Rosalind Davies' Family History
© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

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John & Sally RIDING c. 1799- 1869

my great -great -great grandparents

Click here for a 3 generations Family Tree


Birth: December 1800 at Scotforth, near Lancaster -UK i
Christened: 14th December 1800 at St Mary's Church of England, Lancaster ii
Death: 8 February 1869 at Cockerham, Lancashire UK iii
Occupation: Agricultural labourer iv
Father: John RYDING
Mother: Betty PARKINSON (1770-) v.

and his wife-
Sarah (Sally) GARDNER

Birth: September 1799 at Cockerham, Lancashire
Christening: 6th October 1799 at St Michael's Church of England, Cockerham vi
Death: 1 February 1861 at Sandside, Cockerham, Lancashire, UK vii
Occupation: Housewife
Father: Thomas GARDNER (1764-1844)
Mother: Alice BOND (1770-1854) viii

Marriage: 11 September 1820 at St Michael's Church of England, Cockerham, Lancashire, UK ix

Elizabeth (1820-)
Sarah (1824-)
John (1828-1916) my ancestor
Alice (1836-)

Lancaster Castle & St Marys CathedralLancaster Castle with St. Mary's Cathedral on the left.
Brades Farm, Cockerham
Brades Farm off Marsh Lane
near Cockerham village- 1998
John Riding was born in Scotforth, a village south of Lancaster in 1800 and was christened in St Mary's Cathedral, near Lancaster Castle. The Riding family hadn't lived long in Lancaster although the records show that an Arthur Ryding sired a son, William in Lancaster in 1616 xi and a William Ryding was High Constable for Lancaster in 1696. xii John's mother Betty Parkinson was born in Cockerham in 1770 xiii and she married John Ryding in Cockerham in 1790. xiv They lived in Scotforth where their children were born and raised.

John was an agricultural labourer and possibly moved to the Cockerham area in search of work and because he had family already there. When he was 20 years old, he married Sarah (Sally) Gardner and moved in with her parents who were working at a farm called 'Brades'. They would have been living in one of the tied cottages connected to that farm. The Gardner family had been living in the Cockerham area for hundreds of years. xv

In England in the 1700s, 75% of the total workforce were labourers. The farm worker had, for the most part, to reply on the strength of his body and perhaps a horse if he was fortunate enough to have access to one. Ploughing, sowing, weeding or harvesting, or tending to sheep, cattle or other livestock were all labour intensive.

If we look at the typical family at the beginning of the 18th century, in most households it was necessary for the whole family to contribute to the production of an adequate subsistence and not simply reply on the efforts of a single breadwinner. The children would be plaiting straw for several hours in the early morning, scaring crows or weeding and picking stones from the fields. The girls were expected to work alongside their mother in a variety of handicrafts and household chores, including sewing, weaving and feeding hens. The boys, from about the age of seven, as they become stronger, would be working beside their father 10 or 12 hours a day, doing a full day's work contributing to the family budget. Schooling was almost unheard of for the labouring classes, and a few who were fortunate enough to receive any formal learning through charity schools and Sunday Schools would only receive, at most, three or four years education in elementary reading. It was not until 1870 that compulsory education for five to 13 year olds became law in England. However, as the children worked beside their parents, they would learn about the weather, the seasons, the names of the animals and birds and they could recognise the varieties of hedgerow berries and which were good food and which were poisonous. They also learned how to tend and take care of the farm animals and the land.

To be employed in full-time work was certainly not the normal practice. A few, usually unmarried and under the age of 25, might be engaged for a year as farm servants at a Mop Fair or hiring fair. They might be lucky and live in a barn or other outbuilding on the farm, ready to start work at first light of dawn. The majority of labourers were hired on a day to day basis earning about one shilling a day in the 1700s, rising to about eight shillings by the 1830s. At harvest time work was plentiful and they could earn a little extra cash, but their day was 12 to 15 hours of hard physical work. At that season, work was available to all and the whole family would turn out. However, subsistence from such work was erratic, certainly not regular and was generally insufficient to provide the simple necessities of life.

So how did the agricultural labourer manager to survive when times were hard and paid employment on the farm was scarce? Most families lived in small villages or hamlets, much smaller than we know today, and they depended on the land to support them. Their dependence was mainly due to their rights of access to common land where they could raise a cow or two, or some pigs or sheep at not cost at all. They also enjoyed the privilege of gathering fuel, by cutting bracken, turf, peat or brushwood. The hedgerows provided berries that could be eaten or turned into wine or pies, and nuts that could be gathered and stored. Rabbits, fish and birds could be taken, sometimes by poaching, all of which added to their limited resources.

Even where common land rights did not exist, most people had a small garden where they could grow potatoes, beans and cabbages, or keep a pig, or few chickens or geese, which could be fed on almost anything. After the harvest was gathered in, gleaning the fields was another right, going back to Biblical times, providing enough for a few loaves of homemade bread and some straw for bedding.

Self-sufficiency was the order of the day. Nothing was wasted. Old pieces of leather were saved to repair shoes, harnesses etc. Old nails were put to one side and straightened to be used again and again. Rugs were made from old pieces of clothing- preferably from wool, which was more hard-wearing than cotton- which were cut into strips an hooked into pieces of sacking.

The family home would probably be a small rented cottage, with no water tap or sink, just a single pump in the village. Washing clothes was a communal activity for the wives and daughters but hygiene and cleanliness were little understood, so illness and injury took their toll. Many children died before they reached the age of five. Slight injuries became infected and often crippling, simply because medicine and cures were largely unknown. Epidemics spread like wildfire and devastated whole communities.

In the 18th century, travel as we know it today was usually neither desired nor undertaken by the labouring classes, isolated in their village communities except for an occasional journey of a few miles to a nearby village or market town. They had scant knowledge of the events of the time except those in which they were personally involved. Religion played an important role in their lives. xvi

Map of Cockerham village on the left and the farms surrounding it where various family members lived.
Map of Cockerham village and surrounds
By 1841, their eldest daughter Elizabeth (aged 20) was also working at the farm of Deborah Lamb called ' Brades', as a servant. Their second daughter Sarah (aged 15) was working as a servant for Mrs Rebecca Kirkby whose farm was called 'Hillam'. xvii This farm was mentioned in The Domesday Book of 1086. Their only son John (aged 12) was working as a servant at the large farm of Mr James Bourne called 'Wrampool'. The Bourne family left Wrampool about 1843 and the tenancy of this farm was taken over by the Kirkbys. xviii

In 1851, John and Sally were living at #12 Brades Cottage and John was still working as a farm labourer. Next door at #13 lived Sally's elderly widowed mother, Alice Gardner and her son William.

Old cottages in Marsh Lane
1998; #11, #12 and #13 Marsh Lane, Cockerham- just around the corner from Brades farm.
They have been replastered but when you're up close, you can still see the rough stonework.
Sandside Cottage, Cockerham

When Sally died in 1861, at the age of 61, she was being nursed at the home of one of her Gardner relatives at 'Sandside', near Marsh Lane. Her husband John was at her side. She had suffered from phthisis for eleven months. This is the progressive wasting of the arteries between the lungs and the heart.


At this time, John still working as an agricultural labourer, still living at the Brades cottage, north of Marsh Lane and he had his grand daughter, Elizabeth Riding (aged 12) for company and assistance with household chores. xix This child was the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Riding. xx

John died in 1869, aged 68 years. He had been suffering for twelve months from general debility and chronic bronchitis. Dr Bartholomew Parker of Smith Green at Ellel was in attendance.xxi

This is Sandside Cottage on Marsh Lane where Sally Riding died in 1861. Although several kilometres from the mouth of the River Cocker in 1998, a sign about one metre from the ground said, "High water mark 1895".



i.1851 Census of Cockerham
ii. Parish records of St Mary's, Lancaster
iii. Death certificate
iv. 1841, 1851 and 1861 Census returns for Cockerham
v. Parish christening records and IGI
vi. Parish christening records and IGI
vii. Death certificate
viii. Christening in parish records and IGI
ix. Boyd's Marriage Index for Lancashire
x. Children's christening dates from IGI
XI St Marys, Lancaster parish records 1599-1690
xii. Lancashire Oath Rolls of 1696
xiii. International Genealogical Index
xiv. International Genealogical Index
xv. See IGI references and land records
xvi. Family Tree Magazine-Vol. 11 #9 p5, P. Talbot-Ashby
xvii. 1841 Census of Cockerham
xviii. John Makinson, resident of Cockerham and descended from the Kirkby family- correspondence
xix. 1861 Census of Cockerham
xx. International Genealogical Index
xxi. Death certificate


Death certificate details of Sally Riding 1799- 1861

Death certificate Sally Riding nee Gardner
Death certificate details of John Riding 1800- 1869
Death certificate John Riding



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Ros Davies