Joseph was born in 1781 in Gillamoor, Yorkshire to parents Joseph Wood and Mary Fisher. He married Jane Wood his first cousin, in the nearby market town of Kirkby Moorside in 1803. The couple had three children and lived on a farm in Sleightholm-dale. Having his own farm gave Joseph the right to vote. He was on the voter's list for 1834. The farm was 230 acres in 1851. Whether it was this size in 1834 is unknown. Their son Jonadab Wood took over the farm by 1841 and Joseph and Jane remained with his family. Joseph was listed as a retired farmer in the 1841 and 1851 census records. He passed away in 1853, most likely in Sleightholm-dale but Helmsley was the registration district and this was recorded on the death index.
My introduction to farmers in the Yorkshire Dales was from the television series All Creatures Great and Small (1978-1980, 1988-1990, current Season, 2021) which were based on the veterinarian stories of author James Herriot. As depicted, Yorkshire farmers were extremely hard working, sometimes hard drinking, sometimes poor, humorous, even eccentric, but all had a deep devotion to the place they called home.
Home was a series of dales, or valleys with higher limestone pastures and moors covered in heather, excellent for sheep breeding. Home was small farms scattered about stone villages and hamlets. Home was ruins of monasteries, remnants from the days when Fountains Abbey owned thousands of acres of Yorkshire and over 15,000 sheep. These ghostly structures, especially at dusk, are still remarkable in their crumbled afterlife.
Pastoral farming in North Yorkshire over the last 300 years has been tremendously beneficial. It has allowed landscape conservation, protection of habitats and species and archaeological investigations.
The photo at right of an English hay harvest was quite typical of the Dales. Women and children helped harvest hay to feed the farm's dairy cattle that were housed in the barns over the winter. Recent changes in agricultural practices have now rendered many of these barns obsolete. They are fast becoming reminders of Yorkshire's past landscape, as surely as the monasteries before them.
Sources: yorkshiredales.org.uk, wilcuma.org.uk (Anglo-Saxon-Englisc Heritage) and Dissolution of the Monasteries (Pitkin Guide)
"Farming in England is done on so small a scale that to be a laborer on the western prairies of the United States it would seem absurd; yet nowhere in the world does harvesting present a prettier picture. Almost all English landscapes seem to have been finished with a brush and pencil, and even hillsides look well-groomed....Britain's beautifully rounded slopes and the perpetual verdure of its fields harmonize perfectly with the subdued light that filters through its customary canopy of clouds. We must console ourselves for frequent showers here, since it is England's copious rain that renders it thus fresh and green, and makes of it the garden of the world." From Stoddard's Lectures IX by John Lawson Stoddard , book published in 1898.
While the approximate birth year and name of the father are good, Morley is a market town south of Leeds in West Yorkshire, some distance from the North Yorkshire cluster of villages Kirkdale, Gillamoor, Great Edstone, Sleightholme-dale around market town Kirkby Moorside. In the 1851 Census when Joseph Wood was living with his son Jonadab Wood he listed his birth as 1781 in Gillamoor. His parents were married 3 Feb 1780 in Great Edstone. The FamilySearch record is more likely for a different Joseph Wood, son of a different Joseph Wood.
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