History on the county of Derbyshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Map of Staffordshire
1787 Map of Derbyshire by John Cary

Background Information
The county was first recorded in 1049 however it was formerly known as Northworthy but was renamed by the Danes because of the large concentration of deer in the region. The name of Derby comes from the Danish 'deoraby' meaning 'the place of the deer'.

Derbyshire is bordered by the West Riding of Yorkshire in the north, Leicestershire to the south, Staffordshire to the west and south, Nottinghamshire in the east and Cheshire to the north-west. Hills dominate the region and rise to The Peak at 2086ft. The county is drained by the Derwent, Dove, Wye and Trent rivers. There are several spectacular waterfalls in the county. With a drop of 400feet, the highest is Kinder Downfall on Kinder Scout. The Pennine Way starts in Derbyshire at Edale in the Hope Valley. Also in this part of the county are a series of vast limestone caverns which are popular with serious potholers and tourists alike. South Derbyshire is less rugged than the Dales and the Peak District further north but is fine walking country.

Traces of early settlement have been found in many parts of the county, particularly around the many iron-age hill forts. However, it was around the 7th century that English settlers arrived in the region and became known as Pec-setan, or Peak Dwellers. The district formed part of the great kingdom of Mercia and later, on arrival of the Danes in the 9th century, Derby was included in Danelaw, the confederacy of Lincoln, Leicester, Stamford, Nottingham and Derby. The earliest important Norman imprint on the county was at Castleton where William de Peveril, the son of William the Conqueror, built Peak Castle. The castle's imposing keep was erected much later by Henry II in 1176. Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, fought on the side of the Barons against Henry III. Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner at Chatsworth and Wingfield Manor. She also visited Buxton for her health. William Cavendish, Earl of Devonshire, was one of the Immortal Seven who invited William of Orange to England. The Earl and his conspirators used to meet in the 'Plotting Parlours' of an inn on Whittington Moor. Dr. Sacheverell preached his famous assize sermon in Derby in 1710 attacking the Whig government with such rancour that he was impeached. In 1745, the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, was proclaimed King in Derby. Much of Derbyshire was involved in the pioneering days of the industrial revolution and Derby, Belper and Duffield became famous for the manufacture of silk.

Derbyshire has some of the most famous landmarks and includes The Peak District, The Pennines, The Derbyshire Dales, Black Rock, Kinder Scout, Mam Tor, High Tor, Creswell Crags, Dove Dale and, of course, it's world-famous caverns.

Bolsover Castle - a 17th century castle built by Sir Charles Cavendish, Chatsworth House - a classical mansion built by William Talman between 1687 and 1707 for the 1st Duke of Devonshire, Haddon Hall - first built by William de Peveril and now fully restored, Hardwick Hall - dating from 1591 when Elizabeth of Shrewsbury wanted a retirement home, Kedleston Hall - where the Curzon family lived for over 800 years, Melbourne Hall - a Royal Manor until 1604 and later developed by Sir John Coke, Cromford Old Mill - where, in 1771, Richard Arkwright first used water power to drive a cotton mill.

Famous People Born in Derbyshire
John Hobson [1858-1940] the economist was born at Derby. An opponent of orthodox economic theories, he believed 'under-consumption' to be the main cause of unemployment. He wrote 'The Science of Wealth' in 1911.
Thomas Cook was born in Melbourne in 1808. He revolutionised modern tourism and invented the package tour. It evolved from his zeal for the temperance movement. Wanting to get teetotallers from Leicester to a rally in Loughborough, he hired and advertised a special train on the Midland railway; 570 people responded and made the return journey for a shilling on 5th July 1841. Within a few years Cook was organising attractive holiday tours; 350 tourists, for example, paid a guinea to travel by train and steamer to Glasgow, where they had vouchers for their hotels and were greeted with brass bands and the firing of cannons.
Robert Lindsay the actor was born in Ilkeston. The son of a carpenter, he reportedly borrowed five pounds from a friend to travel to London for an audition at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts [RADA] after which he was subsequently accepted. It wasn't long before he became a household name as Wolfie in the 1977 sitcom 'Citizen Smith.' Since then, he has appeared in a diverse range of roles and parts in television, films and stage productions in which he has won a large number of acting awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

Famous People Who Lived in Derbyshire
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) the political philosopher was tutor to the 2nd and 3rd Earls of Devonshire at Chatsworth and Hardwick. Travelling with the family, he made the acquaintance of many leading intellectual figures including Galileo, Descartes, Bacon and Ben Jonson. He died at Hardwick Hall aged 91. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) spent her early childhood at Lea Hurst near Crich. Sir Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969) author, and Dame Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) the poet, both lived at Renishaw Hall to the south of Eckington.

On Shrove Tuesday there is a pancake race at Winster. At Ashbourne Shrovetide football is played between two goals 3 miles apart. Well dressing ceremonies take place at Tissington on Ascension Day, at Wirkston at Whitsun, Youlgreave in June, Marsh Lane in July, and Bonsall and Barlow in August. Matlock Baths has Illuminations and Venetian Nights from the end of August to early October.

It is claimed that the Devil once turned itself into a fiery dragon in the north and moved south laying waste all in his path. On the hills above Chesterfield he saw a man with bare feet and a tattered gown who refused to run away. Instead he climbed on Winlatter Rock and spread his arms wide to form a cross and fear struck the Devil who sent a tempest to blow him away. He never moved. He stood so firm that his feet sunk into the rock and held him up. The Devil fled to the north and the priest went down into Chesterfield and told them how he had saved them and the town.

In addition to the above customs, a plague memorial service is held at Eyam in August. The Derbyshire County Show takes place in June and a Festival of Music and Arts is staged in Buxton during July and August.
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Tourists at the Ashopton Inn [1926]

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