William Boothby, coal higler

Ari’s 5x great-grandfather William Boothby was born in 1809 in Milford, Belper, Derbyshire.

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The River Derwent from Milford Bridge, looking downstream and south. The river passes over two V-shaped weirs.


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The well dressing at Milford from 2017


William’s parents were Samuel Boothby and Elizabeth Saunders (both cotton framework knitters), and William was baptised on 2 July 1809 at St Alkmund in Duffield.

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Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812, Ancestry.co.uk


The next record for William is his marriage to Eliza Kent on 20 April 1841, also at that church. The marriage certificate describes him as of full age, a Bachelor, and a Labourer. His residence at the time of marriage is Little Eaton. He did not sign his name.

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Little Eaton Gangway, a horse-drawn plateway which operated from 1795–1908, carrying material from quarries to the Derby Canal.


William and Eliza were at Holbrook Moor by the time of the census in 1841, with a one-month-old baby, Anne. Their house was owned by Jedediah Strutt, and can be seen marked as no. 59 on a tithe map of the estate, dated 18 Jan 1840 (see Tithe Apportionments, 1836–1929. TheGenealogist.co.uk 2019).

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By 1851, sons Samuel, William and John had been born, and a second daughter, Ellen. They were still at Holbrook Moor, and William was a farm labourer. Sadly, baby William had died at only eight months old. He was buried at St Michael’s Church in Holbrook.

Eliza died in 1859, leaving William with one more child – a second William – born in 1856. The 1861 census shows him as a widower with five children at home: Ann (19), whose job is House Work, Samuel (17), Labourer Agricultural, Ellen (14), and William (4), at school. William and his son John (12) are both shown as coal higlers.

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1861 census, Ancestry.co.uk


This is one of those old occupations that can be found in the census, and meant someone who sold coal to householders, probably travelling with a horse and cart.

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Higler’s cart (from A new book of horses and carriages: The Rhedarium). Artist Thomas Rowlandson, 1784.

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Derby Mercury 28 April 1780, Findmypast.co.uk


William died in Holbrook on 17 July 1863. The cause of death was “Disease of the Heart, Debility”, and someone called Thomas Mee was in attendance. He was buried at Holbrook three days later.

Ari, this is how you are related to William:

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#LittleEaton #Milford #Boothby #Derbyshire #Saunders #Higler #Holbrook #Strutt #Kent #Duffield #HolbrookMoor #Belper

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