Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811> This page
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811
The parishes and chapelries as they were just over 200 years ago. Extracts from an early Derbyshire history

The Town of Derby
From : 'History of Derbyshire' by David Peter Davies
Derbyshire

The Town of Derby is described below under sub headings. The headings are included to aid your research, but are not in the book:

[Reminder: some buildings described on this page may no longer exist]

See the wonderful

engraving of Derby,

dated 1811, by Henry Moore

Derby in 1040

"Soon after the consolidation of the Heptarchy into a monarchy under Egbert, we find that Derby was made a royal borough. The privileges which it enjoyed by charter in these early times must have been very great : as, in the reign of Edward the Confessor,[1] (1040) [sic] Derby contained 243 burgesses or freemen; possessed of property equal to many thousands in our times. Forty-one burgesses had twelve plough-gates of land belonging to the borough divided among them; besides this, they held twelve plough-gates (as much land as twelve teams usually ploughed in the year,) of their own. The meadow ground was divided into doles and the tillage by meers. The freemen held land by a kind of copyhold right: the King, the Earl and the church being the chief proprietors. The annual rent paid by the borough to crown, was of twenty-four pounds. At this time, there were fourteen corn-mills in the town, Two parts of the profits arising from tax, tolls, forfeitures, and customs, belonged to the King, and the third to the Earl".

Derby after 1066

"At the time of the Norman-survey, Derby was much reduced. It could boast of no more than a hundred burgesses, and forty were minors. The fourteen corn mills were reduced to ten ; and there were a hundred and twenty three dwellings waste and empty. This unprosperous state was occasioned, no doubt, by the change of government ; and by the loss of lives, in the endeavour to support Harold against the Norwegian and Norman monarchs.
[There follows a brief description of events leading up to the Battle of Hastings[2]]

Harold being slain in this decisive battle, William took possession of the English throne[1], by a pretended destination of king Edward, and an irregular election of the people; while, in reality, he ascended it by the right of conquest. The conqueror, in order to establish himself firmly in the public interest, had promised his daughter in marriage to Edwin Earl of Mercia; but when that nobleman claimed the fulfilment of his promise, William gave him an absolute denial. This disappointment, added to many other reasons of disgust, induced Edwin to concur with several others of his incensed countrymen, to make a general effort for the recovery of their ancient liberties. But the king, supported by many powerful leaders, advanced with celerity into the North, and came upon the rebels before they were in a condition to make resistance; and finding no other means of safety, they had recourse to the clemency of the victor. The property of the Mercian Earl was confiscated; and Derby, with a considerable rent-roll, was given to William Peverel, a Norman captain, and the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. In order to encourage industry and to increase the population, the new possessor augmented the privileges of Derby by a new charter. But the annual rent was raised from £24 to £30; and 12 thraves, or about eighteen bushels of corn; and as an equivalent for the surcharge, the hamlet of Litchurch, was added to the town.

Henry I.[1] by a charter signed at the Devizes, granted the town of Derby to Ralph Earl of Chester. But Mr. Hutton is of opinion, that this grant extended not beyond the minority of one of the Peverels. In the reign of this prince, Derby was made a corporate town. The charter by which this was done, was altered and improved by Henry II.; and renewed and enlarged by Richard I. and John. In the beginning of the reign of the latter, the corporation and burgesses were sued in the Court of Exchequer, for sixty-six marks which they owed for rent and the confirmation of their liberties: and in the sixth of the same reign, they were sued for sixty marks, and two palfreys for rent, and ten pounds for services : and having such a charter as the burgesses of the town of Nottingham: and again in the twelfth year of the same reign, the burgesses of Derby were charged forty pounds, for the fee-farm of the town.

In the reign of Henry II[1] a power was granted to the burgesses of Derby and their heirs, of not permitting a Jew to live in the town.

Edward III.[1] in the beginning of his reign deprived the corporation of their liberties and summoned the burgesses to answer at the King's Court, "By what authority they took a toll and paid none? Why they claimed the exclusive privilege of dying cloth, and prohibiting it in every place within thirty miles, except Nottingham ? By what right they had to be toll-free throughout the king's dominions; to choose a bailiff every year; and to have a fair on Friday in Whitsun-week, another at the festival of St. James, which continued seventeen days? What right they had to a coroner ; and not to be sued out of their own borough? And by what authority they held markets on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and from Thursday-eve to Friday, every week?"

To shew that they were justified in their proceedings, the burgesses produced the charters they had received from their different monarchs : and for the privilege of toll, laid before him, one which he himself had granted them in the first year of his reign. Upon this he was convinced of the justice of their cause; and, on their consenting to pay a fine of forty marks, restored to them the enjoyment of those liberties which he had so unjustly questioned and seized: and when they had promised, to pay a yearly rent of £46 16s, he established them in, their rights, enjoyed by their ancestors from time immemorial.

James I. by a charter dated at Westminster, the seventh of March, in the ninth year of his reign, (1611) recapitulates and confirms many of the privileges which had been granted in former reigns ; and further grants,-"that the Bailiffs, Recorder and Town Clerk, or any three of them, shall have a power to keep a Court of Record upon Tuesday in every second week; shall be Justices of peace for the year, and the year ensuing their election to the office of bailiffs; shall have the return of all writs, and process, without the interference of any foreign justice; shall have a power to keep Quarterly Sessions, two Court Leets, and six Fairs yearly; shall be toll-free throughout the whole kingdom, and take toll and tillage from all, except the Duchy of Lancaster, which shall pay but half."

In 1638, Charles I. authorised, that the power of the bailiffs should in future, be vested in one person, who was to be chosen annually, and called a Mayor. At that time there were two bailiffs; and it was agreed, that one of them should enjoy the new honour for the first year, and the other succeed him: but the successor dying before his mayoralty commenced, the first mayor continued in office for two years.

But this charter was surrendered to Charles II. in the year 1680, and the present one obtained at the expence of nearly £400. The corporation consists of a Mayor, nine Aldermen, fourteen Brethren, fourteen Common Council Men, a Recorder, a High Steward; a Town Clerk, and six Constables.

The borough of Derby sends two Members to Parliament; the right of whose election is vested in the freemen and sworn burgesses; and the mayor is the returning officer. It is impossible to ascertain, when the borough was first represented in Parliament: the perfect list of representatives commences, with the twenty-third Parliament of Edward I. in the year 1294.

A Court of Requests is held every third Tuesday at the Guildhall. It was erected in the year 1766. The principal inhabitants of the town are commissioners, three of whom constitute a bench, under the direction of a clerk.

William, after his subjection of England, was sensible that the want of fortified places had greatly facilitated his conquest, and might at any time facilitate his expulsion. He therefore made all possible haste to remedy the defect, by building magnificent and strong castles in all the towns. "William," says Matthew Paris, - "exceeded all his predecessors, in building castles, and greatly harassed his subjects and vassals with these works." In this reign, or in the reign of Stephen in the subsequent century, "when everyone that was able built a castle, and the whole kingdom was covered with them, probably was erected the Castle at Derby. "On the south-east corner of the town," says Mr. Gibson. "stood formerly a Castle; though there have been no remains of it within the memory of man. But that there was one, appears from the name of the hill, called Cow-castle-hill ; and the street that leads West from St. Peter's church, in ancient deeds bearing the name of Castle-gate." Mr. Hutton, however, nineteen years ago, with the acknowledged enthusiasm of an Antiquary, and the indefatigable zeal of "an old castle-hunter," discovered the vestiges of this castle in an orchard on the summit of the hill. One of the mounds eighty yards long, runs parallel with the houses upon Cock-pit-hill, perhaps one hundred yards behind them; also parallel; with those in St. Peter's parish, but twice the distance. This place of security, then stood out of the town in an open field; no houses were near it. It was guarded by the Derwent on one side, and on the other ran the London road. This I apprehend was the chief approach, because the passage afterwards bore the name of Castle-street. From thence also the fields towards the East acquired the name of Castle-fields." This author is of opinion, that the Derby Castle was destroyed during the civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster; which is not at all improbable".

Early Religious Houses

"We are informed by ancient authors, that there were six religious houses in the town of Derby. Several of these were in existence at the suppression of the orders by Henry VIII[1]; but some of them had previously decayed.

The Monastery of St. Helens, belonging to the order of Austin Friars, was situated on the spot, where the Spar Manufactory belonging to Messrs. Brown and Son now stands, near the upper end of Bridge-gate. It was erected in the reign of king Stephen, by Robert de Ferrieres, second Earl of Derby. He placed an Abbot and Canons in it; and for their support, gave them the Churches of Crich and Uttoxeter the tithe of his revenue in the town of Derby, the third part of a meadow lying on the side of Oddebroc, between Derby and Markeaton, land in Aldwerk and Osmaston, and as much wood as they could draw with one cart from Duffield or Chaddesden. But early in the reign of Henry II. Hugh the Dean of Derby, gave all his lands in Derby and Derley, with the patronage of St. Peters to Albin, then Abbot of St. Helens, upon condition of his building an Abbey at Derley. This proposition was accepted : and the Abbot and Canons quitted the noise and bustle of a town, for the more pleasant and peaceful banks of the Derwent, St. Helens, however, continued a religious house some time longer; for in the twentieth of Edward I[1], a Magister Domus S. Helenæ Derbeæ, is mentioned, as distinct from the Abbot of Derley.

On the north-west side of Nun's-green, in the meadow that was called Nun's-Close, stood a priory of Benedictine Nuns, dedicated to St. Mary de Pratis. It was founded by the Abbot of Derley in the reign of Henry II, in the year 1160. The Bishop of Coventry committed its care to its zealous founder, and granted him a licence to consecrate the virgins that were received into it. Henry III. ordered five pounds to be paid every year by the bailiffs out of the fee-farm of the town of Nottingham, to procure the prayers of the Prioress and Convent, for the salvation of his father King John. Henry IV, by charter in the thirteenth year of his reign, granted to this religious house several acres of land, in Alsop-in-the-Dale, the Peak­forest, and in Fairfield in the same forest. It was also possessed of land in Langley and Trusley, and of several messuages and parcels in Aston-upon-Trent. The mills anciently situated on the Markeaton-brook, and the green on which the Nunnery stood, belonged to it. - These, and some other valuable revenues were estimated at the dissolution at eighteen pounds six shillings and eight pence a year.

A Priory of Dominican or Black Friars, once stood on the spot where the mansion and garden of M. Henley, Esq. are now situated in the Friar­gate. It is thought to have been founded in very early times; and was dedicated to the blessed Virgin. Three roods and a half of land were granted to this house in the reign of Edward I ; and in that of Edward II, in 1296, a patent was obtained to purchase ten acres more. Nine cottages, eight acres of land, one meadow, and one croft situated in the parish of St. Werburgh, were also attached to it. At the dissolution, the revenue of this priory was estimated at twenty-one pounds, eighteen shillings, and eight pence; and in the thirty-fifth of Henry VIII, it was granted to one John Hinde ; from whom, by different purchases, the scite has descended to the present possessor.

Near the brook on the North of St. James's­lane stood a cell of Cluniac Monks. It is of Saxon origin, and was founded by Waltheof, a nobleman of that nation, who was beheaded by William the Conqueror, in the year 1074. He dedicated it to St. James, and presented it to the Abbey of Bermondsey in Southwark. - In the wars between Henry V, and the French, the Priory of St. James was detached from the Abbey of Cluny in France, to which the whole order was subject, and afterwards depended upon one of the same order at Lenton near Nottingham. Though protected as a poor hospital by Henry III, and considered as an alien Priory by Edward I, at the suppression, it was taken possession of by Henry, when it was estimated at the yearly value of ten pounds.

A Maison de Dieu, a hospital for leprous persons, was founded in Derby as early as the reign of Henry II. This was intended for the reception of lepers, and superintended by a master.

There was also in Derby an old hospital of royal foundation, consisting of a master and several leprous brethren, dedicated to St. Leonard. It is thought, however, by some, that there was but one house for the reception of lepers, and that these two are the same; but if there were two, one must have stood at the Newlands, and the other at St. Mary's Bridge­gate.

St. Mary's was an old building in the Saxon style, situated upon the verge of the Derwent, and forming a part of the old bridge; it is thought to have been one of the six churches mentioned in Domesday[3]. During the reign of Charles II, the Presbyterians met for the celebration of divine worship within its wall ; with the exception of that short period, it had not been used as a church for many ages. In the days of its prosperity, Heanor constituted a part of its appropriation.

Such were the temples in which the Deity was worshipped three centuries ago; when it was thought a crime to give full scope to the social affections of our nature; and a virtue to repress and annihilate the strongest and most pleasing emotions of the human heart. We turn, then, with pleasure, to contemplate those structures, whose walls, so far from resounding with the praises of monkish seclusion, and the efficacy of perpetual virginity; re-echo the precepts of that amiable religion, which confirms and encourages every virtuous feeling of the breast".

Places of Public Worship in 1811

"Derby contains five churches, the principal of which is

All Saints ; or as it is found written in old writings Allhallows. The first mention made of this church, is, in the time of Henry III, when it is said that there was a church in Derby dedicated to All Saints. In the succeeding reign, it was made a free chapel of the king, and with its prebendaries, and other appurtenances was exempted from all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, excepting that of the Pope himself: this freedom it still possesses. This church was at that time collegiate; had a rector, who was the Dean of Lincoln; and seven collegians, who it is thought resided in a house situated to the North of the church, which even to this day bears the name of The College. The college possessed lands, tithes, and other emoluments in the reign of Henry VIII. to the amount of £38 14s. a year clear; a sum equal to twenty times as much of our money. Henry, however, took possession of it all; but Mary, in the first year of her reign, returned a part of the property, and vested it in the hands of the corporation, whose gift the curacy now is.
In the reign of Henry VIII. or Mary, the steeple, being in a very decayed state, was taken down, and the present elegant piece of architecture built up in its place. This beautiful Gothic tower is the object of admiration and praise to everyone that sees it. The workmanship is of a superior kind; and reckoned excellent; it is richly ornamented with tracery, crockets, pinnacles and battlements; and rising to the height of 180 feet, it towers above the other churches and houses, and forms a beautiful and striking object from the surrounding country. [A verse is omitted]
There is a tradition, that this tower was built at the sole expence of the bachelors and maidens in the town; and that it was formerly the custom, when a young woman, a native of the place, was married, for the bachelors to ring the bells. Upon a fillet on the North-side, is an inscription, in old English, Young Men and Maids, which seems to corroborate the tale; but upon the whole, the opinion is considered to be merely conjectural.
Between this tower, and the body of the church, there exists an uncommon instance of architectural incongruity; for to this beautiful specimen of Gothic architecture is added a Grecian body, of the chastest proportions, and most classical design. It was built from a design by Gibbs, in the years 1723-4-5; and was opened for public worship on the twenty-first of November, 1725. The expences of the erection were defrayed by voluntary subscriptions, which were raised and, directed by Dr. Hutchinson : of whom Mr. Hutton speaks as follows :- "The curate, Dr. Hutchinson, not only subscribed £40; but being a man of genteel address, charged himself with raising the whole money, and executing a masterly work, without a shining expence to his parish. He was a complete master of the art of begging. The people to whom he applied were not able to keep their money; it passed from their pockets to his own, as if by magic. Wherever he could recollect a person likely to contribute to this desirable work; he made no scruple to visit him at his own expence. He took a journey to London, to solicit the benefaction of Thomas Chambers, Esq; ancestor of the Earl of Exeter, who gave him one hundred pounds. If a stranger passed through Derby, the Doctor's bow and his rhetoric were employed in the service of the church. His anxiety was urgent; and his powers so prevailing, that he seldom failed of success. When the Waites fiddled at his door for a Christmas box, instead of sending them away with a solitary shilling, he invited them in, treated them with a tankard of ale, and persuaded them out of a guinea. I have seen his list of subscribers, which are 589; and the sum £3,249 11s. 6d. But it appears, he could procure a man's name by his eloquence easier than his money; for 52 of the subscribers never paid their sums, amounting to £137 16s. 6d. The remaining £3,111 15s. being defective, he procured a brief, which added £598 5s. 6d. more. Still, though assiduity was not wanting money was; he therefore sold six burying places in the vault for six guineas; and twelve of the principal seats in the church, by inch of candle, for £475 13s. which were purchased as freeholds by the first inhabitants."
The interior of this church is large, light, and elegant; five columns on each side support the roof; the windows are large and handsome: and the symmetry and harmonious proportions of the building, have a pleasing effect. It is divided into two unequal parts, by a rich open screen-work of iron. The western division is appropriated for the celebration of public worship, with a spacious organ-gallery, furnished with a good organ. The eastern division is separated into three parts: one is used for chosing the Mayor, and for the vestry business: the centre is an elegant chancel; and the southern side is the dormitory, and contains the monuments of the Cavendish family; and many persons of that illustrious house, are buried in the vault beneath.
[There are then descriptions of the monuments within the church and also the inscriptions on these memorials. The details are not included in full here but were erected in the memory of the following:
Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury d. 13 Feb 1607[4]; William Earl of Devonshire d. 20 June 1628 and his wife Christiana - with busts of their four children; Caroline, Countess of Besborough d. 1760; William Ponsonby, Earl of Besborough, her husband d. 1793; Rev Michael Hutchinson D.D. d. 10 July 1730[5]; Richard Croshaw, Esq d. 1631 bu. London[6]]
When the church was rebuilt, a tomb-stone was discovered bearing the date of 1400. It is an alabaster slab, having the figure of a priest, as large as life, holding a sacramental cup, carved on it in scroll lines ; and round the edges is the following inscription:
Subtus me jacet Johannes Lawe, Quondam Canonicus, Ecclesi Omnia Sancti Derby, ac subdecanus ejusdem Qui Obiit Anno Dni Millimo CCCmo. propitiatur Deus. Amen.
This stone is still preserved, and placed in the North aisle of the church.

St. Alkmund's Church stands at northern end of the town [Bridge Gate]; and was erected about the middle of the eight century. Tradition informs us that Alkmund, son of Alured king of Northumberland, heading a party to restore his deposed father to the throne, was unsuccessful, and put to death. He was considered as a saint and a martyr; and his canonization soon followed. He was interred at Littleshull in Shropshire; but on its being discovered, that miracles were wrought at his shrine; his credulous adherents, removed his remains to a more respectable cemetery. Derby was fixed upon, and the church of St. Alkmund was honored with his relics and his name at the same time. The voice of fame and superstition, ranked his shrine next to that of the holy Becket at Canterbury, in its power of working miracles; and his tomb was frequently honored with the presence of many pilgrims from the northern nations.
In very early times, this church was presented to the abbey of Derley : to which it was subject till the dissolution, when it was seized by Henry. In the following reign, Mary[1] made it over to the Corporation of Derby, who, ever since, have had the presentation. In the king's books, St. Alkmund is represented as a vicarage of the value of £11 6s. 8d.[7] and since the year 1734, it has enjoyed an endowment of sixty pounds a year; bequeathed by an old bachelor, of the name of Goodwin, who was descended from an ancient family in the town of Derby.
The steeple contains six bells: and the building has a number of rude heads, and other sculptures designed for ornaments, in different parts. In the parish are included, Chester, Derley, Quarndon and Little Eaton; and the last two have chapels of ease.

The church of St. Peter is situated near the southern extremity of the town [St Peter Street] and is thought to be the same as the one mentioned in the time of King Stephen[1], dedicated to the same apostle. In 1530 a chapel was founded by Robert Liversage, a dyer, of Derby; he endowed it for the continued support of a priest who was to celebrate divine worship, and say mass every Friday; and afterwards he was to distribute thirteen silver pence, to thirteen poor men or women, who might then be present. In this church was also a chancery founded in honour of the Virgin Mary. It was endowed with various messuages, cottages, gardens, lands, tenements, meadows, and hereditaments, which were granted by queen Mary to the Corporation of Derby. The living is a vicarage; and when Derley abbey was dissolved, the advowson was granted to the Corporation. The steeple contains six bells; and the villages of Normanton, Bolton, and Litchurch, belong to this parish.

St. Werburgh's[8] is situated on the western side of the town, upon the Markeaton brook [Friargate]. This church was, also, given in the reign of Stephen to the abbey of Derley; but at the dissolution it was recovered, and the vicarage is now in the hands of the king. It is probable, that the ancient church on this spot, was built before the conquest; but being situated so near the Markeaton-brook, its foundation was sapped by floods, and in 1601 the tower fell to the ground. To prevent the recurrence of a like accident, a new one was built on the East-side of the body of the church, contrary to the situation of steeples in general: but this, like the former, fell on the fifth of November, 1698. The present steeple has five bells, and the interior of the church, is light and handsome. There was a chantery to the blessed Mary in this church also; which was endowed with various messuages, gardens, cottages, and lands; which in the reign of Mary, were in the tenure and occupation of ten different persons, and by her were granted to the Corporation of Derby. Osmaston is part of the parish.

St. Michael's church stands in Queen-street, at no great distance from from that of St. Alkmund's. It belonged to the Abbey of Derley, and was taken possession of by Henry at the dissolution; but Mary[1] gave it to the bailiffs and burgesses of the town of Derby. The living is a vicarage; being united with St Werburgh's, and has a service once a month. The village of Alveston belongs to this parish.

Beside the above mentioned churches, there are several other places of public worship in the town of Derby.

The Unitarians have a meeting house in Friar-gate. This is a very old interest:- as early as the reign of Elizabeth, they had their private paces of assembling ; and in the reign of king Charles II. they obtained a licence, for celebrating divine worship, in the old chapel standing on St. Mary's Bridge. In the reign of James II they left the old chapel and removed to a large room near the Market-place. Thee they continued to assemble till the erection of the present meeting-house, in reign of King William[1].

The Independents, or Calvinists, have a place of worship near the Brook-side. This chapel was erected in the year 1785, by persons who had seceded from the congregation in Friar-gate, owing to a difference of opinion on religious doctrines.

The Baptists (both General and Perpendicular), the Quakers and the Methodists have chapels".

Charities in 1811

"One of the most considerable charities in Derby is the Devonshire Alms-houses, situated near All Saints; and founded by the famous Countess of Shrewsbury in the reign of queen Elizabeth, for eight men and four women. To each is granted two rooms, a sufficiency of coal, and half-a-crown a week. They are clad in dark cloathes, badged with E. S. (Elizabeth Shrewsbury) on a silver plate. The original building, which was of stone, was taken down about forty years since, and the present edifice erected from an original plan, at the expence of the Duke of Devonshire. The design of the front is unlike the style of architecture which generally characterizes establishments of charity; and would lead us to suppose, that it was the entrance to a nobleman's park, or pleasure-ground. The rules for the observance of the inmates are ; -"that they are not to marry or get drunk, without expulsion; to lie one night out incurs a forfeiture of four-pence : if absent one day, six-pence ; to miss prayers at All­Saints two-pence; to strike a blow one shilling; and if three blows, a discharge."

In Bridge-gate there are eight alms-houses, for an equal number of poor and aged of both sexes. They are called the Black Alms-houses, from the black gowns worn by the inhabitants, who receive eighteen-pence a week each. This foundation was laid by the family of Wilmot of Chaddesden, near 300 years ago; who ordered £40 a year, to be paid from the tithes of Denby, for its support.

Another alms-house for the widows of clergymen, is situated at the top of Friar-gate; and was instituted in the year 1716, by Edward Large of Derby, who endowed it with an estate, which produces £17 a year each, to the five residents.

A fourth charity of this class, called The Grey-coat Hospital, from the colour of the dress, once stood in Walker's-lane. It was supported by ample endowments; but the estate has vanished, and the building converted to other purposes.

For the education of the children of the poor, there is a Free-School in St. Peter's churchyard. It was originally erected by the Corporation of Derby, with a part of the donations belonging to the abbey of Derley, which had been presented to them by Mary. It is endowed with lands, set apart for its use; the receipts of which now support two masters. Several Sunday Schools have, likewise, been recently established in the town".

The Principal Buildings in 1811

"The principal buildings in Derby, besides the churches and meeting-houses, are a County and Town Hall, a County Gaol, an elegant Assembly Room, and a Theatre.

The County Hall is situated at the bottom of St. Mary's-gate: it was erected in the year 1660; and is a large and heavy building of free-stone. The Town Hall is a handsome structure, built by the Corporation, about the year 1731, on the scite of a more ancient one of wood and plaister, on the South-east side of the Market-place.

The County Gaol is situated on the western-side of the town near the upper-end of Friar-gate. It was erected in the year 1756, at the expence of the Corporation, aided by a donation of £400, presented by the Duke of Devonshire. It is a solid, plain, and respectable building of brick, well adapted for the purpose of its destination. The front, is from an excellent design, displaying solidity and strength; without that affectation of incongruous ornament, so frequently exhibited in modern buildings of a similar character.

The Assembly Room, is an elegant building of stone, situated on the North-side of the Market-place. Its foundation was laid in the year 1763, and completed, by subscription, in 1774. To this, also, the Duke of Devonshire, with most of the nobility and gentry of the county, was a very liberal contributor. A variety of musical instruments are sculptured on the pediment, figurative of the design of the building.

The Theatre, a neat building of brick, stands in Bold-lane, and was erected in the year 1773, at the expence of Mr. James Whitley. - The interior is plain and commodious".

[In a different part of the book the following equally important buildings are described:]

"The Derbyshire General Infirmary, is situated a little way out of the town, on the southern side, near the road leading to London.­ The ground on which it stands; was purchased of the Corporation of Derby, at the price of £200 per acre: and to prevent in future the too near approach of offensive objects, the committee have secured, for the exclusive use of the institution, above fourteen acres of the surrounding land. The healthfulness of the situation has likewise been very particularly attended to :- it is elevated, airy, and dry, abounding with excellent water, and accessible by a good road. The design of the building was arranged by Wm. Strutt, Esq. according to which, working plans were drawn by Mr. Browne, who also superintended the construction of a model, executed with architectural skill and ingenuity. The building is constructed of a beautiful, hard, and durable whitish stone; of a cubical form, with an elevation handsome, yet simple and unornamented; containing a light central hall with a double staircase. It is three stories high, and universally admired as well on account of the numerous conveniences it contains, as for its elegant simplicity. On a close inspection, the workmanship is found to be excellent; and the stability such, that in the whole building, there does not appear to be the slightest shake or crack. The iron dome, the wide stone gallery, and the very large stone staircase, resting upon the perforated floor of the hall, which covers part of the basement story, excite admiration; because, being the parts most difficult of execution, they appear nevertheless to possess the most perfect strength and solidity.
The committee, before the erection began, directed their attention to the means of obtaining the best plan; and in order to form a correct judgment on the subject, endeavored to learn from the experience of similar establishments, what were the principal objects to be kept in view in the construction of an edifice of this nature. The result of their enquiries, suggested several improvements, which have been carried into execution; and which have brought this Infirmary to a degree of perfection unknown to similar establishments.
[There then follows a description of the interior, not included]
The magnitude of the building, is equal to the accommodation of eighty patients, besides those with infectious diseases. This is doubtless greater number, than are likely at, present to want relief at any one time; but considering the increasing population of the county and town, it cannot be considered as too large.
The original estimate of the building was £10,500; but owing to some large expences, having been incurred which were not estimated, and other parts of the Institution being finished, which it was intended to defer to some future time, the expence of the erection very much exceeded the estimate. By the report of the committee, dated the 1st of June, 1809, it appears, that the expenditure, for land purchased and building the Infirmary, &c. amounted to £17,870 3s. 4d. From the same paper it also appears, that the donations, received by the treasurers for the institution, amount with their interest to £31,238 19s. 0d. so that the balance lodged in the different funds, &c. constituting the funds of the Infirmary, amount to £13,368 15s. 8d.
Three Physicians, four Surgeons, and a house Apothecary, have been appointed to the Institution. The Infirmary was opened for the reception of In, and the relief of Out-patients, on the 4th of June, 1810.

Not far from the Infirmary, and about the same distance from the town, is the Ordnance Depot. The ground on which this building stands, being an acre and a quarter, was purchased for the purpose by the Board of Ordnance in the year 1803. The respective buildings, erected according to a plan by Mr. Wyatt, the Architect, were compleated in 1805. These consist of an Armory in the centre; the room on the ground-floor, being seventy-five feet long by twenty-five broad, is calculated to contain fifteen thousand stand of arms; these are disposed here in the same order as those are in the Tower of London, and present a very pleasing appearance, on the entrance to the room.­ Above this is a room of the same proportions, containing accoutrements for the use of the army. On the North and South sides of the armory, are two magazines, capable of containing 1200 barrels of ammunition. These are internally arched with brick, to prevent accidents; and, for the same purpose, conductors have been erected at a little distance from each. Four dwellings are situated in the angles of the exterior wall; two of which are Barracks for a detachment of Royal Artillery, and the other two, are the residence of Officers in the Civil Department of the Ordnance.-
Besides these buildings, suitable workshops, &c. have been erected on the inside of the surrounding wall. The establishment is under the superintendance of an Ordnance Storekeeper, who is appointed by the Master-General of the Ordnance".

Trades of Derby

"Concerning the Trade of Derby, old authors are nearly silent. It is thought that the oldest carried on in the town was that of a dyer: and to corroborate this opinion, reference is made to the privilege enjoyed by the inhabitants in the reign of Edward III[1], and to the name of Full-street, which is said to have been the residence of the professors of that art. It is certain, however, that Wool was among the articles Of its most early commerce :- this was brought from the beautiful sheep-walks of the Peak, and retailed in the neigbourhood. Malt was another article, for which Derby was famed.­ "The reputation of Derby," says Camden, " at present proceeds from the assizes for the county being held there, and from the excellent good ale brewed in it."

Trade was confined to these articles until the commencement of the eighteenth century; when the stocking-frame machine, said to have been invented by a clergyman of Calverton, near Nottingham, in the reign of James I, was introduced into the town. This was a considerable addition to the commercial interests of the place; but what gave it a pre-eminence in this respect, was the erection of the first mill in this country for the manufacture of silk.

"The original mill, called the Silk mill to denote its pre-eminence, being the first and largest of its kind ever erected in England, stands upon an island in the river Derwent[9]. Its history is remarkable, as it denotes the power of genius, and the vast influence which even the enterprises of an individual has on the commerce of a country.

"The Italians were long in the exclusive possession of the art of silk throwing, and the merchants of other nations were consequently dependent on that people for their participation in a very lucrative article of trade, and were frequently deprived of their fair profits by exorbitant prices charged for the original material. This state of things continued till the commencement of the last century, when a person named Crotchet erected a small mill near the present works, with an intention of introducing the silk manufacture into England; but his machinery being inadequate to the purpose, he quickly became insolvent, and the design was for some time abandoned. At length, about the year 1715, a similar idea began to expand in the mind of an excellent mechanic and draughtsman, named John Lombe, who, though young, resolved on the perilous task of travelling into Italy, to procure drawings, or models of the machines necessary for the undertaking.

"In Italy he remained some time ; but, as admission to the silk-works was prohibited, he could only obtain access by corrupting two of the workmen, through whose assistance he inspected the machinery in private; and whatever parts he obtained a knowledge of, during these visits, he recorded on paper before he slept. By perserverance in this mode of conduct, he made himself acquainted with the whole, and had just completed his plan, when his intention was discovered, and his life being in extreme hazard, he flew with precipitation, and took refuge on ship-board. The two Italians who had favoured his scheme, and whose lives were in equal danger with his own, accompanied him, and they all soon landed in safety, in England ; this happened about the year 1717.

"Fixing on Derby as a proper place for his purpose, he agreed with the corporation for an island or swamp, in the river, 500 feet long, and 52 wide, at a rent somewhat below eight pounds yearly. Here he established his silk-mill but during the time employed in its construction, he erected temporary machines in the Town-Hall, and various other places; by which means he not only reduced the prices of silk far below the Italians, but was likewise enabled to proceed with his greater undertaking, through the charges amounted to nearly £30,000.
[There follows a description of Lombe's death, possibly by poisoning, and the demise of other members of his family]
On the 20th of February, 1739 the lease was assigned from Lady Lombe to Richard Wilson, Esq. and in July following the agreement was completed, and the property transferred to the latter; for a sum not exceeding £4000. The premises have been occupied many years by Mr. - Swift, who has made various important additions to the machinery, and employs about 240 hands, (principally women and children). ...

Besides this mill, there are several other works of a similar nature, now established in Derby. The situation of the town on the banks of the Derwent renders it favorable for the institution and carrying on, of manufactures which require the aid of water ; and the improvements in mechanism are nowhere more obvious than in the various and extensive works constructed here, for a variety of purposes. The mills established by the Messrs. Strutts, for the manufacture of silk and cotton, are particularly ingenious ; and the facility attained by them in working the several articles of manufacture, has contributed to the extension of these branches of business in a very eminent degree[9].

The Porcelain Manufactory was established about the year 1750, by a gentleman of the name of Duesbury. Since the decease of the original institutor, very great improvements have been made, in the preparation of the materials, and in the appearance of the ware. It is thought to be equal in fineness of texture with the French and Saxon, while it far surpasses them in workmanship, and elegance. - The paintings are in general rich and well executed; and the gilding and burnishing very beautiful.

The materials from which the ware, called porcelain, is manufactured, is procured from Cornwall; and is a fine grey clay, mixed with fluxing matter.
[Descriptions of how the porcelain is made are not included]
The manufactory belongs at present to Messrs. Duesbury and Key; who employ about 200 workmen.

The manufactory of Messrs. Brown and Son, situated at the upper-end of Bridge-gate, for sawing and polishing marble, and forming the fluor spar, or Blue John, into a great variety of ornaments, is well worthy notice. The machinery employed here, which is novel and simple, but very ingenious, is set in motion by a large steam engine. The machinery for sawing and polishing the marble, consists of a set of saws, made of thin plates of iron inclosed in a sliding frame, attached to the vibrating poles to which the cranks are fixed. These saws, by the assistance of sand and water; cut the marble in a perpendicular direction, A set of saws consists of many plates, so that the block to which they are applied, may be separated by one process into as many slabs as may be thought necessary. When the slabs are sawn, they are taken to be polished by an equally ingenious method.

"When the Blue John is to be made into a vase, or any other ornamental form, that renders the use of the lathe necessary, it is carved with a mallet and chissel, into a rude resemblance of the object intended to be produced, and being afterwards strongly cemented to a plug or chock, is screwed upon the lathe. A slow motion is then given to the work; and a bar of steel about two feet long, and half an inch square, properly tempered, and pointed at each end, is applied to the fluor, on which water is continually dropping, to keep the tool cold, preserve it from friction, and enable it more readily to reduce the substance upon which it acts. As the surface becomes smoother, the tool is applied with more freedom, and the motion of the lathe accelerated, till the fluor has assumed its destined elegance. of form. When the turning is completed, pieces of gritstone, of different degrees of fineness, are applied with water to bring the article to a proper ground for polishing with fine emery, tripoli, and putty, or calx of tin. These means are continued till the fluor is incapable of receiving a higher degree of polish , which is known, when water thrown on it will no longer increase its lustre."

The manufacture of stockings, as before noticed, has long been introduced and pursued at Derby ; and no where since the invention of the stocking-frame, has that business received so important an improvement as in this town. About the year 1756, Messrs. Jedediah Strutt and William Woollatt obtained a patent for making ribbed stockings. A common workman of the name of Roper, had furnished a rude and imperfect idea, of this useful machine; but it was left to the labor and ingenuity of the patentees, to bring it to perfection. The machine is prefixed to the stocking-frame, and in connection with it produces ribbed stockings, similar to those knit with the knitting needles. At present, the manufacture of silk and cotton hose employs a great many hands in the town.

The business of the lapidary and jeweller, commenced about the same time as that of the porcelain; and for some time was a business of some magnitude. The articles, manufactured here, which are chiefly of the paste kind, are thought to be executed with great elegance a nd ingenuity. But, upon the whole, it is supposed, that the trade is, at present, on the decline.

Besides the above mentioned manufactures, several others are carried on to a considerable extent. There is a small bleaching-mill situated on Nun's-green, where the processes are performed, according to their proved chemical methods: and to aid its operations, a small steam-engine has been, erected. A mill for slitting and rolling iron, for various purposes; a large furnace for smelting copper ore, with a a machine for battering and rolling the copper into sheets :-a red-lead mill; a mill for making tinned plates; and an extensive shot-mill; are to be found in the town, or in its immediate vicinity".

Derby in 1811

"Derby has rapidly increased within the last few years, in size and population; and is still increasing in wealth and commerce. Fresh ground is continually broken-up, and houses are erected in every direction. The population at present, is thought to amount to about 13,000. Among the more modern improvements in the place, may be mentioned, the lighting, and paving the streets, and the removal of those obstructions, which prevented a, free passage. These beneficial purposes were effected under the clauses of an act, passed in 1792, appointing commissioners, with power to levy a small rate on the inhabitants; and also to sell all the common land called Nun's-green : and the Sums thus produced to be applied to defray the necessary expences.

Several of the old bridges, which were built across the Markeaton - brook, which flows through a considerable part of the town, have been taken down, and new ones of stone erected, by a general subscription. An elegant bridge of three arches has also been-thrown over the Derwent, on the North-east side of the town, to the road leading to Nottingham: which, together with the silk-mill, the wears, and the broad expanse of the river, forms a very pleasing prospect, on entering the town from that side.

There are a variety of very pleasing walks in the vicinity of Derby. Following the banks of the Derwent in a northern direction, the vale presents some very picturesque scenes; while the summits of the hills of the Low-Peak, form the distant boundary of the horizon. - The walk through the grove to Darley, and that on the eastern side of the river to Little­Chester, independently of the objects of curiosity which may be traced in the latter, are highly delightful and agreeable. And, indeed, in almost every direction, the inhabitants may find scenes, where they may enjoy a healthful exercise, as as well as, gratify the sight by a succession of prospects, distinguished by the softer features that attend cultivation".




Notes on the above:

[1] Hardicanute reigned 1040-1042; Edward the Confessor reigned 1042-1066; William the Conqueror reigned 1066-1087; Henry I reigned 1100-1135; King Stephen reigned 1135-1154; Henry II reigned 1154 - 1189; Edward I reigned 1272-1307; Edward III reigned 1327-1377; Henry VIII reigned 1509-1547; Queen Mary reigned 1553-1558; King William (William III) reigned 1689-1702 [this William was William of Orange]
[2] The Norman Invasion took place in 1066.
[3] Davies wrote in a page footnote that: "The churches mentioned there are ;-"In the borough there was in the demesne, one church with seven clerks, who held two carucates of land free in Cestre (Little Chester). And there was also another church of the King's, in which six clerks held nine oxgangs of land in Cornun and Detton, likewise free." "In Derbii (Derby) Geoffry Alselin has one church, which Tochi had. Ralph the son of Hubert, one church, which was Leuric's, with one carucate of land. Norman de Lincoln one church, which was Brun's, Edric has one church there, which was his father Coln's." [Davies provides the source as Orig.280, a 2.] "
[4] The Countess of Shrewsbury is perhaps better known as Bess of Hardwick. This monument, which bears the names of her father, four husbands and family, was constructed during her lifetime and under her direction.
[5] Hutchinson raised money for rebuilding the church.
[6] Croshaw was said to have been the son of a poor nailer, who made his fortune in London. He was Master of the Company of Goldsmiths.
[7] Davies added a footnote, observing that this must have been a mistake, because in reign of King George I the income was only £8 p.a. and divine service was performed but once a quarter.
[8] St. Werburgh was an abbess who died about 700 A.D. She was one of the early English royal abbesses, the daughter of King Wufhere of Mercia and St. Ermenilda and this is one of twelve English churches dedicated to her: References to her may be found in:
- "The Penguin Dictionary of Saints", Donald Attwater (1965)
- "Oxford Dictionary of Saints", David Hugh Farmer, 2nd ed (1987)
There is/was another church dedicated to St. Werburgh in Derbyshire (See Spondon).
[9] For more about the Mills, read "The Derwent Valley Mills and their Communities" Details are on site


Davies' book
An Ann Andrews book transcript