|Matlock: The Allen Family of
|People who lived in the Matlocks
: Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
The two nineteenth century photographs above are of the Matlock
cab and taxi proprietor Joseph Allen and his second wife Sarah,
nee Spencer. They were both taken by the photographic firm of
Winter of Derby and date from when the couple lived at Darley
Dale. Joseph's photograph was taken about 1883 and Sarah's two
or three years later, after the birth of their last child in
Joseph, the son of Thomas and Mary Allen, was born at Heage in
1856 and christened there on 7 Dec 1856.
As his father was an agricultural labourer when Joseph was born,
it seems probable that he undertook some seasonal work on farms
from the age of 8 or 9; he had left home by the age of 12 to be
an indoor farm servant. When he was 15 he worked for William Cupit
at Catchill farm, in South Wingfield. He was the sole male 'farm
servant indoor' on a 67 acre farm, a hired labourer on an annual
contract and living in with the farmer's family. This gave him
the chance to learn skills that he would use throughout his working
life, such as how to handle horses, and fuelled his ambition to
be a farmer himself one day.
His first wife was Mary Ann (Polly) Spencer whom he married at
St. Peter's, Belper in 1876 and the couple moved to Beech Cottage
on Hackney Lane.
They had two children, Mary Hannah and
Jack (John Thomas). Unfortunately, Polly died 3 weeks after Jack's
birth of septicaemia and exhaustion after childbirth. She was only
25, and was buried near her parents' home at Belper.
Mary Hannah, photographed by Norman McAuslan of Belper.
Jack (John Thomas) taken by Tyson of Sheffield, possibly around
the time of the wedding of his sister when he would have been
Joseph married for the second time at St. Alkmund's, Duffield
in 1879. He and Sarah had four more sons in fairly quick succession:
Joseph (born 1880), William (born 1882), Frederick (born 1883)
and George (born 1885). They still lived on Hackney Lane and
in 1891 Joseph was still working as a carter. The twelve year
old Jack was the only son listed as a scholar although all five
boys were of school age by then. They moved to Dimple Farm in
at either the end of 1897 or early in 1898,
which Joseph later purchased.
The farmhouse was believed to date from 1680, although the first
record of the deeds was in 1756, and its walls were two feet
Dimple Farm, about1904, possibly
to celebrate the purchase of the farm in October 1903.
In the picture, from left to right, are:
Jack (John Thomas), Sarah and Joseph senior. The girl on the
right is probably Amelia Harriet Spencer, one of their nieces[b].
Millie is shown living at Dimple Farm, aged 10, in the 1911
census. She was
the daughter of Sarah's brother, George Spencer, who died in
"Old Joe and his sons - how hard they work, when they were
not carting coal to the gas works they were engaged in funerals,
what struggles they had up Tag hill to the Church. They never seemed
to fail, however, and Allens had a first class reputation. Their
home was Dimple Farm and Sunday was their only rest day but Old
Joe kept his horses well fed and said what killed one would buy
played a major part in the Joseph Allen business and his eldest
son's teenage years were spent working for his father and learning
how to handle horses.
Joseph Allen, born 1880
William Allen, born 1882
Frederick Allen, born 1883
George Allen, born 1885
The studio portraits were probably taken to mark
their 21st birthdays.
In the first decade of the twentieth century there were several
changes to the Allen household and by 1911 William was the only
son still living at home, although all the sons apart from Joseph
junior were working for their father in Matlock.
Jack had married Louisa Alice Smith, was working as a carter, and
had moved to Yew Tree Cottage on the Dimple. George was farming
and living at Holewood Terrace on Smedley Street West with his wife
Mary Elizabeth (nee Goodlad). Frederick and his wife Eva (nee
Collis) also lived on The Dimple. Joseph had moved to Belper with
his wife Annie (nee Wilson) and was running the livery stables on
Louisa Alice Allen (nee Smith), photographed around the time
of her marriage to Jack on 30th October 1901. Her parents
were living at Harvey Dale House in Matlock Dale in the 1860s
but her father unfortunately died shortly before she was born.
Jack helped his father to select horses and was undoubtedly valued
as an expert horseman. His brother, William, described driving
them both to Borrey's, the undertakers of Midland Road and Silver
Hill Road in Derby, to look at their horses.
In the run up to the First World War most of the carting work was
undertaken by Jack and Frederick. George had to milk the
cows before going out with his cart whilst William also had book
keeping duties and the motor taxi.
In 1914 William had a pair of houses built across the road from
Dimple Farm and moved into one, the Hollies, when he married Edith
Slater Brunt in November 1914. Edith used to walk alongside the
cart when William delivered coke to Chatsworth House. The First
World War had begun by the time of their marriage. Although none
of Joseph Allen's sons enlisted immediately, Jack and William joined
the army after conscription was extended to married men on 25th
|Annie, Joseph's wife, probably aged 21.
Both Annie and Joseph were photographed by Frost of Derby.
|Bessie, George's wife, probably aged 21.
||Edith, William's wife, photographed at
her brother's wedding in 1911. She was born at
10 Paxton Street, Accrington,
in 1882. See Brunt & Slater of
Jack enlisted at Derby in August 1916, joining the 2nd /4th Battalion
of the King's Own Scottish Borderers and was sent to Widford camp
near Chelmsford. His training included digging trenches,
attacking a dummy stuffed with straw with a bayonet, and going
on 10 to 20 mile marches though the countryside. He
was taken ill and died of 'heart failure' on the 4th October,
1916, aged 39.
The news reached his family in Matlock by telegram that Wednesday
afternoon. He was buried at St. Giles'; his widow, Louisa, was later
interred in the same grave. So Jack missed out on the later success
of the family business that resulted from their purchase of the
premises in Crown Square.
Sarah Allen died in 1919, aged 67, two
months after her son William was demobilised in March 1919.
In 1920 Joseph married for the third time, on this occasion
at All Saints' Church. His new wife was Ada Land, a war widow
with two young children.
Joseph died at Dimple Farm on 7 June, 1933. The interment
took place at the Wesleyan Cemetery, Darley Dale where he
was buried alongside other members of his family. He had kept
livery stables at Matlock for nearly half a century.
Ada did not remain at the farm after his death and his son
George moved in to take over running it.
Ethel May, Joseph's grand-daughter, described the wake as
more like a wedding than a funeral. "A side of beef & whole
ham had been cooked and was being carved in the big sitting room & all
manner of cakes & sweets handed round. Looking round Dimple
Farm, the garden, the orchard where we picked apples, the haybarn,
the cowshed and horse stables, the pigsty, hen houses - so many
memories of a wonderful childhood. There were 11 of us grandchildren,
the sons and their wives and numerous Spencer cousins ... what
a reunion it was to pay tribute to a very strong character".
Joseph Allen, relaxing at Dimple Farm, 1911
On the right is part of the group photograph
taken at the wedding of Harry Allen, son of George and Bessie,
and Doris Twigg that took place at Matlock on 27th July 1940. Sadly
for them, they were to attend the funeral service for their
sister in law, Jack's wife Louie, the following day.
From left to right -
Back, standing: Nellie the second wife of Frederick and formerly
Bannister, Mary Hannah (wearing a corsage), William, Joseph,
Edie (William's wife), Frederick, George
Front, seated: Annie (Joseph's wife), Bessie (George's wife).
A life of hard work doesn't seem to have shortened the lives
of the Allen sons, with the exception of John Thomas. Both
William and Frederick lived until they were 79, and George
was 76 when he passed away. Joseph Jnr. died in 1969 at 89
years of age. The Belper business still carries his name.
Based on the extensive © notes and research of David Midgley,
and includes passages from a booklet he prepared for family members.
Photographs © Celia Dyson and David Midgley.
Written and further research by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this
 Extracted from FamilySearch.
 The Alan's son George enrolled at All
Saints' on 10 Jan 1898, having transferred from Churchtown. His brothers
had already left school. See: Lists
Through the Centuries: Matlock, All Saints' School, Admissions Register,
sample of entries 1895 - 1898.
 "Belper News", 16 June 1933.
Death of Mr. J. Allen.
 Extracts from the notes of Ethel May
 Mary Hannah born at Heage and in 1881
was living with William and Elizabeth Rouse, her aunt and uncle,
at Deeley's Cottages in Darley. She was 4 years old (from the 1881
 All Saints' School, Admissions Register
shows that Amelia Spencer erolled in the Infants' department of All
Saints' on 27 Apr 1908. Her guardian was shown as Joseph Allen of
Dimple Farm. She was born on 16 Jan 1901 and left school on 31 Mar
 The 1911 census is available of Find
 See the Smith family in the
1861 census (parents John and Sarah) | the
1871 census | the 1881 census |
the 1891 census | the
 Croft: "Recollections of Old
Matlock" (c.1910?), County Hall Local Studies Library.
 Entry from William Allen's notebook/diary,
owned by his grandson David Midgley.
 Jack's battalion went to Ireland and
did not go on to serve on the Western Front. There is more, including
a photograph of him in his uniform, in the
War Memorials section.
 Read about Ada's husband, John Land,
War Memorials section
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
10 June 1933. The paper carried both a report of his death and an announcement
of his death. "Beloved husband of Ada Allen".