Monday, April 12, 2010

Platts in the 1871 English Census (Part I: Martha)

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With their marriage in 1867, John and Sarah Platts had established their own household separate from Martha Platts. I will be looking at both their households in the 1871 census in this blog and the one following.
     Martha Platts' family is the third from the top. Here is the my best transcription of their information:

Family #94
Where Lived: Lea

Name/Relationship/Condition/Age & Sex/Occupation/Where Born

= Martha Platts, Head of Household, Widowed, 69 Female, Hosiery Trimmer, Derbyshire Ashover
= Anne Platts, Daughter, Unmarried, 43, Hosiery Trimmer, Derbyshire Ashover
= Samuel Platts, Son, Unmarried, 37, Wool Sorter, Derbyshire Ashover

(1) Martha has returned to work, indicating that the loss of John's income has tightened their purse strings. At 69 in 1871, this could not have been easy. When Germany set the first retirement age (65!) for their pension system in the late 1800s, they chose an age where most people would be too feeble and near certain death to work or earn any monies, thus requiring the aid of the state. Given a life of hard and constant labor, where everything had to be hand-done, and poor medical practices, a person's body had taken quite a pounding by this time. To still be working, and at such close work as sewing (hosiery trimming was a specialized form of sewing) would be quite difficult. Martha probably had arthritis (many women developed this early, like in their 30s, due to the lye in the soap they were constantly having their hands in when cleaning or washing), and her eyesight must have been strained doing such fine work (11 stitches to the inch was considered an acceptable stitch size). Much of this, if not all, was done by lamplight as she probably didn't have electrical light in her lifetime. Most of the cottages at that time had small windows and thick walls and roof (to keep in heat). Even during the day they could be dimly lit, so candles would have been used unless it was nice enough to sit outside.

(2) Her place of birth has changed from Crich (listed 1841) to Ashover, although both are in Derbyshire. This probably indicates that she wasn't the one who gave the census taker their information, but one of her children. Since all of them were born in Ashover, they either assumed she was too or didn't know and gave the census taker the quick answer.

(3) The occupations on this page tend to reflect less of an industrial city. Besides the Platts' occupations, the occupations are: Tailor, Dressmaker, miller/farmer, butcher/farmer, and scholars (both boys and girls noted in this manner). Either the neighborhood changed to a more suburban outskirts of town or the Platts have relocated. It is hard to tell which one as their address or street has not be listed on any census.

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