Chapter 7.

WILLIAM IV (1774-1817)

      The earliest member of our family of whom any amount of detail is recorded was William, whose entry into the world was noted in the Aldborough parishes register thus - "William illegitimate son of Elizabeth Dagget of Boroughbridge baptised 8th July 1774".

      Elizabeth arrived in that village from West Tanfield between 1766 and 1772.William probably spent his early childhood in Boroughbridge, where his mother eventually married in 1778.

      Twenty years elapsed before there was any further news of William, and this was in Doncaster! In an application for a marriage licence dated 31st March 1798 we read


" A private in the 5th Regiment of the West York Militia age 21 years and upwards William Dagat Batchelor intends to marry Jane Dodsworth of the parish of Doncaster in the Diocese of York age 21 and upwards spinster." He requests a licence to marry in the Church of Doncaster "in which said parish the said Wm.Dagat further made oath that she the said Jane Dodsworth hath made her usual abode for the space of four weeks last past."

      The document was sworn before the Surrogate S.Moore, and "signed' with William's mark. The licence was granted the same day and witnessed by William Dagat and William Stead, a private in the same regiment. Both were bound in the sum of £200.

      The following day, lst April 1798, Jane and William were married in Doncaster Parish Church.

      There were a number of scares prevalent about a possible invasion by the French, and one of the measures taken to anticipate such an event was the creation of an army known as the Militia at the end of 1792. War was declared in 1793. By 1794 it was evident that this force needed strengthening, at least on a temporary basis. Discussions and correspondence took place all over the country, with the result that by 1796 it had been decided to set up a Supplementary Militia on a local basis. This was to be composed of conscripts who would, however, have the chance of sending a substitute if they did not want to serve. The Supplementary Militia for the North Riding was to comprise 1360 infantry privates plus 385 men for the Navy and a number of cavalrymen based on the number of horses kept privately in the area.

      Constables were given the job of collecting information about all the men between 15 and 60, with certain exceptions. "To Escape the Monster's Clutches" published by the North Yorkshire County Record Office in 1977 gives the background to this campaign, including letters and reports of meetings concerning the arrangements for raising a Supplementary Militia in the North Riding. It also includes lists of inhabitants in certain villages in 1799 (for instance Thomas Daggett of Hunton) and lists of various other volunteer forces such as the Scarborough Volunteers.

      The name of John Daggett, age 30, married, shoemaker occurs in the Cayton Volunteers near Scarborough for 1803. Another John Daggit, farmer, is listed in the "Craven Muster Roll" of the same year for the parish of Burnsall near Skipton in the West Riding.The minimum height for militiamen was 5ft 2ins, and poor men with up to three children under the age of ten were exempt. The "call-up" applied only to a limited number of men, but of these there were many that were willing to pay £10 or £15 to anybody prepared to take their place. And there was no shortage of such willing substitutes! In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 95% of those actually serving were substitutes. The men were collected from all over the area and generally sent to a central unit some distance from their homes. Service was for three years, but during that time there was a considerable amount of leave at various times of the year, such as at harvest tine. The Supplementary Militia did not usually take the men out of their home county, although the permanent militia had no such limitation. Indeed, men from North Yorkshire found themselves as far afield as Dorset, Essex, Sussex and Glasgow.

      The 5th Regiment of the West York Militia was initiated in May 1797 with about 500 men. A letter in February 1798 from Lord Portland, Lord Lieutenant of the County, to the War Office was concerned with the supply of money for clothing and other equipment for the new regiment. Three separate battalions were to be formed at Leeds, Wakefield and Doncaster, totalling a further 500 men and 150 officers under Colonel Sir George Cooke, who was then stationed at Beverley.

      We do not know whether William Dagat was a conscript or a substitute or even whether he was a member of the1797 half of the regiment or the 1798 contingent. His sojourn in Doncaster, as far as can be ascertained, was the first event concerning a Daggett in that town. It was as a complete stranger that he found himself there. How he came to be in a West Yorkshire regiment if he was still living in the North Riding has not been explained.

      The presence of Jane Dodsworth in Doncaster was less fortuitous. She was born on 13th January 1771 in Scorton, a village in the parish of Bolton-on-Swale near Catterick in North Yorkshire. Her father was Thomas Dodsworth. Her mother had been born as Jane Metcalfe in 1733 at Bolton, having married Thomas there in 1758. Dodsworth and Metcalfe are both old families, widely spread throughout the County.

      Jane junior had a sister Elizabeth born eight years before her and who married a man called Sewler; she also had three brothers, Thomas (born 1759), William (1761) and Henry (1767). Another brother and sister died in infancy. William Dodsworth had gone to live in Doncaster, probably some time between 1785 and 1795. He had married a girl named Agnes during that time, but we are unable to find the date or place. We assume that Jane had followed her brother to Doncaster, although her parents remained at Scorton. Now William died in 1823, leaving his estate worth £200 to his wife Agnes, his sisters Elizabeth Sewler and Jane Daggitt, and his brothers Henry and Thomas.

      It seems that William Daggett lost no time in becoming very well acquainted with Jane on his arrival in Doncaster. They decided to get married almost immediately, perhaps because he knew he would shortly be moving with his regiment to Hull. Doncaster, being on the main road to the North, was always in much demand as a temporary halt for the military, and local inn-keepers were constantly protesting about the number of soldiers they had billeted on them.

      From the few surviving documents in the Public Record Office at Kew concerning the 5th West York Militia it can be seen that William Daggett or Dagat was a private who was paid £1.13.0 for his month's service up to 24th March 1798. Each succeeding month this was £1.11.0 or £1.10.0 and he was moved around through a succession of six of the ten different companies that made up the regiment.

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      He remained in Doncaster and Hull until the middle of 1799, when the regiment took up residence at Hornsea Camp on the East Yorkshire coast until lst November when it transferred to Hull again. The records end at the beginning of 1800 with a payment to William on 2nd January. He was then in the 7th Company. It is assumed that the 5th West York was then disbanded. From 25th September 1799 to 24th October he was "on the march 3 days, in camp 6 days and at own quarters 21 days." This last probably means he was free to go home, which was Scorton. He and Jane had apparently returned to her birthplace soon after they were married, to await the arrival of their first child.

      The records of the Militia also include a number of entries for Jno.Dagnell or Dagnall during 1798 and 1799. He was in the 10th and 8th Companies and this must have caused some confusion in the military mind because on at least one occasion he was entered as William! (The records of the Doncaster Volunteers reference, W0 13 4609 at Kew do not include any Daggetts.)

      The village of Scorton is in the parish of Bolton-on-Swale. Elizabeth, daughter of William Daggit of Scorton and Jane his wife was born 6th January 1799 and christened in the parish church 24th January. Unfortunately she died at the end of November the following year. In 1801 the registers note that: - "Thomas William son of Thomas and Jane Daggett was born 10th March, baptised 18th March."

      The father's name should, of course, be William! It is obvious that William spent a considerable amount of time in Scorton even while he was nominally in the Militia. Bolton Church was formerly dedicated to All Hallows; it is now St.Mary's.

      Then another upheaval took place. About 1802 William, Jane and their infant son moved to York City. We have no idea why this move took place or even what William's occupation was at the time. The Bedern Chapel in the centre of York had no facilities for burials and it had only seen two marriages in the whole of the period from 1682 to 1868.

      But the following baptisms occur in the Chapel's registers, the originals of which are now in the Minster Library.

A daughter Jane was baptised on 3rd April 1803 having been born 10th March. Parents were William and Jane Dagget in this and the following cases.

A daughter Marianne was born 4th January 1805 and baptised 14th January.

A son David was born 27th June 1806 and baptised 8th July.

      It is just possible that a son John was born in 1809 (see the Chapter on Thomas William I) but this is sheer conjecture.

      Jane grew up and married Jason Clark in 1836 (see next chapter).

      David died on 26th August 1807 and was buried two days later in St.Maurice's churchyard. This church was on the corner just outside the City walls opposite Monk Bar. The building has gone and only a few gravestones remain.

      Marianne has not been further traced.

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      William and Jane had settled in the square known as the Bedern. This was off Goodramgate almost opposite College Street and was reached through an archway between overhanging houses. Its eastern end has since been opened out into St.Andrewgate. The Bedern is a very ancient precinct which contained the chapel associated with the Minster. This chapel was the former home of the Vicars Choral; only part of the outside wall remains now. The Bedern was a very isolated area guarded by a gate, which was locked at night. The whole precinct was known as The Minster Yard with Bedern. Its name means a solitary place for prayer and a similarly named site is next to the Cathedral in Ripon.

      The York site had a history going back to the Roman occupation, containing a palatial residence of the Caesars. About 1250 it was taken over by the Minster and consecrated as a place for prayer - by men only! The chapel was erected in about 1350. After the Reformation the buildings gradually became let off to tenants, and more houses were built nearby for well-to-do people. This state of affairs did not endure and the status of the Bedern declined until, by 1800, it was one of the worst slums, with attendant crime and disease. During the late 18th century it housed one of the pioneers of the Methodist movement the composer Thomas Stodhart.

      However, after 1800 conditions were much improved and, later in 1850, extensive rebuilding and joining up the road with St.Andrewgate returned the Bedern to some sort of respectability. In 1985 very extensive rebuilding has again taken place, chiefly of town dwellings.

      William and his family lived there until after 1813, but when he died in 1817 he had moved to St.Andrewgate, just around the corner. He was buried in St.Saviour's on 13th June, aged 44. The only clue we have to his occupation is on his son's marriage certificate of 1840 that described William as a cordwainer ~ i.e. a leather-worker, probably with shoes.

      Jane survived her husband for many years. Her name occurs on the list of Wesleyan Methodist supporters for 1827 and 1829 although we cannot be certain that this does not refer to her daughter Jane. However, there is no doubt about the death of Jane senior because on 19 January 1834 Jane Daggett of College Street, age 65 was buried at St.Maurice. College Street, as we shall see later, was at one time the home of Jane's son, Thomas William. (Incidentally her real age was 63.)

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