William Gregory

Who traded in Gregory’s plot ?

William and Martha Gregory

According to Adeline “Mr. William Gregory bought the next lower plot (after that of Mrs. Sam Lowe), and built a shop on part, retaining as an orchard the piece that the South Street Schools are now built upon. Mr. Gregory was the first engine driver at H. Carrier & Sons. Mrs. Gregory managed the book selling and stationery business.”
This property was 60 South Street in 1871.


Born in West Hallam and baptised there in January, 1826, William Gregory was a son of engineer William senior and Ann (nee Whitby?) and as a young man he was employed there as an engine worker.
He married Strelley-born Martha Cartwright at Ilkeston Independent Chapel on 28th April 1853 and the couple brought up their two sons and three daughters in their South Street home.
The 1861 census describes him as “engine tender and local Methodist preacher”.
He was also connected with ‘The Ilkeston Leader and Erewash Valley Advertiser’, a weekly newspaper which seems to have had a short life from 1861 to 1863, and of which he was joint editor with printer Stephen Bates. The printing office was in Market Street and was later moved to East Street.
William junior’s wife Martha’s parents were journeyman miller Richard Cartwright and Catherine (nee Swanwick) who lived in Stanton Road, close to the Havelock Inn. She was an older sister of John Cartwright, whose recollections are a feature of this site.

William Gregory died of consumption on February 26th, 1865, aged 37, while in Derby, and Martha eventually moved further south along this street towards White Lion Square where, for a time, she was the nighbour of Hannah Platts, widow of James the chimney sweep.
In the late 1870’s she made her home in Severn’s Yard and died in Byron Street on 14th February, 1885, aged 66.

Adeline recalls that “they had four children, Selina, Ben, Theo and Agnes”. (in fact it was five children)

— William and Martha’s eldest child Selina, had two illegitimate children, only the elder one, Agnes Ethel Tomlinson Gregory, surviving.
When Selina married West Hallam bricklayer Enoch Tomlinson in 1880, her illegitimate daughter variously lived with the child’s grandmother at Severn’s Yard and with her uncle Benjamin and his family, though by the end of the century she was with her mother and the rest of the family, as Ethel Tomlinson.

Selina and Enoch Tomlinson were living in Little Hallam Lane at the turn of the century, and their next-door neighbours at that time were 60-year-old spinster Hannah Lings and her illegitimate son Harry, aged 35. At that time, Hannah was a very poorly woman; she drank heavily — whisky and ale — which she consumed at home, often sending local children to collect the alcohol. She would buy bottles until her money ran out; and often fell into unconsciousness as she rested upon her sofa where she slept at night. Selina was in the habit of caring for Hannah when her son was off to work — and she was doing so one Friday morning in February 1902 when she found Hannah once more unconscious. She stayed with her all day until, about seven in the evening, Hannah died. It was during that day that Selina noticed how bitten by vermin and fleas was Hannah’s body, and how burned and scarred were her legs — apparently this had occurred when, in a drunken state, Hannah had fallen onto the fire. Her clothing was filthy and matted, as was her hair and body. Dr. Shaw had been attending her regularly for nearly two years and was called to the house shortly after Hannah’s death. He noticed the extensive bites, burns on the legs, and scars of burns on the hands and face which he thought were the result of sitting too close to the fire. Despite the filth which covered and surrounded her, Hannah had died solely from alcoholic excess, in the opinion of the doctor, and the inquest jury returned its verdict in accordance with that opinion. During the evidence and opinion being given to the jury, its foreman Councillor Charles Mitchell had had a fainting fit which caused the inquiry to be paused until he had recovered. At the close, Charles was driven home by Police Superintendent Daybell.

Benjamin Gregory, coalminer and later coal agent, married Harriet in 1886, the widow of Codnor miner Anthony Gregory and the daughter of Shipley Common framework knitter William Wheatley and Mary (nee Fretwell).

Theophilus Gregory, also a coalminer, was married in 1892 to Catherine Fahey, daughter of Irish parents, miner James and Ann.

Agnes Emma Gregory married coalminer George Dawson of Ince, Lancashire in 1884.

— Adeline does not mention the youngest daughter Eliza Mary, who was born April 7th 1864.
She married colliery locomotive engine driver George Miller on Christmas Day in 1888, also at the Baptist Chapel, and like her brother Benjamin, had a home in Byron Street for a time.


Jane Skevington

“The shop was given up, and Jane Skevington – Mrs. Kitty Beardsley’s sister – began business as a draper”.

Born on July 2nd, 1815 Jane Skevington was all her life a spinster. An experienced embroiderer and draper, she was the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (Garton). Thus she was the sister of Catherine (Kitty) Skeavington who was married to Bath Street grocer/draper/baker John Beardsley and was the aunt of Mrs. Mary Lowe, the grocer of South Street.

Jane had at least two illegitimate children, Elizabeth (born on January 13th, 1835) and William (on October 21st, 1839).
Elizabeth married Ilkeston lacemaker Levi Smith on April 21st, 1856, lived in South Street, and died there in on New Year’s Day of 1867.
William, a blacksmith, married Ann Fletcher, daughter of shoemaker John and Elizabeth (nee Foster), on October 17th, 1864. He ended his days, a widower, in Basford Union Workhouse, in 1902.

The Harrod & Co. Directory of 1870 lists her — Mrs. Jane Skeavington — as a smallware dealer of South Street.
By 1870 she had moved to what was soon to be 41 Bath Street  — which was just below the New Inn (Number 39) and opposite Station Road — and remained there almost the rest of her life.
C. N. Wight’s directory of that year refers to shopkeeper Mrs. Jn. Skevington of 41 Bath Street.
Kelly’s directory of 1881 lists Mrs. Jane Skevington, toy dealer of 41 Bath Street and the same directory of 1883 has her at the same address as a shopkeeper.

Suffering from chronic bronchitis, Jane died in Chapel Street in March 1883, aged 65


David Pressland

“Afterwards Mr. David Pressland, of Bath Street, furniture dealer, took it, and I believe died there”.

David Pressland was the son of  John and Rose (nee Robinson), born at Wollaston, Northamptonshire in 1819.
He moved to Ilkeston shortly after his marriage to Eliza Garner, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (nee Street), in 1849 and established himself as a paper-hanger, upholsterer, cabinet maker and furniture dealer at the top (or south end) of Bath Street, on its west side, close to White’s Yard in what was previously the premises of butcher James Alexander Barker.

David arrives in Ilkeston (Nottingham Guardian, May 3rd, 1850)

In late 1860s he moved his “old-established Bath-Street Furniture Warehouse” down and across the street to be a neighbour of Isaac Gregory.
He then moved his store to the Market Place, next door to the Pioneer Offices, in April 1867 while retaining his workshop and warehouse in South Street. This was followed by another move, into his South Street premises, adjoining those of Samuel Lowe, in 1871.

David had been declared bankrupt in 1868.

“Annie the eldest daughter, died while young”.

The couple’s elder daughter, Annie Pressland, died in October 1869, aged 18.

“Mary married a journalist, and on leaving Ilkeston with her husband, took Mrs. Pressland with them”.

Their only other child, Mary, married Benjamin William Swain, newspaper reporter, in 1883.

David Pressland died in South Street in 1887 and it was then that the family moved to the Wood End area of London.

“Mrs. Pressland died rather suddenly some years later”.


Let us now examine William Gregory’s Ilkeston Leader before we walk ‘next door’ to Gregory’s orchard which later became the site of the Sunday School rooms.