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Lead Mining on Halkyn Mountain - The Derbyshire Connection

by Bryn Ellis

(From Hel Achau, Issue 44, December 1994)

Readers may recall my previous articles in this Journal (Numbers 36 and 37; April/August 1992) on families (Nuttall and Redfern) believed to have migrated to the Halkyn Mountain area from the lead mining districts of Derbyshire during the late 17th and early 18th centuries as a result of dramatic new discoveries of lead in that period, particularly at Pentre Halkyn. I also addressed a meeting of this society at Holywell in October 1993. The purpose of this article is to share with readers the fruits of further research both locally and at the Record Office at Matlock, Derbyshire.

Pentre Helygain & Mynydd Helygain

The starting point of my research was the article written by J. N. Rhodes, entitled "Derbyshire Influences on Lead Mining in North Wales in the 17th and 18th Centuries", published in 1968 in the Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, Vol. 3, Part 6, pp. 339-351.

The dramatic new lead discoveries referred to above came to a peak in the 1720s and 1730s, the industry then entering a period of decline. The opening in such a short space of time of many new lead mines, some going much deeper than previously in this area, even involving the erection of an early steam engine, led to a demand for skilled miners, engineers and labourers. I believe that I can identify more than one hundred new surnames in the Halkyn Mountain area, almost all from Derbyshire, during the first half of the 18th century. Many moved on to other areas or possibly returned to Derbyshire as the industry waned.

Before proceeding to an alphabetical survey of these families I must take issue with Mr. Walter Davies who suggested in the April 1994 issue that a survey of modern telephone directories made it more likely that the Nuttalls came from Lancashire rather than Derbyshire. I cannot see the relevance of modern distribution. It is likely that only one family came, and there existed in the lead mining parish of Youlgreave, at the right time, a group of Nuttalls, including quite a few named Francis, who fit the bill. The Derbyshire origin of the Flintshire Nuttalls is confirmed of course by the statement by Samuel Nuttall (1833-1925), who was writing much nearer the time, in his diary, that "my ancestors were natives of Derbyshire". I am prepared to venture that the Samuel and Francis who had children baptised at Ysgeifiog from 1715 were brothers baptised at Youlgreave Church, the sons of Samuel and Anne Nuttall (Samuel in March 1687/8 and Francis in April 1691). The Richard Nutty who had children baptised in Halkyn from 1726 is possibly another brother (baptised September 1699). The reason why there was regular migration of miners between areas such as Derbyshire, Flintshire, Mid Wales and Cornwall (the subject of a future article, I hope) is that tin, silver and lead had ore-extraction as a common skill, in contrast to coal mining. There does not appear to be any affinity between coal mining and lead mining areas. It could be of course that these Nuttalls had originated in Lancashire before moving to Derbyshire.

Allen - The many of this name in this area are probably descended from the Anthony and Mary who had children at Ysgeifiog from 1716 and the Francis and Esther at Halkyn from 1708. The names Anthony and Francis Allen occur frequently in Derbyshire registers of the period but I cannot as yet prove an actual connection.

Bagshaw (possibly sometimes Backshaw) - I am reasonably sure that almost all Bagshaws in this area in the 19th century were descended from the children (sons Daniel, William, John, Christopher, Thomas, Henry, Joseph) of the marriage of Christopher Bagshaw to Sitha Howley at Northop on 30th July, 1743. This Christopher is almost certainly the one baptised in November 1717 at Winster, Derbyshire, the son of Daniel Bagshaw who had married Easter Cheatham at Winster in September of the same year. In turn this Daniel was probably the Daniel baptised at Winster in February 1687/8, the son of Christopher Bagshaw and Ann. The recurrence of the names Christopher and Daniel cannot be pure coincidence. Interestingly, Halkyn Churchwarden's Accounts record the payment of £7:7:0 in February 1782 to a person to take, and maintain on the road, three pauper widows to Derbyshire, including Sitha Bagshaw, a widow since 1767. She must have returned as her burial is recorded at Halkyn in May 1783.

Bateman - It is quite probable that the numerous Batemans in this area are all descended from one of the three Bateman marriages at Halkyn during the 1730s - James (married Sarah Hooson 1734), John (married Elizabeth Oliver 1737) and William (married Timisan Redfern 1737). Interestingly all three brides were probably of Derbyshire families, and it is a distinct possibility that the three men were brothers. A John Bateman was buried at Halkyn in 1720. Whilst Batemans appear in several Derbyshire lead mining parishes, I am not yet able to positively identify the three.

Blackwell - There are probably more descendants of these immigrants living in north east Wales than any other. Much work has been done on this name, notably by Stewart Blackwell, and other Society members whom I have met in recent years. It is probable that most are descended from Henry and Ann Blackwell who lived in Ysgeifiog parish from the 1660s, but others arrived later, a William Blackwell being described as 'of Yolgreave, County Derby' in the Halkyn parish register for 1727. I have not as yet discovered the Derbyshire link of the Henry mentioned above. I have to admit a personal interest as I have Blackwells in my ancestry.

Carman/Carmon - The Richard and Alice Carman who had children baptised at Meliden from 1700 and Halkyn in 1705 were almost certainly the Richard Carman and Alice Carson who were married at Youlgreave, Derbyshire in July 1697. There were also others of that name at Halkyn.

Carrington - The numerous Carringtons in Pentre Halkyn in the 19th century are descended from Francis Carrington who married Elizabeth Williams at Halkyn on 27th November, 1743. A Frank Carrington was prominent in the initial development of the Pentre Mine at Pentre Halkyn in 1723, a very rich discovery later exploited by a partnership of Derbyshire men. (See Rhodes article) The facts of a baptism of a Francis, son of Francis Carrington and Elizabeth, at Youlgreave, Derbyshire in June 1692 and of a Francis, son of John Carrington at Holywell in October 1720 are interesting but not conclusive. There were also many Carringtons further north than Youlgreave, at Chapel-en-le-Frith and Edale.

Cheney - Thomas Cheney was the chief mining agent to the Grosvenor Estate on Halkyn Mountain in the 16908. He was succeeded in this post by his son Thomas, and another son, Edward, was also prominent locally. All three had children baptised in this area before returning to Derbyshire - to Monyash and Ashford. Cheney Rake, one of the richest veins of lead discovered on the mountain, was named after the first Thomas. A cottage known by that name has only recently been demolished with the extension of a quarry.

Denman - It would appear that the numerous Denmans in the area are descended from the children (such as Jonathan, Joseph, Luke and Obadiah) of Luke Denman and Elizabeth, some baptised at Cilcain and Halkyn between 1703 and 1711. Luke Denman's name appears in documents relating to the sinking of new shafts on Halkyn Mountain at this time. Luke Denman was baptised in August 1675 at Edensor in Derbyshire, the son of Thomas Denman and Agnes. Two other sons were Obadiah (January 1672/3) and Jonathan (March 1669/70), the recurrence of certain Christian names confirming the link.

Grattan (Gratten, Gracton) - The John and Alice who had children at Halkyn from 1723 are possibly the same as had a child baptised at Brassington in Derbyshire in October 1718. The name features later in Holywell.

Hawley (sometimes Haley, Halley, Holly) - Most of this name in Halkyn later were descended from the Luke Hawley who rented a cottage in Halkyn from 1723. He was possibly the Luke Halley of Monyash who married Mary Barnes at Bakewell in October 1713. Luke was buried at Halkyn in 1751 and Mary in 1761.

Harrison (Harris) - There are 3 or 4 'miner' families of this surname in local early 18th century registers, resulting in numerous descendants. Although the surname is originally Scottish, I discovered many of that name in the parish of Kirk Ireton in Derbyshire. A Derbyshire link was proved with the discovery of the marriage of Nathaniel Harris to Phebe Spencer at Youlgreave in September 1726. They had three children baptised there (including a Nathaniel) before moving to Halkyn where Nathaniel senior was a miner and farmer in Halkyn village before dying intestate in 1773, succeeded by his son Nathaniel.

[Readers may be interested in this chance discovery I made recently. It is an examination before a magistrate in March 1768 of Hannah Harrison, widow. "On oath saith she was born in Yorkshire, then she came with her parents to Holywell, that when she was about 19 years old she married Francis Hooson of the county of Derby, that he died and she then married Miles Harrison who then lived in Kilken who rented seven pounds a year of Roger Mostyn Esqr. and paid all taxes in the said parish ..." Attached was a removal order of Hannah, who had become a burden on the parish, from Northop to Cilcain. The registers show the marriage of Miles Harrison of Halkyn to Hannah Ash at Cilcain in December 1715 and the baptism of two children at Cilcain and then six more at Northop, where Miles was buried in 1751.]

Hooson - In his article Rhodes clearly identifies William Hooson, the author of "The Miner's Dictionary", published in Wrexham in 1747, as a Derbyshire man. William was buried at Halkyn and his nephew and heir, Thomas, who married at Halkyn in 1749, and lived in the village, was a prominent mine agent There are many descendants of this, and other branches of the family, in the area.

Ingleby - Richard Ingleby and his family came to Halkyn around 1700 and he and his sons were prominent as mine agents, e.g. for the London Lead Company. They lived as lesser gentry, marrying into other mine agent and locally prominent families. Richard's son Thomas married the heiress of Pistyll Uchaf in Pentre Halkyn, eventually rebuilding the farmhouse as the Springfield, well known today as a hotel.

Martin - Most of the many. Martins in this area can be traced back to the Isaac Martin who married Anne Edwards at Halkyn in 1729 or the Peter Martin who married Mary Fernal at Halkyn in 1750. Whilst the surname is to be found in Derbyshire in the period, no link has yet been discovered.

Oldfield - Many of this name at Halkyn were descended from William, baptised in 1729 the son of Edward and Jane, and married in 1747 to Rebecca Holly. There are many Oldfields in the Derbyshire registers, especially at Tideswell, but no link can as yet be made.

Redfern - There were so many, with the same Christian names, in the lead-mining districts of Derbyshire at the time that it is difficult to identify those who migrated to Halkyn and were the ancestors of so many later Halkyn residents. The Timisan Redfern who married William Bateman at Halkyn (see above) must be the Thomisen Redfern baptised at Chelmorton Church in January 1710/11, the daughter of William Redfern, Junior, of Flagg. It is possible that the George Redfern whom I featured in my earlier article came from Monyash, which adjoins Flagg, the son of Richard and baptised in July 1712. I venture this as George's gravestone in the old cemetery at Halkyn has him aged 42 or 44 at his burial in 1756. More work is needed on these early Redferns.

Stealey (Staley, Staly) - The many descendants of this name seem to be descended from John Steyley who married Eleonor Robinson at Northop in September 1729. Francis Staley of Conksbury and his son and heir Francis feature prominently in the "Derbyshire Partnership" operating the Pentre Mine at Pentre Halkyn, and may be of the same family. As there were so many of this name in the Derbyshire registers it has proved difficult to identify these individuals. In his recent talk to this Society the Rev. T. W. Prichard reported on his discovery of a document being an examination on oath in 1773 of Robert, son of the above John and Eleanor, prior to the proposed removal of him and his family from the parish of Holywell, where he had become a burden on the parish poor rate, to the parish of Castleton, Derbyshire, presumably the original parish of his father, John. Robert refused to go and his descendants still live in the area.

Sterndale (also Starndale, Stendal and Standal) - The hard work of searching was rewarded with the discovery of the marriage of Moses Sterndale to Mary Watson at Youlgreave in December 1729. They had two children baptised at Youlgreave, in 1730 and 1733, and then two at Halkyn, in 1743 and 1746. I further found Moses himself baptised at Youlgreave in November 1707, the son of George Sterndale and Elizabeth (Bostern) of Stanton, who had married in August 1702. Descendants were still at Halkyn at the end of the century.

Wagstaff - A Thomas Wagstaff appears as a tenant of the Grosvenor Estate in Halkyn from 1733 to 1740. Anthony Wagstaff married Margaret Jones at Halkyn in 1737 and had three children baptised locally. The baptism of Anthony to Thomas at Wirksworth, Derbyshire, in 1707 may be significant. Others appear in Ysgeifiog registers. There is no trace of any of them locally after 1742.

Other families with numerous descendants in this area which were clearly of Derbyshire origin but for which I as yet unable to prove the actual link include Bradshaws, Coates, Hodgkinsons (or Hoskins), Sheldon, and Spencers. Many others, clearly from Derbyshire, stayed but briefly.


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