Kingsland Residents & Occupations

At the beginning of the 19th century, Kingsland contained both large houses and cottages and was populated by wealthy gentry, professional and business people, annuitants and artisans. At this time, three influential families the Craigs, the Becks and the Loxdales occupied three large houses Severn Hill, Ridgemount and Kingsland House) all built around 1800.

The Craig family was established in Shrewsbury in the early 18th century.  The Rev. James Craig is listed as living at Severn Hill House in Pigott’s Directory for 1829. (The date when Severn Hill House was built is not known – the house is not shown in Rocque’s map of 1752 and stylistically the house appears to be early 19th century being named on the Hitchcock map of 1832). James Craig was born in Scotland in (?1767) but was buried at Swan Hill Chapel in 1845 (along with his first wife, two children and other members of his family). Some of the land then known as Craig’s Fields was bought by Shrewsbury School in 1891; the remaining land and Severn Hill house having been bought and sold by the School in 1891 were repurchased by the School in 1924.

The Beck family lived at Kingsland House and later at Ridgemount. They were bankers in Shrewsbury and Welshpool and wine merchants. The 1841 Census shows three Beck children John (aged 15), Arthur (aged 11) and Edward (aged 10) at a house in Kingsland near The Boathouse. The head of the house, Mary Beck (aged 40), is likely to be their paternal aunt.  Also living with them is Mary Badger, aged 60, probably the children’s maternal and widowed grandmother, and two servants . [The whereabouts at this Census of the children’s parents (John  Beck (1801-1873) & Susannah Margaret née Badger (1796-1888) is not presently known.]

By the 1851 Census Thomas Jeffrey Badger (who may have been Mrs Beck’s brother) was living at Ridgemount with his wife, two children and five servants. The house was then described as Kingsland Castle. Badger was an Attorney, and Magistrate and also a Director of the Great Western Railway – he committed suicide in 1859. Some of the land known as Beck’s Fields was acquired by Shrewsbury School in 1890; the house and remaining land having been bought and almost immediately sold again by the School in 1890/91 were repurchased by the School in 1925.

Joseph Loxdale who was born about 1761 held Kingsland House and Farm on lease from the Corporation, and commissioned a redesign apparently in the early 1790s from the architect and famous engineer Thomas Telford. Joseph was living at Kingsland House along with two daughters and six servants in the 1841 Census. Joseph Loxdale came of a large family living in Shrewsbury, most of whom were members of the legal profession and had been numerously represented on the Borough Council in high positions in the Town ranging from Aldermen, Mayor, Deputy Recorder and Town Clerk. Indeed, in 1833, no fewer than six Loxdales were Alderman. Joseph Loxdale was appointed Clerk of the Peace in 1802 and continued in this until 1833 when he was succeeded in that post by his son John.

Table 6. 1891 Census.
Table 6. 1891 Census.

After Joseph Loxdale’s death, the contents of Kingsland House were auctioned in September 1848. Everything in the house was sold including such things as a dog cart, the 800 volume library (which included the works of Tillotson, 8 volumes of Pope, 65 volumes of Universal History and the Gentleman’s Magazine from 1731 to 1813), pictures furniture including a Broadwood piano and four poster beds.24 The 1851 Census shows Mrs Ellen Stevenson an Annuitant living at Kingsland House with two relatives and seven servants.

John Loxdale (Joseph’s son) is then shown as living at Kingsland House in the Census for 1861, 1871 and 1881 with a wife, four children, six servants and a coachman. He succeeded his father as Clerk of the Peace and continued to hold this office until 1872. John Loxdale’s obituary in Eddowes Shrewsbury Chronicle for 1885 25 recalls an event during his Mayoralty when Disraeli was returned to Parliament as Member for Shrewsbury “Many residents in Shrewsbury will no doubt remember Mr Loxdale from an event — which created no little excitement in the Town and country. In the course of one of his speeches Sir William Yardley, the Liberal candidate, made some disparaging remarks against Mr Disraeli with the result that the latter challenged him to fight a duel. There was no knowing what might have been the issue of such a “rencontre” had not Mr John Loxdale with praiseworthy forethought sent for Mr Disraeli to his private residence, and then locking the door upon him, prevented the duel from taking place.”

In 1829 Thomas Burr bought the linen weaving factory on Kingsland built by Charles Bage in 1821 from Bage’s widow. Thomas Burr was a plumber and is known to have had a business on Wyle Cop near Beeches Lane. He started a lead manufacturing in the old linen factory. This prospered, so that by 1851 (when Burr was 50) he employed 35 men, 5 boys and one woman. Burr was a bachelor, but the 1851 Census records Charles Burr (perhaps a nephew) a lead merchant of 28 and also a bachelor, who lived with two brothers and two sisters at Kingsland Bank (formerly the Cann Office) which the family had bought from the Drapers Company about 1849. One of Charles’s sisters was still recorded at Kingsland Bank in the 1891 Census, shortly before the lead works closed.

By the middle of the 19th century some new houses were built in Canonbury following the existing building line. By the 1861 Census, Samuel Ebrall was living at Canonbury House with his four sons. He was still living there in the 1891 Census. In the 1880’s Samuel Ebrall bought plots 71 and 72 and built a house in what was to be 31 Kennedy Road. The house was leased initially, but a Samuel Ebrall (perhaps the eldest son of the Gunmaker and born ca.1844) is recorded in street directories as living there in 1899 up to 1916.

Samuel Ebrall was a Gunmaker and had a shop on Wyle Cop. He also held a Royal Warrant and was awarded a First Class medal at the International Exhibition in 1862. The business was sold in the early part of the 20th century but a shop called Ebrall still continues on Smithfield Road, where the Royal Warrant and Exhibition Medal can still be seen.

Samuel Ebrall had a son Walter (1880–1936), who was organist at St Chad’s. Aged 25, Walter was organist of All Saints, Shrewsbury, and was giving lessons from Ebor House in singing, piano, organ and harmony.

In 1851, Mr Ino Parsons, a Goods Rail Company manager was living at Grove House, while John Jones a Railway Guard – Porter lived elsewhere on Kingsland.

In the early 1800s the social order of Kingsland was very diverse. Low-cost property was available presumably for rent or other considerations – some in the form of Arbours. In the 1851 Census, the 5 Arbours were occupied respectively by a miller, an iron moulder, a shoemaker, a labourer and a tobacconist. These Arbours were also in use in 1871, and three were still in use by the 1881 Census, inhabited by a coachman, blacksmith and a gardener respectively.

Between 1881 and 1891 twenty six new buildings had been erected on Kingsland. These included School buildings and some sixteen private houses. The total households reported in the Census increased from 31 to 47, servants and other occupants including pupils increased from 67 to 403 (with 211 boarders) and the total population increased from 186 to 580. The social picture had changed; the new residents on Kingsland in the 1891 Census were mostly middle-class professional and business people, or people connected with Shrewsbury School. Many of the new residents were new to the County, thus, despite the increase in households, the number of Shropshire-born householders decreased from 19 to 16 in the period. The occupations of all the householders in the 1891 Census and the household structure are given in Table 6 (above).

Next chapter: Victorian Architecture & the Buildings of Kingsland


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