Derby : Its Rise and Progress

By H.W. Davison

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2016

Derby - Its Rise and Progress


Part I. - 1732-1776

Thursday, March 23rd, 1732, Mr. Samuel Drewry made his bow to the Gentlemen, tradesmen, and others of the Borough of Derby, to whom the first copy of his Derby Mercury is "humbly inscribed" and presented gratis. His intention, he states, is to furnish a newspaper of more local interest than is generally the case; that instead of filling his columns with useless tables of imports and exports, or with the London bills of mortality, he shall endeavour to interest his readers with monthly lists of the local christenings and buryings; with reports of any domestic occurrences with which he may be furnished, and with accounts of remarkable trials at the Old Bailey in London. With this primitive estimate of the capabilities of a local newspaper, and of the taste of his readers, The Derby Mercury, of four pages foolscap folio, less than one-fourth the modern newspaper size, began its career, price twopence, to be published every Thursday evening at Sam. Drewry's, in the Market


Place, and to be "immediately sent to the Houses of Subscribers".

This preliminary issue contains one item of local interest - an advertisement in which James Holmes proposes a "more speedy dispatch of letters between Derby and Nottingham", and announces that he sets out from the "Three Swans" in Derby every Sunday and Thursday "about nine of the clock in the morning", returning from the Post House at Nottingham about four in the afternoon, and that letters and parcels will be taken in at his residence any day.

On Thursday, March 30th, appeared No. 1 of the Mercury, in which the news, domestic and foreign, is copied mainly from the London papers, the solitary local paragraph being an account of the execution which took place on the previous day, and which evidently afforded the town much interest. John Hewitt had poisoned his wife, with the assistance of Rosamund Ollerenshaw, and the pair, walking to the gallows between two clergymen, and surrounded by a great crowd, were hanged in their shrouds, a feature which, according to the Mercury, added to the impressiveness of the spectacle. Hutton, then nine years old, in crossing the stepping-stones over the brook at Nun's Green, was almost pushed, into the stream by the crowd hurrying to the spot. It is recorded that on the previous Monday the Rev. Mr. Locket, of St. Michael's, preached the condemned sermon from the text, "Be ye also ready", and that Mr. Cantrell, of St Alkmund's, followed on the Tuesday with his sermon, "Repent and be converted"; although the audience which attended was doubtless drawn together more out of morbid curiosity to gaze


on the wretches in the condemned pew than to listen to the preacher. Tastes have changed since those days; and when, in 1862, a minister of the town who had attended a murderer in the condemned cell, announced that he would narrate the details of the scene to his congregation, the local papers were not slow to mark their disapproval.

On April 27th, the Mercury appeared with a woodcut heading giving a prospect of Derby from the eastward. In the foreground is the Derwent, the old bridge on the right, a sailing vessel on the left at the wharf near the Morledge, for the Derwent was made navigable thirteen years before. Beyond the river and the gardens rises the town, with its line of churches, the view finishing on the left in a precipitous peak representing Cockpit Hill. The new Town Hall (1730), undistinguishable among the cluster of buildings, is shown in a separate cut.

On June 22nd, the first quarter's issue came to an end, when Mr. Drewry informed his subscribers that his bills, which had been delayed through his serious illness, would be sent out during the following week. In July, the public were informed that water from the Spa at Matlock is brought to Derby twice a week, and supplied to customers at twopence a quart.[14] Great virtues were attributed to these waters, although probably the growing use of soap was a greater health-factor. In January, 1733, Messrs. Roberts and Hawksley, soap-boilers, advertise that


many people declare their Castle soap (Castile, or Spanish soap) is equal or superior to that "imported from Bristol", the sale having become so great that all their coppers are in use. Another advertisement states that George Paschall, the old Derby carrier to London, sends a wagon every Monday which reaches the metropolis on Saturday, leaving the "Bull and Mouth" for the return journey on Mondays. Goods at this period were conveyed by the "roller; wagons", with wheels fifteen inches broad, and drawn by as many as fourteen horses at the rate of two miles an hour.

In 1742, this vehicle was replaced by one of the so-called "flying wagons", which made the journey to London in three and a half days, carrying both goods and passengers. In October, it was further announced that this wagon would continue on the road throughout the winter, making the journey in the same time; and that Derby gentlemen could be supplied with oysters from the metropolis during the season, the occasions for feast and revel in the county-town being numerous, at which times such imported luxuries were in demand.

In July, 1733, the Assizes were made the occasion for display, when the Duke of Devonshire and Lord. James Cavendish came to meet the judge, and many of the county gentry journeyed to town in consequence. In the evening, there was a grand Assembly, after which the Duke and his friends honoured Mr. Franceys, the apothecary in the Corn Market - a great favourite with the neighbouring gentry - and were entertained at his house until four in the morning. A fortnight earlier, the commoners made merry


when one of the members, the Hon. Charles Stanhope, visited the town. The church bells were rung in his honour, and in the evening an abundance of ale was set out in the Market Place for all comers to enjoy. Doubtless all this kept the voters in good humour for the coming General Election, which took place in May, 1734, when Lord James Cavendish and the Hon. Charles Stanhope were easily returned at the head of the polL

The election, however, did not pass over without some rioting, for which several persons were committed to prison, although this disturbance was mild when compared with the uproar three weeks later. The result of the county election was declared at the County Hall in St Mary's Gate, and as the crowd refused to allow Lord James Cavendish, the successful candidate, to be chaired, a fight ensued - windows were smashed, several persons were wounded, and one man was killed by a thrust through his head with a pointed stick.

The savage nature of the mob on such occasions is always apparent, and affords some justification for the heavy punishments which the law inflicted on offenders, although even the sight of the Judge of Assize and his officers did not always deter evil-doers. At the Assizes in April, 1736, a man named Simpson was found innocent of a charge brought against him by one Horton, whereupon the crowd, incensed against the prosecutor, fell upon him outside the County Hall, pelting him with mud along the streets as he endeavoured to escape them, and eventually hustling him down, when he would have received little mercy but for the timely intervention

 The Flour Riot, 1740.73

of the constable. A few days later, feeling that his safety was not assured, he removed from the town.

At the Assizes held in August, 1740, a case was tried which shows the severity of the law when it was necessary to teach the commoners respect for the rights of property. On July 10th, several Derby millers, ignoring the warning the Mayor had given to them regarding the law of forestalling, determined to remove some flour to Leek, which, presumably, had been sold by private treaty instead of in open market as the law required. Accordingly, when the two wagons containing twenty-four sacks of fine flour were seen leaving the town by the Ashbourne road, a hue-and-cry was raised, and the populace, feeling that the law was for once on their side, pursued the vehicles, stopping and surrounding them about two miles out of the town. Here the crowd, every moment reinforced from Derby and the neighbouring villages, took possession of what they considered to be contraband property, and endeavoured to distribute it among themselves, the women filling their aprons, but wasting the greater portion in the struggling mob. During the confusion, Mr. Gisborne, J.P., came upon the scene, and wisely suggested that the wagons should be brought back to the Market Place, to which the people assented, the horses being led by two women, whilst the crowd surged around shouting and struggling.

Arrived at the Market Place, the Mayor made an effort to quiet the disturbance, but all to no purpose, for the populace broke in again, overpowering the constables and town officers, and only after the Riot Act had been read was order restored; for at that


period troops were regularly quartered in the town, and to defy the Riot Act meant bloodshed. Having thus awed the mob, the Mayor bound over the millers who had transgressed the law to appear at the Sessions, and certain persons among the rioters were arrested and committed to prison for trial at the Assizes. Nothing further is heard of the millers, but this leniency could not be extended to the mob, and at the Assizes two of the women rioters were sentenced to seven years' transportation. ~ A few "days later they left the gaol with four other convicts, all mounted on horseback, on their journey to Liverpool to be shipped to the West Indies.

Under the severe criminal code of the Georgian era, an Assize seldom passed without leaving one or more victims for the gallows, any exception being marked by the Mercury as a maiden Assize. At such times, the scanty details of the local courts were supplemented by more dramatic reports of recent trials at the Old Bailey, the detail of question and answer showing the interest taken in these crimes by Mr. Drewry's subscribers.

It would, nevertheless, be a mistake to suppose that life in Derby at this period was disturbed by an endless succession of broils and street riots. The newspaper of every age lays stress upon the unusual and the exceptional, but the daily round of town life is not made prominent, because it is commonplace and without public interest. That manners in Derby, as well as elsewhere in 1740, were coarser and rougher than in our day is only too plain; also, that the savage element in the community was more conspicuous. Yet even at that period the peaceable


and law-abiding formed the majority of the townspeople, who stayed at home in time of riot and disorder, and among these were many who deprecated the lawlessness and brutal character of their less refined neighbours.

Occasionally we have a glimpse of this better side of social life in the town. There are references to Dr. Sylvester's school in Friar Gate; a new book on arithmetic is advertised, which can be obtained through Mr. Drewry, and which may account for the problems in mensuration occasionally asked and answered in the columns of the Mercury. In May, 1740, it was announced that the Rev. Mr. Christie would preach a sermon on the education of children, after which he would publicly examine those present; and in January, 1741, he arranged to open a school in the town.

The entertainments of the gentry were chiefly confined to the Assemblies, to an occasional concert, or to the visits of a company of strolling players. In December, 1733, Herbert's Company of Comedians entertained the gentry at Mr. Tyrrel's Dancing room, when the tragedy of "Tamerlane the Great" was produced. Their stay lasted several weeks, other plays being produced by desire.

The Assemblies were stately and exclusive gatherings, to which no Derby tradesmen were admitted, excepting Mr. Franceys and his family. These "routs and bustles", a general feature of the period, are mentioned by the writers of that time as matchmaking centres for the benefit of the county gentry; and judging from occasional remarks in the letters of Lady Coke, of Longford, the gaiety of the Derby


Assemblies was not unmixed with jealousies and heartburnings. "Surely the men are rather impolite, or the ladies would not be obliged to dance together", she writes in December, 1748, showing that the gentlemen disappeared into the card-room, as they do to-day. There were in Derby at this time two Assemblies supported by different sets, and Lady Coke remarks that "it is a pity people can't agree to make one good one". Again, in 1752, she is of opinion that Lady Ferrers, who had taken over the management, has "undertaken a difficult task if she means to compose all differences about the Assembly".

For the townsfolk there were many open-air performances of a varied character. In 1732, Cadman, or "Gillenoe, the Frenchman", came to Derby, fixing his rope from the top of All Saints' tower to the bottom of St Michael's Church, and sliding or flying down at a speed which caused the slight apparatus which supported him to emit a cloud of smoke. The next day (Friday) he repeated this performance, along with other dexterous tricks, to the astonishment of the crowd of market people and others. He met with his death whilst performing at Shrewsbury seven years later. According to Hutton, these exploits caused a rage for flying which affected the whole town, and which was not checked until 1734, when another stranger appeared, who outstripped Gillenoe by stretching his rope from the top of All Saints' tower to the bottom of St Mary's Gate, his performance to close with the descent of a donkey which had been hoisted to the top of the tower. The creature was carried along the rope


with great velocity, but near the County Hall the apparatus broke, and the donkey, falling on the crowd beneath, did considerable damage, although no one was killed

In 1737, Thomas Topham, the strong man, came to town, making his headquarters at the Virgin's Inn, where he punished an impertinent ostler by bending a kitchen spit around his neck, cravat fashion. Hutton heard him sing a solo, "Mad Tom", to the accompaniment of the organ in St. Werburgh's Church, and thought his voice "more terrible than sweet"

Besides these travelling entertainers, there were the festivities and illuminations on national occasions. On October 30th, 1740, being the King's birthday, the bells were rung all morning, and in the evening the usual bonfire lit up the Market Place, around which the populace enjoyed strong beer at the expense of the Mayor, who, with other loyal gentlemen, drank the King's health in wine. A week later, a second display occurred in honour of Admiral Vernon, who had recently pleased the nation by defeating the Spaniards in the West Indies, and by bringing home ten thousand dollars of booty. On this occasion the usual illuminations were enhanced by some fireworks, the chief item being a representation of a ship, which gave great satisfaction.

A month later, the townspeople underwent an experience which obliterated the memory of these rejoicings. A storm of snow and rain, which lasted several days, ended in a sudden thaw, and, consequently, the brook rose, and the old malady of the flood occurred once more. According to the Mercury,


it was "the greatest flood ever known"; but as measurements were seldom given, it was usual to make this assertion on the occasion of every exceptional overflow. The loss and damage, however, were very serious; the flood poured in a strong torrent through the town, carrying away bridges, piles of timber, and cattle, and terrifying the people, who were driven to the upper rooms of their houses, which threatened to be swept away by the current. The gentry, as usual, came to the assistance of their poorer neighbours, and in the wealthy parish of All Saints a house-to-house collection was organised, which the Mercury hoped would be copied throughout the town.

Charity to the poor was one of the virtues of the age, and was very generally practised. The Mercury, in its obituary on the Rev. Ferdinando Shaw, M.A., who died in January, 1744, stated that he had been "generous to the poor of any sect or party". His wife, who died four years previous, and who was a descendant of Sir John Gell, of Civil War memory, ably assisted him in his ministry, the pair forming in Derby a centre of culture and morals. Six Dissenting ministers bore the pall at his funeral, and after the service in the chapel, his corpse, followed by the congregation, was carried to St Werburgh's for burial.

These minor scenes and incidents, which helped to form the varied life of Derby, were destined to be overshadowed by the events which marked the year 1745 as exceptional in the annals of the town. Nevertheless, the history of the first six months is commonplace. In March, a cutler in Sadler Gate was killed in his shop, through the breaking of a


grindstone, which flew to pieces and smashed his skull. In June, two highwaymen were brought into the town under a strong guard, and lodged in the County Gaol, being afterwards tried and hanged at Nottingham. In July, Mr. Isaac Borrow died at an advanced age at his house in Castle Fields, "near this town", Burroughs Walk (as it is now, incorrectly, designated) being then in the country.

All this time, a cloud was rising in a clear sky. In the Mercury for August 16th there appeared a despatch from Edinboro' stating that the city was in a turmoil, and filled with rumours of invasion, the general story being that "two thousand men had landed in Lochaber or the Western Isles". Derby readers may have taken little notice of this item of news, but by September 6th the Mercury was full of reports, despatches and letters referring to the Highland rising, and the public was evidently becoming interested. The authorities, also, had reason to fear that the local Jacobites might rise, and measures were taken to counteract such a movement. A proclamation warned poachers and all unauthorised persons, that if caught with firearms they would be summarily dealt with; and a travelling linen merchant, dropping some remarks at the George Inn showing his Jacobite leanings, was forthwith clapped into gaol.

On September 20th, the Duke of Devonshire issued a proclamation calling a meeting at the George Inn, to take protective measures; and on October 3rd the rival parties held meetings at the "George" and at the "King's Head", when the Duke smoothed away all differences by attending both, and it was


agreed to raise six hundred men in defence; for the news of the Highland victory at Preston Pans had recently arrived, and people were becoming alarmed. As the Mercury week by week reported the march of the rebels southward (Carlisle, November 8th), it appeared possible that Derby might fall into their marauding hands, and the gentry and trades-people began to send their property and valuables out of town. On November 22nd, the King's troops passed through from Nottingham to the westward, and on the 27th, a despatch-rider brought news that the rebels had reached Preston on the previous day. A town's meeting was thereupon held on the 28th, when it was decided to engage these messengers to bring the latest reports from the Duke of Devonshire's headquarters. Meanwhile, the volunteers were busy drilling, although the news that the Duke of Cumberland, with the royal forces, had reached Lichfield gave general satisfaction.

The crisis arrived on Tuesday, December 3rd. On that morning, the troops were drilling as usual, everyone being in good spirits, for, from the latest reports, the rebels were marching into the jaws of the Duke of Cumberland's army, and a battle near Lichfield was supposed to be imminent; but, shortly after the troops were dismissed, news arrived which threw the whole town into commotion. The rebels were at Ashbourne, and would reach Derby on the morrow! "Distraction was seen in every countenance", says the Mercury. People of means hurriedly arranged to remove their families, and most of the Corporation officers decided to leave the town. About four o'clock, the volunteers (known as "The



Derby Blues") mustered in the Market Place, with the intention of marching against the foe; but some hesitation manifested itself, and after several hours' deliberation, the regiment, about ten o'clock, turned its back upon Ashbourne, and marched out of the town by torchlight for Nottingham, leaving the inhabitants to treat with the enemy as best they might.

The approach of the rebel army was heralded next morning about eleven o'clock by two mounted officers, who, entering the town by Friar Gate, rode to the Town Hall, whence, finding no one in authority, they returned to the George Inn, at the top of Sadler Gate, and demanded billets for nine thousand men. Shortly afterwards about fifty well-mounted horsemen arrived, and took up position in the Market Place, where the people made a bonfire, whilst the bells of the churches rang a peal to simulate a welcome. The mounted troops and officers continued to march in until about three in the afternoon, Lord George Murray, the leader of the expedition, arriving about noon, his quarters being at Mr. Heathcote's, a house "in the great yard at the lower end of the Market Place". Then came the clans, marching in detached companies, each a curious medley, composed of the chief and his kinsmen, armed with claymore, dirk and pistol, leading a company of ill-clothed men and boys, many of whom carried only cudgels or sticks.

A Government agent who rode over from Mount-sorrel early that morning, says that on reaching the outskirts he alighted and sent back his horse two miles, as he heard the rebels were laying hands on


all the horses they could find. He describes the varied movements in the Market Place, contrasting the appearance of the mounted troops, "chiefly officers very fine dressed", with that of the rank and file, "some neither shoe nor stock". Later, he withdrew to the King's Head Inn, in the Corn Market, where several of the rebel officers civilly invited him to drink with them. Two captains, McCarthy and Graham, he had seen before, although fortunately they did not recognise their companion. Hearing that guards were about to be placed at the ends of the streets, he left the town, and, finding his horse safe, rode home in the darkness.

At dusk, the Prince, a young man of five and twenty, arrived on foot, surrounded by his lifeguards and preceded by the pipers. He wore the Highland tartan and broadsword, and a green bonnet laced with gold covering a white bob-wig. It had been suggested that those few members of the Corporation remaining in town should give him an official reception, but on their pleading that their robes had been sent away, the matter was dropped. He was conducted to his quarters at Lord Exeter's house in Full Street, a mansion which long since disappeared.

Meanwhile, the rank and file were billeted about the town, on rich and poor alike, it being late before all were settled, the men, to the number of seven thousand, marching in until ten or eleven o'clock. The chief officers found lodgings in the best houses in the Market Place, Corn Market, and Morledge; but officers and men were often quartered together. The father of Wright, the painter, removed across Trent when he heard that the rebels were


approaching, and on the family's return they found their house (No. 28, Irongate) had been occupied by three officers and forty men. A gentleman who wrote a spirited letter to the following week's Mercury, states that about six o'clock in the evening his house was invaded by six officers and forty privates, who brought with them eight horses. The officers chose the best beds in the house, whilst the men slept on straw on the floor, before great fires. During their stay, they consumed nearly a side of beef, eight joints of mutton, four cheeses, three couple of fowls, abundance of white and brown bread, drams continually, as well as strong ale, beer, tea and other drinks. His opinion of his visitors was not complimentary, and his description of them as "a herd of Hottentots or wild monkeys", with less presentable epithets, was well endorsed by his neighbours.

In the evening, a committee of ways and means was held at Exeter House, when it was decided to raise funds from the townspeople. Accordingly, on the morrow (Thursday) the names of those liable for Government taxation were obtained, and the crier was sent round the town ordering payment by five o'clock, on threat of military execution. The enemy also discovered that a number of townspeople had arranged to subscribe towards a defence fund, whereupon they obtained possession of the document and collected the promised amounts for their own benefit. In all, according to the Mercury, they took between two and three thousand pounds. They also demanded a hundred pounds from the Post Office, but, being refused, they took away a post-chaise. A


barn stocked with winter fodder, which stood near the baggage and artillery encampment on Nun's Green, was used by the rebels without stint. Here were collected the carts and wagons, many of which, taken from the farmers on the route, carried the wives and children of the rebels, and also the ammunition for the artillery, consisting of thirteen pieces.

Meanwhile, a system of irregular plunder, which grew in volume as the day advanced, was being perpetrated by the rank and file. The shopkeepers were kept busy selling for little or nothing gloves, buckles, powder-flasks, buttons, handkerchiefs, shoes, or whatever struck the fancy of these marauders; and one of the few traditions remaining in the town is that the rebels demanded bread and cheese from the shop-keepers in an unknown tongue. The cutlers' shops, also, were besieged all day by crowds eager to sharpen swords and claymores, for an advance guard had been sent forward to hold Swarkestone Bridge, and a general impression prevailed that the King's army was near. Towards evening, the insolence of the soldiery became more general, particularly that of the troopers - mercenaries whom the Mercury describes as "fierce and desperate ruffians". Threats were used, and swords and pistols shown on slight provocation; and several persons, refusing to comply with the demands of the rebels, were arrested and placed under military guard.

Unknown, however, to all save a few of the leaders, the invasion was to proceed no further. Early in the evening, a council of war was held in the drawing-room of Exeter House, the oak panelling of whose


walls, now preserved in the Free Library, is all that remains of the historic mansion, in which the fate of the expedition was decided.[15] Various reports exist of the proceedings. All agree in describing them as stormy and quarrelsome. The inmates heard loud and angry voices, and it is well known that much ill-feeling and jealousy existed between the Scotch and Irish officers, and among the chiefs of the various clans.

Lord George Murray has left an account, which, although milder than that generally accepted, gives the details of the discussion on the main question that of advance or retreat The council, he says, believed that the Duke of Cumberland must be that night at Stafford, and it was, therefore, necessary to decide what course to pursue. He pointed out that if they advanced they must soon be enveloped by three armies, and that they themselves, disappointed in the matter of recruits, had not more than five thousand fighting men. The Prince was for advancing, hoping that the royal troops might desert to their side; and the Duke of Perth, although agreeing with Murray, showed his loyalty by seconding the


Prince. The rest of the council were for retreating, some being doubtful if it were now possible to do so successfully. "I said all I thought of to persuade the retreat", writes Murray, "and, indeed, the arguments to me seemed unanswerable". He offered to make all arrangements and to command the rear column, the point of danger, each regiment to act as rear-guard in turn to Carlisle. In the end the Prince consented, although it was observed that he was much disappointed

The decision of the council was kept secret from the rank and file, although a whisper soon circulated among such officers and chiefs as had not been present; and many were loud in expressing their desire to go forward. "What!" said old Sir John Macdonald to Keppoch, "a Macdonald turn his back!" And, to Lochiel, "For shame - a Cameron run away from the enemy! Go forward, and I'll lead you!" But they had dined, and Derby ale and usquebaugh accounted for something.

Next morning, Friday, the sixth, the retreat began before daybreak, several ruses being invented to deceive both the enemy and the rebels themselves. A troop of horse was sent forward as an advance guard towards Swarkestone whilst ammunition was served out, to suggest that General Wade was advancing from the north. As daylight grew, and familiar objects along the highway showed that the army was retracing its steps, the discontent became general, and for ensuring discipline, it was necessary to spread the fiction that they were marching to meet reinforcements from Scotland. In this way, order was


maintained, although the day's march was marked by silence and gloom.[16]

About nine o'clock the Prince left his lodgings, mounted on a black horse, said to have been the charger of Colonel Gardiner, who fell at Preston Pans. He rode across the Market Place and down Sadler Gate into the open country - the last of the Stuarts who drew the sword for his lost heritage.

There was little or no market in Derby that Friday, the country people being panic-stricken, and their horses and carts having in many cases been taken by the rebels, and on the following Sunday, no service was held in the churches, the inference being that the clergy had fled with the rest of the gentry, and had not yet returned. There was also no issue of the Mercury that week, being the single omission in its career of upwards of one hundred and seventy years. In the next number, published on Friday, December 13th, Mr. Drewry remarks that the "reason why the paper was not published is too well known by all our Readers to need any apology". At the same time, he atones for the omission by giving the public a full and interesting account of the eventful days - an account which had a large sale and was more than once reprinted. In London, it served to correct many false reports - such as that Exeter House had been fired by the rebels, and an


exaggerated statement of the amount of money which the rebels were said to have collected in the town.

In the following issue, various items of personal interest found place. Reports were common of farmers, who, having been pressed with their teams for a day's journey, found themselves deceived with a false tale, and had continued on, in hopes that their teams would be released, until, fatigued and half-famished, they abandoned their property to the enemy. The post-chaise which the rebels took from the Derby Post Office was found on the roadside some miles beyond Ashbourne, and brought back.

The Derby people also, having lost much money and property, were naturally in a grumbling humour, and the town officers and others did not escape rough criticism. Mr. Heathcote, to whom the subscription-list was originally entrusted, was taken to task for surrendering the document to the rebels; but, in the Mercury, he "solemnly declared that before the list was taken from him four pistols were clapped to his breast, and that he and his family were threatened with military execution".

Week by week the Mercury followed the movements of the retreating Highlanders, until after some delay came the crushing defeat at Culloden. The news reached Derby on April 24th, 1746, eight days after the battle, and was at once made known to everybody by the usual peals from the church steeples. The subsequent events, the journey of the more distinguished prisoners to London, their trial and execution, all find a place in the Mercury, whose


readers remembered the different individuals, and the incidents connected with their sojourn in Derby.

On July 31st, James Sparks, one of the three Derby men who joined the enemy, was taken from Derby gaol along with a Highlander named Webster, and removed under guard to Stafford for trial. According to Hutton, Sparks walked towards Ashbourne on the eventful December 4th to meet the rebels, and made himself busy by pointing out the best houses in the town, and by giving other valuable information. On the retreat, he was soon left behind, for, breaking into a country-house near Ashbourne with some of the rebels, he became helplessly drunk, and was left by his companions lying on the cellar floor. Here he was captured, and brought prisoner to Derby, where the mob, indignant at his traitorous conduct, attempted to drag him from his guards to lynch him.

On August 7th, Lord Lovat, one of the prisoners, passed through Nottingham with great display, riding in a landau drawn by six horses, and guarded by fifty-four of Bland's Dragoons.

The Mercury of August 21st contains the report of the beheading of Lords Kilmarnock and Balmerino, both of whom were with the rebels at Derby. It was remembered that Kilmarnock rode in with the Hussars, and lodged in St. Peter's Parish; that Balmerino led the vanguard, a tall figure on a fine black horse, who sat in the saddle for some time in the Market Place near the Piazzas.

When all was quiet, and the most timid were assured that the rebels would not return, a day of


rejoicing was appointed. On October 9th, the holiday began with the ringing of bells and with service in the churches, after which came feasting in each of the parishes, the people of St. Alkmund's dining in a large marquee. The usual bonfires blazed to light up the Market Place and other centres, in the evening, and the Mayor, accompanied by the town music, drank King George's health in front of the Town Hall. According to the Mercury, the lighted streets made a brave show, the houses in St Mary's Gate and Friar Gate being handsomely illuminated.

On December 6th, 1746, the Mercury reminded its readers that this was the anniversary of "the precipitate flight of that abandoned crew who had since justly suffered for their madness and folly"; and on the anniversary of Culloden (April 16th, 1747) the town made merry once more with bell-ringing and bonfires, many folks wearing the orange cockade to show their loyalty.

This episode of "The 'Forty-five" brought the Mercury into general notice, for it is stated that the issue containing the doings of the rebels in Derby was in much request among the Londoners; and although no record exists to show the circulation of the newspaper in its early years, internal evidence proves that it was on the increase, and that during the first forty years of its career it gradually became an established institution. Advertisements indicate that the local carriers distributed the newspaper to the country people along the different roads; and the new year's number for 1774 has an extended editorial notice informing the public that the paper is delivered with great expedition in the towns lying


within the limits of Sheffield, Lichfield and Loughborough, and that it is filed every Saturday at London coffee houses in Paternoster Row, Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street

Occasionally, the publication was delayed, when Mr. Drewry's explanations show the primitive news and postal arrangements of the time. The post-boys were an unreliable crew, losing time at ale-houses, and occasionally arriving without the mail-bags. In June, 1750, the London mail was "lost or stolen" on Saturday night between the King's Head Inn and the turnpike, one mile away on the Osmaston Road. On October 9th, 1755, the Mercury was late in appearing, owing to the post-boy not arriving until three in the afternoon, his excuse being, "his horse overslipping him and running away with him", the Mercury significantly adding, "as he says". The year 1776 opened with heavy snowstorms, which made the roads impassable, and impeded communications. Mr. Drewry's express brought no news from the surrounding country, and the post-boys being late, the paper was not published until Friday morning.

A great improvement was effected at this epoch by the construction of turnpike roads. Shortly after the passing of the Act authorising toll-gates, a meeting of county gentlemen was held at the King's Head Inn (June, 1738) to arrange the position of the different turnpikes (toll-houses); and during the succeeding twenty years most of the roads entering Derby were reconstructed. In 1758, the question of a bridge over the Trent at Shardlow, which had been discussed over many years, was finally settled by the Duke of Devonshire's generosity.


Improvement in the roads was soon followed by the construction of lighter vehicles - post-chaises became common; the heavy coach, hung on leather straps, gave place to the "flying machine" on steel springs, and the roller wagons, as already shown, disappeared. On May 21st, 1764, "the machine", as it came to be called, made the journey from Derby to London in one day", but carried no outside passengers, the risk being too great. The Derby and Birmingham coach carried outsiders at half price, but its rate of travel was slow and sure - leaving Derby at five in the morning, taking breakfast at Burton, dinner at Lichfield, and reaching its destination towards evening.

This increase in the number of travellers with money caused a growth of highway robberies, and the thieves generally rifled the coach with impunity and escaped. The Derby coach was stopped on several occasions, beyond Leicester, when it contained a full complement of passengers, who generally gave up their purses without much opposition. The highwaymen do not appear to have been very desperate, sometimes handing back part of their takings to the poorer passengers, and refusing watches, being afraid of subsequent detection. On one occasion a highwayman, supposed to have been a Nottingham gambler, who stopped the Derby coach, had the impudence, after robbing the passengers with poor results, to insult them on their poverty, handing back a shilling to one passenger to enable him to tip the coachman.

In June, 1737, a young man arrived at the King's Head Inn, travelling from Birmingham to Lincoln,


who reported that he had been stopped by the redoubtable Dick Turpin on Egginton Heath and robbed of four pounds, his watch and some silver being returned to him. At this period, however, Turpin was everywhere, the Mercury on one occasion informing the public that the "report that the highwayman captured at Lichfield is Turpin is incorrect". The Burton Road across Egginton Heath was a favourite resort for these gentry. On a June evening 1764, a clergyman riding with his wife behind him on a pillion was stopped there by a footpad - a young fellow, who presented his pistol with the usual formula, and succeeded in obtaining five guineas. Even the outskirts of Derby were not safe, for in October, 1776, Mr. Ledworth, a tradesman, was riding out on the Osmaston Road after business, when he was attacked by four footpads within half a mile of the town, who presented their pistols and dragged him from his horse, robbing him of his money.

In the town, where there were no police, and where the streets were often in total darkness after nightfall, robbery and violence were not uncommon. Strangers staying at inns required sharp watching, and gangs of thieves wandering from town to town, swept through the market, picking and stealing. In January, 1748, a gang, said to have come from Wirksworth, made a wholesale robbery from the stalls in Derby Market; and in August, 1755, one Anne Williamson, who had broken out of gaol, but was re-taken near York, was hanged at Derby for picking pockets at Ashbourne Fair. She was supposed to be one of a company of thieves, although she refused


to the last to implicate her friends. In 1763, a Jew, whose race, according to the Mercury, was responsible for much sharp practice, contrived to steal a silver tankard from the Red Lion Inn. Some drink being served to him, he took it upstairs to his room, where he lowered the tankard from the window by a string, and, leaving the house on some pretext, secured his prize and made off.

Housebreaking, also, was a crime more common in that age, the victims seldom daring to follow the thieves into the darkness of the street, and capture, consequently, being rare. On one occasion, some thieves broke into the house of a tradesman, entered his bedroom, and even attempted to remove his clothes from under his pillow, when on his awakening they fled. In February, 1751, the house of the Rev. Mr. Cantrell, in St. Alkmund's Churchyard, was broken into during the night, the thieves making off with clothes, silk, tea, and other booty, to the amount of about fifty pounds. A hue-and-cry was raised next morning, and several persons in Derbyshire and the adjoining counties were arrested on suspicion, but without result.

A more notorious case at this period was the robbery and murder of an aged lady, Mrs. Vickars, at midnight on the Sunday before Christmas, 1774. As some workmen were passing the house in Full Street at daybreak on Monday morning, their attention was arrested by a woman shouting from the attic window that her mistress had been murdered. On entering the house, they found the old lady lying dead on the floor of her bedroom, presenting a shocking spectacle, her rings torn from her fingers,


and the room ransacked in the search for money. Her woman-servant stated that, being awakened by the cries of her mistress, she hurried downstairs, to find herself stopped by the robber, who threatened to murder her unless she retired; that, trembling for her life, she crept back to her bedroom, where she passed the long night in uncertainty and fear until daylight came and she then alarmed the passers-by.

Inquiries quickly threw suspicion on one Matthew Cocklane, a whitesmith of the town, whose movements had aroused suspicion, and who had since disappeared. Messengers soon succeeded in tracing him to Ashbourne, and thence to Leek, where he hired a post-chaise for Liverpool; but in that town he succeeded in eluding his pursuers. It was not until the following October that he was discovered in Dublin and brought back to Derby, arriving late at night in a post-chaise, his capture causing general excitement, "great numbers of all ranks flocking to see him" in prison. Brought before the magistrates, he denied all knowledge of the crime; but the servant woman, on being brought to the court, recognised the voice before she saw the man, and a few days later the post-boy from Leek identified him amongst a number of felons. At the Assizes in March, 17£6, he was convicted, and a few days later was hanged before an "amazing number of spectators". He was accompanied to the gallows by a Methodist preacher, that sect, like the Salvationists of our day, considering none too vile for them to reclaim.

Cocklane's confession, written down by the gaol chaplain, was handed to Mr. Drewry, who printed it separately, informing the public, through the


Mercury, that all copies except his own were incorrect and spurious. In an elaborate mixture of truth and falsehood, Cocklane narrates how he entered the house by a small window from the garden; how he beat down his victim with an iron pin brought by him for the purpose; how he was disturbed in his dreadful work by the Waits, who were passing the house at that moment with their music; how, after some searching, he found a bag of gold (three hundred pounds), and then left the house, hurrying in the darkness along Full Street, through All Saints' Churchyard and St Mary's Gate, and, crossing Nun's Green, decided to make his way towards Ashbourne.

His body, which should have been given to the surgeons for dissection, was, at the request of some gentlemen of the town, hung in chains near Bradshaw's Hay (Bradshaw Street) as a warning to evil-doers.[17]

The general interest taken in every Assize is shown by Mr. Drewry*s announcement that "the full calendar will be printed in two or three days, and may be had at the printer's", from which his readers primed themselves with information for the eventful occasion. Sermons preached within the gaol were not uncommon. In March, 1740, the Rev. Mr. Christie



announced that he would preach at four on the Sunday afternoon, in the debtor's apartment, to the prisoner then under sentence of death, and a few weeks later the sermon was published at the price of threepence. When John Greatorex, the keeper of the gaol, died in 1739, his funeral sermon was preached in the same place by Mr. Christie, who seems to have been prominent on many such occasions.

Tragic as the Assizes usually were, they were not without an occasional gleam of grim humour. In March, 1749, a gang of five persons were each sentenced to seven years' transportation, whereupon they broke out into loud oaths and curses upon the whole court, the judge cutting them short by ordering the javelin-men to remove them to gaol. Prisoners passing between the County Hall and the Gaol in the Corn Market made their way through a crowd of on-lookers and sympathisers, and it behoved the constables to keep a sharp eye on their charges. At the Spring Assizes in 1736, as a number of felons were being removed back to gaol, one woman, sentenced for thieving, stepped aside among the crowd, and was at once lost to view. In March, 1739, Mary Jackson was tried for stealing a quantity of goods from a stall in the Market Place, when the jury, willing, for some reason, to deal leniently with the woman, assessed the value of the goods below one shilling, reducing the charge to one of petty larceny. When the foreman, however, answering the usual question, replied, "Guilty - ten-pence", the prosecuting market-woman, missing the point, and valuing her stolen property at several


shillings, expressed her contempt for the paltry valuation in terms which brought down the laughter of the court

No attempt was made in those days to screen the prisoners from the gaze of the multitude. The gaol was a place of almost public resort, and convicts in chains were sent to London in the stage wagon along with ordinary passengers. Later, they were sent more expeditiously under the charge of Mr. Simpson, the head gaoler, who was ever anxious to get rid of felons, as they often contrived to file off their fetters preparatory to breaking gaol, although they were generally detected before the critical moment. In 1758, a number of prisoners were found with their fetters sawn through, after which they were made doubly secure by being chained together by their necks. Accordingly, Mr. Simpson sent away his "transports" as soon as possible after conviction, for in April, 1765, it is recorded that "he returned from London on Monday night, and set out early on Tuesday morning with two more convicts", for the same destination. The famous gaoler, Mr. Akerman, of Newgate, also came down occasionally by the Machine to identify old offenders, or escaped felons, lying in Derby Gaol.

Travellers, famous and otherwise, were continually passing through the town, and the rival posting-houses, the "George" and the "King's Head", were always centres of attraction. In June, 1743, three Highlanders, deserters from their regiment in London, who had been arrested in Lancashire, were brought through Derby under military escort, staying the night at the George Inn, and passing on next


morning to their doom. In May, 1755, a post-chaise arrived at the George Inn, with a mysterious person from Manchester, guarded and heavily ironed, who left next morning for London. Although nothing was definitely known of him, it was whispered that he was a rebel who had been out in "The Forty-five". Among the crowd of felons, King's messengers, and nobles who travelled by post-chaise, came occasionally a German prince, who spent a day or two in viewing the lions, and passed on; or a member of the royal family, who was pleased to talk with the Postmaster from the chaise window whilst changing horses. In July, 1763, the Duke of York, posting down to Scarboro', stopped for a few minutes at the George Inn, amidst a large crowd that lined the streets to get a sight of him. On the landlord informing him of the eagerness of the people to see His Highness, he graciously commanded the postilions to drive slowly through the town.[18]


Another personage whose arrival caused general commotion was Dr. Taylor, oculist to His Majesty, who made several stays in Derby. On April 22nd, 1748, the Mercury states that "Dr. Taylor arrived at the 'George' late last night from Nottingham", and that he would lecture that evening to the gentry and others in the Assembly Room, tickets to be obtained at the inn. Next week we are informed that crowds of persons, blind wholly or partially, were waiting at his rooms, his success on previous occasions having earned him widespread notoriety. James Hopkinson, who was restored to sight on the occasion of the Doctor's last visit, was still a witness to his powers; and Adam Wragg, an old man of seventy, who came from Wirksworth, recovered the sight of an eye on the previous Wednesday. The poor were treated free, and the Doctor, accordingly, had more work than he was able to accomplish. His fame, due partly to skill, and principally to advertisement, was a household word for many years, for as late as 1764 he was again at Derby, as the "Chevalier Taylor", effecting his cures.

Another celebrity of more lasting fame, whose journeys through Derby during this period may be noticed, was Dr. Samuel Johnson, whose visit to Kedleston Hall in September, 1777, was the occasion for one of those sage remarks which still make his biography valuable. When Boswell, who accompanied him, observed that the owner of such magnificent possessions must be happy, "Nay, sir", said the great man, "all this excludes but one evil - poverty".

These visits to his friend, Dr. Butler, a Derby physician, at a period when Johnson's position in the


world of letters was assured, appear in strong contrast with his journey to Derby some forty years previous, when he brought the Widow Porter from Birmingham to marry her at St. Werburgh's Church in 1735. A strange pair they must have appeared entering the town, each on horseback, he, odd and ungainly, the widow with her painted face somewhat disfigured; for, as Johnson explained to Boswell many years later, there had been a tiff and some tears by the way.

Besides the great posting-houses, the numerous inns throughout the town formed constant features of interest in the billeting of troops, sometimes on the march, but often stationed in the town for several months. In June, 1740, three troops of Life Guards, after being quartered in the town, marched away on their route for Windsor. At the festivities held to celebrate the peace of Aix la Chapelle in 1749, the Scots Greys, then quartered in Derby, formed a guard of honour to the Mayor and Corporation, who went in procession to All Saints' Church.

Military incidents of varied character were constantly occurring. Now, it is a report of firearms at an inn, and a soldier is found, either by accident or design, to have shot himself; again, a drunken fellow runs his bayonet through two of the guard before he is overpowered and arrested. In January, 1758, one George Hedley was pressed for a marine, but, not relishing the prospect, he made a dash for liberty on the arrival of the military escort, whereupon they raised their muskets and shot him dead. In November, 1747, the populace witnessed the degrading spectacle of a soldier, said to have spoken some


treasonable words against the Government, being whipped and drummed-out of his regiment, with a halter round his neck, and a paper on his back recording the offence.

In April, 1760, the Cheshire militia, over six hundred strong, marched into the town to the sound of fifes and kettle-drums, and took up their quarters. A few days later, an event occurred, in which the presence of the troops proved of the greatest service. An arrangement was made on a certain Friday that the County Justices should meet the Deputy Lieutenant at the Town Hall, and it was observed that groups of rustics, armed with heavy sticks, were collecting about the Market Place. The Mayor, noticing their unusual behaviour, questioned some of them, but to no purpose, until about ten o'clock, word reached him that more men were coming in, and that a riot was expected. He thereupon informed the commanding officer of the militia, who took prompt action. The drums beat to arms, the troops mustered in the Market Place, ammunition was served out, guards were placed at every avenue into the town, and the incipient riot was nipped in the bud.

For some years past, much irritation had existed between the landowners and the peasantry on the game question, and disturbances ensued, in which the Derby military took part.

Four years earlier, a serious riot occurred in Derby, due in great measure to there being no show of military power then available. The years 1755 and 1756 brought poor harvests in the north Midlands; the price of corn rose beyond the reach of the people, and discontent became general. The millers were


accused of grinding peas and beans, and even lime and plaster, with the corn; and it was said that Mr. Evans's miller at Darley boasted that he could grind ten pounds' worth of corn into twenty pounds' worth of flour. Moreover, there was a strong feeling against the French millstones, lately imported by way of the Derwent, as they ground finer than the old-fashioned millstones, and were believed to facilitate this adulteration of the flour.

Early in September, the miners around Wirksworth broke into riot, when several mills were seized, and the obnoxious French millstones were destroyed. The authorities at Derby, foreseeing further trouble, sent to Nottingham for assistance, and some troops were despatched, although, unfortunately, too few to preserve the peace. On Saturday, September 4th, about ten o'clock in the morning, the Mayor was informed that the miners in great numbers were marching on Derby to attack the mills. The troops were thereupon called up, and a detachment was sent off to Darley to protect Mr. Evans's mill, which lay in the line of march of the rioters; and, fortunately, the soldiers arrived before the mob, who found the bridge leading to the mill stopped by a line of bayonets. The crowd attempted to force a passage by pelting the soldiers with stones, and the troops eventually replied by firing on the people. Although no one was hit, the musketry fire had the desired effect, for the crowd gave up their attempt upon the mill, and pressed forward for Derby.

Arrived there, they first made for Snape's mill on Nun's Green; but finding on entering that the French millstones had been taken away, they retired without


doing further mischief, and proceeded over the hill to the mill at the foot of St. Michael's Lane. Here they soon found work for their hammers; the French millstones were smashed to pieces, and the bolting-mill was wrecked and destroyed. Elated with this success, they next attacked the flour-mill in the Holmes; but there the miller had summoned his friends to his assistance, and for some time the rioters were kept at bay. Presently, some of the soldiers arrived on the scene, and succeeded, whilst daylight lasted, in holding the mill against the enemy; but as darkness came on, the authorities considered it advisable to withdraw the troops, whereupon the mob burst into the mill, and finding the French stones, effected their purpose. The soldiery succeeded in arresting six of the rioters, whom they escorted to the gaol, the crowd following, stoning and wounding the captors, who, after much provocation, fired on the mob, one man being badly wounded in the knee.

Darkness stopped the rioters for the night; but on Sunday, whilst the Mayor was holding a meeting in the Town Hall to enrol special constables, the crowd again assembled in the Market Place, presenting a threatening demeanour. The Mayor, being a corn-merchant, was naturally the object of much resentment, one man going up to his Worship and emphasising some insulting remarks by shaking his hand in the face of the Mayor, who struck him and ordered him to be locked up. To restore the peace, it was necessary towards evening to read the Riot Act, and to order everyone to be indoors by nine o'clock, on pain of penalties. During the ensuing week, there were signs of further disorder, but the arrival of a


reinforcement and the liberation of the prisoners on light bail, gradually restored quiet. The authorities followed the wise course of omitting to prosecute, the temper of the people being evidently understood. The discontent was widespread, and soldiers scarce, so that for once the crowd was able to defy the authorities with impunity.

This riot, the work of men driven to desperation by famine, drew the attention of the wealthy to the miserable condition of the people, and unusual efforts were made for their relief. A number of gentlemen in the town formed an association to bring corn up the river in regular quantities throughout the winter, and to sell it to the poor at a reasonable price. They continued their work until the following August, when, finding the new harvest would be normal, they settled their accounts, having purchased in eight months 1,930 strikes (bushels) of wheat. Individual charity was general, as usual; Sir Nathaniel Curzon, amongst others, on leaving town in December, on his way to London for the opening of Parliament, distributing 120 strikes of wheat among the poor.

This scarcity of corn and provisions recurred at frequent intervals, causing riots and disorder, which in turn affected the commercial security of the neighbourhood. In October, 1766, riots took place in Leicester, during which the mob stole the cheese from the Derby wagon and elsewhere, and sold it among themselves at twopence per pound, the wholesale price at Derby Fair being nearly threepence. The disorder spread to Cavendish Bridge, where the rioters sacked the warehouses, stopped the traffic on the river, and held sway for several days, the loss of


property, principally cheese, being estimated at a thousand pounds. The Mayor of Derby maintained order in the town by enrolling special constables; by threatening rioters with the loss of their burgess-rights, and by ordering all persons to be within doors after dark. Several troops of light dragoons patrolled the neighbourhood, and were reinforced by others as matters became more alarming.

On Thursday, October 10th, the cavalry escorted several Justices of the Peace to Cavendish Bridge, where they succeeded in arresting about thirty of the rioters, who were brought in a wagon to Derby to be secured in the County Gaol. This seizure was not effected without disorder, for the crowd followed the guarded wagon into the town, where they arrived about four in the afternoon, the soldiers being pelted along the road with stones. Here the crowd assembled in the Market Place, and, as the situation appeared threatening, the Mayor read the Riot Act, when the soldiers, charging the mob, scattered them with drawn swords.

The authorities, however, made haste to appease the passions of the hungry multitude, and a meeting was held at the King's Head Inn, at which forestallers and engrossers were threatened with the law; an advertisement also appeared ordering farmers to bring their corn to market, the Mayor guaranteeing protection; and another meeting arranged for the distribution of cheap corn to the poor. The rioters, also, were leniently dealt with, most of them being liberated on bail; and at the following Assizes the twenty-seven men who were committed were sentenced to the light punishment of a week's imprisonment.

 TOWN LIFE IN 1750.107

Severe weather, fire, flood, and famine appealed in turn to the generosity of the rich, who vied with each other in responding to these calls. During "the dreadful winter of 'Forty", the Mayor distributed twenty pounds among the different parishes for the poor, and his example was followed by several wealthy townspeople, a house-to-house collection also being made. In March, 1765, the price of corn and other provisions being high, John Gisborne, Esq., made a general distribution of parcels of wheat, varied according to the size of individual households.

Nevertheless, life upon the whole was far from miserable, even in those uncertain times. The movement of people in the streets, the varied and striking incidents, the fairs and festivals, furnished interest and amusement for both rich and poor. The factory system, although growing, was by no means general; the stockingers, tailors, shoemakers, glovers and many small tradespeople, worked at home; the artisan's time was his own, and an hour wasted in gossip or sightseeing could be replaced later by extra diligence.

The extensive area and increased population of modern Derby make it difficult for us to realise the Derby of 1750, with its small and compact population of seven thousand souls living within a limited area, where every incident afforded gossip from the Market Place to the outskirts. Everybody knew when the Greenland Bear was on view at the Angel Inn; no posters were necessary to inform the public that Astley, the famous horse-rider from London, was in the Holmes. The large inns furnished accommodation


for all and sundry - the collection of marble figures on view at the Virgin's Inn, said to have been taken out of a French man-of-war homeward bound from Lima; Widow Rayner's company of rope-dancers in the White Hart Yard in Irongate; or the ostriches "from Santa Cruz, in Barbary", to be seen at the Blackamore's Head, in the Market Place. In April, 1750, a wild beast show with an extensive collection of animals was on view in the White Hart Yard, where it was visited by the Judge of Assize and several members of the Bar, affording the exhibition a valuable advertisement.

The strolling players, also, came to town for the Assize week, when company and money were plentiful. Until about the year 1760, the plays were performed in booths erected in the inn yards; and an announcement for December, 1738, of River's Company of Comedians "at the Theatre", apparently refers to a temporary structure. In August, 1772, a play was announced at the "Theatre at the County Hall", although, for some years previous, the Old Assembly Rooms in Full Street, after being used occasionally for theatricals, were converted into a permanent theatre on the opening of the New Assembly Rooms in 1765, and became known as the "little Theatre in Full Street"

In May, 1760, Durravan's Company of Comedians announced that they would play three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning with a somewhat extensive programme, which included a concert of vocal and instrumental music, a play entitled "The Orphan; or the Unhappy Marriage", and the farce, "High Life Below Stairs,*


never before produced in Derby. A few weeks later the military officers in town patronised the theatre, their custom on these occasions being to bespeak the play. In September, 1764, Whiteley's Comedians held the boards, a company which in 1773 had the distinction of opening a larger theatre in Bold Lane, with Goldsmith's new comedy, "She Stoops to Conquer". In December, 1765, Sir Henry Harpur and his lady opened the theatre in Full Street for the evening free to the public, the play, by request, being "The Jealous Wife". Moreover, there was an interval for refreshments, also gratis, when tea, wine, cake, sweetmeats, negus, and other confections were handed round. There was a crowded house.

For those who had but few shillings to spend on comedians or wild-beast shows, there were plenty of spectacles - the annual Shrove Tuesday football, when the "foreigners" came in to assist from the surrounding villages; the civic processions, with their ale drinkings; and the Assizes, with their gay crowds and their grim sequels.

The punishment of prisoners was an everlasting source of interest. In February, 1748, a woman and her daughter, thieves, were whipped at the cart's tail from the Gaol at the foot of St. Peter's Street, round the Market Place, and back to the prison. Bull-baiting was a well-established institution, for in October, 1772, it is incidentally mentioned that "during the bull-baiting in the Market Place", a rogue was observed to be busy picking pockets, whereupon the crowd hustled him into the Morledge, where they threw him over the bridge into the stream.

Festive occasions, with bonfires, torches, three


volleys, and barrels of ale were common. In 1747, when Mr. Franceys was Mayor, in addition to the usual rejoicings on the occasion of the King's birthday, the troops in town fired volleys in the Market Place, being rewarded by his Worship with five guineas for their services. Afterwards the Mayor invited a host of gentry and neighbours to an elaborate feast at the George Inn, where everything was to be had, including "wine and punch". On Mr. Franceys' death, four months later, the Mercury's eulogy implies that his civic hospitality outshone that of his contemporaries.

After King George's health had been drunk for thirty-three years, His Majesty died suddenly in October, 1760; and six days later his grandson, George III., whose health was to be drunk for the next sixty years, was proclaimed in the Market Place with much state. The Mayor and Corporation, accompanied by the High Sheriff, with the town music and the militia, proceeded to the Town Hall steps, where the new King was proclaimed, amid the acclamations of a great concourse of people; and on the new King's birthday, the militia marched from Nun's Green to the Market Place, where they fired the regulation three volleys, the band playing "God Save the King".

This custom of accompanying the toast with the rattle of musketry was made prominent in July, 1776, when the Mayor and Corporation accepted the hospitality of Lord Scarsdale at Kedleston Hall. Some cannon were secretly planted behind the foliage along the park lake, and when the company raised their glasses to the health of the King, the artillery


unexpectedly boomed forth the triumph of the pledge.

With soldiers continually arriving, bringing stories of victory and conquest, it is not surprising that loyalty and patriotism were strong sentiments, and that British superiority was accepted as a national axiom. In December, 1756, some troops marched into Derby for the winter, having recently abandoned the island of Minorca to the French, through the cowardice, as all England then believed, of Admiral Byng. It is easy to understand how these soldiers would inflame the public mind against the Admiral, and with what satisfaction the Mercury of March, 1757, would be read, when he was shot on his flagship by order of the court-martial

The tide of conquest soon turned; in India, in America, and on the high seas, the Frenchmen were driven before us, the bells rang out victory after victory, and Minorca and Admiral Byng were speedily forgotten. In July, 1759, the results of conquest were made manifest to the Derby people by the arrival of three hundred French prisoners of war, all officers of marine, sent up country from Hampshire to prevent their escape. The publicans, who had more than enough trouble with ordinary troops, shut their doors on these travellers, and the authorities were obliged to place the Town Hall and other public buildings at their disposal; whilst a number of gentlemen of the town, showing their British generosity, busied themselves in finding lodgings for the Frenchmen.

The Mercury describes them as gentlemen, being well dressed, and not short of pocket-money. Their


means, however, were far from sufficient to tide them over the four years of their stay in Derby, and it is dismal to read of men accustomed to order and command, being employed upon labourer's work of road-making, and earning sixpence a day. Even the unfriendly critic in the All Saints' Register, who sneers at their vanity and effeminacy, and laughs at the sight of a gentleman in bag-wig and ruffles handling a wheelbarrow, admits that "scarce one act of fraud or theft was committed by any one of them". One of their methods of earning a livelihood is suggested by the advertisement announcing that "Messrs. Dairou and Vincent teach the French language at Mountney's, next door to the 'Green Dragon' in the Corn Market". Some among them, determined to risk everything, broke their parole and made a dash for liberty. In February, 1760, several of these offenders were captured in London and imprisoned, two of them being brought back to Derby to identify certain townspeople who were said to have assisted in their escape.

The position of the French prisoners in Derby during those years of loss and disaster to their country was irritating and humiliating. As the news of successive victories arrived and the town went wild with excitement, it is easy to picture the exiles anxious to escape the public gaze, and thanking heaven when the last bonfire had burned low and the uproar was over.

On October 19th, 1759, news arrived of the capture of Quebec, and the night was spent in rejoicing. The bells, the bonfires, the house illuminations, all played their parts, as usual; the Mayor drank the


round of healths on the Town Hall steps, whilst the crowd imitated him below; the young men sported cockades and drank wine; and the Mercury, catching the enthusiasm, reports that "the public-houses were crowded".

A month later came the report of the great naval victory off Brest, and the destruction of the French fleet. The news arrived on a Sunday, when illuminations would have been unseemly; nevertheless, the bells were rung all day except during service. On Monday the town gave vent to its pent-up feelings bonfires were everywhere, and lighted candles in every window, the rejoicings being maintained to a late hour. This method of general illumination, feeble as it would seem to modern eyes, appeared brilliant in those days, when street lamps were unknown. The crowd, with drums and music, parading the streets by torchlight, presented a scene at once weird and picturesque, unknown to our generation except upon the stage. The centre of light and interest was, of course, in the Market Place, where Brentnall's wine vaults were very largely patronised, and where, doubtless, valour rose as the hour grew later.

Another great occasion for display occurred in October, 1762, on the taking of Havanna in the West Indies, a success made glorious by the three million pounds' worth of property which fell to the victors.

When peace came, there were the same festivities on Thanksgiving Day, joy being mingled with pride that the nation had won all the victories and gathered all the spoils; for the writer of the All Saints' entry echoed the general conviction when he stated that "in any future war this nation has


nothing to fear from the French as an enemy". The seven years of foreign conquest came to an end in May, 1763, when there were rejoicings over the Treaty of Peace, which confirmed the extension of the British possessions in every quarter of the globe; although probably no one rejoiced more than the French prisoners, who were marched away towards Hull to be shipped for home.

Fourteen years had elapsed since the peace of Aix la Chapelle, when in April, 1749, the Mayor, with the Town Waits playing before him, proceeded to All Saints' Church, the mounted troops and the wool-combers, with their banner of Bishop Blaize, making a stirring spectacle. In the evening, the usual bonfires and ale-drinkings took place before the Town Hall, when the wool-combers delivered their speech to his Worship, referring to the wool trade as being the chief national industry, which sounds like an ancient oration.

These health-drinkings on the occasion of birthdays, victories and peace-rejoicings, although frequent, were neither so deep nor so continuous as those accompanying the Parliamentary elections, which at intervals set the town in a ferment. Often the candidates were elected without opposition; but it would have been considered paltry to deprive the common burgess of the means of making merry on such occasions, and drink was always distributed. In July, 1746, Viscount Duncannon was elected without opposition, but the festivities included a grand dinner at the George Inn, and several barrels of ale set abroad in the streets for the populace. The meaner burgess-voter was presented with a ten-shilling ticket,


to enable "him and his friends to drink when they thought proper". In December, 1765, William Fitz-Herbert, Esq., was elected without opposition, and dinners were given, evidently to both parties, at the George Inn and the King's Head; whilst the commoners, who were not invited, were each presented with a five-shilling ticket. In October, 1767, however, there was a contested election, so that for once, the common-burgess ruled the situation, the price of his vote doubtless rising to its standard value. Over seventy public-houses were thrown open by the rival parties, and money was scattered broadcast - five guineas were even sent to Mr. Simpson, the Governor of the Gaol, for the prisoners to take a share in the good times.

One of the most remarkable political demonstrations in Derby took place in February, 1776, when Parliament reversed the result of the recent expensive election on the ground of bribery, and the Tory party this time gained the day. Over a hundred persons went up to London as witnesses, many travelling by post-chaise, their career being checked by a heavy snowstorm, which detained them for some days at Market Harboro'. The inquiry before the Committee of the House of Commons lasted a week; and when the express-rider reached Derby on February 9th with the result, he was carried around the town in triumph, whilst the bells commenced a peal, which continued day after day, until the successful Mr. Daniel Parker Coke himself arrived on the fifteenth. It is clear, from a letter in the Mercury, that party feeling ran high, and that the sound of the bells not only expressed the delight of the victors, but was


intended as a constant reminder of defeat to the vanquished.

Mr. Coke arrived about noon, accompanied by a crowd of friends who went out as far as Shardlow to meet and accompany him into town. A procession was then formed, which marched through the principal streets, led by marshals on horseback bearing blue flags; the wool-combers, decked out in combings of all colours; people from the Old Silk Mill, in silk streamers; butchers from Nottingham mounted on horseback; and trumpeters, preceding the hero of the hour, Mr. Coke, who was carried aloft in a magnificent chair, and followed by a carriage with Sir Henry Harpur, to whose energy and determination the triumph was greatly due. Then came the dinner at the King's Head Inn, after which six of the Nottingham butchers astonished the Derby people by ringing a peal on their cleavers. On the Tuesday following, two oxen were distributed to Mr. Coke's burgesses, in pieces of fourteen pounds weight, along with shilling loaves. The Whig faction, however, always the predominating influence in Derby politics, soon regained the position, which they continued to hold almost uncontested until the Reform Bill extended the franchise.

This Whig influence, wielded somewhat unscrupulously by the Cavendish family, was not altogether without beneficial effect both on the political and religious life of the town. The Church was ultra-Tory and intolerant of Dissent, whilst the Cavendishes consistently opposed both these policies. In Derby, therefore, their powerful influence softened the asperities of political life, and to some extent


shielded the Dissenters from persecution; although to the poor the question of Church versus Dissent, when regarded from the point of view of doles and charities, was very one-sided. The gentry of the town might be divided into Whigs and Tories, but both parties went to church on Sundays; and the Mayor, as already shown, distributed town-money in time of distress through the churchwardens, who would scarcely be likely to remember many of the poor Dissenters. In March, 1736, the bells rang at all the churches during most of the afternoon, on receiving news that "the Dissenters had miscarried in their endeavour to get the Corporation and Test Acts repealed", whereby they would have been able to take public office in the town. Hutton tells us that he was the only Dissenter among the boys at the silk mill, and one of the clerks, anxious to make a convert, offered him the bribe of a half-penny for each Sunday that he would go to church. Hutton, with whom half-pence in those days were scarce, took the bait, and spent his time in a remote pew with the other boys, playing pushpin. The influence of the Church was evidently strong, and even the poor, although they might seldom attend service, received their share of its benefactions, and looked askance at the sectaries outside the pale.

In. March, 1764, the Rev. John Wesley, then engaged in his religious work among the masses of the people, came to Derby. With his wonted energy, he had that day ridden from Walsall, a distance of some thirty miles, and about five o'clock, "attended by a great number of his followers", says the Mercury, "he attempted to preach in the Market Place, but


was so much insulted by the mob that he was obliged to desist". Wesley, in his Journal, says that there "seemed a general inclination, even among people of fashion", to hear him, the Mayor having offered to preserve order; but it is clear that the mob at Derby, as at other places, ruled on this occasion, and it would almost appear from Wesley's account that there was a preconcerted arrangement to make their opposition effective. "They were pretty quiet until I named the text", he says. "Then 'the beasts of the people' lifted up their voice, hallooing and shouting on every side. As it was impossible to be heard, I walked softly away". The crowd followed, throwing a few stones, but without effect, and Wesley, having reached Mr. Dobinson's house, at which he was staying, the mob soon dispersed. In the following March, however, Wesley returned to open a Methodist conventicle, when he preached to a numerous audience.

An effort at religious revival was also made at this period by the Quakers, the novelty of their women-preachers attracting much attention. In July, 1739, Mrs. Drummond, a Quakeress, was drawn from the King's Head Inn in a chariot to the County Hall, where she addressed great crowds both morning and evening. Again, in August, 1774, there was a large meeting of the Quakers in the Town Hall, many of them coming from a great distance. The audience was addressed by three women, one of whom, Tobiah Darby, spoke so effectively as to move her hearers to tears.

One denomination which must have been very unobtrusive in Derby in those days was the Roman


Catholic. Even the Mercury, which could tolerate Methodists and other Dissenters, does not hesitate occasionally to publish verses in which the trickery of priests and the knavery of popes are made prominent. In August, 1734, one John Smith was hanged for housebreaking, who informed the crowd almost with his last breath that he died "a Catholic". He had been waited upon in gaol by the town clergy after the usual fashion, and it was understood that he had "made his peace" through them; but, according to the Mercury, he had also been privately visited by some interfering persons, who received him into the Church of Rome. "Catholic", so insinuates the Mercury, could only have one meaning. Its readers probably inserted "Jacobite". On the fifth of November, 1747, the usual bell-ringing and bonfires received point from a string of scurrilous verses in the Mercury narrating a conversation between the Pope and his Satanic Majesty. On the other hand, there was a strong protest against the town boys, who startled quiet people with their squibs and small cannon, as they have continued to do down to modern times.

Clearly, any one of the common people who declared himself a Papist in Derby in those days would have been ostracised; and as late as the middle of the next century the Roman Catholic gentry closed their shutters early in the evening on the fifth of November.

The Established Church, although it might be thought inert and apathetic, was yet a centre of some culture and musical display. Organs were becoming more general, and Oratorios, which afterwards


developed into an important feature of Derby town life, were becoming known, one being announced to take place in St Werburgh's Church in May, 1772.

The various contributions to the columns of the Mercury also show a better taste for poetry, and literature in general; and it is evident that education among the wealthy was at no mean level. The Grammar School presented no sign of the lethargy of the next century; its scholars were numerous, and capable of distinguishing themselves. In March, 1753, ten of the students took part in the play of "Cato", performed for the benefit of the orphans of the late usher, when the spectacle was witnessed by a large and select company, the dresses and appointments being elaborate. The prologue is stated by the Mercury to have been written by one of the scholar-actors, a youth of sixteen.[19]

Poetry, more or less readable, was common in the pages of the Mercury. Now, we are informed that a gentleman has composed some verses on the "Happiness of Virtue", and that Mr. Drewry has been instructed to print a hundred copies on fine paper for the writer to distribute amongst his friends; now it


is a long eulogy in verse on the occasion of the death of Dr. Almond, of the Grammar School; and again it is a sonnet by a love-sick poet who was smitten at the Assembly, and who indites a "woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow", under the heading, "On seeing K--- y B-l--y at an Assembly in Derby". Probably all the town knew the fair Catharina, and the quizzing and the merriment would be general; for people in those days did not hide their feelings, as modern etiquette requires - they laughed heartily and wept copiously. They courted the public gaze rather than avoided it, and loved display in dress and pageant. In July, 1737, when the Earl of Exeter and his lady came to Derby for a stay at their town house, the bells were rung in their honour; and in March, 1744, when his lordship and his household were expected from Stamford, the family tradesmen rode out some distance to meet them, and escorted them into town with great display.

The funerals of the period were also occasions for much pomp and ceremonial, the obsequies generally taking place in the darkness of the evening, when flambeaux or large candles carried by the mourners added to the weirdness and gloom. In December, 1760 , the funeral of Thomas Gisborne, Esq., J.P., took place at night, the hearse being followed from his house to St. Alkmund's Church by the Mayor and Corporation, with the gentry, relations and servants, all provided with "hatbands, scarves and gloves". On April 6th, 1763, Thomas Rivett, Esq., who had filled the posts of Mayor, Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff, and Member for the Borough, died at Bath,


his remains being brought to his native town for burial. On the thirteenth, the hearse was met at the outskirts in the evening by the gentry and trades-people of the town on horseback, and escorted to All Saints' Church.

On the other hand, when the Duke of Devonshire was brought to Derby for burial, in October, 1764, all pomp and display were dispensed with, only the family custom of distributing a hundred pounds among the poor being retained; for the Cavendishes were above criticism, and could ignore local custom and prejudice with impunity. Their exalted position commanded the deference and attention of every faction in the town; and in any local disagreement on ways and means, the presence of the Duke silenced all sections, and the business in hand was soon adjusted. The case of the Cavendish bridge at Shardlow has already been noticed; and the New Assembly Rooms, built at this period, owed their existence in great measure to Cavendish liberality. In February, 1763, the Blackamore's Head in the Market Place began to be demolished, to form a site for this new structure, and on September 10th, 1765, the present noble building was opened, the Duke and his two uncles being present at a brilliant assembly of the gentry of the town and neighbourhood.

Another valuable improvement at this period was the demolition of the damp and antiquated prison over the brook in the Corn Market, where so many generations of felons, martyrs and political offenders had made their moan. In May, 1756, the old structure had almost disappeared, and much of the material


carted to Nun's Green, to be used in building the new gaol where "the ground had been marked out near the Cross[20] on the road leading to Ashbourne".

There was also a movement on foot for the general improvement of the town, and a meeting was held at the Town Hall in November, 1774, to consider the question of paving and lighting the streets, but it was some years before a practical solution was reached. The brook-course also attracted attention occasionally through the Press, the dangerous nature of the unguarded stream, with its pools and side ditches, causing many disasters. Children sometimes fell into the water and were drowned; one, rescued after a considerable interval, revived, we are told, after a vigorous rubbing with salt. Now a person is reported to have been drowned in the pool at Nun's Mill; again a tradesman, supposed to have been "in drink", missed the footpath at the Gaol Bridge and staggered into the stream. The neighbours heard the splash, but nothing could be done in the darkness, and he sank. On another occasion two wool-combers, reeling out of the foot of Walker Lane, "in drink", and unable to keep the narrow path which bounded "the ditch", stumbled in, one of them being drowned.

Periodically, the brook rose, and worked ruin along its course. Minor floods, in which "the streets were under water", were not uncommon, but several times in a century the event was one to be remembered.


In January, 1774, there was a flood on market day, interfering seriously with business, when many persons from villages along the Markeaton valley found difficulty in returning home, boats being required at several points. On the following Monday, the flood rose again, higher than before, reaching its worst about seven in the evening, the current pouring through the town in the darkness, terrifying the householders in the valley, washing down the wall of St Werburgh's churchyard, and carrying away the wooden bridge at Bold Lane. In the Corn Market the water extended as far as the Rotten Row.

Nevertheless, the brook served one useful purpose, being always available in case of fire, especially in winter time, when pumps and cisterns were hard frozen. In December, 1767, a servant at the White Lion Inn attempted to thaw the pump in the yard by the aid of some lighted straw, causing a serious fire, with much destruction and confusion. In a short time the helpers were numerous, passing the buckets along to feed the engines with water, but more, as usual, was wasted than used, for the inn yard was flooded, the pumpers "standing in the water up to their knees".

The parish engines were destined to undergo little alteration for many years, although mechanical improvement in other directions was becoming conspicuous. Steam as a motive power was superseding the old methods, and about the middle of the century "fire-engines" (steam engines) were coming into use for pumping purposes at the neighbouring collieries. Nevertheless, wind and water still turned the town corn mills, or a horse walked his round at the mill


in St. Peter's Street. In the Holmes, a water-wheel turned the machinery where iron and copper plates were rolled and fashioned at the Slitting Mill.

Local vehicular traffic, also, was growing, and chariots and family coaches gave employment to carriage-builders and allied trades. In the houses, sash-windows were beginning to be seen, in place of small casements, and leaden down-spouts "were fitted to the best houses some years before the town byelaw made them general. Men of genius and enterprise were not lacking in the town. Whitehurst was making a name with his clock-building, Strutt was busy with his new stocking-frame, and Duesbury was establishing the china industry. In December, 1752, Benjamin Yates announced that he intended to continue the iron-gate work of his old master, Robert Bakewell, lately deceased, whose artistic hammer-work may still be seen in All Saints' Church.[21]

Occasionally, an obituary brings to notice some prominent townsman. In February, 1770, Thomas Bennett, who for forty-six years managed the silk mill, died, aged seventy-six, having been the greatest employer of labour in the town. In March, 1764, died William Butts, the proprietor of the pot-works on Cockpit Hill, a business which preceded the more artistic work of Duesbury, recently established.

In September, 1767, Thomas Smith, an artist, generally alluded to as "Smith, of Derby", was widely celebrated for his landscape paintings, and


buried at St. Alkmund's Church, having died at Bath[22] In November, 1763, Dr. Almond, headmaster of the Grammar School for many years, died at his house in St. Peter's Churchyard, and was succeeded by his head assistant, the Rev. Thomas Manlove, M.A., under whose joint management the school had attained to a high degree of efficiency. On August 7th, 1769, Samuel Drewry, who for thirty-seven years constituted himself the local historian, died at the age of sixty-four, leaving the conduct of the Mercury to John Drewry, his nephew.


Part II.- 1776- 1840

Derby, in the early part of the reign of George III., was a small closely-built town, consisting of a number of narrow, crooked streets, of which Sadler Gate still remains as an example. During the century, new buildings arose, among which the Town Hall and the Assembly Rooms were the most artistic, but there had been little, if any, extension of the town limits, and Speed's map of Derby in 1610 required but few additions. St Helen's House bounded the town on the north, the Spot formed the southern limit, whilst crosswise it extended from the river to the county Prison on Nun's Green. Many local names have disappeared in the town alterations of a century, and


it would puzzle the present generation to find Cross Lanes, The Twitchell, Dayson's Lane, Cuckold's Alley, Hewitt's Barn, or the Apple Market. The Markeaton brook meandered through the town, crossed by ten narrow bridges, but the stream was not so clear as it appeared to Camden at the close of the Tudor age. The streets were unpaved, and without side-walks, and the rain fell in cascades from the eave-spouts of the houses. Pumps for public use were generally surrounded by a quagmire, and people of cleanly disposition clattered along in pattens, patten-making being one of the town trades. Until 1792 there were no street lamps, and persons moving abroad after nightfall without a lantern were in danger of stumbling over a cart or other obstacle left out for the night. Public performances began early, so as to enable the audience to reach home before the streets became too lonely to be safe; for there were no town watchmen, and cases of street robbery not unfrequently occurred, the thief hastening away into the darkness with impunity.

In this crowded community, various, noisome trades and occupations were carried on without restraint, much as they used to be in the Middle Ages. The rain occasionally washed the accumulated refuse down the centre channel of the street to the brook and the river, and this was the extent of the cleansing, for the sanitary arrangements were without any municipal control. Amongst other nuisances, a fellmonger's yard lay beneath the windows of Wesley's chapel in St. Michael's Lane, the stench eventually proving too strong for ardent Methodism, and the members migrated to the outskirts.


By improved means of transit, Derby was now coming more into touch with the outer world. The town thoroughfares were being modernised to suit the fast increasing traffic, and the medieval pack-horse bridge over the Derwent gave place, about 1791, to the present structure. "The Derby Dilly", carrying six insides, was becoming a thing of the past; travellers had begun to trust themselves to the coach roof, and Palmer's coaches[23] were opening a new era in travelling. Canals, also, were being constructed in all directions, and Derby became connected with the larger "navigations", the terminus being at the old Derwent Wharf. Railways were yet in the distant future, but the "gang-road", which the canal company laid down, and which can still be seen at Little Eaton, may be considered a pioneer of the modern system.

The gentry lived on the fringe of the town, as detached houses beyond the outskirts would have debarred them from attending the concerts and Assemblies in the dark winter evenings. The town was their little world, where they knew the "pedigree" of every one of their own station and of their superiors, and where they dispensed charity, and received the bows and courtseys of their dependents. Their speech was provincial; they

[Image] St. Mary's from the Bridge.


said "Warbro's" for "Werburgh", and "poonsh" for "punch", and spoke their minds loudly and expressively in the street, as their preachers did in the pulpit. They had acquired their education at the Grammar School in St. Peter's Churchyard, where they divided their time between poring over the Latin grammar and writhing under the strokes of the birch. The old school-house still stands, its wainscots scored with the initials of many generations, but its scholars have long since departed; and the rising generation are trained in St Helen's House, where modern ideas of education are carried out

Academies, in which a commercial education was given, were on the increase, also the schools where young ladies were taught etiquette, deportment, and the working of samplers, with only a little arithmetic. On one occasion, the secretary of the Assembly sent in her account-book incomplete, with the excuse that such tasks were unsuitable for a lady. Nevertheless, they were proficient with the needle, they could dance a minuet, and sing in the chorus at the musical festivals. Dress and fashion offered an ever-absorbing question, and on great occasions, London experts in hair-dressing came to Derby to construct those high head-dresses, stuffed with wool, which we see in the portraits of the period. For the gentlemen, there was the Philosophical Society, founded by Dr. Darwin in 1783; there was the political club, with an occasional dinner; there were meetings to protest against the slave trade, or to promote town improvements, and one's name might occasionally appear in the list of visitors at Buxton. If a man cared for none of these things, he might


gamble at the races, or at a cockfight, and drink too much wine, and quarrel, and meet his rival at dawn on Nun's Green with pistols and a surgeon.

The artizan population lived in the valley of the Markeaton brook, and in the numerous courts and yards behind the main streets. The silk-mills consisted of close, grimy rooms, in which a man could touch the beams overhead with ease. The stockingers worked at home, often in the top story, where the long windows still exist which enabled them to save candle-light and to evade the window tax. Children were put to work as soon as they could earn twopence a day; they might learn to read and write at a night school or at the Sunday school. Besides being subject to corporal punishment, their labour in the mill was often severe and degrading, for a visitor to the silk-mill in 1772 observed that some of the machines were not worked by water power, but by children, who walked treadmill fashion "in a large wheel similar to that of a common crane; one I observed had an ass and two boys walking in it".

The houses of the working class were small cottages, ill ventilated and ill lighted, the bedroom floors of plaster, bare of carpets. Luxuries were few, and ale was still the national beverage, for brewing was a general industry, the kitchen effects of a gentleman's household generally including ale-making utensils. From a modern point of view, existence among the labouring class appears have to been a bare living, although it is probable that we exaggerate their condition by contrast When the harvest failed, they were obliged to eat the bad bread, sad and


unpalatable, or go hungry. Tea was entirely beyond the reach of the masses, and "was "used' sparingly even by the gentry. In the advertisements of ladies' seminaries, it was mentioned as an attraction; but the men regarded it as "cat-lap", and preferred something stronger.

Few of the lower orders of that day could read or write; their general knowledge, such as it was, was picked up from mill and town gossip. The workman's ideas on politics were mostly of a local character. If he were a freeman, he resented the fact that elections and their perquisites seldom came his way, and grumbled at the rascality of the Mayor and Corporation; if not, he had hazy notions of reform, which he understood would abolish these local privileges, and also raise wages. The next generation, more capable than their fathers, read Cobbett and the radical pamphleteers, who gave to their political notions a more definite shape.

The Mercury had long since enlarged upon the small sheet of its first issue of 1732, yet the local news had not grown in proportion. It was still confined to a column on the last page, being often merely the record of a marriage or a death among the local gentry, the remaining items being drawn from towns as far distant as Manchester or Northampton. Occasionally, some local event of importance would encroach on the space generally occupied by extracts from the London Press, but no great change occurred until the advent of a rival newspaper, the Reporter, in 1823, when an "editorial" occasionally appeared. A further


extension of local news took place in 1835, about which time reports of the meetings of the new Town Council and of the borough police-court began to enlighten the people on their own affairs.

During the second half of the eighteenth century, the advertisements, always a growing feature, cover a wide field of information. Quack medicines, including "James's powders", which Goldsmith took to excess, the advent of a new coach or stage wagon, the bill of the play, or a new work on foreign travel or on divinity, mingled with state lotteries and rewards for information concerning a robbery or an incendiary letter. The everyday incidents of town life, too familiar to furnish comment as news, are preserved in these advertisements, reflecting many social traits which have long since disappeared Instance the advertisement of the umbrella-mender "from London at Mr. Simpson's near the New Inn", to which is added, "Ladies' candle-screens repaired", transporting the reader to the days of silver candlesticks, when snuffers were common, and ladies, sitting close to the light with their embroidery or their volume of Pope or Richardson, used the convenience of a screen between the candle and the face. Other advertisements call to mind the dandy of the period: J. Corbett, hair dresser, announces that he keeps "dress and undress perukes"; and the travelling packman, who showed his wares at the "Wheatsheaf", praises his "gentlemen's ruffles". Although hackney coaches made their appearance in Derby in 1793, sedan chairs carried ladies to the balls and concerts at the Assembly Rooms well into the nineteenth century, being occasionally seen as late as


the railway era; and in 1826, it is announced that as "ladies who come in chairs" are liable to be upset in the struggle to enter by the great door, they will in future be admitted at the side door in Full Street. The harpsichord still made itself feebly heard, and required to be "tuned, quilled, or feathered"; the tinder-box was destined to remain a familiar domestic article for many years, although as early as 1812, James Sadler, of All Saints' Churchyard, notified that he was sole agent for an elaborate contrivance known as "Gill's Igniter", sold at five shillings a box; and the advertisement in 1815, of Stephen Glover, "stationer and quill-dresser", reminds us that the steel pen was yet unknown to the general public. The modern restaurant was represented by Leek's eating-house in the Corn Market, where "savouries and sweets" could be obtained from eleven to three, the bill of fare including such mysteries as "capillaire and orgeat" The state lotteries, so captivating to many, were announced in lengthy and plausible advertisements, and tickets could be obtained at W. Marriott's, the "Lucky Lottery Office", on Brookside, where a prize of a thousand pounds had once been drawn. The official advertisements, inserted occasionally by order of the Mayor, still show some traces of the Middle Ages in the town government The personal authority of his Worship was a reality, asserting itself with a high hand when occasion demanded, although, as a rule, it was used in exercising a paternal control over the town affairs. In his notice that the market will be held on Thursday, instead of on Good Friday, he adds, "which it is hoped will be religiously kept".


The ancient fair of St. James was still proclaimed in the newspaper, and every week appeared the "Assize of bread", commanding the bakers to sell according to a scale appended. The penny loaf varied in weight according to the price of corn and the quality of the flour, and each loaf was to be marked with a distinctive letter, denoting white, wheaten, or household, and the initials of the baker. Evidence still remained, also, of the animosity between the corn merchant and the public, handed down through so many centuries, for in 1818, the Mayor repeated the proclamation forbidding the merchants to "sell corn in corners or secret places before the ringing of the market bell", and a further proclamation ordains that in future a book is to be kept by Thomas Crane at the Town Hall, where all sales are to be reported

In his dealings with the community, the Mayor's policy was generally conciliatory, the Corporation having private control of the borough properties, from which they distributed gifts of food and coal at Christmas. They also appointed certain officials, both lay and clerical, thus ensuring unanimity in the government, whilst securing the goodwill of the commonalty. In June, 1777, shortly after the contested election in which the Cavendish candidate was unseated on petition, the Duke of Devonshire gave a hundred pounds to be distributed among the poor of the town, but, according to the Derby Journal, the authorities, who understood the situation, set aside those who voted for the Tory candidate.

Efforts were occasionally made by the opposition party to improve matters to their advantage, as in


1778, when Mr. Coke, the new member, brought in a bill for "restraining the abuse of honorary burgesses", or fagot-voters, perhaps the outcome of a pamphlet issued the preceding year, entitled, "An Enquiry into the right of admitting persons non-resident to the freedom of the Borough of Derby, dedicated to Members of the True Blue Club, and the rest of the independent freemen of the Borough of Derby". The local grievances respecting the abuse of the town's funds and charities were also occasionally ventilated, but without serious effect until after the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. In 1778, there was some agitation in the local press concerning the abuse of charities by the Corporation, and as late as 1830, at an inquiry into the appropriation of the Liversage charities, it was decided that they ought not to be used to assist the poor-rates, as had been the case. In 1818, a lengthy correspondence appeared concerning the Siddals, which was leased by the Corporation to Mr. Cox, who, it appears, had refused to permit two burgesses to run a foot-race there.

After the passing of the Reform Bill, nine hundred and ninety burgesses became eligible to vote at the next election, and the local Tories, who formerly shouted so loudly for reform, now became its steady opponents, whilst the freemen were averse to any change that seemed likely to curtail the Mayor's doles of bread, coal, and beer.

The majority of the people in Derby, as in all growing towns, was loudly on the side of municipal and parliamentary reform. The general election in the summer of 1831 returned a Parliament which


passed the Reform Bill by a large majority, but the expectation that the Peers would negative the measure gave rise to much uneasiness. The Mercury of October 5th feared that if the Bill were rejected, disorder would ensue; and the interest taken in the measure in Derby was shown by the crowd which assembled in the Corn Market on the evening of Saturday, October 8th, to await the result. The express-rider travelling from London to Manchester delivered a copy of the special edition of the Sun newspaper, reporting the rejection of the Bill, about seven o'clock, the result causing general disappointment, and as more people flocked into the town, the temper of the crowd began to cause anxiety. Someone proposed that muffled peals should be rung at All Saints', and a move was made for that purpose; but the church being locked, the crowd went to the residence of the Rev. C.S. Hope in St. Alkmund's Churchyard, where the keys were given to them, and the bells of All Saints', St. Alkmund's, and St. Peter's began mournful peals, which lasted until three o'clock in the morning.

About ten o'clock, the crowd, which now filled the Market Place, began to show signs of active disturbance, and (the civil power being paralysed) nothing was done to check the outbreak, which began with an attack on the shop of Mr. Bemrose, where the anti-reform petition had lain for signature. Here every window was broken with stones, and much damage done to the stock and premises.

The riotous element now needed no incentive to proceed to further disorder. Someone a little bolder than the multitude suggested Mr. Eaton's house, and


the crowd moved off to work fresh mischief. Next they attacked the residence of the Rev. C.S. Hope, smashing windows, destroying the shutters and doors, and tearing down the palisades to furnish themselves with hand-spikes. The houses of Mr. Mozley, Mr. Cox, and others suffered in the same manner. Chaddesden Hall was then named for attack, and a crowd surged out of the town over the narrow wooden structure which spanned the river where Exeter Bridge now stands. Another contingent moved out along the Ashbourne Road to Markeaton Hall, where they inflicted much damage. Here the servants of the house had privately armed themselves, and were only restrained from firing on the rioters by the repeated commands of their master. A third section of the mob was proceeding to sack Kedleston Hall, when a small voice reminded them that cannon were planted there, upon which hint the rioters took discretion as the better part of valour, and desisted from the attack.[24] Towards dawn, these crowds returned to town, and, their energies being exhausted, gradually dispersed to their homes.

At nine o'clock on Sunday morning, the Mayor and other officials assembled at the Town Hall to discuss the situation, the populace being admitted to the Council Chamber, and the crowd rapidly increased in the Market Place below. The question of maintaining order, however, received no hearing from the mob, who insisted on the release of three of their comrades who had been locked up for rioting during the night. On the Mayor refusing their demand, the riot began again, the crowd


proceeding in the direction of the Borough Gaol (the old County Prison in Friar Gate), where the more daring rioters pulled down a lamp-post, with which they burst open the prison door, and soon effected the release of about twenty-three persons confined there. They then moved on to the new County Prison, where an organised resistance awaited them, for the Governor, Mr. Eaton, had arranged his men on the walls with firearms, and the crowd was warned that they advanced at their peril. They thereupon tried to dislodge the guard with stones, and being fired upon, several rioters were injured, and a young fellow named Garner, a harmless looker-on, was mortally wounded, dying the same evening. At this juncture, Mr. Gisborne, M.P., who happened to be passing through the town, came upon the scene, and attempted to reason with the mob, whose howls and groans prevented him from being heard. Nevertheless, no further attack was made at that time on the prison, and about noon the crowd dispersed, and the town was in comparative quiet for a few hours. The passions of the rioters were, however, not yet exhausted, and in the evening, about fifteen hundred people again assembled in the Market Place, and decided to make a further attempt on the County Prison; but during the afternoon, a troop of hussars arrived from Nottingham, and, as these soldiers intercepted the line of march, the crowd moved aside towards Little Chester, where they broke in and ransacked Mrs. Harrison's house. Throughout the night, parties of rioters attacked the soldiers, who paraded the streets to prevent re-assembling.


Around All Saints' Church the troops met with much difficulty in dislodging the rioters, who fired on the soldiers and also injured them with stones. One trooper, being struck on the breast, followed his assailant into King Street, where the rioter, attempting to escape down an entry, was shot in the thigh.

On Monday, about noon, the crowd again assembled, and the Mayor attempted to conciliate them by distributing handbills proposing that an address should be sent to the King, stalls being set up in the Market Place to enable the people to sign it. They were, however, in no mood for such mild measures, and the stalls were soon smashed to pieces. The Mayor, fearing a further outbreak, thereupon read the Riot Act, and the cavalry charged the crowd. Unfortunately, in the confusion, a carbine went off, and a man named Hicking was shot, dying in a few minutes.

Strong measures were now taken to ensure the peace being preserved, and special constables patrolled the town throughout Monday and Tuesday nights, whilst the houses showed lights at the windows, for the street lamps had been broken by the rioters. At midnight on Tuesday, two troops of yeomanry arrived from Leicestershire, and all danger of further outbreak disappeared. The authorities now busied themselves in searching for the rioters, several of whom were committed to prison, and order was restored, although the troops remained in the town for some time.

At the Assizes held in March, 1832, a number of persons were tried for complicity in the riots, eleven


(one a woman) being charged with breaking into the Borough Gaol, the trials lasting until one o'clock on Sunday morning, when the Jury found most of them "Not guilty", amid the cheers of a crowded court. Two, however, were sentenced to seven years' transportation for housebreaking and robbery, one, Atchinson, being only seventeen years of age.

In the rejoicings held in August, 1832, to celebrate the passing of the Reform Bill, the freemen did not figure in the procession; the Mayor and Corporation, also, were conspicuous by their absence. Instead of them, there appeared the new tradesmen of the town - the smiths from the various foundries, the bobbinnet workers (a trade lately imported from radical Nottingham), and the printers; also the Oddfellows' Society - men who were learning to rely upon thrift rather than charity - and the members of the Mechanics' Institution, which was teaching men to think for themselves.

Early in the next year, the Burgesses' Union began to ask pertinent questions. The Infirmary was built on town land for which £2,600 was paid. What had become of this sum? The Mayor could only reply that five hundred pounds was presented to the Infirmary. The Union pointed out that, previous to the year 1808, the revenues from the town property met the expenditure, but that since then the town rate had risen to upwards of a thousand pounds. They demanded as a remedy that the ratepayers should be represented on the Corporation, that no aldermen should be elected for life, and that the livings of St. Peter's and St Alkmund's, which were in the gift of the Corporation, should be sold


for the benefit of the town, instead of being given to a nominee of the Corporation.

The end was now at hand In December, 1833, two Royal Commissioners came to Derby to collect evidence, when several Corporation officials were examined. The government of the town was found to be vested in a few families (one person, it was stated, held no less than sixteen offices), and Glover, the local historian, attempted to prove that several estates belonging to the Grammar School had gone to enrich members of the Corporation. Commissioner Rushton, however, decided that there was nothing to show that the town properties had declined, although his decision was based, somewhat curiously, on the fact that their value had not altered since the year 1652; yet although the local reformers, headed by Glover and Gawthorn, did not entirely convince the Commissioners, enough was proved to satisfy them that the Corporation was out of touch with the community. Two years later, the Municipal Corporations Act was passed, which placed the borough elections in the hands of the ratepayers.

The reform of the Borough Corporation which followed this inquiry was only one of the improvements and changes which resulted, directly or indirectly, from the Reform Bill of 1832. The. inquiry of 1833 showed the Grammar School to be in a state of neglect and inefficiency. The Master, the Rev. James Bligh, deposed on examination that he had only one scholar; that since the death of the under-master in 1813, no successor had been appointed, and that there had never been more than four or five scholars during his mastership - a period


of over forty years. Under Manlove, Winter, and Clarkson, the school enjoyed a high reputation, but it had since declined, as the townspeople preferred a commercial education for their sons, whereas the curriculum of the Grammar School was purely classical. A few months after this unpleasant exposure, the Head-master died, being in his seventy-fifth year, and in January, 1835, the Rev. William Fletcher was appointed, and the future training of the pupils was extended to include arithmetic and elementary mathematics.

In 1835 came the first borough election under the new Act, the town being divided into wards for this purpose in October. The freemen made an ineffectual attempt to maintain their privileges by petitioning Parliament, but their day was past, and on December 26th the voting took place, each ward being represented by a booth in the Market Place, and, at the close of the poll, the Radicals and Whigs were found to be in a majority. On January 1st, 1836, Joseph Strutt, Esq., was elected Mayor, and it was at once decided that the official salary of two hundred pounds a year, as well as the customary mayoral dinners, should be discontinued. In the following month the new police force of eight members began its duties, clad in uniforms after the London pattern, although the night watch of ten men was retained for some time. In November, 1837, the number of night police was reported to be inadequate, the constables complaining that they were powerless to lock up offenders, who were frequently rescued by their companions.

Another change was the abolition of the parish


workhouses and the erection of a Union Workhouse in their stead. The new law also required paupers to live in the Union or "Bastile", a change which was regarded as a hardship by many, a petition against the innovation being signed in Derby by about four thousand persons. In 1836, the borough magistrates negotiated with the county on the question of imprisoning felons in the county prison instead of in the borough gaol, the number being greatly reduced, owing to a recent Act, which permitted the borough magistrates to allow bail; and in 1839 official visitors to the private lunatic asylum on Green Hill were appointed by Quarter Sessions.

The most noticeable street improvement of this period was the covering of the brook between St Peter's Bridge and St James' Lane, and the erection of the Royal Hotel, with the adjoining Athenæum. In September, 1836, a meeting was held in the Town Hall to discuss the question of purchasing and demolishing the White Lion Inn and part of the Red Lion Inn adjoining, to make room for the new buildings, the estimated cost being ten thousand pounds, to be raised in share capital. The scheme met with approval. The brook was covered at a cost of nine hundred pounds, and the new buildings, which the Mercury stated would be "one of the leading architectural ornaments of this borough", were soon commenced.

An extension of the town, consequent on the approaching opening of the railway systems, also belongs to this period, an advertisement in February, 1837, announcing that Castle Fields had been laid out as building land, within the boundary formed


by London Road, Traffic Street, Siddals Lane, and Canal Street In 1832, a place of worship, then known as St. George's Church, was erected as a speculation on the London Road, and after remaining for some time without a purchaser, was bought, in April, 1836, by a committee, the name being changed to Trinity Church, and Mr. Thomas West, of Brighton, in consideration of his donation of a thousand pounds, being constituted the patron for forty years.[25]

Turning now to the social and educational aspect of Derby life, the Mercury shows that during the last decades of the eighteenth century the town was undergoing a progressive change, of which one of the most interesting features was the general taste for music, as shewn in the Musical Festivals which were becoming a regular institution in the town. Concerts in the Assembly Rooms gradually developed into Grand Oratorio, held in St. Peter's and later in All Saints' Churches, at which the chief musical artistes of the day were engaged, and where heavy collections were taken at the doors by members of the county families. In 1792, it was announced that "a performance of sacred music from Handel and other composers would take place in St Peter's Church on Sunday, August 26th, the choruses to be assisted by kettledrums, trumpets, etc". After the building of the Infirmary, an organised system of raising funds



for its benefit was instituted, and at the Festival in 1810, a sermon was preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury, when the collection amounted to £354. A new organ was opened in All Saints' Church in 1808, at which Greatorex, a name famous in the Midlands at that period, presiding. Bartleman, Catalani, and other vocalists, noted in their day, but now forgotten, were engaged under the organisation of Mr. Harrison, a substantial balance being generally paid into the Infirmary fund, although the expenses were on a lavish scale.

In the year 1819, the October Festival was unusually brilliant and successful. As early as June, the Mercury announced that a three-days' Festival would be held in All Saints' Church, with a concert each evening in the theatre, and a ball in the Assembly Rooms on the last night. In September, it was whispered that a great personage might attend the Festival, and shortly afterwards the public was informed that Prince Leopold was expected. His wife, the Princess Charlotte, the idol of the nation, died two years previously, arid he naturally was the object of public sympathy.

For the next few weeks the Mercury had numerous advertisements intended to catch the eyes of the ladies, such as: "M. Beeland, top of St. Mary's Gate, has just returned from London with new millinery and dresses for the Musical Festival"; although a slight counterblast appeared in another column, expressing the hope that "large bonnets will be discarded", but with what success does not appear.

On Tuesday, October 6th, the long-expected Festival began, and on Wednesday the Mercury


issued a stop-press edition at five o'clock, informing the public that "Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg is just arrived here, and will honour the Concert with his presence this evening". In the next week's issue, it is explained that the Prince could have been in Derby for the commencement of the Festival, but that he never travelled on a Sunday. Accordingly, on Thursday morning, he and his suite went to All Saints' Church to hear the grand musical selection, and in the evening they attended the ball at the Assembly Rooms, which was a finished success. The town was in high spirits, all the bells were rung, multitudes followed the Prince and his suite, and shouted themselves hoarse, the Prince was affable with everybody, and when he left for Chatsworth, handed a hundred pounds to the Infirmary fund.[26]

In 1822, a society of a more local character was formed under the title of the Derby Choral Society, the first concert being held at the George Inn. After using the Old Assembly Rooms for a short time, its influence was strong enough to obtain the use of the New Assembly Rooms, where it continued to hold frequent concerts during a number of years.


Another sign of the growing culture of the times was the popularity of the "elegant theatre" opened in Bold Lane in 1773, where names famous in the history of the stage soon began to appear. It was only opened, however, during parts of the year, such as the winter season from Christmas, again through the race week, and at other times for entertainments of varied character. An advertisement announcing the opening for Christmas, 1789, states that "Mr. Pero having been informed a report prevailed the theatre was not well air'd previous to the company's opening, begs leave to assure Ladies and Gentlemen there were good fires in it a fortnight before they arriv'd". The play began at six o'clock, and the prices ranged from three shillings for the boxes to one shilling for the gallery.

The plays then acted by the travelling companies are seldom produced in our day, although considered standard drama a century ago - "George Barnwell", a great favourite for the evening of Shrove Tuesday; "Douglas, or the Noble Shepherd", a tragedy which some critics considered superior to Shakespeare, but which has long faded away. As a superior attraction on one occasion, it was mysteriously announced that the chief character in "Douglas" would be performed by a "person of the town". On another occasion (1806), F. Mundy, Esq., played the part of "Richard III." to an "unusually numerous and fashionable audience", and was so well received that he was encouraged to play "Hamlet" and other standard parts a few weeks later.

The entertainments, also, were varied to suit different tastes and grades. Occasionally, the play


was mixed with singing and dancing, one announcement stating that Mr. and Master Lascelles, from the Opera House, London, would "appear on stilts without the use of their hands". A long advertisement informed the public for several weeks that "Mr. West's pupils will hold a ball at the Theatre, which will be opened by a minuet, to be followed by cotillons in eight, sixteen, and quarter quadrilles. Likewise will be performed Mr. West's improved method of country dances, whereby all the company are in movement at one time, instead of each couple in turn". Tickets to view this juvenile spectacle were "three shillings each, at Mr. West's Academy in St. James' Lane; gallery tickets, two shillings each, to be obtained at the Shakspere tavern, near the Theatre". Country dancing-masters are bluntly told to stay away, as it is not desired they should improve themselves.

During race-week, a London star was generally engaged to draw the county gentry to the theatre, and seldom failed. In August, 1790, the celebrate4 Mrs. Jordan, from Drury Lane Theatre, on her annual tour down into Yorkshire, was advertised to appear in the "Belle's Stratagem", and "was well received by overflowing houses". In 1805, Stephen Kemble appeared at Derby in the "School for Scandal", also as "Falstaff", and in other parts; only to be eclipsed a few weeks later by the appearance of the "Young Roscius" (Master W.H.W. Betty), aged fourteen, who had recently taken London by storm, and was now touring the provinces in "Hamlet", "Douglas", and tragedy in general. The Derby audience was as much


enamoured of the boy actor as the country generally, for on his return in the following year the prices were raised, the receipts amounting to upwards of a hundred pounds a night.[27]

Amongst other luminaries who shone at the Derby theatre for one night or more were Mrs. Siddons, who for three nights in September, 1807, played "Lady Macbeth", the title role being taken by Mr. Manly; Kean, the greatest tragedian since Garrick, who played "Richard III.", "Othello", and "Shylock" in 1817 and 1824; Macready, who visited the town on several occasions; T.P. Cooke, always associated with "Black-eyed Susan"; Madame Vestris, the opera singer; Paganini, the inimitable violinist; and Braham, who composed and sang "The Death of Nelson", which made his name famous.[28]

For many years, the theatre was under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Manly, whose experience of the stage and its connections must have been wide and varied. In April, 1819, it was announced that for Mrs. Manly's benefit would be played the "Castle Spectre", evidently a favourite with Derby audiences, being one of Monk Lewis's melodramas, "full of ghosts, horrors, and thunderstorms", with which our great-grandmothers were wont to harrow their feelings.

In the same year just before Christmas, it was


announced that "Mr. Matthew's will be found 'At Home', positively for one night only", when he amused the house with the wit and mimicry of his "Trip to Paris", with which he was then touring the country. This was a monologue entertainment, in which Matthews excelled, and which he may be said to have invented; his model having been, perhaps, the "Lecture on Heads", given by George Alexander Stevens, some forty years previous, in Derby.

In an advertisement relating to the theatre in 1789 it is ordered that "carriages are to come down St Mary's Gate, and leave towards Sadler Gate, owing to confusion in Bold Lane"; although this inconvenience, due to narrow thoroughfares, was not confined to one quarter of the town. A public notice in the same year orders that, in future, "butchers' blocks, stalls, wagons, carts, etc, must not be left all night in the Market Place and streets, to the danger of the inhabitants"; and it is stated later that the postboys were in the habit of leaving their empty chaises in the streets, whereby several persons had been hurt. Loaded wagons left in the roadway, being too bulky to pass through inn-archways, must in future have a lantern attached.

In addition to the narrowness of the streets, there were neither public lamps nor watchmen at this time, although in other respects great changes were impending. Subscriptions were being collected for a new bridge over the Derwent, to be followed by new bridges at St. Peter's Street and Sadler Gate; and in November, 1789, the Mayor laid the first stone of the present St. Mary's Bridge - an improvement which was the precursor of many others.


Four days later, a meeting held in the Town Hall resolved that the town was "ill-paved, ill-lighted, and dirty", and that amendment was necessary. A committee was thereupon appointed to consider the question, one of its members being Dr. Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of the famous biologist. Some time, however, elapsed before much could be done, as it was necessary to obtain an Act of Parliament for the sale of part of Nun's Green, to raise funds for these important changes.

A primary consideration was the appointment of night watchmen to patrol the streets, although with only poor results, for their lanterns drew the attention of the evil-minded, the magistrates being obliged to commit several persons for assault; and a month later (February, 1792), five guineas reward was offered for information respecting an attack on the watch, when "large stones were thrown, and one man was dangerously wounded". The Mercury, also, does not consider the watch a sufficient improvement, for it observes that "there wants only the streets paved and lighted, without which all other improvements would be like building a palace in the midst of a bog".

This description does not appear to be exaggerated, for a traveller, passing through Derby from Nottingham about 1722, says that "the entrance to the! town was so choked up with dirt and mire that it was no small matter of reproach to the inhabitants"; and in 1786, the Mayor, Mr. Flint, issued a public notice that several of the inhabitants were guilty of "shameful neglect" in permitting great quantities


of stable refuse, ashes, and general rubbish "to lay in the streets", and he ordered the removal thereof.

In the autumn of 1792, matters appeared to be moving, for a long advertisement informed the townspeople that the Derby Paying and Lighting Commissioners had been appointed, and were to begin work without delay. Amongst other improvements, "all spouts and gutters were to be taken down, the water to be conveyed from the roofs down the sides of the houses by pipes or trunks", also Full Street, St. Mary's Gate, and Bold Lane were to be paved, the contractor to find all materials "except pebbles". Arrangements having regard to sanitary matters, which had gone on unheeded from the Middle Ages, are also mentioned, and, lastly, came the fixing and lighting of street oil-lamps, in place of the movable lantern of the watchman.

For the next forty years, these feeble glimmers, scattered through the narrow streets, succeeded, as the local press observed later, in "making darkness visible", for the light was only sparingly used. The lamps were lighted during the seven months from September to April, but for eight nights in each month, the townsfolk were left to the precarious light of the moon. Further, the lamps were extinguished at one o'clock, and as the work was done by contract, some of them were often left unlighted.[29]

It was not until years after the introduction of gas into London and Birmingham, that "the new light"


made its appearance in Derby. Some slight action had been taken on the question, when a strong fillip was given in 1819, by a glowing account from Nottingham, where a number of shopkeepers combined to illuminate their premises on the same evening, the effect, according to the Mercury, being so brilliant that "thousands of people walked the streets to see the new lights". A fortnight later, a town's meeting was called at Derby to consider the question, and in a few weeks it was resolved that an Act should be obtained without delay and a company formed

At length, on Monday, February 19th, 1821, the Market Place was illuminated with gas for the first time, and the eulogium in the Mercury points out the great advance that had been made, primitive as the new light might appear to our modern surroundings. "The Market Place", says the report, "was most brilliantly illuminated by a Gas Light placed in the centre, where a beautiful column or, rather, Candelabrum, supported a very handsome lanthorn". Hundreds of people came to express their admiration of the novelty, and the children, we are told, played about in its rays.

It was announced in May following that the Theatre would be "brilliantly illuminated with gas for the first time" to witness the play of "Virginius", yet some years elapsed before gas became the common illuminant in the town. Complaints in the press were general of the feeble light afforded, yet the old oil-lamps did duty until 1831, when it was decided to light one hundred and fifty lamps with gas. After ten years' experience, the system became


improved, although the price was excessive compared with modern standards, being raised from ten to twelve shillings per thousand in 1827.

The sanitary improvement of the town also was slow. In 1808, a public inspector was appointed to report unswept footpaths and unlighted lamps, and to superintend the scavenging generally, and in 1825 it was ordered that the footpaths must be cleaned every other morning. Nevertheless, newspaper critics pointed out that whilst the authorities busied themselves with these trifles, they overlooked the more serious nuisances for which they themselves were responsible. So late as 1833, complaints were made that much of the town filth was allowed to drain into the Markeaton Brook, making it an open sewer, which periodically rose and flooded the adjoining houses, whilst the Corporation, whose property the brook was, did nothing to remedy the evil.

The highways through the town, however, were gradually improved to suit the growing coach-traffic, McAdam, the famous road engineer, reporting most favourably on their condition in 1827. Another improvement was the opening of the new market ground (the site of the present Market Hall) in 1830.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, the road traffic grew apace; mail-coaches, stagecoaches, post-chaises, and heavy wagons brought a never-ceasing round of business to the inns, where travellers, coming and going, still afforded general interest. Here might be seen all the famous people of the period, from Daniel Lambert, of fifty stone celebrity, who stayed at the George Inn, to


Washington Irving, weather-bound at the Bell Inn, gazing through the coffee-room window, and taking a mental note of the dismal street commonplaces of a wet Sunday, as narrated in his story of the "Stout Gentleman".

In December, 1816, the Grand Duke Nicholas and his suite stayed at the King's Head Inn, where they were joined on the morrow by the Duke of Devonshire, who showed them the lions, including the new Infirmary, the china factory, the spar and marble works, and the view from the tall shot-tower. Great preparations were made for these royal visitors at the "George", the Duke's house; but, by accident or design, they were driven to the rival hostelry, leaving the good things at the Whig house to spoil. The Duke, however, smoothed over the difficulty by presenting the landlady of the "George" with twenty-five guineas and a profusion of regrets.

The passage and billeting of soldiers was still a common feature of the town life. Generally, they were foot regiments, together with a medley of camp followers, but occasionally the streets were enlivened with a troop of horse soldiers - the Enniskilleners, the Hussars, or the Life Guards. Not that their presence was hailed with much delight by the publicans, many of whom, according to the Mercury, were on the brink of ruin through the loss entailed by the constant billeting of troops. The Mercury asks for "a due share of commiseration for the situation of that much-oppressed description of people, the publicans, many of whose weekly receipts are inadequate to support the vast influx of soldiers


which they lamentably feel the weight of. Humanity and justice alike call for a general extension of a succouring hand towards their relief", otherwise nothing remains to them but "irretrievable ruin". The military depôt, erected on Rose Hill in 1805, did something towards remedying this state of things, although it was not until 1813 that an Act was passed, providing that an innkeeper should receive tenpence for a day's billet, for which he must provide the soldier with a hot dinner.[30]

Besides the regular troops, some of whom made a prolonged stay in the town, there were the local Militia and Volunteers, in whose movements the townspeople took the keenest interest. In May, 1778, during the dreary American War, a grand review of the militia took place, under the inspection of the Duke of Devonshire, at which ten thousand people were present, and seventy carriages containing the county gentry. Some days later, the troops marched out of the town, the Duke at the head of his company, on their way to Cox Heath, in Kent, a fortnight's journey, where, on their arrival, the King was pleased to talk with the officers. After six months' training, the troops returned to Derby late in November, doubtless proud of their white jackets faced with green, which the Duke had presented to them.

Military events became still more stirring with the rise of Bonaparte. In October, 1797, there was the


usual bell-ringing for the victory of Camperdown, and, later, a general thanksgiving-day, when the Corporation went in state to All Saints' Church, and afterwards adjourned to dinner at the George Inn. The fear of invasion in the following year stirred the people to take more active measures, and the Corporation subscribed five hundred pounds towards the plan of defence, spent chiefly in strengthening the militia. Nelson's decisive victory of the Nile dispelled the fears of the nation, and the Derby men showed their delight by unhorsing the mail-coach which brought the news, and drawing it triumphantly into the town - not an uncommon display of popular enthusiasm.

After the breaking of the short Peace which followed the Treaty of Amiens, Derby again showed its military zeal and activity. The year 1803 opened inauspiciously, the Mercury on February 10th reporting "that the French mails, which had been delayed owing to the late stormy weather in the Channel", now bring news showing Bonaparte's "insatiate and domineering ambition". On May 18th and 19th, the county militia left Derby for Dover Castle, an ominous proceeding, explained in the Mercury of the following week by the news that war with France had again broken out, the Royal Declaration occupying three columns of small type. In August, Derby, ambitious to take its share in the national defence, held a town's meeting, and decided to raise and equip a corps of Volunteers, and a month later, six hundred men, who had enrolled themselves, were exercising three times a week. In November, their


uniforms being completed, the corps held a full-dress parade in the Market Place, and marched to All Saints' Church, where the Vicar admonished them to "be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them".

Meanwhile, a system of conscription was instituted for supplying the militia with recruits, and many men, unable to leave their trade or business, were obliged to purchase substitutes at a heavy cost. The Paymaster of the Derby militia announced that he would "contract with the public for providing substitutes, young men willing to engage to apply at his house on the Burton Road"; and from later notices, it appears that certain young men answered this application, who, after, receiving the bounty money, absconded.

During the summer of 1804, the Volunteers of Derby and neighbourhood went into training at various rendezvous, a day's march from home, troops on the march became the order of the day, and for some weeks Derby bore the appearance of a garrison town. The Derby Volunteers marched to Ashbourne, and on their return, the Mayor met them at the entrance to the town, congratulated them on their smart military appearance, and presented each man with a shilling.

During the years 1804-5 the fear of invasion again became imminent, but the measures taken for defence were so active and thorough, that no attempt to land was made by the enemy. The heavy carrying companies - Pickfords and others - offered the services of their horses and wagons to convey the inland troops to the coast without delay, forty


wagons being at the disposal of the Derby Volunteers in case of necessity.

The tension was relieved by the great victory of Trafalgar (October 21st, 1805), where the French fleet was destroyed, and all fear of invasion dispelled. When the news reached Derby, three weeks after the event, a general illumination of the town was arranged, although either to prevent tumult or out of respect for the dead hero, Nelson, all lights were ordered to be extinguished by eleven o'clock. The Mercury paid a long tribute of respect to the great admiral, and at his funeral in the following January, minute-bells were tolled whilst his remains were being laid in St. Paul's Cathedral.

The necessity for the Volunteers had now disappeared, yet the war still dragged on for a long eight years, amid bad trade, dear corn, and heavy taxation. The Russian campaign of 1812 at last showed that the star of Napoleon was no longer in the ascendant, and in the following year, Wellington, by his victory at Vittoria, drove the French armies out of Spain. The Telegraph coach brought the news through Derby, having made the journey from London in what was then considered the quick time of fifteen hours. Rejoicings followed in honour of the victory, although they were mild compared with those held in December, five months later, to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon, after the battle of Leipsig, in October 1813.

The whole town was given up to feasting and drinking, and for one day everybody had sufficient. An ox was roasted in the Corn Market, another in St Peter's Street, whilst as many as thirty sheep


were roasted in different parts of the town, and bread and ale were without stint. The True Blue Club, always conspicuous on these occasions, roasted an ox (to which Mr. John Wallis, the founder of the Club, added a sheep) in Full Street, and distributed the meat by ticket to two hundred of the poor, with as many shilling (quartern) loaves. The gentry of Derby and neighbourhood dined at the various inns, and a rousing close was given to the festivities by bringing several cannon into the Market Place, where twenty-one rounds were fired off.

In June, 1814, when Napoleon was banished to Elba, and everyone believed that universal peace was restored, there were rejoicings, which even eclipsed the festivities of 1813. Preparations began to be made in the town several weeks beforehand, and on Wednesday, June 14th, the revels started with a ball at the Assembly Rooms, the first dance leading off to the popular military air of the day, "The White Cockade". On Thursday, the general rejoicings began with the usual bell-ringing, the streets being profusely decorated with garlands and arches of flowers, and the churches and principal buildings gaily decked with flags and banners. The townsmen sat down to dine at the numerous inns, the women receiving eighteen pence apiece to dine at home; whilst the children, to the number of four thousand, assembled in the Market Place, where they were feasted on buns and ale.

Friday was reserved for the illuminations, when the gentry and shopkeepers vied with each other in the lavishness of the display. The general features were the transparencies representing King George,

 THE PEACE OF 1814.161

the Duke of Wellington, Britannia, or some emblem of Peace or Victory. These, being illuminated with candles from within, were not subject to the vagaries of the wind, which happened to be high, and which made havoc with the open displays of candles. The County Hall was decorated with a vast quantity of naked lights, which were blown out repeatedly, and it was not until one o'clock in the morning, when the wind dropped, that the spectacle became perfect Among so much that was worthy of notice, Mr. Joseph Strutt's house at the foot of St. Peter's Street attracted much praise and attention, the rooms being lighted with candles and lustres, the windows filled with orange trees and other greenhouse plants, the word "Peace" in large letters being emblazoned across the front of the house. The Mercury devotes two columns of small type to a detailed description of the illuminations, which drew crowds into every quarter of the town, the cost of the rejoicings being estimated at ten thousand pounds.

Mingled, however, with these national festivities were ominous rumblings, showing that continental politics were still unsettled. In November, the militia regiments, on their march homewards after long absence on garrison duty, suddenly received counter orders. The Derby militia, marching from the south coast, reached Banbury, when their route was suddenly changed for Plymouth. Disappointment and dissatisfaction were general, and only the firm action of the officers prevented open mutiny. At the same time, the Cambridge militia passed through Derby on their way home from Ireland, but


returned a few days later, having received counter orders at Loughborough.

The meaning of these movements was understood a few months later, when news arrived that Napoleon had escaped from ElEa, and was marching on Paris. For a moment, Europe stood aghast, but no time was lost in meeting the general enemy, and on Sunday, June 18th, 1815, the plains of Waterloo decided the fate of Napoleon without appeal.

The news of this crowning victory appears to have been received with caution in Derby, the Mercury of June 29th printing Wellington's famous despatches, but without comment. After the recent empty peace-rejoicings, the townspeople evidently thought it wise to await events. These were not long in developing, for on Saturday, July 8th, the Traveller coach brought the news of the fall of Paris, reaching Derby at six o'clock in the morning, four hours in advance of its time. This news was sufficiently definite, and the True Blue Club forthwith assembled and made preparations to decorate the mail coach on its arrival from London. It was met outside the town, where eight greys were attached, the postillions in blue caps and jackets, the coach decorated with blue flags, laurels, and white lilies, the French tri-colour trailing in the dust. In this fashion, it was conducted around the Market Place to the New Inn, amid a tremendous crowd, the soldiers clearing the way, whilst the people cheered, the bells rang out a victorious peal once more, and the tricolour flag was publicly burnt.

Seven months later, the Derby militia returned home, after prolonged absence on garrison duty.


Their last billet was at Burton, and the road from Derby to Littleover was filled with people, anxious to meet their friends and relations. The throng became so great that the local troops, who marched out to meet their comrades, were compelled to make way for them into the town, where they formed a space in the Corn Market, the militia being officially received by the Mayor and Corporation, who had collected a hundred and fifty pounds for their benefit. Four months later, the first anniversary of Waterloo was marked by a dinner held in the Market Place, in which several companies of soldiers passing through the town participated.

For a quarter of a century the nation had maintained its position at an enormous cost in lives and money, yet the dread of invasion or of disaster never affected the national life seriously, or interfered much with its pleasures. During the time of tension in 1803, a writer in the local press attempted to harrow the feelings of his readers with a long jeremiad, painting the horrors of pillage, rapine, and murder, which would cover the land if once Bonaparte and his myrmidons should cross the Channel; but the same issue of the Mercury contains the announcement of Derby races, which doubtless proved far more interesting to the general public.

These sports were held for many years on Sinfin Moor, the racing, which lasted two days, being varied with assemblies (dancing booths), concerts, cock-fighting, and all the general surroundings of the racecourse. The actual horse-racing did not begin until four o'clock, because the sporting gentry had first


to dine in town, at the King's Head Inn, on Tuesday, and at the George Inn on Wednesday.

When the Duke of Devonshire attended the races, his equipage and retinue were princely, being closely imitated by the rest of the county nobility. In 1813, his Grace appeared in a coach and six, attended by ten outriders; the Earl and Countess of Harrington rivalled the Duke in the magnificence of their appearance; and the county gentry came to town in such numbers that most of the lodgings in Derby were occupied.

The tradespeople naturally benefited by this influx of wealth and fashion, which even attracted talent from a distance. Amongst other announcements, we read that "John Kirkland, from Vickery's, Tavistock Street, London, attends ladies this week and next (race week), to cut and dress hair in superior style, taste, and fashion. At Mr. Sadler's, hair dresser and perfumer, Irongate".

In the year 1803, a change of site for the races became necessary, because Sinfin Moor, following the line of improvement, was being enclosed at the time. It was eventually decided to set out a course on the Siddals, although not without some opposition from the Freemen, who naturally feared their rights were being menaced. The Mercury thought it would be a misfortune to abolish such an "antient and most respectable festival", and a Common Hall finally consented to a proposal, which would increase the town revenues; it was agreed also that any Freeman might erect a booth, or stand, free of toll.

The "ordinary", which delayed the races until four o'clock, still continued, for no social function in that


age was complete without a dinner. Thus every loyal gentleman sat down to dine with his friends on the King's birthday; victories by land and sea gave numerous opportunities for feasting, and minor occasions were seldom wanting. The cockfights were often held at the Saracen's Head Inn, at Brailsford, and the sport "betwixt the gentlemen of Notts, and Derby" lasted two days, the stakes being "five guineas a battle, and fifty the odd one", and "a good ordinary each day". A more humanising feature was the annual meeting of gentlemen florists, the forerunner of the modern flower show. "All Gentlemen Florists to dine with the Old Friendly Society of Florists at the house of Sam. Brackley, the Angel, Derby, and to bring your best Auriculas and Polyanthuses. Flowers on the table at one. Dinner at two".

The opening of the Assizes also had its customary dinner. In September, 1817, the High Sheriff announces that he "intends to meet his friends at Little Eaton, at half-past eleven, and come into Derby about noon. He will meet the Judges at Osmaston toll-gate at half-past three, and proceed thence to the County Hall. Dinner at the George at five".

In March, 1790, the King recovered from an attack of lunacy, or, as the press politely phrased it, he "was free from complaint". On receipt of the news, the bells were rung, and ale was generously distributed. A dinner was arranged to take place at the Bell Inn, tickets seven-and-sixpence each, with a Ball for the ladies at five shillings each. The advertisement announcing these festivities finished


with the customary "God Save the King", followed by "Honi soit qui mal y pense". Whether there was a hidden sting in this last tag is uncertain, but the next issue of the Mercury announced a rival dinner at the King's Head Inn, with an insinuation that all the loyalty in the town did not belong to one party.

In all, three dinners were arranged, and all well attended, although the Tory festivities at the Bell Inn appear to have eclipsed the others. Here, on Tuesday, March 31st, over two hundred gentlemen of the county sat down at three o'clock, under the chairmanship of the Mayor, S. Crompton, Esq., and at seven o'clock the company adjourned to the Market Place, where a bonfire blazed before the Town Hall, and here the Mayor and his friends drank loyal toasts, and distributed barrels of ale among the populace, whilst several sheep were roasted whole for their benefit. The illuminations were spoiled by the rain, which put out the candles, although Mr. Duesbury successfully decorated his house at the china-works, over St. Mary's Bridge, with five hundred small glass lamps, arranged in devices, a practice that still finds favour, and which is said to have been used for the first time in Derby.

In June, 1803, Mr. Coke was elected member for Nottingham, and the Tory party in Derby determined to make rejoicings over his return. He was, therefore, met by Sir Robert Wilmot, the High Sheriff, at Chaddesden, from whence a procession, with flags flying and bands playing, marched into the town, and made a brave spectacle in the Market Place.


To complete the rejoicings, a dinner was held in the Assembly Rooms, to which two hundred gentlemen sat down.

The True Blue Club, a sound Tory organisation, always figured prominently in loyal demonstrations, as well as on special party occasions, such as the above. In 1818, nearly one hundred members sat down to dinner on the anniversary of Trafalgar, and in 1829 they held the annual dinner in honour of the birthday of Pitt, although that statesman had then been dead twenty-three years. A firm belief in "Church and State", mingled with a keen relish for the good things of this life, seems to have been the leading principle of the Club, emphasised in the account of a dinner held in 1828, when we are told that "Non nobis Domine" was sung in excellent style, and the glee, "With a jolly full bottle", was encored. The dark side of life never affected these people long; they were not "philosophers", an epithet applied in their day to radical reformers, such as Dr. Priestley and his followers.

The County Hall, whose walls had echoed the death-sentences of generations of victims, was not regarded with any great amount of awe on that account, for in 1827, it was decided to rebuild the structure, so as to serve the double purpose of a Court of Justice and of a Hall suitable for festivals, balls, dinners, and other entertainments. During the Assizes, little decorum was observed, for a description of the hall in that year shows that it resembled a fair, women moving among the throng vending cakes, fruit, and other edibles, and thieves occasionally practising their craft under the eyes of


the Judge. In 1814, one of these gentry was caught in the act of picking the pocket of a countryman in the County Hall, whilst a case was being tried. He was brought up next morning, when it was proved that he was seen with the pocket-book in his hand, passing it dexterously to a confederate, who escaped with it. He was sentenced to fourteen years' transportation.

The scenes at the gallows on Normanton Road, and, later, at the "new drop" in front of the County Gaol in Friar Gate, brought to a close the interest taken in the Assizes, a feature of these grim functions being the hymn, generally chosen by the condemned, and sung by the crowd, whilst the hangman made his dismal preparations.

Public whippings also still continued. In 1817, Samuel Johnson, for stealing linen off a garden hedge in Dayson Lane, was sentenced to a month's imprisonment and "to be whipped on Friday next, in the Market Place, between twelve and one". Gaol-breaking was not uncommon, either by connivance with friends outside or by bribing the turnkeys. In December, 1786, one McKew, awaiting transportation, broke out of the town gaol, where a loose system of government appears to have favoured him. The gaoler being absent, the duty of making all secure for the night was entrusted to a maid-servant, assisted by two debtors, and McKew, having previously cut through his irons, succeeded in knocking down one of the debtors and seizing the keys, with which he locked the deputy-warders in the yard and escaped.

In March, 1790, two men, Clifford and Johnson,


were sentenced to death for sheep-stealing, on which the Mercury oddly remarks that "his Lordship addressed the prisoners in most pathetic language, and informed them they had no reason to expect any mercy". Notwithstanding this gloomy announcement, the sentence was commuted to transportation for life, but the prisoners and their friends do not appear to have appreciated the Judge's leniency, for shortly afterwards, the wall of the County gaol was scaled with ladders, "and the iron gate which leads to the dungeon feloniously broken open". The prisoners, however, were not rescued, and four months later, Jackson and others made a desperate attempt to effect their own escape. Having stripped himself, Jackson descended into the prison sewer, and commenced to break a way through the wall, but the turnkey overhearing the noise, came upon the scene, to find that the prisoners had cut through their irons with a spring saw, whereupon, to prevent further trouble, he chained them together by their necks.

These incidents still afforded matter for gossip even to the cultured portion of the inhabitants. The learned Dr. Johnson, in a letter written from Ashbourne some six years earlier, says: "If you had any knowledge of Ashbourne, I could tell you of two Ashbourne men who, being last week condemned at Derby to be hanged for a robbery, went and hanged themselves in their cell. But this, however it may supply us with talk, is nothing to you".

In reading the lists of culprits sentenced to death, we gain some idea of the severity of the penal code of that day, although public opinion was in advance of the law, and it was usual for the Judge at the


conclusion of the Assizes to commute a number of the death-sentences to terms of transportation, and a few weeks later, the townspeople beheld the spectacle of a coach-load of convicts starting on their long journey to Botany Bay. In May, 1819, nine convicts left the County gaol to be delivered on board a hulk at Sheerness, bearing the more or less appropriate name, Retribution. As their coach was changing horses at the Red Lion Inn at Loughborough, the Hope coach dashed by with a similar load from Nottingham. In a moment, the fellow-convicts grasped the situation, and the street resounded with huzzas and the ringing of chains and fetters.

An episode of the same year was the execution of Hannah Bocking, an account interesting as indicating the state of public opinion in Derby at a time when Romilly and his followers were about to bring the penal code more into keeping with the dictates of humanity. This girl had poisoned a fellow-servant with a cake made for the purpose. She was only sixteen, and as no woman had been hanged in Derby for sixty years, the spectacle naturally attracted a great crowd from the surrounding country. According to the Mercury, the girl showed the greatest callousness, and persisted in declaring that she was innocent, and that some of her family had committed the deed. She was visited in prison by several ladies, according to the custom of the time, and was with much difficulty induced to confess the truth, the newspaper narrative recalling in several respects the prison scene in "Adam Bede". Her relations begged that the body might be given to them for burial, but the authorities


refused, and it was delivered to the surgeons as usual, the Mercury being of opinion that this harsh treatment was right and proper, and that such hardened criminals deserved the severest punishment, only excepting torture.

A letter in the following week's issue, however, appears to reflect the more humane judgment of a growing class in the town. The writer states that being on the outskirts about one o'clock, he was shocked to meet parties of girls and young women, all dressed in their best, as though for a festival, returning from the execution, "laughing and sauntering". So far from the spectacle having any painful or salutary effect on the multitude, he is convinced that the sight only degraded them by satisfying a brutal taste. He advocates the abolition of public executions, although many years elapsed before the abolitionists could gain public attention.[31]

An incentive to crime in general may be found in the declining trade of this period, particularly among the framework knitters, and in the disturbance of the labour market, caused by the Peace of 1815, after which many of the troops were disbanded, and were unable to find work. Derby was the centre of much discontent and sharp poverty, yet no lawless


outbreak of consequence occurred in the town itself, owing to several counteracting causes - an organised system of charity, the establishment of special police, and several sharp object-lessons at the County gaol.

The Government, alarmed at the threatening attitude of workmen in the northern manufacturing districts, attempted to quell this state of unrest by treating cases of rioting as High Treason against the Crown. In June, 1817, a number of men in the neighbourhood of Pentrich armed themselves, and proceeded to levy blackmail at the houses of the gentry, when a man-servant, offering resistance, was shot dead by the ringleader of the rioters, one Brandreth, "the Nottingham captain". The leaders were soon captured by the yeomanry, and brought to Derby (July 23rd), where a special Commission of Assize was opened with all the ceremony of a State Trial. A number of ignorant rustics were arraigned; but mercy was extended to all except the ringleaders, Brandreth, Ludlam, and Turner, upon whom the customary sentence for High Treason was ordered to take effect, with this variation - that the culprits found guilty, and condemned to die, would be hanged outright, after which the dead bodies were to be beheaded, but not quartered.

This horrible task was performed by a man in a mask (a collier from Denby, it was said), who held up the severed head to the gaze of the crowd, uttering the formula, "Behold the head of the traitor, Jeremiah Brandreth". For a moment, the spectators wavered, as though about to fly from the shocking scene, but curiosity prevailed, and they held


their ground.[32] On the scaffold lay three rough coffins, each chalked with the name of its owner, and into these the bodies were thrust, and hurriedly conveyed to St Werburgh's churchyard for burial, the Sheriff's javelin-men forming a cordon around the burying party, to keep back the crowd.[33]

Of the remainder of the rioters arraigned, nineteen youths were acquitted, three were sentenced to transportation for fourteen years, and eleven were sentenced for life. Seventeen years later (1834), the Government granted pardons to the ten survivors.

It is now generally accepted that these men were inveigled into crime by the spy, Oliver; although the Mercury assured its readers at the time that no such person existed. The Government, fearing an


insurrection, adopted the questionable expedient of permitting this man to ensnare victims, who might thus be punished to overawe the disaffected multitude.

Owing to the discontent in this neighbourhood, unusual measures were taken to prevent any outbreak in Derby, thirteen extra night-constables being employed throughout this year at a cost of about five hundred pounds. In the previous year (1816), a large amount was raised to provide food for the unemployed, and labour was found for a number of men at a gravel-pit on Nun's Green, whilst it was proposed to employ others in cutting down the hills on the high roads in the neighbourhood.

The workmen of the manufacturing centres were agitating for a repeal of the old Combination Laws, which forbade workmen to form Trades Unions, a labour movement which the masters strenuously opposed. The Grand Jury, at the Derby Assizes of 1819, also expressed its disapproval of combination, and advised the people to keep the peace; but the tension was temporarily reduced in 1825, when these laws were repealed, and Trades Unions soon began to appear. In the same year, the result of a condition of declining trade was shown in the many bank-failures throughout the country, causing a panic which threatened general ruin; but the High Sheriff, with the gentry of Derby and neighbourhood, succeeded in maintaining local credit by proclaiming that they would accept the notes of any bank in the district.

Distress among the artisan class naturally increased


during this period, and the system of doles was again revived. A sum of seven hundred pounds, the balance of the fund raised in 1816, was utilised, providing soup temporarily for sixteen hundred applicants, until the fund was enlarged by heavy collections made in all the parish churches. Declining trade and falling wages engendered agitation, which at length culminated in the great strike of 1833, resulting in loss to the workpeople and to the town generally.

The gifts and subscriptions raised by the wealthy show that, amid the Assemblies, festivals, and general gaiety, they did not forget the less fortunate majority among whom they lived. There were also societies whose aims were rather philanthropic than local, such as the suppression of the slave trade and the spread of education among the masses. One of them, whose object has long since passed away, was that "for ameliorating the condition of the infant chimney-sweepers". In 1815, a notice In the local press informed the public that several ladies and gentlemen of the town had purchased "one of the sweeping machines" (the common sweep's brush} of to-day), and entrusted it to one Roberts, a master chimney-sweep, who assisted the cause of the society by refusing to employ the climbing boys to sweep his chimneys, and the public were asked to employ Roberts, and thus assist the movement. The boy sweep, however, did not disappear until many years later, although the society continued its efforts, and helped to lighten his hardships in many ways; thus in 1825, the climbing boys, under its patronage, attended service in All Saints' Church, after which


they sat down to dine off roast beef and plum pudding.

In 1838, the society thought to advance their cause by supplying each master-sweep with a machine free of charge, but the London secretary warned them that this experiment had proved a failure in other towns, as the_ master sweeps were averse to the abolition of the climbing boys, which only an Act of Parliament could effect. The masters, on the other hand, complained that many old chimneys were crooked, or otherwise unsuitable for the brush, a case being cited of a flue in a house in Friar Gate, which ran in a horizontal direction for thirty-four feet, wherein a few years previous a boy was wedged, and it was necessary to break through the wall to release him.

The society showed by abundant evidence that the masters were careless and often cruel in their employment of the children, fatal accidents being not uncommon. In May, 1838, a boy aged eleven was suffocated in the chimney of a house in Siddals Lane, and it appeared, from the evidence given at the inquest, that the fire had not been completely extinguished, and the fumes had overcome him. His master, hearing no sound, broke through the wall, but it was too late, the child was dead. The affair being regarded as an accident, no one was censured, and no remedy suggested.

Occasionally, the society had cause to be pleased with their efforts. In December, 1838, a boy-sweep from Wirksworth sought out some members of the society, and complaining that he disliked his trade, begged their protection. They fed and clothed



him, and next morning found him employment at Bridgett's mill; but an hour or so later, his master appeared, having traced him to the mill, and, producing his indentures, claimed him as a runaway apprentice. The boy's sympathisers then hid him from his master whilst the matter was inquired into, when the indentures were found to contain a technical flaw, and the master was compelled to retrace his steps empty-handed.

Besides assisting in these social and philanthropic movements, the presence of the gentry encouraged various artistic trades and professions in the town. Mr. Joseph Wright executed much portrait-painting, many of his sitters coming to Derby from the surrounding district; and in 1818, Mr Barber, portrait painter, announced that he had removed from Nottingham to the house lately occupied by Anthony Strutt, Esq., in Friar Gate; whilst for miniatures, there was the deaf and dumb painter at Grayson's, in the Corn Market, and other artists.

The attractions of Buxton and Matlock were imitated at the spas of Quarndon and Kedleston, the latter owing its position to the sulphurous springs, and perhaps, also, to the Curzon family, who patronised the archery meetings held at Kedleston in the summer months. The traffic between Derby and this fashionable district was sufficient, in 1779, to warrant the experiment of a daily coach-service, qualified with the proviso that it would run "if there be four passengers". Among others who benefited by drinking the Kedleston water was Admiral Rodney, in 1787, five years after his great victory in the West Indies, when the bells in Derby


were rung, an inn being named after him which is still remembered in "Rodney Yard".

The baths at the Infirmary, intended to be select, evidently belonged to an age when scrupulous cleanliness of the person was generally considered a fad. The bather paid two shillings, for which he had the choice of two public baths, each of the narrow dimension of thirteen feet square, one being maintained at the temperature of the Buxton waters. The ablutions of the lower orders were restricted to bathing in the Derwent in the summer time, and as late as 1831, when there was a dread of cholera, the authorities considered it sufficient to advise the people "to wash their hands and faces twice a day".

The Established Church took an active interest in the life of the people, yet a lack of religious zeal still characterised its pulpits, most of the church livings being in the gift of the Corporation, who appointed one person to the three cures. The pews were the freehold property of the wealthy portion of the congregation, and were sometimes sold along with their houses. In 1786, a dwelling-house on Brookside was advertised for sale, together with "a handsome pew in the church". When the owners migrated to another church, their old pew was let at a rental, but in 1830, the Bishop condemned this practice as illegal. Four years earlier, a free church (St. John's) was founded as a chapel of ease to St Werburgh's; and the Church generally was beginning to bestir itself, for although it might possess wealth and influence, the Nonconformists had shown that they possessed the energy to grow and to become powerful.


In the preceding century, as already narrated, Wesley succeeded in establishing a community in the town, among whom he preached on several occasions. In the summer of 1790, the Mercury announced that "The Rev. John Wesley intends preaching at his meeting-house in St. Michael's Lane on Friday next". In 1818, his followers removed to a chapel in King Street, where the first anniversary sermons were preached by the Rev. Jabez Bunting, a shining light among the Methodists of that day, on which occasion it was stated that "the two front rows in the gallery will be reserved for the ladies".

The Primitive Methodists, seceders from the older body founded by Wesley, formed a society in Derby in 1815, chiefly through the efforts of Sarah Kirkland, the daughter of a farmer at Mugginton. In 1811, she came under the influence of Hugh Bourne, and shortly afterwards, when about twenty years of age, began to hold forth in public. In March, 1815, being at Chaddesden, three persons from Derby, impressed with her powers, begged her to return with them to town and preach in the open air. Her modesty forbade this, but her admirers engaging to find a room, she accompanied them, and preached at the house of one Clayton, a barber, the room being crowded with hearers. A society was shortly afterwards formed, and here they continued to meet for about two years, until a small low-ceiled building was erected in Albion Street, near Bag Lane, where for a number of years the members held their meetings and love-feasts - the scenes of


those fervid conversions which earned them the name of "Ranters".[34]

The erection of a Congregational or Independent Chapel on Brookside in 1783, followed the religious controversy led by Dr. Priestley about 1770, about which time the congregation at the Meeting House in Friar Gate declared itself Unitarian, and some of its members seceded. The Calvinistic Baptists - the remaining section of the Puritan party - are mentioned as forming a community in Agard Street about 1700; the first chapel of the General Baptists in Brook Street only dates from the year 1802. The Roman Catholics emerging from obscurity, built their first place of worship in Chapel Street in 1813, where it may still be seen, its windows protected by a high wall[35] from the stones of the sometime over-zealous Protestant. The Quakers held no assemblies in Derby until 1800, the more fervent among them, such as Pegg, the china-painter, undertaking a Sunday morning journey of some nine miles to Codnor Breach, the nearest meeting-house. In that year, they began to meet in Derby in a disused mill, and in 1808 they erected the meeting-house in St. Helen's Street.

With the growth of trade and wealth, the humble structures of these early organisations made way for


more artistic buildings. The old Brookside chapel disappeared before an edifice which is a feature in Victoria Street; the Baptists, also, have added to the architectural beauty of the town. The Roman Catholics long since migrated to the church which ranks among the finest efforts of Pugin; and the Established Church, awakening from its lethargy, rebuilt the old structures of St Alkmund's and St Michael's, and has since extended its usefulness by erecting new churches in every suburb. The old Calvinistic Chapel in Friar Gate still remains, and the Quakers retain their original building, the unpretentious meeting-house reminding us in its unadorned simplicity of the characteristics of its members.

Nonconformity laboured under many disabilities, and consequently showed a greater zeal for toleration than the Established Church. In 1813, a meeting of the clergy of Derby and neighbourhood took place at the King's Head Inn to resist the movement in favour of repealing the disabilities of the Roman Catholics, which the Nonconformists of the town assisted. Again, in 1831, an agitation arose among the members of the Derby Bible Society to exclude the Unitarians, which the Baptists and Independents again resisted; and the local agitation against the old Corporation, prior to 1835, proceeded to some extent upon the lines of Church versus Dissent.

The artisan class worked long hours, and the time for sports and amusements was necessarily limited; ale-drinking, as has been shown, forming the staple enjoyment on every occasion. As early as 1786, the Mayor complained that "apprentices are permitted


to play cards, dice, billiards, skittles, and other kinds of gambling", in the public-houses, tippling, apparently, not being regarded as a vice. Among the Nonconformists, during the early part of the nineteenth century, tea-drinking began to be substituted for the old-fashioned church-ales. Temperance, or "tee-total" societies, as they were called, marched through the town at their annual gatherings, and boasted of the number of reformed drunkards who handed round the tea-cups at the tables. In March, 1835, two hundred and sixty persons sat down to tea in the Old Assembly Rooms, when it is mentioned as a novelty that the room was lighted with gas. Another sign of this improvement occurred in 1832, when, at the rejoicings over the passing of the Reform Bill, a large section of the community refused to dine at the public-houses, and were regaled elsewhere.

Advertisements from time to time announce entertainments which attracted crowds of sightseers. T. Johnson, confectioner in Irongate, annually exhibited his show of Twelfth Day cakes, with a glittering spectacle of moving figures for the benefit of the juveniles.[36] Another attraction was Spink's Spar Manufactory, in King Street, in 1811, when it was announced that the "Ingenious Grotto is now opened". Equestrian troops, mountebanks, and other wonders still came to town at fair-time, or in the intervals between these holidays; Breslaw's Variety Entertainment from London; Madame


Tussaud's Exhibition, with nearly a hundred figures; and, later, Wombwell's Menagerie, having "the largest elephant-wagon ever built, with six roller wheels and twelve horses". In December, 1786, a display of fireworks was advertised to be exhibited in the Market Place, a collection to be made among the spectators at half-time. The proprietor also announced that his wares could be purchased at his lodgings, "at Mrs. Fox's, in the Morledge". A few weeks later, a rough practical joker threw into Brookside Chapel some crackers, serpents, etc, disturbing the service.

The obituary notices of the Mercury occasionally mention persons who, by ability or some eccentricity, helped to weave the varied life of Georgian Derby. There was Mr. Yates, the whitesmith, who died in 1778, and whose hammer-work at All Saints' Church was destined to live after him; William Clarke, who died in 1788, chief clerk at the China Factory; also John Yates, of the Seven Stars Inn, King Street, who was an artist at the same factory for over fifty years, and who died in 1821. A man who had seen something of the world was Anthony Russell, who came to Derby as a French prisoner of war in 1759, returned to France in 1763, but eventually found his way back to Derby, drawn by the strongest of reasons, where he married the lady concerned, and settled for life. Another traveller was William Smith, who made his weekly journey between Derby and Sheffield for thirty years, distributing the Mercury. Among remarkable characters was John Hallam, who had original ideas of life, who lived alone, and took only one meal a day, and who, being


a man of educated mind, could entertain his company by reciting Young's "Night Thoughts". He lived to be eighty-six years of age, dying in 1828.[37]

One of the greatest changes of this period was the growth of a system of education in the town, first in the infant-schools, and, later, in the lectures delivered by scientific persons at the new Mechanics' Institution, to young people; for, in the early years of the reign of George III. no organisation of this kind existed. Besides the Grammar School, a few private academies dispensed a fairly liberal education to the sons of tradespeople. In 1789, Mr. Freer informed the public that he "is giving up school in St Peter's Parish, and recommends his successor, Mr. Matthew Spencer, who has been his assistant for many years". Mr. Sgencer (the grandfather of the late Mr. Herbert Spencer) informed the public, a twelvemonth later, that "his school is in the Green Lane, where he instructs youths in Reading, Writing, Merchants' Accompts, Mensuration (with land-surveying), Algebra, etc., etc"., and that "he can accommodate a few gentlemen at his house", the terms being one guinea entrance, and thirteen guineas per annum for board and education.

A boarding-school for young ladies was announced


to open on October 1st, 1792, in All Saints' Churchyard, where the teaching of the English language seems to have been the only mental education offered, the rest of the time being devoted to plain sewing, muslin-work and embroidery. Board, including tea and sugar, was at the same charges as at the school in Green Lane, although there was an extra of half-a-guinea per quarter for the laundry, and "each lady was to bring a pair of sheets and four towels".

For the children of the artisan class there were a few schools, in which persons able to read and write imparted knowledge at their own homes. One John Pratt opened such a school in Bridge Gate on Monday, January 12th, 1789, for instruction of youth in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He also added a night-school, at which youths paid three-pence per week to learn writing and arithmetic, whilst those of less ambitious mood might learn reading for the weekly sum of twopence.

Early in the following century, Lancaster, the Quaker, instituted his system of non-sectarian schools, to be quickly followed by a rival method, organised by the Church party under the scheme of Dr. Bell. In 1810, Lancaster lectured on his system in Derby, although little followed until two years later, when, in March, 1812, the clergy of the town requested the Mayor to call a meeting to discuss the question of establishing a school on Dr. Bell's system. The Nonconformists, in the following month, formed a society to work on Lancaster's plan, and at once furnished a room in Full Street, and engaged a master; the schoolhouse, still in existence as a


warehouse, offering a strong contrast to the public educational centres of to-day. In the following November, the town was visited by both Bell and Lancaster, who lectured on their rival systems on the same evening. The National society established their school in Bridge Street, which, in June, 1817, was unfortunately burnt out, along with the mill of which it formed part. The society, however, at once arranged to increase their subscriptions to remedy the loss incurred, and to open a school elsewhere. In the seventh annual report of the Lancasterian school (May, 1819), it appears that some gentry of the neighbourhood, headed by the Strutt family, acted as patrons, and that the scholars numbered two hundred and thirty-three, each one paying a fee of sixpence a quarter.

Numerous advertisements at this period, respecting academies and middle-class schools, show that education was generally extending, several schools being situated at Quarndon, probably on account of its healthy character.

During the next decade, a further impetus was given to the cause of education by the establishment of a Mechanics' Institution, where lectures, covering a wide range in the arts and sciences, as then known, were delivered in the winter months of each year, beginning with 1825. Others were delivered in the Lancasterian school, the audience numbering from two hundred to four hundred. The practice was generally appreciated, for in 1828, the grocers in the town agreed to close at eight o'clock, to enable their assistants and apprentices to attend the lectures. The old Philosophical Society had


made an attempt, in 1815, to increase its membership by reducing the fee, and occasionally scientific lectures were given, as in 1806, when the theatre was utilised, but it was not until Lord Brougham inaugurated the system in London, that it became general.

One result of this spread of education was the establishment of circulating libraries and the growth of the local press. Until the year 1823, the Mercury was the only newspaper in Derby, although in its early years, a rival, under the name of the Derby Journal, enlightened the public on many of the town grievances, which the Mercury ignored. The Journal, however, became defunct, and for many years the Mercury held the field alone, its volumes forming an invaluable chronicle, although they omit much in the social life of the people which would have interested posterity. The progressive party obtained little notice, for all political changes were regarded as dangerous, such agitators as Cobbett, Orator Hunt, and his Manchester supporters being denounced as "radical maniacs".

In 1823, the Reporter, published by Mr. Walter Pike, was established as the organ of the Reform party for Derby and Chesterfield, the price, like that of the Mercury, being sevenpence. In 1839, the average weekly sale of the Mercury was 1,296, and of the Reporter 1,086, although, as each copy had its round of readers in those days of costly newspapers, these figures afford but a slight index of the actual circulation.

After the establishment of the Reporter, leading articles began to appear, which were often confined


to a string of personalities and abuse of the rival newspaper; for until 1832 it was dangerous to criticise the policy of the Government, who might ruin any newspaper with a libel action.

The Stamp Duty, also, raised the price of the newspaper to a prohibitive figure for the working man, and for many years, the agitation for its repeal was maintained, many persons being imprisoned for selling unstamped newspapers. In April, 1835, Henry Robinson, of Derby, was fined the sum of twenty pounds for this offence, and, being unable to pay, was sent to prison for six months, although he was soon released by order of the Home Secretary.

The Reading-room, in the Market Place, in 1836, contained, besides the Derby newspapers, the London Sun, Standard, Morning Advertiser, Examiner, and John Bull, and the local newspapers from surrounding towns, including Manchester and Hull.

A growing taste for the beautiful in architecture is indicated in the public buildings which date from this period - St John's, opened 1828; the Athenæum and the Roman Catholic Church, 1839; and Christ Church, 1840. The Lecture Hall at the Mechanics' Institution, built in 1837, soon became useful, an exhibition there, in 1839, including specimens of the fine arts, paintings, mechanical, optical, and mathematical apparatus, objects in natural history, and antiquities.[38] In February, 1836,


Mr. McSwiney, the master at the Lancasterian School, left Derby for a scholastic post in the Bahamas, when he was presented with philosophical instruments to the value of thirty-six pounds.

The advent of the Victorian era brought the railway system, with all its political and social changes. The new engineering works gave a higher and steadier rate of wages than the declining trades of silk-throwing and stocking-weaving, and of these changes, Derby reaped the full advantage. The new means of transit grew at once into favour, and for some months after the opening of the railway from Derby to Nottingham, everybody was paying exchange visits; just as, a few years later, thousands were exploring the beauties of Matlock, Haddon, and Chatsworth.

An interesting feature in the town's history, which emphasised the beginning of this new era, was the opening, on September 16th, 1840, of the Arboretum, presented to the town by Mr. Joseph Strutt, who showed the kindly feeling he entertained towards the people of Derby in his speech on that occasion. "As the sun has shone brightly on me through life", he said, "it would be ungrateful in me not to employ a portion of the fortune I possess, in promoting the welfare of those among whom I live, and by whose industry I have been aided in its acquisition".

[14] Within living memory Kedleston water was brought into Derby by one Hough, his donkey carrying two cans suspended from a yoke. There is a letterpaper heading of about 1840 - a view of Derby Market Place - in which old Hough is shown with his donkey passing the Town Hall.
[15] In a letter written by Lord Mahon to Sir Edward Kerrison, dated December 4th, 1839, the writer deplores the destruction of Exeter House, and in particular the loss of the oak panelling of the drawing-room, which, he hoped, "might have been preserved elsewhere, but which was sold in lots and dispersed". Fortunately for Derby, this was not the case. The woodwork, nearly entire, was stowed away in the cellars beneath the Assembly Rooms, where it was discovered some twenty-five years ago by Mr. Alfred Wallis and brought by him before the notice of the late M.T. Bass, Esq., M.P., who was then building the Free Library and Museum in the Wardwick. Mr. Bass instantly gave his consent to the purchase of the panels, and a room in the building was especially contrived to receive them.
[16] They left behind them at Derby one piece of ordnance, a cohort, which after remaining as a curiosity at Breadsall Priory until 1859, unfortunately disappeared in a general sale. Additional authorities for "The 'Forty-five":- MS. letter in Record Office from Geo. English, Mount Sorrell, December 9th, to Jos. Danvers, Esq., M.P., Chelsea, near London. - "Prince Charles Edward" Lang; "Last Jacobite Rising, 1745", Terry; "History of Leek" Sleigh. Hutton's account.
[17] A story, still told in Derby in various ways, narrates how a wager was made at the "Green Dragon" in St. Peter's Street, that one of the company dared not offer the gibbeted corpse a basin of broth "to warm his bones". It was arranged that the ceremony should take place at midnight, as the clock struck the hour. Punctually to the time, the boaster presented himself, and mounting the ladder, exclaimed, "Matthey, thou must be cold up there; here's a basin o' hot broth for thee" ! A sepulchral voice groaned, "Blow-ow it" ! whereupon the valiant one fell to the ground and fled. The conspirators had secreted a well-known itinerant ventriloquist, "Squeaking Jemmy", at the foot of the gibbet, and the plot was successful.
[18] An ancestor of Lord Scarsdale disbursed the following in posting from London to Kedleston Hall in May, 1774:-
Horses to Barnet and bill3190
Ostler and Sundrys026
Horses to St. Albans1100
Do. Dunstable1160
Do. Woburn170
The Bill at Newport153
Waiters at do030
Horses to Northampton270
The Bill at do290
Waiter and Chambermaids056
Horses to Harboro'2130
Do. Leicester250
Do. Loughborough1130
The Bill at do.186
Horses to Kedleston320
Minding the coach030
Postboys and oslers320
"No Garrick here majestic treads the stage,
No Quin, your whole attention to engage,
No practised actor, here, the scene employs,
But a raw parcel of unskilful boys.
As when some peasant, who to treat his lord,
Brings out his little stock and decks his board
With what his ill-stor'd cupboard will afford,
With awkward bows, and ill-placed rustic airs
To make excuses for his feast prepares;
So we, with tremor mix'd with vast delight,
View the bright audience which appears to-night,
And conscious of its meanness, hardly dare
To bid you welcome to our homely fare.
[20] This was the Headless Cross, or "The Plague-stone", now in the Arboretum, but standing (within living memory) built up in part of the wall of the Gaol in Friargate.
[21] In the alterations which took place in 1873-4, much of Bakewell's artist-work in hammered iron was most improperly taken down and sold. The old engravings of the interior and exterior of All Saints' Church bear testimony to the loss that Derby has sustained in this respect.
[22] He left a son, John Raphael Smith, who, as a mezzotint engraver, was no less celebrated than his father. Thomas Smith was a self-taught artist, many of whose landscapes were engraved by Vivares and others. He also used the etching-needle with success.
[23] Mr. John Palmer, of Bath, first started mail-coaches for the conveyance of letters, August 2nd, 1784. A curious copper medal or token, rarely met with now, was struck to commemorate the fact, although, by an oversight, it is undated. It is styled a "Mail Coach Halfpenny. Payable in London", and presents a galloping coach-and-four, with its guard, and the motto, "To Trade, expedition; and to Property, protection". On the reverse, "To J. Palmer, Esq., this is inscribed as a token of gratitude for benefits rec'ed from the establishment of Mail Coaches - J.F."
[24] This small battery is still in existence.
[25] Dr. Granville, writing at this period, says:- "The town is emerging all at once from an almost sepulchral lethargy, thanks to the intersecting lines of railroad. ... I remember when Derby appeared to the traveller one of the dullest county-towns in the heart of England. It is now full of bustle, lively and apparently in the enjoyment of greater wealth, comforts, and even luxury, than it has ever before possessed".
[26] At this Festival, among much standard work, the "Chough and Crow", a glee of Bishop's which has stood the test of time, was performed. Derby evidently enjoyed some notoriety throughout the Midlands on account of these social functions, for four years previously 1815), a Manchester newspaper narrated an incident which "occurred during the last grand music meeting at Derby". On that occasion, the Rev. H___y invited the instrumentalists to dinner at his house in the outskirts, where they gave a selection whilst the table was being prepared. Towards the close of the performance, the reverend gentleman withdrew to fetch the wine from the cellar, returning just in time to hear the closing bars, and to join in the applause. In his enthusiasm he forgot his burden, the bottles fell to the floor, and the wine was lost. Whether there was more in the cellar, the report fails to state.
[27] At usual prices, the theatre, under Manly's regime, held about £90 when well filled. He was an Irishman, and a great favourite in Derby. In 1850 the lessee was Mr. James Faucit Saville, a cousin of the late Lady Martin.
[28] Many years later, Braham, then an old man of eighty, made his last bow to a Derby audience in the Lecture Hall, Wardwick, and sang, with "some remains of his former power, "The Death of Nelson" and "Comin' thro' the Rye".
[29] An advertisement in 1801 gives the number of street lamps as 240, to be lighted, in the whole, 138 nights in the year, from sunset until midnight, and to be supplied with the best oil and cotton. The contractor to make good all breakage at his own expense.
[30] The "soldiers' room", at most of the principal inns, was, as late as 1840, a model of discomfort and unwholesomeness. That of the "Bell" was reached from the stable-yard by a flight of stone steps, below which was a large open pigsty. The "King's Head" was as bad; but the New Inn afforded better quarters.
[31] Thirty years later, Charles Dickens witnessed the execution of F.G. Manning and his wife, at Horsemonger Lane Gaol, and addressed two remarkable letters to the Times, describing the "scene of horror and demoralization", and declaring his "solemn conviction that nothing that ingenuity could devise could - in the same compass of time - work such ruin as one public execution". Some of the suggestions, conveyed by him in these letters, found embodiment in the Act passed in May, 1868, for legalising executions within the prison walls.
[32] The late Mr. Edward Hollingshead, a well-known Derby confectioner, who was an eye-witness of the execution, told the present writer that the fall of the axe upon Brandreth's neck was the signal for heartrending screams, and a cry was raised, "The soldiers are upon us!" - for it was reported that the military had received orders to charge the crowd, and cut down all before them, upon the first signs of disapproval; and the mob, in direful expectation, swayed to and fro, throwing down and trampling upon the weaker ones. Two or more blows were struck before the head was severed, and even then the decapitation had to be completed by the aid of an amputating knife. It is rather remarkable that no looker-on has recorded the decapitation of Ludlam and Turner; the fact being, that the first horror of the situation deprived people of the power of observation, and the concluding butchery passed unnoticed. The popular dread of military violence is noticed by every other witness of the execution with whom the writer has conversed upon the subject.
[33] A sequel to this grim episode, was the ghost which flitted on dark nights from gravestone to gravestone, carrying its head under its arm. The footpath across the churchyard became deserted by all but the bravest after nightfall, until some one, bolder than the rest, solved the mystery by bringing down the ghost with a stone. It was Pegg the barber, from across the way, who with a sheet and the wig-block from his window, contrived to frighten his neighbours for his own amusement, of which the loss of an eye served as a reminder for the rest of his days.
[34] In March, 1818, John Harrison, a young enthusiast, preached in this chapel, drawing so terrible a picture of "death and the judgment" that "many persecutors" interrupted him with their remonstrances, when he replied with increased vigour and silenced them. In the following year, he conducted a lovefeast here, preaching with such earnestness that there was "scarcely a dry cheek".
[35] In Simpson's Walk through Derby, 1827, a woodcut of this chapel shows it surrounded by a light palisade. The wall in question was erected after the migration of the congregation to St. Mary's in 1839-40.
[36] This pretty exhibition was continued by Johnson's successor, E. Hollingshead, until after the commencement of railways. Some old Derby folks may yet remember the lively scene of trains meeting as they passed in and out of a tunnel.
[37] Among remarkable instances of longevity, it is recorded in 1838, that the Wirksworth carrier brought eight old people to Derby to give evidence at the Spring Assizes, whose united ages amounted to 628 years. In March, 1833, died Ellen Haywood in St. Werburgh's parish, aged 106 years, who remembered the rebels coming to Derby in 1745, being then "nineteen years of age and in service". She was seven years old when "Widow Thorp" died in St. Peter's parish, aged 103 years, as recorded in the Mercury in 1734. As a girl, this person might have seen King Charles I. when he passed through Derby in 1642.
[38] This was the first Exhibition of such objects as are here indicated ever brought together in England, and it may not unreasonably be looked upon as the parent of the Great Exhibition held in 1851 in Hyde Park. The Strutts contributed largely to the collection, and many of Mr. Joseph Strutt's pictures then shown still adorn the walls of the Lecture Hall, as his gift to the Institution.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in November 2016.

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