Overseers of the Poor – What we don’t know

During the 1780’s the monthly pay out is totalling £12. Yet the rates which were collected annually are only amounting to £3. Where is the rest of the money coming from? The church collections?

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Place Names of Dorset, Part 3

Place Names of Dorset Part 3, A D Mills, 1989

This marvellous book has an amazing amount of information. Part 3 covers Whiteway Hundred which includes Milton Abbas and the adjoining parishes of Woolland, Stoke Wake, Hilton and Ibberton.

It details the origins of place names, road and track names and field names from the earliest written record of each name, and is densely packed with references to original documents.

It would be of great value to our history if we could map all these names and locations and their changes over time in the parish of Milton Abbas.

This volume is available on Abe Books for a reasonable price, and can be borrowed from Libraries West.

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Overseers of the Poor – what we have learned

Every month the Overseer paid out the regular payment to the poor, plus “disbursements” – additional payments, goods or services to those in need, and costs of the Overseers.

These disbursements are of most interest to the local historian because they identify the cost of goods and services; who is working for the parish and the names the poor of the parish.

At this time agricultural wages were about 6s per week, and almost of this income went on rent and very poor food. Labourers had no savings for a rainy day.

These documents also show us the spellings of the time – much as they sounded.

All the following information is from just 4 months of entries in 1771. There is much more history still to be discovered.

5 May 1771 Paid John Arnold for Sweeping Sixteen Parish Chimbleys

From this we know that the chimney sweep, John Arnold, was paid 3d per chimney.

5 May 1771 Paid Wm Bragg for a coffen for Mary Biles

From this we learn that a coffin cost 8s., William Bragg was probably the village carpenter, and that Mary Biles died sometime in April or May 1771 – a useful check on the Parish Registers which are not always complete, especially for burials. However in this case the register does show that Mary Biles was buried on 26 May 1771.

5 May 1771 Paid for a New Great Coat for France Vacher and Makeing

Clearly a new coat was an expensive item at 16s 9d in 1771.

25 Jun 1771 Paid for a New Coat and Making for Jethro Lovell boy

25 Jun 1771 Paid for to new shurths for Jethro Lovell to boys

A new coat for a boy at 7s 10d was about half that for a man, and shirts were about 2s 6d each, and that Jethro Lovell had two boys in 1771.

Paid for a pair of shous for Tobias Whifen

Paid for to pair of shous for Lovell boys

Paid for a Pair of Shous for Tho’ Legg boy

Thus a pair of adult shoes were 5s 9d, and boys 3s 8d.

1 Aug 1771 Paid William Campbell half a year House Rent for Mary Vacher, Due Miedsumer Last

Rent for a house was £1 per year. William Campbell was probably a house owner (although he may have been sub-letting) and Mary Vacher a tenant who could not afford to pay her rent.

1 Aug 1771 Paid for the making to load of straw for the Parish house

This is very important piece of information – the Parish house was probably the poor house, this in addition to the almshouses which we know were present. The houses were thatched with straw as one would expect, and that a load of straw cost 4s.

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Overseers of the Poor Book 1781

100, 1781-04

This is new to us, a unique entry in our Overseers of the Poor Book. It reads “At a Vestry held this Sixteenth day of April the following Poor People appeared & Complained; they Wanted as follows

John Piper of Pimperne – Assistance for 3 Children of his sister Ann Segar boy aged 9, 8 & 6 – Gave him 10s. 6d.”

There are thirty other requests, no other money was granted, but shirts, shifts and shoes were given.

Is this common to other villages where the poor can turn up at an annual meeting and ask for more help?

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Milton Abbas village transport

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This very handsome Victorian semi-detached property replaced one of the original 1780 cob and thatch cottages, probably when the latter burnt down or fell down.

The right hand house was once the location of the village bus service to Blandford and Dorchester.  The bus was parked up the drive, there was a petrol pump here, complete with tank and piping.

Kelly’s Directory for 1939 records: Carriers.–Sidney Harmer, with motor omnibus, to
Blandford, tues. & thurs.; to Dorchester, daily (except thurs).

In 1923 the carriers are listed in Kelly’s as Robert Lovell and Andrew Bolt.

Before motorised transport this property housed the horse and cart and stabling is evident at the rear of the building.

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Milton Abbas Local History Group visit Cerne Abbas

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Our history group were given a presentation and a guided tour by the Cerne Abbas Historical Society. This was followed by dinner in the Giant Inn.

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A History of the Tregonwell Family

A History of the Tregonwell Family

We were lucky to be given this 120 foolscap page typescript by the author himself, Sir Mervyn Medlycott. It is his last remaining sixth copy. If anyone remembers carbon copies they will be aware that the quality of the copies decreases with the number of copies. However it is readable and I have the task of transcribing it. Only 30 more pages to go!

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Chris and Debra Wood from British Columbia

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What a great day we had – thanks to the Dorset weather it was a beautiful sunny day; thanks to Debra and Chris Wood for coming all the way from British Columbia to visit Milton Abbas; thanks to Helier Exon for his guided tour of the Abbey and thanks to Ann and Chris Fookes for their hospitality.

Here is Chris Fookes signing a copy of his book on Milton Abbas.

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Overseers of the Poor – Paupers House

Overseers, Pauper House, 146, 1786-03

This is the first piece of evidence for a Pauper’s House in the new village of Milton Abbas. From the Overseers of the Poor book page dated April 1786. This is in addition of course to the Almshouses for “6 poor widows” which had been moved brick by brick from the old town to the new.

“Paid 1 Years Rent for the Houses in the New Town where the paupers reside and particulars agreed at a Vestry Meeting 4 Oct 1784 £9 9s 4d.”

This annual rent was of course paid to Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, who had the new village built out of his sight. We have a picture of these houses which were next to the building which is now the Hambro Arms. This is on the front cover of Chris Fookes’ Guide Book.

Thanks to Chris Wood for the transcription.

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Milton Abbas Street Fair 2017

IMG_0985Despite the dreadful weather plenty of people turned out, and many took an interest in our history group stand. Thanks to the great British public. All the volunteers on our stand were in 18th century costume, which added to the sense of history.

Many visitors learned for the first time of the removal of the old town in the late 18th century.

We were visited by others who had ancestors from Milton Abbas.

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