Three Maps, Three Men and One Town

From Roger, Cataloguing Volunteer

Recently I have been listing a collection of records that have been in the custody of the record office for several decades, although a few additions were made in the last couple of years (ref: D1622). The wide range of subjects, dates and locations of the documents in this collection can be fully appreciated only from the lists (not yet available online but soon). The items were assembled by Charles Blockley (1838-1927), a life-long resident of Chesterfield, variously employed as clerk at the County Court, clerk to the Town Clerk of Chesterfield, and clerk to the Chesterfield and Tapton Burial Board and High Bailiff of Chesterfield. He was an acquisitive antiquarian.

The most substantial component of the collection is documents relating to the Rotheram family of Dronfield, and to families associated through marriage.  The individuals and families principally involved are:

  • ROTHERAM: John Rotheram (ca 1620-1696); John Rotheram (1645-1720); John Rotherham (1671-1706); Samuel Rotheram (1680-1743) and John Rotheram (1717-1771).
  • FENTON of Gleadless, Handsworth and Little Sheffield, Yorkshire: Elizabeth Fenton married John Rotheram at Sheffield in 1748: this collection includes a substantial number and range of earlier documents of the Fenton family and of families associated through marriage; particularly William Fenton (ca 1602-1685/6) of Gleadless; Alexander Fenton (1638-1708/9) of Gleadless and Richard Fenton (father and son) of Handsworth
  • DRABLE[S] of Dronfield: Ellen Drable married John Rotheram at Dronfield in 1643
  • HANCOCKE of Dronfield: Elizabeth Hancocke married John Rotheram at Dronfield in 1668
  • HAYWOOD of Wallingwells, Nottinghamshire: Eliezer Haywood married Helen Rotheram at Northowram, Yorkshire in 1699
  • HOLLAND of Chesterfield: Thomas Holland married Hannah Rotheram at Dronfield in 1707
  • HOUNSFIELD of Dronfield: Francis Hounsfield married Helen Rotheram at Dronfield in 1670
  • UPPLEBY of Wootton, Lincolnshire: John Uppleby married Elizabeth Rotheram at Dronfield in 1701
  • WRIGHT of Hipperholme: Hannah Wright married Samuel Rotheram at Coley, Yorkshire in 1715.

There are also:

  • Manor Court records for Beighton, Bolsover, Calow, Chesterfield, Handsworth (Yorkshire), Ilkeston, Mansfield, Owlerton, Temple Normanton, plus a number of locations in Norfolk
  • a significant number of documents relating to the history of Chesterfield, including Chesterfield Corporation and Chesterfield parish church
  • a number of deeds relating to property in the parish of Dronfield refer, amongst others, to the following local families: Blyth, Burton, Fanshaw, Heathcote, Rossington.

 Amongst smaller but distinctive clusters there are:

  • Poor Law records such as bastardy and settlement examinations and one removal order
  • wills with probate certificates
  • correspondence and other documents of Wotton Byrchinshaw [Burkinshaw?] Thomas of Chesterfield (1769-1835), including letters from Sir George Sitwell in relation to the parliamentary election of 1832
  • terriers of Sutton cum Duckmanton

Of particular interest to me were three maps of Chesterfield that each have a personal connection to notable individuals.

1. D1622/36/2: This is the earliest of the map, bearing the date 1837. The streets of Chesterfield are shown in detail on a scale of 88 yards to one inch.  Particularly noticeable is a prominent double line running from north to south, marked at intervals with the words “excavation” and “embankment”. A clue to the significance of this line, if one were needed, is in the name shown on the map: Jonas Chapman.

Jonas Chapman (1814-?1880) was a land surveyor who undertook work for the North Midland Railway. Construction of this company’s line from Derby to Rotherham and Leeds was begun in 1837.  Perhaps Jonas Chapman anticipated that public interest in the construction of the railway would create a demand for his map. The Derbyshire Courier newspaper of 20 May 1837 contained a preliminary advertisement; and the map was published in August in a variety of formats: “price 7s [shillings] plain; 8s coloured; 9s coloured and stained and 12s 6d coloured and mounted on canvas”. The Courier offered unreserved praise: “Mr Chapman was determined to produce a work deserving the patronage of the public, it is needless to say that he has succeeded, and no eulogium of ours is necessary for its introduction”.

In subsequent years Chapman, land surveyor and engraver, met with ill-fortune. In 1840 he married a widowed mother, Hannah Ward, but in the census returns of 1851 and subsequent years her name is absent from Jonas Chapman’s entry. Chapman ceased to work as land surveyor, taking up his father’s trade, operating a fertiliser manufacturing enterprise, first in Chesterfield and then in his native Mansfield. This was not always successful: Chapman was brought before magistrates in Mansfield for causing unacceptable offence by the processing of animal bones; and in 1854 he had to face insolvency. It was said that at some point he was knocked down in the street, suffering a significant injury which so impeded his ability to earn a living that he was admitted to the Mansfield workhouse.

2. D1622/36/3: is essentially the same as the first, reprinted in 1890 for a different purpose. For many years, from a modest beginning in 1864 through to 1905, a Chesterfield wine and spirit merchant, Thomas Philpot Wood (1840-1911), published an annual almanac, freely distributed and highly regarded as a useful compendium of both local and general information. In 1890 T P Wood heard that someone living in Chesterfield held an old copper plate engraving of the town: this turned out to be an engraving of Chapman’s 1837 map. Wood had the map enclosed as a frontispiece in his 1891 almanac, to which he added a commentary emphasising changes and developments in the town in the years between 1837 and 1891. (Copies of the almanac are held at the Record Office and Chesterfield Local Studies Library.  Although the surviving 1891 edition no longer has the frontispiece map, you can see it in other editions, including 1890).

Thomas Philpot Wood was a life-long resident of Chesterfield. He served on Chesterfield Borough Council between 1863 and 1910; served three times as mayor and was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough. Amongst many contributions to public life he played a leading role in the campaign by the people of Chesterfield to raise money to purchase the land for Queen’s Park.

3. D1622/36/7: shows the boundary of the Chesterfield Parliamentary constituency. The title of the map indicates the purpose of its publication: “What Mr Byron (The Unionist Candidate) Has Done for the Chesterfield Division”. The sites of Byron’s supposed achievements are highlighted, as is the location of his home at Duckmanton Lodge. To add emphasis the map carries text describing Byron’s involvement with local agricultural organisations and with developments in mining and railway building. The map bears no date, but Byron was a candidate in the 1895 and 1900 Parliamentary elections.

Augustus William Byron (1856-1939) was born in Somerset and educated at Rugby School. By his mid-twenties he was employed as a land agent to William Arkwright, with homes in London and at Duckmanton Lodge near Chesterfield. Byron was unsuccessful in the Parliamentary election of 1895 and again in 1900 by which time he had become an officer in the Leicestershire Imperial Yeomanry, seeing action during the Boer War. He was involved in the promotion of the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway, opened from Chesterfield to Lincoln in 1897, and in the development of iron works and tube manufacture in Chesterfield, taking risks which led to bankruptcy in 1912. He died in 1939 in France where he had lived for some years.

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