Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lydiard Park Estate Workers

If your ancestor worked on the Lydiard Park estate between 1868 – 1889 there’s a good chance their name will appear in the only two surviving wage books - and Lydiard volunteer Sharon is getting pretty close to tracking them all down.


Although not quite on the scale of a year in the life of Chatsworth – a TV documentary aired this week about the vast Devonshire family estate in Derbyshire -  the wage book entries provide a snapshot of the workings of 19th century Lydiard Park.

Up at the house Jesse Turner and his wife Jane worked as butler and housekeeper from 1840-1860.  Sarah Turner was employed as a housemaid in 1861 and Emily, a niece also worked as a housemaid in 1871.

Out on the estate Charles Fletcher was paid 10s for two days work thrashing and winnowing while his wife received just 4s for ‘helping’ him. An entry made in 1887 records ‘bird keeping boy off the wheat 14s 20 days.’ Tenant farmer Noah Ody sold his barley to the St Johns while the Misses Kibblewhite hired their two horses for two days drilling work on the estate.


The last Lady Bolingbroke at Lydiard Park was Mary Howard, whose secret marriage to Henry the 5th Viscount was only revealed after his death. 

Mary was born in the neighbouring village of Lydiard Millicent, the eldest child of Robert Howard and his wife Susannah.  Robert worked variously as a blacksmith, gardener, carter and in 1871 the family lived in Newport Street, Old Swindon where he was employed as a Mailcart driver.


Susannah had much closer links with Lydiard Park where her father Robert Hiscock followed in a long line of estate gamekeepers.

Following Henry’s death in 1899 and the grand reveal, the former Mary Howard found herself giving orders to the estate workers she had grown up alongside.  It couldn’t have been easy.  As Sharon continued to research the wage books she found many of those employed were connected to the Howard and Hiscock families by birth or by marriage. Perhaps that’s why Lady Mary appointed her cousin Edward Hiscock as estate manager.  He appeared to have no problem telling people what to do and earned himself the derisory title of Lord Ted among the tenant farmers.

Sharon is happy to help family historians as she continues to build up a picture of the Lydiard Park workers and can be contacted on SDowler@swindon.gov.uk.

Images - Lady Mary and gamekeeper Henry Hiscock courtesy of Lydiard Park www.lydiardpark.org.uk

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