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Joseph Asher was born around 1790 in Barrow upon Trent in Derbyshire, and baptised on 7 March of that year in Swarkestone, Derbyshire.  You can see below that Barrow upon Trent (or Barrow on Trent) is just to the north of Coalville and Ibstock where the family settled in later years.


A quiet village, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has been around for a long time. The church of St Wilfred dates from the 13th century.  I can’t find much more about it. I assume it was an agricultural area.

Joseph was the son of Joseph Asher and Elizabeth Potter. He had two brothers and three sisters that I know of – William, Sarah, John, Ann, and Martha, who all lived to adulthood.

Joseph married Sarah Heap (daughter of Edward and Elizabeth of Smisby, Derbyshire) on 24 October 1811 in Netherseal, Derbyshire, to the south-west.

Their first son, Joseph (there are generations of Josephs), was baptised in Smisby on 12 December 1813. I found a daughter, Elizabeth, baptised to Joseph and Sarah in Smisby on 18 October 1812. Another daughter, Mary, was born in around 1815 in Smisby, baptised on either the 17 or 19 September. Then Hannah was baptised on 4 October 1819 in Measham, Derbyshire.  Thomas was then born in 1823 in Ibstock and the last apparent child of the marriage, John William, was baptised on 15 May 1826 in Measham.

Sadly, Sarah must have died sometime after John’s birth in 1826 and before 1832, when Joseph married widow, Mary Kirby (née Thomas), in December of that year. I have not been able to find a death record for Sarah. Mary had four children from her marriage to Richard Kirby (although one died as a baby).  Together Joseph and Mary had two more children – daughters Eliza in 1832 and Jane (the name of Mary’s deceased infant) in 1834. The youngest child of Mary’s first marriage, Caroline, was listed with the young family in the 1841 census. Joseph was listed as an agricultural labourer, but by 1847 he was a farm bailiff at Ibstock colliery.


Derby Mercury, 29 September 1847

In 1851, Joseph, Mary and Jane were living next door to Joseph’s son, Thomas and his family. Joseph was still a farm bailiff, while his son was a waggoner at the Ibstock colliery.

Joseph worked until his untimely death at the colliery in 1859.


Leicester Chronicle, 6 August 1859


Leicester Mercury, 6 August 1859


Sources: wikipedia; familysearch; findmypast; Google;; British newspaper archive


Thomas Asher was born in about 1823 and christened on 12 October 1823 in Ibstock, Leicestershire. His parents were Joseph Asher and Sarah Heap. He had two brothers and two sisters, and two half-sisters from his father’s second marriage to Mary Thomas.

In the census of 1841 Thomas was 18 and at the colliery at Ibstock. The first coal shaft was sunk in Ibstock by William Thirby in 1825. In the beginning of the 1830s the colliery also began making bricks. In April 1846, the colliery was auctioned off. I thought the advertisement in the Aris’s Birmingham Gazette in March 1846 was quite interesting.

TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by B. PAYNE, subject to such conditions of sale as will be then produced, on Thursday the 2d day of April, 1846, at the Queen’s Hotel, adjoining the Railway Station, Birmingham, at two o’clock – all that valuable COLLIERY, in full working, called THE IBSTOCK COLLIERY, including an excellent Pumping Engine, with cylinder of 64 inches diameter, three Boilers, and 156 yards of Pump Trees. Clack-doors, Rods, and Iron-work complete [….]
And also 98 Acres of excellent Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land, in fine condition with a Farm House in the centre, Barns, Stables, Sheds, and all the customary Buildings, in complete repair, situate at Ibstock aforesaid, contiguous to and now occupied in conjunction with the above Colliery.
The Colliery has been partially opened about twenty years, but has only been in full work for about ten years. The Estate contains several Seams or Beds of excellent Coal, the principal of which, so far as has yet been ascertained, are as follow: – the Five-feet or Top Seam, extending under 53 Acres, of which about 32 Acres have been worked out, and the Eight-feet or Bottom Seam, under 116 Acres of which about 23 Acres have been exhausted.
There is an abundance of Fire Clay, which may be turned to great advantage, and a good supply of Brick Clay, with a Brick-yard, Kiln, large Shed, &c. for its manufacture, now in full work.
A Branch Railway, of about a mile and a half in length, belongs to the Colliery Estate, and connects the same with the Leicester and Swannington Railway, at a distance of about eleven miles from Leicester, thus affording, in addition to the Home Trade, a ready market, with a priority in distance over other Collieries, for disposing of the excellent Coal at a moderate but remunerating price.
There are various Cottages and other Buildings and conveniences on the Estate, not only for the occupation of the Farm, but also for Colliery purposes, including new Offices and Store-room, capital Blacksmiths’ and Carpenters’ Shops.
>The Estate is tithe-free, with the exception of about 40 Acres, which pay a modus of £1.7s.6d a year.
The neighbourhood of Ibstock is thickly populated and wealthy, and the extensions of the Midland Railways now in contemplation will afford a new and very large market for the Coal towards Rugby and Northampton and other places, in addition to the present trade in the neighbourhood, and to the town of Leicester.
The Coal is particularly adapted for the working of steam engines, as it possesses great powers of generating steam.

Apparently the company went through several changes of ownership until 1875 when it was purchased by the Thomson family of mine owners.

But back to Thomas. He married Samaria Johnson on 5 February 1845 in Ibstock.  Samaria, it seemed, was already pregnant and gave birth in June to her first son, John. In 1848 they had a girl, Louisa, and then in 1851, a boy, Thomas.  All were listed in the 1851 census in Ibstock, and Thomas was a waggoner at the colliery (he pushed the underground tubs), age 28.

The couple had two more sons, William and Samuel, in 1853 and 1856, and then another daughter, Selina, in 1858.

At some stage the family moved to Hugglescote, just south of Coalville, not far to the northeast of Ibstock, and still part of the parish of Ibstock.


They were living there at the time of the 1861 census and Thomas was listed as a collier. All the children are listed except for Louisa, who I have been unable to find. (According to another researcher, she married in 1870, but I’ve been unable to find confirmation.)

Sometime between 1861 and 1870, the family moved to Cheshire to Monks or Church Coppenhall. “Monks Coppenhall was a township in Coppenhall ancient parish, Nantwich hundred (SJ 7056), which became a civil parish in 1866, and in 1877 became the Borough of Crewe.” (from Genuki)


Thomas’ wife, Samaria, died in March 1870 at Church Coppenhall. Between April and June that same year, Thomas married Catherine Garner! He didn’t waste any time. I don’t have the details about the marriage, so don’t know if Catherine was also widowed. According to the 1871 census she was born in Willaston, Cheshire in about 1820.  So, in the census for 1871, Thomas was a stationary engine driver (not a train engine driver). Living with him and Catherine were Thomas’ two younger children, Samuel and Selina, both teenagers. Samuel was a forger (eg blacksmith) at iron works (and something illegible in brackets, possibly a shortened form of apprentice).

Something happened to Catherine within the next seven years. I’ve been unable to find a death record, but Thomas married Jane Harris in 1878. In the 1881 census he was living with her at 61 Flag Lane in Monks Coppenhall, Crewe. Thomas was a labourer at the iron works at age 60. Jane was ten years younger.

Thomas and his wife moved again, to Northampton. In 1891 he and Jane lived at 31 St Peter’s Street in south Northampton. Thomas, at age 71, was working as a railway porter.

Thomas continued living there and working as a railway porter until his death in 1900. He died on 19th February of “senile decay”.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; family archives;; British newspaper archives;  Google maps; wikipedia;; genuki