Charles Moorby (1806 - 1873) & Sarah Cardus (1809 - 1884)

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Charles Moorby might have expected to become a butcher, as his father and at least three generations before that had been since the 17th century. Peter Moorby, Charles' great-grandfather, was one of that line and had fallen foul of the strange local laws that affected butchers. People believed that bull meat was made more tender by bull baiting, so it was illegal in Skipton to sell any bull meat unless that bull had been baited.
Bull baiting in 1821
In 1738 Peter was fined 6s 8d (33p) for 'killing and selling a bull without baiting', a large amount for a butcher to pay at that time. Bull baiting, where the animal was fixed to the ground by a rope and then attacked by specially trained dogs, seems barbaric by today's standards, but was legal until 1835. It's popularity was declining by the turn of the century, but an attempt to make it illegal was voted down in 1802 and Yorkshire appears to be an area where it continued. Writing in 1882, W.H.Dawson said that it had taken place in Skipton 'within living memory' so Charles, born in 1806, may have witnessed it as a young child; and the bullbaiting ring, to which the bull was attached, can still be seen where it has always been.

Charles' father, John, had married a widow a few years earlier who brought two surviving children from her previous marriage. She was over forty, so nearing the end of her child-bearing years, and he was five years older than that, having not been married before, so it seems unlikely that John married to produce an heir. However, they had two sons: Luke, born in 1802; and Charles, born in 1806, twenty-three years after the birth of Mary's eldest child. [1] The 1822 directory lists at least six butchers in Skipton which, in difficult times, might have been more than a small town could support. Whether for that, or other reasons, Luke became a boatman, and then later worked in the mills; and Charles was apprenticed to a tailor, rather than follow in the family tradition, and remained one for the rest of his life, despite facing difficulties.

In 1828 he married Sarah Cardus, the daughter of a tinner and glazier from Gargrave, a village on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, five miles to the East of Skipton. She and most of her siblings had been born there, but her family moved to Skipton in 1828, where she met Charles shortly afterwards. Working with both metal (tinner) and glass (glazier) seem very different skills, but 'tinner and glazier' was a common appellation, and Sarah's father, Henry, was likely to have turned himself to a range of tasks connected with house building. When he married, just across the border into Lancashire, he had called himself a tinman; by 1822 he was a 'tinner and brazier'; and later still he added glazier. Apart from doing many of the jobs we now associate with plumbing, his skills would also have been used to make the tin jugs, bowls, and other things needed for everyday life.

Charles Moorby's prison record showing him to be 5'9" with grey eyes, grey hair and 'red wiskers'
Continuing to live in Skipton, Charles and Sarah's family grew rapidly, so that by 1841 they were living in Hird's Buildings, home to a number of tradesmen, with five children. ten years later, Charles was still a tailor, now with eight children; and yet, in 1843, he had been declared a bankrupt. This had followed a trial in which he had been accused of 'obtaining money by false pretences at Skipton from Ann Clark'. The entry says 'No Bill' which suggests that there had been a trial, but the jury had been unable to come to a verdict. As his uncle, Peter, had paid the bail, it may be that Charles never actually spent any time in prison, but there was clearly an effect on his business. It is difficult to believe that that didn't cause any long term problems but the family appear to have overcome them, and continued as before. Indeed, there appeared to be time for hobbies as well as tailoring as, in 1855, Charles came second in the local agricultural show with his Aylesbury ducks, suggesting that the family bred them at home. By now Charles' parents had been dead for some time, but Sarah's had moved back across into Lancashire, where Henry continued as a tinsmith with at least two of his sons following in his footsteps. He still had an apprentice living with him in his sixties, when the more physical side of his job must have been very difficult.
Sarah (nee Cardus) Moorby with Arthur Holmes

Of their nine children ,only three were boys. James, the youngest of the boys, died when he was only eight; but the other two, as expected, went on to become tailors. The elder one, William, remained in Skipton; but Cardus emigrated to Philadelphia where he set himself up as a 'fashionable tailor'. Perhaps he just had a sense of adventure but, more likely, it was proving difficult to make a living in Skipton. A newspaper report in 1872 suggests that Cardus was pardoned for receiving stolen goods, so he was likely to have been in prison before that, so the move was not without its difficulties at times. How much of that news reached Skipton is unknown - probably none - but with only one son living nearby, Charles chose to live close to his brother Luke, and then eventually next door to him.

In 1873 he died, followed a year later, by his brother. Sarah moved in with one of her eldest daughter, who had married a local carpenter, and lived for another ten years.


  1. It is possible that Charles was an only child. No baptismal entry exists for Luke, but Wharfedale local history site attributes Luke to John and Mary. However, Charles is described as their 'first son' in the 1806 baptismal entry. Charles and Luke certainly lived next door to each other when older, so I have assumed they are brothers. Whether they are, or not, is not critical to Charles' story