Birmingham Shaddocks

by Philip Shaddock

The Birmingham Shaddocks are found in Bristol and Birmingham. They first appear in the records in Warwickshire in the middle of the 18th century. This is as far north in England that Shattocke families are found up this point. DNA testing supplies a possible reason why they are outliers. Two descendants of the Australian branch of the family have proven through DNA testing not to descend from the Shattocke common male ancestor (Y16884 who lived in the early 14th century). 

Whether the Brooklyn, New York branch of the family is also the result of a NPE (non parental event) is open to question. It would be useful to have a male descendant YDNA tested.

Deritend St. John's in Birmingham, now demolished. This is where many Shaddocks were born, married and where their funerals were held.

The earliest record of a Shaddock in the county Warwickshire is the marriage of William Shaddock to Hannah Reading in Birmingham in April, 1748. A William Shaddock, son of Thomas Shaddock, dies in nearby Baddesley-Ensor in 1758, ten years later. These Christian names are commonly found among north Devon Shaddocks, especially those emanating from the founding village of Shattockes in north Devon, North Molton. 


You may be thinking of Birmingham as a large metropolis. Click on the link above to see just how small Birmingham was in 1731. It was a town, not a village, but it was not a very big town. Big for its day, but very small in modern terms.



Shoemaker ca. 1831. Notice the child apprentice in the background providing the shoemaker with cheap labor.

Of particular interest in the records is Robert Shaddock, born in Birmingham in 1763. He was a cordiner, an old word describing the profession of shoe or boot making, a profession that the Dennington Shaddock descendants brought with them to Australia. In the 1851 census Robert is retired in Aston, now part of central Birmingham. John Shaddock, founder of the Dennington Shaddocks, lived in nearby Redditch, 
20 km (12.5 mi) away with his family. Despite having churchs in Redditch, he and Ann traveled to Birmingham to baptize the three daughters born while living in Redditch, the last one in 1848. It seems likely John and Ann Shaddock were relatives of Robert Shaddock, who like John, was a boot and shoe maker. He appears in the  "1830 Wrightson's Triennial Directory of Birmingham" as a "boot and shoe maker" living in the Aston area of Birmingham. His son Robert Jr. (ca. 1797) is listed as a "bronze, chandelier, lamp, lantern and lustre manufacturer &c." He had a bronze foundry. There are tax records in the 1830s and 1840s that shows Robert Shaddock owned four rental properties in Aston. On the 1851 census form he is shown living in Aston as a widowed, retired cordiner (boot and shoe maker), with his son, retired brass founder, and a servant Elizabeth Young, age 62. The fact the son is retired at age 54 speaks to the success of the family.

Bottoming room in a shoe factory about 1872.

Perhaps Robert Sr. was an uncle who apprenticed John in his shoe and boot making business. This might explain why John Shaddock is born in Bristol but spends most of his adult years in or near Birmingham. I think the evidence for his close relationship to Robert Shaddock is the fact John met and married a local girl in Aston. This was his marriage to Ann Whittel (1809-1901) in Yardley, an area in the east side of Birmingham. Ann Whittel was the daughter of Edward Whittel (1771-1847), who was a long time resident of Aston, where Robert Shaddock lived. If John Shaddick was apprenticed to Robert Shaddock Sr., he married a neighborhood girl. (See the Diaspora page for an understanding of the how the apprenticeship system worked at this time in England.) John and Ann Shaddock's son Edward Whittel Shaddock was named after Ann's father. And her daughter Susannah Cole Shaddock married her cousin Edgar Dunn, who was Edward Whittel's grandson. This was a close knit family.

It might be significant that Robert Shaddock Jr. was in the brass foundry business not the shoe business when he was young. It is not until the 1877 that a trade directory lists him as a shoemaker.  Perhaps he retained ownership of the shoe business left to him by his father. The fact his father was able to buy property suggests to be he was using leverage to build his business. That would mean he had either workers in his shop or he sold shoes made by shoemakers working in the neighborhood. Or Robert Jr. simply understood this model and revived it long after his father had left the business. 

Robert Jr. had an older brother Joseph (b. 1793), but he died at age 22. And there was a sister, Mary Ann (b. 1790). I have found no record of a Robert Shaddock Jr. marriage or children.  When he died he was buried beside his father. I suspect John Shaddock knew this family well. His common ancestor with them was probably only a couple of generations away.


Brook Street, where Robert and his son lived. This picture was taken in the mid 1950s. 

Shoe making was originally a "cottage industry" with individuals in villages making shoes to order for their neighbors. Eventually shoemakers began stocking more standardized shoes in stores that allowed customers to pick up shoes as they needed them rather than waiting for them to be made. By the 1750's, precisely when Shaddocks show up in Birmingham, larger stores began stocking products from other shoemakers. This might have made it possible for the first Shaddock or Shaddocks to find a market for their shoes in Bristol or Birmingham by selling to shop keepers. Eventually they could afford to open their own shop. But by the 1850s shops began stocking shoes from factories. There might not have been much of a business for Robert to inherit. 

Other possibilities are that John Shaddick was at first an employee of Robert Sr. or supplied him with shoes. 


Entrance to the Warstone cemetery in Birmingham where Robert Shaddock Sr. and Jr. were laid to rest.

Robert Shaddock Sr. died in January 1854 at the age of 91. He was buried in a new cemetery, the Warstone cemetery, in the Jewelry Quarter of Birmingham. (It's foundation stone was laid in 1847.) John Shaddock sailed for Australia in 1855. Are these two incidents related? Probably not. It may have simply been there was a decline in the handmade shoe and boot business in England as a result of the burgeoning industrial revolution that made prospects for a shoemaker brighter in distant Australia. He probably saw a market for handmade shoes in a newly developed region of distant Australia. Handmade shoes would be an advantage in a location that had local needs not served by mass market shoes from England. 

The question is "how did Shaddocks end up so far north?" The roads in England in the mid-18th century, when the Shaddocks first arrived in Birmingham, were very dangerous and extremely difficult and expensive to travel. The distance from the northern village of North Molton in Devon to Birmingham in Warwickshire was 290 km (180 mi.). The answer to the question might lie with who the two descendants of the Dennington Shaddocks match to in the FTDNA (the DNA testing company "Family Tree DNA") database. They are a close match to a male descendant with the surname Webb. This person traces his ancestry back to John Webb, born in 1740 in Gloucestershire. He still lives in England. The county Glouscestershire included Bristol and stretched north towards Birmingham. It would be premature to declare that the two Dennington Shaddocks were descended from a male with the surname Webb. As it turns out this Webb is not related to other webs in the Web project at FTDNA. A mystery wrapped inside an enigma.

The founder of the Dennington Shaddocks, John Shaddock, was born in Bristol but he worked and raised his family in Birmingham before leaving for Australia from Liverpool in 1855. 

Birmingham Branches


At this point I have identified two branches of the Birmingham Shaddocks that have survived down to the present time. One is the Dennington, Australia Shaddocks and the other is the Locust Valley, New York Shaddocks. They appear to have gradually left Birmingham and remaining branches appear to have slowly withered away.





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