WAGSTAFF, Francis Reginald

 Private Francis Reginald Wagstaff
174760 113th Training Reserve Batallion

WagstaffFRFrancis Reginald Wagstaff was born in 1899 in Jacksdale the son of John Wagstaff born Ironville, a coal miner hewer and colliery shot firer and his second wife Mary Jane Wagstaff (nee Black). Francis, aged only one, appears on the 1901 Census for the family home at Wagstaff Lane, Jacksdale. His father, John Wagstaff, who worked at both Pye Hill and Selston collieries, and was, later, appointed a colliery deputy, was the younger brother of William Wagstaff, first head teacher of the Buxton Hill School at Selston, and after whom Wagstaff Lane takes its name.

John Wagstaff’s first wife, Martha Castledine, met with a tragic end, when, early on the morning of Wednesday 18th Dec 1895, she slipped on an icy board and tumbled into the six and a half yards deep well situated in the garden of their home on Wagstaff Lane. Her eldest daughter, Margaret Ann on seeing her mother floating on the surface of the water, called for help from a passer-by who duly summoned the village policeman, Sgt James Dobbinson. Little Sarah Ann (Sallie) aged 9 years or so, still in her bare feet, was told to run to Pye Hill Pit to fetch her father home. The District Coroner conducted an enquiry at The Portland Arms, on the day following, suicide was ruled out, and the jury passed a verdict of accidental drowning. Bereaved were, John, a widower at the age of only 43, and their 7 children – Margaret Ann (20), George (18), John (16), William (14), Edith Ellen (12), Sarah Ann (Sallie) (9) and Alfred (7). The granddaughter of Edith Ellen has told us that the family home was low built, with a thatched roof, and in the garden, old gravestones had been used as paving slabs.

Within a few years, with a growing family to care for, John Wagstaff had taken a second wife, Mary Jane Black. Mary already had a daughter from a previous marriage, named Emily Black. By 1900, little Francis Reginald had been born, swiftly followed by another brother Walter. By 1901, most of the elder Wagstaff children had left home, with the exception of John, then aged 22 and Alfred, aged 13. John never married and later ventured into business with his stepmother. Unfortunately this business liaison was to be the ruin of poor John, who ended up penniless with only a shed to call his home.

In 1914, John Wagstaff purchased another house on Wagstaff Lane, which bears the crest of the Earl Cowper. The family tell us that the Wagstaff children loved to play on the lane. A tramway, with an engine, called ‘The Coffee Pot’ ran down Wagstaff Lane from the colliery at Selston to bring coal to the canal basin, next to The Portland Arms. A stone engine house worked the Coffee Pot. The Wagstaff children used to lie between the tracks, so the Coffee Pot would run over them! If they were late for school, they could always cadge a lift, on the Coffee Pot, up to their school at Selston.

Thanks to  information provided by the granddaughter of Edith Ellen, we know which directions all the Wagstaff siblings took. Margaret Ann was married in 1899, to Frederick Lewis Brinsley. George also married and one of his children, Winnie, became a schoolteacher. William, a coal miner, married and his daughter, Doris married George Stafford, one of our local butcher’s sons, dubbed ‘The Knight of Black Puddings’! Edith Ellen initially on leaving home went into service, in Chesterfield and later married Arthur Hancock. Alfred became a coal miner, marrying Florence Chambers. Sarah Ann (Sallie) married Charles Tansey (elder brother of Arthur Tansey who served WW1 and David Tansey Fell WW1). Walter married and moved to Ollerton.

On his father’s death in 1919, Francis was appointed joint executor of his father’s estate.  The other named executor was Mr William Carter Pegg (ex-headmaster of Ironville & Codnor Park School) by then retired and residing in Patrick Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham.

Francis Reginald Wagstaff, served during WW1 in the 113th Training Reserve. He would have been called up towards the end of the war as he did not reach the age of 18 until 1917/1918. On his father’s death in 1919, Frances was appointed joint executor of his father’s estate. The other named executor was Mr William Carter Pegg (ex- headmaster of Ironville & Codnor Park School) by then retired and residing in Patrick Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham.

In 1927 Francis married Bertha Hancock in the Chesterfield District and they had one daughter.  By 1931, they had moved to Ashgate Road, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire where Francis was employed as a commercial traveller.  They later moved to Walgrove Road, Brampton, near Chesterfield. Francis worked for the Chesterfield Tube Co. Ltd for over 40 years as well as being a long serving church member, Sunday School Superintendent and deacon at the Gospel Mission, Old Road where his wife was church organist. He was also a member of the Brampton Brotherhood and the Chesterfield Adelphie Club.

He died aged 68 years, leaving a widow and daughter.