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.

Treasure 49: a letter from Congreve Butt, 1839

This letter (D5605/2/6) was written by a medic, Congreve Butt, to his brother Revd George Butt, who was vicar of Chesterfield from 1851 until his death in 1888.  It was nominated as one of our 50 Treasures by Vicky, a Record Assistant at Derbyshire Record Office, who picked it out for our “Thank You For Your Letter” outreach project in 2009. “I was surprised to find the content of this letter much richer than described in the catalogue entry”, says Vicky. “Although George went onto become a much respected Vicar of Chesterfield we don’t hear directly from the louche doctor again. Relatives say in much later correspondence that he became a ship’s surgeon bound for Calcutta – I just wonder what he got up to there?”

The letter is an entertaining read, but the handwriting is not easy – Vicky’s transcript follows beneath the scanned copy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Martley [Worcestershire] Nov 4th 1839

My Dear George,

Enclosed in some rough envelopes I have sent you a ham – which I trust will turn out well- and if it will not be unacceptable to you – I have received your two last letters which gave me great satisfaction as I wanted to hear from you having been kept in a long continued state of ignorance as to your state of health and progression in other matters. In fact I have not had any family communication since we met. With the exception of seeing Ewen whom I heard address a jury the other day. He performed his part far better than I could have expected, from the little I heard only at the fag end of the learned counsel’s speech –and I should not be surprised to see him worming his way to some eminence “nator fit” we all know & the youth possesses perseverance – Speaking of orators – what do you think of the poet Kilpins production? I have not yet read it but I have heard some persons speak of it in high terms – Kilpin says you are very amusing and find him matters for his wit – Did you find matter for “the man in the moon ?”

I heard of Lovery lately from the hearths of Wick – I think the second sister is staying in Oxford – Pray tell me if she is, and what you think of her – she took wonderfully with me not so much for her personal appearance as for her good qualities – which were remarkable – I found a strong contrast to some other members of her family . If old Conway Lovery (or rather, young ) is in Oxford pray tell me & remember me to him as I should like him to come a & spend two or three days at Xmas.

As I am now getting established in the opinions of many of my neighbours – and I am progressing as this thinly populated and poor neighbourhood will admit of – I am making enough to keep myself in pocket money & boot leather & not of any fresh debts – having received perhaps £20 altogether – and If I get the remaining £10 in my books paid by Xmas – I think I can strain a point to see an old friend for a day or two – especially as I have been requested to take my friends to some neighbouring families – where I always have a knife & fork & a welcome. Old Captain S when he sees me always sneaks away like a canine animal in a quandary – leaving my circle of acquaintance almost confined to Mrs Sparkes, Mr Kenton, Eginton,& Archy[…]

We have a pleasant curate just arrived. He was at East Garlton in the summer months cooking at the curacy – His name is Davis – he is very gentlemanly – keeps two carriages & preaches extempore in a manner not unwitting of a metropolitan pulpit – I have not visited Price recently – I rather think that he has voted me a bore, as he has hinted two or three times on the expense of going to Worcester to see Mr Lechmore, so I trouble him as little as possible – I suppose you know old Sir Winnington is translated to another world – I do not know his son.

[The curate referred to was Revd Edward Acton Davies M.A., who was rector of Areley Kings by the time he died in 1880, aged 74.]

It is a great difficulty this to lie by and let my “wanton zeal mould in roosted sloth” – but I groan & endure & read books of a voluminous size from the library being relieved from my monotony by being visited by about one patient a day – & an occasional bit of cheating at vingt un with some of the fair agricultural nymphs of this vicinity – among whom I am sorry to say that I cannot help maintaining my ancient character for being fond of a bit of “getting upstairs and playing the fiddle”. I say sorry, because all the world expects a medical man to be always wrapt up in an odour of gravity – in fact to assume a humbugging puritanical deportment which it is my misfortune to lack – time, however, which will soon turn me bald, may perchance give me a due share of that other inestimable quality.

[Vingt-et-un is the French version of the card game known as blackjack or pontoon – but somehow I don’t think this is what he is alluding to.]

In your letter of October 4th – you describe my letter as a non descript one – What will call this? – Something of the same sort. My hand is quite out – I have written to no one & for no one. I am obliged to take up with the subjects of conversation I meet with, instead of enjoying the company of any rationally educated people – It is therefore marvelous that the product of my brain should be a rambling hodge podge , a pot pourri as the Gauls have it. Besides when I take up my pen in your behalf I have so much to ask you & so much to say that I scarcely know where to begin far less where to end. I thought therefore that your reverence will not measure my feeble epistolary power by your own signature ones – but will be taken into your generous consideration that, however great a jumble & even concentration of ideas – distinct or otherwise there may be in my cranium – yet I am not weekly exercised by the utterance of them in writing of humour (not that I mean to say you with your own nor anything to the contrary) as you are. Nor am I in a classical soil – Genius within this country – men whose talk is of bullocks abound here to the exclusion of all others.

I wish you would lend me your pistols for a short time when you don’t want them – they would afford me a small variety in my retreat & I want to shoot a dog or two which always fly at me – & in kicking of whom I hurt my toe – you shall have them back honor bright.

The day after I sent your box , Perrott sent me a new copy of Coleridge – all three vols which is the one you have – as I may as well keep the other I send you the two. You did not tell me whether all the books were right – I think my “Bacot on Syphilis” is amongst your books – Please take care of it. [John Bacot’s “A Treatise On Syphilis” (London, 1829).]Can you tell me how long Henry will be in Paris ? I would like to commission him to get some bougies [A thin flexible surgical instrument] if I knew his address – Bloxham knows a gentleman in the customs at Dover who would pass anything for him – It is the india rubber bougies & catheters which I mean and which are made so much better in Paris than anywhere else. Plague upon it – I just see by referring to your letter that Henry is in London – when we get the penny postage I’ll write him a letter. Apropos Remember me to Penny – and B.M.

Your very affectionate brother Congreve

Chesterfield and District Family History Society Fair

CADFHS Fair 2016

Hullo!  I’m here at Outwood Academy in Newbold for the annual family history fair run by the Chesterfield and District Family History Society – feel free to drop by if you are in the vicinity.  Our stall is right next to m’colleagues from Chesterfield Library‘s renowned local studies section and opposite the equally-renowned Chesterfield Museum.  I can also spot Derbyshire Record Society just over there in the middle.  I’ll wander over and say how do in a minute.

Bryan Donkin on the BBC (again)

Previous posts about Bryan Donkin have included links to television programmes that give him a mention. Now Richard Donkin has let us know of a recent episode of BBC2’s Inside The Factory, which includes a segment on the history of the tin can, and Donkin’s role as an innovator in this field.  If the BBC iPlayer is available in your country, you should be able to watch the programme at any time in the next couple of weeks at this address: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07nwlvg/inside-the-factory-series-2-3-baked-beans

Preserving Your Past at Chesterfield Museum on 11 August

If you’re in Chesterfield tomorrow (Thursday 11 August), why not pop in to Chesterfield Museum and find out how to look after your old family letters and photographs?  My Preserving your Past talk starts at 1.00pm and explains how our treasured possessions can get damaged and what you can do to ensure they’ll survive for future generations to enjoy.  Feel free to bring along letters, books and photographs if you would like some specific advice after the talk – I’ll be there till the museum closes at 4.00pm.

 

 

Bryan Donkin book launched

There was a great turn-out at Chesterfield for the launch of Maureen Greenland and Russ Day’s new book, “Bryan Donkin: The Very Civil Engineer, 1768-1855”. The town is rightly proud of the company that Donkin created, and the legacy of technological innovation that it leaves us.

There was a slide show, the screening of a film about Donkin’s Rose Engine (dating from 1820, now housed at the Science Musuem), and we had some of those extraordinary engineering drawings on display:

We were also lucky to hear from former Donkin managing director Terry Woodhouse, who told us about his first encounters with the DonkDonkin_launch_2in archive, which he was instrumental in preserving for future generations. Terry described just a few of the ideas that Bryan Donkin’s talents and perseverance were able to turn into a reality: a machine for making paper, the first cans for preserving food, more efficient nibs for pens, an anti-fraud device used in the manufacture of bank-notes. One can argue that Donkin has never been given full recognition for his achievements – that’s something that this book will undoubtedly address.

Bryan Donkin book launch at Chesterfield Library

Genius deserves to be celebrated. So please do join us in celebrating the genius that was Bryan Donkin by coming to the launch of a ground-breaking new biography of the man, written by Maureen Greenland and Russ Day.

Bryan Donkin book.JPG

The book draws heavily on the archival legacy of Donkin and the company he founded, which was based in Chesterfield from 1902 onwards. Some of the most striking and noteworthy of those documents, including original engineering drawings, will be on display at the launch, which is at Chesterfield Library on Tuesday 19th July at 4.30pm. There will also be a chance to meet the authors (and get them to sign a copy of the book) and to hear from Terry Woodhouse, who was the Managing Director of the Bryan Donkin Company for a number of years.

It’s a free event, with light refreshments available, so do come along.  You can book your free ticket by calling in at the library, or by telephone on 01629 533 400, or by email to chesterfield.library@derbyshire.gov.uk.

Calling all shopaholics..

 

If you visit us at the Record Office you will see that we have a range of products for sale.

As well as offering a variety of local publications, we also have a range of unique Record Office merchandise.  DRO Products

These go from note books and mugs, to tea towels and bags  all with specially chosen images on them taken from items within our collections.

Alongside these is a display of merchandise available from Picture the Past.  You may be aware of the Picture the Past website which gives images from the library and museum collections across Derbyshire, Derby City, Nottinghamshire and Nottingham PtP ProductsCity a worldwide audience.

The website offers a host of products which you can personalise with an image of your choice.  In the Record Office and Chesterfield Library you can buy items such as notebooks, place mats, coasters, key rings and mugs with various images of the Chesterfield area already printed on them.

Picture the Past have just expanded their range and available at the Record Office, you can buy ready framed images of some famous Derbyshire landmarks.  Views of Chatsworth, Haddon Hall and Dovedale are just some of the images available. Picture 1

Along with the other merchandise mentioned these are on display in the Record Office reception area, so why not pop in and have a look.  You may just solve that awkward present problem…

Have you heard the one about the woman who lived on a tram?

Few virtual postbags can be quite as varied as our regular slew of email enquiries – this one’s a belter.  Val Howels of Devon has written to ask if we have any information on “the indomitable Miss Florence Sharpe”.  Val asks for the best and noblest of reasons – she is writing a children’s book.  The book is set to be a true story about the life of a woman who really did live on a tram, for a number of years (specifically, Chesterfield Tram No. 7).  Florence herself died in 1982 at the age of 90 – so what the author would like most of all would be the chance to chat to any relatives, who might be able to pass on any informative snippets.  Florence was the sister-in-law of a Mr Harry Cocking, who owned the tram before his death in 1949.  Are there any surviving members of the Sharpe or Cocking families who would be able to help?  If so, please email record.office@derbyshire.gov.uk and we will put you in touch with Val.

It’s always nice to have something to illustrate a blog post, so here’s a link to a YouTube clip filmed on board Chesterfield Tram No 7 at Crich Tramway Village.

 

 

 

Advent Calendar – Day 18

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chesterfield and District Family History Society magazine, no. 92 (Sep 2012), available in Local Studies

image

Featured in this edition are

  • a report of the meeting held on 3 July, which included a talk from Ian Morgan about “Within Site of the Gibbet”, ‘a tale of murder, highway robbery and transportation in the Peak District and featuring the well-known story of Robert Blincoe, an apprentice at Litton Mill
  • details of records and information found amongst the archives here about Chesterfield during the Civil War
  • an account by Doreen Rodgers of her great-grandmother Sarah Milner, and the difficulties she had faced and had caused her family to face as well.

The Chesterfield and District Family History Society (CADFHS) was established in September 1989 and their first newsletter was published that October. CADFHS continue to donate a copy of their quarterly magazine to our Local Studies collection, and these are preserved amongst our periodicals section in the main Local Studies store room at the Record Office.

There are hundreds of titles of local magazines, newspapers, newsletters as well as national journals and periodicals, in the local studies collection spanning a wide range of themes and subjects across Derbyshire. From family history magazines and society newsletters, parish magazines, research journals, printed minutes, reports and other publications of local organisations, including local authorities, year books and more.

If you are interested in taking a look at any of these items, just drop by and we can get them out for you. Unlike material held in the archive collection, we can retrieve almost all material held in the local studies collection within a few minutes – some items on the public access shelves, but we will still be very happy to help you find the right items.