Pentrich Rising: guide to sources

The Pentrich Rising is considered to be Britain’s last armed uprising.  In June 1817, a group of rebels led by Jeremiah Brandreth (left) assembled in South Wingfield with the intention of marching to Nottingham.  When they reached Eastwood, troops were waiting for them and many of the rebels were captured.  The ringleaders were later hung, drawn and quartered at Derby.

Published material

The rising is discussed in E P Thompson’s famous book, ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ (published 1963).  There are also a number of books about the rising, which can be found on the open shelves in Local Studies under ‘Pentrich’, including:

  • J. Neal (1895) Pentrich Revolution
  • John Stevens (1977) England’s Last Revolution: Pentrich 1817
  • Keith R Clark (2008) The Pentrich Revolution: a modern look at the places of interest
  • Michael Parkin (2014) 1817 – a Recipe for Revolution: reflections on the Pentrich Rising of June 1817

Original documents

An exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the Rising was held in 1967 and the catalogue for the exhibition can be found in Local Studies, with other books on Pentrich.  Archive collection D1667 includes a copy of the catalogue and photocopies of all the documents used in the exhibition.  Other documents include:

D239/M/F/8405 Letter from Philip Gell, London: is glad to hear of Sir Henry’s squadron; the recent rebellion should prove a useful spur to enlistment 16 June 1817
D239/M/F/10229 Notebook of Sir Henry FitzHerbert containing commodity prices, his account of the harvests, economic conditions, uprisings in Manchester and Pentrich 1812-1819
D2075/1 Brief for prisoners in case of the King against Bacon and others for high treason 15 Oct 1817
D2075/2 Coloured print of Jeremiah Brandreth, the Nottingham captain, endorsed a correct likeness by C Ward;  Size 21 x 33 cm 24 Oct 1817
D487/ZZ/1 ‘The Courier’ 25 October 1817, containing an account of the Pentrich rebellion trial in Derby 25 Oct 1817
D2943/F/9/4 (item 2) Copy of letter from ?JD Strutt to his cousin Edward, commenting on the trials following the Pentrich rebellion, describing the executions of Brandreth, Turner and Ludlum 9 Nov 1817
D4868/1 South Wingfield Association for the Prosecution of Felons Account book comprising: 1).  Includes expenses, 1819, of prosecuting those involved in Pentrich Rebellion, 1817 1819-1870
D1198/A/PI/1/1 Parish of Ripley: Baptism Register 1821-1886

At the front are minutes of the meeting on 13 Jul 1818 which resolved that the building of a church or chapel of ease at Ripley was necessary, giving the reasons for this, citing population, with probable reference to the Pentrich Rebellion

D2836/5/1 ‘Pentrich Revolution and incidents of the trials of Brandreth, Ludlam, Turner and Wightman in the year 1817’ by John Neal, published in Ripley.  This account was first published as a series of articles in the ‘Ripley and Heanor News’ and ‘Eastwood and Kimberley Advertiser’. [there is also a copy in Local Studies] 1895
D5851 Notes on ‘Preacher Ludlam’, taken from a local newspaper 19th Cent
D7247/6 Letter from Charles Willatt, Swiney Lane to the Hon. Frederick Strutt about Thomas Wheatcroft of Thacker Hill, Chevin, Belper and his involvement in the Pentrich rebellion of 1817 27 Apr 1896
D2631/2/13 ‘Survivor’s Story, a True Tale of the Pentrich Rebellion’, in ‘The Derbyshire Countryside’ magazine Jun-Jul 1957

There are also other sources that give a picture of the economic conditions and area at the time:

  • Q/SB/7 Removal orders, moving paupers to other parishes, 1710-1857
  • Enclosure and tithe maps of the areas, produced in the 18th and 19th centuries

Elsewhere on our blog, discover to what extent was the rebellion the result of a volcanic eruption on the other side of the world two years earlier – Mount Tambora 1815?

4 thoughts on “Pentrich Rising: guide to sources

  1. Thanks, Charles, that is an interesting thought. The first deposit of Butterley Company records was actually made in October 1967 so just a little late for the exhibition, although I think it was mostly 20th century material in the first deposit. A quick look through the catalogue doesn’t suggest anything amongst the early records (mostly financial and production records) that might be explicitly related, but there may indeed be references and many implicit inferences and connections to be drawn

    • I think there’s a story in itself about the Butterley archives coming to the Record Office. I understand from my cousin (a Benedictine monk) and son of my great-uncle, Monty Wright, one of the last MDs before the company was taken over by what became Hanson, that George Scott, Monty’s old secretary, rather unilaterally decided to give them en bloc to the Record Office just before the new owners could do anything about it. They weren’t very happy.

      • There often is some kind of story behind the early deposits and donations to the record office. One of my favourites relates to your namesake collection – the Charles Wright & Son (wine merchants) collection. It was deposited by the owners in January 1966 after being approached by the County Archivist, Miss Sinar. She had received an enquiry from a local pupil who wanted to find out about the old sign that hung outside their shop in Wirksworth.

        We do of course keep correspondence relating to all donations and deposits, but I’m afraid I don’t know the story behind the various Butterley deposits; though if I did, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment given that it would inevitably involve referring to the individuals concerned.

  2. This is very interesting. I’d imagine that another useful source of original material would be the Butterley Company archive, which I don’t think had landed at the Record Office by 1967

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