Starting work and a family
At the time of the 1841 Census John Karslake was 15 and he had left school and was working as a farm labourer on William Passmore’s farm at North Radworthy. However he later trained as a carpenter and wheelwright and nine years later he is listed in White’s Directory of Devon 1850 as a wheelwright. He was described as such when, on 18 April 1850, he married Ann Burgess at North Molton Parish Church. Ann was the daughter of Henry Burgess, also a carpenter. Whether John worked with, or for, Henry is not known but seems possible. Henry Burgess is recorded as one of the 12 carpenters in North Molton in 1850 and John Kerslake is one of the 5 wheelwrights.
The 1851 Census shows John, then aged 25, and Ann, 29, living in North Molton village with their 2 month old baby son, William. (William’s middle initial is given as B, presumably for Burgess, his mother’s maiden name).
A second son, Michael, was born in 1852, and daughters Elizabeth and Mary-Ann were born in 1854 and 1855 respectively. It appears that the family may have moved to nearby Heasley Mill because a John Kerslake is listed as being a Wheelwright there in the Devon Directory of 1856.