George  b.1834

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George Holbrough (1834 -1891)


What’s in a Name?

The spelling of his surname changed throughout his life.

    • George was baptised in Winchcombe on 27th April 1834 as the son of Jane Hobrough, widow.
    • At the time of the 1841 Census in Winchcombe George Holbrow was aged seven and living at Footbridge with his mother, Jane Griffin who was described as an Agricultural Labourer.
    • By the 1851 Census George Holbrook was an agricultural labourer aged 16 and living at Gloucester Street, Winchcombe with his mother, brother and stepfather, William Tarran (Jane’s third husband).
    • In 1857 his wife’s stepmother recorded their marriage in her Bible as George and Jane Holbrow.
    • family bible marriage
      At the 1861 Census the spelling had changed again! George Howborough was aged 26, with his wife Jane, 28, and their sons John, 3, and Charles who was one month old.
    • At the 1871 Census  of Winchcombe - Footbridge area, George Holborough was an agricultural Labourer. At home was his wife Jane, his son John at 13 a Farm Labourer too, Charles, aged 11 and a Carter's Boy. Mary Ann and Matilda were nine and five and scholars and Sarah was only 3.
    • By the 1881 Census George Holbrough was recorded as 47 and still an agricultural labourer. At home was his wife Jane, his three daughters, Mary Ann, Sarah and Clara and his son George.
    • Finally at the 1891 Census of Winchcombe, George Holborough gave his age as 55, and still a Farm Labourer; Jane gave her age as 58. At home with them were Clara, age 15 who was doing Factory Work and George who at 14 was a Farmers Boy.
    • George Holborough died on the 8th of June 1891. He was actually 57.


1874 Weekly Expenditure of a Farm Labourer

including his Wife, and Three Children. [prices in shillings (s) and pence (d) (No luxuries or clothing included)

5 Gallons Bread

6s 3d

1/2 lb. Butter


1 lb. Cheese


1 lb. Bacon


1/2 lb. Sugar


Pepper, Salt, &c.


2 oz. Tea lb


1/2 lb Candles

3 1/2 d



Soda, Starch, and Blue



2s 0d

1 Faggot of wood

2 1/2 d

Rent and Rates

1s 6d

Man's Sick Club




Children' Schooling

3 d

Total =

13s 1d

Life as an Agricultural Labourer

scythingGeorge was an Agricultural Labourer. This was a very poorly paid occupation. Within farm labourers, there was a difference in conditions between those workers who ‘lived in’, i.e., at the farm where they worked, and those who were ‘day labourers’ and had their own cottages. These received a much higher proportion of their wage in cash, so marriage was a practical possibility. But income was unreliable and labourers were often laid off when the weather was too bad to work outside. The cottager had more freedom in theory, but less security in practice and his income was seldom enough to bring up a family without spells of hunger and dependence on charity or poor relief.

Farmers became less inclined to hire farm-help due to increased specialisation, which meant labour was needed at certain parts of the year and not others.

It was not until the 1870's that the living conditions of rural labourers began to improve. The general cheapening of basic food prices from the late 1870's, together with accelerating migration off the land, (enabling wages to rise) and the increasing availability of urban shops, gave rise to higher living standards. For instance, meat could be eaten more regularly.

Wherever pastoral or mixed farming provided regular year-round employment, farm service survived, and nearby industries offered competition for labour, which consequently pulled up the wages for agricultural labourers.

In 1874 wages would be around 10 to 12 shillings per week - if you were lucky. They could earn a little extra at harvest or other busy times of year, but if a man was sick for a few days or extra expense required for shoes or clothes…..Even by 1900 the average Farm Worker in Gloucestershire had risen to only around 14s 10d a week

Jane Holbrough nee Corbet 1b

George’s wife was Jane Ann Corbett. (1833 - 1906)

On their Marriage certificate dated 19th Sept 1857, George's surname is misspelled as Howborough. The space for his fathers name is filled in as his mother's name - Jane Howborough, widow. Jane’s father is shown as John Corbet, a labourer

footbridge cottage 1983



By the 1871 Census, the family had moved to Footbridge, a small hamlet on the edge of Winchcombe. (In 1841 there had been only five families living at Footbridge.) This was small and simple and may have been ‘tied’ to his job.




    “In some cases nearly all the houses in a village are let with the farms, and are sub-let by the farmers to the labourers, the rent being deducted from their weekly wages and, averaging about eighteen pence a week, for a cottage and a few perches of garden ground enough in a favourable year to grow potatoes for the family consumption. The cottage itself is, in many of our rural districts, a scandal and disgrace to England. We could point to village after village, and name them by their names, in which there are houses inhabited by whole families, in which there is but one bed-room; many with only a sort of outer lobby or landing which serves as a room, and one only regular 'chamber; three rooms are quite an exception in almost all our older village tenements. The sanitary arrangements are in keeping, and even ordinary personal cleanliness is out of the question. “

    Agricultural Labourers. The Cornhill Magazine (1874)

The children of George Holbrough and Jane Corbet were:

  • i. John Holbrough, born 1858 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 1939 in Birmingham.
  • ii. Charles Fredrick Holbrough, born 1859 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 24 Oct 1917 in Goole, West Yorkshire.
  • iii. Edwin James Holbrough, born 1862 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 1865.
  • iv. Mary Ann Holbrough, born 1864 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 18 Jan 1895 in Swindon, Wiltshire.
  • v. Matilda Holbrough, born 1866 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died in  .
  • vi. Sarah Jane Holbrough, born 1869 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 1940.
  • vii. Edward James Holbrough, born 1871 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 1872 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.
  • viii. Clara Holbrough, born 1875 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died in  .
  • ix. George Holbrough, born 1877 in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; died 05 Nov 1918 in Aldershot.


winchcombe school inscription

Each of the children would have attended school for a few years. This prayer on the front of Winchcombe School dates from 1868;

    May God bless this school which is about to be built to his honour and glory. May all the boys and girls of Winchcombe learn to fear God and honour the King in every respect and to live as the good founder of the school would have wished them to do.

Schooldays did not last for  long. By the 1871 Census, Charles was described as a Carter's boy of 11, having left school. He may have still attended Sunday School; he was described by his daughters Lizzie and Ivy as having been very religious, but his formal schooling had come to an end. His wages would have been needed to help with the family income.



Charles was still living at home with his mother, his father and brother John and three sisters His brother John at 13  was a Farm Labourer like his father, Mary Ann and Matilda were nine and five and “scholars” and Sarah was only 3. country children


    “The work of women and children in the fields has been in many districts an absolute necessity, in order that the scanty earnings of the labourer himself should be eked out. Recent legislation in regard to the children may do much, unless our present masters see fit to reverse it ; but nearly up to the present date there has been nothing to prevent the merest children doing men's work, when they should have been at school.“

    Agricultural Labourers. The Cornhill Magazine, Vol. 29 (1874)


    “Formerly if a boy went to school, at the age of nine or ten years he left it to earn fivepence or sixpence a day by scaring birds or doing odd jobs upon the farm.”

    Rider Hagggard, Rural England 1902.





By the 1881 Census for Winchcombe - he was still at Footbridge. George is now 47. Still an agricultural labourer he again gives his birthplace as Sudeley. At home is his wife Jane, now aged 48, his 3 daughters, Mary Ann aged 17, Sarah aged 12 and Clara aged 5 and his son George aged 4. Matilda is now 15 and working as a servant to the saddler, Richard and Sarah Castle on North Street. John and Charles no longer appear on the census for Winchcombe.

Finally at the 1891 Census of Winchcombe George now gives his age as 55, a Farm Labourer born in Winchcombe; Jane gives her age as 58. At home with them are Clara, age15 who is doing Factory Work and George who at 14 is a Farmers Boy.

His death was recorded as HOLBOROUGH, George, Footbridge, died 8 Jun 1891, age 53 - he was actually 57.


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