Wilful murder in Heage

So I’m happily going through the death certificates recently ordered from the GRO, and filling in the causes of death in my database, when I come to the certificate I’ve received for William Taylor, Ari’s 6x great-grandfather:

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Not what one expects to find! This happened on 31 July 1849 in Heage, Derbyshire.

I then found the newspaper accounts in the British Newspaper Archive on Findmypast. The story appeared in the Derbyshire Courier and the Buxton Herald on 4 August 1849.

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William was born in 1784 in Staveley, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, to Thomas and Sarah Taylor. His christening took place on 19 September 1784 at the church of St John the Baptist. In 1808 he married Millicent Bower, and they had at least six children.

William worked as a collier, and afterwards as a nailmaker (one report says that he kept a shop in Belper). The murder was reported quite widely, even outside the county (this is the London Morning Post):

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The accused was charged at the next assizes, the following spring:

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The Staffordshire Advertiser reported the outcome on 30 March 1850:

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Such a sad story! The full newspaper accounts give lots of details about William and other family members, so I need to read them thoroughly. The moral of the story: death certificates are definitely worth finding!

Ari, this is how you are related to William:

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Judith Brooks of Middleton-by-Wirksworth

Judith Brooks was Ari’s 4x great-grandmother. She was born in Middleton-by-Wirksworth in Derbyshire on 23 Jan 1828 and baptised at St Mary’s Church in Wirksworth on the 2nd of March.

In the 1841 census she is thirteen, living in Town Street, Middleton, with her parents Thomas and Mary, older brother Charles, and younger sister Martha. On 30 Oct 1848 she married William Spencer at Holy Trinity Church, an event captured in several local newspapers. This is from the Derby Mercury of 1 Nov 1848, on Findmypast:

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Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 14.42.47.pngBy 1851, Judith has given birth to three boys: William (possibly born before the marriage), Daniel (who was baptised in March 1850 and buried in April) and Isaac.

The 1861 census shows Judith living in Hillside, Middleton-by-Wirksworth with her husband (a lead-miner), three sons and two daughters. The oldest son, William, is a lead-miner at the age of 13.

In 1871 they are at Rise End. Judith is now 43, with a five-month-old baby, Samuel. Daughters Martha (17) and Mary (14) are factory girls, son Thomas (11) is working in the stone quarry, and the two youngest boys, Francis (7) and David (3), are at school. (Samuel was probably Judith’s ninth and last child.)

In 1881 Judith gets an occupation: ‘wife’. Now they are living in Water Lane with six of their children and two grandchildren.

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Judith died on 18 Jan 1890, at the age of 62. Her death certificate shows that she had been suffering from liver cancer for one year. She was buried on 21 Jan 1890 in Middleton. We have found hundreds of other Spencers (I think it must be the most popular name in Wirksworth) but we haven’t found her grave yet.

Ari, this shows how you are related to Judith:

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