Date:January 07, 2013

Emma Shellaker


Early Years and School Days

EMMA SHELLAKER was born on Wednesday 15th of August 1866, during the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Queen Victoria. She became the fourth child and third daughter of RICHARD & MARY SHELLAKER and was born in the East Leicestershire village of of TUGBY.

The Birth Certificate of Emma Shellaker

1866 – The Birth Certificate of Emma Shellaker

Richard & Sarah’s had three other children when Emma was born; SARAH & WILLIAM, who were five & three years old respectively, and MARY JANE, known as ‘POLLY’, who would celebrate her second birthday in the week following Emma’s birth. Emma’s father was one of the village butchers, her mother originated from the nearby Leicestershire village of Hallaton, where her family were carpenters. Her maiden name was MARY ANN GROCOCK and she was around twenty-eight years old when she gave birth to Emma. Richard Shellaker registered her arrival the following month in September. In the year following Emma’s birth, on December 16th 1867, another daughter was born, she was named ELIZABETH.

Emma’s paternal grandfather, WILLIAM SHELLAKER, pictured below on the right, had died eleven years prior to Emma’s birth, also in Tugby, in November 1855 at the age of 67 years.

William Shellaker (deceased) and his wife SarahHe was born in the year 1788 in the village of LYNDON in the county of Rutland and subsequently moved to Tugby sometime after his marriage in 1815. Parish records show the Shellaker family had lived in Lyndon for five generations, since around 1680.

Prior to Lyndon the Shellaker family can be traced further back to the village of LODDINGTON, which is on the border of east Leicestershire and Rutland. (In these older parish records the family name is also spelt “Shelacres”, “Shellakars” & “Shillaker”).

When she was born, Emma’s grandmother, SARAH, the widow of William Shellaker, pictured on the right, was still alive aged 72 years and  also living in Tugby.  Sarah Shellaker was born in 1794, in the ‘Spittlegates’ area of GRANTHAM, in the county of Lincolnshire. In William Shellaker’s family Bible I found two receipts, for the years 1859 & 1865, confirming Sarah Shellaker’s membership of the “Wesleyan-Methodist Society”.

After the death of her husband, Sarah Shellaker, whose maiden name was ‘HESTER’, lived in her own house in Tugby from which she ran a business. The 1863 publication of “White’s Trade Directory for Leicestershire” records that Sarah Shellaker ran a “Beerhouse”. [A Beerhouse was not a Public House but was basically a private house licensed to sell beer but not spirits, possibly just from one room.]

Undoubtedly Emma experienced much family sadness during her early years as a total of seven siblings died between Emma’s third and twenty-second birthdays; four sisters were born during that time all of whom died as infants; the first being LOUISA, born in 1869 when Emma was three years old. Louisa died within the year, aged six months and was buried in the churchyard at Tugby. The 1871 Census taken on Sunday the 2nd of April in that year, records Emma living with her parents and her three surviving sisters; Sarah, Mary Jane (Polly) and Elizabeth, and also her brother, William.

1871 Census Richard Shellaker in Tugby

1871 Census – The Shellaker family in Tugby

Reproduced by permission of Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland

As the information for this Census is not totally clear I have reprinted the details below:

Name Relationship Condition Age Occupation Where Born
Richard Shellaker Head Marr 40 Butcher Leicestershire, Tugby
Mary A Shellaker Wife Marr 33 Leicestershire, Hallaton
Sarah A Shellaker Daughter 9 Scholar Leicestershire, Tugby
William Shellaker Son 8 Scholar Leicestershire, Tugby
Mary J Shellaker Daughter 6 Scholar Leicestershire, Tugby
Emma Shellaker Daughter 4 Scholar Leicestershire, Tugby
Elizabeth Shellaker Daughter 3 Scholar Leicestershire, Tugby
George Talby Servant Not Known? 17 General & Domestic Leicestershire, Hallaton

Another sister named FANNY, was born in 1872 when Emma was five and also twins girl were born in 1873 when Emma was six, these twins were (confusingly) also given the names LOUISA & FANNY – these three girls all died in infancy and were buried in the churchyard in Tugby.

The following year, 1874 there was another death, on this occasion Emma’s paternal grandmother, SARAH SHELLAKER (née HESTER), died aged 80 years and was buried in Tugby churchyard. Emma was approaching her eight birthday when her grandmother, ‘Granny Shelacre’, died.

When Emma was ten years old, her mother Mary had a second son who was named JOHN RICHARD, but he lived for only  fifteen months before passing away in February 1878 when Emma was eleven. During these years it is believed that another son was born who was named RICHARD. (I have not yet identified the year of his birth.) He also died in infancy. However, in April 1879 another sister arrived when her mother gave birth to HELENA. Helena, who was known thereafter as ‘NELLIE’, was born when Emma was twelve.

Emma probably lived most of her early life with her family in a house in Chapel Lane, Tugby where her father also had a Butcher’s shop. I have not, as yet, found any old photographs of the actual house in which Emma lived with her family but below are two photographs of Chapel Lane, Tugby. I believe these pictures are relatively contemporary to the time the Shellaker family lived there. In the photograph on the right a lady in a white apron in front of the Butchers Shop with two people either side of her with two boys further forward. Could these be people be Shellakers? – We will never know. [Click on the images below to see a larger picture of these photograph].

Two views of Chapel Lane in Tugby showing the Butchers Shop

I understand the Shellaker family home was next to the Butcher’s Shop, both of which are on the right of this lane. The roof apex of Butcher’s shop, which faces towards the camera can be seen in both of the photographs below. The date of these pictures is unknown although they may have taken after the family had left the village in 1886. If anyone can supply an old photograph of the ‘far end’ of Chapel Lane which shows Butcher’s shop and the house in which the Shellaker family lived I’d be grateful if you would contact me. NB – The identity of the lady with the pram and children on the left picture below is unknown but it extremely improbable these people have any connection to the Shellaker family.

The original Butcher’s shop no longer remains although there is still a new Butcher’s shop on the same site in Chapel Lane –  ‘G. T. Doughty Butchers Shop’, under the ownership of Gary Gregg. The large house directly on the left was the village bakery and is now known as ‘The Old Bakehouse’.

However, back to the year 1872….

Tugby Village SchoolThe Education Act of 1870 required the establishment of elementary schools throughout the country for which the school boards could charge a fee. On Monday 14th of October 1872, at the age of 6 years old, Emma was admitted to the local village school at Tugby. Starting school with her on that same Monday was her sister, 8 year old Polly. Her other sisters Sarah & Elizabeth, started the following Monday, the 21st of October. Sarah was 11 years old, Elizabeth, two months short of her 5th birthday.

This undated photograph may relate to the time the Shellaker girls attended the school. The interior of the school was reported to have a cold brick floor and was heated by open fires in the class rooms. The children could not leave until they achieved a certificate of efficiency from the school. The children had tests twice a year. In one of the regular reports from the school inspector, after visiting in 1873 (at the time Emma and her sisters were in attendance), reported: “The children are in fair order, reading fair, writing neat, spelling pretty fair, arithmetic weak, and needlework requires more attention. Punctuation requires further attention”

Tugby School Register
In 1998 I asked my mother, Beryl Leedham (née Shellaker), if she knew of anybody who could provide any old photographs or information relating to the village of Tugby. One of the people to whom she spoke was Mr. Tom Weare, a retired garage proprietor living in Billesdon who had in his possession the original register from Tugby school. This register, which dated from 1870 to 1924, had been retrieved from a dustbin by Mr. Weare’s late wife, Eda who had been a school teacher at Tugby. At the time I copied sections of this register relating to the Shellaker children but regrettably I fear this Tugby School Register has since been destroyed. I will include on this website every page I copied as the register will be of interest to other who are researching their own family history. Below is the opening page of the register which lists the Master and Mistresses of the school since it opened.

Tugby School - List of Master & Mistresses 1870 - 1924

Masters and Mistresses of Tugby School  1870 – 1924 

Emma Shellaker’s name appears in the page below. (Next to the number ‘59’) but her date of birth has been entered incorrectly. Emma’s older sisters are also listed, Sarah is the first name on the list (no. 43), Mary Jane (Polly) is number 50. Their sister Elizabeth is further down this page (Number ‘68’) with the year of her birth also being incorrect as she was born in 1867. I have a copies of the birth certificates of both Emma & Elizabeth which confirm the birth date information in this registered as being inaccurate. At the bottom of this section (Number ‘72’) is a ‘Kate Kempin’, who features later in this story. (Her full name was Keturah Kempin). On the right of this page reveals the differing grades the children achieved by the children. Four Shellaker girls are included on this list. [To see a larger view of this register click on the image].

Section of Tugby School register showing grades

Section of Tugby School Register Showing the Grades Achieved

Sarah Shellaker, numbered 43 on this list, achieved Grade III. Mary Jane Shellaker (Polly) – No. 50, reached Grade V. Emma (No.59) went on to achieve Grade VI, (‘The Sixth Standard’) which is evidently the highest standard attainable at this school and subsequently left Tugby School on Friday June the 18th 1880, as shown on the column on the far right, two months prior to her 14th birthday. Emma’s sister Elizabeth (No. 68) also achieved Grade VI. [Click on the image to view a larger copy of this list click on the image].

School Standards Explained. School Standards feature in Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Jude the Obscure’. This book, which was published in 1895, has a story primarily set between the years 1870 and 1886 which almost covers the same time period (1872-1880) in which Emma Shellaker attended Tugby school. In this book one of the female characters is referred to as “a schoolgirl out of her standards”. In the book’s End Notes this sentence is explained as follows; “i.e. out of elementary school, the sixth standard being the last for children, the seventh standard for would-be teachers, the standards being degrees of proficiency as measured by exams.”

This supports my comments that Emma Shellaker achieved the highest academic standard achievable during her time at Tugby School and also would indicate that her subsequent education, details of which will follow, was undertaken with the intent of achieving a level of education to the ‘seventh standard’, thereby providing the required qualifications for entry into the teaching profession.

In the second Census on which Emma’s is recorded – the 1881 Census, which was taken on Thursday the 3rd of April 1881, she is not listed as living in the family home in Tugby.

1881 Census – The Shellaker Family in Tugby – but no Emma

Reproduced by permission of Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland

Although the information for this Census is relatively clear I have reprinted the details below:

Name Relationship Condition Age Occupation Where Born
Richard Shellaker Head Marr 50 Butcher & Grazier Leicester, Tugby
Mary A Shellaker Wife Marr 43 Leicester, Tugby
Sarah A Shellaker Daughter Unmarr 19 Leicester, Tugby
William Shellaker Son Unmarr 18 Butcher Leicester, Tugby
Mary J Shellaker Daughter Unmarr 16 Leicester, Tugby
Elizabeth Shellaker Daughter Unmarr 13 Scholar Leicester, Tugby
Helana Shellaker Daughter 1 Leicester, Tugby

Fourteen years old Emma’s exclusion from this Census does not necessarily indicate she had ‘left home’ but indicates on the night of the 3rd April 1881 she was residing elsewhere.

Next Page: Living in Leicester