During the inspection of Shutford School something occurred which caused Mr Gerahty, the curate in sole charge (formerly an Irish rector who resigned on the Disestablishment of the Irish Church) to say “That reminds me of the time when I was ordained. For the first Sunday morning I took my place in the reading desk, the clerk, a bald-headed man who sat at his desk in front of and a little below me, turned round and said in a widely audible whisper “When you want me to sing, Sorr, please to pat me on the crown”.
William Webb, my servant’s son, in his 15th year went off this morning early to seek his fortune in the Wide Wide World. He had 12/6 with him, his Clothing Club money, but entirely his own, which he got from Mrs. Elley on Monday.
His father and mother are in great trouble about him. He was very much dissatisfied with remaining in Sibford doing nothing but helping his father in my garden and Stable and had made one or two false starts before. His parents appear to have told him several times he might go, if he could find anything better to go to, and his father has often related to him the story of his own leaving of the paternal roof at 13 or 14 years of age and getting work at once in the Arsenal at Woolwich. The boy has been trying to get a free passage to one of the American Colonies. Tommy Aris had planned to go off with him, but Emma Webb heard of it and told Tommy that on board ship they only got oatmeal to eat and that merely mixed with cold water. So he relinquished the idea saying that he did get something hot to eat every day here though he did have to work hard, and that was a precious lot better than oatmeal and cold water in America. Tommy earns 4/6 a week which is according to the old woman’s account all that he and his grandmother with whom he lives have to live on. She gets some help from her children in London, but probably not more than enough to pay her rent.