Jack Lee’s Yard/Albion Place

Walking up Bath Street, past the Alms Houses, Adeline remembers that “on the East side, there were private houses in Jack Lee’s yard, now called Albion Place. At one time Jack Lee’s yard was divided from Albion Place by a hedge.”

Here’s the area about 1880 — Albion Place on the east side of Bath Street, just south of the Alms Houses, and opposite the British School.


Scandel !! June 1888.

Living in Albion Place, a young girl named Mary Ann Pepper, aged 12 years, was sent home from school as she was feeling ill. That night — June 5th — attended by her mother, she gave birth to a child. Many locals felt this was an unprecedented event. However the British Medical Journal stated that, although remarkable, it was not unprecedented, The Journal had, 18 months before, printed an account of a case in which the mother was only 11½ years old. 

A short time after the birth of the child, 19-year-old John Ellis was detained and remanded in custody. No evidence other than the word of Mary Ann was produced as a reason for the arrest. 

The remand was renewed several times before — on July 12th — John appeared at Ilkeston Petty Sessions, before magistrates Francis Sudbury (the Mayor) and William Adlington, charged under the Criminal Law Amendment Act (1885; age of consent) and prosecuted on behalf of the National Vigilance Association.  It was claimed that he had attacked and raped Mary Ann at the Hilly-holies last September, as she was returning from Sunday School to her aunt’s home at 21 Albion Place. Again, at the hearing, no corroborating evidence was produced to support Mary Ann’s assertion that John was the guilty party. However now it was claimed by the prosecution that none was needed under the law and the magistrates accepted that and remanded John to appear for trial at the next assizes. 

John didn’t have to wait long. Just over a week later he was at Derby before Mr. Justice Henry Hawkins. When the case was outlined in court, Justice Hawkins was shocked that John had been remanded after no evidence against him was presented — one could say that he was ‘gob-smacked’ by the behaviour of Mayor Sudbury in particular who had ordered the detention of the accused without anyone swearing that he was guilty. It was soon clear that there was no basis for a ‘guilty’ verdict and the prosecution halted its case. The jury brought in the obvious verdict and John walked out of court, a free man.

The ‘scandalous’ behaviour of Ilkeston’s Mayor obviously struck a chord with Justice Hawkins — at the Nottinghamshire Summer Assizes later in July he was still referring to the case and the part played by Francis Sudbury. John Ellis, who was described as of good character and a hard-working lad, had suffered over five weeks of imprisonment through no just cause. Mr. Justice just couldn’t get over it !! As the Assizes ended he was visited by both Francis Sudbury and William Adlington (the other magistrate at Ilkeston) in a cordial manner; the Justice explained that his remarks were not meant as a personal attack upon the Mayor but upon the system of detention and remand. And there the matter rested — almost !

Francis returned to his Petty Sessions work, suitably chastened. In his defence he suggested that he had just been operating in the same way as magistrates for many years had been operating. Thus, as a new magistrate, he had chosen to follow tradition  — perhaps mistakenly. And there had been no Magistrate’s Clerk on hand at the time to give advice. In future he would not act in the same formal manner. “Bad custom should not usurp good law”.

Many people in Ilkeston voiced their support for Mayor Sudbury and his actions over the case. He was a very recently elected magistrate, young (ish … Francis was 45) and following custom, without a clerk to advise him. Everyone sympathised with his actions ( except Justice Henry Hawkins of course) and his reputation within the town was undiminished. As a mark of confidence in Francis, the aldermen and town councillors attended in a body of the opening of the next court presided over by the Mayor. And they remained there throughout.

The aftermath: — Mary Ann’s baby, an unnamed son, died after five days of life. She continued to live in Ilkeston with her aunt and the latter’s husband, Thomas Hewitt, but from about 1891 lived with coalminer James Hewitt Hardy (though I can find no evidence that she married him). She had at least 15 children with James before she died at 17 Critchley Street, aged 49, on April 17th, 1924. Her death was registered under the name of Mary Ann Hewitt Hardy though her will was proved in her maiden name of Mary Ann Pepper.

Meanwhile, later in July, John Ellis took out an action for damages, in respect of wrongful imprisonment, against the Mayor and Superintendent of Ilkeston Police. It appears that an out-of-court settlement of £40 was made to John by the pair and the action was dropped.


We are now opposite the British school.

Adeline continues her account: “My maternal grandmother – she was born in 1796 – told me that she visited Ilkeston in 1823, and at that time, the houses in Jack Lee’s yard were nicely whitewashed, and the yard altogether looked very tidy and respectable. The only entrance to the yard was in Bath Street and the drying ground with pump in it, belonging to Jack Lee’s tenants, ran parallel with Bath Street.”

Born in 1796, Adeline’s maternal grandmother was Jane Brailsford, daughter of John and Elizabeth (nee Whitehead?), who married Solomon Wells in September 1815.

The 1861 census suggests that Lee’s Yard encompassed eight premises and which were up for sale in March 1862. They were described in the Ilkeston Leader as…
“valuable freehold property in Bath-street, Ilkeston, consisting of Eight Houses, Glazier’s shop, Stable, Piggery, and other conveniences, with a frontage to Bath-street of 27 yards or thereabouts”. The owner and vendor was Mr. J. Lee.

Adeline again states “who Jack Lee was I do not know, but this yard was always called by his name.”
Let me help her out. John ‘Jack’ Lee senior was a plumber and glazier who, on May 26th, 1799 married Alice Burgin-Richardson, a daughter of wheelwright Francis and Rebecca (nee Deville).
Before Alice died just over ten years later the Lees had had several children, the majority of whom died in infancy and were buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard where Alice was also buried. She had died of scarlet fever on December 28th, 1810, aged 32.

On March 22nd, 1825 ‘Jack’ Lee married his second wife Phoebe Smith. By that time, and since the death of Jack’s first wife, the couple seem to have had at least six illegitimate children. After their marriage two further children — Edward (1826) and Ann Louisa (1830) — were born, though Jack had died (in March 1830) before his last daughter was born. At that time Jack also had a brickyard (for making bricks) in the area — his widow Phoebe was now anxious to rent that out to ‘interested parties’. She then went on to marry gardener James Starbuck and have two further children.

Born in 1806, son of Jack and Alice Lee was  John ‘Jack’ junior, a child who did survive his parents. He eventually followed the same trade as his father.
When he married Sarah Bostock, daughter of Paul and Sarah (nee Daykin) in 1830 he became brother-in-law to Paul Bostock of Bostock’s Row who, as we have seen, was fond of smashing a few windows around the town. Perhaps he put a little business in the way of his brother-in-law?
John and Sarah Lee lived at one of the cottages in Lee’s Yard alias Albion Place.
“Who has not seen ‘Jack Lee’ washing himself in front of his house on a cold winter’s morning and rubbing his face with the towel until his cheeks were suffused with a ruddy glow?… a blunt, outspoken glazier who for many years occupied the house nearest to Bath-street, and is said to have saved certain fees by burying one of his children underneath the hearthstone”. (a 40 years’ resident. IP 1900)

Perhaps this resident was recalling an item in the local press …..
SINGULAR FUNERAL — Mr John Lee, glazier, of Ilkeston, having lost an only child, and not feeling satisfied with the clergyman’s demand for funeral expenses, had a vault made in his parlour, in which he interred the body on Thursday week ….  Nottingham Review and General Advertiser (February 19th, 1847)
The child, a daughter, was born on January 8th, 1847, and died on January 11th, 1847. This was John’s only child with his wife Sarah; she was born after almost 17 years of marriage.

John ‘Jack’ Lee junior died on May 5th, 1864, aged 58.


“Mr. Hemingway, a decorator, his wife and little daughter lived in the first house” (Adeline)

Mr Hemmingway was perhaps John Hemmingway who appeared at Smalley Petty Sessions in June 1867, described as ‘late of Ilkeston, now of Derby’. He had left Ilkeston during the previous month, owing rent to his landlord, Henry Barker. At court he agreed to pay the outstanding rent and costs.

Alternatively Adeline may be referring to house painter Thomas Hemmingway, born in Littleover in 1827, married to Emma Simpson of Denby in 1852, with son John born at Ripley in 1853 and daughter Flora at Littleover in 1858. Thereafter the family settled in Derby.


“Isaac Aldred, a machinist at Carrier’s, was in the second house. He was married and had two or three children”. (Adeline)

We have recently encountered lacemaker/twisthand Isaac Aldred of Lee’s Yard, playing a part in the saga of George Clay Smith.

One day in April 1870 and with permission, Isaac was on the land of John Taylor of the Manor House, shooting crows or rooks, when the barrel of his gun exploded, causing a large wound in the centre of his forehead and smaller ones on his nose and around his eyes. Blood flowed freely. Simon Clarkson the chemist was sent for, a man “whose skill in the management of bad wounds” was “known throughout the district” but the druggist felt powerless to act “on account of the unjust monopoly given by the law to ‘professional’ men”. (IT)
On Simon’s recommendation a ‘professional’ medical man, Dr Norman, was called to treat Isaac who recovered well. However, to add insult to injury, six months after the accident Isaac was sued at Ilkeston County Court by lacemaker Albert Tatham claiming that he had sold the defective gun to Isaac for 3s 6d and had not yet been paid.
Isaac’s successful defence was that he had not in fact bought the gun but had merely taken it out to try when the explosion occurred. Presumably the remains of the weapon were returned to Albert.

“One evening Isaac was at the Wine Vaults in East Street, when a quarrel took place. Isaac was kicked in a vital part, and the result was a long and painful illness which ended in death. I remember going with a message from my father to Mrs. Aldred – who, by the way, was very deaf – and when the door was opened, the first thing I saw was the coffin standing in the living room. These houses had only one room upstairs and down, so the coffin was obliged to be in the room with the wife and children until taken away for burial.”

Isaac Aldred died while resident at Lee’s Yard in April 1875, aged 40. He was the son of Samuel and Lucy (nee Scattergood) and his deaf wife was Hannah (nee Barker), daughter of John and Ann (nee Herring) of Greasley whom he had married in February 1857.

There were at least ten children of the marriage, most of them surviving into maturity.
Daughter Ann was one who did not.
It was about 8.40 on one Saturday morning in May 1872 when her mother sent Ann, aged one year and nine months, with an older sister, to the chemist shop of Simon Clarkson at 14 Bath Street to buy some snuff.
Emily Lowe (nee Pitt), widow of Joseph, was in Bath Street at that time and observed three carts, pulled by horses and loaded with coal, travelling slowly up the street. In the employ of William Glazebrook of Shipley, the first cart was driven by Jesse Lounds and was chained to the second one to help it up the hill. Ann was following her sister across the road when she seemed to trip over a stone and fell under the first cart with tragic consequences. Herbert Green, a collier neighbour of the Aldreds, picked up the dead child and carried her the short distance home. Her distraught mother shouted to send for doctor Norman and then confessed that she became so ill she could remember nothing of what followed.
At the Monday inquest held at the Queen’s Head the verdict was ‘accidental death’.

(Emily Lowe married Simon Clarkson in 1880).

The oldest  Aldred son was collier John who had as much luck with gun barrels as his father.
In May 1881 he decided to bring back into action a gun which had not been fired for some time when the barrel burst and his left hand was severely mutilated. He was taken to Dr. Roland’s surgery in lower Bath Street and examined by both Dr. Roland and later Dr. Armstrong. Their conclusion was that immediate amputation was necessary and was successfully accomplished under the influence of chloroform.

After Isaac’s death his widow Hannah married William Howard Wood just over 16 months later, living at Abbey Street and then at Carr Street. She died in Meadow Street in December 1898, aged 61.


And in the third house — at least for a time — were the notorious Noons.

The Grand Tour