Updated 30 Jul 2012

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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The origin of GREATOREX

How Ernie found Great Rocks Farm

Is this where the Derbyshire surname GREATOREX began? An email from London with a photo, consulting learned tomes, a challenge via a Mailing List, and another email reporting a successful walk. Please read on.
See Old photo and Ariel photo.

Jesse Walker of London () sent me a photo and asked:
I want to identify exactly where a photo was taken. My great aunt 
Joan Greatorex says it was a photo of (what was left of) an old building 
near Tunstead - at a place called Great Rocks. She says that in the early 
1980's, limestone excavations nearby consumed the area near the building 
and therefore it was dug up. This is supposedly where the name of GREATOREX
comes from, from around 1100 AD.

Remains of Great Rocks Farm in 1980's.

First I consulted "A Dictionary of English Surnames" by the Oxford
University Press:

page 204 says:
1743 Bisham PR (Berks). From Greterakes (Db)

Then I looked in "Placenames of Derbyshire" by Cameron:

page 179 says:
GREAT ROCKS FM, Gret(e)raches 1251 DbA v, 1254 LichChart,
Gret(e)rake 1252 DbA v, -rakes 1285 For, 1302 Misc, 1319 For, 1381
SR(p), -rackes Ed 4 DuLa, -rax(e) 1549 CPG, Hy 8 DuLa et passim
to 1666 Dep, Greatrack(e)s, -rax 1580 FF, 1594 CPG et passim to
18th, -rex 1717 Potter, Grittraxe Eliz DuLa, Great Rocks 1767
Burdett. 'Great valley(s),v "great, hraca" cf Raikes Fm (PN Sr 261)
and The Rake (PN Sx 41).The plural form is somewhat puzzling for
there is one deep rocky valley here, Great Rocks Dale. There are
several dry tributary valleys, in one of which is Great Rocks Fm and
whilst they are insignificant compared with the main valley they
must explain the plural form. Cf also the surname Gre(a)tt(o)rex.

and again on page 181
GREAT ROCKS DALE, cf Gretrix-dale side c 1620 Hard, the Gitterixe Dalle 1640 Map, cf Great Rocks Fm supra 179.
Sources quoted are: DbA [Journal of the Derbyshire Archeological and Natural History Society] LichChart [Registrum Chartarum Ecclesiae Lichfieldensis in British Museum] For [Forest Proceedings in PRO] Misc [Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (PRO)] SR (p) [Derbyshire Subsidy Rolls] Dep [Exchequer Special Commissions and Depositions in PRO] DuLa [Duchy of Lancaster documents in PRO] CPG [Unpublished documents in the Chandos-Pole-Gell Collection in the possession of Lt Col J Chandos Pole] FF [Calenderof the Fines for the County of Derby] Potter [Unpublished documents in the Potter Collection in the University of Nottingham] Burdett [P P Burdet, Map of Derbyshire 1767]
In the Wirksworth Parish Registers between 1608 and 1650 variants of GREATOREX appear 68 times. Of these, 58 have "I" as the last sounded vowel, 9 have "A", only 1 has "E" and none has "O" (eg GREATRICKS, GREATRAX, GRETOREX and GREATROCKS) This seems to suggest that the Derbyshire surname GREATOREX originates near Great Rocks Farm. The earliest example of the surname in the Wirksworth Parish Registers is the baptism in 1608 of Agnisse daughter of Thomas GREATRICKE of Ible Incidentally, GREATOREX is the Derbyshire surname with the largest number of spelling variants. There are 42 in the Wirksworth Parish Registers! These are:

Then I issued a challenge via DERBYSGEN Mailing List Hello Folks, Anyone feel energetic and would like to solve a problem??? The question is, can anyone recognize the farm from the photo, and say just where it was in the Dale???? Clues are the road, the railway, the ruined building, the stone bridge or steps in the background, and the shape of the hedgeline. If someone feels like a nice walk in the countryside, and can locate the old farm exactly, they might say proudly "That's where the Derbyshire name GREATOREX came from".
Ernie DRABBLE ernie@drabblembe.freeserve.co.uk emailed me: John Took your advice and took a walk into the dale this afternoon - recognised the location of the remains of the farm from your photograph. I stand corrected but I think the map reference is more like 102-751! On my White Peak anyway. It is located approx 300/400 yards from the Buxton to Wormhill road, along the field track (public right of way) which leads across towards Tunstead from the Wormhill side of the railway bridge on which the unclassified Buxton to Wormhill road crosses the railway by the entrance to the Buxton Lime Industries and Tarmac Quarry sites. An easy walk - we continued along the track into Tunstead Hamlet (made famous by it's connections to Brindley) and back to our car (which we parked at the gate to the track by the railway bridge) along the tarmaced road. A stroll of about 1hr 10 minutes. Weather fine and warm but breezy and hazy. The walk took about 1hr 10mins at a very leisurely pace. It provides good views into the workings of Tunstead Quarries, now operated by Buxton Lime Industries, formerly I.C.I. Both our fathers worked at Tunstead for the I.C.I (between totalled well over 90 years service). The newer quarry at Old Moor on the North East of the railway lines is now a huge hole in the ground, going down several levels. This has meant the demolition of Great Rocks Farm - a friend of Brenda's lived here many years ago and my father was brought up at nearby Blackwell Mill Cottages. And Ernie wrote again: John Hi From my knowledge of Great Rocks Dale, it is possibly about 1 mile in length, from the railway bridge crossing the Buxton/Wormhill unclassified road towards Blackwell Mill in a Southern direction. The location where this road crosses the Midland Railway is marked on the "White Peak" 1:2500 OS Map as Buxton Bridge. The point I think I have recognised and identified from the photograph, is at the top end of the dale ; i.e. that nearer the road and Buxton Bridge. Possibly over half a mile North of where Great Rocks Farm is indicated on my map. I believe other properties existed along the dale, but along with Great Rocks Farm, these have been demolished and I believe nothing remains to indicate their former locations. ICI, now Buxton Lime Industries did stray across the valley some 10 years ago and began to quarry out Old Moor - this is now one huge hole in the ground. I work at Buxton Police Station and live across in Glossop and I will try this week to find someone with a bit more local knowledge and get back to you before 26th. At the location I think I identified, there are still remains as shown on your photo- these together with the steps in the rock across the railway, leads me to believe this to be the location, but whether or not these are the remains of a homestead, I could not say. If you wish to visit, I would be more than pleased to meet up with you and take you along the track and retrace our steps - so that you can see for yourself the topography, etc., and make your own judgement. Strong shoes will suffice - nothing strenuous.
e-mail from Jesse WALKER 1 Jul 2002 >Greatorex is a place-name, which people used as a surname when the use of surnames, first began about 1000 years ago. > >The first record of the name is in the Derbyshire Archives in the year 1251 as GRET(E)RACHES a small farming settlement, now known as Great Rocks Farm it is in the high peak of Derbyshire, midway between Buxton and Tideswell and three miles from Wormhill village, which was mentioned in the Domesday book. (Wormhill is spelled as WRUENELE in the Domesday Book of 1086 and as WERMEHILL in 1273 in the Lichfield Charters). The settlement of Gretraches was probably founded shortly after 1086 and definitely before 1200 then the use of place-names as surnames had died out in England. It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book. > >This dates the farm's founding during the reigns of the Norman Kings, King William I, the Conqueror and his sons William II, Rufus and Henry I, Beauclerc. The most likely time could be during the upheaval following the Norman Conquest and publication for the Domesday Book when many settlements were formed. All disputes of land tenure were decided by reference to it and there was no redress against its ordinance. The landholder in 1086 was Siward, the Dane, well documented in history. It later passed to Henry de Ferrers, a Norman Frenchman and ancestor of the present Lord Derby and then in to the ownership of Lichfield Cathedral and it's monasteries. > At the destruction of the monasteries, these lands and church treasures went to King Henry VIII, and thus we find a Robert GREATRAKES a fief of King Henry's daughter Queen Elizabeth I being obliged, therefore, to perform military service for his sovereign in wars in Southern Ireland. > >Robert GREATRAKES was of GREATRAKES, then a large estate in the Tideswell area in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. If we return to the time of the foundation of the settlement just after the Norman Conquest the people would be mainly of Scandinavian origin as this area was well within the Danelaw (tacitly acknowledged by the Danes as theirs by 878 AD). Even today, the area of the Danelaw is marked by these Scandinavian place-names and fashions of speech. Today, also people from the Teutonic nations find it easier to understand English spoken with a Midlands accent rather than the southern style. In this context we can look at the names and it's variants, through nearly a thousand years. > >The settlement of GRET(E)RACHES was probably founded shortly after 1086 and definitely before 1200 when the use of place names, as surnames, had died out in the Midlands. > >By 1364, the farm was known as GREATRAKES Farm. (Jean Charter, Derbyshire Charters). It states that a lease for 5 years from the Dean Chapter of Lichfield to Roger de Northburgh (Prebendary of Lichfield) of the tithes of Tideswell, Lynton, Monshall (now Monsall), Wardlow, Tunstede, GREATRAKES, Wheston and Fairfield, at an annual rent of 19 pounds (5 May 1364). >By this time there were several records of GREATRAKES wills. (Reliquary p323). In the Gentry of the County of Derby is a record of GRETRAX, John de Elton, living in 1493. > >Local Derbyshire records show variants such as GREATRAKES, GREATRAX, GREATREX, GREATROX, GRETERIX and GRETHORICKS. One of the earliest versions is GREATRAIKES. > >In July 1601, in Derby, is a record of a marriage; Zpoferiils WHITINGHAM et. Maria GREATOREX nup.10 die. This is an early, Latinised version of the name. For the reason of prestige or to air the knowledge of Classics in the Clergy they began to use the suffix 'rex' or 'orix' in Church Registers, (De Bello Gallico - the French Chieftain Cingetorix is an example and Zpo looks like the Greek CHI RHO. > >By the time of the diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn the now familiar name of GREATOREX was being used. The Anglo-Irish branch of the family still retained the spelling GREATRAKES. Both Ralph GREATOREX and Valentine GREATRAKES were friends of the diarists and were mentioned in their writings. > >By 1750 the now universal spelling was used by almost everyone. > >'Rakes' is actually a mining term associated with a vertical vein of ore, usually lead. Lead was mined in Derbyshire in pre-history and well documented during the time of the Roman Empire. GRET(E)RACHES was well within what was the Danelaw so must have a derivation from the Teutonic languages. > >>From the Reliquary, Vol. 4, page 231. A.C. Glover > >Greatrocks is a hamlet in the Parochial Chapelry of Wormhill, a Parish of Tideswell in the High peak. At Tunstead near this place James BRINDLEY the engineer was born. Mr. Glover writes on the 28th of August, 1856, to R.C. GREATOREX, 'Last week I was with my friend Mr. BATEMAN of Lomberdale Hall whose grandfather purchased the Greatorex Estate in Wormhill, now one of the finest farms in England. As a family of Hope (written with a capital H) have hold the writings he could not give me the information I required but he said he had no doubt the Irish GREATRAKES and the Carsington, Callow and other families in the Peek of that name are, descendants of the Greatrocks family'. > >In the early 1980's the foundations of three or four buildings were clearly visible on the site of Great Rocks Farm and a photograph was taken on the site (http://greatorex.bongoots.com/GreatRocksFarm.jpg), which was surrounded by fields and rocky outcrops. There was nearby, however, huge excavations for limestone taking place by a subsidiary company of Rio Tinto Mines. > >Later the whole site was excavated, and no evidence remains of the ancient settlement. > >----- > >Does anyone know the name of the company that mined the area? Or does any local historian have any further knowledge of Great Rocks Farm and the surrounding villages that might be of interest? > >This is a matter that I would like to follow up with the mining company to ask them if they would kindly erect a plaque to commemorate an event happening nearly a thousand years ago - the start of the name of GREATOREX, which is quite a well-known name in Derbyshire and English history. > >Two examples (of my relatives) are: > >Joseph GREATOREX (b. Abt 1846-Elton, d. 28 Feb 1905-Winster) m. (22 Feb 1869-Winster) Mary HUGHES (b. 15 Jul 1841-Denbighshire, Wales, d. 4 Sep 1894-Winster) owned a lot of property in Winster, the Winster Market Hall/House was among them. In 1904 Joseph GREATOREX with Charles HEATHCOTE, presented Winster Market Hall (called locally the Market House) to the newly formed National Trust. Joseph was a local property owner, owning the Bowling Green Inn, where his photograph is displayed showing his own mother (Ann Boam HADFIELD), himself (Joseph GREATOREX), his eldest son (William Henry GREATOREX) and grandson (Gordon Hughes GREATOREX) of whom I am related to all. The photo can be seen online here (http://greatorex.bongoots.com/Four-gen.jpg). I believe that Joseph owned most of Winster's High St. at one time (correct me if I am wrong). >Emma GREATOREX (b. 31 Mar 1877-Winster, d. 9 Aug 1960) who married (20 Sep 1898-Winster) Dr. James Lyon FLETCHER (1869 - Aft 1898) restarted Morris Dancing in Winster in the early 1900's, she was an expert in folk dancing and was a local wireless broadcaster. Emma is my great great great aunt. > >Jesse Walker
Steve GREATOREX emailed: GREATOREX is a fine old Derbyshire name. I quote below from the first of two articles by the Rev. Samuel Hayman printed in 'The Reliquary', a quarterly publication first issued in the 1860's. Bound copies are to be found in the Derby Local History Library. NOTES ON THE FAMILY OF GREATRAKES. PART I. BY THE REV. SAMUEL HAYMAN, B.A. The family name, as was not uncommon, has been spelled in a variety of ways. Its most ancient form was Gretraks or Greatrakes, its present shape is Greatorex. Like so many other surnames, it was derived from a locality, of which, in all probability, some olden representative of the name was the chief proprietor. Great Rakes, now corruptly written "Great Rocks," is a hamlet, consisting of three or four detached farm-houses, situated in the liberty of Thornsett, near Wormhill, about midway between Buxton and Tideswell. The local designation shows us that, if we desire the orthography of the family name, we must adopt the ancient and not the modern usage; and we explain the name of the hamlet itself by a reference to mining operations, so extensively carried on in the district. "Rake," in the Peak, is a mining term in constant use. It signifies a cleft or fissure in the rock of which the Peak District is composed. This opening is followed and mined for the load-ore which it contains. In Manlove's curious metrical production, "Liberties and Customes of the Lead Mines within the Wapentakes of Wirksworth", 1653, the word frequently occurs- By custom old in Wirksworth Wapentake, If any of this nation find a Rake, Or sign, or leading to the same; may set In any ground, and there Lead-ore may get: They may make crosses, holes, and set their stowes, Sink shafts, build lodges, cottages, or coes. The vulgar term is setting for a Mine, For th' grace o' God, and that I there can find And then at him some other miners take, And gain possession in the self-same Rake. Water holes, Wind holes, veynes, coe shafts and Woughs, Main Rakes, Cross Rakes, Brown Henns, Budles and Soughs, Break offs, and Buckers, Random of the Rake, Freeing and chasing of the Stole to th' Stake. "Main Rakes," mentioned in the twelfth line of our quotation, would be synonymous with "Great Rakes." So there you have it, GREATOREX comes originally from 'Great Rakes' the name of a locality associated with lead mining, once an industry of great importance around Wirksworth.
Ariel view of Great Rocks Dale and location of Great Rocks Farm Ernie writes again: I have just done a search using http://www.multimap.com and produced the attached ariel photograph of Great Rocks. I have put the red circle around where I think the farm stood prior to demolition. Whether this is where the original stood, I couldn't say. The large quarry area on the left is the Buxton Lime Industries "Tunstead Quarry" - the newer "Old Moor" Quarry is the large area below the red circle - this was the cause of the demolition. The little hamlet top right is Tunstead - of John BRINDLEY fame. The line leading up from the red circle is the farm track I walked, turning sharp left and to the right of the photo (that is right but sounds confusing) onto the tarmac lane at Tunstead. The area shown on your photograph is just off the top left of the photo - but only just, the start of the line of trees are visible. To the left of them is the railway line and you can see where it disappears for a short distance into Great Rock Tunnel - just to the left of the red circle. If you want to have a go yourself - I searched using the post code SK17 which is Buxton. You then see Wormhill to the right. Tunstead is slightly to the left of Wormhill and you may then recognise the area on the ariel photo. Once found, the ariel photo is obtained by pressing the link just below the scale.
David Gregory writes on 30 July 2012 "Serendipity" means the faculty of making happy chance finds. John It's an old story on your website but the Great Rocks picture and text is a piece of serendipity for me. When she became too frail to continue living alone, my great-grandmother Alethia Wilde (nee Hodgkinson) was taken (in the early 1920s) from the Toll Cottage at Glutton Bridge to live with her son John Wilde and his wife "Sissie" at Great Rocks Farm, Wormhill. My mother recorded that her mother Martha Sarah Plant Slack (nee Wilde) spend several periods at Great Rocks Farm tending her mother in her final years. Alethia died in 1927, (her husband had died in 1902 aged only 57 years) and was buried at Chelmorton Church close to her childhood home of Shellow Farm, Chelmorton. It seems that the Wilde family were amongst the last, if not the last, to farm Great Rocks Farm before it's land fell victim to the encroaching lime quarries. The other piece of serendipity is that my surname is thought by some to have derived from a simplification of the surname Greatrex. Best Wishes - David Gregory

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