Schofield, Thomas (1800-1880)

Thomas Schofield was born in 1800 in Wheatley, Nottinghamshire, and died at the age of eighty in 1880. He was a glass and china merchant and established his shop in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, in1829 in New Square. (see Pigott’s Directory) . Between them he, and later his son William, built the business into the foremost in the county, supplying the great houses such as Chatsworth and Haddon Hall. His premises are referred to  in numerous unconnected reports in the Derbyshire newspapers of the time simply as “Schofield’s Yard”.

Thomas was active in public affairs and was an Elector of the Liberal Party for East Derbyshire in the first election after the Reform Act of 1860, when the Liberal Party won office under the leadership of William Gladstone. He was also a member of the Ratepayers Committee.

We know a lot about his private life but all that is relevant is that he married three times and had two sons and four daughters. His first wife was baptised in the Anglican Church, but all their children were baptised in Primitive Methodist  chapels. We think that his marriages also took place in Primitive Methodist chapels. The record of his third marriage, for example, is held in the Borthwick Institute, York, in the Non-conformist collection.

Thomas was buried  in the Chesterfield Parish Church  graveyard alongside his first wife, who had died on 2nd November 1837. Special permission had to be obtained because the burial ground had been closed for years. The ceremony was the first in Chesterfield in which the new Burial Act of 1880 allowed the hymn to be “given out” by a minister of “the Methodist Connexion.”. The vicar of the Parish Church read the burial service,

The Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald of the 21st May 1864 reports Thomas laying the cornerstone of a Primitive Methodist chapel in Brimington “on Tuesday”. The building, the report states, was intended to hold about 400 people, and must, therefore have been quite large. After the ceremony there was tea laid out in a field lent by Mr. John Holmes, and the meeting was then addressed by Mr. Henry Daykin, the Chairman, the Rev. J. Haigh and Messrs, Lewis, Webb and Dew. About 120 people “sat down to tea.”

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