Waterwheel at Arkwright's First Mill, Cromford
The Waterwheel at Arkwright's First Mill 1878 - Ford Madox Brown

Latest entries - Extracts from the notebook of Charles Burling, signalman
1918-19   D H Lawrence at Mountain Cottage, Via Gellia

Some of the many topics on this page

Cromford Bridge Chapel
Cromford Bridge Inscription
Cromford Canal

R Angerstein - Swedish spy
Daniel Defoe
Leonard Jenyns - naturalist
Florence Nightingale
Thomas Oldham - a dark deed
Alison Uttley
Sir Cornelius Vermuyden
The Wigley Family

Lead Mining - follow the trail Prehistory
Roman Conquest
1651 Almshouses endowed
1670 Hearth Tax
1832 Reform Act
1924 Sale of Willersley estates
1956 Survey of Cromford

War Memorials
Great War    World War ll

Time Line

Local History
Earth is at least 4,500 million years old, its history measured in geological eras.

The Carboniferous period began some
345 million years ago during the Palaeozoic era and lasted about 65 million years.
The Dinantian limestones and Namurian shales and sandstones were formed during this period.

The Permian-Triassic periods from 280 million years ago lasted 88 million years.
The landscape south of Ashbourne was developed during these periods.

For millions of years the surface of our planet was nothing but bare rock without soil or sand, swept by hot winds and drenched by torrential downpours.

The limestones of this part Derbyshire were formed as sediments on the floor of the sea in the Carboniferous period. The sea was clear and shallow and was inhabited by numerous shell-fish, coral,sea lilies and tiny sea weeds. When these died their remains accumulated as layer upon layer of shell debris which became hardened with time into limestone.
The most common fossils found today are brachiopods, corals and crinoid fragments. Hoptonwood Quarry has limestone beds of high fossil content; when highly polished it is used as decorative "marble".
Fossils, sharks' teeth and a coral atoll can be seen at the National Stone Centre, located in a quarry in Wirksworth.
The shallow seas had small volcanoes which poured out lava and ashes (called toadstones) on to the sea floor from time to time. Traces of such a lava flow can be seen high on both sides of the limestone cliffs of Via Gellia.
There is evidence of two volcanic vents at Grangemill, appearing as dome shaped hills with steep grassy slopes.
The limestone cliffs of Scarthin mark the end of Matlock Dale. Here the river bends sharply to the east emerging at a wide flood plain (Cromford Meadows).
Millstone Grit or Namurian, a hard type of sandstone and shale, was also laid down in the Carboniferous period. Black Rocks is an outcrop of this material displaced by the Bonsall Fault which passes through Cromford.
Millstone Grit shale forms the slopes to the east of the limestone cliffs of Matlock Dale, ascending to Riber Castle which stands on a sandstone outcrop.

The Jurassic period was 180 million years ago during the Mesozoic era and lasted about 45 million years. During this period hot fluids emanated from within the earth and crystallised to form minerals. The mineralising fluids flowed through the limestones cooling as they went, and deposited the minerals on the walls of fractures, or in ancient cave systems to form the veins. Different types of veins became known as rakes, scrins, flats and pipes.
The main minerals in this area are galena (lead sulphide), dolomite, fluorspar, barytes and calcite. In some areas lead carbonate and zinc carbonate, known as calamine, is found.
These natural resources have been mined and quarried for hundreds of years by the people of Cromford and the surrounding areas.


The Quaternary period dates from about 2 million years ago and includes the Pleistone and Recent epochs. A sequence of extreme cold followed by temperate phases occurred, during which sheets of ice advanced southwards and then receded, leaving in their wake deposits of boulder clays, sands and gravels. About half a million years ago, a sheet of ice flowed down as far as Matlock, where rocks from the Lake District have been found.
Perhaps 400,000 years ago another ice flow came up the Trent valley meeting another one from the north along a line just north of Derby.
During this period hill features were smoothed and river valleys broadened.

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The Palaeolithic
or Old Stone Age.
From 250,000 years ago.



Middle Paleolithic.
From 70,000 years ago.



Upper Paleolithic.
From 36,000 years ago.




circa 14,000 to 18,000 years ago.

The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago.

For much of this phase Britain was joined to the Continent of Europe, which was in the grip of the Quaternary Ice Age. Glaciations were separated by milder interglacial periods when the ice melted and flora and fauna moved north. Bones of hippos, elephant, rhinos, brown bear, hyena, red deer and bison have been found in Derbyshire.
During one of the earliest interglacials man first appeared in this region. The people were "homo erectus". Small migrant groups followed herds of wild animals, using handaxes and scrapers fashioned from flint.

Neanderthal people appeared. There is evidence of their presence at a number of cave sites and rock shelters in Derbyshire such as Creswell Crags and Cressbrook Dale. They occupied the caves intermittently in periods of temperate climate, moving south during cold periods. They had simple tools of flint such as handaxes and scrapers. They wore skins and furs and made necklaces of bone. The tundra landscape was cold and treeless.

The Neanderthal people died out. They could not survive the increasing cold and were now in competition with homo sapiens who had been moving westwards across Europe, where they first appeared about 100,000 years ago. The new arrivals had more efficient tools for hunting, using bone and ivory, and fixing handles to flint blades to make spears and harpoons. They had needles so could make better clothes, and had jewellry made of teeth and shells. They carved pictures on reindeer bone. Examples found at Creswell Crags are of an engraving of a horse's head, and another of a man holding a bow and apparently wearing an animal mask.

During this period ice once more advanced over the region and people were pushed south, returning when the ice retreated. In post glacial times migrant hunters spread across to the limestone uplands and occupied caves at Harborough near Brassington. The caves may have been used as base camps from which to intercept migrating herds of horses and reindeer.
Animal bones found include wild horses, reindeer, woolly rhinos, hyena, bison, red deer and wild boar.

The Mesolithic Age or Middle Stone Age.
8500 - 3750 BC

Boreal climatic period.
circa 7500 - 5500 BC

About 6000 BC
Separation of British Isles from the continent of Europe.





Atlantic phase.
Long period of colder, wet weather.

The end of the last glacial period led to the gradual flooding of the North Sea Basin and the separation of the British Isles from the Continent. As the glaciers receded northwards and the planet warmed, the tundra landscape became forested with pine, oak and ash. The loss of hunting and settlement areas forced people to move westward. New settlers arrived inhabiting the upland regions. These Mesolithic people set fire to the forests to encourage re-growth of hazel and bracken.

Finds on the limestone plateau around Hopton and Brassington include heavy flint axes, barbed spears, arrows and harpoons fashioned from bone and stag antlers. The barbs were technically improved and were secured to handles with birch pitch. Domestic tools such as knives, harvesting knives and sickles have been found over a wide area, indicating a large population. Derbyshire Black chert from the Wye valley was widely used for tools.

People ate edible acorns, bracken roots, nuts, fungi and berries. Animals such as red and roe deer, elk and wild horse were hunted. Wolves and bears were still around but cold climate animals such as bison and reindeer had died out. Clothing was made of animal skins and vessels of wood and basketwork.

The Boreal climate phased out as rainfall increased. Open woodland of the gritstone uplands began to be replaced by blanket peat. Hunting grounds disappeared and occupation sites were abandoned. Lower down denser, wetter woodland of oak, alder, elm and lime became widespead, suppressing the shrubs and roots which had fed the people. This was a transitional period from hunter gatherer to farming brought about by environmental changes. Cereal and seed crops began to be cultivated.

The Neolithic or New Stone Age.
3500 - 2000 BC



The Bronze Age.
2000 - 800 BC




The Iron Age.
800 BC - circa 50 AD

55 & 54 BC
Julius Caesar made two raids into Britain.

3 BC
Birth of Jesus Christ

AD 30
Jesus Christ crucified.
Beginning of Christianity.

Farming culture gradually spread westwards. Sheep and goats were introduced and a more sophisticated life slowly emerged with the use of polished stone axes, pottery and arable farming with wheat and barley. The people lived in stone pits and made pottery by hand. They buried their dead in chambered tombs, known as barrows. Minninglow is a local example. Henges at Arbor Low and Dove Holes were begun at this time.
From about 2300 BC food vessels and urns were placed in burial chambers so they are known as "Beaker people". They knew about copper and gold and later learnt to add tin to copper to make bronze.

Bronze Age is the term used to denote the period when bronze replaced flint and stone as the chief material for weapons and tools. Change came slowly and the periods overlapped. The first stage saw the Beaker people who lived in wooden huts. Then the Middle Bronze Age when the smaller stone circles were made and cremation of the dead began. Finds from this period include jet necklaces and socketed axe heads. The Late Bronze Age saw wool and flax being spun with bronze now in widespread use.
There is evidence of more than 350 barrows in Derbyshire, two henges and over 30 surviving stone circles. An example is the Nine Ladies circle on Stanton Moor above Matlock.

This was the period when iron came into common use for tools and weapons. Iron ore requires smelting with limestone and charcoal, a technique which spread westwards to Britain.
People lived in round wooden thatched houses. Agriculture improved with the more durable iron for use in ploughing and other implements. The people wore coarse woollen clothing. Evidence of early man has been found in the area of Cromford . An arrowhead, an iron dagger, three iron spear heads and a marble flint were found during the cutting of Via Gellia. An urn was found in a large barrow at Abbot's Low, near Hopton.
Hill forts were built to afford protection and keep animals from wandering. Some, such as Mam Tor, were started in the Bronze Age, but were mostly used and built during the Iron Age.
The forts acted as a defence from raiding neighbours and at the end of the period, as a defence against the Roman invasion.

AD 43
Emperor Claudius sent Aulus Plautius to conquer Britain with 40,000 troops.

AD 61
Revolt of Boadicea

AD 78
Julius Agricola became governor of Britain.

AD 121 - 139
Emperor Hadrian built a wall across northern Britain.

AD 212
Emperor Caracalla gave Roman citizenship to all free born in the empire. Soldiers allowed to marry.

AD 216
Britain divided into 2 provinces, Upper and Lower.

AD 220 -
Saxons began raiding the south east coast. Raids by the Picts and Scots and rebellion in Britain itself were putting the Romans under pressure.

AD 313
Persecution of Christians ended. British bishops appointed.

AD 325
Christianity made religion of the empire.

AD 401
Troop withdrawal from Briton for defence against Goths begins.

AD 410
Sack of Rome.
Roman administration ceases in Britain. Emperor Honorius tells British towns to defend themselves.

"The Brigantes with the blue painted shields, he compelled to bear on their necks the fetters of Rome." Seneca
This part of Derbyshire was on the borders of two Celtic tribes, the peaceful Coritani to the south, and the rebellious Brigantes to the north. The Brigantian queen, Cartimandua, agreed a treaty with Rome, and handed over the rebel hero Caratacus in AD 51. But unrest in her kingdom led to the takeover of Brigantes territory.
Agricola brought the Romans in strength to Derbyshire as part of the advance into the far north. Here they found the gravel and stone to provide materials for roadmaking - good roads were needed for rapid movement of soldiers and goods. Forts were placed along the roads at a distance of a day's march.
Local roads were Rykneld Street which passed close to the camp at Pentrich, and The Street which went through Carsington on its way to Buxton. The theory that Hereward Street passed through Cromford is now disputed. The Romans probably took advantage of ancient tracks to move goods.

But the main attraction of this area to the Romans lay in the plentiful supply of lead ore, one of the "rewards of victory". Lead had many uses including water pipes, cisterns, roofing, bath buildings, and cooking pots. Extraction was mainly from open workings along the outcrops of major veins, sometimes between 40 and 60 feet wide at the surface. The deep narrow opencuts at High Tor in Matlock Bath are believed to be Roman mines. The actual mining was often done by convict labour or slaves.

Pigs (ingots) of smelted lead have been found which can be traced to Derbyshire. Many bear the letters LVT or LVTVD, believed to refer to Lutudarum, the Roman name for the lead mining area.
Local finds include a pig of lead found on Cromford Moor inscribed "IMP CAES HADRIANI AVG MET LVT", translated as "Emperor Caesar Hadrian Augustus (from the) mines of Lutudarum."  Buried a foot below the surface of the ground and weighing 126 lbs, it is thought to have been cast about AD130. Two pigs of lead found in St Mary's churchyard are inscribed XXX and XV. Perhaps they were lost near the ford across the River Derwent on their way to be shipped from the Humber.
Smelting sites have been found at Carsington near Wirksworth and at Duffield.
Lead Mining - next.

Other evidence of the presence of Romans in the neighbourhood of Cromford came with the unearthing of over 60 Roman coins during the cutting of Scarthin Nick. The small copper coins dated from the time of Constantine in the 4th century AD. Burial urns have been found at Matlock.

The Celtic people living in this sparsely populated part of what is now Derbyshire, with its rocky outcrops, towering cliffs and fast flowing river, were principally farmers. They were probably not involved in the uprisings of the Brigantes which took place in the second century. During the Roman occupation their way of life changed dramatically. Some would have been put to work as slaves in the mining of lead ore, or in quarrying limestone and road building. They would have paid tributes in the form of animals to supply the Romans with meat, milk, wool and hides. Some would have been recruited to serve in the army as auxiliaries.

Outside Roman forts such as Derventio and Anavio civilian settlements called vici developed. Some Britons became Romanised and intermarriage took place. Many soldiers chose to settle here after retiring from the army. After the Romans withdrew the Romano-British and Celtic British were left to face the approaching invaders.

Notes on Roman Derbyshire
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Kingdom of Mercia established in valley of the River Trent.

St Cedd began to convert Mercia to Christianity.


St Hilda founded Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire

Synod of Whitby settled dispute over date of Easter in favour of Roman tradition as opposed to the Celtic.



Ethelbald became King of Mercia.

King Egbert of Wessex defeated Mercians.

Vikings (Danes) raided Sheppey in Kent.

Lead mining declined after the Romans retreated from Briton when the demand for lead dropped to almost nothing.

Derbyshire was part of the kingdom of Mercia.

The pagan king Penda of Mercia was succeeded in 655 by his son Peada, who married a princess from Christian Northumbria. With her came four missionary priests - Cedd, Adda, Betti and Diuma. An abbey was established at Repton, the most important settlement in Mercia, which was ruled over by an abbess.

It is thought that Betti centred his missionary work at Wirksworth and founded the church there. A stone, found buried in front of the altar, was lying over a grave containing a skeleton which some believe may have been Betti's. The stone is carved with scenes from the life of Christ and symbols, still not fully understood, of the Church's teachings. Christ is depicted as a lamb on the cross - this symbol was banned in AD 692 at the Trullan Council of Constantinople. Betti's role in founding Wirksworth church is now disputed, but it seems likely that the stone was carved at the end of the 7th century within living memory of the missionary priest.

671. "This year was the great destruction among birds." - Anglo Saxon Chronicle.

The rights to the lead mines around Wirksworth were granted to the abbesses of Repton and held by them for almost two centuries.

In the year 714 a lead coffin was sent by the Abbess Eadburgha of Repton to Crowland Abbey in Lincolnshire for the remains of Saint Guthlac. Guthlac had begun his monastic life at Repton in the 690s after a period in the Mercian army.


In 835 the Wirksworth mines were leased by the Abbess Kenewara to Duke Humbert, a Mercian nobleman, on condition that he gave 300 shillings worth of lead to Christ Church, Canterbury, in the county of Kent.

874 - Repton Abbey was destroyed by the Danes.

Lead Mining - next.

1066 Oct 14
Battle of Hastings

1066 Dec 25
William The Conqueror crowned King of England

At the time of the Norman invasion Cromford was in the Wirksworth Wapentake, or Hundred, which was a Royal Manor held by Edward the Confessor. William retained Wirksworth with its outlying estates, including Cromford. In 1086 The Domesday Book showed Cromford had two carucata of land, about 240 acres.

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1199 April 6
King John succeeded his brother Richard.

1216 October 19
King John died at Newark during the first "Barons' War".

1216 October 28
John's son Henry III crowned at Gloucester, aged 9.

1236 December
First reference to "parliament", summoned for 20th January, 1237.

Henry's ineffectual rule provoked opposition amongst the barons.

1258 June 12
Simon de Montfort and other barons issued "Provisions of Oxford" limiting Henry's power, after he demanded exorbitant taxes to finance papal wars.

1261 June 12
A papal bull absolved Henry from his oath to maintain reforms.

1264 February
Second Barons' War.
1264 May 14
De Montfort defeated royalists at the battle of Lewes. Henry III forced to accept peace terms.

1265 August 4
De Montfort killed at battle of Evesham.

1272 November 16
Death of Henry III.
Succeeded by his son Edward I.

1275 April 25
First Parliament of Edwards's reign. Customs duty imposed on exports of wool and leather.

1200 - the first mention of Wirksworth as a "borough". This status was earned by Wirksworth's importance as a lead trading centre, and gave the town a degree of self government as well as the right to hold markets.

In about 1200 Hugh was the chaplain at Cromford. At Wirksworth, Victor Braund was the vicar and his brother Henry was chaplain. Ralph, son of Walter, was the priest around 1250.

The use of surnames was not yet established except in some rich landowning families. There are mentions of people "of", or "de" Cromford in the 13th century in the calendar of fines for the county of Derby, and in charters.

1240, June 24 to July 15, at York. Henry de Crumford and his wife Sibilla, tenants, were involved in a dispute with Robert de Aldewerke and his wife Isabella, plaintiffs, concerning the tenancy of a toft in Fentone. (A toft was a homestead with adjoining land.) Under an assize of mort d'ancestor the toft was granted to Henry and Sibilla and to the heirs of Sibilla at the yearly rent of 18 pence.
The case appears to have been between Sibilla and Isabella, as Henry and Robert were both acting as attorneys for their wives.
By law the assizes could only take place in the county in which the disputed land lay. The location of Fentone is not known but was presumably in Yorkshire.
The purpose of the assize was to reinstate claimants whose lands had been wrongfully taken after the death of the claimant's ancestor.

1249 - A grant of land at Wigwell to the church of St Mary of Darley was made. One of the three grantors named in the deed was Henry, son of Ranulph de Crumforde.

1258, January 14, at Derby. A case between Henry le Clerk of Crumford, Plaintiff, and Henry Le Eyr of Crumford, Tenant, was settled by the payment of 40 shillings (£2) to Le Clerk. He then released a messuage and one oxgang of land in Cromford to Le Eyr. Le Eyr was described as a tenant in fee, which meant he had a hereditary title to the land.

John de Crumphord was a witness to a deed, probably in the time of Henry III (1216-72)

1269. The assize court was held in Derby for two weeks after Easter before Gilbert de Preston and his fellow "Justices Itinerant".
A case they considered was about the ownership of a messuage and five roods of land in Wirksworth. It was held by Henry, son of Robert de Cromford. Henry also claimed title to the property for his son Roger, a minor. They produced a charter from Robert de Ashbourne granting the tenement to Henry.
Contesting the case was Robert de Camera, father of Robert Henry, who claimed an hereditary right to the land.
The case was suspended "until Roger should attain his majority."

1275. The vicar of Wirksworth was in dispute regarding tithes due from Wigwell. Involved were Henry de Cromford and Richard de Cromford.

1287, November 1st. Henry de Crumforde was named as a witness in charters of the Fitz-herbert family.

In 1287 a jury met at Over Haddon to hear complaints by William de Hamilton against Simon and Nicholas de Cromford. They all seem to have been lead merchants.

1279 December
New coinage, all silver: grout (fourpenny piece), round farthing and halfpenny.

1282 December 11
First recorded use of archers with longbows in English army during Welsh campaign.

1287. An increase in cases of land owners taking actions for trespass against lead miners led to the Derbyshire miners petitioning King Edward I to set down their customs and rights. These had been handed down by word of mouth but were now being challenged.
Edward ordered that an Inquisition, or Quo Warranto, should be held at Ashbourne on the Saturday after Trinity Sunday of the next year.
On 29 May 1288 the Inquistion was held and the traditional rights were set out for the first time to form the basis of lead mining laws. Fourteen customs, used "time out of the memorie of man", were written down.
The laws confirmed the right of any man to search for lead ore without hindrance from the landowner. The only exceptions were in churchyards, gardens, orchards and the highway. Every third meer (32 yards) of a vein of lead ore belonged to the King, who also received every 13th dish of ore. Barmote courts were held every 3 weeks and the Barmaster dealt with new claims and any disputes.
Barmote courts and the position of Barmaster were already established. They were probably of Anglo Saxon origin and a branch of the Hundred Court held in the open air where local pleas were heard by the kings's reeve.
Lead Mining - next.
Mappa Mundi drawn by Richard of Haldingham at Hereford Cathedral.

Edward's reign was troubled by war in Wales and Scotland.
However the importance of Parliament grew and there were legal and administrative reforms.


1307 July 7
King Edward II succeeded his father.

1308 May 9
King Edward appointed his cousin Thomas, earl of Lancaster, Steward of England.

1327 January 7
Edward II abdicated and was later murdered.
Succeeded by his son Edward III.

On 27 January 1288 King Edward's brother Edmund, earl of Lancaster, was discharged by "a mandate to barons of the Exchequer of the issues of an unspecified number of markets and fairs pertaining to the manor and wapentake of Wirksworth." These markets and fairs had no charter but were held by custom. Probably Edmund had set up the markets and was being excused payment of tax on his profits.
31 August 1297 a market was held by "Sir Edmund, the king's brother".

Markets and fairs which do not appear to have been set up by a grant or charter are described as "prescriptive", that is they were held by custom. Markets were usually held weekly and fairs annually.

On 2 February 1306 two charters were granted by King Edward I to his nephew, Thomas, earl of Lancaster. Thomas was the son of Edmund, the king's brother. The first charter was for a market to be held every Tuesday at Wirksworth.
The second charter was for a fair to be held yearly at Wirksworth on the Nativity of Mary
(8 September). The fair was to be held over three days -the vigil, feast and morrow of the day of the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom the parish church was dedicated. It would also have been a time of entertainment and trading. Itinerant merchants and pedlars travelled around the fairs, which were usually held in the church grounds.

In 1330, the market and fair at Wirksworth were being held by Henry, earl of Lancaster, brother of Thomas to whom the charter was originally granted.

Under the Lay Subsidy of 1334 the town of Wirksworth was assessed as liable to pay a subsidy (tax) of £39 to the crown.
The tax levied in 1334 replaced the previous system of direct tax on the wealth of individuals by a ‘fixed quota’ system in which every community agreed upon the sum it was to pay. Boroughs paid a tenth of their assessed wealth.

Black Death reached England from France.
In 1348 the Easter tithes due to the cathedral church included payments from Isabella de Cromford of 3 pennies and from Emma de Cromford of 2 pennies.
The Bakewell Easter Roll
1509  April 21
Accession of King Henry VIII
1509  June 11
Henry married Catherine of Aragon.



1530  November
Arrest and death of Cardinal Wolsey.

William TAGG, yeoman of Matlock, owned land and properties in Cromford. He had borrowed £30 from Richard WIGLEY of Wirksworth, but not being able to repay this, in 1530 he sold 2 messuages, a cottage and 30 acres of land to Richard in settlement. This land was tenanted by Roger WALKER.
In 1532 William Tagg contracted another sale to the Wigley family for the remainder of his houses, lands, tenements, pastures and services. A close on this land was called Senior Field.






1533  January 25
Henry VIII secretly married Anne Boleyn
1533  May 23
Henry's marriage to Catherine declared void.

1534   Nov
Act of Supremacy confirmed Henry VIII as Supreme Head of Church.

1536   April 14
Act to dissolve smaller monasteries passed.
1536  May 19
Anne Boleyn beheaded after accusation of adultery.
1536  May 30
Henry VIII married Jane Seymour

1537  October 12
Death of Jane Seymour

1539   April
Dissolution of the greater monasteries began.

1540  January 6
Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves
1540  Marriage annulled

1540  July 28
Henry VIII married Catherine Howard.

Senior Field Close and the surrounding land was to become an important part of the Wigley estate. It was situated on the bank of the River Derwent by Cromford Bridge, probably on the site of the present Cromford Bridge House (now Hall). The Wigleys often left money and gifts to the bridge chapel in their wills.
It became the custom of the Wigley families of Wirksworth and Middleton for their widows to move into a small house in Senior Field where there were several cottages. In this way they left the way clear for their daughters-in-law to take over in the family house. Unmarried children would also be given a cottage and put in charge of farming the land.

The Wigley family were yeomen farmers, growing wheat, barley and oats, and pasturing sheep and goats. Wool commanded good prices. They also had a bole for smelting lead from the local lead mines. The money this raised was reinvested partly in land for tree planting as the bole required large amounts of firewood.

In 1533 Alice Wigley died. She was the widow of John Wigley of Wirksworth who was a cousin of Richard. She asked to be buried in the chancel of Wirksworth church, and among her many bequests to the church she left money for the enlargement of a chantry dedicated to St Catherine and silver to be made into a chalice. She also requested prayers to be said for her and her husband's souls.
Cromford chapel was remembered: "I bequeath to Crumford Chapel one heyffer of two years of age."  (ie a young cow)

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The closure of the monasteries led to a temporary lull in the lead trade.

In 1540 Richard Wigley died. He had lived at Middleton since buying land there from Roger More. The house was to become known as the Hall.
In his will he requested to be buried in Wirksworth church before the St Catherine Quire, a chantry which had been founded by the Wigley family. He left money for prayers and masses to be said for him.
Also "I bequeath to ye chapel of Crumford 11s." (two shillings)
Richard also left to his wife Isabel, during her life "a close called Senyor Fyld with all the houses longing thereto with all ye rights and heyreditaments."


1542  February 13
Catherine Howard beheaded for adultery.
1542  July 12
Henry VIII married Catherine Parr.

1547  January 28
Death of Henry VIII.
Edward V1 became King.

1548  Nov
Act for dissolution of chantries.

1553  July 6
Death of Edward V1.
1553  July 10
Lady Jane Grey proclaimed Queen.
1553  July 19
Princess Mary daughter of Henry VIII proclaimed Queen.

1554  February 12
Lady Jane Grey executed.

1558  November 17
Queen Mary died.
Elizabeth 1 became Queen.

This was a difficult time for ordinary people, when England was passing from being a Catholic to a Protestant country. The roots of religious faith were under attack.




John Wigley, Richard and Isabel's son, profited from the dissolution of chantries by buying chantry lands near Ivonbrook Grange.



Catholic Queen Mary began the reversal of the Reformation. Those who had profited from the sales in monastic property and lands feared they would have to return them, but this did not happen. The real difficulty lay in the return to the old religion.


Isabel Wigley, Richard's widow, had moved to Senior Field in Cromford where she died in September 1558. She wanted to be buried in "my parish church of Matlok before ye image of oure lady (if my son John will be so pleased)." She did not choose to be buried with her husband, who eighteen years previously had been buried before the chantry of St Catherine in Wirksworth church.
Included in the inventory of her goods were 4 "fodders" of lead, a measure worth at that time £5. These would be used as security against cash or goods. Two of them she left to her granddaughter Elizabeth Gell. The witnesses to the will were William Flint, priest, who wrote the will, John Lane, Thomas Woodwyse and Roger Walker - who still tenanted part of the lands. Among the appraisers of her estate were William Woodwyse, Edward Hygton and Henry Rag.
Senior Field Close was left to Isabel for her lifetime so now reverted to her son John, who lived at The Hall, Middleton with his wife Elizabeth.

Protestant Elizabeth I set about re-establishing the reformed religion more firmly. But her accession brought fears of an invasion from Spain.

Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland from France.

Statute of Artificers - regulations concerning apprentices.

Tobacco introduced to England after explorer Hawkin's second voyage to South America.



About 1566, Henry Wigley, son of John and Elizabeth, married Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Gell, and the couple started their married life in a house in Senior Field, Cromford.

Henry's brother John Wigley farmed Senior Field in Cromford. The land supported 30 sheep and a dozen or so oxen and cows, and poultry.

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Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned in Tutbury Castle after fleeing from Scotland.

Francis Drake led privateering expedition against the Spanish in Panama.

1572  February 11
Francis Drake is first Englishman to see the Pacific Ocean.

1580  Francis Drake returned to Plymouth in the Golden Hind after sailing around the world.







In 1579 John Wigley of Middleton died and his widow Elizabeth moved to Senior Field, Cromford. Their son Henry took possession of The Hall in Middleton.

Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned in Wingfield Manor, Derbyshire.

1586  September 20
Anthony Babington and 2 fellow conspirators executed at Tyburn.
First potatoes brought into England from Colombia.

1587  February 8
Mary Queen of Scots executed at Fotheringay.

Spanish Armada defeated.

First production of plays by William Shakespeare.



1593   May 30
Christopher Marlowe killed in tavern brawl in Deptford.



1595   July 23
Spaniards raid Cornwall, burning Penzance and Mousehole.

1583 - a frost continued 13 weeks.

The Babington family of Dethick, near Cromford, was known to the Wigleys. Henry Wigley had purchased the Wigwell estate and manor house from them, and his brother John had acted as an appraiser of the will of Thomas Babington who died in 1560.
Anthony Babington had served as one of Mary's pages when she was imprisoned in Sheffield Castle, and met her again when she was held at Wingfield Manor. He became involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth 1, rescue Mary from Chartley manor in Staffordshire where she then was, and make her queen, thus restoring catholicism to England.
The plot was discovered and he was executed. Mary's implication in the plot led to her trial and execution.






1591 - Henry Wigley's brother John died at Senior Field, Cromford. John was a yeoman farmer and weaver. In his cottage he had 3 looms. He had 4 cows, sheep, pigs and poultry. He also owned two books.

Henry and Elizabeth had eight sons who all had to be provided for. The Statute of Artificers ruled that no one could engage in trade unless he had served an apprenticeship. The only business interest of Henry to be affected by this was tanning. So he bound his fifth son Ralph to George Tatum, a tanner of Leicester. Ralph eventually carried out his trade in Cromford.

31 October 1595. Henry Wigley of Middleton settled premises in Middleton, Wirksworth, Matlock, Winster and Cromford, particularly mentioning a messuage (a house with outbuildings) at Cromford bridge and two cottages at Willersley Lane Head and one at the bridge end.

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1598  March
Poor Relief Act - local poor rate, workhouses set up.
1600. A cottage and 9 acres of land in Wirksworth were granted to John Wooddis of Cromford.  
  Ralph Wigley was associated with his father Henry in some of his business deals, and in other activities which are difficult to explain.
About 1600 Henry sent his son Ralph with William Dethick to abduct Edward Lowe from his guardian at Chellaston. After spending a few hours in Henry's house Edward Lowe was taken to Mr Bentley's house at Newton Grange.

In 1601 The Gatehouse in Wirksworth and a house in its grounds which belonged to the Leicester branch of the Wigley family were conveyed to Henry and Ralph in settlement of a debt of £600 owing to Henry. The Gatehouse became the home of Henry's eldest son Thomas and his wife Faith.

1603  March 24
Elizabeth 1 died.
Succeeded by James V1 of Scotland as James 1.

1605  November 5
Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament discovered.
Guy Fawkes arrested.

1606  April 12
King James proclaimed a national flag with the crosses of St George and St Andrew.

On 28 January 1603 Henry WOODDIS of Cromford, yeoman, made his will. He was of the parish of Wirksworth which meant that he lived on the Cromford side of Cromford Bridge. His wife Dorothy was a daughter of Henry Wigley of Middleton. They had a son, also called Henry, and Dorothy was pregnant.
Henry settled money on his family, and left his wife the lease of a messuage in Matlock Bridge End. The baby was born before her father's death and named Millicent.
Probate of Henry's will was granted on 12 May 1604. The executors were his wife and son, and the supervisors were his uncle William WALKER and his brothers-in-law Richard WIGLEY and Anthony CADMAN.
Richard Wigley held a bond to the value of £250 which was to be paid to his nephew Henry Wooddis when he reached age 21. If Henry died before then, the money was to go to his sister Millicent.
  Henry Wigley of Middleton died in 1610, and his widow Elizabeth went to live at Senior Field, Cromford, where she died in 1626. Her granddaughter Millicent Wooddis was living with her. (see above)  
1610  July 9
Arbella Stuart, grand daughter of Bess of Hardwick and a claimant to the throne, imprisoned in the Tower.

First production of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline".

In 1610 King James granted two Indentures under the Duchy Seal by which the profits of two annual fairs and the weekly market at Wirksworth were granted to George Whitmore and Thomas Whitmore, merchants. The profits were leased for a period of 60 years and the Whitmores paid an annual rent of 12 pence payable half yearly at the Annunciation of Our Lady, ie March 25, and at Michaelmas, ie September 29.
The fairs were held on the feasts of Philip and Jacob, ie May 1st, and the Nativity of Our Lady, ie September 8th.
The weekly market was held every Tuesday.

Notes: Charters were granted in 1306 for a weekly Tuesday market and a fair on the 8 September, but had been held by custom for many years before that.
             Jacob - the original Saxon form of James was Jacob, so the Jacob referred to here is St James the Less, whose feast day is on May 1st. This is also the feast day of  St Philip. Many churches are dedicated jointly to St Philip and St James.
             Annunciation of Our Lady - more usually known as Lady Day, and with Michaelmas one of the Quarter Days.

Henry Hudson, attempting to find a northwest passage to China, discovered Hudson Bay.

Authorised (or King James) Version of the Bible published.

In 1610 the third bell in the tower of Wirksworth church was recast by Godfrey Heathcote, bellfounder, of Chesterfield. An agreement dated 10 October between Heathcote and churchwardens John Noton, Edward Moore, William Hill and John Bradshaw included a guarantee that Heathcote would: "uphold the said bell solemn, sound, sweet and tunable for a year and a day next after the delivery of the same bell or else to reform the same bell to become tunable and sound and to agree in good music with the rest of the bells."
On 28th July 1611 a court was held in the church to arrange the raising of a lea (a tax) of £20 from the parishioners of Wirksworth to pay for the bell.
As the raising of previous leas had led to disagreements it was decided to set a rate for each village in the parish for this and all future church and parish leas ... "and the same mighte continewe firme & forceable for ever."
The agreement was registered by Richard Brandreth, a Proctor of Lichfield, and witnessed by the Sessors (assessors).
Cromford was taxed at the rate of 18 pence in the pound, the agreement being signed by Sessor Thomas Lane on behalf of Cromford.
It was also requested of the Sessors that the Sidesmen of every hamlet should be allowed 2 shillings in the pound of the leas which they collected on behalf of the Churchwardens. This was agreed by Mr Robert Bamford, an official of the court. Before then the Sidesmen had received no payment.


1615  September 27
Arbella Stuart starved herself to death in the Tower.

1618   Nov/December
A comet appeared, tail extending 104 degrees.

1614 March 12. "The great snowe broke which had continewed ffrom Ffriday seaven weekes before."

1615 - This yeare after the great Snowe followed a great Drought which continued the most part of Somer."

The comet was seen in Derbyshire and was taken to be an ill omen.
1618 "Memorand. that this yeare Novemb the 25th and for three weekes after, the blazing starre appeared in the East and did retrograde..."

1625  March 27
King James 1 died.
Succeeded by Charles 1

1626   June 15
King Charles I dissolved Parliament and ordered a forced loan.
The conflicts between King and Parliament were constitutional and religious. Parliament refused to grant taxes in order to limit the King's power; and the Puritans feared that Charles would reinstate catholicism.

^Back to the top

Robert Wilmot, gentleman, of Chaddesden, was given the task of collecting the 'loan' from the Wapentake (or Hundred) of Wirksworth. In 1627 the payments had been received and were recorded on a Roll labelled "Ayd to his Majesty King Charles I" which was signed and sealed by eleven local commissioners including the Duke of Devonshire.
Cromford and Middleton are listed together:
Thomas Wigley esq  ....... paid  £6.
John Spencer jun      ....... paid   4 shillings and 4 pence
Thomas Wooddiwis   ....... paid  £3 - 6 shillings and 8 pence

Only the better off were required to pay, but payment was extracted with threats if necessary, causing resentment amongst the most powerful people in the country.

1628   January 2
King Charles freed 76 opponents of forced loan.

1628   March 17
Parliament recalled. King accepted "Petition of Right" which forbade forced loans, imprisonment without trial & martial law.

Anthony Wigley, another son of Henry Wigley of Middleton, was a general farmer at Senior Field, Cromford. He may have taken over his uncle John's cottage as the inventory of goods at his death was similar to John's, although he had no looms.
Anthony Wigley of Cromford died in 1629, leaving a widow Elizabeth and a daughter Anne.

Some idea of Ralph Wigley's character can be had from a petition presented by Margrett Coates of Cromford to the Justices of Peace. Margrett was a poor widow who was struggling to provide for herself and her children. In the petition she is described as the oratrix, ie plaintiff.
Her complaint concerned the behaviour of "Raphe Wigley of the same town and county, Tanner, being a very disordered & unruly person and havinge a greate & spytfull Emulacon & hatred att your said oratrix"
The grounds of her case were that on about the 6 June last, Ralph Wigley had shot and killed a dog which she kept for her and her household's protection. Also she alleged he had on several occasions struck and beaten her cattle. His continual threats and malicious behaviour frightened Margrett so much that "she dare not stirr or goe abroade oute of her owne howse to followe her necesary occasions for the mayntenance of her self and children."
The petition ends with a request for a warrant of good behaviour to be issued against Wigley and a promise that she would pray daily for the Justices' good health and prosperity.
The petition is not dated and the outcome is not known.




Parliament passed resolutions against changes in religious practice and unauthorised taxes.

The lead mining area under royal control was called the King's Field, with two separate divisions, the High and Low Peaks, each further divided into "liberties" based on villages. Cromford Liberty fell in the Low Peak area known as Wirksworth Wapentake.

The rights to the lead mine duties were purchased leasehold from the Duchy of Lancaster, and were coupled with the office of chief barmaster. The lease of the profitable mineral rights was often resold for more than the price asked by the Duchy.

There were many disputes in the lead mining industry. The gentry, landowners and employers resented the rights of the independent miners and tried to overthrow them. Disputes were usually settled by the Barmote Court, but cases were also heard at the Court of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Chancery in London, the Ecclesiastical Courts and the County Assizes.

Sir Robert Heath, in his role as Attorney General, had become involved in a long running dispute, which was being investigated by the Star Chamber in London, between the miners of Wirksworth and their vicar, Robert Carrier. The owner of the lease of the rights to the mineral duties was Thomas Parker, Carrier's father-in-law, who lived in Yorkshire. Carrier and his wife Jennet took over the management of the lease, and were accused of collecting lead ore tithes unlawfully using coercion and violence. The miners eventually won the case and Carrier was forbidden to attend Barmote Court meetings.

1629  March 10
Charles I dissolved Parliament.
Charles ruled without Parliament for the next eleven years.
Heath saw an opportunity to make money for himself from the situation.
He convinced King Charles that he could increase his income from the lead mines by pre-empting the ore, that is instructing the miners to sell it to him at a fixed price. This was contrary to the mining laws and in September 1627 at Bakewell thirteen miners were chosen to attend a meeting with the Lord of Devonshire and the King's Commissioners to put forward the miners' case. Richard Semor, William Hopkinson, Thomas Hardinge and George Addam were the representatives for the miners in the Wirksworth Wapentake.
On 25 September the meeting took place at Chatsworth and the miners' views were written down. They invoked the 1288 Inquisition in support of their right to sell lead ore to the king at the market price, and gave their reasons for maintaining the old customs. They described the miners as being mainly poor men who relied on payment being made to them by the buyers of ore before the ore was mined. The buyers likewise received credit from the merchants. The inconsistent quality of the ore also affected its price and meant one rate could not be paid for all grades. Finally many of the ore veins had been worked out or were under water and mines which had at one time supported two or three miners could now barely support seven, eight or ten.
The authorities put pressure on the miners to accept a fixed rate of payment and threatened them with the return of Robert Carrier to office. The miners stood firm and in 1628 petitioned the Duchy Court which found in their favour - that the mining customs should continue in force.

Poor harvest for second year running caused social distress.



1632  April
Charles I issued a charter for colony of Maryland with Lord Baltimore as first governor.


Collected Poems of John Donne published.

Heath was not deterred, and persuaded King Charles to lease him the ore-rich Dovegang mines, so contravening the miners' right to sell the ore wherever they wished. In 1629 King Charles leased the Dovegang mines to Sir Robert Heath for an annual rent of £1000.

The Dovegang mines extended for about one mile from near Black Rocks, across Cromford Moor to Middleton Moor and covered 200 acres. The mines were the richest in the Wapentake, but many of the veins in the mine complex had become unworkable because of flooding. When Heath took over, there were over 300 mines and 28 owners. A group of owners, led by the engineer John Bartholomewe, was trying to drain the mines using pumps powered by men and horses to draw water out through pipes. Heath's men used threats and violence to remove the existing owners.
In October 1631 Heath was made Lord Chief Justice and at that time he entered into partnership with Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, a Dutch drainage expert. The agreement gave Heath a third of the profits and Vermuyden two thirds.
In July 1632 King Charles confirmed their rights to the Dovegang mines and instructed all previous owners to allow full possession or be fined £500.

Sir Robert Heath was one of the Gentlemen Adventurers who financed a project to drain the Fens in Cambridgeshire. They hired Sir Cornelius Vermuyden to plan and oversee the project.

Vermuyden drained the Dovegang mines by means of soughs, (drainage tunnels), and the work, employing over 1000 miners and tradesmen, was finally completed in 1651, although the benefits were felt before then.
Vermuyden's Sough ran downhill from the drowned veins of lead and emerged in Dene fields, an area now lost to quarrying.

More about Sir Cornelius Vermuyden
Lead Mining - next.

1634   October 20
Ship money levied on coastal ports to meet naval expenses. Extended to inland towns the following year.

1633 - A jury list of vills and freeholders has Thomas WOODIWIS of Crumforde, and Henricus WIGLEY of Workesworth.

On 21 February 1641 Henry WIGLEY married Millicent WOODDIS, the daughter of Thomas Woddys.



Cornelius Vermuyden began work to reclaim the East Anglian Fens.

A list of emigrants to New England between 1620 and 1650 gives the names of 24 men who emigranted from 13 Derbyshire parishes during that period.
The 8 men from Matlock parish were Anthony and Obadiah Ludlow, who settled in Hempstead, Long Island, Reverend Henry Flynt (Braintree, Massachusetts), Thomas Bourne or Bowne (Charleston & Boston, Mass), Thomas Flint (Concord), Clarence and William Ludlam (Southampton, Long Island) and William Woodis (Concord).
There was only one emigrant from Wirksworth, William Storer, who settled in Dover, New Hampshire.
It is not clear whether the men took their families with them.
Rev Henry Flynt was not the vicar of Matlock.
William Woodis may have been from that part of Cromford lying in Matlock parish.
1637   April 30
Royal proclamation to check emigration to America.









1642   January 4
Charles 1 entered House of Commons to arrest 5 MPs for alleged treason.

1642   August 22
Civil War began when Charles 1 raised his standard at Nottingham.

Lead mining was a lucrative industry and outside interests had become involved. Anthony Coates was a defendant in a suit respecting lead mines with Sir Robert Heath, Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, John Molanus and the Earl of Dover, plaintiffs. A decree was made on 16 February 1637.

In 1638 the mineral rights were all held by Thomas Coke. He sold the lease on to John Gell of Hopton and John Milward of Snitterton after again separating off the mines of the Dovegang area in Cromford. Coke sold the Dovegang lease to Sir Cornelius Vermuyden for £200.

King Charles I was so pleased with the work Vermuyden was doing in bringing the lead mines back into use that in April 1638 when the River Derwent had become unnavigable through Derby he wrote to Derby corporation asking them to employ Sir Cornelius Vermuyden " Who, with his partners, has undertaken a work very acceptable to the King about the lead works at Wirksworth ... to make the river of Derwent to be navigable till it fall into the Trent."
By 1693 the Derwent was navigable to Derby from Darley (Dale) to the north, but how much this was due to Vermuyden is not known.

On 10 May 1642 Henry Coates of Cromford wrote to Sir Robert Heath concerning the Dovegang Lead mine. Coates was Heath's agent.
The letter concerns the accounts and dealings concerning the mine in the time before Anthony Coates and Henry Coates became involved, and assured Lord Heath that the water had now gone from the mine, work had begun and it should be a good year. He mentions Mr Molanus, servant to Sir Cornelius Vermuyden.

Sir Robert Heath, born 1575, died in 1649.
Lead Mining - next.

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1649  January 30
King Charles 1 beheaded.

1649  May 29
England proclaimed a "Commonwealth".
Soon afterwards the Commissioners began to make a survey and valuation of the lands belonging to the Crown and the Duchy of Lancashire.

1649  August 15
Cromwell landed in Ireland to suppress Royalist rebellion.

Drogheda was occupied by English and Irish royalists who refused to surrender. Cromwell ordered the killing of the 2500 strong garrison on 11 September.
A month later the town of Wexford was sacked.

1650  April 16
Scottish rising suppressed with defeat of Montrose.

1650  September 3
Cromwell defeated Scots at Dunbar.
Edinburgh Castle under siege, surrendered December 14.

In England Cromwell suppressed the Levellers and Diggers, extreme groups wanting social reform.

After the execution of Charles I and the proclamation of a Commonwealth, a survey and rental valuation of lands belonging to the late King, the Queen and Prince (Charles) was undertaken, with the intention of the lands being sold to provide money for the new government. On 24 November 1649, the Trustees appointed to conduct the survey produced their report on the Crown lands in Wirksworth: "A Survey of the Soake and Manor of Wirksworth".

The survey gives the total amount of rents due from freeholders in free socage and from copyholders, listing them and giving the amount of rent each paid.
A further category was "An exact valuation of certain cottages erected and encroached in the wastes of the said manor of Wirksworth, and the names of several tenants of the same who have no right lease or estate therein."
The places where the cottages were situated and the names of the tenants are given: eg "One cottage at Warmbrook in the possession of Dorothy Tomlinson, widow, worth per annum 4 shillings."
Another source of income for the Crown was the leasing, in return for an annual rent, of the profits from fairs and markets; from Casualties ie waifs and estrayes and felons' goods; and from fines paid in the Court Leet and Court Baron. These leases were often granted for a period of many years and would be sold on by the lessees. The profits from the fairs and markets were granted on a 60 year lease in 1610 to George and Thomas Whitmore but in 1649 were held by Ralph Allsopp. A leaseholder could be a wealthy man from another area who owned leases in various places - Thomas Brograve of Rowlston in Staffordshire had the lease for the profits from Casualties.
Most of the rents were revalued at a higher rate by the Trustees.

Cromford, along with the other villages and hamlets in the manor of Wirksworth, except for Ireton Wood, had by then been sold away from the Crown although still rendering service to the manor. Longway Bank, however, was in Cromford parish but included in the survey as it was part of the common land or waste of Wirksworth and still belonged to the Crown.
There were three cottages at Longway Bank, those in the possession of John Gregory and Francis Brearly were worth 4 shillings rent per annum, while Robert Roper paid only 4 pennies for his cottage.
There was also "one coal delf wherein two pits are at work upon Longway Bank in Cromford. Now in the possession of Mrs Elizabeth Ferne widow under the rent of 40 shillings per annum." The survey goes on to say that Mrs Ferne was paying the rent to Sir Edward Mosley who claimed to have a lease under the Duchy Seal with five years yet to run. But Sir Edward failed to produce any documents to back up his claim, moreover the Trustees had received information that the lease had already expired, so they concluded that the coal delf must have reverted to the State.
The value of the coal delf was deemed to be £7 10 shillings per annum.

The Survey was sent to the Surveyor General and received by him on
5 December 1649.


1651  September 3
Cromwell defeated Charles II at Battle of Worcester.


1651   October 9
First Navigation Act gave monopoly in foreign trade to English shipping, antagonising the Dutch.


1651  October 15
Charles II smuggled to Normandy.



1652  June 30
England declared war on the Netherlands.
First Dutch war.

In 1651 Mary Talbot, the Lady Armine, founded a row of six bedehouses, (almshouses), on the hillside below Black Rocks. There was an inscription on the east end wall, now completely gone. It read:


The manors of Cromford and Willersley had been partitioned between Mary Talbot and her sister, the daughters and co-heiresses of Henry Talbot, in 1615.

Mary Talbot's parents were Henry Talbot and Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir William Reyner of Overton Longville, Huntingdonshire. They married on 2 June 1578, and Henry died in January 1596.
Henry Talbot was the son of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife Gertrude Manners, the daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland. They married on 28 April 1539. Gertrude died in 1566, and the Earl went on to marry Bess of Hardwick. He was the custodian of Mary Queen of Scots during her long imprisonment in Derbyshire, and died in 1590.

The Earls of Shrewsbury owned large estates in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire, the main seat being in Sheffield. Some of their wealth was derived from interests in lead mining in the Wirksworth wapentake.
Mary was obviously proud of her connection with the family.

The almshouses are now divided into four homes.


1653   April 20
Cromwell dissolved the "Rump" or remnants of the Long Parliament.

1653  Dec 16
Oliver Cromwell became Protector.

Izaak Walton published first edition of "The Compleat Angler".

On 19 November 1653 Lionel Tynley, a wealthy lead mine owner and lead merchant, died. He lived at Holmesfield, near Chesterfield, and with his partners employed 300 workmen and their families on Cromford Moor Groves. His long and detailed will lists many small bequests including some to his partners:
"... unto Anthony Wood of Wakebridge being one of my Partners at Cromford Moor Groves and to his wife and children twenty shillings for a remembrance of my love to buy them Gloves withall ... unto Lawrence Tyas of Crich being our Clerk at Cromford Moor Groves aforesaid twenty shillings for a remembrance of my love ... unto every one of my other partners now at Cromford Moor Groves five shillings apiece for a remembrance of my love ... unto every one that shall be our servants there at my decease two shillings apiece ..."
Tynley also left money to be given to the local poor including:
"... unto the poor people of Cromford twenty shillings of lawful money of England which I will shall be paid by my Executors within twelve months next after my decease to Henry Coates, William Debanke and Thomas Godbeare of Cromford that they may distribute the same to the poor people of Cromford aforesaid as they in their discretion shall think fit and convenient ..."
Lead Mining - next.
1658   April
Stagecoach services started - from London to Exeter, York and Chester, each in 4 days.

1658  September 3
Oliver Cromwell died. His son Richard named as his successor.

1659 May 25
Richard Cromwell resigned. "Rump Parliament" recalled. Growing anarchy in the country.

1660  January 1
Samuel Pepys began his diary.

1660  May 1
Parliament voted for restoration of the monarchy.

1660  May 29
Charles II, son of the executed Charles I, entered London in triumph.

1661  April 23
Charles II crowned at Westminster.

The duties of the Churchwardens in the 17th century were many and various. Their responsibilities included upholding canon law, making sure the fabric of the church was in good order, washing of the surplice and maintaining the bells and font etc. Wirksworth was a large parish with nine outlying "hamlets". There were four Churchwardens who were appointed yearly. Each hamlet was represented by a "sidesman".
The hamlets were Alderwasley, Ashlehay, Hopton, Idridgehay, Biggin, Cromford, Middleton, Ible and Callow.
The Churchwardens collected the levies (taxes) due to the church from the parish and hamlets. When more money was needed a levy was raised, the rate calculated on land values and personal wealth. Some of the hamlets were slow to pay and the Churchwardens had to take out warrants to enforce the levy. In 1658 income and outgoings were balanced at £83 7s 4d, the people of Cromford paying their share of £6 19s 6d.
The Church also received 3s 4d for each burial inside the church. There were 21 such burials from 1659 to 1661, including on 23 May 1661 that of John Molanus, the Dutchman who had come to Wirksworth as Vermuyden's agent in the Dovegang leadmine.

Much of the money went on maintenance of the church which provided work for many craftsmen and labourers - glaziers, carpenters, plumbers, roof tilers, masons and carvers were all paid for work done and for materials.
The church bells needed regular attention and on August 20 1658 a payment was made "for carrying and bringing of the bells to Nottingham".   The following year a new bell was cast and payments were made to George Holdfield and Mr. Ford totalling over £26. This was the fifth bell in the peal.
Outgoings included payments to bellringers. On 24 May 1660 the Ringers received ten shillings "upon a thanksgiving day for restoring a kinge & continueing ye Gospell and in order thereunto the lord hath wrought great things."  Every 5th of November on the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 the bellringers were paid 10 shillings when they pealed the bells in celebration.
Another expense was wine for Communion - Henry Wigley of the Three Swans received regular payments for five quarts of wine or claret. Ale was also provided for workmen employed in the Church and sack (white wine) to visiting ministers.
The Churchwardens also paid out one shilling for every fox's head brought to them and 2 pennies for a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs were thought to drink milk from cows lying in the fields, and to take windfalls from orchards by rolling over and impaling them on their prickles!

Now that the monarchy was restored the King's Arms had to be put back in the Church. Mr Johnson, a painter who lived in Brailsford, struck a hard bargain and after "earnest lamentations" an amount of £9 17s 6d was agreed upon for the work. Further payments went to Manners for making a frame for the Arms and Shutt for setting up the Arms in October 1661.

Charity payments seem to have been made from money collected at the Church specifically for that purpose. In 1658 over seventy payments are listed for poor people of the parish. Money was also given to people passing through the parish who had a Letter of Request entitling them to relief. In 1658, 3 shillings was paid to two Irishmen and their wives and seven children. The same amount went to a gentlewoman with a letter of request certifying losses by sea and two shillings to a gentlewoman with a petition for "one in Turkee".
Money was also paid to parishes in other parts of the country. Scarborough, Bolingbrooke, Ripon, Pontefract and Milton Abbas received payments for building work to their churches which had been damaged during the Civil War. Mountsorrel in Leicestershire and Bridgnorth in Shropshire were helped with town repairs. The highest payment went to Solbay in Suffolk, where most of the town was destroyed by fire in 1659. Cromford and Middleton jointly contributed 4 shillings to the appeal, which raised £1 14s 6d.
In November 1661 fifteen shillings was paid to the exotic sounding John de Kraino Kramsky in the great dukedome of Julhuamia.


1661  July 8
Act of Parliament for a "Free and Voluntary Present"
The Civil War had left
the government with no money and in debt.
1661 December 16 - The county of Derbyshire raised £2,299 12s 0d. Subscriptions from the Wirksworth Hundred, which included Cromford, were listed by the King's Commissioners and amounted to £371 4s 4d.
Thirty three men of Cromford contributed. Most gave 2 shillings, except where indicated. This would be £10 today (allowing for inflation). Only one man's occupation was given - Thomas Spencer, a smith.

   George AMOTT                 Anthony HIGTON             Thomas STEWARD
   Edward BANKS                    Thomas HIGTON                  John TOPLIS
   Francis BRACKFIELD           George KILLER              Thomas WAGSTAFFE
Anthony COATES                   Edward MORT              Anthony WESTON
     Henry COATES  - 8sh           Roger MORT                     Raph WIGLEY
Anthony DEBANCKES           Edward ROPER                Joseph WILSON
   Richard GARNELL                     John ROPER                  Henry WOODISSE
   William GARNELL               Thomas ROPER                     John WOODISSE
   Richard GODBEER                William ROPER  - 3sh    Thomas WOODISSE
  Thomas GODBEER Jnr          Richard ROUSE                George WOODYSE
    Joseph GREGORY               Thomas SPENCER           Edward WOOLLAY

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1662   April
The Hearth Tax (or Chimney Money) was introduced.
The Hearth Tax was at the rate of 2 shillings a year for each hearth. It was to be paid in two equal instalments at Ladyday (25 March), and Michaelmas (29 September). See 1670 for a list of people taxed in Cromford.  
1664   August 18
English seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch - renamed New York.

1665   April to December
Great Plague of London. 70,000 deaths.

1664. On 6th March Henry Coates of Cromford, yeoman, signed his will.
He died a year later, the will being proved on 11 April 1665.
Henry had been involved with lead mining at Dovegang Mine. He left legacies to his wife Emma and his grandchildren Rebecca, John, Ann and Henry. The right of tenancy of his house and land at Cromford passed to his son John. Other relatives mentioned were William Coates of Cromford and his children Anthony, William and Mary. Also his kinswoman Dorothy.
Henry made his friend Mr Henry WIGLEY of Seniorfield and his cousin John ABELL Supervisors of the will.
Lead Mining - next.
1665  September
The plague travelled to Eyam, Derbyshire. Over 300 people died.
1666 August 19th. "Collected then in the Parish Church of Wirksworth for the inhabitants of Eyam being visited with the sickness the sum of £2 10s.6d"  
1666  September 2 to 6
Great Fire of London.
13,300 buildings destroyed.


1669  May 31
Samuel Pepys ceased writing his diary because of failing eyesight.

Hudson's Bay Company chartered to trade in parts of North America.


Irish adventurer Colonel Thomas Blood caught stealing the crown jewels from the Tower.

 The Hearth Tax was at the rate of 2 shillings a year for each hearth. It was to be paid in two equal instalments at Ladyday (25 March), and Michaelmas (29 September).

1670 September 29. Householders in Cromford who were liable for payment of Hearth Tax.
John Wheeldon was responsible for collecting the Hearth Tax in the Wirksworth Hundred or Wappentake. The return for Michaelmass 1670 includes names of many who contributed towards the Free and Voluntary Present nine years earlier. Most had one hearth unless shown otherwise. John Annable had an empty house in Wirksworth with one hearth as well as his house in Cromford with 3 hearths.

    John ANNABLE   (3)             James HALL                     Widd ROWSE
   Widd BANCKS                  Anthony HIGHTON             Mary SCHEDNES
Edward BANKS                             Tho HIGHTON                Tho SPENCER   (3)
      Will CARMELL                    Jesper HOLMES                John TOPLIS
     John CATES   (2)                 George KILLAR                   Tho WAGSTAFFE  Jun
    Widd COTTRELL                      Edw MORT             Anthony WESTON   (2)
  Antho DEBANCKS   (3)        Edward ROPER                    Edw WOOLLANCE
  Antho GODBEHEARE   (2)       John ROPER                George WOODHOUSE
      Tho GODBEHERE                    Will ROPER   (2)            John WOODHOUSE
      Tho GODBEHERE              Richard ROWSE

Notes: The 1661 list has "Woodhouse" as Woodisse, "Cates" as Coates and "Carmell" appears as Garnell.    Widd = widow.
The number of hearths indicates the size of the house and the status and wealth of the householder. One hearth would imply a husbandman, 2 to 3 hearths a yeoman, craftsman or tradesman. Those too poor to pay the usual taxes were exempt.

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1672   March 17
Third Anglo-Dutch War after England's support for French invasion of the Dutch Republic.


John Bunyan released from Bedford gaol after serving 12 years for Baptist preaching.

1672 May 16. The marriage took place at Darley Dale between Adam WOOLLEY, of Allen-hill (Matlock), and Millisent, daughter of Mr Henery WIGGLEY, of Cromford.

"A Note what things are in Mrs Woollis hands for my cousin Millicent's wedding.
"One silver bowl, six silver spoons whereof one spoon gilt, five pair of flaxen sheets, and one pair of harden. Three pair of pillowberes whereof one pair is holland, one christening sheet of holland, two dozen of table napkins, two long towels, one lawn face cloth, one bearing cloth of stammel and cradle sheet wrought with black, one swaddle bed of holland, one long hard cloth of flaxen."

The above note is from The Wolley Manuscripts. (In modern spelling)
It is not certain if this is the Millicent referred to, but the list shows the type of things deemed necessary for a bride in the 17th century.

Millicent died in February 1673, nine months after marriage.


1673  March 29
Parliament dismissed after granting subsidy and passing Test Act requiring all office- holders to declare their rejection of Catholic doctrines of the mass.
There were many disagreements and even court cases concerning rights and wrongs in the leadmines.
In 1673 a complaint was made by John, Earl of Rutland against John ABELL of Bonsall, John WIGLEY of Cromford and Samuel SWANNE of Hurdlowe, all yeomen, concerning the Earl's 1/ 6th part of Nestus Groves mine in Matlock (Bath). A defendant Samuel SWAN, formerly the earl's bailiff, and John WARD and his brother to whom the 1/ 6th part of the mine was let 3 years before, answered the complaint.
Outcome not known.
Lead Mining - next.
John Flamstead, born Denby in Derbyshire, appointed first Astronomer Royal.
1676 - "A great ffrost which Began at Martinmas, was continued till
Jany 3 1677. Derwent was accordingly frozen, and att ye dissolving of the ffrost was a great ffloood."
Titus Oates's fictitious "popish plot" to kill the king and restore Catholicism resulted in arrests of priests.
1678 - The Churchwardens' Accounts at Wirksworth included expenses for going to Derby to disclose the names of "papists" in the parish.
Collections were made for the aid of other churches - St Steven in Glosset(?), the church of Oswestry in Salop which had been damaged by fire, and for Northampton.
The sidesman of Cromford was paid 1 shilling for a fox head.
Expenses were also claimed for time spent with the chimneyman certifying those who were too poor to pay the Hearth Tax.
  1683. John Coates of Cromford, the son of Henry Coates, died. The Inventory of his estate was made on 22 March 1683, and his wife Ann was the administratix.

1685   February 6
Charles 11 died.
Succeeded by his brother, James 11
On 22 October 1685 Benjamin Hayward and Elizabeth Wigley were married at Matlock parish church.  
James's pro-Catholic policies caused anxiety about the future of the Protestant church. The Earl of Devonshire
and others met at Old Whittington in Derbys to plan his removal.

1688  November 5
The Glorious Revolution - William of Orange landed with an army after being invited to take over as ruler.

1689  February 13
William III and Mary II proclaimed joint sovereigns.
William was the grandson of Charles I, Mary was the daughter of James II.
April 11 - Coronation.




From the Churchwardens' Accounts:
1688 - For Ale to ye Ringers at ye birth of ye Prince of Wales - 9 shillings
Prince James Francis Edward was born on June 10 and was to become "The Old Pretender".

The peaceful transition from King James II to William and Mary was accepted by the people. Many would have memories of the turmoil of the Civil War.
1689 Feb 16 & 19 - pd to ye Ringers when King Willm & Queene Mary was proclaimed -
7 shillings

1689 April 11 - pd ye Ringers at King William & Queen Mary their Coronation - 5 shillings.






1694   May
First mainly Whig government.
1694  July 27
The Bank of England founded.
1694   December 28
Queen Mary II died of smallpox.

On 27 June 1693 a terrier of all the tithes and rights belonging to the vicarage and church of Wirksworth was presented to the Bishop of Lichfield, on the occasion of his Visitation at the church of All Saints in Derby.
The tithes, or "duties", were payable at Easter.
For Cromford Mill one shilling was payable.
"Every person of the age of 16 pays one penny for his offering - for every house three pence - For a cow one penny - for every calf three half pence - For every foal a penny - for every swarm of bees a penny, from every person for his trade four pence, For every man servant sixpence & maid servant four pence for their wages." The tithes of wool and lamb, pigs, geese and hens were paid in kind.
Every tenth dish of lead ore had to be given.
The vicar was responsible for collecting the tithes, and it must have been difficult to extract them from any unwilling parishioners. The "surplesse" fees would have been easier to collect ...
... "for every Buriall sixpence, for every Churching sixpence ... for every grave made in the chancell six shillings eight pence to the vicar." Burials and churchings outside the parish led to a fine of one shilling. A marriage with banns was one shilling or with a licence two shillings.
These payments "are paid according to the statute."



1696   April
Window tax introduced.

In 1696 the warm waters flowing from the hillsides near Cromford were commercialised by Mr Fern of Matlock and Mr Hayward of Cromford. The first bath, made of wood and lined with lead, was fed water from a thermal spring with a constant temperature of 68 deg F.
In 1698 the Bath and rights were sold to Messrs Smith and Pennell of Nottingham.The area became known as Matlock Bath.
1697   December 2
St Paul's Cathedral consecrated. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge) founded by Rev Thomas Bray.

Eddystone Rock, first high-seas lighthouse, completed.

Congreve's comedy 'The Way of the World' produced.

1701  September 6
James II died in France after 12 year exile. Louis XIV recognised his son as James III of England.

One day in June 1697 Mr Benjamin Hayward was riding his horse home to Bridge House when the mare, failing to take the sharp bend to the left, cantered straight ahead and jumped over the parapet into the river below. Horse and rider crossed the river safely and scrambled up the river bank on the other side. Benjamin was so grateful for the safe outcome that he had a stone inscribed "THE LEAP OF MR B H MARE JUNE 1697" and built into the wall of the bridge where it can still be seen.
Find out more about the famous leap and the Hayward family.

Benjamin Hayward had interests in lead mining. In 1700 he and John Botham, both described as gentlemen, were plaintiffs in a case concerning Old Rachwood Vein and Soresbys Vein. The defendant was Thomas Carter. Depositions were made by Samuel Mather, the barmaster, and miners who were members of the grand jury for Wirksworth.

Benjamin Hayward belonged to the non conformist Presbyterians. A deed of  5th March 1701 named him as a trustee of the Meeting House in Wirksworth, together with six others.The Meeting House was near Barley Croft and was formerly a house which had been converted for the use of Protestant Dissenters. He was described as a merchant of Matlock. Benjamin Hayward lived at Cromford Bridge House which was in the parish of Matlock.
The minister was Robert Ferne who had been involved with Benjamin Hayward in 1696 in developing a bath at the warm springs between Cromford and Matlock.

1702   March 8
King William III died. Accession of Queen Anne, sister of the late queen.

1703   November
Great British Storm. Shipping destroyed with great loss of life, wide- spread gales.

Halley published his research on the orbit of comets.



1703 - "A terrible storm, which uprooted houses, tore up whole groves of trees by the roots ... "

1705 - "A very dry summer."

1706 - "ffrom ye beginning of Sep to 8 Feb. 1707. was a very wet winter."

1707  May 1
Treaty of Union of England and Scotland.

1707  October 23
Queen Anne opened the first Parliament of the United Kingdom.


Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire used coke in a blast furnace for iron smelting.


1710  Oct-Nov
General Election gave Tories 151 majority.

First sedan chairs came to London.

1713  March 16
Treaty of Utrecht - Spain ceded Gibraltar and Minorca to Britain.

Daniel Defoe visited Wirksworth and Matlock around 1712 and recorded his impressions in his book "A Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain".
He found Wirksworth to be a large and busy market town, with people travelling twelve or fifteen miles to a market there.
Trade revolved around the lead works, Defoe saying that the business rivalled the custom-house quays in London.
Defoe had become acquainted with the laws of the Barmoot Court, set up to judge disputes among the miners who lived all around the district, who he described as of a 
"strange, turbulent, quarrelsome temper."
The miners, who were called Peakrills, he considered to be  
"a rude boorish kind of people, but they are a bold, daring, and even desperate kind of fellows in their search into the bowels of the earth; for no people in the world out-do them; and therefore they are often entertained by our engineers in the wars to carry on the sap, and other such works, at the sieges of strong fortified places."
Defoe came across one of these miners on Brassington Moor, as he emerged from a groove (a pit leading down in to a leadmine). The man brought out with him a basket of tools and 3/4 of a hundredweight of lead ore. He was dressed in leather with a leather cap without a brim. He was very tall and thin, bearded, with pale lank skin. Defoe could not understand his thick dialect and had to rely on an interpreter. These miners were paid according to how many dishes of ore they filled, and generally earned five pence a day.

            These descriptions of lead miners would also
            apply to those living and working in Cromford.

In Matlock, (now Matlock Bath), he visited a bath which had been made by damming one of the warm springs and building a stone wall around the water. A house had been built over the bath with room within the building to walk round the edge of the water which was reached by steps. However the bath did not receive many visitors as it was reached only by a stony and mountainous road, and there was no good accommodation.
Defoe tried the bath and found the water to be warm and pleasant, and good for rheumatic pains.

Lead Mining - next.


Thomas Chippendale opened a furniture workshop in London.



1754   May
General Election gave Whig majority.



Samuel Johnson's 'Dictionary of the English Language' published.

1755  November 1
Lisbon earthquake - the effects were felt worldwide.

1756  May 17
Start of Seven Years War with France.

Jebediah Strutt of Belper, Derbyshire, patented a machine for making ribbed cotton goods.

Between 1753 and 1755, Reinhold R Angerstein, a Swedish industrial expert working for the Swedish government, travelled around England and Wales to report on the state of industry there. He also noted agricultural practices, craft and domestic production as well as technological developments in other industries.
Angerstein did not visit the lead mining districts specifically but he passed through Crich, Cromford and Matlock Bath and recorded what he saw there:
"Two miles from Crich, on the way to Matlock Bath, I viewed the lead-smelting furnaces, of which two were now in operation. These are of the type called 'cupolas', heated on the reverberatory principle ...The furnace is charged with one ton of galena, previously mixed in the ore store with pitcoal and limestone. Smelting takes nine hours. The wages for the workers at the furnace are eight shillings per week."
These may have been the cupolas at Whatstandwell.

A little further down Angerstein noted another furnace blown by bellows and fuelled with coke. He went on ...
"Closer to Matlock Bath there were three furnaces smelting galena, which is the old way of smelting in this province."
Could these have been the lead smelting works by Cromford Bridge?

Lead Mines on Cromford Moor.
"On Cromford Moor there were innumerable shafts of lead mines to be seen, some of which had been sunk to depths of more than 600 feet. The veins mostly strike east and west and are parallel, as is shown by the great number of shafts that were sunk throughout the field, simplifying the raising of the ore and providing ventilation."
Calamine in the lead veins.
"In the surrounding district there are considerable quantities of calamine or gallmey in the lead veins ... Roasting is carried out here in a reverberatory furnace constructed with three doors ... Calamine is placed in the furnace in bowls, just as it is mined, about half-a-ton at a time, and roasted until it is white, which takes four to five hours."
Angerstein was probably referring to the mill run by the Cheadle Brass and Copper Company and built in the 1720s on Bonsall Brook. It was later demolished by Arkwright and replaced by a corn mill.

Angerstein mentioned two baths at Matlock Bath, housed in vaulted buildings. "Large numbers of people come here in July and August, at times more than can be accommodated."

Extracts are from R R Angerstein's Illustrated Travel Diary 1753-1755.
Published 2001 by the Science Museum.

Lead Mining - next.


1760   October 25
George 11 died.
Succeeded by his grandson, George 111.

On June 13, 1761, in the Leicester and Nottingham Journal a notice appeared advertising a "cudgelling" at the house of Roger FROST, in Cromford. The event was to take place on Wednesday the 24th.
"One Guinea free to be given to the last best Man. - And if any disputes happen, to be determined by some Gentlemen that will be then present."

People were prepared to travel many miles to see this type of sport.  Money would be gambled, and the generous prize money attracted contestants.
Roger Frost was probably an innkeeper.

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1768   May 25
James Cook sailed on first Pacific voyage.




Richard Arkwright set up spinning frame at Preston.

James Watt patented the steam engine.

Josiah Wedgewood opened Etruria pottery works, Staffs.

On 23 May 1768 Thomas Oldham, a farmer of Aldercar near Heanor, left his house to journey to Cromford with £80 in cash to pay his rent to William Milnes Esq.  At about 8 o'clock in the evening he called at Crich for bread and ale. He was later seen at Longnor Bank a couple of miles from Cromford.
The next morning his grey mare and stick were found on Cromford Moor, the horse's saddle bore traces of blood and a bruised tree sapling lay nearby.
A search of the many groves, (lead mine shafts), in the area and of the River Derwent revealed no trace of the missing man. His family and friends feared the worst. A reward of 20 guineas was offered by Mrs Oldham for any information on the whereabouts of his body or the identity of his killer. Mr Oldham was about 37 years old and 5 feet 8 inches tall. A description of his clothes was given in case they were pawned. He had been wearing a blue surtout riding coat with brass buttons, a brown coat and waistcoat, black worsted breeches and stockings, a new pair of pumps with buckles, a white wig and cocked hat.
Shortly after, a boy from Wirksworth told friends that his father and uncle had killed the missing man and buried him in Birchwood. The area was searched, and the boy examined before a Justice. He denied his story and no action was taken against the pair.
A rumour was now circulating that Mr Oldham had been seen at Liverpool, and some thought he had absconded.
Postcript: In July 1771, children playing in Alderwasley Wood near Wirksworth found the body of a man, thought to have been there for many months. No one came forward to identify the body and a coroner's jury brought in a verdict of accidental death. Burial took place in Wirksworth churchyard.
Was this the unfortunate Mr Oldham?



1770   January 28
Lord North became Prime Minister

Gainsborough painted "The Blue Boy".

1770  April 28
Cook discovered and named Botany Bay.

1769 December 30.  A Grant of Access.
Some of the leadmines in the area had become unworkable because of high levels of water in the mines. Drainage by means of soughs and engines or water-wheels was necessary. George EVANS of Cromford Bridge, Peter NIGHTINGALE of Lea and Roger SEDGWICK of Manchester had leadmines affected in this way. But they did not own the land where drainage work had to be carried out.
They came to an agreement with the owners of the land - Edwin LASCELLES and Edmund HODGKINSON - which allowed their agents access to the land with permission to make soughs and erect engines or water-wheels. The arrangement was for a term of 42 years.
Edmund Hodgkinson was the husband of Elizabeth Hayward, the granddaughter of Benjamin Hayward whose horse famously leaped from Cromford Bridge.


1771  January
Spain recognized British rights in Falklands.
In 1771 the Paper Mill was built by the River Derwent just inside Matlock Bath. The mill, which was owned by Robert Shore of Snitterton and George White of Winster, provided work for people from Cromford.  



First informal Stock Exchange opened, Threadneedle St, London.

Thomas Pritchard built the iron bridge at Coalbrookdale.

In 1771 Richard Arkwright came to Cromford and he was to bring dramatic changes to this small scattered hamlet, whose inhabitants were dependent upon agriculture and the mining and smelting of lead. He had developed a mechanical spinning machine which he put into production in a mill in Nottingham. The machinery was driven by horse power.

Arkwright wanted a more efficient means of power and he found it in Cromford. Here there was a constant supply of water - Bonsall Brook and Cromford sough - which was said never to dry up or freeze. In August Arkwright and his partners signed a lease to land and water rights, and by December the first water-powered mill was practically complete.
There was not enough labour locally and on 10 December 1771 he advertised in The Derby Mercury for workers - he needed two clockmakers, a smith and two wood turners for making the machinery. There was work for weavers and for women and children.





1773   December 16
Boston Tea Party - American colony protested against the import of cheap tea.



1775  April 19
Start of American Revolution
(War of Independence)

The first mill was built from the stone of Steeple Hall, Wirksworth, which Arkwright had bought from a Mr Greensmith, and demolished. The mill was 5 storeys high and the machinery was driven night and day. About 200 people worked there in 12 hour shifts, spinning at night and carding, combing etc in the day.

"At Nottingham and at Crumford, near Matlock Bath in Derbyshire, there are mills that go by water and horses, that employ a number of industrious people in spinning of cotton yarn on a new principle, and in a very expeditious manner. That the yarn is of excellent quality, and peculiarly adapted to the making of warps for weaving; by which it is supposed the Manufacturers of cottons will be enabled to extend that branch of trade to many useful articles hitherto not made in England, such as muslins & cotton for printing in imitation of those called callicoes, ..."
Letter in Creswell's Nottingham Journal - January 2, 1773.

Arkwright now started to mechanise other parts of the process in order to keep pace with the spinning. On 16 December 1775 he took out a patent covering ten machines, including machines for carding and cleaning the cotton.

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1776  January 9
Adam Smith published "The Wealth of Nations."

1776 July 4
Declaration of Independence.

Anthony Coates, a lead miner of Cromford, hanged himself on Friday 7 June, 1776, in a coe (a building over a lead mine shaft) near Wirksworth. He was 42 years old, married with three children. According to the Nottingham Journal, Coates, who "frequented Fairs and Races in different parts, went and sold three Cows, by which his Wife maintained the Family, and 'tis suppos'd he went to Manchester Races, (and) lost all the money"  Another account says he was a great gambler and lost his money at Newmarket.

Cromford was becoming a place of opportunity within the new factory system of spinning cotton, but the old families who had made their money from lead mining were no longer prospering with the decline in the industry.




1777 October 17
General Burgoyne advancing from Canada against colonists surrendered at Saratoga.

In 1776 Richard Arkwright advertised in the Derby Mercury -
"To be sold the materials of a large water corn mill, including two pair French and two pairs grey stones, large undershot wheel and upright shaft, spur gear, cogs etc."
The old corn mill, behind the first cotton mill on Bonsall Brook, was demolished to make way for the second cotton mill. A replacement was built four years later below Cromford Dam.
1776 saw the completion of Richard Arkwright's second cotton mill of seven storeys, and to celebrate he held a festival for his work people. About 500 of them paraded around the village led by a band, returning to the mill for cakes and ale. This became an annual event.
In 1776/1777 North Street was built to house mill workers, being named after the Prime Minister, Lord North. It was the first planned industrial housing in Derbyshire, with two rows of gritstone 3-storied houses with a living room and bedroom. There were framework knitting looms in the top floor which were used to make the yarn from the mills into fabric. More houses were built on Cromford Hill.
  1776/7 Peter Nightingale of Lea had Rock House built on a cliff top near the cotton mills. He soon sold the house to Thomas Hallett Hodges.  
  In 1777 Arkwright built a chapel just to the south of Masson Mill between the river Derwent and the road. It could hold 300 people, and had a private residence attached for Samuel Need of Nottingham, who was Arkwright's business partner and a Dissenter.
In 1784 the Viscountess Glenorchy bought the chapel and its house from Arkwright as a place for Independents to worship. It became known as the Glenorchy Congregational Chapel. Independents were members of a non conformist association first established in 1580 in Norwich.
The chapel was closed and demolished for road widening in 1965.




Britain at war with France and Spain.


James Watts perfected his steam engine.


1783   September 3
Recognition of American independence.

In 1778 Arkwright built the Greyhound Hotel, originally named the Black Dog, to cater for businessmen and his many visitors.

The mill site was continually being expanded with the building of warehouses, workshops, offices and a house for the mill manager. He improved the water supply, constructing a series of reservoirs along the course of the Bonsall brook, and separating Cromford sough along an aqueduct to power a larger waterwheel.

In 1780 Arkwright built a new corn mill with attached cottage to replace the one demolished four years earlier. Situated on Bonsall Brook below Cromford Dam its two waterwheels were powered by water piped through the dam wall. It was on the site of a previous mill worked by a company from Cheadle in Staffordshire for the smelting of zinc oxides.

In 1782 Arkwright bought Rock House, conveniently situated overlooking his mills. The house remained in the family for many years.

In 1784 Masson Mill was opened, a short distance away from the main mill site, adjacent to the Paper Mill. It was built of red brick and was the only one of the Cromford mills to be powered by the River Derwent.

Edmund Cartwright invented power loom for weaving.

Robert Burn's "Poems" published in Scottish dialect.

1788   January 26
Penal settlement founded at Botany Bay, Australia.

1789   July 14
Fall of the Bastille in Paris. Start of French Revolution.

"The Life of Samuel Johnson" published by James Boswell.

1792   September
French Republic proclaimed.

1785 - Sixteen weeks frost.
During the 1780s Philip Gell of Hopton Hall constructed the Via Gellia road and arranged for around 50,000 trees to be set on its slopes. It was built to improve access between Gell's lead mines at Carsington and a smelter at Cromford.

In 1785 a sluice was constructed to control the flow of Cromford Sough to the cotton mills. It is protected by a circular stone wall.
Now sometimes referred to as the Bear Pit.

Richard Arkwright had achieved commercial success and built up a personal fortune. In 1786 he was knighted for his work in the cotton industry, and in 1787 he was appointed High Sheriff of Derbyshire.

Rock House was no longer suitable for a man of his wealth and position. In 1788 he bought the Willersley estate from Thomas Hallet Hodges and building started on a mansion more worthy of his status.

In 1790 Arkwright secured a charter for a Saturday market to be held in front of the Greyhound inn. To encourage supplies of "the necessaries of life" to the growing population he offered prizes to the traders who sold most goods.

In 1790 a village lock-up was opened. It was converted from a cottage, the middle one of a terrace of three cottages built early in the 18th century. The ground floor contained two small cells with metal doors, each with a bunk bed suspended from the walls by chains.
The lock-up, in Swift's Opening, has been renovated by the Arkwright Society.

His new mansion, Willersley Castle as it came to be called, was across the river, overlooking the mills. When building was almost finished, it was badly damaged by fire.
Sir Richard also began building a chapel on a parcel of land called the Smelting Mill Green adjacent to the river by Cromford Bridge.

Sir Richard Arkwright died on 3 August 1792, aged 60, before the Castle and chapel were finally completed. In his will he instructed his son Richard to complete the chapel and endow it with £50 per annum.

Visit the Poetry and Prose page for a contemporary account of Sir Richard's funeral.

1793   January 21
Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette executed in France.

1793   February 1
France declared war on Britain and Holland. Start of Napoleonic Wars.

1796   May 14
Edward Jenner discovered vaccine against smallpox.

1796  October 5
Spain declared war on Britain.

In 20 years Arkwright had created a new Cromford. The old corn mill and lead smelting works near Cromford Bridge were destroyed by the new developments. The industrial village was centred a few hundred yards distant in the direction of Wirksworth, well away from the mill site, absorbing scattered houses and farms.

The significance of what had happened in Cromford was noted at the time.
John Byng wrote on visiting Cromford in 1790:
 "Below Matlock a new creation of Sir Richard Arkwright is started up, which has crowded the village of Cromford with cottages supported by his three magnificent cotton mills. . . . Every rural sound is sunk in the clamours of cotton works, and the simplest peasant is changed into the impudent mechanic."

One can only guess at what the original inhabitants thought about it all.

On 10th September 1797 the chapel built by Sir Richard Arkwright and completed by his son Richard was consecrated, and dedicated to St Mary. It became a "chapel of ease to the mother church of Wirksworth."

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1798   August 1
Battle of the Nile.
Nelson destoyed French fleet at Aboukir Bay.



Henry Cavendish carried out experiments on the density of the earth.



1799   October 9
Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in France.



Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland, effective 1 Jan 1801.
Title of "King of France" dropped by British monarchy.



Royal Institution (for encouraging science) established in London.

Cromford Canal
Canal building in Derbyshire.
James Brindley, the Derbyshire born canal builder, constructed the first canal in the county in 1777: a branch of the Grand Trunk, later called the Trent and Mersey. The canal ran from the navigable River Trent at Shardlow to Liverpool. Two years later the Erewash Canal, financed by the colliery masters in the Erewash valley coalfields, was engineered by William Jessop. It ran from Langley Mill to meet the River Trent at Sawley, less than three miles from Shardlow.
Tolls levied by the canal companies soon repaid construction and maintenance costs. The main commodity was coal - its price had been lowered by half as a result of the more efficient means of transport, benefitting industry and opening up wider markets for the coal producers.
Local support for a canal in Cromford.
The success of the canals led to calls from the owners of companies further north for a waterway to move their materials and products quickly and cheaply. Cromford Canal was first proposed in 1788 and Richard Arkwright was one of the supporters; he needed easier access to Liverpool for bringing in raw cotton; a quicker way of sending his thread to the knitters of Nottingham and the opening up of more markets. Also involved were the Gells of Hopton who were involved in lead mining, the Hurts of Alderwasley who owned coke-fired furnaces at Morley Park, Benjamin Outram and Francis Beresford. These last two had interests in coal and iron, and limeworks which burnt limestone quarried at Crich. Their works at Butterley were on the proposed line of the canal.
The building of the canal.
The canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1789. William Jessop was to engineer the project with Outram as his assistant.
By February of 1792 Cromford Canal was opened as far as Butterley Tunnel. However problems arose with the Bullbridge Aqueduct near Butterley and Wigwell Aqueduct at Cromford, both of which had to be rebuilt. Jessop took responsibility and paid for the work himself.
In August 1794, Cromford Canal was opened. The canal ran 14 miles from the wharf in Mill Lane to link with the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill, with a branch line to Pinxton. There were three aqueducts and four tunnels - Butterley Tunnel being two miles long, and fourteen locks south of Butterley.
The success of the canal.
Industries with access to Cromford Canal now had quick and cheap links to the north and Lancashire, via its link with the Erewash Canal. In 1796 canals opened from the Erewash Canal (and therefore the Cromford Canal) to Derby and Nottingham.
In 1797 the first passenger service, known as the fly boat, began operating from Cromford. It was run by Nathaniel Wheatcroft, who charged 5 shillings first class and 3 shillings second class for the 38 miles to Nottingham, on a twice weekly service.
In 1802 the Lea Wood branch line was opened by Peter Nightingale (great great uncle of Florence). The half mile long canal brought business from quarries, lead works, cotton mills and a hat factory to Cromford Canal.
Over the following years tramways were built to connect quarries and industries to the Cromford Canal at various points along its route. The limestone quarries at Crich were connected to the waterway by tramway, donkeys pulled the trams at Riddings while at Swanwick the tramway was steam driven. Butterley ironworks discharged its goods straight down shafts onto boats inside Butterley tunnel.
The Cromford Canal brought more jobs to Cromford and ensured the continuation of the cotton mills in the face of competition from the Lancashire cotton industry.

For a fuller history, archive pictures and walks visit The Friends of Cromford Canal's website  -


In 1801 Joseph Faringdon described a visit he made to the Sunday school: "On each side of the organ a gallery in which about 50 boys were seated. These children are employed in Mr. Arkwrights work in the week-days, and on Sundays attend a school where they receive education. They came to Chapel in regular order and looked healthy & well & decently cloathed & clean."

First British census. The population of England was 8.3 million.

In 1801 the population of Derbyshire was 161,142. Cromford had 1,115 inhabitants, made up of 283 families, living in 207 houses. The figures indicate that the average family size was four, and most people had to share a home.
1805  October 21
Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet, but was killed.

Dartmoor prison built for French prisoners.

In 1806 John Thompson was accused of stealing cloth from a canal barge. He was imprisoned in the village lock-up while awaiting trial at Nottingham.
He was found guilty and transported to Australia for seven years, leaving his wife and children behind.

Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake" published.
In 1810 a Methodist chapel was founded in Scarthin Nick. Enlarged in 1840, the chapel was known as the Mount Tabor Chapel. It was closed in the 1950s and is now the home of an engineering company.

The Methodist Chapel in Water Lane was founded in 1812. The present building was erected in 1900 and is the only chapel still in use as a place of worship.

1811  February 5
Prince of Wales appointed Regent because of George III's illness.
By 1811 the population of Derbyshire had risen to 185,487. In Cromford there were 230 houses for a population of 1,259, made up of 260 families. The average family size had jumped to 4.8, but fewer than half had to share a house.  
1815  June 18
Battle of Waterloo. Wellington's victory over Napoleon saw the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
1814. On Wednesday 12 January 1814 the Derby Mercury published a list of men who had enlisted as volunteers from the Derbyshire Regiment of Militia for service in various regiments in the army. The Militia was stationed at Dover, and during the previous month over 250 men had volunteered.
Thirteen men from the Wirksworth Hundred had volunteered, including John REVELL of Cromford for the Staff Corps and John MARSON of Wirksworth for the Guards.
1820  January 29
Death of George III.
The Prince Regent became George IV.

The 1821 census recorded the population of Cromford as 1,240.

In 1823 a full grown golden eagle was shot between Cromford and Lea Wood.
It was presented to Peter Arkwright of Rock House, who had it "finely preserved".

1825  September 27
First steam locomotive railway opened bet Stockton & Darlington.

1829  October
Rainhill Locomotive Speed Trials won by Stephenson's Rocket at 29 mph.

Sir Richard Phillip, in his 1829 "Personal Tour of the United Kingdom" states that the people of Cromford lived in a state of some comfort. He considered this was because, while workers at small establishments suffered from the failures of their employers, the wealthier establishments 'never relax in their production, whether the demand in a season be greater or less. Hence it is that they secure a monopoly of the trade, and that small capitals can only compete with them by underselling, or selling at risks that prove ruinous. (Mr Arkwright's) habits lead him to continue in business, though the profits are now trifling.'

Cromford cotton spinning mills were in decline and closed in 1844 (with the exception of Masson Mill at Matlock Bath).
For details see the Arkwright page.


William Cobbett published his 'Rural Rides'.


1830  June 26
George IV died and was suceeded by his brother William IV.


1830  August
General Election returned Tories. Wellington Prime Minister.


1830  August-October
'Captain Swing' agrarian riots in S England against enclosures and threshing machines.


1830  September 15
William Huskisson killed by Stephenson's Rocket at opening of Liverpool -Manchester railway.


1830  November 16
Wellington resigned as Prime Minister; succeeded by Earl Grey.

The Rev. Leonard Jenyns (1800-1893) was a naturalist, author and friend of Charles Darwin. In 1830, when he was the vicar of Swaffham Bulbeck in Cambridgeshire, he went on a botanical walking tour of Derbyshire.
Wednesday, 11 August 1830 he arrived at Matlock Bath after walking the 17 miles from Derby. "Nothing can be more interesting than the road from Belper to Matlock (now the A6); scenery of the most engaging description, & becoming more & more beautiful as one approaches the latter place. Reached Matlock (Bath) about 4 in the afternoon & took up my quarters at the Old Bath Hotel".
Thursday, 12 August 1830. After exploring the Lovers' Walks, he visited Matlock church and climbed Riber Hill, then made his way to Cromford. "Beyond the New Bath Hotel is a large Cotton Mill (Masson Mill) belonging to Mr Arkwright, & a little further on - Willersley Castle the residence of that gentleman, who allows his grounds & gardens to be open to the public twice a week, tho' the house itself is not shown"
He liked the gardens with its many views "particularly that from the terrace before the Castle". The fruit gardens impressed Jenyns especially the trained gooseberry bushes on walls without any leading branches "one or two of the lateral shoots had reached the enormous length of 39 feet, & shewed an abundance of fine flavoured fruit".
The gardener took him to some "lofty eminences" named Hay Tor, Wild Cat Tor or Lover's Leap from which "the most beautiful prospects present themselves" of the Dale and the river below. On his return he went to look at the wooded passage "blasted with gunpowder" into the limestone called "Scarthin Nick"
Friday, 13 August 1830. He spent the day visiting the petrifying wells, caverns and mines of Matlock Bath, climbed Masson Hill and crossed the river to climb High Tor. He made his way over fields, then via a steep hollow lane to Cromford and on to Bonsall Dale. This he found delightful "the road winds by the side of a broad stream on which are a succession of little cascades; beyond it are high rocks & steep declivities covered with wood & mantling foliage of every description". (This would be Via Gellia) He walked on to Bonsall then returned to Cromford, and entered Matlock Dale by Scarthin Nick and so back to the hotel.
Saturday, 14 August 1830. Rev Jenyns spent the morning inspecting the medicinal springs at Matlock Bath, collecting plants from Lovers' Walks, walking up the Heights of Abraham and visiting Rutland Cavern on the way. He went to the summit of Masson Hill once more, taking a footpath to Bonsall village and then the bridle road to Cromford. (This road, at a higher level than Via Gellia, was probably the track which comes out on Chapel Hill.) It was market day in Cromford and he noticed many of the stalls were selling nails.
Sunday 15 August 1830. On the sabbath day the Rev Jenyns attended service in Cromford Chapel (St Mary's church). He commented: "Cromford, being only a Hamlet annexed to Wirksworth, has no parish church of its own or burial ground. - Yet it is said to contain near 1200 inhabitants".
Monday 16 August 1830. Rev Jenyns left Matlock Bath for Bakewell, the next point in his journey.

Follow Rev Jenyns' journey through Derbyshire on Roger Vaughan's website.

1831  April 22
Parliament dissolved; Whig reformers won election.

The 1831 census recorded the population of Cromford as 1,291.


1832  June 7
The Reform Act increased the electorate by 50%.






1837  June 20
Victoria became queen after the death of her uncle William IV.

1837  July 1
Civil registration for births and deaths began.

In 1832 the village school with a schoolmaster's house was opened. Built by Richard Arkwright junior, there was provision for 200 children.

After the Reform Act Derbyshire was represented by four Members of Parliament instead of two as before. The county was divided into North and South, Cromford being in the South within the Wirksworth Polling District.The franchise was extended to include tenants and copyholders of property of a set value as well as freeholders.
In Cromford 27 men qualified to vote, ranging from Richard Arkwright junior and his son Peter, to 5 publicans including George Higgott of the Greyhound, shopkeepers like James Green, a grocer, and tradesmen such as joiner William Stone.
There were three candidates for the two seats: Hon George J Vernon (Liberal), Sir George Greisley (Conservative) and Lord Waterpark (Reform Interest).
The election was held on 18th December 1832, and Vernon and Waterpark were elected. It was not a secret ballot and votes were recorded. Each elector had two votes, those who chose to use only one were called "Plumpers".

The Cromford electors went against the majority and voted for Waterpark and Greisley, eight plumping for Greisley outright.

Full list of voters and a contemporary view of the Reform Act.

1841  May 3
Proclamation of New Zealand as British colony.

Fourth successive year of bad harvests.

Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol".

1844  June 15
Factory Act: 12-hour day for women; 6-hour day for children 8 to 13.

George Turner, landscape artist. 1841 - 1910
George Turner was born in Cromford on 29th March 1841, the first child of Thomas and Mary Turner. Thomas was a tailor by trade, who also painted. Originally from Manchester, he set up in Wirksworth, then Cromford, before settling in Derby. During their time in Cromford, the Turners lodged with the family of George Swift, a lead miner. Although George Turner is always referred to as Cromford born, his association with the village was brief.
George showed early promise as a painter, working for a time in Birmingham before settling in Barrow on Trent with his wife Eliza. He is noted for his panoramic landscapes of his home county, with figures harvesting, carts fording streams and rustics reclining on river banks. He exhibited numerous works in the Midlands, including 45 at the BSA in Birmingham; 45 at the Nottingham Art Gallery and 19 at the Royal Society of British Artists at Suffolk Street.
After Eliza's death he lived for a while at the Barley Mow, Kirk Ireton, finally moving to Cliff Ash Cottage, Idridgehay with his second wife, the artist Kate Stevens Smith.
George Turner died on 29th March, 1910, his 69th birthday, and is buried at Idridgehay. George and Eliza's son William was also an accomplished artist, painting the landscapes of Scotland and the Lake District.
George Turner's paintings regularly appear for sale in local auction rooms.
Potato blight sparks Irish famine.
About 1843 Oakhill, a fine house between Intake Lane and Cromford school, was built for William Melville who came to Cromford from Nottingham to take over the operation of the Arkwright cotton mills.
Soon after, the Old Vicarage was built opposite as a home for the vicar of St Mary's church.
Oakhill is now an hotel called Alison House, and was formerly a TocH holiday centre.
The Old Vicarage has been divided into two separate houses.

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1849 -1850
Charles Dickens'
"David Copperfield" published in monthly instalments.








1851 May 1 - Oct 15
Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, London



King's Cross railway station completed.



1852  December 2
Second Empire established in France under Napoleon III.




Elizabeth Gaskell's novel 'Cranford' published.




1853  June 5
Mediterranean Fleet ordered to Besika Bay because of Russian threats to Turkey.
Russian expansion into Europe was feared by Britain and France.

10 October 1849, from the Derby Mercury.
"At the village of Cromford, Near Matlock Bath, there are now nine persons whose united ages amount to 766 years, as follow: Mr J Hodgkinson 80; Mr J White 81; Mr Parker 82; Mrs Pearson 85; Mr J Rolley 85; Mrs Twigg 86; Mrs Holmes 88; Miss Evans 89; and Mrs Kidd 90; total, 766."

More details have been found about eight of these long livers from census and burial records.
John Hodgkinson, a farmer of 15 acres, lived on Cromford Hill with daughter
                Ruth and a grandson. He died in March 1854.
John White was a labourer, living in the Cromford Bridge area.
William Parker was a plumber and glazier, living with his son's family.
               He died in October 1852.
Lydia Pearson lived in Lime Tree, Cromford. She was a pensioner,
               living with her daughter Mary and son-in-law Joseph Rolly, a hatter.
John Rolley was a framework knitter. He lived with 6 family members.
                He died in May 1850.
Martha Holmes lived on Cromford Hill with her grandson John, a
               nightwatchman, and his family. She died in January 1853.
Ann Kidd lived with Edwin, William and Mary Kidd, probably grandchildren.
                She died in October 1850.
Elizabeth Evans was the great aunt of Florence Nightingale. She lived at
                Cromford Bridge House and died in 1852.

Note: Records show Elizabeth Evans living at Cromford Bridge House with her companion Mary Hall in 1835, and 1841. When the census was taken in 1851 she was a visitor at Lea Hurst Mansion. She was described as a landed proprietor, age 88, born at Cromford and unmarried. There were also three servants there. She was the sister of Florence Nightingale's paternal grandmother, and daughter of George and Anne Evans.

Cromford and Florence Nightingale.
Florence Nightingale was from the Nightingale family of the nearby village of Lea. Her great great uncle Peter Nightingale was a wealthy landowner, his lands including the manor of Cromford which he sold to Richard Arkwright. His business ventures included a cotton factory at Lea, now John Smedley's, and lead smelting.
Peter Nightingale had no legitimate children and at his death in 1803 his estate and fortune went to his sister's grandson, William Edward Shore. When William came into his inheritance at the age of 21 in 1815, he changed his name to Nightingale.
William Nightingale married Fanny Smith, the daughter of an MP and wealthy businessman, of Parndon Hall in Essex. The Nightingale daughters were born abroad, Parthenope in Naples in 1819 and on 12 May 1820, Florence was born and named after her birthplace.
Lea Hall, the Nightingale family home, was not big enough for Fanny, so William built Lea Hurst in the neighbouring village of Holloway. The house was completed in 1825, but in spite of having fifteen bedrooms was still not to Fanny's liking. She wanted to move nearer her family so William bought Embley House in Hampshire. Henceforth the family spent the winters at Embley and the summers at Lea Hurst, with frequent visits to London.
As Florence grew up she became discontented with her life and felt that she had a call from God to help others. She studied hygiene, sanitation and medical matters, gaining some experience from helping the poor and sick in Holloway, and visiting hospitals in Germany and France. All this against the fierce opposition of her mother and sister.
Towards the end of 1852 Florence was in London when she heard that her great aunt Elizabeth Evans had been taken ill. Florence travelled to her aunt's home at Cromford Bridge House to nurse her through her last illness.
After her aunt's death Florence was planning to go to Paris to work in the hospitals of the Council of the Sisters of Charity. In an attempt to stop her going, her mother Fanny offered her the now empty Cromford Bridge House to turn into a hospital. Everything would be provided - money, furniture, equipment. Florence declined, and went to Paris to continue her training as a nurse.
Florence Nightingale was to become a national celebrity as a result of her work among the wounded soldiers in the Crimea, and the work she did for many years to reform medical services in the army and in the training of nurses. She wrote many books and pamphlets on matters of hygiene. Florence Nightingale died 13 August 1910 at her home in South Street, London.

Florence Nightingale - a website devoted to this local heroine by American folk singer Joe McDonald.

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  In 1853 a Primitive Methodist Chapel was built on Scarthin Promenade. It could seat 1,000 worshippers and cost £300. Saturday schools were held for boys and girls.

The Primitive Methodists, founded in 1810, were one of several groups which broke away from the Methodists and formed their own chapels.

1857  May 10   to
1858   July 8
Indian Mutiny.  
1857 - Storms in June, when upwards of 5000 pieces of glass were smashed by the hail in the great conservatory alone at Chatsworth House. By July 1858 sixty tons of glass had already arrived to repair the damage.  
  1868 August 5. The foundation stone of the Scarthin Mission Church was laid by Mrs Charles Clarke of Matlock. Scarthin was in the parish of Matlock Bath and the Mission Church was linked to Holy Trinity Church of England in Matlock Bath. The vicar officiated at the services held here, the first of which was held on 8 April 1869.
The building, at the end of Scarthin on Water Lane, is now the home of Cromford Garage.
  In 1880 Cromford's Saturday market was closed.  
1880   April 18
General Election returned Liberals. Gladstone PM.

1880   October 16   to
1881   April 5
First Boer War in South Africa.

1882   August 29
Term "the ashes" first used when Australia beat England at cricket.

The mystery of the Bloody Stone.
On the track leading from Chapel Hill to Bonsall was to be found a rock known locally as the "Bloody Stone". It attracted much interest and was thought to be a glaciated rock. However this was disputed by Sir Andrew Ramsey, the Director General of HM Geological Survey, when he visited the stone in the 1880s.
Mr George Fletcher, a Fellow of the Geological Society, had seen the rock several times and agreed with Sir Andrew.

The stone was mentioned in a book published in 1924. "Eric and Deric Daring", by Mrs E V Pearson, recorded the adventures of two little boys.
"... The stone they meant was called 'The Bloody Stone' because years before some one had been killed there, and their blood had run over the stone, and neither snow, rain nor hail had washed the stain away.
However Eric and Deric were two very well-trained little boys, and never used swear words even when they were the name of something, so they got over the difficulty by saying 'The Stone Whose Name You Mustn't Say'..."

A former resident of the village, writing in 2000, recalled the rock.
"Where the path came out of the wood, there used to be a big stone, which turned bright red when it rained. We all called it the 'bloody stone'. It was covered when the quarry owners made a road out of the quarry for the wagons. We are really sorry it can't be seen now."
From Memories of Cromford, pub by WI.
The stone may have been a hematite or bloodstone, a type of iron ore.
The quarry is Ball Eye Quarry on Via Gellia.

1884   December 10
Third Parliamentary Reform Act - male suffrage extended to countryside and 2 million farm workers got the vote.

1885  November 23
General Election - Liberals returned, Salisbury remained Prime Minister.

On 17 December 1884 Alice Jane Taylor was born at Castle Top Farm, set on a steep and wooded hillside above Cromford. As Alison Uttley, she became a well known writer for both adults and children, drawing on her childhood memories and her love of the countryside for inspiration.
Her first book, "The Country Child", was based on her early memories of farm and village life. She went on to write novels, plays and country essays. Little Grey Rabbit, Sam Pig and Fuzzypeg are just some of the much loved characters in her children's books.  "A Traveller in Time" is set in nearby Dethick and revolves around Anthony Babington and the plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.
Cromford, although unnamed, features in many of her books: "Our own village, with its long street winding away up the hill, with a tap here and there for water, and the inhabitants carrying buckets to their neat stone cottages."


1901  January 22
Queen Victoria died.
The Prince of Wales succeeded his mother as King Edward VII.


1901  December 11
Marconi sent a wireless message from Cornwall to Newfoundland.


H G Wells published
The First Men in the Moon.
Beatrix Potter wrote Peter Rabbit.
Elgar composed
Pomp and Circumstance.

First purpose-built cinema in Britain opened in Colne, Lancs.

1910   May 6
King Edward VII died, succeeded by his son George V.

April 5th 1901   Boating tragedy at Matlock Bath
      Joseph Parker was a 30 year old factory worker at the English Sewing Cotton Co's Masson Mill, living at 24 North Street with his wife Ruth and five children under the age of ten. They had two lodgers who worked at the Paper Mill.
      Joseph was also a boatman at nearby Matlock Bath taking parties of trippers on the river. April 5th was a Good Friday and an estimated 20,000 people travelled to Matlock Bath by train and charabanc to enjoy a day's holiday.
      A group of five young men had arrived on the Mansfield excursion train and in the afternoon they hired a boat at the landing stage near Lovers' Walks.
      In charge of the boat was Joseph Parker, who sat in the stern at the rudder with three of the men - Luke and Benjamin Brown and Walter Waddoups. Two others, James Brown and Charles Hickling, were rowing. The boat had proceeded up the river and back again as far as South Ferry below the church, when, without warning, it filled with water and sank, stern foremost, all the men being thrown into the water.
      The alarm was raised and other boats quickly rowed to the scene to give help. Four men were rescued from the river - the rowers Brown and Hickling, Waddoups and Joseph Parker - but two were missing. The survivors were taken to the nearby Royal Hotel as police started dragging the river.
      But it was too late, the men had been carried downstream and drowned. Their bodies were taken to the New Bath Hotel and lain in the billiard room. The men were identified as Luke Brown, aged 21 and his brother Benjamin, aged 18, of Selston near Nottingham. Their brother James was one of the survivors.
      The incident had been witnessed by many of the holidaymakers, and as word spread, more people rushed to the scene. Further tragedy was averted when the police prevented the crowds from going down the steep footpath to the South Ferry.
      Joseph Parker, after a change of clothes, returned to his duties, the day being fine and business good for the hiring of boats in spite of the recent tragedy.
      The two brothers were buried on Easter Monday in Selston Churchyard, hundreds of people lining the route to the church.
The causes of the accident remain a mystery. There was nothing wrong with the boat. Perhaps there was too much weight in the stern and the boat took in water as it was turning for the return trip to the landing stage. None of the men could swim which reduced their chances of survival in the deepest and swiftest part of the river.

Note: Joseph Parker's nephew, Harry Parker, is listed on the Cromford War Memorial. He was killed on 8 November 1916 on the Somme.


  1908 - Scarthin Promenade was constructed by Matlock Bath Urban District Council. The fencing and railings were taken from Matlock Bath's promenade.  
1912  April 15
Liner Titanic sank after striking icebergs on her maiden voyage with the loss of over 1,500 lives.
Extracts from the notebook of Charles Burling, signalman at Cromford Sidings.
Charles Burling started his career on the railways as a porter at Elsecar & Hoyland, near Barnsley, in June 1900. He was moved to Cromford Sidings signalbox from Ambergate on 10th February 1911, and came to live on Chapel Hill in Cromford.
In a notebook he recorded what was happening around him - on the railway, his life in Cromford and the effects of the Great War.
1914  Aug 4
First World War began.
1917 - Severe weather in early months, with a hard frost up to the middle of February.
April 1st sharp frost followed by a heavy snowstorn & blizzard, and constant snowstorms til 13th.  May 16 pair of sandpipers spotted at Cromford.
  The War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens is inscribed with the names of the 18 men of Cromford who died in "the war to end all wars":

IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1919

          Frederic G A ARKWRIGHT                      Thomas GRATTON
          Percy BARBER                                            John Hall GREGORY
          William BOSLEY                                          Harry PARKER
          Robt Charles BRITLAND                           Samuel George PEARSON
          John Hall BROWN                                      William Herbert PEARSON
          Clifford James BROOKS                             Norman SAINT
          Victor James DILLON                                  Joseph Thomas SHAW
          Thomas FEARN                                           John Allen TAYLOR
          James GIBBS                                                 Leonard WILBRAHAM

1918  Nov 11
Armistice signed, ending the War
The War Memorial on Scarthin Promenade is inscribed with the names of the nine men of Scarthin who died in the war:


          Joseph TOMLINSON                                  William H ALLEN
          William SHERRATT                                     John J ALLEN
          Arthur BIDDULPH                                       George KIRK
          Thomas KEIGHTLY                                      John A PIDCOCK
          Thomas WORTHY

More about the men who died



1918  Dec 14
General Election, first in which women voted. Conservaties and Coalition Liberals win.



1919  June 28
Peace Treaty of Versailles between the allied powers and Germany.



W Somerset Maugham published "The Moon and Sixpence".

During the First World War the writer D H Lawrence and his German wife Frieda were driven from their rented home in Cornwall after being accused of spying. Practically penniless, they were forced to seek help from Lawrence's sister, Ada Clark. Ada paid £65 for a year's furnished rental of a cottage near Cromford, and gave them £20 to finance the move.
They left for the Midlands on 5 April 1918, staying a week in Ripley with Ada before arriving at Mountain Cottage which he described as, "a bungalow, on the brow of the steep valley at Via Gellia - near Cromford".   It had rather pretty little grounds, including a croquet lawn. "It is in the darkish Midlands, on the rim of a steep deep valley, looking over darkish folded hills - exactly the navel of England, and feels exactly that".
David Herbert Lawrence was already well known for his poems and novels, including Sons and Lovers. He kept up a correspondence with his literary friends, particularly Katherine Mansfield, describing his life and surroundings at Mountain Cottage.
1918 Whitsun, 18th - 20th May was terribly hot with violent thunder storms. Rhododendrons and peonies were out, and "rock-roses very lovely in the fields".
On 28th November he returned to Cromford after a visit to London, describing his arrival at Cromford station in the dark rain and the drive to the cottage in the hackney-coachman's "Vektawry" carriage (ie Victoria) with its hood up, "away into the night through a rustle of waters". A neighbour had lit a blazing fire for him, but there was no bread till morning, so "tea and sup on milk and potatoes, and look at the night - very dark, moving softly with misty rain - soft chink of water in the stable butts - wash myself before the fire - and so to bed, very snug".
On Christmas Day morning, Lawrence and Frieda set out to walk to Cromford "all white and snowy and sunny, with a wind like an axe ...I wish you could have been there on the hill summit - the valley all white and airy with trees below us ... the grey stone fences drawn in a network over the snow, all very clear in the sun. We ate sweets, and slithered downhill, very steep and tottering".  From Cromford they continued on foot to Ambergate to be met by motor car and taken to share Christmas with family at Ripley. There was a huge Christmas spread at Ada's - no more wartime rationing - and games and singing.
February 1919  "terribly frozen and snowy ... The sun shines, but the windows are covered with very magnificent ice flowers, so we are obscured as if in a frozen sea."  With his niece he climbed to the "bare top of the hills in brilliant sunshine ... The naked upland moving far into the distance, strange and muscular, with gleams like skin ... It is strange how insignificant, in all this, life seems. Two men, tiny as dots, move from a farm on a snow-slope, carrying hay"
March 17th, he was convalescing after a severe bout of flu. It was a mild sweet morning followed by heavy snow in the afternoon. Soon the snow lay so heavily that Ada and Frieda had to beat the branches of the fruit trees to stop them breaking.

Lawrence had to leave Mountain Cottage when the lease ran out at the end of April. During his time there he had written a short story, Wintry Peacock, about Ible, a small hamlet on the opposite side of Via Gellia. He also wrote chapters of a proposed school text book on European history.
D H Lawrence died in Vence, France, on March 2nd 1930.

1920  February 11
League of Nations Council first met in London.
Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" introduced Hercule Poirot.
1920 Agricultural Statistics for Cromford parish.
The total acreage of crops and grasses was 807, of which most (759 acres) was permanent grass for mowing or grazing.
22 acres were used for wheat, oats, barley and potatoes. A further 12 acres provided turnips, swedes and cabbages for stockfeeding. The remaining 13 acres was temporary grassland.
There were 230 cattle, 77 pigs, 33 horses but no sheep.
1922   November 14
BBC made its first radio broadcast to the public.

1924   October 29
General Election:
Stanley Baldwin replaced Ramsey MacDonald as Prime Minister.

E M Forster published   "A Passage to India".

In 1924 the Arkwright family sold all their properties in Cromford. The estate was auctioned on 13 and 14 March 1924. It extended to 1,140 acres and included   "Agricultural holdings, private houses, factory and business premises, smallholdings, numerous cottages, freehold ground rents, mining properties and quarries, valuable licensed premises, sportings and woodlands."
Many tenants were able to buy their homes - houses on Cromford Hill were sold freehold for £20. Larger houses went for as much as £60.

Willersley Castle, the castle grounds and Home Farm were bought by the Wesley Guild in 1928 and opened as a retreat and holiday centre on 28 May 1929.

Mr Wheatcroft of Wirksworth bought Dene Fields, an area at the top of Cromford Hill between Cromford and Middleton, to use for grazing cattle.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.
In 1928 a new Co-operative Store, the Co-op, was built on Water Lane.

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1937   April
Frank Whittle demonstrated the jet engine.

1937  May 12
Coronation of
King George VI.

1937   Dec 29
Constitution of Ireland Act replaced Irish Free State with sovereign state of Eire.

1937. On the morning of Wednesday 6 October an accident on the LMS High Peak Railway Goods Line resulted in the death of William Henry Boden of Derby Road, Cromford.
Mr Boden was the driver of an engine which was proceeding up a slight incline near the old Bone Mill, near Brassington. The engine was pulling three trucks and a guard's van, when it leaped from the rails and crashed about 30 feet down a steep embankment on to the roadway below, dragging after it two of the trucks and the van.
The road was blocked by wreckage from the engine and trucks, some of it being buried a foot deep into the road. One of the rails and the sleepers had been torn away for a distance of 40 yards. The van was partly on the embankment, and the three men inside - Thomas Swift, Herbert Slack and Job Spencer, sustained cuts and bruises.
Harold Kirk, the fireman, was trapped in the engine as escaping steam delayed his rescue. He was taken to Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.
Mr Boden had been thrown clear of the engine. At first he was not thought to be seriously injured and he was taken to the Wirksworth Cottage Hospital. He died on Saturday 9th October from multiple injuries at the age of 53.
William Henry Boden was buried at Bonsall. Bereaved were his widow and two adult children, Gordon and Vera.
1939   Sept 3
Britain declared war on Germany after its invastion of Poland.
Start of Second World War.
Dene Fields was eventually sold to Mr Herbert Hardy, who applied for planning permission to develop a limestone quarry there. Despite some local opposition permission was granted after the site was visited by officials from the Ministry of Supply.
Their report stated:
"This is a site we dream of with the unique enormous formation of limestone in an isolated locality and development will take workings farther and farther away from habitation, a necessity, as with future increased road traffic clogging movement, no quarry development will be allowed alongside highways; therefore, planning permission will be automatic."
Production at Dene Quarry began in May 1942 and a Ball Mill was installed which pulverised limestone into a very fine calcium powder. This powder was a valuable contribution to the war effort, being used in food, ammunition, uniforms, paper, pharmaceutical products etc. The Ministry of Supply ordered increased production and allocated more workers to the quarry.
Soon afterwards Mr Hardy sold Dene Quarry to Holloway Brothers of Millbank, London.

1942 - The annual total rainfall was 28.2 inches. May was the wettest month with 3.8 inches.

    During the Second World War Willersley Castle was used as a maternity home. The Salvation Army's Mothers' Hospital in Clapton, London, was evacuated there and between 1940 and 1946 over 4000 babies were born at Willersley.  
1945   May 8
VE Day - end of War in Europe.
After World War II, three more names were added to Scarthin War Memorial:

                                                       1939 - 1945
           Harry KNIVETON                                      Arthur H RUSSELL
           George A PIDCOCK

1945   Aug 15
VJ Day - end of War in Japan.
Ten names were added to the War Memorial in Cromford:

                                                       1939 - 1945
          Harold F BRITLAND                                   Michael G HAM
          Kenneth A BROOKER                                Ronald HOPKINSON
          Alan G DITCHFIELD                                   Denys G MARSDEN
          William A R FOSTER                                   Harry ROLLEY
          David GRANTHAM                                    James A TAIT

More about the men who died
1946   March 5
Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech urged joint resistance by the West to the Soviet threat.

1946  March 31
London Airport opened at Heathrow.

 July 22
Jewish terrorists blew up British GHQ in King David Hotel, Jerusalem. 91 lives lost.

1946   August 6
Family Allowance began - 5 shillings for each second & subsequent children

1946   September 29
BBC Third Programme began, with emphasis on culture.

1946  October 16
11 leading Nazis hanged at Nuremberg for war crimes.

1946   After the war Sir Richard Arkwright & Co Ltd at Masson Mill produced a brochure about the history of cotton spinning and the part played by the company's founder. It went on to describe the mill's contribution to the war effort and plans for the future .....
"During the war cotton had an important part to play, not merely making things like surgical dressings, (though Masson Mill helped to turn out hundreds of miles of bandages for the forces) but tyres for transport vehicles and material for barrage balloons.
"Now the war is over we have gone back to peacetime production. Everybody is tired of rationing and wants plenty of new clothes. We are helping to make them, fully-fashioned stockings, materials for next summer's frocks, all sorts of things. And other people in foreign countries want them too!  These people wish to buy British Cotton Goods because they know they are the best in the world. In exchange, they will send us more food and raw materials with which to make all the things we want so badly; the interesting, exciting things which we have done without for so long.
"Working Conditions are excellent, and the work, which is light, interesting and well-paid, offers particularly attractive prospects to women, and to girls and boys leaving school. Parents can be assured that girls and boys are well cared for by a Welfare and Labour Officer.
"Five-day Week! The hours of work are 7.30am to 5.30pm from Monday to Friday, leaving the whole of the weekend free.
"The Canteen serving snacks as well as a full midday meal which costs 10d, is available to all employees, while young workers under 16 are eligible for dinners at the reduced price of 6d. The trolley service provides a welcome cup of tea and sandwich in the middle of the morning and afternoon.
"Recreation Facilities are provided by the Welfare Committee, and the fortnightly dances which are held in the Canteen during the Winter months are very popular."

1946 - The annual total rainfall was 38.85 inches.




1956  February 1
Coldest day of the century in Britain.





1956  March 30 - April 2
Anti-nuclear protestors made first march from research establishment at Aldermaston, Berks to London.





1956  April 17
Premium Bonds introduced.





1956  October 17
First large nuclear power station opened at Calder Hall.





1956  Oct 23 - Nov 4
Hungarian national uprising suppressed by Soviet military intervention in Budapest.





1957  January 9
Anthony Eden resigned as PM and was replaced by Harold Macmillan.



1957  October 4
USSR launched Sputnik into outer space; circled the globe in 95 minutes.

1956   A Survey of Cromford by a WEA class.
WEA (Workers' Educational Association) classes started in Cromford in 1947, meeting weekly in the school. During the sessions of 1956 - 58 the class undertook a survey of the village, recording the state of agriculture, occupations, places of work, transport and amenities. They wrote about the village's history, its geology and rainfall. They left no record of their names, but left a fascinating picture of Cromford as it was in 1956.
Agriculture -
There were 529 acres of agricultural land. Of this 460 acres were put to grass for mowing or grazing; 30 acres were used for wheat, oats, barley and potatoes - turnips, swedes and cabbages were grown for stock feeding; there were a further 39 acres of rough pasture.
Livestock: cattle - 178; sheep - 68; pigs - 74; horses - 8; poultry - 1607.
"The plateau top of Cromford Moors, developed on the gritstone, is quite extensively utilised for dairy cattle, the negative areas within this belt being associated with old mining units or with outcrops of gritstones."
Occupations -
The group obtained their figures from the electoral register, which then included occupations. The information for the under 21s, who did not have the vote, was derived from local knowledge.
There were 484 employed people in Cromford and Scarthin, of whom 78 lived in Scarthin. Separate figures for men and women are not given.
Employment Classifications and the numbers of people employed therein:
• Transport and Communications - 81 employed. Most worked on the railways locally or in Derby.
• Textiles - 71 employed. Most worked at Masson Mill, with 23 being employed at Lea Mills.
• Mining and Quarrying - 63 employed. The quarrymen worked in Cromford or Matlock. The 8 coal miners travelled to Oakerthorpe.
• Distributive Trades - 51 employed. Shop workers, most worked in Cromford or Matlock.
• Gas, Electricity and Water - 25 employed.
• Agriculture - 23 employed. The small number reflected the mainly pastoral farming which needed few workers.
• Building and Contracting - 20 employed. Nine workers in this category lived in Scarthin.
• Chemicals and Allied Trades - 16 employed. They all worked in the colour works at the Cromford mill site.
• Engineering and Metal Manufacture - 18 employed in various categories.
• Professional services - 16 employed.
Of the remainder, 85 people worked in non specified "miscellaneous services",
8 in Public Administration, 6 in other industries and one in the Finance industry.
Places of Work -
• Matlock - 177 people (36.6%) worked in Matlock, three miles from Cromford. However, Masson Mill is included in this area, and is in walking distance.
• Cromford -161 people (33.3%) worked in Cromford or Scarthin, living in walking distance of their work in the quarries, colour works, shops etc. If the 50 or so workers at Masson Mill, just inside Matlock Bath, are added to this figure, then most people were able to walk to work.
• Derby - 28 people travelled the 17 miles to Derby.
• Lea Mills - 23 people worked at the John Smedley Ltd factory.
• Middleton - 14 people. The quarry and marble works provided employment.
• Rowsley - 14 people. The railways were the main employer here.
The remaining 72 people travelled to neighbouring villages and towns to work, two being employed in Nottingham.
"Even with the advent of the 'bus, by far the largest percentage of the people work locally... 69.9% of the people find employment in either Cromford or Matlock. It is possible that Derby attracts workers to some extent because it is linked to the village by a direct train and 'Bus service."
Communications -
• Trains:
There were 8 trains daily in each direction, Derby to (Buxton?). No express trains stopped in Cromford.
• Buses: There were frequent buses to Matlock, Wirksworth, Bonsall and Alfreton. The buses provided direct links on a less frequent scale with Derby, Manchester and Nottingham.
Amenities -
• Shops included a general store, 2 butchers, 3 greengroceries - one with a fish department, drapery, footwear, pharmacy, newagency, bakery and ladies' hairdressing. There was also a blacksmith.
• There was a Post Office in Scarthin; also 3 letter boxes and 3 telephone kiosks around the village.
• A branch of Lloyds's Bank was open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
• The village was visited by 3 doctors from Wirksworth and Matlock, and had a surgery on most days of the week. A district nurse was available.
• There were 2 Church of England churches - St Mary's, the parish church in Mill Lane, and St Mark's, a cemetery chapel off The Hill, used for occasional services only. The Methodist chapel in Water Lane was frequently attended by visitors from Willersley Castle Guest House, run by the Methodist Guild.
• The WI (Women's Institute) had a flourishing branch.
• A WEA class met weekly during the winter time in the school.
• The mobile library visited Cromford each week.
• An active Parent-Teacher Association had grown up in the village in recent years.
• The primary school in North Street had 240 pupils.
• The annual carnival, dating from 1918, was held early in September, with an open air harvest festival service.
• There were 3 public houses - The Greyhound Hotel, the Bell Inn and the Boat Inn.

1956 - The total annual rainfall was 36.65 inches. August was the wettest month with 6 inches of rain.

The full report produced by the class, "Cromford Past and Present", can be seen at the Local Studies Library in Matlock. Ref 942.51C

1961  Aug 10
Britain formally applied for EEC membership

1961. A baby show held at the annual Cromford Carnival on Cromford Meadows saw Stephen Fletcher chosen as best boy baby, while Jane Helen Williams was deemed to be best baby girl. Cromford primary school put on a concert which featured a fearsome looking dragon, and the fancy dress competition included a group of Red Indian braves.  
1967  May 28
Francis Chichester completed his solo circumnavigation of the world in Gipsy Moth IV.

1967  July 1
First colour TV started on BBC2.

1967  November 27
British application to join EEC vetoed by France.

1967   November 30
The British colony of Aden gained independence as People's Republic of South Yemen.

1967. Sale of Cromford Bridge House.
The owners of Bridge House, Lt. Col. & Mrs S Bull, put the property up for sale by auction on Wednesday, 15 March 1967. The house was described in the auctioneer's brochure as follows: "A beautiful Tudor country house in a choice position facing south over the River Derwent and the parkland beyond, down the valley with its wooded hillsides... The front elevation shows various periods of English architecture dating back several hundred years. There are mullioned windows, three gables, each surmounted by a stone knop, and two beautiful wrought-iron lanterns fitted with electric light. This charming and delightful property is listed as being of historical and architectural interest."
Downstairs was a stoneflagged entrance hall, cloakroom, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen with Aga cooker, a back hall with an old bread oven and stone table, utility room and larder. The larder, with its beams, plaster mouldings and stone flags, was thought to date back to the 13th century.
Two separate staircases led up to the first floor. There were five bedrooms and two bathrooms. Two good sized storerooms and a tank room were on the floor above.
On the other side of Willersley Road was the old coach house, in use as two garages and a timber store. The garden contained many fine mature trees, and sloped to the south in terraces. There were lawns and a kitchen garden.
Included in the sale was a strip of land adjoining the River Derwent from Cromford Bridge to the railway bridge, with fishing rights.

Cromford Bridge House was sold to Mr Smith of Duffield for £15,000.

1969  April 19
Riots in Belfast and Londonderry.
1969  July 21
US astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first man to set foot on the moon.
In 1969 D H Lawrence's story "The Virgin and the Gypsy" was filmed on location in Derbyshire. The story takes place in the fictional village of Colgrave.
Filming took place around Youlgreave which was always believed to be his inspiration. Beeley Moor, Derwent Dam and the Chatsworth Estate also featured in the film which starred Honor Blackman, Maurice Denham and Franco Nero.
Cromford Railway Station took the part of Colgrave station.
1971  February 15
Decimal coinage replaced shillings and pence.
In July 1971 the Arkwright Festival was held to mark the 200th anniversary of Arkwright's first water-powered spinning mill in Cromford. Villagers played the part of the Arkwright family in a performance in the village.

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1982  April 2
Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British crown colony.
1982   June 14
Argentina surrendered, defeated by a Royal Navy task force.

1983  June 9
Conservatives re-elected after General Election. Margaret Thatcher stayed as PM.

1984  March 15
Miners' strike against threatened pit closures.

1984  October 12
IRA bomb killed four at Brighton's Grand Hotel during Conservative Party conference.

March 1983 saw the unveiling of a Blue Plaque at 8 Adam Street, The Strand, London. This was the London home of Sir Richard Arkwright, which he bought in 1788 and used during his frequent business trips to the capital. The occasion marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Richard on December 23rd, 1732, and was attended by the Duke of Devonshire, a member of the Arkwright family and other dignitaries.
Councillor Collins, chairman of Derbyshire County Council, presented a portrait of Sir Richard to the present occupants of the house, Park Advertising, for permanent display in the building.
The house was bought by Derbys County Council pension's fund in 1978.

The weekend of 5th and 6th of June 1983 was the occasion of the seventh annual Midland Counties Country Show, held on Cromford Meadows. Originally a horse show, the event had expanded to cover a variety of country activities and was held over two days for the first time.
The fine weather brought crowds of over 23,000 to enjoy the entertainments. Star attraction was the TV personality Barbara WOODHOUSE, with her dog-training Roadshow.
There were more than a hundred horse events with over 1000 competitors including top international riders. The programme also included police dog handling, falconry and gundog demonstrations. Other attractions were blacksmiths at work, tug-of-war championships and marching bands, as well as a display of vintage cars and a host of stalls.

1985  March 5th
NUM called off year long miners' strike

1985   May 11
55 people died in fire at Bradford City's football ground.
1985   May 29
38 killed in violence at Liverpool v Juventus football match at Heysel Stadium, Brussels.


Wednesday 18th September 1985 - a massive police operation was launched in Cromford after an armed raid on Lloyds Bank in the village, during which £7,500 was stolen. The bank security guard Mr Jack Power, age 61, was hit in the face with a shotgun and taken to hospital, where a gash over his eye was stitched.
The three raiders escaped in a stolen Ford Escort. A reward was offered for information but they were never caught.

1987   January 20
Terry Waite taken hostage in Beirut.

1987  March 7
The ferry Herald of Free Enterprise capsized at Zeebrugge with loss of 188 lives.

In 1987 the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust purchased Rose End Meadows for £20,000. These eleven fields high on Cromford Hill behind Alabaster Lane had been farmed by the Ollerenshaw family and had not been ploughed or treated with fertilisers or pesticides.
The site is now a Nature Reserve classified by English Nature as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a rich habitat for a wide variety of insects and wildflowers, including lead tolerant plants.
1991  January/February
Bombing raids by UN allies over Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait.

1991  August 8
Release of British hostage John McCarthy after being held for 5 years in Beirut.

1991   November 18
Release of hostage Terry Waite.

1992  April 9
General Election returned Conservatives with reduced majority.

In October 1991 Masson Mill closed. Production ceased after the Tootal Group, tenants at the mill, was bought out by Coats Vyella and relocated to Scotland to benefit from EU grants.
The red-brick Masson Mill was opened by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1784, and was the only one of his mills to be powered by the River Derwent. It had been in continuous production for 207 years. Closure of the mill and its sister mill at Belper led to the loss of 220 jobs.
When the closure was finally announced, a poem by an anonymous writer was pinned to the mill's notice board.

April 1992 - the owner of the empty Masson Mill, Robert Aram, revealed his plans for the mill buildings. He was hoping to refurbish the newer parts of the mill to be let for office or retail use. He also planned to house a museum for his collection of machinery gathered during his acquisition of industrial buildings, which included seven mills and 18 industrial chimneys.

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2001  February-October
The countryside was paralysed by Foot and Mouth.

2001  June 7
Labour re-elected in General Election.

2001  September 11
World Trade Centre in New York destroyed by hi-jacked planes. Almost 3000 people died.

2001. Derbyshire was largely free of Foot and Mouth, which affects cattle and sheep, but all local footpaths, including Cromford Canal, were closed as a precautionary measure. The re-opening of Cromford Meadows to sports players and walkers was delayed until October because of grazing sheep.

On 23 May 2001 a fire engine answering an emergency call collided with a car at Cromford Crossroads and crashed through the wall above Lime Yard, demolishing a garage and car in the yard.

General Election - West Derbyshire constituency returned the only Conservative MP in Derbyshire, Patrick McLoughlin.

In December Cromford became part of the newly created Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

2002  February 9
Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister, died.

2002  March 30
Death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother aged 101.

2002  June 4
Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

2002 Saturday 30 June. The Queen's Golden Jubilee Baton was carried through Cromford on its way to Manchester for the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

July. WI members counted some 400 trees in a survey of Cromford Meadows.

August 2 - Cromford Steam Rally was cancelled for the first time in its 32 year history. The ground had become waterlogged after prolonged heavy rainfall.

On 8 November the 181 year old aqueduct which formerly carried water to Cromford Mill over Mill Lane was demolished when it was brought crashing to the ground by a container lorry.

2003  February 1
Space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry to Earth killing all astronauts on board.

2003  March 20
Iraq invaded by US led coalition, including Britain, to bring about overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

2003.   An eventful year for Cromford Mill.
On Tuesday 4 February the mechanism and dial of a longcase clock dating from the 1770s was stolen from the Mill restaurant. The face had been re-silvered recently. It has black numerals and is engraved with "J Jeffryes, Cromford" and a small bird and plant motif.
16 - 21 July 2003.   A fire insurance plate issued by the Guardian Insurance Group to Sir Richard Arkwright over 200 years ago was stolen. The plate, made of embossed copper, measures about 12ins x 8ins and depicts the goddess Athena. It was positioned 25 feet above the road over the gate.
26 August.   Cromford Mill was a contender in BBC2's Restoration series, which aims to save an endangered building from dereliction, but failed to make the final stage.
28 October.   After months of campaigning and fund raising the portrait "Richard Arkwright, his wife Mary and Child", by Derby artist Joseph Wright, was brought to its new home at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
2004   March 11
Terrorist attacks on trains in Madrid killed 202, injuring 1,750.
2004   September 3
Troops stormed Beslan school in Russia, held hostage by Chechen terrorists. 336 people killed, mainly children.
2004   December 26
Tsunami struck SE Asia, killing around 225,000 people.
2004 January 30 - Prince Charles visited Cromford Mill to view the restoration work undertaken by the Arkwright Society and to unveil a commemorative plaque.

March 4 - The Rugby World Cup was brought to Cromford Meadows, the home of Matlock Rugby Club, during a nationwide tour. Crowds of children from local schools assembled for a sight of the Webb Ellis Cup. The Sweet Chariot Tour was undertaken after the England win in the world championships in November led to nationwide rejoicing.

October 2 - The Hannage Brook Medical Centre in Wirksworth closed its Cromford surgery. It was held at the Institute every Tuesday.

October - Renovation work estimated to cost £20,000 was carried out on the engine catch pit on the Sheep Pasture incline on the High Peak Trail.

2005   February 7
Ellen MacArthur sailed solo around the world setting a new record
2005   April 2
Pope John Paul II died.
2005  July 7
Suicide bombers exploded four bombs in London. 52 deaths.
2005 August 29
Devastation after hurricane Katrina hit US Gulf coast.
2005  October 8
7.6 earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir. Over 87,000 lives lost.
2005 February 25. A large boulder of limestone fell from the cliff face on to the A6 near Cromford crossroads. The rock, estimated to weigh about one tonne, brought down with it a shower of stones and broken branches. The rock fell at 9am when the road was busy with commuter traffic, but fortunately no vehicles were hit.

May 23 - work to fix netting on the cliff face began at an estimated cost of £50,000.

May 2 - Mary Winterbourne retired after running Cromford's chemist shop for the past 22 years. B Payne & Son, the Wirksworth chemist, has taken over the business.

May 5 - General Election saw the return of Patrick McLoughlin as Conservative MP for West Derbyshire with an increased majority. Nationally it was a third consecutive Labour victory, with Tony Blair Prime Minister for another term.

June 17, 18, 19 - The village festival Celebrating Cromford held for the first time.

August - Mr John Arkwright, the great x 4 grandson of Sir Richard Arkwright, travelled from his home in New Zealand to visit Cromford Mill and Willersley Castle. His family has been in New Zealand for three generations.

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2006 April 21
Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 80th birthday at Windsor.
2006 March 31. Howard's Bakery on the Market Place closed following the retirement of the proprietors, Mr and Mrs Wright. The property was sold for re-development.

October and November. Scenes from the film "And When Did You Last See Your Father?", based on a book by Blake Morrison, were shot at locations around Cromford and inside the Old Vicarage. The story is set in the 1960s and 1980s, with Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent playing a father and son.

2007 June 27
Tony Blair succeeded by Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.
2007 July 1
Smoking ban in public places began in England.
2007 December 18
Nick Clegg became leader of the Liberal Democrats.
2007 May 3. Derbyshire Dales District Council elections took place. Elected were Peter Thomas HUME, Conservative, and John Sanders MARCH, Labour. The council remained under Conservative control with 26 out of 38 seats.

October 6. Rev Nick Grayshon became the new vicar of the joint benefice of Matlock Bath and Cromford.

November 15. Dale Diva, a women's singing group, was launched by Ally Law at the Community Centre.

December 6. A by-election was held to fill the vacancy on DDDC following the death of Councillor John March on 21 August. Garry Purdy was elected as councillor for the Masson ward.

2008 February 17
Northern Rock nationalised.
2008 October 10 - collapse of Iceland's banking sector.
2008 February 15 - Moira Alsebrook retired from Cromford school where she had worked cleaning the classrooms and corridors for the past 30 years. A special assembly and presentation were held to held to mark the occasion.  

2009 January 6
Last Woolworths store closed, after 100 years of the company. It had 813 shops, over 27,000 jobs have been lost.
2009 25 July
Harry Patch, last British survivor of the First World War trenches, died at the age of 111

2009 In May, Kathleen Wilson, who runs the Derwent Valley Donkey Sanctuary on Intake Lane, Cromford, was given a Community Champions award for Kindness to Animals.

June 19. New owners of the Bell Inn on North Street, local couple Paul and Jemma Mosley, re-opened the pub on the first evening of Celebrating Cromford. The Bell had been closed for over a year, and will be run as a free house.

September 17. Mr Stuart Ludlam, a 43 year old taxi driver from Darley Dale, was found shot dead in his taxi at Cromford railway station.

The recently restored Cromford Station and Waiting Room were each given a Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award during a ceremony in the Merchant Taylor's Hall in London in December.


Roman sites in Derbyshire.
The fort at Derventio (Little Chester). The name derived from the Celtic word meaning "many oak trees". Now Chester Green, Derby. An earlier timber fort on what is now Strutts Park was abandoned c AD 80.
Anavio - the fort at Brough.
Town of Aqua Arnemetiae - today's Buxton. Site of Roman baths.
Melandra Castle, the fort at Glossop. More properly called Ardotalia which means "Edge of the Hill".
Roystone Grange. A Romano-British farming settlement. Opencast lead mining can be identified along a vein bridged by a Roman field wall.
Parwich and Pentrich were the sites of small camps.

Local tradition has it that Cromford's neighbouring village of Middleton by Wirksworth was a colony for slaves and convicts made to work in the lead mines.

Roman finds can be seen in the museums at Derby and Buxton, and in Matlock Bath mining museum. Haddon Hall has an altar to the god Mars.

The Romans used large amounts of lead as we today use plastic - for water pipes, domestic pots and pans, and for cosmetic powders. American scientist S C Gilfillan put forward the idea that the wealthier Romans may have suffered from lead poisoning which would explain the neurotic behaviour of some of their rulers. It has been estimated that the wealthier Romans absorbed more than one hundred times as much lead as the poorer people who used earthenware, and that this could have been a factor in the collapse of Roman civilisation.
Roman Derbyshire, John J Anderson

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Chapels built by a river crossing, whether ford, causeway or bridge, were widespread in the Middle Ages. There are three such surviving chapels in Derbyshire: one at the north end of Swarkestone Bridge, where only foundations remain; the restored St Mary's Bridge Chapel in Derby, where as late as 1488 there is recorded a resident hermit in charge of the bridge and a chapel with a chaplain; and the sparse remains of a chapel at the southern end of Cromford Bridge.


The Bridge Chapel and bridge in June 2003 Nothing is known of the early history of the chapel. There is no mention of it in documents of the 12th and early 13th centuries, although there is a record of Hugh, a chaplain of Cromford in about 1200. The first references to a chapel at Cromford are in bequests left for its upkeep in the 16th century. By this time the bridge chapel was no longer just for the use of travellers praying for a safe crossing of the river, but had become a parochial chapelry for this outlying part of Wirksworth parish.
The first surviving will to mention the chapel is that of Richard Smyth, vicar of Wirksworth, who 1504. Thomas Blackwall of Wirksworth, in his will dated 23rd January 1524, left money to Wirksworth and other local churches, but to Cromford chapel he left "a fodder of lead, as well in discharge of old reckonings, as towards the maintenance of divine service."
A fodder was a measure worth about £5.
The Wigley family of Middleton owned houses and land near Cromford Bridge where widows and junior members of the family lived. In 1533 Alice Wigley died and her will stated: "I bequeath to Cromford Chapel one heifer of two years of age." (ie a young cow).
When Richard Wigley of Middleton died in 1540 he left the chapel at Cromford two shillings.
During Edward VI's short reign from 1547 to 1553, every church in the land had to return an Inventory of Church Goods. The return from the mother church at Wirksworth includes: "Crumforde chapel - 1 lytle bell without a clapper - 1 vestment."
A window with the Talbot coat of arms was still in place in 1753 and probably dates from this period. Henry Talbot who died in 1596 was lord of the manor of Cromford.

  This was a difficult time for ordinary people who were seeing their religious beliefs and practices overturned by national forces about which they knew little. Edward VI and his advisers were fervent Protestants and introduced sweeping changes - chantries were suppressed, images removed from churches, including vestments, crucifixes and holy water, and saints' days were abolished. The Book of Common Prayer was revised and written in English.
Mary Tudor succeeded Edward in 1553 and reigned for five years. She was popular at first as the looting of churches stopped and Catholic doctrine was restored. But her marriage to Philip of Spain and persecution of Protestants turned the people against her. She was followed by the Protestant Elizabeth I who restored a moderate Anglicanism.
  It was probably during these turbulent times that the Bridge Chapel ceased to be used as a place of worship. It is not named in the report of the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1650. There is also no mention of the Bridge Chapel in the Wirksworth Church Wardens' accounts which date from 1658. Cromford was by then one of the outlying hamlets in the Wirksworth parish.
According to Wolley, at some point the chapel was converted into two cottages, and a painting of 1786 shows a gable over the wall of the bridge. Wolley states the cottages were later dismantled by Richard Arkwright Junior. However Benjamin Bryan, writing in 1903, said that if that was correct then "another cottage must have been built on the site, as one still stands there; nor was the ancient chapel entirely demolished, for under the cottage is a Gothic arched doorway still standing in a portion of the south wall of the chapel."
Adjacent to the chapel Arkwright built a small cottage in the style of a Fishing Lodge, and inscribed "Piscatoribus sacrum". It was originally occupied by the water bailiff for the Arkwright estate, and was lived in until 1914. The remains of the old chapel were used as an outhouse to this cottage.
Only parts of the northern wall, with a round spy hole over looking the river, and the southern wall, containing a moulded doorway and a small two-light window now remain.

By 1939 the remains of the chapel were in a bad state and in danger of disappearing. They were unprotected and their existence was hardly recognised. Following enquiries made to the the Derbyshire Archaeological Society the ruins were examined by Mr Percy Currey and Mr T L Tudor. Mr Currey compiled a report which included the following points:
"The stone is in excellent condition but ivy is disturbing the foundations and working its way over and through the walling, while trees are growing on the tops of the walls and sending their roots down into their heart. To secure the preservation of the remains it would be necessary to remove the trees and the ivy and to kill their roots, to point up the masonry and to protect the tops of the walls with flag stones or rough rubble copings. Great care would be needed in carrying out this work, but there is so little of it that the cost would not be great. In view of the scarcity of the remains of Bridge Chapels in this country it seems very desirable that this small relic should be preserved."
Diagram 1
Plan of the site in 1939
Mr Currey observed that this surviving fragment of the building had been at one time occupied as a cottage, comprising a little living room, pantry and closet. A diagram he drew of the remains shows the walls of these rooms still survived. He put forward the theory that the remains were of an undercroft and that the chapel itself would have stood on a floor above, level with the road.

Left: Diagram 1 shows the site as it was in 1939. The door and window are in the south wall.

  Note: The idea that the remains were of an undercroft has not been taken up by any one else and the position of the spy-hole in fact indicates that the chapel was at its present level. The bridge was at one time narrower and more hump backed, so the road by the chapel may have been much lower, with the entrance to the chapel being at the same level as the road.  
  Mr Tudor was of the opinion that the ruins represented only the west end of the chapel, with a south entrance. He noted that along the adjoining river bank there were foundations of strong walls extending 30 feet eastward, and believed them to be the base of the main body of the chapel, especially the east or chancel end. He wondered whether the chapel may have predated the bridge.
Following the survey the County Surveyor gave permission to the Derbyshire Archaeological Society to carry out the recommended work on the ruins. The Bridge Chapel and Fishing Lodge were owned by Mr Charles Vincent Payne. At his death in 1941 they came into the possession of his son Mr Charles Leslie Lionel Payne who gave the Chapel and surrounding land to the Derbyshire Archaeological Society in November 1943.


The chapel in 1951The Second World War from 1939 to 1945 delayed the start of renovation work on the Chapel remains, and it was not until 1951 that an appeal was launched for the necessary funds. Work began in August of that year and was completed in 1952.
Mr Bernard Widdows directed the project. There were two principal objectives: to prevent further damage to the remains; and to excavate for evidence of the history of the chapel, in particular whether there was at one time an eastward extension.
Right: one of the recent walls shown in diagram 1 can be seen at the east end of the chapel in this photograph of 1951. Trees are growing on the walls.

As work progressed, the foundations of the original east wall were uncovered. In addition, foundations of the north and east walls of an extension were found, but the style of the masonry was different from the existing walls and it was thought to be a later addition.
Diagram 2
Plan of the site in 1951 The most interesting discoveries were made within and near the chapel itself, where were found the remains of walls predating the chapel and incorporated into the wall over- looking the river. In the opinion of the Ministry of Works' inspector of Ancient Monuments this was the foundation of a stone abutment to a timber bridge which was an earlier structure than the existing bridge.
Left: Diagram 2 shows the results of the survey of the chapel after excavation, October 1951. Wall A-B was the original east wall. C-D the limit of a later extension. The dotted line shows the foundations of the stone abutment. Shaded areas are the standing walls.

Finally, repair work was undertaken to protect the ruins. As had been observed 13 years earlier, trees and vegetation were growing on the walls and weakening the joints. The stones were removed, numbered and put back into position when all the vegetation had been cleared away. The tops of the walls were capped. A "shelf " was put on the inside of the chapel walls to show the original level of the chapel floor. The site was grassed down, and the lines of the foundations were shown as stone.

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The Wigley family takes its name from a hamlet near Old Brampton, four miles from Chesterfield. The first recorded mention of a Wigley in Wirksworth was in 1383 when land was granted to Richard, son of Roger de Wygeleye. In 1451 at Wirksworth manor court, William Alson surrendered a cottage in Wirksworth to the use of John Wigley and Ralph his son.
The following tree concentrates on the Wigleys who were associated with Cromford. Their names are in bold, and the stars indicate the generations.

* John, mentioned in records of 1451, had two sons (1) John and (2) Ralph.

** (1) John, had a son

*** John, who married Alice, she died 1533.

** (2) Ralph (died 1514) - married Isabel.
Ralph and Isabel had two sons, Richard and William.

*** Richard, born c1480, died 1540. He married Isabel who died Sept 1558.
Richard and Isabel had four children:
John, Catherine, Elizabeth and Crystan.
John died in 1579. He married Elizabeth Crane.

**** John and Elizabeth had 4 sons and 3 daughters:
They were Henry, Richard, Ralph, Mary, Matthilda, Margaret and John.
John, the youngest, was a yeoman farmer who died in 1589.
Henry, born c 1533, died 18 June 1610. He married Elizabeth Gell of Hopton who died in 1626.

***** Henry and Elizabeth had 8 sons and 3 daughters:
They were Thomas, Richard, Anthony, John, Ralph, Edmund, Edward, Emot, Mary, Henry and Dorothy.
****** Anthony, a farmer, married Elizabeth, and had a daughter Anne. He died in June 1629.
****** Ralph was a tanner, married to Isabel.
****** Dorothy first married Henry Wooddis, and their daughter ******* Millicent was living with her grandmother Elizabeth in Cromford when Elizabeth died in 1626.

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A letter from HENRY COATES concerning the Dovegang Lead Mine at Cromford, Derbyshire. The mine extended for about one mile from Cromford Moor to Middleton Moor, and Coates was probably the Steward or agent of the mine.

Hen Coates letter          (written on the reverse of letter)
about Dovegang

To The Right Honourable
my very good Lord & Mr.
in (Sarganth. .?. . ) Jn.

Right Honourable my humble devotns & servis remembred.
These are to let Yor. Honor understand that yf yt please
Yor. Honor to be accwynted with the accounts concerning the
Gange, Mr. Molanns who is servant to Snr. Cornelius
Vermulden will make Yor. Honor Accuynted withall which
was done before Yor. Honor did make yr servant
Anthony Coates yor warrant to deale therein & for the
ore w(hic)h was got in that tyme before Anthony Coates
and Henry Coates did (enter) - I can make Yor. Honor
a low amount but for the money I do not know
how yt was dissburst - perhaps yt why Yor Honor
prepare to take accounts at ther tyme. & from that
tyme Yor Honor shall have a true Account what hath
bene done in every respect at Yor Honors Command.
and for all the ore that hath bene got prior Yor Honors
last warrant Yor Honors servant Anthony Coates
hath taken by every therd loade for Yor Honors lot
all Charges beinge defrayed and I would request Yr.
Honor to return an answer how all things concerning
the work or nought Yor Honor would have done concerning
the paid work & it shall be fully accomplished
according to Yor Honors command. & concerning the
springe the water is gon fforth of yt & we ' re
begin to work the 2nd day of May & 1 would request
Yor Honor to name yor partner that it may be
managed. for there is no doubt but there will be
much good don(e) in yt this yeare .
                            So 1 humbly take my leave
                            ever to command
                          Yor Honors humble servant,
                             Henry Coates
Cromfford, the tenth
of May, 1642

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Cornelius Vermuyden was born in 1595 in St Maartensdijk on the Isle of Tholen in Zealand, Netherlands. This was an area which had been largely reclaimed from the sea by the use of drains and embankments.
A renowned drainage expert, Vermuyden was invited by King James 1 to repair embankments along the River Thames.
He became involved with the drainage of Hatfield Chase near Doncaster in Yorkshire and was knighted for his achievements in 1629.
Vermuyden's greatest work was the draining of the Fens in Cambridgeshire. The "Gentlemen Adventurers" led by the Duke of Bedford financed a scheme to drain the peat fens and hired Vermuyden to plan the project.
One of the Adventurers was Sir Robert Heath, who together with Vermuyden had interests in the Dovegang lead mines in Cromford, Derbyshire. The mines had become unworkable through flooding, and Vermuyden's expertise was used in the construction of soughs, or adits, to drain water from the workings.
Work on draining the Bedford Level in the Fens was completed in 1637. The men engaged in the work were Protestants from France and Holland who had fled from persecution in their own countries.
Other drainage schemes were undertaken after the Civil War, when the workforce was swelled by Scottish and Dutch prisoners of war.
During the Civil War Vermuyden was on the side of Parliament. He and his wife Catherine had five children. His son John was to take possession of the Dovegang Mine on reaching his majority in 1648. The trustee of the mine, Marcellus Vanduran, refused to hand over the title, alleging that Vermuyden owed him several thousand pounds in unpaid loans and interest.
Vermuyden also suffered financial losses in the ventures in the Fens. Many of the Gentlemen Adventurers were ruined, even the Duke of Bedford was forced to sell estates to defray his expenses.
It is believed that Vermuyden died in poverty some time after 1656.

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The inscription "THE LEAP OF MR B H MARE JUNE 1697" is carved on a stone set into the wall of Cromford Bridge. Over the years the identity of the rider was forgotten.
In 1832, in his Visitors' Guide to the Beauties of Matlock, A Jewitt describes the bridge as "from standing in a direction very much swerving from the road, (it) has been the scene of several accidents, which it is wonderful to say, have never ended fatally. The accidents alluded to, are of horses, when coming at full speed, leaping over the then low parapet at the end next the cottage, into the river below. A stone in the wall records one leap, and two others have taken place since by two horses of Mr Arkwright's, ridden by his grooms."
In 1863 in "Wirksworth and Five Miles Round" by R R Hackett the horse rider is named as William Froggatt.
In 1903 B Bryan writing in his History of Matlock describes "a spirited horse, instead of taking the sharp turn to the left to cross the bridge leaped the parapet, carrying its rider with it to the ground on the other side, a depth of 20 to 30 feet, and that both escaped unhurt".
A 1920s guide to Willersley by F Mutton again names the rider of the horse as William Froggatt.
In 1944 Alison Uttley described the inscription in "Country Things", a book of memories of her childhood in Cromford, but was unable to name Mr B H.
A William Froggatt was living on Cromford Hill in 1851 and his horse may have indeed jumped over the bridge but he was not the Mr B H in the inscription.

Although the identity of the rider had been generally forgotten, it was known by the families descended from him, and was revealed after an article in "The Derbyshire Countryside" in 1933. Headed "Peculiar Relic at Cromford", Victor Bancroft describes the inscription and is photographed beside it. He quotes various ideas as to its meaning - "Among these is the theory that the word "Mare" refers to a one time Mayor of Derby ...... (or) the word "Mare" refers not to a Mayor but to an animal which leapt the bridge ...... (or) we should assume that a Mr B H Mare leapt here in 1697."

There was a swift response from Mr Henry Douglas of The Rowans, Matlock, reproduced here in full -
            "Sir. - Some considerable amusement has been afforded us by Mr Victor Bancroft's article in
            your last issue, regarding the inscription on the parapet of Cromford Bridge. We had no idea
            it had so many interpretations and would like to explain what it really means.
            The initials "R/M B H" stand for Mr Benjamin Hayward, who resided at Bridge House,
            When returning home on his favourite mare after his usual daily canter, the horse, instead of
            taking the sharp turn over the bridge, leaped the parapet at this point landing in the river
            below, where it scaled the opposite bank and proceeded home with its master still safely
            seated on its back, and both were quite unhurt:  but we will agree with Mr Bancroft that they
            might be distinctly wet.
            A grand-daughter of this gentleman married Mr Edmund Hodgkinson of the Manor of
            Willersley, which he purchased from Edwin Lascelles, Esq. (afterwards Lord Harewood)
            in 1778. This gentle-man was a direct ancestor of the present Hodgkinsons of Matlock and
            Baslow, and the above story has been handed down to them, and to the writer, who is also a
            member of this family."

It is now generally agreed that the horse rider was Benjamin Hayward of Cromford Bridge House.

The Hayward Family
Spellings of the name of this family vary. Haywood, Heywood, Heyward, Hayward and Heawood have all been used in records, but for consistency HAYWARD will be used here throughout.
Benjamin Hayward, the MR B H of the Cromford Bridge inscription, married Elizabeth Wigley on 22 October 1685. Elizabeth belonged to the Cromford branch of the Wigley family and was the daughter of Henry Wigley of Cromford Bridge House. That part of Cromford was in Matlock parish so the marriage took place in Matlock church.
Elizabeth and Benjamin had three children. Elizabeth, christened at Matlock in 1688, was to marry Robert Moore of Winster Hall, and had no children. Benjamin was christened in 1689, he was alive in 1713 but his fate is unknown. The last child was Wigley, born around 1690. His christening has not been found but he was named by Thomas Ince as a son of Benjamin. Wigley Hayward of Cromford Bridge House died in 1756.
Wigley had three children. Mary, christened 1724, died age 21 unmarried. Samuel was christened in 1726, his fate is unknown. Elizabeth, christened 1727, married Edmund Hodgkinson on 22 April 1752 at Matlock, and was the grand daughter of Benjamin Hayward referred to in Mr Douglas's letter.
Elizabeth and Edmund had seven children, the eldest magnificently named Wigley Hayward Hodgkinson. This name was also given to a grandson of Elizabeth and Edmund and he in turn named his own son Charles Wigley Hayward Hodgkinson in 1832. Does this tradition continue?

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The Poll Book gives the name and place of residence. Property qualification, where the property is situated & in whose occupation. How voted.  (H)oward, (W)aterpark, (G)reisley.
Information in italics is from Pigot's Directory or census.
Living in Cromford and owning and/or occupying property there:
Peter ARKWRIGHT esq  - (voted) G;                  Samuel BROWN, Publican   - G;
Daniel GELL, Publican at Blue Bell  - V & W;     Joseph HIGGOTT, Land Surveyor  - G;
George HIGGOTT, Publican at Greyhound  - G;  John MART, Publican at Cock  - W & G;
German WHEATCROFT,  - not voted;

Living in Cromford with property in Bonsall:
George ALLEN senior,  Shopkeeper  - V & W;  George ALLEN junior,  Shopkeeper  - V & W;
George EATON  - not voted;               James GREEN  Grocer,  - V & W;
Living in Cromford with property in Crich:  George HILL,  - V & W;
Living in Cromford with property in Middleton-by-Wirksworth:  J BRITLAND  - V & W;

Living in Cromford with property in Matlock:
Richard ARKWRIGHT esq, Willersley Castle, not voted;  Anthony BODEN, Cromford  -V & W;
Anthony BODEN, Scarthin Nick,  Butcher  - W & G;       Thomas BODEN,  Farmer  - W & G;
William GOULD, - V & W;  Joshua HODGKINSON, - W & G;
Joshua ROPER,  Publican at Crown - G;   Anthony SWIFT,  - G;  
William STONE,  Joiner,  - W & G;           Joshua WESTON,  - G;
Joseph WESTON,  - not voted;  N WHEATCROFT, Chapel Hill, Farmer,  - not voted;

Living in Cromford with property in Tansley:  Francis STALEY,  Druggist & Ironmonger,  - V & W;
Living in Cromford with property in Wirksworth:  William FOX,  - G;


Extract from the Poll Book, Southern Division, 1832

                                 "To The
                   THE COUNTY OF DERBY.

The following pages contain information which will probably be
referred to by your children many years to come, with feelings of
interest, as they will point out the circumstances in life of their fathers
when the Reform Act was passed in the reign of William the Fourth;
and the part they acted in the important political drama of that period.
This act has so considerably enlarged the constituency of the United
Kingdom, and corrected so many of the evils of a corrupt system,
which had gradually crept in, and destroyed, in a great measure, the
influence which the people were supposed by the constitution to exer-
cise over their own affairs, that it must necessarily produce an extensive
and important change in the government of this country. The Reform
Act will be the commencement of a new era in the history of England -
an era which will develop(e) the wonderful resources of this mighty Empire,
and lead to their just adaptation to the wants of its inhabitants, and
witness the wise and equitable government of the whole community.
This change from a state of misrule, which has inflicted great distress
on the nation, will be looked back upon as one of the most memorable
events connected with the government of this kingdom; every freeman
may feel justly proud, who has contributed by his vote to this great and
beneficial change, and this Polling Book will be a voucher for the
Constituency of the Southern District of Derbyshire, for the part they
acted when the distresses of their country called for a judicious and
patriotic vote.
The County of Derby had, previously to the passing of the Reform
Act, returned two Members to Parliament; but the increase of its
wealth and inhabitants, produced by extensive and varied manufac-
tures, the value of its minerals, and the improvement of its agriculture,
placed it within the bounds of the line drawn by the framers of the
Reform Act, which entitled the County to return four Members. It
was divided into North and South, and the Hon. G. J. Vernon, who had
been elected to represent the County with Lord Cavendish, without
opposition, when his Majesty appealed to the country, from the
opponents of Reform in Parliament, by dissolving the House of Com-
mons, offered himself as a Candidate for the Southern Division. -
Sir Roger Greisley, Bart., and Lord Waterpark, also offered their
Services to the Electors; Sir Roger in the Conservative, and his
Lordship in the Reform interest.
The Election commenced at nine o'clock on Tuesday morning
The 18th of December."

The total number of electors registered was 5539, of whom 4771 voted. At the close of the poll, Vernon and Waterpark were elected.
Each elector had two votes, but some chose only to use one. These were called "Plumpers".

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