An excerpt from the mini biography of Frederick James Huddlestone who brought my Huddlestone ancestors (pedigree lineage) to Yorkshire from Cambridge
“Throughout the Victorian era farming faced a number of challenges (see blog on James Huddlestone for more details). In the 1870’s there began an agricultural depression resulting from the industrial revolution; a series of bad harvests due to poor weather; technological advances in farming machinery reducing the amount of labourers needed; and the increase of cheap American imports (post the American Civil war (1861 to 1865)) reducing the price of home grown crops. The repeal of the Corn Laws (which had imposed tariffs on imported grain) in 1846 had led to free trade. Ultimately this agricultural depression led to the Board of Agriculture (now the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) being set up in 1889. This was the period when Benjamin Disreali (1874 to 1880) was Prime Minister. There were a number of other technological advances and inventions during this period including the Gasoline Carburettor, Telephone and Phonograph in 1876; .Microphone in 1877; the Lightbulb in 1879; the electric iron in 1882; the Motorcycle in 1885; and the Automobile in 1886.
Pay for agricultural labourers was generally poor but especially low in the south where there was little competition from the lure of the new, industrial areas of the Midlands, North West and West Yorkshire, where wages were higher. There are stories of whole families packing up and leaving Cambridgeshire for a new life in these areas with examples of agents actively negotiating with Parish officials in Cambridgeshire to arrange for workers to be shipped to the mill towns in Lancashire because this took them off parish relief.
It appear that Frederick was attracted by the ‘lure of the north’. By 1878 Frederick was living in Cridling Stubbs in the Parish of Womersley in the lower division of the Wapentake (also known as Hundred in other parts of the country) of Osgoldcross in the West Riding of Yorkshire; marrying Mary Elizabeth Turner on the 4 December 1878 at The Parish Church in the Parish of Womersley, and working as a Blacksmith. Mary was the youngest child and only daughter of John Turner and Martha Turner (nee Heap) born 12 April 1859 in Burton Salmon, Yorkshire. Her father was a shopkeeper and according to the 1871 census he described himself as a grocer and beer dealer.
In the Directory and Topography of Sheffield 1826, Cridling Stubbs is described as “a scattered township, 4 miles E. of Pontefract, contains 1,380 acres of land, and in 1861 had 127 inhabitants. Rateable value, £1,500. William W. Chafey, Esq., and Sidney College, Cambridge, are the principal owners; the former is also lord of the manor”. Sidney College bought Cridling Park, part of the manor of Cridling Stubbs from the Earl of Monmouth in 1634 for £2,670 after Sir John Brereton, one of the first scholars of Sidney College, who died in 1626, left one-half of his estate for such purposes as would be for the good of the College.
I have not found any particular reason why Frederick chose Cridling Stubbs to move to from Foxton nor when he actually moved but this is interesting because two of his brothers moved to the area around the same time, working as chemical labourers at Whitwood and ultimately four of his six siblings moved to the surrounding area. It would have been relatively easy to travel to the area following the completion of the great north railway in 1850 (London to Doncaster with a connection to York) to which there was a link from Foxton Station via the Hitchin and Cambridge branch line of the great northern railway. The line also continued to Edinburgh (line from Doncaster to Edinburgh was completed in 1846) and London to York direct was available from 1871″