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 !!