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Probably the best sources of information about Victorian residents of Whitwell are the censuses taken at ten yearly intervals from 1841 to 1881.  Censuses were proposed by Parliament in 1753 but the idea was not approved.  The first census eventually took place in 1801 but unfortunately for historians, once the statistics had been extracted, they were destroyed.

The first census to survive intact is the one for 1841.  Included in the returns are columns for (1) Place, (2) Uninhabited houses (3) Inhabited houses (4) Name (5) Age and Sex (6) Profession, Trade, Employment or Independent Means (7) and (8) indicating Place of Birth.  No street names are given in 1841.  Later censuses give more detailed information out, for Whitwell, the fact that the list of Rent Charges in lieu of Tithes survives from 1840, together with the Enclosure Award map, allows confirmation of details in the 1841 census.

About 80 persons appear in all four censuses probably living in the same dwelling for those 40 years.  The names include Barlow, Battersby, Brunt, Bradley, Butcher, Candlin, Drabble, Didsbury, Ellis, Glossop, Godley, Green, Guirdham, Gunby, Hancock, Harrison, Haslehurst, Heartley, Hill, Hind, Holden, Hollis, Jackson, Jepson, Johnson, Kitchen, Legat, Lowde, Machin, Newton, Pacey, Parkin, Presley, Richardson, Roe, Slaney, Spavold, Steel, Stubbings, Swift, Taylor, Tompkin, Turner, Unwin, Warrener, Webster, Wells, Westby, Wilson, Wood and Yates.

A selection of entries from the five sets of census returns are included in the following pages.  They have been chosen to show the size of Victorian families, the types of occupation and the surprisingly wide range of birthplaces.  The records also provide a general impression of the way of life 100 years ago.

1841 Census

This is the first detailed census from which we can begin to form a picture of the parish from a study of the inhabitants listed.

Mary Candling lived from 1841-81 on 'Baxton' Moor, probably on Fiddler's Row; she was the wife of John, an agricultural labourer, and was born in Whitwell about 1811. She had a family of seven children and in her widowhood (1876) she was a recipient of flannel from the Gisborne Charity.

John Tompkin was a single man born in Clowne and farmed at Highwood from 1841-61, when he was aged 73. At the first census, he had living with him a nephew aged 14 years, a niece aged 12 years, a housekeeper Martha Milner, aged 25 years, a female servant Mary Wardley (16) and male servants Joseph Woodhead (20), William Woolley (15), William Taylor (14) and Thomas Bartrop (20).  He farmed 209 acres in 1840 and also in 1851, when he employed three labourers living out and six labourers living in.  Ten years later, he farmed 300 acres and employed seven labourers and one boy.

Richard Newton died at Welbeck, aged 66.  He was an agricultural and wood labourer, born at 'Succomb' (Sookholme?).  He raised a family of eight sons and two daughters at Porter's Row - probably at the East Parade end of Butt Hill.  Two sons became cordwainers, one a quarryman and later a turnpike road labourer and another a miner (probably at Steetley).  One son became an agricultural labourer at Bondhay.

John Swift was a woodman at Welbeck and Whitwell and also a farmer of 16 acres; he was born at 'Rumbling Street, Derby'.  He lived with his wife, a son and two daughters on Whitwell Common, latterly at Wood Nook.  Their daughter Sarah, born in 1838 and still living in Marecroft, Worksop aged 93 in 1930 was a friend of the Mellors family; she used to walk from Worksop to Whitwell to visit them when over 90 years of age.

David Green (30) was a farmer with five children and lived on Crags Road in the house nearest to Creswell.  He farmed 36 acres and later became a publican at 'The Star' inn.  In 1881, he was a widower and lived with his daughter, Mary Butcher at the corn mill at Boaler's Corner.

The name Green is mentioned as a publican in a diary kept by lawyer John Renshaw of Birk's Farm.  An entry for 29th December, 1751 reads, 'Went over to Whitwell, paid Mrs Cutts and old ale score, went to Creswell, was in liquor, and broke silver tankard lid at John Green's.' Later entries read, ' Paid Thomas Hutchinson for mending tankard lid.' and 'Paid Betty Green of Creswell Crags, an ale score, 4s:5d.

William and Vincent Drabble were both wood sawyers and lived with their families, next door to each other, at Drabble's Farm, now the site of the Steetley Works entrance.  Their address changed from Belph to Southfield Lane and later to Hennymoor Lane.

Perhaps it was a different family who produced an incendiarist at Mr George Webster's Butt Hill Farm in February, 1875.  A report in the Retford and Gainsborough Times reads,

'The fire was prevented from spreading to four other stacks.  On Tuesday evening, a man named Drabble, living in the neighbourhood of Whitwell, gave himself up to the police at Whitwell, and on being taken before Mr Webster, and interrogated by him as to his reason for the dastardly act (a very different procedure from that of today!) his reply was that he had no particular reason, but that he was drunk and a fool.'

The report ends,

'The prisoner was taken on Wednesday before H. Boden Esq. at Southgate and remanded until Thursday - Mr. Webster is fully insured with the Norwich Union.'

John Spouge of Belph was born in Bridgford, Notts about 1811. He was an agricultural labourer and later a painter, glazier and joiner at Welbeck.  He had three children by his first wife and eight by his second wife.

John Frith was born at Staveley and lived in Scotland Lane.  In three censuses his age was given as 60, then 64 and later 67: he was described as a Greenwich Pensioner - did he serve at Trafalgar?

Thomas Starkey was an agricultural labourer in 1841 and a Chelsea Pensioner, aged 77 in 1851 - did he fight at Waterloo?  He was born in Whitwell about 1774 and lived on Hunger Hill at Ann Woodhead's: but Starkey's Steps are more probably named after William Starkey, a farmer in the Square where Messrs. Biggin now have a builder's yard.

John Shepherd (59) in 1871 was a carpenter and wheelwright.  He followed his father, a joiner who had a wheelwright's shop and woodyard occupying 800 square yards in 1840, almost certainly on the site adjacent to the pump in the Square.  The long family association with the premises no doubt led to the name 'Shephed's Walk' for the footpath from the Square up to Butt Hill.

Among the houses listed in the 1841 census, which are now demolished, are the four toll bar houses:

Southgate: Kept by Henry Steel, toll barkeeper and turnpike road labourer, for over 40 years with his wife Mary and son George.  The site was almost opposite to the Springfield Farm entrance.

Hollin Hill: Kept by the Woolley family and situated in the centre of the Clowne crossroads.

High Street: Kept by widow Rebecca Hardwick (39), born in Cambridgeshire and who later became Mrs Brearley.  The toll bar was on the site of the bungalow adjacent to the new Rectory.

Steetley: kept by Adam Knowles (42), agricultural labourer and toll barkeeper with his wife Sarah and five daughters.  The site was on the road junction leading from Chesterfield Road to Steetley Church.

Joseph Slaney (20) was a male servant at Samuel Gee's, Firbeck.  He was born at Pleasley and married Elizabeth Westby, daughter of Thomas Westby, shoemaker of Branks Lane.  They had four children and in 1861 were living in High Street.  Joseph was a charcoal burner/merchant and also Parish Constable in the days before organised police forces: his son Thomas was also a charcoal burner.  A 'Worksop Guardian' report of 14th March, 1930 refers to Whitwell's oldest inhabitant Mrs Elizabeth Slaney, born at Ordsall, Retford in 1840.

John Holden and his wife Mary had 13 children from their own and previous marriages.  He was a blacksmith and village constable and one son, James, became a blacksmith at premises opposite to the 'Mallet and Tool'.

Astley Cooper Foulds was a surgeon in the village for over 30 years.  He and his wife were born in Sheffield, their three sons were born in Whitwell.  In May 1837, Astley Cooper, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, urged more caution in the registration of causes of death -there was probably a family connection.

A summary of the 1841 shows there were 96 agricultural labourers, 68 male servants (on farms), 57 female servants (mostly on farms), 54 farmers (with 1 to 500 acres), 13 of independent means, 11 stonemasons and at least one of each of the following: shoemaker, wheelwright, sawyer, blacksmith, tailor, shopkeeper, housekeeper, general labourer, butcher, groom, schoolteacher, wood turner, surgeon, clerk, weaver, excise officer, sadler, miller, land surveyor, joiner, carpenter, plumber, valuer, gardener, higler (carter), publican, woodman, stockiner, spirit dealer, gamekeeper, baker, toll bar keeper and 'casterator'.

1851 Census

Continuing with extracts from the l851 census; William Birkett lived at Creswell with his wife and two children.  He was an innkeeper probably on a site near Boaler's Corner.  Another Creswell resident was Sarah Windle (66), a farmer/cottager living with her unmarried daughter Mary (36), probably opposite the Elmton Road junction.  They had a 15 year old girl boarding with them 'Noln Jonson', who was born in Ondar, Persia.  Sarah farmed 2 ½ acres.

One Belph resident was Ann Hardwick (37), who succeeded Ann Radziminski at the dame school - she had nine scholars and married John Turner, carrier of Clowne.  Another resident was Thomas Hollis (38), who married Sarah, born at Swinderby, Lincs.  He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland - perhaps they met while in service to the Duke of Portland, who had large estates in Ayrshire, as well as at Welbeck and elsewhere.

Eight houses were listed at Mill Ash, as well as the mill, which lay behind the site of the colliery.  The water mill was run by master miller John Hind (51), who seems to have learned his trade at Osberton.

George Webster (38) lived at Butt Hill Farm, head of a household of 15, which included his wife and five children under eight years of age, a governess, two female servants, four farm servants and one farm labourer.  George Webster had succeeded his father William and was followed by his only surviving son William.  George was still at the farm when the fire (referred to earlier) occurred.  A messenger was sent to summon the fire brigade from Welbeck - we can only speculate on the time taken to deliver the message and for the fire brigade to arrive.

In 1851, William Tinker, father and son, kept the 'Bottle and Glass' (father) and the 'Vaults Hotel' (son).  The Tinkers probably owned much of the block of land bounded by Spring Street (Mr Thacker's Garage), Malthouse Row, Brank's Lane (lower Spring Hill) and Station Road.  The family also operated wagonettes for transporting people and goods.

An old resident on Scotland Lane was Charles Taylor, a letter carrier from Barlborough.  The outline of an old post-box is still to be seen in the stonewall of a house near the junction with Portland Street.

The most unusual birthplace from all the censuses was that of much-travelled Joseph J. Sims (30), agricultural labourer who lived on Hunger Hill.  His wife Harriet (31) was born in Sheffield, daughter Sarah (9) in Mansfield, Emma (7) in Pleasley, sons Joseph (4) and John (2) in Hull and the last two daughters, Ann and Elizabeth, twins aged one year, at Whitwell.  He was a British subject born on the Island of St Helena.

Three families, the Steels, the Yates and the Caseldines, all agricultural labourers, lived at an address given as Stoneycroft House, Larpit Lane.  On the Tithe Map, the area in Hodthorpe from the Schools to the Workingmen's Club was called Stoney Croft, so they were probably the original Hodthorpe cottages, facing the schools, which were demolished in the 1930's.

Jane Eccles (66) a widow in 1851 had a mixed household at Birks Farm, where she worked 207 acres, employing four labourers.  She was born at Kirkham-le-Fyld, Lancashire and her two daughters at Sutton-cum-Lound, Notts.  The house servant was Harriet Ellis (13) of Barlborough, and three of the farm servants were George Stubbings (19) of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Charles Lowe (17) of Whitwell and Walter House (16) of Sutton-cum-Lound.

Richard Swift (64), a grocer born at Staveley, lived on Scotland Lane with his farmer son Joseph, housekeeper daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Henry Thompson, a butcher from Sheffield.  He was noted in the 1840 Tithe Return as owning and occupying 'Buildings, fold-yard, croft and garden, houses and yard, and candle-house.' The Tithe Map confirms that these were just below 'Teapot Yard' and the 'Barracks' on Scotland Lane.

A final entry in the 1851 census, shows George Buckley as the only person not in a house.  He was an agricultural labourer and lived in a shed.

1861 Census

Six houses are listed in the 1861 census between the entries for Hall Leys and Birks farms; these were either the original Hodthorpe homesteads or cottages attached to the farms.

John Wilson (42), farmer employing three labourers at Dumb Hall, was born in Whitwell.  His wife Frances (42) was born at Gildingwells and their two sons Samuel and Frederick were born in Australia.

The order of the census in 1861 suggests that High Street continued through the Square, past the existing chemist's shop and up to Malthouse Row - the seven houses on the Row are followed by a similar number at 'Arthur's Cottages' (the area bounded by Mr Thacker's garage) and by three houses at Brank's, the bottom part of Spring Hill.  Following these entries in the census return is 'iron Pump Square', probably referring to Sowmetal Yard, the site of the present Co-operative Store.

Nine houses are listed on 'Liverpool Street', with one house interposed on 'Cabinet Court', which was occupied by wheelwright John Alletson.  These houses probably became Lowpit Lane and later Welbeck Street.  Charles Lowe (48) an agricultural worker lived here with his wife Elizabeth, a former cotton spinner from Mansfield Woodhouse.

1871 Census

A comment on the summary sheet for 1871 states, 'A large number of persons are presently in this district owing to the construction of the railway from Worksop to Mansfield.' Some workers had the address 'Cresswell Huts', probably used to house the railway navigators or 'navvies' as they became known.  A later report states that 'with the station buildings well in hand, many of the navvies are now leaving the district and the huts in which the men lived are rapidly disappearing from this neighbourhood.'

There were eleven families living on Hop Short Lane, an address which may have included the Old Mill Ash Cottages and Penny Green.  A high proportion were born in distant counties and the variety of occupations indicated employment at Welbeck rather than on railway construction.

The Rectory entry for 1871 shows that the Rev Boothby had five daughters and two sons, all born at Whitwell.

He employed a cook, a nursemaid, a housemaid, a laundrymaid and an under-nurse, to complete a household of 14 people.

Six families lived in 'Chapel Yard’; their names were Taylor, Hind, Ellis, Heartley, Stubbings and Lock.  Reuben Hind (29) was one of three engine drivers in the census.  The type of engine is best described by an article in the Retford and Gainsborough Times, dated 30th January 1875:

‘His Grace, the Duke of Portland's engines are all very well on a newly macadamised road.  They act something like steamrollers.  But after a thaw or in continued wet weather, they ought to be "laid up in ordinary'-stay at home.  Coming five or six along our streets in a line, they quickly transform what little solid matter there is to the consistency of oatmeal gruel, and then we wade about in the mud...’

John Rose (23), a quarryman, lived with his wife on High Street near Manor Farm.  He became pit fireman at Steetley, having helped to sink the pit.  He had been a member of Steetley Church choir since the restoration and a Sunday School teacher.  They celebrated their diamond wedding in February 1931.

Thomas Rotherham was tailor and postmaster where the present Post Office stands on High Street.  Two surgeons, both Irish born also lived on High Street.  Joseph Kenney lived near the Green and Doctor Francis Crossle lived next door to Thomas Rotherham, in the house for long associated with Doctor Lawson.

The oldest inhabitant living next door to the 'Vaults Hotel' was 92 year old John Wilson, a retired farmer, living with his two daughters Mary Walker (64) and Ann Steel (62).

1881 Census

Porter's Row appears in the 1881 census and probably refers to the houses at the lower end of Butt Hill.  Charles Porter, landed proprietor, used to live there and Miss Caroline Boaler, who was first listed as a retired schoolteacher, running first a boarding school and latterly a boarding house near the 'Jack-up Steps'.

William Hind succeeded his father as farmer and miller at Mill Ash, some time before 9th July, 1880, when a report in the Retford and Gainsborough Times tells of a drowning in the reservoir attached to the mill at Belph Moor.  A Sheffield man, John William Cummings, drowned whilst bathing there with companions –the pond was nine feet deep and he became entangled in the weed.  The foreman at the inquest held in the George Inn was Mr George Walker.

Mr William Eyre had been born at Holbeck in the reign of William IV.  He worked at Welbeck for 63 years as a cabinet maker and remembered the estate before the underground tunnels and Riding Schools were built.  Mr Eyre remembered three stone cottages standing on the left hand side of the road at the Creswell entrance to the Crags and the Millstone, a licensed house on the opposite side.

Samuel Webster (47), butcher, was head of one of the seven families in 'Webster's Yard'; he was a member of one of the oldest Whitwell families, some of whose descendants still live in the village.  One descendant, Mrs Lilly Ellis (95) of Station Road remembers helping to hold the beasts with a rope, when they were being slaughtered.

Bachelor Doctor Elsom (35) lived next door to the George Inn.  He was born in Limehouse, London and employed a groom, a housekeeper and a general servant.

Twenty houses newly built at Steetley Row contained 147 residents.

No one above six years old had been born at Steetley.  About 40 of the occupants had moved from the Hucknall/Sutton-in-Ashfield area and may have been escaping from the depressed framework knitting industry.  Most of the workers were colliers and coat miners.

Two families are listed on Worksop Hill, those of Ellis and Tillery.  Mary Ellis (52), widow, farmed 20 acres from the site subsequently occupied by McClellans.  Anne Tillery (73) was an annuitant, who was deaf, and had been born in Middlesex.  Her daughter Jean (44) was born in Scotland and probably opened the small private school in the house behind the pump on the Green.

Thomas Rotherham (41) tailor, draper and postmaster had a visitor, William H. Mason, barrister in practice, licensed, who was born in Carmarthen.  So was the lady next door, no doubt his sister Frances (31), who lived with her brother, Canon George Edward Mason.  They were living next door to the Post Office, while the Old Rectory was demolished and the one designed by J.L. Pearson R.A. was built.

 The foregoing extracts from four sets of census returns may have helped to fill some of the gaps in the story of Victorian Whitwell - other names could have been added, had space permitted, to make the story even more complete.  Perhaps 'Whitwell in Victorian Times' could be the title of a more comprehensive work covering this period.


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