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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

John Morris, watchman

One of Ari’s 5x great-grandfathers was John Morris, born in 1817 in Draycott, Derbyshire. His baptism took place on 3 August 1817 at the church in Wilne, which we visited in April 2018.


His parents were James Morris – a cotton spinner – and Alice Castledine. John was their third child.

John lost two baby sisters when he was young – Ann, who died at a few days old in 1828, and Alice, who died nearly two in 1829. Then the following year, John’s mother Alice died at 37.

In the 1841 census we can see John with his father and stepmother:

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1841 census,

He is living at Hazlewood Place in Milford and working as a cotton spinner.

On 14 April 1843, John married another cotton spinner, Ann Beresford. The wedding took place in Pentrich, site of the Pentrich Revolution in 1817.


By the time of the next census, John and Ann have two boys, George and William, and are living at No. 8 Hopping Hill in Milford.

John was not yet working as a watchman, but there was a connection. In August 1859, this appeared in the newspaper:

john morris 1859.png

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal,

In 1861 the family are at No. 5 West Terrace, and in 1871 they have moved to Derby and are at 69 Russell St, Litchurch.

John is now 53 and working as a watchman. Their son William, daughter-in-law Caroline, and one-year-old grandson John Henry are living with them.

The company Eastwood, Swingler & Co. produced ironwork for railways. “The vast capabilities of this establishment may be easily recognised by the fact that Messrs Eastwood Swingler and Co have carried out contracts for roofing the Customs Houses at Port Louis, Mauritius; built bridges in Trinidad, Dominica and St Vincent, West Indies; the large market hall in Singapore; bridges for the Peruvian and Australian Governments, including the beautiful bridge over Morphett Street in Adelaide; the mole at Valparaiso. … Their work can be seen on the Japanese and Swedish Railways, in St Petersburg, Romania, Turkey, Chile, Central and South America, in the Argentine Republic, and, in addition, on all the railways in India, including the new station at Kurrachee – one contract alone for the Indian Government consisting of an order of 235 bridges of various spans for the Kandahar Reserve Railway.” (See,_Swingler_and_Co.)

John joined the firm in 1863, so he may have taken part in this dinner:

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Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 13 March 1863,

In 1878, this happened:

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Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal,

In 1876 Ann died, and John married Grace Brooks. In the 1881 census they were living at No. 34 Graham Street in Litchurch. In 1891 John was still working at the age of 73, as a porter at the ironworks, now living at 54 Russell St.

He died on 3 September 1894 at 6 Harrington St, Derby, of “cerebral softening”. He was described as a foundry watchman.

john morris death DM 189 sep 1894

Derby Mercury, 19 September 1894,

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England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995,

I have a copy of his will:

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Ari, this is how you are related to John:

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