The Booth Family

John and Mary Booth and the Railway Inn, Mow Cop from 1869.

John Booth my great great grandfather was the landlord of the Railway Inn for many years. He was born in Church Lawton on the 10 September 1826 and arrived at Mow Cop via Lawton and Red Bull. It seems likely that he and his family moved to the pub in 1869. In the 1861 census John was recorded as being a farmer of 66 acres in Red Bull. He was then living at the farm with Mary his wife, extensive family, 2 live in servants and a live in carter. The oldest of the children back then was Annie 12 and none were old enough to work. He had begun farming in Lawton where it is recorded in the 1851 census that he was farming 21 acres and was 25 years old.

1871 Census of the Railway Inn

Living at the Railway Inn Mow Cop were as follows:

  • John Booth Head 44 Butcher/publican
  • Mary Booth Wife 45
  • Annie Booth Daughter 21 Barmaid
  • James Booth Son 19
  • Henry Booth Son 17
  • Sarah Booth Daughter 13 Scholar
  • Arthur Booth Son 11 Scholar
  • Samuel Booth Son 9 Scholar
  • Julia Booth Daughter 6 Scholar
  • Frederick Booth Son 3

This 1871 census records that there were ten members of the Booth Family at The Railway Inn. John Booth the landlord and head of the family is described as a butcher/publican and so had two jobs and two sources of income. John’s daughter Annie described as a barmaid was clearly employed in the pub and, it is likely too, that her mother Mary helped in the pub as well as looking after the sizeable family.

We do not know what had prompted John to change from being a tenant farmer to becoming the tenant of a pub, which is the position I assume he had. Neither do we know about the origins of the butchery business and where it might have been conducted, however we know that it was linked to farming. Over the next ten years life for the Booth family at the Railway Inn was consolidated and, the picture is enlarged with more information about them.

The 1881 Census

Now Living at The Railway Inn, Mow Cop, were as follows:

  • John Booth Head 54 Butcher/publican
  • Mary Booth Wife 55
  • Elizabeth Booth Daughter 30 Housework
  • Henry Booth Son 27 Butcher
  • Arthur Booth Son 22 Schoolmaster
  • Samuel Booth Son 20 Joiner
  • Julia Booth Daughter 16 Pupil Teacher
  • Frederick Booth Son 13 Scholar
  • George Booth Grandson 1

The 1881 Census records that there were now nine members of the Booth family living at the Railway Inn, John Booth was still the landlord and again he is described as a butcher/publican. The family had been at The Railway Inn now for more than a decade and it is interesting to note that the family were employed in a variety of jobs apart from those connected with the running of the pub. Elizabeth who was not with the family at the pub a decade earlier had taken over the work from her sister Annie, who had now left, and was helping her mother with housework and running the pub.
Brother Henry was a butcher which suggests that he had carried on with the business that his father John had begun and was now likely to be a joint enterprise. We can only speculate about how much time John spent behind the bar or with Henry in the butchery business.

Samuel, 20, was a joiner; it is interesting that he had Booth family members in Church Lawton working in a building firm begun by his father’s brother James.
However, we do not know if there was any day to day link.

Perhaps, most the surprising thing to emerge from this census was that two members of the family were working in education. Arthur 22 was described as a schoolmaster and, his younger sister Julia 16 a pupil teacher. It would appear that Julia was a sort of teacher’s apprentice. It would be interesting to speculate about the nature of training for teachers at the time.

The youngest members of the household were Frederick 13 at school and George Marshall Booth who was the grandson of John and Mary, and the son of James Booth and his wife Annie and, my grandad.

Having spent 20 years at the pub John Booth died at the Railway Inn on 17 February 1889. His wife Mary took over as the licensee and I suspect that there would not be many female licensees in that era. Presumably the Magistrates and the brewery thought that she was a competent and fit person.

The 1891 Census consolidates Mary Booth at the Railway Inn as the Publican

Recorded as living at the Railway Inn

  • Mary Booth Head 65 Publican
  • Elizabeth Booth daughter 40 House domestic
  • Sarah Booth Daughter 33 Dressmaker
  • Julia Booth Daughter 26 Schoolmistress
  • Henry Booth Son 37 Gardener/domestic servant
  • Frederick Booth Son 23 Wheelwright
  • Laurence Steele Grandson 10 Scholar
  • May Steele Granddaughter 8 Scholar

The 1891 census records that there were now eight members of the Booth family living at The Railway Inn. It confirms that Mary had taken over the licence of The Railway Inn when her husband had died 2 years earlier. Mary and Elizabeth were still running the pub and as before there were a range of employments for other family members.

Daughter Sarah 33 had returned to live at the pub and was a dressmaker.

Julia 26 had now progressed to becoming a schoolmistress by what formal process we are not sure, but she had been successful in furthering her teaching career and was maybe at a Mow Cop school?

Henry 37 was no longer a butcher but earning a living as gardener domestic servant.

Frederick 23 had left school and become a wheelwright a prized job at the time.

George Marshall Booth had left to return to live with his parents and in his place Mary had taken in two more grandchildren namely Laurence and May Steele, who were both at school.

It would appear that Mary had been a success in the two years that she had been running the pub and had established herself as head of the household. Clearly an able lady.

1901 Census Mary leaves The Railway Inn

Mary left the Railway Inn and moved to Sands Lane, Harriseahead, which has a view of Mow Cop castle. In the 1901 census Mary was now 75 and still living with her were her daughter Elizabeth 50 who was supporting her mother domestically and her son Frederick 33 who continued to be employed as a wheelwright.

Mary died on 8 January 1907 and, it would appear that two of her children were with her to the end.

Before she married John Booth, Mary was Mary Rosson born at Arclid Hall farm to a family of Cheshire farmers and christened on 31 July 1825 at Astbury Church.

Both John and Mary were buried at All Saints, Church Lawton.

The Railway Inn and 30 years of the Booth family.

John and Mary Booth were Licensees from the end of the 1860’s to 1901, more than 30 years. Generations of their family had been part of the ever- changing household in this grand old stone building with its spectacular views across the Cheshire plain.

The family must have been very well known in Mow Cop and had served the community for a lengthy period. The other jobs that family members did during the era would also have been centred on the Mow Cop area and added to the richness of the family’s contribution to community life. Whilst John and Mary had been married at All Saints, Church Lawton their son James Booth had married Sarah Annie Jane Marshall on the 15 November 1876 at St Thomas’, Mow Cop. Their oldest son was George Marshall Booth born 10 July 1879 who had lived initially with his grandparents John and Mary Booth at the pub before returning to his parents. George Marshall Booth was my grandad, who I remember well. After marriage he and his wife Florence Wynne Booth (nee Roberts) made their way to live in Talke Pits where they had a small holding. George died in 1954.

Landlords/Licensees of Railway Inn Mow Cop

  • 1861 James Poole
  • 1869 John Booth
  • 1889 Mary Booth
  • 1901 John Murray
  • 1911 Thomas Robson

Research Roger Statham April 2023