The Foster Family Dairy Farming Business - From Farmers to Cowkeepers

On the 1911 census we find Jacob Foster (48), a cowkeeper working on his own account at home in Heathfield Lane. This was a family business which had been running for over 80 years and provides an example of the changes which gradually took place over the 19th century into the period of the 20th century that we have been investigating, gradually moving from a sizeable dairy farming operation to small backyard urban dairying operations in purpose built premises.

1841: Job Foster aged 62 was a farmer living in his own freehold house in Catherine's Cross. He was a widower, his wife Sarah having died previously. At home he had two sons, Adam aged 20 and Jacob aged 19, and a daughter Sarah aged 15.

1851: Jacob Foster aged 73 was a farmer of 68 acres of land employing 2 men living at Catherine's Cross. His son Jacob aged 29 was also described as a farmer of 68 acres. His son’s wife Emma aged 21 was also at the home.

1861: Jacob Foster, aged 85, was a farmer of 36 acres of land employing one man and a boy and living at Catherine's Cross. His son Jacob, aged 40, was the manager of the farm. His wife Emma, aged 30, was at the home described as manager's wife, with daughters Sarah (9),and Rhoda (7), and sons Joseph (5) and Jacob (6 months)

1871: Jacob Foster, aged 48, was a farmer of 45 acres of land living in Wolverhampton Lane with his wife Emma aged 39, daughters Sarah (19), and Rhoda (17) who no doubt would be helping on the farm . At home also were his sons Joseph (15), Jacob (10) with daughter Emma (8) who were scholars and Abraham (2).

1881: Jacob Foster, aged 56, was a cowkeeper, living at No. 10 Wolverhampton Lane with his wife Emma (52). His son Jacob, aged 20, was also a cowkeeper. Daughter Emma (18) and sons Abraham (12) and William(8).

1891: Jacob Foster, aged 67, was a dairyman, living at No.10 Wolverhampton Lane with his wife Emma (59). His son Jacob, aged 30, was also a dairyman, and son William, aged 18, was also helping.

1901: Jacob Foster, aged 35, and his brother William, aged 28, were living together at 10 Wolverhampton Street, and were described as cowkeepers milk, own account at home.

1911: Jacob Foster, aged 48, was a dairyman living at No. 26 Heathfield Lane, working on own account at home with wife Maria (42).

Pre 1841, the Foster family owned their own freehold house in the Catherine's Cross area just 10 houses above Foundry Street. As we can see sometime before 1871, after Jacob 1 died, they moved to a new house at the top of Wolverhampton Lane . By 1881 they appear to have given up farming a considerable area of land, which I guess they had been renting in the locality, and were keeping cows at their house at 10 Wolverhampton Lane. By 1911 after Jacob2 had died, they had moved to 26 Heathfield Lane. It would be interesting to know where their farm fields were, as they covered a considerable area (68 acres in 1851).

Above is an extract from the 1913 OS map annotated with the location of their houses. No 10 Wolverhampton Lane was one of three purpose built terraced cottages on the corner of what is now Park Terrace. 26 Heathfield Lane was a purpose built cottage at the top of that lane. The Catherine's Cross house was about ten houses up from the corner of Foundry Street. Still with open fields behind as far as the canal. Each generation had built their own purpose-built houses with easy access to the open fields. Unfortunately none of these houses now exist.

Return to
Holland's Dairy
  Return to
the beginning
  Proceed to
Andrews' Dairy