©2016 Deborah Richardson
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 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-
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)
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
Ruben Cotton -
William Stock -
George Dent (Gardener) -
James Chater -
John Bennet -
Thomas Robins -
Uriah King -
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.