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8 Feb 2012

The Stapleford dilemma

We've proved it.  Now I need to wonder whether I like it.  John Barton from Matlock moved to Stapleford aged 22 or thereabouts in 1792.  Considering that he was a farmer's son, most probably a carpenter, it's pretty neat to pin him down so firmly.  The evidence is fairly easily acquired: his father's will of 1822 shows he was living then at Stapleford, being the executor.  Further, a John Barton of Matlock marries in 1792 in Kirk Ireton, and that couple's children are certainly born, and stayed, in Stapleford.  Pretty compelling.

Stapleford must have been an attractive village recalled as being in the Broxtowe hundred, with country roads reminiscent of A R Quinton.  The lace industry operated there, and it seems a river ran through it.  My modern AA map makes it impossible to imagine the area before roads, and it's far too dang close to Nottingham.  Mr Woodward kindly tells us two hundred people were thrown out of work 1881 when a large lace factory in the village was burnt to the ground.

Folk of Matlock had several options when the industrial era came, and for unskilled workers, the cotton mills to the west exerted a big pull.  Carpenters could work anywhere, and shopkeepers or publicans could also take advantage of the larger towns to settle there.

In a world where all our big towns look the same (not the smaller Cheadles, Petsworths), and former industrial communities look greenest of them all, I offer three cheers for the Matlock folk who moved to beautiful Bollington; and two cheers for those who went to Gotham, still a small village.  But only one cheer for the Stapleford move.

I am glad to see a picture of the Warren Arms, the Barton home, with the sheep being driven to market.  1792 may seem early enough to be part of rural Broxtowe goings-on, but all too soon it's 1881 and the grandchildren are heading to labouring jobs in Nottingham and Manchester, leaving their heritage behind.  In addition, they'd already lost the extended family back in Matlock by moving twice.

One brave family, the Stapleford Greasleys, rejected the big Midlands towns on offer and went straight to Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, in 1850.

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