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Role of Women in Christleton 1914-18

The Role of Women in Christleton

During the Great War 1914 - 18
Researched and Written by

Judy Smith


The boundary map of 20th Century Christleton shows the five townships of Christleton, Cotton Abbotts, Cotton Edmunds, Rowton and Littleton, which form the parish. The families living and working within this boundary during the years of World War 1 are the subject of this section.

  • a township and parish in Great Boughton district, Cheshire

    a township and parish in Great Boughton district, Cheshire

Little had changed in this Christleton since John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales 1870 -1872 described it as

a township and parish in Great Boughton district, Cheshire. The township lies on the Ellesmere Canal and on the Chester and Crewe Railway, 2 miles East South East of Chester, and has a post office under Chester, and fairs on 8 March and 8 September. Population 698. Houses 151. The parish includes also the townships of Littleton, Rowton, Cotton Edmunds and Cotton Abbotts. Population 1,000. Houses 205. The manor belongs to J.B.Wood Esq. The living is a Rectory in the diocese of Chester. Value 900 pounds
  • Village Road, Christleton

    Village Road, Christleton

July 1911 saw the induction of a new Rector for Christleton Parish, the Reverend Godfrey M.V. Hickey. Much of the information for this project comes from the Parish Magazines he wrote monthly, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Canon Lionel Garnett. Garnett had been Rector for forty two years and knew his parish and parishioners well. Hickey had more difficulties with which to contend, specifically those issues of the war years, 1914 to 1918, and the immediate aftermath of World War 1.

The 1911 Census shows the population of Christleton as 937 within 207 families; that of Cotton Abbotts as 11 within 1 family; in Cotton Edmunds 66 in 10; in Rowton 165 in 41 and in Littleton 276 within 66 families. Of these there were 481 females in Christleton, 7 in Cotton Abbotts, 36 in Cotton Edmunds, 94 in Rowton and 149 in Littleton. The population totals for women showed an increase in Christleton, Cotton Edmunds and Littleton since the previous 1901 Census, but numbers had declined significantly in Rowton from 205 to 165 persons for reasons unknown.

So who were these women and what did they do? The answers to these questions depended upon their role in the social structure of that time. That there was a definite class distinction in those days is irrefutable. Christleton had many houses of such size as required domestic service, much of it live-in service by young, single women and girls as young as fourteen.

Examples are again from the 1911 Census
Captain John Currie of Old Hall, a house with nineteen rooms, employed a twenty nine year-old cook, a kitchen maid aged twenty six, a parlour maid (26), and two house maids (40 and 23). At Christleton Hall, which had twenty five rooms, Mrs Harriet Pitcairn Campbell had a domestic staff of eight women: a domestic sick nurse of thirty seven; a lady’s maid of thirty two; three housemaids aged thirty seven and two nineteen year olds; a cook aged forty four; a twenty year-old kitchen maid and a scullery maid of seventeen.

  • Staff


The ratios were similar at other private residences in the townships, for example, at twenty-room Christleton Bank for the Logans; for the Cullimores at Faulkners Lodge; the Porritts of Christleton Grange; the Sidebottoms of Littleton Hall; the Flemings of Rowton Grange; the Macfies of Rowton Hall. The Reverend Hickey employed thirty year-old Sarah Lee as housemaid at the Rectory. Christleton Lodge, a fourteen room house, was busy with the family of Henry Heywood. This household was supported by four servants.

On the records are the names of some of these families’ single daughters as having “Private Means”. There is no record that the working women and girls in these households were local, and certainly some came over from Wales or from Shropshire to work.

Commercial residents also employed female staff. Most were single daughters or relatives of the home owners or occupiers, but again some were brought into the houses and businesses from elsewhere.

These, too, are examples from the 1911 Census
Charlotte Mayers at fifty assisted husband Thomas, builder and farmer, in his business at Pits Farm in Christleton, as did her seventeen year old daughter, Frances. Thirty nine year-old Emily Swindley worked on her brother’s farm. Forty year-old Emma Roberts farmed with her brother, John, in Plough Lane, and Alice Beech, twenty four year-old daughter of widowed Alice Beech, worked on the family farm in Brown Heath. Women in these roles became vital during the war years as men left the land to join the forces overseas.

Joseph Mosford was a butcher. His wife, fifty four year-old Annie, and twenty one year old daughter, Mary, worked in the business. They employed nineteen year-old Mary Reid as a domestic servant. William Millward was a coach builder. His wife, Annie, aged fifty one, ran the general stores in Christleton with the help of daughters, Annie Eliza aged twenty eight and Constance aged sixteen.

Helen Eliza Johnson was the forty three year-old wife of baker, Thomas, at the Old Post Office in Christleton, and assisted in the business. They employed Emily Deans as general house-servant in their seven-room house.

  • Butcher


Role of Women in Christleton 1914-18