The agricultural labourer of Ufford in Suffolk

We do not as yet have a very detailed history for the life of this distant forebear, but we are hoping to put a bit more flesh on the bones as we go along.

Robert Carr was born on the 17th February 1811 in the village of Ufford, Suffolk during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, and baptised in the local church. He had at least two brothers that we know of, James, born in 1812 and John, born in 1815. At some point between then and 1831 he moved to the village of Nacton, which is to the south of Ipswich and found work as an agricultural labourer in that area.

The transcription of the entry below reads:

Carr - Robert son of Robert and Lucy Carr late Woolnough, spinster, was born and baptised February 17th 1811 recd. into the church.

The baptism of Robert Carr in 1811 at the parish church in Ufford

Interestingly, in 1812 Robert Carr was baptised again, his previous baptism being described as a 'private baptism'. In this second service he is baptised along with his baby brother James. Indeed, James was born on the 13th October 1812 but not baptised until 27th December.

Robert in his original baptism was born and baptised the same day in a private ceremony, one wonders if there were fears for his survival? Maybe the vicar performed the service at their home so that he could be received into the church before death? The later baptism of James would suggest that there were no immediate fears for his survival? The transcription of the entry below reads:

Carr Robert, son of Robt and Lucy Carr late Woolnough, spinster, born and privately baptised February 17th 1811, publicly baptised Dec 27th 1812

James, son of Robt and Lucy Carr late Woolnough, spinster, was born Oct 13 1812 publicly baptised Dec 27th 1812.

The baptism of Robert and James Carr on 27th December 1812

John Carr was the youngest brother that we know of and was born on November 27th 1814 but was not baptised until May 28th 1815. The transcription of the text below is as follows:

Carr - John son of Robert and Lucy Carr, late Woolnough, spinster, was born Nov 27th 1814 publicly baptised May 28th 1815 by the Rev Evan James off. Minister.

The baptism of John Carr on 28th May 1815 at the parish church in Ufford

Suffolk was a very rural county at that time, as it still is, and many of its population would have been employed in all kinds of agricultural toil. It was a hard life but in many respects it was preferable to the filth and squalor that existed in the big cities, and the unhealthy environment of the factories that were the death of many a worker.

At the time of Roberts birth the population of Great Britain was around ten million people, compare that to our current population level of over sixty million. He would not have had the vote either, as until 1832 when the franchise was extended, voting was reserved for a small privileged elite.

This was also a time when the usage of child labour was legal, and only in 1833 were effective laws passed to make the employment of children under the age of 9 in textile factories against the law. Small children were also used in the mines and sent up soot laden chimneys to clean them. That horrific utilisation of child labour only became illegal in 1875, well into the Victorian age. This was also the period of the Crimean War, a veritable charnel house for the British army, which took place between 1854 – 1856.

St. Martins Church, Nacton, Suffolk - picture taken on 22nd February 2010

Robert Carr married Mary Rufford from Nacton, who was born on the 9th March 1811 to George and Sarah Rufford (nee Taylor) of Nacton on the 17th April 1831 at St. Martin’s Church in the village of Nacton. His son, George Carr, was to become the very well known coastal defence expert often referred to as the ‘Engineer of Felixstowe’.

Robert Carr died in 1867 at Nacton, he was 55 years of age, not a bad span for a manual worker in those hard-knock times. He was laid to rest at St. Martins Church, where he had been married 26 years before. One interesting point raised by the death certificate, is that there was a Coroners Enquiry, so it would seem that the death was sudden and unexpected. I will try to get hold of a copy of the Coroners Report to see if the circumstances of death are revealed.

Section of the Death Certificate for Robert Carr, giving the cause of death as 'natural causes'

Unfortunately we do not have any images of this Carr ancestor, as photography was in its infancy and he was not of the required social stature for a family portrait to be commissioned.

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