Ridgeway Archer Family History
with his wife Anne, came to Geer Lane Farm, Ridgeway from Elmton,
near Creswell, in 1833 to make a better living for their large
family. Their family roots could be traced back to Keepers of the
Kings Forest in Derbyshire, in the reign of Henry ll, via the De
Rhodes estate. John had been a premier tenant of theirs himself and
had also held land in the area from Earl Bathhurst.
William (1801), John (1802), Jonathon (1807), Mary (1808), Elizabeth
(1810), James (1812), Sarah (1814), and Daniel (1816).
Their eldest son William did not move to Ridgeway with them
but left England for America around 1850 like his youngest brother,
Daniel and his wife Annie. William was later to return to his
son Nicholas and live near Rotherham.
and his wife Ann(ie) lived for many years, farming in Wisconsin,
before moving west to Oregon and on to California after the end of
the Civil War, regularly writing home to tell of their successful
farming life there. They both died and were buried in California.
His descendants still keep in touch with family back in England some
of whom have visited California in return.
lived in Sloade Lane and was twice married, before returning to
Elmton with his second wife after the death of his first.
Second Son John and Sarah Rose, daughter of Joseph
Rose of Camm House, were the first couple to be married in the newly
finished Ridgeway church in 1840, the building of which John had
been involved by carrying the stone used on site (Unfortunately they
discovered that it was not yet licenced for Marriages and two weeks
later they had to go to Eckington to make everything legal)! Sarah
was the niece of Benjamin Rose, a well-known Sheffield
character and an Apothecary there.
John and his wife lived with her elderly father at Camm House at the
top of the village and the first of their 5 sons, Joseph was
born in 1842. He was to leave farming to become Mining and Mineral
Agent for the Duke of Norfolk, living in Claremont Place, Sheffield
in 1891 with this wife Emma, their daughter Mary Elizabeth
and sons John Fletcher, Joseph Carr and Harold De Birley. It
was a time when Joseph’s talents were very valuable, due to the
opening of local Coalfields around Sheffield and Doncaster, the
reason for his later move to live and establish his own firm in
Doncaster. He died in December 1912 but his wife, daughter of The
Rev. John Fletcher of Bradfield, lived on in the family home
until her death 1938. Her brother John was a gentleman of means who
had spent many years researching their family history, leaving
behind records of the connection with the names Carr and De Birley!
All of Joseph Archer’s three sons were involved in Civil
engineering and had distinguished World War I records. Harold,
my grandfather, was awarded a Belgian Croix de Guerre for his
efforts and was given a commemorative bowl by the village in
recognition of this. (This was given to back to the village more
He had married Julia Clark from Wakefield in 1906, meeting
her through his land survey and estate business in Doncaster. They
had a son, Joseph Anthony my father and three daughters,
Jean Mary, Katherine Rose and Margaret Winifred.
By the 1920’s Harold had returned to Ridgeway with his wife and
family and began using his business experience to draw up plans and
extend their home at Jessamine Cottage, on the crown of the
hill in the village, a little in the style of Edwin Lutyens, taking
advantage of the wonderful views over the Moss valley.
His new firm now Holmes Son & Archer, had been set up in
Sheffield near the Cathedral where other Ridgeway families like the
Renwick’s also had offices. Harold was always a forward
thinker and even had a driving licence at the opening of the
century, although his first car had to be garaged on High Lane as
the hill from the village was too steep for its engine.
By the 1930’s he owned a beautiful Riley car which had gears for
racing too. The car meant that his previous daily horse rides to his
work, via the lanes to Intake and the city tram from Deep Pits, were
now a thing of the past. The stable at the back of garage block
still remained beside the house for many years although the horse
that he took with him to war never returned. His daughters, Kitty
and Peggy as they were known, could also drive, like my
father and both did sterling service using this talent during WW2.
Jean was already married and so not available for service.
My father had cars of his own before the war, the current one had to
be ‘requisitioned’ when he was called up for service. His army
career was to be interrupted when he contracted scarlet fever on
duty and his life hung in the balance for many months in Lodge Moor
War time for me as a small girl of only three in 1940, meant
dividing time between Granny and Gandpa’s at Ridgeway, away from our
more risky Norton home, on the German bombing run to Sheffield. This
meant that I spent many happy hours at Jessamine Cottage, going down
the garden with granny Judy to pick out vegetables etc. for our
meals, sometimes running the gauntlet of Mad Vic the retired race
horse owned by Mr Marsh, down the hilly fields. (His son David
brought the milk by horse and cart and used a ladle from the big
churn to fill our jugs).
When my father was later declared fit to join the local Dad’s Army
at Norton he was still only a young man and so became what would be
the Private Pike to (by now elderly Prominent Sheffield businessmen)
Colonel Newton, Colonel Neill, Bernard Gallagher and Harold
Strong’s platoon based at Norton House.
It was not until 1944, near very end of the war that he was declared
fit enough for non-combative duty and he joined the plans for D day
as a driver instructor in the RASC. This meant that mother and I
went with him to live in Wales and I went to the local school in
Towyn, (Merioneth). There I was to learn the lovely language and
acquire a Welsh accent which stayed with me for two years and even
now is never far away. It was a delight to my grandmother who often
loved to hear me recite poems for her. Sadly she died at home around
VE day, in May 1945 of the illness which had kept her in hospital in
Buxton several times before then.
Harold survived her by nearly two years, being cared for at home by
his youngest daughter and my last memory of him was being taken into
his bedroom upstairs on Christmas Day 46 when all the family were
downstairs having tea. He was awake enough, ever the architect and
Surveyor, to frown at my efforts with a Bako building set, saying
there were holes in the corner of the house I had built. He died in
the January when the dreadful snow made us wonder about both his
Funeral and burial.
It was the end of a great era for me, as the house where I had spent
so many happy hours was to be sold, even though it was to be lived
in by my Aunt Kitty and Uncle John Biggin. My mother and
Father with myself and new baby sister, Catherine Rosemary,
made our return to the village at the end of 1947, living at
Commonside, by the farm opposite the end of Sloade Lane. I taught in
Sunday school, sang in the choir and was PCC Secretary. In 1990 I
was proud to take part in the Church’s 150th Anniversary
Mr and Mrs
lived at Oak House just below there. He was quite a character and an
active rider of a very fractious horse. His wife was artistic and
into amateur dramatics. Her drama was to be carried on by
Elizabeth Purnell, nee Newton when she and her Doctor husband
Douglas, moved to the house. It was to become an important part of
the Ridgeway WI formed in 1947.
Through their friendship with my parents, Elizabeth invited my
mother to join the Drama group and at one time, my sister and I were
also members. My own membership was to last for over 60 years and
the only office I managed to avoid was the secretary’s.
I gave up my WI membership recently, meaning that it was the end of
almost 200 years of the Archer connection with Ridgeway.