Updated 6 Dec 2007

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Elizabeth Webster's diary

First of 249 pages of the diary.
    Martin Mosley writes:
    Elizabeth Webster was my 3x G Grandmother, born in 1798 in Wirksworth, Derbyshire. She was an ordinary working class mother and grandmother who kept a remarkable memoir of her life. This unique document gives an insight into living conditions and the influences on everyday life. Through the diary we are able to learn much about her family, the local community and the way of life for agricultural workers in the 19th century.

    Elizabeth was the oldest of eleven children born to James Webster and Sarah Adams. James was employed by squire Hurst at the Alderwasley Iron Works, and we learn from the diary that he was 'of weak constitution and of a consumptive family'. Her father had been an agricultural labourer until his marriage, and Elizabeth believed his move to the iron works had contributed to the deterioration in his health. She also considered that the men who worked at the iron works spent too much time in the 'Alehouse' and paid insufficient attention to their homes and families.

    Elizabeth was a devout christian and from a young age, distanced herself from such behaviour. As a young girl she was close to her uncle Samuel Adams. Samuel was only ten years older than Elizabeth and was a Calvonist, attending the old meeting house at Ridgeway, Heage. He introduced Elizabeth to the Sunday School at the meeting house, where she was taught by Mr Hutton, a teacher from Belper.

    For more see:
    MOSLEY & other families Geneology pages
    Sketch of family tree
    Emails on the subject

The Diary

                        1773              1778
                        James             Sarah
                        1831        |     
                      |          |     |      |      |
                      1798       1799  1801   1803   1805
                      Elizabeth  Mary  James  James  Joseph
                      1886             1802   Adams
                      1798              1799
                      Elizabeth 1823    Samuel
                      1886        |
 |          |     |    |       |     |      |      |     |      |        |
1824       1825  1827 1829    1830  1832   1833   1835  1839   1841     1844
Elizabeth  John  Ann  Thomas  Mary  Isaac  Henry  Lucy  Sarah  William  Harriet

Emails on the subject

    Martin Mosley writes:
    Thank you for agreeing to look at the memoir and diary kept by my 3xG Grandmother, Elizabeth Webster (copied by her daughter, Lucy), who was born in Wirksworth in 1798. I have been the 'guardian' of this document since I was about 13, and without doubt it was reading how Elizabeth had lived her life that influenced my own interest in the history of my ancestors and the communities in which they lived. The diary had been passed from my grandfather to my mother, who in an inspired moment recognised that it would have meaning to me even at such a young age.

    All my subsequent research stems from this document, and Elizabeth's family were the first I began to trace. Imagine my surprise (and luck) to find that Elizabeth came from Wirksworth, and my early Internet searches which revealed your magnificent site. Within minutes I was finding Elizabeth, her husband, parents and other family members and everything began to fall into place. The combination of hard facts from your trancriptions of parish records, and the details provided by the diary enabled me to feel a part of these people's lives. I was also fortunate, through my search for details of Elizabeth's husband, Samuel Walker Barnes, to 'bump into' Stuart Hill who had done (and continues to do) so much to research this family, all the time ignorant of the existance of the diary which contained so many clues. Stuart has continued to inspire my research, and I'm pleased to be able to offer something in return for a change.

    Despite the distractions of everyday life, I have continued to research my family histories, and to ask questions about where and how they lived, how they worked, what they ate and drank, how they dressed etc. In short I have become addicted to the search for my roots. I see it as a means of bringing my ancestors to life and of leaving a unique legacy for my children.

    In times past, I may have done what Elizabeth did, and written everything into note books. My parallel interest in modern communication though, means that I have spent a great deal of time developing a website which enables me to present my story to anyone who may be interested. The site is in it's very early stages, and will eventually cover all the aspects referred to above. I guess it will turn out to be a lifetimes work, and therefore not too different from the memoirs of Elizabeth. I only hope that in 150 years time, my descendants will be as fascinated by what I presented as I have been by the work of Elizabeth.

    All this from a document maintained by my GGG Grandmother.

    I hope that you and your readers find the diary as inspiring as I have done, and look forward to the surprising contacts it may yet provide.

    With very best regards,

Deciphered, transcribed, compiled, indexed, formatted and copyright © 2007, . All Rights Reserved.