The Shellacres of Ridlington
The earliest record of a member of the Shelacres/Shellaker family associated with the Rutland village of RIDLINGTON is from the year 1762. In that year, 26 year old THOMAS SHELACRES, from the nearby Rutland village of LYNDON, married a local Ridlington girl, MARY GREEN. The wedding, which occurred on Sunday 14th November 1762, took place in the Ridlington village church of St Mary Magdalene & St Andrew – pictured on the right reproduced by permission of LeicesterPhoto.
Thomas Shelacres was the youngest of four children of Richard and Anne Shellaker of Lyndon, a village in which the Shelacres / Shellaker family had lived since at least around the year 1680. Prior to that time the Shelacres / Shellaker family can be found as living in LODDINGTON, a village in East Leicestershire very close to the county border with Rutland.
If you wish to follow the story of the Shelacres/Shellaker family chronologically then please click this link to the earliest information of the family in the village of LODDINGTON. Alternatively to read about the parents and sibling of Thomas Shelacres follow this link to read details of their lives in LYNDON.
RIDLINGTON – A BRIEF VILLAGE HISTORY
Evidence of prehistoric settlement in the area, dating back thousands of years, has been found during various excavations; these include finds of a Bronze Age axe, Iron Age tools and evidence of the Romans working iron.
The name of the village is Danish in origin, a derivative of ‘Hridlan’s town’ with the first known written reference to Ridlington being in William the First’s Domesday Book of 1086, when it was called ‘Redlinctune‘. Prior to ‘the Conquest’ (1066), the village was recorded as belonging to Queen Editha, wife of Edward the Confessor, as was much of Rutland (‘Roteland‘) – a gift by King Edward to his wife. Editha was also the sister of Harold Godwinson (the ‘King Harold’ of 1066 fame) and after the Norman invasion, as with nearly the land in England, ownership transferred from the defeated Saxons to the Norman Conquerors.
From at least 1255, the area south of the village, Ridlington Park, was one of at least four enclosed royal deer parks within the extensive royal hunting land of Rutland Forest (later known as Leighfield Forest), a vast area covering both sides of the borders of Rutland and Leicestershire. In 1622 Ridlington Park was outside of the bounds of the Royal Forest, was as deforested shortly afterwards and given over to agriculture, both for pasture and put under the plough for crops. This occurred around 150 years prior to the arrival of Thomas Shelacres into the village which was around 1760.
In White’s Directory of 1846, written some eighty years after Richard Shelacres married Mary Green, Ridlington is described as a small straggling village lying just over 5 miles west of Lyndon, around 2 miles north-west from Uppingham and some six miles due south of the Oakham the County town of Rutland.
The Directory states the village stands on picturesque high land running east and west rising to 588 ft and overlooking the valleys of Catmose, Gwash and Chater. To the South is the Eye Brook, where the land falls to about 300 ft.
It is considered a pretty village with cottages mostly of honey coloured stone with thatched roofs and with the main residences stretching along a street running parallel to, and on the north side of the, by-road from Preston to Leighfield but has a maze of winding lanes meandering through the pleasant countryside.
In the 1840’s had a population of 299 souls and an area of 2,081 acres with the land being chiefly pasture but also with remaining areas of rich woodland scenery. There was also a Baptist meeting-room in the village but probably it did not exist when Thomas Shellaker married Mary Green in 1762. Occupations and trades within the village included shopkeeper, a blacksmith who was also the beerhouse owner, a corn miller, bakers, carpenters, farmers and graziers, butchers, shoemakers and stone masons.
Next Page: The Children of Thomas & Mary