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Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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From stray cows to iron horses: how Francis Bean escaped poverty

Group member Elaine Bradshaw has been carrying out research into a local family, to explore the factors behind the decline and later improvement in the life prospects of young Francis Bean. This is part of 'Making Ends Meet in Nunnery Lane', our research project focusing on 19th poverty.

Francis Bean came from an old York family of small craftsmen and traders, all Freemen of the City of York. Freemen had several very important rights, many going back to the Middle Ages. [i] Most importantly, only Freemen could 'exercise a trade in the city'; and only Freemen and property owners could vote for Members of Parliament. They could also 'depasture' animals on the Strays, the remnants of the old common grazing grounds. However in 1835, the Municipal Reform Act removed many of their powers and opened up the running of the City to a wider range of people. Freeman of the City was still an honourable title [ii], and for several generations after 1835, the Beans were proud to claim it as their birthright through patrimony.

Francis’s grandfather was Thomas Bean, a currier in Jubbergate, York (a currier is a craftsman in leather, taking the tanned hides and finishing them). His wife was most probably Sarah Acomb, daughter of a farmer from Wheldrake. (Identifying the mother was quite a challenge, and I have settled on Sarah as being the most likely.[iii])

Later, Thomas diversified into cow-keeping[iv] and is mentioned in several White’s Directories of York, from 1840 onwards. There were lots of cow-keepers in York at this time, continuing into the 1850s. Because milk was such a perishable commodity, it had to be produced close to the markets, so cows were grazed in the fields and strays near the City, or kept in backyard cowsheds, even in densely populated parts of the City. (We have found two in the small area around Swann Street that we have been researching.) Although the Freemen lost most of their powers in 1835, they retained their grazing rights, so Thomas was allowed to graze two cows, most likely on Micklegate Stray, given that he lived in Micklegate Ward. [v] (The other Strays were Bootham, Monk, and Walmgate). This may not have been enough to run a business with, but he could have bought the allocation, or 'gate' from another Freeman. I do not know whether Thomas’s main business was in animal hides or milk. He was a currier when he applied to be a Freeman of York and on the 1841 and 1851 censuses, though his wife called herself widow of Thomas Bean, cow-keeper, on the York Cemetery records, and she took over the cow-keeping after his death.

For most of Thomas’s life – certainly from 1846[vi] - he lived in South Prospect Street. The house is long gone, but it was on the Tadcaster Road, backing on to Hob Moor and facing the pinfold (pound) on the Knavesmire, so right in the middle of Micklegate Stray.

Whether he earned his money as a currier or a cow-keeper, Thomas was a prosperous and influential member of the community. When he died of 'natural decay' in 1853, he left £100.[vii]  He was able to buy a family-sized plot in York Cemetery, furnished with a headstone which still exists,[viii] where his widow Sarah, and most of his children, were also buried in their turn.

Thomas was a Freeman before 1835, when the Freemen still had powers and provided a pool of candidates for the officers of the City. Thomas exercised his civic duties for over 30 years as Assistant Overseer for the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior, so he collected the Poor Rates and redistributed it to the needy. His obituary charitably notes that he was respected by all who knew him.[ix] However, in March 1850 a case for non-payment of poor rates by another cow-keeper had to be adjourned because of Thomas’s unreasonable behaviour - he banged the table on three or four occasions and demanded immediate payment. It was noted that “Thomas Bean was in liquor,”[x] though this did not prevent him from being re-elected the following year. Thomas was obviously capable of being quite cantankerous.

Thomas and Sarah’s oldest son, and Francis’s father, was Robert, and some of the gaps and discrepancies in the records of the Bean family could hint that Robert may also have found his father difficult. As a young man, Robert spent some time away from York in Wheldrake, where his mother came from, working as a servant. [xi] When he married, he did not provide details of his father’s name or occupation, which is extremely unusual.[xii]  

Robert returned to York aged 21 and became a Freeman of the City, for which he qualified by patrimony, since his father had been a Freeman at the time of his birth. When he was admitted in 1832 he was still working as a servant in Wheldrake, but later he became a cow-keeper like his father. Robert was a cow-keeper when he married Mary Eccles in 1837, when his first children were born, and when he is noted in the 1841 Census. He was then living in Albion Street in the parish of All Saints, North Street.

Francis’s early life

Micklegate no 64 2 croppedBy the time Francis was born in 1845,[xiii] Robert had become an innkeeper at the Red Lion, 64 Micklegate.  He appears in several Slater’s and White’s trade directories up until 1848, and was still living in Micklegate and working as a publican when his daughter Mary was baptised, at Holy Trinity in 1849. Then there was a downturn in the family’s fortunes. By the 1851 census they had moved to Swann Street and Robert was working as a labourer. He would be earning less, and he now had five children to support – Thomas John, Sarah, Francis, Jane and Mary. In 1852 he and Mary had one more daughter, Margaret.  

The premises of the the Red Lion at 64 Micklegate, now a lettings agency

When Francis was 10, in 1855, he was accepted into the Blue Coat School,[xiv] a clear sign that the family were struggling, as this was a charity school. It had been founded in 1705 for children of poor families, preferably those whose fathers were Freemen of York. There were other conditions of acceptance to the Blue Coat School.  Your parents had to be married, so copies of birth certificates had to be produced, and the preference was for boys who were strong and healthy. 

Francis provided a certified copy of his baptismal record at Holy Trinity, Micklegate, signed by the minister.  Curiously, it gives his mother’s name as Elizabeth, although Mary was certainly the mother of all the other children, both older and younger. The Blue Coat School did not ask awkward questions, but when the certificate was reused in 1867 to support Francis’ application for Freeman of the City, an explanation was required. The application therefore includes a note signed by Mary – she could only manage a cross – to the effect that she was Francis’s mother and Elizabeth had been written by mistake.

The education provided by the Blue Coat School was practical rather than intellectual.  The boys all worked for their keep, and when they finished school they were apprenticed or sent to sea.[xv] Parents’ educational expectations of the school were not high, but they appreciated its feeding and clothing of their sons. It was viewed it as 'an institution for maintenance' or 'a relief for families', rather than a way for their sons to get a good education.

Robert’s health deteriorated and by 1858 his name appears in the Outdoor Relief books. From 7 April to 29 September 1858 he received three shillings weekly in cash and one shilling and six pence in kind from the parish of Holy Trinity, Micklegate. He continued to decline, and at the beginning of December 1859 he received his last three shillings and one pound of flour.  This time his occupation is given as innkeeper, and he is described as not ordinarily able-bodied, something of an under-statement, as under Observations someone very shortly afterwards pencilled in: Dead.

Robert Bean died on 10 December 1859, so Francis had to grow up quickly. The 14 year old boy was present at the death, and he was the one who registered it.  Robert died of exhaustion with abscesses of the hips and thigh from disease of the bones. It was an awful way to die, and must have been harrowing to watch.    

One immediate worry was spared the family – his burial plot.  When Robert’s father Thomas died, his wife Sarah purchased a large plot in York Cemetery, where Thomas and two of his daughters already lay.  Robert joined them there and, although he is not named on the gravestone, his details can be found in York Cemetery Register.[xvi]

How will the Beans survive?

This table shows the remaining family and the money they were earning, taken from Application & Report Books from 1859-1860.




Weekly earnings

Mary Bean




Thomas John Bean


Apprentice marble polisher

16s ; 10s 6d

Sarah Bean


Servant, living in

not known

Francis Bean


Apprentice joiner


Jane Bean




Mary Bean




Margaret Bean








Only the two boys were bringing in a wage. Thomas had nearly finished his apprenticeship, and two different figures are noted for his wages. They are only a week apart. Why the discrepancy? It may be that the family downplayed his wages to make a better case for themselves. Or it could be that he had finished his apprenticeship, but not yet found a job. It took him a long time to set up as a journeyman marble polisher, and when he applied to become a Freeman he was working as a porter, so not earning a lot.[xvii] Francis had only just started his apprenticeship and was getting a pittance. Jane was just about old enough to start working as a servant – very few poor girls made it to 14 before leaving school – but was ill off and on until 1862 with 'general debility'.[xviii] Her sister Mary had epilepsy, and Margaret was only eight years old. Later applications show that their mother Mary was doing her best to earn some money by working as a charwoman, and then a nurse, both very low-paid.

The rest of the family were probably not in a position to give Mary much support. Her daughter Sarah’s wages would have been small. Robert’s mother Sarah was still alive, but the £100 left by her husband were long gone. At the age of 75, she was still working as a cow-keeper alongside her daughter-in-law, and taking in a lodger to help make ends meet. [xix]

There would have been some money from the Freemen of York. Profits from the Strays were divided among Freemen or widows of freemen, and some of the richer Freemen waived their payments, to benefit the poorer members. In 1858, 500 people received 12s each. In 1859 unfortunately there were more recipients and the payment dropped to 9 shillings.[xx] No doubt this money would have been welcome but, as it was an annual payment, it would not have made much difference to their weekly budget.

Twenty shillings was not enough for a family of this size to live on. I have used figures from Alan Armstrong’s Stability and change in an English county town[xxi] to estimate they would have needed around twenty seven shillings a week just to survive, so they fell well short. 

The Beans apply for relief from the York Poor Law Union

Mary Bean first applied for relief soon after her husband’s death in December 1859, on the grounds of widowhood, and was awarded six shillings per week from the Common Charges fund, with no time limit noted.  This sum actually brings the family incomings very close to Armstrong’s estimate.  

Mary and her family got relief until 1862 and I tracked them through the outdoor relief system using the Application & Report (A&R) books [xxii] and the Outdoor Relief (OR) Books [xxiii] (Outdoor relief consisted of handouts in money or in kind, to enable the poor to live in the community, rather than being sent to the workhouse.)  People’s first contact with the system was logged in the Application & Report (A&R) books. Their details were written down – address, family members, ages, money coming into the household, reason for applying – and the decision on relief noted. They might be sent to the workhouse, given relief or 'not entertained.' If their application was successful, then the recipient’s name was transferred to the Outdoor Relief (OR) Books and their payments were entered there week by week. If they were claiming relief because of illness, a medical certificate was required to be produced at the weekly meeting of the Board of Guardians.

Mary was far from totally destitute when she first applied. She had received the very tidy sum of eleven pounds and fifteen shillings from 'the Club' soon after her husband’s death, an amount which would support the family for eight weeks. 'The Club' is frequently mentioned in the A&R Books but the sums involved are usually small weekly payments, say 4/- to 9/-. 'The Club' actually covered a great variety of organisations. Most poor people were very aware of how precarious their lives were and they tried hard according to their means to put something aside.  

The 1909 Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress [xxiv] gives a good idea of the range of thrift agencies at work in York, albeit at a slightly later period than this. There were small informal 'sharing-out clubs' organised by workshops or adult schools, or even public houses. Many people made regular payments which entitled them to a weekly sum when incapacitated.[xxv] Others could pay small and perhaps less regular amounts into the Penny Savings Bank.

There were also friendly societies. Some were tiny, but the best of them had many members and sound financial reserves. For example, York had seven branches of the Ancient Order of Foresters, which paid out £760 in sick pay in 1893, and also £323 for 38 funerals, which averages out at £8 per funeral.

I think Mary’s lump sum was intended for her husband’s funeral – either from a friendly society or a burial club. In Victorian times, it was very important for a family’s sense of worth to bury their members decently. I found two other lump sums in our database and both belonged to widows, one definitely in similar circumstances to Mary, being recently bereaved.[xxvi]  So it seems that the Poor Law Union did not count money earmarked for funerals as part of the family’s resources.

Following the Bean family through the Poor Law books

Tracking the Beans’ tortuous journey through the (A&R) and (OR) Books raised lots of other questions. At one point, I was quite convinced the Beans were gaming the system. However, most of the apparent discrepancies turned out to be totally above board. Because of the complications, I will give a very brief explanation here. If you want to know the full details, please follow this link


Why was Mary given relief when she had eleven pounds and fifteen shillings in hand?

The lump sum was most likely for her husband’s burial


Why did they receive money from three different parishes, none of which was Robert’s parish of settlement

People were now being relieved in their parish of residence rather than the parish in which they were born. If their needs looked like being temporary, they were paid out of a common fund instead


Was the system too complicated, so open to mistakes?

No. The rules were being applied consistently, and by the same clerk, Henry Brearey


Did Under 16 mean up to your sixteenth birthday or sixteen and under?

Both definitions seem to have been applied to Francis


Why was he relieved separately from the rest of the family as an Orphan under 16 without parents?

Not sure


Was someone in the PLU sympathetic to the Bean family?


Question 2 – Why is the Bean family receiving money from three separate parishes, none of which was Robert’s parish of settlement?                                        

Before the New Poor Law Act (1834) was passed, people were relieved by the parish where they had Settlement, normally the parish where they were born. (Wives took their husband’s settlement and children their father’s.) If you applied for relief, you were Examined for Settlement, and if you did not qualify, you could be Removed, or sent back where you officially 'belonged.'

However, even after 1834, when groups of parishes were joined into a Union, the parishes still retained control of their own money and dispensed it to their own poor. The Poor Law Union covered only shared expenses, such as the salaries of the paid officials. In York there were not many actual removals. It was the money that moved around, being transferred from their parish of settlement to their parish of residence. In time, residence began to trump settlement when relief was given.

Robert was baptised in St Sampson’s, so strictly speaking, that should have been his parish of settlement. However, he was relieved by Holy Trinity, Micklegate, presumably because that is where he was living when he applied for relief.[xxvii] Mary was Robert’s widow, so she was also relieved from Holy Trinity, Micklegate. The PLU seemed to be equally pragmatic when Francis applied – he received his money from St Mary Bishophill Junior where he was then living. However, the situation was more complicated as they also moved back and forward between these parishes and Common Charges.

Removal could cause great distress to those sent back to their parish of settlement, and the receiving parishes and Unions did not welcome extra paupers either. So in 1846 the Poor Removal Act allowed people who had lived in a parish for five years to claim relief locally. Unfortunately these now 'irremovable' poor tended to swamp the poorest parishes. An amendment called Bodkins’ Act let Unions spread the cost across all their parishes, which they did by creating common funds.

However, York PLU also put settled recipients of Outdoor Relief into Common Charges as well, namely those whose needs looked like being short-term - ‘That in every case of Outdoor Relief where the same is made chargeable to the Common Fund in consequence of the applicant being certified to be suffering from temporary sickness, there be a revision of such cases at least once in every quarter (should the relief being so long continued) and that a new medical certificate be required at such revision in which the Medical Officer is required to state whether or not such sickness has become permanent.’ [xxviii]

So temporary claimants were put into Common Charges, but if they looked like needing permanent relief, they were returned to their parish of residence. Their circumstances were reviewed at intervals, though annually rather than quarterly as optimistically recommended above. If their circumstances had improved, a new entry was made in the A&R Books and they were returned to Common Charges.

When these rules are understood, the Beans movements from parish to Common Charges and back again make perfect sense.

Question 3 – Was Francis under or over 16?

This depends on whether under sixteen means: up until one’s sixteenth birthday, OR, sixteen years and under?  Both definitions are applied to Francis at different times in the A&R and OR books. He was born on 25 January 1845.

At the end of 1859, soon after she was widowed, Mary claimed for four children under sixteen, one of whom was Francis. This is correct, and this situation continued for almost one complete year. However, when only three weeks off his sixteenth birthday, Francis was suddenly moved to St Mary Bishophill Junior, and treated as a claimant in his own right as an Under 16 being relieved without parents.[xxix]  Mary’s claim was now for herself and three under sixteens.

Two days before his seventeenth birthday in January 1862, Francis’s claim was revised, and his payments unsurprisingly stopped. Mary’s claim was also revised in March 1862 and she was returned to Common Charges. Mary reapplied for relief again on 12 March 1862, because 'the children were ill'. However, Francis has now apparently returned to the bosom of his family, as Mary is once again claiming for four under sixteens. [xxx]

Eventually the PLU caught up with the Bean family. Their case was reviewed in the week ending 28 August. This time all payments were stopped and they were sent to the workhouse. Or maybe they weren’t! Although the OR book notes To House, the words are then scored out and Wk 9 Discard written in. No workhouse admission records exist for this period so there is no way to check what really happened.

Question 4: Why was Francis relieved as an orphan?

We would not consider Francis an orphan as his mother was still alive, but in Victorian times you could be considered an orphan if your father was dead, so – no problems there.

However, it was very unusual for an orphan to be relieved in his own right, especially one as old as Francis. Our database for 1860 contains only three other orphans being relieved in their own right, and all three were truly alone in the world. One was a six year old whose mother was in prison, one was a fourteen year old with an abscess, with no details given of his living conditions or circumstances, and the third was a fifteen year old girl described as 'lost, in rags and filth.' They were all sent to the workhouse. So why did Francis get special treatment?

I have two theories. One is that his family was known to the Guardians, who were sympathetic to their misfortunes. Francis’s grandfather Thomas had been Assistant Overseer of St Mary Bishophill Junior for over 30 years. Although he died six years before the family’s troubles, it is possible that there were still people working within the York Poor Law system who had known him and were able to tweak the rules in his favour.

The second theory is that Francis was seen as having a good chance in life.  He was living with family support and he had an apprenticeship. His pitiful wages might increase slightly over the next few years, and at the end of the apprenticeship he would be independent and off the PLU’s books.

Apprenticeships of Thomas John and Francis Bean

However you interpret the Poor Law Union’s payments, on 25 January 1862, Francis was now seventeen and incontrovertibly an adult. Both Thomas and Francis were apprentices at the time of their father’s death, Thomas as a marble polisher and Francis as a joiner. The Poor Law Union paid for boys aged from eleven to sixteen to be apprenticed, see details here at York Poor Law Union Apprentices 1845-1929. The going rate was £10 plus two suits of clothes for a period of six or seven years, a bargain for the Union, and a source of cheap labour for the masters, though a poor deal for the boys, who were not even guaranteed a job at the end. However, neither Thomas nor Francis is named in the PLU Register of Apprentices. [xxxi]  Thomas’ apprenticeship seems to have been a sound one, as he eventually made a living in the business, but it took him a while to become established. When he applied to become a Freeman, he gave his occupation as porter. By the 1861 Census he had found a proper job as a marble polisher, and eventually became a marble mason, with his own entry in White’s Trade directory of 1895 and his own premises in Parliament Street.  

Francis was apprenticed to a joiner, possibly arranged by the Blue Coat School or with his uncle Richard Bean, whose occupation is variously joiner and cabinet maker, cow keeper and farmer. Francis was still an apprentice joiner in the 1861 Census and I would have expected him to have finished his apprenticeship around 1866. However this did not happen. In 1866, he was married, living in Manchester and working as a guard on the railway.

Employment on the railways

The railways were the route out of poverty for many a poor boy. Although hours were often long and pay at the bottom was poor, there was a decent career structure and it was steady, respected work.  Training was mostly on the job, so you could start without any qualifications.

NER York Station pillars (2)The railways came to York in the 1830s. In 1854 the North Eastern Railway was authorized, and by 1861 it was a major employer in the city. Swann Street, Dale Street and Dove Street were a conveniently short walk from York Station and 28% of the workforce in this area were railway employees in some capacity. see Railway employment in Dale St, Dove St and Swann St, 1841-1881

Francis’s neighbours in Swann Street included pointsmen, boilersmiths, guards, platelayers, labourers and stokers. It is likely that Francis could have found work as a joiner, as there was always repair and maintenance work to be done, and by 1865 York was manufacturing rolling stock for the whole of the North Eastern Railway. But perhaps this was not a trade that suited him – it seems likely he did not complete his apprenticeship.

He may have started as a porter and moved on to becoming a guard, the usual career progression. At some point he moved to Manchester – perhaps he was posted there, or perhaps there was bad feeling over the premature ending of his apprenticeship. There he met his wife, Eliza Berry, and they got married in Chesterfield, where her family were living at the time. 

Around 1867 the couple returned to settle in York. Francis applied to be a Freeman of the City and was accepted in 1868. He was still a guard when their first child, John Francis, was born in 1870. However, by the 1871 census, Francis had been promoted to stoker, and by 1877, was a fully-fledged engine driver with the North Eastern Railway.[xxxii] This is not the typical career path of an engine driver. You normally started at fourteen as an engine cleaner, a filthy and laborious job. You would also do shed duties, helping the boilersmiths and fitters. You learned the parts of your train and some basic maintenance, then graduated to firing, then shunting. NER instructions to engine drivers, 1867 medium_DS140134 Science Museum creative commons

NER instructions to engine drivers, 1867 Science Museum creative commons

Eventually you would be examined on your duties (and the rule-book) and you became a passed cleaner. There were no exams or formal training. Men studied in their own time, often in the front room of a more senior railwayman. As a passed cleaner, you could progress to fireman, starting from the bottom again, shunting in the yards, then on freight trains and branch lines, building up experience and learning the routes you travelled on.  You worked your way up through the 'links' until you became a passed fireman. Then it was back to the bottom again learning the job of engine driver, which could take up to 10 years. [xxxiii] So Francis started late and finished early. Unfortunately there are no staff records for the NER at this period so I don’t know how Francis managed this (or how the other drivers felt about working with someone who hadn’t risen up in the usual way – they were punctilious about drivers being promoted in their correct turn.)

All this time Francis’s family was growing. He and Eliza had eight children – John Francis (1870-1871), Albert Ernest (1872-1953), Flora Ada (1873-1876), Alice Maud (1877-after 1911), Lilly Beatrice (1879-1879), twins Laura and Frank (b. 1881) and Bertha (b. 1884). John, Flora, Frank and Bertha all died under five. John died of pneumonia, Flora of scarlatina and Bertha of whooping cough, all curable today with antibiotics. Frank died of marasmus at only four weeks old. Marasmus means malnutrition or failure to thrive, but there are no clues in the death certificate as to the underlying cause. I suspect that he was the weaker of the twins and not strong enough to survive.

Francis was now well established with the North Eastern Railway.  The missing staff records mean there are no details of his career as an engine driver, but there is lots of evidence to show the very active part he played in the social life of the company. He was one of the leaders of a deputation representing the engine drivers of the NER when they presented an address to the Chairman, the famous George Leeman, on his retirement in 1880,[xxxiv]  and was often present when lesser mortals retired. He was secretary of the Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association for at least seventeen years. However his main calling was the very important one of organising the annual railwaymen’s dinner, a prestigious event held in the best York hotels – the Station Hotel and the Adelphi – and reported in detail every January in the local press. The format was always the same, starting with numerous toasts to the health of everyone from the Directors down, including the various superintendents, visiting guests, the Mayor and Corporation, the donors to the event, the hosts at the chosen hotel and of course eventually to Francis himself.  There was usually a congratulatory review of NER improvements. Then the fun started. A report from 1894 concludes: “The subsequent portion of the evening was devoted to conviviality and the proceedings were of a most hearty character.”[xxxv]

Railway servants were often able to put in a good word for their relatives and 'railway families' were very common. The Beans followed this pattern. Albert Ernest was a railway fireman in the 1891 Census. Following another family tradition, Albert was accepted as a Freeman of York in 1894. But on 27 November 1899, he suffered a terrible accident, breaking his right arm in so many places that it had to be amputated. Details of the accident are sketchy and it is not clear whether it was connected with his employment – it is not logged in the Accident Archive on, and the Yorkshire Gazette just says that his arm was “broken to pieces”. Although no longer able to drive a train, he continued to work for the North East Railway, first as an assistant night foreman (1901 census) then as a loco assistant foreman (1911 census).

Francis never knew about the accident. He died on 25 June 1899, aged 54, of heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. Whether this was a result of his social activities I do not know. Like his grandfather, Francis seemed to enjoy a drink - he did seem partial to a good night out – but he certainly did not waste all his money on alcohol.  

He left just over £323 to his wife, sparing her the traumas his own mother went through with the Poor Law Union. In the 1901 census Eliza Bean was able to describe herself as 'a widow living on own means' (though she still had one daughter, Laura, living at home and working as a chocolate maker, and was also augmenting the household budget with two male boarders.)

Francis had a bad start in life but ultimately made good, escaping from poverty and passing his benefits on to the next generation.

“Well done, thou good and faithful railway servant.”



 I recorded the details of the Bean family on RootsMagic, which I have transferred to  so it is available for viewing there.  Unfortunately It did not all transfer successfully, particularly the information from the Poor Law Records which was just too complicated. If you would like a gedcom version, please contact me via our website here. 

[i] City of York :  Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Municipal Corporations. 1837

[ii] Accessed 22/01/2021

[iii] Robert was baptised on 17 December 1809, father Thomas Bean and mother Mary Acomb. However, earlier in the year on 3 January 1809, Thomas had married Sarah Acomb. There were two Acomb sisters from Wheldrake, Mary b. 1778 and Sarah b. 1786. Mary was 8 years older than Sarah and by 1809 had her own husband, John Richardson and several children.  They did not live in York – Wheldrake and Skipwith are mentioned in various records – so, although it would not be impossible for Thomas to have had a child with Mary, it is unlikely.  Thomas’s own mother was called Mary, so I think that her name has been entered by mistake.

[iv] White’s directory of York, 1840

[v] 1851 Census, York. South Prospect Street. Thomas Bean household

[vi] White’s directory of York, 1846

[vii] Prerogative Court of York. Will. Vol. 230, f4, 2896/15 (Borthwick Institute)

[viii] York Cemetery Register.  Plot 5250

[ix] Farmer’s Friend & Freeman’s Journal, 30 Apr 1853

[x] Yorkshire Gazette, 30 Mar 1850

[xi] City of York Apprentices & Freemen 1272-1930. Application by Robert Bean, 2 Apr 1831.  His application form says Skelton but the entry in the log of applications gives it as Wheldrake.

[xii] Bean, Robert & Eccles, Mary. Marriage register, St Lawrence Church, York, 1837.

[xiii] Bean, Francis.  Birth certificate, 1845

[xiv] Yorkshire Gazette, 7 Mar 1855

[xv] Taylor, W.B.  Blue coat, grey coat: the Blue and Grey Coat Schools & St Stephens House of York, 1705-1983.  York: Sessions, 1997.

[xvi] York Cemetery Register.  Plot 5250

[xvii] City of York, "Apprentices and Freemen 1272 - 1930," accessed 03/02/2021

[xviii] York Poor Law Union. Minute of Guardian’ meetings, 6 March 1862 PLU/1/1/1/15, p. 540

[xix] 1861 Census, York. South Prospect Street. Sarah Bean household


[xxi] Armstrong, Alan. Stability and change in an English county town: a social study of York 1801-1851.  CUP, 1997.  

[xxii] York Poor Law Union. Application & Report Books. PLU/3/1/1

[xxiii] York Poor Law Union. Outdoor Relief Books. PLU/3/2/1

[xxiv] Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress. 1909 -- Appendix Volume XV. : Report to the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress on endowed and voluntary charities in certain places, and the administrative relations of charity and the Poor Law. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library & Archives ServiceIn copyright Accessed from October 2020

[xxv] The information about Paying Out Clubs is from 1909, 50 years after the period in which the Beans received their money, so allowances will have to be made. To quote 2 examples: The Report gives a sample payment of 6/- per week for incapacity; whereas the amount paid out in 1854 to George Seymour who was incapacitated was 2/- per week (York Poor Law Union : Application & Report Books 1854  PLU3/1/1/34)

[xxvi] York Poor Law Union. Application & Report Books. PLU/3/1/1/47 (M.A. McFarlane, Dec 1860 had £20. Her husband died in Q3 1860)

[xxvii] York Poor Law Union. Application & Report Books. PLU/3/1/1/44.

[xxviii] York Poor law Union. Board of Guardians Minutes PLU/1/1/1/13. 24 Dec 1857, p. 115

[xxix] York Poor Law Union. Application & Report Books. PLU/3/1/1/47, p.34

[xxx] York Poor Law Union. Application and Report Books. PLU/3/1/1/51 

[xxxi] York Poor Law Union. Register of apprentices [1845 – 1886].   PLU/6/1/1

[xxxii] Bean, John Francis. Death certificate, 1871

[xxxiii] Oxford companion to British railway history. OUP, 1997

[xxxiv] York Herald, 22 September 1880

[xxxv] York Herald, 13 Jan 1894