Amos and Sarah Beardsley

Adeline recalls that “when Mr. Raynes died the two front rooms of this house were turned into two shops and taken by Mr. Amos Beardsley, baker, and Mrs. Beardsley, milliner.”

Joseph Raynes died on Feb 8th 1871 and shortly afterwards his widow Elizabeth and her family moved from this house into their new home in White Lion Square.
Amos and Sarah then moved from Bath Street into these premises. C. N. Wright’s Directory of 1874 locates baker Amos Beardall (sic) and milliner Mrs. Sarah Beardsley both at 13 South Street … by that the year South Street was now longer divided into two distinct sides, each with their own numbers, but had been unified and renumbered.

“The old building in the yard (now demolished) was where Mr. William Hawkins started his foundry. This place was used for printing later and Mr. Beardsley had the back part for his bakehouse.”

We are now opposite the Nag’s Head.

I want to thank the great grand-daughter of Amos and Sarah Beardsley – Pam Bates of Qualicum Beach nr Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia — who has provided me with some excellent additions to this page.

Born on September 15th 1842 Amos Beardsley, master baker, was a son of Bath Street grocer/baker/draper John and Catherine (nee Skevington).  Born on August 13th 1843, his milliner wife was Sarah Birch, daughter of John and Sarah (nee Wagstaff) whom we shall meet in the next section. They married on October 20th 1863 at Christ Church, Cotmanhay and in the following 20 years had at least 14 children.

Amos’s father John died on October 15th, 1875, leaving his business to Amos along with some mortgaged land in Bath Street, upon which Amos built some shops and cottages. Then in December 1877 the family moved out of South Street into Bath Street, where both husband and wife traded at number 100, just below the Queen’s Head Inn (going towards Chapel Street) and almost opposite the Wesleyan Church. About 1888 it was renumbered (as all the premises in Bath Street were) and was then number 50.

Sarah had her own business when she married Amos (October 20th 1863) — this was as a milliner in South Street. That business was sold in 1885 and with the proceeds another one was bought from ‘Mr. Knight’ — this was probably Walter Knight who traded for a very short time as a grocer of 60 South Street. (This would be just after West Street, towards Derby Road, but before the Wesleyan Chapel). In 1883 Walter Knight had married Catherine Sarah Lowe, the daughter of Samuel and Mary (nee Beardsley) who was thus the niece of Amos.

In January 1890 Amos was in serious financial difficulties — he had little assets but many debts, and creditors were lining up to be paid. Unfortunately for them, Amos wasn’t around — he had ’emigrated’ to America two days before Christmas of 1889 !!  On January 21st 1890 the creditors met at the Flying Horse Hotel in Nottingham but as there was no quorum, no resolution was passed. However in his absence, Amos was declared bankrupt.

In the following month his property was put up for auction, by George Haslam, at the Queen’s Head Inn. This included two freehold dwelling houses with saleshops in Bath Street, a bakehouse, stabling, sheds and outbuilding at the rear, overlooking Baker Street — the bidding only reached £1200 and the property was withdrawn. There was also some freehold building land, not yet developed, in Baker Street — this was sold by order of the Derby Official Receiver in Bankruptcy; it raised £117, bought by Councillor Edwin Sutton. All this property had been left to Amos under the will of his father John, who had died on October 15th, 1875.

In November 1891 Amos returned from America and by February 1892 was facing another public examination at the Derby Bankruptcy Court. There, it emerged that he had been in his ‘business’ in 1889 which then failed. His departure for America was attributed to two ‘over-zealous’ creditors who were pressing for repayment. Amos landed at New York twelve days after his leaving England, with £17 of his own money in his pocket, plus £65 given to him by his wife Sarah, out of a legacy of £150 from her father John Birch who had died at his South Street home on February 20th, 1889. Amos had, he believed, deposited sufficient funds behind to settle his debts, but had left because “he was sick and tired of the whole business”. His wife Sarah had sold some furniture to help pay a few small debts, as well as having another recent legacy of £1200 from a ‘Miss Curtis’ of London. Sarah had subsequently taken over a dairy business at Bolton, Lancsashire, and Amos had returned from America to manage it, expecting his debts to have been paid. However, as yet, no money had been paid to the creditors.

When he returned from America he expected that his debts would have been paid off by his solicitor, but soon discovered that the Baker Street land he owned and which had been sold in February 1891, hadn’t raised as much money as he had anticipated. And several of the premises had not been sold at all.

Post script … while Amos was fretting over his examination by the Official Receiver at Derby Bankruptcy Court in March 1892, a 17-year old namesake, also from Ilkeston lay dying, a short distance away, in Derby Royal Infirmary. This Amos Beardsley (third cousin once removed) was the son of William and Hannah Amelia (nee Webster) and was working as a boat boy, on the barges at Derby canal, with boat woman Mary Slater, also of Ilkeston. He was driving a mule, attached to a barge, along the towing path, when he stumbled and fell alongside the animal, which kicked the lad in the back of his head. Amos, now unconscious, was quickly taken to the hospital but never regained his senses; he died a few hours later, on March 5th.


In October 1923 – then living at Rothsay Villas in Lower Stanton Road – the Beardsley couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary with a tea and social evening at the Congregational Schoolroom when Amos, aged 81 and now retired for almost 30 years, recalled some of his past.
He remembered himself as number 11 of 14 children and the only one then living.
Amos attended the old Church School over the Butter Market and thought that he and Gisborne Brown, insurance agent, were now the only two surviving pupils of that school. He had recollections of a weekly visit to the market of a man riding in a little dog-cart drawn by two large dogs.
Wife Sarah was taught at the British School in Bath Street when Thomas Walton was master.
Amos and Sarah also had 14 children, five of them surviving at the time of the anniversary — Amos junior in Natal, South Africa, Ernest of Cropwell Butler, John Birch (the second) of Glasgow, Annie Gertrude living at Kingsway, Ilkeston, while daughter Sarah was living in New Zealand.
Of the other children only John Birch (the first) seems to have survived beyond infancy and he died in April 1880, aged 15.

At that time of the celebration the local press reported that both Amos and Sarah were “hale and hearty and enjoy good health … wonderfully active and vigorous for their years”.

Beardsley, Amos Sr. m to Sarah Birch

A hale and hearty Amos (from Pam Bates’ family collection)

Beardsley, Sarah nee Birch

Sarah Beardsley (nee Birch) (from Pam Bates’ family collection)

“(Mr. Beardsley) is moderate in his tastes, and is practically a non-smoker and a non-drinker, added to which he has always been an early riser. With the advance of years, however, both can be excused for departing somewhat from the strenuous habit of other days, and now while regular hours are observed, they do not rise quite so early as in former years.
“Mr. Beardsley possesses remarkable will power as is shown by a little incident he related to us when speaking of the time some fifty years ago when he renounced the smoking habit. He had a man in the baking trade who smoked at his work, and Mr. Beardsley was constantly lecturing him about the practice. Having done so on one occasion he put his hand into his own pockets and found his own pipe and tobacco there. Convicted of his own inconsistency and guilt he straightway put both pipe and tobacco into the fire and practically gave up smoking. We say practically because Mr. Beardsley is not an extremist, either with regard to tobacco or intoxicants. He can enjoy an odd cigar in company or a drop of whiskey on occasion, but these occasions are extremely rare, and as habits drinking and smoking do not belong to him. As he himself says “I am not bigoted in regard to drinking: if I feel a drop will do me good I have it”.

The anniversary evening included toasts, songs, pianoforte interludes and a whistling solo contributed by Dr. Wood, and concluded with a rendition of ‘He’s a jolly good fellow’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The same article also pointed out that “(Amos) drives his own car, in which he and his wife take regular exercise: and Mr. Beardsley boasts proudly that he can drive with the best of them”.

Amos and Sarah Beardsley in their Austin 7 2

Amos and Sarah, taken for an ad for the Austin 7 (from Pam Bates’ family collection)

Pam has this caption to accompany the photo …


Old folks have no difficulty in getting about with an “Austin Seven”.  The owner and driver of the car shown above is over eighty years of age, and gets heaps of pleasure out of his car.  The provision of a door for each appealed very strongly to this gentleman and his wife.  This photograph was taken at their diamond wedding.

Pam correctly calculates the year would be 1923 as Amos and Sarah married 20 October 1863 at Christ Church, Cotmanhay and adds ‘I believe this photo was taken outside their home ….. Perhaps the home is still there?’

She adds … ‘I possess a letter written by a dear Beardsley cousin of my mother (now both deceased) in 1976, in which he mentions (in addition to the Austin 7 brochure for which I give him credit) .. ‘when I was a boy I used to see my grandfather Amos and grandmother probably every year … They were both very fierce Victorian personalities and I stood in awe of them’.

Sarah died in March 1927, aged 83, at their home at Rothsay Villas, 49 Lower Stanton Road.

Amos died in December 1929, aged 87 – I believe that was at the home of his son Ernest.
They are buried together at Kirk Hallam Parish Church.


John Birch.

“Next came Mr. John Birch’s property”

This was at 48 South Street (East Side) in 1871 and a few years later had been renumbered as 12 South Street.

“Mr. Birch was a joiner and built two cottages on the back-to-back plan, a rather common practice in those days; also a two-storey workshop and a sawpit.

“I have seen Mr. and Mrs. Birch working the saw-pit, Mrs. Birch at the bottom, Mr. Birch at the top.

“He also built a single cottage in the yard. In this Mr. and Mrs. A. Beardsley commenced their married life.”

A Victorian saw-pit (photo by Gertrude Jekyll)

John also appears to have had a property in Robey’s Yard in the 1880’s — maybe this was his workshop ? or property he had built and rented out ? In 1886 he was in trouble with the Local Board for allowing ‘foul cess-pits and closets’ to exist on this property, and ordered to remove it within the fortnight.


John Birch (1814-1889) was a son of Samuel and Eleanor (nee Shardlow), a joiner like his father and who married Sarah Wagstaff, daughter of Thomas (and Betty (nee Lacey)?) in May 1839.

There were three children,

There were seven children in the family but of them, Elizabeth (born four months before their marriage), Ann Hadin, Samuel and Ann all died before Adeline was born or when she was a child. And so she would be recalling three children …

 — Sally, who married Mr. Amos Beardsley, baker (Mrs. Beardsley was a milliner)

Sally (or Sarah) was married to Amos Beardsley on October 20th 1863 at Christ Church, Cotmanhay. (see above)

— Dick, who left Ilkeston when young, but returned to his native town in middle life.

Born in 1848 Richard married Mary Locker, daughter of Long Eaton boatman William and Elizabeth (nee Marston) in February 1871 and went to live in Brook Street, Long Eaton, working as a carpenter/woodworker and railway wagon builder.

Dick and Mary had a son John Richard who married Catherine Tatham of Ilkeston, daughter of Albert Tatham and Sarah (nee Straw), in 1898.

The family returned to South Street in the 1880’s, and eventually settled at Ivy House, 40 Stanton Road. Mary died there in November 1919, aged 78, and almost two years later was followed by Richard, aged 73.

— Mary who married Tom Hebbern, son of the landlord of the Poplar Inn, Bath Street;

Born in 1850 and a milliner like her sister Sally —Mary lived in Bath Street after her marriage to butcher Thomas Ebbern in March 1872, in premises adjacent to the Poplar Inn …. at 53 Bath Street.

Mary Ebbern (nee Birch)  .. from the family collection of Pam Bates

(Pam has also provided a photo of Tom and Mary which has been included with the Ebbern family)

Sarah Birch died at her South Street home in February 1877, aged 66.
John Birch died there in February 1889, aged 74, having suffered from chronic bronchitis for several years.
Some years before his death and putting his joinery skills to use, John had made his own coffin and left the request that when he died his body should be immediately put in that coffin and left in his South Street workshop until his burial. He was buried on February 20th in the same plot as his wife, at All Saints Church, Kirk Hallam, where their grave can still be found — to the left as you pass through the entrance gate.

Richard Birch (1753-1839)

Richard was John’s grandfather and died at Kirk Hallam on April 10th, 1839. He was converted to Methodism about 1786 by the preaching of John Wesley as he visited the locality, then becoming a class leader and local preacher for the next 50 years or so. “He left the world in the calm excercise of reason, and triumphant in the faith of the gospel”.


Before we arrive at Weaver Row we can read what John Daykin‘s record of the Birch family has to tell us.