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Thomas Parton, Schoolmaster, 1791-1865

Thomas Parton was schoolmaster at the Free School in Gnosall for 41 years. He was born in Cowley, according to the 1851 census, probably the son of John and Mary Parton, and baptized 5 Jan. 1792. Calculating from the death notices, he started as a schoolmaster in about 1824, and that would fit in with an advertisement in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 25 Dec 1824 for the sale of three houses, one including a schoolroom: it states of Lots 2 & 3, that they were “lately in the occupation of Mr. Samuel Harley, schoolmaster, deceased, and are well adapted for a Boarding School, for which they were used by him for many years.” These would have been on Church Street, on the Gnosall side of the Workhouse. Samuel Harley had died aged 68, on 22 Nov. 1824. The 1834 White’s Directory lists Thomas Parton as Schoolmaster, Gnosall Free School In 1835 he claimed the right to vote as master of the free school at Gnosall, with an income from rents of freehold land of £23 10s.1  The Tithe Awards of 1837 show him living at 3rd house on Church Street near the workhouse school. The Electoral Registers list him as living in Gnosall in 1837, but for 1838, 1839 and 1841 his abode was said to be Ginger, and his qualification: “Schoolmaster, appointed for life, at an annual salary of more than 40s, arising out of land.” The 1841 census shows him living near the tollhouse with dressmaker Elizabeth Ford and her sons John, Thomas and George Ford (who were all baptized as Parton in 1845). In June 1842 Thomas Parton married Elizabeth Ford in Wolverhampton. Their daughter Sarah Ann was born in 1843, and a son Richard was born in 1845 but died aged 6 in 1851, and was buried at Gnosall. Immediately after the death of Rev Jenkinson, five children were baptized by Rev William Hickin on 6 July 1845 as Parton (but the first three were actually Fords): John born 1833 Thomas born 1836 George born 1839 Sarah Ann born 1843 Richard born1845 Another son, Edward, was baptized on 28 May 1848 The Electoral Register of 1849 lists his qualification as “Annuity in right of office as schoolmaster, arising out of land - Cottonwood, Trustees of Gnosall.” The 1851 White’s Directory listed him as Schoolmaster, Gnosall Free School. The 1851 census listed the family as living at Gnosall Heath, between the entries for Doley and The Willey. It shows Elizabeth, 41 (1810) to have been born in Gnosall, and children - George, 12, Sarah, 8 and Edward 3 were present, as was Thomas’s mother-in-law Ann Sutton, born at Outwoods c.1776. She was a tailor’s widow. The Workhouse Minutes in 1852 said that Thomas Parton was deputy Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths but was “incapable”, for whatever reason. However in  1854 he was Assistant Overseer for Gnosall Parish and in 1855 joined a committee with the Rev. Till and Mr Wilde to look into apprenticing some Union children in Stafford. The 1861 Electoral Register has him living at Gnosall Heath, with Freehold house and land at Coton Wood. Thomas Parton died 18 Feb 1865 aged 74, having been a “Schoolmaster 41 years”.2   “Free Schools of Staffordshire” by Griffiths (1860) said: “It does not appear that classical instructioin was ever given in the school. Mr Thomas Parton, who is now seventy years old, has twenty-eight scholars, fourteen of whom are free; the others that learn to write pay 1d per week. The income is £32 per annum from land and buildings, and £3 1s from tithes since the year 1852. £5 per annum is retained for repairs. Mr Parton has been master of the school for thirty-five years and pays rent for his residence.” Felicity Potter _________________________________________________________ 1 Staffordshire Advertiser, 3 Oct. 1835. 2 Burial Register
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