Monday, 23 April 2018

A - Z Challenge 2018 - T

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is to post everyday (except Sunday) in the month of April 2016 starting with the letter A and going all the way to Z. The theme I chose is...
My Family Tree Places.


Totnes is an ancient borough and market town in the South Hams of Devon. In the Doomsday book Totnes consisted of 110 households. The population of Totnes in 1851 was 4419, declined to the 3000s for a few years then in 1901 was 4034.

High Street, Totnes

Henry Robert Crawford of Totnes was a painter, glazier and keeper of donkey chairs. He and his wife Sarah (Nichols) were always mentioned in the newspaper, but not for any grand deeds. It seems they spent a lot of time in trouble and in court. 

Besides two of their shenanigans I have already written about in my family blog, and with the Totnes Bribery Commission which I will write about at some future date, there were some mule problems.

Henry and Sarah were Donkey Chair Proprietors in Totnes. The fare for a donkey chair, according to the 1853 Hand-Book to South Devon, was about one shilling for the first hour, and sixpence per hour after. 

Totnes, Donkey Chair

In August 1854 Henry Crawford made a down payment on a donkey from a guy named Shea, who was leaving for Plymouth. When Crawford went to get the mule, it was sold to another man. Crawford took Shea to court and the judge found for the plaintiff, Crawford.

August 1855 Sarah and Henry Crawford are both accused of letting their mules go in the fields of James Shinner. Both were found guilty and fined £1 11s 3d each plus costs.

This time Henry Crawford is the plaintiff again, bringing action in May 1858 to recover £2 10s for damages done by the defendant to his donkey chair on Easter Sunday. The judge found for the plaintiff for the amount claimed and witness expenses.

Sarah Nichols Crawford is the sister of my 2x great grandmother Elizabeth Nichols, who married George King and immigrated to Canada.


  1. Totnes seems like a nice little town for such a small population.

    Hope the Crawfords didn't act like asses in Court. (sorry - couldn't resist the joke)

    1. Sarah certainly did in the case of the unauthorized lodger I wrote about on my family blog “The Days if Their Lives”. They probably went so many times they weren’t intimidated! Lol


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