Tracing the path of a religious dissenter

We get some interesting enquiries at Derbyshire Record Office, and it’s nice to share them sometimes – especially where there is an element of mystery.  I wonder if anyone can help with this one?

We were contacted recently by a genealogist who was working through some family history papers compiled by a relation, and hit upon this reference:

  • 11 July 1710. SAMUEL SKIDMORE, of Monsal Dale in Ashford, listed as a Religious Dissenter.

However, the source of this reference is unknown.  What could it be?

My first thought on this was that there might have been a nationwide exercise in trying to keep tabs on religious dissenters because they were regarded as a national security risk – however, I haven’t managed so far to find any records or publications that fit that description, despite the prevalence of anti-dissenter and anti-Catholic prejudice during the 1710s.

Next, I thought it might have come from a return to the Quarter Sessions by the Constable of Ashford in the Water, but there doesn’t seem to be anything of the right date.  There were various tasks assigned to local authorities of the day relating to nonconformists*, and a lot of the records relating to registration of meeting houses, holders of public office and so on can be found in the catalogue for the Quarter Sessions collection under reference Q/RR.

Where else could this reference have come from?  Has anyone any bright ideas?

Here’s some background information on the subject, should that help.  It comes directly from the enquirer:

  • SAMUEL SKIDMORE was a weaver and smallholder of Monsal Dale in the parish of Bakewell, perhaps baptised 4 January 1673/4 at St John the Baptist, Tideswell, a son of Nicholas Skidmore. He married Dorothy Baddaley of Over Haddon on 8 May 1715 at Great Longstone. It is less certain that he is the Samuel Skidmore of Ashford who married, at Bakewell on 22 November 1703, Ann Bagshaw of Puttayhill.
  • On 11 July 1710 Samuel Skidmore of Monsal Dale in Ashford was listed as a religious dissenter [Source of this information unknown].
  • Baptisms have not been found for Samuel Skidmore’s children
  • Samuel Skidmore left a will dated 6 July 1745 (proved at Lichfield 29 April 1748), in which he left £35 to his daughter Ruth Skidmore, with the residue passing to his executors – his wife Dorothy and son Joseph. The will was witnessed by Ruth White and Samuel White. The inventory of his goods shows that he was also a smallholder who had 47 sheep, a horse and hay and corn. The burials of Samuel and Dorothy Skidmore have not yet been found.
  • Ruth Skidmore was living in 1745 when she was left £35 in the will of her father ‘on condition that she lays no claim nor makes any demand upon my executor or executrix for five pounds which was left her by Elias White of GreatRicks which I have now in hand’. She also received half of her father’s linen, one bed with woollen bedding, two chairs, one chest and one desk ‘which are in the room in which she usually lodges’. Elias White was a yeoman of Gitrixe, Bakewell, who left a will (with inventory) was proved at Lichfield on 2 June 1724.
  • Joseph Skidmore had an eldest son Samuel Skidmore who in turn had an only child Ann who married John Mawrey.

If any of this rings a bell or you can offer some pointers, please use the Reply box below.

*I use the term “nonconformists” which is often considered pejorative, but I hope I can get away with it because it has a historical/legal context which is very, very relevant to the question of what was recorded at the time, and why.  The term begs the obvious question: what exactly was it that people were refusing to conform to?  It goes back to the Act of Uniformity, passed by parliament in 1662, and denotes “a Protestant Christian who did not ‘conform’ to the governance and usages of the established Church of England”.  (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

2 thoughts on “Tracing the path of a religious dissenter

  1. Hi Mark, The reference to Ann Bagshaw of “Puttayhill” is interesting. Putty Hill (now Putwell Hill) is in the north-eastern corner of Brushfield Lordship where the track starts to drop down the hill to the old Monsal Dale station. Buildings are shown there on the Peter Potter map of 1812, and maps of Brushfield of 1825 and 1855 (Chatsworth Maps 4082, 2633 and 2562 respectively), and the terriers associated with the 1825 and 1855 maps describe an area there as “Homestead, Buildings and Yard”. Buildings are also shown, in a different arrangement, on the same spot on the Henry Hawes map of Brushfield of 1649 (Chatsworth Map CT22). Steve Thompson PS: There are still Skidmores living in Taddington…

  2. Hi Mark, I’ve found a document where that 1710 reference is made:
    This is a history of the SKIDMORE family which originated in Somerset. I haven’t read through it but it does appear the SKIDMOREs had a history of dissent, and 1710 Samuel could have been a Quaker. There are plenty of Quaker SKIDMOREs in Bucks, Herts and Beds at the time. But I think it more likely he was a Calvinist, either Presbyterian or Independent, and probably of a congregation whose records do not exist at that date. I have had this problem countless times when chasing dissenters. Celia Renshaw in Chesterfield

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