1858 Blog draft


August 2rd

Something very noteworthy has just occurred in the town. It is about 30 years since a victualler’s licence has been  granted to an Ilkeston tradesman by the licensing magistrates. Well, now three have been granted !!

The lucky reciprients are firstly Samuel Lowe of Kensington, who  has kept a beerhouse there for the last 20 years — without a complaint against him !! Secondly Jedediah Wigley at the Market Tavern … and finally Matthew Fetcher of Stanton Road.

Unfortunately, at the Mundy Arms, Henry Clay’s application failed.



September 2nd

I read that Joseph Knighton, beerhouse-keeper of the Nag’s Head in South Street, has, once more, appeared at the Petty Sessions on the wrong side of the law. It was claimed that, on August 12th, he had assaulted Mabel Webster as she was walking with ‘her chap’ Henry Hughes, in the Market Place; he struck Mabel, knocking her down and then kicked her several times. Henry of course corroborated all of this. To add to Joseph’s woes, he was also accused of trying to bribe a witness to stay away from court and not give evidence !!

Joseph’s defence was that the couple were both very drunk when they entered the Nag’s Head that day, and so had been refused further drink. Some choice language preceded the couple leaving the beerhouse, followed by Joseph, who was himself accused of being the worse for liquor. Their argument continued along South Street until the alleged assault took place. On hand was P.C. Butcher and it was probably his testimony against Joseph that led to the latter’s fine of 5s, with 8s expenses.
However no sooner had the parties left the justice room after the court case than cries were heard from outside. “Police, police, come and save my chap” cried Mabel as Joseph once more threatened Henry.
And immediately the beerhouse keeper found himself once more facing an assault charge.
And once more, a guilty verdict against him, another fine, more expenses, and this time Joseph was bound over to keep the peace for one year.

September 3rd

Who are we to believe ?  That is a question the answer to which often perplexes the magistrates at Ilkeston’s Petty Sessions.

Ephraim Eaton is a young framework knitter who lives in Park Road and only just over a year ago was married to Harriet Cowlishaw at the parish church. Well, just over a week ago he was out in the town having a drink, (and more !!) on Saturday night, with his friends. According to PCs Butcher and Patterson, Ephraim was still out on the following Sunday morning, August 22nd, now much the worse for drink, and found himself in a fight — this was about 10 o’clock. However there must be two such men in Ilkeston because Ephraim’s wife swore that he was at home, soundly asleep in his bed !! His mother, Mary Ann Eaton, also vouched for his innocence !!

Yesterday we know exactly where Ephraim was — he was in court defending himself before the magistrates against the charge of being drunk and fighting in a public place. Because of the conflicting evidence, they gave Ephraim the benefit of the doubt and dismissed the case.

September 8th

A wedding was enacted yesterday at the Independent Chapel in Pimlico. It was an event which generated much interest and re-energised much of the gossip which has occupied certain sections of the town’s populacein recent years, especially among the members of the Primitive Methodist community.

The bride was Maria Beardsley who has a young son, now almost five years old, I am told. Rumours have circulated that the putative father of the child is John Wombell, proprietor of the Pioneer newsapaper — though, as I eschew gossip, I can neither confirm nor deny these stories.

The groom was Lewis Russell, a stone miner originaly from Diseworth, again, I belive. 


Nov 16th

As you may well know, access to Woodruffe’s Croft, a usual site for visiting circuses, can be gained from the rear yard of the King’s Head Inn in the Market Place.

And you will recall that, a month ago, on September 6th, we all witnessed the arrival of Monsieur Ginnett’s Mammoth Circus and Matchless Troupe of Equestrians at this field, boasting a circular tent of 120 feet diameter, covering half an acre, lit by handsome chandeliers and seating 4000 spectators. On that day, we were seeing ‘England’s largest and most complete’ Equestrian Wonder, as it paraded though the streets at 12 noon towards the Croft. And we were told that we could look forward to seeing a stud of 70 blood horses and fairy ponies but most importantly, the Bedouin Arab Chief executing Tourbillions, Julliens and Somersaults à terre.

The programme also featured Jeu de Sabres or Sword play, the Tiger Leap and Terrific Lion Leap, Saults Laitland or Moorish Vaulting, the Scarf Leap, Terrific Somersaults, Tours de Fusile, Eastern Rifle Practice, and a variety of other miraculous feats never witnessed before in the town before

There was an afternoon and evening performance before the troupe moved on to appear at Ripley, Belper and Clay Cross over the next three days.I happened to be at the the evening performance which, I recall, was wedged with spectators, leaving hundreds, moer unfortunate than me, unable to gain admittance. And iw was, indeed, a spectacle I will always remember !!

A few weeks later and the circus was in Derby where disaster nearly struck.
A fire broke out in the attached stables and the flames were moving towards the main tent when the fire brigade arrived. Making use of the readily accessible water, it managed to get the blaze quickly under control such that the people of the county capital were not to be deprived of their equestrian marvel.

The only loss was the dresses kept in the stables.

November 19th

Yesterday an inquest was held at the Wine Vaults in East Street, touching upon the death of an illegitimate child of Harriet Webster who lives in Cotmanhay with her parents, Samuel and Elizabeth, and several other family members. At this inquest some shocking details emerged which have reflected very poorly on that Cotmanhay community
Apparantly it was earlier this month that the Websters received a visit from John Hudson, Ilkeston’s Superintendent of Police, after he had learned that the daughter had, a few days before, given birth to an illegitimate child, had concealed the birth, and then had ‘improperly disposed‘ of the baby. He interviewed Harriet, her mother and her sisters Eliza, Elizabeth and Grace, and all initially denied any charges against them. It was when he threatened to send for Dr Norman to conduct an examination that they made several admissions, and the mother then showed the Superintendent  where a small body was buried in their garden, about three feet down.
The body of the baby was then taken to Dr. Norman whose examination revealed it was probably a still-birth, after about eight months pregnancy, though the doctor couldn’t determine whether it was the result of an induced abortion.
Neighbours of the Websters told of how Harriet admitted her pregnancy, had vowed not to get married, but instead ‘get rid’ of the baby. And of how her sister  Eliza had miscarried at about the same time, but had hidden that fact from the authorities who should have been informed.
Also at yesterday’s inquest the Websters were once more interviewed, though their evidence was adjudged to be evasive and contradictory; both the Coronor and the inquest jury ‘expressed themselves unwilling to give the slightest credence to their testimony‘. The Coronor also commented upon the ‘open, deep and unblushing depravity‘ of the family. However it was also revealed that they were not an isolated case; there were several Cotmanhay families whose daughters ‘regularly destroy or conceal the fruits of their illicit intercourse, and inter them in gardens around their dwellings, which have now acquired the unenviable title of “The Colliers’ Cemetery”‘.
However the evidence of Dr. Norman was sufficently inconclusive as to elicit just a severe reprimand from the Coronor; he could do no more than issue ‘strong comments’ and then to free Harriet.

November 25th

An agreement has been reached with the Directors of the Gas Company to light the town‘s street lamps, from next week (December 1st) to the end of March of next year. The cost will be paid by subscriptions, although the Gas Company has agreed to light the double lamp in the Market Place for free on Saturday evenings !!
All the ratepayers who expressed a desire for this winter lighting have been asked to ‘cough up’ their subscriptions quickly !!

November 26th

I see that the Ilkeston Pioneer has felt obliged to pass judgement upon the shocking details of the inquest which were reported a week ago. This is despite the fact that much of the evidence given there was hidden from the Pioneer’s readers as it was thought unfit for publication. ‘The revelations made at the inquest were astounding, even to those who have long and painfully observed the habits of debauchery and wickedness which are known to exist in many of the stinking nooks and rookeries of the parish”