WORK IN LITTLE CORNARD
Recent archaeological finds in East Anglia tell us that hominids have lived intermittently in this area for 780,000 years though homo sapiens did not arrive until after the last Ice Age. For most of that time work consisted of hunter-
The first written records of Little Cornard can be found in The Domesday Book which gives details of all the areas of Britain controlled by William the Conqueror in 1086. At this time Great and Little Cornard were considered as one place, previously owned by the mother of Earl Morcar, but now owned by King William who gave the management to one of his followers, Peter de Valognes. By our standards Cornard was under-
It is likely that such working conditions would have continued through the Middle Ages; certainly the population of Little Cornard never reached 100 until the seventeenth century. One reason for the dip in the population in the fourteenth century was the Black Death which hit our village particularly hard. It was not till the beginning of the nineteenth century that the population was more than 200. Increases in population are likely to have been influenced by the industrial revolution, as well as improvements in agriculture and sanitation.
In 1841 there were 396 people living here, the highest number ever, for even today there are only 3... The Tithe Map of 1841 shows that, even after 750 years, farming was still the primary source of work with 38 farms being listed, most of them fairly small. Some people only owned a small strip of land which they used for grazing. There were, however, signs of other economic activities, the main one being the brickworks in Chapel Lane where they made the high quality Suffolk whites, examples of which can be found in older houses. They are no longer made and quite hard to get hold of. In the census of 1841 the following jobs were listed: agricultural labourers (38 but there would have been more as only the work done by the head of the household was listed) , farmer, bailiff, baker, shoemaker, broom-
By 1860, after spinning and weaving work had moved into factories women could no longer make extra money from spinning at home so for a short time they worked as straw plaiters. The plaited straw was collected from the cottages and taken to Luton where straw hats were made. But by 1881 imports from other places and mechanisation of the process put paid to this helpful addition to the incomes of the labourers.
In 1881 (population 385) there was still a lot of farming taking place with 98 agricultural labourers listed (this figure indicates that there were far more than 38 in 1841). The brick-
Even in the 1901 census farming and brick-
Between 1901 and 2002 the real changes took place. Though the population varies only slightly (322 in 1981), farms which employed at least two and often more than fifteen men now only employed one or two. The 700 acres of land that is still farmed is now owned by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Society. The last tenant farmer to live in the village, Peter Schwind is semi-
In 1841, 22 % of workers in Britain were in agriculture but nowadays the figure is less than 1 %. The range of occupations in Little Cornard is in line with the changes in the country as a whole. At first the swing was from agriculture to manufacture then, since the eighties, financial businesses increased in importance. It is likely that the arrival of the digital age will continue and maybe speed up changes to work in Little Cornard as well as in the rest of the country.
The information for this article was taken mainly from census returns. Unfortunately they are only available to the public up to 1911.The lists consist of people who lived in Little Cornard but some of the people may have worked in adjoining places. Nowadays there are people who live here but commute to London. Other information comes from a project done by Stephen King for his GCSE exams and from hours of research carried out by Eileen King, Rosemarie Balls & Jonathan Belsey.
Elizabeth Druce March 2014