The Miller Mundy archive – a lockdown project completed

If you are a regular follower of this blog you will have noticed several posts over the last year featuring the Mundy and Miller Mundy families. This is because one of our projects, which we began in March 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown, was to get the box list of the Miller Mundy archive (reference number D517) onto our online catalogue.

The Miller Mundys of Shipley Hall, Heanor, were a branch of the Mundy family of Markeaton Hall and Allestree Hall in Derby. They became the Miller Mundys when Edward Mundy (1706-1767) married Hester Miller (died 1767). Hester had inherited Shipley through her mother, Hester Leche, and so Shipley Hall became the Miller Mundy family’s principal seat until it was demolished in 1943.

Shipley Hall c1915 (Derbyshire Libraries – Picture the Past number DCAV001203)

The archive of the Miller Mundy family consists of 49 boxes, 34 of which contain title deeds and legal papers relating to property owned by the Miller Mundys. The deeds date back to 1501 and relate to property held outside Derbyshire as well as Heanor, Mapperley, Smalley and other places in Derbyshire. There are also more than 8 boxes of records relating to the Nutbrook Canal, which was built in 1796 to transport coal from Shipley Colliery to the Erewash Canal. The Miller Mundy family’s wealth largely derived from their collieries and there is quite a bit of correspondence in the collection about Shipley Colliery and the family’s coal interests.

Shipley Colliery c1920s-1930s (Derbyshire Libraries – Picture the Past image number DCAV003350)

Of course my favourite material in the archive is the family letters. They date from 1696 to 1862 and include all sorts of fascinating insights into the lives and times of the Miller Mundys – there are more blog posts to come inspired by the letters in this collection.

The Miller Mundy archive came into the Record Office in several batches over the period 1968 to 1985 so you might be wondering why it’s taken this long to get the catalogue online. Without external funding, there’s rarely enough time to properly deal with collections of this size. The first step is to make a list of everything in each box. There had been previous attempts to do this many years ago, but for some reason the lists we had were incomplete – some of the boxes had been completely listed, others hadn’t been touched, and yet others had been partially done, but with gaps in the list. In some cases there were boxes which obviously had come to us with a list, but the list didn’t necessarily tally with what was in the box!

During the first lockdown, we typed up the lists into Excel spreadsheets, which were then imported into our cataloguing system. Over the last six months, I’ve been slowly checking those lists against what’s in each box, making corrections and filling in the gaps. Even so, I haven’t been able to list everything – there are 4 boxes of deeds and legal papers which had too much in them for me to be able to sort through in the time I had – but most of the archive has been done. Where once there was only one record for the whole collection on our online catalogue, we now have 1660 catalogue records.

So that’s a lockdown job finally complete, though it’s not the end of what needs to happen with the collection. Box lists are really helpful, but as records that relate to each other are scattered around different boxes, the next step would be to arrange the collection so that everything is in a sensible order. After this, we would physically number the documents with their final reference number and repackage the whole collection. For a collection this size, though, this is an extremely time-consuming job which we just can’t manage at the moment.

One of the Miller Mundy archive boxes

To help the process along, though, we have done a lot more ‘item listing’ than usual. This means that some items, like letters, have been given individual catalogue entries, rather than having a single catalogue record for a whole bundle. When we have a bit of time, we can organise chunks of the archive, like the family letters, into a proper arrangement just using the catalogue entries. In this way, we should be able to gradually create a well organised catalogue of the collection bit by bit, which can also then be repackaged in manageable portions.

Although this process is likely to take years, it’s enormously satisfying to know that, even if the catalogue isn’t perfect yet, the Miller Mundy archive is at last accessible for research.


Voices from the Peak

Did you know that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Peak District National Park? The beautiful Peak District is mostly associated with Derbyshire, as the majority of its 555 square miles are in our county, but it also spills across our borders into Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire.

Kinder Scout looking towards Grindslow Knoll photographed by D C H Nicoll, 2002 (Picture the Past reference DCHP000558)

The Peak District was Britain’s very first national park and its stunning landscapes have long made it a popular destination for tourists, walkers, climbers, potholers and many more.

Rock climbing on Froggatt Edge, Froggatt, 1940s, from the collection of F H Brindley (Picture the Past ref PTPD300154)

To celebrate this anniversary, the Peak District National Park Authority, with funding from Arts Council England, has commissioned poet and recording artist Mark Gwynne Jones to create a series of audio artworks called Voices from the Peak. I listened to the first piece, ‘Burning Drake’ yesterday, which focusses on the area’s caves, lead and fluorspar mines – it was a beautiful combination of poetry, music and conversations with local people.

Former lead mine Magpie Mine, Sheldon, photographed by D D Brumhead in 1986 (Picture the Past reference DCHQ008841)

Whilst we’re aren’t able to go out and enjoy the magnificence of the Peak District in person, why not settle down in a comfy chair and listen to Voices from the Peak. You can also enjoy images of the Peak District over the past couple of hundred years from the comfort of your own home on Picture the Past. It’s a lovely way to pay a virtual visit to the Peak District whilst we wait until we’re able to travel there again.

The Mysterious Mrs Munday

October is Black History Month, which is the ideal time to write about research I’ve been doing on an early figure in Derbyshire’s Black History, Mrs Munday.

I first came across Mrs Munday around ten years ago, when I was working for Sandwell Community History & Archives Service and doing some Black History research there on a completely different person. A parish register at St Martin’s Tipton (now in Sandwell but historically in Staffordshire) reads:

John an Ethyopian boy page to ye Lady Pye was baptized ye 29th day of July 1705.

Extract from St Martin's Tipton parish register 29 July 1705
Extract from the parish register for St Martin’s, Tipton from

This is a very early mention of a person of colour in Sandwell, but the Pyes weren’t a local Tipton family. The only way to find out more about John was to trace ‘ye Lady Pye’ and it turned out there were two Lady Pyes at the time. One was the wife of Sir Charles Pye baronet (1651-1711) of Hone [Hoon], Derbyshire and MP for Derby in 1701 and the other Lady Pye was his mother in London.  I couldn’t find out anything about the older Lady Pye, but the younger seemed more likely anyway, partly because the Pyes lived in Derby (slightly closer to Tipton than London, although it was hardly round the corner) and partly because as a younger woman she might be more fashion-conscious.  At the time, a black page boy was a fashionable status symbol.

Credit: Yale Center for British Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As slavery was legal in England at the time, Lady Pye’s page, John, may well have been enslaved. This 1708 painting of slave trader Elihu Yale (seated in the middle), with the Duke of Devonshire (on the left, wearing red) shows an enslaved page boy like John, standing on the right.

Letters from the younger Lady Pye to her cousins, Abigail and Robert Harley, survive in the archive of the Duke of Portland, and what’s known as a ‘calendar’ of the archive was published in several volumes as a report by the Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC) – a calendar is a list that includes a detailed summary of the contents of each document.   I took a look at the HMC report in case Lady Pye mentioned in a letter that she had been to Tipton and baptised her page.  She didn’t of course, but there was a letter written at Derby on 4 May 1706 which ended with this sentence:

We have now Mrs Munday in our neighbourhood that is thought as pretty a black woman as most is.

What a find!  Not only might John, the African page, be living in Derby with the Pyes in the early 1700s, but there was a high-status woman of colour, presumably married to one of Lady Pye’s neighbours in or near Derby.

When I moved from Sandwell to Derbyshire, it seemed the perfect opportunity to find out more about Mrs Munday.  The Mundy family of Markeaton Hall and Allestree Hall in Derby, seemed highly likely to be the family that Mrs Munday belonged to – spelling wasn’t consistent at the time, and Mundy was sometimes spelled Munday.  The Record Office holds archives of the Mundy family, so there was hope of tracing Mrs Munday.  Unfortunately, the archives aren’t fully catalogued and there was only a rather confused paper interim list for the collection.  I just didn’t have time to try and make sense of the archive… until lockdown.   Whilst the Record Office was closed due to the pandemic, a number of us worked on getting those paper lists into our online catalogue.  The work isn’t yet complete (I’m slowly going through one set of boxes to check the contents) but the bulk of the collection is now on our online catalogue.  So, what did this mean for Mrs Munday?

I initially had high hopes of Edward Mundy as her husband.  I’ve already blogged about his beautifully written account book dating from 1682 to 1697 – in it he mentions expenses for transporting goods to and from Barbados so perhaps he had visited himself and married a Barbadian?  Sadly, he died in 1702 and his will (proved at Lichfield in 1705) mentions no wife or children.  

Vogages to Barbados in Edward Mundy's account book
Extract from Edward Mundy’s accounts ledger (D517/BOX/13/2)

Even more promising was another Edward Mundy who lived out in Barbados.  He was born in 1603, so he seemed a bit too old to be Mrs Munday’s husband, although of course she could have been a much younger widow or a daughter (the term ‘Mrs’ didn’t necessarily mean a woman was married).  Although I couldn’t find his death or marriage, there are some very useful Barbados records on, with which I found his wife Elizabeth’s will.  However, she died in 1687, by which time he had already predeceased her, and although her will mentions their three daughters, it is clear that they were all married at the time of her death.

There is an excellent family tree of the Mundy family which was deposited in 2006 (reference number D6611/1) but this gives no clue as to who might have been the husband of Mrs Munday.  I began to wonder if the letter mentioning her had been transcribed correctly in the HMC report – maybe I was on a wild goose chase.  The Duke of Portland’s papers are now at the British Library, so I asked my sister (who lives in London) to go to the British Library and have a look at the original letter.  The HMC report gives a good summary of the contents of each letter but isn’t a complete transcription, so could my sister check the original and see if there was more information in the letter?   Here was another problem, however.  The letters haven’t been fully catalogued by the British Library, and when she checked the bundle that should have had the 1706 letter from Lady Pye it wasn’t there.

So is there any proof that Mrs Munday ever existed?  One day I may well go to the British Library and work my way through some of the other bundles of letters in the Portland papers, in case the letter got mixed in with them.  But what if I can’t find it?  Without the original letter, we only have the HMC report to go on, although this is a pretty reliable source.   We know the Mundy family had links with slave plantations in Barbados, so it’s possible that one of them married a Barbadian woman.   It’s also possible that Mrs Munday was an illegitimate daughter of a Mundy and an enslaved woman in Barbados, who was brought back to Britain, as was the case of Dido Elizabeth Belle in the 1760s.  She may have been the wife of a London cousin of the Mundy family who was just visiting Derby – or the Munday name might have nothing to do with the Markeaton and Allestree Mundy family.

Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray by David Martin. Original at Scone Palace. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I would love to be able to identify her, but like anyone who is trying to research people in the early 1700s, I’m hampered by the lack of available records.  In the meantime, she’ll just have to live in my imagination, elegantly dressed and walking around the bustling streets of Derby, socialising with those fashionable women like Lady Pye, who may themselves have had African servants, probably enslaved, in their own households.

A talk for Black History Month by Dr Susanne Seymour

Belper North Mill Trust are hosting a free talk on Zoom on Thursday 22 October at 7.00pm in which Dr Susanne Seymore will be discussing the contribution of enslaved African lives to the Strutts’ cotton spinning industry at Belper.

Susanne is Associate Professor in the School of Geography and a Deputy Director of the University of Nottingham’s Institute for the Study of Slavery. She’s been researching local slavery connections for many years and this is sure to be a fascinating talk.

Get your free ticket for the talk on the Belper North Mill Trust online booking system using this link:

The First World War

A guide to material held at Derbyshire Record Office about the First World War.

Archives and local studies materials relating to the First World War have been well indexed in our online catalogue and this guide gives only a brief overview and selected highlights of what is available. To see everything we have identified for the First World War, search for ‘First World War’ in our online catalogue. You can also add other terms to narrow down your search results, e.g. ‘aerial bombardment’, ‘military personnel’, ‘military recruitment’ or ‘conscientious objectors’.

Letters and diaries

Diaries and letters between members of the armed forces and their friends and families survive in many personal collections. Examples include Harry Chandos Pole of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth, Arthur Bryan of Derby, Arthur Hodgkiss of Baslow, William Bertram Weston of Chaddesden, Charles Sisum Wright of Eyam Hall, and Anthony Herbert Strutt of Belper.

On the home front, Maria Gyte’s diaries record her grief at the loss of her son in the war.

Posters and photographs

We have posters from the First World War that relate to public meetings, air raid precautions, military recruitment, fundraising and peace celebrations.

We also hold photographs, including studio photographs of soldiers in their uniforms before they went overseas. Many of these have been digitised and are on  A collection of picture postcards relating to the war, including propaganda photographs, is in the archive of the Thornhill family of Great Longstone

Former County Librarian, Edgar Osborne, served in Egypt and the Middle East during the First World War and his collection includes watercolours and photographs taken in Egypt, Jerusalem and Palestine.

Local Tribunals and conscientious objection

In 1916 military conscription was introduced. Men who had received their conscription papers could apply for an exemption, which would be taken to a local tribunal who would decide their case. Some of these men were conscientious objectors, but many sought exemption on the grounds of health or their work.

Local Tribunal papers survive for Alfreton, Chesterfield, Derby, Long Eaton and Ripley.   We also hold some papers of the Reverend John Norton who was a visitor to conscientious objectors held in Derby.

The Courage of Conscience project researched and documented Derbyshire conscientious objectors. More information about their project can be found at The project archive is also held at the Record Office.


Records of military hospitals aren’t held locally, but we do hold a few autograph books which were kept by nurses at local hospitals where soldiers were sent. These were signed by the patients, who sometimes also drew pictures or added poems. We have two for the Derby Royal Infirmary, D5250/1/1, and D1190/249 and one for the Royal Devonshire Hospital in Buxton (D5952/1).

The published war diary of the Canadian Convalescent Home for Officers in Buxton, 1917-1919 is in our Local Studies Collection (class number 940.5474 Over/Oversize).

The Home Front

Rationing was brought in at the end of the war as people began to suffer food shortages. Our local studies collection includes an article in which describes how rationing was first trialled in Chesterfield (LS/PER/REFLECTIONS/312/Lomax). We also have the minutes of the Chesterfield Local Fuel and Lighting Committee which dealt with fuel rationing. A few ration cards also survive, such as seven year old Maggie Severn’s ration book and the ration books belonging to the Ogden family of Stanley.

In the early hours of 1 February 1916, there was a Zeppelin air raid on Derby. The raid is sometimes mentioned in school log books, such as Egginton School, and St Andrew’s School in Derby.


Horace John Rylands of Bakewell served in France and was a talented artist. His collection contains his drawings and cartoons of life in the trenches.

Sergeant Oliver Holmes of Clay Cross served in the 12th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. The soldiers in the battalion published the satirical trench magazine, the ‘Wipers Times’ and we hold Sergeant Holmes’ personal copies of the Wipers Times.

Peace and commemoration

At the end of the war, there were peace celebrations throughout the county. The records of these include posters, programmes and committee papers. In the early 1920s, people commemorated the men who had served in war memorials and rolls of honour.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war, in 2014-2018, many local groups carried out projects to research and commemorate the war in Derbyshire. You can find out more about these projects on the website which also includes a handy timeline of the war.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is open again and it’s a good time to visit!

Looking for something to do? You can now visit Buxton Museum and Art Gallery again.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

After almost six months, we are pleased to be able to open the front door to visitors again. The place has been too quiet.

Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet so there have been lots of changes to keep both visitors and the staff covid-safe. Firstly, you must book your visit in advance so please don’t just turn up, expecting to come in. This is so we can control the amount of people in the building and make sure there is ample social distancing and surface cleaning throughout the day.

The second big change is that visitors must wear face coverings for the duration of their visit, in keeping with current government guidelines, unless they are medically exempt or under the age of 11.

There have also been lots of small adjustments; we’ve had to temporarily remove the toys and games and dressing up box. The public…

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On this day… in Rangoon in 1945

On 15 August Britain commemorated VJ Day, which this year marked the 75th anniversary of the date that Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, bringing the Second World War to an end.

Of course the announcement on 15 August wasn’t quite the end, as the surrender itself wasn’t signed until 2 September. In the meantime there were official meetings in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) between the Allies and Japan to agree the terms of the surrender. You wouldn’t expect to find anything relating to these negotiations at Derbyshire Record Office but surprisingly we hold a record of these meetings, thanks to Sergeant Eric Walton of Clay Cross.

Sergeant Eric Walton’s identity card (D6022/3/2)

Born in 1920, Eric Walton joined the RAF in the early 1940s. Because of an injury he had sustained a few years earlier, Eric wasn’t deemed fit enough for combat, but having clerical experience he ended up in the Headquarters secretariat of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander in South East Asia. He worked in the private office of General Frederick Browning, Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff (and incidentally husband of the author Daphne du Maurier).

On 26 and 27 August, two plenary meetings were held in Rangoon between the representatives of the Supreme Allied Command and the Supreme Commander of the Japanese forces. General Browning asked Sergeant Eric Walton to make a verbatim report of the proceedings and the shorthand notebook he used is at the Record Office.

Sergeant Eric Walton’s shorthand notebook (D6022/4/1)

The notebook can only be read by someone who knows shorthand, although the name of the head of the Japanese delegation, Lieutenant General Takazo Numata, is legible. Fortunately for those of use who can’t read shorthand, we also have the typed up minutes of the meetings. A photograph of the surrender ceremony itself was attached inside the Head Quarters of the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia (SACSEA) Christmas card.

Signing of the Japanese Surrender (D6022/5/7)

We are very grateful to Eric Walton for donating his archive to the Record Office. Eric died in 2008 at the age of 87 but he did publish his memoirs in 2006 under the title ‘From Hepthorne Lane to Rangoon…and back’. The catalogue of his archive is available on our online catalogue.

New Addition to the museum collection: Mary Twopenny sketchbook

Buxton Museum has just acquired an album of beautiful sketches and watercolours of Matlock and other places around Derbyshire in the 1820s. Take a look!

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Derbyshire Museums Manager, Ros Westwood had the recent opportunity to acquire an exciting new object for the collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. One that reveals scenes from the Peak District from long ago:

I guess the last thing I’d imagined doing during lockdown was to buy a wonderful new acquisition for the collection, but how that brightened a lonely days of working at home!

Credit must go to colleagues at Peak District Mining Museum for bringing the album to my attention. They saw a notification that an album of drawings ‘mostly of Matlock’ was going to auction in Newcastle. And so the chase started.

DERSB 2020.3_Sketchbook_D10A3229

With agreement from several colleagues, I called the auctioneers. Because of lockdown, I was relying on their description in the catalogue. I decided to bid over the phone which we’ve done before; you may remember Buxton Museum was one of the partner museums in…

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Collection spotlight: Cooper’s Corsets

If you’re interested in fashion, take a look at the archive of corset makers Richard Cooper and Company (Ashbourne) Ltd.  The catalogue for this lovely little collection has just had a major refresh which has improved the descriptions and arrangement to make it much easier to delve into.

D4984-F-3-1-000003 reduced

Richard Cooper ‘Top Labels’ scrap book (D4984/F/3/1)

Richard Cooper and Company (Ashbourne) Ltd started in the 1850s as ‘stay makers’ (the term ‘corset’ didn’t come into common use until later in the 19th century).  The business proved so profitable that in addition to the company’s main site in Ashbourne there were factories in Uttoxeter and Derby, and from the 1950s, Buxton.

Corsets are often thought of as torture devices which squashed women’s internal organs and caused them to be constantly fainting.  No doubt a small minority of women did tight-lace their garments to harmful degrees in pursuit of a tiny waist, but for the majority a well-fitted corset was a comfortable and supportive garment.  It was an essential item of clothing worn by women of all classes, from working women to the well-to-do; our female ancestors managed to wear corsets whilst pregnant, doing physical labour and playing sports, without any ill effects.

Sadly, we have very little from the early days of the firm and only one Victorian corset pattern survives.  This is somewhat unusual as it was drawn in pencil onto some calico, the fabric was sewn into a kind of book, labelled and posted to the Uttoxeter factory.  The postmark helpfully dates it to May 1889.

D4984-11-2-000004 reduced

Part of Richard Cooper 1889 corset pattern (D4984/D/1/1)

There are a number of pattern books from the 1920s to the 1960s with drawings and specifications of the various designs of girdles, brassieres, corsets, corselettes, wraparounds and suspender belts, mostly sold under the trade name ‘Excelsior’.  The collection also includes some lovely marketing material from the 1940s onwards.

Excelsior 1

Excelsior illustrated price list (D4984/F/6/1/3)

Excelsior 2

Excelsior girdles and suspender belts (D4984/F/6/1/5)

Coopers was a major employer in Ashbourne and for anyone interested in the workers, a few staff records survive, including a register of ‘young persons under the age of 18’ employed at the factory between 1895 and 1900.

Sadly, changes in fashion meant that the market for girdles and corsets dwindled towards the end of the 20th century and the factory closed in the 1980s.  The archive, however, means that although Richard Cooper and Company may be gone, it is not forgotten.  You can browse the full collection on our online catalogue.

Perfection in Accounting

Whilst we’re in coronavirus lockdown, one of the collections I’m working on is D517, the archive of the Miller Mundy family of Shipley Hall.  I had to nip into the office the other day (we go in regularly to make sure the environmental conditions in the stores are as they should be) so I took a quick look at a couple of items in the collection which needed some better descriptions.  These are two account books from the 1600s (reference numbers: D517/BOX/13/1-2).

Both books are large and parchment bound.  The first was an account book (1682-1697) belonging to Edward Mundy of Markeaton Hall.  I know very little about Edward but I can tell that he was an extremely neat and organised man, as his accounts are an example in financial perfection.

D517-BOX-13-1-Ledger apparel reduced

Edward Mundy’s ledger, 1680s (D517/BOX/13/1)

The book is divided into a ledger at the front and a journal or day book at the back.  If you’re not familiar with accounting practices, a ledger is arranged by type of expense, or the person or business which is being paid or charged, whereas a journal, also known as a day book, is a chronological account of money coming in and out.  Edward’s ledger crosses over two pages, one page with credit and one with debit.  There are numbers at the sides of the ledger and journal entries so that Edward could check his ledger entries against his journal entries and vice versa.

D517-BOX-13-1-Journal first page top

Beginning of Edward Mundy’s journal (D517/BOX/13/1)

Just look at that beautiful writing!  Edward Mundy really took his time to make the ledger and journal pleasing to the eye as well as practical.

From this book we can learn a lot about Edward Mundy’s business dealings, which include wool, sugar, and cotton, as well as his household expenses, what he spent on horses, clothes and shoes, and his ‘parish dues’.  Lots of people are named, including his servants Jarvis Woodruff and Hester Jenkinson.

The second book in this box is an even earlier ledger from 1661-1662 and relates to a textile business that seems to have been jointly owned or invested in by a John Tufnayle and Mrs Elizabeth Clerke.  Who these people are and how they are connected with the Mundys is not yet known, but the ledger is similarly well written:

D517-BOX-13-2 ledger Lixa

Ledger entry, 1661 (D517/BOX/13/2)

It doesn’t quite reach the perfection of Edward Mundy’s ledger, but it’s pretty good.  Here it looks as if the business is exporting textiles (baize, ‘bocking’ and ‘colchester’), possibly to Lixa in Portugal.

This large volume was only used as a ledger for a few pages.  Eighty years later, Charles Palmer from Ladbroke Hall in Warwickshire obviously decided it would make a useful book in which to (very roughly!) record the rents he was getting from his tenants.

D517-BOX-13-2 rental

Rent for the year 1742 (D517/BOX/13/2)

It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast in both organisation and handwriting.  Ordinarily I would say that eighteenth century handwriting was a pleasure to read, but definitely not in this case.