The history of this family takes them from Alfreton in Derbyshire, to Trimdon in Durham county then Northumberland and finally Sherburn and Pittington near Durham City. One member emigrated to USA in the late 19th century to found a family of Wignalls.
The family were staunch Methodists with many of the male line teaching themselves to read then becoming local preachers.

Birchwood is in Alfreton Parish in Derbyshire.

It is part of the hamlet of Somercotes.

George Smith, a coal miner and his wife Ann lived in this area until the 1850's.

In the Victorian age, people came from all over Britain to Somercotes and Birchwood as there was plenty of work in the Oakes & Butterley Company in Codnor Park and at the Swanwick Collierys. In the 1800's there was a railway from Birchwood to a wharf on the Cromford Canal which provided additional work.

In the 1881 census, Emily Gillhespy and Elizabeth Wignall both show their birthplace as Golden Valley which must have been a term for the area in the 1850's. Today there is a railway museum at Golden Valley.

Birchwood Methodist Chapel was built by John Smedley in 1853, just when the Wignall and Smith families were thinking about moving to the North East.

George and Ann Smith lived in Codnor Park from the 1830's to the 1850's.

George was born in 1807 in Ripley and Ann (nee Tomlinson) in 1815 in nearby Alfreton.  I have not yet found his christening in church records.

They were married in 1831 in Alfreton.

On the 1871 census for Trimdon, George and Ann are shown at Bainbridge Street

George Smith 64 Coalminer Derbys
Ann Smith 56 Derbys
Mary Smith 21 Servant, Derbys
John Smith 19 Coalminer, Derbys

I have a copy of page 21 the 1851 census for Codnor Park  in the Parish of Ironville.
Record 71 shows

George Smith 44

Coal Miner

Born Ripley
Ann Smith 36 Alfreton
Elizabeth Smith 14 Normanton
Joseph Smith 11 Normanton
George Smith 9 Pinston
Ann Smith 7 Chesterfield
Eliza Smith 5 Codnor Park
Em??? Smith 3 Codnor Park
Mary Smith 1 Codnor Park

Mary Smith married George Buxton, my great grandfather

William Wignall, the son of John Wignall and Ann,
 is born in Eccleston by Chorley in 1827.

On 26 November 1854 William Wignall and Elizabeth Smith married in the Parish Church of Selston, Nottingham. They gave their residence as Selston.

On the 1861 Census for Trimdon  I found George Smith (record 148) with all his children except for Elizabeth. Eliza and Emily's names are quite clear on this record.

On the 1861 Census for Trimdon I found Elizabeth Smith, her husband William Wignall and their family in Trimdon Colliery Village

There are two more children, John born 1852 and Sarah born 1854, both in Derbyshire.

William Wignall Age 32 Coal Miner Born Derbyshire
Elizabeth 24   Derbyshire
John 5    
Thomas 4    
George 1   Trimdon
Joseph 6months   Trimdon

The youngest children are no longer there by 1871. They must have died in the overcrowded mining village.

I found Elizabeth on the 1871 census for Newnsham, Northumberland.

William Wignall Age  40 Coal Miner Alfreton
Elizabeth Wignall 34   Alfreton
John Wignall 17 Coal Putter Codnor Park
Thomas Wignall 13 Coal Putter Codnor Park
Sarah A Wignall 8   Trimdon
Eliza Wignall 6   Trimdon
Elizabeth 5   Earlsdon
William 4   Earlsdon
James 2   Earlsdon
Walter 1   Earlsdon
They have moved from Trimdon to Northumberland.

I have found details of the other Smith family but have yet to find some of
them on the 1871 census.

These are on the 1871 census for Trimdon      
127 Dyke ??      
Joseph Smith Coal Miner Age 30 Born Normanton
Margaret Smith Wife  28 Born Kelloe
Mary A. Smith Daughter   8 Born Haswell
Emily Smith Daughter   3 Born Newsham
259 Chambers Street Trimdon      
George Smith Miner Age 29 Born Derbyshire
Jane A. Smith Wife   26 Born North Hartley
Thomas G Smith  Son    2 Born Crofton
Sarah H Smith Daughter   1 Month Born Crofton
Eliza Smith married Robert Makepeace on 23rd April 1874 at Sedgefield Parish Church

I found most of the family in the 1881 census. I have not yet found young Ann or Mary, It was by chance that I found Eliza's marriage.

Surgery Row, Trimdon

Ann Smith Annuitant (Widow) Age 66 Derby

27 Engine Row, Sherburn

William Wignall Coal Miner Age 49 Golden Valley, Derby
Elizabeth Wignall Wife   44 Golden Valley, Derby
Sarah Ann Wignall Daughter   18 Trimdon
Eliza Wignall Daughter 17 Hartley, Northumberland
Elizabeth Wignall Daughter 15 Hartley, Northumberland
William Wignall Driver in Coal Mine 14 Newsham, Northumberland
James Wignall Pointsman in Coal Mine 12 Newsham, Northumberland
George Wignall Son   9 Newsham, Northumberland
David Wignall Son 8 Dinnington, Northumberland
Walter Wignall Son 6 Dinnington, Northumberland
This is a younger Walter, his older brother must have died

66 Engine Row, Sherburn

Joseph Smith Coal Miner Age 46 Normanton, Derby
Margaret Smith Wife 40 Kelloe, Durham
Emily Smith Daughter 13 Newsham, Northumberland
Margaret Smith Daughter 11 Trimdon
George Robert Smith Son 7 Trimdon
Isabel Smith Daughter 4 Trimdon

Chaple Chare, Wingate, Durham

George Smith Miner Age 42 Derby
Anne Smith Wife  41 Gosforth
John Smith Son 10 Trimdon
George Smith Son 5 Trimdon
Mary Lawson Niece, Visitor 15 Whitley, Northumberland

Walts Street, Trimdon

Robert Makepeace Gen Draper Age 30 Wingate
Eliza Makepeace Wife  35 Golden Valley
George William Makepeace Son 9 Trimdon Colliery
Emily Makepeace Daughter 8 Trimdon Colliery
Mary Makepeace Daughter 6 Trimdon Colliery
Martha Makepeace Daughter 5 Trimdon
Robert H. Makepeace Son 4 Trimdon
Eliza Makepeace Daughter 2 Trimdon
Elizabeth Makepeace Daughter 4m Trimdon

Eliza Makepeace  nee Smith) died during 1881 and Robert remarried and his descendants move to Lancashire.  This information was provided by Stephen Cook who was researching this part of the family.

Emily Smith married William Gillespie / Gillespy at Newcastle Register Office on 28th November 1874.  Emily is a widow by 1881.  The name is spelt differently on two places on the certificate and an L is changed to an H by 1881.

122 Thornborough St, Byker, Northumberland

Emily Gilhespy Head (Widow) Age 33 Golden Valley, Derby
Elizabeth A. Gilhespy Daughter 5 Newcastle on Tyne, Byker
George T. Gilhespy Son 4 Newcastle on Tyne, Byker
Joseph Gilhespy Son 1 Newcastle on Tyne, Byker
George Patterson Lodger, Platelayer 32 Morpeth

By 1991, Emily's family are living with Elizabeth and William Wignall. Emily and George Patterson married in Newcastle at the end of 1883.

On the 1991 census, I found the Wignall family in Sherburn Hill but have not yet found the Smith's

I did find the following entry while researching my father's family.
John Smith was probably a younger brother born after the 1851 census.

Durham, St. Giles, Pittington

John Smith Coal Miner (Widower) Age 39 Golden Valley
George F. Smith Coal Miner 17 Trimdon
Mary A. Smith Daughter 16 Trimdon
Elizabeth Smith Daughter 14 Trimdon
John Smith Son 12 Sherburn Hill
James Smith Son 10 Sherburn Hill
Joseph Smith Son 7 Sherburn Hill

My mother always claimed she was related to the Pittington Smiths but did not know how.

Last updated August 2006