• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Whenever you search in PBworks, Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) will run the same search in your Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Gmail, and Slack. Now you can find what you're looking for wherever it lives. Try Dokkio Sidebar for free.



Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 8 months ago

The Real Parson Darby

Extracted from the 1st "Library Lecture" given by Peter Tipton in October 1999 to celebrate 25 years of the Yateley Library


For the First Yateley Library Lecture new research was undertaken into the highwayman named Parson Darby. The highwayman appears to have been entirely mythical, or to have existed so long ago that no records can be found. However during the research into the ecclesiastical records of the Diocese of Winchester a clergyman named Rev Joseph Darby was found, and he was a curate in Frimley in the early 1800s.


Of course this discovery caused a considerable amount of excitement. Did he die peacefully in his bed -- or on a gibbett?


This is the CV of Rev Joesph Darby MA Oxon:


  • Christened: 15 April 1781 at Rowley Regis, Staffs son of Joseph & Mary Darby
  • Matriculated St Edmund Hall Oxford University aged 21 on 20 May 1802
  • Curate of Fordingbridge 10 Jun 1805 with a stipend of £60
  • Graduated MA Oxford 1806
  • Curate Frimley 1810
  • Curate Epsom nominated 25 Oct 1811, licensed 17 Feb 1812 - ca 1826 with a stipend of £80
  • Curate of Bromley by Bow ca 1826 - 17 Dec 1840
  • Vicar of Skenfrith, Llandaff 28 May 1830 - 17 Dec 1840
  • Died 17 Dec 1840 of "natural causes" aged 58 at Bromley-by-Bow in East London, occupation "a clergyman".


So here is a Parson Darby, who was a local curate for a maximum of two years between 1810 to 1812, and he died one month before 1841. But there the similarities with the highwayman end.


If you care to look at the Frimley Parish Registers you can see his signature officiating at the baptisms and at the marriages of three couples in Frimley (101,102 & 103) between 1 May 1810 amd 2 Oct 1810. William Smith, the acting minister of Frimley, married the next couple 11 Aug 1811 (No 104). Marriage no. 100 in Frimley was performed by Rev J. Richards (retired) on 12 Nov 1808. I did check to see whether there were any records of Joseph Darby being held in a Surrey Gaol between 11 July 1809 and East 1811. I am indebted to Dr Michael Pearson of the The National Library of Wales who sent me photocopies of the documents for Skenfrith, Monmouthshire mentioning the Rev Darby. He did visit Skenfrith, but it seems he was mostly an absentee vicar, appointing a curate to officiate for him. Rev Joseph Darby only signed the Skenfrith registers three times: 1 baptism in July 1830, one marriage banns and one burial in Sept 1837. On 24 August 1841 George Dempster Miller was presented to Skenfrith by Mrs Sarah Pugh, widow of Epsom, so it seems that Parson Darby became Vicar of Skenfrith as a result of his 14 years as curate in Epsom. Darby had orginally been presented to Skenfrith by Sir John Biggs Bart (of Guernsey) and Mrs Sarah Pugh, widow.


Back to The Parson Darby Myth

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.