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  Tickhill's Teenagers in 1881

An item in the Winter Newsletter used the 1881 Census as evidence for migration into Tickhill. In this Feature the 1881 Census tells us a great deal about the lives of thirteen to nineteen year-olds born in Tickhill or living here in 1881. Overall, teenagers in 1881 had very different opportunities compared to today’s teenagers.

Starting with a similarity, almost all the forty-two thirteen year-olds were listed as scholars. However, the great majority would have been taught in Tickhill’s National School and not had to travel further afield for their education. In a few cases they were educated at home by governesses or in Edward Barber’s boarding school in Dormer House, Sunderland Street. By the age of fourteen Tickhill’s girls were increasingly expected to find work, with far fewer of them still at school compared to boys. Only two boys living in Tickhill were listed as scholars at the age of fifteen and none so listed for older ages. A few girls continued their formal education up to age seventeen, with one having a governess at home. One girl born in Tickhill, Adela Middleton, aged seventeen, whose family had moved to the south-eastern outskirts of Sheffield where her father and brother were colliers, was a boarder at what was listed as a Blind School in Sheffield, one of twenty-nine pupils there aged nine to twenty-six.

Once youngsters had left school, their employment was largely geared to farming, trades or domestic service. Over half the boys in employment were farm labourers or farm servants some living with the farmers’ families, not always in Tickhill. Among those whose farm work was in other villages were sixteen year-olds George Stables at Awkley and Charles White at Cantley and seventeen year-olds Charles Ainley at Thornhill and John Green at Owston Grange. In just one farm away from Tickhill, the youngsters found themselves with other Tickhill-born people; that was at Carr House in Doncaster where Richard and Jane Shaw, formerly from Tickhill, employed four farm servants from here. The teenagers’ farm work would have been of a general nature tending crops and animals, but one young man, reflecting the coming of improved farm machinery, was a threshing machinist. Few Tickhill girls went into farm work but they did sometimes become dairymaids like nineteen years-old Alice Woodcock, a dairymaid at North Elmsall.

Eight of the young men in Tickhill aged from fifteen to nineteen were apprentices with the prospect of a skilled occupation in the future, such as a carpenter, grocer, mason or painter. In some cases these youngsters were apprenticed to their fathers. Only two girls followed their parents’ work. One was the daughter of a shoemaker. Her job was listed as a shoe binder. The other was a civil service clerk like her mother, wife of Tickhill’s postmaster. A few girls were listed as grocers’ daughters implying that they could have helped their families in various capacities. For the young men not listed as apprentices the type of trades they undertook included baker, bricklayer’s labourer, cattle dealer, gardener, hawker of brushes, joiner, plumber and watchmaker. The youngest boys were errand boys or grocers’ boys. Far fewer girls followed a trade, just one being listed as a dressmaker. For able girls there was an alternative to work in a trade and that was to stay in school: five older teenagers worked at the local school as monitors, pupil teachers or assistant teachers.

The main employment taken by young women, however, was domestic service. About three-quarters of Tickhill girls were in domestic service from the age of fourteen, with one, Susan Betts, already working at thirteen as a servant at South Wongs Farm. The great majority were general servants, the only servant in the household, like fourteen year-olds Mary Deakin living in Northgate with a retired farmer and his wife, and Kate Farrar with the Smith family of seven in Castlegate. A very small number were servants in large households like Catherine Shillets, kitchen maid at the Friary. These girls at least lived near their family homes unlike the Tickhill-born fourteen year-olds in service in places like Bawtry, Cantley, Doncaster, Rossington and Sheffield. Some of the older teenagers had increased responsibilities such as two who were cooks: seventeen years-old Alice Newbound with a Sheffield family of eight and eighteen years-old Annie Cutler at High Melton with a family of three. Occasionally boys went into domestic service, like fourteen years-old George Wilkinson, a page-boy with the Aldam family at Hooton Pagnell Hall, and seventeen years-old Arthur Wilkinson, a footman at the Middleton-on-the-Wolds home of Arthur Brooksbank, Lieutenant Colonel in the Yorkshire Militia and son of a former Vicar of Tickhill.

Only one teenager in Tickhill was married, a young woman aged eighteen, at a time when twenty-one was considered the ‘full age’ for marriage. A few women in Tickhill were unmarried mothers. One of them, with a two months-old baby, was aged nineteen. This young woman had no occupation listed suggesting that her life could have been precarious without any income other than charity to support her and her child.

Apart from a few teenagers classed as ‘out of employ’ most of Tickhill’s teenagers in 1881 were faced with hard physical work, with a good many separated from their families from the age of fourteen. Options for girls and boys were markedly different at the start of their working lives. It was all quite a contrast with the possibilities for today’s teenagers.






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