The Dunn Family
Written by Matthew Baker (great grandson of Gaffer Dunn) in about 1955 based on stories told by his Mother (nee Nellie Dunn) and other family members

In the middle of the last century there was an engineer – Dunn (George born 1804 in Durham), who lived in the north east of England – County Durham. When George Stephenson was engineer in charge of the Midland Railway being laid down through Clay Cross he discovered coal. His friend Dunn came down from Durham and helped Parker to form the Clay Cross Coal Co. Three of Dunn’s sons William, George and Thomas were the first under managers at three of the collieries of the Company - Numbers 3, 5 and 6.
But we are not concerned with the history of the Company although the family and Clay Cross Company seem inseparable as will be seen from the following account.
The engineer Dunn had seven sons, William, George, Thomas, Peter, Richard and the two youngest twins Edward and Ralph. It is proposed to divide the history, such as has been discovered, under the successions of the seven sons. They will be dealt with in order of their ages.

WILLIAM The eldest son of engineer Dunn, as we previously stated, became under manager of Colliery No 3 (on the site of the present day works). He had three sons Joseph, Peter and George. Joseph who was a miner, died young. Peter, apparently a devil may care sort of man, was pretty good at a scrap, and was often associated with his Uncle Richard in many fights – they were great friends. George, also a miner, is alive today, I believe, and lives in Mansfield. There were two daughters in the family, Mary Jane, who married a man named Walters from Tupton, and Margaret who married George Fern of Clay Cross.

GEORGE The second son of engineer Dunn and the ancestor of the author, which accounts for the fact that the descendents of this man are dealt with in more detail.

George Dunn was under manager at No 7 (Park House Colliery). He lived in the under manager’s house down the lane at the end of “ Brickyard “ or “Green” at Danesmoor. He was a feared and respected man and his memory still persists to this day in the district. “Gaffer Dunn” they called him and under his management Park House Colliery (No7 of Clay Cross Company) experienced its best and smoothest working. In the present troublesome times at the colliery, it would be better, as more than one of the old workmen has suggested, if another “Gaffer Dunn” were in charge once more.
It was during the days that George Dunn was under manager at No 7 that the historic explosion occurred at the colliery. He was in bed with an attack of influenza at the time but he insisted on getting up and he went to the pit with a blanket wrapped round his shoulders. It was a tragic happening for the village of Danesmoor and the Dunn family suffered as much as anyone. A number of the men folk were down the pit when it happened. George Dunn’s brother Richard, his eldest son Joseph and his youngest son William were killed. Another son Robert was injured and when he died two years ago, he was the last of the survivors of the explosion.

George Dunn was a stern father – probably more so than the average Victorian parent and, from accounts of the grandchildren who remembered them, it is unlikely that he experienced any softening influence from his wife, who was Anne Forster, of a family well known in Danesmoor.

George Dunn had seven sons Joseph, George, Robert, William, Edward, James and Thomas and one daughter Elizabeth. The separate lives of these people will be dealt with later.

THOMAS The third son of engineer Dunn was under manager at Morton Collieries (Nos 5 and 6 of Clay Cross Company) and he lived in the White House at Morton. He had a daughter who married Heslington, successor to George Dunn as under manager at Parkhouse Colliery. They now live at Renishaw, Their son George Dunn became a green-grocer at Alfreton. Little seems to be known of this branch of the family by the people at Danesmoor. This may be due to the fact that, apart from Mrs Heslington, the family seem to have had no connection with Coal mining. Of the seven sons of engineer Dunn only the descendents of Thomas and Peter (to be described) have attempted a break with mining.

PETER The fourth son of engineer Dunn, started as a miner. He was a deputy at Parkhouse Colliery, but he, probably having more of the Forster blood in him, I assume, hankered more after trading and business deals. He built and sold various houses in the Danesmoor district. The house in which the author was born, Dunn’s Cottages, in The Square at Danesmoor, was one of his houses.
He afterwards went to live at Cresswell, where he was a butcher. There he also built some shops and cottages, and he died there before the war.
He was married twice, His first wife I was unable to trace but his second wife was a Vickers.
He had three sons, George, who is now dead, Peter who is a miner living at Emsworthy and Tommy who went to Canada
His six daughters seem to have married and returned to the Clay Cross district. Margaret married a man called Stone, Charlotte stayed in Cresswell and married a man named Lewis. Elizabeth married a man named Hunt from Clay Cross. The other three daughters Mary Jane, Martha and Triphena married three brothers Taylor from Pilsley, where they are quite well known.

RICHARD The fifth son of engineer Dunn has been mentioned previously as being very friendly with his devil may care nephew Peter. These two adventuresome gentlemen interest me greatly. I have heard vague stories about them but I would like to know more of their adventures. Once out of sheer exuberance of spirits they fought and licked ten men of Danesmoor in a field. They seem to have been fearless ruffians who loved fighting for fighting’s sake.
Richard married a Miss Palfreyman from Clay Cross but they had no children and he was killed in the explosion at Parkhouse Colliery.

EDWARD and RALPH Twin sons of engineer Dunn were the youngest in the family. Ralph who was a miner had one son Ralph who is a deputy living at Murton Durham, the original home of the family. Edward was also a miner and married twice. He had three sons Ralph, who was a footballer and played for Sutton Town, Edward and Thomas and a daughter Jenny.

The children were Joseph, George, Robert, William, Edward, James, Thomas and Elizabeth.

Joseph married Harriet Holly and was killed in the explosion.

George married his widow and they lived in Durham where he died fourteen years ago. They had three sons Joseph, John and Harry all miners. One daughter – Jenny. She married a miner and has a son who is doing particularly well in Electric Signs in Manchester.

Robert (Uncle Bob) survivor of the explosion married Mary Elizabeth Nuttall. He had two sons, John who married Margaret Stone, and has one son William, and Robert, who married Nellie Waine, and has two sons John and George. They both live in Danesmoor.
There were four daughters, Lucy, Margaret. Sarah Ann, and Florrie. Lucy married George Harris and has a son Wilfred and a daughter Dorothy who is a nurse. Margaret married George Elwin and has no children. Sarah Ann (who had a mental illness) married Jack Dawes and has one son Reginald. Florrie married Billy Vickers and has a son Colin and a daughter Jean.

William who was killed in the explosion at the age of 16 has of course no descendents.

James married Anna Whittle and went to live at Tupton has four sons, James who has three sons Keith, Kenneth and Jim, John who has no children although married, George who has a son Peter and a daughter Betty and Wilfred who is not married. There are three daughters Pat,, Nellie and Mabel. Pat married Walters, Nellie married Samuel Taylor and has one child Alwyn, and Mabel married Scott.

Thomas married Elizabeth Shaw and has two sons James who is married and has two children, and Tom, and a daughter Elizabeth who is married and has one child.

Elizabeth who married Ben Towndrow is said to be a confirmed spiritualist. They have two sons Stephen who is in Australia and George who has just gone to Mickelover. There are three daughters May, Lily and Violet.

AND LASTLY TO EDWARD the grandfather of the author.
He married Harriet Ann Wardle of a well known Clay Cross family. Their children, in order of age, are, George William, Mabel, Nellie, Ralph, Bernard, Olive & Edna (twins) and Linda. Reta, the youngest died at an early age.

George William - who is at the present time running Parkhouse Colliery married Mary Symons and they have two daughters Phyllis and Nellie and two sons George and Bernard.

Mabel - married Guy Long, a Canadian, and after the war went out to his farm in Alberta. Their children are Reta, Sidney, Edna. Mabel died two or three years ago in Alberta.

Nellie - who married twice, is the mother of the author. Her first husband, William Matthew Baker, was killed on the Somme in 1916. Their son Matthew William is the author of this pamphlet. Her second husband was a widower John Brough with three children Jack, Elsie and Roy. The children of the marriage are Frank and Bernard. Ralph another son died at an early age.

Ralph - who spent a time in Australia married Emma Adlington on his return and they have two daughters Mavis and Beryl and a son Jack. Ralph works at No 7 colliery.

Bernard - an amateur electrician, also works at No 7 and is married to Alice Allen of Brimington. They have five daughters Nellie, Olive, who lives in the home previously mentioned in the Square, Danesmoor, with her father is married to Ezra Ball. They have three children, Reta, Sidney and William.

Edna - the twin sister of Olive went out to Canada to stay with Mabel. There she married Percy Hove and they have two children and live in Saskatchewan.

Linda - the youngest child is married to Jack Churn, of Pilsley, and they have one son Derrick.

© Neil Wilson 2012 -
If you arrived at this page via a search engine, please click here for the home page