Fothers, Franklin and Folksongs

Around this time yesterday, I was at an interdisciplinary seminar at Brunel University, showing an assortment of lead-mining documents to an assortment of academics.  All those assembled had an interest in metals and mining during medieval and early modern times, whether from the perspective of a historian, geographer, palaeoecologist, sociologist or, in my case, archivist.  Here are three examples of the Derbyshire Record Office documents that I had digitised to take with me:

D258/27/1/18d258-27-1-18

This is a lease by the Abbot and Convent of the Dale (i.e. Dale Abbey) to Richard Blackwell of “Worseworth” (Wirksworth), of their lot and tithe ore at “the Gryffe” (Griffe). It dates from 1489.  The tithe was ten percent of whatever lead ore was extracted at Griffe during that period, whereas lot was a customary payment of every thirteenth dish of lead ore. For the six years covered by this lease, those payments would go straight to Blackwell – by the time the lease expired, he would know whether the bargain had been worth making.

The all-important measuring of lead ore would have gone on in a building like the one depicted in this map of Wensley of 1688, reference D239/M/E/5525:

d239-m-e-5525

See the circular yellow-green blob just to the right of the centre? Inside is a drawing of something marked “reckoning coe”, where the ore would be measured.  You can also see the “smithy coe” in the bottom-right corner.  (A coe is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a little hut built over a mine-shaft, as a protection to the shaft, or as a repository for ore, tools, etc” – although on the map it is spelled “cow”.)

Finally, there’s this petition, D258/10/9/35:

d258-10-9-35

It is addressed to the King from Wirksworth’s miners and argues that the town ought to have its own representatives in parliament, because as things stood the miners “have noe voyces” in choosing MPs.  To back up their argument, they point to the importance of the town’s barmote court in regulation of the lead industry, the employment of “many thousand people” in the mines, the profitable incomes from the customary dues of lot and cope, and the benefits of having so much lead “for the use of the kingdome in generall, and in transporting the rest to forraigne nations, whereby your Majestie hath greate customes, both for the leade exported, and for the other merchandize imported in exchange thereof”.  I am afraid we do not know exactly when this petition was drawn up, but it was not a success – Wirksworth never had its own parliamentary constituency.

After the seminar, heading home from Derby railway station, I chanced to hear a song by Jim Moray which has been nominated for this year’s BBC Folk Awards.  The reason I mention it is that it was clearly inspired by the life of Sir John Franklin, polar explorer (1786-1847).  You might want to have a look at some of this blog’s previous posts about Franklin, or listen to the the very final tune of Simon Mayo’s programme on the iPlayer.

 

Mining the Archives Project – Conservation finished

For those of you who followed Clare’s posts about the work she was doing on our two very badly damaged lead mining account books: the conservation is now finished.  Clare went on maternity leave a few months ago (a boy!), but we were lucky enough to be able to recruit newly qualified paper conservator Madeleine Marshall to finish off the project.  Clare’s last post described how she washed all the pages of the 18th century volume, so let me explain what happened next…

Once all the pages were clean, they needed to be repaired so they would be safe to be handled again.  You can see in the photographs how Madeleine carefully needles out infills for the missing areas – basically we put new hand made paper where the original paper has crumbled away. We also sandwich the page between two sheets of very thin tissue, made from manila fibres, which gives it extra strength without obscuring the writing.  To stick it all together we make up our own adhesive, wheat starch paste, so we don’t add any potentially damaging chemicals to the documents.

 

D307 B 19 1 Maddie repairs 03

Needling out the repair

 

D307 B 19 1 Maddie repairs 01

Laying the repair in its place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The repaired pages are then re-assembled in their book sections and re-sewn:

D307 B 19 1 repaired sections trimmed 02

The repaired sections

 

D307 B 19 1 re-sewing

Sewing the textblock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we have our textblock we attach new boards:

D307 B 19 1 re-binding

Then we cover the book in book cloth:

D307 B 19 1 boards covered 01

The newly covered book drying out under weights

 

 

During the project we managed to turn this jigsaw puzzle

D7925 puzzling the pieces

Clare puzzling the pieces

 

into these readable sheets

D7925 after repairs

Fragments we couldn’t place with 100% certainty have been encapsulated, so they can still be examined

 

and this disintegrating book

D307 B 19 1 volume before repairs

into this readable one

D307 B 19 1 rebound

If you’d like to see either the actual volumes or their digitised images, ask for D7925 (the 19th century former jigsaw puzzle) and D307/B/19/1 (the 18th century rebound volume).

We remain grateful to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for their funding.

On This Day: ‘Man Killed In A Lead Mine’; ‘A Candidate For Transportation’

From the Derby Mercury, 16th December 1857:

Man Killed In A Lead Mine

On Friday last, a poor man named Thos. Thorpe, went from his cottage at Bonsall, to Mr. Greaves’, Cliff-house, Matlock, to beg a handful of mint, and not returning on that night or the next, his wife and family became seriously alarmed for his safety.  On Sunday morning some neighbours went in search, and ascertained that Thorpe had left Cliff-house with a quantity of mint, about six in the evening of Friday.  They then tracked his course homewards by leaves and sprigs of mint, to a mine shaft on Masson, then recently run in, but there the traces of the mint ceased.  On removing the rubbish in the hole the poor fellow was discovered about six feet from the surface, of course quite dead, and the body was removed to a farmhouse near to await a coroner’s inquest.

A Candidate For Transportation

Police Office, Derby  George Marshall, a youth of 14, was charged as follows:- Police-constable Davis stated: Prisoner came to me this morning and said, “Mr. Davis, I shall find you a job to-day.”  I replied, “What shall you do?”  He said, “I shall commit a robbery.”  I endeavoured to persuade him to go home, but he would not, and said, “I shall go to the first watchmaker’s shop I can, break a window, steal a watch and run my chance, as I mean to have seven years.”  I knew that prisoner had been twice convicted at the sessions, and also that he had been twice summarily committed, and therefore I thought it best to lock him up.  Prisoner, in reply to questions from the Mayor, said that he would rather be transported than live in Derby; that he had a comfortable home and neither his father nor his mother-in-law behaved ill to him, but he did not like to stay at home.  The Mayor doubted whether sending prisoner to gaol again would be productive of any good, as it was evident he had a propensity for stealing and leading an idle life; but on the mother-in-law saying they had done all they could for him, and that if he did not return home (and he said he would not) something worse was sure to happen to him, the Bench committed him, as a rogue and vagabond, for three months with hard labour.

We hold the Derby Mercury on microfilm  – just ring to book a microfilm reader.