Our latest acquisition: Isabella Thornhill’s diary

Here’s a picture of the diary of Isabella Thornhill, nee Gell, which we accessioned yesterday:

Diary of Isabella Thornhill

Diary of Isabella Thornhill

I was going to transcribe an entry dated 21 November 1867, describing a dream in which Queen Victoria escorts Mrs Thornhill to a dinner. The punchline, or at any rate the end of the thing, was that just as the dinner (a dish of mutton) was being served, she was awoken by the arrival of her breakfast tray.  But I mustn’t transcribe it, because the diary is an unpublished literary manuscript, which will remain in copyright until 2039, unless the law changes later this year.

But there’s nothing to stop you reading it!  You can access the diary through our search room right away, using the reference number D258/71/1.  The entries cover 1863 to 1875 in only 43 pages of writing, and the handwriting is reasonable, so the diary provides a painless means of inserting yourself in another time.  It covers social events, personal encounters and anecdotes gathered from acquaintances.

Isabella Thornhill (1800-1878) was born Isabella Gell, daughter of Philip Gell (1775-1842).  She married William Pole Thornhill MP of Stanton Hall (1807-1876) in Wirksworth in 1828.  On Philip Gell’s death, the Gell family’s Hopton Hall estate went to Isabella for her lifetime; she and her husband took the name Gell and lived at Hopton Hall for a short time but eventually renounced the inheritance. She was the last of the Eyre Gell line.  The catalogue entry describing the diary is here.  I added it to the D258 Gell collection, most of which we accepted during the 1960s, and which also includes six volumes of the Lysons’ Magna Britannia, which Isabella Thornhill grangerised.

Sir John Franklin: Fabled Arctic ship found

You may have seen in the news that a team from Canada believe they have discovered one of the ships from the lost Franklin expeditionhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29131757

Franklin was one of the outstanding explorers of the early 19th century, but it was the Admiral’s tragic end that earned him iconic status. As a young midshipman, Franklin served at Trafalgar. He then commanded a frigate in the seas around Greece between 1830 and 1833. Four years later, in 1837 Franklin was appointed Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), a post he held until 1843. His lasting reputation derives from his major expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in search of the North West Passage. He embarked on the third in May 1845. The last sighting of his ships was in July 1845. Relief expeditions were mounted, but by 1850 it was clear to everyone except his second wife Lady (Jane) Franklin (1792-1875) that the expedition was lost. She continued to raise funds to send out search parties until 1859 when proof was found of the deaths of Franklin and his party.

Derbyshire Record Office holds a good range of records relating to Franklin and his various expeditions, including papers relating to the many searches for the final expedition after 1845. The papers have come to the Record Office through Franklin’s daughter, Eleanor Isabella. Eleanor was the daughter of Franklin’s first wife Eleanor Anne Porden (died 1825), and the wife of Rev. John Philip Gell, of the Gell’s of Hopton Hall, near Wirksworth and Carsington.

Lady Franklin's Final Search p1

D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p1

Lady Franklin's Final Search p2

D3311/112/2 Lady Franklin’s Final Search p2









D3311/219 Copies of Instructions to Captain Sir John Franklin in reference to the Arctic Expedition of 1845, 1848

D3311/219 Copies of Instructions to Captain Sir John Franklin in reference to the Arctic Expedition of 1845, 1848


D3311/95 ‘ Echo from the deep’ – Newspaper cutting from the Daily Express 14 Apr 1965 regarding discovery of Erebus or Terror – although it transpired that this was not one of the lost ships


Also in the collection;-

D3311/81 – An Account of a clairvoyant describing where to find Sir John Franklin and his ships, copied by E.J. Gell, 1849

D3311/51/1-4 Extract from Capt. Fitzjames’ letter to Mr Barrow regarding Sir John Franklin 1845; Extract from a letter from a Canadian missionary, Rev Father Tacke describing an expedition setting off to find Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition 1848
2 Notices of the expedition’s discovery and search 1849

Troubled Times – new online exhibition now available

Long before the revolutions of the French and the Americans in the Eighteenth Century, Britain had experienced its own violent revolution that saw families split and friends divided, houses and churches destroyed, the king executed and a republic established.

This new exhibition looks at the how Derbyshire’s role in the civil war, and its impact on it, is reflected in the primary sources that have survived to this day and are currently available for consultation at the record office.

Click here to view: http://tinyurl.com/d72eucw

Rusty Bacon

When the Bacon has been salted about a Fortnight putt it into a Box of the Size of the Bacon, covering the bottom of the Box [?]Hay, rap up each piece of Bacon with [?]Hay, + between every piece put a lare [layer] of [?]Hay, the Box must be kept shut, to prevent Rats or vermin getting into it.