Aron and Sarah Shaw (1808 to 1841 & 1807 to 1891 respectively)
Were this couple the last of the Shaw gypsies ?
Aron was born in Caddington, Bedfordshire on 13th November 1808. His parents, both believed to be from well known Cambridgeshire gypsy families, were John, a sieve bottomer, and Sarah. Aron married Sarah Burgess, 26 on 30th March 1834 and, shortly afterwards, Jonathan was born in 1837, followed by William in 1840.
We know from census records that Sarah was widowed shortly after the birth of William and was left to bring up her young family with the help of her mother, Mary Burgess. The 1841 census, taken on 6th June, shows recently bereaved Sarah, aged 35, living in Main Street, Caddington, Bedfordshire with her 75 year old mother and her sons, Jonathan and William, aged 5 and 3 respectively.
Her husband, Aron Shaw had died a month earlier on 9th May 1841 and was buried in Caddington five days later. He was just 34 years old according to the Parish Records. I found details of his death in the Chelmsford Chronicle and the Hertford Mercury Reformer which both ran articles on the inquest into his death. It seems, he was "helplessly drunk" on a Saturday evening at a pub in Flamstead, the Blackbirds (which still exists as The Three Blackbirds, see photo) and had quarrelled with some fellow drinkers which led to him staggering against a table, breaking a mug of ale in the process. Having refused to pay for the breakage, the manager of the pub, Thomas Hoare, struck and knocked Aron to the ground a number of times before, with the help of a Constable, coincidently (?) named Amos Hoare, throwing him out onto the street.
Five minutes later Aron engaged Thomas Hoare in the street and, after Thomas had audibly shouted "you bastard, I'll kill you", was again knocked "violently down". Having got up from this assault, which left him with "blood coming from his ear which he wiped off with his hand", Aron was confronted by another man, named only as 'Coote', who "gave him a slight push, when he again fell down, the back of his head coming in contact with the ground".
There is nothing to say where Aron went after this, but he died shortly after midday the following day. Thomas Hoare was indicted for manslaughter. Evidence from an 'expert' suggested that Aron's death was probably caused by his head hitting the ground after his confrontation with Coote rather than his fight with Hoare as "had it been occasioned by the blows received from Hoare, the deceased could not have walked about so long as he appeared to have done". The judge stopped the trial and ordered an acquittal. The informant on the death certificate was the Coroner at St Albans with a cause of death being "Chance Medley".
Ten years after Aron's death in 1851, Sarah and her children were still living in Main Street, Caddington. She was a straw bonnet maker, one of the usual occupations for gypsies, and her children were agricultural labourers. Her mother, now 86, was described as a "pauper straw plaiter". They were now living next door to Aron's brother, (another) Moses Shaw, and his large family of sieve makers and straw plaiters.
Over the next 40 years, Sarah is found on census living in Caddington (1861) and with her son William (1871) and Jonathan (1881). Sarah died aged 86 in 1891.
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