The HANBURY Family (Dennis Jackson 2004)
The HANBURY family were among the pioneers of coal mining in South Staffordshire. John HANBURY, who died in 1792, was active in the Brownhills Collieries for many years and his son William (I), and then his grandson William (II), carried on these interests in the industry, being involved in a series of coal and other mineral leases which gradually brought the workings further north towards Cannock. Several of their coal mines were named as “Coppice Colliery”.
In 1843, William (II) purchased the title of Lord of The Manor of Norton and with it the freehold and mineral rights of the Manor which extended to the waste lands south of the village of Five Ways. He did not exploit these rights to the full at the time but leased small areas of coal to The Cannock Chase Colliery Company in the 1880’s.
William (II) died childless and his sole heir was his nephew Robert William whose father, Robert (VI) HANBURY, had opened mines in the Tamworth area (including Birch Coppice).
Robert William HANBURY had not been involved in coal mining at all. He had enjoyed a successful career as a prominent Banker and Magistrate living in the Tamworth area. He had represented Tamworth, and later Preston, as a Member of Parliament. He was at one time Minister of Agriculture, became Financial Secretary to The Treasury and a Privy Councillor, and lived at Ilam Hall near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. But the prospects of opening a coal mine was yet another aspiration to support his extravagant spending so it is not surprising that Robert William continued in his uncle’s footsteps and opened yet another “Coppice” near Five Ways in 1893.
The driving force for the operations at the new Coppice Colliery was Robert William’s wife, Lady HANBURY, who cut the first turf and who was nominated as the “Coalmaster” for the mine. She must have been one of the few, if not the only, female to hold such a title. She took a great interest in the welfare of the local miners and such was her popularity at Five Ways that the pit became known as “The Fair Lady” or “The Lady” in her honour.
Lady HANBURY was most prominent in times of hardship and she often provided comforts for the miners’ families. She died in 1931.