Jane Corbett b.1833

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Jane Holbrough nee Corbet 1bJanes ancestorsJane Ann Corbett


She was the daughter of John Corbett and Mary Chadborn. John Corbett was an agricultural labourer from Winchcombe.

He was born in 1801 the son of James Corbet and Mary Cradduck.

He married Mary Chadborn  at the age of 27 in 1828.


Both came from established Winchcombe families.



Jane’s Grandfather, William Chadborn had been a Cordwainer - a type of shoemaker and had been the owner of sufficient properties to be on the local register of electors - you had to own or have a long lease on property of a certain value before you were eligible.

He  was also a member of the Winchcombe and Sudeley Volunteers - the local Militia in 1803

    "We, whose names are hereunder signed, do hereby agree to volunteer our services as a Corps of Infantry in any part of that portion of the United Kingdom called Great Britain, for the purpose of repelling Invasion when any such shall take place, or any invading or other hostile Army shall appear, or be supposed to appear, on any part of the British Coast, and also for the suppression of any conspiracy or insurrection within any part of Great Britain, if any such shall happen, and to continue embodied during the time of invasion, conspiracy, or insurrection"

     Signed; William Chadborn aged 37, married with five children, a Cordwainer

He died in 1828, the year of his daughter Mary’s marriage, her mother had died the year before.

The year before her marriage, in 1827, Mary had a son, William  but the father was not named in the registers. Mary and John’s  daughter Matilda was born the year after the wedding and Jane four years later.


Janes Childhood

Sadly, in 1835, when Jane was only two years old,  her mother Mary died and her sister Matilda died the following year at the age of seven. John Corbett remarried in 1838 when Jane was five years old  to a widow, Ann Shotton (nee Gibbs)  with two daughters of her own.

At the 1841 Census  Jane was aged seven and living in the Hamlet of Coates with her father, John Corbett, her stepmother Ann and her stepsisters, Harriet and Mary Shotton, both aged 12. Coates was a hamlet of 16 households at this time, most people working as agricultural labourers although some also worked at the Paper Mill. In 1850  according to the Parish Rate Book, the family  were living at the west end of Gloucester Street in the hamlet of Coates in a house belonging to John’s brother-in-law William Chadborn, a Cordwainer.

By  the 1851 Census of Winchcombe Jane had left home and was  living in the household of James Grist, age 30, a draper, his wife Martha aged 30 and their daughter Elizabeth, aged 5. She is described as Jane Corbit, aged 18, a house servant born in Winchcombe. Also in the house is William Hughes an apprentice draper of 16.

She married six years later. On her 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

Her father, John, died in Winchcombe in 1979. He was 78 years old. His death was recorded in his second wife’s Bible as John Corbit.

Jane died on 29th May 1906 at her daughter Matilda’s in Goole, Yorkshire.


victorian maidLife ‘In Service’

Like so many others, Jane started her working life ‘In Service’

The 19th Century was the great age of servants and the countryside provided a major source for those willing to enter the world of domestic service. According to the 1891 Census, the servant class was among the largest groups of the working population: 1,386,167 females and 58,527 males were indoor servants in private homes out of a population of twenty-nine million in England and Wales.

The daughters of workers employed on tenant farms, were expected to start in domestic service 'up at the Hall'. They had to have a reference from the schoolmaster or parson. Personal recommendation was the usual way in which girls continued their careers. However, in the country there were also 'Mop Fairs', which were held twice a year and it was here that servants were hired. Groups of servants, dressed in their best clothes, walked to the fair where they stood in rows waiting to be picked out.

There was also a strict hierarchy within domestic service, ranging from the maid-of-all-work to the housekeeper, who ruled supreme over the indoor servants. All servants slept upstairs in the attics, and lived and ate below stairs n the basement, which they reached via a separate staircase.

    "The small farms were the nurseries of hard-working virtuous lads and lasses who made excellent servants. They went to the homes of the new middle classes, who employed a larger and larger proportion of the domestic labour forces to work for them in the rapidly-growing towns."

    Frank Victor Dawes In 'Not in front of the Servants

If a son or daughter found a position, the parents would often write to them asking if there was a place for a younger sibling.

    “To get work in a house employing several servants (before the First World War) was almost impossible in the beginning unless you were known to the employers, either because you lived in the same village or alternatively were from an orphanage where the girls had a little training in domestic work. This meant your character could be vouched for. Most people thought service, where food and lodging were assured, a better proposition than working in a shop or factory under sweated conditions. The dreadful thing to me was that though you had to have the best references, you could be turned out without a reference at the whim of a bad-tempered housekeeper or a neurotic mistress.”

    Florence Faux of Cosham in 'Not in Front of the Servants.

Victorian households built up their staff of servants according to a pattern:


Domestic help began with a daily girl or charwoman.

  • The first living-in servant would be a 'general' maid-of-all-work, almost always a young girl often of only thirteen or fourteen:
  • The next addition a house-maid or a nurse-maid, depending on the more urgent needs at the time.
  • The third servant would be the cook, and these three -- either cook, parlour-maid and house-maid, or cook, house-maid and nurse-maid -- then formed a group which could minimally minister to all the requirements of gentility.
  • At this point, the first manservant would usually appear, whose duties would combine indoor work such as waiting and valeting with care of the horse or pony and carriage; the income level necessary for this was around 500 a year in 1857.
  • The fifth servant might be a lady's maid or a kitchen-maid to act as assistant to the cook, or a nursemaid if there was not one already.
  • The sixth would almost certainly be another man, acting as butler and releasing the other as a whole time coachman or groom, which would be necessary with ownership of a four-wheeled carriage and an income of 1,000 a year.
  • Beyond six servants, increases would follow as a result of increasing specialisation -- on the male side footmen, valets, a chef and a house steward, and on the female a housekeeper, a governess, more lady's-maids, upper and lower parlour-maids, a laundry-maid and additional kitchen and scullery-maids. On landed estates, there would, of course, also be outside staff such as gardeners and gamekeepers, as well as many more men and boys working about the stables.

The hours worked in domestic service, unregulated by any legislation, were undoubtedly longer than in factory work. It was calculated in 1873 that a house-maid's day extended from six a.m. until ten p.m.., during which she had two-and-a-half hours for meals and an hour-and-a-half in the afternoon for needlework, a total of four hours "rest" This meant twelve hours of actual work, longer by two hours than a factory woman's day. On Saturday, when the factory hand worked two hours less than usual, the servant worked longer, and on Sunday, when the factory worker could rest completely, the servant was still required to work almost a normal day. Eighty hours of actual work a week, against fifty-six for the factory worker, may well be a fair estimate for the late nineteenth century, and must have been exceeded in many single-handed households.

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