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 XX.


Curious Epitaphs and Gretna Green Weddings.

The Hope Church Registers, which date from the year 1599, have been well kept, and are in a good state of preservation. But the clergymen have contented themselves with the bare entry of the burial of the deceased without any remarks, except in a few instances, and where men have been “killed in the mine”. But hundreds of these latter could doubtless have been shown.

Under date, March 10th, 1688. we read: “William, son of Robert Marshall de Bradwall, buried. Memorandum, no affidavit brought within 8 days and same certified to ye overseers of ye poor for Bradwall”.

The very next entry is the burial on March 15th, of “Alicia, fil Thomas Padley de Bradwall”, and there is a similar memorandum to the above.

1778, July 31. Buried the body of a man found upon the moors in the Woodlands, and place of abode unknown”.

But this was not the only body buried in the Churchyard that had been found upon the moors. In the Philosophical Transactions:-

“The moors of Hope parish afford an extraordinary instance of the preservation of human bodies interred in them. One Barber, a grazier, and his maid servant, going to Ireland in the year 1764, were lost in the snow, and remained covered with it from January to May, when they were so offensive that the Coroner ordered them to be buried on the spot. About twenty-nine years afterwards, some countrymen, probably having observed the extraordinary properties of this soil in preserving dead bodies, had the curiosity to open the ground, and found them in no way altered, the colour of the skin being fair and natural, and their flesh as soft as that of persons newly dead. They were exposed for a sight during the course of twenty years following, though they were much changed in that time by being so often uncovered. In 1716, Mr. Henry Brown, M.B., of Chesterfield, saw the man perfect, his beard strong and about a quarter of an inch long; the hair of his head short; his skin hard, and of a tanned leather colour, pretty much the same as the liquor and earth they lay in. He had on a broad cloth coat, of which the doctor in vain tried to tear off the skirt. The woman was more decayed, having been taken out of the ground and rudely handled; her flesh, partially decayed, her hair long and spongy like that of a living person. Mr. Barber, of Rotherham, the

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man's grandson, had both bodies buried in Hope Church, and upon looking into the graves some time afterwards it was found they were entirely consumed. Mr. Wormald, the minister of Hope, was present at their removal. He observed that they lay about a yard deep in moist soil or moss, but no water stood in the place. He saw their stockings drawn off, and the man's legs, which had not been uncovered before, were quite fair. The flesh, when pressed by his finger, pitted a little, and the joints played freely, and without the least stiffness. The other parts were much decayed. What was left of their clothes, not cut off for curiosity, was firm and good, and the woman had a piece of new serge, which seemed never the worse”.

Body snatching would appear to have been a considerable trade a century ago, and there are still people living who can relate strange tales about the “Resurrection Carts” coming from Manchester and Sheffield, gliding silently in the middle of the night, and returning with bodies out of the churchyard. There are two entries to this effect in the register, and singularly enough, both relate to Bradwell people. Here they are:-

1831. October 26, aged 28, William Bradwell, Smalldale. The body stolen same night”.

1834. October 2nd. aged 21, Benjamin Wragg, Bradwall. This body stolen”.

Evidently those who trafficked in this ghoulish business carried on their nefarious job when the dark nights of October came.

1636. Began the great death of many children and others by a contagious disease called the children pock and purple pock”.

This relates to the small-pox that was formerly very prevalent in this country. It carried on its ravages for at least two hundred years, and killed many. There is the entry, “1834. Dec. 16th. Hannah Cheetham, Bradwall, small-pox”.

1819. Buried Widow Hannah Rose, Woodland, aged 100”.

1835. Nancy Furness, 26, child birth, married only 6 weeks”.

1836. Robert Bird, 80, Bradwall. sojourner”.

There are many of these “sojourners” in the register, probably wayfarers.

1837. Ellis Poynlon, suddenly at market”.

1837, July 3rd. Rachel Cheetham, perished on the way”.

This was the first burial in the parish to be registered under the new Act by which the returns were to be sent to the Registrar General.

1837. James Oldfield. Little Hucklow. Killed by a cart”.

1838, February 2nd. Thomas Bagshaw, Hazlebadge, found hanged”.

1851, June 29th. A youth unknown found in the River Ashop. About 17 years old”.

Baptisms.- “1835, April 8. Nancy, daughter of John and Nancy Furness, Bradwall. Mother buried same time”.

1835, March 8. Isaac, son of Robert and Rachel Shirt, Hope. Born with one finger and thumb only on right hand”.

1868, October 22. The new church at Bradwell was consecrated. Thanks be to God for permitting me to see the accomplishment of this good and important work”. C.J. Daniel.

In Wesleyan Chapel Registers:

1854. “Buried Hannah Cheetham, sister to little Isaac Cheetham”.

1847. “Paid Mr. George Fox £5 borrowed money from Mr. Abraham Hill in part for his croft as burying ground. Marriage gifts paid towards burying croft £2 0s. 6d.; balance paid to Benjamin Somerset, who lent it, £1 7s. 6d.”

1847. “Donation towards obtaining marriage license for the chapel, handed towards this trust account and towards paying for the croft bought for burying ground if the parties do not object and require their money to be returned, £2 0s. 6d.”

1864. “Buried Hannah Hawksworth. This grave belongs to the township of Bradwell”.

1864. “Buried Benjamin Barber, 19, miner, killed in the mine at Great Hucklow”.

Some Curious Epitaphs of Bradwell Folk.

There is a good deal of originality in the epitaphs to be found on the gravestones of Bradwell folk. Here are a few:-

In Hope Churchyard.

To Benjamin Kirk, of Brough, who died in 1789, aged 37:

“Reader, whoe'er thou act, remember that the common lot of all mankind is the grave. Yet know that the Meek, the Charitable, and Religious shall triumph over Death, secure in a blissful Immortality”.

To William Middleton, Bradwell (1824), and several children:

“Kind Reader stop and contemplate
The nature of a futile State.
If Christ in judgment should appear.
Are you prepared to meet Him there?”

To Mary, wife of Ellis Middleton, of Bradwall, 1810:

“My husband dear and children seven.
Prepare to follow me to Heaven”.

On a table tomb of several young children of John and Mary Fox, of Smalldale, 1754:

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“The blast which nips our youth will conquer thee.
It strikes the bud, the blossom, and the tree.
Since life is short, and Death is always nigh.
On many years to come do not rely;
The present time learn wisely to employ
That thou mayest gain eternal life and joy”.

To Mary, wife of Frederick Morton, 1845, aged 25:

“Grace was in all her steps.
In all her gestures dignity and love.”

Here is a curious inscription on the stone of a former churchwarden:

“Abraham Hibberson lyeth here.
And so he must till Christ appear.
Though flesh and bones consume away
He must appear at Judgment Day”
“He departed this life Feb. 15, 1776, aged
87 years”.


On the stone of John Cheetham Bradwall, 1768, we read:

“Man, know thyself!
All wisdom centres there”.

On the monument of James and Mary Hibbs, 1779, and nine children, there is the following:

“With deepest thoughts, spectator view thy Fate,
Thus Mortals pass to an Immortal State.
Through Death's dark vale we hope they've found the way
To the bright Regions of eternal Day.
Life's but a Moment, Death that Moment ends,
Happy, thrice happy he that Moment wisely spends.
For on that dreadful Point, Eternity depends”.

On the stone of Isaac and Mary Maltby (1802), aged 72 and 73 respectively, there is the line:

“An unspotted life is old age”.

There would appear to be doubts and fears concerning a future state, expressed in some lines on the stone of Benjamin Bagshaw, of Coplowdale, who died in 1894. At the head of the stone there is: “In hope of a joyfull Resurrection to Enter into Life and Glory”, but beneath we read:

“Let no surviving mortal man presume.
To state my present or my future Doom.
Let that a part for Ever to remain.
To Him who knows our hearts to be but vain.
So let my Ashes and this brittle Stone
Rest till i rise and be disturbed by none”

Here is another:

“Behould !
this stone stands near
upon the bones of
Martin Middleton
who Bradwell Town
Inhabited of late
and dyed near Aged
fifty Eight.
November 16, 1753”.

In Wesleyan Cemetery.

A new marble monument to Isaac Bancroft (1908), aged 79, erected by his daughter, says:

“Farewell vain world, I've had enough of thee.
And now I care not what thou say'st of me:
Thy smiles I court not, nor thy frowns I fear,
My cares are o'er; my head lies easy here”.

On a monument to John Bradwell (39), who died in 1896, it is stated that:

“This stone was subscribed for by the
staff and fellow cabmen at Hope Railway
Station, in loving memory of a departed
friend, as a memento of the respect and
esteem in which he was held in the

In Bradwell Churchyard.

On the flagstone at the entrance to the tower doorway: “Jane Maltby Bradwell, 6, and George Edward Bradwell, 18, who were buried on February 18, and March 6, 1889. They were the first to be buried in this churchyard”.

On headstone near entrance to vestry:

“In memory of Benjamin Giles, a native of South Wales, but for 40 years a hawker in this district, and resident at Bradwell, who died February 16th, 1883, and was buried beneath this stone February 19th, 1883, aged 81 years. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also”.

Gretna Green Weddings.

It is well known that at Peak Forest, often termed “The Gretna Green of the Midlands”, which was extra parochial, the parson had formerly unique powers. He could legally perform the marriage ceremony without previous publication of the banns at any hour of the day or night. It was exceedingly convenient for Bradwell couples who were desirous of doing it on the sly, and doubtless many patronised the parson of Peak Forest.

Extracted from the registry of “Foreign Marriages” are the following Bradwell names:-


Joseph Bridbury and Lydia Wilson, August 1st.
John Greavs and Hannah Bridbury, License, October 18th.
Abraham Hall and Sarah Longley, March the 9th.

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Edward Dernly and Elizabeth Bray, July the 4th.
Geofrey Pearson, Ann Burroughs, September 25th.


Joseph and Elizabeth Hall, May 11th.
Thomas Elliot and Ann Eyre, December 7th.
Daniel Pearson and Elizabeth Key, December 17th.

Gretna Green of the Peak
The Ancient Church of Peak Forest. Demolished in 1876.


Francis Bridbury, Mary Longden, April 6th.
Joseph Dennis, Mary Key, October 11th.
Samuel Spooner, Mary Bridbury, October 12th.


Joseph Bramhal, Hannah Allen, June 15th.
Matthew Furnice, Ann Hallam, July 20th.
John Cowper, Alice Green, August 5th.
Thomas Bridbury, Mary Adsit, August 29th.


John Bennit, Martha Morten, April 1st.
Edward Bennit, Ann Needham, July 9th.
Hugh Hill, Bradwall, Sarah Clayton, Peak Forest.


John Bramhal, Sarah Littlewood, June 4th.


Samuel Edenzor, Elizabeth Greavs, September 26th.


Thomas Walker, Elizabeth Pearson, July 22nd.
Benjamin Thorp, Mary Bramhal, July 25th.
George Fox, Esther Barber, December 16th.
Abraham Ibberson, Sarah Wainwright, February 2nd.


John Tricket, Mary Greavs, May 30th.
John Andrew, Mary Goodwin, May 1st.
Henry Gelly, Ruth Slack, August 31st.
John Taylor, Alice Walker, October 7th.
Benjamin Fox, Mary Elliott, October 18th.
John Onyon, Ann Elliot, February 5th.


Robert Hill, Mary Hallam, April 26th.
Benjamin Hallam, Jane Froggatt. December 31st.

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Robert Barber, Sarah Morten, July 8th.
Wm. Dalton, Elizabeth Greavs, February 14th.
Robt. Hall, Betty Fox, February 21st.
Thomas Rowson, Mary Fox, March 24th.


Robert Hall, Ann Bradwell, October 26th.
Paul Andrew, Ruth Deykin, October 26th.


Wm. Deykin, Ann Bradbury, May 20th.
Thomas Morten, Elizabeth Edenzor, May 22nd.
Nicholas Deykin, Dorothy Hall, October 15th.


Benjamin Hall, Ann Hall, July 8th.


Thomas Burrows, aged 26, and Margaret Dakin, aged 25, Castleton, June ye 11.
Robt. Hill and Mary Longden, of Castleton, June ye 12th.
Thomas Andrew and Eliz. Hall (Castleton). July the 12th.
Robt. Bradwell and Margaret Hall, November the 21st.


William Longden and Hannah Needham, September ye 1st.


William Eyre and Ellen Furnace, November 2nd.


Benjamin Walker and Mary Hallam, October 19th.
John Maltby and Ann Palfryman, November 26th.


Godfrey Elliott and Susanna Barber, February 25th.
Robert Palmer and Ann Marshall, March 21st.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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