Arbella’s jewels… what’s listed in the inventory?


A lady holding a sable with jewelled head and claws (a zibellino) in her right hand, just like Arbella’s, c.1595

If you’ve been struggling with the handwriting in our 45th treasure, the list of Arbella Stuart’s jewels, here’s a transcription.  I whiled away a train journey by having a go at this. It’s by no means perfect, so If you have any alternative suggestions for some of the words, do please leave a comment below.

These Jewels Chaines Pearle rings and other things
here underwritten recewed by the lady Arbella Steward
of the lord Cavendishe this xxiij daye of february in
the fift[h] yeare of the raigne of our Soveraigne Lord King
James 1607
A riche Sable the head and Clawes of goldsmith worke
enamelled and sett wth diamonds and rubies
Two borders of goldsmithes worke on[e] peece of one of them sett
wth one peece set wth Two[?] p[ear]le a rubie another peece set with a diamond
another peece set with a rubie and soe throughout the other of the
borders sette with one peece set wth foure round p[ear]le another pee[ce]
sett wth a diamond and soe throughout
A Chaine of blood stone and goldsmyth worke
Fowre score and eight buttons enameled wth blacke and three
white snailes a peece
Thirteene wyre work buttons Two more
A Cloke[?] sett wth diamonds and rubies
A globe set wth diamond and rubies wth a p[ear]le pendant
A seale lyke a pillar sett wth rubie diamond and emerald
Another border of goldsmyth worke one peece set wth a diamond
another peece set wth five p[ear]le and soe throughout this of
seaventeene peces
Two rope of p[ear]le contayninge syxe score and five greater p[ear]le
Another border of gold smyth worke of nintene peecs one peece
set with foure p[ear]les and another peece set wth an emerald and soe
One crose set wth diamonds with a p[ear]le pendant
Another greater crosse set wth diamond rubies and fyve round p[ear]le
A Broorse set with rock rubie and an emerald & a diamond
An ewre [ewer] of christall trimmed with gould and set wth rubies and tur…es [turquoise?]
A salte [salt-cellar] of Agget [agate] trymmed wth gould and set wth emerald
Three gold rings upon a pap[?]
A greate table diamond in one ring a pointed diamond in another and a rock rubie
in another
Thirtie eight p[ear]le of black and white agget enameled […]
Three score eightene […] enameled

Treasure 45: Arbella Stuart’s inventory of jewels, 1607

This extraordinary document (D1897/1) is an inventory of her jewellery, which itemises the pieces given to her by ‘the Lord Cavendish’ (William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire). It dates from 1607 and is signed by Arbella herself.


Arbella Stuart (1575-1615) was the grandaughter of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury (d 1608), also known as ‘Bess of Hardwick’. At the end of the 16th century, Arbella was next in line to the English throne after King James VI of Scotland. Her father, the Earl of Lennox, was the younger brother of James’s father and a grandson of Margaret Tudor. Arbella spent much of her early life with her grandmother and this document appears to record the return to her of her jewels from her uncle, William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, Bess of Hardwick’s second and favoured son. Arbella was regarded as a traitor by King James, (by then also James I of England), after her unauthorised marriage in 1610 to William Seymour, grandson of Lady Catherine Grey, heiress to the English throne under Henry VIII’s will. Imprisoned in the Tower of London, Arbella died there in 1615.

Learning lessons from the past

This Friday, 27th January, marks Holocaust Memorial Day.  The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity, established by the Government, which promotes and supports HMD in the UK.  HMDT encourages and inspires individuals and organisations across the UK to play their part in learning lessons from the past and creating a safer, better future.

Many of our Derbyshire libraries will have displays of books, posters and material from their collections relating to the holocaust, Jewish history and culture.

Here at the record office we have a small display of material from our local studies collection which include guides to Jewish genealogy and tracing Jewish ancestors, articles relating to Jewish history and information on the Holocaust and other subsequent genocides.  There is a free HMD booklet to take away.

So if you are visiting us, do take a look.


We’re featured!

Have you seen us in the latest issue of Who do you think you are? magazine? There’s a whole Derbyshire feature with a special focus on the family history resources available at the Record Office, plus a directory of other local services and online resources for Derbyshire family history

If you have a Derby or Derbyshire library card, you can read the full feature via the libraries e-magazine service – find out more and how to access the magazine by clicking here

Oh what a lovely website!

The Derbyshire Lives Through the First World War project here at the Derbyshire Record Office is coming to a close.  But to create a lasting legacy of the wonderful activities that have gone on around the county to commemorate the centenary of the First World War we have created a touring exhibition that over the next two years should be coming to a location close to you and a brand new website.  desktopThis is now online and although we are still tinkering with it – adding captions to images, including more of your stories and adding specially made short films, we already have a site that includes a timeline, a gallery of images from our collections, information on lots of projects from around the county and a help section for anyone thinking of organising their own project in the future.

Have a look at our new site and let us know what you think.  If you’d signed up to our previous Derbyshire Lives Through the First World War blog, please do continue to follow us on our new site.  Our own project may be coming to an end but of course the First World War commemorations will continue until Armistice Day 2018 so there will be new projects to mention and lots to talk about.



Treasure 44: the Calke Abbey Garden Book

Anyone who has had to look after a garden will appreciate the amount of work and dedication involved in maintaining the grounds of stately homes, such as Calke Abbey.

This garden book (D2375/E/G/4) dates from 1811, and it lists what each gardener was up to on each day and how much they were getting paid – there seems to have been an awful lot of digging and mowing going on!

If you would like to support our work by adopting this document, for yourself or as a gift, have a look at the Adopt A Piece Of History page

Treasure 43: An early Rolls-Royce photograph

This Treasure comes from the Ogden family collection:

Rolls Royce photo

Rolls-Royce began manufacturing motor cars in Derby from 1907. This photograph (D331/27/28), dates from the preceding year, and was taken outside the Cat and Fiddle pub near Buxton. Seated behind the wheel of the car with number plate AX205 is none other than Charles Stewart Rolls (1877-1910), co-founder of the company.

There is some writing on the back of the photograph saying it was given to F S Ogden in 1961 and dates from 1908 – this date was repeated in the original catalogue entry.  However, we have recently had to correct it: the same image features in Peter Pugh’s book “Rolls-Royce: The Magic of a Name: The First Forty Years of Britain’s Most Prestigious Company, 1904-1944” (Icon Books, 2015) and this dates the photograph to 22 Jun 1907.  If you would like to read the book, you can use the reference copy held here, or borrow one of the copies that may be found using the Derbyshire Libraries catalogue.

If you would like to support our work by adopting this document, for yourself or as a gift, have a look at the Adopt A Piece Of History page



LGBT+ – Derbyshire’s “other stories”

lgbt-3Derbyshire LGBT+ is Derbyshire’s leading charity representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities. An exhibition here at the Record Office marks the beginning of the charity’s HLF funded project to document the history of the LGBT+ community by highlighting “other stories” that have not previously been told.

The project’s launch coincides with 50 years since the landmark 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised sex between men over 21, paving the way for future legal advances for LGBT people in subsequent years. The project will record these changes, including capturing oral histories from members of the LGBT community who were part of the struggle for equal rights and were affected by the legal changes.

As part of this project, volunteers will work with the record office to discover stories of relevance to this community’s history that stretch back much further. Volunteers have already started working with our staff to identify these “other stories” from within the archives.

The project does not aim to apply modern labels to people from the past, but rather to highlight that their stories have something to tell us about the history of sexuality and gender identity.

The exhibition, in our reception area, provides an initial glimpse of some of the stories found so far in and around Derbyshire. The project itself will run throughout 2017 and 2018 and will be recruiting and training volunteers. If you would like to help identify stories and share them with a wider audience, you can get in touch with the project at or email

The exhibition runs from Thursday 12th January to Saturday 1st April, normal record office opening hours apply.

Treasure 42: a licence to employ a servant, 1878

This document (D1575/13/18) was chosen by Matthew, who is a Record Assistant at Derbyshire Record Office. Matthew says “it always reminds me of the old dog licences, which makes me smile but also feel slightly uncomfortable at the same time”.


Employers needed to have licences like this one to prove they had paid the male servant duty.  This system was in operation from 1869 to 1937.  Its predecessor was a tax on male servants, dating from 1777.  Rosie Cox, author of “The Servant Problem: Domestic Employment in a Global Economy” (I B Tauris, 2006) says the tax was intended to “remove male servants from all but the most prestigious households”, making it easier to recruit men to serve in the navy during the American War of Independence.

Armchair travel

After all those weeks of planning, shopping, card writing and frantic present wrapping Christmas and the New Year celebrations are once again behind us.  Now we go back to our everyday lives, hoping that the winter weather isn’t going to be too unkind and looking forward to those first signs of spring.  To give us something to look forward to many of us start thinking about our summer holidays, dreaming about exotic shores and warmer climes.  Browsing through holiday brochures is one method but another way to escape is to immerse yourself into a good book and this month’s Derbyshire Library promotion ‘Armchair Travel’ encourages you to do just that.  Whether you pick a travel guide or novel you can be whisked across the world whilst snuggled up in your favourite armchair with a nice cup of tea.   But I for one don’t necessarily aspire to venturing too far afield. I’m quite happy to explore our own beautiful county, and to do that I too don’t have to leave the comfort of my armchair.

Derbyshire is a county of contrasts: gentle rolling pastures, hard limestone uplands, bleak dark peak moorlands, industrial mill and mining towns.  It’s hardly surprising that these varied landscapes have been inspiration to writers for centuries and the local studies collection at the Derbyshire Record Office has hundreds of novels, poetry and short stories which showcase our beautiful county.

Way back in the year 2000, to celebrate the new millennium, Derbyshire Libraries held a Millennium  Literature Festival. Our Local Studies Librarian at the time, Ruth Gordon knew that the Local Studies Library held a vast collection of local fiction but that our customers were largely unaware of its existence.  Unfortunately space issues meant the books were hidden away in the back of the library, away from our open access area, and indeed even though we’ve now got wonderful new premises alongside the Archives service in the Record Office, the local fiction collection is so large that it is kept in one of the storage rooms in the back.sense-of-place

Ruth saw that the Millennium Literature Festival was a great opportunity to publicise and celebrate this collection. Over many weeks she diligently took armfuls of books home with her, and happily read them all.  From all of this ‘homework’ Ruth wrote her Sense of Place booklet, which took a circular tour around the county listing all the books she had read and enjoyed. The booklet has been out of print for many years but you can still request copies to borrow through your local library.  Although now 17 years old (how time flies!) and so missing out all of the great fiction by authors such as Stephen Booth with his popular Fry and Cooper crime series set in the Peak District, which has been written since the booklet was produced, it nevertheless still makes fascinating reading.

In it we see novels which describe life in Derbyshire’s mining community such as Frederick Boden’s ‘A Derbyshire Tragedy’ 1935:

They sat themselves inside the smoky, coal dirty cabin, as near the fire as they could get, unwrapping their food and setting to. “Grand to see a bit of fire” Albert said….biting at the slice of bread in his hand……. “Fine,” Jud answered, “Nowt like a bit of fire.”…….The screens and riddles thudded and roared above them, and feathers of dust shot from the wagons on either side of the cabin as the coal crashed down the iron shoots”

and Albert Rhodes novel Calico Bloomers (1968):

The whirr of the steel rope and the metallic clash of folding gates announced the arrival of the cage. Tubs rumbled past them as they strode over the rails.  Steve saw they were full of rock and dirt.  The banksman standing by the cage checked their lamps and said brusquely, ‘Tally?’….. They entered the cage and the gates closed.  A moment of waiting; then the bottom of the cage fell away as they plunged into darkness.  As the brakes slowly came on, senses reverted to make him believe they were going back to the surface.  Filtered light brightened and with scarcely a bump they stopped.

Derby appears in many stories and an author who manages to capture much of the essence of the city is Carol Lake, particualry in her short stories ‘Rosehill: Portraits of a Midland rosehillCity’ 1989 which won the Guardian Fiction Prize for that year:

“Rosehill Street in late May – the sound of birds and the smell of anise and early summer greenery; movement of the sighing wind. Here comes Tazilim, hurrying along to Mohammed’s, one hand leaden, clutched about her baby, the other makes gay protest at her chiffon scarf, which whips about her head and shoulders like May ribbons in the warm wind.”

South Derbyshire, although another area of industry, also has a rural charm such as in JG Layberry’s series of books about a farming family in the Repton area which opens in 1911 and takes us through to the late 1980s. This is from ‘Hayseed’ (1980):

“The broad Trent swirled round the bend, friendly and comforting. From its surface the evening sun reflected in sheets of dazzling brightness…..It always makes me glad to see the old river, mused Bob with affection. Meg responded to his mood at once. When I was at school I read that Americans call the Mississippi “Old Man River” because it affects their lives so much. The Trent is a bit like that for us. We played here as children, picnicked here, fished here- at least Sam did- bathed here, and once or twice skated here. And we never run out of grass at this part of the farm.”

Nat Gould, who lived out at Pilsbury, wrote numerous light thrillers with a racing background but he also wrote a couple of locally inspired works based on the local farming communities. Hills and Dales of 1935:

Mill Hill was a typical Derbyshire country lane. On one side a rugged stone wall stood on the top of a bank and fenced in the fields.  On the opposite side was a thick hedge, through which the most obstinate sheep would have found it difficult to force its way, on account of the dense mass of briers and undergrowth, which almost hid the original hedge from view.

Alison Uttley’s timeless novels and short stories are all based on the dearly loved village of Cromford where she spent her childhood. “Lost in the creases of the hills, until one turned a sudden corner, and found the little stone houses clustering round the duck pond, climbing up the steep rocks and sleeping huddled together about the old market square.” (The Country Child. 1931.)

The limestone uplands of the White peak are captured in Berlie Doherty’s White Peak Farm, a vivid and sensitive description of a young girl and her farming family who are tied to the land:

“My home is on a farm in the soft folding hills of Derbyshire. Not far from us the dark peaks of the Pennines rise up into the ridge that is called the spine of England.  We’ve always lived there; my father’s family has owned the farm for generations.  He never wants to let it go.

Nothing ever seemed to change there. The seasons printed their patterns on the fields, the sky cast its different lights across the moors, but our lives, I thought, would never change…… And yet, about four years ago that change did come to us, casting its different lights across the pattern of our lives.”

In Katharine B Glaisier’s short stories ‘Tales from the Derbyshire hills’ (1907) the atmosphere of the White Peak is plain to see:

“ All colour seemed to have been washed out of the world about him….a stone cottage and a couple of barns looked more like exaggerations of the forlorn heaps of stones which had marked the ruin of bygone walls all along the latter half of his journey, than an actual place of human habitation. But in the grey vast of the November sky a thin film of smoke was slowly mounting.”

Crichton Porteous wrote several novels full of authentic rural detail based on his life as a farm labourer in the Combs area in the 1940s and 50s. These include Changing Valley, Man of the Moors and The Snow. The harsh climate is a recurring theme in all of these Dark Peak stories.

 “He turned the knob and instantly the door flew inward…..Into the space flew a cloud of whiteness in which the storm-lamp burned momentarily incandescent, as in the centre of an immense halo. The next instant it went out. With the snow, cold leapt in.” (The Snow)

A few simple paragraphs can immediately transport you to another place and as the titles mentioned in the ‘Sense of Place’ booklet are largely available to borrow through your local library, why not try a spot of ‘Armchair travel’ yourself.  No suitcase required.