George Haslehurst (c.1792–c.1866) Nail Maker

George Haslehurst, born in Eckington, Derbyshire, c.1792, probably the son of  George Haslehurst of Eckington a nailer who, in 1791, had been fined £20 for poaching (reduced to £10 on appeal). He first came to attention through the surviving overseers’ vouchers of the parish of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. Subsequent research had uncovered a complex life of multiple marriages, infant deaths and criminal activity.

On 10 September 1821 he married Hannah (I) Wood (c.1800–22), a spinster, at St Mary’s parish church Uttoxeter. The witnesses were James Appleby and Thomas Osborne. It was a brief marriage as Hannah died and was buried on 4 February 1822. George was not a widower for long, for he married for a second time on 22 October 1822. His wife was Hannah Cotterill (née Appleby), the recently widowed wife of Thomas Cotterill (1795–1821). Their marriage had taken place on 17 April 1820 and had as been equally brief as George and Hannah Haslehursts’. It is interesting to note that one of the witnesses of the Cotterill marriage had been Thomas Osborne.

George and Hannah (II) had a son Thomas born 8 February 1823, either meaning a very premature baby or Hannah (II) had become pregnant very soon after the death of George’s first wife, Hannah (I). Thomas was baptised at Uttoxeter’s Wesleyan chapel. He died aged four months in early June 1823. A Mary Haslehurst, possibly George’s and Mary’s second child, was buried in Uttoxeter on 23 June 1823, aged three months. In 1827 a third child, Elizabeth was born and in April 1831 a fourth, Mary, who survived for eleven months and was buried on 8 March 1831. It is likely that the birth of Mary led to Hannah’s (II) death on 4 June 1830, aged 31.

It is at some point after this that Haslehurst and the administrators of the Poor Law for Uttoxeter came into contact with each other. In April 1831 George Haslehurst was served with a removal order and was taken with his surviving child Elizabeth to Eckington by William Williams. Williams charged the parish £2 8s for his services. In May 1831 two vouchers relating to Haslehurst show that Elizabeth had died, a coffin had been supplied by Goodall and Heath and that Uttoxeter had paid for the child’s burial.

For the next fifteen years nothing further is heard of George Haslehurst until just before his third marriage. In January 1846 the Derbyshire Advertiser reported that George had been found guilty of being drunk and of assaulting Robert Yeomans of Ashbourne. He was fined for both, and in default of payment was to be committed to gaol for 24 days. His conduct did not prevent his marriage to Fanny Overton (née Baker), a widow with one son Enoch from Ashbourne. The marriage took place at St Oswald’s, Ashbourne on 28 March 1846.

It is also possible that this George Haselhurst was the same George Haslehurst, aged 53, who was up on a charge of larceny, but subsequently acquitted, at the Derby County sessions in January 1844.

By 1851 George, aged 59, and Fanny, aged 57, were living with Enoch Overton in Bunting’s Yard, High Street, Uttoxeter. However, it also seems likely that George once again found himself at odds with the law, and this time it was far more serious. In July 1854 the Derby Mercury reported the trial of George Hazlehurst, aged 62. He was charged with indecent assault upon Elizabeth Marsden a seven-year-old infant. The incident had occurred on the 1 May 1854 at Barlborough, a place close to Eckington. The newspaper thought evidence unfit for publication. The jury found him guilty of the intent and he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

George died sometime between 1854 and 1861. The 1861 Census shows that Fanny Haslehurst, now 67, a widow and infirm was still living in High Street, Uttoxeter.


St Oswald’s Parish Register, Ashbourne.

Derby Mercury, January 1844, July 1854.

Derbyshire Advertiser, January 1846.

1851 and 1861 Census

Staffordshire Record Office, SRO, D3891/6/37/1/20; D3891/6/37/2/18; D3891/6/37/2/23; D3891/6/37/2/24; D3891/6/37/2/30; D3891/6/37/3/26, Uttoxeter Overseers’ Vouchers.

St Mary’s Parish Register, Uttoxeter.

Uttoxter Wesleyan Chapel Register

N.B. This biography is a work in progress and will probably be amended as further information from vouchers and other sources becomes available.


An Apprentice and an Anonymous Letter: Eli Wood

There is a common assumption, probably derived from Dicken’s Oliver Twist who was taken from the workhouse to be indentured to an undertaker, that by definition parish apprentices were orphans. This was not always the case. In early 1829 Eli Wood of Uttoxeter, aged about 16, was bound to W. Appleby of St Mary’s parish Stafford. Uttoxeter’s parish overseers received a bill for the drawing up of the apprentice order, the indenture and the associated paperwork. Nothing more is heard of Eli Wood until the Uttoxeter overseer received an anonymous letter, dated 3 March 1830. The informant, who clearly knew something of the family and its history, told the overseer that Eli had had a work-related accident. He had been thrown off his master’s horse and although hurt, the injury was considered to be slight.

In the letter, written in a semi-literate hand, possibly in an attempt to disguise the author’s identity, we are told that Wood is apprenticed to a Mr R. Thorpe, a last-maker, not the Appleby named in the bill for the justice’s clerk’s fees. It could be that in the intervening year Appleby had died and that Wood’s apprenticeship had been transferred to Thorpe.

The letter continues: Wood’s parents had been in Stafford to see another son ‘woe I am informed is in gale’, and called upon Eli. Seeing Eli unwell they decided to take him back to their house in Pinfold Lane, Uttoxeter. The letter writer was of the opinion that any application made by Eli Wood or his parents to seek financial assistance from the Uttoxeter overseers as a result of the accident should be resisted. Signed ‘Well Wisher’, the clue as to the possible identity of the anonymous writer comes towards the end of the letter; Wood’s master had a great deal of work that needed to be completed and was in need of him. It seems likely that ‘Well Wisher’ was R. Thorpe who having invested time and money in Wood’s apprenticeship, now wanted to ensure that the errant Wood (who had effectively absconded) returned  to his duties. So why be anonymous? Probably it was an attempt to ensure that upon Wood’s return, the master/apprentice relationship could be repaired.