This has taken me a long time so far, and there is still one document to go!

Berrows Worcester Journal

In the course of searching Berrows Worcester Journal, I found the following lists of names of the men of the Worcestershire Regiment of Militia who had been called up but had not joined for training.  A few watermen and boatmen are included. I have reproduced the lists in their entirety here in the belief that they may also be useful to others who have ancestors in the area.

30 September 1825 (774kb)

The lists are in alphabetical order, and include a description of each of the individuals, as well as their occupation and where they lived.

13 June 1831 (542kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1822 to 1840
Alvechurch Marina


1832 saw the creation of towing paths enabling the use of horses along the line of the Severn from Gloucester to Bewdley.  Prior to this date, men, known as Bow Halliers, used to tow the vessels.  Needless to say, the Bow Halliers took exception to this change, and tried to prevent the horses proceeding along the towing path.  The Scotch Greys, stationed at Kidderminster, were called in to quell the riots.  The Riot Act was read, the soldiers sent in, and the ringleaders arrested.  Women and children were among the mob - "petticoat insurgents" taunted and pelted the soldiers.  The ringleaders were not seriously punished, as it was believed that they had been "misled".

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1822 to 1840 (57kb)

During this period, a number of philanthropists were agitating for boatmen and watermen to be spared work on Sundays so that they would be able to attend church (which these philanthropists believed would improve morals and behaviour in the "floating population".)  The Rev John Davies, Rector of St Clement's in Worcester, campaigned tirelessly on the subject.

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1822 to 1840 (679kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1841 to 1844
Cottage, Diglis Lock Basin

The Rev Frank Hewson, in January 1842, addressing the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, called boatmen "drunken, profligate, Sabbath breakers, swearers, blasphemers".  He also observed, sadly, that most of the books provided by the Society to boatmen and watermen "at present generally found their way to the pawn shops".

Unsurprising really, given that most boatmen were illiterate.

Reminiscent of Baldrick of Blackadder fame, who, when asked what had happened to a book, enquired if that was "the big papery thing" which he had just used to light the fire.

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1841 to 1844 (55kb)

Nevertheless, churches and chapels began to spring up along the lines of the waterways, Victorian middle class society's method of dealing with "the heathen in their midst".

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1841 to 1844 (469kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1845 to 1849

The major article in the next selection concerns a poaching affray at Pirton, in which gamekeeper Thomas Staite was beaten to death, and two other gamekeepers were also injured.  A boatman, George Brant, was one of the poachers involved.  All of the poaching gang were transported, some for life, others for shorter periods, having been found guilty of manslaughter.

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1845 to 1849 (58kb)

This was a serious case, with serious consequences, but many of the punishments for minor offences were draconian in the extreme.  Like 10 year old Ellen Taylor, described as "a single woman", who was found guilty of stealing 10s (50p) and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment.

Or 10 year old William Bidey, charged with stealing two handkerchiefs, who was sentenced to ten years' transportation.

Many minor offences were driven by poverty and hunger.

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1845 to 1849 (661kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1852 to 1859
Titford (Oldbury)

One subject which has appeared regularly in this archive of material is outbreaks of asiatic cholera, both in Worcester and the surrounding towns.  It is evident there was little idea of what caused the disease, nor how to cure it.  Although Doctor John Snow had proved during an outbreak in Soho, London, in 1858 that the disease was water borne (he traced the source of the infection to a single water pump), this view was not widely accepted before 1866 - until then, the disease was believed to be caused by "miasma" or bad air.  The fact that canals and rivers such as the Severn and Thames were used not only as sewers but also for drinking water was not a subject discussed in polite society.

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1852 to 1859 (60kb)

A character who appears regularly is Henry Bundy, agent to the Gloucester and Worcester Horse Towing-Path Company, who caused a lot of boatmen to be fined for failing to take a ticket to use the towing-path.  The fine was normally 40s (£2), which was a substantial amount at the time.

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1852 to 1859 (663kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1860 to 1869
Oldbury Canal

In January 1869, a court case was held investigating allegations of corruption in the election at Bewdley and Stourport.  The two candidates were Sir Richard Glass, the victor, and Mr Lloyd, who brought the case.  Back then, few people were entitled to vote, although more in this election than in previous ones, thanks to the Reform Act of 1867, which franchised men who were owners, tenants or lodgers paying at least £10 per annum.  Still, only two out of five Englishmen had the vote (and no Englishwomen of course!)  Amongst others, a number of boatmen were "collected" from Bristol and brought back to Bewdley to vote, being "treated" to copious quantities of alcohol at sundry pubs en route.  And who you voted for was known, as it was not until the Ballot Act of 1872 that secret ballots were introduced.

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1860 to 1869 (55kb)

A description of sewage irrigation at Banbury from August 1869 is frankly pretty gross.  One of those "doesn't bear thinking about" moments.

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1860 to 1869 (415kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1870 to 1879
Droitwich Canal

This is a fairly "bitty" selection, though anyone with connections to boat families in Droitwich - the Pittaways, Prices et al - should find some interesting material here.

In all these articles, it is not uncommon to find cases of so called "dry drowning" or "secondary drowning", where the victim, who apparently recovers sufficiently to hold sensible conversations with their rescuers, dies hours or days later as a result of their immersion.

Names from Berrow's Worcester Journal 1872 to 1879 (55kb)

The two terms refer to different conditions.  In "dry drowning", water does not reach the lungs because the vocal cords go into spasm - hence the name - but the spasm does not ease, causing difficulty in breathing and ultimately death.  "Secondary drowning" is caused by the water reaching the lungs, which causes a reaction of pulmonary oedema similar to pneumonia.  Death from dry drowning is usually fairly rapid after immersion, whilst after secondary drowning it can happen up to two or three days later.

Articles from Berrow's Worcester Journal 1872 to 1879 (366kb)


Berrows Worcester Journal 1881 to 1889

As one might expect, the River Severn has an important role to play in the life of Worcester, if not always in a good way.  May 1886 saw the worst flooding since 1770, with large areas of the city underwater for an extended period.

From May 1887.  "Still complaining of the water.  It seems that Worcester babies don't thrive as they ought.  It was suggested at the last Town Council meeting that the impurity of Severn water has something to do with the slaughter of the sucklings...... If the Severn is so polluted that the causes of disease enter the water pipes, it will not be so much longer.  Worcester will be compelled to keep back the contaminating flow at Diglis ; and the same law will of course be applicable higher up the river".

Names from Berrows Worcester Journal 1881 to 1889 (55kb)

Fluid of another sort was also in evidence in the shape of the "demon drink".  Among the usual suspects were Maria Price, a serial offender, and Henry Brace who, in November 1886, bit three pieces out of PC Fennell's finger when the constable was trying to arrest him.

Articles from Berrows Worcester Journal 1881 to 1889 (402kb)