Online Resources

There are hundreds of online resources for Derbyshire history, this guide highlights some of the most useful.  As web addresses tend to change, only the site name is given.

Family History Records
  • Ancestry: billions of records from across the world including UK census returns 1841-1911, birth, marriage and death (BMD) indexes 1837-2007, Derbyshire Anglican church registers from 1538.  Access: Subscription required.  Free access at all Derbyshire libraries
  • Find My Past: in addition to census and BMD indexes, also includes registers of several Derbyshire non-conformist churches, many Derbyshire school admission registers and log books 1870-1914.  Also includes Diocese of Lichfield records covering Derbyshire, including marriage licences and pre-1858 wills.  Access: Subscription required.  Free access in Derbyshire libraries
  • FamilySearch: volunteer-submitted transcripts of many Derbyshire parish registers back to 1538.  Worth trying this site if an Ancestry search is unsuccessful.  Also includes a wide range of research guidance and background information on places.  Access: Free, registration required
  • FreeBMD: volunteer-transcribed indexes to civil registration of births, marriages and deaths between 1837 and 1992, with transcription work ongoing.  Access: Free with no registration; often some search advantages over subscription sites, so often worth a try
  • FreeREG: volunteer-submitted transcripts “of baptism, marriage, and burial records, from parish registers, non-conformist records and other relevant sources in the UK”, including Derbyshire.  Access: Free, no registration
  • Find A Grave: volunteer-submitted transcripts of over 180 million memorials and gravestones including for many Derbyshire cemeteries and churchyards.  Access: Free, no registration
  • General Register Office: search indexes of and ordering copy birth, marriage and death certificates from 1837.  Access: Free to indexes, registration required to order certificates
  • National Probate Index: search for and order copies of UK wills after 1858.  Access:  Free, no registration.  Derbyshire wills 1858-1928 can also be searched via the record office online catalogue and copies ordered.
Newspapers

Newspapers are the most valuable source for many aspects of family and local history, particularly where other sources no longer survive:

  • British Newspaper Archive:  includes full text access to the Derbyshire Times, Derby Mercury and several other Derbyshire titles.  Access: Subscription required.  Free from the record office or any Derbyshire library (short registration required)
  • The Times Archive: access from 1795 to 1985.  Access: Subscription required.
Photographs
  • Picture the Past: Delve into the rich history of Derby and Derbyshire with this extensive collection of photos, postcards, glass plates and engravings from the city and county libraries
  • Images of England: was English Heritage’s photographic library of listed buildings across England.  Historic England has split the site into two: 1) the Official Register of nationally protected historic buildings and sites includes photographs alongside the corresponding description, and 2) over a million photographs via the Historic England website.
Information Services
  • Derbyshire Observatory: wide range of data and statistics on topics including population and households, health, census, crime, children and education, economy and employment
  • Derbyshire Mapping Portal: Ordnance Survey mapping showing key Derbyshire sites and boundaries, including parish boundaries, schools, public rights of way and schedules monuments
  • Derbyshire Heritage Mapping Portal: Ordnance Survey mapping of Derbyshire, with options to overlay a small number of historic maps
  • Derbyshire Historic Environment Record: digital records of archaeological monuments, findspots, designated assets, historic landscape information, aerial photographs
  • National Library of Scotland: view some editions of Ordnance Survey maps for Derbyshire over modern satellite images.
Research Guides
  • GENUKI: charity and volunteer-run site containing a wide range of information for researching family history across the UK and Ireland, including links to other sites
  • The National Archives: a wide range of guides on various family, local and other history research, plus detailed guides for reading old handwriting and Latin
  • Find an Archive: contact details for archive repositories across the world
  • University of Nottingham Manuscripts and Special Collections: detailed research guides on using historical documents and specific records such as deeds, accounts and manorial records.
Other Derbyshire collections
  • Record Office Guide: a summary of archive collections at Derbyshire Record Office, searchable by type of record creator, i.e. school, business, society, family, organisation, local authority
  • Online Catalogue: the main finding aid for all archive collections held at Derbyshire Record Office, and increasingly for the local studies collection also. A separate guide is also available
  • Hospital Records Database: searchable database of hospitals across the country, with a summary of records held at relevant repositories and brief history.
  • Manorial Documents Register: searchable database of manors across selected counties (including Derbyshire) and a summary of the records held at various repositories
  • National Archives Discovery catalogue: contains references to most archive collections at the Record Office, as well as Derbyshire records held at The National Archives and elsewhere.
Other sources
Local History Groups

A large number of local history societies or local interest groups have websites and social media pages with a range of information and some resources.  Unfortunately, it is not possible for Derbyshire Record Office to maintain a list of the groups and an online search is often the best approach to finding a relevant local group.

Derbyshire Parish Registers Online

A guide to accessing Derbyshire Anglican church registers from 1538 online via Ancestry.

 

 

What are parish registers?

Parish registers have been, and still are, created by all Anglican churches. They record ceremonies of baptism, marriage and burial. Between 1538 and 1753 all ceremonies were recorded in the same register, usually, though not always, chronologically. From 1754, marriages were recorded in a separate pre-printed register, and from 1813, separate pre-printed registers were required for baptisms and burials as well. For many parishes from 1754 there are also banns registers that record the reading of banns for three weeks prior to a marriage ceremony taking place. The banns are read in the bride and groom’s parish not just the parish in which the ceremony is taking place.

Especially before the establishment of civil registration for births, marriages and deaths in 1837, the parish registers are the key source available to family historians.

 Which parish registers are available on Ancestry?

Images of the original parish registers are arranged into four ‘record collections’ as follows:

  • Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 (note: this only includes marriages to 1754)
  • Derbyshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932
  • Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1916
  • Derbyshire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1991

In addition to these collections which have been provided in association with Derbyshire Record Office, there are also the following categories which do not include any images or refer to all entries in the original registers as they are transcripts from published sources:

  • Derbyshire, England, Select Church of England Parish Registers 1538-1910 (similar to IGI)
  • Derbyshire, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records (taken from published sources including Phillimore’s Derbyshire parish registers: Marriages and Derbyshire Record Society’s Chesterfield Parish Register 1558-1600 and 1601-1635.
Searching the Derbyshire parish registers

You can search across all the records and categories available on Ancestry using the general search from the home page. Alternatively, if you know your ancestor was baptised, married or buried in Derbyshire, we recommend specifically searching the Derbyshire parish registers.

1.  From the top menu, click ‘Search’ and then select ‘Card Catalog’:

2.  In the title field, type Derbyshire, followed by the type of record you are searching for (i.e. baptisms, marriages or burials) and then click ‘Search’:

3.  Select the collection covering the date range you wish to search:

From here you can then enter the details of the person you are searching for, including specifying a particular place, or just simply typing Derbyshire.

Alternatively, you can also browse a specific register without using the search facility at all – this is particularly useful if the search has not returned any relevant results but you are sure the event did take place in Derbyshire (unfortunately, it is never possible for the transcripts in the searches to be completely free from human error). To browse, select the parish name from the list on the right:

Once you have selected the parish name you are interested in, you then need to select the date range you wish to browse. Some of the date ranges do overlap, and you may find you need to check both. Particularly if the date range is very long, you may want skip ahead rather than clicking through each page one at a time. You can do this using the small tool at the bottom of the page and jumping ahead to a different page number (this may take a bit of guess work).

Unfortunately, many of the earlier registers are not arranged in an obvious chronological order and identifying the correct page is therefore awkward. In these cases we recommend browsing the register page-by-page until you find the correct date and entry type (i.e. baptism/marriage/burial).

Errors on the databases

Unfortunately, as thousands of registers were added across the four collections in one go, there have been some errors in the labelling on the Ancestry site.   We have been meticulously working through each register on the four datasets to identify the errors so that Ancestry can correct them.  Most of the errors are minor and concern the links for the ‘date ranges’ covered for each parish.  However, some of the errors are much more significant as the register has been labelled up as the wrong place.  The process of correcting the errors is taking much longer than we had anticipated, so please continue to bear with us.  In the meantime, here is the list of post-1813 baptism registers that are mis-labelled:

For Baptisms in the parish of … see under …
Chesterfield, Christ Church (Stonegravels) 1876-1886 Holy Trinity (Stonegravels District) 1839-1886, pages 211-264
Chesterfield, St Augustine (formerly Iron Church) 1876-1896 Chesterfield St Mary and All Saints for baptisms 1876-1896
Chinley with Buxworth 1873-1916 Glossop 1874-1916
Cotmanhay and Shipley 1885-1904 Codnor 1881-1904, pages 109-263
Derby, St George (mission) 1886-1916 Derby St Luke
Derby, St Christopher 1903-1916 Derby, St Thomas 1903-1916
Derby, St Dunstan 1900-1904, 1907-1916 Derby, St James 1900-1904, 1907-1916
Derby, St Werburgh 1896-1916 Derby, St Osmund (Osmaston by Derby), pages 56-144
Eckington 1813-1832, 1869-1890 Derby, St Paul 1813-1890
Elton 1813-1861, 1862-1914 Etwall 1813-1861, 1862-1914
Handley 1871-1897 Staveley 1865-1897, pages 270-292
Hartington 1813-1900 Monyash 1813-1899, pages 1-106
Hatton 1886-1916 Marston on Dove 1887-1916
Hulland 1838-1896 Snelston 1838-1896
Long Eaton 1813-1852 Sawley 1813-1852
Osmaston by Ashbourne 1813-1901 Norbury 1813-1916, pages 109-162
Peak Dale 1890-1916 Wormhill 1891-1916
Renishaw 1887-1913 Eckington 1887-1913
Rosliston 1875-1916 Newhall 1833-1916, pages 1-35
Shirebrook 1844-1897 Staveley 1844-1897
Shottle Hazelwood
Smalley 1813-1916 Longford 1813-1916, pages 159-end
Tansley 1840-1890 Middleton by Wirksworth 1840-1889, pages 68-121
Twyford 1852-1911 Barrow on Trent 1852-1911

Family History – Getting Started

A guide to where to start with your family history and the main types of record to help you.

The first thing to do, is to gather together as much information as you can from present day family members and any family documents you have at home.  Record what you already know such as names, dates and place of birth, marriage and death, then use this to work backwards and fill in any gaps.

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths: A national system of registration was introduced in England and Wales on 1 July 1837.  Search the indexes online, e.g. www.gro.gov.uk or www.freebmd.org.uk. Order copy certificates from www.gro.gov.uk or the local register office.

Church registers: as far back as 1538 (and up to the present day), church records that provide information about when people were alive through baptism, marriage and burial registers.  Registers for Anglican churches in Derbyshire can be consulted via Ancestry up to 1916 for baptisms, 1932 for marriages and 1991 for burials.  Free access to this site is available from all Derbyshire libraries.  See guide to Parish Registers Online. Before 1733, almost all of the entries in the church registers are recorded in Latin.

Similar registers are also available for a large number of non-conformist churches. Some are available via Find My Past (also be accessible for free in Derbyshire libraries), with others available on microfilm or as original documents in the archive search room.

Consult the Parish Register List and Non-Conformist Register List for details of the records available.  For more recent registers added to the church collections, please search the online catalogue using the reference number given in the summary guides (Parish Guide and Non-Conformist Guide) or by searching in the Title field as follows:

  • Church of England: place name and the word parish, e.g. Alfreton Parish
  • Non-conformist: place name and the word church (or chapel if applicable), e.g. Gresley church.

For some churchyards and civil cemeteries, local groups have produced Memorial Inscriptions, recording the details of memorials and gravestones in and outside churches, these are often useful for identifying family relationships.

Censusa national census has been taken every ten years since 1801, and from 1841 detailed returns listing individuals have survived.  The returns are available online (for example on Ancestry and Find My Past) up to 1911, and microfilm copies are available to 1901 at the record office.  From 1851, the returns include place of birth, and more detail is added over time making them very useful for helping to trace ancestors who may have moved around.  Depending on the date and place of residence, for some ancestors you may be able to identify the house they lived in, but house numbers and even street names are quite uncommon in most rural and semi-rural towns.

Bishops’ Transcripts: in 1598, parishes were ordered to send an annual copy of all baptisms, marriages and burials for the year to the church authorities.  For some parishes, the ‘Bishop’s Transcripts’, or BTs were made until the late 19th century and can be very useful when the original registers are hard to read or if a register is missing.  Both BTs and parish registers can contain entries not found in the other.  Derbyshire was part of the Diocese of Lichfield until the mid-19th century, so the BTs are held at Staffordshire Record Office.

Cemetery records: copies of cemetery records from 1855 to the 1990s are available on microfilm and DVD.  The registers tend to include more information and there is usually a grave register to help identify the location of the grave itself.

Consult the Cemetery Records Guide on our website for a full list of the records available.

Wills and Probate: by at least the 13th century the Church had succeeded in establishing a jurisdiction in testamentary matters, which it retained until the Court of Probate Act 1857.  Most early Derbyshire wills are to be found amongst the records of the Diocese of Lichfield held at Staffordshire Record Office and can be accessed online via Find My Past. One exception was Dale Abbey manorial court which exercised its own probate jurisdiction until 1858.  Wills of persons holding property in more than one diocese were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC), see The National Archives guide to Wills or Administrations before 1858 Guide for more information.

Between 1858 and 1928 wills (and letters of administration to 1875) for many Derbyshire residents were proved by the Derby Probate Registry and copies are available on microfilm or DVD – search the catalogue using the person’s name and reference D96/*.

Wills after 1928 can be ordered online from the Probate Service.

There are also thousands of wills amongst family and estate collections, particularly where they form part of a bundle or series of deeds to prove the title to property.  The best way to search for such records is to search for the individual’s name in the ‘Any Text’ field in the online catalogue.

Guides to doing family history:  there is a lot of information online about how to research your family history, and we have lots of general and specific guides (for example relating to ancestors in particular trades, those who broke the law and those who emigrated) in the local studies library to help as well.

Find out more about your ancestors using records for digging deeper.