A 19th century view of the village of Wickford.

Seen through a 19th Century poem

Found: pen picture of Wickford from over a century ago. This was the headline in a copy of (probably) the Wickford Gazette. Unfortunately the cutting we have does not tell us which issue it appeared in so we don’t know its date. It refers to a report about a poem which Mr Silva Carter found when looking through some old family documents. The article states that the poem was written in 1880 by a policeman by the name of Butcher who was stationed in the town. We do not know if the document this was taken from was handwritten or printed. If the former, some of the transcription may be misread.
The newspaper asks its readers to supply it with any information they might have about the poem or its author. We do not know if the readers responded so we ask you the same: can you tell us anything that explains what the poem is about?

The Village of Wickford

The village of Wickford it stands in the dale
And the sign of the ‘Castle’ is a drop of good ale
The name of the landlord is Mr R Dines
Both civil and pleasant he is at all times

Singing Rye doodle, Rye doodle, Rye doodle, Rye Dye

There’s Belta the baker likes coffee and tea
But gin he likes better you plainly can see
Go down to the shop, they are all of a flutter
To see the brown snuff sprinkled over the butter


There’s Carter the builder who shaves at the deal
And Wooliams the wheeler who turns at the wheel
There’s Richens the butcher who sharps at the steel
And Sharps people up when they are down at the heel


There’s Scudda the baker who kneads at the dough
And cracks his old comrades, he does it also
There’s Smith at the foundry both courageous and bold
And old Harry Nichols who works at the mould


There’s Dandy the frosty who stabs at the leather
And Gigney his master who talks of the weather
There’s Upson the Beedle, the parson does prate
He’s not very big but he lives by the ‘great’


There’s Mrs Flack both noble and tall
The women of Wickford she’s finest of all
The marriage was fruitful to both pigeon pair
With nice little children with nice heads of hair

Mark Butcher was listed as policeman in 1871, but not in the 1881 census. His son (probably) Charles was working as grocer’s assistant in 1880.
In 1871 Reuben Dines was landlord of the Castle. By 1880 it was John Bull.
There were six Carter households in 1871, 5 in 1881, all in buildings crafts.
The Gigneys were harness makers in the 1870s and 80s.
Daniel Frostie (or Frostic or Forstie) was a tenant of the Gigneys in 1871 and also a harness maker.
David Upson was a harness maker and parish clerk and Church sexton at various times.
Mrs Eliza Flack was the school teacher, aged around 56 in 1880. As Eliza Carter she had married Daniel Flack around 1837/38. She would have had three grown up children by 1880.

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  • The song includes the name Gigney which may refer to previous owners of Mayes Bros Broadway Wickford, which was established in 1837 and closed March 1972. The shop front was deceiving, behind the shop was a timber framed barn three storeys high, with two wooden staircases. There were rooms dedicated to nails and screws, brushes of every kind, and at the top was the rope room. and much much more. Even in 1972 it was still a proper ironmongery and hardware shop serving smallholders, farmers, and the community.

    By Eric Fenwick (07/08/2020)
  • Mark Butcher is shown on the 1881 census under South Hanningfield. He was living at Great Road. The census was transferred to Wickford. He was born at Gosfield c1827 and was the son of James Butcher, an agricultural labourer. Mark was also an agricultural labourer at age 23 according to the census of 1851. His first appearance on a Wickford census is 1861 where his occupation is recorded as a policeman. He remained in Wickford until his death in 1914. Lucy was his wife and they had several children. At the time of the 1891 census Mark is shown as a superannuated policeman. In 1893 he had a shop in the High Street where he had recently been appointed agent for the sale of the Essex County Chronicle (ECC 13 Oct 1893). Mark was buried at St Catherine churchyard on 24 February 1914.
    If Mark’s song lyrics were written in 1880 then this would appear to be a light hearted reflection of people he knew or had known. Certainly, Reuben Dines was no longer at the Castle. The licence was transferred from David S W Wilkins to John Bull of Leigh in 1876. As far as I can tell, Reuben died in late 1876 or early 1877. Reuben’s wife is shown as a widow on the 1881 census.

    By David C Rayment (10/03/2020)

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