Elias Hall – A vertical stretch of the Strata across the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has bought a geological strata map of England, stretching from near Southport on the West Coast to near Doncaster on the East.  The engraved map shows the different  strata in hand painted colours e.g limestone, coal, gritstone etc.   The central section shows the strata across the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire.  It was produced by Elias Hall, and published in sections by William Phillips in 1824 and 1834.

Strata Derbyshire map - Elias Hall

Elias Hall (1764 – 1853) was a mineral surveyor, collector and geologist who James Croston writing in ‘On foot through the peak’ (1876) describes as being the ‘father of geology in Derbyshire’.  Croston praises Hall for directing his attention to the subject of geology ‘at a time when geology, as a science, had made but little progress, and in this country was comparatively unknown’.

Section of the Strata of Lancashire Coalfields

On visiting Castleton, Croston went to see Hall’s grave and describes him as an example ‘of genius in the humbler walks of life’.  Croston goes on to explain that Hall was a self taught man who at an early age ‘imbibed a taste for natural science’.

‘As a practical geologist he attained to a considerable degree of eminence, and was favourably known as the author of several productions having reference to the structure of the earth. His most important work, and that on which perhaps more than any other his reputation is founded, is a geological and mineralogical map of the great coal-field of Lancashire, with parts of the neighbouring counties of Derbyshire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire, coloured stratigraphically.’

The map publicises Hall’s work which was available to buy from his house in Castelton.  He produced geological models and relief maps and sold mineral specimens ‘whose precise Localities’ he had ascertained.

According to Croston the British Museum – on Joseph Bank’s insistence – bought two models for their collection.  I have done a quick search of the British Museum’s collections but couldn’t find any reference to them.  A google search brought up a newsletter from the Geological Curators Group (no. 9, April 1977) which shows that in the 1970s they were looking for the models too, but had drawn a blank.  I plan to try and find out whether they tracked them down and if the British Museum still have them.

I like to think that the 25 year old William Day might have met the 25 year old Elias Hall when he visited Castleton in 1789.  Judy Egerton’s Connoisseur article on William Day (Vol 174, 1970) states that Day’s interests were Geology, Minerology and Painting – in that order.  He also ‘formed one of the earliest private collections of minerals in England; and always took on his sketching tours a bag for specimens as well as a box of watercolours’.

Castleton watercolour by William Day, 1789

Castleton watercolour by William Day, 1789
Could one of these buildings have been Elias Hall’s house?

Day’s mineral collections ended up in Hampstead Central Library where it was destroyed during the blitz, so we can only guess what Derbyshire specimens he might have collected.  18th century Castleton was a small place so I feel that it is in the realms of possibility that Day and Hall might have met and talked geology over an ale or two – although sadly I have  no evidence to support this!

Dec 2013 update on Elias Hall part two.


15 Responses to Elias Hall – A vertical stretch of the Strata across the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire

  1. john says:

    wow, another excellent purchase of a fascinating historical document – well done! The cultural heritage of this part of the world would be sadly depleted by the closure of the Enlightenment project. In these dark days the project is shining a light of hope for the preservation of our past. Keep up the good work and thank you from a Derbyshire lifelong resident.

  2. Val Thomas says:

    Elias Hall was my great-great grandfather on my grandmother’s side. You can’t imagine how thrilled I am to read anything found about him. Someone in Castleton years ago sent me a photo of the monument headstone erected in his honour. I live in Canada. Thank you so much for putting this information online.

    • Bob Rainford says:


      Elias Hall was my great, great, great, great grandfather through the female line back to him. I have some of his original maps that were passed down through the Castleton family and there is still one descendent living in Castleton. I have a family tree and can be contacted by email on bob@rainford.co.uk


      Bob Rainford

      • Judy Povey says:

        And he’s my 4 x gt grandfather too 🙂 (so good to find there’s information about one of our forebears on the internet)

      • Jane Parkin says:

        Elias Hall was my 4x great grandfather also. Just started my family tree and was amazed at all the information there is on the Boardman family. My family come fro Glossop and my grandmother Devenar Ada Boardman was the daughter of James Kirk Boardman blacksmiths in the town. Any further history would be interesting.

  3. Wow, what a great person to be descended from! We are really pleased with the strata map. It will be on display in our Enlightenment! exhibition which opens on the 16th Feb – it is a pity you live in Canada and can’t pop over to see it in person.

    There is more information about Elias Hall in Croston’s book ‘On foot through the peak’. You can access free copies of it online, I can’t find the link to it right now, but I’ll post it for you tomorrow.


  4. Hi again Val,

    Here is the link to the full text of Croston’s ‘On foot through the peak’ – http://archive.org/stream/onfootthroughpea00crosiala#page/n5/mode/2up

    Pages 36 – 38 talk about Elias Hall.

    • Val Thomas says:

      Two years later a huge thank you for sending this link. I had forgotten about it due to circumstances but bookmarked the Elias Hall info and am so enjoying it this morning. It is wonderful. It is great to read anything on Elias Hall and family. He was such an interesting man. One time I read somewhere that he took his mouldings to parliament in England and they practically laughed him out of the building. He held his head high. His daughter Esther married David Boardman, a blacksmith in Castleton, and they had William Hyde Boardman who had Ada, my grandmother.

      We have had huge medical issues over these past months but are now back enjoying life and getting on the computer more. I have been in contact with Jane Parkin who is also a descendant of Elias Hall and she was so sharing in some photos around Glossop and information. I sent her some we had of the Boardman family in England from my mom’s collection. Still have a photo to send – must get to it now my husband’s in the clear with his health.

      Again thank you for this book link and it will be thoroughly enjoyed.

      Val Thomas – Canada

  5. Carolyn says:

    Today I went to the Castleton cemetery; it was full of interesting bits and that was the main one. A great tribute to this man I didn’t know about, which I why I was looking him up on the internet. . (I was also fascinated by the 5 sisters who lived into their 60s and 70s with none of them marrying, a man called Thomas Wildgoose. Not a surname I’d heard before.

    • Val Thomas says:

      Years later – I love your comment about the Castleton cemetery. My great plus grandfather was Elias Hall. Wish we lived in England. My mom was born there in 1914. It would be a thrill to travel around Glossop and Castleton now that I know a bit more about the family history over the years. Wildgoose – definitely a name we have not heard before lol!!

  6. Pingback: Elias Hall – Part two | Enlightenment!

  7. Val Thomas says:

    Hi Bob. I just now went on the link for Elias Hall found over a year ago. We have had numerous computer problems and also I have just now established an outlook account. It is great to see you are also related to Elias Hall and it’s wonderful you have some original documents. I read a story on him published in some paper and put online. He took his moulds apparently to Parliament in London and was laughed at. The story ends saying that Elias Hall as an old man could be seen sitting in the window of his shop working on the moulds. I loved my grandmother and grandfather so much and it is through my grandmother’s side that the relationship occurs. My grandmother was Ada Chesters (nee Boardman) born in Glossop, England. Her father was William Hyde Boardman. His father was David Boardman, blacksmith in Castleton who married Esther Hall. Her father was Elias Hall. Thank you so much for acknowledging my posting which has been made so many months ago now. How wonderful there was someone back then who thought the work of Elias was great to write a story on. Also a huge thank you to Anna for the link to “On Foot Through the Peak”. It means so much! Val Thomas

  8. Hello Val,

    Since I posted this I have also found this article about Elias Hall, I don’t know if this is the one you are referring too, but thought I’d post the link anyway –


    It is an unexpected delight that we have provided an opportunity for Elias Hall descendants to get in contact with each other!


  9. Judy Povey says:

    Thank you for the wonderful links posted here.

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