Parochial history: Introduction

Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1817.

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Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons, 'Parochial history: Introduction', Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire, (London, 1817), pp. 1-2. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons. "Parochial history: Introduction", in Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire, (London, 1817) 1-2. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Lysons, Daniel. Lysons, Samuel. "Parochial history: Introduction", Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire, (London, 1817). 1-2. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,


Little has been done, though much seems to have been intended, towards a topographical history of Derbyshire. Philip Kinder, a contem porary and friend of Selden, left behind him a preliminary discourse to a projected history of this county, treating briefly of the natural history, pro duce, rivers, inhabitants, &c. &c. (fn. n1) It appears, from a passage in this dis course, that he intended to treat of the towns, according to their propinquity and site between such and such rivers, to visit all the churches, to get a copy of what relates to this county in Domesday–book, to search the records of the Tower and elsewhere, &c. &c.

The Reverend John Hieron, an eminent nonconformist divine, who died in 1682, made copious extracts from the Herald's visitations; and from records, particularly those at the Roll's chapel, relating to this county: collected in a volume, now in the possession of Godfrey Meynell, Esq., of Langley-park. It is evident, by a note at the beginning of the volume, that he meditated a topographical history of the county.

Mr. William Wolley wrote a brief topographical history of Derbyshire, brought down to the year 1712, which remains in MS. In this work he was assisted by the collections of Mr. Samuel Sanders, of Little-Ireton, who was connected with his family by marriage. A copy of this MS. is in the possession of Mr. Adam Wolley of Matlock, and another among Dr. Pegge's collections.

Mr. Gough informs us that Mr. Samuel Pegge, rector of Whittington, (afterwards Dr. Pegge,) was, in 1780, making collections for the history of Derbyshire. Dr. Pegge's collections, now in the Heralds' college, contain some local information, particularly relating to parishes in his immediate neighbourhood, some pedigrees brought down to his own time, &c.; but he appears to have made but little efficient progress towards a topographical history of the county. A sketch of the History of Bolsover and Peak Castles (1785), by Dr. Pegge, was published in Mr. Nichols's Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica; and an Historical Account of Beauchief Abbey, by the same author, was published by Mr. Nichols in 1801, after his death.

Thomas Blore, Esq., in 1791, announced his intention of publishing a topographical history of Derbyshire, and made considerable collections from public records and private evidences for that purpose: in the same year he communicated to the editors of " Topographical Miscellanies," a History of the Parish of Breadsall. He published in 1793, a History of the Manor and Manor-house of South-Winfield (fn. n2), as a specimen of the manner of his intended history.

In 1789 Mr. James Pilkington, minister of the Unitarian chapel at Derby, published " A View of the present State of Derbyshire," in two volumes, 8vo. The first volume relates to its natural history: a part of the second volume is occupied by general topics; in the remainder is a brief account of the parishes, under the head of the several deaneries. In 1811, the Rev. D. P. Davies, minister of the Unitarian congregations at Belper and Millford, published " A New Historical and Descriptive View of Derbyshire," in one volume, 8vo., taking Pilkington's work as his basis, and bringing down his history to the date of its publication.

In the year 1791 Mr. William Hutton published a History of the Town of Derby, in one volume, 8vo.

In the Topographer for 1790, is a History of the Town and Priory of Repton, by the Rev. Stebbing Shaw, with copies of many ancient deeds, &c.

The chief sources whence we have derived our accounts of the descent of property in the following brief parochial history, are the records in the Tower, the Augmentation office, the Rolls chapel, the office of the duchy of Lancaster, and the Quo Warranto Roll. Some valuable information has been obtained from collections (fn. n3) taken by Dodsworth from records, not at present in a state of arrangement for reference, in the Court of Exchequer; from communications obligingly made by the principal landed proprietors, and their agents; and a most valuable and extensive collection, made during a course of several years, by Adam Wolley, Esq. of Matlock, from ancient family deeds and other sources; from which he has favoured us with the most liberal communications. It should be mentioned, that some years ago Mr. Blore drew up for us a brief account of the descent of most of the manors in the wapentake of Wirksworth. We have, as in other counties, visited all the parish churches, and have been able to supply some notices of tombs now mutilated or removed, from a volume of church notes, taken about the year 1710, by Francis Bassano, a herald-painter of Derby, which we purchased some years since, with a collection of Cheshire MSS., and which it is our intention to deposit in the Heralds' college. For an account of the present state of free-schools, and other public endowments, with various modern local information, we have applied, as before, to the clergy of the several parishes, who have very obligingly attended to our queries, and given us every requisite information.


  • n1. Now in MS. in the Ashmolean library at Oxford.
  • n2. A history of South-Winfield, not so much enlarged, had previously been communicated to the Topographer in 1789.
  • n3. Now in the Bodleian library of Oxford.