The Wragg Ancestors

The Wraggs

This page tells the story of the Wragg line of the family. If you want to see a detailed diagram of the Wragg ancestors, then click Wragg Tree. This will open in a new tab so that you can flip between this page and the diagram.

These are the ancestors on the paternal line of Grandad Edward Wragg. The surname Wragg is thought to derive from the old Danish personal name Wraghi. The main geographical concentration of this name is in the north midlands.

The Wraggs in our family initially lived in Matlock Derbyshire. They later moved to Clay Cross Derbyshire going via Morton and Tibshelf. The earliest reference I have found to the Wragg ancestors was in 1678, so the story starts from there.

Anthony Ragge and Elizabeth Yates

The earliest reference was the marriage of Anthony Ragge to Elizabeth Yates on the 26th May 1678 in Matlock. All later spellings of the name were Wragg, as today. I have not found anything else about Anthony and Elizabeth. The Wraggs continued to live in Matlock until the mid-1800s.

Anthony Wragg and Millicent Ward

Anthony was a son of Anthony and Elizabeth and was christened in Matlock in 1688. He married Millicent Ward in 1714 She was also christened in Matlock in 1688. They had 5 children. They both died in 1748.

Joseph Wragg and Thamar Knowles

Joseph was a son of Anthony and Millicent and was christened in Matlock in 1726. He married Thamar Knowles in 1753. They had 3 children. Joseph died in 1781. I have not been able to trace the birth and death of Thamar.

There is one possible theory why I can’t find any details about her. It’s a very unusual Christian name. However if you transpose the two syllables of her name you get Martha. There was a Martha Knowles christened in Matlock on 28th June 1733. Could this be her and did someone twist her name round for fun and it stuck. We shall never know.

Joseph Wragg and Phoebe Willmott

Joseph was a son of Joseph and Thamar and was christened in Matlock in 1762. He married Phoebe Willmot in 1804. Phoebe was christened in 1770 in Darley where her family came from. They had 3 children.

Joseph was the first of the Wraggs to appear in a census and his occupation was an agricultural labourer. This ties in with Matlock originally being mainly a farming community.

Agricultural labouring would have been a very hard job working out in all kinds of weather without the help of today’s farming machinery. But they wouldn’t have been country bumpkins. In order to survive, they would have to be skilled in a wide range of jobs from ploughing, sowing, scything, milking, lambing, shearing, drystone walling, fencing, just to name a few.

The census shows him still working as an agricultural labourer just before he died in 1842 at the age of 80. There was no State Pension until 1908 so if you were poor you had to keep working as long as possible. Phoebe died 4 years later in 1846.

William Wragg and Elizabeth Twyfoot

William was a son of Joseph and Phoebe and was christened in Matlock in 1805. He married Elizabeth Twyfoot in 1828 and they had 6 children. Elizabeth was christened in Matlock in 1806. Her father John lived in Matlock where he worked as an agricultural labourer. Their family originally came from Youlgreave which is about eight miles north-west of Matlock.

William lived on the outskirts of Matlock in Lumsdale valley. William worked as a bleacher at the Lumsdale Bleachworks and continued to work there until he died in 1864 at the age of 59. In the 1851 census, it also shows three of his sons worked there as well, including his nine-year-old son Luke. It wasn’t until 1880 that education for five to ten year olds became compulsory. In the 1861 census, his daughter Phoebe is shown as a hose bleacher. There is more information about Lumsdale and the bleachworks below.

I was able to use the 1849 Matlock Tithe Map (see link below) to identify exactly where William and his family were living. There were two furnaces in Lumsdale used to smelt lead but in 1789, were converted to workers cottages, called Pond Cottages.

In the tithe map schedule, one of these cottages was occupied by William. The schedule says it consisted of a ‘house, court, garden and privy’ and occupied eight perches (a perch is 30.25 square yards).

The cottage still exists, it is no. 5 Pond Cottages.

Pond Cottages
Pond Cottages today

John Wragg and Sarah Ann Hardstaff

John was a son of William and Elizabeth and was christened in Matlock in 1835. He married Sarah Hardstaff in 1864. They had 9 children. Sarah was christened in 1845 in Skegby Nottinghamshire.

John first worked as a bleacher with his father at the Lumsdale bleach works. They then moved to Morton and later Tibshelf where he became a coal miner. Sarah came from a long line of framework knitters in Skegby, meaning yet another branch of my family tree was framework knitters.

John died in 1899 and Sarah died in 1911.

Ernest Wragg and Emma Davis

Ernest was a son of John and Sarah and was christened in Morton Derbyshire in 1872. He married Emma Davis in 1897 and they had 5 children. Emma was christened in 1879 in Clay Cross Derbyshire. Details of Emma’s family line are on the Davis page.

Ernest moved to Tibshelf with his parents, but then when he married Emma, he moved to Clay Cross. He worked as a coal miner. Ernest died in 1947 and Emma died in 1945.

Ernest and Emma are the parents of grandad Edward Wragg so I have come to the end of the Wragg ancestors.

Ernest and Samson Wragg
Ernest Wragg (right) with his brother Samson


The name Matlock derives from the Old English mæthel, meaning assembly, and āc, meaning oak tree; thus, Matlock means an oak tree where meetings are held. In the Domesday Book, it was recorded as Meslach. Matlock was originally a hamlet whose principal activity was farming with lead mining and quarrying as subsidiary activities. Then in 1853, John Smedley opened his ‘Hydro’ promoting water therapies. This saw Matlock expand as a spa town.

There is a brief history of Matlock on the Matlock Council website.

Lumsdale Valley and the Bleachworks

Lumsdale Valley is one of the best water-powered industrial archaeological sites in Great Britain. It was unusual to have such an extensive use of water power in such a relatively small area. By the 17th century there was at least one mill in the upper part of the valley. By the early 18th century there were at least two mills – one grinding corn and the other fulling cloth.

During the 18th century two cupolas were smelting lead and more mills were built. The mills were powered by water from the Bentley Brook using a series of holding ponds. They had various uses over the years, including cotton spinning, bleaching, grinding corn and grinding bone and minerals for paint manufacture. The site is now owned by the Arkwright Society.

Bentley brook Lumsdale
Old photo of Bentley Brook
bleaching tub
bleaching tub
Runnels between bleaching mills.
Runnels between the mills

The Arkwright Society sometime do tours of the valley.

Their website also has a brief history.

There are two bleach works in the valley which were used to bleach cotton. This is where the Wraggs worked. The lower bleach works was where the first stage of the process was carried out. It has a pair of large stone bleaching/souring tanks with space beneath the floor that acted as a reservoir or dump for chemicals. (the tub on the left was in the upper bleach works).

The upper bleach works was then used for the remaining processing. This included drying, finishing, packing and dispatch.

Stone runnels are still visible between the two mills, which served as a railway carrying wagons, pulled up from the Lower Bleach Works by a pulley system and let down again by gravity.

The solution for bleaching contained lime and chlorine and the solution for the souring contained either hydrochloric or sulphuric acid to dissolve any lime left from the bleaching stage. It would be quite a dangerous job working with all these toxic chemicals.

Old photo of Lumsdale