Updated 18 Apr 2003

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Death of William WORTHY

The sad story of the disappearence of a 9 year old boy whose body was found in a mine shaft 11 years later.
This transcription of a newspaper report was sent by Martin Worthy of Southampton at mjrworthy@btinternet.com

Derby Mercury	Dec 28 1842	Page 3 Column 4


An inquisition was taken on Tuesday the 20th inst, at Mr KILLER's, 
The Barley Mow, in Bonsall Dale, before Mr MANDEN, coroner, High Peak, 
on a human skeleton which had been found in a lead mine a few days 
previous. The facts will be best gathered by stating that eleven years 
ago, a boy named WILLIAM WORTHY, about 9 years of age, was missed from 
his home in Bonsall, and, notwithstanding the most searching enquiries 
were made at the time, not the slightest trace of the child could be 
obtained.  The boy's father, FRANCIS WORTHY, is a miner and at this 
time was working from home at Bollington Tunnel, and first received 
information of the circumstances from a fellow townsman named 
WILLIAM BUNTING, who was also mining in the tunnel.  Worthy instantly 
proceeded home, and, with the assistance of the neighbours, dragged 
every dam in the neighbourhood, and searched a great number of mines, 
but without success.  

A most remarkable feature in this singular tale is, that a mine the shaft of which it now appears was open, and very imperfectly secured, and which is situated in a close at the back of Worthy's house, and within 150 yards, was not searched, although another mine within a stone's throw was descended and examined by competent persons. The reason now assigned for this important omission is, that it was not then known to the persons who conducted the search, that there was any mine at the place, and this reason, unsatisfactory as it may appear, is the only one to be obtained. There is a singular though unimportant coincidence in the William Bunting, who received the information at Bollington Tunnel, and conveyed it to Worthy, being the same person who, after a lapse of eleven years, accidentally found the bones. Bunting was the first witness examined on the inquest, and he stated that, last Saturday, when engaged in emptying an old shaft which had run in, situate in the Chaple Pingle, he met with a quantity of bones which he filled into the kibble or drawing vessel, and sent up to his brother who was drawing over him. At length, finding a skull, he perceived he had been sending up human bones, and gave the bones to Francis Worthy. ANTHONY BUNTING, cotton spinner, was playing with the boy, William Worthy, on the day he was missed, and remembers the cap worn by him. The leather brim of a cap found with the bones is like the one deceased wore. Witness was then a boy, and deceased ought to have been at school, but stayed away playing. They separated about two o'clock, and Worthy went in the direction of the Chapel Close.

Francis Worthy, of Bonsall, miner, missed a son about 9 years old, at the time named. He caused a search to be made as described above and stated in addition that, in cosequence of wrong information given, he was induced to believe the child had been decoyed away by sweeps. He advertised him in all the county papers and personally searched the lodging houses, and had him cried in Belper, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Stockport, Manchester, Liverpool and many other places, of course, without success. He was more than a month travelling in search of him. The mine in which the bones were found is the nearest mine to witnesses house, and although himself a miner, he was not aware of the existence of it at that time, nor till long after.

There is one circumstance that tells strongly in favour of the mine being entirely forgotten, or, if known at all, known only to a very few, in an answer given by the witness when asked the name of the mine. He did not know the name, or even if it had a name, and some of the witnesses or jurymen remembered to have ever heard it called by any name. Witness has no doubt the bones found are those of his son from the absence of upper teeth in front, from the cap brim, and from the general size and appearance of the bones. Mrs Worthy, wife of the last witness, deposed to seeing the boy in an ash tree on the day he was missed. She told him to come down or he would break his neck, on which he jumped down and ran of [sic] in the direction of the Chapel Close. This occurred during the life-time of a former wife of Francis Worthy's. Bunting described the bones as lying about 7 fathoms from the lay but not at the foot of the shaft down which the boy must have fallen. He had apparently traversed a gait or miners gallery of a few yards in length, and then fallen down a sump or internal shaft, at the bottom of which there is too much reason to fear, he miserably perished by starvation.

As no further evidence could be obtained, a verdict was returned in accordance with the above. Notes.

Special thanks to Roger Flindell for sending me a hand-written copy of the article.

Account in "Derby & Chesterfield Reporter" states the mine shaft was 14 yards deep.

The "sweeps" who it was thought had decoyed the lad away were Chimney Sweeps wanting young lads for their horrible work.

Transcribed : Martin Worthy 18-Apr-2003 Many of the people featuring in this account can be found in the Census: Census Entry 1841 Anthony BUNTING 20 Cotton spinner William BUNTING 45 Lead miner Isaac KILLER 60 Joiner Francis WORTHY 35 Lead miner Census Entry 1851 Anthony BUNTING 28 Labourer William BUNTING 57 Lead miner Isaac KILLER 69 Joiner & innkeeper Francis WORTHY 47 Lead miner, farmer Census Entry 1861 Anthony BUNTING 38 Ground Bailiff William BUNTING 68 Lead miner Francis WORTHY 57 Lead miner Census Entry 1871 Anthony BUNTING 48 Servant Groom Census Entries 1881 [None]

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