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WIRKSWORTH Hundred, Derbyshire

Description and Travel

A Hundred (or Wapentake) is an ancient Anglo-Saxon political unit. It was primarily a collection of local parishes and towns where the chieftans could gather to communicate about politics, threats to their welfare and other issues. Presumably the "hundred" refers to a collection of 100 warriors from the surrounding area. The term "Wapentake" deals with the fact that agreement was shown by raising your weapon or striking it against your shield (Wapen = weapon). Weapons are no longer allowed at most public meetings.

The "Hundred" fell out of use a few centuries ago, being replaced by the the arangement of counties and districts and the eventual 19th century implementation of Civil Registration and the extension of voting rights to all citizens.

Many of the Hundreds (or Wapentakes) evolved politically into "district" councils under the advent of Civil Registration as there was still the desire for addressing the needs of related parishes. The "High Peak" District Council is an example of that in Derbyshire.

But for over a millenium the Hundred was an effective form of government. Parishes and towns in the area had common interests and needs. The Wirksworth Hundred existed at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The Roman town of Lutudarum was in the area and the Hundred covered a large portion of the Peak District and an important mining area. This hundred included 13 parishes and parts of 6 others.

Alas, there are few records indexed by Hundred that are of use to family historians. The Archives will have records relating to political and civic issues addressed by the Hundreds. Many published Directories of the 1700s and early 1800s are arranged by Hundred, but that method fell out of favor by the mid 1800s.

Politics and Government

  • This place was the ancient Wirksworth Hundred (or Wapentake).