Job Gurney was baptised in 1760 at Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, son of William and Mary Gurney.  He was the youngest of their eight children. 

In 1801 he married Mary Smith at Bridgnorth, Shropshire.  They had no children.  He and his wife moved to Droitwich and by 1802 he was renting 33 High Street from a Mr Richard Nash, the house having an annual valuation of £7 10s.  In 1806 he was named in a poll book.  Between 1810 and 1830 Job Gurney also rented 103 Friar Street from the Penrice family, during which time he was still a baker in the High Street. Perhaps his business premises were in the High Street and he resided in Friar Street. A list of jurors in 1821 included Job Gurney as one of those recommending the magistrates to put a stop to making salt on the Sabbath.  In 1824, Job was listed on a schedule of land owners alongside the Turnpike Road, having part of an orchard.

In 1826, there was an agreement (indenture) between Thomas Robins of Droitwich, innkeeper, and William Robins of Droitwich, carrier, concerning a plot of land and the buildings that had been partly standing on it for many years.  They were used as stable and wood or coalhouse, in the respective occupations of Job Gurney and William Robins. This land was situated immediately between and bounded by, an alley or footway leading from High Street to the New Rising Sun public house (formerly known as the Cock and Dog) and a wagon road leading from High Street to the back of several houses belonging to Thomas Robins and to a Methodist Chapel and certain saltwork yards approaching the bank of the canal. This may be the property labelled as 7 on the Salt Union plan.

By 1828, Pigot’s  Directory shows him as being a baker and earthenware dealer. Also in 1828, there is a record of a William Gurney trading as a baker in Old Street, Upton-on-Severn, which suggests that this trade was connected to the family.  

There are papers referring to a schedule of deeds (undated) delivered to Job Gurney on his completion of the purchase of ‘the house and premises’ in the occupation of Mr John Lees, a salt proprietor.  The deeds had been agreed by Job Gurney with John Lees, as proof of the title of John Lees to a cottage in the occupation of Ann Smith, otherwise known as Lowe. There was also an actual contract to produce the deeds in December 1830. This property may relate to the pink property on the Salt Union plan labelled F.

Job continued trading as a baker in High Street until 1839.  On 25th September of that year, in the ‘Worcester Chronicle’ it states: ‘Stock in trade shop and bakehouse fixtures…..upon premises in High Street, Droitwich the property of Mr J Gurney who is declining business’.  It appears that the shop was leased again and a year later Job appears in Bentley’s Directory as residing at Witton.

According to the tithe awards of 1840, Job Gurney held several pieces of land at Witton, probably including that which he already owned in 1824.  There were two pieces which he rented from a William Wilson, being an orchard of an acre and four acres of arable land opposite to St Mary’s churchyard on the west side of the main Droitwich to Worcester Road (A38) alongside Witton Hill.  William Wilson owned a cottage and garden fronting the main road. Job owned another three pieces himself, comprising a garden and parts of two orchards, both of which were classed as ‘pasture’.  These parcels were sited approximately where Corbett Avenue runs east from the main road (A38), opposite St Andrew’s Road.  (Corbett Avenue was not in existence at the time Job owned the land.)  Perhaps he sold his bakery business and undertook a smallholding at Witton.  In 1843, when Job drew up his will, he stated he was a baker.

Mary Gurney, his wife, was buried at St Andrew's Church, Droitwich on 24th December 1840 aged 80.

In the 1841 census Job is living at Witton with Ann Andrews aged about 25, a servant.  Ann Andrews and her father both later appear as beneficiaries in Job’s will.

In 1845 he appears in a mortgage agreement with John Clarke from Upton-upon-Severn, as a ‘husbandman’ in Ladywood in Salwarpe; a person who works the land possibly owning a smallholding.  He probably could not sign his name so left his mark (X).

Job Gurney was buried at Dodderhill aged 86 on 21st August 1846 and had been living at Salwarpe.

Gurney’s Lane is one of the old streets of Droitwich and it was formerly known as ‘Lechmoores Lane’ as seen on ‘A Draught Map of the Town of Droitwich’, dating from the 17th century.  In 1611 it is named as ‘Leadsmiths Lane’ in a deed referring to 31-33 High Street.   In 1868, a description of the property 31 to 35 High Street is given: ‘ all those three messuages fronting the High Street, Droitwich with land and outbuildings……..and seven freehold cottages in the rear fronting Gurney’s Lane’.  The outbuildings at the rear may well have provided premises for a bake house at the time of Job Gurney, which probably explains how his name was given to the lane at that time, as it ran past the bakery.  The references to deeds previously mentioned and the Land Tax return, help to locate Job Gurney’s properties.  The lane formerly gave access to the High Street from the industrial area of Upwich just across the River Salwarpe, which was located, before about 1770, where the canal now sits.

The Council wished to rename this through path ‘Salt Lane’ but Nelly Copson, the local historian at that time, wrote a letter to the town clerk pointing out it had been known as Gurney’s Lane since the mid 1800s, so the name remains to this day.


Salt Union plan 1889 and deeds BA 261.4 box 4963 parcel 28ii

housed at the Hive Archives and Archaeology, Worcester.

Census returns 1841, 1851

1828 Pigot’s Directory, 1840 Bentley’s Directory

Thanks to Jenny Walton for her help in this research.

Will of Job Gurney

Illustration of baker at work: ‘Baking oven and kneading trough’ from Charles Tomlinson, ‘Illustrations of useful arts, manufactures, and trades’, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, [1858].