Updated 6 Dec 2000

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Drayton Valley Article

The Request

I read the article about you in the RootsWeb Missing Links Newsletter, and I must say I am very impressed with the work you have done, and I would like to write an article about you for our newsletter if you would not mind. Now, I am a little new to this, so I am not too sure where to start, but I thought asking your permission and a few questions would be the best thing to do. The newsletter is for the Drayton Valley Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society in Canada, and what I was hoping to do was to write an article about the spirit of volunteering, and the wonderful work you have done, as well as showing everyone where your site is located.

The Resulting Article

The Wirksworth Amasser

In genealogy, there seems to be virtually nothing that can be accomplished without the work of volunteers, and for these people, we are very grateful. But every so often, there comes a time when you come across, or read about, an individual who seems to go above and beyond the natural wanting to help, and comes up with something incredible.

I subscribe to an online newsletter called, MISSING LINKS: RootsWeb's Genealogy Journal, and in Volume 4, No. 51, there was an article that I was absolutely floored by. A gentleman by the name of John Palmer has successfully transcribed census records, parish records, local histories and some pedigree books, dating from 1600-1900.

It all started on a trip to the Lichfield Cathedral in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England, looking for his mother’s family. When getting to the cathedral, he discovered that the Bishop’s transcripts he asked to see, were on a roll of 350 year old parchment, 1 foot wide and four feet long. There were no copies of the information, so he said that if the parish made copies, he would transcribe it so that the originals stayed intact.

And that is where it all began, in his small bungalow near Poole in Dorset, England, 200 miles away from Wirksworth. He then did the parish registers from 1608-1837, Memorial Inscriptions1555-1991, Churchwarden's Accounts, which he found most interesting, that had included entries such as the price of 4 pence to everybody who brought in a hedgehog, considered to be one of a range of vermin. There is also the 1841 census records, trade directories, and anything that he could find on Wirksworth, and the results of which is free for the viewing online at (http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/).

The work consists of information on more than 30,000 people from this area, which includes the Wirksworth town, and the hamlets of Middleton, Cromford, Alderwasley, Ashleyhay, Idridghay, Hopton, Biggin, Callow and Ible. There are over 433,000 indexed records, and 18 databases. It is incredible that this amount of work, and time as well as it has been five years so far, was all done by one man, but the results must be very fulfilling, as his Web Site has had 23,896 hits in 1999 alone.

The town of Wirksworth, once discovering what John had been compiling, was behind him 100%, and was very pleased on how much of the town’s history he was able to preserve for generations to come.

As for the future, he hopes to add photos of the town, and a book on local pedigrees, which is apparently in great detail, and he expects will take upwards of a year to transcribe.

To check out the site for yourself, and perhaps to do some searching, go to (http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/) and follow the links to start off on your path to discovery. Or just sign his guest book, in appreciation of all the hard work that has gone into this incredible work.

If all of our places of interest would be able to put something together of this magnitude, imagine how much easier it would all be for everyone. I think that John deserves a lot of kind words for accomplishing something so exceptionally unselfish, that I think can be a model for us all.