Gentry down the stream

by Nick

If you will forgive me for going all Yahoo Answers for a second, I am hoping one of you might have some historical or genealogical expertise in tracing obscure members of the English gentry. Other readers may find this post even more obscure than my normal offerings, so are welcome to skip it!

I am trying to find out more about a gentry family called Walker who hailed from Breadsall in Derbyshire. Apparently their coat of arms had three golden wheatsheaves. There are a few possible members whose names I have tracked down:

  • John Walker. Lived at some point before 1642.
  • Robert Walker. Was old enough to be a grandfather during the 1650s. Seems to have died at some point in the 1660s. I can’t find a record of his will in the parts of the Lichfield Consistory Court archives that are currently online.
  • Mary Stenson. Grand-daughter to Robert Walker, and lived with him during the 1650s. Possibly the same Mary Stenson of Breadsall Moor who married  John Burrowes of Smalley. She would have been born in about 1630.
  • Anthony Walker. Died after 1714, left money in his will for the poor of Breadsall.
  • John Walker. Only mentioned obliquely as husband of Phoebe, below.
  • Phoebe Walker. Wife of John Walker. A deed exists from 1735 for land in Breadsall Moor belonging to her. Possibly the Phoebe Hartley who married a John Walker in January 1694 in Halifax?
  • Thomas Walker. Died at the end of the eighteenth century. Husband to Martha Walker. Lived on the same estate at Breadsall Moor. Perhaps John and Phoebe’s grandson?
  • William Walker. Thomas Walker’s son, inherited the estate at Breadsall Moor.

The family’s seat seems to have been in Breadsall Moor, just outside Breadsall itself. Possible it was called Grange Close or Moore Close. Other parts of the land were called Dunmoor Close, Overhouse Yard, and Sheep Gapps.

I have done the obvious thing and looked in Burke’s Landed Gentry and the herald’s visitations for Derbyshire and also for Cheshire, which isn’t too far west of Breadsall. The family does not seem to feature in either, which suggests perhaps they were well-to-do yeomanry rather than proper gentry.

At this point I have drawn a blank as far as online digging goes. There seem to be a stack of papers relating to Mary Stenson’s courtship of various suitors in the Lichfield Records Office, which I will try to get sight of at some point. But am I missing any other obvious sources or places to look? If anyone has any bright ideas I would extremely grateful…