Monday, 11 January 2016

An Innkeeper’s Daughter

Jane Grimshw Spedding was born 28 Feb 1789 in Batley, Yorkshire; the ninth of eleven children of Charles Spedding and Mary Ellis.  She was on the only one of the children to be given a middle name.  At the time in England, middle names were not common and in fact, based on my family history research, were not common until the mid-1800s.  My assumption is that Grimshaw is a family name and that in 1789 there was a reason to commemorate it.  I haven’t yet found definite Grimshaw ancestry but her grandmother, and mother of Mary Ellis, may have been Sarah Grimshaw.  More research is needed to be certain as Ellis is a common surname.

Jane was baptised 8 Mar 1789 in Batley parish church.  At the time, along with some other parishes in Yorkshire, that church used Dade registers.  Dade registers have the advantage of recording a lot of information that wasn’t normally recorded, such as Jane’s date of birth and the names of her grandfathers, Robert Spedding and John Ellis.  This is very useful for proving links between generations.  The short time of about a week between birth and baptism is thought to have been the norm at a time of high infant mortality.

During Jane Grimshaw Spedding’s lifetime, Batley changed from a small community of farmers and weavers into an industrial town, quadrupling in size.  Jane’s family were well off.  Her father was a butcher and innkeeper who was leader in the local community, taking on such roles as church warden and overseer of the poor.  The inn was the “Bull and Butcher” and in 1801 the family lived there.

Another sign of the status of Jane’s family was her marriage by licence on 12 Jul 1809, Batley, to John Akeroyd.  I don’t know why they got married by licence but there are a few possible reasons: John was illegitimate, so it is possible that Jane’s family didn’t approve of him; they came from different parishes, so there may have been an issue with calling banns or it may just have been a status symbol for Jane’s family.  Jane was not pregnant, another reason for a licence.  Her first child was born a respectable ten months after the wedding.  One odd thing about the licence is that Jane is sworn to be aged twenty-one and upwards but she was actually only twenty.  It is possible she didn’t know her exact age.

John Akeroyd was a farmer from Wragby and may be worthy of his own story being told at some point.  When John and Jane married, he may have been responsible for his two young and recently orphaned half-siblings, Mary and Robert Bennington.  So Jane probably became an instant mother, as well as wife.  Between 1810 and 1821, Jane and John had six children born in Ryhill, near Wragby, where John was a farmer.

The family then moved to Batley, and had four more children, including my ancestor Abraham Akeroyd, born in 1827.  The move to Batley took place a couple of years after Jane’s father Charles died in 1819.  Following the move, John took over the “Bull and Butcher”, although he also continued as a farmer.

Sadly, in 1839, John Akeroyd died of Cholera.  He left his farm to his “dear wife Jane”.  From the names listed in the will, it appears that two of his children died before it was written.

In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, Jane Akeroyd is listed as a farmer and in 1851 she had 12 acres.  I wonder whether she kept running the family farm through choice or necessity.  Jane had grown up sons in 1839 who could have joined the family business but they also had their own jobs.

Jane died in 1855 and was buried in Batley churchyard.   Abraham Akeroyd named his daughter born in 1856 Jane Grimshaw Akeroyd, in tribute to his mother.

Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Percy Tomlinson Akeroyd > Frederick William Akeroyd > Abraham Akeroyd > Jane Grimshaw Spedding

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