Times Past 2 – a selection of Coleorton News from the 18th Century

Stamford Mercury 26th September 1728, p. 8

For Sale: Two new-milche'd asses and foals. Enquire of Rebecca Smith in Cole-Orton Lane near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire.

Northampton Mercury 8th August 1785, p. 3

On Monday last as John Alcock, a boy of Cole-Orton, in Leicestershire, was coming out of a Coal Pit, sitting upon the lap of another boy, he unfortunately fell down to the bottom of the pit and was killed. The Coroner’s inquest sat on the body, and gave in a verdict Accidental death.

It was common practice in some mines for two children at a time to be lowered and raised from the pit sitting cross-lapped facing each other on an iron cross bar (clatch-iron) attached to a rope, normally used for lifting corves of coal. Accidents were common and the complete disregard for the safety of the children is shockingly apparent in this terrifying method of ascent and descent. More about mining and employment of children in mines >>

Derby Mercury 15th February 1787, p. 1

Lichfield Gaol.
Broke out in the night of the 5th, or early in the morning of the 6th instant February 1787.
George Hill, near 5 feet high, about 30 years of age, straight brown hair, fair complexion, brick coloured coat, black patched waistcoat, whitish-coloured ticking breeches and light-coloured worsted stockings.
James Hill, 5 feet one inch high, 33 years of age, dark sandy straight hair, lightish coloured brown cloth coat and waistcoat, brown top coat with various patches on, narrow ribbed light-coloured stockings, one leg shorter than the other.
Whoever will give information of either of them, so that they may be taken, shall receive TWO GUINEAS and HALF reward for each, from J. Smith, keeper of that said gaol.
One of the above Hills has been seen in a smock frock since his escape, at Coleorton, near Ashby.
N.B. They are the two noted Hills.

Presumably from this last comment they were two particularly notorious criminals, I could find no record of their recapture.

Derby Mercury 1st October 1789, p. 4 (also Northampton Mercury 3rd October 1789)

Friday the 25th ult. Died at Coleorton-hall, in the county of Leicester, Joseph Boultbee, Esq: in the 89th year of his age.- He was a gentleman of the most exemplary piety, of the strictest honour and integrity, and a constancy friend to the poor, to whom his charity was on all occasions liberally extended. – He justly merited the respect due to the most affectionate husband, the tender parent and sincere friend; whose happiness centered alone in doing good.

The above Joseph Boultbee was land agent to the Beaumonts, however his stewardship may not have been as entirely honourable as his obituary suggests.

During the 18th Century the Beaumonts were effectively absentee landlords to their inherited Coleorton estates, regarding themselves as Squires of their pleasant manorial lands in Dunmow, Essex rather than dirty (but profitable) Coleorton. In their absence Joseph Boultbee acted as their land agent, occupying Coleorton Hall and managing their mines and other assets on their behalf. On the death of Sir George Beaumont 6th Baronet in 1762 the estate passed to his nine-year-old son Sir George Howland Beaumont 7th Baronet and on the death of Joseph Boultbee snr. in 1789 (above) his son Joseph Boultbee jnr. continued as land agent.

It was not until 1791 that the 7th Baronet visited his Coleorton estate for the first time. It must have come as quite a shock for Beaumont, with his aesthetic taste for art and poetry, to see the blackened industrial landscape, the grimy miners, many of them children, and their meagre cottages, so far removed from the idyllic pastoral landscapes favoured by artists of the day.

It was then that Beaumont began to look more closely at the past stewardship of his affairs by the Boultbees and discovered certain irregularities in the management of his estate. In 1799 Beaumont sued Boultbee, alleging that he and his father before him had sold for their personal benefit coal, minerals and timber that should have rightly gone to him. Beaumont won, and was initially awarded £20,000 in compensation, but this was reduced to £15,000 on appeal in 1802. On a simple inflation basis, this would be the equivalent of about £1,231,000 today!

It seems fair to suppose that this compensation money would have gone some considerable way towards Beaumont's rebuilding of Coleorton Hall under the architect George Dance, commencing in 1804.

Additional sources: Collector of Genius, A life of Sir George Beaumont, Ed. Felicity Owen & David Blayney Brown, Yale University Press, 1988. pp. 107-109

Terry Ward, March 2019