Date:January 06, 2013

Polly Shellaker


In the employ of Frederick Wardle

I have examined the known whereabouts of the three people involved during the time Polly Shellaker lived in Grantham; Polly Shellaker, Frank Brown and Frederick Wardle, and then tried to establish a speculative but, in my opinion a probable sequence of events. Think of this as a detective story, one where the police are trying to establish the facts by examining a timeline of available evidence. I’ve considered ‘character profiles’ of those involved, seeking to discover evidence to link the people involved with the aim at arriving with a theory of the possible/probable/likely sequence of events.

POLLY SHELLAKER – 1881 -1892

1881 3rd April Census – Polly is recorded aged 16 on the Census of 1881 as living in Tugby with her family FACT
1886 April/ May – Polly moves with her family from Tugby to Billesdon Lodge Farm. This date is based on two pieces of evidence. Firstly Polly’s younger sister Nellie writes many years later "at the age of seven the family moved to Billesdon Lodge Farm”. Nellie’s 7th birthday was on the 19th April 1886. The second piece of evidence which verifies the family had moved to Billesdon was in the copy of the Northampton Mercury dated 15th May 1886 which refers to ‘Richard Shellaker of Billesdon Lodge’. It was said within the family that Polly“got fed-up with getting up at the Lodge at half past four each morning in order to feed the animals” so sought employment elsewhere. -
1891 5th April Census – Polly is recorded aged 26 years on the Census of 1891 as living in Grantham at 8 Chapel Street as a Housekeeper to Mr Frederick Wardle FACT
1892 10th October – Polly Shellaker marries Frank ‘Brown’ in Grantham. At the time of her marriage Polly was residing at 8 Chapel Street Grantham. FACT


1880 4th September. The Grantham Journal – Frederick Wardle of Spittlegates Beer Dealer Beer Retailer and Dairyman applies for a license to sell beer from 9 Wharf Road Spittlegates FACT
1881 3rd April Census – Frederick Wardle is living at 9 Wharf Road Spittlegates a Provision Shop with his wife Sarah. They were aged 50 and 52 years respectively. Also in the house is a Domestic Servant – Emma Briggs aged 19 years old. Mr Wardle's occupation is recorded as being a 'Licensed victualler' FACT
1882 Frederick Wardle is recorded in Kelly’s Directory’s as a Dairyman and Agent to ‘Truman Hanbury & Buxton’s Ales & Stouts" at 9 Wharf Road Spittlegates Grantham”. FACT
1885 Frederick Wardle is listed in Kelly’s Trade Directory as living at 8 Chapel Street Grantham. FACT
1887 14th May – The Stamford Mercury – “Fred. Wardle of 8 Chapel Street Grantham was charged with selling milk to the prejudice of the purchaser. The same not being of the nature substance and quality demanded…. the public analyst found contained ten per cent of added water. Fined £2. including costs. FACT
1888 16th June – The Grantham Journal – “Wanted a strong girl about 16 as General Servant. Apply Mrs Wardle 8 Chapel Street Grantham.” FACT
1889 Frederick Wardle is listed in Kelly’s Trade Directory as living at 8 Chapel Street Grantham. FACT
1889 25th December Mrs Wardle Dies. The Grantham Journal – “Wardle – At 8 Chapel Street Grantham. Dec 25th the beloved wife of Mr F. Wardle aged 68”. FACT
1891 5th April Census -Frederick Wardle recorded as aged 58 years is living at his home 8 Chapel Street. In his house he employs a Housekeeper – Polly Shellaker. Also two servants – a 19 year old described as a 'Mother's Help and a 16 year old 'General Servant'. Mr Wardle's occupation is recorded as being a ‘Dairyman’. FACT
1892 Frederick Wardle is listed in Kelly’s Trade Directory as living at 8 Chapel Street Grantham. FACT
1892 18th March – An advertisement appears in the Stamford Mercury “Help – Wanted Farmer’s Daughter to assist in Dairy & Household duties. Servant kept. Apply Miss Shellaker 8 Chapel Street Grantham.”  FACT
1893 4th July. Under the heading ‘Creditors meeting in Nottingham’ the following article appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post. ‘A first meeting of Frederick Wardle 8 Chapel Street Grantham dairyman and provision dealer against whom a receiving order was made was held this morning at the Official Receiver. A summary of debtor’s statement of affairs showed gross liabilities of £982. The estimated assets were £91 made up of trade fixtures furniture and book debts. The Official Receiver’s observations on the case were as follows: – “The bankrupt states that he commenced business about 20 years ago with about £200 he has saved. He became aware of his insolvency on the 20th May last when through a creditor pressing him he was forced to look into his position". Summary administration of the estate was made. FACT

FRANK BROWN / CABLE – 1880 -1892

1880 17th August – Frank Cable (later Brown) marries a widower Catharine Feltham in Peckham London. Frank’s occupation is recorded as a ‘Dairyman’. FACT
1881 3rd April Census – Around 8 months after his marriage Frank Cable (later Brown) is living in Islington London. He is not living with his wife. FACT
1891 5th April Census – A mere 18 months prior to his marriage to Polly. Frank Cable (later Brown) is recorded as living with his wife Catherine in West Hackney London. FACT.
1892 10th October – Frank Brown (formerly Cable) marries Polly Shellaker in Grantham. At the time of his marriage Frank was residing at 24 Manthorpe Road Grantham. FACT

Polly moved with her family from Tugby to Billesdon Lodge Farm in Spring 1886 aged 20 years. After an indeterminate time working at the Lodge she “got fed-up with getting up at the Lodge at half past four each morning in order to feed the animals”, and so sought employment elsewhere.

Around two and half years after Polly moved with her family to Billesdon Lodge Farm, on Christmas Day 1889, Mrs Wardle, the wife of Frederick Wardle dies at the age of 68 years. Consequently early in 1890 Frederick Wardle seeks to employ a Housekeeper, possibly by placing an advertisement in local newspaper. I now speculate Polly Shellaker applies for the job of Housekeeper either by responding to Mr Wardle’s advertisement or through an unknown connection between her Grandmother Sarah Shellaker (née Hester), who originated from Spittlegates, the area of Grantham in which Mr & Mrs Wardle lived previously to moving into the house in Chapel Street.

I speculate Polly Shellaker was successful in a subsequent interview with Mr Wardle, partly I surmise, due of her experience in looking after animals and in 1890 moved from Billesdon Lodge Farm to Grantham, a distance of around thirty-five miles, to work as a Housekeeper to Mr Wardle. Two female servants are also employed in the household, one of whom is recorded in the 1891 Census the following year as a ‘Mother’s Help’. She may have been the ‘Strong Girl, aged 16’ who responded to the advertisement in 1888. I speculate this ‘strong girl’ was originally employed by Mrs Wardle to help care for her during an illness up to her death, with some of her likely care duties being lifting the ill Mrs Wardle in and out of bed.

Again more conjecture – in 1890 or 1891 there is a knock on the door at 8 Chapel Street, Grantham. The door was opened by the Housekeeper, Miss Polly Shellaker and she mets, for the first time, Frank Brown (or Cable).

Frank Cable (Brown) & Mr Frederick Wardle – Dairymen
Is it a coincidence that both Mr. Wardle & Frank Brown were Dairymen? If this were an investigation of a crime and not family history research, ‘Milk’ would be seen as a crucial link between the two men and with Polly herself. Frank was listed as a ‘Dairyman’ as long ago as 1880 and photographic evidence exists proving he worked in the ‘Milk industry’. There is also anecdotal evidence relating to Frank tampering with the milk he delivered. Frederick Wardle was found guilty of that same offence in 1887. Mr Wardle is recorded on several occasions as being a Dairyman. I believe he kept cows at 8 Chapel Street.

Milk was sent from around the country to London on early morning trains, called milk trains. I do not know if milk from Grantham was sent to London but maybe Mr Wardle sent milk to Frank Cable (aka Brown) but I believe ‘milk’ was the probable connection that lead Frank Cable to met Polly Shellaker!

Polly & Frank intend to Marry
Sometime in 1892 I speculate Polly informed Mr Wardle that she intended to leave his employment. The reasons could have been she intended to marry Frank and therefore she would be setting up house with her new husband. Another explanation could be there was an issue with non-payment of her wages as we know Mr Wardle had financial difficulties; three years previously in July 1889 he was summoned, under the ‘Employer and Workmen’s Act’ by a John Towns a labourer, of 11, Union-street, for £3 and 4 shillings wages due from Mr Wardle and it was in May of this year, 1892, that he “became aware of his insolvency” which eventually lead to his bankruptcy in July of the following year 1893.

Polly AdvertOn 18th March 1892 an advertisement appears in the Stamford Mercury:

HELP – Wanted, Farmer’s Daughter to assist in Dairy & Household duties. Servant kept. Apply Miss Shellaker, 8 Chapel Street, Grantham.”

This I believe is Mr Wardle advertising for Polly’s replacement as Housekeeper – he is seeking someone who matching the profile and experience of Polly; ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ & ‘Dairy & Household duties’.

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