Trotters, benders and a retired queer?

3 May 2015

Continuing the 1911 census ‘series of nuttiness’, further offerings are today available for your amusement. The first of which is William James Lane of Bethnal Green…. aged 35 and having been married for twelve years, six of his seven children were still living at the time of the census. William was a street vendor by occupation…. more specifically, he sold ‘trotters and cowheel‘! There were several references to trotting horse trainers and the like, though I was mildly concerned about Mrs Hannah Richardson being recorded as an 80-year-old widow with an occupation of ‘trotting’ [I have corrected it to ‘nothing’!]

Benders were reasonably prevalent in 1911 it would seem, from ‘stick bender‘ Henry Albert (aged 48) of Shoreditch to Edith Arnold, a 35-year-old ‘straw hat bender‘ of Markyate (Bedfordshire, or possibly Hertfordshire). George Ashdown was a ‘zinc bender‘ of Peckham and there was also a smattering of tube benders in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the wider ‘Black Country‘ region (The Midlands). A plethora of mis-transcribed book binders and hay binders feature along with various individuals with Bender as a surname. I think in today’s society, this may well rank similarly to being called Bastard?

However, of all of the finds to date, ‘retired queer‘ made me giggle the most. Joseph Muskett was 79 years of age in 1911 and a resident of 95 Manchester Road, Northwich. He had been married to his wife, Mary, for eighteen years and the census appears to note that he had two children, one of whom was still living, though clearly not with Mary:


I am not so sure that Mary was aware of Joseph’s queerness…. in fact, he perhaps wasn’t queer at all as, to my eye at least, he was a retired GROCER and certainly one other Ancestry user concurs.

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