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
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
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
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).