Alfred William Saltmarsh | Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Biography:
Alfred William Saltmarsh
1828 –1911

Alfred William Saltmarsh

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ALFRED SALTMARSH; 1828 – 1911 Although Alfred William Saltmarsh came to be buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery, he was not native to Berkhamsted. He was born in 1828 in Moulsham, a suburb of Chelmsford in Essex. The Essex baptismal records tell us that Alfred was the son of William Saltmarsh, a shoemaker, and his wife Sarah. Alfred was baptised in the church of St Mary the Virgin in Chelmsford. The census of 1841 reveals that Alfred was one of seven children born at that time to William and Sarah. Alfred himself was 12 at the time of the census. He had two older sisters, Sarah age 15 years and Louisa age 14 years. He had four younger siblings, all brothers; Thomas, age 10, John, 8, Walter, 6, and the 3 month old Herbert. Although Alfred’s father, William is described as a shoemaker on Alfred’s baptism records, by 1841 he had evidently decided to change career as we find him described in the 1841 census as a publican and the family were then living at the Anchor Public House. The number of pubs in and around Moulsham Street was boosted in the nineteenth century, no doubt in response to the presence of soldiers in the town (the barracks occupying the site of the old friary was at the town end of Moulsham Street) and the continued growth of Chelmsford, reflecting the town’s increasing importance as a market and retail centre. Moulsham Street still supports many pubs today, including the Anchor. James Saltmarsh had been the licensee of the Anchor from 1822 to 1840. William appears as licensee from 1841to 1848, whereupon the pub passed out of the hands of the Saltmarsh family. Ten years later we find Alfred at the age of 23 had moved away from his family. He was then living in Richbell Place, St Andrews, Holborn Lane in London. He had taken up the occupation that his father had followed before becoming a publican; Alfred was a shoemaker. Amongst the variety of Victorian craftsman, shoemakers were apparently noted for their literacy and took a strong interest in politics; many were freethinkers and Dissenters from the Established Church. For the home craftsman, the whole family would assist, the women sewing (closing) uppers or hammering seams flat, whilst small children tied knots at the ends of seams. The trade was one to which many pauper boys, as well as those from industrial and other reform schools, were apprenticed as a way of providing them with a means of earning a living. It was also an occupation which handicapped men could manage, as it was considered light work. Whilst it might have been considered light work, it was nevertheless arduous involving long hours for little return. “Toilers in London” published in 1889, although dealing primarily with female labour in the capital, give us some insight into what the work involved. By that time shoemaking was increasingly undertaken in factories, but there were nevertheless still small workshops. “It may be wise to explain how a boot is built. The clicker cuts out the tops and uppers; and these uppers are given to women, who make them by a process we will describe later on. When the uppers are finished; the laster puts on the soles and heels…. The finisher adapts the completed or built-up articles to the market. Thus it will be seen that a boot or shoe is built up by four people (1) the clicker or cutter-out; (2) the upper sewers these are divided again into fitters and machinists ; (3) the laster; and (4) the finisher. Sometimes a fifth person is employed, namely, a sole-sewer; but pegged boots require no sole-sewing.  Each upper has (1) two quarters, (2) button- piece, (3) golosh, (4) vamp, (5) toe-cap, (6) top-band, (7) five pieces of lining. The golosh and toe-cap are sometimes omitted. Each upper passes through the following hands:- (1) lining- maker, (2) closer, (3) seam-stitcher, (4) fitter, (5) scollop stitcher, (6) button-hole worker, (7) button-hole finisher, (8) buttoning and covering, (9) vamping, (10) sewing up. The most difficult part of the work is to fit the lining to the leather and paste it. Large numbers of boots and shoes are sent to the Colonies, so the paste contains insect powder, which keeps the flour from fermenting. This paste is used to fix the lining and leather together before the upper goes to the machinist, and everything must be done with the greatest nicety. The seams are not allowed to vary by as much as the thirty-second part of an inch. If everything is not absolutely accurate the upper will not fit the last. And as the upper sometimes contains twenty parts, readers may imagine that the work requires both skill and patience.”    The working conditions could be grim. “One room we visited was below the street, dark, filthy beyond description, and full of Singer's machines, some in good order, some out of repair. Six girls worked them, and they would do 45 dozen pairs of uppers in a day; but the work was slack, they said, and they were taking low wages. The paster had only earned 2s. 6d. the previous week, and the other girls 6s. and 8s. Work is always slackest about Christmas.” And this interviewee gave further details of the hardships faced. "Is it true that you machined work at 5d. per dozen?" "Yes, it is quite true. They were babies' patent leather shoes, sateen-lined, with front springs. I had to put on five buttons. I employ a fitter; to her I had to pay 2½d. per dozen for fitting, and a halfpenny for putting on the buttons. The outlay for cotton and paste would be about another halfpenny for a dozen." "Out of what is left, I suppose you have to buy needles, oil, and pay for what repairs the machine may require?" "Yes, certainly; the machine is my own. I bought it on the hire system. I finished paying for it just after my husband died." "How many of these babies' shoes could you do in a day?" "The two of us, working from eight to eight, could do six dozens: but I often work from five or six in the morning to ten or eleven o'clock at night. I used to have some work for which I was paid 8d. per dozen; they were mock kid shoes, black leather lined, turned-in linings. For these I had to pay 4d.for fitting and another 1d. for staying; that would leave me 3d. for machining and cotton. If I worked very hard I could do four dozen of these in a day. The work at 1s. a dozen were mock kid balmorals, with leather top-bands and leather inside facings. For these I had to pay 6d. for fitting, and 1d. for staying, and it would cost me about 3½d. a day for cotton. We had to skive all the top-bands before we could turn them in. This was cruel work for the money. We could not do more than three dozen a day, if we worked ever so hard. I could earn more on the babies' work. Then, besides, they are so shocking particular. They turn every upper inside out, and for every little fault the work is returned.” It is perhaps little surprise that Alfred’s father gave up shoemaking to become a publican. In 1852 Alfred, at the age of 24, married. His bride was Charlotte Harris and the marriage was registered in Kensington. Charlotte also came from Rainsford End in Chelmsford, a little over a mile away from Moulsham where Alfred was brought up. Although they married in London, it seems likely that the couple knew each other before Alfred left Chelmsford. The couple were to have seven children. The 1911 census, unlike earlier censuses, states how many children a woman had given birth to at the time of the census and how many were still living and how many died. Of the seven children born to Alfred and Charlotte no less than the first four died. The eldest, Clara, was born in 1854 and died in 1858; Sidney was born in 1856 and died in 1871; Alfred, born in 1871, died in 1859; Arthur was born in 1860 and died in 1865. Only Caroline, born in 1862, Eliza born in 1865 and Frank, 1868, were to survive childhood. We know that when Arthur was born in 1860 the family were living at 6 St James’ Street in Chelsea. Frustratingly there is no apparent trace of the family in the 1861 census, either in London, Chelmsford or Berkhamsted. Where were the family? We do know, however, that two years later in 1862 the family had moved to Berkhamsted, as that is where the fifth child, Caroline, was born and her birth registered. The family reappear in the 1871 census; Alfred and Caroline, together with Sidney (who was to die later that year), Caroline, Eliza and Frank were living in Victoria Road, Berkhamsted. That itself begs another question - why had this couple, originally from Essex and with no immediately apparent link to Berkhamsted, moved from London to settle here? Perhaps it was the opportunity of work.  The 1871 census records that Alfred was working a boot closer (that is stitching the parts of the uppers together) and the 15 year old Sidney was working as a printer’s apprentice. At the time of the 1881 census Alfred, Caroline, Eliza and Frank were living in Berkhamsted High Street. Alfred, at age of 52, was still working as a boot maker. Caroline is noted as being a “missionary woman” and 16 year old Eliza had become a pupil teacher. As education became more widespread in the 19th century, the academic training of student teachers in a college system could not meet demand. In 1846 the pupil teacher system was introduced in which intellectually suitable pupils of at least 13 years of age served an apprenticeship, typically of 5 years, after which they would be qualified teachers. As pupil teachers they would teach the younger children and learn from observation and experience. During the apprenticeship they were paid a small salary. In the 1870’s and 1880’s pupil teachers were offered instruction at centres designed to improve their training. Typically, a pupil teacher would spend half his or her time at such a centre and half training in a school. By the time of the 1891 census Alfred, Caroline and Frank had moved to Castle Street. Frank, age 24 years was working as a carpenter. Alfred 62, was still making boots. By 1901 Alfred and then 72, had retired from boot making. The census notes that he was living on his own means. Frank had moved out of the family home, but Alfred and Caroline had been joined by a lodger, Caroline’s brother, Charles Harris. Charles was 71 years old and a jobbing gardener. Alfred died in the fourth quarter of 1911.The 1911 census reveals that earlier that year he was in the Union Workhouse in Berkhamsted High Street. He was age 80 and is noted as married. Caroline was not herself in the workhouse. She was still living in Castle Street. The Berkhamsted Poor Law Union took over the parish workhouse from the Parish Vestry in 1835 and continued until 1930 when responsibility for care of the poor passed to the Urban District Council. Until the 1820’s, a small house on the corner of Park Street was used to house poor families. That was demolished (and became the site of the first National School) and the workhouse moved to a row of tenements on the corner of the High Street and Kitsbury Road, known as “Ragged Row”. In 1831 Ragged Row was in turn demolished and a new Parish workhouse was built on the site following a bequest of £1,000 made by the Rev. George Nugent (the workhouse was later known as “Nugent House”).  The Workhouse was sold in 1937 to make way for the development of shops which still stand on the site today. The fact that Alfred was in the workhouse, does not however necessarily mean he was destitute and resident there.  We know from the 1901 census that he was living on means of his own and that in 1911 Caroline was still living in Castle Street. Given that he died later that year, he may well have been in in poor health and admitted to the workhouse infirmary for care. Originally workhouse infirmaries were intended solely for the care of residents in the workhouse, but towards the latter part of the 19th century the standard of care provided improved and from the 1880’s admission to workhouse infirmaries was increasingly permitted to those who though poor, were not sufficiently destitute to require admission to the workhouse. Like all recipients of union relief, they first needed to have their means assessed and might be required to contribute towards their care. The workhouse medical service marked the beginning of a state funded medical service. Alfred was buried in Rectory Lane cemetery, to be joined there 5 years later by Caroline when she died in 1916.
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ALFRED SALTMARSH; 1828 – 1911

Although Alfred William Saltmarsh came to be buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery, he was not native to Berkhamsted. He was born in 1828 in Moulsham, a suburb of Chelmsford in Essex. The Essex baptismal records tell us that Alfred was the son of William Saltmarsh, a shoemaker, and his wife Sarah. Alfred was baptised in the church of St Mary the Virgin in Chelmsford.

The census of 1841 reveals that Alfred was one of seven children born at that time to William and Sarah. Alfred himself was 12 at the time of the census. He had two older sisters, Sarah age 15 years and Louisa age 14 years. He had four younger siblings, all brothers; Thomas, age 10, John, 8, Walter, 6, and the 3 month old Herbert. Although Alfred’s father, William is described as a shoemaker on Alfred’s baptism records, by 1841 he had evidently decided to change career as we find him described in the 1841 census as a publican and the family were then living at the Anchor Public House.

The number of pubs in and around Moulsham Street was boosted in the nineteenth century, no doubt in response to the presence of soldiers in the town (the barracks occupying the site of the old friary was at the town end of Moulsham Street) and the continued growth of Chelmsford, reflecting the town’s increasing importance as a market and retail centre. Moulsham Street still supports many pubs today, including the Anchor. James Saltmarsh had been the licensee of the Anchor from 1822 to 1840. William appears as licensee from 1841to 1848, whereupon the pub passed out of the hands of the Saltmarsh family.

Ten years later we find Alfred at the age of 23 had moved away from his family. He was then living in Richbell Place, St Andrews, Holborn Lane in London. He had taken up the occupation that his father had followed before becoming a publican; Alfred was a shoemaker.

Amongst the variety of Victorian craftsman, shoemakers were apparently noted for their literacy and took a strong interest in politics; many were freethinkers and Dissenters from the Established Church. For the home craftsman, the whole family would assist, the women sewing (closing) uppers or hammering seams flat, whilst small children tied knots at the ends of seams.

The trade was one to which many pauper boys, as well as those from industrial and other reform schools, were apprenticed as a way of providing them with a means of earning a living. It was also an occupation which handicapped men could manage, as it was considered light work.

Whilst it might have been considered light work, it was nevertheless arduous involving long hours for little return. “Toilers in London” published in 1889, although dealing primarily with female labour in the capital, give us some insight into what the work involved. By that time shoemaking was increasingly undertaken in factories, but there were nevertheless still small workshops.
“It may be wise to explain how a boot is built. The clicker cuts out the tops and uppers; and these uppers are given to women, who make them by a process we will describe later on. When the uppers are finished; the laster puts on the soles and heels…. The finisher adapts the completed or built-up articles to the market. Thus it will be seen that a boot or shoe is built up by four people (1) the clicker or cutter-out; (2) the upper sewers these are divided again into fitters and machinists ; (3) the laster; and (4) the finisher. Sometimes a fifth person is employed, namely, a sole-sewer; but pegged boots require no sole-sewing.  Each upper has (1) two quarters, (2) button- piece, (3) golosh, (4) vamp, (5) toe-cap, (6) top-band, (7) five pieces of lining. The golosh and toe-cap are sometimes omitted. Each upper passes through the following hands:- (1) lining- maker, (2) closer, (3) seam-stitcher, (4) fitter, (5) scollop stitcher, (6) button-hole worker, (7) button-hole finisher, (8) buttoning and covering, (9) vamping, (10) sewing up. The most difficult part of the work is to fit the lining to the leather and paste it. Large numbers of boots and shoes are sent to the Colonies, so the paste contains insect powder, which keeps the flour from fermenting. This paste is used to fix the lining and leather together before the upper goes to the machinist, and everything must be done with the greatest nicety. The seams are not allowed to vary by as much as the thirty-second part of an inch. If everything is not absolutely accurate the upper will not fit the last. And as the upper sometimes contains twenty parts, readers may imagine that the work requires both skill and patience.”   

The working conditions could be grim.

One room we visited was below the street, dark, filthy beyond description, and full of Singer’s machines, some in good order, some out of repair. Six girls worked them, and they would do 45 dozen pairs of uppers in a day; but the work was slack, they said, and they were taking low wages. The paster had only earned 2s. 6d. the previous week, and the other girls 6s. and 8s. Work is always slackest about Christmas.”

And this interviewee gave further details of the hardships faced.

“Is it true that you machined work at 5d. per dozen?”
“Yes, it is quite true. They were babies’ patent leather shoes, sateen-lined, with front springs. I had to put on five buttons. I employ a fitter; to her I had to pay 2½d. per dozen for fitting, and a halfpenny for putting on the buttons. The outlay for cotton and paste would be about another halfpenny for a dozen.”
“Out of what is left, I suppose you have to buy needles, oil, and pay for what repairs the machine may require?”
“Yes, certainly; the machine is my own. I bought it on the hire system. I finished paying for it just after my husband died.”
“How many of these babies’ shoes could you do in a day?”
“The two of us, working from eight to eight, could do six dozens: but I often work from five or six in the morning to ten or eleven o’clock at night. I used to have some work for which I was paid 8d. per dozen; they were mock kid shoes, black leather lined, turned-in linings. For these I had to pay 4d.for fitting and another 1d. for staying; that would leave me 3d. for machining and cotton. If I worked very hard I could do four dozen of these in a day. The work at 1s. a dozen were mock kid balmorals, with leather top-bands and leather inside facings. For these I had to pay 6d. for fitting, and 1d. for staying, and it would cost me about 3½d. a day for cotton. We had to skive all the top-bands before we could turn them in. This was cruel work for the money. We could not do more than three dozen a day, if we worked ever so hard. I could earn more on the babies’ work. Then, besides, they are so shocking particular. They turn every upper inside out, and for every little fault the work is returned.”

It is perhaps little surprise that Alfred’s father gave up shoemaking to become a publican.

In 1852 Alfred, at the age of 24, married. His bride was Charlotte Harris and the marriage was registered in Kensington. Charlotte also came from Rainsford End in Chelmsford, a little over a mile away from Moulsham where Alfred was brought up. Although they married in London, it seems likely that the couple knew each other before Alfred left Chelmsford.

The couple were to have seven children. The 1911 census, unlike earlier censuses, states how many children a woman had given birth to at the time of the census and how many were still living and how many died. Of the seven children born to Alfred and Charlotte no less than the first four died. The eldest, Clara, was born in 1854 and died in 1858; Sidney was born in 1856 and died in 1871; Alfred, born in 1871, died in 1859; Arthur was born in 1860 and died in 1865. Only Caroline, born in 1862, Eliza born in 1865 and Frank, 1868, were to survive childhood.

We know that when Arthur was born in 1860 the family were living at 6 St James’ Street in Chelsea. Frustratingly there is no apparent trace of the family in the 1861 census, either in London, Chelmsford or Berkhamsted. Where were the family? We do know, however, that two years later in 1862 the family had moved to Berkhamsted, as that is where the fifth child, Caroline, was born and her birth registered. The family reappear in the 1871 census; Alfred and Caroline, together with Sidney (who was to die later that year), Caroline, Eliza and Frank were living in Victoria Road, Berkhamsted. That itself begs another question – why had this couple, originally from Essex and with no immediately apparent link to Berkhamsted, moved from London to settle here? Perhaps it was the opportunity of work.  The 1871 census records that Alfred was working a boot closer (that is stitching the parts of the uppers together) and the 15 year old Sidney was working as a printer’s apprentice.

At the time of the 1881 census Alfred, Caroline, Eliza and Frank were living in Berkhamsted High Street. Alfred, at age of 52, was still working as a boot maker. Caroline is noted as being a “missionary woman” and 16 year old Eliza had become a pupil teacher.

As education became more widespread in the 19th century, the academic training of student teachers in a college system could not meet demand. In 1846 the pupil teacher system was introduced in which intellectually suitable pupils of at least 13 years of age served an apprenticeship, typically of 5 years, after which they would be qualified teachers. As pupil teachers they would teach the younger children and learn from observation and experience. During the apprenticeship they were paid a small salary. In the 1870’s and 1880’s pupil teachers were offered instruction at centres designed to improve their training. Typically, a pupil teacher would spend half his or her time at such a centre and half training in a school.

By the time of the 1891 census Alfred, Caroline and Frank had moved to Castle Street. Frank, age 24 years was working as a carpenter. Alfred 62, was still making boots. By 1901 Alfred and then 72, had retired from boot making. The census notes that he was living on his own means. Frank had moved out of the family home, but Alfred and Caroline had been joined by a lodger, Caroline’s brother, Charles Harris. Charles was 71 years old and a jobbing gardener.

Alfred died in the fourth quarter of 1911.The 1911 census reveals that earlier that year he was in the Union Workhouse in Berkhamsted High Street. He was age 80 and is noted as married. Caroline was not herself in the workhouse. She was still living in Castle Street.

The Berkhamsted Poor Law Union took over the parish workhouse from the Parish Vestry in 1835 and continued until 1930 when responsibility for care of the poor passed to the Urban District Council. Until the 1820’s, a small house on the corner of Park Street was used to house poor families. That was demolished (and became the site of the first National School) and the workhouse moved to a row of tenements on the corner of the High Street and Kitsbury Road, known as “Ragged Row”. In 1831 Ragged Row was in turn demolished and a new Parish workhouse was built on the site following a bequest of £1,000 made by the Rev. George Nugent (the workhouse was later known as “Nugent House”).  The Workhouse was sold in 1937 to make way for the development of shops which still stand on the site today.

The fact that Alfred was in the workhouse, does not however necessarily mean he was destitute and resident there.  We know from the 1901 census that he was living on means of his own and that in 1911 Caroline was still living in Castle Street. Given that he died later that year, he may well have been in in poor health and admitted to the workhouse infirmary for care. Originally workhouse infirmaries were intended solely for the care of residents in the workhouse, but towards the latter part of the 19th century the standard of care provided improved and from the 1880’s admission to workhouse infirmaries was increasingly permitted to those who though poor, were not sufficiently destitute to require admission to the workhouse. Like all recipients of union relief, they first needed to have their means assessed and might be required to contribute towards their care. The workhouse medical service marked the beginning of a state funded medical service.

Alfred was buried in Rectory Lane cemetery, to be joined there 5 years later by Caroline when she died in 1916.

Relatives