Family 1851

A horseman and his family
The Finch Family
A horseman and his family. ©MEAL
The families of Stowupland in 1851 appear to have been close knit as the same surnames appear again and again – Diaper, Berry, Nunn, Boby, Cobbold, Pyman and Wilden. Households often had more than one generation living under the same roof. It was not unusual for a grandchild to be living with their grandparents while their parents lived elsewhere. Life expectancy was quite low: 40.2 years for men, 43.6 years for women. Families were large, with the average farmer having at least seven children.

An Average Family?

In 1851 the Wilden family lived in Thorney Green Road, Stowupland. The census lists 11 people living in one small house. They were John Wilden, 53, head of the household, his sons John, 27, Robert, 16, George, 23. Then there were his daughters, Keziah, 13, Anne, 11, and Mary, 25, who was married to John Diaper, 26. John and Mary had 3 children, Caroline, 4, Sarah, 2 and Mary 2 months.  It must have been a busy household!
All of the five men who are old enough to work are listed as Agricultural Labourers. They would have earned very low wages of about 8 shillings (40p) a week each and the family would not have been able to afford any luxuries. There were many more Wildens living in Stowupland at this time and they may have been part of one large extended family.

The women had to work extremely hard at home doing all of the washing, cooking, ironing and other housework with no mechanical assistance. Keziah and Anne were only 13 and 11 but they would have been doing a lot of this work. During the busier times of the year, the women would have also worked out on the farms doing fieldwork and helping to get in the harvest.

Children of a poorer family such as the Wildens would have had to work on the surrounding farms to earn extra money for the family. They would have had jobs such as scaring birds away from crops, picking stones out of fields and lots of little chores and errands. School did not become mandatory until 1870 so Jack’s grandchildren may not have gone to school. There was a general belief that idle time meant children got into mischief so they did not tend to have as much leisure time as children today. Poor families often made their own toys for their children, such as cloth-peg dolls and paper windmills.

The Farming Family

Stowupland Hall
Stowupland Hall
In 1851 the Freeman family lived on Mendlesham Road, Stowupland, possibly in Stowupland Hall. They were a very different family from the Wildens. Charles Rayner Freeman was a farmer of 248 acres employing 12 men and 3 boys. In the house on the night of the 30th March 1851 were Charles, 53, his two sons William, 21 and Spencer, 10, a housekeeper, a dairy servant and a house servant.

Charles is mentioned in the Whites Directory of 1854 - a listing of all the towns and villages in Suffolk – as is his father, William Freeman. They are the only Freemans listed in Stowupland so whilst they were rich they did not have the extended family network of aunts, cousins and siblings living close by like many of the village’s other families.

Charles  Ridley Freeman
Charles Ridley Freeman c.1866
The younger children of the house may have been educated at home as the first school did not open in Stowupland until 1865 although there were schools in nearby Stowmarket that they could have attended.

Charles R Freeman Esq. provided the land for Freeman’s Primary School in 1865 and for the Village Church in 1843.

The Freeman children may have had rocking horses with real horse hair manes, and dolls houses full of beautifully-carved miniature furniture. Other popular toys for rich children included china or wax dolls for the girls and clockwork train sets and toy soldiers for boys

This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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