, bridleways and footpaths.

The 1817 OS preliminary map shows the roads as defined in the inclosure, though it is interesting to note that that the Ringstead road has only been surfaced as far as Willy Watt Mill; after it crosses the Nene it is shown as an unpaved track.

Threshing machine

Source unknown

The Northampton Mercury 4 Dec 1830 carried many stories regarding "swing" riots across the country including one nearby at Sawtry and Alconbury.

Response to the crisis. Local land owners - including from Great Addington - agree to establish horse and foot patrols of the district.

Nov 30 1830, Northampton Mercury

Original cartoon depiction of "Captain Swing" 1830

Original now held by the British Museum

After Inclosure - The Swing Riots - 1830

The Swing Riots were a widespread uprising in 1830 by agricultural workers in southern and eastern England, in protest at agricultural mechanisation and harsh working conditions. It began with the destruction of threshing machines in the Elham Valley area of East Kent in the summer of 1830, and by early December had spread through the whole of southern England, East Anglia and into the Midlands.

As well as attacking the popularly hated threshing machines, which displaced workers, the protesters rioted over low wages and required tithes, destroying workhouses and tithe barns associated with their oppression. 

The rioters directed their anger at the three targets identified as causing their misery: the tithe system, requiring payments to support the established Anglican Church; the Poor Law guardians, who were thought to abuse their power over the poor; and the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering workers' wages while introducing agricultural machinery. If captured, the protesters faced charges of arson, robbery, riot, machine-breaking and assault. Those convicted faced imprisonment, transportation, and possibly execution.

We are again fortunate that the Rev. James Tyley of Great Addington wrote a contemporary account of related incidents in the parish register in December 1830. His point of view is reflects his background and status; he clearly does not feel much sympathy with the agricultural labourers:

"Considerable insurrections & riots amongst the agricultural labourers in several counties. Also in this immediate neighbourhood, particularly of Finedon. Their vengeance has been chiefly directed against threshing machines, many of which they have....demolished. Clamorous demands for increase of wages, accompanied with threats in case of refusal, have been used by them, to which they have been instigated by the arts of evil and designing men, more than by any real want. In several places the parish clergymen have been shamefully abused; and the taking of tithes solely or principally alleged as the cause of the agricultural distress. In some counties many of these rioters have been tried by a special commission and sentenced to different degrees of punishment, but upon the whole they have been very mildly and mercifully treated. 

A much more shocking and & heinous species of wickedness has been...prevalent this winter; namely the firing of farmers stacks (setting fire to hay stacks) in the night time; by which great quantities of grain have been wantonly as well as diabolically destroyed. The vile and cowardly incendiaries have, when convicted, generally met with the fate that they justly deserved. But it is to be regretted, that detection has not been so frequent as all honest people would wish it to be."   

The Northampton Mercury of 4th December 1830 carried reports of some of those sent to prison for involvement:

"George Bell, William Humberstone, Richard Wiliamson, Thomas Marriott, Jonathan Craythorn and John Chapman- the first five with feloniously breaking a threshing machine at Warmington...and the later with forcibly endeavouring to rescue from the lawful custody of the constable...the two first named delinquents

Isaac Barnes, charged with stealing a quantity of hay from a field at Canons Ashby

Job Clapham, charged with breaking a threshing machine at Finedon

John Warren, Joseph Munns, and Philip Desborough, the two former charged with stealing part of a threshing machine...of Finedon; and the latter for illegally crying round that place, that no labourer was to go to work the next morning, without having 2s.3d a-day, and thereby exciting the labourers of the above parish to riot and disorder.

Joseph Wyatt, Richard Johnson, and William Barber, charged with riotously and tumultuously assembling with divers other persons unknown, and burning a hay-making machine...Kingsutton."

Early 19th-century England was almost unique among major nations in having no significant class of landed smallholding peasantry. The Enclosure Acts of rural England - such as at Great Addington in 1803 and Little Addington in 1830 - contributed to the plight of rural farmworkers. 

Between 1770 and 1830 about 6 million acres (24,000 km2) of common land were enclosed. The common land had been used for centuries by the people of the village to graze their animals and grow their own produce. This land was now divided up among the large local landowners, leaving the landless farmworkers solely dependent upon working for their richer neighbours for a cash wage. Whilst this may have offered a tolerable living during the boom years of the Napoleonic wars, when labour had been in short supply and corn prices high, the return of peace in 1815 resulted in plummeting grain prices and an oversupply of labour.

Before enclosure the cottager of a village was a labourer with land, after enclosure he was a labourer without land. Between 1750 and 1850 the farm labourer faced the loss of land, the transformation of his employment and the sharp deterioration of his economic situation. Following the terrible harvests of 1828 and 1829, farm labourers faced the approaching winter of 1830 with dread.

The name "Swing Riots" was derived from Captain Swing, the fictitious name often signed to the threatening letters sent to farmers, magistrates, parsons, and others. He was regarded as the mythical figurehead of the movement. 'Swing' was apparently a reference to the swinging stick of the flail used in hand threshing. The Swing letters were first mentioned by The Times newspaper on 21 October 1830. The letters would call for a rise in wages, a cut in the tithe payments and for the destruction of threshing machines, otherwise people would take matters into their own hands. 

Other actions included incendiary attacks on farms, barns and hayricks in the dead of night. Although a lot of the actions, such as arson, were conducted in secret at night, meetings with farmers and overseers about the grievances were conducted in daylight.

Eventually the farmers agreed to raise wages, and the parsons and some landlords reduced the tithes and rents. But many farmers reneged on the agreements and the unrest increased. Earl Grey, who speaking in a debate in the House of Lords in November 1830 suggested the best way to reduce the violence was to introduce reform of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister, then the Duke of Wellington, replied the existing constitution was so perfect that he could not imagine any possible alternative that would be an improvement. When that was reported, a mob attacked Wellington's home in London. 

On 15 November 1830 Wellington's government was defeated in a vote in the House of Commons. Two days later, Earl Grey was asked to form a Whig government. Grey assigned a cabinet committee to produce a plan for parliamentary reform. 

The landowning class in England felt severely threatened by the riots, and responded with harsh punitive measures. Nearly 2,000 protesters were brought to trial in 1830–1831; 252 were sentenced to death (though only 19 were eventually hanged), 644 were imprisoned, and 481 were transported to penal colonies in Australia. Not all the rioters were necessarily farm workers, the list of those punished included rural artisans, shoemakers, carpenters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths and cobblers.

A letter, dated 6th December 1830, from Mr. Arbuthnot of Woodford House held by the National Archives gives some idea of the level of concern that the landowners had, and their plans to deal with, "suspicious persons".

"The area is quiet and if the military remains it should stay so: the dragoons are at Wellingborough."

Mr. Arbuthnot writes that he has not been able to find the man spoken about by the Cranford labourer (which he had met in the fields). He will do all he can to take up 'suspicious persons'.

The meeting [of landowners and others] at Thrapston has occurred and Arbuthnot gives great detail in regard to their precautions and their desire in regard to the yeomanry. He believes a troop of 60 could be raised but that they would find it difficult to meet equipment expenses.

He enclosed with his letter is a set of resolutions from 'A General public Meeting' held at Thrapston for the area of Thrapston, Titchmarsh, Aldwinckle, Thorpe, Achurch, Islip, Lowick, Sudborough, Brigstock, Slipton, Tywell, Woodford, Cranford, Deford, Ringstead, Raunds, Clapton, Great Addington, Little Addington and Wadenhoe.

Those present at the meeting included: Duke of Dorset, G Germain, Lord Lilford, C Arbuthnot, Reverend G Robinson, John Yorke, Thomas Wilkins, John Archibald, Reverend Greenwood, Ralph Wilson, Henry Leete, George Eland, Reverend Thomas Sanderson, William Hunt, Mr Selby, Reverend Mr Vane, William Knight, Reverend Henry Rolls, Reverend Littleton Powys, T C Hincks, Reverend Mr Bagshaw, S E Edward, Richard Wilkins and Henry Vane.

In the meeting they agree to raise a constabulary force and horse patrol, to lobby the Lord Lieutenant for the establishment of a local yeomanry force, with Mr. Arbuthnot to communicate the proceedings of the committee to the Lord Lieutenant. 

(National Archives reference: HO 52/7/192 Folios 438-443)

The Swing riots were a major influence on the Government of the day and added to the strong social, political and agricultural unrest throughout Britain in the 1830s.

Swing riot cartoon from 1830