Edmund Darby

There were three successive, fathers and eldest sons, called Edmund Darby of Rowley Regis, near Dudley in Staffordshire. Firstly Edmund Darby buried in St Giles Rowley Regis on 22 Feb 1687/8. Secondly Edmund Darby 1670-1746  Thirdly Edmund Darby 1695-1768. All were literate and left wills, held at Worcester.

All describe themselves as yeomen and all presumably worked the same land in the Manor of Rowley Regis. It is instructive to see how the name Edmund worked its way through seven generations to William Edmund Downing (bap 1849), whose mother was Emma Clifton and grandfather was Edmund Clifton, who in turn was the grandson of Edmund Darby III.

Placing the first Edmund Darby is a little difficult. Edmund Darby I was probably the son of Thomas Darby whose will of 1659 exists. Both son and putative father talk of the Hall House in Rowley. An entry in the St Giles Parish register gives a baptism on 5 Mar 1624 for Edmund son of Thomas that fits well. In his 1659 will, Thomas Darby, also yeoman of Rowley Regis, mentions his eldest son Edmund Darby and names his three overseers as his brother Edmund Darby (will 1668), his brother-in-law Thomas Grove and his good friend Edward Parkshouse, Steward of the Manor of Rowley Regis. This Edward Parkshouse (d 1685) is the brother of Margaret Parkshouse, both illegitimate grandchildren of Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley. Margaret Parkshouse is known to have married a John Darby, the grandfather of Abraham Darby I of Coalbrookdale(1678-1717).  At the very least this reference to Edward suggests a close blood relationship between John Darby, Thomas Darby and hence Edmund Darby, i.e. brother, uncle or cousin, proof of which is made difficult by incomplete Parish Registers and absence of wills.  Although Edmund is a relatively rare name there is no shortage of Edmund Darbys and indeed Abraham Darby calls one of his sons Edmund too (bap 2 Aug 1712, Broseley).

In his will of 1668 Edmund Darby of Oldbury, brother of Thomas Darby and uncle to Edmund Darby (1624-1687) mentions his two sons William (b before 1611) and John Darby (bap 29 Mar 1619, St Giles, Rowley Regis), but there is nothing further to corroborate any connexion with Sedgley where Abraham Darby’s father, a locksmith by trade, was baptized on 6 May 1649, All Saints, Sedgley.

The grandfather of Edmond Darby (d 1668) and Thomas Darby (d 1659) would appear to be Edmonde Darby of Oldbury (d 1598)

Edmund Darby I (b 1624) married Alice Cartwright on 10 Dec 1660. She is probably a descendant of John Cartwright (d 1587) of Rowley. She is still alive when the will is written in 1686, where Edmund mentions his children Mary (£30) and Alice and Katherine also £30 but not until they are 21. His eldest son is Edmund and the two younger sons John and Thomas are still clearly under age. Turning to the parish register of St Giles, Rowley Regis we obtain the following baptisms for the children of Edmund and Alice Darby.

Mary (bap 29 Nov 1663) married Christopher Chambers (15 May 1687), Edmund (bap 14 Feb 1669/70), Alice (bap 23 Dec 1672), Katherine (bap 28 Sep 1675), John (bap 13 Aug 1678) and Thomas (bap 25 Mar 1683).

The witnesses to his will are John Grove, Hannah Grove and John Grove Junior. This seems to make it significant that Thomas Darby in his will of 1660 mentions his brother-in-law Thomas Grove. Thomas Grove was married in 1631 to Thomas Darby’s sister Amy. She was the widow of John Jesson.

In the Rowley Regis Poll Tax Roll of 1667, John Grove is mentioned as ‘Solicitor at law’ which makes it very likely he is indeed this witness, if not a relation. His wife Hannah was the youngest daughter of William Bendy, lawyer and parliamentarian.  John had an older brother another Thomas Grove who was the head of the family and resided at Rowley Hall  and although both brothers are listed in Dugdale’s 1663 visitation no further detail about their forebears is revealed. Thomas Grove, the brother in law in his will of 1669 mentions Thomas Grove and John Grove of Rowley Regis and calls them his cousins.

The Darby family and the Grove family certainly intertwine in the Rowley registers, and some of the earliest register entries in 1539 show two such marriages viz. William Grove married Agnes Darby on 10 Aug 1539 and George Grove married Alice Darby on 23 Dec 1539.

Edmund Darby II married three times first to Margaret Bennet on 1 Jun 1689, but secondly to Hannah Bach on 5 Jun 1693. Hannah (1663-1708) is the mother of Edmund Darby III and she was the daughter of William Bach and Eleanor Coleborne. Eleanor Coleborne was the daughter of Humphrey Coleborne and Eleanor Turton.  The links of the family of Edmund Darby with this set of burghers in Dudley reinforces the view that there is shared sixteenth century ancestry of Edmund Darby and Abraham Darby.

Probate was granted on Edmund Darby’s will on 12 June 1688. His sole executor was his wife Alice. The inventory of goods, including some substantial cheese making paraphernalia, came to £72, appraised amongst others by Christopher Chambers and William Woodhouse.

Selected Sources and notes

  • Parish Registers of Rowley Regis (BMSGH transcripts)
  • Wills of Edmund Darby (x3) , Worcester Record Office.
  • Will Thomas Darby, Yeoman of Rowley Regis, Probate 1660 National Archives PCC
  • Will of Humphrey Coleborne, Probate 15 Sep 1660, National Archives PCC.
  • A History of West Bromwich, Mary Willett, 1882. (Grove of West Bromwich cousins)
  • Note Also Thomas Wilmer of Dudley (1594-1680) was an uncle to Margaret Parkshouse and his daughter Anne married an Edward Grove of Compton.
  • Edward Parkshouse was also the nephew of Dud Dudley and was allegedly the person who urged his uncle to write ‘Metallum Martisi’