Some 19th Century Berkshire Squires; A county history 1800-1900

John Trigg (Self published, 2005) A5, 168pp, Softback

This well researched book contains a wealth of information on the lives and considerable powers of country squires. It will appeal to both family and local historians. It begins with a detailed table of contents that immediately demonstrates the wide range of topics covered within this subject. Each chapter is split into headed paragraphs on individual topics. For example: chapter one, A review of the 19th century, Berkshire, includes town & country, workhouses, medicine, temperance, celebrations, and cricket, law and order, religion and ‘goings on’. With other chapters covering subjects such as land ownership, magistrates, farming, the Swing Riots, servants, the Reform Bill, family events and village schools. A pictogram shows at a glance, the many areas of life in which these influential men would be involved.

The ownership of land was seen as a symbol of some status and in 1873 a survey of land owners in England showed that of a population of 31 million people, just 7,400 men owned four-fifths of the land between them. Often they would be politicians or members the judiciary, gave them enormous power over the lives of not only their household staff, but others in their employment, tenant farmers, local villagers, rectors, craftsmen and teachers. In some cases an entire village would be under the ownership of the squire.

There is a weights and measures glossary, a comparison of money with today’s’ equivalents. Also included is a list of events from 1799 to 1899.

The villages mentioned in this book are: Aldermaston, Ashdown, Basildon, Benham, Buckland, Bucklebury, Buscot, Colshill, Crookham, East Hendred, Englefield, Lockinge, Marcham, Midgham, Pusey, Ramsbury, Shrivenham, Shaw, Thatcham, Welford, Woolley Park and Woolhampton. Not only are the land owners named but also some tradesmen, manufacturers, innkeepers, criminals and many more.

There is an extensive bibliography for those wishing to explore further.

Mary Smith

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