A World Genealogy Project

Melbourne, Derbyshire - A brief history:

I am NOT an expert in the history of the town of Melbourne in Derbyshire - so if any local historian's are out there and anything needs correcting, then please do contact me. 

The Name
The name Melbourne means "Mill Stream" or "Mill Spring" and it was first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as "Mileburne" a royal manor. The Parish church was originally built around 1120AD, though the Domesday Book records a church and a priest present in 1086.

Melbourne parish church has been described as a "cathedral in miniature" and is one of five churches in Melbourne. Most of the original masonry is intact, except for the eastern end which has been refurbished. The roofs, naves, aisles and the aisle windows date from the restoration of the 1630s. There was also a restoration done by Gilbert Scott ibetween 1859-62.

Melbourne Hall was originally the rectory house for the Bishop of Carlisle, but was substantially rebuilt by Thomas and George Coke in the early 18th century. The hall's gardens were laid out with the assistance of royal gardeners in 1704. They contain examples of the work of Derby ironsmith Robert Bakewell. Melbourne Pool was originally used by the nearby mill.

The Thomas Cook Memorial Cottages in High Street were built by Thomas Cook, the founder of the travel company,  Cook was born in Melbourne in 1808 though his birthplace was demolished in 1968. The buildings built in 1890-91 include fourteen cottages, a bakehouse, a laundry and mission hall. They still provide accommodation for some of Melbourne's senior citizens.

Melbourne Market Place is the location of Melbourne's main shops, it is a renowned market town. Its' location in South Derbyshire is close to the county borders of both Staffordshire and Leicestershire, the majority of English Tivey's originated throughout these 3 counties during the 17-19th centuries.

THE OLD BURIAL GROUND MELBOURNE A HISTORICAL NOTE BY HOWARD USHE     Melbourne Church is unusual in that the graveyard does not surround it but is detached at about a hundred yards distant. There was probably an earlier graveyard which surrounded the church as suggested by the occasional discovery of bones when trenches were laid across Church Square. In 1726, Richard Sheppard wrote to Thomas Coke when preparing for his new gatehouse: “….foundations dug (which prove but indifferent) for next to the Chancel, we have fallen into an old Burying Place where we found a great many human bones…”   It is not known when the detached graveyard was brought into use. The earliest map at Melbourne of about 1732 does not show a graveyard around the church and the detached graveyard is shown as an unnamed enclosure which contains a house and a market cross. Writing in 1892, W Dashwood-Fane noted that the earliest inscription was 1657. This corresponds with the start of the use of dated stones in external churchyards. The oldest stone now visible is dated 1695, but this is heavily worn and the general run of stones covers the period from 1720 to 1860. By this time the graveyard was full and a new cemetery was constructed in Packhorse Road, which was consecrated by Bishop Lonsdale in May 1860. The first burial was that of John Taft of Kings Newton on 3rd June 1860.   On 19 March 1860, Frederick Fox, the Melbourne agent, wrote to Lady Palmerston to tell her of discoveries made during the Restoration of the Church “…In making the excavations in the church…they came upon some of the coffins of the Cokes. As the foundation of the church are too shallow to allow safely of deep excavation & the coffins must without this have been very near the Flues in the Chancel, it was thought best to remove them to a central spot in the Church Yard & there they were deposited in two brick graves. The remains of the last Vicar were also removed & laid near them. I had a sketch made of the manner in which they were found & of their present position & I propose to get this signed by the Vicar & Churchwardens &c & a copy to be deposited in the Evidence Room here & one in the Melbourne box if there is one in London…There have been a large amount of human remains found during the excavations & the state of the Church must at times have been very unwholesome…”  The sketch mentioned seems to have been lost as it does not appear in any of the boxes in the Muniment Room.  According to W D Fane, four stones adjacent to Mr Ambrose Beaumont’s monument mark the site of the burial place of the Cokes.  To the north of Ambrose Beaumont’s slab (which used to be a chest tomb) is a rectangular stone base, further north a pile of carved stones with an elderberry tree and yet further north a square enclosure with a holly tree.  Perhaps the pile of stones marks the burial place of a number of the Coke family including Thomas Coke (1656), Mary, his wife (1657), Mary Coke (nee Leventhorpe) (1681), Thomas Coke (1727), Lady Mary (nee Stanhope), his first wife (1704) and George Lewis Coke (1751).   In January, 1891, Fane wrote that, in order to relieve unemployment, “…a large number of men were employed in digging over the surface of the old burial ground of the parish, which was in a very unseemly state from long neglect. The coarse foggy grass was buried, and the gravestones were laid level upon the graves and cleaned…”   At some later date the stones were lifted and propped up against the walls where they remain to this day. The inscriptions on the stones were recorded by the writer in 1984. There are 230 stones in the graveyard of which the earliest stone ones are mostly indecipherable.  Swithland slate appears in 1729 with good legible inscriptions and continues throughout the life of the graveyard, although purple Welsh slate starts to replace it in the 1850’s, 59% of the stones are signed by the sculptor, who is frequently a local Melborne man.  The Melbourne engravers par excellence were the Dunnicliff family, Thomas, Charles and Charles Junior who between them carved over a hundred stones as well as some of the Baptist Church and their work can be found as far away as Chellaston, Breedon and Repton. Other Melbourne engravers include John Orme, Samuel Marples, W Newcury and C Morris.   

Trade Directories - Click below to see transcripts:


Pigot's 1828-29 Pigot's 1835 Bagshaw's 1846 Freebody's 1852 Wright's 1874 Kelly's 1891
Kelly's 1912 Kelly's 1925 Photographs  OLD    MODERN