The Craxford Family Magazine Olive Pages

{$text['mgr_olive1']} Rutland 1

From Gretton to Barrowden 2: From Craxford to Wainwright and beyond

by Alan D. Craxford, Andrew Wainwright and Jeremy Craxford


The first chapter of this story From Gretton to Barrowden - 1: The Skin Trade concentrated on three of the sons of Robert Craxford and Sarah Briggs who were born at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the Northamptonshire village of Gretton. It also examined the skin trade in the village at the time and the various effects it had on their lives and families. This article will follow the path of one of those brothers, also named Robert, who moved over the border and settled in Barrowden, Rutland.

Robert Craxford was born in 1800, the third of Robert and Sarah Craxford's sons. For a reason that is still unclear, he became subject to a Removal Order under the regulations of the Poor Law Act of 1662 which sent him from Gretton to the nearby village of Laxton. He remained a resident there until he met and married Harriett Cotterill. Harriett had been born in Barrowden, Rutland in 1803, the youngest daughter of John (who had died in 1819) and Mary Cotterill. There is evidence to suggest that Robert converted to the Baptist faith and attended the Baptist Chapel in the village which had been built about 1819. The chapel was renowned for its "splendid" Sunday School. The marriage took place at the Chapel on December 14th 1823. According to dates, Harriett was probably six months pregnant at the time.

The following year, Robert and Harriett made their home in Barrowden which had a population of 658. Robert started working in the skin trade. The official documents (census returns, birth certificates) note his occupation as a dealer in animal skins and fellmonger. Over a twenty year period, Harriett gave birth to seven children (two sons and five daughters). During the 1840s they also provided a home for Harriett's widowed mother, Mary, who finally died in January 1848.

Robert died on April 21st 1868 after being disabled by a stroke two years previously. He was buried in the chapel graveyard. The chapel yard was not always used for this function and both before it was made into a graveyard and after it became full, baptists would be buried in St Peter's churchyard at the south west corner of the village. Harriett lived on in the village surviving her husband by over twenty five years. Latterly she went to live with her daughter Lucy, by this time also a widow, in a house in Mill Lane. She died on January 23rd 1894 and was interred in St Peter's Churchyard.

Barrowden Chapel
Interior view
The nural

Barrowden Baptist Chapel: Exterior and interior views including the mural

Sarah Craxford and Charles Matkin

Sarah Craxford was the firstborn of Robert and Harriett's children. Although she was baptised in Barrowden on March 14th 1824, the entry in the parish register shows the family to be still living about six miles south across the River Welland in the hamlet of Laxton. Sarah married Charles Matkin in Uppingham, Rutland in December 1851 and moved on to Oakham where they established a stationery and bookseller business. Sarah was to give birth to five sons. A fuller account of their story can be found in the article Matkins of Oakham, Generations

A death in Stamford

The second of Robert and Harriett's children, a daughter, was born in 1826. Mary was baptised in Barrowden on Sunday August 13th the same year (we believe the entry to be signed by William Barker, who was Rector of neighbouring South Luffenham parish and acting as the officiating minister rather than as usual by Richard Carey, the Rector of Barrowden). In her early teens she was sent into domestic service in Uppingham where she worked with two other youngsters in the household of Edward Jackson, his wife and infant son. He was a chemist and druggist who had premises in the Market Place and at the time of the census of 1841 he employed two assistant chemists as well as three domestic servants.

At the beginning of 1842, Mary became ill with a fever. She was transferred to St George's Infirmary, Stamford, where she was considered to have contracted typhus. Her condition deteriorated and she died on February 9th 1842. The cause of death was attributed to 'critical abscesses (the sequel of Typhus Fever)'. This vague archaic term does not define what her symptoms were or where these 'abscesses' may have occurred. Although typhus fever was well recognised, it was usually associated with very poor living conditions and contact with the lice which infested rats. This situation would seem unlikely at the Jackson abode. Although this can now only be conjecture, it is possible to speculate that Mary was suffering from the same condition which was to afflict and kill her cousin Mary Ann (Craxford) Serjeant, namely hydatid disease, in London a few years later (This is recounted in the section Mary Ann (1825-1848) in the article From Gretton to Barrowden 1).

In an interesting footnote to this part of the story, Edward Jackson was appointed to the post of Chief Constable of Wrangdike Hundred in October 1842 (1). The hundred was an ancient administrative division which was part of a larger geographic region. Wrangdike contained fourteen parishes, including Barrowden, Lyddington, Caldecott and Thorpe by Water, in the southern corner of Rutland.

Enter the family headstone

Lucy Craxford was born at the end of 1828 and was baptised in Barrowden on January 7th 1829. She remained in the family home after her two brothers had left and gone their separate ways. As a teenager she helped to supplement the family's income by making straw bonnets. Latterly she helped to look after her two younger sisters.


Barrowden Mill Pond (2)

Lucy married 27 year old John Wignell at the Baptist Chapel on August 23rd 1857. The son of Matthew Wignell and Ruth Willford, he had been born at Great Easton in the county but had moved to Barrowden to work as a miller. They settled into the village together and John established a bakery business. They had two children: a boy they named John James born in 1860; and a daughter Marianne Elisabeth born in 1865. Married happiness was not to last long however. Towards the end of the decade, John started to develop seizures. These proved impossible to control at home and he was admitted as an inpatient to the Leicester Lunatic Asylum (an institution which became known as the Towers Hospital at the inception of the National Health Service). He died there on February 24th 1869, the cause certified as epileptic convulsions.

Lucy did not marry again. In 1871 she was looking after her two young children and was working as a milliner. The children attended the Chapel Sunday School and Marianne became a member of the Band of Hope. Tragedy struck again on Monday August 13th 1877. Marianne, now 12 years old, was playing and swinging on a branch of a willow tree which hung out over the mill stream. One of her stockings became caught on a twig and, in attempting to free herself, she fell head first into seven feet of water. Several children with her raised the alarm but it took ten minutes to pull her out. Attempts to revive her failed. An inquest was convened the following day at the Exeter Arms public house in the village by Mr W Shield, the coroner for Rutland. A formal verdict of death by drowning was entered. The funeral took place on the Wednesday evening at the Baptist Chapel burial ground followed by a special service of remembrance the next Sunday (3).

By the census of 1881, son John James Wignell had moved away from the village and was working as a railway porter near Leeds. He was lodging with farm labourer William Barker in Providence Place, Bramley. In the meantime, Lucy continued to work as a milliner and was sharing a house with her mother, Harriett.

For the next ten years, Lucy and Harriett continued to live in the house in Mill Lane. John James continued to work for the railways and the 1891 census found him as a parcels porter. He was in lodgings in Belgrave Avenue, Kings Norton, Birmingham with the family of Joseph Harris, a varnish maker.

John James Wignell never married. His grandmother, Harriett, died on January 23rd 1894. His mother, Lucy, followed on December 13th 1897. They were both interred in St Peter's Churchyard. John James returned to Rutland at the turn of the century, taking up a post as a solicitor's clerk. He found a property in Leicester Road, Uppingham. He died on January 17th 1905.

It is not known at whose request or when it was commissioned but a large carved red sandstone headstone was erected in St Peters Churchyard. It is still in place although considerably worn and difficult to read. From the order of the inscriptions it would appear to have been placed there after the death of Robert Craxford's grandson John James Wignell. Also commemorated are Robert's daughter, Lucy, and the deaths of Robert and Harriet themselves.

Lost at Sea?

The life of Robert and Sarah's first born son remains something of a mystery. John was born on November 14th 1831 and spent his early years in Barrowden. Sometime during his teenage years, he had moved to Leicester where he became a lodger with the Bilson family in Northampton Street, a street which ran north from Granby Street near the town centre. John Bilson was a 39 year old shoe maker as was his 16 year old son, William. This was the trade which John Craxford was following too although it is not clear whether John was formally apprenticed to John Bilson.

Dover Street

Dover Street, Leicester [A]

During this time, John met Sarah Matilda Stevenson, the 16 year old daughter of Thomas and Maria Stevenson. He was a butcher who had his premises at 3, Constitution Court, an alley off Northampton Street. In the Victorian era, the courts and side streets all around the town found crowded accommodation sharing space with rudimentary slaughterhouses which had no proper refuse disposal or storage facilities. One was operating in Dover Street on the opposite side of Granby Street. By the turn of the century it is estmated that there were 104 such premises in Leicester.

In the early 1850s, John moved a few hundred yards to Cottage Place off Colton Street. John and Sarah were married at Leicester Register Office (presumably because she did not share his Baptist faith) on September 14th 1853. The ceremony was witnessed by William Bilson and his mother Mary.

Nothing is known of John Craxford after this date. Family lore suggests that he gave up shoe making and joined the merchant marine. He was said to have been away from home for years but ultimately went down with his vessel and was drowned leaving a widow but no children (see: A letter to Henry Craxford from his aunt). To date this has not been substantiated although his demise is presumed to have been before 1871.

Sarah remarried on August 3rd 1872, the ceremony again held at the Leicester Register Office. Her new husband was Thomas Coombs from Salisbury Wiltshire who was working as a shoemaker. They were living in Highcross Street. By 1881 Thomas had changed direction, having taken over a grocery shop in Elbow Lane off Northgates. No trace has been found of Thomas in the records after that date. However, Sarah was not finished in the wedding stakes. She married for a third time (this time in the name Sarah Matilda Craxford) on January 20th 1893. Her husband was 78 year old retired cattle dealer and widower John Bradley. They were living at 41 Chatham Street in the town. Tragically Sarah died within weeks of the marriage. John survived another five years and died in the summer of 1898.

The Marine and Railwayman

William Craxford, the fifth child and second son of Robert and Harriett, was born in Barrowden in April 1834. His teenage years have to date been lost to the records as no trace has been found of him in the 1851 census. In his late teens he learned his trade as a baker.

On February 4th 1856, the 21 year old William presented himself at Forton Barracks, Portsmouth where he swore his attestation to serve in the Royal Marines. The standard term of the contract stated a twelve year period "provided Her Majesty should so long require your services". For so swearing the Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity he received the sum of five shillings and the promise of a bounty of £ 5. His Attestation Certificate described him as being 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He began his in service training.

HMS Plumper 1
HMS Plumper 2

Left: HMS Plumper at Port Harvey, Vancouver Island. Right: HMS Plumper on the right is at Esquimalt with HMS Termagant and HMS Alert. both (4)

At the end of his training he was assigned on December 18th 1856 as a private to 10th Company Royal Marines on board HMS Plumper. This vessel, an 8-gun wooden screw sloop the only one of its kind, was built at Portsmouth dockyard and launched on April 5th 1848 (4). Prior to William's tour of duty, HMS Plumper had carried out two commissions in the Atlantic on anti-slavery patrols. In December 1856 the vessel underwent a refit as a survey ship with a crew of 100. Her primary aim for the next four years was to survey a part of the Pacific coast of Canada. In charge for the voyage was Captain George Henry Richards. It is noted that there was a company of Royal Marines on board for the duration. Although William is not mentioned by name, background detail of the voyage is contained in the ship's logs and in the letters that Staff Commander John Thomas Ewing Gowland RN (Jack) who joined the expedition in 1858 wrote to his wife Genevieve. [Further Reading B].

The main purpose of the survey was to create maps and nautical charts to aid the navigation of shipping, to reach safe harbours, to provide a service for settlers and to carry raw materials back to England. It had already been noted that many resources (wood in particular) was becoming scarce in England in the early decades of the 19th century. This was especially so for ship building, and imports were increasingly being brought from the Baltic and Canada. HMS Plumper was initially based at the Royal Navy's base at Esquimalt Harbour which had begun construction on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in 1842. The coast line of British Columbia was rugged, mountainous and heavily forested with many hazardous inlets. The seasons were inhospitable with frozen winters, torrential spring thaws and incessant rain and mosquitoes in the summer. There were also hostile Indian tribes to contend with.

Jack described the surveying expeditions in his letters. HMS Plumper would move to the area to be mapped and release small vessels which carried a crew of three or four with provisions. They would be away for several days at a time. They would survey through the day and camp, often in damp and uncomfortable surroundings at night on shore. Areas specified in the logs included Nanaimo, Victoria Harbour, Fraser River and Burrard Inlet. There were occasions when other activities were required. In July 1859, HMS Plumper was ordered back to Esquimalt Harbour to transport a contingent of Royal Marines to San Juan Island, one of the islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland. There had been a dispute about land rights between the Hudson's Bay Company (a powerful Canadian organisation) and a group of American settlers which came to a head when one of the settlers shot a pig belonging to the Company. The contratemps became known as the Pig War. Tensions were relieved by discussion between the British captains and the American commander and without a shot being fired. Eventually in 1872 the border dispute was settled and the San Juan islands became part of the United States.

HMS Plumper's tour of duty came to an end at the end of 1860. The long journey home brought William back to England on July 3rd 1861. After due consideration, William decided to leave the service by buying himself out. A Divisional Board was convened on October 12th 1861 when his total service was reckoned at 5 years 248 days (with 4 years and 198 days being credited as service afloat and on foreign stations). The board recorded that his general conduct and character had been good and that he had paid the necessary sum of £ 20 to the Accountant General of the Navy.

William initially returned home to Barrowden to work in a small bakery there, probably with John Wignell, his sister Lucy's husband. However, he found he did not suit this employment and within a few months moved on to take a job with the Midland Railway Company at Chaddesden Sidings just to the north east of Derby Station. It was there that he married 29 year old Harriet Wild at Christ Church, Derby on October 21st 1861. She was living at Burton Road Derby. She was the daughter of Thomas Wild (now deceased) and Hannah Sumner. Hannah Wild, one of Harriet's sisters, stood as witness at the marriage. William and Harriet's son, Charles William was born on August 9th 1862. It is apparent that William was a talented pianist and vocalist as shown in a performance he gave at the retirement celebration of one of his fellow workers in 1866 (5).

Towards the end of the decade, William was offered a better position as the foreman of a goods depot at Wolverhampton. He and Harriet made their home in Frederick Street in the Wednesfield district of the town. It was there that daughter Lizzie was born on January 16th 1870. Soon after they moved to Inkerman Street. Then tragedy struck the following year when an epidemic of smallpox raged through the West Midlands and hit Wolverhampton badly. William was affected and died of the disease on December 28th 1871. After his death, Harriet took her baby Lizzie back to Derby to stay with her mother and sister, Hannah. Her son Charles went to stay with his uncle George Wild in Birmingham (This is noted in correspondence written in 1948 written by his daughter Lizzie: A Letter to Henry Craxford). Harriet was to marry again to William Robinson after which they moved to Leeds. Further details of their story is told in A Victorian Photographer.

Continued in column 2...

Added: May 8th 2008
Rewritten: October 20th 2015

The Wainwright Connection

The Wainwright family, of which I am a member, is descended from the union of James Davies Wainwright (my great great grandfather) and Rachel Kate Craxford. I have taken the opportunity of exploring these two villages, their churches and associated graveyards to trace my ancestors back to their roots. The photographs of Barrowden Baptist Chapel presented here were taken before it was decommissioned and the building was redeveloped as a private residence.

In many respects the life histories of Robert and Harriett's youngest two daughters are inextricably linked and will be followed in parallel in this section. Rachel Kate Craxford, their fourth daughter, was born in the village on September 24th 1837. As a matter of interest, Rachel holds the distinction of being one of the first births registered in the Uppingham area after the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths Act was introduced in the Autumn of 1837. Youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was born in September 1843. Both spent their childhood in the village and grew up in the family home. - AW

From Rutland to Derbyshire via Shropshire

Rachel Kate Craxford married James Davies Wainwright at the Baptist Chapel on July 11th 1862, the ceremony being witnessed by her sister Elizabeth and Mary Anne Wignell - the sister in law of her older sister Lucy. James Wainwright was born on July 18th 1833 in Worcester. James' father was a grocer and teenage James spent some time as a grocer's assistant in Shelsby Walsh, a village on the north western outskirts of the town. He had taken up residence in Barrowden shortly before his marriage when his ocupation was listed as auctioneer. Soon after the ceremony James and Rachel moved to Church Stretton in Shropshire. It was there that their daughter, Nellie Roberta, was born on September 13th 1864. Their son, Leonard Cotterill, arrived the following year on November 11th 1865. James became the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the Registration District of Ludlow, sub-district of Church Stretton in 1864 and it is an interesting observation that he signed the birth certificates of both his children. The appointment to and duties of this position were defined by the Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England (6) which states that "the Guardians shall appoint a Person, with such Qualifications as the Registrar General may by any general Rule declare to be necessary, to be Registrar of Births and Deaths within each District". Registrars were not salaried but were paid 'piece-work' rates "for the first Twenty Entries of Births and Deaths in every Year which he shall have registered, whether the same be of Births or of Deaths indiscriminately, Two Shillings and Sixpence each, and One Shilling for every subsequent Entry of Births or Deaths in each Year". Many registrars particularly in rural areas and small communities had only occasional duties to perform and pursued multiple occupations to make ends meet.

James continued working as an auctioneer and district surveyor in Church Stretton but the business faltered and in February 1867 he was forced to file for bankruptcy (7). By 1867, too, local solicitor Samuel Harley Kough had taken over the role as the Superintendent Registrar for Church Stretton. By the summer of 1867 James had moved the family from the town to Swadlincote near Derby where he had taken up an appointment as surveyor of highways (8).

In February 1868 he was arrested and charged with commiting 'wilful and corrupt perjury within the Borough of Shrewsbury'. This appeared to have arisen out of a dispute originally brought by a chemist in Church Stretton in November 1866, presumably following the failure of his business. Subsequently an article appeared in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of January 3rd 1868 claiming that James had been appointed to a new job. This was alleged to be fraudulent with the aim of defeating his creditors. James denied placing the article. At trial that summer the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour (9, 10).

The venture into sanitaryware [Further Reading C]

Berlin Wool Purse

A purse of Berlin Wool (11)

Meanwhile in her teens, Elizabeth was sent off to take up an apprenticeship in a Berlin Wool and Fancy Repository in Spalding Lincolnshire run by Eliza Garner. Berlin woolwork was a type of embroidery usually carried out with wool yarn on canvas. She probably met her future husband in the area.William Goodman was born in 1843 in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, the son of miller, John Jeremiah Goodman. Elizabeth had moved back to Barrowden in the late 1860s but William was living in Peterborough. They were married in the winter of 1869. Almost immediately, William and Elizabeth moved to Swadlincote, a town in the far south of Derbyshire almost on the border of Leicestershire and four miles from Burton upon Trent. William's first job was as a clerk for a corn merchant. They also found lodgings in the house of widower Edmund Sharpe in Bucknall's Row, a terrace between High Street and Market Street.

Bottle kiln

Bottle kiln at Sharpe Pottery Museum (12)

Edmund Sharpe was born in Hartshorne on the outskirts of Swadlincote 1812, the son of a farmer, William Sharpe. In 1821 Edmund's older brother Thomas established a pottery works on a site in Swadlincote making bottles and other domestic items. When he became of age, Edmund joined the firm. Edmund married Edith Bourne on June 6th 1838. Then when Thomas died on September 17th the same year, Edmund took over the firm. Edith was to die aged 29 years on July 2nd 1844. They had had one daughter they named Edith Elizabeth Anne, born the same year. Edmund remarried, to Charlotte Balm of Quorndon, Leicestershire on September 22nd 1846. Charlotte died on March 5th 1870. Daughter Edith married Walter Cutforth in 1873. They were to have six known children.

The Victorian age saw an increasing concern in public health matters and communicable disease control which led to significant research and developments into sanitary ware and lavatory manufacture. Various methods had been tried to evacuate and flush the contents from the bowl including mechanical levers and traps. The most efficient form was to create a curled over rim to the bowl so that the incoming water was swirled over the whole of the interior. In 1855 Edmund registered the first patent for the flushing rim design. As the century progressed more and more intricately designed and elaborately decorated bowls were introduced, the factory becoming a major employer in the town. By 1871 he had 86 men, 20 boys and 28 girls working for him.

Marriages and Deaths in Swadlincote

James Wainwright died (of tuberculosis) in December 1868 after six years of marriage and just four months after the court case. At the time of the census in the Spring of 1871 Rachel's family had become somewhat dispersed. She was visiting her sister and William Goodman at the house of Edmund Sharpe in Swadlincote. In the meantime, her mother was acting as a housekeeper and looking after Rachel's 7 year old daughter Nellie at Padholm Road, Peterborough. At the same time, son Leonard was boarding with painter William Bradshaw and his schoolmistress wife Mary in New Road Peterborough. In the summer Rachel moved back to Padholm Road to be with her daughter. It is not known how long Edmund and Rachel had known one another but on August 15th 1871 the pair were married at the Baptist Chapel, Queen Street, Peterborough. William and Elizabeth Goodman were the witnesses. There is a report that Edmund had been a waywarden (a supervisor) and vice chairman of Swadlincote Highway Board in 1866 and in consequence may have known James Wainwright before his death.

William and Elizabeth Goodman had two children in the next decade: Florence Kate, born in the Spring of 1873 and Frederick Bernard, born in March 1877. In the early 1870s, William joined Edmund's firm and became a manager at the pottery. He was promoted to the post of Company Secretary in 1873. Elizabeth became pregnant again in the early months of 1879. Although she carried the pregnancy to term, her labour was complicated. In the days leading up to the delivery she developed a chest infection which developed into pneumonia. Sadly her baby daughter died shortly after birth on December 28th 1879 and Elizabeth, too, succumbed within fourteen hours.

At the census of April 1881, William was living in a house in Market Street, Swadlincote with his two children and employed a housekeeper named Elizabeth Fox. The property was next door to Ivy House, the residence of Edmund and Rachel Sharpe. Rachel's two children were still away from home in education. Nellie was attending The Laurels at Packington Hill, Kegworth, Leicestershire. This was a Ladies Boarding School run under the proprietorship of Henry Penton Gaultier and his wife Jane. Leonard had transferred to Burton House in Gregory Street Loughborough and was a boarder under teacher of languages Carl Lowenstein. (In the 20th century, The Laurels became the Ivy Lodge Hotel and is now part of the Best Western Group - Ed)

The Laurels
The Laurels

Left: The Laurels Advert (14); Right: Painting of The Laurels after it became the Yew Lodge Hotel (15)

William Goodman's status was soon to change. In the early summer of 1881 he married local girl Lucy Ann Tunnicliffe who was 15 years younger than he was. They were to have two sons: Charles in 1887 and John in 1890. The family were still living in Market Street in 1891. Edmund and Rachel had moved a few hundred yards to the west to a house at 82 West Street. Rachel's daughter Nellie, now 26, was living with them. Nellie married Granville Chambers in September 1893. Granville, the son of Meshack Chambers and Eliza Chambers, was born in 1861. The Chambers family had been connected with the mining industry for many years. Generations of the Chambers family had lived in Awsworth, a village to the west of Nottingham for over 300 years and owned much of the property there (16). Granville and Nellie's first child, Granville Leonard Chambers, was born in Giltbrook, Nottinghamshire in 1899. Soon after, they set up home at White Hall Farm, Pilsley near Chesterfield, Derbyshire where Granville was employed as a colliery manager.

Edmund Sharpe died in Swadlincote on January 10th 1894 aged 82 years. Probate was granted on March 16th 1894 to his son in law, Samuel Cutforth, who was married to Edith his daughter by his first wife. He left a bequest to Rachel of £ 2000 and a further £ 250 with the somewhat unusual stipulation that she vacated his house within three months of his death. He also left bequests of £ 500 each to Nellie and to Leonard. Rachel did indeed leave the property and departed from Swadlincote making her home with Nellie and her husband at White Hall Farm. Rachel did not see the century out, dying on April 13th 1900 of chronic nephritis and bronchitis at the age of 62 years. For a short period of time in 1901, Granville and Nellie were joined in Pilsley by her brother Leonard. He was working as a mechanical engineer. Leonard's ongoing story is told in From High Art to Dan Dare

William Goodman continued working for the firm after Edmund Sharpe's death. However after an examination of the books and an investigation into the payment of agents' commissions he was dismissed from the company in July 1898 with one month's notice and three month's salary. He retained a sizeable holding in the shares of the company. He was not to remain out of the industry for long. In 1901 in association with James Adams, another long time but now retired manager from Sharpe's Company, he took over the running of the Rose Hill Pottery in the nearby town of Woodville. This concern had been established by William Cotterell (no known relationship to the family of Rachel Kate and Elizabeth's mother) from Appleby in Leicestershire in 1855 and was being run by his son, William. William Goodman retired from the business towards the end of the decade. He died in the town in 1922.

Riber Castle

Riber Castle (18)

Granville and Nellie Chambers had a daughter, Barbara Rachel, born in 1903. During the decade they moved the family from White Hall Farm to the Manor House in Pilsley. Granville continued to work at the colliery as a mining engineer. In 1906 he became chairman of Pilsley Parish Council, a post he held for 13 years. By 1911, their son, Granville junior, was a resident at Riber Castle, Matlock. The building was constructed in the 1860s by John Smedley, a mill owner and philanthropist. After his death and the death of his wife, it was bought and used as a boarding school between 1892 and the 1930s. Granville's further education took place at Uppingham School, Rutland. He married Cicely Barnett of Oakham in the summer of 1923.

The family continued to reside in Pilsley through the war years during which time Granville became the managing director of the Pilsley Colliery Company. He was made a Justice of the Peace and also became a member of Chesterfield Rural District Council, of which he ultimately became its chairman. Ill health forced him to resign the post in March 1924. He died towards the end of November 1925. Nellie survived him by only a few weeks, dying on January 1st 1926. Her funeral took place in the village on January 4th 1926.

Further Reading

The book The Slums of Leicester (2009) by Ned Newitt
My Dearest Gennie
Sharpe's Rise

The covers

[A]: For an authoritative guide to the housing stock and the overcrowding which ensued in Victorian Leicester we recommend "The Slums Of Leicester" by Ned Newitt (2009), The Breedon Books Publishing Company Limited, Derby. ISBN: 978-1-85983-724-5. The book comprises a photographic record of many of the streets and courtyards in the centre of the city prior to the slum clearances of the 1930s and early 1970s. It is illustrated with contemporary accounts of residents who lived there.
[B]: "My Dearest Gennie" by Joanna Vink (2013), Inspiring Publishers, Calwell, Canberra, Australia. ISBN: 978-0-9873463-8-4. Staff Commander John Thomas Ewing Gowland R.N. (Jack) served with the Royal Navy between 1853 and his death in 1874. He was aboard HMS Plumper between 1858 and 1860. During his travels he kept detailed logs and wrote many letters to his wife Genevieve. His logs were donated to the State Library of New South Wales. This book is based on an analysis of these logs and his letters by his great grand daughter. The book is also available as a Kindle edition.
[C]: "Sharpe's Rise: The Story of Sharpe's Pottery, Swadlincote" by Richard E Doughty (2013). Grosvenor House Publishing, Guildford Surrey. ISBN: 978-1-78148-800-3. The author has put together an authoritative guide to a unique and traditional pottery business which occupied the same site in the Derbyshire town for almost 200 years and was run by the same family for its first 102 years. Founded in 1821, it finally closed in 1967. By the mid Victorian era the firm was concentrating on ceramic sanitary ware, supported by the first patented design of a rim flush bowl.
The site has now become the Sharpe's Pottery Museum situated at 23 West Street Swadlincote.

A vote of thanks

The authors would like to express their thanks for the help, comments and suggestions from the following in the construction of this article: Joanna Vink; Contributors to the Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland and Occupational Interest Forums (including CaroleW, Larkspur, Mgeneas, Nottsgirl1, Stanmapstone) at RootsChat.Com


John Lennon's Rilcote

The auction lot (19)

A Victorian WC pan, identified as a Sharpe Brothers of Swadlincote 'Rilcote', was sold for £ 9,500 in September 2010 at the annual Beatles memorabilia auction in Liverpool. It is reported that the pan had been owned by John Lennon who had acquired it from Tittenhurst Park, Berkshire around 1970. He later gave it to his building foreman, John Hancock, when it was replaced during renovations. Hancock's son placed it in the auction; the private buyer has remained anonymous.

From Sharpe's catalogues, The Rilcote was a wash-down pedestal design which was registered in 1899. The design featured several decorations. Print 1, which featured flowers, came in blue (as here), pink, green and multicoloured. The Rilcote remained in production until the factory closed in 1967.


1. Appointment to Chief Constable, Wrangdike Hundred: Northampton Mercury October 29th 1842. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
2. Photograph: Barrowden Mill pond: ©Tim Heaton, and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
3. Sad Accident at Barrowden: Grantham Journal August 25th 1877. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
4. Engraving 1: HMS Plumper at Port Harvey, Vancouver Island from a drawing by E P Bedwell; Engraving 2: HMS Plumper (right), with HMS Termagant (left) and HMS Alert at Esquimalt in the late 1850s, unknown artist HMS Plumper (1848) wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
5. Presentation to Mr WM Parker, Formerly of the Midland Railway. Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal August 3rd 1866 The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
6. Transcription of An Act for registering Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England. 6 & 7 Will IV c86 August 17th 1836. Online Historical Population Reports
7. In the matter of James Davies Wainwright: Shrewsbury Chronicle February 15th 1867. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
8. Report from Swadlincote Petty Sessions: Derby Mercury July 17th 1867. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
9 Charge of perjury against an auctioneer and road surveyor, Late of Church Stretton: Shrewsbury Police Court: Shrewsbury Chronicle July 3rd 1868 The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
10. An Auctioneer convicted of perjury: The Crown Court; Shropshire Summer Assizes. Wellington Journal August 1st 1868. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
11. Berlin Wool work: Woman's Purse, Berlin Wool work about 1840 Image released to the public domain by Los Angeles County Museum of Art.Wikimedia Commons at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
12 Photograph: Bottle kiln at Sharpe's Pottery Museum ©Jonathan Clitheroe, and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
13. Sharpe patent Rim Flush mechanism in Potted History Sharpe's Pottery Museum
14. Advertisement for 'The Laurels': Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland 1881 County Advertisments page 67.
15. Painting The Yew Lodge Hotel, formerly The Laurels. Best Western Premier Hotels
16. Death Notice from the Oakham & Uppingham Journal Section. Grantham Journal January 16th 1926. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
17. Local Will: Report on Edmund Sharpe's Will: Derby Daily Telegraph September 15th 1894. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
18. Photograph Riber Castle uploaded by AxG, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons at Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
19. John Lennon's WC pan makes £ 9,500 SalvoNews September 2nd 2010.

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