The Stow on the Wold and Chipping Norton Agricultural Society Show of 1868, was held in Chipping Norton on land at the rear of the White Hart Hotel. It had not been held for 2 years – since 1865 – because of the cattle plague!
Apparently one of the great attractions in this year was a special premium of an award to the best weight carrying hunter, and another for the best hackney.
The list of prizes reported in the Wilts and Gloucs Standard on October 3rd, 1868 is fairly predictable, but with a few interesting additions, with:
- Class 1: Cattle
- Class 2: Sheep
- Class 3: Pigs
- Class 4: Horses
- Class 5: Extra Stock
- Class 7: Male Domestic Servants
- Class 8: Female Domestic Servants
- Class 9: Male Servants
- Class 10: Male Servants under 21
- Class 11: Labourers or widows for having placed out their families
- Class 12: Shepherds, Carters and Cowmen
- Class 13: Agricultural Labourers
- Class 14: Boys under 18
- Class 15: Shepherds – flocks over 149 longwools
Apart from the interesting historical note that workers were given awards just like the livestock, a point we will return to later, but as it happens one William Ivens won an award of £2 in Class 13: Agricultural Labourers, having been ‘recommended by Mr John Wheeler for having worked on his farm for 56 years.’
John Wheeler, it was reported in the listings, as having farmed in Long Compton, Warwickshire so the William Ivens referred to must be William Ivens of Long Compton, agricultural labourer (b.1795). And if, in 1868 William had been working on Mr Wheeler’s farm for 56 years, he must have started in 1812 aged 17. Very plausible.
According to the Office for National Statistics composite price index, £2 in 1868 would be worth (i.e. have an equivalent purchasing power of) £219 in 2018. A very handsome sum.
William died in 1885 aged 90, but in 1881 was still living next to the farm in Long Compton, only now he’s listed as a widower lodger and a pauper in the home of Elizabeth Rose, a widow of farmer Elijah Rose, and now a seamstress.
So, nice to tie all that up. But it still leaves the notion of handing out prizes to key farm workers. I suppose they were as proud of their workers as they were of their stock, and also needed to show their peers how well they looked after them.
Except that it is a custom that continues today in the form of long service Awards, and the prize now varies from £50 and an engraved tankard to life-long membership of the Society.
Kent County Show has:
“Nominations are restricted to employees of current members of the Kent County Agricultural Society and open to employees of farmers and land owners who have completed a minimum of 25 years’ service without intermission (war service excepted) on the same farm/estate or under the same employer (employee does not have to be a member of the Society).
A Long Service Certificate, an engraved tankard / goblet and £50 will be awarded to each employee eligible for this award. Prize winners at 2008 – 2018 Shows are not eligible for awards this year.”
Yorkshire Agricultural Society has:
“To the employees of Members of the Society who have worked for 35 or more years continuously for the same family or on the same farm or estate.
Those eligible must be commercial farm or horticultural workers, woodmen, gamekeepers or estate workers, who spend the major part of their time directly employed on the land.
Recipients will be awarded a box of engraved crystal glasses, a lifetime membership of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society entitling them to free admission to the Great Yorkshire Show and Countryside Live and a certificate inscribed with their name marking the Award.”