Alice Wild

I do not know when or where Alice Wild was born, but she must have been somewhat younger than her husband John Parker, who was nearly forty when they married. They had four children: Mary our ancestor, Ann, Sarah and John. Only Mary and Ann survived to adulthood. Sarah died aged four a year before John was born and he died three years later.

Alice’s husband John survived his son by only five months. He left his wife and daughters well cared for financially, but the emotional loss must have been tremendous. The bustling family home was transformed into that of a single parent bringing up her two daughters as best she could. Our ancestor Mary was fourteen when her father died. I have not found a birth record for her sister Ann but I think she was about eleven years old.

Everyday life

I have a copy of John Parker’s will and the inventory of his possessions, courtesy of the Borthwick Institute at the University of York. So we know exactly how the family lived. Their home had three rooms and a “shop” or workshop. This might have been an extension or a separate building. Downstairs were two rooms: the “house” and the parlour. (When I was growing up in the 1950’s, we still called the main living room the “house”.)

Upstairs was a “chamber” or bedroom. Based, again, on my childhood memories, I would guess this extended over the whole of the first floor. A staircase would lead up into the body of the room with no separating walls; something like an attic or loft space.

The ”house” was the main living room and dining kitchen, with a fireplace, cooking pans and a dining table and chairs. As well as this, there were two armchairs and a “little table”. No doubt these would be around the fireplace. A lovely open-plan living area which would be much sought-after today!

The parlour was actually used as a bedroom, with two beds, a clothes press, a chest and another little table. The bedroom proper, the “chamber”, had just one bed, six chests, and a little box. Here the babies were born and would sleep with their parents, probably until they were weaned.

The family’s most prized possessions were their cow and the three pairs of handlooms in the workshop.

A long widowhood

John’s will specified that Alice should maintain her daughters until they reached the age of twenty-one and this is what happened. Perhaps they managed to carry on the weaving business, or maybe they generated income by renting out the workshop.

The girls married within a week of each other on 16 and 23 October 1752. If I am right about Ann’s birthdate, she would have then been twenty-one and free to marry under the terms of her father’s will. Both of their husbands were colliers, so neither of them took over the business.

Perhaps Alice sold the house and workshop when the girls left home, to “downsize”, as we would say. She lived to see eleven of her fourteen grandchildren. And praise be! I have found no infant deaths in that generation.

Mother of Mary Parker

No record of baptism found

Married John Parker on 26 December 1726 at Handsworth, near Sheffield, Yorkshire

Buried 17 January 1768

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