Wednesday, 30 April 2014

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.