William Boothby, coal higler

Ari’s 5x great-grandfather William Boothby was born in 1809 in Milford, Belper, Derbyshire.

The River Derwent from Milford Bridge, looking downstream and south. The river passes over two V-shaped weirs.
The well dressing at Milford from 2017

William’s parents were Samuel Boothby and Elizabeth Saunders (both cotton framework knitters), and William was baptised on 2 July 1809 at St Alkmund in Duffield.

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Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry.co.uk

The next record for William is his marriage to Eliza Kent on 20 April 1841, also at that church. The marriage certificate describes him as of full age, a Bachelor, and a Labourer. His residence at the time of marriage is Little Eaton. He did not sign his name.

Little Eaton Gangway, a horse-drawn plateway which operated from 1795–1908, carrying material from quarries to the Derby Canal.

William and Eliza were at Holbrook Moor by the time of the census in 1841, with a one-month-old baby, Anne. Their house was owned by Jedediah Strutt, and can be seen marked as no. 59 on a tithe map of the estate, dated 18 Jan 1840 (see Tithe Apportionments, 1836–1929. TheGenealogist.co.uk 2019).


By 1851, sons Samuel, William and John had been born, and a second daughter, Ellen. They were still at Holbrook Moor, and William was a farm labourer. Sadly, baby William had died at only eight months old. He was buried at St Michael’s Church in Holbrook.

Eliza died in 1859, leaving William with one more child – a second William – born in 1856. The 1861 census shows him as a widower with five children at home: Ann (19), whose job is House Work, Samuel (17), Labourer Agricultural, Ellen (14), and William (4), at school. William and his son John (12) are both shown as coal higlers.

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1861 census, Ancestry.co.uk

This is one of those old occupations that can be found in the census, and meant someone who sold coal to householders, probably travelling with a horse and cart.


Higler’s cart (from A new book of horses and carriages: The Rhedarium). Artist Thomas Rowlandson, 1784.

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Derby Mercury 28 April 1780, Findmypast.co.uk

William died in Holbrook on 17 July 1863. The cause of death was “Disease of the Heart, Debility”, and someone called Thomas Mee was in attendance. He was buried at Holbrook three days later.

Ari, this is how you are related to William:

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Dorothy Abbott, heiress

Dorothy was one of Ari’s 7x great-grandmothers, born on 19 April 1744 at Bloxworth (near Wareham) in Dorset, and baptised on 31 May at St Andrew’s church.


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Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry.co.uk

According to the Bloxworth OPC page, “this is one of the very few churches where the original hour glass and stand, by which, after the Reformation, the length of the sermon was regulated, still exists.”

Dorothy was the sixth child and fifth daughter of a yeoman farmer, Matthew Abbott, and Jane Clench.

Matthew died intestate in January 1767, and his widow (second wife) Mary, administered his estate, giving us a very detailed inventory of his possessions.

In November 1768 Matthew’s brother David Abbott died and his will shows that Dorothy inherited £20 (worth about £1745 now), plus “one Bell mettal pott, Three pewter Dishes, and one pair of Holland sheets”.

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Wiltshire, England, Wills and Probate, 1530-1858, Ancestry.co.uk

According to Sleep in Modern England by Sasha Handley, “Holland sheets were made from a fine linen cloth that originated in the Low Countries. They were used sparingly in many households due to their cost, and owning such sheets was a sign of luxury and status”. She also says that “the provenance, decoration and use of linen sheets … ensured that they were regularly bequeathed” (p. 129).

Dorothy married Henry Redway on 18 October 1770, at St Mary’s church in Winterborne Stickland.


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Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry.co.uk
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Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry.co.uk

Dorothy and Henry had six children betwen 1771 and 1782. I have been unable to find a death or burial for Dorothy.

Ari, this is how you are related to Dorothy:

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Sarah Jane Bladon

Sarah Jane Bladon was one of Ari’s 5x great-grandmothers. She was born in 1828, and baptised at St Andrew’s in Cubley, Derbyshire on 12 Jan 1829.

The font at Cubley.

Her parents were farmers John Bladon and Ann Bull. When she was only nine her father died, and she married Walter Ford when she was just sixteen, with her mother’s consent.

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Staffordshire, Dioceses of Lichfield & Coventry marriage allegations and bonds, 1636–189, Findmypast

The marriage took place on 11 Jan 1844 at Holy Trinity church in Yeaveley. By the time of the 1851 census Sarah Jane was living with her husband (called William on this occasion, just to confuse us) and her mother, and four children: Margaret Ann (7), John (3), Thomas (2), and Jane (1 month) on Ann’s farm at Hales Green, Yeaveley.


In the next eight years, Sarah Jane gave birth to four more children: Charles, Sarah, Mary and Eliza Ann.

Then, sadly, she developed consumption, and died on 9 May 1859, aged only thirty.

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Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 20 May 1859, Findmypast

Baby Eliza Ann had died in April, only three months old, and appears in the parish register just before Sarah Jane. They were both buried at Yeaveley.

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Derbyshire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813–1991, Ancestry

We will discover what happened to the other children in another post.

Ari, this is how you are related to Sarah Jane:

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David Stapleton, linen weaver

David Stapleton was one of Ari’s 5x great-grandfathers (and before you read on, one of the criminal ancestors I wrote about here). He was born in 1772 in Harringworth, Northamptonshire, the youngest son of Joseph Stapleton and Mary Lewis. His christening took place at the church of St John the Baptist in Harringworth on 12 July 1772.

The Harringworth Viaduct, built in 1878. It is the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in Britain, and a Grade II listed building.

In 1797 David married Mary Sutton in Stamford, Lincolnshire. I have just discovered the marriage banns, which show that she was a widow:

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Lincolnshire Banns, Findmypast

The couple had four sons, and then a daughter and then another son. (Two of the boys, Robert and John, died as young children.) Mary died in 1837. The 1841 census shows David living alone in Harringworth, aged 68. His occupation is given as a weaver.

The next record we have for him is a criminal register:

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England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791–1892, Ancestry.co.uk

He was sentenced to two years in Northampton Gaol for this assault, and there were several newspaper reports, naming the girl as Anne Norman, who is listed with her family on the next page of the 1841 census.

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Lincolnshire Chronicle 15 July 1842, Findmypast
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Evening Mail, Findmypast

In January 1844 this appeared:

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Northampton Mercury, Findmypast

I’ve just found this correspondence and letter asking for his discharge:

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David died of old age at the Union Workhouse in Uppingham, Rutland on 29 December 1849. He was 78. He was buried at Harringworth on the 1st of Jan 1850.

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Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1912, Ancestry.co.uk

Ari, this is how you are related to David:

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