Mini Explore! Magna Carta – the road to democracy

The Explore Your Archive campaign, coordinated by The National Archives and the Archives and Records Association, is entering its third year in 2015.  The main campaign takes place in November, however, a mini campaign has been launched for June to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

TNA Magna Carta

Magna Carta, meaning ‘The Great Charter’ is one of the world’s most famous and important constitutional documents in the rise of democracy and human rights.

Issued and sealed by King John in June 1215, Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the King, was subject to the law.

The document is essentially a list made up of 63 clauses, the 39th clause stating that all ‘free men’ had the right to justice and a fair trail.  Some of Magna Carta’s principles directly influenced subsequent constitutional documents including the United States Bill of Rights (1791), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention of Human Rights (1950).

Sadly we don’t hold Magna Carta here at the record office – only four survive, with amendments of various dates, and are held at Salisbury Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral and two at the British Library.

In our collections, however, we do hold a copy with translation from 1951 (Ref: D2331/1).

Magna Carta

Along with this we hold a wealth of material relating to democracy, our legal system and access to rights as a human being.

Over the next coming weeks we will be adding posts featuring specially chosen items from our archives and local studies collections so join us as we travel from Magna Carta to the Miners’ Strike in our online exhibition Magna Carta – the road to democracy.

Potter & Co Collection: Photographs

After tackling Box 13, I decided that I needed to finally sort out the photographs that are in the collection.

When the collection had first been deposited  in the Derbyshire Record Office, the photographs had been grouped together but not in any particular order. Therefore, to make it easier for users, I grouped the photographs in the following categories: workforce within printworks; management; fire at the Hurst Mill; images of Glossop etc. (I hope you enjoy the images of Glossop particularly of the snow photographs which are very pretty).

Now grouped together and safely packaged back in their box, the collection is finally ready to be organised into series and subseries, which I was doing before I decided my miscellaneous items needed to be organised.

Wish me good luck!

Treasure 27: Ockbrook glebe terriers

A glebe terrier is a formal record of the property and assets of an ecclesiastical parish. They vary a lot in their format and contents, and often mention intangible assets such as tithes on wool, corn and (in some parts of the county) lead ore.

These particular terriers have been selected by the historian Richard Clark and relate to the parish of Ockbrook.  The vicar who drew them up was a Huguenot by the name of Stephen Grongnet, who had been educated at Montaubon and left France for England some time after the Edict of Nantes was revoked, in 1685. The Edict had afforded French Protestants certain rights and protections, and its revocation prompted many other Huguenots to take the same decision. After taking up his post as vicar of Ockbrook, Grongnet worked for almost four decades in the same parish, before his death in 1733. We hold a copy of Stephen Grongnet’s will and probate inventory dating from that year.

The terriers date from 1698, 1701, 1719, 1722 and 1726. Looking through the series, it is possible to detect changes reflecting the passage of years, in particular the deterioration of Grongnet’s eyesight, which caused his writing to grow ever smaller.

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Richard had his first encounter with the terriers shortly after their arrival at Derbyshire Record Office. He writes:

When I used the glebe terriers in the late 1970s, they had just come in from the Diocese of Southwell and had not been formally listed. A very brave archives assistant produced a temporary list, providing the date of each terrier under the parish heading, and for his pains got very dirty handling all those pieces of parchment. They weren’t much cleaner when I had the privilege of handling them in the office for a second time, but I was very grateful for his list. What attracted me to these Ockbrook terriers was seeing the process of aging, something apparent from the real documents and which cannot be conveyed by transcript. They capture the physical burdens of his position in an age before universal retirement pensions better than any historian’s description.

We can confirm that they are lovely and clean these days!

A note on the spelling of this surname: researchers find that until some point in the later 19th century, surnames were spelled according to the whim of the moment – people were not even consistent in the spelling of their own name. Our catalogue (drawing on the original documents) renders this surname as Grognet/Grongnet, whereas The Clergy Database (an invaluable resource for anyone researching a particular clergyman) spells it Grougmett or Gronginet. However, he signs himself Grongnet on these terriers, so we will stick with that. It’s also the spelling favoured by the author of a biography of the man, “A French parson at Ockbrook”, by Marion Johnson. The Derbyshire Libraries catalogue indicates that we have fifteen copies of it across our various branches, including our own local studies section.

Potter and Co Collection: No Longer a Miscellaneous Box

In my previous post I was battling with my miscellaneous box, and was required to tackle it when it came to my attention that the collection needed restructuring.

5 hours and 94 items later, the box has been sorted through and catalogued onto CALM ready to be arranged into categories (series and subseries) during my next visit to the DRO.

With the items now identified, the box is no longer a miscellaneous box, although not entirely linked with the Dinting Vale Print Works collection that it was deposited with. However, due to the items’ connection with Glossop and Manchester, the items can be kept within the collection in a separate series.

Many of the papers belonged to Mr Hurst, who the library belonged to, meaning that many items may have just been swept up from his desk, such as newspapers, which makes my job even more difficult.

Box 13 items

Box 13 items

Now I am ready to put all the items into subseries, such as papers relating to the day-to-day Dinting Vale and printed books. Once organised, I can focus on numbering all the items and placing them in boxes and recording the new location.

That’s me for another week.

Treasure 26: Ferodo’s imaginative advertising

This treasure is an extraordinary map of another world called Nevacantell – a world filled with motoring hazards, mitigated by brake linings manufactured in Chapel-en-le-Frith.



It has been nominated by a former archivist at Derbyshire Record Office, Gary Tuson, who is now County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office. He writes:

The business archive of Ferodo, brake-lining manufacturers, contains a superb collection of advertising and promotional material. Ferodo’s advertising was imaginative: in the inter-war years, one theme which seems to recur is that of driving off a cliff if you haven’t fitted your car with Ferodo brake-linings – just one of the many hazards identified on the map of Nevacantell.


There are many more scenes within this map, which may be seen in our searchroom as a high-resolution scan on CD/173 or in its original form by ordering item D4562/17/2. For instance, have a look at the groups of bikers in this image:


Did you also spot the satirical tribute to the League of Nations? And how about this for an accident waiting to happen?


We are grateful to Ferodo’s current owners, Federal-Mogul, for letting us use this image.

Drive safely, everyone!

Richard Clark’s new book on Derby

I recently blogged about a soon-to-be-launched book on Derby in a post about the DRS/VCH local history event happening in Matlock on 11 July. Now we have some details about the book, straight from the Derbyshire Record Society:

The Bailiffs of Derby: Urban Governors and their Governance 1513–1638
By Richard Clark

Derby has long had the doubtful distinction of being the least well studied major county town in early modern England, on which little work based on detailed archival research has been published. This new monograph goes a long way to rectifying this shortcoming. It provides a detailed picture of the bailiffs, chosen annually by their fellow burgesses, who headed the corporation between the early sixteenth century and the eve of the Civil War: who they were, what occupations they pursued, and the extent to which they formed a closed oligarchy. The second half of the book deals with their work: the maintenance of law and order, often in the face of incursions by county gentry; how they dealt with the plague and disputes over commons and enclosure; their response to the Reformation locally; and their role as benefactors. A final section considers how far a ‘civic culture’ developed in Derby. Appendices list the bailiffs, their occupations and wealth.

This study will be of great value to anyone interested in the history of Derby, and at the same time, because the author carefully contextualises his findings, is an important addition to case-studies of the larger provincial towns of Tudor and early Stuart England.

Richard Clark is a graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, where he completed a D.Phil. thesis in 1979 on the religious history of Derbyshire between 1603 and 1730. He now teaches part-time for the Open University. The author of a number of articles on early modern Derby, his edition of a churchwarden’s order book for All Saints, the principal parish church in the town, was published by the Derbyshire Record Society in 2010.

The Bailiffs of Derby will be published on 11 July 2015 as Derbyshire Record Society Occasional Paper No 11 (ISBN 0-978-0-946324-39-2), a section-sewn paperback of 128 pages, including a reproduction of John Speed’s map of Derby of 1611, at a recommended retail price of £15 (£18 by post). DRS members will be able to order copies at £10 post free.

Authors coming to Matlock to launch new books on Hardwick Hall and 16th-17th century Derby – and how you can get involved

The Derbyshire Record Society and the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust are holding their Annual General Meetings at the Imperial Rooms in Matlock on Saturday 11 July. The Record Society’s AGM will be at 10.30am (tea and coffee available from 9.30) and the VCH Trust’s AGM will be in the afternoon. In between the two, there will be a buffet lunch.

Immediately after the first meeting there will be a talk by the historian Richard Clark, to accompany the launch of his new monograph on the government of Derby in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. And straight after the second meeting, two senior curatorial staff from the National Trust will be talking about their new book on Hardwick Hall.

What’s great about this year’s event is that it is open to all-comers, whether or not you are a member of the Derbyshire Record Society or the VCH Trust. What’s more, local historians/societies are being invited to bring along material to display and publications to sell, which should turn the event into something of a small-scale local history fair. DRS Secretary and General Editor Philip Riden describes it as “a welcome opportunity for the local history community in Derbyshire to come together, listen to good visiting speakers, and find out what other individuals and groups are doing”.

If you have any questions about the event or would like to come along, please email the Record Society’s treasurer, Mary Wiltshire, at This will help the Society to organise the catering effectively, and to make sure there is enough space to accommodate any displays.

If you are not a member of the DRS or VCH Trust, you are asked to bring £5 as a contribution towards the lunch. Or you could just as easily part with that same £5 to join the Record Society for a whole year! This seems excellent value, especially as membership entitles you to a substantial discount on Derbyshire Record Society’s publications. The Society has been going since 1977 and has an extraordinary track record of producing books that researchers find very, very useful.
The Imperial Rooms are on Imperial Road, Matlock DE4 3NL. It’s just off Bank Road at the foot of the hill, near Wilkinson’s. There is parking nearby and it’s a short walk from the railway and bus stations.