BOLSOVER, a market-town, township, constablery, and parish 6½ m. S. by E. from Chesterfield, and 155 m. N. by W. from London, in the hundred of Scarsdale, and archdeaconry of Derby. The parish consists of the township of Glapwell and the villages or places of Oxcroft, Shuttlewood, Stanfrey, and Walley. [Current spellings are Stanfree and Whaley.] The township of Bolsover contained in 1821, 228 houses, 228 families, 604 males, 641 females or 1245 inhabitants. In 1801, 1091, and in 1811, 1043 inhabitants. Of the 228 families, 128 are chiefly employed in agriculture, 70 in trade or handicraft, and 30 in professional pursuits, &c.
The town was formerly celebrated for its manufacture of steel buckles and spurs... Tobacco pipes is now the only manufacture carried on here... The market-day was formerly held on Friday, but is now fallen into disuse. There is a fair held on Easter Monday. The town is under the government of a constable and headborough... The Duke of Portland is lord of the manor, and holds court at the Swan Inn on the Friday, every three weeks, besides two great courts within the year...
(from Glover's History and Gazetteer of the County of Derby, 1829)
Description and Travel
Archives and libraries
Parish Registers - see Church Records
War Memorials - see Military Records
Description and Travel
The Town and Parish
Glover (see above quotation) was not to foresee the growth of Bolsover as a coal-mining town from the 1880s onward. For just one hundred years it has seen itself as such. Before that, mining had been carried out in the area for centuries, but it had always been subsidiary to farming. In the mid-nineteenth century Bolsover was a small, rather decayed market town, providing those services which were needed at a very local level. For anything important, people would travel seven or eight miles to either Mansfield or Chesterfield. It probably never served many more parishes than those immediately adjacent to it - Clowne, Elmton, Scarcliffe, Sutton-cum-Duckmanton.
Sitting prominently on the edge of the Magnesian Limestone Ridge, Bolsover lies in Derbyshire although it must often have felt more part of Nottinghamshire, not least during the Civil War when it was held for the King by the Earl (later Duke) of Newcastle, his Commander for the Northern and Midland Counties. Looking out westwards over Chesterfield to the Peakland Hills of largely Parliamentarian Derbyshire, its Castle was a major military base until captured by the Roundheads in August 1644. Newcastle had spent lavishly on re-building it in the earlier years of the century and had staged the most sumptuous entertainments there for King Charles I.
Pride goes before a fall however and the Castle declined from then on. Newcastle's heirs as lords of the manor, Earls of Oxford and Dukes of Portland, retired to their comforts at Welbeck a few miles away. (As Welbeck is in Nottinghamshire, many archives relating to Bolsover have found their way into Nottinghamshire Archives.) Bolsover's more recent pride, its pits and Coalite plant have also fallen, which left the town back on its heels towards the end of the twentieth century. More recently the creation of business parks on the old pit sites has helped to provide employment and the Council has made environmental improvements to parts of the town, all with the aim of making Bolsover once again a thriving community.
The parish of Bolsover is fairly large, pushing out long fingers of land to the north and east to include the hamlets of Oxcroft and Whaley respectively. It has a detached portion, Glapwell, to the south on the other side of Scarcliffe parish. On the plateau east of the ridge is good rich soil for arable farming, though at 500 feet above sea level the crops come rather late. Down the scarp slope is the old common waste of Shuttlewood, the subject of many a mediaeval dispute, as its timbers were in demand not only for building but also to make charcoal for smelting the iron which was mined just across the valley of the little River Doe Lea.
Whaley Thorns, where a chapel of ease to Bolsover was founded in 1879, became a separate ecclesiastical parish (St Luke's) in 1924. It is now part of the civil parish of Scarcliffe.
The Castle stands on a prominent bluff of the ridge dominating the low-lying valley to the west. The original castle was built in Norman times by William Peverel the Elder. In 1612 it was bought by Sir Charles Cavendish who started to build a new castle on the site. His son the 1st Duke of Newcastle inherited it in 1617 and made substantial progress in the building. However it was never completed. It was garrisoned by the Royalists in the Civil Way, in which the Duke was Commander for the Midlands and North of England, but they were driven out by a Parliamentary force under Sir Thomas Fairfax in the last stages before the Siege of Newark. The Duke also completed the Riding House and the Terrace Range where he lavishly entertained KIng Charles I in 1634. The Bolsover Castle Building Account 1613 by Knoop and Jones, pub. Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London 1936, is a valuable source of Bolsover surnames which are collated in Bolsover Surnames.
The Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public.
Bolsover is within easy reach of the M1 motorway; indeed the castle on its bluff presents a fine view from it. However some careful mapreading is needed for the last two or three miles whether from Junction 29 or Junction 30.
There is a bus service from Chesterfield. The railways mentioned in the quotation at the head of this page have closed.
Archives and libraries
Decemb 21 1638. A list of all the able men for Warre in the County of Derby from 16 to 60 yeares of age amounting to 17308. Public Record Office. Most parishes seem to be paired, and the one you want is Bolsover and Clowne (PRO SP 16 405). The archive is a bare list of names; there are no other details. (S)
Bolsover Apprenticeship Indentures 1784-1814 Derbyshire Record Office. Names include those of Churchwardens, Overseers of the Poor and masters as well as of the apprentices themselves. DRO D190A/PO/11/1-9. (S)
The Calendar (Index) of the Portland Papers at Nottinghamshire Archives. This itself contains a number of personal names, usually those of parties to deeds, together with summaries of the contents. Section DDP 50 refers to Bolsover and within this, DDP 50/94 to Oxcroft. (S)
Bolsover and Clowne Enclosure Act 1779 Derbyshire Record Office. Film XM 7/2. A large-scale map shows each individual piece of enclosed land marked with the name of the occupier. Lists around the borders of the map give the names of all the occupiers and the acreages and rents of their holdings. Although the map is a combined one for the two parishes, there are separate lists for Bolsover and Clowne. (S)
Lay subsidies are essentially tax lists:
- 1599 Subsidy for the Hundred of Scarsdale, trans. W A Carrington in JDANHS XXIV p.18; This lists 18 names for Bolsover and seven for Tibshelf and Oxcroft and states the assessment, whether it is in goods or in land, and the tax due. (S)
- 1641 Scarsdale Hundred Lay Subsidy 1641-2. Public Record Office. There are separate lists for Bolsover and Clowne combined, Tibshelf and Oxcroft combined and Glapwell. (PRO E179 245/5). (S)
Miscellaneous references to individual residents of Bolsover:
- 1592 Nicholas BUTLER is shown as a recusant in the year 35 Eliz. JDANHS VII p 31. (S)
- 1602 Roger BROOKE is listed as vicar of Bolsover in 1602-3 in JDANHS VI p 169. (S)
- 1633 Volentine (sic) JOHNSON is an addition to the list of Vills and Freeholders of Derbyshire 1633, following an erasure of the name Richardus BUCKLAND, under Tibshelf (trans. S O Addy in JDANHS VI p 53). The presence of Valentine Johnson here suggests that the list is for Tibshelf and Oxcroft (not just Tibshelf). Robertus WOOLHOUSE, armiger, is listed under Glapwell in the same document. There is no list for Bolsover.
- 1666 (-1667) Accounts and notes concerning repairs effected at Bolsover Castle by Joseph Jackson. University of Nottingham Library, Portland Collection Pw1 624. (S)
- 1693 Sarah FORD, spinster, of Oscroft in the parish of Bolsover is mentioned as having been accused of an unspecified felony. Pocket Almanacks at Renishaw by Sir George Sitwell in JDANHS XII p 203. (S)
- 1740 Release from Cornelius Farr to the Earl of Oxford of an estate in Bolsover. Univ Nottm Lib, Portland London Papers PlDd 6. (S)
Muster Rolls. There are several national and county lists, including:
- 1585 JDANHS XVII p 6. Three men are listed for Bolsover and Clowne and two for Tibshelf and Oxcroft. (S)
- 1587 for the Spanish Invasion (ibid p 1) lists only three names for Bolsover and two for Tibshelf and Oxcroft. (S)
- See also Able Men for Warre above.
- 1676 Not strictly a rental but a Bill of all the Resiants [of Bolsover Manor] in Clowne. Notts Archives DDP 50/18. (S)
- 1709 Rental of Mr Bathurst Estate: Bolsover and Woodhouse Notts Archives DD.3P 10/22. (S)
- 1731 Rental for Bolsover, tenants of the Duke of Portland. Notts Archives DD.3P 10/14. (S)
- 1739 The Rt Hon the Earl of Oxford's Rents at Bolsover and Oxcroft Collected the 26 Day of September 1739 by Mr Hobart being the half year... Notts Archives DD.3P 10/15. (S)
- 1774 Rental for Oxcroft dated as c1774. Notts Archives DD.3P 13/14. (S)
- 1781 Bolsover Rental c1781. This is a very comprehensive list with separate sections for Bolsover, Coppice and Oxcroft. There are 44 tenants; each plot of land is listed and so each name may occur many times. Notts Archives DD.3P 6/17. (S)
- 1829 Rental for Oxcroft. This is from the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth L/114/109. (S)
William Senior's maps of Oxcroft and Bolsover:
- 1611 William Senior's map and survey of Oxcroft for the Duke of Devonshire. The survey is mostly missing but the surviving fragment includes Henrie Barker and Thomas Hodgkinson who do not appear on the map. The remaining names are from the map which is a superb document, aesthetically and historically. Each croft and close is given its name and the name of the occupier. Colour is used to great effect to denote each copyholder's land. Senior drew a further map of Oxcroft in 1630 after its transfer to the Duke of Newcastle, but no personal names were included. Both the map and survey have been examined at Chatsworth with the most helpful attendance of Assistant Archivist, Tom Askey. (S)
- 1630/7 William Senior's map of Boulsover in the countie of Darbie... belonging to the right honorable William Earle of Newcastle: Surveid by Wm Senior professor of the mathematiques in the years 1630 & 1637. Copies are at the DRO (20342) and in the University of Nottingham Library. The original is thought to be held at Welbeck. Unlike the previous reference, most of the closes are shown with field names only, not the name of the occupier. A few houses, mainly at the edges of the manor itself but still within the parish, are labelled with the name of the occupier. (S)
Bolsover Settlement Examinations 1748-1838 DRO - D190A/PO3/1-71. They are normally issued in bundles of ten and the call numbers are in date order. The following is a guide to assist calling up individual papers: No.1 1748, 11 1785, 21 1795, 31 1805, 41 1809, 51 1814, 61 1828, 71 1838. (S)
Local Studies information is held at Bolsover Library, Church Street, Bolsover S44 6HB. Tel: 01246 823179. Census returns on microfilm are at Chesterfield Library.
To ensure efficient updating of information, details of Record offices are shown in one place only on GENUKI. This list therefore consists mainly of links to the Derbyshire - Archives and Libraries page.
Derbyshire Record Office. Matlock.
The Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth, Bakewell.
Lichfield Joint Record Office
Nottinghamshire Archives Nottingham
Family Records Centre
The Family Records Centre closed in 2008. Most of its archives were transferred to The National Archives at Kew (see next item). However the original Birth, Marriage and Death indexes are no longer available for public inspection.
The Public Record Office has now been renamed as The National Archives and is located at Kew, Surrey,
Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Hallward Library, University of Nottingham.
Local Studies Libraries
There is a well-provided local studies section in Bolsover Library which holds some material not found elsewhere:
The other Derbyshire Libraries of most relevance to Bolsover are:
Edwards, David G (ed.), Derbyshire Hearth Tax Assessments 1662-70, Derbyshire Record Society, 1982.
Two lists are relevant, one for Bolsover and a combined list for Tibshelf and Oxcroft, in which the last eight names can be identified as Oxcroft residents. (S)
- Fidler, Peter, True Brit: The Adventures of Peter Fidler of Bolsover, Country Books of Longstone, 2001. ISBN 1-898941-48-3.
- Haigh, Bernard, Bolsover Remembered, priv pub 1986
- Haigh, Bernard, More Bolsover Rememberedpriv pub 1987
History of the parish and surrounding villages mostly from photographs and the memories of elderly inhabitants in the 1980s
- Knoop and Jones, Bolsover Castle Building Account 1613 Quatuor Coronati Lodge, London 1936.
Usually no forenames. A few give the occupation if it is more skilled than labouring. (S)
- Spathaky, Mike, Bolsover Surnames - an index to archive sources 1997, Cree Family History Society
A combined index of over 4000 individuals named in archives and books marked (S) in this page. Now out of print but the web version available as part of this GENUKI: Bolsover set of web pages.
Wheatcroft, L, Autobiography of Leonard Wheatcroft in A Seventeenth Century Scarsdale Miscellany, pub. Derbyshire Record Society 1993, ISBN 0 946324 16 6.
Wheatcroft lived at Bolsover for four years from 1664 to 1668. (S)
Yeatman, Pym, The Diary of Benjamin Granger of Bolsover in JDANHS IX 1887.
Granger was a leading citizen of Bolsover and kept brief notes of various events in the town from 1688 to 1708. The location of the original is not known. From the transcription it appears that Granger compiled it almost at random from notes on separate scraps of paper - or perhaps from notes interspersed in some other documents such as accounts. Certainly the entries are not in chronological order. The transcription also includes entries made by Henry Roades from 1741 to 1748. What is useful to us is that over 140 surnames are included, even though many entries simply record the annual appointment of parish officers such as churchwardens, constables and collectors of various "assessments". (S)
- Edwards, David G (ed.), Derbyshire Hearth Tax Assessments 1662-70, Derbyshire Record Society, 1982.
The Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (JDANHS).
The Journal is now published by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society and has included articles of specific relevance to Bolsover from time to time apart from those cited on this web page. It is available in most main local studies libraries in Derbyshire and at the University of Nottingham Library.
- The Journal of the Derbyshire Family History Society.
- The Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (JDANHS).
St Mary's parish church
This is the main graveyard in Bolsover that is of genealogical interest. The monumental inscriptions were recorded by Derbyshire Family History Society in September 1997.
There are several active and some disused chapels which may have MIs awaiting recording. There are a few gravestones in the lawn in front of the medical centre(!) as this is the site of the earliest non-conformist chapel in Bolsover.
Bolsover is in Chesterfield Registration District. It was at one time the centre of the sub-district of Bolsover.
Census information is available on-line for all censuses from 1841 to 1901 and a few counties for 1911, although (apart from 1881) payment is generally required in order to see the full details of the Enumerators' Returns. For general information on the Census for England and Wales see the GENUKI England and Wales Census web page.
Census returns for all years from 1841 to 1901 may be seen on microfilm at Bolsover Library and at Local Studies Libraries in Matlock, Chesterfield and Derby.. Availability of the 1911 Census is unknown at present. There are name indexes to Derbyshire for 1851, 1861 and 1891.
The following census indexes for Bolsover are available:
- 1851: The 1851 Census Index Books, Volume 8.3: Bolsover & Dronfield Sub-Districts of Chesterfield, Derbyshire FHS.
- 1871: Manuscript surname index by Joan Smedley now incorporated with her kind permission into Bolsover Surnames. (S)
- 1881: Surname Index in the Derbyshire section of the fiche produced by the Joint LDS-FFHS 1881 census project. Now also on CD and at the Church of Latter Day Saints web site Family Search.
St Mary and St Laurence (Church of England)
The parish church stands between the end of Church Street and the corner of High Street and Horncastle Road OS Grid Ref SK474702. It has a 13th Century tower supporting a broach spire.
Bolsover Church is a plain Norman structure, with a tower terminated by a low spire dedicated to St Mary... There was a church at Bolsover in the reign of Henry II. It was then given by William Peverel, of Nottingham, to the Abbey of Darley. The present patron is the Duke of Portland, and the incumbent is the Rev. William Tinsley. (Glover 1829.)
- Presbyterian/Independent Meeting House
Now converted to use as a private house, standing on High Street at OS Grid Ref. SK 47472705.
This was built in 1662 of local hand-made bricks and is said to be one of the oldest non-conformist chapel buildings in Derbsyshire. After long service as a Presbyterian Meeting House, it was then shut up for many years, to be re-opened as an Independent Meeting House in 1817. A medical centre stands in the grounds and its front lawn displays a few gravestones.
John James writes of the Presbyterian Meeting House:
The church was also used as an additional classroom at the C of E School. I know because I was taught in there. It must have been 1959. We used to walk there and back. I don't remember any teacher telling us the signifcance of the building and it was only about ten years ago that I discovered the importance of the place and now feel quite privileged to have been taught there.
Trinity Methodist Church
Stands on Hill Top at OS Grid Ref. SK 472707.br />
The first Wesleyan Chapel was built at the corner of Chapel Breck and Station Road (SK 472706) but by the 1860s it was too small and was sold (to Joseph Handby, great-great grandfather of the present author) and a new Chapel built on Hill Top. This in turn was replaced in 1897 by the present Methodist Church.
- There are several other non-conformist chapels in the parish.
The original registers are held at Derbyshire Record Office. The earlier records were kept extremely untidily for many years and are difficult to find your way around. It appears that at least one complete volume is missing, covering the following periods:
- Baptisms: 1717-1812
- Marriages: 1714-1754
- Burials: 1715-1812
The registers have been indexed by the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and the index entries are included in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The batch numbers are shown on Hugh Wallis's IGI Batch Numbers web site in such a way that they can be searched for individual entries.
A chapel of ease (dedicated to St Luke) was opened in 1879 at Whaley Thorns in the parish. Baptisms and marriages were recorded from about that date until 1969. There is also a banns register. Burials continued at Whaley Thorns Additional Burial Ground until 1983. These are also available at Derbyshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts are held at Lichfield Joint Record Office.
Bolsover Independent Meeting House
The register runs from 1819 to 1836 and has been indexed by the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The index entries are included in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The batch number (C066551) on Hugh Wallis's IGI Batch Numbers web site links to the full index.
- Bolsover is in Chesterfield Registration District. It was at one time the centre of the sub-district of Bolsover. All birth, marriage and death registers are now held at Chesterfield, apart from those current marriage registers still held at churches.
Prior to the increase of population due to the rapid expansion of coal mining around 1890, Bolsover seems to have had a stable population, and many of the families are found to be inter-related. The main sources for genealogy are census records and parish registers. See also Bolsover Surnames in the Names, Personal Section of this web page.
- A "Pedigree of the descent of Bolsover [Manor] through the noble families of CAVENDISH, HOLLES, HARLEY and BENTINCK" is given in Glover 1829. This starts from William Cavendish and his wife, the famous Bess of Hardwick, (who are also progenitors of another Cavendish line - that of the Dukes of Devonshire) and continues with the Dukes of Newcastle down to 4th Duke of Portland and his children.
The Manor of Bolsover
The Manor of Bolsover covers most of the parish of Bolsover, except the smaller part covered by the Manor of Oxcroft. It also contains a few fields situated in the neighbouring parish of Clowne. After 1066, William I granted the Manor of Bolsover to his natural son William Peverell. Glover (1829) details the subsequent history of the lordship and gives a full transcription of the Customary of Bolsover, of which several versions exist in Nottinghamshire Archives. Sir Charles Cavendish acquired the manor in 1608 and it descended eventually to the Dukes of Portland, whose main seat is at Welbeck, just over the county boundary in Nottinghamshire.
The Manor of Oxcroft
Some Bolsover residents today associate the name Oxcroft with Oxcroft colliery which was in the north-west corner of the parish, but that is a relatively modern use of the name. The pit-head, if not the underground workings, were nearer to the hamlet of Stanfree than to the old hamlet of Oxcroft. Oxcroft was a separate manor, based on the hamlet of Oxcroft, although its own Customary makes clear that it was subservient to the Bolsover Manor in many respects.
Oxcroft is shown on maps and documents as late as 1779 as a separate Manor, though no known Manor Court records exist. A late mediaeval document called the Customary of Bolsover includes a section headed the Customary of Oxcroft whose text implies that the inhabitants of Oxcroft were subject to the "custom" or jurisdiction of Bolsover Manor Court, but also had some independent rights. A survey of 1652 states that "Tibshealf, Oxecroft, Goosehouses and Biggin make one entire township." Now the first three of these places are all several miles from Bolsover, so the township designation must have been an administrative convenience. Oxcroft is one of a group of manors purchased by Bess of Hardwick in 1599 and which remained in the hands of the Dukes of Devonshire.
For the purposes of genealogy, while Oxcroft is within the parish of Bolsover, we must often look for its inhabitants in separate documents headed "Tibshelf and Oxcroft", especially in the seventeenth century, while most Bolsover residents are listed under "Bolsover", or "Bolsover and Clowne". No records are known to exist for a manor court of Oxcroft.
Records of the Bolsover Manor Court.
The Manor Court of Bolsover was held at the Swan every three weeks on Fridays from time immemorial until the 1920s, with a Great Court held twice yearly. Because the Dukes of Portland had their main seat at Welbeck, the extensive run of manorial records fell into the hands of Nottinghamshire Archives as part of the Portland Collection.
There are some miscellaneous documents in a portfolio, including some fifteenth century Manor Court rolls (DDP 50/1). Next comes a bundle of 33 folios bound into a roll (DDP 50/2) and then the first series of bound volumes of Manor Court records (DDP 50/2-9) covering the period 1623 to 1705. This early series of Manor Court records has no index. There is a nicely restored little Book of Pleas (DDP 50/11) covering 1643-57. (S)
A later series of Manor Court Records covers the period 1703 to 1867. Each volume has its own contemporary index (except DDBM 57 whose missing index was re-compiled by Mike Spathaky). The indexes refer only to people involved in surrenders (i.e. transfers) of copyhold land. However the volumes themselves also contain many references to residents acting as jurors at the Court and those brought before the court for misdemeanours. (S) (Vols 45-55 only)
The access numbers of this 1703-1867 series are DDBM 45-61 as listed in the following table with the years covered by each volume. All volumes except 57 have a contemporary index, but within each section for an initial letter, the names are not in order. Court Records are in Latin until 1733 apart from some from 1646 to 1661.
- 45 1703-20
- 46 1720-41
- 47 1741-53
- 48 1753-61
- 49 1761-68
- 50 1768-81
- 51 1781-90
- 52 1790-96
- 53 1796-1801
- 54 1801-06
- 55 1806-14
- 56 1814-24
- 57 1824-39 (index missing)
- 58 1839-49
- 59 1849-58
- 60 1858-63
- 61 1863-67
Book of Pleas (Nottinghamshire Archives DDP 50/11) covering 1643-57. This is really part of the Manor Court records. The archive is not itself paginated and there is no index with it. Mike Spathaky has compiled an index which is incorporated in Bolsover Surnames. Readers using this will have to count up to the page they need. As a guide the following years begin on the pages shown: 1643 page 1; 1646 p1; 1647 p9; 1648 p19; 1649 p23; 1650 p31; 1651 p33; 1652 p35; 1653 p42; 1654 p47; 1655 p50; 1656 p56; 1657 p60. The text starts in Latin and changes to English from 1651. Page 36 is blank. (S)
- A war memorial stands in Bolsover Market Place with the names of the town's 222 war dead of the two World Wars inscribed on it. Additional details of the individuals named can be seen on the Bolsover page of the Roll of Honour web site. There is also a photograph of the memorial.
- Many sources contains references to Bolsover individuals and an important index to these is Bolsover Surnames - an index to archive sources by Mike Spathaky. It contains over 4000 entries with detailed references to the relevant sources. This collates indexes to a diverse range of documents, from the 1638 muster A list of all the able men for Warre to the Bolsover Manor Court records (1705 to 1814) and Estate Rentals (1676 to 1829). It is now only available on-line. The print version is out of print.
For probate purposes prior to 1858, Bolsover was in the Diocese of Lichfield. The original pre-1858 wills and administrations for the Diocese are held at the Lichfield Joint Record Office. An index entitled Bolsover Wills at Lichfield has been published and is on the shelves of the Joint Record Office and other relevant libraries. This index has also been subsumed into Bolsover Surnames. (S)
Further information about Derbyshire wills, both pre- and post-1858, is available on the GENUKI Derbyshire Wills Collections page.