Hiram Bell Shearer

The Shearer family were all tradesmen: William was a joiner, sometime inn-keeper, his brother Harry a plasterer and his son Hiram was a butcher. From 1887 till 1911 Hiram’s profession was recorded as such and in 1893 he had his own entry in Kelly’s Directory, the Google of its day:

“Shearer Hiram, butcher, 25 North street, Stott hill”

Something was not quite right in 1891, when he was working as a billiard marker – usually a boy’s job – and Maria was taking in lodgers. Their eldest child Norah was at her grandfather’s. She could have been just visiting or perhaps they were lending a hand by looking after her for a while. Maybe money was tight temporarily.

By 1893 all seemed to be back on track and Hiram was carrying on his trade in North Street, where his father had kept a pub a few years previously.

The next documentary record we have of Hiram is somewhat shocking: he and his wife had parted and she was prosecuting him under the Married Women Act of 1895. We don’t know precisely why: it could have been for maintenance, for custody of the children, or for domestic violence.

Whatever the reason, the court case would indicate a final separation of the family. No wonder I haven’t got any photographs of Hiram Bell Shearer!

However, it wasn’t quite final: on 13 September 1933 my grandmother bought a grave in Undercliffe Cemetery. Hiram was the first to be laid there. Over the years he would be joined by his estranged wife Maria, his daughters Norah, Mary Elizabeth and Florence and his son-in-law – whom he probably never met – Thomas Jarvis Crickmore.

Father of Florence, son of Mary Bell and acknowledged as the son of William Shearer

Possibly born in 1868 in Preston, Lancashire and baptised Hiram Smith Bell. Surnames he used are “Shearer”, “Bell-Shearer” and “Bell Shearer”

Married Maria Clark on 8 March 1887

Died in September 1933 and buried in Undercliffe Cemetery

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