There were three successive, fathers and sons, called Edmund Darby of Rowley Regis, near Dudley in Staffordshire. Firstly Edmund Darby buried in St Giles Rowley Regis on 22 Feb 1687/8. Secondly Edmund Darby 1670-1746  Thirdly Edmund Darby 1695-1768. All were literate and left wills, held at Worcester.

All describe themselves as yeomen and all presumably worked the same land in the Manor of Rowley Regis. It is instructive to see how the name Edmund worked its way through seven generations to William Edmund Downing (bap 1849), whose mother was Emma Clifton and grandfather was Edmund Clifton, who in turn was the grandson of Edmund Darby III.

Placing the first Edmund Darby is difficult. Edmund Darby I was probably the son of Thomas Darby whose will of 1660 exists. More speculatively there may be a brother, uncle or perhaps cousin, John Darby. In his will, Thomas Darby, also yeoman of Rowley Regis, mentions his eldest son Edmund Darby and names his three overseers as his brother Edmund Darby, his brother-in-law Thomas Grove and his good friend Edward Parkshouse, Steward of the Manor of Rowley Regis. This Edward Parkshouse (d 1685) is the brother of Margaret Parkshouse, both illegitimate grandchildren of Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley. Margaret Parkshouse is known to have married a John Darby, the grandfather of Abraham Darby I of Coalbrookdale(1678-1717).  At the very least this reference to Edward suggests a close blood relationship between John Darby, Thomas Darby and hence Edmund Darby, i.e. brother, uncle or cousin, proof of which is made difficult by incomplete Parish Registers and absence of wills. It also has to be a possibility that Thomas Darby is not the father but the brother of Edmund Darby but the dates do not fit quite as well. Although Edmund is a relatively rare name there are no shortages of Edmund Darbys and indeed Abraham Darby calls one of his sons Edmund too (bap 2 Aug 1712, Broseley). 

Edmund Darby I married Alice Cartwright on 10 Dec 1660. She is still alive when the will is written in 1686, where Edmund mentions his children Mary (£30) and Alice and Katherine also £30 but not until they are 21. His eldest son is Edmund and the two younger sons John and Thomas are still clearly under age. Turning to the parish register of St Giles, Rowley Regis we obtain the following baptisms for the children of Edmund and Alice Darby.

Mary (bap 29 Nov 1663) married Christopher Chambers (15 May 1687), Edmund (bap 14 Feb 1669/70), Alice (bap 23 Dec 1672), Katherine (bap 28 Sep 1675), John (bap 13 Aug 1678) and Thomas (bap 25 Mar 1683). The young family would suggest that Edmund was possibly born in the late 1630's and it is difficult to identify the correct baptism.

The witnesses to his will are John Grove, Hannah Grove and John Grove Junior. This seems to make it significant that Thomas Darby in his will of 1660 mentions his brother-in-law Thomas Grove, who may be the elder brother of John Grove. In the Rowley Regis Poll Tax Roll of 1667, John Grove is mentioned as 'Solicitor at law' which makes it very likely he is indeed this witness, if not a relation. His wife Hannah was the youngest daughter of William Bendy, lawyer and parliamentarian. Although there is an extensive set of Groves families in the Rowley register it seems likely that Thomas Darby's named widow, Elizabeth was indeed the sister of Thomas and John Grove. Thomas was the head of the family and resided at Rowley Hall  and although both brothers are listed in Dugdale's 1663 visitation no further detail about their forebears is revealed. Elizabeth Grove on this reckoning would probably be Thomas Darby's second wife and not the mother of his elder children.

The Darby family and the Grove family certainly intertwine in the Rowley registers, and some of the earliest register entries in 1539 show two such marriages viz. William Grove married Agnes Darby on 10 Aug 1539 and George Grove married Alice Darby on 23 Dec 1539. 

Edmund Darby II married three times first to Margaret Bennet on 1 Jun 1689, but secondly to Hannah Bach on 5 Jun 1693. Hannah (1663-1708) is the mother of Edmund Darby III and she was the daughter of William Bach and Eleanor Coleborne. Eleanor Coleborne was the daughter of Humphrey Coleborne and Eleanor Turton.  The links of the family of Edmund Darby with this set of burghers in Dudley reinforces the view that there is shared sixteenth century ancestry of Edmund Darby and Abraham Darby.

Probate was granted on Edmund Darby's will on 12 June 1688. His sole executor was his wife Alice. The inventory of goods, including some substantial cheese making paraphernalia, came to £72, appraised amongst others by Christopher Chambers and William Woodhouse. 



Selected Sources and notes


Parish Registers of Rowley Regis (BMSGH transcripts)

Wills of Edmund Darby (x3) , Worcester Record Office.

Will Thomas Darby, Yeoman of Rowley Regis, Probate 1660 National Archives PCC

Will of Humphrey Coleborne, Probate 15 Sep 1660, National Archives PCC.

A History of West Bromwich, Mary Willett, 1882. (Grove of West Bromwich cousins)

Note Also Thomas Wilmer of Dudley (1594-1680) was an uncle to Margaret Parkshouse and his daughter Anne married an Edward Grove of Compton.

Edward Parkshouse was also the nephew of Dud Dudley and was allegedly the person who urged his uncle to write 'Metallum Martisi' .