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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

George Hodgkinson of Overton Hall

Overton Hall is a country house just outside Ashover in Derbyshire. It was described as “a pleasant old residence, embosomed in ancient trees and lofty hills” in the 1868 Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland. It was originally built in 1323, when it was the seat of William le Hunte, whose family owned “considerable property” in Overton.



William's descendant Thomas Hunt sold it to Richard Hodgkinson of Northedge Hall in 1556, and the house was remodelled in the 1690s. (It was later owned by the naturalist and botanist Joseph Banks (1743–1820) who took part in Captain James Cook’s voyage of 1768–1771 and became President of the Royal Society. There is a family connection to Joseph Banks, which I will explain in a separate blog post for George’s son William.)


By Joshua Reynolds - http://www.csupomona.edu/~larryblakely/whoname/who_banks.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8312957



Ari’s 11x great-grandfather, George Hodgkinson, was the great-great-grandson of Richard Hodgkinson, and he bought Overton Hall in about 1641 from William Woolley of Riber, bringing it back into the family.


George was born in 1615 or 1616 and lived until 16 July 1692. He became wealthy from lead smelting. Lead had been mined at Overton since the seventeenth century. The Gregory mine was one of the most productive in England, and hence extremely profitable. At one time it provided employment for 300 people. The mine closed in 1803. See this site for more information and even a video of the mine: https://undergroundassignments.com/overton-mine-a-mine-and-its-miners/



In the journal Mining History (the Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society), an article published in 1996 by S. R. Band describes “An Ashover lead mining tithe dispute of the seventeenth century”.[1]


Miners resented paying tax on lead ore to the local rector, and this led to challenges in Courts of Law, which are recorded in depositions held at the National Archives at Kew. (Originally the miners or mine owners paying the tithe had been rewarded by prayers being said for them in the church.)


This particular case was heard at Derby in 1657. One of the witnesses was George Hodgkinson, “a yeoman aged 40 from Northedge, Ashover” (p. 54). He deposed that “by the custom in Wirksworth a miner was at liberty to search for lead ore ‘In the lands and grounds … according to the said Custome with out and against the licence and good will of the proprietor and owner of the soyle there’. But in Ashover “the miners were obliged ‘to make their Compositions First with the right owner of the Freehold’ and if not could not ‘legally clayme any priviledge to break the soyle of any freeholder therein’” (p. 54).


The article goes on to discuss the veins of lead around Overton Hall. “William Woolley of Riber had been the owner of the Overton estate since the early years of the seventeenth century. … Woolley refused to pay the tithe on the 1000 dishes (c28 tons) of ore mined … at Overton between March 1638 and April 1639” (p. 56).


“Mining continued in the Overton area under the guidance of George Hodgkinson (deponant in this case) who purchased the estate from Woolley towards the end of the 1650s and was continued by his son William and his heirs well into the next century when ultimately the major Overton vein was discovered and worked in conjunction with Gregory Mine” (p. 56).


The rector, Immanuel Bourne, who believed that the clergy were entitled to the tithes as a divine right, lost his case.


A month before George died, he wrote a will, leaving land and property at Darley Abbey to his son Obadiah and the rest of his estate in Derbyshire to his son William.



His daughter Anne married Richard Burbidge of Mansfield and became Ari’s 10x great-grandmother. She inherited £800 from her father. The will also mentions a cousin, William Hodgkinson of Derby, who was to receive £50.


On George’s death, the clerk of the church, whose name was Leonard Wheatcroft, wrote this elegy:


“He was a man that was a poor man’s friend

Oh now he’s gone, who will them money lend?

Kind to the poore, a helper of the rich,

I was one once – he help’d me out o’ th’ ditch.” [3]


George Hodgkinson is one of Ari’s ancestors who is mentioned in a book called Ince’s Pedigrees, compiled by a solicitor called Thomas Ince who lived in Wirksworth in the 1800s. He obtained the information from wills, deeds, other legal documents as well as tombstones and parish registers and information given to him by relatives and descendants. This work allowed me to trace back from Roger Shore and Anne Burbidge (Ari’s 9x great-grandparents) to George Hodgkinson. See http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/INC-110.htm#111b


Ari, this is how you are related to George:



[1] Band, S. R. 1996. “An Ashover lead mining tithe dispute of the seventeenth century”. Mining History. 13 (1). pp. 52–57. [2] Hodgkinson, George. 1692. Will. Overton Hall, Ashover, Derbyshire, England. Staffordshire, Dioceses Of Lichfield And Coventry Wills And Probate 1521-1860.

[3] https://archive.org/stream/journalofderbysh17derb/journalofderbysh17derb_djvu.txt

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