Who owned my car?

This is a pretty common question for us at the record office.

Did you know? Vehicle registration was introduced in 1903 under the responsibility of the Borough and County Councils.

Although in other parts of the country many vehicle licensing records do survive, unfortunately, this is not the case for Derbyshire, so enquirers may be left disappointed with our answer.

The few records that do survive for Derbyshire are registers of fees for local taxation licences 1909-1910 and local taxation police reports and ‘failure to licence’ reports 1910-1911 (ref: DCC/UL).  There are more records surviving for Derby Borough including Registers of motor cars and motor cycles, plus some other vehicles between 1903 and 1947 (registration numbers CH were used up to 1933 and RC thereafter) – see D1890 for a full catalogue list.

A central system for was established in 1965 under the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC), now DVLA.

For records after 1974, contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.   We do know that some people have been successful in obtaining information from the Kithead Trust relating to vehicles registered in Derbyshire before 1945.

Occasionally, you might also find records in other collections.  In particular, the archive of Kennings Ltd of Clay Cross (D4547) includes new and second hand car registers, 1949-1974 and licence registers 1954-1969.  If the vehicle you are interested is was purchased by a business (particularly a transport business such as a bus company), search the catalogue for records of that company.

If you want to find out more, try Philip Riden’s How to Trace the History of Your Car (1998).

Here is an absolutely fascinating story from Mike, a recent enquirer who was trying to find out more about his vintage car…

A History of Sunbeam 14/40 Registration number NU2525 – by Mike (current owner)

Mike’s Sunbeam at home…

This Sunbeam 14/40 open tourer was purchased by Mrs Grimshaw-Taylor on 28 February 1924 for her son Sydney (Sidney). He kept and used the car for many years, until in 1939 he stored it on a farm in Ockbrook. The story as told by the owners of the farm was that a gentleman, who had gone abroad during the Second World War, had left the car on their farm with the intention of collecting it upon his return from the conflict. However, he had not showed up and they had assumed that he had been ‘lost in action’.

In 1957, the car was purchased for £12 by Bryan Barton of Chilwell on behalf of Ken Wilson who had previously restored Bull Nose Morris, and was keen to purchase the Sunbeam, but did not have the necessary funds. Ken would repay Bryan by doing work for him until the debt was repaid, rectifying a TR2. The Sunbeam was registered to Bryan on a continuation log book, dated 30 October 1957, and later re-registered to Ken on his birthday, 27 August 1971.

One evening, possibly in the 1960’s or 1970’s, when visiting Eric O’Dell in Kidderminster, Ken was presented with “some old books on cars” and on top of the pile was a Sunbeam handbook. Ken immediately opened it, and just as quickly put down. “That is the chassis number, and that is the engine number of my Sunbeam”. At the end of the war, Lieutenant Eric O’Dell, ex Royal Engineers, had returned from Italy by train with his commanding officer, Captain Sydney Grimshaw-Taylor: “What are you going to do when you get home Eric?” “Well the first thing that I am going to do is to buy a car”. “You can have mine. I will send you the books”. Eric received the books but never collected the car.

Ken was given the books relating to the Sunbeam, now realising that he was the second owner. Sometime later, Ken discovered in a local newspaper the obituary of a prominent local solicitor and ‘war hero’, Mr Sydney Grimshaw-Taylor.

After 36 years of ownership, Ken decided that it was time for a younger fellow to look after his pride and joy. Initially, when I first saw the Sunbeam I was not taken, mainly due to it not having a driver’s door, which is impractical in my small garage. We went for a drive in the car to view the spares that would be sold with the car, and I drove it back. We said our goodbyes with a promise that we would be in touch, knowing full well that that was not going to happen due to the impracticality of having only three doors. But for the next 2 or 3 days I could not get the car off my mind.

…and in France, with Mike

As a result we returned to Nottingham and have now celebrated 27 years as the custodians of the Sunbeam, registration number NU 2525.

 

 

With thanks to Mike for sharing his story and his photographs.

When truth may be stranger than fiction?

Record Office volunteer Roger Jennens sets the scene for a Victorian melodrama.

Consider this rich Victorian narrative. Does this accumulation of events seem plausible? The story begins with the birth of the heroine: a collier’s daughter born in a small village located on the border of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. As a young woman she is employed as a domestic servant, moving to live in the big house on the outskirts of the village, the home of an elderly widowed barrister.

Over a period of twelve years the heroine gives birth to seven children. All remain in her care, living with her in the big house where as well as caring for her children she continues to work as a servant. The narrative offers no information about the paternity of the children nor is there any indication of how, shortly before the birth of her seventh child the heroine has the resources to buy from her employer a property in the city of Derby. Following the subsequent death of her employer the heroine receives from his estate a bequest of land and cottages. Thus, now living in Derby, she is able to describe herself as a landed proprietor. The subsequent story of the lives of our heroine and of her children reflects a remarkable world-wide compilation of achievement, tragedy, cruelty and intrigue.

At least three of the heroine’s sons benefit from an education at a prestigious school. There’s nothing humdrum about their subsequent occupations.   One prospers as an architect and one becomes a solicitor. Remarkably for one brought up in landlocked Derbyshire a third moves to Liverpool to become a ship’s mate making voyages across the Atlantic.

The story reveals, however, that for the heroine and her children life is not all plain sailing. Three of her children die during her lifetime and others suffer distress and shame. Her eldest daughter dies at home when aged just seventeen. One son dies while still a schoolboy: the narrative has him falling to his death while looking for birds’ eggs, climbing rocks during a school outing to Dovedale. The son who goes to sea perishes during a voyage along the coast of North America.

This sailor son is by no means the only one to go abroad. After working for a time in England the architect son emigrates to Canada. The solicitor son practises in Derby for a few years but then abandons his wife and children and settles in New South Wales, Australia. The circumstances of his emigration remain unexplained; although the story does have him admitting in court a charge of disorderly conduct in a public house, including threatening a police officer with a poker.   In Australia he starts a new career as a mining engineer; and starts a new family, too, claiming at his marriage to have been born in Leeds, perhaps seeking to minimise the chance of being recognised as a bigamist. He is not the only one of our heroine’s children to reach New South Wales. One of her daughters tells the divorce court a harrowing tale of violence suffered at the hands of her drunken, unfaithful husband; then takes her children to Australia where she marries a farmer. Hers is not the only divorce in this elaborate story. One of her sisters, while still aged sixteen or seventeen, marries an engineer, but within a few years the engineer presents the divorce court with evidence of his wife staying at an hotel in Paris with a man not her husband, a bottle manufacturer whom she subsequently marries.

And what of the heroine herself? Having reached the age of fifty years she marries a man more than twenty years her senior, in poor health, who is none other than the widowed father of the drunken husband of one of her daughters. The narrative avoids having to describe the impact on the heroine’s marriage of her daughter taking her husband’s son to the divorce court by having the elderly husband die before the divorce court proceedings.

No doubt that while reading this you have realised that this is not a work of Victorian fiction. It is indeed the factual story of Elizabeth Hill of Pinxton, and later of Full Street and Duffield Road, Derby. As a young woman she became a servant at Brookhill Hall, one of the homes of the barrister D’Ewes Coke (1774-1856). [He, incidentally, was an energetic diary writer. His diaries are currently on display here at the Record Office until 1st May as part of the 50 Treasures exhibition, although none have survived from the time when Elizabeth Hill’s children were alive.] It seems likely that in his lifetime D’Ewes Coke was not publicly acknowledged as the father of Elizabeth Hill’s children: they were given their mother’s maiden name. But after the death of D’Ewes Coke the children assumed the name Coke as a second forename or as part of a double surname; and when each of the children married the name of D’Ewes Coke was entered in the register as father.

D5369-15-39-000001

Diary of D’Ewes Coke, 1835 (D5369/15/39)

The story of Elizabeth Hill and her children can be followed through documents here and through internet records available here at the Record Office and at Derbyshire libraries. Such records include census returns every ten years between 1841 and 1911 and parish registers showing baptisms and marriages. There is much of relevance in the British Newspaper Archive. The deeds of Elizabeth Hill’s purchase in 1854 of property in Derby are here (D4058/8), as is her will (Elizabeth Jay: D96/1/48/p339 – available on DVD 400 and microfilm M823). D’Ewes Coke’s will is held at Staffordshire Archives but is freely available at this Record Office on the Find My Past website: (note that the length of the will means that it is divided into two sections). Some details of Elizabeth Hill’s sons can be seen in The Derby School Register 1570-1901, available on line. The Ancestry website offers divorce records of Catherine Maud Jay and of Eleanor Coke Banks. The Ancestry site also gives some records of those who went to Australia: Thomas Coke Hill and Catherine M R Jay, later Catherine Coke Minter. Confirmation of Alfred Coke Hill’s qualification as a ship’s mate is also available on the Ancestry website.

As well as documentary sources there are in Derby tangible reminders of this story. Amongst buildings designed by Arthur Coke Hill is the church of St Barnabas in Mackworth. Elizabeth Jay, nee Hill died in Derby in 1905: her grave in Nottingham Road Cemetery in Chaddesden is marked with a memorial stone.

Roger Jennens, Record Office volunteer

What are your plans for Christmas this year?

How many times have you been asked this already this year?  Hands up if you are planning a trip away – where are you going?

How about skating and tobogganing on Mont Blanc – just 10 guineas

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Or perhaps a Mediterranean cruise to welcome the New Year – 25 guineas

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And if you’re still hunting for that last minute Christmas present, why not show someone how much they mean to you with a tour of Rome – from just £10 (oops, perhaps that should be £820)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Don’t forget to read the small print…

If you’d rather stay at home, why not treat the children to a stylish new hat

Wherever you go and what you do, Derbyshire Record Office wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (that is for 2020 not 1899!)

Images courtesy of

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.

Did You Know?

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, Works of Artistic Craftsmanship require an element of artistic merit not considered with most other types of artistic work.

The Act offers no definition for artistic merit, but it is generally accepted that a work of Artistic Craftsmanship requires skilled craftsmanship and is intended to have aesthetic appeal, e.g.                                                                                                                                                                            stained glass windows, bookbinding, needlework and designer clothing.

 

Did You Know?

Music

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act defines              Musical Works as:

“Original works combining melodies and harmonies, of any date, which are capable of being performed to produce sounds appreciated by the ear, and which are recorded in writing or some other form.”

 

However, “sounds appreciated by the ear” is undefined in the Act, but is not subjective.

woman wearing leather jacket with tongue out

The Defalcation of Charles Biggs

If you tune into Andy Twigge’s BBC Radio Derby show at around 2.15pm, you may hear Sarah talking about a tale of embezzlement which involved a journey to Australia.  Here’s how we discovered this story.

In October 2017 Dr Paul Freeman, a regular visitor to the record office, started analysing census records for 1841 to 1911 covering the parish of Brimington. He was particularly interested in finding answers to questions about the male working population: where were they born; what work did they do; did they settle or were they just passing through?

As well as measuring trends and movements over time Paul decided to look in detail at one particular census. He chose 1891 because that was the census year in which the proportion of immigrants amongst the working men in the village reached its peak: in that year 26% of working men were born in the village, 26% were born elsewhere in Derbyshire and 52% were born outside Derbyshire.

He wanted to know how it was that these 78% who were born outside the village knew that if they came they would likely find work and housing. It was clear from the occupations of working men that the great majority would have worked for the neighbouring Staveley Coal and Iron Company. Consequently Paul turned to the Staveley Company’s records held with us at the record office to see if they contained anything of relevance. Thus it was that in February 2018 he chanced upon the intriguing records pertaining to Charles Biggs.

I was so intrigued when Paul told me of the story he was unearthing that I asked him if he might write an article which could be shared on our blog.

In the attached article Dr Freeman tells us the fascinating tale of the Defalcation of Charles Biggs, which shows us that when using archives, you never know what you might uncover…..

The Defalcation of Charles Biggs article

Historical recipes – both good and bad

I was interviewed by Andy Twigge for BBC Radio Derby today and we discussed a few recipes from our many historical recipe books.  I made a couple of things for him to try: one was the gluten-free rice cake which I’ve blogged about before, and the other was Jumbles from Mary Swanwick’s 1740s recipe.

The one I didn’t make, but rather tickled me, was from a seventeenth century book.  It’s from the archive of the Gell family of Hopton Hall and like all such home recipe books, it contains a mix of medicinal and cookery recipes.   I would strongly recommend that you don’t try this one at home.

Recipe for convulsion fits

Reference no: D258/32/15/1

Here’s my transcription with modernised spelling and punctuation:

Mrs Evelyn’s excellent powder for Convulsion Fits

Take a dozen young moles, flay them, draw them and quarter them, lay them abroad in a dish and dry them in an oven until they will powder. Take elecampane root, cleanse, slit and dry them in an oven to powder. Take red peony roots and Jews ears [a kind of mushroom], powdered after the same manner.  Take also a little of the                      of a healthy woman when it is burnt to powder.  Beat them severally and take of each powder a like quantity by weight.  Mix them well together and keep them close tied up for use.

Take of it 3 mornings before and after the full and change, in a spoonful of black cherry water as much as will lie on a shilling, fasting, and drink 2 or 3 spoonful of black cherry water after it.

The black cherry water definitely sounds like the best bit!  I’m not entirely sure about ‘the full and change’ but I think that is referring to the moon, the full moon often being seen as the culprit for fits of insanity.  As for what you should be powdering from a healthy woman, if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments.

You can hear snippets of my conversation with Andy Twigge by listening to his lunchtime radio programme every day this week at around 2.15pm – or catch up with it on the BBC Radio iPlayer.  I’ll post the Jumbles recipe later this week, for those that would like to give it a try.  I promise that it’s much more palatable than the recipe above!

A poem…

…this time for World Poetry Day (today!)

The Moth

Poor little Moth, how low thou’rt laid !

Would, thou hadst never thoughtless play’d

Round yon seducing light,

And flutter’d in its magic beam

Like one enchanted in a dream

Or vision of the night

D 3311 Attic Chest 1920_0007

 

Chosen from an early 19th C collection of poems, prose and ‘general whimsy’ known as the ‘Attic Chest’, edited by Eleanor Porden. The editor has given a little input to the original version, which was contributed by Eleanor’s friend Mary Ann Flaxman.

The Cabinet of Curiosities

Unsurprisingly, people don’t tend to think of an archive as a place where objects are held, but as many museums hold documents, often archive repositories can hold objects. Admittedly it’s not something which we seek to collect but on occasion objects come to us as part of an archive collection and it can be more sensible to keep them together than to separate them.

For example, back in 2009 the record office purchased at auction a servants’ wages book relating to the Derby General Infirmary. We were interested in the link the wages book had to Derbyshire and its possible use as a source of family history. The small book includes a list of servant staff at the infirmary which includes the job they performed, how much they were paid, and an indication of when the worked at the hospital.

Whilst the book itself is an excellent addition to our collection perhaps the most memorable thing about this acquisition was what arrived with the book. On the morning the document was delivered we were very surprised when, as part of the lot, we found a Victorian death mask.

We don’t really know much about the death mask, sadly it didn’t come with any supporting information, so whoever the cast is of will always remain a mystery.

As this is just one of many unusual and interesting objects held at the record office we decided to hold an exhibition to display a selection.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Take, for example, a stoolball bat. Ever heard of stoolball? We hadn’t either. It’s an ancient English game, originating in Sussex, which has been played for over 500 years. It is believed to be the origin of cricket. Tradition has it that the game was played by milkmaids who used their milking stools as a wicket and the milk bowl as a bat. A stoolball bat is part of the collection we hold of the Gell family of Hopton Hall.

Alongside our death mask and stoolball bat you will see on display a pair of spurs which saw action in the Napoleonic Wars, a lock of flaming red hair given by the actress Frances Kemble to Robert Arkwright, son of Sir Richard Arkwright, on the eve of their wedding in 1805 and a printed nightshirt with links to Beatrix Potter.

The Cabinet of Curiosities exhibition is on at the record office until 17th May, normal opening hours apply.