The Plague-Stricken Derbyshire Village

or What To See In and Around Eyam

By Rev J.M.J. Fletcher (1916)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013


In the year 1428 the Church of Eyam was taxed at 20 marks. Subsidy 26s. 8d.

The Parish Registers. Parish Registers were first ordered to be kept in every parish in 1538. This order was renewed 1n 1547, and again in 1559. In 1603 it was ordered that the registers, which until that time had been written on paper, should for the future be written over again in a parchment book. To be complete, the registers of a parish should go back to the year 1538. The Eyam registers begin with 1630, when the first entry is a record of the burial of “Mr. Robert Talbot, Rector of Eyam”, on August 10th. The earlier registers have been lost. And indeed the earliest entries in the first volume for nearly seventy-five years, namely from August 20, 1630, to May 29, 1705, are merely transcripts, for they are written on paper and have been copied in the same hand. It will be remembered that this was possibly done by Joseph Hunt during the time that he sought sanctuary in the Vestry. (p. 32).

The Rectors appear as a rule to have been appointed when quite young men, and the Rectory was the home to which some number of them brought their brides. Several of them had large families;- Thus we find the baptism of nine children of Mr Shorland Adams recorded in a little over ten years (Sept. 1631 - Nov. 1641).

The following extracts from the Registers are interesting:-

1653. Buried Mary ye wife of Thomas Morton, clergyman, December 30.

(No marriages are recorded between September 1, 1653, and September 5, 1657. During this period according to Commonwealth usage, the marriages would be performed by a magistrate and not in Church. The

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Puritan Rector, Thomas Stanley, first signed the Register, after Aug. 10, 1644, as did John Wilson, Michael Morton, and Francis Firth, churchwardens).

1663. Dec. 30. Buried Anne a traveller who was at her death according to her own computation 136 years of age.

1664. June 14. Buried Mrs. Anne Stanley. (The wife of the Puritan Rector. In De Spiritualibus Pecci we read of the great sorrow into which he was plunged at the death of his wife).

1665. April 20. Married Mr. Michael Adams, a clergyman, and Mrs. Anne Bradshawe.

(Michael was the sixth of the above-mentioned children of Mr. Shorland Adams. He was educated at Rotherham and at St. John's College, Cambridge, and succeeded his father as Vicar of Treeton, which Shorland had held with the Rectory of Eyam. The title “Mrs.” did not, as now, imply previous marriage; but it was frequently affixed to the names of people of the professional classes, or of independent means, whether married or not. Anne was the daughter of George Bradshaw of the Old Hall at Eyam. She died on the 9th of the following January. (See page 45).

And now we come to the sad record of the plague, when no fewer than 26o people out of the small population of the village perished. The record commences as follows:-

Sept. 1665. Here followeth ye names with ye numbers of ye Persons who died of ye plague,- imprimis

(1). Sept. 7. Buried George Viccars.

(185). 1666. Aug. 15. Buried Brigitt Ye relict of Mr. Robert Talbott.

(208). 1666. Aug. 25. Bur: Katharin ye wife of Mr. William Mompesson.

(260). 1666. Nov. 1. Bur: Abraham ye son of John Mortin defunct.

Plague Register (Portion of)
(shewing Plague entries, 1665)
( Photo.

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Those numbered 1 and 260 are the first and last “plague entries”. The other two are the widow and wife of the two Rectors of Eyam. In reference to the former, Wood says, “A stone once in the possession of the late Mr. John Slinn, Eyam, and now in a cabinet of curiosities at or near Derby, has the following inscription:- Bridget Talbot, Ano. Door. 1666”. The stone was found in a small piece of ground now forming part of the Miners' Arms' croft.

Katharine Mompesson was, it will be remembered, one of the heroines, as her husband, the Rector, was one of the heroes of Eyam.

1670. Aug. 26. Bur : Thomas Stanley, formerly Rector of Eyam.

1675. Nov. Henry Adam, Rector of Eyam, died at Laughton, in the morning 20 of this instant,- he was buried there 22. He was Vicar of the same place.

1675-6. Feb. 20. Mr. William fferne Bachelor of Arts was inducted into the Rectory of Eyam by Mr. John Walker Vicar de Hathersage upon the 10th of February 1675.

1679-80. Feb. 24. Bur. William Ferne, Rector of Eyam.

1680. May 14. Mr. Charles Carver, Mr. of Arts, was inducted into the possession of the Rectory of Eyam by Mr. Saml. Cryer of Castleton.

1683-4. March 21. Joseph Hunt, B.A., was inducted Rector of Eyam by John Walker Vicar of Hathersage.

1684. Sept. 4. Marr : Joseph Hunt, Rector, and Anne Ferne. (see page 32).

1703. Dec. 18. Bur : Anne ye wife of Joseph Hunt, Rector.

1709. Dec. 16. Bur: Mr. Joseph Hunt, Rector of Eyam.

1712. July 13, Alexander Hambleton, Rector of Eyam did immediately after Divine Service and Sermon receive the Sacrement of ye Lord's Supper according to the usage of the Church of England. (He was appointed Rector in 1712. See pages 53, 59, &c.)

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1717. Oct. 24. Bur: Mr. Alexander Hambleton, Rector of Eyam.

1720-1. Feb. 23. Bur: Mrs. Anne Hambleton, ye widdow of ye Rev. Mr. Alexander Hambleton, Rector.

[From the Great Longstone Registers we find that Mr. Hamilton (whose name according to the custom of the district was pronounced “Hambleton” and thus written in the Eyam Registers), was married in that Church. “1714. April 15, Alex. Hamilton, Rector of Eyam, and Anne Balguy de Hope, generosa, married”.]

The dog whipper, was an ancient parish official to whom was committed the duty of driving dogs out of the Church. And at Baslow, hot far from Eyam, is still preserved in the vestry of the Church a whip which was formerly used by this functionary:-

1727. Feb. 1. Bur: George Newton de Eyam, Dog-whipper.

1749. Feb. 5. Bur: Stephen Broomhead, Dog Whipper de Eyam, who had been overlaid in ye snow upon Eyam Moor.

Deaths from accident were not infrequent:

1686. Nov. 3. Bur: Mary Bagworth of Buxton. She died upon Foolow Moor.

1694-5. Feb. 18. Bur: John White, who was found dead in ye Dale coming from Midleton.

1721. May 12. Bur: George Knowles, killed by a plaigg in ye hay Cliff Grove.

1736-7. Jan. 26. Bur: Wm. Ainsworth, who was killed by a fall from a Tor into Litton Dale.

1741. Feb. 13. Bur: Richard Winterbotham, John Barber, Henry Merrill, de Eyam, all killed in Haycliffe Mine.

1748. May 16. Bur; Hannah, dau: of Thomas and

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Hannah Milward de Eyam killed by falling down a rock in Eyam Dale.

1785. May 24. Buried Mary Hall Killed by lightning; while sitting in her corner chair.

1796. Dec. 1. Buried Edmund Cocker, died a sudden death when at Church, the 27 Nov, aged 61.

1802. Aug. 30. Buried Edward Dooley, Musician, who died as he was going to play some young people the Morris Dance.

Nonconformity appears early to have found a footing in the Parish, as the following records show:

In the Religious Census of Derbyshire, made in 1676, the number of Conformists at Eyarn is given as 526,- of Papists as 3,- and of Nonconformists as 3. In the same list Stoney Middleton appears with 236 Conformists, 3 Papists, and no Nonconformists.

1722. Dec. 8. Bap, Benjamin, the son of Samuel and Sarah Eyar, at a Conventicle meeting.

1723. Aug. 4. Bap. Richard, son of George Young, at a Conventicle Meeting.

1730. Mar. 30. Baptised Matthew, son of Edward and Sarah Furniss, at a Conventicle meeting.

1734. June 4. Bap. Hannah, dau. of Joseph and Martha Drabble, at a Conventicle meeting.

1737. Nov. 6. Bap. Luke, son of Edward and Sarah Furniss, at a Conventicle meeting.

1741-2. Feb. 1. Bapt. Matthew, son of John and Anne Furniss de Foolow, at a Conventicle meeting.

1793. March 13. Buried Joseph Benningson, the first that introduced Methodism into Eyam.

In connection with this subject the following references to the journal of Rev. John Wesley, may be of interest.

1768. March. On March 18, he was at Evesham; on the following day at Birmingham. On Thursday, 20th, he passed through Burton, on the way to Nottingham

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where he remained over Sunday. At Birmingham complained “It was as much as we could do to bear the cold before sunrise”. And at Nottingham, on Sunday, 23rd, “I had thoughts of preaching in the Market-Place; but the snow which fell in the night made it impracticable”. On Monday, he rode on to Derby, and on the following day, after preaching at “Creitch” “we rode on, through several heavy showers of snow to Sheffield”.

Thur. 27, (Maunday Thursday). “I preached in the morning at a little village near Eyam, in the High-Peak. The eagerness with which the poor people devoured the word, made me amends for the cold ride over the snowy mountains”. And so through Macclesfield and Stockport, he passed on to Manchester, where Easter was spent. A fortnight later, after visiting Chapel-en-le-Frith, Wesley speaks of the storms encountered “in riding over the dreary mountains of the High-Peak”.

1770. Sept. 24. Baptised Thos. Longfellow of ye Parish of Sheffield, Quaker, who ye same day was married,- he was about 35 years of age.

1740. April 28. Rev. Thomas Seward, M.A. inducted, presented by Lord and Lady Burlington.

A few days before the induction of Mr. Seward, Mr. Rigby, who had been Curate for 22 years, during the time of two non-resident Rectors, died.

1740. April 22. Buried the Rev. Mr. Rigby, Curate de Eyam.

The following refers to the poetess.

1742, Dec. 28. Bapt. Anne, dau. of Rev. Thos. Seward, Rector of Eyam, & Mrs. Elizbth Seward, his wife.

1779. July 9. Buried William Baxter, Schoolmaster.

The following name is, to say the least, unusual:-

1781. Apr. 17. Baptised Penelamalaah, dau. of Joshua and Elizabeth Gregory.

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“N.B.- The new Tax on Burials, Births and Marriages took place ye 1st of Octr 1783. . . The Tax ceased 1st Oct. 1794”. (During these eleven years the sum of 3d. is written after each name).

1790. March. N.B. The Revd Mr. Thomas Seward died March ye 4. 1790; he had been Rector of Eyam 49 years. Died and Buried at Lichfield.

The Revd. Charles Hargrave Inducted 25 March 1790 Rector of Eyam.

One daughter is mentioned as having been born and registered in July, 1788, at Wrawby in Lincolnshire.

Thirteen other children were born to Charles and Mary Hargrave at Eyam Rectory.

1796. Dec. 20. Buried Ann Bagshaw, aged 102.

1802. Buried Sarah, the wife of James Hibbert, Parish Clerk, aged 82.

1804. March 30. Thomas Hadfield, a Volunteer, buried with Military Honors, aged 23.

1805. Oct. 31. Buried Mr. James Farewell Wright, aged 67.

1806. March 7. Buried James Hibbert, Parish Clerk. He has been so 20 years, aged 80.

1806. March 13. James Wood, a Volunteer, buried with Military Honors, aged 23.

1806. May 7. Peter Furniss, a Volunteer, buried with Military Honors, aged 20.

1807. June 11. Buried Mr. Jonathan Fulwood, a Traveler who droped down dead in the Dale by the Watling Trough, aged 62.

1811. Aug. 9. Buried Dorothy White, a midwife, aged 58.

In Nov. and Dec. 1819, there was an epidemic of fever; and in Jan. Feb. and March 1821 an epidemic of small

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pox when 8 out of the 16 deaths registered were from that disease (all being young children). And during the last five months of 1863, out of 34 deaths, 15 were from small pox;- the following note being added “Vaccination was found to have been usual neglected when the small pox occurred. J.G.”

1822. Nov. 23. The Revd. Charles Hargrave, Rector of Eyam, aged 58, buried by Rev. J. Barker, Minister of Baslow.

1824. May 15. Buried Mrs. Dorothea Wright, Eyam, aged 94.

1865. Oct. 5. New Church Yard consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield.

1866. August 26 Bicentenary of Plague. Three sermons preached

M. by Rev. J. Green, M.A. Numbers xvi. 48.

A. " Rev. R.M. Jones, M.A. Incumbent of Cromford. Proverbs x. 7.

E. " Rev. H. Fisher, Minister of St. Luke's Episcopal Chapel, Leamington. Prov. 1.24 (part) “I have called”.

During the Restoration of the Church 1868-70, the Congregation met in the Mechanics' Institution. The Church was re-opened by the Bishop of Lichfield on Thursday Apr. 26, 1870. Collection £70 : 3 : 2.

Of one of Eyam's natives, Cornelius Brushfield, it is said that he was so little troubled with a roving disposition, that he died in the same house in which he had been born 66 years before. He resided at Hanging Flat, 600 yards to the south-west of the village. During half a century he only once went as far as Eyam.

1914. July 22. Visit of Royal Archaeological Society.

1915. August 29. Bishop of Southwell preached at the Plague Commemoration Service in the Delph.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in March 2013.

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