Old Ilson Blog 1857


Jan 8th

I am not revealing a well-kept secret when I write that fishmonger William Henshaw, who trades in Bath Street has a criminal record. He has been convicted of embezzlement and in 1849 of stealing linen which he pawned in Nottingham and for which crime he received a six months prison sentence with hard labour.

However hopefully he has left that part of his life behind. Last week he was again in the witness box but this time giving evidence against Henry Spencer, a local labourer aged 33. William had bought guinea fowls from the latter and sold them to customers in and around the town. These customers included Richard Potts, druggist of South Street, and grocer James Hithersay of South Street. Unfortunately they were not the property of Henry to sell but of William Bentley of Purday House in Shipley. The accused denied the theft, stating that after a hard day’s work at West Hallam furnace, the last thing he wanted to do was go out stealing at night.
The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to spend the next six months in prison where at least he would find relief from his furnace work !

Jan 9th

Not always are the Irish of Ilkeston the sinners but are sometimes sinned against — or so they testify.

In an assault case which occurred last October Irishman Michael Connolly appeared in court at Derby Sessions last week to accuse Edwin Wright of maliciously wounding him with a knife — and Michael had brought his mates to back up and prove his claim.
Perhaps because of their accents, the way they gave evidence or what they said, they don’t seem to have been treated with much seriousness or respect by many in the courtroom.
Thus…William Manion, when asked what he was:
“An Irishman, and I’m not ashamed to own it”. (laughter in court)
“I live up a yard, at Divney’s lodging-house. I was sitting up the statutes night, at two o’clock in the morning, waiting for my brother who had come to the statutes. About twelve o’clock I heard a noise and went to the door, and saw the prisoner”. (more laughter)

“I’m not come here to be made ‘gam’ of and I’ll not be made ‘gam’ of. I came here to spake the truth, and although I am an Irishman I’ll have the law”.

William went on to describe how Edwin Wright, an acting Parish Constable, had come to the lodging-house in search of a suspect and had ended up assaulting William and his brother Peter and then stabbing neighbouring lodger Michael Connelly.
He continued;
“There was nobody in the house but me and my brother Peter, for the others were in bed”. (laughter)
When asked how many were in the house, William hesitated: “I’ll tell you if you give me time to count them. (pause) I do not know if any of them were gone out, but if they were not, there were six men”. (renewed laughter)
“Me and my brother were sitting in what we call the kitchen in England but in Ireland we called it a ‘poltroon’”.

When Peter Manion was later asked if he was William’s brother, he replied ‘My mother says I am’. (much laughter)

When it came to the turn of the defence, several witnesses stepped forward to give Edwin Wright an excellent character reference, including constable George Small and Inspector Fearn of the Derby Police.
After a short consultation the jury acquitted the accused.

Jan 10th

A very sad and avoidable accident occurred at Ilkeston Junction Station three days ago, just after 7 o’clock in the morning. The train guard of the Midland Railway, Joseph Woodbury, had uncoupled the break from the rest of the train and was just getting back into the break when the driver set off the steam, and so slackened the pace of the train. This led to the break cannoning into a waggon and young Joseph was pitched forward; he lost balance and a train wheel passed over his thigh. He was immediately conveyed to Nottingham General Hospital, still alive, but the injury was so severe that he died shortly after.

Jan 13th

Samuel Fletcher is a well-known and reputable tradesman of Ilkeston who, about a week ago, was returning by train from Nottingham. Unfortunately he fell asleep during his journey, missed his stop at Ilkeston and ended up at Langley Mill.
Initially the station master there demanded that Samuel pay the full fare from Nottingham but when Samuel produced his Nottingham to Ilkeston ticket he was asked only for the excess fare to Langley Mill. Samuel was indignant and refused to pay whereupon he was locked in the booking office with the station master while the latter completed his duties.
Eventually the two of them were about to set off to see Robert Noon of the Shipley Boat Inn who might vouch for the framesmith when Samuel fell and suffered a compound fracture to his right leg.
After treatment by a local surgeon he was returned home where he was placed under the care of Dr. George Blake Norman.
However yesterday he sadly died, ‘mortification’ having taken place.

Jan 18th

Irish disagreements at Ilkeston once more.

Yesterday at Smalley Petty Sessions, Michael Hays charged James, Thomas and Andrew Calla with assaulting him at Ilkeston on January 3rd — case dismissed.

James Calla charged Michael and John Hays with assaulting him at the same time and place — case dismissed.

James Calla charged James and John Hays, and Robert Walking with malicious damage to his front door on January 4th at Ilkeston — case dismissed.

The magistrates showed great patience and attention when investigating these cases, but recommended that the parties should now go home and be better friends in the future.


Feb 4th

About a week ago the hands employed by Messrs Bailey, lace manufacturers of Heanor Road, decided to strike until they had received an increase in their wages. In the meantime the union had agreed to pay each worker 12s per week so long as they remained out of employ. Fortunately the Union met with the employers and yesterday it was agreed to give the men the advance they had asked for. Consequently the men have returned to work.

Feb 22nd

Sadly the death of another very young infant to report …. because of the custom of allowing them to sleep with parents. Walter Bostock had enjoyed only six weeks of life when he was discovered dead — on February 20th — at the side of his mother Selina, herself only 20. Accidentally overlaid was the verdict of the Inquest jury yesterday.


Mar 6th

Shipley Colliery is a hard coal pit, owned by Alfred Miller Mundy of Shipley Hall, 234 yards deep, divided into 12 working stalls. All the miners were at work on Wednesday morning, March 4th, when, at about 10 o’clock, three explosions of fire-damp occurred in the No. 9 stall where a group of men were at work.

Other men in different stalls were unaware of the catastrophy unfolding and continued to work. The mine had, in fact, been inspected that very morning; all was secure. However by noon bodies of the dead were being drawn out of the mine, while Mr Gill, assistant to doctor George Blake Norman, was on the scene, attending to the injured.

A few hours later we learned that three men and two boys had died — Abraham Starbuck, Cotmanhay, aged 43; his son Abraham, aged 12; his brother John, Cotmanhay, aged 47; Job Richardson, Shipley Common, aged 26; finally Thomas Henshaw, Cotmanhay, aged 12, son of John and Jane.

Both the adult Starbuck brothers leave widows and a total of 11 children without their father. And Job Richardson was the sole support of his grandmother, Esther, living at Shipley Common.

It now appears that the primary cause of the accident was the ignition of a quantity of powder by a spark from a workman’s candle near the wall face of the pit, and that the concussion occasioned by this explosion sucked the inflammable gas out of the works and onto the workmen’s lights where it exploded. As it was so dark down the mine, it is possible that one of the dead men — still alive after the explosion — had lit a match to help guide them all out. It is possible that this caused a last and fatal explosion.

Mr. Hedley, a Government Inspector, has now recommended that locked safety lamps be used in the mines for the future, in order to make the workings as secure as possible. This will be forthwith adopted.

Mar 18th

The death toll of the Shipley Colliery disaster continues to rise. We now know that, added to the original list, must be added the names of Joseph Fowkes of Heanor, John Henshaw and Thomas Hart, 23, of Ilkeston — the wife of the latter was a ‘Starbuck’ and I believe is related to the deceased Starbucks. All the recent dead succumbed to burnings received at the accident. And yesterday another sufferer, William Hand, 18, of West Hallam, died of his injuries.

Mar 25th

Another General Election is upon us and already the candidates for South Derbyshire have visited the town. By a few days ago Charles Robert Colvile and Thomas Evans, the Liberal candidates, had been and gone. Yesterday it was the turn of Conservative Mr Clowes to visit the area — the other candidate, Lord Stanhope, was unable to be present. Mr Clowes delivered his address to the electorate from his carriage drawn up in front of the church gates. The Derby Mercury is in no doubt that both Tory candidates will be returned in triumph !!


Apr 2nd

I see that the freehold Three Horse Shoes inn in Derby Road is up for sale. At the present time, William Severn is the landlord.

Apr 4th

The results are in …. Evans 3922; Colvile 3350; Clowes 2103; Stanhope 1972.

The first two, Liberals of course, were then duly announced as the Representatives for South Derbyshire.

Perhaps it is interesting to note that in Ilkeston, while Evans came top of the poll, Clowes (198) beat Colvile by nine votes

Apr 19th

A few days ago grocer Wolstan Marshall woke in the morning at his Market Place shop, looked out of his rear window and noticed a change in his garden … he was missing about 25 young gooseberry and currant trees !!

If I catch the thief I will ensure that he does not bear the sight of gooseberry or currant dumplings for the rest of his life”

Apr 20th

Last week the shop of druggist George Purcell in Bath Street was visited by cordwainer George Pollard — he being the brother of tinman Patrick of the Market Place. The cordwainer asked for a few ounces of oxalic acid, ostensibly for use in his trade, but before leaving the shop, he was warned about the poison and how he should keep it under lock and key. I don’t think the customer was too concerned about safety precautions however because as soon as he returned home it appears that he used the poison for a purpose for which it was not intended — he attempted to commit suicide with it. Not having tasted the substance myself, I cannot testify to its effects but I’m told that they are most unpleasant — and this was discovered almost immediately by Mr. Pollard. He could not bear the agony and called for help which was almost immediately forthcoming and he is now on the way to complete recovery.

The reason for the suicide attempt was a rejection in love, or a perceived infidelity … I have not delved too far into that issue.

Apr 22nd

Last night I attended a most interesting and well-attended lecture at the Mechanics’ Institute given by the Baptist minister, Rev. Thomas Roberts Stevenson — it was entitled ‘Grace Darling or the Wreck of the Forfarshire Steamer‘. Her bravery and calm actions on the night of September 7th 1838 helped to save the lives of at least five people aboard that boat …. and made a sizeable fortune for herself and her father. Unfortunately she died very young, of consumption … in October 1842, aged 26. I understand that a hotel was built in 1854 in Melbourne, Australia, bearing her name.

Apr 25th

More Irish trouble in the White Lion Inn when labourer Martin Macarty bought a drink and tried to pay for it with a ‘bad’ half-crown. Batholomew Wilson was behind the bar and, recognising the coin as counterfeit, told Martin that he deserved to be brought before the magistrates. This remark ired thhe Irishman who became violent and struck Mr. Wilson in the face. At Derby County Hall yesterday he was fined, with costs, a total of 14s or 14 days in a cell.

Apr 28th

Yesterday Mary Chadwick (nee Richards) died, aged 83. She was the widow of Charles, and mother of James, general dealer in Bath Street, Charles, a butcher also in Bath Street, and Edwin who now lives in Wednesbury. Her other children have died before their mother.

Apr 30th

Stories have been circulating in town about a lass by the name of Annice Wigley, originally from Bonsall, who has been living in a room in a house near the toll bar. She had with her several illegitimate children. Complaints had been made about the treatment of these children…. that they were unattended, shut up in the house and left without food.
With the assistant overseer, parish constable George Small went to the house, forced open the door to gain access and found several of the children huddled around a dwindling fire. The eldest was about eight years old while the youngest, Patrick Ward Wigley, was just six months. Their weights, recorded in the local newspapers, ranged from just under two stones down to just over a stone.
A small quantity of bread was found in the house and the eldest son was reported to have been given a piece of bread by a neighbour that morning. He didn’t have it for long — his mother had beaten him for it, taking him by the hair and banging his head against the wall (it was reported).
“The children were employed in sewing hose, and the mother’s object appears to have been to pine them to death, and while doing so, to work their fingers while life remained”.
Because of the alleged violence, a summons was taken out against Annice but she had already left the town. Consequently the children have been taken into care and temporarily housed at Basford Workhouse.
Under magistrates orders they will soon be removed to Bonsall.


May 1st

The Board of Highways is looking for a new Surveyor of the Highways, Inspector of Nuisances, and Collector of Rates. Applications must be made in the candidate’s own handwriting — and stating their salary.

May 16th

I learn from the Leicester Chronicle that Messrs Lindley and Firn of Leicester, who were responsible for the restoration of Ilkeston’s Parish Church in 1855, are still in possession of part of our church, They removed an effigy of a knght in armour, cross-legged m– his head covered with a hood of mail, and mail all over the body except the knees, which are covered with plates. The effigy is of the thirteenth century and is said to be a Delawar. When is it to be ‘repatriated’ ?

May 20th

Tomorrow a Police Force arrives Ilkeston … though George Small will still be with us.


Jun 1st

Yesterday, Whit Sunday, the twenty third anniversary of the Ilkeston Sunday School Movement was celebrated. Baptist and Wesleyan schools amalgamated in the South Street Wesleyan chapel where John Columbine addressed them. At the same time the Independent and Primitive Methodist schools assembled at the Independent Chapel in Pimlico to be addressed by the Rev. Ebenezer Sloane Heron. All the children were then assembled and marched to the Cricket Ground where hymns were sung

Jun 6th

At the Young Men’s Christian Association last Monday the members received short but entertaining and instructive addresses on ‘Comets’, ‘Evil Habits’, etc. etc. — the speakers were Messrs. John Columbine, Samuel Chester, Thomas Dodson Fritchley and William Gregory. and the respected president of the institution, Samuel Carrier, in his usual eloquent and unusual style. Thomas Henry Small was ‘in the Chair’.

Jun 11th

Our station master, James Tizley, is to leave us — he has recently been appointed as Relieving Officer for the Basford Board of Guardians, first district, with a welcome salary of £90 per annum. Several townsmen intend to present Mr. Tizley with a testimonial in appreciation of the kind and obliging manner in which he has discharged the duties of his office towards the public.

James replaces Joseph Haynes, who has resigned.

June 22nd

A week ago a young lad, Joseph Walters, aged 19, was accidentally killed at an Ilkeston ironstone mine … on the surface, he overbalanced and fell to the bottom of the pit, there being no guard rail to protect him. These dangerous and privileged pits are not subject to the same Act of Parliament as coal pits No notice has to be given to Government inspectors when a death occurs, and nor is the pit mouth guarded as in coal pits. And iron pits are exempt from local rates !!!

Jun 27th

A provisional committee has been set up in the town to take steps for the erection of a town hall. I know nothing of its composition at the moment.


Jul 5th

Daughter Elizabeth Potter was a young lass whose parents, William and Sarah, live in Pimlico. Three months ago she married Cotmanhay coalminer Henry Henshaw and then, about one month later she gave birth to a daughter who remained unnamed until her death on May 15th 1857, aged two weeks … a death which seems to have had a severe effect upon Elizabeth. It appears that a couple of nights ago, Elizabeth had spoken to a sister and stated that she had poisoned her child, by adminstering to her a dose of laudanum — thinking that the baby would be too much trouble for her to bring up. The medicine had induced convulsions in the child and she died a few hours later.
Yesterday morning, Elizabeth prepared breakfast for her husband who then left for work. Then she was seen walking towards ‘Stable Well’ near Cotmanhay Wood but only later was she reported missing. The well was dragged and Elizabeth’s body recovered.
I expect this will be another case where the inquest jury will return a verdict of ‘Death caused by temporary insanity’.