Old Ilson Blog … 1856


Jan 1st

The Old Year has just left us … and has seen a wonderful, final display of generosity by several of the town’s tradespeople and chapels.

On December 27th more than 600 folk sat down at the Wesleyan Reform Church in South Street to enjoy a tea and musical festival, the latter being given by 50 performers.

The following day brothers William and Samuel Carrier, lace manufacturers, treated 50 of their employees to supper at the Sir John Warren Inn of Isaac Attenborough. While on the same evening and but a few yards away, at Mr. Woodruffe’s King’s Head Inn, the Nottingham Imperial Order of Odd Fellows held its annual Christmas supper.

And finally, the following day, Messrs Thomas and William Ball, lace manufacturers of Burr Lane, entertained 50 of their workers to a splendid dinner.

Jan 2nd

I hear that a new preacher is to be welcomed to the Independent Chapel in Pimlico … he is the Rev. Ebenezer Sloane Heron who has just completed a seven-year pastorate at Denholme near Bradford. Apparently, there he was an earnest-minded minister, showing indefatigable industry.

Jan 27th

Mary Evans of the Potteries died yesterday, aged 79. You will be aware that she was the widow of pot-maker George Evans and came from her previous home in Belper with her husband, about 50 years ago. What you may not know is that she was born Mary Hives and was the aunt of Thomas Hives of the Rutland Hotel.


Feb 1st

The Ilkeston Mechanics’ Institute has a mission to advance the mental and moral welfare of the town’s people. Recently its funds have been much depeted and so it is gratifying to learn that both Mr. William Mundy and Mr Charles Robert Colville, M.Ps. for South Derbyshire, have just donated three guineas each to its coffers. This will help fund the series of cheap, popular weekly lectures, to begin next week.

Feb 5th

It was granted to the newly-arrived Rev. Ebenezer Sloane Heron to give the first of the weekly lectures for the Mechanics’ Institute yesterday evening, before a very large and appreciative audience. The title of his presentation was  “The Acquisition of Knowlege”.

Feb 13th

Almost a fortnight after the first contributors added to the income of the Mechanics’ Institute, other generous benfactors have followed suit. Mr. Alfred Miller Mundy of Shipley Hall and High-Sheriff of the County of Derby, and Mr Edwin Smith Whitehouse, ironmaster of Little Hallam Hall, have both come forward … the latter also offering to give a lecture in the near future.

Feb 15th

Richard Smith Potts is a druggist and grocer, trading in South Street. Some days ago a young lass aged 17, Hannah Greatorex, entered his shop and purchased a small bottle of laudanum, which was clearly labelled as such.

Now Hannah was living temporarily in Ilkeston, learning the dress-making business, and decided, last weekend, to visit her parents at their home in Carsington. Her travelling companion was Edward Smith, a young man to whom she was engaged to be married … he is a gardener working for magistrate James Thomas Edge esq. at Strelley Hall. The couple took a train to Cromford and thence began to walk via Middleton to Carsington, but just a short distance into their journey Hannah began to complain of sickness. The final part of their ‘walk’ entailed Edward carrying his drowsy sweetheart, until they reached her parent’s house where Hannah could rest. As it was supposed that Hannah was simply fatigued, no doctor was called until the following day, when the young woman was having severe difficulty in breathing. The medical man’s arrival was too late however to save Hannah.

These details were revealed at the subsequent inquest at Carsington a few days ago, where Mr. Potts was called to give evidence. The cause of death was determined to be ‘narcotic poisoning‘, Hannah administering the laudanum herself while suffering ‘temporary insanity‘. The druggist did not escape admonition from the inquest jury however ….. he should have clearly labelled the laudanum bottle as containing ‘a poison‘. Hopefully he will do so in future. As a contrast, Edward was described as behaving as ‘an upright, straight-forward and honourable young man’.

Feb 20th

Ramoneur James Platts is well-known around the town — and well-liked by the children of his clients. However he can be very careless and/or forgetful, a ‘fault’ which got him into trouble with the authorities recently. For leaving three bags of soot for several hours in the street, unattended and causing a nuisance to passing persons, he was recently fined 20s including costs at Smalley Petty Sessions. Perhaps this will improve his memory.


Mar 8th

I am unaware how significant this announcement is … but from today’s front page of the Globe magazine, I see that John Ball has left the partnership of Thomas, William and John Ball, glove and lace manufacturers of Ilkeston.

Mar 25th

There was a special Vestry Meeting yesterday, chaired by the Rev. Ebsworth, to consider a local consequence of the New Burial Act of 1855 … namely the suggested closure of part of the church-yard for burial purposes, for ‘the protection of public health’. It should be noted that this recent Act gave the Secretary of State power to discontinue burials for this reason, although members of the Vestry Board were free to voice their opposition and contest the closure.

And this is precisely what was last night decided. Dr Norman proposed, and Mr. Philip Potter seconded, the resolution of opposition to this closure on the grounds that the Secretary of State ‘must have been guided by a report based on a misstatement of facts’.

However Matthew Hobson and John Ball then presented an amendment proposing an investigation into ways of procuring a new burial ground. There was then a vote on the amendment (51 votes) followed by one on the original motion (88 votes). Although the latter seemed to have been carried, it was then decided that a wider vote of the populace be organised to be held on the next Thursday and Friday.

Mar 29th

The poll has been duly held and the votes have been cast and counted.

For the original motion — 475 votes ; Against — 94 votes


Apr 11th

Albert Tapley, draper of Bath Street, is in need of ‘a young lady, who has a knowledge of Millinery, Dressmaking and Mantles: one who has been accustomed to wait in a Draper’s Shop, and of business habits’.

Apr 18th

The donations to the Mechanics’ Institute, which began three months ago, have continued … with a gift of three guineas from the Right Hon. Edward Strutt M.P.

This coincides with the termination of the season of lectures given by the Institute. Some supporters believe that the talks have raised the intellectual and moral tone of the town, as well as increasing the desire for reading among the working-classes. Thirty new members have joined in the last three months, and 70 volumes have been added to the library.

As a finale to the season, a musical and social soirée is planned for a fortnight’s time.

Apr 20th

It seems that without any great fanfare the Ilkeston Pioneer has resumed publication. I wish much success to publisher John Wombell, now that he has put his troubles behind him — hopefully.


May 24th

The restoration of the Parish Church is now almost complete. The previous Italian tower has now been transformed into an early English one. And the unsightly pinnacles erected 76 years ago (at the same time as the tower) have been replaced by entirely new ones. As the Derbyshire Advertiser reports ” though a dangerous task, and no scaffolding having been made use of, not the slightest accident has occurred”.

Once more the design for these improvements was the work of Thomas Larkins Walker –he was also responsible for the restoration plans — and the work was completed by Messrs. Larkin and Firn of Leicester. It might be noted that Mr. Walker was also lately residing in Leicester but has now left for China.


Jun 13th

Francis Ebbern was a farmer at West Hallam and died a couple of months ago. He was also owner of the Copyhold tenure of property in lower Bath Street which includes the public house known as the Poplar Tavern. It occupies a very favourable position and it will be interesting to see who decides to buy it.


Jul 4th

The Pioneer editorial of yesterday has once more taken issue with the ‘neglected state’ of the town’s roads.

It describes them as muddy, with rubbish, ruts and inequalities’. And why does this state exist when the Highway Board has a liberally-paid Surveyor and an abundance of quality materials at low cost ?
The newspaper picked out the road across the Common as being in special need of repair, while its fences have not been altered so that the road is properly bounded on each side; it is in no fit state for traffic.

And then it turned its attention to the “talking” Board of Highways with its do-nothing propensity. Its members compliment each other in long speeches, indulge in specious promises, besmear each other with flattering unction and then hope to gain the approval of the ratepayers when it is time to appoint again. “We frankly avow we have no great expectation from the Board, made up as it is of such sorry ingredients, but we do hope that their spirited and energetic Surveyor will try to earn the salary which has been so freely voted, and that the remaining members of the Board may indulge their idle and mischievous propensities, without damage to the public good, or accidents to her Majesty’s liege subjects!”  (I emphasise that I am recording the opinion of the Pioneer !!)

Jul 9th

The anniversary of the mother lodge of the Ilkeston United Order of Odd Fellows was held recently at the Rutland Arms of Brother Thomas Hives. This included a sumptuous dinner, followed by loyal toasts, speeches, singing, and, of course, the services of the Ilkeston brass band.

The finances of the Order are in a flourishing state such that half-pay is now  guaranteed to the members, after the cessation of full pay, during whatever period their illness may continue.

Jul 20th

A week ago we heard of a happy event at the Vicarage .. Sarah Mary Ann, the wife of the Rev. Ebsworth, gave birth to a daughter. She is now called Emmeline Cazalet Ebsworth.

Jul 24th

A civil war seems to have broken out at the Unitarian Chapel in Anchor Row. The recent death of the Rev. Mark Whitehouse has meant that the chapel keys have been kept by the caretaker, William Mellor — who seems to claim their ownership on the grounds that he and his ancestors have cleaned and cared for the chapel for years past, and have firmly secured the outer door with a padlock as well as the usual fastenings !!! Howeverthe worshippers there disagreed with William’s claim and, enlisting the help of constable George Small, took forcible possession of the place.

Now it seems that both parties have resorted to the magistrates at Smalley — William claiming against the break-in at the chapel, while the worshippers want the return of the bible, hymn-books, cushion, clock, etc as well as the keys. The magistrates declined to interfere although they expressed surprise at William’s trivial claims.


Aug 5th

Yesterday, another occasion at Smalley Petty Sessions for the Mellor family — this time William’s sister, Elizabeth (who is married to sawyer William Rowland Straw) appeared, charged with assaulting Thomas Barker in Anchor Row. Elizabeth realised her fault but said she was severely provoked when she overheard the victim telling lies about her brother’s role in the dispute over the Unitarian Chapel. The magistrates explained that this did not give her the right to violently massage Thomas’s face or extract blood from his nose. Consequently she was fined 21s which was immediately paid.


Sep 26th

Yesterday yet another pit tragedy — this one at the iron pits in West Hallam — and the victim was young Thomas Henshaw of Ilkeston, aged 19, the son of Jonathan and Sarah. He was leaving the pit when a rock fall caught his neck and pinned him to a supporting prop, prsessing him to death. Collapses like this are too frequent and one wonders whether sufficient supports are used underground ?

In March of last year the brother of Thomas, named Jonathan and also then 19 years old, was involved in a pit tragedy — he however survived that accident, although his work companion, George Starbuck, did not.

Sep 30th

Last year I reported on the building of a new factory in the Heanor Road, the work of Joseph Bailey, lace manufacturer. As a consequence poor Joseph has found himself in conflict with the rate collector, Richard Vickerstaff, for refusing to pay two portions of the poor rates, a total of £13 7s. His defence came in two parts — first, that only a small part of his factory was occupied at the time, and second, the rates were “unjust and oppressive”, much higher than the Balls or Carriers were paying on their factories.

Unfortunately for Joseph the magistrates at Smalley Petty Sessions yesterday were unconvinced by his reasoning — he was ordered to pay up !! — and with costs.


Oct 1st

Sophia Wigley is a daughter of Jedediah and Ruth and trades as a milliner in the Market Place. She also helps her parents at times in the Market Tavern but needs to be more careful to follow the rules applied to beer-house keepers. A few days ago she found herself walking out of the Smalley Petty Sessions, having been fined 20s with 15s costs for serving beer after the 11 o’clock deadline.

Oct 15th

It is the occasion of the ‘Wakes’ of course, a time when the town attracts a great number of visitors … many of them keen to explore the inns, taverns and beer-houses of the town. One such is Clay’s beer-house at the foot of Bath Street and one such explorer was Thomas Horne who unfortunately — last night — had imbibed too much of what the beer-house had to offer. In its tap room he found himself in physical conflict with a man called Bostock, when constable Thomas Roberts entered. The latter tried to diffuse the situation, and while Bostock refrained, Horne continued what was now a one-sided fight. Finding no resistence from Bostock, Horne turned his attention to the constable, trying to throttle him. Eventually constable Roberts managed to handcuff the prisoner (as he now was) and transport him to the lock-up.

Today, at the Nisi Prius Court, Thomas Horne was found guilty of common assault and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Oct 25th

Last Sunday, the 19th of October, was the anniversary of the re-opening and dedication of St. Mary’s Church, and was duly celebrated with three sermons. A debt of £290 still remains for the restoration work and a collection on the day reduced that debt by £30.

The Correspondent for the Nottingham Journal was not impressed by aspects of the occasion however. He writes ” The singing was, we are sorry to say. ‘not up to the mark’, especially when we compare it with what we heard on a simlilar occasion last year, being almost a ‘break down’ in chanting the psalms for the day. The rest of the singing consisted entirely of psalm tunes, the monotomy of which was not relieved by one anthem of any sort. We had many appropriate ones last year”.

Oct 30th

It amazes me how many Ilkeston beer-house keepers feel the need to flaunt their regulations. At the beginning of this month I noted one example … and at the end of the same month I hear that Keyworth Earnshaw has been fined 10s with 15s costs for having his beer-house open from 3pm to 5pm on a Sunday afternoon.

And in between these dates there have been several other examples of miscreant beer-house keepers.


Nov 1st

The Ilkeston Pioneer has not been impressed by the recent Statutes ‘celebrated’ in the town. It noted the ‘trumpery collection of penny take-you-ins and gingerbread traps obstructing the thoroughfare of the Market-place and the doors of respectable tradesmen’. It wished for some ‘evil genius’ to consign the whole lot to a general bonfire.

‘The sooner our Statutes are discontinued the better if they serve only to bring to our doors the rankest scum of society’.

I wonder if the Pioneer will achieve its wish in the near future ??


Dec 16th

A strange case was heard at the Derby Assizes yesterday.

A few weeks ago, Matthew Hardy, a framework knitter of Ilkeston, was returning home from a money club at 11 o’clock pm, along the Awsworth Road, close to Barker’s Inn at the canal …. when he encountered three young men just leaving the Inn. What happened next led to the three men … brothers Robert Chambers, aged 20, and Abraham Chambers, aged 24, with their brother-in-law John Charlton, aged 24….. appearing at the Assizes to answer charges of cutting and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The three live over the border at Awsworth and as they left the inn, shouting some very disgusting language, they passed Matthew. Unfortunately for him, he chose to intervene.
“You seem to be using pretty language, my lads”
The response was an even worse tirade.
Matthew then indicated what he would do to them if they were his lads, and this provoked them to attack the glove hand, forcing him to the ground, and then stabbing him in the side…. though crucially he could not say which man had stabbed him. The injury he received was such that he was confined to his house for several weeks, and he was still so weak that he had to sit down while giving his evidence.
At this point however, the judge stopped the case.
There was no evidence to support which of the three attackers had stabbed the victim. A verdict of not guilty was therefore imposed. However the men were not free of blame — they were now charged with common assault to which they pleaded guilty. All three had evidence of previously good character and so enjoyed a lenient sentence of one week’s imprisonment.
Matthew Hardy then limped from the court.

Dec 23rd

Yesterday was the occasion for the distribution to the poor as required by the charity of Francis Gisborne.
The vicar, churchwardens and parish officers assembled at the Town Hall (also known as the Old Market Hall) for the aforementioned distribution. Also present was Joseph Bailey, one of the guardians of the parish poor  — the reason given was that he was there, like his predecessors, to ensure that the money was doled out fairly, to church people and dissenters alike. This appears to have angered the Rev. Ebsworth who asked Joseph to immediately leave the hall — it was his hall and if Joseph did not leave at once he would fetch the constable to eject him. Joseph then disputed the ownership of the Hall, stating that it belonged to the town as it had been built by public subscription. At this point the constable arrived but was hesitant to intervene, having been warned by Joseph of serious consequences if he did. The Vicar then reassured the constable of his full support, at which Joseph was removed from the Hall by the collar. The distribution then proceeded in a proper fashion — though I feel that the matter will not rest here.

Dec 30th

As usual for this time of year, much celebration and goodwill have been evident throughout the town recently.
On the 27th a late afternoon tea was taken by over 600 persons at the Wesleyan Reform Chapel in South Street. After this a musical festival with over 50 performers was enjoyed by the assembled audience.
The following day Messrs William and Samuel Carrier gave 50 of their workmen an excellent supper at the Sir John Warren Inn of Mr. Isaac Attenborough. And in the neighbouring King’s Head of Mr. William Woodroff, the Nottingham Order of Imperial Odd Fellows enjoyed an equally excellent supper … so I am reliably informed.
And yesterday, yet another meal was enjoyed by 50 work people from the Ball factory of Albion Place

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