Updated 16 Mar 2001

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Letters from William Doxey

Letters from William Doxey (1838-1906), miner, joiner and Clerk of the Works for Smedley's Hydro.

Letter 1

[ Written by William Doxey 1838-1906 in pencil on 4 A5 notebook
pages, presumably for his son Alfred Doxey 1865-1933 who may have
been planning a biography of John Howe and Eliza Dorothy Doxey]

          My Mother was a Churchwoman and I do not think ever went to
Chapel until she was about 50 years of age. She first began to go to
the Wesleyan Chapel in Middleton when I was 11 years old. I went to
Church at Middleton.. there was an annual Tea..I missed going to
school a Sunday or two ..they would not let me go to the Tea. I left the
Church and went to Chapel..My Mother went with me..not a very grand
reason for leaving a Church but the truth.

          5 The picture of Mother's life at Darley Bridge is good and a
vivid one...you picture it well.

         7 The furniture which comprised a whole suite was given to my
Mother by her Godmother Madam Blore when Mother was christened
at Ashford. All the articles disappeared excepting the secretary and
chest of drawers which yourself and Walter now posess.

         When Mother married my Father they had no furniture only an
old table and a borrowed bedstead. They lived in a small house in
Middleton and gradually got their furniture one at a time and valued it

        Grandmother had many trades, she was a candle maker for her
Father when a girl, domestic servant in some good families in
Manchester, Nottingham and York. A maker of Umbrella tops for
Pickerings of Nottingham, a dressmaker when first married then a
school mistress... then a manufacturer of fustian coats and the old
smock frocks which used to be worn in Derbyshire. Then again a
schoolmistress in Rotherham where she had scholars half time from a
Mill. Then a trimmer of hosiery for the late John Smedley at Lea Mills
... she trimmed some red silk Merino shirts etc for Exhibition of 51.

      Then we lived at Lea where she looked after the poultry etc at our
home for her Aunt Mrs Sims and for which we had our cottage rent
free for 18 years, then came to Matlock the history of which you know.

     She was a true Theosophist thinking of others always never of self
and as I believe that every thought, word and deed has an influence
for good or evil her quota to the general uplifting will count...and the
unselfish uplifting for the general good react on self...so she is now
reaping what she has sown...good.

   From flesh blood and bone I was conceived as many creatures be.
9-10-11-12-13 is life like and cannot be improved also to 17.

    There is a wonderful likeness betwee Miss Julia Smith and ny
Mother I think. Miss J.Smith was an enthusiastic admirer of
Shakespear so was my Mother - hence the attraction to each
other...difference in position was as nothing between them.

     When little Sarah Doxey died your Uncle Alfred was very near his
end, say two months later he passed away. Walter heard music
upstairs...someone singing and somebody went up to my Brother and
asked...have you been singing?  He said not very likely for me to sing
but I have Heard someone singing. Three of four heard the music.
(how was that telephoned from the tablet of memory?).21. She told me
several instances of this 'seeing'. She saw her sister Hannah one

     Very short biographies are best, except in very exceptional cases.
My Mothers poems..who outside our family circle would care or take
trouble to read them? Who cares or takes notice of my Grandfather's
poems? I have not read half a dozen of them...have you or Walter
read more?  Poetry must be first class to make any one take notice of
it...who remembers anything about minor parts of a play...only of the
principal parts and actors all the rest 'have their exits and their
entrances' and are gone...like smoke left no trace behind. So my
advice is make your Biography short it will have better chance of being

     I think it shows a good and worthy spirit to have the wish to write
the Biography of those we love and reverence.

       Grandfather J.Howe got aquainted with the Duke of Devonshire
(the erratic but learned Duke). Jn Howe met him on the moors in the
Peak. The Duke had lost his way and J.Howe showed him the way and
walked and talked with him without knowing it was the Duke..He
invited him to Chatsworth and he thus became intimate with him.
Page 3

     Grandfather Doxey was a descendant of one of the Huguenots who
were persecuted the family name was de'Orsey - they settled in
Spittlefields -  Sir Harry Verney (who married the sister of Florence
Nightingale - Beatrice Smith was her name)...Sir H. told my Father that
he knew the family in France De-Orsey...the name got gradually
altered and finally got to Doxey which... I was once told by a
clergyman was Greek for - Glory...

     I do not know what you will make of this scribble but is as much as I
can do. I have to write specifications of 3 jobs 16 foolscap pages each
this week besides details etc beside my usual work so I am
handicapped. This is my excuse for not writing sooner and better.


Letter 2

[Probably written to his daughter Lucy and her family, though  it
seems a bit distant]
                                                     Bank Road, Matlock

                                                            Xmas 1893
Dr Friends,

           I would send Heartie XMAS Greeting and wish YOU a Happie
NEW YEAR. It seems an age since I saw you, though I often think
about you. I have had a very time week after week this year, and feel
the nessesity of rest on Sunday or I should have come over ere now
"The Spirit has been willing but the flesh weak". They are now playing
the grand old Xmas Hymn, upatairs, which makes Xmas more
apparent than any thing else I know.

         Another year has rolled away with its joys and sorrows, how
dependant we are upon circumstances for the distribution of these,
and what a little alteration can turn sorrow into joy or joy into sorrow
and trouble. How dependant we are one upon another, and how
needful when it is our time of joy , to think of our less fortunate fellows
who are having a time of sorrow.

        Christmas is a grand time, a time when hard hearts are softened
(if ever). The angels may be heard yet, singing, if people will but listen,
proclaiming "peace on earth and good will to men".

        The world's business habits teach us selfishness, it is very difficult
to get out of the world's groove of business - selfishness - but I think
though it is unbusinesslike to do good often, but it seems natural at
Xmas. --- the strict and stern business man to be unbusinesslike, and
to unselfishly add to the world's  joy. To form one of the band of
Angels proclaiming peace and goodwill to man, in any way his
sympathy directs.

        I am quite sure this year has been a busy one for Mr Walker your
increased supervision has I know meant more meat for brain and

       I met a gentleman in Sheffield in his business premises near to
where the fire was last week - his father was once in a very small way
but the son has a large business in the centre of the town, he told me
that he was at business a 6 am in the morning and often to 11 pm at
night. He looks like a young man worn out - the work of the world is as
unevenly distributed as its wealth it seems to me the golden age will
be the time when this unevenness of work and wealth is more evenly
distributed, it would be best for both sides.

      But I will give over moralizing and tell you a little news. My oldest
son Alfred is to be married tomorrow morning Xmas day at a church in
Heeley. He writes they are having a quiet wedding he is working a 33
hours shift to get off to be married and will have to go again in 12
hours after. He says he is not going to be married at the Union it is too
suggestive, but at a chapel at Heeley.

       I have just been reading a letter he sent to Walter yesterday - I
may say first he is an enthusiast in the collection of old prints
principally "Baxter's prints" of which he has a nice collection - he writes
"I went to buy the ring, but as I was going I came across a Baxter
Print which I purchased and forgot the ring and had to turn back for it,
when I got back the ring proved much too large so I sent "Gertie" (his
young lady's name) to change it and have it fitted to template". You
would laugh to read his letter. He is living at 21 Barton Road Heeley,
nearly opposite Heeley station, he would be pleased to see you I am
sure if at any time you are passing.

       I saw Mr Lennox this week he has had a severe tussle with
influenza but he fought "La Grippe" like a Scotchman, and I am
please to say conquered.

      I hope yourself and family have escaped - we have all been laid up
with it, in fact I think we had the unfortunate honour of introducing it in
our neighbourhood, we had it nearly first I heard about,

                   Wishing you the Compliments of the season,

                       I am yours sincerely,

                             William Doxey

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