Litfield Farm, Ridgeway

.John Staniforth was born in 1813 in Mosborough, the son of John Staniforth, a Miller of Beighton, notable for running Beighton and Bedgreave Mill, and his wife Mary Morton.

John had two sisters that married into the Jubb family of Drakehouse, Olivia married John Jubb, and Jane married James Shemeld Jubb. Although John himself only lived a short life, he is perhaps most notable for a surviving love letter he wrote to Mary Havenhand.

Mary was the daughter of publican James Havenhand of High Lane, Ridgeway. In a love letter he wrote to her while she was staying with family in Northampton. He incorporated a brief will leaving all of his copyhold land at Litfield, which he inherited from his father, who in turn inherited it from his own grandfather George Staniforth of Litfield.

The letter reads:

Mosbro Hill Nov 25 1835

My Dear Mary,

I hope you will forgive me for not writing sooner but it's my neglect not that I have anything more to do. Your mother is very anxious to hear from you, she is very much displeased at your Aunt Ann for sending for you so soon: she has said she would write to her but I told her I thought you would not like that. She is going to Duckmanton tomorrow, they will talk it over there. Emma Keeton has had an offer of a place as a chamber maid at the Commercial Inn at Chesterfield, 14 guineas wage but she has declined it. I told her about S. Storey but she said she could mind better than that. There was a dancing at Newtons on Monday evening and your sister and George was there and got home in very good time on Tuesday morning a little after one, if it had been you I wonder what would have been said, there would have been no admittance, but I believe she can do no wrong she is more than ever. I told you that C Reaney was not likely to get better but I am happy to say there is some hopes now but very poor ones. My dear Mary I told you that I would send you something that you must take care of therefore I write you this that may come to all that belongs me if anything should happen, but I have no thoughts of going to Kingdom Come yet! therefore I will begin with my tale, you must not smile at it.

I John Staniforth the younger at my decease do give and bequeath to Mary the eldest daughter of James Heavenhand of High Lane (The Sickle and Sheaf) in the parish of Eckington in the County of Derby all that Copyhold Landed property situate at Litfield in the parish of Eckington Co. of Derby, now in the possession of John Mallender of Litfield.

Signed by me John Staniforth Junior

Dated the 25th day of November 1835.

Now my dear Mary I do not know that I have anything more to say at present unless I could see you which you know I would like very much to do. Your Father, Mother, Sisters and Brother are all very well therefore I must say farewell for a while but I remain My ever dear Mary

Your Most Affectionate Cos.

Kiss do do John Staniforth Jun.

Post Paid Miss M. Heavenhand to be left at Mrs. Masons

Saint James Street


The Eckington Court Roll tells us that to this court came Mary Havenhand of Eckington aforesaid spinster the eldest daughter of James Havenhand of High Lane, publican - produced a document or paper writing purporting to be the will of John Staniforth the Younger late of Mosbrough, Gentleman deceased where he bequeathed to her the copyhold property of Litfield. She prayed to be admitted this was entered on the 14th January 1839.

John passed away at the age of 25 in 1838, and was buried February 26th that year. Mary took the letter to George Sitwell’s court baron, held at the White Hart Inn in Eckington on January 14th, 1839 before Bernard Wake, the Steward and was allowed to take over the land at Litfield. Mary’s father had passed away the month before, which is likely the reason she pursued her claim.

A memorial in Eckington Churchyard reads:


To The Memory of

James Havenhand

Late of High Lane

Who Departed This Life

December 8th 1838

Aged 47 Years

I was with pain so sore oppressed

Which were my strength aware

And made me crave that heavenly

Rest which never will decay

The inn that James ran was known as ‘Warmhearthstone’ and later the Sickle and Sheaf. It remained in the occupation of the Havenhand family for over a century. Samuel Havenhand was the publican for many years and his widow Elizabeth took it on, so that it was known as ‘Betty Haner’s’ a corruption of ‘Havenhand’ after her death at the age of 81 in 1872. Her son Sam then became the tenant. He died in 1893 and his sister then took over.