Willen People

The Clare family

The Clares come to Willen

Joseph James Clare arrived in Willen from North Crawley, aged 22, with his wife Emily and their first three children, Charles (4), Elizabeth (3) and Sarah Ann (1) in 1876. Joseph worked as a cowman for Farmer Payne, the new tenant at Brook Farm, and Emily was a lacemaker.
John Wilkinson Clare and Charlie Clare in 1901.
They went on to have another nine children; the first of whom was John Wilkinson Clare born in 1878. To begin with they lived in the middle cottage of the three right down by the ford across the Ouzel, but, presumably when Joseph changed his job to groom, they moved up to one of the newest cottages at the top of the road, so they could be nearer the stables. By 1891, Charles was working as a cowman, Elizabeth worked as a servant for Henry Whiting, the farmer in Manor Farm, and young John was a general farm labourer. The younger children attended the village school.
In 1897 disaster struck, Joseph died, aged just 43, leaving his wife Emily with at least eight children still dependent on her, the youngest of whom was baby Alfred. She was forced to leave the cottage and move to Newport Pagnell, (although the family continued to attend Willen Church and were keen members of the church choir).
John found a job as a milkman. Later, in 1907, he married Catherine Lane from Willen and had at least four children. John's older brother Charles was more fortunate, he had recently married. He seems to have stayed in the village and his first child, Harold Frederick, was born the same year Joseph died.