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The Parsons Years

Direct Gifts

Mrs Parsons's Christmas list
Mrs Parsons's Christmas list

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.

Mrs Parsons's Christmas list
Mrs Parsons's Christmas list

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.

The presents Mrs Parsons gave in 1863 to villagers
Barnes Neck Basson Leg Bullock Loin Clay Neck
Clay Snr Neck Bullock Loin Culley Loin Ford, John Neck
Durham Neck Cross Neck Ford, Henry Neck Humphreys Loin
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
Lockton Shoulder Maule Loin Mills Neck
North Neck Smith Half loin Taylor Half loin
Taylor Leg Parker Shoulder Wakelin Shoulder
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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