NameBridget ‘Biddy’ LAIDMAN, 10069, N1922
Birthca 1784
Baptism21 Feb 1784, Bowes, YKS
Bapt MemoJonathan Laidman and Mary. Bowes. Daughter christened Biddy Laidman
Death4 Nov 1840, Teesdale RD, DUR
Death MemoSource: Edwin Shaw 2001
FatherJonathan LAIDMAN of Gilmonby , 10746, L1777 (ca1737-1810)
MotherMary AISLABIE , 10747 (1740-1803)
Misc. Notes
Bridget received a legacy in her father’s Will dated 10 January 1810, of £160,-- gross.

The Monumental inscription in Bowes churchyard reads:
Aged [?56] Years.
who died Oct:21st 1837
1William SHAW, 10417
Death10 Jan 1850, Teesdale RD, DUR
Death Memo“aged 67, husband of Brisget Shaw”
Burial18 Jan 1850, Bowes, YKS
Burial Memo“aged 67, of Bowes”
Occupation1813, 1818, 1820, 1822, 1825, 1827, 1837 Schoolmaster
Misc. Notes
Durham Record Office, Ref No. D/HH 3/1/27/33
3 January 1826
(1) Revd. Joseph Taylor of Stourbridge, Worcs., Clerk and Mary, his wife
(2) Margaret Taylor of Richmond, Yorks., widow
(3) Juliana Steele of Barnard Castle, widow
(4) Margaret and Violetta Taylor of Richmond, spinsters
(5) William Shaw of Bowes, schoolmaster
(6) John Laidman of Bowes, farmer
Draft release by (1) to (5) of a school house, 2 messuages and 15 acres of land in Bowes, to the use of (5) as specified. Covenant to levy a fine. Release of legacies and dower rights by (2), (3) and (4). Recites will of George Alderson Taylor
Consideration: £1 ,900
(1 file)

1837: Executor with his brother in law Jonathan Laidman M1986 of the Will of John Laidman M1884.
1841 census: “not born in county” [Yorkshire] (source: Edwin Shaw, 2001):

1841 census return: HO107/1245/6 folio 13 page 18
[Yorkshire] Bowes
William Shaw, 55, Ind[ependent], N
Mary Ann Shaw, 25, Y
Jane Shaw, 15, Y
John Shaw, 13, Y
Margaret Bayles, 15, F.S., Y

At the baptism of his eldest child Mary Ann, he described himself as “native of London” and wife Bridget as “native of Bowes” (source: Bowes parish register, 21 Sep 1811).

Synopsis of William Shaw's Will (WYAS West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds, ref: RD/AP1/198/63):
This is the last Will & Testament of me William Shaw of Bowes. I give and devise all my farm and lands in Bowes called Rovegill ... for the use of my daughters Mary Ann Shaw, Jane White and Emily Shaw.
Messuage in the village of Bowes occupied by James Dent with frontstead adjoining and premises behind the whole 97 ft from East to West and a close in West Field formerly belonging to John Laidman and now occupied by John Stephenson and a close called Clint Top and occupied by Joshua Gaskill... to the use of my son John Shaw.
Cow Close in Bowes to 2 daughters Jane White and Emily Shaw.
Friends John Wilson the elder of Gilmonby and John Bousfield of Stonekeld - my old dwelling house in Bowes with yard, garden and outbuildings ... now in occupation of Eleanor Heslop and others..... & 2 closes called Low Croft and High Croft in occupation of John Kipling.. to the use of John Wilson and John Bousfield upon trust... to sell the same by public auction... pay £50 to daughter Jane White.... £50 to daughter Emily Shaw... and anything over to sons Jonathan Shaw and Thomas Laidman Shaw.
To daughters Emily Shaw and Mary Ann Shaw all household furnture plate, linen glass china and household stores.
All else to daughters Mary Ann Shaw, Jane White and Emily Shaw.
John Wilson & John Bousfield executors.
17 May 1849.
Witnesses William Watson, Mark Sayer.
Rokeby 14 March 1850 appeared executors and sworn.

William Shaw was the model for the character Squeers, of Dotheboys Hall in Dicken’s Nicholas Nickelby (published 1838-9). The school he ran in Bowes, Yorkshire, Messrs Shaw & Wilson’s School, Bowes 1812, is said to have gone bankrupt as a result of the novel’s publication.
From the Darlington & Stockton Weekend Times, 2001: A man who has lived with continually hearing his great-great-grandfather pilloried as the cruel schoolmaster in a Charles Dickens novel is setting the record straight after years of research.
Since the 19th century, the popular myth has grown in Teesdale and beyond that Wackford Squeers, the detestable schoolmaster of Dotheboys Hall in Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, was a parody of Mr William Shaw, who met Dickens during his tour of the Yorkshire Schools in 1838.
But Shaw's great-great-grandson, Mr Ted Shaw, of High Etherley near Bishop Auckland, who has long had an interest in tracing his ancestry, has discovered that William was the popular head teacher of Bowes Academy, four miles from Barnard Castle, for nearly 30 years.
Mr Shaw's interest was fired by a piece of his grandparents' furniture - a bureau - which he was told came from the academy, which is now officially named Dotheboys Hall. His grandparents did not know much about William, but Mr Shaw became keen to learn more.
Born in Sunderland, he cycled up to Barnard Castle at the age of 15 to stay at the youth hostel in Galgate.
"On my trip to Teesdale, the vicar pulled out the parish records and I discovered there were quite a lot more members of the Shaw family that we did not know about," he said. "I then became hooked on genealogy."
He discovered that his great-grandfather, Jonathan, was William Shaw's second son. Jonathan had become a surgeon with a practice in Sunderland, hence the Wearside connection.
As his research unearthed all kinds of hitherto unknown information, he found written evidence of former pupils that vouched that William Shaw was a good and kind man.
But various articles written at the time of Dickens' visit set him down in local folklore as the villainous Wackford Squeers.
"The people of Bowes were very supportive of William," said Mr Shaw. "But even so, Bowes Academy closed soon after Nicholas Nickleby was published."
Although his relative owned a tremendous amount of property in Bowes at one point, Mr Shaw believes the effect of the academy's closure on the rest of the local economy to be tremendous.
As well as produce being bought locally, the academy employed 12 woman servants, along with a shoemaker and a tailor to cater for upwards of 200 boys.
William Shaw was first in partnership with the local vicar, the Rev Richard Wilson, from about 1810, when the school was known as Shaw and Wilson's Academy. But when the vicar dropped out in 1814 it became known as Bowes Academy, where William Shaw flourished in sole ownership until 1840.
Mr Shaw has visited the Dickens museum at Doughty Street in London, where there are letters by one of the pupils, writing that he was treated fairly by William. This is borne out in school books belonging to two other pupils.
The true story was given further credence by S J Rust - a great Dickensian and member of the Dickens Fellowship - who reviewed the letters and books in 1938, to mark the 100th anniversary of the author's visit to Bowes. He drew the conclusion that the pupils had been treated well and the school was not deserving of the castigation it received in Nicholas Nickleby.
Also, in his biography of 1886, actor H F Lloyd devoted a chapter or so to the time he had spent at the academy. He stated that the boys were well fed and never ill treated.
But the fact that Charles Dickens, following his visit to the Yorkshire Schools, had written in his diary: "Saw William Shaw today," began the utterly groundless myth that he and Wackford Squeers were one and the same. Mr Shaw believes this to be partly to do with Dickens giving Squeers the same initials as his great-great-grandfather.
Other similarities marked Shaw down as Squeers: Squeers had a patch over one eye, while Shaw had a scale over his eye due to disease.
Also adding fuel to the fire was the fact that in 1823, Shaw had been involved in a case where some of the boys in his care had gone blind, due, it was alleged, to gross neglect.
"Dickens took a lot of evidence from that trial and did the usual reporter's job of fitting it to suit his own interests," said his great-great-grandson, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
But Shaw and the boys had, in fact, been suffering from trachoma, a disease that causes ulceration of the eyelids. "But they did not know what it was in those days," said Mr Shaw. The disease was waterborne and contagious, which spread with the boys using the same washing bowls and towels.
It was not common in England, and was later thought to have been brought back by soldiers from the Napoleonic Wars. But, far from being grossly neglected, the boys were attended weekly for almost a year by Dr Benning of Barnard Castle, who followed the advice of the top oculist of the day.
Another myth is that the character of Smike was a caricature of pupil George Ashton Taylor. Taylor was, in fact, a former pupil of the academy, who died aged 19 before Dickens had ever visited the school.
Dickens had seen his grave in Bowes churchyard and got the idea of Smike from there.
One thing that puzzled Mr Shaw was how his ancestor came to live at Bowes, after being born in London in 1782. He thinks William Shaw's father was born on a farm called Bleath Gill, just over the border near Kirkby Stephen, in what was then Westmoreland.
A box of documents later found at Dotheboys Hall contained the will of a man called Henry Sayer. "The first thing that hit me was the name William Shaw," said Mr Shaw. That particular William Shaw had married Sayer's daughter Mary. They had two children before Mary died and William remarried.
"He had a further three children, one of those being my great-great grandfather," said Mr Shaw. "If the will had not been connected with the family, why was it at the hall?"
"That answers the question of why he came to Bowes. He was coming back to his roots. But why he was born in London I don't know," he added.
Shaw was to marry a local Bowes girl, Bridget Laidman, and together they had nine children. When his wife died he moved a mile along the road to Rove Gill, where he lived with two of his daughters until his death in 1850.
One of his great-great-grandson's regrets is that William Shaw did not live for another year, when he would have been included in the census, making more information available.
But as he delves deeper into his family tree, he has discovered relatives in New Zealand, who have since visited Dotheboys Hall.
He also has a son, Adam, and grandson, Alex, who will ensure the continuity of the Shaw name.

Horatio Lloyd ... was an important and popular actor, comedian in Edinburgh and Glasgow during the early to mid 1800s. The following pages are from Horatio Lloyd's Autobiography 'Life of an Actor' Serialised in the Glasgow Weekly Herald over 14 weeks beginning May 22, 1886.


But what I consider the most interesting period of my school days has now to be referred to. It was the twelve months or thereabouts, which, after leaving Pike's, I spent at Bowes academy, by Greta Bridge, Durham, immortalised in "Nicholas Nickleby" as "Dotheboys' Hall," Yorkshire, and the headmaster of which was a most worthy and kind-hearted, if somewhat peculiar, gentleman named William Shaw, whom Dickens, to suit his own purposes, chose to pillory as Mr Squeers. I can see him now as plainly as I did then, and can testify to the truth of the outward presentment of the man as described by Dickens, and depicted by his artist in the pages of the novel-allowing, of course, for both being greatly exaggerated. A sharp, thin, upright little man, with a slight scale covering the pupil of one of the eyes. Yes. There he stands with his Wellington boots and short black trousers, not originally cut too short, but from a habit he had of sitting with one knee over the other, and the trousers being tight, they would get "ruck'd" half way up the boots. Then the clean white vest, swallow tailed black coat, white neck tie, silver-mounted spectacles, close cut iron-grey hair, high crowned hat worn slightly at the back of his head-and there you have the man.
But what was the school itself like? And how about the poor Smikes? — it may be asked. Well I can answer as to that, and maintain the truth of every word I write. It was a fine large establishment, with every accommodation required. It was in a lovely situation, surrounded by a beautiful garden, the beck running past at the foot of the hill, and the romantic ruin of Bowes Castle within a hundred yards of the house, just outside the garden wall. The interior of the house was kept scrupulously clean, twelve female servants at least being employed. The food was excellent, and as much as you could eat: the boys well clad—shoemakers and tailors on the premises—for be it known that the boys were clothed as well as boarded and educated, and all, if my memory be correct, for some £20 a year. No such thing as a Smike was to be seen here, and there was less punishment for inattention than in any other school I ever attended. "Save in the way of kindness," I never, except once, knew Mr Shaw to lift his hand to a boy the whole time I was there. He would walk around the school room, look over us while writing, and here and there pat a boy on the head, saying "good boy-good boy; you'll be a great man some day, if you pay attention to your lessons." If a lad was ill, he would sit by his bed-side and play the flute-on which he was an adept-for an hour or two together to amuse him. And this was the man whom Dickens transformed into the illiterate tyrannical, brutal pedagogue Squeers!


I remember, however, another school, of the type described by Dickens. There, indeed, you might have found many a Smike. Boys in rags, half starved, and otherwise cruelly used, and taught scarcely anything, except haymaking, carting manure, and kindred departments of industry. They were continually running away and almost as regularly caught, brought back, and frightfully punished. Schools like this there were in Yorkshire which deserved all the exposure they got. But, as it so happened that none of them at the time had a headmaster sufficiently outre or striking in appearance to make a good character of, poor William Shaw, who had the misfortune to be peculiar both in person and manners, was transferred from the headship of his own happy establishment and made the Squeers of "Dotheboys Hall," Yorkshire. It broke his heart. A few years ago, when at Barnard castle, my son Arthur and I walked over to Bowes to see the old place. As we passed the church-yard-in the middle of which stood the old ruin-close to the gate, the first thing that caught my eye was a tombstone on which was graven, "Sacred to the memory of William Shaw, &c." His daughter
[probably Mary Ann Shaw], a very pretty and ladylike girl, married a wealthy farmer, and, at the time we saw it, had the house as a private residence. The old school room at the back, however, she allowed to go to ruin.

The Monumental inscription in Bowes churchyard reads:
Aged [?56] Years.
who died Oct:21st 1837
Marriage24 Nov 1810, Bowes, YKS
ChildrenMary Ann , 10499 (1811-1884)
 William , 10500 (1813-1837)
 Jane , 10507 (1816-1820)
 Jonathan , 10501 (1818-1877)
 Thomas Laidman , 10502 (1820-1885)
 Jane , 10503 (1822-1914)
 Emily , 10504 (1825-)
 John (Twin), 10505 (1827-1897)
 Eliza (Twin), 10506 (1827-1828)
Last Modified 28 Jul 2010Created 3 Jun 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh