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Old Ilson Blog 1851

January 1851

January 1st.

I started the New Year with a wretched case of influenza although those close to me insist on calling it a mild chill and describe my demeanour in very unflattering terms.
But what do they know??
I am the one who’s suffering.
Whatever ‘it’ is, I believe that I caught it last Thursday, the day after Christmas Day, when I attended the Ilkeston Cattle Show, held in very wet and dreary conditions. The show prizes were scooped up by the usual competitors, including Matthew Hobson of the Market Place (both first and second prizes for best filly) while farmer Thomas Evans of Kirk Hallam village took only a second prize this year (in the best incalf cow section).
Many present took an early leave to adjourn to the nearby Sir John Warren Inn where an excellent feast had been provided by landlord Mark Attenborough.

This day was in marked contrast to the very pleasant Christmas Day which I spent indoors when I visited the Baptist Chapel in South street to hear members of this chapel’s choir, assisted by the Choral Society, give their annual concert — this year from the works of Handel and William Boyce. Many of the town’s prominent Baptist families were represented — the Harrisons, the Hithersays, the Wests. The audience greatly appreciated the solo voice of young Benjamin Hithersay who had not far to travel to the venue, being almost a neighbour of the chapel. Coming from ‘further afield’ — from the Market Place to be exact — was the leader of the concert, draper George Small West, and a fine job he did too.

And then the day after the cattle show I heard the sad news that Amos Potter had died, just 26 years old. Only two years previous — in May 1848 — his elder brother John had died, aged 25. The brothers had started their working lives at the bottle/pottery works of Richard Evans by the Erewash Canal and latterly Amos was working as a traveller for his employer.
I hear that their surviving younger brother William is employed as a framework knitter at Loscoe where he is lodging with his cousin Ann Waterall and her family.
William is now almost 24 years old and if the fraternal trend continues he has only a few years left to enjoy!!

January 2nd

Despite the weakness caused by my infirmity, on New Year’s Day I accompanied my old friend George Small, one of Ilkeston’s parish constables, to Derby County Hall, to attend the January Sessions there.
The chairman that day was John Balguy esq. Q.C. whose opening remarks to the Grand Jury noted that there was a relatively short list of cases to consider. He didn’t know whether this was a temporary condition or whether it was evidence for the improved state in the morals of the people. He hoped for the latter though I very much doubt that he is correct!!
However, included in the court list was a case which my friend George had a keen interest in, and thought he might be called to give evidence. Two months ago, at the annual statutes in Ilkeston, George had apprehended a Manchester lad, 17 years old, by the name of John Bunton when Emma Langsdale, a young seamstress living in Bath Street, accused him of stealing from her person. She had been at the statutes, engrossed in watching the shows, when she felt a hand in her dress pocket. Turning round she saw John Bunton quickly withdrawing his hand and dropping some coins to the ground — tuppence halfpenny to be precise, the exact amount that she had had in her pocket but which was now missing.
After little deliberation the jury found the youth guilty and the court chairman was very harsh upon him — he remarked that the statutes and such fairs were like a magnet for pickpockets who came to prey upon the rural population. Although the amount stolen was small that was no grounds for a lenient sentence, as if he could have taken more money he would have done so. The sentence was a year in prison.
And George was not called for his evidence after all.

January 9th

Some good news, at least for one family living in the town.
The Vicar of St. Mary’s church, George Searl Ebsworth, and his wife Sarah Mary Ann have welcomed the arrival of their first daughter on January 8th at the Vicarage. Someone with close connections to the family has told me that this is their fourth child, after three sons — George Clement born in 1844, Algernon Frederick born in 1845 (both born when the family was living at Kirk Hallam Hall), and Edward Henry born in 1848.
The daughter, to be named Olympia Marianne (after her mother and maternal grandmother?), will be baptised next month at the parish church. In the meantime the Ebsworths will be shortly taking a holiday at Brighton — where the Vicar was once employed — in the company of his widowed father-in-law, Peter Clement Cazalet, a vice-consul in Russia, or so I am told.

January 16th

Another day, another concert, but one which I failed to attend — this one on Wednesday the 15th — and a notable occasion for the town. Not because I was not there but because it took place at the Girls’ New Schoolroom, recently completed and opened in the Market Place. It was a musical event performed mainly by local talent but with a few out-of-town contributors — organised by the school managing committee, and attended by many of the town’s clergy and ‘gentry’ (whoever they are!). All proceeds went to the Building Fund.
The Derby Mercury sent along its local correspondent who reports that the Schoolroom has ‘a neat and pleasing exterior’, is ‘conveniently fitted up in the interior‘ and ‘is well ventilated‘. So we should be proud of that approval!!
This means of course that the boys remain taught in the miserable room above the Butter Market.
I wonder how long they must wait for their ‘new’ school?
Knowing some members of the managing committee as I do, I would hazard a guess that they might have to wait another ten years!!

February 1851

February 2nd.

I have recently been talking with George Blake Norman, who holds the post of Registrar of Births and Deaths for the Ilkeston area which of course also includes Little Hallam, Shipley, Marlpool, Heanor, occasionally Langley and even parts of Trowell.
He has informed me that he has partially completed his annual assessment and computes that last year he registered the births of 414 children, though some of them were sadly not long of this world. He is still working on his death registration total.

February 12th

Yet another case of death from laudanum poisoning in the town, and as usual the victim is a very young child.
It occurred on Tuesday the 11th within the family of coalminer Frederick Beardsley living on Ilkeston Common. He and his wife Charlotte have been married less than three years and two year old William was their only child. He had started to suffer from loose bowels and his mother thought to relieve his distress with a dose of rhubarb tincture. Unfortunately she mixed this with a few drops of laudanum which had been exposed in a teacup since Christmas, in the mistaken belief that the drug had lost its potency.
William was put to bed at ten that night but within three hours he was dead.
The subsequent inquest has found his mother to be very incautious.
It is to be hoped that she is not overly upset by these events as I am led to believe that she is several months pregnant with a second child, due next month.

March 1851

March 9th

Last month I commented on the accidental death of young William Beardsley, son of Frederick and Charlotte of the Common.
I now hear that a few days ago — on March 3rd — Charlotte gave birth to a daughter who thus takes her place as their oldest (and so far only) child.
The family attend the Slade Chapel of the Primitive Methodists in Chapel Street and I believe that the child will be baptised there as ‘Mary Ann’ next month.

March 19th

The New School Building Fund, set up to provide a new girls’ National School in the town and which I mentioned in January, received a boost on Tuesday the 18th of this month when the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Lichfield visited the town. He preached a sermon at St. Mary’s extolling the virtues of the Church in providing  a sound religious education for the local children and remarked upon the outstanding results achieved by the school in which the foundation of teaching is laid in the word of God by faithful and rightly ordained ministers, and by teachers actuated by godly motives.
The congregation was so moved that a total of £50 was contributed.
The bishop, clergy and ‘gentry’ (them again!!) then visited the new schoolroom for lunch and toasts, and where the previous speaker felt the necessity of another lengthy speech.

March 20th

And of course the decennial census will be upon us at the end of this month.
I read that it has been discussed in the House of Lords recently and that Lord Stanley felt that many of the questions to be asked of the population were vexatious and inquisitorial, and that the Secretary of State, in his laudable desire to obtain the maximum information, has exceeded his powers.
As I recall — and I can just recall it!! — the 1841 census form was very limited in scope, asking for a name, sex, age, occupation if any, and whether born in the county or not. It appears that this coming census will seek more precise and more extensive detail.
The Derby Mercury has set out rather clearly what we are to expect and I have snipped a section from its article…
‘A staff of enumerators — upwards of 40,000 persons — is appointed to go from house to house. During the week they will leave blank schedules at every house to be filled up by the occupier; and the next week the schedules will be collected throughout the United Kingdom. The householder must supply the name and surname of every person who shall have slept in the house on the night of Sunday (March 31st), the relation to the head of family, or whether visitor or servant — the sex, age rank, profession, or occupation, and where born. There is also a column for noting such persons as are deaf and dumb, or blind’.
There are, it seems, full instructions on how to complete the form on its rear, and anyone refusing to give correct information is liable to a fine of £5.
All this assuming that the person can read the form’s instructions and is able to write down the information required!!
Perhaps the enumerator will be on hand to help with these tasks??

March 25th

My census form was delivered to me yesterday by the enumerator, my old friend William Riley who tells me that we are in District number 11 and that fittingly enough his household will be the first to appear on his part on the census. His butcher shop lies at the north end of Bath Street, close to Twells’ field.
I know many of the other enumerators and the writing of several of them is almost as bad as mine while their spelling can be rather ‘eccentric’.
The census registrar for the whole Ilkeston district is of course George Blake Norman, registrar of Births and Deaths for the area as well as the town’s chief surgeon. He lives in Dalby House off Anchor Row.

April 1851

April 1st

Oh, to be in Ilson,
Now that April’s here,
And…

April 2nd

I duly completed my census form on the night of March 30th and yesterday it was collected by butcher William the Enumerator. He tells me that he now has a few days in which to copy all the information from the individual household forms or schedules into a census book which he must then present to Mr. Norman the Registrar. He aims to complete all of this by the end of the week.

April 10th

The new Girls’ Schoolroom in the Market Place has been open only a very short time and already tragedy has visited the premises.
Yesterday six year old pupil Sarah Blake arrived at the school before the opening time. Her schoolmistresses were at church service and so Sarah had entered the premises alone and stood by the warming stove. Its door was open and Sarah’s pinafore was drawn into the fire to be set alight. The child was dreadfully burned and died earlier today.
At the inquest, held today it was strongly recommended that a fire guard be provided for the stove and for the open fireplace in the school-room.
Sarah was the youngest of the six children of Richard and Sarah Blake and the family live in Nottingham Road where Richard is a glove maker.

April 17th

I hear that from May 1st a post office will operate at the premises of John Wombell, the printer and bookseller trading at the south end of Bath Street.
He has just been appointed postmaster by the Postmaster-General after the untimely death — at the age of 59 — of cordwainer and former postmaster Paul Walker. His widow Eliza has temporarily been acting in his former capacity from her house in the Lower Market Place.
The last few years have been distressing ones for Eliza. She lost her son Frank in February 1846, aged 20, and two years later, in June 1848 her eldest son Paul junior died, aged 25.

April 25th

Barely two weeks have passed and yet another young girl has died from the effects of terrible burning.
Some days ago, Ann Bennett, the 15 year old daughter of coalminer William and Maria, living on Middle Road at the south edge of Ilkeston Common, was reading her book at home by candlelight when she knocked the candle into her lap. Almost immediately her apron took fire, causing the lass to be seized by panic and rush out the house. Other parts of her clothing then caught the fire and she was consequently burned severely. She lingered for several days but the burning was so severe that she died yesterday.

“And after April, when May follows…”

May 1851

May 29th

I have before me today’s (Thursday) copy of the Nottinghamshire Guardian which informs me that ‘the spirited proprietor of the Vauxhall Baths‘ in this town has made ‘considerable ornamental additions to his grounds, after the style of the celebrated Rosherville Gardens, of Gravesend’.
I believe that the latter mentioned gardens were opened in 1837, now on a daily basis. They comprise an Italian Garden, a Botanical Garden and a Wilderness. Bands perform and dances are organised in the Grand Gothic Banquet Hall, and they receive regular excursions by steamboat from London.
Last month the first Grand Gala of the season was opened there, in honour of the Queen’s birthday, with several military and quadrille bands performing. The Gardens now boast– some only on special occasions — a gypsy fortune teller, acrobats, a maze, an archery ground, rifle shooting and Chinese Games…. and of course fireworks.
And all this for a sixpence admission.
It now appears that our own ‘spirited’ Thomas Hives is seeking to keep pace with the Gravesend attraction and is ‘aiming to call forth the admiration of numerous visitors’ … in the Guardian’s words.
‘It is anticipated that many from the neighbourhood of Nottingham will resort to Ilkeston this season’. Heaven help us!!!

Two thoughts spring to my mind —
— are Ilkeston’s own Vauxhall Gardens and Baths named  after the older and much more extensive Gardens located in the metropolis?
— who alerted the Guardian to the actions of our ‘spirited’ Baths’ proprietor?!

June 1851

June 13th

Jane Skevington, a single woman and an old family friend, lives quietly with her 11 year old son and her 16 year old daughter in Bath Street, close to Club Row.
A couple of days ago (Tuesday) she had what she described as a frightening experience when walking back home about 7 o’clock in the evening. She was close to the British School gates in Bath Street, just below Club Row, when she saw two young men whom she did not know, ‘rather fresh in liquor’, pushing and shoving and appearing ready to fight — she later discovered that they were framework knitter John Wheatley and coalminer Elijah Reeve, both in their early twenties.
It appeared to her that John was trying to avoid the confrontation but that Elijah was intent upon settling some perceived score or injustice. After a few cursory blows matters became more serious and Elijah then struck John violently; the latter was knocked down, his head hit the stone pavement and he was then unable to stand. Although two men then came to assist the framework knitter to his feet, to Jane he looked as though he was so seriously injured as to be dying — and said as much to the coalminer; “You have killed him!!” She then stayed with the injured man for about quarter of an hour, as he sat on some nearby steps but was unable to speak although his eyes were open. The last she saw of him was as he staggered down Bath Street, helped by William Woodward who lived at the Pottery like John Wheatley.
The following morning (Wednesday) Jane learned that young John was dead and today, along with others, she was called to give evidence at the inquest into the death. The jury, it seems, did not have a difficult task in returning a verdict of manslaughter against Elijah Reeve, although he had argued that he did not know what he was doing — he was very fresh!!
He certainly won’t be fresh when he stands trial in a few weeks time. He has been committed to Derby County Gaol in the meantime.
The case is scheduled to appear at the County Court at the end of July.

June 26th

I see that Frederick Daft is soon to leave the town.
I believe that he has been contemplating such a move since the death of his wife Eleanor in August 1849 after only four years of marriage.
For some years he has traded as a tea dealer and grocer in the Market Place and is serving as a churchwarden at St. Mary’s ..  but has now decided to look for pastures new.
At the beginning of next month there is to be an auction of his furniture and many of his goods … and an impressive array it is too!!
Bedsteads, linen, mattresses, blankets, coverlets, carpets and rugs, chairs and tables, washstands, chests of drawers, sofas, clocks, fenders and fire irons, engravings and oil paintings, glasses and kitchen requisites.
I might be on the search for a bargain myself!!

June 30th

Apparently a new Primitive Methodist Chapel and Sunday schoolrooms are to be built and tenders for their construction are now being sought.
The present buildings are in Chapel Street.

And on the next day?

July 1851

July 1st

The weather yesterday was so fine and warm, the perfect day for avoiding work and watching a cricket match… doesn’t this man ever work I hear you ask?!
Not when there is a match at the County Ground in Derby between an All England Eleven and a Derbyshire Twenty Two.
And when three of Ilkeston’s finest cricketers are playing. John Paxton was of course included in the Twenty Two for his demon bowling, while Isaac Gregory was there for his batting and keeping of wicket. The trio was completed by Joseph Horsley.
When I arrived I noted that the pitch looked in perfect condition, equal to any in England to play on.
I also noted, in the far corner of the ground, that Mr. Mark Redgate, keeper of the Plough Inn on London Road, had erected a large pavilion though I soon discovered to my alarm that it was only serving meals and refreshments to the players and their friends. There were however several other booths on the ground which were helping to provide liquid relief from the rather oppressive heat.
Play only began after one o’clock when the England Eleven won the toss and chose to bat. I won’t bore you with a detailed match report of the first day but Ilkeston should feel some pride in the performance of their representatives.
After conceding a few runs Paxton took the opening wicket of James Dean for 5 and next that of Joseph Guy for 10. Raymond Brewster Smythies then batted resolutely if not altogether productively before he was excellently stumped by our own Isaac Gregory for 6 runs.
George Parr, ‘Lion of the North’, was the next of Paxton’s victim’s, caught for 11, and later their wicketkeeper Tom Box was bowled by the Ilkeston demon for 1.
Billy Hillyer, one of the opposition’s best bowlers though not an accomplished batsman, was caught by Isaac Gregory for 5, and soon thereafter their innings was brought to a close … all out for a total of 94.
Joseph Horsley was the first of Ilkeston’s players to go to the crease but scored only three runs before being caught. By the end of the first day’s play Derbyshire had lost ten wickets for only 34 runs … not one player had a score in double figures!!

July 2nd

I decided against attending the second day’s play at Derby yesterday … a decision I now regret.
Isaac Gregory’s younger brother Thomas did attend however and has just returned from the County Ground to tell me of the play.
It continued much as the previous day until J. Clark showed some resistance and just reached double figures. The star performance however was that of our own Isaac who once again proved himself a first-rate bat, gave not one chance to the opposition and carried his bat to the end of the innings. His scientific play seemed to instill confidence in each of his batting partners, such that the Derbyshire Twenty Two was able to reach and then surpass the opposition total … by nine runs. And almost one quarter of his side’s score came from Isaac’s innings.
(Don’t forget that it is Isaac’s brother’s account that I am relaying!!)
In their second innings the All England Eleven scored briskly though Paxton picked up one more wicket while Gregory made one catch and Horsley made two.
The match appeared to be heading for a creditable draw when Thomas had to leave for home so that the result is predictable but unsure.

July 3rd

The result was not so predictable and far more unsure!!
The England side amassed a very good total while Derbyshire’s second innings batting then proceeded to collapse, only one player of the 22 scoring double figures. Isaac was unable to repeat his first innings heroics and was out for a duck .. and the opposition went on to win by ……. a lot of runs!!!
It should be noted that Billy Hillyer took ten second innings victims!!

July 4th

I have a copy of yesterday’s Nottinghamshire Guardian which reports the sad death of Catherine Winifred, wife of James Ash, in Manchester on June 25th. She was the second daughter of the late Ilkeston surgeon William Parkinson of the Market Place and I well remember her marriage to Mr Ash at St. Mary’s Church in December 1845 — I believe he is now working as a clerk for a wholesale millinery in Lancashire.
This was a double marriage celebration for the Ash family as James’s only sister Eliza was also married at the same time and at the same place, to grocer John Buxton, the eldest son of John senior, a farmer in Bradbourne. But another sad death for the family when John died in Chicago, Illinois, in August of 1847.

July 10th

Onto happier events and Ilkeston has recently seen the marriage of two of its more successful tradesman.
St. Mary’s Church was the venue on Sunday July 6th of the marriage of baker Solomon Beardsley of Bath Street to Eliza Mellor, youngest child of the late William and Rhoda Mellor. It is just over two years that the bride lost her mother, followed a year later by her father, and recently Eliza has been lodging with the Boden family in Morley … I hear that her brother William is walking out with Ann Boden of that family.
The same venue saw the marriage two days later of draper Joseph Carrier, also of Bath Street to Jane Attenborough, eldest daughter of Mark of the Sir John Warren Inn in the Market Place.

July 30th

The case of Elijah Reeve was duly tried at Derby Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday).
Despite several of the accused’s pals giving evidence that the deceased John Wheatley was as bad as the prisoner and just as much to blame, this testimony was not taken seriously it seems.
Elijah was found guilty.
Summing up the judge said he would mark his sense of the savageness and ferocity of the prisoner’s conduct by transporting him for seven years.

And while this was occurring — and in marked contrast to it — here in Ilkeston the scholars of the parish church Sunday School and the National Schools were listening to the wise words of  the Rev. Ebsworth at St. Mary’s Church, after which they marched from the church to the Vicar’s field for tea. Sadly this was soon interrupted by a thunderstorm which occasioned a ‘charge of the scholars’ to the new girl’s National schoolrooms in the Market Place, where prize-giving commenced — books for the most deserving pupils.
Some two hours later the storm ceased and another sedate ‘charge’ back to the field, to round off an enjoyable experience, with games of cricket, running, jumping and scrabbling energetically for nuts.
At nine o’clock the day ended with all scholars taking home a piece of cake.

The thunderstorm I have just mentioned had repercussions elsewhere

August 1851

August 3rd

It appears that the storm which interrupted the schoolchildren’s festivities last Tuesday was widespread and had serious repercussions in the locality.
The local newspapers have reported in some detail on its aftermath.
An old inhabitant of Long Eaton has stated that the storm’s thunder and lightning accompanied by an excessive fall of hail and rain was the worst he could ever recall. He thought that it started about half past three and lasted about an hour, The rain which fell caused some streets and fields to fill up to a depth of one or two feet, flooding many houses and doing serious damage to much furniture and to the season’s crops. One bolt of lightning struck the chimney of a beerhouse, went down the cast metal spouting and exploded the roof off the brewhouse there.
In nearby Sawley the house of lacemaker John Hall in Cross Street was struck directly by the storm’s electric fluid, although his family’s absence at the time saved them from harm …. but the property suffered severely. There was a large hole in the end wall, brickwork was extensively chipped, every window was broken and taken out, while the whole house reeked of sulphurous fumes for some time after.
Down the road at Wilsthorpe, farmer Joseph Parkinson lost four yearling calves while farmer Richard Thompson of Wilne lost one heifer. One nearby house lost its chimney and  a bed there was set alight.
The steam-engine chimney of Messrs Allen and Holmes, the silk manufacturers at Field Farm in Draycott, lost brickwork which fell through the gas-house roof, driving the fire out of the mouth of the fireplace. Many factory hands were so alarmed that they rushed out of the mill, and one lad jumped into the canal and swam across.
Further out, at Cavendish Bridge, a horse drawing a chaise was struck and injured such that it had to be put down, while some damage was done at Stapleford and at Sandiacre.
Strangely however one and a half miles south of Long Eaton no rain was seen or felt.

August 21st

Great excitement is being generated around the town at the prospect of the cricket match between the All England Eleven and the Ilkeston and District Twenty Two which is to be held on the 28th, 29th and 30th of this month at the Duke’s Ground in town, next to the parish church. All of Ilkeston’s finest players will be facing a strong England team and a good showing is to be hoped for.
Special trains are being laid on to bring spectators from Nottingham and Mansfield.
As usual Thomas Hives of the Rutland Hotel will provide daily refreshments at the ground as well as organising a grand gala and party, with firework display, at the Vauxhall Gardens next to the Baths, on the Thursday and Friday evenings, after play.

August 28th

Yesterday George Blake Norman and his wife Sarah welcomed the arrival of a son to their family. It is to be hoped that he has a long and prosperous life.
You may be aware that Sarah Norman is the oldest child of coal master Samuel and Sarah Potter of the Park, Ilkeston … perhaps one of Ilkeston’s ‘gentry’?! His sons Samuel, Alfred and Phillip, will be playing in the eagerly anticipated cricket match which begins today.

September 1851

September 7th

I know that many of my readers are not followers or lovers of the noble game of cricket and so with those poor souls in mind I will keep my remarks on the recent game at Ilkeston very brief … in fact I will merely extract a short section from my copy of today’s Era magazine.
“Taking a night’s rest at Derby, the Eleven proceed on to Ilkeston, celebrated as well for its mineral waters as it has been for twenty years the rendezvous of cricketers.
“The ground is a gift of his Grace the Duke of Rutland, and, though small, is a smart and well selected spot. A very large assemblage of people flocked in from Nottingham, Derby, Belper, and many ladies of quality and fashion were there to add grace to the scene, and, besides the interesting game, the densely crowded field was enlivened by occasional music, well performed by an efficient brass band.
“The twenty-two numbered several eminent cricketers in the neighbourhood, but they had to contend against a very powerful Eleven. The match excited great interest and in the end terminated in favour of All England, the Eleven having won with several wickets to go down”.
Bearing in mind those non-cricket lovers I will avoid a comprehensive scorecard but must, in all fairness to the majority, give brief details of the match scores.
(For those who want more, I refer them to page 5 of the Era)
Playing for Ilkeston were the Right Hon. William John Vernon of Stapleford Hall, the three Potter brothers, J.B. Storey, Calladine,Frederick Flint, Joseph Horsley, Joseph and Edward Aldred, Isaac Gregory, John Paxton, W. Hunter, the Attenborough brothers William and Tommy, Robert Comber, Henry Hitchcock, Francis Hurt and messrs Ball, Bostock, Fletcher and Cockayne.
They scored 71 runs in the first innings (top scorer Paxton with 13) and 65 in the second (no-one scored more than 6).
The England side made 67 in the first innings and 71 for 4 in the second. Paxton, the most successful Ilkeston bowler, took 8 wickets in total.
P.S. After this match the tour of the All England team moved north where they played an ‘invincible’ Sheffield Fifteen.

September 11th

Last evening (Wednesday) I attended a meeting at the Independent Chapel in Pimlico to raise funds for the London Missionary Society. The chair was taken by the chapel minister Charles Hargreaves who gave a very detailed account of the Society’s activities.
Apparently over 170 missionaries are sent out, funded from an average Society income of £60,000…. to this grand total Derbyshire contributes £285 and Nottinghamshire £374 !!
Both Caleb Springthorpe of the Baptist Chapel and William Cathy of the Primitive Methodists then spoke to attest to the worth of the Society, and were followed by the Rev Harbutt, a missionary in the South Seas who gave a glowing account of success in that area. No heathen could now be found in many of the islands there and all idolatry had been destroyed, replaced by worship of the true God. However there was much competition from the French Roman Catholics attempting to spread their Popery … but with little success.
The end-of-evening collection raised £2 10s

September 13th

Another work-related accident to report, this one yesterday at a local ironstone mine where some youths were horse-playing near the pit shaft.
During their dinner break two lads were sitting inside a small waggon on the iron rails used by the workmen to pull the mineral out of the pit mouth … their mates were pushing them down the incline towards the pit when the waggon picked up speed and escaped their control. The box crashed into the fence-rail guarding the pit mouth and one of the occupants was tossed down the shaft over 25 yards deep. When he was hauled from the pit, though still alive, he was barely breathing and in great agony. I hear that there is little hope for his recovery.
The other youth in the waggon, seeing the danger, jumped out before the accident and sustained no injury.
On numerous occasions these same lads have been warned to keep away from such ‘play’ but it seems have chosen to ignore the warnings.

September 19th

And yesterday saw the sad conclusion of the the ironstone pit accident.
The inquest was held into the death of the Ilkeston lad … he had been named as James Potter, a 14-year-old who lives with his mother Elizabeth in Park Road and who had died from his injuries last Tuesday night, the 16th, at around 11pm.
Not surprisingly, the inquest jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’.

September 30th

The Rev. Thomas Simpson has been appointed to the curacy of Ilkeston. He replaces Octavius Claydon.

October 1851

October 31st

Yesterday was the occasion of the town statutes for the hiring of servants. There was a large number of men-servants and boys, but fewer women-servants and girls than usual. Hiring was brisk and good and fair wages were paid, while the scarcity of females meant that they were much in demand and wages were accordingly higher.

November 1851

November 5th

Today witnessed the burial of an old soldier of the town … William Hufton.
I was talking to his youngest son Matthew shortly after the interment and he was proudly telling me of his father’s service history … or what he could recall of it.
William had enlisted for a limited period of service in August 1807 when he was about 22 years old and served with the 76th Regiment of Foot, the so-called Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Matthew seems to remember a period of service in Jersey before the 76th was sent in 1808 to Spain where the regiment fought with great distinction in the retreat to Corunna … and for which William was later awarded the single clasp on his Peninsula Medal.
Further deployments followed, in the Netherlands, to Ireland, and several years later back to northern Spain …  from where the 76th fought its way across the border into southern France and up to Bordeaux.
In 1814, towards the very end of his army career …. and towards the end of the ‘1812’ conflict with the colonies in North America …. William was posted to Canada, mainly for garrison duties on the St Lawrence river. There, at St Denis, he was discharged in January 1815.
William always remembered that at that time his commanding officer was Lieutenant General Christopher Chowne who had been regimental colonel for only about one year.
On his return to Ilkeston William resumed his trade as framework knitter and was soon married .. in November 1816 … to a West Hallam lass, Elizabeth Syson.
He spent his last days at the Pottery by the Erewash canal, still working at the same trade.

November 6th

I notice that today the Nottinghamshire Guardian is very dismissive of the recent statutes held annually in our town …..  they were‘crowded, as usual, with shows, whirligigs, and all the other et ceteras which go to make up fun for all the juveniles and there (sic) older compeers’. The newspaper’s correspondent regarded the general standard of the shows as ‘very low’ … consisting of cunjuring establishments, a boxing booth and a small equestrian company’. The one exception which he picked out was Clapton’s Exhibition of Mechanical Figures which attracted very sizable audiences throughout its stay.
I contrast this with yesterday’s report of the Derby Mercury which remarked on ‘the more than ordinary number of shows‘ on offer, adding to the gaiety of the occasion. Shows listed included ‘the Crystal Palace’, the monstrous giant’, ‘Tom Thumb’, the murder of Maria Martin’, wax-work figures, feats of deception to the eye, of an extraordinary and varied character,  … ‘not to be surpassed in the world’. The evening was very busy indeed; this brings the greatest holiday in the year for the workpeople of Ilkeston and its neighbourhood’.

November 26th

I do look forward to the annual season of lectures held by the Mechanics’ Library and Literary Institution and yesterday saw the first one of the present season … held as usual at the British School Room in Bath Street, the meeting chaired by John Ball. The speaker was our own local surgeon, Dr George Blake Norman of Dalby House who chose as his topic, ‘the Senses’. There was a large audience of eager listeners for this first discourse and they were not disappointed by what I consider to be a very interesting and arresting lecture.

December 1851

December 17th

I see that the number of voters for the Southern Derbyshire Parliamentary District has increased for next year by 69, from 7030 to 7099.

Our two present MPs, elected at the by-election of 1849, are William Mundy and Charles Robert Colville.