Anglican ecclesiastical records

A guide to the archives of the Church of England in Derbyshire.

In 1969, Derbyshire Record Office was legally designated by the Bishop of Derby as the Derby Diocesan Record Office and parish records are also deposited under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978.  The office is also approved by the Master of the Rolls for the deposit of tithe records.

The Diocese of Derby was created in 1927.  Prior to this, the whole county was an archdeaconry in the Diocese of Lichfield to 1884 and then in the Diocese of Southwell.

Diocese of Derby

Most the of diocesan records held at Derbyshire Record Office date from the creation of the diocese in 1927, although some series (including glebe terriers and tithe records, ref: D2360) were transferred from the diocesan registers of Lichfield and Southwell.  The records of these dioceses are held at Staffordshire Record Office and Nottinghamshire Archives respectively.

Broadly speaking the diocesan records here at Derbyshire Record Office fall into five categories:

  • Administration including induction papers, reports and files
  • Finance including minutes, accounts and reports
  • Churches and property including minutes, deeds, architect’s files and drawings, glebe terriers and tithe records
  • Education including minutes, reports and accounts
  • Social responsibility including minutes, accounts, reports and case books.

Some early boards created on an archdiaconal basis continued as diocesan organisations and these records are also held.  A list of all the archive collections for the Diocese of Derby can be seen here via our online catalogue.

Parishes

The basic unit of the Anglican hierarchy is the parish, sometimes with missions or chapels and sometimes united with other benefices or operating as part of a team ministry.  Changing patterns of population led to the creation of many new parishes in urban areas, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, some of which have now been amalgamated.  County boundary changes have sometimes been reflected in the transfer of parishes to different dioceses.  

A full list of parish archive collections can be seen here, or search the online catalogue using the place name and word parish in the Title field, and select Fonds as the Level:
Parish Search

Parish records may include:

  • Registers of baptisms, marriages, banns and burials (some as early as 1538), and occasionally services from the late 19th century
  • Faculties and other documents relating to the income of the church and to the church building
  • tithe maps and schedules
  • records of church schools and charities
  • accounts (and occasionally other records) of parish officials – churchwardens, constables/headboroughs, *surveyors of the highways and *overseers of the poor including settlement papers, removal orders, bastardy papers, pauper apprenticeship indentures, some as early the 17th century
  • minutes and other records of the *vestry and later the Parochial Church Council.

*Until 1894, the parish was also a civil administrative unit.

The commencement date of surviving registers and a brief history indicating when each of the non-ancient parishes was created and from which other parish/es can be found in our Parish Register Guide.

Rural Deaneries

When the Diocese of Derby was created in 1927, new archdeaconries of Derby and Chesterfield were established.  Within the archdeaconry, parishes were, and are, organised into rural deaneries.  Clergy within the deanery meet regularly in chapter or conference – no deanery chapter or conference minutes survive before the 1840s. 

A list of the archive collections for rural deaneries can be seen here via our online catalogue.

Presbyterian National Church

Episcopacy (rule of the church by bishops) was abolished in 1646 during the civil war and a Presbyterian national church came into being.  Fully developed, a Presbyterian church would have consisted of four levels of organisation: the congregation or parish presbytery; the clerical assembly (or classis) formed of delegates from the parochial presbyteries within a specific area; the provincial synod; the national assembly.

This system was never fully implemented in England but, in the 1650s, groups of ministers came together to establish “classical” assemblies such as the Wirksworth classis (ref: D125).  Much of its business consisted of the examination and ordination of candidates for the ministry, chiefly, but not exclusively, within the area of Wirksworth Wapentake. When the monarch was restored in 1660, the Church of England was also restored as the established church.

 

Derbyshire Burials

A guide to using church burial and civil cemetery registers and to finding the location of a grave.

Image: All Saints Church, Brailsford, c1930s (Ref: DCHQ002850)

Note: Before civil registration was introduced in 1837, burial registers are the main source available to identify when a person died, as burials would have taken place within a few days of death.

Churchyard Burials

The earliest burial registers date from the mid-16th century and relate to burials in Anglican churchyards.  The majority of non-Anglican burial records for Derbyshire begin in the 19th century, with a small number from the 18th century and Quaker burials from the mid-17th century.

Information about the registers available for each parish and non-conformist church can be found in our Parish Register Guide and Non-Conformist Guide. You can also search the online catalogue – search for the church in the ‘Title’ field (e.g. Bolsover parish or Methodist Long Eaton) for a list of all the records for each church, or use the ‘D’ reference number given in the above Guides.

The amount of information recorded in the burial registers varies over time:

  • Before 1813, burial entries tend only to include the date of burial and name of the deceased; some may state whether they are a widow/widower and/or a reference to a family member, e.g. Sarah daughter of John Taylor.
  • After 1813, the registers often include the age at death, place of abode (usually just the area not a specific address) and the signature of the officiating minister.

It is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.  A small number of parishes have deposited plans of the churchyard that include information about some burials before a particular date (see below).

The burial registers for the Anglican parishes are available to search and browse via Ancestry up to 1991 – see our Parish Registers Online guide.  A number of burial registers for non-conformist churches are available to search on Find My Past – these are the registers for which the originals are held at The National Archives (TNA) and Derbyshire Record Office has copies on microfilm.

Civil Cemeteries

By the mid-19th century, parish churchyards were becoming full and there was a need to open civil cemeteries.  Following the Burial Acts of 1852 and 1853, the first civil cemeteries in Derbyshire opened in 1855.  Originally managed by Burial Boards, in 1894 responsibility for these cemeteries transferred to parish and district councils and this remains the case today. For more recent records, please contact the relevant .

The majority of the original records for cemeteries remain in the custody of the District Councils, however records up to the 1990s are available at the Record Office on microfilm and DVD.  See our Cemetery Records Guide for details of the records available.

If you can’t find an entry in the parish burial registers, or there aren’t any burial registers for the period you are interested in, check the civil cemetery records.

Unlike the church burial registers, the civil cemetery registers tend to include more information and are usually accompanied by an index and a grave register.  Although the grave registers do not include a layout plan of the graves, they do include plot numbers and give a rough indication of burial area, i.e. consecrated or unconsecrated ground.  This information can then be used to identify the location of the grave in the cemetery – you will usually need to contact the relevant district authority as well.

National Burial Index

The NBI contains over 18 million entries relating to burials in England and Wales between 1538 and 2008, including 125,000 entries from 54 Derbyshire locations. Published by Family History Federation (formerly Federation of Family History Societies), it is now in its 3rd Edition and over 12 million entries are available via Find My Past, giving details of burial place, year of death and religious denomination.

Memorial Inscriptions

For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church.  These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions (MIs), and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later.  The MIs do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible. All the MIs held by the Record Office are available in the Computer Room, arranged alphabetically by place.

Finding the Grave

As civil cemetery registers tend to include a grave reference it is usually possible to identify the location of the grave itself, although sometimes you may need to contact the district or borough council responsible for the cemetery for guidance about how to interpret the reference.

It is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first place.  However, a small number of parishes have deposited plans of the churchyard that include information about some burials before a particular date:

Parish/ChurchDescriptionReference
AldercarSchedule of identifiable gravesD2574/19/2
AshoverGrave registers,1779-1828, 1846-1859D253 A/PI 10/1-2
Ashbourne St OswaldsNotes on graves (early 20th century)D662 A/PI 26/7
BrimingtonSchedule of graves, 1956D626/A/PD/6/1
CalowGrave Registers, 1862-1899D1642/A/PI/63-4
Chesterfield, St Mary and All SaintsSchedules of gravesD643/A/PI/28-29
Chesterfield, Elder Yard ChapelChurchyard plan, 1915

 

 

D6414/6/2/2
Chesterfield, Holy TrinityGrave register, 1856-1864D935/A/PI/108
DenbyGrave plan, 1902D935/A/PI/181
Derby St AlkmundsClerk’s rough note book of burials 1853-1864D916/A/PI/6/7
DerwentBurial and grave registers, 1908-1927D2036/A/PI/5/1-3
DoveridgeChurchyard register and plan, 1890-1955D1197/A/PI/18
EckingtonRegister of purchased gravesD750/A/PI/5/4
EdensorPartial grave plan, c1850D1192/A/PI/223
HayfieldGraveyard plan and book of reference, 1849D2462/A/PI/12/1-2
HorsleyGraveyard plan and list of graves, 18th cent-1920’sD2467/A/PI/10
Ilkeston St MarysList of burials, 19th-20th cent; Reinternment file, 1992D3082/A/PI/41, 46
IronvilleBurial register includes some plot detailsD3088/A/PI/4/1-5
Kirk HallamCemetery planD1537/A/PI/8/1
MappletonDescription of tombs and gravestones and inscriptions, 1911D845/A/PI/12
NethersealList of gravesD809/A/PI/32
Old BramptonBurials waste book, 1792-1887D947/A/PI/288
OversealPlan showing graves to be disturbed, 1951D812/A/PC/2/1-2
ShottleDraft graveyard plan and list of graves, 1973D964/A/PD/7/1-2
SomercotesGrave register and planD2006/A/PI/5/1-6
StaveleyFile concerning removal of gravesD661/A/PI/143
StonegravelsProposed gravestones, 1945-1950D2083/9/1
Stoney MiddletonGrave register and partial draft plan, 1879-1941D1455/A/PI/100-1
SwadlincoteMemorial Inscriptions, 1847-1931D653/A/PI/18/2
WhittingtonGrave register, 1879-c1914D2528/A/PI/19/1-2
WirksworthGrave plans, 1952D3105/A/PZ/2/6n
WormhillGrave plan and indexD1372/A/PI/145-8

It may also be worth contacting the church directly as a small number do also hold their own records about location of graves in their churchyards.

Edited 19 Jun 2020 to include details about the National Burial Index

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

Treasure 38: Eyam parish register 1630-1768

Since their introduction by Thomas Cromwell in 1538, parish registers have been used to record baptisms, marriages and burials across the country. They also provide a window on the past. In the case of this parish register, from the village of Eyam, it’s a window looking in on the outbreak of plague which killed 260 people in the village in the mid 1660s (D2602/A/PI/1/1). In this image, you can see how the names of the plague victims have been identified by a pointing finger.

treasure-38-eyam-register

Did you know that the “pointing finger” device for highlighting key information is the earliest form of index? In fact, that’s why the index in the back of a book is named after the forefinger. It’s also the root of the word “indicate”. Isn’t etymology wonderful?

This register is unusual for another reason – the earliest entries were copied into it from an original register, by Rev Joseph Hunt, Rector at Eyam between 1683 and 1709. What happened to the original? We may never know.

A published edition of the parish register from 1630 to 1700, edited by John G. Clifford and Francine Clifford, is available from the Derbyshire Record Society.

Advent Calendar – Day 20

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Derbyshire Parish Registers, edited by WPW Phillimore. and Lt Lt Simpson, often referred to simply as Phillimore’s

Published in 15 volumes this incredibly useful resource (which is available on the open shelves in the Computer Room) provides printed transcripts of marriage records from the earliest extant registers for each of the 75 parishes covered.

image

Phillimore’s ‘Derbyshire Parish Registers’

As any of you who have used early (i.e. mid 16th to early 18th century) parish registers will know, the handwriting and language you find does not make life easy for family historians – or indeed other researchers searching for information amongst these wonderful volumes. Fortunately, however, there are a good number of transcripts available to speed up the process and help along the way. Some transcripts, such as those by Phillimore, were created for publication; many of the transcripts available (particularly for Derbyshire) have actually been produced by enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers and we are grateful that copies are donated to us to make available to you.

The transcripts can vary in how useful they are (and with a small number being handwritten there can still be issues reading the handwriting occasionally). Some transcripts include merely a chronological list of the main information, some add a little more detail from the registers – if there is any that is – some will provide a name index to help you mop up all occurrences of the name you are looking for. Many transcripts are available in electronic format as well or instead of, which can make finding the information very quick indeed. You may already know that there are a large number of transcripts for Derbyshire parish registers available via the International Genealogical Index (produced and maintained by the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints), but comprehensive indexes and transcripts for some parishes are also available to search via the PCs at the Record Office.

Nevertheless, whatever transcript you might use, we would always strongly recommend following up that information in the registers themselves. All the transcripts have been made by individuals and are subject to human error, regardless of how diligent the transcriber may have been (and some are certainly more diligent than others). Besides seeing the information as it was actually written, particularly for post-1754 marriages where you are likely to find your ancestor’s signature or ‘mark’, does make the whole process even more rewarding.

Advent Calendar – Day 14

10 days to Christmas eve…

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Marriage record of John Peach and Hannah Rowland on this day 237 years ago, in 1778. (Ref: D650/A/PI/1/3)

Congratulations to everyone else who is marrying today, and around this time.

image

It is a little unusual to find marriage records in this format at this time. Following Hardwick’s Marriage Act, all marriage records had to be kept in a separate register which was pre-printed. In the case of Thorpe St Leonard this register (ref: D650/A/PI/1/3), it is possible that the parish didn’t have all the necessary registers, as the single marriage register does not start until 1767, breaking in 1772. The previous baptism and burial register also finishes in 1772, and a few loose pages are used until the new registers start in 1784 for baptisms and burials.

Another day in the life of…

I may have been a bit eager to get the next instalment of ‘a day in the life of…’ written, as back at the beginning of November I did promise that another would follow in December, well we’ve hit 1 December so here it is.

It felt like we probably had an ever so slightly busier day yesterday than last time, with more customers visiting the search room (and local studies who I know had a very busy yesterday). However, as I looked back at our statistics we didn’t actually retrieve as many documents from the stores as the previous day I blogged about. It is often the case that more people in the search room does not necessarily mean more documents being requested (and vice versa with fewer people and a higher number of document orders) – this usually depends on the documents themselves and the information they contain, for example is it a document that is quick to look at or needs some time to be read and considered. Yesterday, the main reason for difference is that three of the customers each spent a few hours in the search room, looking at only two documents each. Although not all working together, they were all consulting the documents in great detail in order to make accurate transcripts that can then be used to obtain the same information without necessarily consulting the original document – which also helps us to protect the document by reducing handling.

We also had visits from people researching the geography and buildings in Duffield, two colleagues from the Legal Services team investigating the history and status of a particular road in the Peak District (see them hard at work below), a regular customer and researcher with various interests, this time looking at Methodist records, a new customer looking for an ancestor in the school admission register, as well as others who have visited for reasons that I do not know…

As before, here are the rest of my snaps from the day showing the range of resources used (click on an image for a full description)

Treasure 7: the Pleasley burial register, 1813-1893

Treasure 06 Pleasley register (a)

This register (D739/A/PI/5/1) records all the burials in the parish of St Michael, Pleasley, from April 1813 to January 1893.

Pleasley is one of the ancient parishes of Derbyshire, lying in the north-east of the county on the border with Nottinghamshire (Pleasley Hill is actually part of Nottinghamshire). It originally consisted of the townships of Pleasley, Shirebrook, and Stoney Houghton, which included the colliery villages of Upper Pleasley and New Houghton. The earliest surviving registers of baptisms, marriages and burials go back to 1553.

The register was nominated by Kate Henderson, a regular user of Derbyshire Record Office and a member of our Focus Group. Strictly speaking, the purpose of the register was to record the fact of a burial having taken place, and the name and age of the deceased – but Kate notes that this is not always all: “Occasionally a clerk will give fuller details of an unusual cause of death or of a great age achieved…

Treasure 06 Pleasley register (b)

…One can appreciate the interest such a vicar had both in his parishioners but also his understanding of the interest in these people in future generations.”

Registering a Complaint

As someone who spends a fair amount of my time searching through parish registers, I have been known to silently (or not so silently) curse the handwriting of a long-dead vicar or parish clerk.  They should have foreseen that a few centuries later I would need to decipher their scrawl to find Great-Great-Great-etc-Grandfather Fred!  So I was rather amused to find this note in one of the Castleton registers:

(unless the Parish will provide better Parchment, it is impossible to write on it legibly   

Castleton parish register

Perhaps I shall be a tad more charitable in future, though it’s a poor workman who blames his tools…

Explore Your Archive – Prisoners of War

I first became aware that there had been Napoleonic prisoners in Derbyshire when I came across an unusual gravestone at St Mary and All Saints church, Chesterfield, aka the Crooked Spire.  The inscription translated as ‘In memory of Francois Raingeard, thirty years of age, Prisoner of War, died 1oth March 1812’ and bore the message ‘Stop Traveller!  If thro’ Life’s journey, Sympathy Has found a seat in thy Breast; thou’ll drop a pitying tear to the memory of one who…’; the last line started ‘In Friendship…’, but the rest had worn away.

This wasn’t the first time there had been prisoners of war in Derbyshire.  During the Seven Years’ War with France, the Victoria County History (Vol 2) states that 300 French prisoners were sent to Derby in July 1759.  Apparently the churchwardens of Derby All Saints made an “absurdly boastful and vainglorious entry” in their books concluding:

Their behaviour at first was impudent and insolent; and at all times vain and effeminate; and their whole deportment Light and Unmanly; and we may venture to say from our observation and knowledge of them that in any future war, this Nation has nothing to fear from them as an Enemy.  During their abode here, the road from this place to Parliament was by an Act of Parliament repair’d; the part from St. Mary’s Bridge (which by reason of the floods was impassible) being greatly raised.  Numbers of these people were daily employ’d, who work’d in their Bag Whigs, Pigtails, Ruffles, &c., a matter which afforded no small merriment.  But to their Honour let it be remembered, yet scarce an Act of Fraud or Theft was committed by any of them during their stay amongst us.    

Whilst prisoners of war from the lower ranks were held in prisons or on prison ships, officers were placed on a parole of honour in which they promised not to leave or escape from the town they were sent to.  Derbyshire’s central geographic position made it an ideal place to hold the men.  Our local studies library copy (940.27) of part of the National Archives’ general entry book of French prisoners of war on parole shows that from December 1803-July 1812 there were 172 prisoners on parole at Ashbourne and from November 1803-June 1811 there were over 400 held at Chesterfield.  The parish registers for Chesterfield show that aswell as Frenchmen there were at least a few Polish, Swiss, German, Italian and Hungarian prisoners too.

D302 Z/W 1 Weekly accounts, December 1812

D302 Z/W 1 Weekly accounts, December 1812

We have at the Record Office a bound volume of letters, accounts and reports (to the Transport Board) by John Langford (D302 Z/W 1) who was appointed as the agent for the care of parole prisoners at Ashbourne in March 1812.  The accounts and the discharge information can sometimes record prisoner’s names, the name of the prize i.e. from which vessel or place the prisoner was captured, whether the prize was a man of war, privateer or merchant vessel, what rank the prisoner held, and in some records the date of the beginning of their parole at Ashbourne, their date of discharge and how much they were paid.  One particular list which records prisoners at Ashbourne who hadn’t been held on parole or in prison anywhere else in the country, also records details of their age, height, hair colour, eye colour, face shape, complexion, figure, and any wounds or distinguishing marks.

D302 Z/W 1 Accounts of subsistence paid, 1812

D302 Z/W 1 Accounts of subsistence paid, 1812

Whilst the papers don’t reveal that much about their day-to-day activities, there are some letters which let us glimpse into individual lives, such as one from 26th November 1812 giving the account of a Monsieur Frohart who was judged to be in a state of insanity.  He was lodging with a Mr Mellor in the town and it was Mellor who reported to Langford that Frohart, having been restless and singing and making a noise the preceding night, appeared deranged the next morning and ran into the street only half-dressed and broke the windows of several neighbouring properties.  Apparently a couple of years previously he had been in a similar state whilst being on parole in Chesterfield.

Other letters record the various escapes of prisoners, such as Jacques Perroud, the captain of the privateer the ‘Phoenix’, who ran away in the night in April 1812 and was believed to be heading to the Kent coast.  A physical description of him is included and it also reports what he could be wearing, topped by a new hat with a narrow crown, broadish brim, a ribbon and a small white buckle.  Captain Perroud left behind at his lodgings a trunk, four small French dictionaries, three pairs of cloth pantaloons, four old cotton shirts and two cotton pillow cases.

Between 1803 and 1815, around ten prisoners (all men on parole at Chesterfield) appear in the Quarter Sessions Calendars of Prisoners, though I’m sure the actual figure was much higher.  Half of them are being tried on charges of breaking or exceeding their parole and the other half are up on bastardy charges for fathering illegitimate children.  There are at least twelve prisoners of war, including Francois Raingeard, buried in the Crooked Spire churchyard.  From 1806 onwards there are approx. ten marriages of prisoners of war to local women and about eighteen baptisms of children of prisoners, either with wives who were also taken as prisoners or women they had met and married in Chesterfield, and also a few illegitimate children.  

The Ashbourne St Oswald registers seem to show that one local family was particularly welcoming:  15th August 1808, Vincent Pierre Fillion, a French Prisoner of War, married Hannah Whitaker, spinster; 7th May 1810, Louis Hugand, a French prisoner, married Mary Whittaker, spinster; 30th December 1811, Peter/Pierre Dupre, Prisoner of War in Ashbourne, married Elizabeth Whittaker, spinster; 26th November 1812, Otto Ernst d’Heldreich, Prisoner of War, married Margaret Whittaker, spinster. 

Whilst a few remained in Derbyshire, most of the prisoners of war, and their families, eventually returned to mainland Europe.  But aswell as the legacy of a method of glove-making which carried on and thrived in Chesterfield during the nineteenth century, as the story goes it was a French prisoner who first introduced the recipe for what is known as Ashbourne Gingerbread, which is still made and sold in the town two hundred years later.

EYA-poster-poetry-workshop