Family 1901

Stowupland expanded dramatically between 1851 and 1901 and lots of new family names appear amongst the familiar local ones such as Nunn and Diaper. New industries by the river had attracted people from outside the village and the population had swelled from 966 in 1851 to 1326 in 1901. A mother and baby
Interior scene with mother and child.  Photograph of a painting by Henry Spurnon Tozer, c1892 ©Gressenhall Workhouse Museum

These new families would not have had the extended family support network that many relied on in small rural villages. In the new suburbs around Stowmarket, which included Stowupland, communities were built up around the new rows of terrace houses and pubs.

Smaller Families

Families were smaller by 1901, the average farmer only having 5 children rather than 7, and less relatives lived together. Many families still had a nephew, niece or grandchild living with them but not to the extent that was seen in the 1850s. Life expectancy had risen to 45 for men and 49 for women from 40.2 years for men, 43.6 years for women in 1851.

An Average Family?

On the Green at Stowupland in 1901 lived William Wilden, a stationary engine driver and his family. William, 50, is likely to have been the grandson of John Wilden who lived on the Green in 1851 as a William Wilden aged 8 is listed as living there in the 1861 census. Also in the house were William’s wife Jemima 55, William 22, a chemical labourer, Charles 19, a blacksmith’s apprentice, Flora 12 and Ethel 9. There are no extended family members living with them.

All of the children would have attended Freeman’s Primary School in the village where they would have learnt the 3 Rs: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. Ethel Wilden is shown in this Standard VI and VII school photograph from 1907.Stowupland School 1907. This photo shows the Standard VI and VII
Stowupland School 1907. This photo shows the Standard VI and VII
Back row l-r: unknown, unknown, Charles Wilden, Arthur Brame, ? Stannard, unknown. Second row l-r: 1 = Maggie Diaper, Jack Burch, ?  Bloomfield, Jack Burch?, unknown, Mabel Barnard. Third row l-r: Miss Fisher, ? Maskell, ? Baker, ? Bass, ? Bly, Ethel Wilden, Elsie Brane, Kate Tricker, Mr Bramhall. Front row l-r: ? Cutting, Stanley Peart, Spencer Brame, John Wilden. Photograph courtesy of Freeman’s Primary School

William would have earned slightly more than the farm labourers who lived next door or his ancestors who also worked on the land. He didn’t, however, move any higher socially than his forefathers. He was still working class and this lack of possibility and not fulfilling his potential may have limited William’s happiness.

The Landowning Family

In Columbyne Hall in 1901 there lived the Boby family, a well-known name in the Stowupland area. Robert Boby 82 was a farmer of many acres in and around the village. He lived in the Hall with his wife Elizabeth 78, daughters Elizabeth 44 and Emily 41, who were both poultry farmers, and his son Stephen who probably ran the farm on a day–to-day basis. There were also two live-in servants, a cook and housemaid.

Women in Business

Many unmarried daughters such as Elizabeth and Emily would have stayed at home with their parents. More and more women in this situation began to set themselves up in business. Occasionally, this was with the help of a wealthy family, but more often through the women’s own hard work and intelligence.

The longevity of Mr and Mrs Boby is probably linked to their wealth as they could have afforded to see a doctor and to follow his recommendations.


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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