Thomas Staniforth & Co. Sickle works at Hackenthorpe.
'Reminiscences of Mosborough'
1886 by George Foster
I believe there is not a man living in his native village, be it ever so small, but delighted to learn something of its history. With what eagerness will the young listen to their elders whilst they relate to them an account of some noted character who lived in the place in the past, or to the history of an old village church, hall, or castle, with which they are familiar. To see an old man thus talking to the young is a most pleasant sight. On the one hand is the old man, conscious that he has something to relate which will greatly delight his hearers, and fired with a subject which concerns all present, telling his tale with his whole heart ; on the other hand are the listeners hanging on his words with almost breathless attention, who get the story so firmly impressed on their memories that it can never be eradicated. In years to come the same story will, in many instances, be told by those same listeners to their children. Thus, unwritten history, which is called tradition, is handed down from generation to generation.
It is to satisfy this craving desire after history, that I have undertaken to write the "Reminiscences of Mosbrough," in the parish of Eckington, Derbyshire, during the present century, for the benefit of my fellow villagers. I feel myself not very competent for the task, but though it is imperfectly done, I doubt not it will be eagerly perused. I have endeavoured to do my work so as not to offend any reader. Many spicy bits have been omitted which would have been very amusing to many people, but would probably have been offensive to families with whom they are connected. All great blemishes of character have been excluded. I have endeavoured to follow that good old maxim which says: "Tread lightly on the graves of the departed."
I am very thankful to Mr. John Rose, Mr. Joseph French, Mr. William Lomas, and other kind friends for the information they have most kindly given me.
As I have not been able, in many instances, to give exact dates, I have divided my subject into three periods.
Mosbro’ September 21st, 1886.
A DESCRIPTION OF MOSBROUGH.
A Mosbrough Man will have to travel many miles from home before he can find another village equal to his own for beauty of situation, the grandeur of its aspects, the healthfulness of its climate, or the convenience of its streets. I fancy I can hear some of my fellow villagers saying to themselves, "I think the scribe is exaggerating." Not in the least. What I say I believe to be the unvarnished truth. I hope none of you will be offended by what I am about to say. I believe there are scores, nay hundreds of Mosbro’ people who, as regards their native village, have eyes and see not, ears have they but they hear not, neither do they understand. I myself was once in the same ignorant condition, but by going to live in different parts of the country my eyes have been opened and I now know have to appreciate its beauties and blessings. We must all be deprived of the blessings we enjoy ere we can estimate them at their proper value.
Now, let me speak of its qualities singly. First,—its situation. It has a high elevation, being situated on a hill and an elevated hollow, between this said hill and another, which shelters it from the cold winds of the North-west and North. On the South is a lovely deep ravine, overhung by steep precipices, which are for the most part covered with woods containing lofty forest trees. Through it flows the Moss Brook, tracing its way for the most part through thick woods, and seeming to say in the words of Tennyson,
"I come from haunts of coot and hem,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out amongst the fern,
To bicker down the valley.
I clatter over stony ways
In little sharps and trebles;
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles."
There is not such a lovely and romantic glen to be found for miles round. Here in summer time it is most pleasant to wander, and cull the wild flowers in all their variegated colours, or gather herbs, of which God has here given a great choice; for here grows the foxglove, wood betony, burdock, wood sage, yarrow, and hundreds more, each worth more than it's weight in gold to some people. There are many people, however, who choose rather to go to a doctor on trifling occasions, and pay dearly for their medicine, than be at the trouble to take what God has most freely given for the service of his creatures. On the East side extends the Rother Vale, with its hundreds of highly cultivated fields. To the river Rother the disciples of Isaac Walton, of whom there are a good sprinkling in Mosbro’, betake themselves in pursuit of their gentle craft, catching the finny tribes. Part of the West side is exposed to the healthy breezes which blow from off the Western hills.
Second,—Its aspects. Where is there a grander sight than can be got from Owlthorpe in the North of the village ? Hence, there is a view of the country, stretching from Scholes’ Keppell's Column in the North, to Hardwick hall in the South, a distance of not less that thirty miles. When I say view, I do not mean such a view as you would have in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, or other flat counties. A Lincolnshire man living twelve miles away from Lincoln, might get on a load of hay and say, " I can see Lincoln Cathedral,’’ and yet be able to see but little or none of the intervening country. Here we can look on almost every rood of land in fields for miles round, and see the ploughman at work ; or, if we take a telescope, we can see the tombstones in many of the churchyards, in the villages near by, or the ladies enjoying themselves on the lawns in front of the halls ; in feet, it is almost as good as a bird’s eye view. There are no less than seventeen churches to be seen from this standpoint, viz: Rawmarsh, Rotherham (parish), Treeton, Catcliffe, Handsworth, Beighton, Ashton, Todwick, Haughton, Laughton-en-le-Morthen, Killamarsh, Harthill, Spinkhill, Barlbrough, Bolsover, Staveley, Chesterfield (parish). From the brow " we may look Westward over Troway, Coal Aston, Dronfield Woodhouse, and Holmesfield ; and Eastward as far as Laughton-en-le-Morthen, a distance of not less than twenty miles. There are equally charming views from Mosbro’ hall and West Mosbro.’
Third,—the salubrity of its climate. Very little foggy weather prevails in Mosbro’ proper, as distinguished from Holbrook, which is part of the township. Often we enjoy bright sunshine, when the lowlands are enveloped in mist. The air is bracing and pure, the wind blowing from off the Western hills during the greater part of the year.
Fourth the convenience of its streets. The village is so laid out, that a man, leaving his house for a stroll through it, can take either a short walk or a long one, and not have to retrace his steps. All the streets are main streets; there are no back slums; and as for promenades and esplanades, I have not seen such a prominent and delightful road in any village as the road round the verge of Primrose Hill, and that is saying a good deal, for I have been in hundreds of villages. The worst fault about it is that the hill slope is not better preserved.
Such is a poor description of Mosbro’, for my readers must know by this time that I am not an eloquent writer.
In concluding this chapter just a few words about its inhabitants. Though it possesses the aforesaid advantages in so great degrees, it has never been the residence of many of the wealthy classes, but almost wholly the home of the toilers. It cannot boast of having produced any great genius or hero, yet many of its people have proved themselves to be men of talent and grit. In the past the people in general have borne a rather rough character, but that is not to be wondered at, for it has been a good deal neglected by Christianising societies, and has enjoyed but small means of educational culture. Neither are we yet become a refined people. There is a good deal of profane language used by both young and old, which grates harshly on the ears of strangers directly they enter the village. I am pleased, however, to say that I can see a vast improvement during the past few years. Many words are now used by the most vulgar amongst us, which would have raised a jeering laugh, as being too polite, only a few years ago.
FIRST PERIOD, 1800 TO 1825.
At the commencement of the Present century, Mosbro’ did not contain one fourth the population it does at the present time. There was neither Church nor Chapel. The only Public building was a very small schoolhouse. On Mosbro’ Green, that triangular plot bounded by High Street, part of Queen Street and Little hill, there were but very few houses, I believe only three, and these had but recently been built. (A few years previously this land was covered with whins, on which the women living around hung their clothes to dry. On the top side of it was the bull stake, where, up to the latter part of last century, bulls and bears were bated. Thomas Bolsover, who lived at an old house where Mr. Howe’s big house now stands at the bottom of the Bridle Road, leading to high Lane, kept a bull and a bear for that purpose. At that same the George Bolsover had a cock-pit at a public house on the top side of the Green, where William Turner now lives. Sir Sitwell Sitwell, of Renishaw hall, a magistrate, ordered him to do away with it. He refused to comply with that order and In consequence lost his beer license.) On the East side of Colin Green now called Queen Street, there was not a house, and but very few on the other side. There was a narrow track for carts up the centre, and on either side grew grass, which was grazed by cattle, and a hedge-row. In what is now called Market Street, the only building was a barn and stable which is now turned into houses. The part of Mosbro’ which has undergone the least change is West Mosbro.’ The principal houses at that the were Mosbro’ hall, the residence of Samuel Staniforth, Esq. ; the residence of Captain Eyre, at the top of what is now called Captain’s Croft; John Ellis’ residence at the top of Mosbro’ Moor; the big house recently turned into two cottages at the French Nook, belonging to John French; the residence of Madame Neville, in West Mosbro’ ; and Plumbley Hall, where Mr. Pedley lived.
The public houses were four in number; viz the George and Dragon, the Duke William, the Nag’s Head—generally called the Half-way house— and the Fitzwilliam Arms. All the houses were built of stone, and had roof s either of thatch, stone slates, or tiles.
The old School-house was founded about the year 1680, when Charles 11 was king. For this, the memory of one of the village forefathers, Joseph Stones, should be held in thankful remembrance. He left a house and lands for that purpose, on condition that fifteen poor children belonging Mosbro’ should always receive instruction free of charge. It stood on the right hand side as you go down Nether Misterton. The schoolmaster’s house and schoolhouse, were under one roof. George Thompson was the schoolmaster, when this century commenced, and he held the office many years. He had school affairs under his own control, nobody ever interfering with him. He farmed the land belonging to the school himself, and lived on his own property at the top of Knowl Hill, where he had farm buildings. The village sycamore tree we all prize so much stands on what was his property. The schoolmasters house he let. He died August 21st, 1816, in his 67th year. George Thompson, son of the above, was the next schoolmaster. This man tried to claim the school and lands, because his father had had undisturbed possession for a certain number of years. Thomas Hutton, Sickle Manufacturer, and other parishioners, began to bestir themselves in the matter; and the result was a chancery suit, in which Lord Eldon, the Lord high Chancellor, decided the case against Thompson. This trial cost the village £156 8s. 6d. The next schoolmaster was Richard Marsh, a big, fine looking man. He ran into debt for which he was imprisoned. Being a high-minded man, he felt it to be such a disgrace to have to go to prison, that, it is said, he was found to have poisoned himself on the first morning of his incarceration. This happened about the year 1822. At this the schoolhouse was in such a dilapidated condition, that a new one was built a little higher up the road on the opposite side. The Rev. Frederick Ricketts, Rector of Eckington, who had succeeded tile Rev. Christopher Alderson, was one of the chief men concerned in its erection. It cost £111, and £20 more was spent in repairing the schoolmaster’s house, and adding thereto the old schoolroom.
Mosbro’ Hall, an ancient looking mansion with terrace roofs, did not show itself to so much advantage as it does at the present the, for then the turnpike ran close by the west front, from which it was separated by a high wall. Sometime previous to the making of the turnpike, it is most probable there was a much larger park attached to it, which extended to what was then the highway in West Mosbro’ and that the entrance was near the Summer house, which would then be the lodge, for the hall and Summer house are built in exactly the same peculiar style. Samuel Staniforth, the owner, was the proprietor of a coal pit worked by a gin, near the top of Mosbro’ Common, just below the cottages belonging to Henry Staniforth, Esq. Here he built a soft coke oven, and burnt coke for sicklesmiths and Sheffield manufacturers. No large coke was then burnt in the township. He sank, what is now called the old engine pit, on the Little Hill, hut could not work it owing to the large quantity of water. He also busied himself in parish affairs. He died in 1812, and was buried in Eckington Churchyard in front of the chancel. He left the hall to Mrs. Poynton his sister, who let it to John Smith, Esq.
Captain Eyre’s residence had a fine view of the valley of the Moss, as well as of miles of country beyond. Near his house were placed two cannon, which were afterwards removed to the house of Mr. Bowden, Southgate, Barlbro’, who was one of the captain’s executors, the other executor being Mr Pedley of Plumbley Hall.
If tradition is to be relied on in this case, near this house Oliver Cromwell placed his cannon with which he destroyed Eckington Castle, which stood on Parrow Bank.
Captain Eyre was a tall, well built man, and a great pedestrian. During his residence in Mosbro’ he was on half pay. The money was paid to him at Manchester, which journey he accomplished on foot in twelve hours each way. He was afterwards sent by government to the Bermudas, in the West Indies, where he and his family died of yellow fever, in a house which he had built of cedar wood. Many years afterwards some maiden ladies came from Ireland to claim his Mosbro’ property, but without success.
Madame Neville’s house now belongs to Mrs. Mullins. After the former lady, Mr. Gray became the owner. He repaired the house. The masons he employed were Joshua and Edward Littlewood, of Dent Lane, who had both the reputation of being good masons and good scholars. It is said that in repairing the house, the Littlewoods found a sum of money in coin built up in a wall, which they kept. What the amount was they kept secret to themselves, but it is supposed it was a large sum. Shortly afterwards, it is said, they lent a lawyer named Greaves, of Sheffield, £1,000 which they never got back again. Mr. Gray left the property to his daughter, Mrs. Mullins, widow of William Mullins, who had died March 9th, 1820, aged 39 years.
Plumbley hall was purchased by Mr. Pedley, off Captain Stones, of Mosbro’ Hall, in the latter part of last century. Pedley, who was a bachelor, was very rich. It is said he had a peck full of guineas. He built the property on the green front now occupied by Mr. Clayton, tonic beer manufacturer, and Mr. George Plant, Brown Cow Inn, at the commencement of the century. He left a good deal of his Property to John Harwood, who is said to have been for some the a Wesleyan Minister, but he does not seem to have been a man of much calibre.
John French’s house was built by the Littlewoods. John was a rough character, fond of badger drawing. Either he or William Tickhill kept a badger. He was a school trustee.
Public Houses. No liquors were sold at any of the public houses during the greater part of this period. None were to be got nearer than the White Hart Inn, Eckington, which was kept by Job Allen. Every publican brewed his own beer.
By the way, Job Allen, was succeeded by his brother George, at the White hart. The corpse of George’s daughter, Ann, was stolen out of Eckington church yard by bodysnatchers.
The St. George and Dragon was kept by John Bolsover, afterwards by John Parr. The latter planted the orchard lately stubbed to make room for the new church.
The Duke William on the top of Primrose Hill, was kept by George Bolsovcr, the owner.
The Fitzwilliam Arms, by Thomas Staniforth. His wife was a big, stout Irishwoman.
The Nag’s head, or half-way house, by Thomas Wolstenholme, the owner. He also owned Knowl Hill Mill. He was a millwright by trade. He helped at the restoration of Park Mill, Eckington, in 1826.
Several good houses were built towards the end of this period.
In 1819, William Lockwood built the house now occupied by his son Joseph. This house has been enlarged.
The Crown Inn was built by Thomas Lee, who left the St. George and Dragon to reside in it.
Robert Fields built the house now called Sydney Tavern for his residence. Robert was a sicklesmith by trade. He was an exciseman at Liverpool for some the. He bought property on each side of Colin Green, and near the Hanging Lea Wood ; he also built the row of houses near the post office, now called Smuggler’s Row. John Cowley, sickle manufacturer, built the house now called the British Oak as a private house, Thomas White of Eckington, was the contractor. The carved work on the front door stone jambs cost £7. John Smith, Esq., left Mosbro’ Hall to reside in it. It is said that Fields and Cowley strived which could build the best house. Cowley afterwards sold his big house and bought the Stirrup Fields at Half-way house. He also possessed a field and house on the opposite side of the road to the British Oak, and built another house thereon. He also owned Bowlhill fields, Owlthorpe.
Elijah Naboth Staniforth, Esq., built Mosbro’ Hall house, and the big house in the valley below sometimes called Mushroom Hall.
Jonathan Oates built the house down Knowl Hill now occupied by Charles Poole, carrier, where he carried on business as a maltster. A row of houses called Malthouse Row stand on the site of the malthouse.
‘Thomas Hutton built Kelgate house, on the east side of Market Street. It has since been made into two houses, which now belong Mrs. Whawell.
‘There were scarcely any colliers in Mosbro’ during this period. Most of the working men were sicklesmiths, scythesmiths, and grinders. The chief sickle manufacturers were, John Cowley, who lived where Mr George Frost now lives, and had his workshops close by. Thomas, George, and Gilbert Hutton, partners, whose shops were at the bottom of Primrose Hill, a little higher up than John Cowley’s.
Nathan Staton, on the low side of the green. he ground his sickles at Carlton Wheel.
William Turner, at Plumbley, where Mrs. Skelton now lives, He was also a farmer.
Samuel Fox, scythes also. He lived on what is now Mrs. Best’s property in West Mosbro’. The end of the house he lived in comes up to the road. He had his workshops in a row down the front of the house. Before these workshops were for the sickle trade they had been used as a soap and chandelling factory by a man named Creswick, but this was in the last century. Fox had a scythe shop on the opposite side of the road to the St. George and Dragon.
John Keeton, on the Green front. His workshop and house adjoined. Mr Clayton, tonic beer manufacturer, lives on the premises now. John served his apprenticeship under William Turner, of Plumbley. He was an industrious man, and rose from the lowest station to be a village "worthy.’’
WILLIAM HUTTON, top end of West Mosbro,.
GEORGE TURNER, West Mosbro’. Front shops now turned into houses, opposite Mrs. Best’s row of houses.
FARMERS. WILLIAM GALLEY, lived at the top end of West Mosbro’ where Mr. Blesset now lives.
William HOBSON, opposite Mrs. Mullins garden wall, West Mosbro’. The big barn which adjoined his house is now turned into two house.
WILLIAM MULLINS, Westwell Farm, belonging Sitwell.
Stephen Fox, Westwell Farm, belonging Fitzwilliam.
GEORGE STORY, Front Street, where Thos.Wale lives.
Other men of note besides those I have already mentioned were:—
JOHN WATKINSON a sicklesmith by trade, who lived in the top old house up what is now called Webster’s yard, Queen Street. He built the first house on the east side of Colin Green. It now belongs to Joseph Turner, Grocer. This was the first house in Mosbro’ with a blue slated roof. When the slates were brought Watkinson put them in his cella, lest children should steal them for school slates. The slaters fastened them on the house like stone slates, that is, with a peg driven through at half the distance across the top side the consequence was that when a gale of wind came they flapped up and down, so they had to be taken off and fastened on in the right way.
JAMES PEAT, tailor and cow doctor. He built the two houses and shop, now belonging to his daughter, Mrs. Rivington, singly, at three different times, from1820 to 1824. They are on the Green front.
WILLIAM ROSE, joiner and wheelwright. He lived in the house at the top of the yard opposite the Piece Stile. His workshop is now turned into a house, and is occupied by Robert Newton. He died August 21st, 1815. He was the father of a large family, several of whom are still living in Mosbro’ and neighbourhood.
STEPHEN WEBSTER, shoemaker, Colin Green. For some time he was a ringer at Eckington church. He died January 12th, 1829, aged 70 years.
JOHN BACON, shoemaker, West Mosbro’.
BILLY HERRING, tailor, at the bottom of the yard, opposite new reading room.
SAMUEL REDFERN, saddler, next door to Billy Herring.
ABRAHAM FRENCH, joiner, Colin Green, Died in 1850, aged 92 years.
In the year 1815, there was a great peace rejoicing, after the battle of Waterloo, on which occasion a public dinner was given in a field opposite the Duke William Inn, and an effigy of Napoleon Bonaparte placed in a large sycamore tree on the top of the hill. A man named Luke Staniforth broke his walking stick in thrashing the effigy. What became of it at the finish I have not been able to learn. Most probably it was consigned to the flames.
At that time there were four large sycamore trees in a row on that part of the hill. They were felled by order of Josiah Fairbanks, surveyor, Sheffield, who collected the " crown " rents of the parish.
The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists missioned the village during this period. The Weslyans held their meetings in the house of John Bacon, in Bedlam Square ; the Primitives in any house that would give them shelter.
After the death of Samuel Staniforth, Esq., there were no coal pits in Mosbro’ for several years. Coal was fetched either form Birley Moor on the top end of Eckington; a good deal being carried in panniers across donkeys backs. Donkeys were also used to carry sickles, which were placed in pack saddles, to the grinding wheels. This method of carrying sickles continued in vogue till about the year 1860.
About the end of this period stocks were placed on Primrose Hill, opposite where the Blue Bell now stands, but where two thatched cottages then stood. They were never used except on one occasion when a man was placed in them for getting drunk. He had been to a christening at Eckington church that day.
The wages of a good mason were half a guinea per week.
George Wells, of Eckington, worked a pit for a few years at the end of this period on James French's Land behind Billy Herring’s house.
During this period it was common for People of the village to say to anyone who acted foolishly, "thou art as soft as Nicker Bore was".
It may be interesting to know how this saying originated, so I will relate it. During the latter end of last century Captain Stones, the owner and occupier of Mosbro’ Hall, kept a servant of deficient intellect named Nicker Bore, or perhaps more correctly Nicholas Bore, as a jester, of whom several anecdotes are related, it is said that on one occasion the Captain said to him " Nicker, I am going to have company at the hall to-day, and amongst them will be a gentleman with a very big nose. Now you must be very careful not to make any remark about his nose or he will be greatly offended.’’ " Yes sir aw,ll be careful’’
When the company were assembled, Nicker, going into the room, saw the gentleman with the big nose, and immediately remarked " Oh, what a big nose; but there’s no staying nowt."
On another occasion when the Captain was just about setting off to Castleton where he often visited, he said to Nicker :—‘‘ Nicker, you’ve easy times of it when I,m at Castleton.’’ " Yes,’’ said Nicker, " and so has Jack ; ‘‘ meaning the spit by which the meat was cooked.
Once, Nicker being ordered to sweep the stairs, began with the bottom step and went upwards
SECOND PERIOD 1825 to 1850.
During this period the village gradually increased in population. Many coal pits were worked; the sickle trade flourished; and wages increased
The number of colliers and sicklesmiths became equally balanced
Religion progressed under the ministrations of the Weslyans and Primitive Methodists. Education advanced, though not so much by the instruction given at the village school as by the good tuition given at Camm’s school, Eckington, by Robert Harrison and his assistants.
I think I may be fairly excused for digressing from my subject, to say a few words about this school, since most of the Mosbro’ boys who received an education were taught there, as they had a right to be.
Camm’s school, was so called from Thomas Camm, of Mosbro’ Moor’, who in the year 1702 left a house and lands on Moshro’ Moor for parish educational purposes, which were applied to it. It was a school for boys only, and was divided into two parts; the quarter end, and the national end. The quarter end was for children of people in good circumstances, who paid their school fees quarterly. The national end was for children of the labouring class, who each paid one penny per week, and had slates, pencils, copy. books, &c., found them free of charge. No child was allowed in the national end who did not attend the Church Sunday School, or, who had not been baptized in the Church of England. If a child was absent from Day or Sunday school for a day, or even part of a day without leave, he was suspended from Day school till such time as his parents apologized to the rector—the Rev. E.B. Estcourt—and begged for his re-admission. I, the writer, who had been baptized when an infant, at a dissenting chapel in Mosbro’, had to be baptised afresh at Eckington church, before I was allowed to be a scholar’ there in the year 1852. For many years I believe the Rev. E.B. Estcourt had absolute control over the school, but in 1876 the Charity Commissioners took it under their control and issued a scheme for its working. There are now seven governors elected; two by School Board; two by Eckington magistrates; the Rector ex-officio; and the remaining two are elected by the first five. Mosbro’ boys, I think do not seem to care to partake of its emoluments and advantages at this present time. Robert Harrison was the schoolmaster there from 1828 to 1871. He died February 26th, 1874.
Now I will turn to Mosbro’ again. The Primitive Methodists and the Weslyans, the only religious societies that took any interest in the village, each gained a firm footing. The former built for themselves a chapel in Colin Green in the year 1830 and the latter erected a chapel near the Lambsicks, on land which Jonathan Oates had purchased of William Cowley and presented to them several years previously. Jonathan went to America and died there.
The master of the village school during all this period was John Ibbotson Hayes. He held other offices at the same time, viz: Registrar of Births and Deaths and Secretary of Eckington Savings’ Bank. He is still living, and is the owner of houses and land in the township.
Mosbro’ hall was held by Mr. John Slagg, as tenant under Mrs. Poynton, and afterwards under Mr. Parker, of Woodthorpe.
Mr. Parker, who was a Sheffield magistrate, and partner in Parker, Shore, & Co’s. Bank, Sheffield, becoming bankrupt in January 1843, Mosbro’ Hall estate was soon afterwards sold, when Charles Rotherham Esq., became the purchaser for the sum of £5,600. A few years afterwards He came to reside in it; and lived there till his death which happened November 29th, 1871, in the 67th year of his age.
Charles Rotherham deserves a high place in the annals of Mosbro’. He was born in the village. his father died and left a widow and a large family of very young children, very scantily provided for. Charles, meanly clad, and no doubt scantily fed, played with the village lads, and received instruction at the village school. When a youth he went to London, where at first He filled a menial situation. He afterwards began business and quickly became rich. For many years he was one of the Guardians of the Poor, for Eckington parish; and chairman of the Board of Guardians in the Chesterfield union, He was a small sized man, He was worthy of far greater respect than was awarded him by the people of his native village.
"Prophetam in sua patria honerem non habere."—Joannes iv, 44.
The late Captain Eyre’s house has gradually gone to ruin.
The Principal houses built during this period were the big house at the bottom of the Bridle road to high Lane, by George Hudson, in the year 1829. This man also built two sicklesmith shops near by which are now turned into houses, and belong Henry Bargh. In 1836, Benjamin Rose, shoemaker, built the public house called the Black Bull, now the Queen’s hotel. About the latter date, John Rose built himself a house on the opposite side of the road to the " Queen’s,’’ which is now turned into a draper’s shop. Robert Higginbottom Rose, joiner and wheelwright, built himself a house about time year 1843, It is now called the Royal Oak Inn.
David Mould, son-in-law of James Peat, built the large grocer’s shop on the Green Front, adjoining Mrs. Rivingtons property, in the years 1844-5.
COAL MINES. Messrs. Sales and Bibbs began working a pit at the top side of Moor-hole, about the commencement of this period. It was worked by steam, and a large quantity of coke was burnt.
Mr. Philip Sales lived for some time at the big house, now the British Oak, and afterwards at the Moor-Hole.
About the same time Mr. Wells began working a gin pit on Little Hill, near the old engine pit, using the latter as a water shaft. About the year 1838, He sank two more gin pits, on the common, in the field where the footpath from the Bridle Road crosses, and built coke ovens to them. A few years afterwards He worked an engine pit, in a field higher up on the opposite side of the turnpike. Slack was carted from this pit to the coke ovens on the other side of the road to be burnt into coke. In the year 1843, Mr. Joseph Wells, pro his father, purchased Sales and Bibbs’ pit, Moor Hole, by private contract for £2,100. About the same time, as agent for his father, he bought Mr. Revill’s farm, Moor hole, containing about 25 acres for £2,200. In May of the year following, (1844) Mr. George Wells died, and his sons Joseph and George Wells carried on the coal pits.
Mr. George Wells paid his Moshro’ workmen their wages at the Crown Inn, better known at that time as Beckey Lee’s, after the landlord’s wife.
Thomas Caroline, the steward, a big, stout man, who generally wore a flannel suit, with short trousers, had always one particular seat reserved for him here, if it was occupied when he entered it was immediatley given up to him.
In 1845, Messrs. J. And G. Wells began sinking the bottom side pit, Moor Hole.
In 1839, Richard Swallow, Esq., of New Hall, Attercliffe, began sinking Silkstone Main Colliery. It was situated on the top of the hill, towards Hanging Lea Wood. Richard Ashton was the steward.
About the year 1841, Richard Swallow, Esq., came to reside at Mosbro’ Hill house, which He bought some years afterwards and considerably enlarged.
Francis Rotherham, joiner, worked a coal pit at the bottom of the hollow, and built some cottages close by, in the early part of this period.
At the same time William Hodgson and Luke Worrall worked a pit in a field, a little distance below the new Half-way House ; here, on December 16th, 1837, Jane Hodgson, aged 15 years, a relative of the proprietors, was killed by the fly-wheel of the engine. This pit soon ceased working.
Luke Worrall next bought Francis Rotherham’s pit, houses, and two fields with growing crops, in the Hollow, for £450. He worked pits on this land till his death in 1864. The property now belongs his son John.
Mark Hodgson sank a pit on the cliffs, Plumbley Lane, but was not able to contend with the water. In 1845, a man named Shaw, of Attercliffe, took it, and worked it a short time. Next, William Galley was the proprietor. He contracted with two colliers to pay him one penny per corrie for all the coal they got. Galley’s wife, suspicious that her husband was being cheated, hid herself behind a hedge to watch operations. She saw that many corves were drawn without " motties ‘‘ and so never counted. Galley then closed the pit.
TRADES. Sickle Manufacturers. John Keeton, already mentioned in First period. He was succeeded by his son Frederick. The latter extended the business. In 1845, he built a large sickle factory, on land near Unwin Well, which he had bought off David Unwin, hatter, who lived in one of two very old houses which then stood in the valley. He had also two shops near the bottom of the Bridle Stile. He ground his sickles at Chapel Wheel.
It is said that on one occasion Sir George Sitwell happened to pass the wheel when the grinders were preparing their food, when he smelt a pleasant flavour pervading the air, He made a remark to the grinders about it, and they invited him to partake of their dainties (?) He did so, and said he enjoyed it much better than the food at his own home. The grinders then showed him the pan in which it was cooked, when Sir George remarked if he had seen the pan first, he could not have eaten the food.
1 Frederick Keeton was a very big man. Of all his sons I think his son Henry most resembles him.
2 Nathan Staton, already mentioned. He was succeeded by his son Septimus. Sep. as he was generally called, was a big, rough man, and fond of speaking his mind very freely at parish meetings.
3 George Webster, in John Hutton’s yard, at time bottom of the Common.
4 John Hutton, Colin Green, on what is now Mrs. Foster’s property.
5 George Turner, already mentioned. He died very suddenly on the sofa. He was succeeded by his son William.
6 George Hudson, at the bottom of the Bridle Road, on both sides thereof. For some time George was a soldier. He died June 16th, 1859, aged 73 years.
7 George Cadman, Nether Misterton.
8 Thomas Burrows, bottom of Primrose Hill.
9 John Riley, on the Common.
The two last only commenced business at the latter end of the period.
FARMERS. The principal farmers were:
George Mullins, Sitwell’s Westwell Farm.
Thomas Hutton, Fitzwilliam’s Westwell Farm
George Story, Front Street. He died December 2nd, 1836, aged 73 years; and was succeeded by his son Thomas.
Thomas Rose, French Nook.
BLACKSMITHS.. Thomas Rose, .Joseph Rose, G. Foster.
WHEELWRIGHTS AND JOINERS. Thomas Higgingbottom, died 1837, aged 64 years ; John Rose ; and Robert Higgingbottom Rose.
MILLER. Joseph Unwin, Wind Mill, Plumbley Lane. The mill is now pulled down.
CORDWAINER. George Webster, Colin Green.
TAILORS. Billy Herring, who died August 6th, 1865, aged 92 years; Thomas Herring, his son ; .James Peat, and his sons. Jabez and Joseph.
It was the custom for tailors during this, and the early part of the following period, to go to their customers’ houses and work at a certain amount of wage per day and rations.
GROCERS. Luke Worrall ; Mrs. Mullins, West Mosbro’.
BUTCHERS. William Oxspring, Henry Oxspring, Samuel Oxspring, and James Fox.
PRINCIPAL PUNLICANS. Thomas Lee and John Robinson, at the Crown inn ; William Galley, Half-way House.
MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS. The summer of 1826 was very hot and dry. Barley was sown and reaped in eleven weeks, in the township. In 1828, the crown lands were sold at the Tomtine Hotel, Sheffield, by Edward Driver, a London Auctioneer. At this sale .John Keeton, sickle manufacturer, bought the cottage and garden at the bottom of Nether Misterton, for £70. A few years ago John Lee bought the same for £170. Harvey Slagg bought an old thatched cottage and garden opposite the school-house, for £40. Other purchasers of Crown lands were John Cowley, George Hudson, William Rose, — Ward. In 1840, the Midland Railway was opened through Killamarsh Meadows. On February 27th, 1841, William Cowley, a man of independent means, was killed by a furious bull on the highway at intake. During this period many beer houses or jerry houses, as they were commonly called, were opened. The following are some of the houses which were used as such: The cottages occupied by Luke Staniforth and James Newton, Little hill; the little house adjoining George Hazlehurst’s butcher’s shop, in Colin Green ; the old house opposite the Summer house, occupied by Mrs. Setterley; the second house from the top in Joseph Turner’s row, Front Street; and another house the third door higher up the street than the last.
Charles Taylor, a grinder by trade, who lived in a thatched house at the bottom of Colin Green, was the constable till his death in 1843, when Richard Ripon succeeded him in that important office.
It was the custom for the constable to keep prisoners taken in custody during the day, in his house overnight chained to the fire-grate, or other secure place, and then take them for trial next morning. Charles Hutton was the pinder.
Superstition, which is always prevalent amongst unenlightened people, prevailed amongst colliers. If any collier saw a woman as he was going to work in the morning, he was afraid to go forward and would return home, as he thought he would have bad luck, and sometimes the woman would receive " a piece of his mind" for being "abroad " at such an hour.
The sicklesmith’s year ended on the 12th of August at all times. The shops wore then closed and the workmen turned to the harvest fields to help the farmers to gather in the corn.
THIRD PERIOD, 1850 to 1886.
And now for the third and last period. how shall I ever chronicle its history? It seems to me such an entangled skein; it will be a very difficult task for me to produce it in a legible yarn. Napoleon Bonaparte, when he had a difficult task before him, used to take a pinch of snuff and say, "It must be done." As I have made up my mind to complete my task, I will say the same without the pinch of snuff., "It must be done," so here goes for better or worse.
During this period, Moshro’ appears to me to have been emerging from something like a chrysalis state and transforming itself into a beautiful village. The wealthy people are beginning to notice its pleasant and salubrious situation. Some have already built beautiful mansions, whilst others have improved the old ones. Nearly all the old thatched houses have been demolished, and lofty and comfortable cottages built in their stead. The little " Jerry houses" of last period have been done away with, and now only suitable houses are allowed a beer license. The footpaths are no longer a single row of irregular and uneven paving stones, but are for the most parts broad asphalted causeways with good curbstones. The chapels, shops, and houses, are no longer in semi-darkness within-doors during eventide, with only a tallow candle or rush -light burning, but are illuminated by gas and paraffin, which is burnt in beautiful reflecting lamps. The people arc no longer to be seen carrying water from the village wells, in cans and buckets with yokes and rims, where, in hot and dry summers they sat for hours by day and night, waiting to be supplied by the insufficient trickling streams; but now they have water supplied them in their houses. The sewerage no longer flows down the streets and gutters anywhere, offensive alike to sight and smell, but is conducted in proper underground channels. And there is now a grand cemetery for the parish, which is kept in good order, and in which the people take a sublime pleasure in cultivating the tops of the graves with flowers. This place is a vast improvement on the old churchyard at Eckington, where sheep are allowed—as they have been for years—to graze, and rub their greasy fleeces against the tombstones, and otherwise defile them, and some of the footpaths are in a wretched condition. The gateways also to the Tree of Knowledge are now thrown wide open, and a law has been passed by our Legislature compelling all children, from five to thirteen years of age, to he fed on its various fruits for the development of their minds.
These are all great blessings, but we may buy gold too dear, and I think the charges for all these good things are too heavy. They are a burden hard to be borne. And often make the people cry out " oh, the rates!" well, the people generally are better educated. The sweet notes of the piano are heard not only in the homes of the rich, but also in the homes of some of the working class. The workmen by combining together in unions now claim higher wages, and have a shorter number of hours per day for labour.
The Established Church, so long indifferent to its people’s spiritual welfare, has begun to bestir itself to do its duty. For some years there has been a Mission Church held in the village school-room, dedicated to St. Mark, the pastor of which doth reside at Glebe House, West Moshro’. Yea, it has even now commenced the erection of a proper Church building, the foundation stone of which was laid by Mrs. Mary Wells, of Eckington Hall, Mosbro’, on the 14th of August, 1886. The principal subscribers thereto are Lady Sitwell, Earl Fitzwilliam, the Rev. E. B. Estcourt, Mrs. Mary Wells, and several of her children.
The Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists still continue to prosper. The latter, in the year 1869, erected a beautiful new Chapel near the old one, at a cost of £700. The Wesleyans are also contemplating the erection of a new one, the ground for which has been already secured.
By the munificence of John F. Swallow, Esq., J.P., Mosbro’ Hill House, a grand public reading room is being erected at the bottom of the Common, which no doubt will prove a very great blessing to the place. I think we may reasonably expect the rising generation to excel their forefathers in all spiritual and mental qualities. And if there be any genii in the place, they will have a grand opportunity of rubbing themselves bright.
The population of Mosbro’ township has doubled itself during this period. It is now 3,000. All the brick houses in Half-way and Holbrook, and nearly all the brick houses in Old Moshro’, have been built during this period, besides a large number of stone houses.
The old village school continued under the mastership of John Ibbotson Hayes till 1857, when that gentleman resigned. The following were the teachers here in succession, till the year 1870, Charles Edward Holmes, James Duff, and Joseph Shipman. At the latter date, William Ascough was appointed, and the school soon afterwards put under government. In 1872, the school was very considerably enlarged. In 1874, Ascough left and was succeeded by Richard Davies, the present schoolmaster.
In 1877, the Half-way House Board School was opened. It cost £3,400.
In the year 1853, Charles Rotherham, Esq., enlarged Mosbro’ Hall Park, by altering the course of the turnpike from the Pingle Steps to the front street, which greatly improved the appearance of the hail. In accomplishing this work, a large stone quarry in front of where Elmwood House now stands, was filled up.
About the years 1861-2, Henry Staniforth restored his residence at the top of Mosbro’ Moor, and pulled down the farm buildings in front of the house, and built fresh ones at the back.
The principal houses which have been built during this period are
Colin Green house, by John Rose, in 1857. On land which he had used as a brickyard.
John Ibbotson Hayes’ House, 1857.
The Half-way House, by Tennnnt Brothers, Sheffield, 1870. Miles Barber. of Barlbro’, was the contractor.
The Duke William Inn was enlarged and made into a good house.
Glebe House, West Moshro’.
Eckington Hall, by Joseph Wells, Esq., 1871-2.
Elmwood, by Edwin Wells, Esq., 1881.
Vine Tavern, by Henry Bargh.
William Housley Richardson’s Mansion, Holbrook.
TRADE. This period is marked by the decay of the Sickle trade. Up to the year 1860, the sound of the sicklesmith’s hammer was to be heard from early morn till night, in almost every part of the village, since then it has gradually died away till now it is only heard in one corner, and there only very feebly. The decline of this business is to be accounted for in two ways, first, by the invention of Reaping Machines, which ham greatly superseded the sickle; and second, by the making of sickles by machinery. No new firms have started in this business, the only changes of any note have been as follows: Frederick Keeton died in 1860, and was succeeded by his sons William and Edwin. These men carried on the business only for a short time. John Riley died in 1875, and was succeeded by his son John, who is the only sickle manufacturer in Mosbro’, at the present time.
In speaking of the coal trade, it would only be tedious to mention every pit separately, so I shall do little more than mention the colliery proprietors, as follows:
Messrs. J. and G Wells, afterwards J. and G. Wells and Co., Limited.
Richard Swallow, afterwards Richard and John F. Swallow.
Joseph Bishop, Plumbley Lane.
John Rhodes, Plumbley Colliery. Afterwards Plubley Colliery Limited.
Luke Worrall, next his widow, and then his son John.
Robert & James Newton near the Cliffs, Plumbley.
Joseph Alton and Thomas Bunting, the Cliffs.
J. and G. Wells, are now working a pit at Moor Hole, which had been closed many Years, independent of the Company of that name.
At J. and G. Wells and Co’s. pit at Holbrook, more than five hundred men and boys are employed underground ; amid one acre of coal is got every week.
PEOPLE OF NOTE: George Mullins was a native of Mosbro’. He succeeded his father, William Mullins, at Westwell Farm, belonging to Sitwell’s, of
Renishaw. He was a thorough, good, and successful farmer, and realised a large sum of money by that business. He was a member of Eckington Church, and for many years a Churchwarden. He died November 19th 1878, aged 71 years.
William Mullins, brother of the above, was a butcher by trade’. For several years he resided in Sheffield, and had a shop in the Shambles. He left Sheffield and came to live on his own property in West Mosbro’, and fol1owed the occupation of a farmer, he died very suddenly on the highway, near where the new Church is being built, on September 8th, 1879, aged 64 years.
Luke Worrall rose from a common collier to be a colliery proprietor, farmer, and shopkeeper. In his days time Truck Act was not passed into law, He compelled all his workmen to buy their food and clothing at his shop. Very little money in coin was paid as wages. He was a jovial man, fond of a spree, but at the same time shrewd, with an eye to business He died January 20th, 1864, aged 57 years.
Joseph Wells was born at, Eckington. October 3rd, 1816, and lived there nearly all his life. He was intimately connected with Mosbro’, as well as Eckington, as regards the coal trade, from a lad till his death. When he was twenty seven years of age, he, jointly with his brother George, succeeded their father George Wells in the coal trade. Joseph, however, was the soul of the concern, and on him devolved nearly the whole weight of the business. He was firm and persevering, and increased the business till J. And G. Wells became classed amongst the largest coal proprietors in the Kingdom. In appearance he was tall, powerfully built, with a cheerful, ruddy countenance. He was of very few men who are horn to be a blessing to all around them. When he became very rich, he was desirous to build himself a hall, to be called Eckington hall. He looked in vain for a suitable place in Eckington, so he choose a beautiful site in Mosbro’, and there built it. Thus we have got Eckington Hall at Moshro’ whether we like the name or not. He lived but a very short time at his new hall, dying very suddenly October 6th, 1873.
Richard Grant, mason, a quiet inoffensive man ; for many years a member of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, and a Sunday School teacher. he was loved by the scholars, but was not very good disciplinarian. He owned a good deal of cottage property in the Pingle and west Mosbro’. He died November’ 15th, 1873, aged 69 years.
Joseph Alton, for many years a farmer at Pumbley. he was a steady man, and member of the Wesleyan Chapel. He told a friend he saved £100 a year at Plumbley. He died April 5th, 1873, aged 71 years.
Richard Ripon, a hatter’, and for many years the village constable. He was a bachelor till 60 years of age, when he married Mary Hutton, daughter of Thomas Hutton, who is mentioned in the first period. He resided in a good house, his wife had built just before her marriage. The house is now occupied by .john Milnes, Grocer, &c. He died January 11th, 1871, aged 81 years.
George Foster, born at Marr, near Doncaster, June 27th, 1817. Apprenticed as a blacksmith in Gibraltar Street, Sheffield, came to Mosbro’ when 21 years of age; and lived here nearly all the remainder of his life, He was a member of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, and a local preacher. He was an industrious man, and of strict integrity. By carefullness and perseverance he became possessed of a good deal of cottage property. He died March 16th, 1884, and was buried in the Cemetery.
John Riley, from being a journeyman sicklesmith became a large sickle manufacturer, he built a house and many sicklesmith shops, which now belong his son John. He also kept a grocer’s shop, and sold to his workmen. He died October 10th, 1875, aged 78 years.
Thomas Lee, once a pit labourer, became a large farmer. For many years he lived at the large farm, Moor Hole, where he died August 13th, 1872, aged 71 years.
Samuel Rotherham, farmer, Westwell, a tall man, bore a good character for uprightness and industry. Died December 16th,, 1863, aged 57 years.
Robert Higgingbottom Rose, joiner, wheelwright, and publican built a great many houses opposite the "saltbox." He died July 30th, 1865, aged 55 years.
Robert Archer, joiner, &C., succeeded his father-in-law, R. H. Rose. He was a good workman, and a good landlord. He died January 26th, 1883, aged 48 years.
Elizabeth Robinson was the second wife of .John Robinson, landlord of the Crown Inn, who died in 1857 .For twenty-eight years after his death she was sole proprietress of that important Inn. She was possessed of wonderful tact in the management of all kinds of company ; clean amid courteous. She built a good many cottages. She died in 1884, aged 68 years.
Elizabeth Girby, mistress of a dame school the long period of forty-seven years, died on April 29th, 1853. A tombstone is erected in Eckington Churchyard, which was subscribed for by 103 of her friends amid pupils, as a grateful testimonial to a life of usefulness spent amongst them.
During the early years of this period there was a good brass hand in Mosbro’, generally called Keeton’s band, many of its members being sons of Frederick Keeton. The Keetons are a musical family. Dr. Keeton, the celebrated organist of Peterboro’ Cathedral, is the son of Edwin Keeton, who was the bandmaster.
During this period a very old custom called “randanning “ has died out, therefore I will speak about it. If a man beat his wife or was guilty of immoral conduct, or vice-versa-—a woman was equally guilty-—they were "randanned," (i.e.) a number of young men rode through the village in a cart, drawn by a large number of their companions, and at the most conspicuous spots recited an obscene ‘‘nominy’’ about the guilty party. This they did for three consecutive nights, on the third occasion taking with them an effigy which was finally burnt, as near as possible in front of the house in which the man or woman lived, as the case might be.
On Easter Monday night, 1850, a great fire occurred on the farmstead of Thomas Rose, French Nook, in which several head of cattle were burnt to death.
About the year 1854 the first policeman was stationed at Mosbro’.
In 1856 there was a great "peace rejoicing" on the conclusion of the Crimean war. It was held in Earl Fitzwilliam’s field, at the top of Knowl Hill ; the children were provided with breakfast, the men with dinner, and the women with tea ; and the following sports were indulged in horse racing, donkey racing, hunting pig with greasy tail, climbing a greasy pole, besides many ludicrous sports for children.
On September 8th, 1859, there was a great explosion at Silkstone Main colliery, in which the following persons were killed Naboth Kirkby, aged 18 years ; Hugh Bird, aged 17 years ; and two boys, Charles Dowman and Henry Stimson.
In 1861, the gradient of Eckington Hill turnpike hill was altered.
The years 1872-3-4-5 was a period of good trade. There was never’ known such a demand for coal, which sold at fabulous prices. A miner could earn 10s. Per day of eight hours. Yes, that was the time for the working men to save money, but sad to say, only very few of the Mosbro’ men proved themselves as wise in that respect as the ants and bees. The majority were too madly engaged in sporting to attend to the advice of the wise man— Solomon.
Several years ago the old pinfold, which stood at the north end of Primrose Hill, was done away with and the Lambsick’s Pond, which, no doubt, had been the village pond for hundreds of year’s, was filled up.
Mosbro’ folk have always been accounted a clannish people, and as regards all parochial affairs, have always been accounted faithful to themselves, when opposed by other quarters of the parish. I hope Mosbro’ will ever retain that character.