I chose to write about Susanna PARSONS, my son-in-law's 3rd great-grandmother and her family. Susanna was the third child (of 11 children) of parents, Richard PARSONS and Sarah CHETTEN [surname not proven as yet]. Richard is listed on the 1841 Census living in Snow Hill in the hamlet of Hartshill, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. His occupation is listed as Ag Lab - agricultural labourer - as are his older sons.
Susannah was baptised 7 Sep 1807 in St. Peter's church in the Parish of Mancetter, Warwick. Susannah married Edwin WHITE in the on June 30th, 1828, also in the Parish 'mother' church, St. Peter's, built in the 13th Century. Edwin signed his name, while Susanna made her mark. The Witnesses were Wm Henry Wright and Anne Ch....[difficult to read], who are not known to be relatives.
They settled nearby, in Chapel End in the hamlet of Hartshill, and can be found in the 1841 Census, with their first four children. Edwin was working as a blacksmith, and the census shows he was not born in the county of Warwick [he was born in Nottingham].
Susanna and Edwin had the following children, born in Hartshill:
1. Josiah, b. 1829
2. James, b. 1833
3. Susanna, b. 1835
4. Sarah [direct ancestor], b. 25 Sep 1836, d. 23 Oct 1908; m. to John PERRY 15 Apr 1860, 9 children
5. Hannah, b. 1842
6. Philip, b. 1847
7. Isabella, b. 1852
Note that I have not completed research to find spouses/families of their 7 children, other than for the direct ancestor, Sarah; plus I need to search for death records, and any other records which might be found on this WHITE family.
In the 1851 Census, the family were again found living in Snow Hill, two homes away from Susanna's brother Richard and his family. Edwin's occupation is listed as Blacksmith, as are his eldest sons, Josiah and James. However, Susanna is listed as a Hand Loom Weaver Ribbons, as are her two older daughters, Susannah and Sarah. Her younger brother and his wife are also Ribbon Weavers, as is a neighbour. Another neighbour woman is listed as having the occupation of Silk Winder.
Ribbons. Woven on a handloom, in whatever light could be found through a window, or with a small light. You cannot read a Regency romance novel without reading about women buying ribbons to decorate their hats, their hair, their dresses. The northern area in Warwick produced ribbons for the fashion trade, originally for the wealthy, but now produced in large enough amounts to be within the price range of most women. Over 30,000 hand looms were known to be working in the region, doing piecework at home.
As you can see from the photo, the loom is placed right up against the window for maximum light. To earn money, one would need to be weaving the patterns for as long as possible while the light held. And the windows were not like today's double-glazed ones, with well-insulated walls.
Unfortunately, by the late 1860s the advent of steam-powered looms collapsed the home-based hand loom ribbon businesses, causing great hardship, as well as poverty.
The 1861 Census shows Edwin still working as a Blacksmith, and their daughter Hannah as a Ribbon Weaver, but there are fewer in the neighbourhood. Susanna, his wife, does not show an occupation on this Census.
The 1871 Census shows Edwin, widowed, Blacksmith, living only with his youngest child, Isabella, aged 19, no occupation. They were living in Snow Hill as before.
Susanna is shown as having died in the first quarter of 1866 (Jan-March), and the death was registered in Parish Mancetter, in Atherstone which is about 2.5 miles from Hartshill.
I have a list of questions still about Susanna. Clearly everyone pulled their weight in the family, and while raising seven living children, she also wove silk ribbons to add to the family income. I wonder if a neighbour showed her how to do this work, and I wonder how much money they might have earned with each 'piece' (yards?)
A challenging life, a challenging time, as the Industrial Revolution hit the poor very hard. This family found a way, and Susanna certainly did her part.
If any of these people are your ancestors as well, please contact me via calewis at telus dot net, or in the Comments below. I would love to learn more about my Perry grandchildren's ancestors.