Derby

DERBY, a borough and market-town, possessing separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Morleston and Litchurch, S. division of the county of Derby, of which it is the capital, 16 miles (W.) from Nottingham, 27 miles (N. W.) from Leicester, and 126 (N. W.) from London, on the river Derwent, and on the high road to Manchester; containing 32,741 inhabitants, and, including parts of certain parishes which extend beyond the limits of the borough, 36,395. The origin of this monly Deoraby, of which Derby is a corruption, probably referring to its situation on the Derwent. King Egbert constituted the town a royal burgh, and a mint was established. It was possessed by the Danes and Saxons alternately during their contests. In 874 it was occupied by Halfolen, a Danish chief, whose headquarters were at Rippandune, now Repton. Alfred, having defeated the Danes, planted a colony here in 880, and constituted this the chief town in the county. The Danes, after a second defeat by the same monarch, regained the place, and kept it till 918, when, being taken by surprise, they were completely defeated by the heroic Ethelfleda, Countess of Mercia, and daughter of King Alfred, who, obtaining possession of the town, held it till her death. The Danes retook it soon after her decease, but were again dispossessed by King Edmund I., in 942.

In the early part of the reign of Edward the Confessor, it contained 243 burgesses; two-thirds of the profits from tolls, &c., belonged to the king, and the remaining third to the Earl of Mercia. In 1066, the King of Norway, at the instigation of Tostig, Harold's brother, invaded the northern parts of England, on which many of the inhabitants of Derby, who were then vassals of Edwin, Earl of Mercia, quitted their homes, and joined the forces of Morcar, Earl of Northumberland, to oppose the invader; but they were defeated with great slaughter, only four days before the latter and his army were destroyed by Harold. On the victor's return to encounter William, Duke of Normandy, he recruited his army at Derby, to which is to be ascribed the diminution of the number of burgesses: for at the time of the Norman survey, they amounted only to 100, and of these 43 were minors. The town was given by the Conqueror to his illegitimate son, William Peverel, and an augmentation of its privileges ensued, which was followed by a revival of industry and an increase of population. Charles I., during the parliamentary war, after erecting his standard at Nottingham, marched to Derby, where he was well received, and the entire county declared for the royal cause. Sir John Gell, having soon after raised some infantry, came hither and collected a troop of horse, and garrisoned the town for the parliament. In 1643, Sir Thomas Fairfax stayed here three days, while collecting a reinforcement from the garrisons in the county. In the rebellion of 1745, Derby was occupied by Charles James Stuart, son of the Pretender; but on the approach of the royal army, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, he retreated, after levying a contribution of £2000 or £3000 on the inhabitants during his short stay of two days.

The town is pleasantly situated in a valley which is open to the south, the country in that direction being flat and low: a small brook runs through it under nine stone bridges. It is large and well built, and notwithstanding the want of regularity in their appearance, many of the more modern houses are spacious and handsome: the streets are paved; an act for the better lighting of the borough with gas was passed in 1841, and considerable improvements have been recently effected. An elegant stone bridge of three elliptical arches, over the river Derwent, forms a handsome approach to the town from Nottingham. The roads in the neighbourhood were improved under the superintendence of the late Mr. McAdam, though they are not yet in a very good state. Water is abundantly supplied from the Derwent, by means of pipes and machinery. The Derby Philosophical Society, whose object is the promotion of scientific knowledge, by occasional meetings and by the circulation of books, was founded by Dr. Darwin, in 1788, and has a considerable number of members, who are in possession of an extensive and valuable library; and there are eight or ten other institutions in the town. An agricultural society was established many years ago, which holds two meetings annually; and in September, 1840, a spacious garden was opened to the public, called the Arboretum, tastefully laid out and planted with every variety of tree and shrub, and embellished with lodges and seats; the site and decorations were given to the corporation by Mr. Joseph Strutt, on condition that the grounds should be open to all classes, without payment, on Sunday, and on one day during the week. There are a mechanics' institute, with a library attached to it; a permanent subscription library; a theological book society, &c. Handsome buildings have been lately finished for the Athenæum, Bank, and Post-office, immediately at the entrance into the town from the London road. Races, which were of considerable repute, were held on a fine course, called the Siddals, and were much frequented; but they have been discontinued for several years. The walks in the vicinity of the town present a variety of scenery, and are very pleasant.

Derby enjoyed, under a licence from King John, the exclusive privilege of dyeing cloth, but this has wholly declined: it is still a place of considerable trade. Until of late years, silk was the principal article of manufacture; but to that have been added those of cotton and porcelain, which are carried on to a great extent. The first silk-mill erected in England was built here, about 1718, by Mr. John Lombe, who procured in Italy (by bribing two workmen, who accompanied him to England,) drawings and models of the silk machinery then in use in that country, for which he took out a patent: its operations are to wind, double, and twist the silk, so as to render it fit for weaving. On the death of Mr. Lombe, about four years afterwards, caused, as is stated, by means of poison, administered to him by an Italian female sent over for that purpose, his cousin, Sir Thomas Lombe, relinquished the patent, in consideration of the sum of £14,000, whereby the manufacture was thrown open, and the trade rapidly increased. The factory stands upon an island in the Derwent, and is built on large piles, over which are turned thirteen arches of stone: the original machinery has been replaced by other less cumbrous, and far more simple in its construction, worked by a water-wheel 23 feet in diameter; and such has been the progressive increase of this branch of manufacture, that there are now thirteen mills, worked either by water or steam. The weaving of silk ribbons by power-looms was introduced about 1824, and is now carried on in four or five establishments; plain ribbons only are made, in which particular branch of the ribbon trade this town has to a great extent supplanted Coventry, which formerly enjoyed a monopoly of the whole business. Broad silks and velvets are also woven; and fringes and silk trimmings are made in large quantities. The porcelain manufacture was established in 1763, and has been brought to great perfection; it gives employment to about 200 persons, and the beautiful ornaments called "white biscuit figures" are the production of the establishment here. The machinery for cutting, polishing, and turning the Derbyshire marble spar, is worked by steam; and a variety of sculptured articles, which will bear comparison with those of the best Italian artists, are produced. In 1756, Mr. Jedediah Strutt invented "the Derby ribbed-stocking frame," for which he obtained a patent; and silk, cotton, and fine worsted stockings are still made. The first fire-proof mill for spinning cotton was erected here in 1793; and a considerable trade is carried on in net-lace, galloons, ferrets, and tapes, in red and white lead, sheet and bar iron, shot, and jewellery. Hot and cold air stoves, upon Silvester's principle, by which the largest buildings in the country may be warmed and ventilated, are exclusively made here.

The navigation of the Derwent was closed on the completion of the Derby canal, the latter communicating by its two divisions, each about eight miles in length, with the Trent and Erewash canals, and thus rendering the former unnecessary. The company entrusted with the management of the canal were empowered by act of parliament to raise the sura of £90,000, and are required, when the dividend exceeds eight per cent., to reduce the tolls: there is a large and convenient wharf. The Little Eaton canal crosses the northern part of the town. This is a grand centre of railway communication, three lines belonging to the Midland Company meeting here: one conducts to Sheffield and Leeds, another to Birmingham; and the third to Sawley, there dividing into two branches, the one leading to Nottingham and Lincoln, and the other to Leicester and Rugby. The station occupies an area of about 20 acres; the various buildings are of the most spacious and lofty dimensions, and in a style which gives to the whole arrangement an imposing air of grandeur. The market day is Friday; and on every alternate Tuesday there is a market for fat-cattle. The fairs are held on the Monday after Jan. 6th, on Jan. 25th, March 21st, and the two following days, Friday in Easter-week, Friday after May 1st, Friday in Whitsun-week, July 25th, Sept. 27th and the two following days, and on the Friday before Oct. 4th: those in March and October are great cheesefairs; the others are principally for cattle.

Henry I. granted the town of Derby to Ralph, Earl of Chester, and bestowed upon the inhabitants a charter of incorporation: this charter was materially altered, and their privileges were enlarged by Henry II., Richard I., and John. James I. gave the corporation authority to hold courts of record, made them independent of any foreign jurisdiction, and empowered them to hold "sessions quarterly, two courts leet, and six fairs yearly." In 1638, mention is first made of a mayor; the corporation, antecedently to that period, having been styled "the Bailiffs and Burgesses of the Town of Derby." In 1680, the charter was surrendered to Charles II., and a new one was obtained in the 34th of that monarch's reign, by which the government was vested in a mayor, 9 aldermen, 14 brethren, and 14 capital burgesses, who together constituted the commoncouncil. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the corporation now consists of a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors; the borough is divided into 6 wards; the number of magistrates is 15. The freedom is inherited by all sons of a freeman born within the borough, or acquired by serving apprenticeship to a resident freeman. Derby has sent two members to parliament since 1294: the right of election was formerly vested in the free burgesses, about 2000 in number; but by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the non-resident burgesses, except within seven miles, were disfranchised, and the privilege was extended to the £10 householders: the limits of the borough comprise 1840 acres: the mayor is returning officer. Sessions for the borough are held by the recorder quarterly; and a court of record is held by him every second Tuesday, in which pleas to any amount are cognizable. There are petty-sessions daily. The powers of the county debtcourt of Derby, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Derby, and part of the districts of Shardlow, Burton, and Belper. The old town-hall, erected on the site of the ancient guildhall about the year 1730, though in itself a good building, was found, from its isolated situation in the market-place, to be a great obstruction to business, and was therefore taken down in 1825, and a new one erected nearly in a line with the south side of the market-place; this edifice, being on arches, is connected with a market-house built by the corporation. The assizes and general quartersessions were formerly held in a spacious edifice of freestone, built in 1660; new courts of a more convenient construction have been erected. A county gaol and house of correction, affording ample means of classification, was erected in 1827, upon the radiating principle, at an expense of £63,000. The town is the principal place of election for the southern division of the county.

The town comprises the parishes of All Saints, containing 4443 inhabitants; St. Werburgh, 8095; St. Alkmund, 10,736; St. Peter, 11,564; and St. Michael, 1557: the last three extend into the hundred of Morleston and Litchurch; the entire population of each is stated above. The living of All Saints' is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Rev. Mr. Simeon's Trustees; net income, £80. The church, which prior to the Dissolution was collegiate, is considered the principal architectural ornament of the town. The present body, erected in 1725, from a design by Gibbs, at an expense of £4000, is in the Roman-Doric style, and the interior is light, elegant, and spacious; the tower, 180 feet high, and erected in the reign of Henry VII., is in the later English style, the upper part being richly ornamented with buttresses, pinnacles, battlements, and tracery. Rich open screen-work of iron, said to have cost £500, separates the east end of the church from the place allotted for divine worship, in the centre of which is an elegant chancel. Over an altar-piece of Derbyshire marble is a fine painting by Rawlinson, and on the southern side of the chancel a monument to the memory of William, Earl of Devonshire, and his countess, whose figures stand under a dome, nearly twelve feet in height: there is also a splendid mural monument to the celebrated Countess of Shrewsbury, executed under her own inspection. The living of St. Alkmund's is a vicarage not in charge; net income, £235; patron, J. Strutt, Esq. The old church was taken down, and a new one commenced in the beginning of 1844 on an enlarged scale; the edifice is 139 feet in length, and has a very handsome pinnacled enriched tower, rising to a height of 205 feet from the ground. The late church is supposed to have been originally founded early in the ninth century, in honour of Alkmund, son of Alured, the deposed king of Northumbria; who, being slain in battle while endeavouring to reinstate his father, was first interred in Lilleshall, in Shropshire, but removed thence and deposited in this church: many pilgrimages were formerly made to his tomb, which, in point of miracles, was exceeded in renown only by that of Thomas à Becket, at Canterbury. The chapelries of Little Eaton and Darley are in this parish, though without the limits of the borough; and a church district named St. Paul's was endowed in St. Alkmund's in 1844 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the living of which is in the gift of the Crown and the Bishop of Lichfield, alternately. The living of St. Peter's is a discharged vicarage, with that of Normanton annexed, valued in the king's books at £8; net income, £148; patrons, the Rev. C.Wright and two brothers. The parochial church is ancient, but of uncertain date. Trinity Church, in the parish, erected in 1836, was purchased of the builder by subscription, and endowed with £1000 by B. West, Esq., of Brighton, whose family is to hold the patronage for 40 years, after which it will be vested in Trustees. The parish also includes the chapel of Boulton. The living of St. Werburgh's is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £5. 12. 8., and in the patronage of the Crown; net income, £298; impropriator, Lord Scarsdale. The vicar receives a tithe rent-charge of £150, and has a glebe of 7 acres. The original church of St. Werburgh is supposed to have been built prior to the Conquest. Being situated near Mark-Eaton brook, its foundation was injured by occasional floods; so that in 1601 the tower fell, and within a century afterwards, the church having become ruinous, the present edifice was erected. A chapel dedicated to St. John has been erected in the later English style, at an expense of about £8000, one-half of which was defrayed by the Parliamentary Commissioners, and the other by subscription: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £109; patron, the Vicar of St. Werburgh's. The living of St. Michael's is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £4. 15., and has a net income of £120; the patronage and impropriation belong to the Crown: a good parsonage-house was built by the vicar, the Rev. J. G. Howard, in 1829. The church, which is very ancient, and of unknown date, has some good specimens of early English architecture, and of the depressed arch of the time of Henry VII.; behind the pulpit the remains of a rood-loft. The chapel of Alvaston is in St. Michael's parish. The new edifice of Christchurch, Derby, was consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield in January 1844. There are places of worship for General and Particular Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, Wesleyans (New and Old Connexion), Swedenborgians, and Unitarians; and a Roman Catholic chapel, erected in 1839 at a cost of £1400, and forming a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a tower supported by angular buttresses and surmounted by a crocketed spire. The Roman Catholics have also built a handsome structure as a residence for the Sisters of Mercy, and for a chapel and schools. A general cemetery was opened in 1843.

The Free Grammar school is said to have been founded in the reign of Henry II., soon after the removal of the canons of the priory of St. Helen's, Derby, to Darley. Walter Durdant, Bishop of Lichfield, in his charter, makes mention of the school at Derby, as the gift of himself and William de Barba Aprilis. Queen Mary, in the first year of her reign, granted a charter to the corporation, in which provision is made for the support of this school, by the payment of £13. 6. 8. per annum: the queen's grant was accompanied by the patronage of two of the churches. The sum of £25 is annually paid to the master, by Emmanuel College, Cambridge, under the will of Mr. Ash, who also founded ten exhibitions at that college, for boys educated at this school and that of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Jane Walton, who died in 1603, bequeathed the sum of £40 for the benefit of the master and usher; and £100 to the master of St. John's College, Cambridge, towards the maintenance of such young men educated here as should be admitted into that college. Flamsteed, the astronomer, received part of his education at this institution.

The Devonshire Almshouse was founded by the Countess of Shrewsbury, in the reign of Elizabeth, and endowed with a bequest of £100 a year; in 1777 it was rebuilt in a handsome style, at the expense of the then Duke of Devonshire, who before his death added a further endowment of £50 a year: eight men and four women are now supported in it. About 1716 Edward Large, Esq., endowed an almshouse near the top of Friargate, for five widows of clergymen, each of whom receives about £26 per annum. Robert Willymott, of Chaddesden, by will dated Sept. 1st, 1629, founded and endowed ten almshouses in Bridgegate, for six men and four women, to be supported by his heirs in perpetuity. A munificent bequest was made by Richard Crawshaw, who died in 1631, of upwards of £4000, for the benefit of the poor of Derby, including the maintenance of lectures, and other laudable purposes: additional bequests have been made to this charity, which has now a revenue of £750 per annum. The town likewise participates in Sir Thomas White's bequests for loans. Robert Lyversege, dyer, of the parish of St. Peter, bequeathed various lands and tenements "for good and godly purposes," the rental of which, now about £700, is, from the renewal of leases, continually increasing: the poor have also the benefit of numerous small bequests. The General Infirmary, situated near the London road, on a healthful plot of ground, is constructed of hard white stone, and presents a handsome yet simple elevation of three stories; it is surrounded by fourteen acres of land, purchased to prevent the near approach of buildings, and cost £18,000. The poor law union of Derby comprises, in addition to the town, the township of Little Chester and hamlet of Litchurch; and contains a population of 35,015. The union workhouse is situated in Litchurch, in that portion of the parish of St. Peter which is without the borough. About half a century since, there were vestiges of an ancient castle; but the site is now completely covered with buildings. Remains of St. Mary's chapel, supposed to have been the church of St. Mary given by William the Conqueror to the abbey of Burton, still exist: the chapel, in the time of Charles II., was used by the Presbyterians, but was subsequently converted into small tenements. Of several religious houses which once had existence here, there are no traces.

Among the eminent natives of Derby may be mentioned Dr. Thomas Linacre, the founder of the College of Physicians in London, of which he was president till his death, in 1524; Samuel Richardson, the novelist, born in 1689; William Hutton, author of the Histories of Birmingham and Derby, and other works, in 1723; and Joseph Wright, the celebrated painter, in 1734. Thomas Parker, Earl of Macclesfield, and lord high chancellor, resided here during the early part of his life; and, while practising in this town as an attorney, laid the foundation of his future fame. John Whitehurst, an ingenious mechanist and philosopher, also resided here about the middle of the last century; and Dr. Erasmus Darwin here spent the last twenty years of his life, and died in 1802. Derby gives the title of Earl to the family of Stanley.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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