A little bit of history on Sileby, Leicestershire, England
I think I ought to tell you a little about the village of Sileby, where most of my ancestors lived.
1765-1812 is a crucial stage in the industrialization of Sileby, a time which saw the completion of the enclosure of the open fields, the rise of cottage industries such as framework knitting and in the gradual increase of nonconformist sects as an alternative to the austerity and tradition of the Parish Church.
The population rose from around 650-700 at the start of the 18th century to 1,111 in 1801 and 1,200 in 1811. For many Sileby people in the 18th century they had a ‘hand to mouth’ existence.
An Act of 1668 ordered that all corpses, except those that had died of the plague, should be buried in something made of wool only. This was a tariff to try to protect the wool trade and fines were harsh for those not complying with the Act.
Sileby was an ‘open’ village: it was a village that didn't have a manorial lord or institution that was dictating immigration policy. It was fairly easy for new families to move in. That didn't mean a free for all anybody to ‘set up shop’. Measures were in place to eject those unfortunate outsiders that became chargeable on the parish poor rate. However although conditions were poor, the work was available in domestic industries such as framework knitting, wool combing and weaving for those willing to take the risk.
It is also no coincidence that longer life spans and better health came as a result from a new building boom in Sileby. Here we have new brick built housing and older properties being split into smaller dwellings to accommodate the increasing numbers within the existing village street framework. Brick formed the foundation of this new development. Although mud and stud buildings were still ‘going up’ in the 18th century (see picture), they were the exception rather than the rule. Small areas of redevelopment took place on the old swathes of common land. Houses such as those on the Banks and Underhill, although they were on small plots, were being rebuilt in brick when the owners had funds to do so. Building in brick was now affordable; was available locally and offered better protection against the elements and fire than the rather squalid mud, wattle and daubed thatched cottages.
All the above information was found in the Parish Records or in 'Bygone Sileby' magazine