Job Clifton

Job Clifton was baptised on 23 Dec 1734 at Christ Church Oldbury. His father was also called Job Clifton.

By the time he died in 1815, he left a long and complex will showing that he owned a large number of houses and property throughout the Oldbury area and within the Parish of St John’s Halesowen. Although Job Clifton was self evidently illiterate, the will rattles off no less then 17 properties he owns in Oldbury Green together with their respective named tenants. These tenants were possibly all farm workers and help to build up a picture of a man who was a shrewd farmer and businessman, who was extremely successful and acquisitive. He also bequeaths no less than nine ‘nail shops’. This shows that although he describes himself as a yeoman and farmer that the metal trades and iron extraction industries, so prominent in the local economy, were also an ingredient in the exploitation of the land. It seems unlikely he inherited much wealth so this accumulation of property must be down to the exploitation of the dynamic economy in the West Midlands in the late eighteenth century.

The burial register in Rowley Regis uniquely records the names of his residence at death. This is Park House in Rowley. This gives an indication of his importance in the community.

Job married twice. Firstly to Mary Whiley on 15 Feb 1761 by whom he had one surviving daughter, Mary (bap 17 Jun 1764). Secondly to Alice Darby on 12 Nov 1769 by whom he had three sons called Job, Edmund and Samuel.

His daughter and eldest child Mary Clifton was married to Thomas Cooper (d 1805), She is clearly still alive in 1815 and had a number of children.

Job Senior’s will is more than a little enigmatic about his oldest son Job Clifton and shows strong favour to the two younger sons, Edmund and Samuel, who are appointed trustees and executors and get the lion’s share of their father’s substantial estate. One clause seems to leave the house in which Job (jnr) is currently living directly to his brother Edmund.

A third trustee in addition to the two younger brothers is named as Mr Richard Bloxcidge of Warley Wigorn. Richard Bloxcidge was an attorney and must have provided literacy to these complex property transactions. Neither Edmund or Samuel could read or write.

Because of a number of Job Cliftons, most probably cousins, in the local parish registers from 1790 to 1820 it is difficult to work out which refer to Job, the brother of Edmund and Samuel. The best clue comes from the marriage of William Probert, an engineer, to Edmund’s daughter Mary in 1832. Mary Probert died around 1840 leaving two young children including Edmund Clifton Probert. However, William Probert remarried on 25 Jun 1845 a Rebecca Clifton. We know from the marriage certificate that Rebecca Clifton is the daughter of Job Clifton, Gentleman and we could presume that Mary Clifton and Rebecca Clifton are therefore first cousins. The fact that Rebecca is baptised in St Martin Birmingham on 30 Sep 1830 at the age of 10 with a given date of birth as 26 Feb 1820 may give a clue. Job Clifton is described here as a mere labourer. It looks as if Job Clifton (jnr) is buried in St John’s Halesowen on 13 Dec 1825. The young Rebecca, losing her father at 5, is therefore salvaged from the ‘poor’ reputation of her father, properly baptised and takes care of the children of her first cousin by marrying Mary’s widower. This ‘rehabilitation’ may or may not be the case but it would be safe to say that for some behaviour, business or religious reasons, Job Clifton senior was not happy with his eldest sons eligibility to inherit the substantial wealth that he had accumulated and was deliberately excluded from a fair share of the inheritance. He received instead £100 cash.

If we cannot be sure about the marriage and children of Job Clifton Junior, we do know the marriages of the two other sons. Edmund Clifton married Susannah Horton on 25 mar 1805 at St Philip’s Birmingham and Samuel Clifton married Hannah Willetts, daughter of Benjamin Willetts a butcher on 17 Nov 1808. Hannah’s half sister Charlotte was married to John Onions Cheshire, eldest son of John Cheshire.

Edmund and Samuel lived to 1861 and 1852 respectively. The agriculture that they pursued led them to service the needs of the conurbations springing up around them. Edmund seems to have grown arable crops that brought him into alliances with families like the Downings who had become specialised maltsters. Samuel describes himself as butcher as well as farmer. The alliance with the Collins family including four marriages between Edmund and Samuel’s children was a consolidation of these interests in ‘Victualling’ in its broadest sense.

The Downings, the Willetts and the Cheshires were all families that attended the Oldbury Presbyterian church but Job Clifton apparently shows no such non conformism. In contrast, Job and his children remained illiterate which would indicate more a belief in the practical skills of exploiting the land, than any belief in education and possibly even religion.

Job Clifton was buried in St Giles Rowley Regis on 28 May 1815. His widow Alice on 14 Mar 1819

Sources and Notes

  • Will of Job Clifton, Probate 24 Aug 1815, Worcester Record Office
  • 1841 census shows Rebecca Clifton as housekeeper to the widowed William Probert
  • See the page on Edmund Darby for the background of the family of Job;s wife Alice Darby.
Last updated on November 22, 2017 by JJ Morgan