The range of resources available for an in-depth study of Mosborough are remarkably comprehensive. Manorial records, parish registers, wills and inventories, taxation records especially hearth tax returns, Cutler’s Company records, census returns and trade directories are just some of the wide range of data available to the historian. This section attempts to summarize what is available, and draws attention to areas where further work is necessary.
Since the time of the Conqueror, Mosborough has always been a subsidiary of the Manor of Eckington, which is fortunate in so far as a very large proportion of the records of its manor courts have survived. A court baron was held at frequent, though irregular intervals, throughout the year for transfers of copyhold lands, payment of fines and services to the lord and a great court baron twice a year in April or May and October, incorporating a court leet to deal with matters of law and order. In the Domesday survey in 1086 Eckington belonged to Ralph Fitzhubert. He was followed by a succession of lords until it was forfeited to the Crown in 1570. Thereafter, there were many leases from the Crown, often very short-term in nature, until Sir George Sitwell purchased the manor outright in 1837. It has remained with the Sitwell family at Renishaw Hall ever since.
In common with many areas in England, the survival of local documents from the centuries before the Industrial Revolution is patchy. However, the archives of the lords of the manor, held in the private collection of the Sitwell family at Renishaw Hall are remarkably comprehensive. The Manor Court Rolls, edited by H.J.H. Garratt, have been published in three volumes to cover the periods 1506-1589 (Volume III), 1633-1694 (Volume IV) and 1694-1804 (Volume V) and can be consulted at local libraries. Sadly, it is unclear when or if Volumes I and II will ever be published.
What happened to the manor during the commonwealth is not clear, but the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Woods Forests and Land Revenues commissioned Josiah Fairbank of Sheffield to undertake a survey in 1650, an extract of which is published in T. Walter Hall’s Descriptive Catalogue of the Edmunds Collection, including a Parliamentary Survey of the Manor of Eckington, near Sheffield, (1924). The Survey provides information on the size of landholdings and the names of tenants of the manor. In describing the estate, the survey also refers to freeholders whose lands abutted that of the lord, providing a clue to the wealthier members of the community at the time. Many of the family names have continued down to the present day, together with the names of fields, farms and mills situated on the rivers Rother and Moss. The earliest complete plan of the settlement, showing property boundaries, is that carried out in 1796 to accompany the Parliamentary Enclosure Award.
The compulsory state registration of births, deaths and marriages began in 1837. Prior to that, parish registers provide the major source of information. The registers for Eckington, which include records for Mosborough, are fairly complete with births, marriages and burial registers available from 1559 onwards at the Derbyshire County Records Office. St Mark’s Mosborough, formerly a Mission or chapel of ease, was built in 1886/7 as a ‘conventional district’ of the parish of Eckington. It became a separate parish in 1929. By that time also it had a Mission Hall of its own, erected in 1898 for the residents of Holbrook and Halfway. The parish was transferred from the Diocese of Derby to the Diocese of Sheffield in 1973/4. Registers and records from 1877 onwards are held at Sheffield City Archives. It is not possible to distinguish which of those baptised, married or buried are from Mosborough in the early registers and it is not until around 1800 that such information, including occupations is recorded.
The Primitive Methodists built a small chapel in the village in 1830. Although a Wesleyan Chapel had been in existence in Mosborough since 1839, a new building was erected on Queen Street in 1869. Later becoming a Primitive Methodist Church, it was closed in 1976, although the premises are still in use by the Salvation Army. Mosborough Methodist Church (formerly Trinity Methodist Church), situated on Chapel Street, was built in 1888, and surviving 19th and 20th century registers and records for both these churches are held at Sheffield City Archives. A Primitive Methodist Church was founded at Holbrook before 1891. It was closed by 1971 and the premises are now in secular use.
Memorial inscriptions are a vital source of supplementary information such as ages, dates of birth and death, occupations, places of residence and relationships that are not always available in written records. A survey and transcript of the epitaphs and memorials in Eckington churchyard, including those inside the church, was carried out some years ago, and is available at the Chesterfield Local Studies Library. The oldest gravestones, dating from the mid-seventeenth century, are in the church itself, many of which are covered by carpet and pews, etc.. In the churchyard the earliest gravestone connected with Mosborough is that of William Staniforth, the infant son of William Staniforth, gentleman, of Mosborough Moor, who died in 1731. The churchyard was closed for further burials in 1878, and was replaced by the municipal Eckington Cemetery, which opened in 1877. None of the other churches in the parish are thought to have burial grounds.
The Hearth Tax was levied between 1662 and 1689. The Hearth Tax Assessments provide the names of householders in each parish, together with a note of how many hearths there were in their house. This helps to give a good idea of the relative wealth of the inhabitants of the parish. The printed volume for Derbyshire published by the Derbyshire Record Society transcibes the returns for the Scarsdale Hundred from 1662, 1664 and 1670. Mosborough is included within the return for Eckington and, for 1670, it gives a list of householders with their number of hearths, i.e. chimneys.
A considerable number of wills and inventories survive from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most of which are housed at the Staffordshire Record Office, Mosborough and Eckington having once fallen within the Diocese of Lichfield. Particularly for the early years, before the statutory registration of births, deaths and marriages or indeed before the commencement of parish registers, these documents provide invaluable details of relationships, enabling family groupings to be developed. However, they do tend to reflect the more prosperous sectors of society and invariably more of men than women, but the inventories where they exist give an interesting account of economic considerations, including the valuation of goods, the extent of debts and, in some cases, even the internal layout of houses.
Between 1534 and 1650 there are 252 sets of documents surviving for the parish of Eckington; and between 1651 and 1750 there are 287. In most cases, the occupation of the deceased was written after the surname, providing invaluable occupational information for the residents of Mosborough, although in some instances the occupation must be deduced. For example, William Hyll of Mosborough, whose undated inventory was proved at Lichfield in 1534, was obviously working in iron and had nearly £5.0s.0d. worth of made goods consisting of ‘fourteen dozen iron’, valued at £3.10s.0d., iron ware that is wrought . . . £1.4s.0d. and one quarter of crapps of iron . . . £0.5s.4d. Ann Crookes of Mosborough, describing herself as a widow in 1647, had iron wares in her inventory and spoke of the “smithi men” in her will.
There can be no doubt about the occupation of William Turner of Mosborough. In 1712 his appraisers give his occupation as an axesmith and list in his inventory “2 payres of bellies 2 stythies hammars tongs and all other smithie gayeres”. Some inventories are available for the same period as the hearth tax returns, e.g. Joseph Stones of Mosborough Hall who was assessed for 9 hearths in 1670. Michael Burton’s inventory, taken in 1695, records possessions in eight rooms, including 6 of the 7 “ranges” or fireplaces recorded in his hearth tax return of 1670.
The national census returns, taken every ten years from 1801, provide an important and invaluable source of family information. From 1841, the returns provide personal details, i.e. addresses, ages and occupations, with family relationships and birthplaces from 1851 onwards. The data can be used to trace generations over time and the summary population numbers for each enumeration district enable calculation of population changes over each ten year period.