Willen Employment

Jobs done in 1881 in detail

In Willen in 1881 there were 85 people. Like today, most of the children went to school, those that did not were generally too young. However, once you got to 12 you left school and started work nearby, unless you had parents rich enough to send you to a fee paying school. In Willen this only included the farmer Henry Whiting's children. Work in the village was mostly farm labouring if you were a boy, or becoming a servant if you were a girl. Once you were married, you would make crafts at home when your many children allowed. In Willen these crafts included lacemaking, basket weaving and making straw hats. Of the crafts
lacemaking had been a traditional women's job in Buckinghamshire since around 1600. Straw hat making was more typical of Bedfordshire (Luton Town Football Club are known as the 'hatters'). Basket weaving must have been done in Willen since its foundation, seeing as the name Willen means of the willows.

Only four people in the village had 'white collar' jobs. The vicar John Benthall, who was born in Devon, the schoolmistress Martha Barnes who came from Oxfordshire, Caroline Penson, the governess to the Whiting children who also came from Oxfordshire, and Robert Abbott the Sub-postmaster and Parish Clerk; the only one to have been born in the village.