The Diary of George Walker a farmer of Harthill & Whitwell, 1861-99

walkers, farmer of harthill 1880

Left - right: Georgy (20), Sarah, George (46), Mary (18) walker, circa 1880.

Peter Cox who was born in Whitwell in 1945 sent these extracts from the diaries of the Walker family of Woodall and Harthill, who were farmers in the Harthill and Whitwell areas during 1860-89. George Walker was Peter's gggrandfather and George's son and daughter are in the 1875 school list for Harthill. The son George Glossop Walker, went on to play cricket for Derbyshire from 1881 on and off till 1889, playing several times in the then traditional Gents v Players match. Peter summarised the diaries a few years ago for a talk on it to the Whitwell local history society.

They make a fascinating glimpse into the day to day lives of people in the days before industry and the mining communities came to pretty much dominate the area.

Peter remarks "While it's a pretty prosaic account of the farm and the weather, it does contain lots of local names from the period, such as the Glossops (who were relatives) [and on the list of Chief Inhabitants I'm guessing] who were maltsters and pubkeepers in Harthill in the 1850s and 60s. Peter's somewhat edited essay (for web presentation) is shown below.

I have edited Peter's original text for web use. For the full text of his talk notes click here". If you'd like to ask Peter any questions about the diaries email him on Paul Newbold December 2002.

For an index of all names in the diaries click here 220k download

Peter Cox wrote: Here are a few quotes from the diary from 1873 onwards of events of some interest in the history of Whitwell and surrounds:

23 Sep 1873 – "To Welbeck where I saw the Riding School, £600,000 building and still not finished".

16 Dec 1873 – "Meeting to appoint a letter-carrier."

25 Aug 1874 - "Drying the old pond took 108 pike".

3 Jan 1877 - "I never remember the land in such a state; the dykes cannot take the water & the fields are quite flooded".

Next day, 4th jan 1877 – "The rain runs thru the village like a hare & many houses flooded".

12 Mar 1878 – "Brought estimates of the expenses of introducing gas into Whitwell. I think the idea a good one, & hope to see it carried out."

26 Mar 1879 – "Heard the sad news that Clumber House was burnt last evening".

31 Mar 1880 – "The 4th Dragoon Guards arrived in readiness for any election riots, 41 in number.

1 Sep 1883 – "Thompson & Wm Ellis's cattle have F & M [foot and mouth] disease so the parish is declared an infected district". (His cattle get it on 24th Nov.)

1 Nov 1883 – "Toll bars abolished. All the gates on the Chesterfield & Worksop Turnpike taken down today". [possibly the modern day A38]

16 Dec 1883 – "Mr Henry came to say the church was on fire. Assistance was quickly at hand & the flames were subdued. Another 10 minutes delay & the old fabric would have been destroyed. The flue had ignited the wood in the N Aisle".

30 Jan 1884 – "The Major Oak in Sherwood [Robin Hood's hiding place - allegedly!] which is supposed to be 1000 years old was completely wrecked by the late gale".

22 Feb 1884 – "Dug up a cannon ball 14 pounder from the Old Rectory foundations. It was part of the Old Hall and was besieged by the Parliamentarians" (in the English civil war) .

26 Mar 1886 – "The storm gone after 13 weeks duration. It's stated that this has been the most severe and destructive storm for 50 years".

19 Aug 1886 – "Lighted the church lamps for the first time, & well they work".

19 Jan 1888 – "Dr Elsom vaccinated I & Sarah & the servants against the smallpox". (There was an epidemic about this time)."

24 May 1890 – "A grand day - opening of the Whitwell Colliery. The sod turned by the Duke of Portland".

26 May 1892 – "Sent my first telephone message".

7 Feb 1894 – "Meeting in the schoolroom to talk over school matters with the Noncomformists. Thoroughly disgusted with the shabby crew. I never heard such ignorance at a meeting before".

17 Dec 1894 – "An eventful day being the first polling day for District & Parish Councils".

4 Jun 1896 "One of the worst thunderstorms came on that I ever witnessed. The ligtning something awful with such a deluge of rain our kitchen scullery dining room flooded. Tonight the house presents a very melancholy sight. Carpets, druggets [a drugget was a woven floor covering, e.g. a cheaper alternative to a carpet] on the lawn to be washed. I never saw anything like it before, whilst the accounts which reach us lead us to think we are highly favoured. I required the efforts of 7 people to keep the water from the drawing room. The water stood 4 foot high in the yard"

31 Dec 1896 – "A very beautiful calm night. So passed away the year 1896. It will be remembered as one of the most disastrous harvests ever. Rain commenced on Aug 30 & continued till the end of Oct. Thousands of acres of corn rotten, some never ever led to the straw yard".

3 Apr 1897 – "The new pulpit, solid oak & worked by JJ Sapsford, taken to the church this pm".

17 Sep 1898 – "The new schools finally opened by the Bishop of Southwell".

And, from Peter's talk some more detailed extracts;


On George Glossop Walker ('aka Georgy' son of George Walker)

Mary Walker (daughter of George Walker Sr)

Sarah Walker (nee Glossop, George Walker’s wife)

Mary Ann Glossop (Sarah Walker’s sister) marries Dr Thomas Hamilton Moorhead (1873)

Walker family move from Harthill Grange to Manor Farm Whitwell (1873)

On Farm labourers

On Poaching

Hay rick fires etc.

"Delicate matters" and the 1876 election

On Doctors and dogs

Sallie Eadon (and misc. from Georgy's diary)

George Walker was born in Woodall in the parish of Harthill in 1834, son of the farmer Joseph Walker and his wife Mary Pearce. Walkers had been farming in Woodall since at least the 17th century.

In 1859, some 16 months before he starts his diary, George Walker marries Sarah Glossop, second of the three daughters of George Glossop, a farmer who had no sons. The Glossops had been in Harthill and Whitwell since one Peter Glossop had left Barlborough after the death of his first wife in childbirth in 1716, to marry the daughter of a Harthill farmer. In 1861 George Glossop was living at the Manor Farm House [Harthill], and had combined his farm at Castle Hill with that of his father-in-law Peter Hancock on his death 5 years earlier. Peter Hancock is another farmer with no sons, but 5 daughters, 3 of whom marry. Elizabeth Hancock marries George Glossop of Castle Hill, Sarah marries George Webster of Butt Hill, Rebecca marries Joseph Beard who runs the New Road Mill in Worksop. Moreover Peter Hancock has brothers who farm in the area - Charles and William farm Hall Leys, and George farms Belph Grange. In fact in 1851 there are 7 Glossops and 4 Hancocks farming in Whitwell and Harthill.
So you can see that at the time the diary opens many of the Whitwell and Harthill farmers - and publicans and victuallers for that matter - are related or connected by marriage. And by being last in a line of farmers who marry the daughters of farmers without sons, George Walker winds up with a substantial holding, some owned some rented, when his father-in-law George Glossop eventually dies in 1873. As a consequence the first part of the diary from 1861-73 concerns life in Harthill, the second from 1873-99 life in Whitwell, once he has moved into the Manor Farm House.

The diary for 1873 covers the year in which he moved from Harthill Grange to the Manor House. Peter notes that if you pick one one of the diaries up and leaf through it, it will seem decidedly boring, e.g. a typical entry
Saturday 23rd August 1873: "Showers this morning. Fine day. Wind SW. To the Grange leading wheat there from Garden Close. Home to dinner. Finished leading Haw Croft wheat and commenced 1st New Close. Revd Allan Cartwright spent the evening and stays all night".

So - he records the weather and what happens on the farm without fail, adding the farm work in later if he's away from home. Apart from that there are a few comings and goings, major events, not much else. However if you read them all and distil out the main events there's plenty to interest both the local historian and the family historian. I [Peter] read through them in 1980 and took copious notes, though it has to be a retirement job to transcribe and annotate them. In his talk Peter summarised the diaries thus...

On George Glossop Walker ('aka Georgy' son of George Walker)

By the time the diary opens in 1861 George Walker is farming 150 acres at Harthill Grange. He's 26. On the day it starts, 1st January 1861, the ground is a foot deep in snow and his men are drawing thatch. Indoors are Sarah and a six month old baby boy, Georgy aka George Glossop Walker who was named after Sarah's father as well as his own father. Georgy's first mention in the diary doesn't occur until 5th June 1861, nine days before his first birthday: "Baby started to walk." Six months later – "Father bought baby a horse" - not a real one, but a rocking horse. He's not mentioned again until the verge of his third birthday in 1863 – "Took Georgy to the club feast, and very much pleased the little boy was" - Six months later, a proud day – "Little Georgy commenced wearing knickerbockers" - Nine months later – "The first time Georgy ever went on the railway." Then, soon after his fifth birthday, a crucial formative moment – "Mr Hudson sent Georgy a cricket bat and stumps" - and another soon after his 6th birthday – "Bought Georgy a pony of Mr Clayton at Aston" - Six months later something rather less pleasant – "Took my dear little Georgy to Whitwell school." Remember they weren't living at Whitwell then, but at Harthill. Georgy stayed all week and came home at weekends. The following Christmas – "Georgy has taken a prize at school, which has pleased us very much." There's no further mention till he's 10 – "Sent Georgy a collar for his terrier" - so he must have had the dog at school with him! Next year only one mention – "I & Georgy to Sheffield by the 12 train & dined with Captain Blake. Quite pleased with my little boy's debut. "He's clearly growing up, and there are several appearances in 1872 – "Georgy and John Hodding went to the volunteer camp....Georgy off early to the hunt - Georgy rode the black pony and enjoyed himself very much....I and Georgy shot 19 rabbits....Georgy and I to Bramall Lane - Glos 291, Grace 150." It seems that George went to Bramall Lane a few times a year, especially to watch WG Grace who was usually a heavy scorer against Yorkshire. This is a contrast to his later years, when he seems rarely to have gone to see his son play for Derbyshire, though he recorded his scores without fail. Actually George had a lot to do with Harthill cricket club in the early 1860s, & records that he played at cricket with the Malthouses [a local criketing family] in February 1882 when he was 48.

At the end of the year [1872] Georgy [now 12] goes to big school - though it's not recorded exactly where it's clearly in Sheffield. Papa is not at all keen to see him go – "A sad morning for us as our little boy is to go to school" - lightened somewhat four days later – "Georgy's first letter.".During that year he's in the wars – "Georgy got cut over the head with the cake-cutter last evening which caused a nasty gash and I'm afraid will leave a scar" - and in the Winter – "Granny and Polly took care of Georgy who's full of the measles and very sickly." Next year he's sickening again, but George shows a healthy suspicion of the Doctor – "Dr Jackson will have it he's going to have the measles, although he had them last December." He was soon better though, and off to see Gloster again – "I & Georgy to Sheffield to see Yorks v Glos. WG 167." And we'll leave him for the moment, here on 4th March 1875 – "My dear George confirmed." He's 14 now, and no longer Georgie.

From 1875 when he reaches 14 it's clear he's quite an athlete and cricketer. In that year - "Adults match - Whitwell 85, Mossborough 44 & 33. George played and carried his bat for 19 runs". Next day - "Was told by several of my son's fine display of cricket yesterday" - next week - "George 15 out of 32 all out and bowled down 6 wickets". This begins a series of ever improving performances at cricket that lead him to a county trial at Chesterfield at 18. He's also a sprinter. In 1878 he wins a silver cup value 10 gns in the 100 yards at Mansfield, in 1880 he wins a writing desk in the 100 yards and 6 knives and forks in the 200 yards, and both these just for coming second. By 1880 he's dominating local cricket, with a batting average in 1880 for Whitwell of 27 and a bowling average of just 4 - something even Harold Middleton couldn't manage.

Mary Walker (daughter of George Walker Sr)

There were just the two children. Georgie's younger sister Mary had her pet name too, Polly. Georgy was 2 when this entry appears out of the blue, because George doesn't bother to tell his diary that Sarah's expecting a baby. On 12th July 1862 – "My dear wife confined - a dear little girl." It's perhaps salutary, but not surprising, that there are very few mentions of Polly in the early years. After telling us she has taken her first steps, he doesn't mention her again till she's 9, when she first goes to school, then not till she's 11 – "Bought a powder for Polly" and "To the Walls to look at Chittyprats [hens] for Polly". However 3 months later – "Fox took Polly's 2 Chittyprats". For Christmas that year – "Bought Polly a chess" - and next Spring – "Took Polly to the Wood and showed her a Willow Weed's nest - the dear little thing quite delighted".

From then until 1880, when she's 18, there's barely a mention [of Polly]. Then she appears in the only diaries her brother [Georgie] wrote in 1880 and the first four months of 1881 - in a similar vein to his father's but somewhat freer and distinctly more interesting. We'll come back to these two diaries later - for the moment they're interesting because they cast Mary in a rather more robust light than we might have guessed from Papa – "In the afternoon practised cricket with Mary on the drying ground, our first practice this year" - that's in March, and the way it's couched suggests that they had played cricket together for some years. Mary never married. Whether in her youth she ever had any young admirers is not recorded, but in her seventies she returned from Harthill Grange to the Manor Farm house to run its household. This was because my mother's mother Katie Taft died of cancer in 1931 when there three children under 12 in the house, and so indomitable Aunt Mary came back to run the house till she died during the war. I don't suppose there's anyone here who can remember her or Katie Walker??

Sarah Walker (nee Glossop, George Walker’s wife)

Now George Walker's wife Sarah, mistress of the household, remains a shadowy figure. Entries featuring her are few and far between throughout the forty years.
26th July 1865 - "The first time Sarah's been to Worksop since we were married".
17th June 1867 - "All to Sheffield, and did an immense amount of shopping". There's some irritation there in the double underlining of the word 'shopping'.
1869 - "Sarah taken very ill" - but she recovered, as she did in 1873 after this - "Sarah very ill. Afternoon went to see the Doctor and took medicine back. No doubt Dr Fleming made it too strong and almost poisoned her". Occasionally she visits relatives for a spell, especially her younger sister in Ireland, whose husband, a Mr Moorehead, George appears to dislike. He's always pleased and relieved to see Sarah back when she has been away.
In 1874 - "Met Sarah & Polly on their return from London, & very pleased I am to see them home again". The words 'very pleased' almost indicate strong emotion in the restrained language of the diary. Similarly in 1877 after they'd been away 10 days - "Received letter asking if Sarah and children might remain at Dalkey till Monday. I replied saying they might if they wish". Knowing George, it's pretty clear that he didn't wish.

Mary Ann Glossop (Sarah Walker’s sister) marries Dr Thomas Hamilton Moorhead (1873)

Rather more can be gleaned from the diary about Sarah's much younger sister Mary Ann. She's only 10 when the diary begins [1861], born when her mother's 40, and spends an increasing amount of time with George and Sarah, particularly after her mother dies in 1855, when she's 14. In fact I've got a letter by Mary Ann to Sarah on the day her big sister married. Mary Ann is just 9, and it's a few months before the diary starts. It goes like this, and you have to imagine a 9 year old sitting down trying to think of something to say to her big sister on the day she's getting married – "My dear sister.... Have you seen Ann Kirkby?... Baby is asleep....It is a rainy day today....We have been playing in the pantry this morning....Emma is mending my drawers....We all send some love and I send some kisses.... MA Glossop". The letter is edged in black. The baby's mother was Sarah's elder sister Elizabeth, who had died just a month before, and baby was being looked after by the Glossops in Scarborough. Elizabeth had been married less than two years, and her husband, another farmer named Marriott Hall, who farmed 400 acres at Thorpe Hall in Thorpe Salvin.

The first entry for Mary Ann of any interest occurs in 1870 when she's 20, and illustrates George Walker's reluctance to go into any detail over delicate matters -
"Mary Ann not pleased at C on Wednesday evening" - who C was we've no idea. Two years later came a liaison entirely more serious. We can just about put together events from the diary.
20th Sep 1872 – "Sarah informed me that Mr Moorhead and Mary Ann were etc etc..." Etc etc was George's way of indicating that matters were far too delicate to consign to print.

It was about this time that Sarah and Mary Ann Glossop's father George, then 76, was getting dangerously ill. And with two farms, orchards and crofts, and £20,000 in securities to distribute among 2 daughters and a grand-daughter, Lilly Hall, the baby of the letter you'll remember and now 13, sorting out the fine print of his will was a tricky matter. As an executor, George Walker was continually involved - and it was a wearying business.
26th Nov 1872 – "Brought Mr Hodding and made alterations to Mr G's will. I fervently hope the last." They were the last. 14th Dec – "Mr Moorhead came to dress Mr G's sores. Afraid he will suffer much from them."
6 Jan 1873 – "Mr Russell & Mr Moorhead gave us no hopes of Mr G's recovery. He died at 7.30 pm."Next day – "Rode to tell Marriott" - The next – "Marriott came to tea and talked things over. I'm afraid things won't be satisfactory."

Marriott is the husband of Sarah's dead elder sister Elizabeth, and wants to ensure that her daughter Lilly will be properly looked after in the will. But speculation about Mr Glossop's will were soon overshadowed by events on another front. Three weeks later:
27th Jan 1873 – "Had a long chat with Mr Moorhead" -
2nd March – "Moorhead and Mary Ann went for a long walk".
1st April – "Sarah and Mary Ann to Sheffield by the 10.20 train. Their business of an important one"
16th April – "Moorhead came. Heard some very unpleasant news"
20th April – "Moorhead came. Mary Ann very poorly"
27th April – "Received telegram from Moorhead saying not to go to London tomorrow."

Now we can figure out what's going on. George feels clearly a duty to be protective towards Mary Ann - whether justified or not we can't tell. The very important news we must assume is their decision to get married. They planned to marry in London - but the plans have been changed. Next day is hectic, and shows how the world had changed so dramatically in a generation since the arrival of the train and the telegraph.
28th April 1873 "To Whitwell. No letter from Moorhead - to Harthill - found one there. Met Sarah, drove to Kiveton. Cancelled orders for carriage. 9.30 telegram from Whitwell. 10.30 ditto from Kiveton. 12.45 messenger from Kiveton. 2.20 Moorhead himself - couldn't get special licence, so he says, so came to Sheffield last night. All to Whitwell for night. Moorhead to Chesterfield for licence. Telegram from Chesterfield - 'Coals from Kiveton tomorrow' - which means 'wedding' to mother." (the longest entry for a single day in the whole diary )

With such a sparely-written diary, you have to make the most of nuggets like this. It can be inferred that George didn't trust Moorhead – "couldn't get special licence, so he says". and that Moorhead had rather a sense of humour. Next day the wedding came at last – "Thomas Hamilton Moorhead & Mary Ann Glossop married at Whitwell by Rev. Boothby. A very quiet affair. They to Sheffield. I, Sarah, Georgy and Polly to London by the 1.20 train. Stayed at Kings Cross Hotel. That night to Madame Tussauds".

So, Mary Ann married the Irish Doctor, who stayed in Whitwell another year, where their eldest son was born, wonderfully named George Glossop Hamilton Moorhead, before settling outside Dublin. I think our George had a soft spot and a protective instinct for Mary Ann, and was decidedly anxious that she was swept off her feet so soon after her father's death, and/or was grumpy that a courtship had been going on without him being aware of it.

Walker family move from Harthill Grange to Manor Farm Whitwell (1873)

Anyway, the family got their trip to London, and then prepared for the move from Harthill Grange to their new house at the Manor Farm in Whitwell. Moving in was exciting, if traumatic. These occur across a few days....

1873 - "To Whitwell; house in a dreadful state....Bedlam and no mistake....Drove to Whitwell. Found they had not sufficient paper for the room. Taking up kitchen floor etc....Polly & I to Sheffield. Went to buy a sideboard. Let the matter stand for Sarah to decide. Bought furniture at Eadons, bed at Cockaynes....Drove Sarah and Polly to Whitwell. Met Cockayne's men there and arranged about hanging beds etc".
And finally, a fortnight after they'd got back from London,
14th June 1873 - "To Whitwell to take up our abode. May the change by God's blessing be a happy & successful one. Painters finished".

So they moved to Whitwell and there they stayed. But Harthill Grange still held their affections.
24th Nov 1873- "The old place is closed & without an inhabitant".
19th Feb 1874 - "Went to my Grange sale. The first sale I've ever had. I hope it may be the last. A very fair sale".
There are a series of illustrations in the Whitwell Parish History of documents that perhaps derive from that sale.
7th March 1874 - "Drove Sarah and Polly to the Grange - perhaps for their last visit to the old place".
For Polly it certainly wasn't - she was living there [the Grange] alone with her servants over 50 years later before upping sticks and going back to the Manor House to run the house for her nephew.
Finally, a year later, 8th March 1875 - "I came on by the Grange. The poor old place looks lost and desolate".

But now let's backtrack a bit to the will. George Glossop's inheritance was at last to be shared out. Reading the will now, it does seem pretty fair. But...
23rd April (5 days before Mary Ann married Moorhead) "Met the trustees. All went well until the deed box was brought. Because Mr Hodding had had Mary Ann's name made on the box Marriott flew into a rage, and insulted Hodding, who ordered him out of the room. Didn't the gent bolt. I should think if possessed of any feelings of honour is thoroughly ashamed of his ungentlemanly conduct".
25th April - "Received letter from Mr Hodding to say preparations going on for Mr G's affairs to go into Chancery. Saw Marriott at Kiveton, but of course didn't speak to the shabby fellow".

Note the 'of course'. Perhaps Marriott Hall, having married George Glossop's eldest daughter, had expected the Manor House. Perhaps he felt the division favoured Mary Ann over his own daughter. We'll never know, I guess.

On Farm labourers

Being a substantial landowner in Whitwell, George Walker was an employer of farm labourers. He always had 3 or 4 permanent labourers on the farm, and 2 or 3 servants living in. In the early days he'd go to the annual hiring fairs in Worksop each August to hire them for the next year. Here's a typical selection of his comments about them -
1861 - "Turned a lad Grant away for being a very impertinent saucy lad" - the last four words are underlined.
In 1872 this happened - "When I got up this morning I found that my domestics had disappeared and gone home. Went to the policeman & intended following the law upon them, but they got home before I, so when the policeman came he was vexed. I did summon them, and gave them a good reprimand, which I hope did them good."
Why they disappeared of course we don't know. The same year [1872]-
"Mr G wanted to see me respecting raising his men's wages. As others have raised I expect he must do the same."
And still in 1872: "Finished with a row with the Irishmen."
1884 – "Ann Taylor died at Castle Hill. A faithful servant of the farm for 47 years. "
1892 – "Sadler, Barker and Cooke struck for an advance of wages, which I refused. Supplied their place with others. "
And two months later – "Three men struk for an advance of wages which I refused. Let them leave and set on 4 Irishmen."


Of course the difference in wealth and living standards was immense in those days. As an owner of property, George was always involved in apprehending poachers or hunting for those who took out their resentment on landowners by other means. This sort of thing is frequent. In 1863 – "Caught Mr Butcher's men poaching on Bondhay."
1867 – "Someone had cut some sheep netting for mischief in the night"
1868 – "Mr Glossop's fowls were stolen last night" - 9 days later –"Mr G gone to Eckington for trial of 3 men for stealing fowls" -
1869 – "My ducks stolen in the night"-
1872 –" Drove to Hemsworth and made my debut before the magistrates. Lost my case for want of evidence and the summons being issued separately instead of only one."
He didn't seem to have much luck in court. In 1876 – "To Worksop & attended County Court. Fancy my indignation when I found the summons had been served on H. senior instead of his son!"
In 1885 – "Police made a raid on fowl stealers and captured 6 in Evers' house on Backstone Moor." That's 6 fowls we assume.
The following week – "Sydney, 2 policeman and Butcher had a sharp fight with a gang of poachers numbering 16. They succeeded in getting away with their rabbits, nets etc, but the fellows got off without any been captured. They are known and the police are on their track."

Hay rick fires etc.

In 1886 George Walker sat on a jury at Derby assizes and sentenced a man to 10 years penal servitude for manslaugter. Soon after comes an entry that's rather quaint to our ears – "Cosgrove summoned 4 men for playing cards on Sunday. Fined 2/6 and 5/- costs."
Then in early [1886] there was a spate of stackyard [HAY STACKS] firings.
18th Jan – "My stackyard fired by someone. We saw the flames about 7.50. It continued to burn until 12. Fire engine & men came from Welbeck but their services weren't required. Although there were 2 wheatstacks close to, thanks to the exertions of the villagers they were not needed."
On 23rd Jan – "Fire on Backstone Moor. Mr Pressley's straw stack fired."
25th Jan – "The assessor from Birmingham came & valued my loss by fire at £77-10s."
Next day – "The policemen arrested Dolby, Wright and Richardson and charged them with firing my stackyard & 5 others."
But 10 days later – "Tried Richardson, Wright and Dolby for stack firing. Dismissed for want of evidence." Rihardson, Wright and a man called Pearce were often arrested but rarely convicted.
In the early 1890s, tough years for agriculture on both sides of the fence, he had a number of vandals – "Some malicious vagabonds cut & broke my ornamental trees in the orchard. Wright and Richardson we suspect but hope we shall find out the offenders. "

Delicate matters and the 1876 election

The diaries are often rather coy about matters of delicacy, and we can only guess what some entries mean. Here's a selection from across the years - "John Hall & I had a conversation on a subject that would have been better left alone....Joseph Ellis told me Walker had got the ----------". What he'd got, and who exactly he was, we can only guess. "Geo Webster told me I'd been accused of killing foxes. Wrote Lord Galway respecting it. Called on Wilson and had a row....He told him the Rector had given Joe Widdison orders to keep the ponds quiet as he was expecting the Duke. To which I say 'bosh'".

Elections could be more stimulating affairs than now.
1876 election – "Sat up till 12 and waited telegram about election. Dennison returned. Telegram spoke of riotous proceedings. Soldiers arrived from Sheffield".
Next day – "Nothing talked of but the election yesterday and the disgraceful conduct of the Liberals. Staton told me he didn't believe there was a whole pane of glass in Bridge Street. Soldiers in Worksop till today".
31 Mar 1880 – "The 4th Dragoon Guards arrived in readiness for any election riots 41 in number.

Doctors and dogs

Doctors were always coming and going in Whitwell, for various reasons.
In 1877 – "Dr Wilkinson very ill and a report says he has endeavoured to drown himself in Mr Eyre's pond. Dr Elsom sent a telegram to his parents". And again – "Heard in the village that Monk, Dr Neale's assistant, was a thorough drunkard. Sent a telegram to Dr Neale who came & dismissed him".

The Doctors had plenty to do. There were frequent gruesome accidents. In 1866 390 died in a colliery explosion [12th Dec, Oaks pit, Yorkshire]. In 1864 a dam burst in Sheffield [the Great Flood of Sheffield], killing 600. He went to see the flood himself – "Never saw such a loss of property. Houses washed down. Men searching through the debris, some in search of an aged father, some in search of a child. My opinion is that the dam head was not strong enough".

In those days frequent accidents occurred through children falling under waggons, horses and carts bolting, guns accidentally going off. George and his son were clearly excellent shots, but it didn't stop them accidentally shooting their own dogs on 3 occasions. And there were frequent accidents with farm machinery. Here are 2 entries that can stand for a host of others –
"Young Flower got his arm in cog wheel belonging horse chopper & broke it. Sent John to Worksop to see if I could have it repaired". Presumably not the arm. And a stark reminder of how things used to be –
"Hubert Woodward lost another child of diphtheria. Making 4 within the fortnight".

Despite shooting his dog every now and then, George had a great affection for his animals. Animal deaths are recorded as faithfully as thos of humans, even where the horses were buried. And burying a horse must have been hard work. Here are a few entries to get the flavour, this from 1885 –
"My terrier Totty left all night in the foxhole 2 Woodside...." - next day – "John Wood, George and Charlie Taylor succeeded in digging little Totty out of the foxhole almost dead" - later the same day though – "Little terrier bitch Totty died".
And two months later – "Poor old terrier Prin Wood shot accidentally by Robert Eyre. He was quite a character and as a knowing dog had no equal. The accidents he encountered are marvellous. A leg severed in the mowing machine. A 4 inch skewer he swallowed had to be cut out of his side, besides encounters with badgers, foxes and other enemies. He was quite a character, and we as sportsmen are sorry to lose him".

Sallie Eadon (and misc. from Georgy's diary)

George's son Georgy begins a diary himself at the age of 19 in 1880, and continues till the Spring of 1881, when he runs out of steam, perhaps because of what happened below. For a while the diary is domestic and cricketing happenings, but suddenly out of the blue comes something else.
25th Nov 1880 - "Went for a long walk with Sallie. Saw all". The words 'saw all' are underlined. We can only guess what it means in view of what comes next. Sallie [age 20] is the sister of his old school friend Harry Eadon, and she's appeared in his diary already once or twice. He registers her birthday. Then later comes this,
8th Jan 1881 – "Called at Browns and took 6 rings for Sallie to choose from. Went up to the top of the downs in a hansom. Found Sallie very ill. Mr Favell called. Mrs Eadon gave her consent (engagement). Called on Mr & Mrs Crookes as I took the 5 rings back to Browns".

So they're possibly to be married. But Sallie's ill. He goes again the next two days, the 9th and the 10th, to the Eadon house in Sheffield. She is "still very poorly". And so she is the 18th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Then he doesn't go to see her at all for 3 weeks, when, on the 7th Feb 1880 – "Had a letter from poor Sally. To Sheffield. Sallie in a very poor way, dreadfully ill. Came home by the last train".
8th Feb 1881 - "Harry Eadon came over by the first train telling me the most dreadful news, that poor darling Sallie died at 5.45 in the morning, dreadful news for us all. Father went to Sheffield by the 11 train, I & Harry by the 4".
11th Feb (3 days after her death [of 'liver failure']) – "Poor Sallie's funeral was at Ecclesall [Church, Sheffield]. The coffin was beautiful and people sent so many nice flowers, they could not get them all on, the most beautiful funeral ever I saw".
13th Feb (a Sunday) – "The organist played in with 'Angels Eyes Bright & Fair, Take O Take me to they Ease'. We had the hymn 'When our hearts are bowed with woe' & Mr Coombe preached a beautiful funeral sermon'
April 1881 – "Went into the wood & got some primroses which I sent to Sheffield for Ecclesall".
May 1881 – "Rode Gipsie down to the station with 2 wreaths for Ecclesall, one of all forget-me-nots, one of primroses, violets etc." Sallie Eadon died of liver disease at the age of 20.

George didn’t write a diary for [the rest of] 1881 so we miss his first game for Derbyshire. He didn’t play for them in 1882 or 1883, but a run of good scores in 1883 got him back, culminating in this – "George returned from Derby having come of first class. 20-15-8-6 & scored 28. Bowled AP Lucas in the first innings, c & b the second. He's considered the finest bat in England". Apart from WG Grace that is. GG played on and off for Derbyshire as an amateur till 1899, bowling well enough to play twice for the Gentleman against the Players, once taking 7-108 in a Players innings of 551, and for the Gentleman against the Australians. He was invited to go to South Africa with Aubrey Smith's tour [C Aubrey Smith, English actor who appeared in Ruritanian Hollywood films of the 1930s, and who ran a cricket team of English actors in Hollywood], but declined, probably because he couldn't afford it. The History of Derbyshire CC describes GG as fast left arm, often bowling too short but frequently devastating, a great trier who was highly popular. His last game for Derbyshire was the famous first game at Queens Park Chesterfield, when Brown and Tunnicliffe of Yorkshire put on a world record 554 for the first wicket. He took 4-199, which perhaps persuaded him to call it a day.

By 1899, Sallie Eadon perhaps long forgotten, Georgy/GG Walker was married with two children, my [Peter Cox's] grandfather George Twining Walker, and his sister Marjorie, who stayed unmarried and lived at Wayside till she died. The first mention of his wife appears in 1886. Her name is Lucy Twining, of the Twining tea family, and her brother Jack is the curate at the parish of Dinnington . She stays twice again in 1887, while George goes to stay with her at Stamford. Then, quite out of the blue as usual, comes this:
31 March 1888 – "Charles, Ann Taylor & Emma to Worksop this evening and brought George a handsome wedding present. The spontaneous gift of my workmen". Three days later - "My dear George left us this morning by the 7.30 train for London. May God's blessing go with him and may his future be a happy one". 5th April - "Married at St Johns Norling, Notting Hill, George Glossop Walker and Lucy Twining. May God bless the union & may it be a happy one. Gave the men a supper which they enjoyed thoroughly".

GG was 27 and Lucy 39 - though whether he realised her real age is doubtful. In the 1881 census she gave her age as 27 when she was actually 32. Another puzzle - his father went to London often enough, because he had land that was tenanted out in Hendon, which had come down through Peter Hancock's wife - but he wasn't at the wedding. Why not?

The rest of the diary records the births of his two grandchildren, and he's clearly as besotted by his little grandson Georgy as he was by the boy's father all those years before. The diary ends with the century in at the end of 1899. Old George, known to his grandson Tony as 'Squatty' lived on till 1914, Sarah till 1919, dying a few months before my mother was born. But they all outlived GG, who died in 1908 at the early age of 48.

Google Ads