Historic Maps

A guide to the thousands of maps in our collections, primarily from the late 18th century when mapping became more common.

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.  For some larger urban areas, 50” to 1 mile maps were also produced.  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.

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.

Land Values Maps and “Domesday Books”

Extract of D595/LV/40.3 covering Swanwick

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.

Extract from the Denby tithe map, 1845 (D2360/3/122a)

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

Bonsall Enclosure Map, 1776 (Q/RI/19)

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 the 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

Barlborough estate map, 1723 (D505/72/8)

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

Plan of Stockport and Marple Bridge turnpike road, 1821 (Q/RP/1/34)

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). The earlier maps are often found in both the archives and local studies collections, with 20th century maps often 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.

Further Reading

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.

On This Day: ‘Man Killed In A Lead Mine’; ‘A Candidate For Transportation’

From the Derby Mercury, 16th December 1857:

Man Killed In A Lead Mine

On Friday last, a poor man named Thos. Thorpe, went from his cottage at Bonsall, to Mr. Greaves’, Cliff-house, Matlock, to beg a handful of mint, and not returning on that night or the next, his wife and family became seriously alarmed for his safety.  On Sunday morning some neighbours went in search, and ascertained that Thorpe had left Cliff-house with a quantity of mint, about six in the evening of Friday.  They then tracked his course homewards by leaves and sprigs of mint, to a mine shaft on Masson, then recently run in, but there the traces of the mint ceased.  On removing the rubbish in the hole the poor fellow was discovered about six feet from the surface, of course quite dead, and the body was removed to a farmhouse near to await a coroner’s inquest.

A Candidate For Transportation

Police Office, Derby  George Marshall, a youth of 14, was charged as follows:- Police-constable Davis stated: Prisoner came to me this morning and said, “Mr. Davis, I shall find you a job to-day.”  I replied, “What shall you do?”  He said, “I shall commit a robbery.”  I endeavoured to persuade him to go home, but he would not, and said, “I shall go to the first watchmaker’s shop I can, break a window, steal a watch and run my chance, as I mean to have seven years.”  I knew that prisoner had been twice convicted at the sessions, and also that he had been twice summarily committed, and therefore I thought it best to lock him up.  Prisoner, in reply to questions from the Mayor, said that he would rather be transported than live in Derby; that he had a comfortable home and neither his father nor his mother-in-law behaved ill to him, but he did not like to stay at home.  The Mayor doubted whether sending prisoner to gaol again would be productive of any good, as it was evident he had a propensity for stealing and leading an idle life; but on the mother-in-law saying they had done all they could for him, and that if he did not return home (and he said he would not) something worse was sure to happen to him, the Bench committed him, as a rogue and vagabond, for three months with hard labour.

We hold the Derby Mercury on microfilm  – just ring to book a microfilm reader.