A guide to the thousands of maps in our collections, primarily from the late 18th century when mapping became more common – updated May 2021.
Maps are an amazing source of information, and in some cases works of art. They can show how an area has evolved over time, and can help us to understand how our ancestors may have lived. The guide outlines the main series of historical and more recent maps available in our archives and local studies collections. More detailed guides are or will soon be available for each series.
Heritage Mapping Portal
The portal contains selected historical maps of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site which can be overlaid on a current Ordnance Survey map to see how the area has developed over the past 200 years.
Visit the Derbyshire Heritage Mapping Portal
Ordnance Survey Maps
The earliest Ordnance Survey (OS) maps for Derbyshire were the 1 inch to 1 mile maps, published from 1840. The most useful maps for charting the development of a particular place and identifying individual buildings are the 6 and 25 inch to 1 mile maps, published from about 1879 (known as the County series). For some larger urban areas with a population of 4,000, maps at 50 inches to 1 mile were also produced, showing street furniture and the internal layout of some public buildings. In Derbyshire, these maps are available for Belper, Buxton, Chesterfield, Derby, Glossop, Ilkeston and Long Eaton. The modern National Grid series begins in the 1950s, and began to change to metric measurements in 1969. New editions of the map were produced approximately every 30-40 years, although sometimes the gap may be smaller or larger. They are especially useful for study of a period of rapid population growth, extensive migration, industrial expansion and agrarian change with the associated development in transport.
Our online catalogue currently only lists the maps by Ordnance Survey reference number rather than by place name.
A large number of OS maps, including for Derbyshire, can be seen on The National Library of Scotland excellent website with features to overlay the historic maps over modern satellite images. Historic Ordnance Survey maps for Derbyshire can also be viewed and overlaid via the Derbyshire Mapping Portal (this is the full portal not the Heritage Portal mentioned above). Unlike the National Library of Scotland site, the Derbyshire site provides a seamless view of all the county’s historic maps rather than having to look at each sheet individually.
Land Values Maps and “Domesday Books”
Land values maps are 2nd edition (c1900) Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile printed maps marked up to show property ownership. Drawn up following the 1910 Finance Act the accompanying schedules, known as ‘Domesday Books’, give names of owners, occupiers and brief details of property usage.
Together the maps and books provide a unique snapshot, of property ownership around the time of World War One. All maps and associated books can be found under reference D595.
Tithe Maps and Awards
The tithe was a tax payable to the Church, calculated as one tenth of annual produce (i.e. crops, goods or livestock). In 1836 the Tithe Commutation Act attempted to regularise this and commuted the levy into cash payments. To determine what amount should be paid a tithe award and map were produced. Between 1836 and 1853, tithe maps were created for a large number of Derbyshire parishes and are a great resource for local, family and house historians as they are large scale maps accompanied by a schedule (award) giving a range of information including showing who owned and occupied land and property in a particular parish at that time.
By 1836, there were many parishes where no landowners still had to pay the tithe, so maps do not exist for these places, and even where maps do exist they may not cover the whole parish, for example, glebe (i.e. church) land is omitted and village centres may not be shown. The accompanying schedule records owner, occupier, name, acreage and state of cultivation of each plot. Digital copies of most maps are available on the public computers at the record office.
To search the catalogue, enter the place name and word tithe in the Title field. three copies of each map and award were produced: for the parish, the diocese and the Tithe Commissioners. The Tithe Commissioners’ series are held at The National Archives, and the other two series are generally held at the county record office.
See our Tithe Maps guide for more information.
Parliamentary Enclosure Maps and Awards
Enclosure is a term used to describe the surrounding of land with a boundary; thus converting pieces of common land into private property.
After 1750, the number Private Enclosure Acts for waste, common land and open fields greatly increased. They became so numerous that, from 1801, public general acts were passed. There are two parts to Enclosure records (1) the map showing numbered plots of land and boundaries, (2) the accompanying award detailing the ownership of each plot of land, its extent in acres, roods and perches and the rent-charge payable on it. The enclosure maps covering parts of Derbyshire primarily date between the 1760s and 1830s. Unfortunately, many of the awards, certainly in the 18th and early 19th century, tend to be written in prose in legal language, and can be difficult to use. The later ones tend to include a tabulated version of the award which is much easier to use.
In Derbyshire much of the commons and waste land had been enclosed by the 19th century, but less than 40% enclosed under an Act of Parliament in the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Therefore, Parliamentary enclosure maps and their accompanying awards are limited in coverage.
Where they exist, the maps are generally on a large scale and are often the earliest detailed map of a particular location. The accompanying schedule records allocations of enclosed land, acreage, boundaries, and roads and footpaths. Search the catalogue entering the place name and word enclosure in the Title field.
Estate, Manorial and Other Maps
Estate maps exist from the 17th century. Surrounding areas, even if contiguous, may be left unrecorded and individual buildings in other ownership not noted. Details given vary significantly but may include field names, tenants’ names, land use and cultivation, water and other landscape features, mills and similar buildings (sometimes a separate document).
Search the online catalogue using the place name and word map in the Title field. For maps created before 1800, including items held in other repositories, see Derbyshire Record Society’s Catalogue of Local Maps of Derbyshire (2012). Where these maps are held at Derbyshire Record Office, you can find the detailed Record Society description in the online catalogue.
Quarter Sessions deposited plans
From 1773 all plans of proposed roads and from 1792 all plans of proposed canals in Derbyshire were deposited with County Quarter Sessions.
Later, plans were required in advance of all public utilities (including railways, tramways, gas, electricity and water supplies) authorised by Acts of Parliament. Some plans refer to proposals which were never carried out. Often detail on plans is confined to the route of the undertaking. Most plans date from the mid to the late 19th century and are held under reference Q/RP.
Printed County Maps, with Town Plans
Many printed maps were produced commercially. The first such map for Derbyshire was produced by Christopher Saxton in 1577 (ref: D369/G/Maps/1). Other notable maps include Robert Morden’s maps of 1695 and 1722, and Peter Perez Burdett of 1767 (revised 1791) which is much more detailed and familiar to the modern reader.
Most of the earliest maps, from the late 16th century onwards, were usually drawn of individual counties, and copies are usually found in both the archives and local studies collections. Printed maps from 20th century maps are often available in the local studies collection only.
Explore Saxton’s 1577 map via the British Library’s online gallery.
Maps accompanying sale catalogues
Printed maps included with early property sale catalogues may be useful sources of evidence for country houses, farms, and other substantial properties, especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
There are lots of published guides in the local studies collection, from general guides about using maps for historical research (e.g. B. P. Hindle (1989) Maps for Local History) to guides for specific types of map.
See also: Derbyshire Mapping Portal, http://derbyshiremaps.derbyshire.gov.uk/, which uses web-mapping technology to overlay many types of information on one modern map.