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The Turvey Website The history and families of Turvey in Bedfordshire, England

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Many of the villagers worked in service.  Some were employed by the rich land owners, like the Higgins family. Others worked on the land or farms.  Not all servants were from poor families though, during the late Victorian times nearly every girl in the village worked in service for a while before marrying.

For many this was a preferable choice to trying to scrape a living at home.  Some servants 'lived in', especially in the bigger houses, whilst others commuted across the village or to neighbouring ones.

The Gamekeeper

The gamekeeper was one of the most important employees on the big estates.  His job was to ensure that the master's game (rabbits, pheasants, deer etc) was not poached (stolen) or harmed.  He would be an expert on wood-law and often was a skilled hunter himself.

Charles Higgins employed a gamekeeper called Thomas Benbow on his Turvey Abbey estate on 31 October 1791.  Thomas was a a loyal and hard working servant who stayed with his master for over 37 years.

At the time of the 1841 census, the following Turvey residents employed servants.

Thomas C. Higgins (Turvey House)

John Higgins

Elizabeth Skevington

N. Godfrey (Surgeon)

Rev William Russel (Curate)

Henry Boulton (Farmer)

John Bailey (Farmer)

Joel Burr (Farmer)

Jonathan Burr (Farmer)

William Davison (Farmer)

Charles Skevington (Farmer)

John Whitworth (Farmer)

Robert Hewlett (Farmer)

John Abraham (LaceDealer)

William Bettel (Baker)

Richard Jones (Publican)

George Payne (Grocer)

Anno Domini 1612

Here Lyeth John Richardson under this wall

A faythfull true servant to Turvey Old Hall

Page to the first Lord Mordaunt of fame

Servant to Lewes, Lord Henry & John

Payneful and careful and just to them all

Till death take his lyffe

God have mercy on his soule


Servants in Turvey

Servants of Turvey Abbey

Ruben Cotton - started work 30 Jan 1802

William Stock - started work 16 Oct 1803

George Dent (Gardener) - started work on 21 Mar 1808

James Chater - started work 18 Oct 1807

John Bennet - died 22 Oct 1864, ages 47

Thomas Robins - died 10 Feb 1866

Uriah King - for 30 years, died 26 Apl 1865, aged 71

William Stock was a servant of Turvey Abbey.  His father had been a shepherd for the estate before him and his daughter also worked in the house.  William was killed by lightning on the 18th April 1801.

Sam Skevington, a servant at Turvey Hall in the early 1800’s, had 9 children and 44 grandchildren!

Servants from Turvey House, photographed around 1900.  Click to enlarge.

Hannah Richardson was, for many years, a servant to Thomas Pinkerd and his family.

She died on 28 June 1818, aged 74.

Catherine Reid worked at Turvey Abbey from 22 January 1796 until 11 Oct 1807 when she left due to infirmary. She died on 11 January 1831, aged 86 years.

John Bamford, a servant at Turvey House for many years, was killed by a carriage accident in the streets of Bedford on 17 February 1871, aged 71.