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Esau Scarrott

Eric Trudgill    -    30 September 2012

In Cannock, Staffordshire in 1763 an Esau Scarrott married an Eleanor Hall, Esau being described as a collier (and thus presumably a gorjer) of Cheslyn Hay, next door to Cannock. Esau doesn’t seem to have thrived: children named as his were buried in Cannock in 1769, 1770, 1781, 1782, 1785 and 1788, and a Richard and a Francis Scarrott, who may have been close family, were buried in 1784 and 1800 as paupers. In West Wellow, Hampshirein the 1851 census a second Esau Scarrott, who had married Mary Ann Moody in Andover, Hampshire in 1815, claimed he’d been born in Cheslyn Hay about 1790, and described himself as a hawker (though he didn’t look much like a Gypsy hawker, living as he did in the village his wife had come from, and as he was to do till he died in 1865 “aged 75”).

In Charlbury Oxfordshire in the 1871 census a third Esau Scarrott, buried in Charlbury in 1880 “aged 80“, claimed to have been born in Wyrley, Staffordshire, next door to Cannock and Cheslyn Hay: this Esau was baptised in Cannock in 1801 the son of John and Phoebe, who had baptised a Maria in Cannock in 1799 (and buried her there in 1802), and who were to baptisea John junior there in 1803, followed by an Ann in 1805 who married John Loveridge, from an old and prominent Gypsy family, in Charlbury in 1823 six months after the third Esau had married Sarah Franklin there with John Loveridge and Ann Scarrott as witnesses. John and Phoebe Scarrott seem to have left the Cannock area by the time they’d had a second Maria and a Sophia (who themselves married in Charlbury in 1828 and 1830 respectively), and then baptised a William, Phoebe and Mary in Charlburybetween 1812 and 1817, John’s wife being recorded now as Elizabeth, not Phoebe, though this probably indicated merely a change of name, not spouse (Phoebe was buried in Charlbury in 1825 “aged 47”).

If John Scarrott, husband of Phoebe and father of the third Esau, was recorded in Charlbury a few years before the second Esau was recorded in Andover, William Scarrott, husband of Margaret and father, I think, of a fourth Esau, was recorded in the Charlbury area a few years earlier still. William, who claimed in the 1851 census to have been born in Cheslyn Hay,

married Margaret Whitehouse in Cannock in 1793, and had a son, William, seemingly born about 1794 (buried in Charlbury in 1834 “aged 40”), a John and a Thomas, baptised in Cannock in 1796 and 1798 respectively, and a fourth Esau (buried in Finstock, Oxfordshire, next to Charlbury, in 1852 “aged 49”). They then moved a long way South, first, it seems, to an area not far from Andover: their son, James, consistently claimed to have been born in Chieveley, Berkshire about 1803. The birth-order for this Esau, James and also the Eleanor who married jointly with William junior in Charlbury in 1826, all remain a little uncertain.What is certain is that William and Margaret had moved their family by 1807 to the Charlburyarea: their Mary Ann, Priscilla, Eliza and Charles were baptised in nearby Witney 1807-15, their Rebecca in Charlburyitself in 1817, and no less than seven oftheir children were married in Charlbury 1818-33.

But if William Scarrott, husband of Margaret, arrived in North Oxfordshire before John, husband of Phoebe, another John Scarrott, husband of Ann and father of a fifth Esau, arrived there even earlier. John Scarrott married Ann Hall in Stoke Lyne, Oxfordshire in 1790, and though the register gives no further information, it’s tempting to see this as a cousin marriage, the bride as a close relation of the Eleanor Hall who married the first Esau in 1763. John and Anne had a John junior, buried in Charlbury in 1841 (“a traveller aged 52”), who married Jane White in Cumnor, Berkshire (near Witney, Oxfordshire) in 1810, with John and Ann Scarrott acting as witnesses. John and Ann had an Ann junior, christened in Cannock in 1791, who married Thomas Hampton in Witney in 1809. They then christened the following children in a small area of Oxfordshire about ten miles east of Witney: a William in Holton in 1793 (“travellers”); a Margaret in Stoke Talmage in 1797 (baptised as a Sharret, the father “of Chesilhays, Staffs”); a Rebecca in Tetsworth in 1805; and an Esau in Great Milton in 1807 (“travellers”).

John junior and his wife, Jane, christened two sons in the Witney area: their own John in 1813 in Bampton, the father “a pedlar”; and Moses in 1817 in Tackley (son of John Skellett, pedlar, and Jane, travellers). John and Jane were the parents too of the George Scarrott, born about 1823, who married (“son of John, deceased”) Martha Jones in Taynton, Oxfordshire, close to Witney, in 1849, eight years after his father’s death; and they were the parents of the Levi Scarrott, born about 1825, who was recorded as 14 when given nine months for larceny in 1839 with his father and grandfather, both called John and aged 50 and 77, all described as Gypsies.

William, son of John and Ann, married a Margaret and had an Eliza Skellat christened in Tackley in 1817 (“pedlar of Wyrley, Staffs”), a few months before John junior’s son, Moses Skellett, was christened there. William was clearly also the brush-seller named as the father of the Susanna and Caroline Scarrott who married Joseph and William Orchard, both brush-sellers and sons of Edward and Christian, in Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire, about five miles west of Witney, in 1842 and 1843 respectively. I say this because William’s younger brother, Esau, married Eliza, widow of Thomas Scarrott (son of the earlier William and Margaret) in Shipton under Wychwood in 1833.

I don’t yet know whether it was William or John junior who fathered the Joseph and Eliza Scarrott recorded as 13 and 9 when in prison in Gloucestershire in 1829 with John (husband of Ann) 65, his son William 35, and either his daughter or daughter-in-law, Margaret 32 (all of Wyrley, Staffs). And I don’t know yet whether the Joseph in 1829 was the Joseph Scarrott allegedly born inPershore, Worcestershire probably about 1818, who married Caroline Loveridge (baptised in 1822). William, as we have seen, had an Eliza (twelve, not nine, in 1829)and was with Joseph and Eliza in 1829. But John junior does have a claim: Joseph, husband of Caroline, had (besidesa sixth Esau, baptised inBredon, Worcestershire in 1852)a Levi, like both John Junior and his son, George.

The fifth Esau, son of John and Ann, by his wife, ElizaScarrott, had, it seems, a William born about 1834 and a Windsor born about 1836. They then had the Delilah/LiloScarrott, baptised (as Lino) in Bredon in 1840, who married Ishmael James (baptised in 1834) and had a sonthey named Esau after her father. Esau and Eliza had the Alfred Scarrott, baptised (as Orphide) with Lilo in 1840, who married Emma Wright in Alton, Hampshire in 1863 and christened his first seven children there: his re-location was presumably a result of visiting his half-brother, Thomas Scarrott, who had settled there perhaps as a result of visiting Hampshire Scarrott cousins like the second Esau. And finally Esau and Eliza had a Shadrach, born about1842, and a John, baptised in Moreton in the Marsh, Gloucestershire in 1846, jointly with John Scarrott son of George and Martha.

JohnScarrott, husband of Phoebe, was clearly brother of the William who marriedMargaret Whitehouse in 1793: once John had joined William in Oxfordshire they stayed very close (christening their last children, Mary and Rebecca, jointly in Charlbury in 1817 and having most of their children marry and christen their own childrenthere); and they were both specialist earthenware-sellers, as were many of their sons. John, husband of Ann, was clearly their cousin: he travelled in a small area close to, but mostly distinct from theirs, and his sons increasingly moved further away; and, though his grandson, George, was described as a chinaman, otherwise his family were described as non-specialist hawkers or metal workers.

It’s tempting from these brothers and their cousin to construct a family narrative: tempting to speculate that John, husband of Ann Hall, was a son of the Esau who married Eleanor Hall in 1763 (or a nephew, since the brothers, John and William, had an Esau andan Eleanor they may have named after their parents);tempting to speculate that John and Ann were persuaded by the ill-fortune of the Cannock Scarrotts I referred to at the beginning of this article to abandon the area, to take to the road, and try their luck inthe South, and having found some in Oxfordshire, returned to Cannock in 1791, and urged the brothers, the father of the second Esau, and perhaps others to follow them down there. All of this is possible, but the evidence at the moment is still so fragmentary, it’s surely best to keep an open mind.

What we can see, however, I think, even with this fragmentary evidence, is a typical Gypsy development from regular gorjers (Esau the collier in 1763), through travelling gorjers (John and Ann in 1797) and semi-travelling gorjers (the Charlsbury cleric after 1813 recorded 13 Scarrott earthenware dealers before he noted one was a travelling earthenware dealer) via marriage with well-established Romany families (notably the Loveridges from 1823) to the point where they looked and acted like regular Gypsies (in 1839 young Levi, his father and grandfather, were each seen and recorded as a Gypsy, just like any other).

Copyright © 2012 Eric Trudgill