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

From : 'History of Derbyshire' by David Peter Davies

Derbyshire | its situation and boundaries | ancient divisions | Roman roads | figure | extent
population | general appearance | rivers [incomplete] | atmosphere and climate | soil | agriculture | produce, &c.
Civil division | Courts | Ecclesiastical division

"THE county of Derby, is situated in the middle of England; being at an equal distance from the German ocean on the East, as from St. George's channel on the West: and on the North and South, the extremities of Northumberland and Hants, are nearly alike remote. On the North it is bounded by Yorkshire and a part of Cheshire, which is separated from it by the river Etherow; on the South by a part of Leicestershire; on the East by the county of Nottingham, and another part of that of Leicester; and on the West, it is divided from Staffordshire and Cheshire, by the Trent, the Dove, and the Goyt.

In the time of the Britons, Derbyshire is found included, in the number of the counties that made up the kingdom of the Coritani; who likewise inhabited, the Counties of Nottingham, Leicester, Northampton, Lincoln, and Rutland. But the Romans, when they had gained possession of the island, made a new division of it, into Britannia prima, Britannia secunda, Maxima Cæsariensis, Valentia, and Flavia Cæsariensis. Under the division of Flavia Cæsariensis, which reached from the Thames to the Humber, was included the county of Derby. The Romans have left indubitable proofs of their having inhabited this county; this will be more clearly shewn, when we come to describe the places, where any remains of them have been discovered. One very strong evidence is, the military roads, which may be traced, traversing the county in different directions. That learned antiquarian Mr. Pegge, about forty years ago, investigated and described two of the principal ones, which have been discovered in this county. The road which has claimed most of his attention, is that which passes, in a north-east direction, through Derbyshire.

This Ilkenild-street, he has discovered, came out of Staffordshire, and entered this county at Monk's Bridge, about two miles to the north-east of Burton, and passing over Egginton heath, to Little Over, ran in a north-east direction to the west side of the town of Derby; then crossing Nun's Green, it reached Little Chester, by a bridge thrown over the Derwent at that place. From thence it proceeded to Breadsall Priory; and after running across Morley moor, it is very visible about one hundred yards to the East of Brackley gate. It is then lost; till we come to Horsley park; after that it crosses the road leading from Nottingham to Wirksworth, near Horsley Woodhouse; and may be traced to a house called Cumbersome, which is built upon it. After crossing Bottle-brook, it goes by the Smithy houses; it may be seen in the Street-lane, and crossing the fields between Heage and Ripley, it appears opposite Harthay-house. Then directing its course to Cony-green house, and passing on the east-side of the camp on Pentrich common, it extends towards Okerthorpe; from hence it runs to the Peacock inn, and crossing the road goes into the fields on the right hand, and appears again on the side of the hill, on the other side of the road. From this place, it extends in a direct line for Higham, through the demesne land of Shirland Hall ; then following the turnpike road to Clay-cross, it reaches a farm called Egston; and crossing some inclosures, the Quaker's burying ground, and a part of Tupton moor, near the Blacksmith's shop it is lost; and beyond the middle of Sir Windsor Hunloke's avenue, no traces of it are discoverable; but it is thought to have extended as far as Chesterfield.

The other road which Mr. Pegge has investigated, is that supposed to have extended from Buxton to Brough near Hope, called the Bathway, or Bathing-gate. This is not so discernible as the other; but, this gentleman has ascertained its existence: and beginning at its north-east extremity, has traced its course with clearness and certainty. It is said, that there is another Roman road, in the neighbourhood of Buxton, extending from Hurdlow House to Pike Hall, in a parallel line with the turnpike road which leads to Ashbourne.

When the Romans had quitted Britain, and the Saxons had made a conquest of it; the Pentarchy of the former, was succeeded by the Heptarchy which the latter established. Derbyshire, with seventeen other counties, was included in the kingdom of Mercia; and its inhabitants, in conjunction with those of Nottingham, from their being situated North of the Trent, were distinguished by the name of (Mercii aquilonares) the northern Mercians. - These two counties, appear to have been connected in the administration of their civil poli-[?]; and to have been governed by the same civil officers, until the reign of Henry the Third: (about the year 1240) when the burgesses of Derby, purchased the privilege of having their assizes held alternately at their own town: but from the year 1566, when an act was passed for allowing a sheriff to each county, they have been held, with a few exceptions, at Derby.

The figure of Derbyshire is so irregular, and its outlines so variable, that it can hardly be said to bear a resemblance to any determinate figure :- it approaches nearer to that of a triangle than any other; but its numerous curves and projections, make the resemblance more imaginary than real. From the best survey that has been taken of it, it is ascertained, that its greatest length, from North to South, is nearly fifty-five miles; and its breadth at the northern extremity, is reckoned to be about thirty-three; but from thence it gradually diminishes, so that at its southern extremity, it narrows almost to a point. Its circumference is about 204 miles. It contains 720,640 acres of land: of these above 500,000 are cultivated, arable, and pasture; whilst the remainder consists, chiefly, of bleak mountainous regions, and open commons. The, whole county is divided into six hundreds, 116 parishes; and includes about 34,000 houses.

BEDE, a Saxon writer of the eighth century, says, that the inhabitants of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, "possessed the land of seven thousand families." Now taking half of these for Derbyshire, and allowing ten persons upon an average, to constitute each family, we shall find upon this calculation, that the population at that time, was no more than 35,000 inhabitants. In the beginning of the reign of George the Second, it is asserted, that they amounted to 126,900; and a few years ago, it was thought, that, they were increased to 161,142: and it may be expected from the flourishing state of the cotton, and other manufactories, in the county, that their number is much augmented since that time.

There is no other county in England, which presents such a variety of scenery as Derbyshire :- the northern and southern parts exhibiting, such a striking difference and contrast in geographical features. The former abounds with hill and dale, "and the scenery, is in many parts, romantic and sublime; but on the whole inferior in picturesque effect to that of other mountainous countries. Beauty indeed is only resident in the vallies; the high ground appearing dreary, and destitute of entertainment: and in many situations not a single house or tree, is seen, to divert the eye of the traveller, or relieve the weariness, that arises from the contemplation of sterility and nakedness: Unpleasing however, and even disgustful to the imagination, as the moors are, they serve by way of contrast, to heighten the beauty of the dales and vallies, by which they are intersected; and the sudden change which these occasion in the appearance of the country, at once surprises and interests :- admiration is excited by comparison; and the mind readily admits, that its pleasure would have been less perfect, if the preceding scenes had been more beautiful."

The country gradually rises until we come to the neighbourhood of Wirksworth : and then it begins to assume that picturesque and mountainous appearance, which it continues to possess to its extremity: "that chain of hills arises, which stretching northwards, is continued in a greater or less breadth, quite to the borders of Scotland; and forms a natural boundary, between the East and West sides of the northern part of the kingdom. Its course in this county is inclined a little to the West. It spreads as it advances northerly, and at length fills up the whole of the north-west angle, also overflowing a little, as it were, towards the eastern parts. The hills are at first of small elevation; but being in their progress piled one upon another, they form very elevated ground, in the tract called the High Peak, though without any eminencies, which can rank among the loftiest mountains even of this island." The most considerable however in height, are the mountains Axe-edge and Kinder-scout. The former situated to the south-west of Buxton, according to Mr. Whitehurst's calculation, rises 2100 feet higher than the level of the town of Derby, and 1000 above that of the valley in which Buxton Hall stands. The height of Kinder-scout has not been ascertained; but as it overlooks all the surrounding eminences, it is supposed to have a still greater elevation. - From the great elevation of these mountains, the clouds are observed to rest upon them, when they pass over the high land with which they are surrounded. The prospect from these eminences is very extensive; it is even alleged, that on a clear day, the vicinities of the towns of Liverpool and Manchester, the mountains of North Wales, and the Wrekin in Shropshire, may be distinguished with the naked eye. In that part which is called the Low Peak, lying near the centre of the county, there are eminences of various heights and extents. Brassington-moor, Alport near Wirksworth, and Crich-cliff, are the most conspicuous. There is also a ridge, extending from Hardwicke towards the borders of Yorkshire in a northern direction. The southern part of Derbyshire is, upon the whole, a pleasant and fertile country; not distinguished in its appearance from the other midland counties. The banks of the Trent is a range of low meadows subject to inundations, for the most part well cultivated, but presenting no variety of scenery.

Like all other hilly countries, Derbyshire abounds in rivers: the principal are, the Trent, the Derwent, the Dove, the Wye, the Errewash, and the Rother.
[Further information about the rivers and canal system is not included]

The ATMOSPHERE and CLIMATE of Derbyshire vary very much in its different parts. From its northern situation, even the southern part of the county is colder, and more frequently visited by rains, than many of the more central counties of England. In summer, cold and thick fogs are frequently seen hanging over the rivers, and surrounding the basis of the hills; and hoar-frosts are not unfrequent in the month of June. Old people seem to think, that the seasons have undergone a change within the last forty or fifty years: and though it is natural for age to magnify the advantages of its youth, yet many observers, endowed with philosophical skill, and candid judgment, have agreed that some change has taken place, in the temperature of the year. Thus, it is said, that the winters in this county, are found in general to be more moist and mild, and the summers more humid and cold than they formerly were; and that consequently, the seasons are later and more backward.

Owing to the great elevation of the northern part of the county, it is found much colder than the southern. Some kind of grain will not grow at all in the Peak; and even that which is sown in the most sheltered vallies, is seldom ready to be cut till late in the year. - The winters are, in general, very severe; and the frost continues so long in the ground, that it cannot be broken up until the season is far advanced: the consequence is, that the corn has seldom sufficient time to ripen, and is cut down, and left to wither in the sun, and to be dried by the air.

The mountains are so high in the Peak of Derbyshire, that they attract and intercept the clouds in their progress over them: this region is therefore distinguished from all others by the greater quantity of rain which falls upon it. - Sometimes it descends in torrents, accompanied with violent storms; carrying every thing before it, and causing great ravages on the side of the hills, and in the cultivated dales: but they are seldom of long duration, and often disappear as suddenly as they come on. "We arrived, says a late tourist who witnessed one of these storms, "just in time to take shelter amongst those massy rocks, from the most tremendous storm of thunder and lightning I had ever witnessed. - Fixed, as it were, not only on the summit of a mountain, but on the highest land in the country, for perhaps one hundred miles round; and in a thunder storm when the hills echoed the loud peals again and again, with almost as loud responses; while the vivid lightening was playing from the clouds beneath; were altogether such a sublime assemblage, that I could not but think myself fortunate in having arrived at this momentous period.

"I clearly observed the clouds pass with the most amazing rapidity, on the sides and summits of the mountains; in one moment veiling the whole country in impenetrable mist, and then as instantaneously passing from the sight. Another flash of lightening, and another awful barn of thunder; and in a single moment, the scene was again cleared up, by the impetuous passing cloud. I had never before experienced such a singular sublimity; I could scare think it natural ; it had more the appearance of magic or enchantment!"

These sudden and violent storms, however, clear the air of every thing noxious: the atmosphere is found to be pure and healthful ; and, like most high situations, free from epidemic diseases, though it is found, that in the deep vallies and narrow dales, agues and fevers are not uncommon.
[description of diseases follows, but it is no included]

The SOIL of Derbyshire, is almost as various as its appearance. In the northern parts of the county, very extensive peat-bogs exist; in which have been found buried at a considerable distance below the surface, large pieces of timber, very little decayed. The soil in these parts, consists chiefly of ligneous particles, being the roots of decayed vegetables, mixed with argillaceous earth or sand, and a coaly substance derived from decayed vegetable matter. The surface presents nothing but the barren black moss, thinly clothed with heath or ling. But in many parts of the Peak there is to be found, what the natives call a corn loam: this seems to consist of a virgin earth, impregnated with nitre. Where this corn loam is in sufficient quantity, and meets with a stratum of marl or clay, it forms a desirable field for cultivation; but these spots are over-balanced by vast tracts of barren hills and mountains, whose sides present very little soil, being chiefly composed of rocks. When the limestone forms the mountain, the soil though scanty, is productive of the finer grasses, which form good pasturage for sheep. On that part which is called the East Moor, there is scarcely any vegetation : not a dale or a glade which seems to have received the cultivating hand of man, or the fostering smile of nature.

The most common soil in the southern parts is, a reddish clay or marl. This soil, which in this district has little or no stone beneath the surface, is also found to prevail, through the middle part of the extensive tract of limestone, which lies on the north-west side of the county; and consists of much calcareous earth, which readily effervesces with acids. It is thought that the colouring principle of this soil, is the calx of iron; as the water which passes through it, has been found to be slightly chalybeate. Some parts of the southern district is interspersed with small beds of sand, or gravel; which are in general siliceous, and therefore insoluble in acids. The large tract of country which produces coal, is covered with a clay of different colours; black, grey, brown, and especially yellow. This kind of soil is also found in some parts where the gritstone is met with; but there, it is frequently of a black colour, and bituminous quality. That on the north-east side of the county, where limestone prevails, is of a brown colour and loose texture. The soil on the banks of the rivers, and in the vallies, is different from that of the adjacent parts, and evidently has been altered by the depositions from the frequent inundations.

Owing to the barreness of the soil, and the coldness of the climate, there is out little corn grown in the northern parts; and the attention of the farmers, is chiefly turned to grazing and breeding cattle. Of these, large herds are brought from Cheshire and Yorkshire in the spring, and fetched back in the autumn; for their pasturage during the summer, the owners pay a shilling a head per week; which but ill remunerates the poor tenant, who, in general, pays from ten to fourteen shillings an acre, in rent, for this naked and unyielding ground. At Chelmorton and Stoney Middleton, a considerable number of cattle are yearly fattened, and disposed of, at the Manchester and Sheffield markets. The land in, and about the parish of Glossop, is chiefly used for pasture: and very little corn, except black oats, as grown in this, or in any other part of the High Peak.

But as we approach the southern extremity, tillage becomes more frequent ; and on the eastern side of the county it chiefly prevails. - The midland tracts, have a mixture of pasture and arrable land, according to the soil and situation: but the banks of the Dove are chiefly occupied with dairy farms. About the town of Derby all kinds of grain are cultivated: and the produce is in general very abundant. In the extensive fields in the neighbourhood of Chaddesden and Chellaston, a great quantity of wheat, and that of a particularly fine sort, is raised: the course of tillage invariably pursued there, is fallow, wheat, barley, beans, and peas. The ground here is mostly prepared by a wheel-plough, drawn by two horses going a-breast: though the double furrowed plough also has been introduced into the southern parts of the county. Barley is much cultivated in many parts of the county: more particularly at Gresley and Repton. These parishes lying near the extensive breweries of Burton, the farmers have been induced to grow this grain, because of the ready sale they find for it there: the whole produce has been estimated at 5000 quarters annually. The produce of wheat in the county is scarcely equal to the consumption: that of beans and oats nearly answers the home demand. Extensive crops of cabbage and turnips are raised: and the cultivation of artificial grasses, seems more attended to now, than it has been for some years: indeed the whole agricultural system of the county, is in a state of progressive improvement.

But an uncommon species of culture, in which about 200 acres of this county are employed; is that of camomile. "A loamy soil, is chosen for its cultivation, and, after the ground is well prepared by thorough cleanings, about the end of March, the roots of an old plantation are taken up, and divided into small slips, which are planted in rows about eighteen inches assunder, and the same distance in rows. The plants are kept clean by frequent hoeing and weeding with the hand. In September the flowers are fit to gather : their perfection depends on their being fully blown, without having stood so long as to lose their whiteness; the flowering continues till stopped by the frosts. The gatherings are repeated as often as successions of flowers appear; but this depends very much on the season, dry open weather furnishing more successions than wet or dull weather. When the flowers are gathered they are carefully dried, either in kilns very moderately heated, or on the floors of boarded rooms, heated by slow fires: the object is to keep the flowers white and whole, this is best effected by drying them as slowly as possible. The produce varies from two hundred weight, and even less, to four, and in some few instances, six hundred weight per acre. The price has also varied from 40s. to £7. per cwt. The plants usually stand three years, of which the first affords the smallest produce; and the second the greatest and the best. When the plants are continued beyond three years, the ground becomes foul, and the flowers weak. When dried, the flowers are packed in bags; and afterwards sold to persons in the neighbourhood, who transmit them to the druggists in London."

But upon the whole, Derbyshire is more of a grazing and dairying, than a corn county.-
[Description of farm animals and birds not included]

The produce of the manufactories in the county, are various and extensive. The manufactories, of cotton, into thread, stockings, and calico, at Cromford, Belper, Derby, and other parts; of wool into hose, and cloth, on the borders of Nottinghamshire, and in the neighbourhood of Tideswell; of iron on the north-east side, adjacent to Yorkshire; of silk, and also of ornaments made of spar, at Derby; are the principal, and will be taken notice of when we come to treat of these places.

The civil division of Derbyshire is into six hundreds: - The High Peak Hundred, in the north- west; Scarsdale Hundred, in the north-east; Wirksworth Wapentake, in the West; Appletree Hundred, in the south-west; Morleston Hundred, in the south-east; Reppington Hundred[1], in the South. At what period this division of the county was made is uncertain ; but it seems to be of later date than Domesday book. There we meet with the Scavedale wapentack, Hamelestun wapentack, Morlestan wapentack, Walecross wapentack, and Pechelers: a division which appears to be of Saxon origin ; and bearing but little correspondence to the present one.

At the time of the Norman Survey, the land in Derbyshire, like all others, in those feudal times, was divided among seventeen proprietors:- [listed below in columns to make the names easier to read]

  King William,
The Bishop of Chester,
The Abbey of Burton,
Hugh the Earl,
Roger of Poictou,
Henry de Ferieres,
William Peverel,
Walter de Aincurt,
Geoffrey Alselin,
Ralph the son of Hubert,
Ralph de Burun,
Hascuit Musard,
Gilbert de Gand,
Nigel de Satford,
Robert the son of William,
Roger de Busli,
The Thanes of the King.

Some remains, of what an elegant historian calls, "the encroachments of the feudal nobles on the prerogative of their monarchs; their usurping the administration of justice with supreme authority, both in civil and criminal causes," are yet to be found in Derbyshire : these are the court of the duchy of Lancaster, and the Peverel Court. To the duchy of Lancaster, belong the honor of Tutbury and at Sudbury the hundred of Appletree ; and the courts of pleas (or as they are generally called the three weeks courts) for the former, are regularly held at Tutbury, and for the latter at Sudbury. In these courts a steward presides : and all debts and damages under forty shillings, due for goods sold, servant's wages, labourer's hire, agistment of cattle, rent, money lent, trespasses, assaults, and several other things, are recoverable.

In the Peverel court, which is held at Lenton, near Nottingham, a steward also presides ; and sometimes actions for the recovery of small debts are brought into it : as its proceedings are less expensive and more expeditious, than those in the courts of Westminster. Most towns and villages in the county, are comprised within the jurisdiction of these courts.

The county of Derby sends two members to parliament ; a privilege, which it is ascertained, it enjoyed as early as the twenty-third of Edward I. ; but how much sooner has not been discovered with certainty. The assizes are held at Derby twice a year, spring and autumn. The Epiphany, the Easter and Michaelmas county sessions are also held at Derby; but the Midsummer at Chesterfield. - But with respect to the common judiciary, Derbyshire is included in the Midland circuit.

In ecclesiastical concerns, Derbyshire forms part of the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry; and is divided into one archdeaconry and five deaneries,[2] which are the following:
[listed below to make the names easier to read]

Archdeaconry of Derby.
Deaneries of   Ashbourn,

The County Town was: The Town of Derby

Notes on the above:

[1] Davies is inconsistent with the spelling of this Deanery. In this section he uses Reppington, but elsewhere he uses Repington.

[2] Davies is quite specific with these names, and his chapter headings group the parishes accordingly. The Lysons, some six years later, differ slightly from Davies. They record the parishes Davies recorded as belonging to the Archdeaconry of Derby under the High Peak Deanery. Later directories place them under the rural deaneries of Bakewell, Eyam and Glossop.

[3] The Deanery of Castillar did not take its name from a Derbyshire town or village. Its origins are from the Mediaeval Latin castellaris 'precinct of jurisdiction of a castle' and the deanery was named from Tutbury Castle St.
Cameron, K. (1959) 'The Place Names of Derbyshire', English Place Name Society Volume XXXIX, Cambridge University Press, p.24.

Davies' book
An Ann Andrews book transcript