1858 Blog draft


March 16th

George Chadwick, who assists his father James in their ironmongery at the bottom of Bath Street, was in court at Derby Assizes yesterday — not as ‘an accused’ but as a witness. He was giving evidence against a young chap, 19 years old, called George Heaps who had brought a brass brick mould casing into the shop, trying to sell it. This was about January 20th. James smelled a rat and informed Sergeant Hudson. It turns out that the brass was stolen from the brickyard of John Whitehead in Bath Street.

Yesterday, despite his plea of innocent, George was found guilty of being in possession of stolen goods and was sentenced to four months with hard labour.

March 19th

It appears that the police don’t always ‘get their man‘.
At the same Spring Assizes, John ‘Jack’ Harrison was charged by PC John Dawes with violently assaulting him. It happened just about a week ago, Saturday night in Ilkeston, when PC Dawes approached a group of men who, he said, were creating a disturbance in the street. He tried to break them up and claimed that he knew ‘Jack’ very well. The latter was wearing a muffler, covering part of his face and the PC tried to pull it down to look at his face when Jack wacked him a couple of times in the face with his stick. This seemed a bit strange to the judge at the court — the policeman claimed to know Jack well, so why did he need to remove the muffler ?!
Another, nearby PC — John Hardy — heard the whistle of his mate and ran to assist. He saw Jack running away, and the latter also hit him as he passed.
Things were looking pretty bleak for Jack, but two character witnesses were then called to swear what a fine chap he really was !!
In summing up, the judge said that PC Dawes was perfectly correct to try to break up the disturbance, but it was no part of his duty to attempt to pull the muffler from Jack’s face. The constable was interfering with him and had no right to do so. There was a distinct mystery about why he had chosen to do that, and about his account of the events leading up to the ‘assault’.
The jury, too, was mystified, and immediately acquitted Jack.

March 20th

I see that Messrs Bailey, Son & Co. is extending its factory in Heanor Road. All it now needs is a builder !!


April 1st

The White Cow beer house at Hungerhill in Nottingham Road is available once more to let. The present tenant is James Gold — or is it Gould ? — or even Gouldingay ? — whatever !!  James is retiring through ill-health, and perhaps even old age; I am told he is about 82 years old.

April 2nd

And Thomas Machin is back in town !!

For those of you who are unaware, Thomas is the “Mute Photographic Artist” who irregularly visits Ilkeston. This time he will be appearing at John Mellor‘s garden in the Market Place where he will be taking portraits daily, from 9am until dusk. Prices vary from 1s to 10/6d, according to size and finish.

April 8th

We shan’t be seeing John Hofton and his wife Charlotte around town, at least for the next six months. Yesterday, at Derbyshire Assizes, the couple were found guilty of “keeping a disorderly house for immoral purposes” in East Street, and were each sentenced to six months in prison with hard labour. After their release they have been ordered to each provide a £20 security to be of good behaviour for twelve months. The lead magistrate at the trial commented that he had never come across such disgusting immorality before.

Interestingly, at their trial, the court couldn’t make up its mind about the accused’s surname. Let me help .. as far as I can. I believe that collier John Hofton is the illegitimate son of Ellen Hofton who then married John Stirland, four years after the son’s birth. The son then adopted the name of Stirland. The surname of Hooley derives from Charlotte’s maiden name before her marriage, in April 1839, to John Stirland alias Hofton.

I hope that has cleared up the confusion !!

April 9th

At the recent vestry meeting William Riley, butcher of Bath Street, was reappointed as the vicar’s churchwarden, while Samuel Potter, gentleman of Ilkeston Park, was chosen as the parish churchwarden.


June 10th

John Stocks is a hosier who lives in Bath Street, just by Smith’s Yard. That’s where I met him yesterday when he showed me a couple of letters from his son Isaac who enlisted in the 90th Light Infantry some years ago. The letters are dated from April, and marked from Lucknow, India, where Isaac and his regiment are serving in their efforts to quell the rebellion in that area,  and where they have just captured that city.

He writes “the city was taken with ease; we soon got the natives on the run, and kept them to it. We have lost very few men, only 150 since we left home; and I have escaped all dangers so far. We are very comfortable in the city. I did not receive your letter containing stamps; I suppose it would be in the mail that was robbed by the sweet little Sepoys, who were thought so much of before the mutiny that the gentry had their likenesses painted on the walls. A European soldier was thought nothing of in this country. When on parade, the Sepoys are pretty spectacles, with their charming belts, oiled faces, and bootless shanks. Had our hearts been tender when we were relieving the women and children at Lucknow, they would all have been broken; all the thanks that we got for it was that we were dirty soldiers, and anything but gentlemen, except when they saw us charge, and found their births safe; then they said “Oh, brave Britons !”


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.


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”