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Before the Shelacres / Shellakers moved to the village of Lyndon in Rutland they lived in the East Leicestershire village of Loddington.
The oldest record of a member of our ‘Shellaker‘ family, whom we can say with a very high degree of certainty is connected to our family, is over 370 years ago. The record is from the year 1644 during which time our country was in the midst of the English Civil War (1642–1651) when Roundheads fought for Parliament under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell (his portrait is on the right) against the Royalist armies of Charles the First – the Cavillers.
5th May 1644 – BAPTISM
On Sunday 5th May 1644 there is a record was a baptism of a boy named THOMAS SHEAELEAKER in the church of St Michael & All Saints in the parish of Loddington, a small village in Leicestershire near to the border of the County of Rutland in the English Midlands.
NB. Variations in the spelling of the surname Shellaker, which include ‘Shellakers’, ‘Shillakars’, ‘Shilakers’ and ‘Shelacres’ and that of the spellings of Christian names, should not be a concern.
Few could read or write so most did not know how to spell their own names. The parish vicar or his assistant would be record the names into the parish records, writing names how he thought they should be spelt based upon how the name was pronounced. Interestingly in the parish record the surname of the son Thomas has a very creative spelling of ‘Sheaeleaker’, while in that same record, the father surname is spelt ‘Sherleaker‘. For the Parish Records of Loddington I employed the services of an expert from the Leicestershire and Rutland Records Office who searched the records to confirm the accuracy of the records I had already located and also to supply a transcribed copy of how each record was originally written.
Loddington at that time was a small village (and it so remains). In 1564 , over one hundred years before the birth of Thomas it is recorded that 22 families in Loddington, one of whom, as we now know, was the Shellaker family.
In 1844 the village was recorded as being; ‘a pleasant village in a valley, adjoining Rutlandshire, as a parish of 137 souls’.
Before the plague, the population of the village was likely to be higher than at present and the location of the church, in the middle of a field with no roads and well away from any of the current houses – see image on the right – click on the picture to see a larger version. This is a strong indication that houses were once located around the church before the plague or depopulated for other reasons.
The village of Loddington was enclosed* between 1607 and 1640, changing the landscape and forcing many to seek work elsewhere. The enclosure of the land occurred just prior to the date of this first record of a baptism.
* Enclosure was the legal process in England during the 18th century of enclosing a number of small landholdings to create one larger farm. Once enclosed, use of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceased to be common land for communal use.
1644 – The Oldest Record (to date)
The record of the baptism of Thomas Sheaeleaker is below and is the third entry for 1644. I have marked the first line of the entry, which runs over two lines, with an ‘x’. The father’s surname is spilt over those two lines.
“1644 Thomas Sheaeleaker the sonne of Richard Sherle
– aker bapt. May 5th”
6th July 1646 – BAPTISM
Just over two years later we find the baptism in that same church of a girl named ELLENOR SHELAKAR which occurred on Monday 6th July 1646. Usually baptisms took place on a Sunday and so we could speculate the baby girl was ill at birth which necessitated a prompt baptism.
The church of St Michael & All Saints, which is pictured right and is reproduced by permission of LeicesterPhoto, dates mostly from the late 13th to early 14th century, although the south doorway may date from an earlier period which would seem to suggest that an earlier structure stood on the site.
Due to the fact there are only around 20 families living in Loddington at that time and that the name of the father is also Richard, we should assume Ellenor was a sister to the two-year old Thomas. Unlike the previous record, this one records the mother’s name, written as ‘Jone‘ which is presumably Joan.
The timing of Ellenor’s baptism was just over a year after the decisive Civil War Battle of Naseby which had taken place relatively closely, a mere twenty miles south of Loddington in nearby Northamptonshire.
With defeat in this battle, King Charles the First lost all chance of winning the war and less than three years later, on 30th January 1649, he was beheaded for high treason.
1646 – “Ellenor, the Daughter of Richard Shelaker and & Jone his wife bapt 6th of July”.
26th May 1671 – MARRIAGE
I also found two clear records of Shellaker marriages; the first in 1671, the second in 1673. The first entry is for the marriage of THOMAS SHELLAKARS & ELIZABETH DAWSON which took place on Friday 26th May 1671 (or ‘about’ the 26th May as it is written in the Parish Records!) Thomas’ marriage is the second entry from the bottom (marked with an ‘x’). The surname ‘Shellakars‘ is undisputedly clear. Thomas was around 27 years old when he was married Elizabeth Dawson.
1671 “Thomas Shellakars & Elizabeth Dawson Maryed about 26th May”
In fact the Dodo (engraving on the right) became extinct between the time span of the birth and marriages of Thomas and his sister Ellenor.
It was five years after the Great Fire of London and during a time the Kingdom of England was at war with the Dutch Republic (1672-1674) with sea battles being fought in the North Sea and around New York in the Americas.
It is highly doubtful these events, even if known to the Shellaker family, had any effect upon life in the village of Loddington but it is likely alarming news reached the village of another outbreak of ‘The Black Death’ – the Second Pandemic of the bubonic plague (1665-1666), although the plague, on this occasion, was mainly confined to London.
3rd April 1673 – MARRIAGE
A second ‘Shellaker‘ marriage was recorded two years later in 1673. Undoubtedly the ELLEANOR SHELLAKARS who married CHARLES NEWBY on Thursday 3rd April 1673 is same girl who was baptised in that village on the 6th of July 1646. In 1673 Ellenor would have reached the ages of 26 years old.
1673 “Charles Newby & Elleanor Shellakars Marryed April 3rd per bann.”
The record states the marriage was ‘per bann‘. This means ‘by banns’ – Banns are an ancient legal tradition and are an announcement in church of an intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place.
26th July 1674 – BAPTISM
Fourteen months later, in parish records for the year 1674 is the record of a baptism of ELIZABETH SHELLAKARS which took place on Sunday 26th July 1674. It is extremely probable is the baptism of a child born as a result of the marriage of Thomas Shellakars & Elizabeth Dawson three years earlier in 1671.
I am unsure why Thomas’ wife Elizabeth is not included in this entry in the parish record. I could speculate she had died, possibility in child birth but it should be remembered England at the time was male-dominated and details of the mother of the child were not always entered in such records. The two entries of births directly above that of Elizabeth Shellakar only include the name of the father but the first four entries in this segment include the name of the mother.
1674 – “Elizabeth, the Daughter of Thomas Shellakars, Bapt July 26th.” “N. Barry. vic.”
There is no evidence Elizabeth Shellakars (née Dawson) died at childbirth but if that was the case, her child Elizabeth would have been orphaned in 1675 as I found an entry of the death of a man,who is probably her father. At this time the baby girl would have been less than one year old.
14th March 1675 BURIAL
The entry of the burial of THOMAS SHELLAKARS is on the last line of the section below but it should be said that this man may not be the husband of Elizabeth. It could be the burial of an unknown uncle but no records indicate that Thomas’ father Richard had a brother. Additionally there are no further mentions of a ‘Thomas‘ in the Loddington Parish Records. If this man was the husband of Elizabeth as seems likely, then he died within a year of the birth of his daughter and was around 30 years old when he died.
Next Page: Further Shellaker records within the Loddington Parish Records