Why would Mrs. Barnard be receiving a frozen sheep sent by steamship and rail all the way from New Zealand in 1885?
Mrs. E Barnard in this document refers to my husband's great grandmother born Emma Matilda Smith in East Dean, Gloucestershire in 1838 to William and Harriet Smith.
First, a bit of background. When she was 19, Emma married James Barnard of Littledean, Gloucestershire and started a family with him that would eventually include 11 children. From census and mining records we know that James was involved in free-mining as co-owner of Birch Hill Gale as well as being a shopkeeper and innkeeper. He was also very active in quarrying and building brick/stone houses in the Forest of Dean, many of which are still in use.
James was obviously an ambitious man and no doubt a good provider for his growing family.
|1861 census with Innkeeper James and wife Emma at Butchers Arms, East Dean|
James had a reputation as the strongest man in the Forest of Dean, according to information provided by his grandson Arthur Barnard to Richard Barnard who wrote about it in his school project "My Family History". On a bet, James carried two sacks of corn (each 120 pounds) up a steep grass hill. He ruptured himself so badly that he was never able to lie down again. In fact, James died at the age of just 46, quite possibly as a result of this ill-advised wager.
Then things fell apart for widowed Emma. They had already lost eldest son Clement in a mining accident when he was killed by falling rock in the Dowlais Company's Edge Hill Mine in 1875. Left on her own to raise the remaining 10 children, she soon learned that life would not be easy. She had to call upon her young children to help.
From "My Family History" by Richard Barnard: "J.M Barnard started work at the age of 9 picking rocks for 6 pence a day. He and his brother Naboth used to collect laundry from about two miles into the forest, which his mother used to launder for 1 penny a family plus 1 penny carriage. They grew up in extreme poverty because his mother was too proud to seek help from the Poor Law." It was said that a male relative had come and claimed all James's estate, leaving Emma with no money for supporting her large family. When he was just 10 or 11 son John Mathias Barnard was sent to London to work as an errand boy for an uncle. Earning just 3 shillings 6 pence a week, he managed to send 2 shillings 6 pence home to his mother. Later writings by son John indicate his belief that women were very badly treated in business, no doubt resulting from some bad experiences his mother had had.
Emma did manage to either retain or obtain a shop as indicated by the following entry in the 1881 census just a couple of years after her husband's death:
|Emma Barnard, widowed shopkeeper 1881 with son Job and the 5 youngest children at home, Plump Hill, East Dean|
Son Job, a gardener and later a miner, married in 1884 and it seems that Emma was basically running the shop on her own with probable assistance from her younger children. Son George Arthur Barnard (aka Arthur George Barnard) had emigrated to New Zealand where he had married in 1885. Perhaps he was instrumental in placing the meat order on his mother's behalf.
Historical information shows that this was brand new technology with the first such shipment having been made by the Gear Meat Preserving Freezing Company just 3 years earlier in 1882. This was the same company that shipped the frozen sheep to Emma, though on a different ship - the newer Steamer Aorangi. From London, the sheep was to be shipped to Emma by rail on one of the fast "perishables" trains on the Great Western Railway and should have arrived on the 4th or 5th of January 1886 to be sold in her shop.
It isn't clear how long she retained her shop. At the time of the 1891 census, she was enumerated as a visitor at the home of her daughter and son-in-law in London. One clue can, however, be found in her youngest son Arthur's service record from 1896 (Short Service Army form B.265) indicating that he had been a grocer's assistant in East Dean parish in Gloucestershire so perhaps she still had the shop up until at least 1896. By the 1901 census, she was living on her own means next door to son Job and family in East Dean. She died there in her 70th year, a strong hard-working woman who had lived to see her children well settled and successful people in their own rights.
|Emma Matilda (Smith) Barnard|