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STEPHEN AND ELIZABETH SHERWOOD
and Elizabeth Sherwood nee Ward were married in the Holy Trinity
church Clothall, Hertfordshire in 1780. They had four
daughters, Ann, Sarah, Mary and Lydia and a son William.
Sherwood was baptised in Clothall in 1760. Her parents were
William and Elizabeth Ward. She was about 21 years old when
she married Stephen Sherwood. When Stephen died, Elizabeth was left to raise her five young
children. The oldest child Ann was just fourteen and the
youngest Lydia about two.
To view a map of Clothall, click on Map
1756: Baptised in Weston.
1760: Baptised in Clothall.
Holy Trinity Church, Clothall, Hertfordshire.
This is the church in which Elizabeth
Sherwood nee Ward was baptised in 1760. Her parents William and Elizabeth
Ward nee Moss were married here in 1755.
Map shows the parishes of Clothall, Weston, Graveley and Hitchin.
On 25 May 1787 Stephen Sherwood,
labourer, appears in the Clothall Surveyors accounts as having
paid 2 shillings in statute duty.
Just twelve days earlier the eleven ships of the First Fleet with
more than one thousand people on board set sail for Australia.
STEPHEN AND ELIZABETH SHERWOOD
death of both his parents Sarah and Stephen in February 1774, Stephen Sherwood may no
longer have felt compelled to remain in Weston. His two older brothers William
and John appear to have
already left the parish, as they do not appear on the Weston militia lists from
1772 on. The militia ballot lists
were an unofficial census. Every male in the parish between the ages of 18 and
45 were required to have their names recorded for military purposes. His
older sister Elizabeth also appears to have left the parish soon after she
married in 1777.
Stephen left Weston sometime after June1775, the date on which
he last appears on the Weston militia lists. William Hide was the
constable and it was his job to record the names of men in the parish on
these lists. Stephen was about 20 when he left Weston and the youngest
surviving member of the family. He
didn't venture far as Clothall is only three kilometres or so from Weston.
The earliest reference to him in
Clothall is June 1776, when he appears in Surveyors' records.
More about this later.
Not long after he arrived in Clothall Stephen married Elizabeth Ward. Elizabeth was baptised 29 February 1760 at the Holy Trinity Church, Clothall. She was the third of William and Elizabeth Ward's seven children. She married Stephen Sherwood in Clothall on 8 February 1780. Elizabeth was about 21 and Stephen about 24 when they married. They were married by Caleb Hill, after the reading of banns. Banns made public a couple's intention to marry. They were read at church on three consecutive Sundays prior to the marriage. Witnesses to their marriage were Isaac Hearn and Thomas Wallis. Thomas Wallis was from Clothall and worked as a labourer.
Stephen and Elizabeth had five children, four daughters and a son William. Ann the eldest was baptised in 1780, William in 1782, Sarah in 1785, Mary in 1789 and Lydia the youngest was baptised in 1794. Their only son William later went to live in Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire where he worked as a farm manager.
Both Stephen and Elizabeth appear in surveyors accounts. These records show payments made to them for working on the parish roads. One of these roads was the highway between Clothall and Weston. A road no doubt travelled many times by our ancestors. Maintaining the roads was hard work at the best of times, but no doubt a welcome source of income when times were tough. The men, women and children of the parish were all involved. Stones were collected from the fields by the women and children and placed in horse drawn carts. Two or more horses were used to pull the heavy cartloads of stone. The stones were used to fill the ruts in the road surface. Elizabeth's father William Ward was one of a number of men who were paid for cutting bushes, twigs and sticks and packing them into ruts on the roadway. Other men were paid for repairing bridges, shovelling snow, getting water off the roads, carting and spreading gravel and transporting chalk.
There were normally two Surveyors in each parish.
They were selected by the Justices of the Peace from a short list of
names drawn up by the members of the vestry. Farmers were often appointed
Surveyors. Their job was to supervise the work carried out on
roads. They were required to keep accounts and
submit them to the Justices at the end of their year of office. There are three
types of entries in the Surveyors Records for Clothall.
1. Lists of Labourers/Inhabitants of the village.
2. Receipts from those who defaulted on their statute duty.
made to those who worked on the roads.
Stephen Sherwood appears in all three records. He first appears in 1776. On the 22 of June he was paid 2 shillings and 4 pence for two days work on the parish roads. The following year 1777, his name appears in a list of labourers and inhabitants of Clothall. Appearing with him is his future father in law William Ward. In October 1777 Stephen paid 2 shillings in statute duty. This was the amount imposed on labourers in the parish who defaulted on their statute duty. By law every able-bodied man in the village was required work for six days every year maintaining the roads.
Stephen paid statute duty for the years 1777, 1781, 1782, 1783, and from 1785 to1791. The amounts paid each year varied from one shilling and six pence to two shillings.
On the 12 June 1789 Stephen was paid 1 shilling and 2 pence for a day's
work and later in that same month
4 shillings and 8 pence for a further four days work. In July he worked a
total of eleven days from which he earned 12 shillings and 10 pence.
For the period September 1791 through to September 1792, the Surveyors of the Highways for Clothall parish were the farmers Benjamin Hagger and Edward Craft. It was their responsibility to maintain the accounts and make the payments to the villagers for work carried out. Throughout June 1791 Stephen was paid for working a total of sixteen and a half days. On the 4 June 1791 he was paid for '3 days in the Highway.' He received 3 shillings and 6 pence. Stephen is last mentioned in the Clothall Accounts Books on 4 May 1792. In fact this is the last mention of Stephen in any records.
Sherwood is also mentioned many times in Surveyors Accounts. She appears in
these records from at least 1784 to 1815, a period of more than 30 years.
From 1784 to 1799 she appears as Elizabeth
Sherwood. From 1799 (this
was the year she re married) up until 1815 she appears as Elizabeth Dixon.
The first entry for her in Surveyors records is on 11 May 1784.
She was about 24 years old and a mother of 2 small children. Elizabeth collected three and a half loads of stone and was paid five
shillings and ten pence.
Picking stones. Here was a backbreaking job, which served two purposes. The women had to take all the stones they found out of the fields so the ploughs could work without breaking. They were paid one penny per bushel. A bushel of stones weighed about 5 cwt (254 kilograms) and they had to take the bushel containers to the edge of the field before they got their penny. At the edge could be found the overseer of the roads who offered them another penny if they would tip the stones onto the road, not necessarily here, but anywhere up to a mile away.
April 1791 'Bety Shurwood' (Elizabeth) was paid 6 shillings and sixpence for
picking four and a half loads of stones.
Quite often the stone pickers worked in groups or teams. There are entries which read, 'Paid a company of Clothall women and children for picking twenty-four loads of stones.' And, 'Paid the Clothall women for thirty-four loads of stones in Pybus Field'. There were times when Elizabeth worked with the other women from the village. In September 1794 the following entry appears. 'Sherwood, Armitage and Co. 93 loads of stones in Westfield.' The women were paid 6 pounds 19 shillings and 6 pence.
A very interesting entry appears on the 6 May 1796. 'Widw. Sherwood and Co. 16 loads of stones in Lufnelfield, 18 shillings and 8 pence.' Quite obviously Stephen Sherwood had died by this date and Elizabeth was left a widow. In August 1799, she married John Dixon at Clothall. In October 1800 'E. Dixon and Harwood and Co.' collected thirty-five loads of stones and were paid 2 pounds 12 shillings and 6 pence. There are entries that tell us that the parish paid for beer to quench the thirst of the hardworking stone pickers.
When Elizabeth was first mentioned in Surveyors records in 1784, she was a young woman of 24. When she was last mentioned in these records in 1815 she was 55. She had carried out the backbreaking task of gathering stones in the parish fields for over thirty years.
R J Sherwood. 2001
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