As well as the 1901 and 1911 censuses, the Land Tax Survey, made by Commissioners of the Inland Revenue in accordance with the Finance (1909/10) Act, 1910, provides the most detailed information about land ownership for this period since the enclosure records of nearly a century before. Sometimes known as “Lloyd George’s Domesday land-use survey”, its purpose was to raise tax. All properties were surveyed and valued. A 20% tax was then levied on any difference between the initial valuation and any future sale – a capital gains tax. Exemptions included farmland and plots smaller than 50 acres. Working maps, valuation maps, valuation books and field books were produced. Working maps and valuation books are available at the Lincoln Archives, but one has to go to the National Archives in Kew to see the valuation maps and field books.
The population of Grasby fell to 355 in 1901, but had increased again slightly to 373 by 1911. The number of farmers resident in the parish, however, fell from 18 to 11 during this time.
The land tax assessments not only provide information on the acreages of each farm, but also whether each field was owner-occupied or tenanted in 1910. Farming can be divided into three types in Grasby: large tenanted farms (200 acres+); medium size farms (30-199 acres) with, often, a mixture of owner -occupation and tenancy; and smallholders, also with a mixture of owner -occupation and tenancy.
Large & Medium Size Farms
By far the largest farm in 1910 was tenanted by Henry Dudding. The farm comprised 257 acres in Owmby, including two cottages and buildings at Owmby Top, 237 acres in Grasby around Grasby Top House and farm buildings, and 128 acres in Clixby around Clixby Top House and farm buildings, a total of 622 acres. Henry was still based in Riby. All the land, however, was owned by the John West Estate of Melton Ross.
Mr and Mrs John West were clearly important and long standing members of the Melton Ross community. In 1861 he was a farmer of 664 acres. When the Church was rebuilt in 1867 three stained glass windows in the chancel were donated by Mr and Mrs West (Kelly’s Directory 1900). In the 1871 census John is listed as a farmer of 1100 acres, employing 21 men and 4 boys. By 1881 he was 82 and described as a retired farmer, but his son-in-law Jonas Webb (married to Mary Marshall West) was living in the same household and listed as “farmer, joint-tenant, West & Webb”. As the Earl of Yarborough was (and probably still is) the sole landowner in the parish (with the exception of 11 acres of glebe land) with 1775 acres, it would suggest that the West/Webb family were his tenants and bought land elsewhere as capital investments. By 1911 Jonas as well as John had died, but Mary was still head of the household, with her unmarried son John Henry Webb, who was listed as a farmer and employer. For some reason the ownership of the land in Clixby was given as John West’s trustees, whereas in Grasby it was Webb and in Owmby Webb’s executors.
As Clixby was to become part of Grasby in 1936, it is interesting to note the pattern of farming and land ownership in this closed parish in 1910 by way of contrast. In addition to Henry Dudding’s land, there were three large scale farmers in Clixby parish in 1910 who were tenants of 843 acres of land belonging to Burnell College, Winkburn Hall, Nottinghamshire. The Rev. David Saunders has produced an excellent history of Clixby,“From Saxon Times to the 20th Century” and it is from this that the following information about the early history of the parish has been gratefully gleaned.
Clixby was a royal manor, probably until the reign of Henry VIII. Throughout this time the tenants, who held the land “in capite”, seem to have had a duty to provide a gerfalcon annually for the use of the king, an arrangement that went back to Henry II. The first mention of a manor house and a member of the local gentry in Clixby, William Fitzwilliam, was in 1634. William Fitzwilliam was related to Earl Fitzwilliam of Wentworth and the Fitzwilliam connection with Clixby continued until 1853 until the death of Frances Mary Fitzwilliam, who had been married to Richard Hannam. The family were Roman Catholics. In 1676 there were 27 members of the Church of England attending the parish church, and 15 Catholics in Clixby. In 1706 there were 19 families in Clixby.
John, son of William Fitzwilliam, died in 1717 and was succeeded by Charles. By 1727 there were only 10 families in the parish, who petitioned again (the first time being in 1664) to demolish the “ruinous nave”, this time successfully. The chancel was deemed large enough for services. Charles died in 1760 and Samuel inherited the estate.
The land tax records 1782 to 1831 show that Samuel did not farm himself, acting only as landlord. The major tenants were John Hannath and James Clarke, Michael Needler was described as a yeoman, and James and William Petch were small holders. Charles Samuel succeeded Charles and he lived until, again as just the landlord, until 1802. The Rev. Samuel Turner lived at the Manor from 1808 to 1815, but did not farm.
Clixby was awarded 86 acres 3 roods and 30 perches, the majority, 66.5 aces, to the trustees of Charles Fitzwilliam, when Caistor Moor was enclosed in 1814. John Hannath (who at the time was still using oxen as draught animals) left in 1830. This was three years after Richard Hannam, a solicitor from Retford, moved to Clixby to be a farmer after his marriage to Charles’ daughter, Frances Mary Fitzwilliam. This appears to have followed something of a pattern in the area as Richard was not the first solicitor to turn “squire”.
In 1841 the Manor was occupied by 11 members of the Hannam family, 6 house servants and 6 agricultural labourers (23 out of a total population of 45 in the parish). The house was L-shaped, the main part of Tudor origin with walls 5 feet thick. The wing was a Victorian addition. There was still evidence of a moat at this time.
It appears that Richard was not a popular local figure and had a reputation for poor management. An article in the Stamford Mercury in May 1844 included the following: “For several years the frequent travellers between Caistor and Brigg have wondered that the parish of Clixby should remain in so primitive a state while all around is fertile and abundantly fruitful, but as this more concerns the owner and occupier, who no doubt has reasons of his own for adopting a system of management so different from that of his neighbours, we shall refrain from making any remarks on the subject. We cannot however help expressing our sorrow that the Church has not escaped the appearance of desolation which pervades the entire village”. He was also accused of operating a policy of depopulation of the parish to avoid having to pay support for his own poor and workless. By 1851 his own son, Charles Fitzwilliam Hannam, was responsible for a 450 acre farm in the parish, but he became ill and moved to Caistor, where he died in 1853. In the meantime the whole estate had been put up for sale, and was bought in 1851 by Edward Valentine Pegge-Burnell. Allegedly, he had just been left a sizeable legacy, but with the condition that he had to use it to buy land. Clixby was the first suitable estate to come on the market.
The Winkburn estate had been in the hands of the Burnell family since it was conferred to them by Henry VIII. White’s Directory of 1872 describes Clixby as a small village of just 45 inhabitants and 1200 acres, nearly all the property of Edward V. Pegge Burnell Esq. J.P., of Winkburn Hall, who was also lord of the manor. The Earl of Yarborough had another 74 acres which, with 257 acres owned by the West/Webb family and 14 acres belonging to the Church, left just 5 acres owned by one small holder. By this time other tenants had come and gone, William Wass at Church Farm (died 1863), Dr. Porter at Clixby Top, Francis Brocklesby at Moor Farm (1853 to 1856), William Pigot at Manor Farm (whose daughter married George W Smith, who then took over both Manor Farm and Church Farm in 1863, enlarging the holding to 712 acres and paying £1300 annual rent by 1871). Robert Willey, with a large family, took over from Francis Brocklesby at Moor Farm. George Smith moved to Church Farm and then back to Manor Farm by 1881.
The two Spilman families arrived after George’s death in 1896. They had both come from the Alkborough area and were related, but not closely. Robert took over Church House Farm, 287 acres (annual rent £215.16s) and Joseph took over Manor Farm, 430 acres (annual rent £300). Robert followed the traditional practice of having a group of unmarried farm labourers living in the house, Joseph did not, having just servants and a governess.
The above would seem to confirm that the Wold land of Owmby, Grasby and Clixby was occupied by classic C19th large scale tenant farmers practising the traditional Lincolnshire “high farming” model. There can be no doubt that sheep played a central role on Henry Dudding’s farms.
The Markham brothers represent a family with very modest beginnings who worked their way up from a trade and then small holders to, by 1910, significant land owners and medium/large scale farmers in Grasby, their village of birth.
Although Philip and George were listed as farmers in their own rights, the title of the land they owned had an indenture of mortgage dated 16/07/1903 made “between Philip Markham and George William Markham of the first part, the said Philip Markham, George William Markham and Cyril Percival Markham of the second part, and John Waters Clark and Edwin Bell of the third part”. In 1911 Cyril, the younger brother aged 29 and single, lived with Philip’s family at Bentley House and was listed in the census as a “helper on the farm”. Cyril was, however, soon to marry Sarah Eleanor Spilman, daughter of Robert Spilman at Church Farm Clixby. According to the Land Tax Assessment for 1910, Philip farmed 127 acres of the brothers’ land as the “tenant” with just an additional 1.3 acres in Clixby, owned by Hannam’s representatives, solicitors in Retford. A large proportion of his farm was conveniently laid out in a parcel of land accessible from either side of Little Drift Lane and stretching all the way down the south east side of the parish, including two fields on the other side of North Kelsey Beck. Nearly all this land was originally awarded to John Turner’s devisees in the 1815 Enclosure Act. An additional 20 acres, contiguous with the rest of the farm on the eastern edge of the parish and north of Little Drift Lane was owned by Hannam’s representatives and tenanted by the Markham Bros. One would think this would have been farmed by Philip, but it may have been by George. Philip also farmed two fields on the western edge of the parish, just north of Brigg Road.
George, on the other hand, farmed 172 (or possibly 192) acres of land as a tenant, entirely owned by others. A large proportion was two joined parcels of Wold land on either side of Grasby Wold Lane and contiguous with Henry Dudding’s farm to the north, owned by Allisons (solicitors in Louth) and the Church respectively. In addition he had three separate parcels of land on the western side of the parish, south of Brigg Road, all glebe land. He and his family lived at Glebe Farm on Station Road. In 1928 the Rt. Hon. Hallam Lord Tennyson bequeathed Glebe House to Alfred Browning Stanley Tennyson of The Grange, Ingrane, Essex. George retained the tenancy. (In 1938 A.B.S. Tennyson sold Glebe Farm to F.E. Tee, who in turn sold it to Jonathan Barron and E. Kirkby in 1949 and Mrs. E. Kirby then sold it to L.C. Reed, Mary Thompson’s father, in 1967). In total the brothers farmed 320 acres in Grasby, 83 acres more than Henry Dudding’s share of the parish. This compares with the 18 acres farmed by their father in 1881.
Charles Hall moved to Grasby to be a farmer sometime between 1891 and 1901, aged between 54 and 64. He was born in Willoughton in 1837 to Samuel, a mason, and Elizabeth, and had two older brothers. By 1851 Elizabeth was a widow and a teacher at a day school. Charles, aged 14, was the only sibling left at home and was a day-boy in a farmer’s service. Elizabeth had remarried before 1861, to Charles Fox, an agricultural labourer. Charles Hall, now 25, was also an agricultural labourer and still at home. Sometime before 1871, however, he married Rebecca and had two sons, Samuel, born in South Kelsey, and Thomas, born in Cadney. He was described as a “ground keeper”, presumably on an estate, and was living back in Willoughton. By 1881 he had moved to Roxby-cum-Risby to be a farm foreman. He was living with his wife, Rebecca, his daughter Elizabeth (aged 18, born in Waddington, but not recorded in the 1871 census) and his two sons, as well as 5 boarders – all farm workers who no doubt would have been working for him. In 1891 he was still there, with his wife but no children. As before, he shared the accommodation with 5 farm servants.
In 1901 he was a farmer in Grasby living with his wife, son-in-law Arthur Leaning(a gamekeeper), three grandchildren and a farm servant (a waggoner) and was listed as an employer. Arthur had married Elizabeth but she was not listed in the census. (Arthur was not recorded in the census as a widower, but by 1911 he had married Clara Gray and was living with his and her children in Flixborough).
In the household next to Charles was “Charles” Hall, described as a farmer’s son, who was clearly Charles’ son Samuel, who had married Emma (born in Wragby) in 1897. They had a daughter, Beatrice, born in Grasby in1898. (By 1911 “Charles”, now called Samuel again, was listed as a farmer, an employer, with a second child, Leonard, and was living next to the Vicarage – probably in Manor Farm).
Charles died in 1910, overlapping the land tax assessment exercise. He appeared in the valuation book as the owner of Manor Farm on Vicarage Lane and 29 acres of land, around the farm and between Brigg Road and Vicarage Lane (land now largely built over), plus two fields east of Grasby Wold Lane just north of The Mill. In addition he was tenant of a further 74 acres, owned largely by Allison’s solicitors in Louth. These fields were scattered, mainly to the west of Station Road, but also with some to the east “on the moor”.
On 19th January 1911, all the fields owned by Allison’s (54 acres) were put up for sale by auction … “to wind up a Trust. All the land is of good quality and was well farmed by the late Mr. Charles Hall for many years prior to his death” (Stamford Mercury). The annotation on the land tax working maps suggests that the assessor was already in the process of modifying his entries as one field on the moor is shown as tenanted by Robert Keightley, another next to Station Road, by William Wilmore.
Edwin Smith’s history as a miller and farmer appears to be unusual. In the 1851 census Benjamin Raby is listed as miller living in Grasby with his wife, Eliza, Henry Smith (aged 10) and Edwin Smith (aged 6), both described as “sons-in-law”, which was almost certainly the term for step-sons at the time. No record of Benjamin has been found in the 1841 census or any other records currently available. Benjamin was still in Grasby in 1861 with Eliza and Edwin, described as unmarried, and still a son-in-law, but not Henry. As well as a miller, Benjamin was also now a farmer of 3.5 acres.
By 1871, Benjamin had died, but not only was Eliza a widow, Edwin (now described as her son) was a widower at only 28. Henry was living in Butcher’s Lane with his wife Elisabeth and daughter Mary. Eliza, Edwin and Henry were all listed as millers in the census.
In 1881 Henry, still in Butcher’s Lane (now called Front Street) with Elisabeth and two more children (Charles and Mary), was both a miller and farmer (unfortunately, no acreage is given). Eliza and Edwin were still at The Mill on Brigg Road. By 1891, however, Henry had moved with his family to another mill at Atterby. Eliza had died leaving Edwin at The Mill, with an aunt and a cousin. Edwin was now a miller and farmer, presumably having taken over land Henry had previously farmed. Ten years later, in 1901, Edwin, his cousin and a housekeeper were still at The Mill and farming. In 1907 Edwin finally married again, at the age of 60. His wife, Eleanor was only 26 at the time and by 1911 they had a four year old son, Alfred.
What is clear from the 1910 Land Tax Assessment is that, over the years, Edwin greatly expanded his farming interests. He owned 15.3 acres around The Mill and a further 16.2 acres around the quarry, on just the other side of Grasby Wold Lane. He rented another 22 acres from A.S. Taylor next to his own land by The Mill; 12.2 acres from W.W. Chapman just south of this next to Brigg Road; 26 acres from W.H.B. Fletcher right by the quarry and next to the east side of Station Road just north of North Kelsey Beck, as well as a small field behind Manor Farm and two isolated fields, one “on the moor”, the other by Pond Farm on Middleton Lane; and 5.2 acres from Mr. Tyson’s representatives (based in Barton) on the edge of the village next to Station Road and the north side of Middleton Lane. This added up to 96.8 acres in Grasby, but he also rented a further 94.2 acres on Searby Moor, making a total of 191 acres. Unfortunately, the land tax assessment provides no information about how he used this land and who he employed to farm it.
The Mill was last powered by wind at the beginning of World War I and finally closed in 192. andIt was demolished soon after this leaving just the two storey brick roundhouse. A survey of Lincolnshire’s windmills in 1978 described all that was left as one of few post mill fragments in Lincolnshire to survive, but that the roundhouse was disused, scruffy and with a rusty corrugated iron roof. The mill was similar in appearance to the one in Wrawby, probably dated from the early C18th, and had previously been located in the field above Owmby Mount. It was moved to Grasby on 25th March 1845 when the lease in Owmby expired (this was at the time quite common practice). It had two patent sails and the supporting struts for the post (the trestle) would have been exposed and rested on low piers of masonry. The two storey brick roundhouse would have been added at a later date to enclose and protect the trestle.
The history to date of the Middleton family in Grasby has been documented above, starting with George in the 1840s, through his eldest son Foster and finally his widow Sophie (or Sophia) in 1911. James and Amos, younger sons of George were also farmers in their own rights at various times, but Sophie and her family are the only Middletons recorded in the 1910 Land Tax Assessments. At this time Sophie owned 12 acres along the Owmby parish boundary south of Pond Farm. She was the tenant of another 17 acres, which included the house and farm buildings, around and just to the north of Pond Farm, also bordering Owmby parish, owned by R. Mundy of Brigg. In addition, she rented a further 18 acres from the Church (Rev. Workman) contiguous to the south and east of her own land. Finally, she owned a further two acres in Owmby parish. However, following the death of Charles Hall, it appears from the land tax working map (but not the valuation book) she rented a further 14 acres from Allison’s solicitors, Louth, bordered by Station Road to the east and North Kelsey Beck to the north. This increased her total farm acreage from 47 to 63 acres and created a very compact holding in the south east of the parish. Although Sophie was the head of the family, George (35), Martha (33), Mary (31) and Richard (26) were all single, lived at home and worked on the farm. Sophie’s eldest son, Charles (40), was married with a family, living in Manton Twigmore (Brigg area) and working as a woodman in 1911.
William Wilmore is another example of someone from a humble background working his way up from agricultural labourer to a farmer of a medium sized holding. Tracing the family history is a little complicated, partly because there were a number of different Wilmore families in the area (including several in Grasby) and changes in the way the name was spelt. As described above, however, it has been confirmed by relatives that William’s father was born in Grasby or Clixby around 1817. In the 1861 census he was called George “Wilmor” and was living in Kirmington with his wife Ann, born in Withcal (possibly his second wife as family members believe that his first wife was called Mary), and two children – Eliza (11) and William (9), both born in Kirmington. George was an agricultural labourer. In 1871 George and Ann “Wilmer” were still in Kirmington. William “Wilmoor”, however, aged 19, was a “farm servant (indoor)” living with William Dann, foreman, and his family on Wold Lane (Grasby Bottoms Farm). One of William Dann’s children was Mary, aged 17, born in Grasby.
In 1881 William Wilmore appears again in the Kirmington census, age 28, still single and living with his parents. He was a seedsman and agricultural labourer. Shortly after this, however, he married Mary Dann and had moved to Grasby House Farm where by 1885 he was, according to Kelly’s Directory for that year, a farmer. Their son, Willie Dann (clearly named as such in honour of his grandfather), was born in 1884. This is confirmed in the 1901 census.
The first evidence of a farm at what was to become Grasby House is in the 1861 census when Peter Hand was both a blacksmith and farmer of 8 acres (he was also a blacksmith in the village in 1851). Charles Hand took over from his father sometime before 1871 and built the house and outbuildings, but then sold the farm, now 20 acres, to William Dann, who in turn passed it in 1877 to his son Samuel. The farm, however, was bequeathed to Thomas Robinson of Snitterby in 1884 on William Dann’s death, but he sold it immediately to William Wilmore after he married Samuel’s sister, Mary.
The 1910 Land Tax Assessment records that William owned Grasby House Farm and the 20 acres around the farm buildings south of Little Drift. He owned a further 2 acre field on the eastern edge of the parish, on the north of Little Drift. This was bought, with a cottage (labelled as Low Farm on C19th OS maps) by Willie Dann in 1905 from a Mr A W Rogers of Boston for £105. In addition he rented 6 acres from John Brighton adjacent to his land on the northern side of Little Drift, 10 acres from W. Wright on eastern edge of the parish, on the southern side of Little Drift, (3 long, very narrow fields stretching down as far as North Kelsey Beck). Further away from the farm he rented 15 more acres from the Church (Rev. Workman) “on the moor” right next to the eastern side of Grasby Road. This made a total of 53 acres. The working map for the assessment indicates that, following Charles Hall’s death, William now also rented the 11 acre field next to the west side of Station Road.
In the 1911 census, William, (59), Mary Sophia (53) still have Willie Dann (26) at home working on the farm, but with the addition of his wife Rhoda Eleanor (23). Rhoda was Arthur and Elizabeth (nee Hall) Leaning’s daughter. Willie Dann Wilmore was still at Grasby House Farm 30 years later, with the size of the farm increased to 118 acres.
The last of the medium sized farms in 1910 was largely owned by Charles Coupland. He was born in Grasby in 1873 to David, born in Walesby, an agricultural labourer, and Ruth, born in Grasby. In 1881Charles was the youngest of four boys in the family, but by 1891 he was the only one left at home and, like his father, was an agricultural labourer. They were living in Clixby Lane in both 1881 and 1891. The census is not very helpful in tracing Charles’ brothers, but the next youngest, William, appeared to move to Grimsby.
By 1901, Charles had married Elizabeth, born in Owmby, and they had a child, William, aged one, and Charles was listed in the census as a farmer at the age of 28. The 1910 Land Tax Assessment shows that he owned 29 acres, including a house and farm buildings just south of the entrance to Middleton Lane, on the east side of Station Road. The house has since been demolished but one of the original barns has been renovated in recent years and is used as a workshop. He rented a further 9.2 acres from George Hindley of Elsham, one field “on the moor”, a second just past the end of Clixby Lane. The vagaries of the census can be seen in the 1911 return which now gives Elizabeth’s birth place as North Owersby and the boy, correct age, is now called Harrold (sic), who has a younger sister, Jessie. 30 years later Charles was still a farmer in Grasby, but by then his farm was down to just 15 acres.
It is possible using the 1910 Land Tax Assessment to identify 10 small holders resident in Grasby. All the land that they occuped is south of Brigg Road, for the most part close to the village, and either side of Middleton Lane and Station Road. Some appear to have made a living from their small holdings, whilst others had a second trade. Examples of the latter were Samuel Spolton who was not only the publican for the Blue Bell, but also a Shire Horse stallion owner, as well as being a tenant of 16 acres; William King was a carrier as well as a farmer of 6 acres; George Milson was a butcher as well as a tenant of 5.3 acres. Acreages were small in all cases, with only George Clark, William Hatliffe, Robert Keightley and Samuel Spolton having 10 or more acres. Anthony Barker, however, had an additional 15 acres in Owmby, which gave him 20 acres in total. Other than Thomas Sellars, who owned a small part of his farm, all the others were tenants. The land owners were varied, including residents such John Brighton (previously a farmer) and JR Frankish, and some from other villages such as Elsham, Limber and Barnetby.
Village Life in 1911
An analysis of the pattern of occupations provided by the census return for Grasby provides an interesting snapshot of life in a village in 1911, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. Out of a population of 373, 141 are shown as employed or in business, with only 8 people described as retired or pensioners. The following breakdown of occupations reveals, not surprisingly, the dominance of jobs directly related to agriculture:
Employment in Grasby 1911
Farmers 11 (one of whom is also a carrier)
Miller 1 (who is also a farmer)
Farm labourers 52
Cattle dealer 1
Pig dealer 1
Market gardener 1
Traction engines 12 (1 owner, 9 drivers, 1 flagman, 1 stoker)
The following may be described as rural craftsmen:
Blacksmith 2 (one of whom is a traction engine repairer)
Machine man 2
Grocer 2 (one of whom runs the Post Office, the other is also a draper and cycle agent)
Publicans 2 (one of whom is a Shire Horse stallion owner)
Boarding house keeper 1
Agent for spice grinder and druggist 1
People in service:
Housekeepers/domestic servants 20
Professions /public service:
Teachers 3 (head, teacher and an assistant)
Post Office 1
District Nurse 1
Maternity Nurse 1
Police Officer 1
Summary of employment 1911
Agriculture 87 (60%)
Craftsmen 9 (6%)
Trades /retail 16 (11%)
Domestic service 24 (16%)
Professions/public service 11 (7%)
The only surprises here are the way in which the village appears to have specialised to some extent in the use and maintenance of agricultural steam traction engines on the one hand, and the absence of any jobs related to the quarry (evident in earlier census returns) on the other. The manufacture of portable (i.e. wheeled, horse-drawn) steam engines began in the 1840s and 1850s, but it was not until the 1860s that self-moving or traction engines were developed. The six great Lincolnshire traction engine manufacturers of the time were Clayton & Shuttleworth, Foster, Ruston & Proctor and Robey of Lincoln; Marshall of Gainsborough; and Hornsby of Grantham.
Grasby does seem to have maintained the diversity it developed at an early stage with the benefit of being a largely “open” village. Although the population had fallen, it seems that it was by much less than experienced by some of the other villages in the area. Things, however, were soon to change. The number of people engaged in full time agricultural work in Lincolnshire declined from 48,000 in 1907 to just 17,462 in 2002.