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Worsbrough General History - Contributed by William Morton

In Wircesburg Gerneber and Haldene had five carucates of land and a half to be taxed where there may be four ploughs. Gamel and Chetelber now have it of Ilbert, themselves two ploughs, and four bordars, and one mill pays two shillings. Wood pasture half a mile long and half a mile broad. Value in King Edward's time four pounds, now thirty shillings. (Domesday Survey 1068)

Before the Conquest Worsbrough formed part of the possessions of Swein, a great Saxon lord, who had large estates in the Wapentake of Staincross and Strafford. As its name suggests, Worsbrough is an old settlement dating at least from Saxon times i.e. 7th/8th Century. There are indications of earlier settlements nearby. At the time when the Domesday Book was prepared in 1068, the spelling of Worsbrough was 'Wircesburg'. There are two schools of thought about its meaning 1) that it was the fortification of a Saxon called 'Weorc- ; 2) that it came form the Saxon 'Wirc-' a retreat.

There are no signs of any fortifications in the present day village The area seems to have comprised 3 manors, i.e. Worsbrough & Worsbrough Dale, Rockley and Darley. The first known Lord of the manor of Worsbrough appears to have been Ailric, the father of Swaine , it follows that the manor must have passed to his son Adam Fitz Swain who in 1156, founded the Monastery at Monk Bretton or Lund as it was then known. After Adam died in 1158, the manor passed to one of his daughters, Matilda, who handed it over to her daughter Clementia. Clementia married an Eudo de Longvilliers. This Clementia in 1249, gave all her lands including Worsbrough, to the Priory of Nun Appleton, near York. At the dissolution the manor passed to the Crown and from then to a succession of private individuals.

Worsbrough parish is some 3,500 acres in extent and consists of Worsbrough Village, Worsbrough Bridge, Worsbrough Dale, Worsbrough Common, Rockley, Blacker Hill, Birdwell etc. The village is separated from the Bridge and the Dale by a small valley through which runs the River Dove, now little more than a stream, which eventually finds its way into the River Dearne. A canal was built here in later years.

The main settlement of Worsbrough started in the village where the Parish Church, St Mary's, stands. The village is the usual medieval format in that it includes a manor house, (Worsbrough Hall), the 12th Century Church (St Mary's) and an inn. The inn was once a staging post for coaches from Sheffield through to Leeds and elsewhere.

At the dissolution of Monk Bretton Priory on the 21st November 1538, the then Prior and a few monks came to Worsbrough and stayed here for 20 years or more. William Browne who was the Prior at the dissolution received a pension of £40. The sub prior, Thomas Frobisher and two other monks, took a house in Worsbrough, there to continue their religious practice. Between them they bought some of the Priory library books and brought them to Worsbrough. They are thought to have lived quite close to the Church and obviously, they must have had some influence on its affairs. The church has changed very little from their time here.

The present inn in the village, was not the first one. An earlier building on the site was a Blacksmith's shop, now incorporated into the inn. Previously to this, beer was sold in what is now known as 'Home Farm' . Before then, on the roadside, 'at no great distance from the Hall', formerly stood a public house, known by the sign of the Blue Bell, and was kept by Dame Wildsmith. Worsbrough Bridge as its name suggests is a bridge which forms the link over the little river Dove. The main road from Sheffield to Barnsley runs over it and if you didn't know it was there you would have difficulty in seeing it. Worsbrough Dale adjoins, and is continuous with Worsbrough Bridge. There are a number of old houses here such as 'Houndhill', 'Ouslethwaite' 'Darley Cliffe' 'Swaithe Hall', etc all still in occupation.

A new church, St. Thomas's, was built in Worsbrough Dale in1859 to cover the growing population and the old Worsbrough parish was divided at this time, St Thomas's caring for the northern side up to the boundary of Barnsley. A church was built to cover Worsbrough Bridge, dedicated to St James. Some years ago this church had become disused and was sold to the Roman Catholic Church for a nominal sum and is now dedicated to 'Our Lady and St James.' Worsbrough Common was covered by St Luke which was erected in 1874 as a chapel of ease for St Thomas It should be noted therefor that after 1859, all Baptisms, Marriages and Burials could have been undertaken at the above mentioned Churches, earlier ones would have been done at St Mary's Church.

In 1796, a canal was built in the valley to help industry which was growing fast. This canal linked the Dove to the Dearne and must have been a great improvement over the then poor state of the roads. A reservoir was built as a header to the canal and is now a popular Nature Reserve. The weaving industry came to Worsbrough early and of course the coal and ironstone mining and the canal must have been put to very good use. Many men and boys were killed in the Worsbrough pits, of whom, many were buried at St Mary's.

(To be continued)

Sources of Information
Parish Registers
Parish Registers for Worsbrough St Mary (CoE) for the period 1559-1906 have been filmed and copies are held by Barnsley Archives at Barnsley Central Library, along with a photocopied index and transcript.

Bishops Transcripts
Bishops for Worsbrough St Mary for the period 1600 - 1863 have been filmed and copies are held at Barnsley Archives.

Monumental Inscriptions
A typescript of the Monumental Inscriptions for Worsbrough St Mary is held at Barnsley Archives. We are pleased to be able to place an online index to these MI's at our Worsbrough MI index page.

These articles on Worsbrough were contributed by the late Bill Morton who had assembled much information about Worsbrough. Mr Morton's daughter, Christine, has offered to continue to look up the data for any enquirers. One of the items is a complete listing of Worsbrough St Mary's Registers to the 1920's which are indexed. If anyone requires information, please contact him at 111 Park View, Royston, Barnsley, S71 4AF, enclosing appropriate return postage There is no charge, but if anyone wishes, they can make a donation to St Mary's Church funds.

We are also able to re-publish Gillian Nixon's article on the Swaithe Main Colliery Disaster of 1875 which includes a list of 146 victims of that accident. The article also notes a number of further primary sources connected the disaster which are held at Barnsley Archives.

Worsbrough researchers may also find it useful to look at Dr Denis Ashurst's article Was there a glassblower in your family? which contains a list of names, extracted from census material, of those working at Wood Brothers Glassworks at Worsbrough during the theird quarter of the 19th century.

Deborah Nock has kindly supplied further details of some the sources she used in compiling her article The Darley Main Colliery Disaster for the Barnsley FHS Journal.

Barnsley Archives were able to supply a copy of the official report on the explosion, and a copy of three pages of Burland's 'Annals of Barnsley', which included an extract from the 'Wakefield Journal', plus two pages from the 'Illustrated London News' of 3rd February 1849, with pictures showing the scene at the colliery face, and the mass burial of victims at St Mary's Church, Worsbrough.
Contact: Barnsley Archives, Central Library, Shambles Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2JF

York Central Library provided copies of the Yorkshire Gazette, which reported extensively on the disaster. They will send a form on which you need to list pages and columns of the paper, and they will say how much the photocopies will cost.
These are the relevant details:
Yorkshire Gazette Jan 27 1849 page 8 column 9
Title - Dreadful explosion at Darley Main Colliery, near Barnsley: Upwards of seventy lives lost.
and page 8 column 4
Title - Friday Morning Jan 26 (Continuation of previous article)

Yorkshire Gazette
Page 6 Column 3
February 23 1849
Title - Dreadful explosion at Darley Main Colliery, near Barnsley, the inquest.
Contact: York Central Library, Museum Street, York YO1 2DS United Kingdom


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