Three uses for the Burney collection (3)

And now, the last of my three suggested uses for the Burney collection.  It is this: you could use it to find examples of the variety of social conditions in your area.  If your area is Swadlincote – and even if it isn’t – you might be interested in this article from the Whitehall Evening Post (London) dated February 1790: Swadlincote

Not happy reading – although, then as now, we might wonder whether press reports are wholly accurate all of the time.  The article does not give the name of the purchaser or the purchased, the vendor or the absconding husband.  Or perhaps it is intended as satire?  Let us know what you think.  Anyway, if you want to use the Burney collection, grab your Derbyshire library card and head to:

Derbyshire Record Office re-opens: a report from Chaddesden Historical Group

We had our official re-opening on the 19th of March.  Here is a report on the occasion by one of our guests, Andrew Bailey, who is chairman of the Chaddesden Historical Group.  For more about the group, see

On Tuesday 19th March 2013 three members of The Chaddesden Historical Group had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremony of the recently completed Derbyshire Record Office.  This excellent facility now combines art storage space alongside the County Local Studies Library as well as a comprehensive Record Office.

The opening of this £4 million facility was performed by John Beckett, Professor of English Regional History at Nottingham University accompanied by Councillor Andrew Lewer, Leader of Derbyshire County Council which funded the project.

During the afternoon we were given the opportunity to see the much improved visitor facilities including a sandwich and coffee room and some of the more interesting treasures in the collection which included a map of Breaston dating from 1722 and a rather gruesome medical tome guaranteed to put you off the excellent buffet.

Opening Day

The most memorable contribution undoubtedly came from the Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black who read his new poem entitled, ‘Somewhere in this building’ to a most appreciative audience.  Matt was kind enough to give me permission to reproduce this poem here which was inspired by a rather difficult to spot feature on the 1722 Breaston map, a ladder propped up against an apple tree.  

Somewhere in this building

on an old map, a ladder climbs quietly

into the arms of an apple-tree.

Once a man stood on that ladder. Where is he?

I want to know him, he comes from Then

but must still live Here, among these records,

frayed books and letters writ in gooSe quill.


Somewhere in this building you might find

his mother, rummaging through last month’s bills.

We’re all here, amongst the litter of our lives,

our marks, traces, footprints on these shelves,

like a new layer in a town of strata

where sea-lily feathers once washed the lagoon.


He is our data, our DNA, on yellow paper.

Somewhere in this building, he is real,

he walks the fields, you can find his children.

I can almost smell him, that hot afternoon,

four centuries back, on the Breaston breeze,

golden scent-of-earth in apple-sun.


Matt Black                                                                                           Matt Black © 2013

This poem encompasses everything that the DRO stands for and along with Rita and Mary I enjoyed a memorable afternoon that also gave us all the opportunity to say hello to some old friends.

Three Uses for the Burney Collection (2)

More now from the Burney collection, and the second of three suggested uses for the database. If you are a family historian or biographer, and you suspect the subject of your research ran into financial trouble, you could check lists of recent bankruptcy cases. Here, for instance, are notices from the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (London), dated 15 June 1772. I picked it out because of the reference to Tideswell, but could just as easily have turned it up by looking for individual names. If you want to use the Burney collection, grab your Derbyshire library card and head to: Tideswell

Three uses for the Burney collection (1)

Revd Charles Burney (1757-1817) was a busy chap.  Not content with being a busy priest and schoolmaster, he spent much of his time and money gathering together a vast array of books, newspapers and news pamphlets.  The whole collection was bought for the nation by the British Museum in 1817, and is now held at the British Library – where, happily, it has recently been digitised for our enjoyment.  It is quite a resource, being described as “the largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news media”, and can be accessed using your Derbyshire library card right here:

I offer three possible uses of this database, having had a go at searching for Derbyshire place names.  Here is the first: you could use the Burney collection for researching the history of a property or a landed estate.  To prove it, here is a notice from the Public Advertiser (London), from 31 March 1775:


I will blog another couple of these later in the week.

The Dunstable-Derbyshire connection

We have been told about a talk which will be given at St Oswald’s Church Hall in Ashbourne on 26 March at 7.30pm.  Jean Yates and Christine Price will be relating “the amazing, unfolding story of the discovery of significant ownership of land in Derbyshire by the Dunstable Priory 800 years ago”.  The authors of the research uncovered “not only the woollen trade and the lead mining by the monks, but the routes the goods and the monks travelled between Dunstable and Derbyshire in medieval times”.  There will be a charge of £3 to cover costs of refreshments and expenses.