Derby Derbyshire Family History Guide


Derby consists of the following parishes:

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

DERBY, a town and a district in Derbyshire. The town stands in a valley on the banks of the Derwent, almost surrounded by gently sloping hills, at the centre of the Midland railway system, 29 miles NW of Leicester, 42 NNE of Birmingham, and 127 NW by N of London. Its position, in regard to railway conveyance, has contributed largely, during the last few years, to the extension of its trade and commerce; and has induced many tourists to make it the starting point for visits to the picturesque scenery, and interesting spots, with which the county abounds.

History.—An ancient British station is supposed to have stood here, on the line of Icknield-street; and a Roman settlement stood at Little Chester. Many Celtic remains, Roman coins, fragments of pottery and pavement, and other relics have been found. The place was known to the Saxons as Northworthigie, and to the Danes as Deoraby. It was a "royal ville" in the time of Bede; and was captured by the Danes in 918. One half of its male inhabitants, capable of bearing arms, fell on the fatal field of Hastings. It was given by William the Conqueror to William Peveril; and passed, in the time of Henry I., to the Earl of Chester. Edward II. was at it before the battle of Boroughbridge. A female martyr, poor and blind, was burned at it in 1556. Mary, Queen of Scots, was a night here, in 1585, on her way to Tutbury Castle. Charles I. was here in 1641; and again, with his army on the way to Shrewsbury, in 1642. The plague desolated the town in 1665; but is said never to have touched the premises of a tobacconist, a tanner, or a shoemaker. Prince Charles Edward was here, en route for London in 1754, and took up his quarters at Exeter House, an old mansion, which was taken down so recently as 1854. He proceeded southward with his troops as far as Swarkeston Bridge, when they were seized with panic, and returned to Scotland. The town was visited, in 1768, by Christian VII. of Denmark; had a great riot, in 1831, at the rejection of the reform bill; and was visited, in 1843, by the Royal Agricultural Society. It gave the title of Earl, in 1138, to Robert de Ferrars; in the time of Henry III., to a member of the Plantagenet family; and in the reign of Henry VII., to Sir Thomas Stanley, with whose descendants the title has since remained.

Streets and Public Buildings.—A main street runs through the town from north to south; and is, in some parts wide and open, - in others narrow, winding, and, from the amount of traffic flowing through it, frequently dangerous to passengers. A plan was recently adopted by the corporation, which, when carried out, will provide a noble central thoroughfare. A castle formerly stood at the south-east corner of the town; but at what precise period, or by whom, it was erected, is not known; and it has entirely disappeared. The town-hall, on the south side of the market-place, is a stone edifice, surmounted by a lofty clock tower, and pierced with arches leading to the municipal hall, and the new market. The latter was erected in 1865, at a cost of £20,000; and measures 200 feet by 110. The county-hall comprises a pilastered front of 1660, and new hall and courts of 1829. Government offices, in the Grecian style, at a cost of nearly £6,000, were built in 1869. The county jail was built in 1826, and has capacity for 337 male and 29 female prisoners. The assembly-rooms have a pedimented front, and are very commodious. The old theatre, in Bold-lane, recently was converted into a mission hall. A structure in Corn-market and Victoria-street, comprising the Athenæum, the post office, and the Royal hotel, was erected in 1839, at a cost of upwards of £20,000; and presents two imposing fronts, 185 and 134 feet long. The Mechanics' institute, in Wardwick, is a large building, with a pedimented front. The town and county library, and the town and county museum also occupy a large house in Wardwick. A commodious corn exchange, in connection with which is a large and elegant public hall, was erected in 1860; and a convenient cattle market was constructed in 1861. Two excellent bridges cross the Derwent. A public park of 6 acres was presented to the town by M. Bass, Esq., in 1867.

Parishes.—St. Werburgh and All Saints parishes are wholly in the borough; and St. Alkmund, St. Michael, and St. Peter parishes are partly also in Shardlow district. St. Werburgh includes Christ-Church and St. John chapelries; St. Alkmund includes Little Chester township, and St. Paul, Darley-Abbey, and Little Eaton chapelries; St. Michael includes Alvaston township and chapelry; and St. Peter includes Litchurch township, and Trinity, St. Andrews, St. James', and Boulton chapelries. Acres, within the borough, 2,970; within Shardlow district, 2,600. Real property of St. Werburgh, £53,349, of which £5,192 are in gas-works; of A-Saints, £25,022, of which £507 are in the canal; of St. Alkmund, £34,542; of St. Michael, £3,679; of St. Peter, £47,431, of which £2,202 are in the canal. Pop. of St. Werburgh, 13,222; of All Saints, 4,049; of St. Alkmund, 13,582; of St. Michael, 1,519; of St. Peter, 20,234. The livings of St. Werburgh, St. Alkmund, St. Michael, St. Peter, St. Paul, Little Eaton, Boulton, St. John, and Alvaston are vicarages, and those of All Saints, Christ-Church, Darley-Abbey, and St. Andrew are p. curacies, in the dio. of Lichfield. St. Alkmund is united with St. Ann; St. Peter with Normanton. Value of St. Werburgh, £312; of St. Alkmund, £270; of St. Michael, £115; of St. Peter, £360; of All Saints, St. John, St. Paul, Darley-Abbey, and Little Eaton, each £300; of Christ-Church and Alvaston, each £300; of St. Andrew, £200; of Trinity, not reported: of Boulton, £120. Patron of St. Werburgh and St. Michael, the Lord Chancellor; of St. Alkmund, the Rev. E. H. Abney; of St. Peter, F. Wright, Esq.; of All Saints, Simeon's Trustees; of Christ-Church, Trustees; of St. John, the Vicar of St. Werburgh; of Alvaston, Parishioners; of St Paul, altern. the Crown and the Bishop; of St. Andrew, the Bishop; of Darley-Abbey, T. W. Evans, Esq.; of Little Eaton, the Vicar of St. Alkmund; of Trinity, B. West, Esq.; of Boulton, Proprietors of Land.

Churches and Chapels.—The places of worship in 1865, were 11 of the Church of England, 3 of Independents, 4 of Baptists, 4 of Wesleyan Methodists, 1 of New Connexion Methodists, 3 of Primitive Methodists, 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, 1 of Unitarians, 1 of Quakers, 1 of Sweden-borgians, 1 of Plymouth Brethren, and 1 of Roman Catholics. St. Werburgh's church, at the foot of Friar-gate, is a modern structure, incorporating some earlier portions; consists of Tuscan nave, aisles, and chancel, with a Gothic tower; and contains a fine monument by Chantrey to the wife of Col. Wingate. All Saints church is a Doric edifice of 1725, after designs by Gibbs; has a rich late perpendicular English tower, of three stages, 174 feet high, surmounted by pinnacles; was restored in 1850, at a cost of £1,200; and contains an iron screen, a fine altar-piece, splendid monuments of the Cavendish family, and memorials to Richard Crowshaw, Major Jordan, Dr. Hutchinson, Sir William Wheeler, and others. St. Alkmund's church, in Queen-street, was built in 1846, on the site of a previous picturesque ancient church, at a cost of about £9,000; is in the decorated English style; consists of nave, aisles, spacious chancel, and south porch, with parvise; has a western tower and spire, 205 feet high; and contains a fine altar-screen, a carved eagle-lectern, and a rich alabaster tomb of John Bullock of Darley-Abbey. St. Michael's church is a new edifice, in room of a small late perpendicular one, which partly fell in 1856; and has a square embattled tower. St. Peter's church, in St. Peter-street, is chiefly perpendicular English, partly late decorated; has a square, embattled, pinnacled tower; and was recently restored and beautified in the interior, under the direction of Mr. Street. Christ-Church, in Normanton-road, was built in 1840 as a memorial of Bishop Ryder; occupies one of the most elevated spots in the town; was recently much improved by the addition of a chancel; and has a tower and spire. St. John's church, in Bridge-street, was built in 1827; and is in bad mixed style, chiefly Tudor. St. Paul's church, in Little Chester, was built in 1850, as a memorial of Bishop Shirley; and is a cruciform edifice, in the decorated style, with a north-eastern tower. Trinity church, in London-road, is a commodious building, in the worst possible Gothic. St. Andrew's church, in the vicinity of the railway, was built in 1865, at a cost of £12,000, and is in the early English style. The Independent chapel in Victoria-street, and the Baptist chapel in Osmaston-road, were erected in 1862, at a cost of between £7,000 and £8,000 each; and they have each a nave and transepts, with tower and fine spire. A United Presbyterian chapel and an Independent chapel, both in the style of the 13th century, were built in 1869. The Congregational chapel, in the London-road, is a handsome building in the classical style. The Wesleyan chapels, in King-street and London-road, are well-built and commodious. Two temporary Episcopal churches were erected, St. James' in 1865, St. Luke's in 1868. The Roman Catholic church, in Bridge-gate, was built in 1839, after designs by Pugin, at a cost of £8,400; and is in the perpendicular English style. There were anciently several religions foundations, -chiefly the priory of St. James, the abbey. of St. Helen, an hospital for lepers, and a Dominican convent in Friar-gate; but every trace of them has disappeared.

Schools and Institutions.—There are numerous schools in Derby; but the chief is the grammar-school. This was founded, in 1160, by Durant, Bishop of Lichfield; was, for centuries, well endowed and in very high repute; underwent change at the Reformation; has recently re-acquired much celebrity; was removed, in 1862, from St. Peter's churchyard to St. Helen's House, formerly the residence of Lord Belper; has an exhibition of £50 a year, at Emmanuel college, Cambridge; and numbers among its pupils Archbisbop Saville, Bishop Juxon, Thomas Linacre, Flamsteed, the astronomer, Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Lord St. Helens, Blackwall, author of "Sacred Classics," and Dr. Darwin. The Diocesan Institution, for training schoolmistresses, is a fine edifice in the Tudor style, on the Uttoxeter-road; contains accommodation for 42 students, and is well supported. The arboretum, on the Osmaston-road, includes about 16 acres of ground, splendidly laid out; was mainly a public gift of Joseph Strutt, Esq., and partly a purchased addition; was opened in 1840, and estimated to be then worth £10,000; comprises walks, flower-plots, shrubberies, arbours, a fountain, and Gothic entrance-lodges; and serves as a public pleasure-ground, and place of picnic parties. A "Crystal Palace" was recently added at a cost of £2,000; and is used for flower-shows, bazaars, and other exhibitions. The race-course, on the Nottingham-road, has a spacious grand stand; and races are run twice a year. The Infirmary, in London-road, was erected at a cost of £17,870, and is mainly a large three-story edifice of 1810, with Doric portico and projecting wings, and partly a recent addition for fever and lock wards. The county lunatic asylum, at Mickleover, is a Tudor edifice, after designs by Duesbury. The Devonshire alms-house, founded, in the time of Elizabeth, by the Countess of Shrewsbury, has £180 from endowment; Nun's-Green, or Large's alms-house, for the widows of clergymen, has £200; Wilmot's alms-house has £46; and other charities, inclusive of the grammar-school, have £127.

Trade and Manufactures.—Derby has a head post-office, a central railway station, a telegraph office, four banking offices, and seven chief hotels; and publishes six weekly newspapers. The railway station is a fine though irregnlar pile of building; has a frontage of 1,050 feet, and a handsome iron-roofed passenger shed 450 feet long, and 140 wide; and includes a large building for the holding of shareholders' meetings, the delivery of lectures to the railway institute, and other purposes. Cattle markets are held on Tuesdays; other markets on Fridays; and fairs on the first Friday of Jan., 25 Jan., 21 and 22 March, the Friday in Easter-week, the Friday after May-day, the Friday in Whit-week, 25 July, and 27, 28, and 29 Sept. Manufactures are carried on in silks, cottons, porcelain, spar and marble ornaments, chemicals, iron-work, colours, stockings, lace, watches, leather, soap, and other departments. Large quantities of cheese are made in the neighbourhood, and find here, at the annual fairs, ready sale. The first silk mill erected in England was built here in 1718, and is still standing. The silk trade has been somewhat depressed during the last few years; but still employs several thousand hands. The spar, marble, and porcelain works are highly interesting, and will repay a visit of inspection.

The Borough.—Derby is a borough by prescription; has sent two members to parliament since 1294; and is governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors. Its borough limits are the same parliamentarily as municipally; and were not altered by the reform bill. It is the head-quarters of the county militia, and the seat of assizes and quarter sessions; and has daily small courts. Direct taxes in 1857, £21,514. Electors in 1868, 2,532. Pop. in 1841, 32,741; in 1861, 43,081; including Lit-church and Little Chester, 50,064. Flamsteed, the astronomer, Richardson, the novelist, Wright, the painter, Mawe, the mineralogist, Hutton, the historian, Joseph Strutt, Lord Belper, Jones, Bourne, and the two Dethicks, were natives; and Pilkington, the historian, Simpson, the topographist, Whithurst, the cosmogonist, Degge, the antiquary, Fox, the Quaker, Dr. Darwin, and the first Earl of Macclesfield were residents.

The District.—The poor-law district includes all the borough; includes also Darley-Abbey chapelry and Little Chester township in St. Alkmund parish, and Litchurch township in St. Peter parish; but excludes Little Eaton chapelry in St. Alkmund, Alvaston township in St. Michael, and Boulton township in St. Peter. Poor-rates in 1863, £8,278. Pop. in 1841, 35,019; in 1861, 51,049. Houses, 10,630. Marriages in 1860, 597; births, 1,949, of which 145 were illegitimate; deaths, 1,092, of which 421 were at ages under 5 years, and 10 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 5,951; births, 17,734; deaths, 11,407. The places of worship in 1851 were 12 of the Church of England, with 9,064 sittings, and 22 of other denominations, with 11,083 s.; and the schools were 26 public day schools, with 3,976 scholars; 72 private day schools, with 1,524 s.; 32 Sunday schools, with 7,872 s., and 4 evening schools for adults, with 110 s. The workhouse is in Litchurch township, and adjoins the arboretum.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Parish Records

England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1537-1918

Crime and Punishment

The County Gaol

The County Gaol occupies a pleasant situation in the vicinity of the town near the old Uttoxeter road. It having been determined at the county sessions in 1821 to erect a new gaol and house of correction for the use of the county to admit of the arrangement and classification required by act of parliament. For this purpose six acres of land were obtained from the trustees of Larges' Hospital valued at £2,400. The plans of Mr Francis Goodwin architect were approved of at the sessions of January 1823 who estimated the expenses of the proposed erections at £37,403 exclusive of the money paid for the land. These plans were afterwards submitted to the society for the improvement of prison discipline who suggested various alterations and additions which increased the cells to the number of 185 some of which will hold three persons each. This amended plan was approved of by the court and another estimate of the cost was given by the architect which amounted to £40,208 5s 4d. The gaol is capable of holding 333 prisoners and the total cost of the structure including furniture &c. was £65,227 4s 6d. The entrance displays a bold and commanding appearance exhibiting the strength of character of which the Doric order is capable. The boundary walls enclose an area of three acres they are built of brick 25ft high and defended with towers which are furnished with firearms. The Governor's house and chapel stand in the centre from which radiate seven wings of two stories high. Two small buildings apart from the rest are appropriated to the females and another detached building is assigned to the refractory and those sentenced to solitary confinement. The sleeping cells measure 6ft by 8ft and 12ft high; the solitary cells are 11ft by 7ft and 12ft high and there are 21 yards for the classification of prisoners. The general arrangements of the building are of the most complete and satisfactory order and was pronounced by the Government Inspector as one of the most complete prisons in England. Mr John Sims, as keeper of the prison has a salary of £500 a-year; Mrs Sims as matron £40 a-year; Mr James Sims as deputy keeper £200 a-year and Mr Douglas Fox surgeon £100 a year for attending the prison daily and £20 for medicine. The chaplain receives £150 a year and performs divine service twice on the Sunday and afterwards attends the prisoners who are catechised and instructed. Prayers are also read every morning at 9 o'clock in the week days after which the chaplain devotes a short time to the moral and religious instruction of those convicted. There are fourteen turnkeys who each receive 20s a week two females 14s each and two watchmen 14s each.

The borough gaol before 1730 was under the Town Hall but when it was taken down a small addition was made to the county gaol at the foot of St Peter's street to serve for that purpose. In 1756 however they were both removed a county prison having been erected in Nun's Green and the borough gaol was removed to Willow Row.

The prison in Friargate was used as the county gaol till 1825, when the new one having been erected, it was bought by the corporation for £3,000, as a borough gaol, the one one in Willow row being very inconvenient. It continued the borough gaol till 1840, when an  arrangement was made for the reception of the borough prisoners in the county gaol; it was sold and taken down and some good houses erected on its site.


Police Office is in the Town Hall; the force was established in 1886, and consists of Mr John Abraham Thompson, the superintendent and 24 constables


Two gallows were erected in 1534, for hanging prisoners upon.

In 1599 one Okey was hanged in the Town Hall but not known how

In 1601 a woman was burnt to death in Windmill pit for poisoning her husband

In 1607 the witches of Bakewell were executed

1609 in this year Roger Moore was slain by Henry Bennett for which he was executed shortly after

1645 Richard Cockrum was executed on the gallows on Nun's green for killing -- Mills a servant at the Angel

1705 John Crossland and son for horse stealing; he and his two sons were convicted of this offence after sentence was passed the bench offered to pardon one if he would hang the other two; the offer was first made to the father who declined then the eldest son who also declined and then to John the youngest who accepted it without remorse; he was afterwards hangman for this and two or three of the neighbouring counties, till he was incapacitated through old age

1732 March 23rd John Hewitt and Rosamond Olerenshaw were executed for poisoning Hannah Hewitt the wife of John Hewitt; they were executed in their shrouds

1735 Aug 16th John Smith of Norbury for burglary

1738 March 30th Richard Woodward for highway robbery; he dressed himself in his shroud and walked to the place of execution

1740 April 9th Wm Dolphin aged 33 for highway robbery near Chesterfield

1740 August 28th George Ashmore for coining; the day after execution he was interred at Sutton on the hill but his body was stolen by the resurrectionists

1741 Aug Robert Bowler for shooting and wounding Edward Rivington butcher between Belper and Pentrich

1754 March 29th Mary Dilks for murdering her illegitimate child; a new gallows was erected for this occasion

1776 Matthew Cockayne was hanged and afterwards gibbetted for murdering Mrs Mary Vickars

1800 Sep 5th Thomas Knowles for forgery

1801 Aug 14th Lacy Powell aged 26 and Jonn Drummond aged 23 two Irishmen for highway robbery; James Gratian of Heage aged 28 for housebreaking; John Evans of Duffield aged 22; and John Dent of Coleorton aged 47 for sheep stealing

1812 April 10th, on the new drop in front of the county jail, James Tomlinson aged 27 and Percival Cook aged 26 for robbing Mr Hunt's house at Ockbrook

1817 Aug 15th John Brown of Nottingham aged 38; Thos Jackson of Woolley moor aged 20; Geo Booth of Chesterfield aged 21; and John King of Matlock aged 24 for arson at Col Halton's South Wingfield

1817 Nov 7th Jeremiah Brandreth alias the Nottingham Captain a native of Exeter aged 27; Wm Turner aged 46; and Isaac Ludlam aged 52, both of South Wingfield for high treason they were afterwards beheaded

1819 March 22nd Hannah Booking of Litton aged 16 for poisoning Jane Grant a young woman of the same village; she gave the poison in a sweet cake to her companion as they were going to fetch some cattle out of a field near to which stood the gibbet post of Anthony Lingard who was executed at Derby for murder,

1819 April 2nd Thomas Hopkinson aged 20 a native of Ashover for highway robbery he was of the party who committed arson at South Wingfield in 1817 but was admitted king's evidence

1825 April 8th George Batty aged 40 from Norton Woodseats for ravishing Miss Martha Hawksley aged 16 in the parish of Beanchief

1833 April John Leadham for bestiality he was the first criminal executed at the new county prison

1843 March Samuel Bonsall aged 20 Wm Bland aged 39 and John Hulme aged 24 for murdering Miss Goddard at Stanley in October 1842.