Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sartorial Elegance, Victorian Style

Thanks to readily accessible parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, I can trace some branches of my family back many generations ... but mostly these are the only details I have, and there is nothing to add to the bald facts.

Back in 2007, I made a lucky find on the internet - a photograph of my great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Bates, taken c.1870.

Although the photo was a random find, I'm 99% certain it is the right Thomas Bates, father of my grandfather's maternal grandmother, Sarah Smith. He was baptised in 1806, so would have been in his early sixties when this picture was taken.

Thomas was one of ten children of a William Bates and his wife Mary, though four of his siblings died during childhood. Three died within days of each other in 1802 - two girls aged nine and three, and a five year old boy - presumably of some infectious disease. On February 10th 1834 he married Ann Dimmock. The 1851 census lists her as born in the adjacent village of Soulbury, but the 1861 census says she came from Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. Dimmock is a common family name in Stewkley, so I'm guessing she had relatives there. My great-great-grandmother Sarah was the oldest of their six children. On the 1861 census Thomas is listed as an agricultural labourer, as were his two eldest sons. His wife Ann and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth were all straw plaiters.

The smock Thomas Bates is wearing in the photo was standard wear for agricultural labourers in the village at that time. Smocks were only replaced by trousers when machinery became common on farms and the loose fabric became a danger.


MacBeth Derham said...

That is one very serious-looking guy. Love the smock...what a great find!

Dorothy said...

I was going to ask if he was a shepherd!