Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter XII.


Lead Mining Vicissitudes.

The oldest industry in this locality is that of lead mining, and it is known that some of the mines here were worked by the Romans, whose pigs of lead have been found. Pieces of ore have been found during the explorations of the military camp at Brough, doubtless from the Bradwell mines. It is asserted by ancient authors that the lead, tin and copper mines of Great Britain were known to the Belgians, Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, who invaded the Kings of this Isle to rob them of their mineral possessions.

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Group of Old Lead Miners
Reading left to right -
Top Row - Wm. Bagshaw Ashmore, Robert Furness, jun., Isaac Elliott, George Ashmore, Charles Andrew, Thomas Morton, Elias Jeffrey
Middle Row - Thomas Hallam, Isaac Evans, Isaac Hibbs, John Jackson, John Morton, John Jennings, James Evans, Caleb Morton.
Bottom Row - Robert Bocking, Benjamin Morton, Robert Ashmore, John Howe (barmaster), Benjamin Barber, Robert How Ashton, Robert Furness s.n., Robert Evans, and William Jeffrey.
At Rake Head Mine, 45 years ago. [Ed: presumably 1867]

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That the inhabitants of this isle were anciently very careful in defending and securing their mines is evident from the speech of King Canutus to his army when drawing them up against the Romans. He called upon his soldiers to defend his rich mines, which would be to show themselves Englishmen, truly valiant, tenacious of their rights, and inspired with a due sense of the price of their country and its productions.

A few mines were left by the Romans at the conquest of this isle, under the command of Julius Caesar, whose descendants continued their work in the lead mines of the High Peak. The Kings of England were always jealous of the mines and minerals, several of whom, after the conquest, would not allow their mines to be worked. In 1246, Henry the Third executed a writ of inquiry at Ashbourne, when it was given for the King that the mines in the High Peak were the royal prerogative of the Crown, and not the property of those who had by long custom worked them, but he permitted the miners to proceed till further order, paying to him the thirteenth dish, cope and lot.

A volume could be written on the history of Peakland lead mining. At an inquisition taken at Ashbourne in the year 1288, one of the jury was “William, son of the smith of Bradwell”. Their findings are highly interesting. A miner could, and still can, dig where he likes in search of lead ore (gardens, orchards, burial grounds, and highways excepted), and having found a vein he can call in the Barmaster and have staked out to him a meer of ground, sufficient to work and dress and prepare his ore and generally carry on his workings. And he can go to the nearest water and conduct it to his mine for use in dressing the ore, and can also make a road across anyone's land to the nearest highway for the purpose of conveying his ore from the mine. And the miners still govern themselves through their ancient Barmote Court, though many of their ancient laws have been very much modified. Formerly when convicted of stealing the ore of another miner he was fined the first and second times, but for the third offence he was taken to the top of the shaft where are the “stowses”, a contrivance for winding the buckets of ore up the shaft, and a knife sent through the palm of his right hand up to the haft in the stowse. where he was left either to tear himself loose or die on the spot. And the miner could have as much timber as he chose for working his mine without paying for it.

Coroners had no jurisdiction whatever over the miner, and fatal accidents in the mine were inquired into by the Barmaster only, and a jury of miners themselves.

The Bradwell mines are in the King's Field, and formerly belonged mostly to the working miners and held in shares frequently very small, as 48ths, 96ths, and even 384ths and 768ths. The very smallest mines often had many partners concerned in them.

For hundreds of years lead mining was the principal employment of the inhabitants. Both men and boys worked therein, while women were employed on the surface dressing the ore. The whole district is completely undermined, and scores of shafts have been covered over, and their exact locale not now known. Veins of ore run east to west for miles and cross veins in all directions, as well as “pipe” mines. There are several main “rakes”, such as Moss Rake, Hills Rake, Shuttle Rake, and Dirtlow, and among the mines that have been extensively worked for centuries on Moss Rake are Yeld, Mule Spinner, Butts, Outland Head, Windy, Bank Top, Hartle Dale, Sykes, Bennetts, Nether Cross, Upper Cross, Raddlepits, Rake Head, Hills Grove, Broctor, Providence, and New York. There were also Peveril, Dirtlow, Bird, Hazard, Holland Twine, Nunley, Smalldale Head, Picture End, Tanner's Venture, Virgin, Wet Rake, Moor Furlong, Cronstadt, Maiden Rake, Nail Hole, Chance, Gateside, Neverfear, Pack of Meal, Hungry Knoll, Dore, Bradwell Edge, Water Shaft, Palfrey's, Cobbler's, Frog Hole, Burrows, Eyre's, Ripper, God Speed, and many others.

Miners wages were always exceedingly low, and 15s. a week was the top price to the one who was foreman. Here is the exact copy of “A Reckoning at Naw Hole, ending May 15th, 1806”. This was at “Nail Hole”, at the top of Hill's Rake, in Hartle Dale.

“Jacob Maltby wages £3 5s. 0d., Robert Maltby £3 5s. 0d., Edwd. Bennett £3 10s. 0d., Godfrey Walker £3 0s. 0d., John Cheetham £1 12s. 8d., Pegy Maltby £1 2s. 0d., Betty Maltby £1 3s. 0d., Sarah Maltby £1 2s. 0d., Mary Palfrey £1 3s. 0d., Ann Walker £1 3s. 0d., drawing to Jacob Maltby 11½, drites £1 3s. 0d., driving to do. 5s. 9d., To Robert Maltby ax and spade shafts 5s. 6d., John Ellis' bill 4s. 2d., Thomas Somerset Bill 12s. 6d., for ale 8s. 9d., total £23 6s. 0d.”

“Ore. 8 load, at £4 4s. 0d., comes to £33 12s. 0d. Calamy £4 2s. 0d., total £37 14s. 0d., profit £14 8s. 0d.”

This was a five week's “reckoning”, and from the accounts before us. extending over a period of three years at this small mine, it is plain that the men's wages varied from l0s. to 15s. per week, and the women 1s. per day.

But however low the wages, or small the quantity of ore raised, there was no diminution in the quantity of “ale” at the reckoning. The old lead miner is known to history as having loved good ale as well as good music, for

“On takin'-days when wit and ale were free,
He join'd the light duet and merry glee.
Sang such a powerful bass, the story goes,
As shook the optics on his ample nose”.

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And Philip Kinder in the preface to his intended History of Derbyshire, written about the middle of the seventeenth century, tells us that “They love their cards. The miners at Christmas tyme will carry ten or twenty pounds about them, game freely, return home again, all the year after good husbands”.

Right away down for years, at every “reckoning” the item for ale is in evidence, varying anywhere from 4s. to 25s., and at one reckoning extending over a period of four months, the sum paid to “Richard Bennett for ale” was £5 4s. 0d. The host at the “White Hart” evidently had good times, judging from the patronage extended to him from Nall Hole, where not more than eight persons were employed, some of whom were women. Two of these men, both named George Maltby were killed at this mine. And at many of the larger mines where large numbers were employed, the workmen - and women too - were, expected to buy a quantity of malt every pay day to brew their own beer at home.

We came across an item in 1780, “given men when rearing coes 2s.” and “spent at Windmill 1s.” There was formerly a public house at Windmill. The “coe” was a small building over the climbing shaft by which the miners descended the mine, and in which they divested themselves of their clothing for the ordinary attire of the miner. On every mine there was another and larger “coe” in which the ore was deposited when dressed, and on the 13th of May the miners used to dress their “coes” with oak branches, garlands, etc. The day was always kept as a general holiday, and a dinner of beef, pudding, and ale provided in the open air, music and singing at the inns concluding the carousals of the day.

Miners' Liberties and Customs in Rhyme.

In the year 1746 there was found in the office of the Duchy of Lancaster the following relating to “the Liberties and Customs of the Lead Mines within the Wapentake of Wirksworth, in the County of Derby, part thereof appearing by extracts from the bundles of the Exchequer, and inquisitions taken in the 16th year of the reign of King Edward the First, and in other kings' reigns, and continuPd ever since”. “Composed in meter by Edward Manlove, Esq., heretofore steward of the Barghmoot Court, for the lead mines within the Wapentake, London. Printed Anno Dom. 1653”. It should be remembered that this is exactly applicable to the “King's Field”, of which the Bradwell district forms a part:-

By custom old in Wirksworth wapentake,
If any of this nation find a rake.
Or sign, leading to the same, may set,
In any ground, and there lead oar may get;
They may make crosses, holes, and set their stowes,
Sink shafts, build lodges, cottages, or coes;
But churches, houses, gardens, all are free
Prom this strange custom of the minery.
A cross and hole a good possession is
But for three days, and then the custom's this:
To set down stowes, timbered in all men's sight,
Then such possession stands for three week's right,
If that the stowes, bossinned, and well wrought
With yokings, sole-trees, else they stand for nought;
Or if a spindle wanting to be nick,
'Tis not possession, no not for a week,
But may be lost, and by another taken,
As any grove that's left, quit or forsaken;
For the Barghmaster (by the custom) ought
To walk the field to see that works be wrought,
And on the spindle ought to let a nick,
If that the grove unworked be three week,
According to the custom of the mines,
Then the Barghmaster may the stowes remove.
And he that set them loseth the same grove;
Unless the work by water hindered be,
From losing any meer of ground or grove,
For then such stowes none ought to remove
And the Barghmaster ought to make arrest,
Upon complaint, if mines be in contest,
Receiving four pound for his lawfull fee,
Or else by wind, the miner then is free
That the next court the wrong redressed may be.
The vulgar term is, setting for a mine,
For th' grace of God, and what I there can find,
And then at him some other miners take,
And gain possession in the selfsame rake;
Another miner for a cross-vein sets,
Some take at him, and then possession gets,
Some take for one thing, some for other free,
As new thing, old thing, cross-vein, tee, or pee;
But yet a difference may be taken clear,
Betwixt a founder and a taker meer,
Because the finder that do find a rake
May have two meers met, and set out by stake,
Which is in length twice eighty-seven feet,
And so is to be measured and laid out,
But first the finder his two meers must free
With oar there found for the Barghmaster's fee,
Which is one dish for one meer of the ground;
The other's free, because the miner found;
But by encroachment they do two demand,
And wrong the miner which they might withstand;
Then one half mere at either end is due,
And to the lord or farmers doth accrue;
And if two founders in one rake be set,
Perchance the farmers may a prime-gapp get.
To nick the miners' spindles that offend;
And when the spindle nicked is three times,
And every three weeks, until nine weeks' end,
Then must the miners chase the stole to th' stake,
From mere to mere, and one at other take;
Each taker gains a mere, no more he can
Have that finds oar in working an old man.
And he (by custom) that his mine doth free,
A good estate thereby doth gain in fee,
And if he die and leave behind a wife,
The custom doth endow her for her life;
But if the grove be lost for want of stowes,
Or forfeited, her dower she doth lose,
By word of mouth eke any miner may
Such fee and freehold freely give away
Egress and regress to the King's highway
The miners have, and lot and cope they pay.

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The thirteenth dish of oar within their mine,
To th' lord for lot they pay at measuring time,
Sixpence a load for cope the lord demands,
And that is paid to the Barghmaster's hands.
Against good times the lord ought to provide
A lawful measure, equal for both sides.
Both for the buyer's and the seller's use,
And forfeits forty pence if he refuse;
And he that sells by any other dish,
His oar so sold thereby forfeited is;
Small parcels yet poor men may sell for need.
If they cannot procure the dish with speed;
Provided always that to church and lord
They pay all duties custom doth afford.
For which the vicar daily ought to pray
For all the miners that such duties pay.
And reason good, they venture lives full dear
In dangers great, the vicar's tythe comes clear;
If miners lose their lives, or limbs, or strength,
He loseth not, but looketh for a tenth;
But yet methinks if he a tenth part claim.
It ought to be but a tenth of clear gain.
For miners spend much money, pains and time.
In sinking shafts before lead oar they find.
And one in ten scarce finds, and then to pay
One out of ten, poor miners would dismay;
But use them well, they are laborious men.
And work for you, you ought to pray for them.
And suit for oar must be in Barghmoot Court.
For justice thither miners must resort;
If they such suits in other courts commence.
They lose their due oar debt for such offence.
And must pay costs, because they did proceed
Against the custom; miners all take heed.
No man may sell his grove that's in contest.
Till suit be ended after the arrest;
The seller's grove is lost by such offence.
The buyer fined for such maintenance.
And two great courts of Barghmoot ought to be.
In every year, upon the minery;
To punish miners that transgress the law.
To curb offenders and to keep in awe
Such as be cavers, or do rob men's coes.
Such as be pilferers, or do steal mens' stowes.
To order grovers, make them pay their part.
Join with their fellows, or their grove desert.
To fine such miners as men's groves abuse.
And such as orders to observe refuse;
Or work their meers beyond their length and stake.
Or otherwise abuse the mine and rake.
Or set their stowes upon their neighbour's ground.
Against the custom, or exceed their bound:
Or purchasers, that miners from their way
To their wash-troughs do either stop or stay;
Or dig or delve in any man's bing-place.
Or do his stowes throw off, break or reface:
To fine offenders that do break the peace.
Or shed men's blood, or any tumults raise.
Or weapons bear upon the mine or rake,
Or that possessions forcibly do take.
Or that disturb the court, the court may fine
For their contempt (by the custom of the mine).
And likewise such as dispossessed be.
And yet set stowes against authority.
And open leave their shafts, or groves, or holes.
By which men lose their cattle, sheep, or foals;
And to lay pains, that grievance be redressed.
To ease the burdens of poor men oppressed.
To swear Barghmasters, that they faithfully
Perform their duties on the minery;
And make arrest, and eke, impartially,
Impannell jurors, causes for to try.
And see that right be done from time to time.
Both to the lord, and farmers, on the mine;
To swear a jury for a half year's time,
(By custom called) the body of the mine.
Who miners are, and custom understand.
And by the custom they have some command:
They may view groves when miners do complain:
Believe the wronged, wrong-doers restrain.
They may view trespass done in any grove.
Value the trespasser, the trespassers remove
They may lay pains that workmanship be made:
And fines impose if they be not obey'd.
They may cause opens, drifts, or sumps, to see.
If anyone by other wronged be.
When strife doth rise in groves, the miners all
These four and twenty miners use to call.
To make inquiry and to view the rake.
To plum and dial (if beyond the stake)
(A mere bewrought and miners wronged be;
For by that art they made discovery.
The steward ought a three weeks court withal.
To keep at Wirksworth in the Barghmoot Hall,
For hearing causes (after the arrests)
And doing right to them that be opprest.
And if the Barghmaster make an arrest.
The steward may (at the plaintiff's request)
Appoint a court for tryal on the rake.
Within ten days, that th' jury view may take.
And for attendance there, the steward be
By mineral custom, hath a noble fee.
Four shillings to the jury must be paid.
Who for that cause were summoned and arrayd.
And if the verdict be for the plaintiff found.
The Barghmaster delivers him the ground;
And if the adverse party him resist.
The four and twenty ought him to assist.
Then may he work (by custom) without let.
Till the defendant do a verdict get.
Then the Barghmaster ought to do him right.
Him to restore unto his ancient plight;
But if three verdicts for the plaintiff's found.
By custom the defendants all are bound;
So if three verdicts with defendants go.
The plaintiffs are (by custom) bound also.
And neither side may make a new arrest.
For the same title that was in contest;
And yet the Duchy Court (if just cause be;
May yield relief against these verdicts three:
Or by injunction parties all injoin
From getting oar in such a meer or mine.
Unt'l1 the cause be heard, and here appear
A title just for them that worked there.
Or may appoint a steward that may try
The cause again upon the minery.
Or may sequester any such lead-mine
tJntill the title shall be tryd again.
And if the plaintiff chance non-suit to be.
He pays a noble for a penalty;
For which (by custom) Barghmasters distrain.
The party non-suited must pay the pain.
No miner's timber, pick, or lawfull stowes.
May be removed from their ground or coes;
If by mischance a miner damped be.
Or on the mine be slain by chance-medley.
The Barghmaster or else his deputie.
Must view the corpse before it buried be,

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And take the inquest by Jury who shall try
By what mischance the miner there did die;
No coroner or escheator ought may do,
Nor of dead bodies may not take their view.
For stealing oar twice from the minery,
The thief that's taken fined twice shall be.
But the third time that he commits such theft,
Shall have a knife stuck through his hand to th'haft.
Into the stow, and there till death shall stand.
Or loose himself by cutting loose his hand;
And shall forswear the franchise of the mine.
And always lose his freedom from that time.
No miner ought of an old man to set
To seek a lead mine, or lead oar to get,
Untill the Barghmaster a view hath taken.
And find such work an old work quite forsaken;
With him two of the body of the mine
To take such view (by custom) ought to join;
Which being done the miner may go on
To sink and free his mere (the lord hath none)
If oar be found, the fruit of his desire.
And woughs he strete the miner then may fire.
Yet not at all times of his own accord.
But at such times as custom doth afford,
I'th' afternoon, and after four o'clock,
He may make fire on the ragged rock;
But first he must give notice, lest the smoke
(In other groves) his fellow miners choke;
And after notice if they careless be
And lose their lives, the firers shall go free.
If miners' groves arrested be, yet they
Go on and work, the arrest must make no stay.
But for oar got before the tryal be,
The Barghmaster must take security.
And at next court all parties do appear.
And the arrest must be returned there,
And then and there the cause must tryed be
Before the steward of the minery.
Most of the customs of the lead mines here
I have describ'd, as they are used there;
But many words of art you still may seek.
The miners' term are like to heathen Greek,
Both strange and uncouth, if you some would see.
Read these rough verses here compos'd by me.
Bunnings, polings, stemples, forks, and slyder.
Rtoprice, yokings, soletrees, roath, and rider,
Water-holes, wind-holes, veins, coe-shafts, and woughs,
Main-rakes, cross-rakes, brown-henns, buddies, and soughs,
Breakoffs, and buckers, randum of the rake
Freeing, and chasing of the stole to th' stake.
Starting of oar, smelting, and driving drifts,
Primgaps, roof-works, flat-works, pipe-works, and shifts,
Cauke, spar, lid-stones, twitches, danlings, and pees.
Fell, bous, and knock-bark, forstid-oar and tees,
Bing-place, Barmoot Court, Barghmaster, and stowes,
Crosses, holes, hange-benches, turntree, and coes,
Founder-meers, taker-meers, lot, cope, and sump,
Stickings, and strings of oar, wash-oar, and pump,
Corfes, clivies, deads, meres, groves, rake-soil, the guage,
Bing-oar, a spindle, a lamp-turn, a fauge.
Fleaks, knookings, coestis, trunks, and sparks of oar.
Sole of the rake, smitham, and many more.

This have I written for the miner's sake.
That miners are in Wirksworth wappentake;
Perchance if these few lines accepted be.
An exposition may be made by me,
Of mineral terms, to most men now obstruse.
Which by expounding may be of more use;
But for the present I commit to view
This little book, the mineral law to shew;
Which ancient custom hath confirmed to them
That miners are, and poor laborious men.
And much desire this custom to present.
Unto the worthies of the Parliament,
And humbly pray, that they for justice sake,
Will them confirm in Wirksworth wappentake.
Good reader spare me if I thee offend
With this strange custom, which I have here penn'd;
But miner read me, take me for thy friend.
Stand to thy custom, thus my poems end.

A Precarious Occupation.

In 1830, before the passing of the Reform Bill, there must have been a great deal of poverty owing to the depression in leadmining, when the “Sun”, an influential paper published in London, wrote thus: “A numerous and respectable meeting of the inhabitants of the village of Bradwell, held on Wednesday the 29th ult., for the purpose of considering the best means of administering relief to the suffering families in the neighbourhood, especially those who are in indigent circumstances, in consequence of the low rate of wages afforded to those employed in the above trades, who, it is well known, cannot by the most difficult exertion earn more than three to four shillings per week. It is impossible to conceive the vast depth of misery which exists. It appeared, from the statements of some of the speakers that many of these poor sufferers had their children in bed when visited, whose bedclothes had not a vestige of either linen or flannel about them, but was composed of wrappers and old clothes; others had not a little of fire. The respectable inhabitants of the village and neighbourhood subscribed nearly £50, which sums they are actively distributing in coals, meats, and blankets. Several resolutions were unanimously adopted, appointing a committee, and earnestly recommending a subscription from all who could afford it”. The working miners gradually abandoned the small workings, for they had no capital to work in a scientific way and put down machinery to cope with the water, and the larger mines followed suit when the low price of lead made them no longer profitable.

But doubtless there is yet much more ore in the bowels of the earth than has ever been got out, and a rich harvest awaits those capitalists who acquire the miles of mines and work them on up-to-date methods.


Calamine was formerly found in large quantities in most of the Bradwell mines, and was separated from the lead in the ordinary process of dressing the ore. It is an

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ore of zinc, and was much used in the manufacture of brass, and was formerly raised in considerable quantities from the Nail Hole Mine.

Sulphur and Petroleum.

Sulphur has been found in layers, and in very great purity in the Virgin Mine, also on Tideswell Moor, and at the Odin Mine, Castleton. It is generally combined with lead, barytus, and fluor spar. Sulphur was formerly met with in the cellural parts of baroselenite, and also in galena. It was found in a layer four inches thick in the mines at Hazlebadge, Bradwell, and in a layer of one inch thick in the toadstone at Tideswell Moor. It was in a state of such purity in these places that it would flame with a candle. “Petroleum, or rock oil, was found in veins of the black marble at Ashford, and when the sun shone upon the stone it gently exuded. Stones containing a considerable quantity of rock oil were formerly met with near Stoney Middleton, and were so common that the miners used to burn the oil they produced in lamps”.


From the lead mines barytus was raised in very large quantities, especially in the New York vein and in the Moor Furlong mines. Millions of tons of this mineral have been got. It is known as cauk, and was converted into a material which is used for many of the purposes for which white lead was formerly applied.

Fluor Spar.

This mineral has become exceedingly valuable during recent years, and as many of the Bradwell mines abound with it - yea, there are thousands of tons ready got in the mines, and left there by the miners of former days as refuse - these mines have been acquired by capitalists, who have sent large quantities of the mineral abroad. But it should be explained that in the mineral laws of the Peak only the lead ore belongs to the miner, every other mineral, cauk, spar, feigh, etc., being the property of the landowner.

Lead Smelting.

When the ore is dressed and sold it is conveyed to the smelting furnaces. The cupola furnace was introduced into Derbyshire nearly 200 years ago, and several of them were erected at Bradwell. One of these was at the bottom of the Dale, and was worked by Thomas Burgoyne, of Edensor, seventy years ago, and afterwards down to its closing by John Fairburn, of Sheffield. It was known as the “Slag Works”, from the slag made by smelting. The only vestige of these once extensive works is the base of the once tall chimney, and the dilapidated old flues along which the poisonous fumes passed and deposited most of their poison before reaching the chimney.

There were other cupolas for the smelting of lead on Bradwell Hills, one where Overdale houses now stand, and the other, “th' owd cupola”, on the site now occupied by Mr. Z. Walker's houses. Nearly a century ago these were worked by James Furness and Company, and Jeremy Royse, of Castleton. A fourth cupola was in the meadow below Edentree. It belonged to Messrs. John, Thomas, and Edward Middleton, three brothers, who were mineowners as well. The cupola has long been used as farm buildings.

Many elderly people remember that awful calamity on the night of the 19th of April, 1854, when there was a fearful catastrophe at the Slag Works. Two workmen, William Mitchell and Joseph Hallam, were suffocated by the poisonous fumes, and [sic] other two, highly respected young men of the village, John Edwy Darnley and Jonah Elliott, met with a similar fate by venturing too near the spot in their eagerness to lend a helping hand in the work of rescue

White Lead Making.

The importance of Bradwell as a centre of the lead industry may be gathered also by the fact that on this very spot the article is not only raised from the mines, but smelted into lead, and actually manufactured into the genuine article, white lead. The late Mr. Robert How Ashton, of Castleton, erected the works at Brough, or rather enlarged a disused cotton mill, about 1860, and there commenced the manufacture of white, grey, and red lead. Subsequently the works were extended by his son, Mr. R.H. Ashton, J.P., who built smelting mills and a refinery, and these industries are still carried on successfully by Colonel Joseph Hall Moore, J.P.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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