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Friday, March 31, 2006

Thomas David Berry

Thomas was born September 8, 1829 in Blockley, England. Blockley is located in the Cotswold’s, a rural area in the western part of the country.

He was born during the Victorian period in England. There was distinct and severe class differences of which his family would have been near the bottom in the Agricultural Laborours class. All members of the family would have had to work, the children from the age of about 9. They most likely lived in a rented, two or three room cottage as all the dwellings were owned by the "farm" and leased back to the workers. They would have had a very small home garden in which was grown primarily potatoes and cabbage, so as to discourage self reliance. Near Blockley it seems that the men and boys worked the farms and the women and girls worked in the silk mills. Adults worked 12 hour days and children 10 hours, six days a week. Thomas is listed on the 1861 census as a journeyman miller, a slight elevation in position; however in 1871 he is back to being listed as an agricultural labourer. It was extremely hard to move up in class status. The family probably earned enough for the basics but few luxuries. Historical accounts of Blockley indicate that the men often spent their money in the taverns and were persecuted by the district constable. Thomas swore off drink when he arrived in Canada. The family obviously had very little to loose by emigrating. During this period the English population was expanding at a rate that the country could not sustain. The population was increasing by over 200,000 per year. Emigration societies were organized to help workers leave England for Canada and other colonies. These societies raised monies to provide passage. I have not discovered which society sponsored the family’s travel nor have I discovered which ship they arrived on. They gave 1874 as their year of arrival in Canada on the 1901 census. For that year I have found 16 ships sponsored by various emigration societies that they could have arrived on, several of which were sponsored by the Agriculturers Labour Union.

The family initially settled in Fitzroy Harbor. In 1881 he was listed as a miller in Gloucester, Russell Co, Ontario. By 1901 they had moved to Ottawa and owned a five room house and he worked as a sexton. He died May 4, 1907.

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