Eyam, Derbyshire

White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby, 1857

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2000.
See also Neil Wilson's full transcription of White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby, 1857.

EYAM, a parish with the townships of Eyam, Foolow, and Woodland Eyam, which together contain 4241 acres of land, and in 1851 had 364 houses and 1580 inhabitants, of whom 792 were males and 788 females; rateable value £4878 9s. 5d.
Eyam Directory
Foolow Directory
Woodland Eyam
Woodland Eyam Directory

EYAM, a township and romantic, village, 6 miles N. from Bakewell, 4 miles E. from Tideswell, 12 miles S.S.W. from Sheffield, and the same distance N.N.E. from Buxton, forms a long street, running from east to west in a serpentine form. The village is said to be built on a series of caverns, many of which have been explored to a considerable extent, chiefly for the beautiful stalactitious petrefactions with which they abound. Previous to the enclosure in 1801 a considerable portion of the land was moorland. The township now contains 2258 acres of land, and in 1851 had 240 houses and 1079 inhabitants, of whom 534 were males and 545 females; rateable value £3006 11s. 7d. The Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Chandos, and Sir Richard Tufton, Bart., are joint lords of the manor and patrons of the living. The principal owners are Thos. Burgoyne, Esq., Thos. Gregory, Esq., Lord Denman, Peter Wright, Esq., J. A. Shuttleworth, Esq., and Eaglesfield Smith. Esq., with several smaller owners. The Church, dedicated to St. Helen, is a venerable stone edifice, overgrown with ivy, contains nave, chancel, side aisles, and square tower with four rich and deep toned bells. The interior fittings are neat and substantial, and it contains a small organ, erected a few years ago, and an ancient stone font lined with lead. A mural monument in the chancel, dated 1694, perpetuates the memory of John Wright, Esq. Others have been erected to the ancestors of M. M. Middleton, Esq., of Leam Hall. An alabaster monument remembers Mary daughter of Smithson Green, Esq., of Brosterfield, who died May, 1777. A plain stone, inscribed with T. B., denotes the resting place of Thomas Birds, Esq., of Eyam, a celebrated antiquarian. The churchyard is ornamented with lofty Linden trees, which give it an air of quiet repose, and form an appropriate shelter to the sacred precincts of the dead. Amongst the objects of general interest is the tomb of Mrs. Mompesson, who died during the memorable plague of 1666. Opposite the chancel door stands an intricately ornamented cross of Saxon work, enriched with human figures, and various elaborate designs of interlaced knotwork. Its present height is about eight feet, and the upper part of the shaft is wanting; but as a relic of antiquity, its style of workmanship, and state of preservation, is superior to any other of the same period. On a stone on the west side of the tower is the following ancient inscription:-

 C W 

which has been the subject of many conjectures, but the prevailing opinion is that the letters C. W. are intended for Church Warden, and the other letters the initials of the then churchwardens, but what the figures mean we are unable to explain. The living is a rectory, valued in the King's book at £13 15s. 5d., now £226, in the incumbency of the Rev. Edward Benj. Bagshawe, M.A., for whom the Rev. Edmund V. Amery, M.A., officiates and resides at the rectory, a commodious mansion near the Church, erected by the Rev. E. Seward about 90 years ago, (which) has been considerably improved by the present rector. The Methodists have a small chapel at the east end of the village. Many of the inhabitants are employed in silk weaving. The Free school was rebuilt in 1826, but is at the present time closed. A Mechanics' Institute was established in 1824, in connection with which is a Subscription Library, containing 766 vols., with 30 members who pay 3d. per month each; Mr. Wm. Wood, author of the "History and Antiquities of Eyam", is librarian. EYAM formerly had a market, which has long been obsolete; but Fairs are held April 13th, Thursday after the last Sunday in August, and October 18th. The Feast is held on the last Sunday in August.

Eyam Hall, a handsome Elizabethan mansion, situated a little W. of the Church, was built about the year 1500, by the ancestors of the present owner and occupier, Peter Wright, Esq. The Firs, a neat secluded residence a little north of the village, is occupied by the Misses Wright. Eyam View, an elegant mansion at the western extremity of the village, is the residence and property of Thos. Gregory, Esq. Hollow Brook Cottage, situated a little N.E. of the village, is an extremely pleasant residence on a gentle elevation overlooking the village. It is occupied by Mr. James Wills, as a boarding and day school.

The manor Aiune was parcel of the ancient demense of the crown; and having been granted by King Henry I., with other manors in the Peak, to Wm. Peveril, was held under him by an ancestor of the Mortynes; Roger de Mortyne sold it about or after the year 1307, to Thos. de Furnivall, Lord of Hallamshire. A coheiress of Furnivall brought it to the Nevills, and a coheiress of Nevill, to John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. The Countess of Pembroke became possessed of it as one of the coheiresses of Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, who died in 1616; from her it passed to her grandson, Sir Geo. Saville. It remained in the Saville family till the death of Wm. Saville, second Marquis of Halifax, in the year 1700, who left three daughters his coheiresses, amongst whom, after their marriage, the estates were divided by a partition deed, in the sixteenth year of George II. Of these three coheiresses, Anne married Charles Lord Bruce, son and heir of Thomas Earl of Aylesbury; Dorothy married Richard Earl of Burlington; and Mary married Sackville, Earl of Thanet. It is generally supposed, that it was in consequence of the rich mines of lead ore, discovered at Eyam about the beginning of the eighteenth century, that these noblemen agreed to hold the manor of Eyam jointly, and to present a rector to the living of which they had the gift in turns. The joint portion of the manor belonging to Lord Bruce, became the property of the Duke of Chandos, from whom it passed by marriage to the Duke of Buckingham. The portion belonging to the Earl of Burlington, became, through marriage, the property of the Devonshire family; and the other has remained in the family of the Earl of Thanet. Besides the manorial rights and the gift of the living, the lords of the manor have little or no property in Eyam. Most of the land, and other property, had been sold by Sir Geo. Saville, two centuries ago. There is strong evidence, particularly on the south side of Eyam, of mining operations having been carried to a considerable extent in past ages. Through the virtue of a charter granted by King John, many of the old freehold tenures of Eyam are exempt from the general law of the King's Field. Of the ore obtained from the mines in the whole parish of Eyam, the lot which is every thirteenth dish, is claimed and taken by the lords of the manor. One penny a dish belongs the rector, and a small exaction called cope, is paid by the purchaser of the ore to the barmaster; these with a trifle paid to the rector and the lords of the manor, for what is provincially called hillock stuff, are the lots and tithes paid by the mines at Eyam. The lords of the manors of Eyam and Stoney Middleton, hold one Great Barmote Court, annually in April, alternately at the Bull's Head Inn, Eyam, and the Moon Inn, Stoney Middleton, at which the steward, Joseph Hall, Esq., of Castleton, attends; James Longsdon, Esq., of Little Longstone is barmaster. The Edgeside vein of ore was discovered about 150 years ago, but was not worked in the parish of Eyam until some time after its discovery. In the space of fifty or sixty years, it was cut for upwards of two miles in length, but dipping very fast eastward, it speedily reached the water, and could no longer be worked. A sough or level was brought to it from the river Derwent about 90 years since, but did not answer the general expectations. The quantity of metal obtained from this vein, may be judged of, by the fact, that it enhanced the annual income of the rector from £300 to £1,800 a year, and this for a long time. Other veins in the vicinity have been very productive, but nearly all have long been overpowered with water. The Watergrove Mine, just within the parish of Eyam, was by far the richest in the neighbourhood. A steam engine of 300 horses' power was erected on this mine, which has enabled them partially to compete with the water.

Lumps of ore, from three to five hundred weight, have been obtained from this mine. The oldest lead works in the vicinity of Eyam, are the Rake, extending over a large tract of land, south of the village.

About half a century ago, the Morewood Sough was projected by a family of that name, with a view of more effectually clearing the Great Eyam Edge vein of water. It commenced at Stony Middleton, and after carrying it about half a mile, the project was suspended for some years, but in 1843, the Morewood Sough Company was formed, and the work was resumed for a short time, but was again abandoned on account of the great expense. About ten years ago, the Eyam Mining Company was formed by a number of gentlemen, principally inhabitants of Sheffield, who purchased the valuable mineral property in Eyam, and who are now working the same to very great advantage, not only to themselves, but also to the inhabitants of Eyam and the neighbouring villages. They have erected a steam engine which enables them to proceed more rapidly with the work, and find employment for more than 100 men and boys. Immense wealth was formerly obtained from these mines, till stopped by water, and the most sanguine expectations are formed by the present company of their ultimate success. The Morewood Sough when finished, (from the circuitous route obliged to be taken) will be from two and a half to three miles in length. There is no doubt, from the great distance already driven, at a cost of above £5,000, the present company will complete this extensive work, and proof will be made whether the traditionary history of the riches of this great vein will be verified; Jno. Pitt, Esq., is the president of the Company, Mr. Jno. Fordham, treasurer, Mr. Chas. Esam, secretary, and Mr. Geo. Maltby, agent.

Hay Cliff Mine, in Eyam Edge, now no longer worked, was once the grand depository of that extraordinary phenomenon, in the mineral world, provincially called Slickensides. The external appearance of this curious species of galena is well known wherever mineralogy has been studied, At the present time, good specimens of it are extremely rare, and can only be met with in cabinets that have been long established. In those mines where it has most prevailed, it exhibits but little variety, either in form or character. An upright pillar of limestone-rock, intermixed with calcareous spar, contains the exploding ore; the surface is thinly coated over with lead, which resembles a covering of plumbago, and it is extremely smooth, bright, and even. The effects of this extraordinary mineral are not less singular than terrific. A blow with a hammer, a stroke or a scratch with a miner's pick, are sufficient to rend the rocks asunder with which it is united. The stroke is immediately succeeded by a crackling noise, accompanied with a sound not unlike the hum of a swarm of bees; shortly afterwards an explosion follows, so loud and appalling, that even the miners, though a hardy and daring race of men, turn pale and tremble at the shock. In the year 1738, an explosion took place in the Haycliff mine, when two hundred and fifty barrels of material wore blown out at one blast, each barrel containing 350 pounds weight. During the explosion, the earth had a tremulous motion, as if shook by an earthquake. In many of the lead mines in the vicinity of Eyam, the earthquake which destroyed Lisbon, on Saturday, Nov. 1st, 1755, was sensibly felt. "Two miners who were employed in drifts about sixty fathoms deep, were so terrified at the shock, that they dared not attempt to climb the mine; five shocks in the course of about twenty minutes succeeded each other; every shock was followed by a loud rumbling noise. All the shafts remained entire, but the drifts were scattered over with minerals which had fallen from the sides and roof".

From the word Tor, said to be of Phœnecian origin, and the word Bole, anciently signifying the hearth on which the lead was smelted - words in common use at Eyam - we are led to conclude that the lead mines have been worked from a very early period, and probably by a colony of foreigners. On Eyam moor small pieces of lead have frequently been found; one weighing fourteen pounds was met with a few years ago. About forty years since, near Leam Hall, a piece of load was found weighing between thirty and forty pounds; it was thirty-six inches long, and had a hook attached to it. In the year 1814, a great number of silver and copper coins wore found in Eyam Dale, bearing the inscriptions of Probus, Gallienus, and Victorinus, Roman emperors, Ancient coins, spears, and other implements of war have frequently been found in different places of this interesting locality. That the Saxons penetrated among the mountains of the Peak, and resided in and around Eyam, is evident, for every little eminence has a Saxon name or termination. Lich is a Saxon word signifying a dead body, and the gate into the church yard through which the funerals pass is known by the name of Lich-Gate. The principal road into Eyam was once the Lyd-gate, now called Ligget. Lyd implies to cover or protect, and at this entrance there was a strong gate where watch and ward was kept every night. Every effective man who was a householder in the village, was bound to stand in succession at this gate from nine o'clock at night to six in the morning, to question any person who might appear, and to give alarm if danger was apprehended. The watch had a large wooden halbert or "watch bill", for protection, and when he left watch in the morning he took the "watch bill" and reared it against the door of the person whose turn to watch succeeded him. The ancient cross in the churchyard formerly stood in that part of the village called "The Cross", another stood in Eyam Edge, and one at Cross lane, both of which have been destroyed. The ancient names and customs, so well described by Mr. W. Wood in his history, prove the great antiquity of Eyam, and are also applicable to many other parts of the High Peak. The village of Eyam, picturesquely seated at the foot of a bold eminence, contains some good mansions and neat cottages, overshadowed by spreading sycamores, which gives it a rural and interesting appearance. A mountain range, crowned with thriving plantations, rising to an immense height, runs parallel with the village, and forms an impenetrable screen to ward off the northern blast. A little further north, rises Sir William, one of the most remarkable elevations in the county. From the summit of which, the eye ranges over countless hills and verdant dales, while Mam Tor, Ax Edge, Masson, and Kinderscout are seen rising in the distance.

Eyam Dale abounds with elevated rocks, interesting caverns, and picturesque beauty. "Cucklet Church", says Rhodes, "is a rocky projection from a steep hill, and excavated through in different directions to the arches, in the midst of a romantic dell, and surrounded with the rocks and mountains of the Peak. Here Mompesson administered the consolations of religion to his mourning people, during a period of sorrow and suffering almost unparalleled in history. Cucklet Church consists of a flinty combination of what the miners denominate Chert Balls, and of consequence it is almost impenetrably hard. The Dell in which it is placed is rich with verdure, wood, and rock. Its steep and rugged sides are embellished with the hazel, the wild rose, the dogberry, and the yew, beautifully chequered with the light and silvery branches of the birch, and the more ample foliage and deeper colour of the oak and elm. The tall aspiring ash, which, from its prevalence in this part of Derbyshire may be called the Tree of the Peak, is profusely scattered throughout the dell. The ash, indeed, is peculiarly entitled to the appellation here bestowed upon it. Wherever a cottage rears its head there flourishes the ash; wherever the side of a hill or the base of a rock is adorned with trees, there wave the graceful branches of the ash; and the rivers that circulate through the dales of Derbyshire have their banks decorated, and their various windings marked by this graceful tree, which uniformly characterises the woodland scenery of the Peak. The Dell opens into Middleton Dale, the wildness of which it softens and improves by its milder features. Here its extremest width prevails; nearer Eyam, the two sides rapidly approximate, and a little above Cucklet Church, they form the entrance into a narrow chasm, called by the villagers the Salt Pan. The name is sufficiently undignified, but the picture it presents is exquisite of its kind. Two perpendicular rocks terminate the dell, and on their nearest approach, where they meet within a few paces only, the lofty trees and thick underwood with which they are crested, cast an almost midnight darkness into the deep space that separates them, while the elm and the ash, which flourish at their base, throw their boughs athwart the gloomy cleft, and intermingle their topmost foliage with the descending branches from above. The trees in this lovely dell have a majestic character, and during the summer months, the tufts of brushwood, which are scattered along its steep sides, are fancifully festooned with honeysuckles and roses."

The varied and romantic scenery of this place has distinguished the inhabitants by all the characteristics of mountainous districts, and their observance of ancient customs, and adherence to hereditary prejudices, but Mr. Wood observes:- "It is lamentable, however, that the physical condition of the inhabitants of this far-famed village is greatly inferior to that of their forefathers, the principal cause of which is the decay of the lead mines. Previously to the present century, each miner had his cow and small plot of land, to which he attended during the intervals of his work at the mine; this double employment yielded him sufficient to live in health and happiness, leaving him abundance of time for halesome recreation. The mines being under water, can no longer, in their present condition, be successfully worked, and this deplorable circumstance is fast changing the aspect and character of the village". Many interesting objects of antiquity have been found in the vicinity at various periods.

In 1856, at the Pippin mine, Eyam, belonging to the Eyam mining company, was found a beautiful and surprisingly perfect cast of a bellerophon, a fossil shell of the genus monothalamous, nearly allied to the argonaute. This splendid relic is deposited in the Eyam library. About thirty years ago, Mr. Anthony Hancock, of Foolow, found, in a limestone quarry near Eyam, a petrified snake, coiled up in a ring, very perfect. A little more than forty years ago, Mr. James Wood, of Eyam, on cutting a large sandstone on Eyam moor, found a petrified fish, about a foot in length, perfect in every part. The Druidical remains, a little north of Eyam, prove, to a certain degree, the high antiquity of the place. All the tract of land called the moor, was until its enclosure, literally covered with these relics. The Druidical temple, or circle, on that part of the moor called Whet-withins, is frequently visited. It consists of sixteen oblong sandstones standing in an upright position, forming a circle of about thirty yards in diameter. The stones are nearly equal in size, standing about a yard high, except on the north side, where two or three are enveloped in heath, and therefore appear, though clearly visible, not so large as the others. This circle is surrounded by a mound of earth about three feet high, in which the stones are placed. In the centre there stood, until some years back, a large stone, which was no doubt the altar on which sacrifices were made. It was also the Maen Gorsedd, or stone of assembly. The ceremony used at the opening of the Gorseddaw, or meetings, was the sheathing of the sword on the Maen Gorsedd, at which the Druid priests assisted. All the places of meeting were, like this, set apart by forming a circle of earth and stones around the altar, which was called Cylch Cyngrair, or circle of federation, and the priest or bard who recited the traditions and poems was named the Dudgeinaid, who, dressed in a uni-coloured robe, always commenced his recitations by one of the following mottoes - "In the eye of the light, and in the face of the sun" - " The truth against the world". Here the ancient briton displayed his eloquence, knowledge, and patriotism. In the immediate vicinity of this circle there are at least twelve more, each surrounded with circular mounds of earth, and some with stone. Most of these, not more than twelve yards in diameter, must be sepulchral; and there appears in all of them a large heap of stones in the centre. Contiguous to the large circle, until a few years ago, there was one of the most interesting barrows in the Peak of Derbyshire. It covered an area of ground nearly thirty yards in diameter; it was in the form of a cone, ten or twelve yards high, when perfect, and was composed wholly of small stones. On opening this barrow many years ago, an unbaked urn was found containing ashes, bones, an arrow head of flint, and a little charcoal, with which the body had been burned. There is, in the neighbourhood, a very popular tradition of some great chief being buried in this barrow, and it has frequently been explored; nothing has, however, been found, except the urn, but in the vicinity, spears, arrow heads, axes, hatchets, and many remains of antiquity have beta turned up. About a mile west from this barrow there was, about fifty years ago, another of great dimensions. It stood on Hawley's piece. When the moor was enclosed, it was carried away to make fences. An urn of large size was found near the centre, on the ground, and was carried away to the residence of the person who found it, but was afterwards broken and buried, from a superstitious notion that it was unlucky to have it in the house. Many urns have at various times been found around Eyam. About fifty years ago, Mr. S. Furniss found one richly decorated, which contained nothing but ashes. Not many years ago, two men discovered an urn surrounded with stones; one of the parties wishing to secure it entire, went some distance for a spade; in the meantime, the other, thinking it might contain some treasure, dashed it to pieces, when, to his mortification, he found it contained some ashes and two copper coins, on one of which was inscribed Maximianus, and some other characters not legible. About fifty years ago, one was found at Riley, in which were some ancient weapons and arrow heads of flint. Near the same place, two barrows or cairns were destroyed, in which were found urns containing ashes and bones. Many customs of the ancient Druids still remain amongst the villagers of Eyam. One of the incantations practiced at their festivals was to anoint the forehead of the sick with May-dew, which was carefully gathered at day-break; - hence the prevailing custom of anointing deceased children with May-dew. Another part of the ceremony of the great Druidical festival consisted in carrying long poles of mountain ash, decorated with flowers; and it is the practice of the villagers to hang branches of flowers from the cottage windows on May-day. Singing at funerals, and other observances, have purely a Druidical origin.

Eyam has produced several literary characters. John Nightbroder, a native of Eyam, highly distinguished for his literary taste, founded the house of Carmelites, or White Friars, at Doncaster in the year 1350. Miss Anna Seward, the poetess, was born at Eyam in the year 1747; the various poetical works of this lady are universally admired; her father, the Rev. Thomas Seward, rector of Eyam, published several works of considerable learning and taste. Richard Furniss published a history of this, his native village; the Rag Bag, and Medicus Magus, are amongst his poetical works. William Wood, the author of the History and Antiquities of Eyam, with several other productions, is now a resident in the village. The late Thomas Birds, Esq., of Eyam, well known for his antiquarian researches, possessed one of the finest collections of fossils in the kingdom. Caverns abound in the vicinity of Eyam, which extend to a considerable distance; some of them are, adorned with stalactitions petrifactions, and are objects worthy of the attention of the curious.

We now come to that dreadful scourge which visited Eyam in the years 1665 and 1666, by which the village, was nearly depopulated, viz. - the Plague and in giving that portion of its history we shall avail ourselves of the interesting account written by Mr. Wood on the subject: He says "The desolation of Eyam by the plague, in the years 1665 and 1666, has, from the time of its occurrence, always been considered a singular and remarkable event, for its ravages were far more appalling and fatal at Eyam, than any other pestilence hitherto recorded. From the autumn of 1664 to December 1665, about one-sixth of the population of London fell victims to this fatal pestilence; but at Eyam five-sixths of the inhabitants were carried off in a few months of the summer of 1666.

A box containing tailors' patterns in cloth, and it is said some old clothes, were sent from London to a tailor who resided in a small house at the west end of the church yard. The box arrived at the tailor's house on the second or third of September, 1665. The common belief is that it was opened by George Vicars, a journeymen tailor, as he was the first victim who fell a sacrifice to this fatal malady. In removing the articles he observed how very damp they were, and therefore hung them before the fire to dry; while he was watching them he was suddenly seized with a violent sickness, and other symptoms of disease, which greatly alarmed the family. On the second day he grew seriously worse; at intervals he was delirious, and large swellings began to rise about the neck and groin, Medical aid was of no avail. On the third day of his illness, the fatal token - the plague spot - appeared on his breast, and he died in dreadful agonies, the following night, the 6th of September, 1665. Thus began in Eyam the plague, the most awful of all diseases, which after being in some measure checked by the severity of the following winter, spread amazingly, and eventually left the village nearly desolate. On the last day of September, six persons had perished, and by the middle of October, twelve more. Consternation and terror reigned throughout the village. Towards the latter end of October, the pestilence increased, doleful lamentations issued from the cottages containing the infected persons; the distress of those families was unimaginable; few or none would visit them; they were avoided in the street; all dreaded coming in contact even with those belonging to the families where the infection reigned! They were glanced at with fearful apprehension, and their privations arising therefrom defy description. During this awful month twenty-two died. In November, seven died. In December, a great snow is said to have to fallen, accompanied with a hard and severe frost. The distress of the inhabitants was very great, and the pestilence rather increased, for nine died.

At the commencement of 1666, the villagers began to rejoice in the hope of being delivered from the awful scourge, as the pestilence was confined to two houses; four however died in January. In February, eight died and many were affected."

"We must here advert to two unrivalled characters who may be justly said to have been by their joint exertions, the principal instruments by whom Derbyshire and the neighbouring counties wore delivered from the desolating plague, - the Rev. Thomas Stanley, and the Rev. William Mompesson. We shall see when we come to the greatest fury of the plague, that the salvation of the surrounding country originated in the wisdom of these two worthy divines. These two illustrious characters, throughout the fury of the pestilence, forsook not their flock, but visited, counselled, and exhorted them in their sufferings, alleviated their miseries, and held fast to their duties on the very threshold of death. In March, the plague had carried off fifty-six souls; in the succeeding month nine died, and in May three. At the commencement of June, this deadly monitor awoke from his short slumber, and with desolating steps stalked forth from house to house, filling the hearts of all with dreadful forebodings; despair seized every soul. Horror and dismay enveloped the village. Terror overwhelmed the hearts of the villagers. Mrs. Mompesson the rector's wife, threw herself and her two children at her husband's feet, imploring their immediate departure from the devoted place! He raised her from his feet, and told her that his duty to his suffering and diminishing flock - that the indelible stain which would rest upon his memory by deserting them in the hour of danger - and that the awful responsibility to his Maker, for the charge he had undertaken, were considerations with him of more weight and importance than life itself! He then urged his weeping partner to take the two children and fly to some place of refuge till the plague was stayed. She, however, resisted his persuasion, and declared nothing should induce her to leave him; the children were afterwards, by mutual consent, sent to a relative in Yorkshire. At this period of the calamity, the inhabitants began to think of escaping death by flight. Mompesson, on a visible manifestation in the whole mass to flee, was aroused; he energetically remonstrated with them on the danger of flight; he told them of the fearful consequences that would ensue; that the safety of the surrounding country was in their hands; that the invisible seeds of the disease lay concealed in their clothing; that it was impossible for them to escape death by flight. He told them that he would write to all the influential persons in the neighbourhood for aid, and would by every means in his power endeavour to alleviate their sufferings, and remain with them and sacrifice his life, rather than be instrumental in desolating the surrounding country. The inhabitants, with a super-human courage, gave up all thoughts of flight. "One can scarcely decide", says Mr. Samuel Roberts, "in this case, which most to admire - the wisdom of the pastor or the obedience of his flock. It was a sacrifice in either case, which we are utterly unable duly to appreciate. I can form no conception of any instance in mere human beings more strongly proving the blessed effects of true Christianity than this, of faith no stronger, no obedience more perfect."

Mompesson immediately wrote to the Earl of Devonshire, stating the particulars of the calamity and adding, that he was certain that he could prevail on his suffering and hourly diminishing flock to confine themselves within the precincts of the village, if they could be supplied with victuals and other necessary articles, and thereby prevent the pestilence from spreading. The noble Earl, in his answer, expressed deep commisseration for the sufferings of the inhabitants, and assured Mompesson nothing should be wanting on his part to mitigate them. This worthy nobleman, who remained at Chatsworth during the whole time of the plague, generously ordered the sufferers to be supplied with all kinds of necessaries, agreeable to a certain plan. A circle, extending about half a mile round village, noted by particular and well known stones and hills, was marked out, beyond which it was solomnely agreed that no one of the villagers should proceed, whether infected or not. The places where articles were deposited were appointed in different directions, in order that the pestilence effuvia might not be directed all in one way. A well or rivulet, northward of Eyam, one of the places where articles were deposited, is to this day called "Mompesson's Brook". These articles were brought very early in the morning, by persons from the adjoining villages, who, when they had delivered them beside the well, fled fled with the the greatest speed; persons set apart by Mompesson and the Rev. Thomas Stanley, (who had been rector of Eyam from 1644 to 1662, and still continued to reside there, and assisted the Rev. William. Mompesson in this dreadful calamity), fetched the articles left, and when they took money, deposited it in the well, and in certain distant troughs to be purified. The persons who received the money took care to wash it well. An account was left at this and other places of the progress of the disease, with the number of deaths, and other particulars. When money was sent, it was only for some extra or particular articles; the provisions, and many other necessaries, were supplied, it is generally asserted, by the Earl of Devonshire. The Cliff, between Stoney Middleton and Eyam, was one of the places appointed for this purpose.

A large stone trough stood there, in which money and other things were deposited for purification. It is said that no one ever crossed this cordon sanitaire from within or without during the awful calamity; this however is not precisely correct. It must be admitted that it was to the prescribing of this boundary and other precautions attendant thereon, that the country around was saved from this most horrible pestilence. The annals of mankind afford no instance of such magnanimous conduct in a joint number of persons; and ages pass away without being honoured by such an immortal character as Mompesson, who while the black sword of pestilence was dealing death around him, voluntarily "put his life in his hand" from an exalted sense of his duty, - for the salvation of the country. Towards the end of June, the plague began to rage more fearfully. The passing bell ceased, the Churchyard was no longer resorted to for interment, and the church door closed; a half-made grave, or hole hastily dug in the fields, received the putrid corpse ere life was quite extinct. At this juncture, Mompesson deemed it dangerous to assemble in the church, and he, afterwards met his diminishing flock in the Delf. Here the faithful shepherd lifted up his voice to the God of Mercy to stay the deadly pest, whilst the surrounding hills echoed the fervent responses of his sorrowing flock. Thus they assembled in the sacred dell, while each succeeding Sabbath told the tale of death. From that period, the arch in which Mompesson stood and administered the consolations of religion has been called Cucklet Church.

During the dreadful months of July, August, and September, the terrific sufferings of the inhabitants almost defy description. Every family, while any survived, buried its own dead; and one hapless woman in the space of a few days, dug the graves for, and buried with her own hands, her husband and six children. Appalling as such a circumstance must be, it is, however, only one out of the very many of that eventful time. The village was unfrequented; it stood as it were out of the world; none came to sympathise with its suffering inhabitants; it was regarded and avoided as the valley of death! On the clouds that hung gloomily over the village were written "Pestilence and Death", at which terrific inscription the approaching stranger turned aside and precipitately fled. Thus, helpless and alone, perished the villagers of Eyam. As we stated before every family up to July had been, from dire necessity, compelled to bury their own dead; but when, as was now frequently the case, the last of a family died, some person had to undertake the charge of instantly burying the corpse. For this necessary purpose, nature seemed to have fitted the iron constitution and gigantic stature of Marshal Howe: when he learned that some one was dying, he immediately proceeded to the garden or adjoining field and opened a grave, then hastened to the house, where the victim lay still warm with life, and tying one end of a cord round the neck of the corpse, he threw the other over his shoulder, and dragged it forth through the streets to the grave, and with "unhallowed haste" lightly covered it with earth. The money, furniture, and other effects of the deceased were his unenviable remuneration. Such was the awful occupation of Marshall Howe, during this fearful calamity; he however tasted the bitter cup of affliction by burying an affectionate wife and an only son; still he continued in the office of burier of the dead, and survived the plague many years.

A few of the last days of July were really dreadful; five and sometimes six died in one day, and in the whole month fifty-seven. But it was in August that the pest bared his arm for the most deadly slaughter. All now expected death; no one cherished a hope of escape: and a mournful gloom settled on the features of the few who ventured to pace the lonely street.

"The very children had imbibed a look
Of such unutterable woe, as told
A tale of sorrows indescribable."

As August advanced, the mortality increased with inconceivable rapidity. Towards the latter end of the fatal month, near four-fifths of the inhabitants had been swept away. Mompesson during the whole time, unremittingly went from house to house comforting as much as possible his dying flock. This admirable and worthy man was now destined to drink of the sickening cup which had been passing round the village. On the morning of 22nd August, Catherine his beloved partner was seized with the distemper, Mompesson seemed for awhile unable to stand the terrible shock; he stood at her bedside a statue of despair. He, however, after the first paroxysm of grief was past, began, with a fortitude unexampled, to use every means imaginable to arrest the progress of the disease; but alas! in vain. She struggled with the invincible pest until the morning of the 24th, when this lovely and amiable lady fell a victim to the plague, in the twenty-seventh year of her age. Great as was the calamity that had visisted and was still visiting almost every family and terrible as was the devastation of the pestilence, yet the few inhabitants that were left seemed to forget their own sufferings in the death of Mrs. Mompesson.

   -- "One lightning-winged cry
Shot through the hamlet, and a wailing grew
Wilder than when the plague-fiend first drew nigh,
One troublous house; and from all quarters fly
The wretched remnant who had ceased to weep;
But sorrow, which had drained their bosoms dry,
Found yet fresh fountains in the spirit
Wringing out burning tears that lov'd one's couch to steep."

They had witnessed in her worthy husband so much sympathy and benevolence, so much attention and humane feeling in his daily visits from house to house; hence their participation in the sorrows of their beloved pastor. The number of deaths which took place in the month of August was seventy-eight, out of a population considerably under two-hundred on the first of the month. The houses from the east end of the village to the middle, wore now nearly all empty. The few inhabitants of the western part of the village shut themselves up in their houses, nor could they be prevailed on to cross a small rivulet eastward, which runs under the street at Fidler's Bridge, and it is commonly asserted that the plague never crossed it westward. In September it raged with unmitigated fury, and twenty-four wore carried off during the month. On the 11th of October, 1666, this awful minister of death totally ceased, after having swept away five-sixths of the population of Eyam. The number of those who perished is stated in the parish register to be 259. This is certainly appalling, when we consider the population at the commencement only amounted to 330.

A letter written by the venerable Mompesson, dated November 20th, 1666, says - "The condition of the place has been so sad that I persuade myself it did exceed all history and example. Our town has become a Golgotha, - the place of a skull; and had there not been a small remnant, we had been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah. My ears never heard such doleful lamentations, my nose never smelt such horrid smells, and my eyes never beheld such ghastly spectacles. Here have been 76 families visited within my parish, out of which 259 persons died, now (blessed be God) all our fears are over, for none have died of the plague since the eleventh of October, and the pest-houses have long been empty. I intend (God willing) to spend this week in seeing all woollen clothes fumed and purified, as well for the satisfaction as for the safety of the country. Here have been such burning of goods that the like I think was never known. For my part I have scarcely apparel to shelter my body, having wasted more than I needed, merely for example. During this dreadful visitation, I have not had the least symptom of disease, nor had I ever better health. My man had the distemper, and upon the appearance of a tumour, I gave him some chemical antidotes, which operated, and after the rising broke, he was very well."

Several respectable families left the village on the first appearance of the distemper, some of whom never returned. All the villages round were filled with consternation at the appalling reports of the pestilence in Eyam, and the inhabitants of Tideswell caused a watch to be placed at the eastern entrance, to question all who came that way. A female from Orchard Bank, in Eyam, ventured to the market in Tideswell; the watch, not knowing the place, suffered her to pass, but she had scarcely reached the market when some person knew her, and "the plague! the plague! - a woman from Eyam!" resounded from all sides, and the poor woman fled, chased by an infuriated mob. The Riley Graves, the burial place of the Hancock family, about ¼ mile E. of Eyam, are on the slope of a hill, the base of which partially terminates in Eyam. The mother, after burying her husband and six children in the short space of seven days, left her now desolate home, and went to reside with her only surviving son, at Sheffield. Riley House occupies the site of a house formerly the residence of the Talbots, a family that was all carried off by the plague. The pestilence had raged ten months before it reached Riley; a dilapidated monument in the orchard of the present farm house records their deaths. The Hancocks are remembered on head-stones, which have been surrounded by a stone, wall for their better security, by Thomas Burgoyne, Esq. One hundred and ninety years have now passed over since this unequalled and dreadful visitation. Most of the impressive records which marked the resting places of these moral heroes, and lay scattered in all directions in the vicinity of Eyam, have been wantonly destroyed. The annals of mankind afford no instance of such magnanimous conduct in a joint number of individuals so awfully situated; their ashes ought to have been for ever undisturbed, and every vestige of their calamities guarded from the defacing hand of time. Mompesson, after the fatal ravages of the plague, was presented with the rectory of Eakring, Nottinghamshire: a brass plate, with a Latin inscription, marks the place in the chancel, at Eakring, where his ashes repose. Though his tomb may moulder in the dust, and be forgotten, yet his, memorial of humanity and devotedness to his afflicted parishioners will never perish.

   CHARITIES.- Thomas Middleton, by will, 1745, devised to his two sisters two parcels of land called the Upper Lowe and the Nether Lowe, at Eyam, desiring them to settle the same in equal proportions to a schoolmaster at Eyam, to teach five poor boys and five poor girls to read and write. In consequence, a rent charge of £5 was secured by indenture, 1746, to be issuing from the two closes. They are now the property of Marmaduke Middleton Middleton, Esq., who pays the annual sum of £5 of to the schoolmaster for instructing ten children, boys and girls of the of the township of Eyam to read and write.

   Honble. and Rev. Edward Finch, D.D., formerly rector of Eyam, gave £100 to the school, for teaching five poor children of Eyam and five of the out hamlets, which sum, with £15 given by another benefactor, was laid out in purchasing land in the parish of Hope, near Bradwell, called the Long Meadow, about the year 1750, said formerly to have consisted of several small pieces, but at the inclosure, about 1807, an allotment containing between three and four acres was laid together, now let for £5 per annum, for which ten poor children are taught to read. The school premises at Eyam consist of a house in which the master resides, a large school-room, a garden and small yard adjoining, which were rebuilt by voluntary contributions in 1826. The old buildings were purchased in 1792, by the Rev. Charles Hargrave and others. On the inclosure of the commons under an act 43 George IV., about three roods were set out in respect of the school, now let at £1 10s. per annum. The Duke of Devonshire makes a voluntary donation of £2 2s. to the schoolmaster.

   Honble. and Rev. Edward Finch, Finch, D.D., it is stated on the church tablet, gave £15, the interest to be paid to the poor on St. Thomas's day, and that a person gave £20 gave for the same purpose. It appears by the parliamentary returns, 1782, that £2 10s. of these sums had been lost. The residue, £32 10s. was lent on security of the Chesterfield and Hernston turnpike road, bearing interest at 5 per cent. The interest, £1 12s. 6d. per annum, is received by the overseer of the poor of Eyam; and distributed amongst poor people about Christmas.

   Rev. Francis Gisborne's charity.- (See Bradley). The annual sum of £5 10s. is received by the rector, which is laid out in coarse woollens and flannel, and distributed amongst the poor about Christmas.

   Post 0ffice at Wm. Froggatt & Son's: letters arrive from Bakewell, at 8 a.m.; and are despatched at 5 p.m.

Adams Stephen, warehouseman
Amery Rev. Edmund V., M.A., curate, Rectory
Bagshaw Mrs., Millicent
Bagshawe Rev. Benj., rector
Cocker John, manufacturer of concentrated lemonade, gingerette, raspberryade, and peppermint cordials
Daniel John, miner
Eyam Mining Company, George Maltby, agent
Fenton Thos., surgeon, Eyam Terrace
Gravenor Mr. William
Gregory Thomas, solicitor, Eyam View, and at Rutland Arms, Bakewell
Hall William, corn miller and slater
Maltby George, mineral agent
Pursglove Eliz., dressmaker
Schofield Edwin A., glass mould maker
Watson Mrs. Caroline E.
Wild James, warehouseman
Wills James, classical & commercial academy and confidential correspondent in French, Hollow Brook Cottage
Wood Wm., assistant overseer and income-tax collector
Wright Misses, The Firs
Wright Peter, Esq., The Hall

Inns and Taverns.
Bold Rodney, Samuel Furness
Bull's Head, George Hibbert
Foresters' Arms, William Bland, (and mineral agent)
Miners' Arms, John Cocker. (& butcher)
Rose & Crown, Vernon Siddall

Thorp George
Turner Samuel

Drabble Benjamin
Moseley Matthew

Andrew Nathan, Hay Cliff
Ash Moses, Shepherd's Park
Bailey William
Beeley Godfrey
Blackwell James, Hanging Flat
Blackwell James
Blackwell Robert
Bradford George
Cocker Francis
Cooper Abraham
Cooper William
Elliott Ann, Crosslow
Elliott Joseph
Froggatt William and Son
Furness Joseph
Furness Samuel
Furness William
Farmers (cont'd).
Heathcote Thomas
Palfreyman Hannah
Palfreyman Paul
Rippon John
Siddall Vernon
Slinn James
Thorp Robert, Riley
Turner John
White John, Ball End
Wilden Ralph, Hay Cliff

Bradford George
Froggatt Wm. & Son, (and drapers)
Slinn James

Joiners and Builders.
Cocker Francis, (and saw mills)
Dane Wm., (& parish clerk)
Slinn Samuel
Bailey William
Blackwell James
Bromley Jas. & John (wholesale mfr.)
Shoemakers (cont'd).
Cooper James
Daniel George
Hind John
Rippon John

Thorp George
Wain Ralph
Wright John

Silk Weavers.
Froggatt Wm. & Son
Wain Ralph
Slinn, James

Unwin Wm. & Fras.
Wyatt Joseph

Dane Thomas
Hibbert George

Carrier to Sheffield.
Joseph Elliott, Tue.s Thur. & Sat.

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in August 2000
from copies of an original edition belonging to the late Dr. J.H. Davis, of Far Sawrey, Cumbria.

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