Willen People

Old Blind Abbott

This is the cottage where 'Old Blind Abbott' lived, according to the 1822 survey of Willen. Mr Higgs the surveyor wrote, "There are two cottages higher up near the church occupied by blind Abbot - and a person named Garner. They should be attended to, much of the thatching is gone and lets in the rain to Abbot's bed-room. Mr Gardner (the vicar) hopes old Abbot will not be required to remove any more - although he is totally blind he manages his garden without any assistance".
Blind Abbott's name was William Abbott, he was the only surviving son of Jonathon Abbott (of Milton Keynes village) who came to Willen in 1739 when he married Elizabeth Williams and took over Manor Farm. William was born in 1743 and married his wife Mary in 1746. They had 8 children, one of whom was the Thomas Abbott, father of Robert Abbott ,who became Sub-postmaster of Willen around 1860. William would have had quite a priviledged childhood and certainly got some education, as did his own children. But when Jonathan died in 1793, Manor Farm passed to a son-in-law, not William, because William had become totally blind. He lived in a small cottage in the village and received £5 pounds a year charity from the Busby Trust. William's children were quite poor, his grandson Robert worked as a gardener. It is easy to imagine Robert, as a little boy, learning his job as he helped his blind grandfather keep his beloved garden in good order.
Picture from the 1822 survey of Willen, courtesy of the Busby Trust.