Updated 16 Oct 2006

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Josiah SLACK convict

Josiah SLACK 1802-1881 of Middleton had a comfortable life as a butcher and farmer, following the family business, married with 7 children, and had never been in prison. He was very stout, perhaps from a well-fed life.
At the age of 48 he stole a sheep and his life changed for ever.
In 1851 he was sentenced to 7 years transportation. He was sent to Derby prison, Millbank prison in London, then Verne prison in Portland Island. His behaviour was good, but he was so ill that he was then sent to a prison hospital hulk moored in Portsmouth harbour. In 1854 he was released, but there is no evidence he went back to his wife and 7 children. At 59 he worked as a railway labourer, 11 miles from home, at 69 he is found at Asbourne workhouse until he dies at 79. His children grow up and get married, his wife lives with her family until she dies at 71. Josiah declared himself a widower 7 months before his wife died. It seems he was not welcome back home in Middleton.
The moral, keep the right side of the Law
Thanks to Jean Durbin of Australia for bringing this story to the author's attention, and supplying a lot of the information.
Thanks to Stuart Flint of Derbyshire for sending me an astonishingly detailed
text pedigree for Josiah SLACK.

Anyone who can help the webmaster with any details about Josiah SLACK, or the people mentioned here, please contact:

Description of convict

Supplied by Jean Durbin of Australia:

Josiah SLACK of Middleton by Wirksworth butcher & farmer, age 48 stealing [1 ewe] sheep March Sessions Derby 1851 7 years
Prisons: Millbank good behaviour received 30 Jul 1852, 5 months in Millbank, Portland good behaviour, never been in prison before this offence. Removed to hulk "Stirling Castle" 5 May 1853, warrent dated 27 Apr 1853. Grey hair, grey eyes, very stout, married, 7 children, can read & write, 5' 11" tall.
Released on licence 25 Apr 1854.

Image published 1829 by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.

Image and text from Wikipedia.
In the Handbook of London in 1850 it was described as:

MILLBANK PRISON. A mass of brickwork equal to a fortress, on the left bank of the Thames, close to Vauxhall Bridge; erected on ground bought in 1799 of the Marquis of Salisbury, and established pursuant to 52 Geo. III., c.44, passed Aug 20th, 1812. It was designed by Jeremy Bentham, to whom the fee-simple of the ground was conveyed, and is said to have cost the enormous sum of half a million sterling. The external walls form an irregular octagon, and enclose upwards of sixteen acres of land. Its ground-plan resembles a wheel, the governor's house occupying a circle in the centre, from which radiate six piles of building, terminating externally in towers. The ground on which it stands is raised but little above the river, and was at one time considered unhealthy. It was first named "The Penitentiary," or "Penitentiary House for London and Middlesex," and was called "The Millbank Prison" pursuant to 6 & 7 of Victoria, c.26. It is the largest prison in London. Every male and female convict sentenced to transportation in Great Britain is sent to Millbank previous to the sentence being executed. Here they remain about three months under the close inspection of the three inspectors of the prison, at the end of which time the inspectors report to the Home Secretary, and recommend the place of transportation. The number of persons in Great Britain and Ireland condemned to transportation every year amounts to about 4000. So far the accommodation of the prison permits, the separate system is adopted. Admission to inspect - order from the Secretary for the Home Department, or the Inspector of Prisons

Life of Josiah SLACK

  • Born 15 Jun 1802 to Josiah and Mary of Middleton. Sister Elizabeth born 1801.
  • Baptised at Wirksworth 15 Sep 1802 (during one of the two days of Baptism Festival)
  • Married on 18 Aug 1824 to Martha BEARDSLEY at Duffield, Derbyshire.
  • Fathered 7 children by his wife Martha between 1826 and 1841.
  • Recorded in 1835 as a butcher with his father Josiah
  • Recorded as an Agricultural Labourer in the Census on 7 Jun 1841. His father living next door is recorded as a butcher.
  • Recorded in 1846 as a Farmer in Middleton
  • Was tried in the March Quarter Sessions in Derby and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing one sheep.
  • Was in Derby prison on 30 Mar 1851.
  • Was received in Millbank prison on 30 Jul 1852.
  • Was described as: "Grey hair, grey eyes, very stout, married, 7 children, can read & write, 5'11" tall.
  • Was received in Verne Prison, Portland about Jan 1853.
  • Was sent the "Stirling Castle" (at Gosport near Portsmouth), a prison hulk hospital for invalids,
    from 5 May 1853-25 Apr 1854, because he was "incapable of light labour or of any labour at all".
  • Was released on licence 25 Apr 1854 after 3 years and 1 month in prison.
  • Was a Railway Labourer in 1861 at Little Langstone, 6 miles SW of Middleton
  • Declared himself a widower in Census taken 2 Apr 1871 at Ashbourne Workhouse, although his wife Martha was buried on 3 Nov 1871 at Wirksworth
  • Was in the Ashbourne Union Workhouse, Church Banks (11 miles NW of Middleton) in 1871 and 1881
  • Died in Sep 1881 in Ashhbourne, probably still in the Workhouse

Josiah SLACK's Pedigree

    | | | | | | | | 1744 1740? 1759 1761 Daniel 1769 Elizabeth James 1779 Edith miner SLACK====v====RANES JEPSON====v====BUXTON 1828 | 1783 1800 | 1798 | | |------|----|--|---|-----| |----|-----|----|--|--|------|----|------|---------| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | 1770 1771 1774 1776 1781 1779 1781 1784 1786 1788 1789 1791 1795 1798 Daniel John Josiah Nancy Elizabeth Mary Sarah Ann James Joseph John Thomas Elizabeth Edith | | | | Josiah 1800 Mary butcher SLACK========v=========JEPSON 1851 | 1848 | |----|----| | | 1801 1802 Elizabeth Josiah | | | | | Duffield 1800 Josiah 1824 Martha butcher SLACK=====v=====BEARDSLEY 1881 | 1871 | |--------|-----|------|----|-----|------|-------| | | | | | | | 1826 1828 1830 1833 1835 1838 1841 William Anne James Elizabeth Henry Martha Josiah | | 1881 1878 | 1898 mar. mar. mar. 1862 1857 1868 Sarah Aaron John FEARN BUCKLEY BROOKS

Census entries

Entries extracted from Census 1841-1901 in Wirksworth website.

Md042a   Josiah         SLACK          35  m  Y  Ag Lab
Md042b   Martha         SLACK          35  f  Y
Md042c   William        SLACK          15  m  Y  Ag Lab
Md042d   Ann            SLACK          14  f  Y  Cotton Factory
Md042e   Elizabeth      SLACK          8   f  Y
Md042f   Henry          SLACK          6   m  Y
Md042g   Martha         SLACK          3   f  Y

#057---Town Street---[Middleton]---
Md164a   Martha         SLACK          Head      M  51  F                   Shottle
Md164b   Ann            SLACK          Dau       U  23  F   Cotton factory  Middleton   Empl at cotton factory
Md164c   Elizabeth      SLACK          Dau       U  18  F   At home         Middleton
Md164d   Henry          SLACK          Son       U  16  M   Errand boy      Middleton
Md164e   Martha         SLACK          Dau          13  F                   Middleton
Md164f   Josia          SLACK          Son          9   M                   Middleton

#55---Main Street 182---[Middleton]---
Md165a  Martha       SLACK        Head    M 61  F  Housekeeper           Shottle
Md165b  Elizabeth    SLACK        Dau     U 28  F  Invalid               Middleton
Md165c  Henry        SLACK        Son     U 26  M  Stone quarrier        Middleton
Md165d  Martha       SLACK        Dau     U 23  F  Cotton Mill-rub covr  Middleton     Rubber coverer
Md165e  Josiah       SLACK        Son     U 19  M  Stone quarrier        Middleton

#56---Main Street---[Middleton]---
Md167a   Henry        SLACK        Head    U 36  M  Quarryman           Middleton
Md167b   Martha       SLACK        Mother  M 71  F  Invalid             Shottle
Md167c   Elizabeth    SLACK        Sister  U 38  F  Household duties    Middleton      Employed in ...
Md167d   Josiah       SLACK        Brother U 29  M  Quarryman           Middleton

Census entries for children of Josiah and Martha
#61---Sheldons Yard 188---[Middleton]---(page 11,ED 10, RSD "Brassington",RG9/2524)---
Md171a  Aaron        BUCKLEY      Head    M 29  M  Lead miner            Middleton
Md171b  Anne         BUCKLEY      Wife    M 33  F  Lead miners wife      Middleton
Md171c  Elizabeth    BUCKLEY      Dau       1   F  Lead miners dau       Middleton
Md171d  Martha       BUCKLEY      Dau       8d  F  Lead miners dau       Middleton

#41---Main Street---[Middleton]---
Md152a   William      SLACK        Head    M 45  M  Quarryman             Belper Lane.End
Md152b   Sarah        SLACK        Wife    M 30  F                        Hognaston
Md152c   Alice        SLACK        Dau       8   F  Scholar               Middleton
Md152d   William      SLACK        Son       6   M  Scholar               Middleton
Md152e   Henry        SLACK        Son       4   M  Scholar               Middleton
Md152f   John         SLACK        Son       1   M                        Middleton

#15---Brooks Yard---[Middleton]---
Md126a   John         BROOKS       Head    M 34  M  Lead miner,landowner  Middleton
Md126b   Martha       BROOKS       Wife    M 33  F                        Middleton

#58---Main Street---[Middleton]---(RG11-3426-11-p10)
Md163a    Josiah        SLACK        Head    U 39  M  Quarryman limestone   Middleton
Md163b    Elizabeth     SLACK        Sister  U 47  F  No occupation         Middleton

#101---Main Street---(4 rooms)---[Middleton]---
Md209a    Josiah        SLACK        Head    S 50  M  -       Middleton   Blind but ? from childhood

Extracted from other Census entries

Derby Prison, St Werbugh Page 3 HD107/2143
Josiah     SLACK   Prisoner M 49 Butcher       Middleton

Thanks to Kath Marvill for the above Census entry

Little Longstone. Page 4 RG9/2539
#4---Monsal-dale---[Little Longstone]---
Joseph    MASSEY    Head   M 41 Railway Lab   Cheadle      CHS
Martha    MASSEY    Wife   M 53               Tideswell    DBY
Catharine MASSEY    Dau    U 17 Cotton weaver Monsaldale   DBY
Josiah    SLACK     Lodger M 60 Railway Lab   Middleton    DBY
William   SATCHWELL Lodger U 19 Railway Lab   Satterstreet WAR

Offcote & Underwood Liberty, Ashborne Page 15 RG10/3599
Josiah SLACK Inmate W 70 Formerly Ag Lab Middleton W[irksworth]

Offcote & Underwood    Ashborne Page 17 RG11/3423
Josiah SLACK Inmate W 78 Butcher Middleton by Wirksworth

Thanks to Dawn Scotting of NZ for above 3 Census entries


Entries extracted from Tradesmen in Wirksworth website

1821 SLACK Daniel (Market place) Butchers
1827 SLACK Daniel (Wirksworth) Butcher [F]
1835 SLACK John (Market place) Butchers
1835 SLACK Josiah (Middleton) Butchers [& son]
1846 SLACK Josiah (Middleton) Farmer
1846 SLACK William (Middleton) Farmer

Memorial Inscriptions

Entries extracted from MIs in Wirksworth website.



    ------------------------------------------------ From: Ruth Singh Subject: Re: Josiah Slack of Middleton- convict Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 14:59:36 +0100 To: [see more details pn pedigree at: SLACK-2]

    After doing research on my convict ancestor Josiah, the prisons he was sent to, the conditions in which he would have had to live, all I can say is life was tough years ago.

    From Derby goal (Vernon St) he was sent to Millbank prison the largest in London, it held up to 1,000 prisoners, all were sentenced to transportation and disipline was severe.

    His next prison was The Grove, Portland, Dorset, at the time he was there, Verne Citadel the military quarters were being built by prisoners from The Grove who quarried Portland stone to make the breakwater. The Grove Prison was noted for its cruel conditions in both the prison and the quarries. Strangely the Verne Citadel which Josiah would have helped build is now a prison for young offenders.

    Josiahs last incarceration is in the prison hospital ship Stirling Castle at Gosport, Portsmouth (after reading about conditions in The Grove I understand why he was put here), although these ships weren't much better.

    Whether Josiah stole the sheep or not I don't know and it is interesting that his father Josiah died in the year that this happened. Perhaps Josiah jnr wasn't a good business man, perhaps the shock of his son's arrest killed Josiah snr, who knows. I find it quite sad that my 3x greatgrandfather didn't go back to live with his family in Middleton, I suppose the shame was too great. I like to think that perhaps some of his family visited him in the workhouse.

    Again if anyone has any information about this story I would love to hear it, especially who he is supposed to have stolen the sheep from.

    Many, many thanks John for your brilliant web site. I hope my information will be of use.

    Yours sincerely, Sue Singh ----------------------------------------- From: Jean Durbin Subject: Josiah Slack convict Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2006 12:13:27 -0700 To: Dear John You might be interested in this bloke: Josiah SLACK of Middleton by Wirksworth butcher & farmer, age 48 stealing sheep March Sessions Derby 1851 7 years Prisons: Millbank good behaviour received 30 Jul 1852, 5 months in Millbank, Portland good behaviour, never been in prison before this offence. Removed to hulk "Stirling Castle" 5 May 1853, warrent dated 27 Apr 1853. Grey hair, grey eyes, very stout, married, 7 children, can read & write, 5' 11" tall. Released on licence 25 Apr 1854. Best wishes Jean ------------------------------------------------------ From: Dawn Scotting Subject: Re: [DBY] Josiah SLACK convict 1802-1854? Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2006 09:02:08 +1200 To: John, there's a Josiah SLACK aged 60 a married lodger born Middleton living at Monsal-dale, Little Longstone in the 1861 census. In 1871 he is a 70 yr old widower an inmate of the Workhouse in Offcote & Underwood. In 1881 he is still an inmate at the same Workhouse, this time he is listed as a butcher. On FreeBMD it looks like he might have died in the 3qtr of 1881 aged 79, registered at Ashbourne. Let me know if you'd like copies of the census. Cheers....Dawn ------------------------------------------------------


    Subject: Josiah Slack Convict
    Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 12:55:23 +0100 (BST)


    At the risk of appearing to hog your web site I offer the following pedigree of Josiah Slack Sheep Rustler ?

    Jonathan Slack born 1702 married Anne Brookes of Middleton (one time spelt Brucks Brughs..possibly of Germanic origin) On Anne's demise he married Elizabeth Wigley of Ible her Wigley kin of my mother's descendency Bonsall

    Children of Jonathan and Elizabeth nee Wigley
    1.Jonathan born 1741 obt aged 1 year
    2.Daniel Slack born 1743 married 1st wife Elizabeth Rains of Griffe Grange near Ible Farmer 2nd wife Sarah Wheeldon. This Rains family married into Doxey's of my allied kin re Middleton

    Children of Daniel and Elizabeth 1st wife
    1.John Slack born 1771 married Grace Spencer of Middleton 1796 On Johns demise Grace remarried Joseph Buckley of Middleton..John and Grace's daughter Elizabeth married Gilbert Hall..cousin to Caleb Hall of the Alley Middleton who married my 4XAunt Hannah Flint.. Gilbert and Elizabeth's son Ebenezer born 1820s became Managing Director of Martin Hall & Co silversmiths/Cutlers Shrewsbury Works Broad Street Sheffield .. In the 1830s he attended Cromford School endowed by Richard Arkwright 2nd A friend of Arkwright John Roberts of Sheffield owned a Silversmiths at the aforementioned site but had no son to pass on the business.. Arkwright and William Shore the Headmaster were given the brief to find a promising pupil to become Roberts Apprentice with a view to the lad possibly taking over the firm .. By the 1860s Hall did just that and married Roberts neice Sarah Wilkinson..living at Abbeydale Hall Dore Ebnezers brother Joseph hall married Mary Longden of Ible daughter of Job and Elizabeth Longden Farmers of Ible (next door farm to the Rains family of Slack connections) Joseph and Mary Hall nee Longden were in laws to my Gr Gr Uncle Samuel Joseph Sheldon who married Jane Longden sister of Mary Hall nee Longden Samuel Joseph Sheldon's sister Martha married Joseph Walker 1869 they my Grt Grandparents.. Martha being Joseph's 3rd wife, their only son John Walker my Grandfather born 1871 married Annie Cauldwell of Alderwasley..1891 (Joseph Walker's 1st wife Anne Wright married 1836 was my kin via my Grand fore bare Frost and Wheatcroft family...also related by my Collinson Molinus and Greenhough family
    2.Josiah Slack born 1774 married Mary Jepson 1800
    3.Nancy Slack born 1776
    4.Daniel Slack married Eleanor Collinson Her mother was a Wright of Wirksworth Moor of my family her Grandparentage re Wheatcrofts /Frosts of my kin..(William Wheatcroft born 1645 was my 7XGrandfather re my mother's family) Robert Frost my Grandfore bare (Flint's) also being Wrights Grand fore bare

    Children of Daniel and Sarah Slack nee Wheeldon 2nd wife
    William Slack born 1792 married Francis (also known as Fanny) Ferne of Bonsall Their daughter Hannah Slack married Daniel Spencer whose daugher Isabella Spencer married William Butler of Middleton.. William and Isabella along with my Grandparents John and Annie Walker, plus Halls/Brookes etc were founding Trustees of Mount Zion Methodist Church Middleton built by my Grandfather's family of Joseph Walker & Sons 1905/6..Building Contractors.. William Butler allied kin of my wifes family fore bare.. William and Fanny Slack were my wifes Grand fore bares..

    Children of Josiah and Mary Slack nee Jepson
    1.Elizabeth born 1801
    2.JOSIAH SLACK born 1802 married Martha Beardsley of Shottle Josiah a Farmer/Butcher. JOSIAH was transported to Australia for stealing one sheep..(I have been told by family legend that his face did not fit with the local gentry and that it was a fix..but then probably the family were so dismayed by his actions that this tale was told to cover up his error of judgement...) Hannah born 1793 obt 1796

    Children of Josiah and Martha Beardsley
    1.William born 1826 married Sarah Ferne from Hognaston
    2.Anne born 1827 married Aaron Buckley
    3.Elizabeth born 1833
    4.Henry born 1835
    5.James born 1830
    6.Martha born 1838 married John Brookes of Middleton (John my kin via Flint/Killers) Joshuah born 1842

    Children of Daniel and Eleanor Slack nee Collinson
    1.Daniel Slack born at Carsington 1797 married 1st wife unknown 2nd wife Mary Smith of Tissington Daniel a Farmer/Butcher of Wirksworth Moor living alongside my Flint Colledge Hodgekinson Webster kin Farmers / Brick Manufacturers / and Inn Keepers
    2.Edward Slack Farmer/Butcher born 1803 married Martha Ogden 1835 her father John a Butcher in Wirksworth Market Place where up to recent years Coates had their Butcher's business..My mothers 2nd cousin on Walkers married into Ogdens.. If of this family I know not..
    3.Francis Slack
    4.George Slack born 1812
    5.Hannah born 1817
    6.Sarah born 1820s
    7.Ellen Slack born 1805 married my 5XUncle Thomas Twigge Wheatcroft Butcher at Sheffield brother in law to my 4XGrandfather William Hawley.. This Wheatcroft family were both my kin via my fathers Hawley Killer Flint family (William Wheatcroft Mining Agent/Publican Matlock Bath married my 4XAunt Elizabeth Hawley.. Mary Hawley her sister married John Killer they my 3XGrandparents..Wheatcrofts also my Grand fore bares by my mothers Wheatcroft Wragg Annable Shaw Hoades Land Cauldwell Walker family.. (My 7XGrandfather William Wheatcroft born 1645 married Mary Wragg (spelt Ragg) he a Mining Agent possibly to Hurts/Lowes of Casterne/Alderwasley his brother Richard Agent to Gells of Hopton Hall)

    Children of Edward and Martha Slack nee Ogden
    1.Hannah 1838
    2.Eliza 1839
    3.Sarah 1843
    4.Martha 1845
    5.Eleanor 1841
    6.Edward Slack born 1847 married Agnes .............
    7.Francis Luke Slack born 1855 married Martha Hannah Caroline Shaw daughter of John Shaw Stone Merchant/Lime Burner / Malster, Colehills Quarries, Steeplegrange .. he nephew of my 5XGrandmother Anne Shaw who married Isaac Hoades..Their son Harry Frank Slack was also a Stone Merchant..

    Children of William and Fanny Slack
    1.Daniel Slack born 1817 Hay Dealer / Farmer Middleton married Sarah Brough of Wirksworth 1848 Their daughter Roseanne Slack married Samuel Axe of South View Middleton (my home 1940 -1950s renamed by my father Axeholme)
    2.John Slack born 1820 married Esther Needham of Brassington they my wifes 3XGrandparents re her Evans Slack family.. John and Esther's daughter Mary married Joseph Evans they my wife's 2XGrandparents whose sons William and Joseph married the same wife Sarah Anne Holmes.. William the 1st husband died after siring children Sarah Anne then married a Butler kin of William Butler aforementioned in this write up then on his demise she married Joseph Evans, William's brother who was father to my wifes Grandfather Herbert Evans..Herbert married Sarah Jane Hall of Brassington / Middleton..Mary Slacks sister Esther married into the Birley family of my distant kin (Sydney Flint of my kin married Elizabeth Birley of this same family) Quarry Owners and Monumental Masons Middleton and Heage..
    3.Hannah Slack married Daniel Spencer Their daughter Grace Spencer married George Else son of James Else of The Dale Wirksworth.. George and Grace's son George Else married my Aunt Millicent Flint (sister to Harry Flint my father ) she born 1889 living in married life at Bolsover where Uncle George Else was a Miner at Bolsover Colliery.. My Uncle Arthur Botham of Gorsey Bank Wirksworth married my Aunt Millicents sister Amelia Leah Flint she born 1887 Uncle Arthur a Pit Deputy at Clipstone Colliery and at Bolsover Colliery up to retirement

    And so the list goes on up to the present day..other Slack / Flint family connections along the way

    Regards Stuart G Flint

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