Sarah Smalls was born circa 1855 at Welborne, Norfolk to Francis and Sarah Smalls. Her father was born ca. 1783 at Mattishall, Norfolk to Joshua Smalls and his wife Ann (nee Woodhouse/Wodehouse). Sarah's mother's birthplace is given variously as Mildenhall in the 1851 census and Dereham in the 1881 census. Francis and Sarah's other children were: Charles, Ann, Henry, Walter, John, Clarinda, Eliza, Elizabeth, and Alice Blanche. There were possibly two other children.
Francis joined his brother Charles at his brickyard at Welborne in the 1840s, where he eventually became a Master Bricklayer. He evidently opened the first shop in that village as well. By 1861 Francis is shown as employing 6 men and 2 boys and became the owner of a group of houses called the Brickyard Cottages.
When Francis died, his daughter Alice assisted her mother in carrying on with the business. She and her mother are shown as grocers in the 1891 census at Welborne. Sometime between 1891 and 1901, Alice moved to Swanton Novers to join her sister Sarah who was headmistress of the school. Alice became assistant schoolmistress and is shown as such in the 1901 census.
The school house at Swanton Novers was built by Mr. Charles Atkinson in 1874 and it seems Sarah Smalls became the schoolmistress there in that same year. In 1881, aged 26, she was boarding at the Keeper's Lodge in Swanton Novers with a Mr. and Mrs. Codling.
Due to illness Sarah retired in 1919, aged 65, having taught the children at Swanton Novers for forty-five years. My grandmother was taught by both the sisters and remembered Sarah as being firm but kindly. From the information on their gravestone it seems neither she nor Alice ever married. The following newspaper article appeared on her retirement: