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John Trewin Westaway
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Extracted from the South Tawton Poor Law Record Books   

 

Times were hard in most rural areas during the 1800`s.  Prior to the workhouses being introduced in 1836, the parishes were responsible for looking after any parishioners in need.  This could be the sick, elderly and families of low paid workers.  The latter were very common from 1790 onwards because the taxes on farmers were increased to help pay for the Napoleonic wars and  farmers were also expected to feed and house any soldiers passing through the parishes.  Revenue for the poor was raised by charging all the landowners in a parish with a poor rate and then this was paid out to the people needing it.  All this was recorded in the Church Parish Records.   The following piece from the parish registers illustrates how people were forced to work for less and less, until they had to leave their parishes for the larger towns and cities.

John Westaway was a cordwainer (shoemaker) and each year he put in a bid to make the shoes for the poor house, obviously there was quite a lot of competition.  It is interesting to note over the recorded years how he had to cut the profit he was making.

Every year he would sign a declaration like this one:-

I, John Westaway do agree to make all the shoes for the poor of the parish of South Tawton of South Tawton of the best British manufactured Hide Leather and bring the same to the monthly meeting for the examination and inspection of the payers present.

If the shoes are not found to be made of the aforesaid materials they are not to be made of the aforesaid material they are to be returned to me whereby I agree to make other shoes such as will give real satisfaction to the Parishioners.

I also agree to give credit for one quarters shoes until I have made such shoes as shall be accepted by the overseers and the parishioners.  Furthermore if I do not fulfil the above condition as I bind myself under a penalty of the value of that quarter`s shoes so delivered.  Witnessed my hand this 19.4.1835- John Westaway. (a transcribed copy as it appears in the Parish Registers)

A sample of yearly bids

In 1820 John Westaway was charging :-

                                                                        mens shoes       5s.6d

                                                                        womens shoes   3s.6d

                                                                        childrens shoes 2s.0d

 

1821 John Westaway Sen.
1823  William Moor 
1824 Mr Holman

mens shoes

womens shoes

childrens shoes

5s.6d 

3s.6d  

2s.6d 

mens shoes 

womens shoes

childrens shoes

6s.6d  

4s.0d

 2s.6d  

mens shoes  

womens shoes 

childrens shoes

5s.9d

4s.3d

2s.6d

 

1826 Robert Wannell
1827 James Westaway
1828 James Westaway

mens shoes

womens shoes

childrens shoes

5s.6d 

3s.4d  

2s.6d 

mens shoes 

womens shoes

childrens shoes

5s.3d  

3s.5d

 2s.2d  

mens shoes  

womens shoes 

childrens shoes

5s.2 1/2d

3s.2d

2s.1d

 

1829 James Westaway
1830  John Westaway  
1831 James Redstone

mens shoes

womens shoes

childrens shoes

5s.0d 

2s.11d  

2s.0d 

mens shoes 

womens shoes

childrens shoes

5s.0d  

2s.11d

1s.111/2d  

mens shoes  

womens shoes 

childrens shoes

4s.6d

3s.0d

1s.10d

 

1832 James Redstone
1833  James Redstone
1834 James Redstone

mens shoes

womens shoes

childrens shoes

4s.4d 

3s.0d  

1s.6d 

mens shoes 

womens shoes

childrens shoes

4s.4d  

2s.11d

1s.6d  

mens shoes  

womens shoes 

childrens shoes

4s.4d

2s.11d

1s.6d

 By 1835  - 15 years later John Westaway had had to reduce his prices to :-

mens shoes

4s.4d
womens shoes 2s.10d
childrens shoes 1s.6d

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  © 2003-6 Sheila Yeo | For more information on the Westaway family and the research contained in this site email sheila@yeosociety.com or call me on +44 (0)1626 360978