Census records for Atcherley siblings Anne, Hannah and Margaret reveal something of the sisters’ story from 1841 up to the end of the 1800s. They tell us that between 1841 and 1851, the sisters had moved from their native parish of Baschurch to the town of Shrewsbury. The latter census shows the trio – who were often referred to as the Misses Atcherley – as landed proprietresses. In later years they were recorded as fund holders or annuitants, or living on “income derived from property”. How did the Misses Atcherley acquire the land and the funds that supported them, and on what did they spend the income from these sources? In this, the beginning of a series of stories about the Atcherley sisters of Shrewsbury, I will look mainly at the first of these two questions.
In Shropshire Arms and Lineages, published 1869, Frederick Kittermaster described the Atcherley sisters as follows:
Atcherley, The Misses, of College Hill Court, Shrewsbury, daugs. of the late John Atcherley, of Stanwardine, who died 1847, and who was representative of the family, and descended from Thomas Acheley or Atcherley, of Stanwardine, temp. Hen. VII., the father of Sir Roger Atcherley, Lord Mayor of London 10 Hen. VIII.
Anne, Hannah and Margaret Atcherley were baptised on 14 November 1799, 11 June 1801 and 7 April 1817 respectively, at Baschurch All Saints. They were three of the ten children born to John Atcherley and his wife Anne (née Parton) at Stanwardine in the Fields. Five of their siblings (four girls and one boy) had died in infancy or early childhood (see MIs at Baschurch All Saints (3), where a larger version of the photo shown here can be seen). Their two surviving sisters, Sarah and Martha, had both married by 1841 and the census for that year recorded the three spinsters with their parents. By that time the family had moved from Stanwardine to nearby Weston Lullingfields.
Between then and 1851 the sisters relocated to the county town of Shrewsbury. My guess is that this happened following the death of their father John in 1847, or more likely after their mother Anne passed away in 1849. Although John did not (to my knowledge) leave a will, it appears that Anne, Hannah and Margaret each received a generous inheritance from their farming father. (Sisters Sarah and Martha had meanwhile most likely received suitable ‘marriage portions’ when they wed.)
John was the eldest son and heir of Thomas Atcherley and his wife Hannah (née Cureton), and he certainly had wealth to dispose of at the time of his demise. In his will of 1796, Thomas had bequeathed John the “Teneant Right and interest” in the farm Thomas held at Stanwardine, along with the farm’s livestock, crops, implements of husbandry and other goods and chattels. In addition, John was left the “Estate at Morton” which featured in Thomas and Hannah’s marriage settlement of 1770 (see Love and Marriage (Settlement): Thomas Atcherley and Hannah Cureton).
The land at Morton – or a portion of it – evidently descended to Margaret Atcherley after John’s death. The evidence for this takes the form of a notice published in Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal of 24 September 1856:
TO BE SOLD BY PRIVATE TREATY, (either in one Lot, or in several Lots, as may best suit the convenience of purchasers), the several Tithe Commutation Rent Charges, payable to the Improprietor, amounting together to £30. 19s. 1d. charged on, and issuing out of Lands, situate in the Township of Morton, in the parish of Oswestry, in the County of Salop, the respective properties of Lord Godolphin, Miss Margaret Atcherley, Mr. Edward Davies, the Rev. Edward H. Dymock, Mr. William Thomas, and others, and the Reverends Thomas Salway, and John H. Montague Luxmoore.
Although Margaret sold the Tithe Commutation Rent Charges of her land at Morton, it seems likely that she retained ownership of the land itself, and would therefore have benefitted from the rents arising from it.
The funds at the Misses Atcherley’s disposal were invested, so that they would generate annuities or interest payments. Some insight into how this worked for the Atcherley sisters is provided by letters sent by Margaret to Messrs Longueville, Jones and Williams, a firm of solicitors in Oswestry, during 1874. The letters have survived to this day and although I was outbid when they were sold via eBay, the sellers kindly provided copies and gave permission for me to use them on this website.
Margaret Atcherley’s letter of 5 October 1874 is particularly informative. It reveals that the sisters had £750 which they were happy for Messrs Longueville, Jones and Williams to invest in the mortgage security of a certain Mrs Pryse. The sisters were relying on their solicitors word that the property upon which the mortgage was secured was “of sufficient value for the loan.”
A month later, on 4 November, Margaret wrote as follows: “Dear Sirs, Will you please send a line by return stating if Mrs. Pryce’s security for £1000 at Xmas is on land? and where it is situated? that the property is quite worth the money. We safely trust to yourselves.” This appears to relate to the investment of a separate sum of money. Other letters show that the Misses Atcherley had money invested in additional mortgage securities too – and that they didn’t always receive their interest payments when they were due!
On 5 January 1874 Margaret wrote: “Dear Sirs, On behalf of my sisters and myself I write to ask you if you can let us have our interest money, which became due on the 10th of Novr. last from Mr. J. E. Parry – also my own from Mr. C. Phillips which became due on the 1st of Decr. last, if you have received it”. Unfortunately the year ended as it had begun, with Margaret penning the following note on 14 December: “Dear Sirs, I write on behalf of my sisters and myself to say we shall be much obliged for our Interest money, if you have received it. Mr. Parry’s became due on the 10th of Novr. and my own from Mr. C. Phillips on the 1st of the present month.”
Advertisements in the Shropshire newspapers give an indication of the rates of interest which borrowers could expect to pay, and which lenders (or investors) like the Misses Atcherley could therefore expect to receive. A notice in the Wellington Journal of 17 March 1877 for example, placed by Wellington solicitor W M Taylor, stated: “Money.—Any sum from £20 to £1,000 and upwards, ready to be Lent on approved Mortgage Securities, at £4 to £4½ per cent.”
Anne and Margaret, the eldest and youngest of the three spinster sisters, also invested money in stocks. The Great Western Railway Shareholders Index, held by the Society of Genealogists, shows that when Anne Atcherley died her Consolidated Ordinary Stock (amount £915) was transferred to Margaret. On Margaret’s passing, her Consolidated Ordinary Stock (£682) and 4¼% Debenture Stock (£572) were transmitted to her nephews, John Atcherley Jebb and his brother George Robert Jebb.
Other records relating to the demise of the Misses Atcherley reveal the full extent of these females’ fortunes. The records in question are entries in the ‘National Probate Calendars’. When Hannah Atcherley passed away on 18 May 1885 she had not left a will; administration of her estate was granted to Anne and Margaret. Hannah’s personal estate was valued at £3,539 6s 4d. Anne Atcherley was the next to ‘depart this life’, on 1 August 1892. Again there was no will. Administration was granted to Margaret, with Anne’s effects totalling £6140 13s 3d. (There was a further grant of probate, to John Atcherley Jebb, in 1898 when effects of £456 were recorded.)
Unlike her sisters, Margaret Atcherley did make a will, in which she appointed the above-mentioned nephews John Atcherley Jebb and George Robert Jebb as executors (which is why they took receipt of Margaret’s GWR stocks). Margaret died on 14 April 1898, leaving effects to the value of £9359 13s. 6d.
Monumental inscriptions for Hannah and Anne Atcherley at Baschurch. Margaret’s inscription, mostly covered with moss and lichens, is omitted from this picture.
All three of the Atcherley sisters passed away at College Hill in Shrewsbury, where they had resided since the late 1840’s or the beginning of the 1850s – for nearly half a century in Margaret’s case. So in answering the last of the three questions which I posed at the beginning of this story – on what did the Misses Atcherley spend their income – their sanctuary in Shrewsbury is a good place to start.
The sisters were recorded at College Hill (later 10 College Hill or College Hill Court) in the censuses of 1851 to 1891, and also in directories such as the Post Office Directory of 1863 and Kelly’s Directories of 1870 and 1895. The census schedules enumerated one or more servants in the same household as the Atcherleys: just one in 1851, but two in 1861, ‘71, ‘81 and ’91 (listed as a housemaid and a cook in all but one of those years).
Anne, Hannah and Margaret did not own the house in which they lived. That much is clear from notices of the sale of the premises, a freehold property which was “in the occupation of the Misses Atcherley.” The sisters probably held the leasehold, as they remained at College Hill through at least three sales (by auction) of the freehold. The first of these sales was advertised in 1855, and from the description then given of the property we get an idea of its extent:
A Very desirable Freehold DWELLING-HOUSE, situate on College Hill, Shrewsbury, containing entrance-hall, dining and drawing-rooms, excellent bed-rooms, 3 servants’ rooms, water-closet, kitchen, back-kitchen, larder, and cellars, with pleasure-garden attached.—The premises are in good repair, replete with every convenience for comfortable residence […]
Almost exactly the same description was used when the property was put up for sale by auction again in 1870, the main differences being that the number of bedrooms was specified (four) and the words “in good repair” were omitted. The description of 1870 was then repeated word for word in 1877 when the College Hill residence was once more offered for sale.
Although 10 College Hill was home for the Misses Atcherley, they did not spend every night of their tenancy under its roof. The income generated by their land and investments enabled the sisters to take holidays and, in the words of the old song, they did “like to be beside the seaside”.
Picture credits: Gravestone at Baschurch All Saints: by the author. Letter by Margaret Atcherley dated 5 Oct 1874: image supplied by eBay sellers Bill and Sue and used with their kind permission. Gravestone at Baschurch All Saints: by the author.
 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 918, book 1, folio 38, page 5. Weston Lullingfields, Shropshire.
 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1992, folio 477, page 28. College Hill, Shrewsbury.
 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 1873, folio 16, page 26. College Hill, Shrewsbury.
 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 2776, folio 7, page 6. College Hill, Shrewsbury.
 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 2653, folio 19, page 31. 10 College Hill, Shrewsbury.
 1891 census of England and Wales. Piece 2112, folio 13, page 20. College Hill Court, Shrewsbury.
 Frederick W Kittermaster, (1869), Shropshire Arms and Lineages, compiled from The Herald’s Visitations and Ancient MSS. Appendix, page ii. Copy viewed at Google Books.
 Baschurch, Shropshire parish register covering 1799, entry for baptism of Anne Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Baschurch, Shropshire parish register covering 1801, entry for baptism of Hannah Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Baschurch, Shropshire baptism register covering 1817, entry for baptism of Margaret Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
 Monumental inscriptions at Baschurch All Saints, Shropshire. See photos and transcriptions at MIs at Baschurch All Saints (1) and MIs at Baschurch All Saints (3).
 The marital mystery of Sarah Atcherley.
 Baschurch, Shropshire marriage register covering 1831, entry for John Jebb and Martha Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and Findmypast.
 Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 24 Sep 1856, page 4. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Lichfield Record Office, Staffordshire: Registered wills and original wills, administrations and inventories, 1494-1860. Will of Thomas Atcherley of Baschurch, 1831. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire, Dioceses [sic] of Lichfield and Coventry wills and probate 1521-1860.
 Margaret Atcherley (1874), Letters to Messrs Longueville, Jones and Williams. Copies held by the author.
 Wellington Journal, 17 Mar 1877, page 1. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 The Great Western Railway Shareholders Index (Volume 57 Folio 70 Entry 271). Copy viewed at Findmypast. Original document held by Society of Genealogists.
 The Great Western Railway Shareholders Index (Volume 75 Folio 7 Entry 29). Copy viewed at Findmypast. Original document held by Society of Genealogists.
 Principal Probate Registry: Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration (1885). Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.
 Principal Probate Registry: Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration (1892). Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.
 Principal Probate Registry: Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration (1898). Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.
 Death of Hannah Atcherley registered at Atcham, June quarter 1885; volume 6a, page 468; age given as 83.
 Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, and Salopian Journal, 20 May 1885, page 8. “Deaths. Atcherley—May 18, at College Hill Court, in this town, Hannah Atcherley, in her 84th year.” Copy viewed at Findmypast.
 Baschurch, Shropshire, burial register covering 1885; entry dated 21 May for Hannah Atcherley of Shrewsbury, aged 83 years. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
 Death of Anne Atcherley registered at Atcham September quarter 1892; volume 6a, page 384; age given as 92.
 Wellington Journal, 6 Aug 1892, page 5. “Deaths. Atcherley—1st inst., at College Hill Court, Shrewsbury, Anne Atcherley.” Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term atcheriey).
 Baschurch, Shropshire, burial register covering 1892; entry dated 4 August for Anne Atcherley of Shrewsbury, aged 92 years. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
 Death of Margaret Atcherley registered at Atcham, June quarter 1898; volume 6a, page 393; age given as 81.
 Wellington Journal, 23 Apr 1898, page 8. “Deaths. Atcherley—14th inst., aged 81, at College Hill Court, Shrewsbury, Margaret, youngest daughter of the late Jno. Atcherley, of Stanwardine in-the-Fields.” Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Baschurch, Shropshire, burial register covering 1898; entry dated 18 April for Margaret Atcherley of College Hill, Shrewsbury, aged 81 years. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
 The Post Office Directory of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, and the City of Bristol. Page 747. Copy viewed at Google Books.
 E R Kelly (ed.) (1870), The Post Office Directory of Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire. Page 135. For abstract see Directories Part 2.
 Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 4 Apr 1855, page 8. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive. Note: Notice of sale by auction also printed 28 Mar and 11 April 1855, both on page 1.
 Shrewsbury Chronicle, 4 Nov 1870, page 1. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive. Note: Notice of sale by auction also printed 11 and 18 Nov 1870.
 Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, and Salopian Journal, 11 Apr 1877, page 1. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.