Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1817.
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Kinder calls Aston, Weston, Elvaston, &c., the granary of Derbyshire; and says, that within six miles in that part of the shire, more corn was grown than in the whole county beside. Great quantities of excellent wheat and of barley are now grown both in the southern and the eastern part of the county. The arable land in the Peak is chiefly cultivated for oats, of which grain there is a great home consumption, oaten bread being still, as it hath long been, the chief food of the poorer classes.
When there is an average crop, there is more corn of every sort grown than is consumed in the county. Pilkington says, that in 1789, they exported 5000 quarters of barley annually to Staffordshire and Lancashire, besides what was sold at the markets of Burton and Uttoxeter.
The principal dairy country is in the neighbourhood of Ashborne. About 2000 tons of cheese are said to be annually exported from the wharfs at Derby, Shardlow, &c. &c. Shottle and Aldwark are particularly famous for toasting cheese. The grass lands in Beighton, Eckington, and Norton, chiefly supply Sheffield with milk, which is carried in barrels, slung on horses or asses. (fn. n1)
In the parishes of Ashover, Morton, Shirland, and North and South Winfield, camomile is cultivated for medicinal purposes in considerable quantities. This useful plant was introduced into the county about the year 1740. Within the last twenty or thirty years, its cultivation has considerably increased in consequence of the demand of the American market and for home consumption. There are now about 80 acres planted with camomile, producing from three to six cwt. per acre, and varying in price, of late years, from 41. to 81. 8s. per cwt. (fn. n2) The cultivation of camomile and gathering the flowers furnishes employment for a great number of women and children. (fn. n3)
Valerian and Elecampane are cultivated in Ashover and North-Winfield in small quantities. The former produces about 18 cwt. of the root per acre, which is sold at about 90s. Rose-trees are cultivated in the parish of Ashover, for the flowers, the leaves of which are sold to the London druggists, the price being from 5s. to 7s. per pound. There are many acres, near the principal towns, occupied by market-gardens.
The chief subterraneous productions of this county as articles of commerce, are lead (fn. n4), iron, calamine, black-jack, fluor, gypsum, coals, marble, and stone of various sorts.
It is well ascertained that the Derbyshire lead-mines were worked by the Romans, and probably by the Britons. They are chiefly in the wapentake of Wirksworth, and the lower part of the Peak, as far north as Castleton. There are lead mines also in the parishes of Ashover, Crich, and Calke, and lead-ore has been found in Turndich and Mugginton. The whole number of lead-mines, enumerated by Mr. Farey in his Agricultural Survey, amounts to about 250; of which number, twenty-two are stated to produce an abundant supply of ore. (fn. n5) Pilkington states, that the mines in the wapentake of Wirksworth yielded 1306 tons of lead in 1782, those in the parish of Crich, 200 tons. The Ashover mines, he states, had then produced 2011 tons annually for six years, and the Gregory mine alone, in that parish, from 1758 to 1783, 1511 tons annually. (fn. n6) The annual quantity produced from the High-Peak mines, he estimates at 2000 tons, and the whole of the annual quantity raised in Derbyshire, at between 5 and 6000 tons. Of late years, not above half that quantity has been raised, many mines having ceased working on account of the low'price of lead. (fn. n7) The most productive mine of late years has been the Gang-mine in the liberty of Cromford, in the parish and wapentake of Wirksworth. (fn. n8)
The mines in the Peak and in the wapentake of Wirksworth belonged to the crown at an early period. The Survey of Domesday mentions three mines at Wirksworth, and one in each of the manors of Crich, Ashford, Bakewell, and Mestesford. The King's mine at Wirksworth was granted to Robert del Don by Edward I. (fn. n9) : that of Crich, which had been granted by King John to Hubert Fitz-Ralph, was confirmed by Edward II. to Roger de Belers in 1325. (fn. n10) The Devonshire family have long been lessees of the mines in the hundred of High-Peak. The lease of those in the wapentake of Wirksworth, was in the family of Rowles, and having been lately sold under a decree of chancery, is now vested in Richard Arkwright, Esq.
The mines and miners of Derbyshire are governed by certain ancient customs and regulations which were ascertained by a jury under a commission granted in the year 1287. (fn. n11) The mining concerns are under the superintendence of an officer called a bar-master, who holds courts twice a year. At these courts, are decided all questions respecting the duties payable to the crown, or the lessee; controversies relating to working the mines, and punishments are inflicted for all offences committed upon mineral property. Debts incurred in working the mines are cognizable also in the bar-mote courts, which are held at Monyash for the Peak, and at Wirksworth for the wapentake.
The ancient punishment for stealing ore, on the third conviction, was, that the offender's hand should be struck through with a knife unto the haft into the stow, (fn. n12) where it was to remain until the offender was released by death, unless he loosed himself by cutting off his hand. (fn. n13)
One of the most remarkable of the ancient mining customs is that by which any adventurer who shall discover a vein of lead, unoccupied in the King's field, has a right to work it on the land of any person, without making any compensation to the proprietor: this custom is still in force, but it is understood that gardens, orchards, and highways, are excepted. It is the office of the bar-master, being applied to for that purpose, to put adventurers into possession of such veins by them discovered. The duties or tolls payable to the crown, and to the lord of the manor are of great antiquity: they vary very much in different parts of the Peak. Tithes are paid for lead-ore in the parishes of Eyam and Wirksworth. The brazen dish (fn. n14), by which the measure of the ore is regulated, is kept at Wirksworth: the records of the bar-mote court, which was kept in ancient times at the castle of the Peak, are now at Chatsworth.
The laws and customs of the mines vary in different manors, as well as the amount of tolls paid. An account of the laws and customs of the leadmines in Derbyshire was first published in 1649 ; and " The Liberties and Customs of those within the Wapentake of Wirksworth, in metre, by Edward Manlove, Esq., steward of the Bargh-moot court," in 1653. Thomas Houghton published a collection of the laws and customs in 1687. A second edition of this work under the title of " The complete Miner," was published at Derby in 1729 ; George Steer published in 1734, "The complete mineral laws of Derbyshire, including the Laws and Customs of the Manors of Eyam, Stony-Middleton, Ashford, Litton, Tideswell," &c.
The latest edition of the Mineral Laws was published in 1772. It has been observed, that these laws stand in great need of revising, as inapplicable to the present state of mining. (fn. n15)
The lead of Derbyshire was originally smelted by wood-fires on hills, in the open air. (fn. n16) Mr. Farey has given a list of the places where this process was carried on. This inconvenient mode was succeeded by what were called hearth-furnaces. Pilkington says, that two of these remained in the county at the time of his writing, (about 1789,) but Mr. Farey, in his Agricultural Survey, states, that the last hearth-furnace (which was at Rowsley) was pulled down about the year 1780; and that another at Hazleford-bridge near Hathersage, had been pulled down some time before, The same writer says, that a company of Quakers introduced the improved cupola furnace, now in use, from Wales, and erected one at Kelstedge m Ash over The smelting business has of late been on the decline, and there are now only nine cupolas in the county, two of these have two furnaces each (fn. n17)
A considerable quantity of lead is sent from Cromford to Derby, where it is used in making white lead, red lead, sheet lead, pipes, and shot: the remainder is for the most part sent down the canal from Chesterfield to coasting vessels in the Trent, for the London and Hull markets.
Several of the lead mines in Derbyshire produce ores of zinc in con siderable quantities. The more valuable, the calamine, or. oxide of zinc is found in 24 mines, as enumerated in Mr. Farey's list, in the parishes of Matlock, Bonsall, Carsington, Castleton, Bakewell, Youlgrave, and Bradborne: it is produced in the greatest abundance in Whitlow mine, in the parish of Bonsall. In this parish are calamine works belonging to the Cheadle brass company: there is a calamine work also at Cromford. A considerable quantity is sent to Sheffield for the brass company at that place. The discovery of the uses of calamine is rather of modern date: the miners, who formerly called it spelter, were wholly ignorant of its properties and value, not much more than a century ago, about which time it was first used in this country in the composition of brass. (fn. n18) Dr. Watson, in his Chemical Essays published in 1782, says, that the quantity of calamine raised annually in Derbyshire amounted to 1500 tons, although sixty years before, not more than 40 tons were raised in a year. Pilkington says, that from the best information he could obtain, not more than 500 tons were, at the time of his writing, annually collected from the several places where this article was found. (fn. n19) Derbyshire calamine was then from 305. to 408. per ton in its crude state; in its prepared state, from five to six guineas. The average quantity raised for the last four or five years has been about 400 tons j the present price in its crude state is from 51. to 61. 10s. per ton, according to its quality; in its prepared state from 141. 10s. to 151. 10s. per ton.
The other species of zinc ore found in Derbyshire is called blende or black-jack. Mr. Farey mentions 13 mines in which it is found: it is of inferior value and not so much in use. Many tons of it, nevertheless, were dressed four or five years ago at Ashover and Matlock, and sent to Bristol and Birmingham, at five pounds and five guineas a ton.
Oxid of manganese, called in Derbyshire black-wad, is found in a few of the lead mines in the parishes of Bake well, Hartington, and Youlgrave. At Wensley, there was a kiln about 20 years ago for preparing this substance as a black pigment for painting ships, &c. and the proprietoi had a contract with government for supplying it at 708. a ton (fn. n20) : it is not now prepared in the county.
Fluors of various colours are found in several of the Derbyshire mines. These fluors are much used for promoting the fusion of brittle and churlish ore: the yellow spar from Crich is used at the iron-works at Butterley and Somercotes. The more beautiful specimens of fluor called Blue-John, are wrought into vases and various ornamental articles of furniture, &c. at the manufactory in Derby.
Iron has from a very early period been known as the produce of this county. Mr. Farey estimates Derbyshire to be the fourth county in England as to its produce of pig-iron. He enumerates 59 places where mines are now or have been formerly worked for iron-stone. The district in which the iron-stone is found begins in the neighbourhood of Dale-abbey, extending northward throughout the hundred of Scarsdale into Yorkshire. Pilkington speaks of the beds of iron-stone in Morley-park, near Heage, and those in the parishes of Wingerworth, Chesterfield, and Stavely, as being the most valuable.
Until about the year 1770, all the cast and bar-iron in Derbyshire was made by small charcoal furnaces. One of these, worked by a water-wheel, remained at Wingerworth till 1784. Mr. Farey gives a list of 23 places where he had observed traces of these furnaces. The first furnace of the modern construction, heated with coke or pit-coal, was erected at Morley-park by Mr. Hurt. In 1806, there were in Derbyshire eleven of these furnaces (fn. n21) in full work; at which 10,329 tons of pig-iron were made in a year. Some of these have not of late been regularly worked, on account of the low price of British iron. Pilkington estimates the annual produce of Derbyshire, for some years previously to 1789, at about 5600 tons. There are eight forges in Derbyshire, in which bar-iron is made from the pigs. At most of these works there is an apparatus for rolling and splitting; besides which, there are rolling and splitting mills at Derby and Burrowash.
It is probable, that the Derbyshire collieries were worked by the Romans. Whitaker has brought forward evidence of their having been known to the Saxons, and there can be little doubt that this useful article, which is so abundant in the county, has been in constant use from a much earlier period, although we have not seen any mention of collieries in records before the year 1306 (fn. n22), when it appears that those at Denby, which are still esteemed to produce some of the best coals in the county, were worked.
The principal coal district is the same as that of the iron-stone, including the greater part of the hundred of Scarsdale, and extending southward on the east side of the county, as far as Dale-Abbey. Coals are found also in a part of the parish of Glossop, in that of Hartington, and in a district south of the Trent, including the parishes of Gresley, Calke, Hartshorn, Smithsby, and part of Stapenhill.
It is scarcely possible to ascertain the quantity of coal dug annually in this county; but it is known to be very large. Great quantities (although much diminished within the last two years) are consumed in the various founderies and other works in the county, as well as for domestic uses; and the export by the Cromford, Derby, and Erwash canal, and the Trent navigation, is very considerable. In 1808, it appears that 269,456 tons of coals were weighed, to be sent by the canals above-mentioned southwards, exclusively of coals from the collieries of Lord Middleton and Mr. Drury Lowe, who declined to adopt the regulations for weighing entered into by the other coal-owners. Of the coals above-mentioned, 205,006 tons were hard coals, being the only sort which finds a ready sale in the midland counties, to which the Derbyshire coal is exported. (fn. n23) The collieries in Derbyshire are for the most part in the occupation oflessees. The Duke of Devonshire, Sir H. Hunloke, Edward Miller Mundy, Esq., William Drury Lowe, Esq., D'Ewes Coke, Esq., and the Reverend Henry Case More wood are the only considerable land-owners who raise coals on their own account. (fn. n24)
Gypsum or alabaster is raised in considerable quantities in the parish of Chellaston. In its native state it is used for columns (fn. n25), chimney pieces, and other ornamental building, as well as tombstones and monumental effigies, for which purposes it is sold at aos. per ton. In its calcined state it is applied at the potteries and elsewhere to all the uses of plaister of Paris: the inferior sort is used for plaister floors. Pilkington speaks of the quantity of gypsum raised at the Chellaston pit, as about 800 tons annually, 500 tons of which were sent to the potteries in Staffordshire. We have been informed that the present quantity raised is about 1000 tons. There is a kiln on the Derby canal for preparing the plaister, and another at Derby belonging to Messrs. Brown and Mawe. There is another pit of gypsum near Aston, and there were formerly others in the parish of Elvaston, on Ballingdon hill near Ambaston. These have been several years closed. Pilkington speaks of the gypsum of these pits, as the most valuable which had been got in the county.
The limestone of this county may be esteemed as a valuable article of produce. Mr. Farey enumerates 46 quarries of it, and 63 kilns in which it is burnt for sale. Great quantities are sold at these kilns, chiefly for agricultural purposes, for the use of this and some of the neighbouring counties. The largest quarries are at Ashover, Crich, and Calver near Baslow. Considerable quantities of lime are sent from Calver into Yorkshire, and from the neighbourhood of Btixton into Cheshire and Staffordshire. Nearly 30,000 bushels of lime have been sold yearly for manure at the Knitaker lime-kilns, in the parish of Barlborough. (fn. n26)
Some of the Derbyshire limestones are in request as marble for chimney pieces, slabs, &c. Mr. Farey gives a list of 19 quarries (fn. n27) whence this sort of limestone or Derbyshire marble is procured. There are mills for sawing and polishing marble (fn. n28) at Wirksworth, Bonsall, and Lea-bridge.
Mr. Farey enumerates 138 stone quarries in Derbyshire, some of which produce an ashlar of a good and durable quality for building. Some excellent specimens of these are seen in the principal seats and public edifices in the county; and great quantities are exported, particularly from the mill-stone grit quarries in the parish of Crich. Grindstones made of the mill-stone grit are in great request, and are exported in great quantities by the canals to the south-east parts of England. Of late there has been a great demand for the coarse grind-stones from Gregory quarry at Overton in Ashover. Mr. Farey enumerates 19 quarries in Derbyshire, from which the grind-stones are procured. Coarse whet-stones for sharpening scythes, called scythe-stones, are procured from 13 quarries in this county; the finer whet-stones from seven others. The finest whet-stones, called hones, for setting a fine edge on knives, razors, &c., are procured from quarries at Conor-park and Woodthorp near Wingerworth. The Heage whetstones are used by the petrefaction workers at Derby.
Several mines in this county produce ochres (fn. n29), and China-clay is found in a few of them in small quantities. (fn. n30) The last-mentioned article, which is found chiefly at Brassington, was used formerly at the porcelain works in Derby. Of late it has been sent to the potteries in Staffordshire.
Pipe-clay is found in Bolsover, Killamarsh, Hartshorn, and Hartington; potters' clay of various sorts and fire-clay in the coal districts; the latter is in high repute for making bricks, &c., to be used in the structure of iron furnaces, coarse crucibles, &c,
Mr. Farey in his Survey of Derbyshire, drawn up for the Board of Agriculture, speaks of Derbyshire, in its character of a manufacturing county, as ranking next to Lancashire, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire.
The earliest manufacture we read of, as connected with this county, is that of wool, which seems to have been established before the reign of King John, when an exclusive privilege of dying cloth was granted to the burgesses of Derby. Three fulling-mills at Derby are spoken of in Queen Mary's charter. The woollen manufacture is now chiefly carried on in the parish of Glossop, on the borders of Yorkshire, in which are not less than seven factories and four fulling-mills. Blanket weaving is carried on at Whittington; worsted spinning at Derby (fn. n31), Melbourne, Tideswell, &c.
The silk-mill was first introduced into Derbyshire in the beginning of the last century; the improved machinery was brought over from Italy about the year 1717, as is more particularly shewn in the account of Derby. The silk manufacture has increased, and is still flourishing at Derby.
The manufacture of stockings was introduced at Derby about the same time as the silk-mills; and Derby is one of the four towns (fn. n32) which are esteemed the chief seat of the stocking manufacture. The manufactures of Derby acquired additional celebrity by the ingenious discovery of Mr. Jedidiah Strutt, who introduced a machine for making ribbed stockings about the year 1755: this species of goods acquired the name of the Derby Rib. The stocking manufacture is chiefly carried on in private dwellings, in the towns and neighbourhood of Derby and Chesterfield, and most of the villages on the eastern side of the county. (fn. n33)
The manufacture of cotton, except what was used in making stockings, does not appear to have been introduced into Derbyshire before the year 1771, when Sir Richard Arkwright established one of the first cotton-mills on the improved principles at Cromford. In 1773, those two eminent benefactors to their country, whose industry and talents contributed so largely to the extension of its manufactures, the late Mr. Jedidiah Strutt and Sir Richard Arkwright, in conjunction with Mr. Samuel Need, made at Derby the first successful attempt, to establish the manufacture of calicoes in this kingdom. This county, therefore, as having been the cradle of some of the most important branches of the cotton manufacture, stands in the highest rank in point of interest, and may be reckoned almost the first with respect to the extent of its concerns. In 1787, the number of cotton-mills in England, Wales, and Scotland, are said to have been 143; in England only, 119: of these, 41 were in Lancashire, and 22 in Derbyshire. (fn. n34) The number of cotton-mills in Derbyshire alone are now 112, of which one half are in the parish of Glossop; there are several others in the Peak, (at Castleton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Tideswell, &c.) There are cotton-mills also at Matlock, Crich, Pleasley, Sawley, Measham, &c. (fn. n35)
Very numerous also are the factories connected with the cotton trade. It is stated by Mr. Farey, that there are in this county 43 factories for calico weaving; 15 bleaching grounds; four calico-printing works (in the parish of Glossop); three cambric-weaving factories (in the same parish); two for fustian weaving; eight for muslin weaving (chiefly in Glossop); two for tape weaving; and four mills for making candle-wicks. Machines for the cotton factories, stocking-frames, &c., are made at Derby, Alfreton, Glossop, Belper, Heanor, Matlock, Butterley, &c.
The linen manufacture is not of great extent in Derbyshire. Flax spinning is carried on, and there are linen-yarn mills in the parishes of Ash-over, Matlock, Glossop, Brampton, and Crich; linen weaving in Ashover, Brampton, Belper, Turndich, &c.; tape weaving and cambric weaving in Glossop, and lace weaving in Derby and Melbourne.
There are 28 tan-yards in various parts of the county; nine skinners, four curriers, and five factories of white leather. (fn. n36) At Hartshorn is a mill for oiled and chamois leather. Shoes arc made for the wholesale trade at Chesterfield and other places. In this county there are 12 dye-houses, nine paper-mills, 13 rope-walks, and three whipcord manufactories. (fn. n37)
The smelting houses for lead, and the iron furnaces for preparing the ore have been already spoken of, under the article of Produce. There are red and white lead works at and near Derby, and red-lead works in the parish of Chesterfield, at Alderwasley, and at Lea-wood; there is a shotmill at Derby.
Connected with the iron-trade are various manufactories, some of which are carried on to a great extent. The cast-iron works at Chesterfield, Butterley, &c., carried on very extensive manufactures of cannon, cannon-balls, &c., during the war. Agricultural tools are manufactured in various parts of the county. Scythes, sickles, hoes, and spades, are made chiefly in the northern part of the county, between Chesterfield and Sheffield; there are three factories of reaping-hooks and seven of sickles, in the parish of Eckington; eight scythe-smiths in Norton, five in Eckington, and four in Dronfield. (fn. n38) Cutlery, and other steel articles are made at Derby, Chesterfield, and in the villages to the north of the last-mentioned town. Spurs and bridle-bits are made at Bolsover and New Brampton; j needles at Hathersage.
There are six chain manufactories, chiefly in the north part of the county. (fn. n39) Nail-making is carried on to a great extent, chiefly at and in the neighbourhood of Belper; though of late the trade has experienced a considerable check. Nails from cast iron are made at Dronfield and New-Brampton.
There are ten grindstone mills in this county (fn. n40), three of which are at Upper Padley and the others in the neighbourhood of Dronfield, Eckington, and Norton. Whetstones and hones are made in great quantities within a few miles north-east of Derby, and sent into the southern counties.
At Derby is a long-established porcelain manufactory: there is a porcelain manufactory also at Pinxton. There are potteries at and near Chester field, Alfreton, Belper, Ilkeston, Gresley, Hartshorn, Tickenhall, &c. Tobacco-pipes are made at Chesterfield and at New-Brampton. Hats are made in considerable quantities, for exportation, at Alfreton, Chesterfield, &c. At Chesterfield is a carpet manufactory.
Besides the manufactories already mentioned, Mr. Farey enumerates among others one glass-house, one gun-powder mill, a brass-foundery, at Ashborne; mills for grinding colours at Bonsall and Derby; a manufactory of button-moulds at Whittington, and several mills for crushing bones, used for the purposes of manure.