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The advances in mechanisation at this time meant the agricultural labourer's income was below subsistence level - as part of the family's rent, the landowner required his wife's labour to supplement this, particularly at harvest time when labour was in short supply, and each child as they grew able, found employment hoeing long rows of turnips, gathering stones and finding jobs in domestic service.
John and Ann's first child died at 6 mths. It became increasingly difficult to find employment in Wiltshire, and the decision was made to move from their birthplace to Wales where John found work in a mine providing coal for the iron works. Their first 2 sons were born at Llanvair, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, but again John experienced worker exploitation.
Publicity at the time stated "The physical condition of the Welsh seems almost if contrived for the double degradation and employer profits. Their works are surrounded by houses built by the Companies without the slightest attention to comfort, health, decency or any other consideration than that of realising the largest amount of rent from the smallest outlay. Heaps of rubbish lie about in the streets in front of houses - there is no drainage or lighting. John viewed first-hand his and his children's future - wages barely kept them fed and children as young as seven were working underground in the mine.
John reviewed his future and that of his children - wages barely kept them fed. Faced with life's reality, the family returned to Easton, Wiltshire where the move permitted them to furnish the necessary documentation to make application to immigrate to New Zealand -a decision which meant they would leave behind their family and the life they knew and face an uncertain future.
It is not known just when John and Ann Guilford fervently adopted the Methodism faith. Religious non-conformity began first in England but the Welsh were great chapel people and it was strong there. John Wesley had formed a sect which belonged to the Church of England but later broke away from it. Registers of dissenting congregations were deposited with the Register General after the Civil Registration Act was passed in 1836 (these can be found in the Public Register Office in London and some are held in the National Library of Wales.) Non-conformists continued to marry in the Anglican Parish Church as this was the only legal way a couple could get married until Civil Registration came in 1837.
The Guilford children were baptised in an Anglican church (all birth and marriages up to 1858, requiring documentations or identification were granted or proved entirely by the Church of England). Certificates were required to prove age (John and Ann were older than most immigrants) and for their young sons and to produce these when they applied for immigration to New Zealand. No information however was gathered as to the denominations of the immigrants and no religious test was applied - the minister was required only to attest to character but not to membership of the Church.
In a statement made in the 1900's by the then Anglican Dean of Christchurch, said: "The pioneers of the first ships were not sent out officially by the Church of England to found an exclusive Anglican Community, though the scheme had the approval of many Bishops, Vicars and Officials, but rather they were an Association of Anglicans gathered together to form an Anglican settlement". It was soon found there were a number of stalwart Wesleyan Methodists. An explanation given of their proposed expedition was that was "an opportunity for transplanting these troublous ones overseas!" The Methodists had been certified by the vicars as Anglican Church members as all had been christened and confirmed in the Church, but some of their methods had not the vicar's approval! The first ships had not been long at sea before it was found that Wesleyans were holding prayer meetings and singing hymns. In some cases, other passengers protested and threatened them with dire penalties and it was said, one captain even went so far as to say that he would put back the ship and land them. (It is recorded that the Wesleyan pilgrims held a service at Gravesend just before the first ships sailed, and a service was conducted in the immigration barracks at Lyttelton on arrival of the Cressy.)
The list of preferred occupations included agricultural workers, smiths, those who worked with horses and agricultural machinery, and those engaged in the various building trades. If they were also engaged to work for an emigrant capitalist, so much the better. Men were obliged to supply testimonials as, to their qualifications, character and health; to be not less, than 15, nor more than 30; and married (with a certificate to prove it). Only if they had a large family might the age limits be lifted. To qualify for a free passage, children had to be under one year or mote than seven, otherwise they would be charged at £3. Single women might also emigrate if they had another person with whom to travel and with whom they had some family or employment relationship, and provided they too had a suitable occupation upon which they might fall back on arrival (this condition permitted John's sister Elizabeth to immigrate in 1859). If they met other requirements but did not qualify for a free passage, intending emigrants could pay at the rate of £18 15s. But like everyone else they had to be vaccinated against smallpox, find their own way to the port of embarkation and bring with them their own tools of trade, clothing, bedding and other necessaries for the voyage. Few in the steerage reached the maximum adult allowance of half a ton of baggage or 20 cubic feet of hold space. The minimum outfit requirements were extensive, including not only the clothing which might be expected but 4 lb of marine soap per person (i.e. soap that was supposed to lather in salt water but often did not), blankets, sheets, a mattress and bolster, eating utensils and, for the women, 2 lb of starch, a pair of stays and a comprehensive sewing kit. Basic rations were supplied to a strict schedule. Three days a week, for instance, an oz of suet or a third of a pint of peas was issued to the steerage. This diet was not very varied, comprising mostly biscuit, salt meat, flour, rice and potatoes. Food was prepared by the steerage passengers themselves, who were divided into messes for the purpose.
passengers themselves, who were divided into messes for the purpose.
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