Celebrating Derbyshire’s Manorial Records

MDR image

We would be delighted if you could join us for a special open evening at Derbyshire Record Office on 16th April to celebrate the launch the Manorial Documents Register for Derbyshire.  The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) exists to identify the whereabouts of records of manors in England and Wales. The MDR is currently being revised as part of a long-term programme, co-ordinated by The National Archives, to review, update and computerise its contents. Over the last year or so, work has been going on to update the MDR for Derbyshire, and this launch event will highlight some of the project’s successes.

Take the opportunity to learn all about manorial records, what they are and how to use them.  Join specialist speakers including Liz Hart of The National Archives who will tell all about the history of the country-wide project, Neil Bettridge, Project Archivist for the Derbyshire MDR project and family historian Kate Henderson who will reveal how manorial records can help grow your family tree.  There will also be the opportunity to take a look at original manorial records which form part of Derbyshire Record Office collections and of course have a go at searching the online register.

Thursday 16th April 7pm-9pm

Derbyshire Record Office, New St, Matlock, DE4 3FE

Light refreshments will be available

It’s free to come along, just call us on 01629 538347 or email us at record.office@derbyshire.gov.uk to reserve a place.

We look forward to seeing you.

Treasure 15: An account of a Clairvoyant regarding Sir John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition

Treasure 16 John Franklin (a)

This letter (D3311/81/1) dates from 1849 and comes from the Franklin family papers held here. These include letters, diaries and poems of Eleanor Anne Franklin (nee Porden), letters and journals of William Porden, letters and other papers of Sir John Franklin and Lady Jane Franklin, as well as letters of Eleanor Isabella Gell (nee Franklin).  There are some prints and several printed works including works by and belonging to Eleanor Anne Franklin (nee Porden) and works about the Arctic and Franklin’s expeditions.

Treasure 16 John Franklin (b)

The mystery of Franklin’s lost expedition has inspired many artistic works, poetry, dramas, and traditional folk songs such as “Lady Franklin’s Lament”, commemorating Lady Franklin’s search for her lost husband.  The search came to an end in September 2014, when the remains of Franklin’s ship, the Erebus, were discovered in the Victoria Strait near King William Island, as you can see from this BBC report.  This treasure was chosen by our Assistant Conservator, Clare.

Charlesworth Cow Club

Charlesworth is a rural village in Derbyshire. Whilst not wishing to offend anyone who lives in this obviously great village, I had never heard of it. That is until I discovered the Charlesworth Cow Club (hence the reason the village is “obviously great”; I mean come on… it’s a Cow Club!)

Joking aside Cow Clubs were not that uncommon in the 19th century. They provided a specific form of insurance for cow farmers. Members paid in a certain amount of money to the society and were recompensed if one of their cows died or was “incurable”. In the case of Charlesworth members paid in two shillings per cow and received eight pounds in return when after a cow died or was deemed “incurable” (i.e. dried up or was terminally ill). After the farmers had been recompensed for their animal, the cow belonged to the society who state in their rules that that they would then “make the most of her” (I can feel the shudders of vegan and vegetarians).

The existence of this society and others similar (such as Clothes Clubs) prove that 100% new ideas truly are hard to come by. When I came across this form of micro insurance the micro credit unions established by Muhammad Yunus immediately came to mind (Yunus has helped set up credit unions who, to this date, haven given small loans to seven million of the world’s poor).

Societies such as these are truly “bottom up” ventures; there help people help themselves and are ultimately helping the wider community. Certainly the Twenty Third Rule of the Charlesworth Cow Club is a testimony to this; they are aiming to pursue “Order and Goodwill” amongst themselves as well as “peace, success and order.”

D370/1/1, Derbyshire Record Office

Rules of the Charlesworth Cow Club, 1879 (D370/1/1)

Researched and written by Charlotte Gregory, Work Placement Student, Jan-Mar 2015

Re-discovered: a late eighteenth-century lead-miner’s diary

You may have seen earlier posts highlighting how useful it is to have volunteers, and how useful it is to have a PhD student working with our lead-mining records.  Well, here’s a post that combines the two.

Last week, our volunteer Mavis examined and briefly described a collection, D3017, which had remained unlisted since we accepted it in 1986.  What had interested me was a mention on the Record Office Guide saying that D3017 included a c1789 coal mining diary.  On closer inspection, the thing turned out to have nothing to do with coal; it was the personal working diary of a particular lead-miner.  As Matthew Pawelski, our doctoral student, was on hand to confirm that this was quite a rarity, we digitised it to save wear and tear on the original.  I then spent a bit of time looking at it – just long enough to add a description to the catalogue.  If you follow that link, click on the catalogue entry for a fuller explanation, then click on the next link to see the description of the volume.

I also gave it a new reference number, because I couldn’t find any connection with the rest of that collection, so the diary is now D7812/1.  You can use a copy on any of the record office computers by looking for CD/348.

The diary seems to have belonged to John Naylor, who mined lead in the area around Ashford-in-the-Water.  (He gets a mention in Lynn Willies’s PhD thesis.)  The book looks rather home-made, and if you handle the document you can see how the pages have been roughly sewn together – in fact, it’s just possible that it was not originally a single volume, because it contains some quite different types of material.  For the most part, it’s a daily diary, covering 1789 to 1792, saying what tasks the diarist was engaged on, and where, as well as the dates of religious holidays when no work was done.  It’s also a personal account book, recording his spending on food and candles – for obvious reasons, lead-miners got through quite a lot of those.  As a sample, have a look at this page:


Here’s a transcription/explanation:

March 1790
21 March: C5 [C is for “church” – and the five means it is the fifth Sunday in Lent]
22-27 March: Knocking etc. all week
28 March: C6 [sixth Sunday in Lent]
29-31 March: at mine, knocking and budling
[No, I don’t know what budling is, but I’m confident one of our readers will know, and will post a comment below to explain.]

1790 March.  Bought of Mr Woodruf
9 March: flour, coarse, 1/2 stone: 1 shilling
10 March: meal, 4 pecks: 4 shillings
12 March: candles, 1 1b; 13 March: flour, coarse, 1/2 stone: 1 shilling, 8d
16 March: cheese, 4 1/2 lb: 1 shilling 5d
17 March: flour, 1 stone, coarse: 2 shillings
18 March: bacon, 3 lbs: 1 shilling, 10 1/2d
19 March: meal, 2 pecks: 2 shillings
20 March: bacon, 1 pound: 7 1/2d
24 March: flour, 1 stone; 26 March: ditto 1/2 stone, coarse, 3 shillings
27 March: Candles, 1 lb; 28 March: beef, 1/2 lb: 4 shillings 11d
Total: £1, 2 shillings, 6d

April 1790
1 April: at mine, budling
2 April: knocking
3 April: budling
4 April C: Easter Sunday
5-10 April: at mine all this week, knocking, budling and washing. Margaret Harrison came to knock two days this week and one washing – in all, three days
11 April: C1 [First Sunday after Easter]
12 April: John and Margaret knocking and washing a little
13 April: knocking ourselves, water [What’s that about water? There’s some writing next to it – a measurement of depth?]
14 April: knocking ourselves
15-17 April: Margaret washing
18 April: C2 [Second Sunday after Easter]

I’m no handwriting expert, so I couldn’t swear it’s all written by the same person, although I think that’s the likeliest explanation.  The reason we think the writer is John Naylor is this page, which says “John Naylor his book”.


Notice the adjacent page?  It contains an epitaph, headed “The Grave has never been denied”:
Ho, ho, lies here
‘Tis I the good Earl of Devonshire
With Cate my Wife, to me full dear
That we spent we had
That we left we lost
That we gave, we have

I don’t know if that’s a quotation, or if Mr Naylor was an aspiring poet.  (If you know, don’t be shy – please use the comments box below.)  We might infer literary aspirations from the bits of the volume that have been used as a commonplace book for prayers, devotional writings and short essays on esoteric subjects, such as “On Dreams”, describing to the attitudes of Ptolemy, Galen and Solomon towards dreams.

Sue’s Soldier: Tom’s Tree

Sues Soldier image

Another anecdote that we didn’t have room for in our vitrine display is George’s story “Tom’s Tree”. George served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and may have been a sniper some of the time, though as my mother said, he never talked much about that aspect. Understandably, picking men off in cold blood was not a popular duty.

My mother had told me “One time there was a German sniper hiding in a shelled-out farmhouse picking our men off one by one. My Dad and his mates hid in a moveable tree stump to retaliate”.  Although this sounds straight out of “Blackadder goes Forth (‘Baldrick, it’s your turn to be the tree’…   ‘But it’s always my turn!’), George did indeed write a short story called Tom’s Tree, which we understand the Illustrated London News published in the mid 20th century, though we haven’t been able to verify this yet. In George’s original, it’s the German who hides in a tree and is spotted by a keen-eyed Yorkshireman who just happens to notice that one particular tree seems to have moved each time you glance in its direction… 

George’s display is on at Derbyshire Record Office until the end of April; do come and pay him a visit.

Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian


Treasure 14: the John R Biggs collection

This treasure (collection reference D3562) was nominated by our erstwhile Artist in Residence, Paula Moss.  She writes:

John R Biggs (1909-1988) was a distinguished wood engraver, typographer, graphic designer and writer, born in Derby, who early in his career established a much admired private printing press.  The archive, from which this book and printing blocks are taken, covers his life’s work – from his student days in Derby to the final years of his retirement from teaching – and is a wonderfully inspiring collection, a real treasure.

Lost, found, returned: the wedding ring of Flt Sgt John Thompson of Matlock

We don’t usually share links to news stories unless they have a direct connection to our archives and local studies holdings – but this is an exception, because of the obvious local and historical interest.  John Thompson was a pilot, from Matlock, who lost his life on a secret mission to Albania during World War II.  After seventy years, his wedding ring has been returned to his surviving family.  Read all about this engaging story on the BBC news website.

Treasure 13: Dyche family photograph album

Our thirteenth treasure is a photograph album belonging to the Dyche family of Borrowash (D2395/1), chosen by Ellie, a student from a local school who was part of our focus group during the extension and refurbishment project.

John and Elizabeth Dyche settled in Borrowash in 1792.  They had four children, one of whom, John, was the father of Jabez Dyche (1829-1888). Jabez was a tenant farmer in Borrowash and Methodist Sunday School Superintendent who after 1869 became a warder at Derby County Gaol. Jabez’s son, William (1863-1945) wrote detailed memoirs of their family life in Borrowash and Derby towards the end of his life.

This photograph album shows members of the Dyche family on holiday, in England and abroad, mainly during the 1930s.

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Ellie writes: “I love the subdued colour and the vintage-like quality of the photographs. My favourite photograph is one of a group of friends stood together having their photo taken on a cruise ship as they look very carefree in their summer outfits”.

A Guide to Copyright

WibbleYou are welcome to attend a Guide to Copyright talk, which will take place at Derbyshire Record Office next Thursday, the 12th March, at 10 am.
There you can find out:
 What is Copyright?
 What does it cover?
 What we can and can’t do under Copyright.
 Is your material still ‘in Copyright’?
 And how it can be used.
Tickets are £3, which is payable upon entry.
To book a place, please call 01629 538347.

The Harry Gill Collection

Increased interest and media coverage in finding out about your past have encouraged people to think about what they do with their personal photographs. This has resulted in some wonderful collections being made available to ‘Picture the Past’. Some are loaned, some are donated but they are all the result of people wanting to share what they enjoy with others. This is great news for visitors to the website (www.picturethepast.org.uk) as it means getting to see, and enjoy, photos that previously might never have survived and probably would have ended up in the bin at some point.

One of the collections recently donated includes photos by a prominent Matlock photographer by the name of Harry Gill. Harry was a freelance photographer whose work appeared regularly in the Matlock Mercury and Derbyshire Times newspapers.  He developed (sorry for the pun!) an interest in cameras and photography at a young age, which was encouraged by his marriage to Clara Sheehan, of Bristol.  She was herself a skilled photographer and his daughter Phyllis Higton, believes it was probably her influence which led him to take up photography as a career.  Harry was a well known character in the local area and Phyllis remembers well her father’s studio in Matlock Bath, which was opposite to the Pavilion fishpond, particularly as she was often roped in to make the children smile when they had their portraits taken!  He was obviously quite the entrepreneur, dashing across the road as soon as the charabancs arrived loaded with tourists, taking their photographs and having them developed and ready to take home at the end of the day.

The collection includes images taken between the 1930’s and 1960’s, depicting life in and around Matlock and the Peak District.  They include all manner of shots from carnival queens, royal visits and the Matlock Bath road widening. The collection has been very kindly deposited in the Local Studies Library, at the Derbyshire Record Office by Phyllis (pictured below).  Digitised versions of the images will eventually appear on the ‘Picture the Past’ website which can be viewed by going to www.picturethepast.org.uk and we will share some with you over the coming months here.

Harry Gill with footballer Jimmy Greaves, taken when the England team trained at Lea green in 1964.

Harry Gill with footballer Jimmy Greaves, taken when the England team trained at Lea Green in 1964.

Phyllis Higton points to a photo of her late father, the photographer Harry Gill, before handing over his photographic collection to Lisa Langley-Fogg from the Local Studies Library and Nick Tomlinson from ‘Picture the Past’.

Phyllis Higton points to a photo of her late father, the photographer Harry Gill, before handing over his photographic collection to Lisa Langley-Fogg from the Local Studies Library and Nick Tomlinson from ‘Picture the Past’.