Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fellmonger of Bromley

The fellmonger is an ancient occupation and dealt in hides and skins (especially sheep skin) and was also involved in preparation of skins for tanning. The references to a leather trade in Bromley in the trades or professions column of the Bromley parish registers from 1813 would explain why Robert Durling is described as a fell monger.
I first encountered fell mongers in research in Lincolnshire and there is an excellent illustration of local feel mongers at Bourne in the Bourne Archive see Fellmongery in Bourne Licolnshire
The ancient guilds or companies of skinners and glovers were associated with fell mongers who belonged to one of the most ancient guilds or companies and the restrictions that these imposed by their bye laws led in 1835 to the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 (5 7 6 Wm.IV.,c.76.) sometimes known as the Municipal reform Act an Act of Parliament that reformed local government in England and Wales.
The Company of Fellmongers in richmond Yorkshire is a reformed company in recent times and their heritage is described at Company of Fellmongers website

The Higler of Bromley Common

The Common has its spile and bavin makers, hawkers pedlars and other descriptive occupations for the travellers.
An  1829 entry in the Bromley parish register of Baptisms gives John Ballard the occupation of Higler. In other parts of the country this is spelled Higgler.
The clergyman responsible for this entry also spells maltster as malster so allowing for his spelling we can say the John was someone who bartered goods and therefore haggled which gives rise to the occupational name. Whilst I have transcribed the parish register volumes for Bromley I have not encountered another higgler in the parish.
In the 1820's the Common had been enclosed but a large part of the settled hamlets at Barnet Wood and Skim Corner which can be traced to medieval houses were occupied seasonally by travellers.
The gypsy and traveller population of the commons areas to the south east of London and all of what is now the London Borough of Bromley from the medieval  parish records is emerging in the Kent Online Parish Clerks collections. There is a clear history of seasonal settlement resulting in permanent residence from the 19th century onwards. An examination of parish burial records discloses the traditional brick lined grave for Romany burials and the modern borough has designated areas for traveller families. Although some of these have been closed ( Green Street Green) and redeveloped by the local authority there remain many local residents who can trace Romany and traveller ancestry.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The 1801 Census of Bromley

I undertook transcription of the rare survival 1801 census in 2013 at Bromley Archive. My transcript has been been online at Kent Online Parish Clerks see 1801 Bromley census. Bromley's population in 1801 is 2700 people.
Prior to the census taken on the 10 day of March the parish was asked to make another return from its registers.
The census reflects those who provided the census information  Henry Smith, D.D., Minister; Edward Latter, Vestry Clerk; John Pepper and L. Ashworth, Churchwardens; Samuel Floyd and [given name illegible] Chalkley, Overseers.
The Home Office stated "A correct return of the Baptisms,Burials and Marriages of the year 1800 is peculiarly requisite,as being the connecting Link of the series of Parish Registers with the Enumerated Population of 1801 and subsequent Enumerations.
The draft form has been left inside the flap cover of the bound Bromley Composite Register number one which covers the years 1558-1715 for some events. The form requires the number of Baptisms Burials and Marriages for three year clusters for:
1571  for which only baptisms survive.

This crude sampling of population shows the town was growing slowly, however against this growth trend there are a number of distortions. Present within the ancient Parish were a significant number of travellers particularly on Bromley Common. The burial register reflects also a number of deaths from those staying at the Bell and White Hart Inns which were large stage coaching Inns on the 10 mile road to London Bridge to the north and Tunbridge ,Tunbridge Wells and Hastings to the south east. in addition nurse children (including children identified from the Foundling Hospital in London) are introduced to the parish and baptismal registers include adult baptisms and reflect baptism of Londoners often so described. There is therefore a shifting non resident population as well as residents of the town.
The three year clusters do not reflect the years of highest death rates during epidemics. Bromley records plague deaths more than 20 years before the Great Fire of London.
Bromley appears to have been a relatively slow growing population in a rural market town on a major coach staging a short distance from the city of London. It was not until the coming of the railway that large growth appeared much later.
The civil War touched Bromley but there is no record of any conflict in the town; the upheaval centred on evicting the Bishop of Rochester from his Palace and the installation of Puritan clergy as Ministers. Eventually the Bishop returned to the Palace and the registers return to normality with  little disruption.