Copyright © Mike Spathaky 1997, 2011

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What is Bolsover Surnames?

It is a list of over 4000 individuals who lived in Bolsover in roughly the period 1575 to 1875. It does not by any means include eve ryone who lived there, and it may, in error, include a few who had connections there without being residents. Each entry gives the person's name and a reference to the archive source where it was originally written down. The list is in alphabetical order of surnames. In this web version the reference is also a hyperlink to the source details and there is a separate page for each initial letter of the alphabet (except X and Z).

How the list came about

This list started from my own family history researches. My mother's parents, bearing the surname Cree are from Chesterfield, but we quickly found both Cree and Handby roots going back to Bolsover, while the earliest generations of Crees were traced to Oxcroft. As we delved deeper we found a number of Cree families in the general area, spreading to Mansfield, Worksop and Newark just over the county boundary in Nottinghamshire, and to Beighton and Eckington and on into Yorkshire to the North. To sort out who was who, it developed into, and still continues as a one-name study, and all Cree individuals in the north-east Midlands now fit somewhere on a family tree that is rooted in a 1643 marriage in Bolsover parish church. But that is another story...

We also found that my Cree grandfather's mother had come from a long-standing Bolsover family, the Handbys. When we started to unravel all the inter-connections between Bolsover families, we gradually found we were amassing a vast collection of information about them. There was no choice but to be completely thorough about it, so every Bolsover family related to ours had a file and then every person with a connection to the town was recorded. Thus was Bolsover Surnames started.

A few existing lists have been incorporated. The records of the Bolsover Manor Court have been well kept and as each heavy volume was completed, some diligent clerk would compile a name index. I know what he went through and am grateful for his anonymous effort, which I have been able to merge into this list. Joan Smedley's index to the 1871 Census has been included, as have my own earlier indexes, Bolsover Wills at Lichfield and the name index to The Diary of Benjamin Granger of Bolsover from my article Bolsover Families in the Journal of the Derbyshire Family History Society.

In case anyone should think of emulating this work by producing similar lists for other localities, I should point out that the labour has been substantially reduced by the use of modern computer technology. A standard word-processing package can not only merge different lists but can also, joy upon joy, sort the lists into alphabetical order at the touch of a key.

Scope of the surname list

It was tempting to extend this list to include parishes surrounding Bolsover. However there was no easy place to draw the line other than the parish boundary itself. So this is primarily a list for Bolsover.

The Manor of Bolsover is a different jurisdiction to the parish, dealing with matters of land tenure and minor misdemeanours of its inhabitants. The Manor, confusingly, includes a small part of Clowne parish, and excludes a part of Bolsover parish, the detached township of Glapwell. Place names included within Bolsover are Oxcroft, Shuttlewood, Stanfree, Coppice, Bolsover Woodhouse and Whaley. All these will be found on the Ordnance Survey 1:50 000 map, an invaluable aid to genealogists and local historians. Occasionally the valley leading west from the town centre is referred to as the Hockley Valley.

So people have been included in Bolsover Surnames if they lived in any of these places in Bolsover, or if it appeared that they might have done, or if they had some strong connection with the parish such as ownership of land. Some archive sources consist of lists of people from, say Bolsover and Clowne, or Oxcroft and Tibshelf. Where an archive source names individuals from Bolsover and another parish then people have been included unless they are known to be of the other parish. If people appeared at the Bolsover Manor Court they will normally be included. Quite a few residents of Clowne, and a smaller number from other places will thus have crept in.

As for time limits, I originally thought I would go up to about 1800 as documentation starts to become more plentiful then. But access to the fine collection of trade directory extracts in Bolsover Library and the discovery of Joan Smedley's excellent index to the 1871 Census persuaded me to include these later documents. In doing so I have become inconsistent, for there are many other nineteenth century archives that I could have indexed. All I can say is, I had to stop some time and make the whole thing available to others. If it proves useful I can always extend it in a future edition.

Two major sources for family and local historians have not been included in this index.

The first is the Bolsover Parish Register. To index this would be a significant undertaking. The original register was very untidily kept for much of its early history and a large section has gone missing. Much but not all of the missing part is covered by Bishop's Transcripts. It seems that many of the entries from both the PR and BTs have been included in the Mormons International Genealogical Index (IGI) on microfiche to which readers are referred. It is available in most large public reference libraries and at Family History Centres of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Be aware that IGI entries need thorough checking against the original archives, of which they are, after all, only an index. The 1992 Index appears to contains about 50 per cent of the Bolsover entries.

The second source not included is the Census, apart from Joan Smedley's index to the 1871 Census which has been merged into the list. Microfilms of the census returns for every year from 1841 up to 1991 (at present) can be consulted at the Family Records Centre in Myddleton Street, London. They are also available at Local Studies Sections of the Public Libraries in Chesterfield, Matlock and Derby. The 1881 Census has been indexed as part of a major national project and the index for Derbyshire was published in 1995. I am not aware of any indexes to the Bolsover census returns for other years. It takes a couple of hours to search right through the whole of the Bolsover returns for one Census year.


I would like to thank the archivists of all the Record Offices listed on the Sources page for their unfailing courtesy and helpfulness during my many visits. Equally helpful were the librarians of the Local Studies Sections of the Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derby and Matlock branches of Derbyshire Libraries.

My thanks also go to Joan Smedley for indexing the 1871 Census for Bolsover, and to Janet Hurst for her role in that project and for sending me a copy of the index.

How to use the Surname Index

The prime purpose of Bolsover Surnames is to provide a pointer to references to a particular name. From the previous section it will be clear that the occurrence of a name in the list is not proof of residence in Bolsover. Readers are strongly urged to follow up the reference given, where they will sometimes find more information about the person listed.

First use the key at the head or foot of this page to look up the surname you are interested in. Then note down the references given: generally a three-letter code, a date or a year, and sometimes also another figure.

Next look up the three-letter code in the Sources section. Here you will find a description of the archive source in which the name occurs. The date you have noted may be important in locating it within the archive. The further figure may be a page number, folio number or a volume number. This is explained in the Sources section. The Repository (Record Office) where the source can be found will also be named. Note down its name also. (A few sources are published books or journals. These may be available through your local public library. They are probably all available in the Local Studies Sections of libraries in Chesterfield, Matlock and Derby.) Finally look in the Record Offices section to find the address and telephone number of the Record Office.

You will then need to make arrangements to visit the Record Office concerned. It is worth planning to spend most of a day there and you will need to phone to book a table or microfilm or microfiche reader. The archivist will be able to advise which.

If you are unable to visit the Record Office yourself, the staff may be willing to do the research for you or you may employ a professional genealogist or record agent to do it for you. Either way you will have to pay for this service. A letter to the Record Office will enable you to obtain an estimate of how much they will charge. Alternatively many of the archives have been microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the films may be ordered through their world-wide network of Family History Centres (for use in the Centre only).

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