|Alverstoke Parish Church|
The Poor Laws
In 1834 the government reformed the poor law system, joining parishes into Poor Law Unions, an early local government unit. These Poor Law Unions took over responsibility for administering poor relief and existed in England from 1834 to 1930. Each Poor Law Union was run by an elected Board of Guardians. Every Union had its own workhouse and poor relief was intended only to be given in the workhouse. The Poor laws aimed to discourage the poor from seeking relief by forcing them to enter the workhouse; if a person didn’t want to enter the workhouse they did not really need relief. There were exceptions were made for the old, sick, and widows with dependent children.
The Poor Law Gazette
Poor relief was expensive to the unions and if a family were in need of poor relief because the breadwinner had deserted the family then the unions wanted to find the absconder. To help find the deserters the paper “The Poor Law Union Gazette” was established in 1842 on the recommendation of the Poor Law Commissioners. It gave information on people who were being sought because they have deserted their families. It was published weekly and distributed to other unions throughout the country and sold for two pence. Each Union published a list of people they were seeking. Information was encouraged by a substantial reward. A typical entry would list the name of the person being sought, who they had deserted and where they might have gone.
We have found two Titheridge Family members who appear in The Poor Law Gazette, both listed under the parish of Alverstoke, Hampshire.
James Titheridge of Alverstoke
In the Poor Law Union Gazette on 17th August 1878 the following entry appear for James Titheridge, from Alverstoke. It reads:
“James Titheridge, lately residing on the Little Beach, Gosport. 41 Years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high, thinly built, hair light brown, eyes blue, complexion fair, visage long, thin light whiskers, and has a peculiar look with right eye: Bracelet, half moon and star in blue ink on right wrist, scald mark on one of shin bones; dressed in black felt hat, black cloth walking coat, Bedford cord trowsers and vest, lace-up boots, and mauve and black necktie. He is a Cooper by trade, and has a brother working in Deptford Dockyard.
One Pound Reward; information to the Clerk or to Mr Geo. Pearman, Relieving Officer, April 1878.”
James was obviously elusive as they continued to publish James’ name until 3 June 1882, although the description did change to
“James A Titheridge, a cooper by trade, about 44 years of age, nearly 6 feet high, of slight build, light brown hair, blue eyes, fair complexion and thin light whiskers when he ran away. A bracelet mark in blue ink on right wrist. Has relations in Deptford Dockyard and Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, Gosport. Wife and six children.”
We have been able to identify James as one of nine children born in 1838 to Henry Titheridge and Agnes Taylor in Alverstoke. James married Eliza Williams in Portsmouth, St Thomas in July 1866 and they had seven children, two of whom died young. James and Eliza were living together on the 1871 census at 29 King Street Alverstoke with children Georgina Rhoda Agnes and James Henry. In the 1881 census Eliza is living on her own at 3 Lord Nelson Passage, Alverstoke with five children Rhoda 13, Henry 11, George 8, Eliza 6 and Florence 5 (the two eldest children are now known by their second names). James had an older brother, Henry, who left Alverstoke for London in 1860. On the 1871 census Henry was working a cooper in Deptford, hence James’ connection to Deptford Dockyard.
There is no further record of James that we have identified beyond the 1871 census. We cannot find him on the 1881 census and we can find no record of his death.
Richard Titheridge of Alverstoke
The second record we found in The Poor Law Gazette was on 5 December 1885 under the Parish of Alverstoke and it reads
“Richard Tetheridge was formerly a cooper in Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, about 50 years of age, fresh complexion, proportionately built. Wife and 5 children. This man may now be working at Deptford Dockyard in an assumed name.”
One pound Reward:. Information to Mr C Pearman, Alverstoke; or to Superintendent Catchlove, Police Station, Gosport who hold the warrant”.
This appeared in the Gazette from 5 December 1885 until 4th September 1886.
Unfortunately we don’t know if he was found. We also don’t know who Richard was. There is a possibility that he is the cousin and the brother in law of James above but we cannot say with certainty. The age, occupation and number of children do not match but we cannot find another Richard Titheridge to fit the bill. So the identity of Richard remains a mystery.
If you can add any more information to this story please let us know.