Peter Fidler's Birthplace
by Mary S. Fidler - Bolsover, Derbyshire, England - 1992
Photo additions - Bruce Haig
Bolsover castle is perched on a hill above Peter Fidler's birthplace but when he signed on as a labourer for the Hudson's Bay Company he was living at an address in Addle Street in Cheapside in the heart of what is known as "The City" of London. It is a square mile of London that even today is the heart of commerce in the city. Addle Street is not too far from St. Paul's Cathedral, and in Fidler's time was where cheap accommodation could be found.
Why Peter was living there is unknown and where he got the idea of joining the Hudson's Bay Company is also unknown. However, he was an ardent reader of the Gentleman's Magazine and in some of the early editions there are articles on the Hudson's Bay Company although no advertisments for joining the company. (Some early editions are kept in the library at at Sheffield University and can be seen if notice is given in advance.)
Peter Fidler's father, James Sr., was illiterate and always signed his name with an X. This is found on his marriage license and the marriage register, as well as papers relating to his involvement in village affairs. He was a village constable. In those days the village was organized from the church. Vestry meetings were held where such positions as village constables, road surveyors were elected. The constable was a sort of trouble shooter, solving village arguments, seeing to the needy or any problems of the parishoners. The road surveyor which Peter's brother James Jr. was one, saw that every person in the village gave so many days a year free to attending the roads. There is a record of James Sr. signing his X for coal for a needy family. Peter Fidler's mother Mary signed her name to the marriage register and sister Sarah and brother James were good writers, judging by their signatures.
James Fidler Jr. took over the lease of Sutton Mill in 1809 on the death of James Fidler Sr. James Sr. had rented his land from the Earls of Scardale who lived at Sutton Hall . The Fidlers left Sutton Mill around 1833 and moved to a mill at Stavely about 4 miles away. The mill and farm at Stavely were eventually destroyed when a new motorway was built on the site. I don't know when Sutton Mill stopped working but the ruins were demolished about 40 years ago , when a friend of ours who lived there then had the ruin moved because it became a danger to her young son.
The church at Sutton Scarsdale where Peter Fidler was baptised is still being used. The headstone and grave of Peter's father are still there in the churchyard but I have not yet found Peters mother's grave. She died in 1827 in the house Peter had built. Sutton Mill Farm is still occupied but only as a farm. The old Fidler home is still there and although altered, a small part at the back is from the original building.
The house Peter Fidler had built in 1812 on his one and only leave home is also still occupied but is now a Public House (pub). When Peter built the House it was called Hudson's Bay House. In 1856 or there about, Joseph Fidler, Peter's nephew turned it into a Public House and added Beer House to the name. Then, sometime between 1889 and 1900 the name changed again to Castle Inn. Now it is just Hudson's. Some years ago I tried very hard to get the name changed back to Hudson's Bay Beer House." I got all my friends and interested parties to write to the brewery. I even got a petition from Dauphin, Manitoba. We did get "Hudson's" which I don't think does anything at all. (In 1992 it reverted back to Castle Inn) My husband Norman had two plaques made, one for the Public House, one for Sutton Mill. This was in 1982 the same year the cairn was unveiled at the Dauphin museum.
Bolsover is a mining village now. In Peter Fidler's time it was agriculture as well as buckle and clay pipe making. (the church warden type clay pipe.)
The castle has been here since Saxon times, and this is the second castle to be built on the same site. It is open to the public and has quite a history as most castles have. From one side of the castles's windows you can look out and see Peter Fidler's home. Crossing over to the other side of the castle the windows reveal the home he would later build.
Peter Fidler's maternal grandfather was a Peter Glossop and here is where the name Peter seems to have entered the family tree. Canada's explorer, Peter received the name in 1769 and the name seems to be a part of every generation since. Peter had a nephew Peter. My husbands grandfather was Peter and our youngest grandson has Peter as a second name.
Would you like to visit Bolsover - today?
Peter Fidler - The Forgotten Geographer
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