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Kinship Patterns

The Clay family

The Clay family was present in Elsfield in 1825 and were still represented in the village in 1891.

1841 John Clay aged 25 Thomas Clay aged 45
Lucy aged 25 Letisha aged 40
Emma aged 4 John aged 20
Mariah aged 1 Elizabeth aged 10
Phebe aged 7 Richard aged 9
William aged 7
John Clay aged 50 Jane aged 5
Mary aged 50
Jane aged 20
Hannah aged 1
1851 John Clay aged 38 Thomas Clay aged 60
Lucy aged 33 Letitia aged 50
Emma aged 14 John aged 16
Maria aged 11 William aged 16
Elizabeth aged 9 Jane aged 15
Mary aged 7
Richard aged 5
Henry aged 3
Sarah aged 1 d. 1853
1861 Thomas Clay aged 72 John Clay aged 77 d. 1864
Latisha aged 62 Mary aged 75 d. 1868
Sarah aged 37 Dressmaker
Jane aged 23 d. 1865
William aged 4 Grandson
1871 Thomas Clay aged 82
Letitia aged 72
Sarah aged 48 Servant
William aged 36. Ag. Lab. d. 1880
1881 Letitia Clay aged 80
Sarah aged 55 Small shopkeeper
Clara aged 5 Granddaughter
1891 Letitia Clay aged 93 d. 1892
Sarah aged 65 d. 1898

The Clay family were poor, though not so poor that they ended up in the workhouse. Nevertheless they provided support for their children by housing, over however short a time, their various grandchildren: William in 1861 and Clara in 1881. There is a record of the marriage of Jane Clay to James Andrews in 1864 where she made her mark rather than signing her name. It is difficult to know which person this is. Was she the daughter of Thomas Clay, who died the following year? If so, then she had come back home and her married name is not recorded.

The 19th century was a transition period between an oral and a literate age and this shows in the various spellings of the name “Letitia”, who would have been more used to hearing rather than reading her own name.

By the end of the century, only Sarah remained in the village and she eked out a meagre income by selling goods she had bought in Oxford. She would walk there and back with a basket on each arm and sell what she could carry. The Parsons family at the Manor House saved their tea leaves so she could dry and reuse them.

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