DENBY, (or Denbly) a parish in the hundred of Morleston and Litchurch, in the county of Derby, 4 miles N.E. of Duffield, and 3 S.E. of Belper, its post town. It is a station on the Derby, Little Eaton, and Ripley section of the Midland railway, which traverses the parish in various directions, connecting the smithies, potteries, and other factories with the works carried on near its northern and western boundaries. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Lichfield, value £98, in the patronage of W. D. Lowe Esq., who is lord of the manor.

The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure, with a tower and curious steeple. It has been recently enlarged, and 160 free sittings added. The charities amount to £50 1 0s. per annum, exclusive of the impropriation belonging to the almshouse at Derby. The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel. There are endowed schools for both sexes, founded by Mrs. Massie in 1635. This place is celebrated for its collieries and ironstone cement. There is also an extensive earthenware manufactory for stone bottles. John Flamsteed, the eminent mathematician and astronomer, was born here in 1646; the observatory at Greenwich was erected for him, where he died in 1719.”

from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868


Archives & Libraries

Denby is served by the Mobile Library on route 5, which stops at Denby Lodge on every fourth Tuesday at midday.

You may prefer the Library at Alfreton which is an excellent resource with a Local History section and a Family History section.



  • FRYAR, Michael - Some Chapters in the History of Denby, 291 pages, orig. publ. 1934, Facsimile 1994.


The Derby Daily Telegraph for Friday, 6 December 1940, reports:


The funeral of Mrs. Rosina PLEMING took place yesterday at Denby Parish Church. She was the wife of the Rev. J. PLEMING, Vicar of Mapperley for 25 years. For the last three years the family has been living at Denby Village. The funeral was conducted by the Vicar of Denby (Rev. J. C. T. TAGGART), assisted by the Vicar of Mapperley (Rev. A. E. SWAIN). The service was choral. Mr. Roberts was the organist.
The following members of the family were present: Rev. J. FLEMING (husband), Mr. and Mrs. Norman PLEMING (son and daughter-in-law). Rev. and Mrs. Percy F. PLEMING (son. and daughter-in-law), Mr. Albert E. PLEMING (son), Rev. Horace R. PLEMING (son). Miss Evelyn M. PLEMING. Miss Violet D. PLEMING. Mrs. Marjorie BULLOCK. Miss Rosalie M. PLEMING (daughters).

Among those present at the service were: Mrs. George SPENCER (Stanley), Dr. and Mrs. ADAMS (West Hallam), Mrs. F. G. ROBINSON (Ilkeston), Mr. and Mrs. W. TOWNSEND (Somercotes), Mrs. TAGGART (Denby), Mr. N. HORSLEY (Denby). Mrs. UDALL. Mrs. HOBSON, Mr. W. BIRKIN (Mapperley)."


NOTE: Mr. PLEMING's name is mispelt as FLEMING above.



  • The parish was in the Horsley sub-district of the Belper Registration District.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1861R.G. 9 / 2508
1891R.G. 12 / 2742

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin.
  • Parts of the church fabric date back to 1135, but there is evidence of an older church in the parish from the 900s. The tower dates from around 1300.
  • The church was enlarged in 1838.
  • On 16 December, 1852, the spire was struck by lightning and had to be restored.
  • The church was restored in 1903.
  • The church seats 250.
  • David BEVIS has a photograph of St. Mary's Church on Geo-graph, taken in September, 2011.
  • David BEVIS also has a good photograph of the Church tower and spire on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2015.
  • The church has its own Website with information on opening times and events.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1577 for all entries.
  • Michael SPENCER, Jon CANTRILL and others have contributed an extract of Parish Register burials for your review. Your additions and corrections are welcomed.
  • Marriages at Denby, 1557-1837 are available in Nigel BATTY-SMITH's database of scanned images of Phillimore's Parish Registers.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Duffield.
  • The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built here in 1841.
  • There was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the hamlet of Denby Bottles as well.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration began in July, 1837.
  • The parish was in the Horsley sub-district of the Belper Registration District.

Description & Travel

"DENBY is a parish (having no dependent township) in the same hundred as Butterley, between two and three miles S. from Ripley, and about 8 N.E. from Derby. Coal and iron-works, and a pottery are in the parish. The habitations are thinly scattered to a considerable distance around the church, which is an ancient building, dedicated to St. Mary. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Earl of Chesterfield. The parish contained, at the last census (1831) 1,272 inhabitants."

[Description from Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, 1835]

If you are planning a visit, the parish has its own Visitors' Centre to welcome and assist you. CAUTION: The site is intended to sell you pottery.

Openwood Gate is a hamlet just over 2 miles west of the village. Denby Bottles is primarily farmland 2 miles west of the village. Smithy Houses is a hamlet 1 mile northwest of the village.

You can see pictures of Denby which are provided by:







  • J. THOMAS has a photograph of the Denby Lodge on Geo-graph, taken in October, 2015.
  • Denby village takes credit as the place where Tarmac was developed after an accidental tar spill on one of the local roads.
  • Jean DURBIN reports that in the Derby Mercury 18 Oct 1854: "ASSAULT: F. MOORE was charged by G. PRINCE with assaulting him at Denby. Fined 1 Shilling & 20 shillings & 6 pence costs.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK386470 (Lat/Lon: 53.018913, -1.426041), Denby which are provided by:


Military History


Military Records

Captain William Drury DRURY-LOWE was a landowner and colliery owner here. He served with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards in South Africa from 1901-1902. In July, 1908, he retired from the army. He was re-instated to the Army as a captain for World War One and he died at the Battle of the Somme on 25 September 1916.

From the CWGC database, World War I:

  1. A. J. BINKS, flight sub-lieut., RNAS, died 9 Feb. 1918.
    A death registration exists for the Belper District, 1st qtr. 1918 for an Arthur J. BINKS. 

World War II:

  1. Enid BROWN, private, Aux. Terr. Svc., age 38, died 31 July 1944. Daug. of Hugh Fletcher and Bertha BROWN.
  2. John Trevor HUNT, ldg. aircraftman, RAF Vol. Rsrv., age 21, died 24 July 1943. Son of Herbert and Jessie Collin HUNT.
  3. Henry SMITH, gunner, 434 Battery, Royal Artillery, age 20, died 14 April 1942. Son of George and Agnes SMITH.


Jane TAYLOR in Redcar contributes this snippet from the Derby Mercury of 2 June, 1803, MARRIED: "On Tuesday se'nnight, Mr. RADFORD, of Denby, to Miss BRETNALL, of Locko Grange, both in this county."


Politics & Government

  • This place was ancient parish in county Derby and it became a modern Civil Parish when those were established.
  • This parish was in the ancient Morleston Hundred (or Wapentake).
  • In March, 1888, this parish gained the Hen Moor portion of Kilburn Civil Parish.
  • You may contact the Denby Parish Council regarding civic or political matters, but they will NOT do family history searches for you.
  • District governance is provided by the Amber Valley Borough Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Bastardy cases would be heard in the Smalley petty session hearings.
  • There is an index of Denby Bastardy Papers held at the DRO on the Yesterdays Journey website. Select "Bastardy Papers" on the left side, then "Denby" from the list of parishes displayed.
  • As a result of the 1834 Poorlaw Amendment Act reforms, this parish became part of the Belper Poorlaw Union.


An Endowed School (mixed and infants) was built here in 1867 and enlarged in 1875 and again in 1885 to hold 132 boys and girls and 48 infants.

David BEVIS has a photograph of Denby Free School on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2015.

A Public Elementary School (mixed and infants) at Smithy Houses in 1894 and enlarged in 1901 to hold 258 children.