William & Sarah Shellaker


A Chapel is Built. William is Assaulted

At the end of the eighteenth century the Methodist Movement was growing and by 1800 it had broken away from the Established Church, the Church of England, to become independent and was named the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

Tugby Chapel Plan - 1844People within Tugby and the neighbouring areas joined this movement and it is apparent both William & Sarah Shellaker were influential in the early days of the Methodist Church in Tugby. Before a chapel was built Methodist meetings were held in the open air or in barns or at the homes of members of the movement, and we could speculate William & Sarah’s home could have been used for such meetings.

The following information is taken from a book ‘Tugby and Keythorpe through the ages’ written by Maureen Bullows.

A Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built in Tugby at a cost of £150 on a piece of land, which in 1832, a Henry Halford had contracted to “release for the use of the people called Methodists established by John Wesley and for no other purpose”. In was built on a piece of land bought in 1814 for £925 – an indenture refers to the property as

“… all the Messuage Cottage or Tenement and Homestead situate standing and being in Tugby then used as a Public House and called or known by the name the Fox and Hounds then in the occupation of John Wadkin and …all the…..land at Tugby containing 12 acres 2 roods 10 perches then also in the occupation of John Wadkin together with all house yards gardens orchards….”

In 1846 the Chapel and land were transferred by Deed from Henry Halford and his wife Charlotte to Moses Rayner of Oakham who was the Superintendent of the Oakham Methodist Circuit. From the Chapel Plan this area of land can been seen adjoining on the east the homestead belonging to the cottage of Henry Halford used as a Public House known as the Old Fox and Hounds with the public footpath to Skeffington over it and on the west a garden belong to William Shillcock. On the northern end by the Glebe Garden and on the southern end by the yards of the messuage* belong to and occupied by William Shellacre.

The image above right shows the Tugby Chapel Plan from 1844 and at the bottom of this plan can be seen the words “The yards of Wm Shellacre on the South”. 

[*Messuage – a dwelling house with its adjacent buildings and the lands appropriated to the use of the household].

The Chapel at Tugby was run by trustees who had the responsibility for its proper running and activities in accordance with the instructions of the Circuit in which were a part. The Trusteeship was dominated by men from the commercial and professional middle classes and of the original fourteen trustees, only two originated from Tugby; Edward Broome and Jonathan Curtis. One of the Trustees of the Chapel who had his roots outside of Tugby was William Shellacre who held the position of Leader of the Chapel during a period sometime between 1830 and 1835. These dates are before the Chapel building has been built and indicate William was the leader during the time meeting were held in private houses.

Tugby Chapel - InteriorTugby Chapel - Exterior









William’s wife Sarah was also recorded as being a member of Tugby Chapel at this time, as was Catherine Scott, Elizabeth and George Smith, Jarvis Kightly, David Tyres, Sarah Stacey, James, Francis and William Campin, William Allen, William Tyres, Mr. Spreckley of Loddington (who became the leader after William Shellacre) and Elizabeth Odgen. Amongst the stewards of the Chapel recorded was a Mr. Kempin. Some years ago I found, within the page of William Shellaker’s family Bible, two receipts showing Sarah Shellaker’s membership of the ‘Wesleyan-Methodist Society’ for the years 1859 & 1865  and as as can be seen below, one has her surname spelt ‘Shelacer’ while the other is spelt ‘Shellaker’.Sarah-Wesleyan Methodist

The chapel at Tugby was not registered for marriages which took place in the local parish church. Likewise burials of the Methodist members took place in the churchyard of the parish church. However records show the Baptisms of children took place at the chapel in Oakham as in the Oakham Circuit when built. There were Methodists chapels in the villages of Billesdon (this was the chapel in Front Street and not the chapel in Back Street which was, and remains a Baptist Chapel), Loddington, Skeffington and East Norton which were also in the Oakham Circuit. William and Sarah’s son Richard and family also attended Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Tugby which eventually closed many decades later in 1957. It is located in what is now called Chapel Lane and is now a private dwelling.

On the 30th March 1851 a second Census on which William & Sarah Shellaker were recorded took place. In the ten years since the previous Census William, now aged 63 year, is no longer working as a Shoemaker (or Cordwainer) but is now recorded as being ‘A Farmer of 70 acres and employing one Labourer’. His birthplace is recorded as Lyndon in Rutland. His wife, Sarah, now 57 years old, is classified as a ‘Farmer’s Wife’ with a birthplace of Spittlegates in Lincolnshire.

In their home are also four other people – Two young men, Thomas Palmer and William Bird, are both recorded as ‘Agricultural Servants’ and as originating  from Goadby, a village in Leicestershire, aged 16 and 18 years respectively. There are also two lodgers, a 22 years man from Tugby, William Laxton, an ‘Agricultural Labourer’ and his wife Elizabeth Laxton, aged 21 years who was born in Blaston, another local village.

Intriguingly in the ten years between 1841 and 1851 William’s profession and status has changed; from a Shoemaker to a Farmer with a relatively large amount of land, 70 acres,and from a man living in ‘Rotton Rowe’ to one employing two servants and an agricultural labourer.

1851 Census - William & Sarah Shellaker

1851 Census – William & Sarah Shellaker in Tugby

 Tugby RG number: HO107 Piece: 2080 Book/Folio: 146 Page: 7

Reproduced by permission of Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland
Name Relationship Sex Age Profession Where Born
William Shellaker Head M 63 Farmer of 70 acres employing one lab Rutland,Lyndon
Sarah Shellaker Wife F 57 Farmers Wife Lincolnshire, Spittlegates
Thomas Palmer Servant M 16 Agricultural Servant Leicestershire, Goadby
William Bird Servant M 18 Agricultural Servant Leicestershire, Goadby
William Laxton Lodger M 22 Agricultural Labourer Leicestershire, Tugby
Elizabeth Laxton Lodger F 21 Leicestershire, Blaston 

Although it is not clear on the above document, the column on the far right asks if the person has any disability, blind, deaf or dumb. In this column there is a tick indicating William Shellaker has a disability but I will refer to this later. William & Sarah’s son Richard is not recorded as living in Tugby with his family. He is living at the house of William Stevenson, at 47, Granby Street, Leicester. William Stevenson is a Butcher and Richard Shelllaker, aged 20 years old, is recorded as being a ‘Butcher’s Apprentice’.


Three years pass by and an event has occurred. On the 10th of June 1854 this report of a court case at East Norton Petty Sessions appear in a local newspaper, The Leicester Chronicle, of an incident that occurred on the previous week on 2nd June.

1854 - William Shellaker AssaultedEAST NORTON PETTY SESSIONS JUNE 2 
(Before Lord Berners, Sir A.G, Hazelerigg, Bart., and C.T.Freer, Esqs.)

Wm. Shilliaker charged Henry Ogden, of Tugby, with an assault upon him, at that place, on the 18th of May, who was bound in his own recognizances, in £10, to keep the peace for six months, and to pay the costs, 9s 6d, which he did.

Although the circumstances are not known, Henry Ogden, a 40 year old agricultural labourer who lived in Tugby with his widowed mother Elizabeth and unmarried sister Ann, was found guilty of assaulting William Shellaker, who at this time was 65 years old. 1854 and 1855 was to be a dramatic and undoubtedly incredibly traumatic time for both William & Sarah Shellaker as in 1855 the couple are arrested and charged with a criminal offence.


Next Page: Another day  in Court but in very different circumstances