Derby : Its Rise and Progress

By H.W. Davison

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2016

Derby - Its Rise and Progress


AUTHORITIES:- "Gild Merchant", Gros-"Britannia", Camden "Industrial History of England", Gibbins - "Growth of English History and Commerce", Cunningham - "English Wayfaring Life", Jusseram - "Records of Borough of Leicester", Bateson "History of Parish and Priory of Lenton", Godfrey - "Domesday Book, and beyond", Maitland - "History of British Commerce", Leir - "Town Life in Fifteenth Century", Green - "Technical History of Commerce", Yeats - "History of Post-office", Baines - Woolley's MS. {Simpson) - "Through England on a Side-saddle", De Fiene - "History of Hosiery and Lace Manufactures", Felkin - Derby Mercers' Company ("Journal of Derbyshire Archaological and Natural History Society", 1893), H. Arnold-Bemrose - "Derby China Factory", Haslem - "Bow, Chelsea, and Derby Porcelain", W. Bemrose, F.S.A., - Derby Election Trial Report, 1776 - Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, Report of Commissioners - Derby Directory, 1828.

THE local trade of Derby previous to the Conquest, as shown by the few facts recorded in Domesday, was chiefly of an agricultural character. Corn was an abundant product of the neighbourhood, and milling was a general industry in the town. The Saxon highway from north to south indicates the traffic in lead, and the coins struck at


Derby during the reign of several of the Saxon kings, mark it as a place of some importance.

It is through the charters obtained from the Norman kings that we may observe the growth and variety of the town trade. The first and second charters, granted during the century following the Conquest, are both lost, although it is known that one of them permitted the establishment of a Merchant Guild. The third charter, granted by King John in the year 1204, for the sum of sixty-two marks and two palfreys, is extant, being a copy of one previously granted to Nottingham. It confirms the privileges already enjoyed by the town and guild, and makes some valuable extensions. Markets are to be held every Friday and Saturday, to which the farmers may resort with their four-horse wagons and their packhorses, and where no creditor, except the King, shall seize their goods for debt. The borough may also elect its own Bailiff, to collect the market tolls, bridge dues, and other customs, paying the King his portion, one-half at Easter and the remainder at Michaelmas, at which feast the Bailiff's office expired. A greater privilege was the sole right to dye cloth within a circuit of ten miles round Derby, which thus became a staple town for that trade by enforcing the weavers of the surrounding country to bring thither their products.

In the year 1256, the borough paid seventy marks for the privilege of choosing its own coroner and for other liberties; later, sixty marks to allow the County Court to be held in the town, and ten marks for the privilege of expelling the Jews. In the space of about a hundred and fifty years, trade had


evidently grown sufficiently to enable the Merchant Guild to transact its business without borrowed capital, and to purchase concessions from the Crown for substantial sums.

For two centuries or more, the Guild performed the functions for which it was created - it arranged the details of fairs and markets, punished members who offered inferior goods for sale, recovered debts in the courts, and bought new charters, or privileges, with the common fund; but as time advanced, and population increased, it became a monopoly, using its self-assumed powers against its own townsmen. The richer members refused to admit new burgesses to their privileges, unless they submitted to a fine, prohibitive in many cases. Having secured the control of the Guildhall, they gradually assumed that of the market, until by the middle of the thirteenth century, free contract between buyer and seller was becoming difficult In 1283, the Crown discovered that the Guild had exacted excessive tolls in the borough, and as a punishment, their charter was seized, to be redeemed on payment of a fine; but matters did not improve, as the details of an inquiry in 1330 show.

In this trial, the burgesses were summoned before the Crown, when the State lawyer maintained that the terms of the charter had been violated, and recited certain facts, substantiated by twelve witnesses. If a merchant brought his wares to Derby market, and a member of the Guild offered him a price, or "placed his_foot_upon it", as the phrase went, the merchant must either close with him, or take the goods away unsold, for no other


tradesmen in the town would dare to bid over the head of the Guild. Further, if any merchant came to town to buy goods, the Guild merchants sold to him at their own price, the profits made on these unfair transactions being paid into their own exchequer. In other cases, the merchant paid a fine to the Guild to be allowed to sell to whom he pleased, another method of benefiting themselves at the expense of the community. In the end, the charges being proved, the Guild was fined in the sum of forty marks, or about three hundred pounds in modern currency.

In this report of 1330, the staples of Derby trade are given as wine, wool, sheep-skins, leather, and lead - a comprehensive business, maintaining a full and steady market. Wine was a foreign import, denoting a trade with the local nobles and the monastic orders; lead, because of its stability in value, often took the place of money in commerce. In 1307, the Vicar of St Werburgh's possessed pigs of lead, and at the Dissolution, the quantity at Darley Abbey was valued at some thousands of pounds in modern currency. Woolley says that Derby was a storehouse for lead; it formed a basis of the town's credit, and was exported to Stourbridge fair in the early centuries, in exchange for wine and spices and, later, for hops. The wool-fells and leather - the raw material and the finished article - imply other sorts of commerce, and the wool was both a marketable commodity and the basis of the local weaving industry. A glimpse of the Derby woolcombers of the period appears in 1291, when the Leicester Guild summoned one of its


members, Walter de Mountsorrel, for taking women to Derby to prepare wool - a breach of trade-custom, to which he pleaded guilty.

In the course of barter, as maintained between Darley Abbey and the monks of Coventry, Derby supplied saddles and riding furniture, in exchange for needles and soap, the Derby goods representing the work of the craftsmen in Sadler Gate, with the small ironwork executed by the lorimers in the Irongate. Some of the work of the general smiths is known by the items mentioned in the inventory of articles taken from Walter de London, Vicar of St. Werburgh's, in 1307 - a cresset or portable fire-grate, a pair of andirons or hearth-dogs, two pairs of plough-irons, and a quantity of chain. The corn-mills, with their clumsy wooden machinery, the brewing-vats, and the coopers' ale-barrels, all required minor ironwork from the smiths, whose forges in Iron Gate lay on that side of the town nearest to the natural supplies of iron around Codnor. The Farriers' Guild recalls the shoeing smith and the nailer, "Derby horse-nails" being a trade-term to this day. Later, the Belper nailers worked under Derby masters, who supplied them with rod-iron, showing that the trade at some period migrated to a district where there was no guild, and, consequently, no restrictions.

This expansion of trade under the Plantagenets is further shown by the erection of a new bridge over the Derwent about 1330. In 1326, King Edward II. remitted his share of the bridge-tolls for the repair of the old structure, and in 1328, the new King, Edward III, granted the same tolls for three years. Whether the bridge was rebuilt or repaired at this


time is not recorded, but it is certain that a new bridge was in existence at the end of that century, as shown by the style of architecture of the Bridge Chapel still existing. It is also significant that although no pontages or tolls for bridge repairs are recorded after 1329, the King, in 1383, permitted the town tolls to be used for paving purposes for seven years, a concession denoting increased traffic.[52]

At Swarkestone, also, in 1339, the King permitted the Bailiffs and men of Derby to collect the tolls for three years for the repairs of the bridge, a further pontage being granted in 1347, as the structure was still ruinous and broken.

There is little to show when the market was transferred from the Saxon Cheapside (St Werburgh's Churchyard) to its present site, although the lawsuit of 1316 proves that the removal occurred before 1308, the Act forbidding fairs and markets to be held in churchyards, belonging to the year 1285. It is also significant that in 1290, King Edward I.


granted his share of the town tolls to be used for paving purposes for four years.[53]

It is possible to glean from the street names of the modern town of Derby a few details respecting the various trades congregated there during this period of expansion after the Conquest The Rotten Row - the Norman "Route du _ Roi", the "King's highway" - indicates the main road through the town. Sadler Gate and Iron Gate point to two important trades of that day - the saddler and the smith, the workers in leather and in iron - for the craftsmen and artisans worked together in communities each in its own street or lane, and each governed by its special Guild or Brotherhood. In the two centuries following the Conquest, the work of the smith became sub-divided into several branches, amongst others, the armourer, who, after finishing the helmet or coat of mail, delivered it to the saddler, who lined it with leather to make the burden of such apparel less irksome.

Across the Market Place was Leather Lane, where along the brook side, the fell-mongers, tanners, and curriers, prepared the raw material for their brother-tradesmen in the Sadler Gate, amidst an odour which our modern niceness has long since refused to tolerate. The marshy nature of the ground lower down the stream is shown by the name Morledge the "edge of the mere", or lake - the wide basin of the Derwent in the neighbourhood still denoting its old character, when the Holmes - the "island" of


Saxon times - was surrounded by much broader streams than at present.[54] Passing to the higher ground along the river side, we find Full Street, a name preserving the memory of the "Fullers", or cloth-workers, who carried on the business of fulling and dyeing doth, the former process being effected by a class of artisans who walked barefooted in the vats of cloth, and were on that account called "walkers". These people may have lived in Walker Lane, or "Walkers' Lane", as it is marked in Speed's map of 1610.[55]

Upon the outskirts of this medieval town dwelt the Jews, hated, yet indispensable to early trade, their settlement being preserved in the name Jury (Jewry) Street, answering to the Ghetto of Continental cities.

To turn from the practical side of life to the spiritual, we find, under the shadow of the principal church of All Saints', Amen Alley, where the mass-books and breviaries used by those ancient churchgoers could be purchased.[56] On the opposite side of the churchyard dwelt the secular priests of All Saints' in their common-house or college, preserved in the name, College Place. Across the brook, the Black Friars established themselves on Markeaton (vulgularly, "Mar'ton") Lane, known in our day as Friar Gate, although further west, where it has long since been abandoned for the present Ashbourne Road, it is still known by its old name.


Crossing this Mar'ton Lane was the old Roman highway, which still formed a conspicuous feature in the landscape when Dr. Stukeley, the antiquary, passed through Derby in 1721.

Such names as Darley Grove, Green Lane, Park Street, and Grove Street imply that in those times the woodland came close to the town, and, save for the church towers, hid it from the view of the travellers. The streams intersecting streets and roads were crossed at fords, some of which were used until the nineteenth century,[57] and landmarks were difficult to find after nightfall or in bad weather. As late as 1634, four persons perished between Chaddesden and Derby in a heavy snowstorm, the highway being unenclosed. With such roads across open moors or through forests, where the brushwood left only a narrow passage, the benighted wayfarer welcomed the sound of the curfew-bell, which has continued to toll nightly from the tower of All Saints' down to our own day. Although its usefulness has long since disappeared, it probably connects us, in an unbroken record, with the stern rule of the Norman, when the Saxon reluctantly smothered his fire; with the primitive roads of the Middle Ages, when its sound guided the traveller; and with the eight o'clock bell, which for centuries announced to artisan and apprentice the welcome close of the day's work.[58]


Every tradesman worked with his apprentices in his shop, with its front open to the narrow street, the room behind constituting his home. If the house possessed a second floor or "solar", it was sometimes a much later addition to the original dwelling, this upper story being enlarged by a projection over the street on pillars, obstructing a thoroughfare already narrow, such a case being mentioned in the town complaint of 1276. With this limited domestic accommodation, with narrow streets and narrower by-ways, where every variety of noisome trade was carried on, the sanitary condition of the town was favourable for the ravages of plague and disease, although the noxious vapours might be mingled with the scents of malting and brewing houses. Certainly,


the green fields and woods were close at hand, but the townspeople troubled themselves but little about sanitation, for the laws of health were a sealed book, only to be explained to their less robust descendants. In the town complaint before mentioned, it is stated that a certain burgess built a pigsty as an encroachment on the narrow street. Had he built it within his own ground, it does not appear that any offence would have been given, for he would only have been following the common example.

That it was customary to keep swine even in the crowded quarters of the town appears from a complaint made by the debtors confined in the gaol over the brook in 1690, where they state that the gaoler is accustomed, when the sty is flooded by a rise of the stream, to put_his pigs, five or six, as may be, into the common room with the debtors, and that they have great difficulty in preventing them from coming into their cells.[59] Salted pork formed the staple meat


during the Middle Ages; and the ravages of leprosy, of which Derby had its share, are considered to have been due to this food. Evidence of the town trade in swine is indirectly preserved in the local simile for snoring - "Driving pigs over Swarkestone Bridge", the reference being to the noise made by the herds of swine driven along a confined or narrow causeway.

In fair-time, these narrow streets and lanes were crowded with strangers and their merchandise, business being transacted there, and the chapman


with his pack mingled with the merry-andrews and the ballad-mongers. The great fair of St. James, which lasted sixteen days, has already been referred to, being as important to the trading community as to the holiday apprentice and the craftsman.

As merchants from neighbouring towns came to do business at Derby fair, so their brethren of Derby carried merchandise to the fairs in the adjoining counties, and, still further, to the great fair of Stourbridge, near Cambridge, where traders from every country in Europe came to sell and to barter. The pigs of lead from the Peak, and the sacks of malt for which Derby was famous, were transported on packhorses or in wagons to the nearest navigable point on the Trent, Wilne Ferry, from whence they were taken by water to the great fair on the Cam.

As already shown, this steady growth of commerce was due in part to the decay of the feudal system, with its turbulent baronage and fortified castles, whereby the highways and waterways became more secure. As a consequence, the crafts of armourer and arrowsmith declined, and the farrier and nailer grew into prominence. The clumsy leathern dress of the earlier centuries gave place, generally, to woven fabrics, and the various trades in leather became limited, principally, to those of shoemaker and harness-maker.[60] In the list of Guilds which provided


candles before the altars in All Saints' Church, at the end of the fifteenth century, the Farriers' and Shoemakers' are mentioned, showing two of the trade communities of that period.

This change in the dress of the common people caused an increase in the number of weavers or websters, for although no mention is made of any guild of that trade, yet throughout the kingdom at large the exactions of the towns drove the workers beyond the boundaries, and the weavers, like the stockingers of a later period, worked generally in the surrounding villages, drawing their supplies of yarn from the country spinning-wheels. The weaver, however, brought his cloth to Derby to be fulled and dyed, and generally to the town market for sale.[61]

The great plague of 1349-76 also effected changes, political and economic, which encouraged village industry. Although no mention of this epidemic occurs in the borough annals, the ecclesiastical records show that two-thirds of the clergy of Derby died, besides the Prior of the Friary, the Prioress of the Nunnery, and the chantry-priest of St. Peter's; and it is inferred from these data that the mortality among the people in Derby and neighbourhood was as serious as in the country generally.[62]


A historical relic which shows the frequency and dreadful character of these epidemics still remains in Derby - a portion of the cross which was made use of to protect the market people from infection. It was the custom at those times to hold a temporary market on the outskirts of the town, where the country people might dispose of their produce with the least danger of contracting the plague, this market being held at Derby, near the point where the Roman way crossed the road to Ashbourne, the wide street denoting its position to this day. Whether this market was instituted during the time of the Black Death, there is no record to tell, but as, in documents of 1483, the cross is called "the Hedles Cros", and "Broken Crosse", it is plain that it was in the same condition then as it is to-day.

Nor was this space used only as a market-place in time of plague. The Judges of Assize, travelling on circuit with their attendants, naturally objected to risk their lives by entering a town so infected, and the court was accordingly held in a tent erected near the Plague Cross. An entry of the year 1514 states that "Sir William Milnes, the Judge, was obliged to keep the Assize and County Court at the market cross". No reason is given, but the obvious explanation is that the plague was in the town. Another instance occurred as late as the year 1645, when "Derby being visited" (an ^euphemism for "the plague being in Derby"), the Assizes were held in the adjoining space "in Frier Yarde", the monks having vacated the place a century previously.

Although trade suffered only a partial stagnation at such times, the Black Death of 1349-76, by its


unusual severity, caused changes in the conditions of labour and of servitude, which were general and permanent The scarcity of population, after the epidemic, caused a dearth of labour, which raised wages and created a condition of independence in the country; this gradually forced the farmer to throw much arable land into pasture, thereby increasing the supply of wool and, consequently, the number of weavers.

Throughout the fifteenth century, the gradual extinction of serfdom after the Black Death also increased the manufacture of hats, for the serf had gone bareheaded. The flat cap, the common head-gear of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, found employment for many in Derby, but the trade declined towards the beginning of the Tudor period, although Henry VIII. and Elizabeth both attempted its revival.[63] The cloth woven in and around Derby does not appear to have equalled in fineness that of Warwickshire, etc., for Sir Ralph Sadler, in his account of the household requirements at Tutbury Castle in 1585, mentions that coarse cloths could be brought by the Derby carrier, but that for finer fabrics he was obliged to send to Coventry.

The old restrictions which the Guild imposed upon the market in the fourteenth century, were repeated in later years in the unfair method known as "engrossing", by which a merchant or combination



bought up the market stocks, to retail the goods at their own price; or these people bought the stocks before they even came to market, a system of "forestalling" which robbed the town of its market-dues, and maintained uncertainty regarding prices and quantities.

The law, it is true, forbade both these practices, ordering that corn and provisions should be sold in open market; although the frequent reminders to traders, calling on them to read these statutes, show that evasion was general. As early as 1339, many complaints were made of the forestalling of Derby market, and in 1577, the County Justices report the result of their efforts to restrict the engrossing of wool. Camden, in his description of Derby in 1607, is more explicit. "The wealth of this town", he says, "arises entirely from buying up corn, and retailing it to the people of the uplands (country people), and; almost all the inhabitants (merchants) are forestallers of this sort".[64]

The method of engrossing (with which Camden evidently includes forestalling) consisted in buying large quantities of corn during a season of cheapness, and storing it, in the hope that the following year would prove a season of scarcity, when prices would rise, and the corn merchant, or "curmudgeon" (as he was termed by the common people), would make an undue profit. On the other hand, it has been shown that the great increase in sheep-farming under the Tudors, diverted much land from arable to pasture,


and the quantity of corn having seriously declined, the price had risen. The engrossers in Derby in many instances were the maltsters, who naturally bought large stocks of grain when the price was low, and who, being numerous and wealthy, ruled the market; for in those days, the means of transit were slow and expensive, and famine might exist in one district whilst plenty abounded in another.

During the early centuries, famine and plague occasionally swept through the land, with direful results, and there is no reason for believing that Derby was more fortunate than its neighbours. We find that the first record of famine occurs in the bald statement of the year 1556, when "there was great dearth in corn" in Derby, causing the price to rise beyond the reach of indigent people, as it continued to do at intervals, down to modern times.

Parliament periodically attempted to remedy this evil, but without avail. In 1534, they sought to encourage corn-growing by imposing fines on any landowners keeping more than two thousand sheep; and in 1597, a statute was passed forbidding maltsters to become burgesses - an act which struck at a number of influential people in Derby, where, on its repeal, seventy-five years later, twelve maltsters applied for the franchise. Again, in 1623, an effort was made to cope with the distress. In consequence of the scarcity of corn during the preceding winter, the price began to rise, whereupon Parliament ordered the authorities to take measures for the relief of the poor and commonalty. The Bailiffs consequently reported in March that they had taken note of all the corn in the town; had limited the quantities to


be used by the ale-house keepers for brewing; had arranged for a hundred and forty quarters to be sold weekly to the poor, below the market price; and had stipulated for the quantity to be brought to market. The quantity of barley used for malting, as already noticed, made a serious deduction from the common stock, but the maltsters were strongly suspected of adding the practice of engrossing to their legitimate business.

The statement of the Bailiffs regarding the alehouses indicates that brewing, also, was an extensive trade in Derby in those days. Camden and other writers also mention that the town was noted for its ale, which was sent as far as London, "doubtless by water.[65]

Allied with brewing was the trade of the baker, another old Derby industry, for the ancient records of All Saints' inform us that in the fifteenth century the Bakers' Guild maintained the cost of altar-candles, and the legend that Dale Abbey was founded by a Derby baker, who lived in St. Mary's Gate, may fix the site of their trade as early as the thirteenth century. The "burgh mill" at the foot of this street, where the townsmen ground their corn, lends support to the legend, and the cucking-stool which


stood over the mill dam at this spot may, by the Act of 1266, have been originally erected for drenching fraudulent brewers and bakers. The proximity of this town mill further suggests that the name Bold Lane refers to the bolting mills.

The baking trade in Derby, previous to the seventeenth century, appears to have been only local, for, as Camden states, much of the corn passing through Derby market was sold to the country gentry, who baked their bread at home. In the account-book of Sheriff Rhodes, in 1591, the twenty scores of loaves for his retainers were brought from home, although "cates" or confectionery were bought in the town; but during the seventeenth century, a great improvement was effected in the mode of baking by the general use of yeast (barm), and Derby, with its numerous brew-houses, naturally became a centre for the baking of small table-loaves, which were supplied to the houses of the gentry, both far and near. These loaves were the hard-baked bread common at that period, which could be stored for some time without growing stale, and Woolley informs us (1712) that many bakers made fortunes by this local export trade.

Traffic grew considerably during the seventeenth century, the same authority stating that there were "a good number of coaches kept by the gentry of town and neighbourhood"; the streets of Derby were, however, still ill-paved, for a lady passing through about 1695 says that most of the goods were carried on sledges to prevent their being upset.

During the Tudor period, even so late as the time of Elizabeth, the roads around Derby were of a


primitive description. From Sir Ralph Sadler's account of the road between Wingfield and Derby, it appears that part of it was only a packhorse way, although the last few miles between Kilburn and Derby may have been a cartway to the quarries and coalpits for some centuries previous; for coal was worked in this district certainly as early as the fourteenth century, and a quarry at Little Eaton was the property of All Saints' in 1329. The road from Derby to Tutbury could have been little used for wheel traffic, for Sir Ralph observes that plate and other articles might be brought on horseback by the Derby carrier much cheaper than by cart, adding (perhaps with a recollection of his own rough experience a week before) that the trunk used for the purpose should be well lined with canvas, evidently to protect the articles in the jolting they must needs undergo.

From the position of the ancient shrine of St. Alkmund, it seems to have been placed where the road to the bridge was crossed by the old way from the North, still known to the oldest inhabitant as Darley Grove, along which travelled, as late as Woolley's time, the trains of packhorses carrying pigs of lead from Wirksworth to Derby market. There was also considerable traffic over the Roman Street to Burton and Lichfield, along which the King occasionally passed with a crowd of courtiers and nobles, on his way to the Royal castle of Nottingham; the bishop, with his staff of assistants, lay and clerical, making the tour of his diocese; or the merchant, with his packhorses from Coventry fair, or laden with salt from Droitwich.


The bulk of the Derby exports were sent southward; for manufacturing and trading England lay, in those days, almost "wholly south of Trent. This traffic was along the Osmaston Road, leading to the bridge over the Trent at Swarkestone, which had long been under the control of the Derby Guild, for in the year 1275, a complaint was laid against the merchants of Melbourne for passing over the bridge without paying toll to the borough of Derby. The importance of this route is also made manifest by the Earl of Shrewsbury's arrangements in 1536 to stop the rebels of the North, when they threatened to march into the Midlands.

The traffic along the highway between Derby and Nottingham was also important, and Nottingham commanded the passage over Trent, down which much of the Derby produce found its way to the Humber, the two towns being intimately associated, both in their trade and in their political policy. The road leading westward from Nottingham was known as "Derbigate" certainly as early as 1301, and in 1376 the commons of the county of Derby joined with their neighbours in reporting to the Good Parliament the dangerous condition of the Trent bridge at Nottingham.

The great fairs in town and country were held during the summer and autumn months, when the roads were passable and the days long for travel. Coventry fair was held in June, the fair of St. James at Derby in August, and the greater fair at Stourbridge in September. With narrow ways, often passing through forests where the brushwood came close to the path, the danger from outlaws and


footpads was always imminent, and as late as the year 1511, the Bailiffs of Derby were ordered to make proclamation for the better enforcing of the Statute of Winchester, which demanded that the woods should be cleared for a distance of two hundred feet on either side of the highway, to prevent rogues from lurking there.

This primitive condition of the highways around Derby shows that the town was comparatively isolated from the country in general. It was still, as stated some centuries earlier, "in regione Britannia remota" (in a remote part of Britain), and the old lay of the bells which sings:

"Fresh herrings come to town!
They stinken!"

may refer to its inland character, where fresh (unsalted) fish from the sea was decidedly stale by the time it reached Derby.[66]

As this isolation of the town tended to restricted markets, where prices were at the mercy of a few wealthy merchants, so in the borough government the same people attempted to monopolise the privileges which were the property of many of the burgesses.

The collective system of land tenure, by which


each inhabitant of the town or village tilled his share of the common land, was still in force at the time of Domesday in many of the village communities, after it had practically disappeared from the towns. Derby is one of the few instances in which this ancient system existed, although in a mutilated form, for, as already noticed, Domesday states that of the two hundred and forty-three burgesses, forty-one possessed common land enough for twelve ploughs. Whether this division into landed, and landless, dated from the Danish settlement, or whether the privileged burgesses were the descendants of the original settlers in the town, is uncertain, but it is plain that even at this early date all the burgesses were not of equal rank; and although individual burgesses may have acquired this privilege during succeeding centuries, it is not probable that the whole of the burgesses, at any time after the Conquest, had a share in the common lands around the town. For four centuries, there is no record to show what changes occurred in the division of the town property, and it is only by an examination of the condition of affairs at the end of the fifteenth century that the movements which took place in the long interval can be conjectured with more or less probability.

During the Middle Ages, instances occur of individuals encroaching on the common lands, but no mention is made of any organised design by the Guild or other public body to rob its fellows: in fact, the crafts' guilds, into which the humbler artisans banded themselves, would have resisted such attempts; but as trade declined in the fifteenth century, the distinction between the few rich and the many poor


widened, and the old privileges became jeopardised. The townspeople previously mentioned collectively, as "burgesses", became distinguished as "burgesses and community", the "burgesses" representing the oligarchy, who ruled the "community" or common burgesses, and at intervals attempted to oust them from their ancient rights. The town lands, instead of being apportioned equally, were so divided that the best plots fell to the "burgesses", and the rest to the "community", old landmarks were quietly removed, and as boundaries became forgotten, strips of land called "intakes" were enclosed as private property, which had formerly been public.

The first recorded instance of this struggle for land in Derby belongs to the year 1495, when "the Bayley and Burgesses were presented for enclosing Chester Green, and were under a pain of court to throw it open". Here it appears that the "burgesses" (using the word in its restricted sense), acting with the bailiff, enclosed the Green for their advantage, and to the detriment of the greater part of the burgesses, who took action against them, and succeeded in regaining their rights.

Only one bailiff is mentioned in the above statement, although the town certainly possessed two from the time of Edward III., and in 1523, when a subsidy was granted to the King for four years, it was ordered that the collectors for Derby should be the Bailiff, John Porte, serjeant-at-law, and four substantial burgesses, all mentioned by name. The inference that the second bailiff occupied an inferior position at this period is further supported by the town record of 1568, which states that "in


this year the election was altered, and two were maintained in the vestry by the four-and-twenty". Judging by the changes which were taking place in neighbouring boroughs, this entry shows that for some period prior to 1568, a body of four-and-twenty self-elected burgesses enjoyed the privilege of electing one of the bailiffs, the second being elected by the remaining body of common burgesses; but in the year mentioned, this select council, feeling themselves strong enough to encroach further, proceeded to elect both officers, making the town government a strictly close corporation, by excluding the majority of the burgesses from the election.[67]

During the following century, little is heard of these troubles regarding the town lands, for the Reformation was the indirect means of adding largely to the borough property. The estates in land and buildings, which belonged to various churches and monastic houses in Derby, were appropriated by Henry VIII. at the Dissolution, but his daughter Mary, anxious to gain the friendship of the town towards her Romish policy, made a gift of much of the plunder to the burgesses. The large meadow in the Markeaton valley, which once belonged to the Nunnery, the estate on which the castle and its environs formerly stood (which appears to have


been for centuries the property of St. Peter's Church), and the corn-mill at the foot of St. Michael's Lane, formed part of a gift, which appears to have earned the gratitude of the Derby townspeople; for it is stated on reasonable grounds that Queen Street and King Street were named in honour of Mary and her Spanish consort, a number of houses being built along the road, previously described as "the lane att Irongate ende".

In these religious changes, the town guilds, also, were swept away, with their altars, chantries, and private property, and the resentment caused by these confiscations was further aggravated by the county magistrates taking part in the town government, an innovation which met with strong disapproval from the burgesses, who jealously guarded the ancient privileges of their borough. Consequently, when, in 1539, the Derby lawyer records that "there was much confusion concerning Justices of Peace sitting in the Town Hall", we are to understand that the change met with high words and some opposition.[68]

In the year 1590, the old dispute concerning the common lands again burst into flame, when the burgesses took the law into their own hands, and "destroyed Edward Smith's corn in the Siddals".


The ancient system of cultivating these lands was for each burgess to have his portion allotted to him, on which he grew his crop of wheat, barley, or rye, which must be harvested by Michaelmas, when all fences were removed, and the common used for pasturage until the following Lady-day, when it was again enclosed, and made arable. One of the grievances incident to this method was that burgesses of influence disregarded these customs, and by neglecting to remove their crops at Michaelmas, prevented the land from becoming "common" at the recognised time - a grievance which Woolley hints existed as late as his day. Mr. Smith was a town official, and the burgesses forcibly removed the fences around his corn, which they trampled down and destroyed. In 1599, the four Chamberlains responsible for the unsatisfactory division of the common lands were expelled from office, although evidently without effecting any improvement, for in 1603 and 1604 further disturbances occurred, when the rioters began to remove the fences six or seven weeks before Michaelmas. On the second occasion, several burgesses were indicted at the Assizes, and sent to gaol - a rebuff which taught them to proceed more warily, for in the next year (1605), continuing their opposition, they kept within the law by impounding Mr. Needham's cattle for coming into the Siddals. Cattle occasionally strayed beyond the bounds allotted to their owners, and Mr. Needham, either by accident or design, had encroached on his neighbours pasture. In the Court records of the manor of Little Chester for the year 1642, Francis Gorse and others were


presented "for eating other men's grasse with their cattle", and were each fined twelve pence.

These riots were part of a widespread revolt against the enclosure of common lands which became i general during the sixteenth century. They were evidently connected with the general rising of the people calling themselves "levellers", whose object was "to level and lay open the commons, without exercising any measure of theft or violence upon any man's goods or cattle". This movement assumed rather formidable proportions in the North Midlands in 1607, under one Captain Pouch, who, with some of his followers, was taken and executed. The insurrection aroused the attention of the Government to the miserable condition of the poor, through the periodical scarcity of corn, and some efforts were made to improve matters, although the substantial remedy was eventually found in the development of the mineral resources of the district.

To deal with these Derby rioters of 1604, it was necessary to summon county Justices of the Peace to form a special court; but a new charter obtained in 1611, enacted that the two bailiffs, with their predecessors in office, should in future act as justices for the borough - a concession which removed a long-standing grievance. The existence of the council of twenty-four was also recognised by this charter, although their powers were still challenged by the community, for in 1616 there was "great controversy over choosing bailiffs", and the statement of the following year that "two bailiffs were maintained by the company of twenty-four", shows that the encroachment of 1568 had not been


systematically maintained Directly or indirectly, now by noisy opposition in the Common Hall, and now by more violent opposition in regard to the burgess lands, the commoners had still to be reckoned with, and the report of the bailiffs of the year 1623, indicates the efforts they were making to prevent famine, and that they were anxious to retain the good feeling of the community, their action being in strong contrast with that of the county magistrates.

In the year 1637, the government of the town was re-modelled. Instead of the Bailiffs, who had done duty for some four hundred years, the ruling body was henceforward to consist of a Mayor, Aldermen, Brethren, and Capital Burgesses, the arrangement being a compromise, intended to satisfy the two classes into which the community had become divided. The Brethren and Capital Burgesses were to number fourteen each, but the former were to be self-elected, by which the power was still retained by the old oligarchy, whilst the latter represented the community.

This partly representative government worked more satisfactorily than the ancient system; the details of a dispute which arose some thirty-six years later showing that an attempt was made to settle the matter justly. In 1673, a number of suits were brought against Mr. Mellor, of Babington House, who had enclosed part of some common lands, known as Little Field and Castle Field. The burgesses, however, were not satisfied with the result of the litigation, for in the August of the following year, a crowd of apprentices, journeymen, and other tradesmen, pulled down many of the fences which


enclosed these "intakes", and made a bonfire of them, and, in consequence, three county gentlemen were chosen as arbitrators to settle the dispute.

Since then, occasional outbreaks of little moment have occurred, but a new era of manufactures and steady wages was beginning, and population grew, partly by a slow influx of strangers, among whom the freeman became a privileged person, enjoying the bounty of the Mayor and of the Borough Members. Nevertheless, during the eighteenth century, the Corporation estates were often manipulated in a manner which would not bear investigation, and a mass of information was laid before the Commissioners of 1833, showing that strong disapproval existed on the question.

Under the close Corporation which ruled the town until 1835, no public account of revenues from town lands was rendered, and much suspicion was engendered. The town property is said to have "been continuously wasting" during that period, and Hutton slyly remarks that as it consisted of fifty-four estates, it was a difficult matter to watch it all. Glover (or, rather, his editor, Mr. Noble) goes further, and hints that the Castle Field, which Mr. Mellor encroached upon, was "conveyed" in a mysterious manner to the Borough Recorder in the reign of George II., and when sold in 1822, realised £22,000.

The gradual transfer of the State Executive from the King to his Cabinet, which began in the reign of Charles II., and became established under the rule of the Georges, gave rise to the scandal of pocket-boroughs, by which the nobility controlled the votes of members in the House of Commons, and


maintained their party in office, or assisted them to oust their rivals. The Duke of Devonshire, whose political influence grew from the time of the Reformation, was one of the bulwarks of the Whig or Country party, and Derby became a pocket-borough in his nomination. Election contests occasionally occurred, as when some county family of the opposite party ventured to cross swords with the Cavendishes, but, in the main, the Whig interest prevailed. In 1742, the ancient family of the Poles of Radbourn tried issues with them, and, being worsted, challenged the election, on the ground of undue influence. Consequently, on April 3rd, the Mayor and several Aldermen set out for London from the George Inn by coach, many of the burgesses having started a week earlier, probably by the stage wagon, which, travelling leisurely, slept every night by the way. The affair, however, ended in a fiasco, for a messenger met the travellers at Market Harboro' with the news that Mr. Pole had withdrawn his petition.

In the election of 1774, already noticed, the losing party again petitioned, and as the matter was examined this time before a Parliamentary Committee, a mass of information came to light. At this election, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Gisborne, the Devonshire nominee, were returned, the Tory candidate, Mr. Daniel Parker Coke, being defeated by fourteen votes.

It appeared that it was customary, on the eve of an election, for the two parties to seek out all those townsmen who were eligible as burgesses, and to secure their influence at the same time that their


names were added to the burgess-roll. The Mayor, Mr. Heath, a banker, was said to have made himself particularly energetic in the Devonshire interest, one witness stating that His Worship solicited his vote at the Queen's Head Inn, and hinted that there would be a distribution of the town's money among their friends after the election.[69]

Moreover, when the Mayor should have been attending Common Hall for the swearing-in of burgesses, he was conducting the sons of the Duke of Devonshire around the town, soliciting votes. A graver charge against him was that he held a Common Hall, at which sufficient burgesses were enrolled to secure the election of the Whig candidate, but that he refused to admit the eligible townsmen brought forward by the opposite party. Mr. Heath, on cross-examination, proved to have a bad memory, but appears to have been guilty of charges which, unscrupulous as they may appear in our day, merely reflected the political morals of the time. He may have been in money difficulties (he was a bankrupt about four years later), and the office of Mayor was worth two hundred guineas a year, not to mention secret-service money. The charge of bribery and corruption was considered as proved, and, in the end, the Devonshire nominee, Mr. Gisborne, was unseated, and Mr. Coke was elected in his stead.


Some sidelights on the social life of Derby at this period are furnished by the witnesses examined at this trial. They included every grade in the society of the town, from the gentry of the neighbourhood - the Wilmots and the Harpurs, who organised the Tory opposition - down through the mayor, town clerk, parish clerk, tradesmen of all descriptions - butchers, hatters, framework knitters, tile-makers and lapidaries - to the idle apprentice, Sam. Johnson, who ran away to Nottingham before five years of his apprenticeship were served. He returned penniless to Derby on the eve of the election, with the object of joining the freemen and selling his vote, but his hopes were frustrated, for being a pauper, he was unable to advance the town clerk's fee, and was rejected.

According to the evidence of other witnesses, this fee, paid for enrolment, had recently been appropriated by a late mayor, Mr. Eaton, although he was afterwards obliged to refund it. The loose method of admitting burgesses was made apparent by the evidence of this gentleman, who admitted that he held several Common Halls during his term of office, at which he alone was present, for the purpose of enrolling burgesses. The custom down to 1772, was to call a Common Hall of twenty members, but in that year it was agreed that such a court for admitting burgesses might consist of the Mayor and three Aldermen. Mr. Eaton, however, went a step further, and erected [sic - 'elected'?] himself into a Common Hall. From the evidence of Mr. Lockett, town clerk since 1765, who evidently resented this action of the Mayor, it appeared that counsel's


opinion was taken, after which this innovation was stopped. Mr. Eaton was emphatic in declaring that he "did not get a pin by it", that "the money was in a window to be ready" when the persons called for it, after the system was declared illegal, but he further admitted that some did not call.[70]

Reading between the lines, it is plain that the Whig interest ruled in the town, and that the burgess list was kept safe for that party. The opposition made a great effort before this election to reverse the order of the day, about four-and-twenty candidates for the burgess-ship being taken in a body to the Town Hall by Sir H. Harpur, Edward Wilmot, Esq., and several other gentlemen, at an hour when the Mayor and Corporation were known to be assembled in Common Hall, and their enrolment demanded. As related by the various witnesses before the Committee in London, the scene which followed was somewhat exciting. Mr. Grainger, the Corporation steward, was with the Council when this surprise visit took place, who, in a high-handed manner, questioned the right of the deputation to be present, saying "if he


had any command there, they should not stay there"; but on being overruled by the Town Clerk, he bounced out of the room in a passion. The deputation continued to press their suit, their followers crowding at the door, and threatening to overflow the room. The Mayor tried to temporise by pleading the amount of business before him, and proposing to put off the swearing-in to the next meeting. The deputation, suspecting some such subterfuge, "came prepared with all legal requisites, and complained of the trouble of beating-up their forces a second time. The Mayor still refused to yield, and perceiving that he was distrusted by the company, carried the day by a coup d'êtat. Placing his hand on his breast, he exclaimed, "Gentlemen, do you doubt my honour? You shall be admitted!" whereupon the crowd was satisfied, and withdrew.

In the sequel, however, John Harrison stated that on the day appointed, he waited half-an-hour at the Town Hall for the Mayor, and then found him canvassing in Full Street, as already stated. He beckoned his Worship across the street, and reminded him of his promise, but was informed that he had changed his mind, and had decided to admit no more before the election, because he found that he had been imposed upon, and had admitted candidates on false credentials.

With such powerful influences, it is not surprising that the Whig candidates were generally elected without opposition. Occasionally, the members, on passing through Derby, would meet the gentlemen of the town at dinner, and "render an account of


their stewardship", and at election times the usual official advertisement from the Sheriff appeared in the local newspaper, respecting the nomination of candidates, followed in the same issue by letters of thanks from the Whig members, duly elected without opposition. For thirty years previous to the Reform Bill of 1832, there was no Parliamentary contest in Derby, the Whigs maintaining their supremacy by occasionally asking the Duke to nominate some of his tenants as faggot-voters, and so preventing the number of Whig freemen from "getting low", a course which "kept the Tories quiet".[71]

It was hardly to be expected, therefore, that the old system of bribery at elections, which the freemen regarded as one of their privileges, would disappear suddenly with the advent of reform, for among the artisan and poorer classes the freeman was still the only burgess possessing a vote. Consequently, bribery, which had become almost unknown in Derby, owing to the absence of political contests, became rampant after 1832, for in the exposure which followed the election of 1852, a Select Committee of the House of Commons reported that "an organised system of bribery had been carried on in


the borough" during several elections, the price of votes varying from one pound to three.

During the latter election, an agent of the Government candidate turned traitor, and informed the opposition of the bribery which was being secretly practised by the party which had trusted him. The chairman of the opposition committee forthwith proceeded, with several policemen in plain clothes, to the County Tavern, where, having followed the instructions of placing their fingers on their lips, and giving the password, "Tt's all right, Radford sent us", they were enabled to reach the "Man in the Moon", who was discovered with three hundred pounds in gold and notes, and with a list of voters, whom he admitted had already been bribed. A discreditable item in the affair was that one of the notes was traced to the Secretary for War, who was subsequently censured by the Committee of Inquiry.

The extension of the borough franchise in 1867 practically destroyed the election privileges of the resident freemen, almost the only advantage they now possess over their fellow-burgesses being a very slight interest in the common lands of the borough.

The trade of the town, which continued growing and extending during the Stuart period, was destined, during the eighteenth century, under the management of Lombe, Strutt, and Duesbury, to change Derby from a small town of four thousand people, mainly dependent on its market and its gentry, to a centre of trade, whose mills and factories excited the interest and admiration of the passing traveller.

At the close of the seventeenth century, the


business of malting was still prominent, there being seventy-six malthouses in Derby in 1693, and it still maintained its reputation for ale. The manufacture of gloves points to the existence of many rich people in the town, without the well-known observation of Defoe, who, passing through about 1720, described it as "a town of gentry rather than trade". The ancient lead traffic also continued, but the rich stores of coal and iron in the vicinity were little used. House-coal was carted into the town from Denby, at a cost of fourpence per hundredweight or less, but iron smelting by coal was still in its infancy. The bakers' ovens were heated with wood, large stacks of faggots being kept at the bakeries, not without danger from fire, as the town records show.

An ingenious contrivance erected about 1692 was the town's water supply. A wheel in the Derwent pumped water into a cistern on St. Michael's Church, from whence it was delivered through pipes laid under the streets. These were elm trunks, bored by power obtained from the same wheel that pumped the water, and which also ground corn, continuing at work when the river was in flood, and all other wheels were submerged and useless; for this native genius, Sorocold, had fixed his wheel in a frame, which rose and fell with the river.

The houses of the gentry, standing on the verge of the town, were conspicuous to travellers entering by the highways, the few examples now remaining showing their substantial and picturesque appearance. Of these may be noticed the Stuart mansion in the Wardwick; Babington House, lately demolished;


and a number of early Georgian houses in Friar Gate and St Mary's Gate.

A description showing the gradual improvement of the cottage dwellings during the seventeenth century is contained in a quaint manuscript history of the Creswell family, which dwelt in Little Chester for several generations. Early in the Stuart period, one George Creswell, a blacksmith, built himself a cottage, the frame of timber, the spaces being filled with wickerwork smeared over with clay, the floors of bare earth, and a few boards forming an attic or storehouse under the thatch. His son Robert, on his return home about 1660, after serving in the Civil War, improved the dwelling by substituting brick for the "wattle and daub", and by forming plaster-floors in the rooms. He also altered the second story into a sleeping chamber. During the next generation, his son George extended the dwelling by building a new house, with "seller, parler, and chamber", contiguous with the old structure, covering the whole with a new thatch.[72]

The cap manufacture, which declined under the Tudors, and also the local weaving trade, were allied with the hand-knitting industry which prevailed throughout the North Midlands, principally as worsted hose, the wool of the Sherwood Forest sheep producing a superior yarn for the purpose. It was in the midst of this industry that William Lea invented the stocking-frame in 1589, although forty


years elapsed before it began to compete successfully with hand-knitting. It is uncertain at what date the stocking-frame came to Derby, but as Woolley states that in his day there was a "considerable manufacture of stockings" in the town, it had evidently been then established for a number of years. In 1750, there were two hundred frames in the town, besides many scattered in the surrounding villages, for it is reported that one Roper, of Locko, a framework knitter or repairer, had succeeded in making the "ribbed" or elastic hose, at that time being sought after. The trade was at a low ebb, partly owing to the slack method of teaching apprentices, and also because each man worked at home, loose habits being engendered, and bad work the result. Consequently, the silk hose imported from France commanded the market, and English workmen were accustomed for some years to fraudulently stamp their work with the word "Paris".

It was at this juncture, that William Woollatt, a hosier of Derby, suggested to his brother-in-law, Jedediah Strutt, the advantages of a machine which should automatically produce ribbed hose. Mr. Strutt, although not connected with the commercial world, set to work on the task, and eventually produced an independent machine, which, when attached to the old stocking-frame, regulated its movements on the principle afterwards elaborated in the Jacquard loom. Its success was complete, and from 1759 to 1773, when their patent expired, Woollatt and Strutt enjoyed the monopoly of the invention, the popularity of the Derby ribbed hose being shown by the necessity for protecting their rights. The Derby


hosiers, amongst others, combined to manufacture the ribbed hose without acknowledgment, until the result of a lawsuit compelled them to pay a royalty. Several improvements effected during this period, although infringements, extended the local trade, and were, consequently, suffered by Strutt to continue without molestation. This manufacture of silk hose was confined principally to Derby, where some of the best ribbed work, known as "elastics", commanded the high wages of thirty shillings per week. These elastics were used largely as surgical bandages, and it is noteworthy that this branch of the trade still survives in Derby, indiarubber now supplying the elasticity of the old ribbed work.[73]

In 1771, Strutt further increased his fame by taking Arkwright, the inventor of the cotton-spinning machine, into partnership. He soon conceived the idea of weaving calico wholly of cotton, instead of with linen warps, as was then the Lancashire custom, and in 1775, he erected in Derby the first fireproof mill in England, where he proceeded to carry out his plan. For a time, it was a question whether the cotton-weaving industry was destined for Manchester or for Derby, although the more favourable situation of Lancashire ultimately prevailed, for Manchester was nearer the cotton port of Liverpool, towards which Brindley was then carrying his first canal, an


advantage which Derby did not enjoy until twenty years later. The Derby trade, though surpassed, has not, however, been extinguished, and Strutt's cotton mills have been associated with the Derwent valley down to the present time.

About the time when the hosiery trade was being transferred from London to the Midlands, John Lombe established the industry of silk-throwing at Derby. Originally of Norwich, but later of London, he saw that the Spitalfields silk-trade was declining before the superior methods of the Italians. Lombe, "whose head was extremely well turned for the mechanics", accordingly proceeded to Leghorn, where he eventually succeeded in obtaining drawings of the Italian machinery. The story is well known of his simulating poverty, of his ingratiating himself with the father confessor of the family of a silk manufacturer, of his obtaining a lowly post in the mill, where he secreted his candles and his drawing instruments in a recess under the stairs, in which he was supposed to sleep, although he passed part of the night in accomplishing his real purpose.

Having succeeded in his design, he lost no time in putting his knowledge into practice. The silk hose, along with the hosiery trade generally, was migrating to the Nottingham district, where Lombe followed it. The Derwent, with its swift stream, offered better facilities for water power than the sluggish Trent, and consequently Derby was preferred to Nottingham; John Lombe setting up machines in the Town Hall and in other rooms, whilst the mill slowly rose on an islet in the Derwent, the contriving


and erecting of the machinery being the work of Sorocold, the mill-wright.[74]

There was an earlier attempt made by one Crotchet, in 1702, to establish silk-throwing in Derby, a small mill having been erected on the same islet on which Lombe's mill was built, but lack of capital and of enterprise led to failure. John Lombe obtained a patent for fourteen years in i718, and enjoyed a monopoly of the trade until his death in 1722. In 1732, Thomas Lombe, a cousin oF John, and his successor, petitioned Parliament for a renewal of the expired patent, but the manufacturers of woollen, cotton, and linen, opposed it, as they wished to utilise the invention, and the Government eventually compromised the matter by granting the petitioner fourteen thousand pounds, and conferring knighthood upon him. William Hutton, who was an apprentice at the mill at this time, took part in the rejoicings which followed this memorable affair.

New mills then arose in and around Derby, but all were small in comparison with Lombe's. Three years later (1735), Sir Thomas endeavoured to introduce American silk, produced in Georgia under the patronage of the founder of that State, General Oglethorpe. According to Hutton, the silk, although of a bad colour, was good in quality, and Queen Caroline, being waited upon by the General and Sir Thomas, ordered a "gown and petticoat" to be made for her. The experiment, however, was not


a success, and the production of this silk in Georgia was afterwards abandoned for cotton.

Sir Thomas, who died in 1739, and left a fortune of little less than £120,000, appears to have had regard for his workpeople, for in his will he desired his widow to reward the principal servants at the mill to the extent of five or six hundred pounds.

The process was regarded as a wonderful invention, the mill being one of the sights of the town, usually visited by strangers passing through. In 1783, it gave employment to about two hundred persons, who, on the day following Michaelmas, were accustomed to make merry with the contributions of visitors. An ox was roasted and eaten with the town ale, the mill windows were illuminated with candles, and the inhabitants were invited to view the festivities, and to contribute to the fund for the following year.

Another manufacture which earned lasting fame in the annals of Derby is that of porcelain, established by Duesbury about 1755. Coming to Derby, he associated himself with John Heath, the proprietor of the pot-works on Cockpit Hill, and also with a maker of small china figures in Lodge Lane, said to have been a French refugee named Andrew Planché. Nothing is heard of him later, and Heath becoming bankrupt about 1780, Duesbury held the field alone.

By this time, he had established an extensive business, for as early as 1763, large consignments were regularly sent to his London sale-rooms. In 1770, the Bow and Chelsea china-works came into the market, and Duesbury became the proprietor of both, transferring the plant, with the best of the


workmen, to Derby, but continuing the Chelsea works until about the year 1784. He also obtained the patronage of the local gentry and nobility; the Duke of Devonshire, with the beautiful Duchess, often visited the factory, and King George III. and his Queen succeeded in making Derby china fashionable.

William Duesbury, the founder, died in 1786, being succeeded by his son of the same name, who died ten years later, his health having given way some years previously. Finding the business too burdensome, he took into partnership a clever miniature painter from London named Michael Kean, who continued the business after Duesbury's death, and married his widow. Her eldest son, also named William, was only ten years of age at this time, but although later he showed capacity as an artist, he took no active interest in the china factory.

Partly on this account, the reign of the Duesburys came to an end in 1809, when the factory was offered for sale, and purchased by Robert Bloor, a salesman under Duesbury and Kean, who arranged to pay annuities to the family and five thousand pounds in instalments. Like an energetic business man, he at once set to work to make money. Good work was produced, the celebrated "biscuit ware" being at the height of its excellence at this time, but work of an inferior class was also put on the market in the shape of "seconds", which had accumulated on the works during the "Duesbury period", and were used up by Bloor, whose artists finished them in slight but striking patterns, to furnish stock for his auction sales in different

[Ed: annotated (in hand) "Old Crown Derby" China]

parts of the country. Nevertheless, this enterprise for a time extended the work of the factory, the number of people employed having grown from about seventy in 1790 to two hundred in 1817; the number in 1832 being some hundred and eighty men, women, and boys.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bloor's mind gave way, and until his death, in 1846, the business was entrusted to a paid manager, who was by no means equal to its control. It consequently declined, and in 1849 the works were closed

To-day, "Old Crown-Derby" possesses a growing value among connoisseurs, and the pieces representing the best efforts among the workmen gathered there during the first sixty years of its existence are prized as works of art. The Duesburys, father and son, combined capacity for business with wise tact in permitting their people to exercise their genius after their own fashion, and the result was a variety of work showing the individual power of each artist. There was Billingsley, the flower-painter, born in Derby in 1758, whose rose borders are admired for form and colour, as shown in the "Prentice Plate", now preserved in the town museum; Boreman, who came from Chelsea to Derby for two guineas per week, on the closing of the works there, and whose centre-pieces of Derbyshire views show him to have been a master in his art; and Pegg, the eccentric Quaker, who, after producing work which stamps him as a genius, convinced himself that his art was sinful, and was contented to withdraw to a huckster's shop a few yards from the factory, and to live in comparative penury. In the museum may


be seen the "Thistle dish", painted from a flower picked up casually on Nun's Green, and the "Snapdragon", two pieces representing the artist's manner.[75]

Among several generations of artists who did work of lasting merit were Withers, Wheeldon, Bamford, Leonard Lead, and Lovegrove. John Haslem, who was a nephew of Robert Blood's manager, Thomason, and who wrote a history of the factory, worked there as boy and man for thirteen years; and John Hancock, an apprentice in its early days, was succeeded by his grandson, Sampson Hancock, who conducted the small china factory in King Street, connecting the period of the old works with that of the new establishment on the Osmaston Road.

These workmen, earning good wages at an artistic employment, were naturally an educated and independent set, paying little deference to those class distinctions which were a strong social feature in Derby. Consequently, the True Blue Club, in 1813, desiring a piece of china to grace their club-room, passed by the Derby workmen, whom they regarded as a "set of radicals", and gave the order to the rival manufactory at Worcester. On the passing of the Reform Bill, the enthusiasm of the people at the china-works led them to present two vases to the King, the inscription being prepared by the Congregationalist minister, Mr. Gawthorn. The affair, however, ended somewhat tamely, for being of a political character, the King declined to receive them,



and they were afterwards sold for the benefit of the subscribers.

Amid this healthy growth of trade, the old restrictions and monopolies occasionally asserted themselves in a modified form, even so late as the end of the eighteenth century. In 1712, the burgesses of Leicester ordered one George Bent to sue the burgesses of Derby for taking his heifer as toll on a herd of cattle passing through the town, but the Derby men do not appear to have made restitution; for, two years later, the burgesses of Leicester agreed to pay John Ludham thirty shillings, for two pigs of lead taken from his father by the town of Derby for toll. At length, it became apparent that these petty restrictions on trade damaged the market, and in 1792, the Derby burgesses in Common Hall decided that all the ancient tolls known as passage, piccage, scavage, and others, should be abolished. The country people, however, interpreted this change as a general abolition of tolls, and some confusion was experienced on the following market-day, when they found that the change did not apply to the usual toll for stall-room.

An earlier revival of the old monopoly occurred in the year 1674, when the tradesmen of Derby, either ignorant or forgetful of the damage wrought against the town trades by the medieval guilds, formed themselves into a Mercers' or Traders' Company, after the "laudable practice" of London and other cities and towns. Ostensibly, its purpose was to maintain a standard of honest dealing and good workmanship in the town, but in reality, it was a "ring" or combination, formed by the


tradespeople to prevent "strangers" (non-burgesses) from commencing business in the borough. The executive, which figured with their beadle in gowns and cloaks on state occasions, was really a subcommittee of the Town Corporation, and the society differed little in composition and function from its progenitor of the Middle Ages. It enacted that no man, on the completion of his seven years' apprenticeship, should commence business in the borough without the consent of the Company, and that no stranger should commence business unless he received their permission, and paid a composition or acknowledgment Consequently, in 1676, a stranger paid eight pounds to be allowed to trade as a felt-maker; the widow of a deceased tradesman paid for permission to continue the business; and in 1700, John Oates paid five pounds to enter into business, he having married a grocer's widow. The millinery trade was at this period becoming a woman's business, as is shown by several women compounding with the Company. In 1680, Elizabeth Alsop paid five pounds for this purpose, and Anne Wathall paid "twenty nobles", but their apprentices were not to be allowed the ordinary privilege of setting up in trade. In course of time, however, strangers began to ignore the Mercers' Company by quietly opening a business, and leaving the Company to take legal proceedings to recover the composition.

This pernicious system not only destroyed a free market, but tended to prevent the entrance of new industries. Whitehurst, the famous clockmaker, came to Derby as a stranger from Congleton about


1735, and opened a shop, but it was objected that he was not a freeman, and in the end, he was obliged to arrange the difficulty by fixing a clock at his own expense in the Guildhall. Had his business been closed, the advantage which the skill of this clever workman gave to the town for forty years would have been lost. The last recorded prosecution of the Company is under date 1732, and as the minute-book contains no record later than the year 1740, it is presumed that its active powers had become defunct at that date.

Another instance showing the result of a vexatious interference with the natural course of trade occurred about 1720, in the migration of the frame-knitting from London to the North Midlands. Lea and his relations established the trade in the Metropolis, and the London hosiers, holding the false doctrine that high prices could be maintained by limiting the output, obtained a charter, and proceeded to enforce restrictions. Consequently, many master-hosiers began to remove into the country, and then the London company, not to be beaten, followed the emigrants, and instituted legal proceedings at Nottingham. The gentry and traders of the North Midlands next exerted the weight of their influence against the company, and in the end, the London trade seriously declined.

On the other hand, when a stranger established some industry which did not interfere with any existing trade, no objection was made. Lombe set up the silk business, being rather encouraged than opposed, and Duesbury came to Derby from the


Staffordshire potteries, where opposition to any novelty in their staple trade was not unusual.

The growth of these, and of other commercial undertakings in the town and neighbourhood, caused a demand for better communications, the only means of carriage, besides the roads, being by the Derwent and Trent to Gainsboro'. Further, the growth of manufactures in the northern counties during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries caused a corresponding increase in the amount of traffic, and Derby, lying on the highways between Manchester and London and between Leeds and Birmingham, became one of the changing stations for the wagons and coaches on those roads.

In 1735, Derby came into touch with the metropolis by the coach, which commenced running from the George Inn every Thursday. By the year 1790, the coach from the "George" (now a through coach from Manchester) ran daily to London, leaving Derby about three in the afternoon, and reaching the metropolis at ten the next morning. This was, perhaps, the diligence described in Canning's distich:-

"So down thy hill, romantic Ashbourne, glides
The Derby Dilly, carrying three insides".[76]

An opposition coach was at the same time announced to leave the Bell Inn three times a week, which, taking matters more leisurely, "sleeps at Leicester", reaching London at eight the next evening.

Stage wagons became common between London and the Midlands as early as Elizabeth's reign, yet


the packhorse held its ground north of Trent, even until the middle of the eighteenth century, and many of these trains, merging with the wheel traffic further south, carried their loads through, even as far as London. Defoe, in his account of Stourbridge fair, about 1720, states that a thousand horse-packs came from Lancashire and Yorkshire with cloth, the return loads of these horses being mostly hops, which they carried to Derby and other ale-making towns of the Trent valley. This load was exchanged at Derby and neighbourhood for malt, which the packhorses carried home into Lancashire, a traffic mentioned by both Defoe and Woolley.

The inns in Derby, both during the use of packhorses and the subsequent employment of heavy wagons, provided room for many horses, the Angel Inn, in the Corn Market, in i693 and also in 1746, possessing stabling for sixty. Large teams were used with the heavy wagons, as shown in an advertisement of 1763, which mentions the Nottingham and Birmingham wagons passing up and down through Derby weekly, each with nine horses. About 1790, these heavy wagons were giving place to lighter and quicker vehicles, an advertisement of that year announcing that the old London and Derby stage wagon, with wheels nine inches broad, and seven horses, "which had been established a great number of years", was to be sold at the Red Lion Inn.

About 1793, it was proposed to bring the canal system to Derby, and as this had already proved to be of great advantage to the trades of Lancashire and Staffordshire, the scheme was readily adopted by the capitalists of the town and neighbourhood.


The canal to Little Eaton would facilitate the carriage of coal, whilst a branch to the Trent would open communication with Liverpool, by the Trent and Mersey canal, thus lowering the cost of carriage to about one-half for the heavy iron castings sent out by the Butterley ironworks, and the Cornish clays required in the china manufacture.

The state of the letter-posts around Derby about 1720 shows a primitive condition of things. The slow postboys still came and went between Derby and the Great North Road, although Allen, the Postmaster-General, complained that most of the letters between Derby and Nottingham were conveyed by "Twopotts and other carriers", who openly collected and distributed them, to the loss of the post office. In 1736, through the influence of the Duke of Devonshire, a new cross-country service was instituted from Manchester, through Derby to Lincoln, and in 1755 the post began to come in daily, excepting Sundays. It was about this time that Allen put down mile-posts on all the highroads, which led to the discovery that the old measurements were grossly inaccurate. The distance from London to Derby was now found to be a hundred and twenty-six miles, instead of "about a hundred", as Woolley stated - an under-estimate which brought the Highlanders, when at Derby in 1745, much nearer to the metropolis in imagination than in reality.[77]

About, 1786, the postboys ceased to carry the mails, the bags being conveyed by the coaches, with much


advantage both in point of time and security, yet, when accidents occurred, the old system had again to be resorted to. In January, 1789, the Manchester mail came into Derby on horseback, over a day late, the coach having been stopped by the snow.

Some of the early stage-wagons and carriers to London and the south crossed the Trent in the ferry barge, for the Cavendish bridge at Shardlow was not built until 1758, and the toll for some years later was somewhat prohibitive. Bray, who crossed it during his Tour in 1776, states that he paid half-a-crown for his chaise, the same fare having been charged by the ferryman before the bridge was built.

With the advent of the nineteenth century, the highways gradually became perfect, both in metalling and in gradients, a number of improvements being effected around Derby.[78] It was from Sadler Gate Bridge that Telford, the road engineer, commenced his survey of the Derby and Stockport turnpike, one of the chief highways to the metropolis, when it was found advisable to improve the levels. The streets in the town, also, were improving, for in 1793, the first coach-stand was set up in Derby; G. Gourde informing the public that he had "bought two coaches with steady horses, to take their stand at W. Wood's, Grocer and Confectioner, The Grasshopper, Corn-market".


The list of coaches for the year 1828 represents the traffic through the town at about the height of its prosperity, previous to the introduction of the railway system. There were at least seven coaches each day to London, and an equal number to Manchester, besides others running to Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and other towns.

Night and day, the coaches rattled through the narrow streets over the pebbles. The "Defiance", Manchester to London, changed horses at" the Tiger Inn, at one in the morning; the "Old Independent", running the same route, changed at two in the morning, at the Nag's Head Inn, St. Peter's Street. At intervals came the "Times", "Telegraph", "Royal Bruce", "Nelson", and "Amity", or the "Peveril of the Peak", racing with its rival, the "Express", to the admiration of the bystanders and the terror of the outside passengers. The London mail passed through at four in the afternoon, changing horses at the New Inn, King Street; the down mail about nine in the morning. The post office was then in Queen Street, but the old business of supplying post-horses to travellers had long before been diverted to the large inns, whose proprietors were mostly coach proprietors also.

The cross-country coaches, more sober in their movements, started at less unseasonable hours. The "Hero", for Newcastle-under-Lyme, through Uttoxeter, left the New Inn at ten in the morning, reaching its destination in the evening, and returning on the following day. This service continued long after the fast London coaches had left the road,


and until 1855 the Royal Mail-coach ran between Derby and Manchester, through the picturesque valleys of Matlock and Buxton, driven by those two fine "whips", William Burditt and William Hodson.[79]

The racing of rival roaches, and the desire to keep time, often led to reckless driving and occasional accidents. A letter in the newspaper calls attention to the dangerous speed at which the night coaches drive through the villages between Loughborough and Derby; now a coach, driving rapidly out of Irongate on market day, runs down a deaf man, which draws a protest from the Mercury against the speed at which coaches pass through the Market Place when crowded with business. In September, 1838, Joseph Borrington, the driver of the "Defiance" coach, was fined by the local magistrates for driving furiously down St. Peter's Street on Sunday morning.

In times of political excitement, the coaches and expresses earned notoriety by bringing news from the capital hours in advance of the mails. During the Government debate on the malt-tax in 1835, an agent of the Sun newspaper posted down into the country at the rate of twelve miles an hour, overtaking the "Telegraph" coach at Dunstable, so that the Derby maltsters were able that evening to read the debate of the previous night. A more memorable instance was the occasion of the House of Lords rejecting the Reform Bill in 1831. The division occurred about six o'clock in the morning, and the


express-rider reached Derby about seven in the evening, his news being awaited by a large crowd, which began to take blind revenge in riot.

The post-chaise traffic was also considerable, the local newspaper giving a weekly list of the nobility and gentry who passed through. For the week ending September 16th, 1835, those who changed horses or slept at the "King's Head", were the Dukes of Devonshire, Rutland, Newcastle, and Cleveland, several Earls and Countesses, with others of the nobility and gentry, the list concluding with Daniel O'Connell, Esq.

The growth of traffic about this time, however, was not shared by the town, local trade showing a steady decline during the years coming between the Peace after Waterloo and the rise of the railway system. As early as 1777, it has been shown that the stockingers were complaining over their hard lot, which grew worse as the power-loom superseded hand labour, until about 1830, men were working at the hand-frames seventeen hours a day for the miserable pittance of five shillings a week.

The ancient handicraft of the woolcombers, also, was so badly crippled by the introduction of Cartwright's combing-machine in 1792, that an Act of Parliament, in 1795, permitted them to follow other trades without serving an apprenticeship.

The china manufacture, in its more artistic branches, declined after Waterloo, partly because the forgery of French trade-marks during the war became of little service when Sevres china began once more to be imported

The silk trade, also, suffered from French

 THE TRADE STRIKE OF 1833-34.283

competition, manufacturers complaining that in spite of prohibition, great quantities of French goods found their way into English markets, the contraband traffic being lucrative. The trade was further handicapped by labour troubles, for combination, following the lead of the old merchant-guild, was preached to the workmen as the panacea which would abolish low wages, and the Derby men followed the general example, and formed a Union.

In November, 1833, the Reporter stated that eight hundred workmen were said to have joined the society, about which little information could be obtained, for the members, on joining, took an oath of secrecy, and all its movements were mysterious. The principal feature, however, was the accumulation of a fund available for strike pay, and when Mr. Frost, a silk manufacturer, discharged one of his workpeople who refused to be fined for bad work, the unionists making it a test case, left their machines, and the mill was at a stand (November 19th). The workmen of other mills joined in the contest, the masters retaliated by discharging the unionists, and in a fortnight, thirteen hundred people were idle, the strike being general, and including silk-throwsters, smallware weavers, broad-silk weavers, silk-twisters, bobbin-net weavers, frame-work knitters, tailors, shoemakers, painters, sawyers, stonemasons, bricklayers, plasterers, and labourers.

Strangers were brought in from other parts, some even from London; women and untrained hands were also engaged, and in this way some of the mills were kept partially working. Attempts were made to prevent these people following their employment,


but a troop of Dragoons was brought into the town, special constables were enrolled to preserve order, and little of a serious nature occurred, The strike dragged on through the winter, as many as two thousand four hundred men, women, and boys being idle, the strike pay of seven shillings a week to each man soon failed, and, little assistance coming from other centres, the people began to suffer from want. Early in April, some of the men applied for work, and by the 16th most of the mills were fully employed. The final collapse came on Monday, April 21st, when the general body of strikers applied to be reinstated, and six hundred people found themselves without employment.

Fortunately, these workmen or their children were soon to profit by the advent of new trades into the town; but silk-throwing was doomed to decay. Mr. Huskisson, a free-trade statesman, was of opinion that protection engendered lack of enterprise and invention among the manufacturers, and in 1825, he removed the prohibition from foreign silk goods, imposing instead a duty of thirty per cent. Such a change, favourable only to the foreigner, could not fail to have a depressing effect on an industry already declining. Complaints continued, which occasionally exacted some slight concession from the legislature, although of little avail. In 1832, a Factory Act was passed, prohibiting the employment of children under nine years of age, exception being made in the case of the silk trade, and again, in 1852, when the duty on foreign manufactures was reduced generally to ten per cent, the duty on silk goods was allowed to stand at fifteen per cent. In i860, the duty was totally


abolished, at which date the silk-throwing industry had reached low-water mark; however, the result of modern enterprise has been the invention of more suitable machinery, the utilisation of silk "waste", which was formerly useless, and the alliance of the silk trade with kindred industries; and in this modern revival, Derby has taken a position.

This period of slack trade, which culminated about 1840, was dissipated by the rapid extension of the railway systems, of which Derby soon became an important focus. In August, 1833, a scheme was broached at Leicester for uniting the midland towns with the London and Birmingham Railway, then under construction. A few months later, committees were formed in Derby, Leicester, and Nottingham, when the project became known as the "Midland Counties Railway". By November, 1834, the details of the scheme were arranged, and Derby was to form a terminus, the railway station to be on the site of Darby's yard, now Derwent Street, the line to be carried over the river near the present Exeter bridge.

More important projects, however, were in the air, and the Midland Counties scheme was destined to suffer considerable modification. In October, 1835, it was proposed to construct a railway from Derby to Birmingham, which, with the "North Midland", already projected from Derby to Leeds, would, as the Mercury remarked, "make Derby a centre of communication, and must, we imagine, increase the trade and importance of the town". The North Midland had arranged their terminus near the Nottingham Road, and the Directors of the Derby


and Birmingham, seeing the importance of through communication, soon decided to continue their line across the Derwent as far as the North Midland property. In December, 1835, a well-attended public meeting was held in the Town Hall, the Mayor, Richard Wright Haden, Esq., presiding, when the plans of the two companies were heartily approved, and the opposition of the Belper people, who wished to divert the line to the eastward of Derby, was strongly criticised.

In February, 1836, the Town Council suggested that a joint station for the three companies should be built on the Holmes, and appointed a deputation to wait upon the Railway Directors. In April, the Derby and Birmingham Company agreed to this plan, the Town Council proposing to widen Thorn Tree Lane to forty-five feet, and to cover the brook from St. Peter's Bridge to St James's Lane, forming a thoroughfare from the centre of the town to the railway station. In August, the Chairman of the two principal companies, together with Mr. George Stephenson and others, met the deputation at the Town Hall, and the question of the site for the station was discussed; although, in the end, the Directors objected to the Holmes, as being liable to floods, and selected the nearest high ground in Castle Fields.

There was also some rivalry between the different companies, and it was some time before matters were amicably settled. The Midland Counties Directors, seeing that there would be keen competition with the Derby and Birmingham for the London traffic,


attempted to alter their route, so as to avoid Derby, and join the North Midland near Clay Cross. This scheme met with the strongest opposition in Derby, a petition protesting against it being signed by two thousand people in twenty-four hours. The Mayor also held a meeting in January, 1837, at which the injury resulting to the town from such a change was exposed.

Meanwhile, the local coach-traffic began to suffer as the first railways became completed. In July, 1837, the Grand Junction line was opened from Birmingham to Manchester, upon which some of the through coaches shortened their journeys by finishing at Derby, and as the London and Birmingham line was opened from point to point, the Derby coaches, instead of running through to London, carried their passengers to the nearest station on the new railway. The mail service, also, was accelerated, although subjected at first to occasional delay, owing to breakdowns on the railway. In October, 1838, the letters were four hours late in reaching Derby, and on another occasion, a Derby traveller reported a long delay owing to the engineer running short of fuel.

The local railways were now approaching completion, and the neighbourhood was flooded with rough "navigators", who furnished much employment for the local police and magistrates. The Midland Counties line employed four thousand and thirty-five navvies and four hundred and fifty-seven horses, although their difficulties of construction were slight as compared with the works on the North Midland,


referred to by the Mercury as a "mighty undertaking". In June, 1838, the three companies had arranged to form "contiguous stations" at Derby, and in February, 1839, land was purchased in Castle Fields to be divided for a general station. The bridge over the Derwent was completed, and in March the plans were published for the building of Derby station and the octagonal engine-shed which still forms a conspicuous feature there.

At length, on Thursday, May 30th, 1839, the Midland Counties Company opened their line from Nottingham to Derby, the three engines - "Hawk", "Sunbeam", and "Ariel" - which constituted the whole of the locomotive power, bringing about five hundred people to a temporary platform at Derby Junction, the line being crowded with sightseers, whilst at intervals the "policemen", in their new uniforms, and waving their flags, made a novel spectacle. A few days later, the line was opened for regular traffic, four trains a day passing each way, with two on Sundays. It was some weeks later before the open carriages (the "Stanhopes", or "stand-ups", as they came to be called) commenced running, when the company began to reckon its daily passengers by hundreds.

In the August following, the Derby and Birmingham line was opened, enabling passengers to travel through by rail to London in six and three-quarter hours. So anxious was this company to obtain the London traffic, before the Midland Counties line could be opened to Rugby, that the Normanton cutting was still unfinished, and for some time

[Image] A Court off Bridge Gate.


the traffic at this point was worked on a single line.[80]

The North Midland, owing to its numerous tunnels and bridges, was not completed until the following year, when, on June 30th, two trains, each with three engines, brought a large number of guests from Leeds to Derby, where two long tables were fixed on the stone platform of the railway station, and the band played whilst the travellers took lunch standing.

With what interest and wonder the people of 1840 viewed the new system of locomotion may be judged from a description of the Derby station, written at this time. "It is", says the reporter, "a wonderfully extensive place, which astonishes every person arriving there for the first time. So stupendous and magnificent does everything appear, that imagination almost leads passengers to suppose they are arrived at a market-place for steam engines".

Coaching had, meanwhile, become reduced to a minimum, the London and Manchester mail becoming a local coach between Derby and Manchester, and the principal coach proprietor, the late Mr. W.W. Wallis, having been appointed agent for the


Birmingham and Midland Companies, commenced running omnibuses between the railway station and the town, some of the first conveyances of this kind seen in Derby.

With the opening of the railways, the prosperity of Derby became assured: ironworks sprang up to supply the new means of locomotion with forgings and castings; the railway companies, finding coal and iron close at hand, established engineering works at Derby for constructing their locomotives and rolling stock, and the town began to grow at a rate never before known. The railway station built by the North Midland Company out in the country, "at the top of Siddals Road" (as it is located in the early directories), found itself, in a few years, on the verge of a new town stretching away to meet it.

Old trades which had declined through various causes have once more looked up: silk-throwsters have established new mills, and a company has revived the manufacture of "Derby Crown China". The pre-historic trade in lead still continues, and the medieval business of malting has


extended, and become conspicuous on all sides. As trade always encourages trade, so a few men in each community seize upon some feature adapted to their own neighbourhood, from which they and the community profit. In Derby, the old-established stationer, doing the respectable business of a country town, suddenly finds the railway company at his door, requiring huge supplies of account-books and time-tables. He seizes his opportunity, and becomes the printing contractor to the company. A firm of ironfounders finds its speciality in bridge-building, establishing a world-wide fame for its work. One man perfects the system of making cast-iron malleable; another, foreseeing the growing necessity for the cold storage of perishables, turns his attention to the construction of refrigerating machinery. Defoe's remark requires modifying: Derby is now a town of trade rather than of gentry, and on all sides there is evidence of the accumulation of capital, and of its wise outlay for further production.

Since 1840, the appearance of the town has undergone a general change. The covering of the brook after the flood of 1842 created new streets and enlarged the Morledge. The replacement of a wooden structure by the present Exeter Bridge was an improvement which would have saved the Nottingham coaches and wagons a long and heavy detour had it been effected in their day. The widening of Irongate and St James's Lane, and the removal of Rotten Row, with the old-fashioned shambles and piazzas, has extended the Market Place and its environs. One by one, the historic


features of old Derby have disappeared before modern improvements, each change forming a link in the chain of progress which has continued through the centuries, from the time when the Saxon built his village of wattle hovels in the valley down to the present day.

[52] Old St. Mary's Bridge, after doing duty for four centuries, was removed about 1790, although its remains still form an object of interest. The piers in the river's bed mark the direction of the seven small arches which carried the bridge in the direction of the road to Nottingham, and the ancient chapel still standing on the first arch, preserves the memory of those capitalists of the Middle Ages - the Church and the town Guild, and of the travellers, who made their offerings to the saint for protection against the dangers of the journey.
The religious convulsions of the sixteenth century affected this bridge-chapel, for in 1607, it is described as "neglected", and excepting a short period about 1662, when the Presbyterians used it as a meeting-house, it remained unnoticed until recent times, when the neighbouring church of St. Alkmund restored it to its ancient purpose. Of the corn-mills which stood on the bridge at the further end, no trace remains. The town history records that they were washed away by the river flood of 1587, together with the arch upon which they stood.
[53] A similar change took place at Northampton, when, in 1236, the market was removed from All Saints' churchyard to a space behind the Drapery (the North Road), and at Leicester, the Saxon Cheapside expanded in later times behind Gallowtree Gate (the North Road).
[54] Compare the Mardol at Shrewsbury, - that is mere dale, the marsh in the dale by the Severn.
[55] In old Leicester records, "in Walker Lane" is rendered "in vico fullonum" ("Fullers' Street"), now Soar Lane.
[56] Compare Amen Corner, near St. Paul's, London, or Paternoster Row, near the cathedral at Carlisle.
[57] There was a ford across the Bramble Brook at the bottom of the Ward wick within living memory, foot-passengers being accommodated with a narrow bridge.
[58] In the names of Derby people contained in legal and ecclesiastical documents of successive periods, the change from the Saxon Christian name to the modern compound name can be traced through its various stages. In Domesday Book, the priests mentioned are Godwin and Osmer, and Hugh is the lord of the Manor.
As population grew, persons having the same name became distinguished by their trade - as John le leche, or apothecary, murdered in Derby in 1330; John le bowyer; William le chapman, or packman; and Jordan le walker, who in 1338 contributed to a chantry at St. Peter's Church, and was probably a master fuller. A person might also be known by the name of the neighbouring town from which he migrated, as William de Chelaston, Sheriff in 1307; John de Crich, Walter de Shardlow, Simon de Nottingham, and others, who erected a chantry at St. Peter's Church in 1338; Roger de Luchirche (Litchurch), who was made master of the leper's house in 1327; and Hugo de Morleye and Thomas de Tamewurthe, who are mentioned in 1276. In the sixteenth century, the Norman "le " has disappeared; the descendant of Jordan le walker becomes plain Edward Walker in 1523, and Richard Colyar, churchwarden of All Saints' in 1491, probably followed a different business to that of his ancestor who made charcoal for the Derby smiths. Again in 1452, Richard Wright was one of the bailiffs, and in 1595, Edward Fletcher was a glover, although his ancestor was an arrowsmith. The Norman "de" has also disappeared from the names of William Marlage, churchwarden with Richard Colyar, and Roger Allestrye who was a townsman in 1664. Sixteenth century names, such as Rag, Tofte, Souter, Haryson, and More, which still claim representatives in our day, show that families remained in the town through many generations. Even in 1829, William Morledge, baker, is recorded as living at 6, Siddals Lane, almost within sight of the street where his ancestor doubtless dwelt some five or six centuries before.
[59] See The Cry of the Oppressed (16 mo.), published by Moses Pitt, London, 1691, being a collection of complaints from the debtors in various prisons throughout the country. At Derby, the gaol had recently been enlarged to afford separate accommodation for debtors and felons, as required by a recent Act of Parliament. The debtors, however, complained that the Keeper of the Gaol, William Wragg, kept several rooms closed for years together, his object being, so they contend, to force them to lodge and board in his house, an arrangement by which he benefited to the extent of eight shillings a week. Further, the rooms which the debtors should have occupied were let by the gaoler to criminals who were in a position to pay him well for the accommodation, and the debtors were so crowded together in consequence, that in the cold weather, one-half of them were unable to find room to cook their food at the fire; yet the Keeper, on being remonstrated with, stoutly told them that he should provide no more room, "not even if there were three hundred of them".
Heated arguments and quarrels were common, and the language used on one side, according to this complaint (and on the other side, also, we should infer, reading between the lines), bore the coarse, Alsatian stamp of two centuries ago. The turnkey, Joseph Sherwin, threatened one Finney, who had sent a written complaint to the Sheriff, and given great offence in consequence, that he would "make him swallow his knife", and the debtors had also been locked in their rooms as a punishment. Accordingly this complaint of 1691 is signed Michael Laughtenhouse (Laughter house ?) - apparently a nom-de-plume, signifying the merriment of the debtors on puzzling the gaoler as to the identity of the offender. Another complaint was that debtors who had over-run their account for ale on the Keeper's books, were not allowed to send to public-houses in the neighbourhood where trust might be obtained and also better measure.
It appeared also that the Keeper naturally gave privileges to those debtors who were willing or able to pay for them, even to the extent of allowing them to spend most of their time at their own homes. It was a custom at Christmas-time for the debtors to choose a deputation to collect contributions throughout the town, but the Keeper had lately ignored this custom, and had appointed his favourites as collectors. These people furnished no account to their brethren, except such a one as transpired during the subsequent wrangling; and, further, the money, instead of being handed directly to the debtors, was taken charge of by the Keeper's wife, who (so says the account) appropriated one-half of it, being at least four pounds, to her private use. Again, when the Earl of Devonshire passed by, about two years before, he left five pounds for the benefit of the debtors, who numbered about a score, but instead of receiving five shillings each they only received half-a-crown.
On the other hand, it appears that the gaoler complained that he could not always obtain the fees appertaining to his office, and other statements in the complaint suggest that if the Sheriff's report were extant, covering the depositions of gaoler Wragg and his spouse and of turnkey Sherwin, our condemnation of their conduct might be less severe.
Almost every inn-yard in Derby had its pig sty as late as "the forties" of last century. The "soldiers' room" of the Bell Hotel in Sadler Gate was directly over a spacious sty, in which half-a-dozen large swine, or more, had their quarters.
[60] Leathern apparel, was not confined to the men, women even wore head-gear of it, as appears from a rare tract in the writer's possession, entitled, "A Short Contention by way of a Dialogue . . . between the French-hood, Felt-hat, Beaver, and Black-bagge. London: Printed by J.O. for Andrew Kembe . . 1639", in which we are told that "[Hoods] are not all made of velvet, but some are of blacke cloath, and some of Leather, the legges of old Bootes will make good durable ones, for the Lady Buffamachum bad such a Hood made of an old Boote".
[61] It is highly probable that a Weavers' Guild was among the Derby Companies, as a former public-house carried the sign of "The Weavers' Arms". Prior to the destruction of the Town Hall by fire, records of certain companies (minute books, rolls of members, etc.) were to be found mingled with the Corporation Archives, and, of course, were burnt along with them. This information was given to the writer by the late Mr. Charles Pratt, for many years the Borough Chamberlain.
[62] The Black Death, "the most terrible plague which the world ever witnessed, advanced from the East, and after devastating Europe, swooped, at the close of 1348, on Britain. Of the three or four millions who then formed the population of England, more than one-half were swept away in its repeated visitations". - GREEN.
[63] A very curious reference to head-gear is found in the tract (cited in a footnote to page 237), dated 1639: "The Flat-cap is laid too much aside, the Miniver-cap is almost forgotten, the Munmouth-cap is not in . . . request, the Corner-rap is not reverenced as it should bee, . . . the Blew-cap is almost confin'd to the North, under the antient Title of a Bonnet, the Leather-cap hath lately given way to the Sattin Cap", etc. The word "lately" used in this connection is noticeable.
[64] Edward Leigh, M.A. {England Described, 1650), says:- "The wealth of this town consisteth much of buying of corn, and selling it again to the mountains: for all the inhabitants are a kind of Badgers".
[65] "Darby-Ale" was the delight of London topers, and the theme of poets, when Dutch William reigned. A poem entitled, "The Paradice of Pleasure; or, an Encomium upon Darby-Ale", appeared in the year 1700, by way of answer to Ned Ward's "Satyr against Darby-Ale", described as "a Scurrilous Lampoon". From these pieces, it appears that clubs were formed, and held at "Darby Houses", for the enjoyment of this excellent liquor, a list of which occurs in the former production. The writer desires Bacchus to
"Tear the Grapes from off his Brow ...
With no full Bowls of wine let him appear,
But Darby-Ale, Transparent, Lucid, Clear".
[66] Instance the old saying, "The Mayor of Northampton opens oysters with his dagger", the fish being so high by the time it reached the town, that His Worship held the dish at arm's length.
This remote situation of Derby stamped the people with an old-fashioned rusticity, long after the town had become a manufacturing centre. A Prussian clergyman travelling through the Midlands on foot in 1782, noticed that at Derby and in the surrounding villages the children began to bow civilly to him as he passed. At Duffield, where he stayed to dine, he was shown into the parlour of the inn instead of the kitchen, which, further south, was considered good enough for a traveller on foot,
[67] Compare the state of affairs at Northampton in 1489, when the town petitioned Parliament on account of the "great confusion which had been caused at the elections, by the multitude of little substance, who oft in numbers exceeded others who were approved and decent persons", and it was decreed that in future the Mayor and Brethren should choose forty-eight discreet persons, who with the town officers, should elect the Mayor and Bailiffs for the ensuing year. A similar change took place in Leicester also in 1489.
[68] On the other hand, the suppression of the guilds freed the town from a yoke which hampered trade, although opposing elements had partially defied these monopolists for some time previous to their downfall. The transfer of several mills from the church to the townspeople and to private owners at this period, tended to the abolition of those privileges which had been the monopoly of the Burgh mill. The expansion of the baking industry during the seventeenth century was partly due to this advancement towards free trade, and the rapid growth of the stocking, glove, and silk industries, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, owed much to the fact that there was an open market.
[69] This was a fund invested with the Corporation for assisting young burgesses on commencing business. Before the Commissioners in 1833, it was stated to be a thousand pounds, to be lent in sums of twenty-five pounds without interest for ten years, to young men, freemen of the borough, although none had been used for that purpose for many years.
[70] That loose views prevailed on the question of bribery appeared from the evidence of John Cook, who informed the Committee that he was "for free and voluntarily", but he told the Mayor "he must consider his interest like the gentlemen", and had sounded both parties as to the price of his vote.
Another local worthy was Samuel Pratt, parish clerk at St. Peter's for a quarter of a century, who produced the baptismal register to prove claims to the franchise by right of birth. He was somewhat disconcerted by a discrepancy between his book and a copy retained by the parish curate, and at length admitted that he must have altered a name from Wedgeworth to Wedgewood, an indiscretion exaggerated by the opposing counsel, to whom Mr. Pratt was emphatic in denying any pecuniary motive, for he "always said that the hand that takes a bribe ought to be cut off".
[71] In the year 1806, the Whig Party created 124 honorary freemen, and in 1819, a further batch of 132 voters. It was stated before the Commissioners, in 1833, that the Corporation, whenever they thought their influence "getting low", applied to the Duke's agent for a list of persons to be admitted to the freedom "in the Cavendish interest". His Grace's agent paid the admission fees on such occasions. Without the creation of such freemen, it was said that "the Corporation could not have kept the Tories quiet; they would have been restless!" The witness, who frankly gave this information, became agent to the Duke of Devonshire in the year 1818. [See Stevens' and Merewether's History of Boroughs, 1835.]
[72] The class of dwelling occupied by the working population of Derby in Woolley's day may be still seen in Mr. Greensmith's yard in Queen Street, the date 1710 being inscribed on the corner-stone of the cottages.
[73] Mr. Henry Clark, late of Derby, states (August, 1905) that between the years 1840-45 he permitted a person named Taberer to set up a stocking-frame at his lodging in the suburb of Dunkirk, where he eventually succeeded in manufacturing india-rubber web stockings. Taberer first attempted to dispose of his invention to Mr. Holmes, a manufacturer in Derby, but afterwards arranged to teach the process to the workpeople of Mr. Longdon.
[74] The old silk mill was recently demolished, but the entrance gates of hammer-work, surmounted by the initials "T.L"., are still in existence, constituting one of the historic features of the town.
[75] In the advertisement of the sale of the household effects of Mrs. Bloor, in Osmaston Street, in 1837, many articles of Derby china are mentioned, including some vases painted by Pegg.
[76] This quotation is from Canning's "Love of the Triangles", and was thus printed in the Anti-Jacobin.
[77] "He (the Pretender) had now advanced within a hundred miles of the capital". - Smollett's History.
[78] Ashbourne Road, as we know it now, was straightened about the latter end of the eighteenth century, under Palmer's Mail-coach Act. Before that time, it trended to the right from Derby, passing close by a spinney, where traces of the track were discernible a few years since, and entered Markeaton Lane near the Pack-horse Bridge over the brook. Near this point was a watering-place for the horses, with a pump and stone trough. Similar alterations of highways took place nearly all over the kingdom.
[79] The "Defiance" coach between Derby and Ashbourne, having been run at a loss for several years, was taken off the road in 1852. An omnibus called the "Protector" was discontinued in the following year. The Manchester mail ran its last journey on November 3rd, 1855.
[80] Dr. Granville, travelling through the country collecting information for his work, The Spas of England came to Derby from Matlock on the eve of the opening of the Derby and Birmingham Railway, and journeyed to London by the first train. "All Derby", he says, "was in a bustle on that eventful morning. I was first on the spot, and had ticket No. 1. Every director was present. Preliminary experiments had been made daily for a week and upwards, yet everything seemed in a state of confusion; everybody spoke or commanded, and when the carriages were to be brought up to the temporary platform, it was found that something was to be done to the iron stop of one of those circular moving machines in the ground which serve to turn the vehicles. The operation was performed with bad and inefficient tools, and took some time to be completed. This was not very encouraging to me, who was silently watching every movement, and saw all the hesitation and whispering, and going to and fro, around me. When all was ready, it was found there were but few passengers who would proceed, and the train ended by being composed of three or four test-class carriages only - certainly very splendid and comfortable. With these we started for Stonebridge, on the London and Birmingham Railway, near Coventry, where we expected to be taken in tow by the train from Birmingham. But we were not quite ready when the train came in sight, and it whisked along, giving us the go-by". However, a locomotive, "with suitable fuel and water", was soon procured, and the travellers again "started on their venture", arriving safely at Euston, a distance, of 135 miles in seven hours, "when", says Dr. Granville; "I inwardly thanked my stars to find myself again upon my legs".

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in November 2016.

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