The Parsons Years
The Parsons family gave generously to their employees. There were presents of either clothing or food, the bulk of them given at Christmas, though summer clothing for the children was also provided, and these may have been given out in time for the May Day celebration, or Whit Sunday.
In winter, the boys were given cloth which was made up into suits by Mrs Elston, Mrs Allam’s mother. They were also bought a cap ordered at Lane’s shop in Oxford where the parents took their sons to be fitted. In winter, the girls received a hat, coat, red scarf, and cut-out dress in black and red check and in summer a pink and white check gingham dress and straw hat trimmed with red ribbons. Elsfield children would thus be immediately recognisable if they ever ventured into the outside world, as residents of the Parsons’ village.
Sometimes there were casual gifts of food to the poor of the village, with Mrs Allam recording towards the end of the century that Sarah Clay was given used tea leaves from the Manor. This was not such a sign of poverty as it seems today but rather a hangover from a time when tea and sugar were very expensive in the first half of the 19th century. It was the regular practice then in many households for the tea leaves which had been used ‘upstairs’ to be re-used in the servants’ quarters.
Food was given out at Christmas, and it is fortunate that a list compiled by Mrs Parsons or her housekeeper in 1863 survives. The meat is likely to be pork or mutton since beef is listed separately, and it is likely that the gifts were linked to the social hierarchy of the village with the more important people being given the better cuts of meat.
|Clay Snr||Neck||Bullock||Loin||Culley||Loin||Ford, John||Neck|
|Gardener||Neck||Gammon, Robert||Leg||Gurden||Loin||S. Locke J.||Leg|
|Harrier||Half loin||Harris, Jane||Half loin||Hewers||Half loin||Locke R||Shoulder|
|Humphreys||Half loin||Locke||Neck||Taylor (widow)||Half loin|
|North||Neck||Smith||Half loin||Taylor||Half loin|
|East||Shoulder||Butts||Leg||Elston||3 ribs beef and pudding|
|Munt||3 ribs beef and pudding||Walker||2 ribs beef and pudding|
|Caterer||2 ribs beef and pudding||North||2 ribs beef and pudding|
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