William Ireland Barrett (1859-1942) – from agricultural labourer to farmer

William is my great grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side. I don’t have any photos of him.  I know where he died; Manor Farm, Skipwith. I think I visited the farm house with my father in the 1960s/or 1970s, when it was occupied by one of my father’s first cousins.

The following modern map shows three Yorkshire villages, south of York, which feature in this story: Escrick, North Duffield and Skipwith. The location of Manor Farm on the Skipwith Road is indicated by the purple circle. The distance between Escrick and Skipwith is approximately 3 miles and between Skipwith and North Duffield about 2 miles.

Modern map showing the location of Escrick, Skipwith and North Duffield in relation to York

William was the youngest son of Emmanuel Barrett (1812-1886) and Mary Ireland (1817-1896). When he was born on 10 August 1859, his father, Emmanuel, was described as a labourer from North Duffield. His mother Mary’s name was recorded as ‘lately Howdle formerly Irland’ on his birth certificate. She registered his birth on 14 September 1859. Emmanuel was Mary’s second husband and they had married on 3 September 1844 in St Helen’s church, Skipwith. The 1861 census recorded Emmanuel, Mary and three of their children (Jane, John and William) in North Duffield. The descendant chart shows Emmanuel, Mary and two generations of their family.

Two generation descendant chart for Emmanuel and Mary

William was recorded with his parents and siblings in North Duffield in the 1871 census as a scholar. By the 1881 census William had left home and was an indoor farm servant living at Derwent Cottage Farm, South Duffield, where the head of the household was William Giles, a farm bailiff.

William from 1890-1911 – It is not clear when William left North Duffield to work elsewhere. Intriguingly his marriage certificate to Charlotte Mary Burton (1870-1942) records his address as 44 Holdforth Street, Wellington Road, New Wortley, now part of Leeds. William was a bachelor, aged 29 and his occupation recorded as a rullyman, a cart driver.  His father Emmanuel had died and was described as a farmer, although perhaps a more accurate description was farm labourer. Charlotte was 19 when she married and from Cliffe, a few miles from North Duffield, perhaps indicating that William had kept in touch with his family still living there. They married in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Selby by license and Charlotte’s father, Thomas, a farmer, was one of the two witnesses to their marriage.

William and Charlotte’s eldest child Sarah (1890-1943) was born soon after their marriage on 6 August 1890. The 1891 census recorded William, Charlotte and their daughter Sarah living with Charlotte’s parents, Thomas (1842-1912) a farmer and Sarah Palframan (1845-1920) in the village of Cliffe.

By 1901 the family were now in North Duffield and William’s occupation was an agricultural labourer. His wife Charlotte’s uncle, Michael Palframan (1850-1907), my second great grand uncle and a farmer, was living nearby. Both families were recorded next to each other on the same census sheet.

It looks like the family moved to Skipwith shortly after the 1901 census was taken. FindmyPast has a collection of school admission records which included those for the national school in Skipwith. The records show that on 10 April 1901 Sarah, John and William were enrolled into the school, having previously been pupils at the South Duffield national school. Unfortunately, the school’s admission registers just gave their address as Skipwith, without any further details of where they were living.  

The 1911 census recorded William as a farmer in Skipwith, together with his family, but the name of the farm was not included on the census record. It indicated that the family of seven, three males and four females were living in four rooms.

In total William and Charlotte had seven children:  three boys and four girls, two of whom had left home by the 1911 census. The following outline descendant report provides further details. The three couples marked in blue are my great grandparents, William and Charlotte, my grand aunt and uncle William Alfred and his wife Alice and my grandparents Charlotte and George Sarginson.

Outline descendant report for William and Charlotte

Manor Farm, Skipwith in 20th century – Whilst I knew that William and his wife Charlotte both died while living at Manor Farm, I was also interested in the history of the farm tenancy. It forms part of the Escrick Park Estate which is in private hands; their records have been lodged with the Hull History Centre in the collection: Forbes Adam/Thompson/Lawley/Barons Wenlock Family of Escrick, 1387-1988. A combination of these records and census records for Skipwith enabled me to trace the tenants from about 1901 to the 1970s.

The 1901 and 1911 censuses recorded William’s father-in-law Thomas Burton (1842-1912) and wife Sarah Palframan (1845-1920) at Manor Farm. The 1911 census provided the details of five people at the farm: three males and two females, who lived in five rooms. Thomas and Sarah were listed, with three servants: Leonard Maud, John Thomas Barrett and Emily Marshall.  Leonard (1888-1974) later married William’s daughter Sarah, John (1892-1978) was William’s son and he married Emily (1895-1962) in 1915.

William’s father-in-law Thomas Burton died on 16 June 1912 and according to Escrick Estate papers lodged with the Hull History Centre, his widow Sarah continued to run the farm. The 1913 Kelly’s trade directory recognised William as a farmer and listed Mrs Charlotte Burton as the farmer based at Manor Farm. This was William’s mother-in-law Mrs Sarah Burton and it seems that a mistake had been made with her first name in the Kelly’s directory.

Another significant event was the death of the owner of the Escrick estate, the Honourable Beilby Lawley, Lord Wenlock in 1912. After his death ownership of the estate passed to his daughter Irene Lawley who later married into the Forbes Adam family. The estate at this point was managed by Claude Thompson on her behalf. The estate papers include correspondence between Mrs Sarah Burton and Claude Thompson, the estate manager, with regards to her tenancy of Manor Farm.

Claude Thompson wrote to Sarah Burton on 12 March 1917 proposing that she willingly give up her tenancy of the farm and suggested that she discuss it with her son-in-law Mr Barrett. After a series of letters between the two parties Sarah was eventually offered a renewal of her tenancy, from 6 April 1918, provided that she “purchase each year during your tenancy 130 tons of good town manure for the arable land and you to produce (sic) the vouchers for my inspection when required”.  Thompson was keen to ensure the land produced as much food as possible. The farm acreage comprised 101 acres at a rent of £115pa. The quid pro quo was that she would lose the cottage her grandson lived in, which was subsequently rented to another tenant.  I wonder if it is at this point that William, Charlotte and family moved into Manor Farm? Sarah died in 1920 and it seems likely that by then William had taken over the tenancy of Manor Farm. He was recorded in the 1921 census as a farmer and employer at Manor Farm with his sons William Alfred and Michael working on the farm. A later tenancy agreement dated 10 May 1938 named William and his son William Alfred as co-tenants. The farm area by then was 120 acres 2 roods and 34 perches at a rent of £125pa. It included fields in the parishes of Skipwith and Escrick.

The 1939 Register detailed who was living at Manor Farm on 29 September. It included William, his wife Charlotte, son William Alfred, his wife and two sons, as well as William and Charlotte’s daughter Edna and her family. William died on 14 May 1942 at Manor Farm. One of his causes of death was given as senile myocarditis; his death was registered on 15 May by his son William Alfred. William’s probate record mentions his widow Charlotte and he left effects valued at £471 15s 3d. William’s wife Charlotte died on 10 September 1942 and her probate record included her surviving sons: William Alfred Barrett and John Thomas Barrett, both farmers. Her effects were worth £476 7s 8d. After William’s death, his son William Alfred Barrett (1895-1970), became the sole tenant of Manor Farm. The tenancy agreement from the Escrick Park Estate papers included information on what crops should be grown during World War II; for example, a cultivation of land order from 1943 required that the whole of OS.304 (1910 map), 10.618 acres of grass, be ploughed up before 31 December 1943 and sown with one of the following crops for harvest in 1944: wheat, barley, oats, rye, peas, beans, potatoes, sugar beet. It also stated that “the Committee’s written consent must be obtained for the growing of flax”, a crop which had previously been grown in the local area. The following map shows the location of OS.304 with the farm circled in purple and Escrick Park in green.

OS 1910 Yorkshire CXCII.SE showing the location of field OS.304, Manor Farm and Escrick Park

The tenancy agreement also included information relating to changes in the farm acreage and rent:

  • 6 April 1953 – the rent for Manor Farm was £143 10s pa and for the land in Escrick £36 10s pa, a total of £180pa.
  • 6 April 1957 – the total rent for Manor Farm and land in Escrick was £261pa.
  • 6 April 1959 – William gave up 6 acres 3 roods and 15 perches of land in Skipwith Holmes with a corresponding rent reduction of £10 10s pa.
  • 6 April 1961 – rent of Manor Farm and lands was £235pa and land at Escrick £44pa, making a total of £279pa.

William Alfred Barrett, my grand uncle died in Q4 1970. It seems that his son Michael William Barrett (1938-2007), my first cousin once removed, had taken over the tenancy of Manor Farm from about 1962. He was then followed as the tenant by his mother Alice Mary Calvert (1900-1980) with a tenancy agreement dated 30 May 1971. At some point before her death in 1980, Alice gave up tenancy of Manor Farm and its long association with my family ended.

Manor Farm in 21st Century – Manor Farm can still be found on the road from Escrick to Skipwith, and the following photograph, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, was taken in 2011.

Manor Farm, Skipwith by J Thomas

Lastly – I would like to know more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the maps used in this blog have been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ and sourced from the NLS maps site https://maps.nls.uk/.


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