James Melrose (1847 – 1927)

A blog post in the series of people who are or were connected to my late father-in-law’s farm in Pilsley, Derbyshire.

James Melrose held two fields in trust between 1902 and 1920 following the death of his brother-in-law, William Thorpe.

James was born in Derby in 1847 to parents James and Margaret (nee Hardman).1

In 1851 James is 3 and living with his parents and six siblings; Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, William and Lydia, in North Street Derby. James Snr. is employed as a smith.2

In 1861, the family have moved to Railway Terrace in Litchurch, Derby. James is 13 and still at school. The family have four more children, Nancy, Sarah, Alexander and Jessie. James Snr. is working as a blacksmith foreman.3

In December 1862, James’ sister Lydia died aged 13 and in April 1867 Jane died aged 23.4

The family are still at the same address in 1871. James is now 23 and working as an engine smith. James Snr. is still a railway blacksmith. As well as James Jnr. there are five children still at home; Margaret, William, Sarah, Alexander and Jessie.5

Litchurch Lane carriage works (in 2010) where the railway workers in the family were most probably emploed

There’s a further loss in the family in August 1877 when Alexander died aged 20.6

1881 sees the family still at Railway Terrace. James is 32 and single, living with his parents and three siblings; Mary, Nancy and Jessie. James Snr. and Jnr.  have the same occupation, foreman blacksmith on the railway.7

On the 29th November 1881, Nancy Melrose, James’ sister, married William Thorpe, a widower, in Lancaster and they move to William’s home in Pilsley, Derbyshire.8

A little belatedly, James is baptised at St. Andrew’s, Litchurch on the 17th March 1882.9

James Snr. died in 1883, followed by his wife Margaret in 1886.10

In the 1891 census, James is living at Railway Terrace with his sisters Margaret and Elizabeth. All are unmarried and James is working as a railway engineer.11

The three siblings have moved to Arboretum Street in Derby by the 1901 census. James is a mechanical engineer.12

In 1902, James’ brother-in-law, William Thorpe died in Pilsley, Derbyshire. James is named as a trustee of his estate which includes fields 224 and 251 in the map above.13

In the 1911 census the siblings are living at 11, Arboretum Square in Derby, James is aged 63 and is retired.14

Arboretum Square in Derby, leading on to Arboretum Street

Margaret died on the 14th of December 1912, followed quite quickly by the death of Elizabeth on the 17th January 1913. James was granted probate of Margaret’s estate but he shared this duty with his sister Nancy in the case of Elizabeth.15

On the 4th of December 1920, James and Robert Thorpe sold the fields mentioned above to the Pilsley Hand and Heart Co-Operative Society.

James died on the 10th of December 1927.16


  1. FreeBMD Birth Reference
  2. 1851 Census; Class: HO107; Piece: 2143; Folio: 196; Page: 20; GSU roll: 87773-87774
  3. 1861 Census; Class: RG 9; Piece: 2505; Folio: 22; Page: 6; GSU roll: 542981
  4. FreeBMD Death Reference
  5. 1871 Census; The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 3574; Folio: 30; Page: 4; GSU roll: 839770
  6. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/125373089/alexander-melrose
  7. 1881 Census; Class: RG11; Piece: 3404; Folio: 29; Page: 6; GSU roll: 1341814
  8. Lancashire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
  9. Derbyshire Record Office; Matlock, Derbyshire, England; Derbyshire Church of England Parish Registers; Diocese: Diocese of Derby
  10. FreeBMD Death Reference
  11. 1891 Census; The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891; Class: RG12; Piece: 2736; Folio: 49; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6097846
  12. 1901 Census; Class: RG13; Piece: 3219; Folio: 28; Page: 2
  13. Will of William Thorpe, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  14. 1911 Census; The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911
  15. FreeBMD Death Reference, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  16. Conveyancing Documents, FreeBMD Death Reference

© Caroline Cox and Caroline’s Chronicles. 2011 – current year

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