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.
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.
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.
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.