Head Teacher of Somercotes National Infant School 1878-1919
Elizabeth Jones was born in St. Alkmund;s Parish, Derby in 1854, the fifth and youngest child of David Jones (b. Anglesea), a journeyman joiner, and Mary Ann Jones (b. Newborough, Leicestershire). The 1861 Census showed that Elizabeth and her family were living at the Old Stone House, Lower Somercotes. David Jones eventually became the foreman in the pattern shop at Alfreton Ironworks. Elizabeth attended school in Somercotes and became a Pupil Teacher in 1861. At eighteen Elizabeth Jones went to Derby Training College and was then Mistress of Aldercar School until 1878 when she became Mistress at Somercotes Infant School. She was twenty-four years old.
The 1891 Census showed that Elizabeth Jones was the head of the household at 91, Coupland Place, Somercotes and that her elderly mother lived with her as the housekeeper. In 1901 Miss Jones lived alone on Birks Terrace, off Coupland Place, as her mother had died. Miss Jones remained a spinster throughout her life as at that time married women who were teachers could not continue to teach. She was an active member of the National Union of Teachers during its inception and early years and records show that she represented Derbyshire at the N.U.T. Conference in Llandudno in 1905. A great deal is known about Somercotes Infant School and school life at the time in the village as Elizabeth Jones kept regular records in the School Log Book which still survives. (It is in the County Records at Matlock).
Miss Elizabeth Jones Teacher at Sleetmoor Lane, Infants School
Miss Jones retired on May 17th 1919 after being headmistress of Somercotes Infant School for forty-one years. Her successor was Miss F. N. Coldicott of New Sawley. After her retirement Elizabeth Jones continued to live in Somercotes where she had educated so many children. Her death was reported in “The Sheffield Independent” newspaper on February 5th 1929. At the time she lived at 6, Victoria Street.
“The funeral took place in Somercotes Church Yard on Saturday February 23rd of Miss Elizabeth Jones (75), who was for many years headmistress of Somercotes Infant School. She was well-known for her work among ex-servicemen, many of whom were present at her funeral which was conducted by the Rev. R. E. Birtwistle (vicar). The choir attended and there were many beautiful floral tributes.”
Although Elizabeth Jones never married nor had children of her own she devoted her life to the education of the youngest and poorest children of Somercotes for forty- one years. Probate records show that she bequeathed her estate (totalling £926.2s.5d) to Leonard Watson, a builder, who lived on Sleetmoor Lane.
Judith Fitzhugh February 2018