Edward, the early years

Edward Weddall was born in March 1844, about the forth child of Eliza and Charles. Before he was born Eliza and Charles welcomed John Robert, Eliza Ann and Everilda, according to the 1841 census. It is possible that there was another child or indeed two before he arrived, but they could have died in infancy, not uncommon at the time.

Photo of Burnby Church. Courtesy of http://www.pocklingtonhistory.com

Edward, like his siblings christened at the local church in Burnby depicted above.  The same church the saw the Weddall family  baptised, married and buried for many generations.



Edward and his siblings attended the nearby school in Pocklington. Edward most likely continued his education to at least twelve (the age the average child left school in Yorkshire at the time), before setting off to sea at sixteen. Compared to many, his family enjoyed a more comfortable existence than most in Victorian times. Charles Weddall could afford to allow his children to attend school rather than sending them to work. They may have helped on the family farm but were spared having to toil in industry such as in the mills at the age of eight.

A Yorkshire primary school in the time of Edward Weddall. Picture courtesy of http://www.maggieblanck.com


Pocklington’s first National School was built in 1819 on West Green. The National Society, founded in 1812, had as its aim  ”to communicate to the poor generally, by means of a summary mode of education lately brought into practice, such knowledge and habits as are sufficient to guide them through life in their proper stations, especially to teach them the doctrine of Religion, according to the principles of the Established Church. Read more:


Farm Life

Charles Weddall had a sizable farm, employing labourers. He owned the land rather than rented it. He also owned property in the village of Pocklington and was also listed in the 1844 Williams & Co. Directory of York as a coal merchant at Canal Head. Most improtantly he appeared on the 1842 voting list. Only land owners or people of importance had the right to vote then.  According to http://www.maggieblanck.com “Very few people in England had the right to vote until the Reform A of 1884, which extended the franchise to two thirds of adult males. Females could not vote until 1918.”

The Weddall’s apparent wealth suggested that they were not fully reliant on the land for an income, but they lived on the farm at Burnby rather than in Pocklington, showing that the family was more accustomed to a rural setting than the slightly more industrial life in the village. Fairs were commonplace to the country lifestyle. Pocklington was no stranger to the village fair, they were taking place there since Medieval times. The infamous Dick Turpin showed up for several of them in the 18th Centenary, before he met his demise at York.

Fairs took place in Pocklington from early medieval times. The earliest recorded being a grant made for a four day fair to be held annually for the feast of St. Margaret (July 19-22) in 1245. More fairs were added until by the 17th century there were seven fairs held annually in the town. The infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was known to have attended Pocklington Fair, as it was mentioned in his trial evidence. His real name was John Palmer, a horse dealer who turned to horse stealing and highway robbery. He was hung in York on 7th April 1739.

Edward Weddall must have enjoyed an easy if not happy childhood in rural Yorkshire, for Victorian times. His future wife Emily was not quite as fortunate, but they both had a rural background in common. Maybe it was one of the reasons that they chose Achill, not dissimilar to the wild Yorkshire countryside to make their home.

Special thanks to Andrew Sefton, Archivist
Image of Pocklington Church 1844 courtesy of http://www.pocklingtonhistory.com