Updated 23 Dec 2003

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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More about Adam BEDE

A different angle on Adam BEDE's family is suggested by these e-mails received from Catherine Dack and published with her permission. See a picture of Adam Bede Cottage, Wirksworth.

From: "katedack" (katedack@ouvip.com) 
To: (john.palmer@wirksworth.org.uk) 
Subject: Adam Bede 
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 21:35:15 -0000 

Hallo Mr Palmer,

Re your entry on Adam Bede: I am currently writing up a project for my MA
on the novel & I have to disagree with the statement that Adam is based on
Samuel Evans. There is no justification for calling the cottage in Wirksworth
after Adam Bede. He can be shown to be based (quite closely) on Samuel's
brother, George Eliot's father. If you read the novel you will see that the
fictional Bede visits Wirksworth twice, without staying overnight. On the
second visit he proposes to the Methodist Dinah Morris (I have no quarrrel
with her identity) and he marries her in his own village, identified as
Ellastone, where they live 'happily ever after'. Eliot does not intend that
Dinah was her own mother - the book is a work of art after all. More
important from Wirksworth's point of view is that the picture painted of
your town in the book is negative, to say the least. The almost deserted inn
lies in 'an obstinately monotonous street'. The region is described as 'that
grey country' beyond Ashbourne (Oakbourne), a 'wide-stretching woodless
region'. The town is 'grim, stony and unsheltered' and there is an 'ugly
red mill'.  One character in the book refers to 'that bare heap o' stones
as the very crows fly over an' won't stop at'. With praise like that, who
needs to cast aspersions?  However, Eliot herself only visited twice, as a
small child and at the age of 20 and possibly did not stay overnight. (Each
time she was touring with her father for a total of 1 week in Staffs and
Derbys). She thought that Wirksworth was cold, bleak and tree-less. (Even
above the tree-line, as far as you can tell!) People are depicted as poor
and starving in the winter - certainly, MUCH poorer and very unfortunately
placed compared with those enjoying the lush pastures of Ellastone. We are
talking about 1800, when I gather from your statistics that Wirksworth was
a very thriving town with a population of about 3 - 4000. I have recently
been back to Weaver hill above Ellastone to prove to myself that snow on
hills in winter would not be confined to Derbyshire! The name Snowfield is
therefore something of a stereotype.
PS In Ellastone's favour, people do seem to have lived to a ripe old age
around 1800, if they survived infancy. I was wondering what the situation
was like in Wirksworth? 
Yours sincerely,     Catherine Dack        

From: "katedack" (katedack@ouvip.com) 
To: "John Palmer" (john.palmer@wirksworth.org.uk) 
Subject: Re: Adam Bede 
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 20:49:21 -0000 

Hallo John,
Go ahead if you want to add my views on Adam Bede to your website. I was
very interested to read in your list of occupations (which I have copied)
how much the lead-miners dominated the occupation list and how few farmers
there were, relatively. One thing I will not have time to follow up: the
Samuel Evans who was a draper must have been different from the one who
manufactured silk velvet, I presume? And would it be possible that either
of them was related to Eliot?  There is a similar coincidence of a William
Evans living in Ellastone, a carpenter, who might have been another brother.
If so, the carpenter's shop in Bede could have actually been in the family.
I won't be following it up though, because it is peripheral to my task.
You might enjoy reading the book, although it's rather idealized. I have a
theory that the very conservative ex-Royalist and even Jacobite gentry around
Ellastone would have maintained a dislike for the Gell family from the time
of the civil war, since, as you must know, Gell was a parliamentary commander,
and very successful by all accounts. Eliot's father Robert became a
well-to-do land agent in Warks, having spent time in Ellastone, at Wootton
Grange (I think). Both he and his daughter got on well with the gentry. Just
a thought. - Regards, Kate

From: "Colin Wise" (colin.wise@cableinet.co.uk)
To: (john.palmer@wirksworth.org.uk)
Subject: re Adam Bede
Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2002 17:46:58 +0100

Dear John,
Brilliant website which I have made great use of while researching my Evans 
ancestors. I am descended from George Eliot's half brother Robert Evans and 
can tell you that the Samuel Evans Snr in Wirksworth was indeed George Eliot's 
uncle. He is the the person on whom the character Seth Bede is based and in 
real life married Elizabeth Tomlinson on whom the character Dinah Morris is 
based. I believe that George Eliot did stay with her uncle and aunt in 
Wirksworth and I know they visited her father in Warwickshire - perhaps the 
cottage is named after her book because her aunt Elizabeth told her the story 
which was later to provide the initial inspiration for the novel.
William Evans in Ellastone is another of George Eliot's uncles and the younger 
Samuel Evans in Wirksworth (son of Samuel Evans Snr) married his first cousin 
Mary Evans, William's daughter.

I'm actually trying to find all the children of Samuel and Elizabeth (nee 
Tomlinson) Evans and of Samuel and Mary Evans and your site has been helpful 
although being Methodists I don't think all the records are on your site as 
I think some were baptised elsewhere eg Derby. Your census details have 
certainly helped me a lot. If you ever come across any more information on 
these families I would love to have it. I emailed the Wirksworth Heritage 
Centre a while ago but have not had any reply as yet.

Keep up the good work,
All the best,
Meg Wise

The following was sent by:
Keith John GERARD of Prestwick, Scotland 
email: ellastone_man@gioserve.co.uk

Keith says:
"The attachment is a copy of an obituary which I believe resides in the 
record office at Matlock. It was sent to me in connection with my research 
of the Gerard / Gerrard family in the Derbyshire/ Staffordshire border area 
of Ashbourne /Ellastone...
....are you aware of the Gerard/Gerrard families tenancy of so many of the 
Mills on the Staffordshire / Derbyshire border area  (Ellastone,Brailsford,
"The cutting is possibly dated 1902, possibly from the Derby Mercury."

                      Death of Mrs F.L.GERRARD
                    Second cousin of George ELIOT

     The funeral of Mrs Frances GERRARD, aged 87, widow of Mr Phillip GERRARD,
of "Bricklands", Hulland Ward, near Derby, who died on February 27, took
place at Christ Church, Hulland Ward.
     Mrs GERRARD was the last surviving second cousin of George ELIOT
(Mary Ann EVANS) the famous novelist. Her grandmother was sister to Samuel
and Robert EVANS, spoken of in "Adam BEDE".
     Several of Mrs GERRARD's relations were in the film "Mill on the Floss".
     The Rev N.G.COLE officiated at the funeral service.
     The bearers were Messrs Wilfred and Stanley (grandsons), Bill HARRISON
and Harry DALE.
     Wreaths were sent by Phillip, Annie and family; Fred, Nellie and family; 
Ethel and all at Basford; George, Sid and Elsie; Florrie, Dick and family;
Giru(?), Louie and family; Beaty, Ben and Basil; Walter, Mary and family; 
Wilfred and Fanny and baby; Ida, Frank and family; Muriel and John; 
Marline and Stepnne; Wilfred and Joyce; Hannah, Edgar and Stan; 
Mrs HARRISON and family; Mr and Mrs George WHEELDON.
     The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr T NASH, of Cubley.

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