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Harriet & Christopher Bird


Burnt fragment of Workhouse Register

Burnt fragment of Workhouse Register

We live at Byards Leap Farm at Byards Leap outside
Sleaford and during renovations yesterday we found a burnt
scrap of the Sleaford workhouse list of paupers on which
the family of Harriet, Thomas, Sarah, Robert and William
Bird are listed as receiving 182 days of maintenance each
as 'the indoor poor' unfortunately no date or ages etc
When we tried to research the names we came upon your
website - no idea how the paper came to be in our house!
Karen & Stephen


After researching the origins of the farm we discovered it was tenanted and was built by the Reeve family on their land. Colonel Reeve built the Sleaford Workhouse and was also the local Magistrate JP. He therefore would have been responsible for the setlement orders of all inmates.
In 1891 Robert Newcome Morley born 1855 with wife Bertha and family were the tenant farmers at Byards Leap , he was also described as a Land Agent. He was part of the Administration of the workhouse so perhaps he took ledgers home for burning ?

The Reeve family have lived at Leadenham House since 1738 and still own much of the surrounding land. Leadenham is one of the few remaining estate villages in the county. The squire has always been patron of the church and has not only appointed the rector, but has, down the ages, encouraged the villagers to care for and support the church.

Colonel John Reeve born London 1823 was in 1861 living in Bulby he was described as an 'esquire' and had 6 staff living in. By 1881 he was living at Leadenham Hall and described as Late Col of the Grenadier Guards & JP with 14 staff living in .

The Reeves are listed in the "Great Landowners of Great Britain & Ireland " 1882

William REEVE left a bequest of £10 for the poor in 1820.
General REEVE invested £200, the interest to go to the poor in 1856. That was increased in 1868 by Lieut.-Col. W, H. REEVE by £500 and in 1869 by Lieut.-Col. John REEVE who invested £500 more.

Therefore it appears the Reeve family were always associated with the workhouse since it was built.

Leadenham House

Leadenham House

The Workhouse

The Workhouse
Harriet Bird her partners and her children have been difficult to research! She was listed on a Flow Chart compiled by cousins some years ago.
Tracing back to the earliest Census (1841) a 'husband' was not listed as living with her although she stated she was an 'ag lab wife'.
A marriage is recorded in Barlborough Derbyshire on 13.06.1836 to Christopher Bird. All her children were named Bird.
She was born in North Anston Yorkshire in 1816 daughter of William Egley 1773 -1862 and Sarah Johnson, moved to Barlborough Derbyshire, we have no idea how she ended up in the Sleaford Workhouse, she was possibly destitute, giving birth to further children named Bird Sarah, Robert and George.
Christopher Bird died in Osbournby in 1845, Harriet's son Thomas was born there in 1844 and has Christopher Bird as his father on his birth certificate. Other children listed are William b1836, Mary b 1839, John b 1841. On the 1841 census their father Christopher was living with his father William in Osbournby, Barlborough is quite a distance from Osbournby

Christopher Bird was the son of William Bird the brother of our John Bird b 1774

A Christopher Bird was born in Sleaford Union workhouse in 1860, no father on birth certificate, mother Mary, he died in 1897 in Pinxton.

William, Sarah and Mary have their father as 'Edward' on records. There was an Edward Bird born in Heckington listed on the 1851 census. Yet to be researched.

Harriet died in Dec 1887 in Sleaford

There are still Birds today living in Pinxton Derbyshire connected to the family.

Thanks also to Cedric Bird for joining in the investigations!

After contacts with descendants of Christopher Bird, also with Beryl Lott in Lincolnshire who have helped us with the research. we have gathered more information

Workhouse Harriet Bird 'widow'
Had some of her children in the
Sleaford Workhouse all surname Bird mid 1800's
LIFE IN THE WORKHOUSE link to read information

Bastardy Bonds/Agreements determined which adult male was to support a child
Trying to find details of bastardy cases after 1839 is difficult. Bastardy bonds and other parish bastardy documents ceased to be used after 1834 when the Poor Law Unions were created. From 1834 to 1839 the Workhouse administrators initiated bastardy proceedings through the Petty and Quarter Sessions Courts, and from 1839 all bastardy cases were heard at Petty Sessions, and initiated by the mother, who had to produce corroborative evidence to convict the putative father.
After 1844: Only known sources in Lincolnshire are the Lindsey Petty Sessions Bastardy Orders book (after the birth) 1849-1889
This notice from the Sleaford Gazette sheds some light on conditions for the children and the casuals (tramps) who came to the workhouse. A schoolmaster is wanted , who must teach the boys the three Rs, the Christian religion, but particularly spade husbandry. They were obviously destined for a working life on the land. The tramps had to do tasks of work to pay for their night’s lodging, although they were excused if they were medically unfit.

Wanted, an active and well-informed Person to fill
the above situation. He will be required to devote
the whole of his time to the duties of the office, to
instruct the Boys in reading, writing and arithmetic
and the principles of the Christian religion, and
impart such other instruction, particularly in
spade husbandry, as will train them in habits of
usefulness and industry.
Salary £20 per annum, with apartments and
‘board in the house, together with such further
sum as may be awarded by the Committee of
Council on Education, on the report of their Inspector.
Written applications, stating age, with testimonials
to be forwarded to the Clerk on or before 16th of
September, and personal attendance of the candidates
will be required on Thursday the 19th of September
next by Eleven o’clock in the forenoon,
being the day of Election, but no travelling or other
expenses will be allowed.
Sleaford By order of the Board
22nd August 1861 EDMUND CLEMENTS, Clerk
N.B. Several healthy Boys and Girls in the House
fit for service. Apply to Mr Day, the Governor.

Information sent to us from Jacqueline Allen via Genes Reunited. She is a descendant of Sarah Bird, Harriet Bird's daughter. Put together with our own research.

See Jacqueline's comprehensive website click for link

Descendants of William Egley

Generation No. 1

1. William Egley He married Sarah.

Child of William Egley and Sarah is:
Harriet Egley, born 1815 in Chapel Austin, Yorkshire, England.

Generation No. 2

2. Harriet Egley (William1) was born 1815 in Chapel Austin, Yorkshire, England. She married Christopher Bird on 13 Jun 1836 in Barlborough Derbyshire

Notes for Harriet Egley:
No sign of Christopher Bird with Harriet on the 1841 Census, he was living with William Bird aged 69 ( ag lab) in Osbournby ( father?)

In 1841 Harrriet ( ag lab wife) was living in Barlborough, Derbyshire wth children William, Mary and John 1 month old and sister Sarah Egley and her son Alfred Egley 11 months.

Harriet and her children were inmates of Sleaford Workhouse in 1851

Notes for Christopher Bird:
All in Sleaford Workhouse in 1851

Children of Harriet Egley and Christopher Bird are:
3 i. William3 Bird, born 1838 in Barlborough, Derbyshire, England.
4 ii. Mary Bird, born 1840 in Barlborough, Derbyshire, England.
5 iii. John Bird, born 1841 in Barlborough, Derbyshire, England.
6 iv. Thomas Bird, born 1844 in Osbournby, Lincs, England.

CHRISTOPHER BIRD DIED IN Dec 1845 of Congestive Fever in Osbournby aged 33 yrs

Further children with no father listed on certificates

+ 7 v. Sarah Bird, born 1849 in Sleaford, Lincs, England. - Christopher listed as father of Sarah when she married
8 vi. Robert Bird, born 1851 in Sleaford, Lincs, England. Died 1880 Sleaford
9 vii. George Bird, born 1857 in Sleaford, Lincs, England.

Generation No. 3

7. Sarah Bird (Harriet Egley, ) was born 1849 in Sleaford, Lincs, England. She married Benjamin Wortley 19-Jul-1873 in New Sleaford, Lincs, England, son of Thomas Wortley and Mary Palmer. He was born 1850 in Barrowby, Lincs, England.

Notes for Sarah Bird:
Sarah's mother stated was a Widow in 1851 - she and her children were in Sleaford Workhouse - continued to have children after 1841.

In 1841, Harrie'ts husband Christopher was living in Osbournby at the time of the Census

Children of Sarah Bird and Benjamin Wortley are:
10 i. Mary Wortley, born 1875 in Barrowby, Lincs, Lincoln, England.
11 ii. Thomas Wortley, born 1876 in Brattleby, Lincs, England.
12 iii. Rose Emily Wortley, born 1878 in Brattleby, Lincs, England.
13 iv. Albert Edward Wortley, born 1881 in Kilnhurst, Yorks, England.
14 v. Beatrice Wortley, born 1885 in Doncaster, Yorks, England.
15 vi. Sarah Wortley, born 1887 in Doncaster, Yorks, England.


William. Mary , Robert and Sarah's births do not appear to be registered under Bird
Robert died 1880 aged 27 Sleaford
We now have certificates for:
William 1856 - mother Mary Bird
George 1856 - mother Harriet Bird formerly Egley
Mother and daughter both had babies in the Union workhouse in 1856 both named Bird!
Christopher 1860 - mother Mary Bird
Thomas 1844 father Christopher Bird - mother Harriet formerly Egley - born Osbournby
Thomas Bird was married and living in Kings Lynn in 1881 and working in a timber yard
Sarah was a servant in 1871 at Stragglethorpe Hall - she states she was born in Osbournby

Stragglethorpe Hall Today

Stragglethorpe Hall Today
Christopher Bird jnr born in Sleaford Union Workhouse 2.01.1860 to Mary Bird - also a brother William born 2.09.1856. No father on birth certs. Mary was living there with her mother Harriet Bird and siblings, Harriet also gave birth to two children there, Robert and George The family must have been inmates on and off for around 10 years. In 1856 both mother and daughter gave birth to babies named Bird, George and William.

Christopher Bird senior died 4.12.1845 in Osbournby. He could therefore not have fathered all of Harriet's children or Mary's come to that - but the name fits. When he died perhaps Harriet was forced into the Workhouse? Some children were born in Osbournby where Christopher lived in 1841 with his father William.
Mary eventually married Frederick Waddingham who took in her sons Christopher and William. We are in contact with some of the Waddingham family descendants.
We have William's marriage certificate, he states his father was Frederick Bird - we presume this meant Waddingham.

Christopher jnr married Maria Hoten and went to live in Pinxton and became a coal miner, they went on to have children one born 1885 named Christopher, carrying on the name.
Sarah (Harriet's daughter) married Benjamin Wortley in 1873 - I have received the certificate. Witnesses, her brother Robert marked with an x and Martha Wheatley the daughter of the next door neighbours the Waddinghams in Osbournby (she died in 1875) so there seems to be a connection all round!
There also seems to be a connection in Barlborough where Harriet lived in 1841 with Sarah Egley (perhaps her sister) William and Mary were born there. Also there was a baby John 1 month old living in the household ( no birth records found ) We now have Thomas's certificate - he was born in Osbournby - father named as Christopher Bird!

Birth Certificate of Thomas Bird

Birth Certificate of Thomas Bird
This is the only evidence so far of Christopher Bird of Osbournby
being one of the children's father

The extract from the christening records of Mary Bird show that she was christened on
6th Jan 1839 at Barlborough, Derbyshire and show that her father was a Christopher Bird and her mother Harriet. At the time Harriet was indeed living with her sister Sarah, b1811, whose son Alfred was born in 1840. David Wilson

Thomas married Elizabeth had a daughter Margaret bc 1874 - on the 1891 Census he was living with his family and brother George in West Ham, the brothers were working as
Coal Porters
By 1901 he was a widower and boarding in West Ham Tidal Basin still as a Coal Porter
Thomas died in 1915 aged 71

See more certificates on Certs and Docs page click for section

Some earlier history from contacts through Genes reunited

Christopher Bird 1816 - 1845
Fathered Mary Bird ? 1839 (no birth cert)
Mary Bird m Frederick Waddingham b 1839
Frederick Waddingham son of Samuel Waddingham b 1810 & Elizabeth Brown 1810 - 1898
Frederick took on Mary's two illegitimate children
William Bird b 1856
Christopher Bird 1860 - 1897 (both born in Sleaford Union Workhouse fathers unkown)
The Waddinghams were a large extended family in the Osbournby area.

Edmund Platts 1805 m Bridget Fowler c 1805 (born Ireland)
Daughter Delina Platts 1837 (born Pembroke Wales)

Levi Hoten 1834 m Delina Platts
Daughter Maria Hoten b 1858

Christopher Bird 1860 - 1897 m Maria Hoten
Son Arthur b 1880
Son William b 1883
Daughter Margaret b 1884
Son Christopher b 1887
Christopher Bird m Mabel Cecilia Greensmith b 1893 Nottingham
The couple had five daughters

Although the surname Bird carries on to present generations it appears to have stemmed from Mary's maiden name ( the daughter of Harriet ) and it's debatable whether she was really a Bird.


WADDINGHAM - A very large family in Osbournby Lincs - Tree available to view on Genes Reunited

Frederick Waddingham b 1839 - one of eight siblings, son of Samuel Waddingham and Elizabeth Brown, was the partner of Mary Bird - Harriet's daughter.
Siblings: Sophia, Mary, Nathan, George, Charles, Elizabeth and Joseph.

A Waddingham family tree on PDF donated to the site by Tanya Gaines, Australia,
With many thanks to Tanya !!

Dorothea Waddingham hung for murder

Dorothea Waddingham hung for murder
Dorothea Waddingham the cousin of Ellen had murdered an 87-year-old widow and her daughter, in a nursing home she ran with Ronald Sullivan, who although accused was found innocent. Waddingham had previously encouraged the widow to change her will, leaving all she possessed to pay for her upkeep in the nursing home. She had several convictions for fraud and petty theft and was not a true 'nurse' her medical experience consisted of a short while of being a ward orderly at the Burton on Trent Workhouse. She was tried and convicted of using morphine to poison Mrs. Baguely and her daughter Ada Baguely. The purported motive behind the murders was to gain the Baguely's estate, which amounted to 1600 pounds. After a post-mortem of the patients revealed they had been given morphine contrary to medical orders, she and her husband, Ronald Joseph Sullivan, were arrested. In trial, Sullivan discharged for insufficient evidence. Waddingham, however, was convicted and hanged in 1936, having confessed to the crime shortly before her execution.
Dorothea was hanged at Winsom Green Prison on 16th April 1936

Charles Waddingham 1843 - 1917 ( brother of Frederick)
son: John Wilfred Waddingham - Coalminer - 1879
daughter: Ellen Waddingham 1915 - 2008

Thanks to Gordon Carter for the contributions

Some Waddingham Photos - descendants of Charles

Some Waddingham Photos - descendants of Charles
Frederick Waddingham - brother of John

John Waddingham with wife Elizabeth

John Waddingham with wife Elizabeth
Gordon with parents 1941

Ellen and her two children

Ellen and her two children