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Derbyshire - Famous People

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Famous People from Derbyshire

Image right - Jedediah Strutt

Image by Joseph Wright of Derby - Sotheby's, Public Domain, Wiki Commons

Please add information about people of renown connected to Derbyshire, England. If the person has a profile on Geni please add their profile to the project and add the link in bold.

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  • Sir Richard Arkwright (1732 - 1792) Starting life as a barber and a wig maker, the Preston born factory pioneer had become interested in the mechanics of cotton spinning machinery on his travels around the country. Through such inspiration, he and a watchmaker named John Kay were to work together producing the design of first the spinning frame and later on the water frame.


  • Bess of Hardwick Countess of Shrewsbury (1518 - 1608) Bess of Hardwick was renowned for being one of the wealthiest and most powerful woman in the country, second only to Queen Elizabeth 1st. Much of this wealth and power is attributed to the fact that she was married four times, through which she accumulated land and property.


  • 'William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, KG (14 December 1748 – 29 July 1811) was a British aristocrat and politician. Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
  • Thomas Cook (1808 - 1892) Thomas Cook was born in the village of Melbourne, and after leaving school at the age of 10 he had several jobs before he became involved in the temperance movement and became a Baptist missionary.


  • Erasmus Darwin (1731 - 1802) Erasmus Darwin was raised in the village of Lichfield, after being born in Nottinghamshire. He was the co-founder of an intellectual group known as the Lunar Society, along with James Watts and Joshua Wedgewood, and later on another group known as the Derby Philosophical Society.
  • Joe Davis OBE (1901 - 1978) Born in Whitwell, Derbyshire, Joe Davis was the holder of the first ever-professional World Snooker championship, which was held in Nottingham in 1927, a title he would hold many times; along with that of billiards champion.







  • Stanislaw Jozefiak (born 1919) Stanislaw Jozefiak was born on 10th September 1919 on a farm in Skalmierzycach near Ostrow Wielkopolski, a town in Central Poland. At the time this was written (January 2009) he still lived in Derby and maintained strong ties with Poland. In 1996 he wrote his autobiography: God, Honour and the Homeland.



  • D. H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930) David Herbert Lawrence, famous poet, writer and painter, born in Eastwood, Nottingham, was the son of a miner. Working in an office led to him becoming a teacher and attending Nottingham University to later qualify for the role.


  • Ellen MacArthur (1976 - ) Born in Derby City Hospital in 1976, Ellen first became interested in sailing at the age of 8, after sailing trips with her aunt. By the age of 18 she had won 'BT/YJA Young Sailor of the Year' by sailing alone around Britain.


  • Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910) Born to William Edward and Frances Nightingale (in Florence, Italy, hence her name). As a child she enjoyed learning and developed an interest in social issues, visiting her local hospital and the homes for the sick. William's mother Mary née Evans was the niece of one Peter Nightingale, under the terms of whose will William inherited his estate at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire.





  • Henry Royce (1863 - 1933) Born in Rutland, the co-founder of Rolls Royce Ltd started his trade as a manufacturer of cranes, dynamos and motors, before moving on to designing experimental cars. His company, Royce Ltd, did very well, but he was later approached by a motor dealer by the name of C.S. Rolls who proposed to produce the cars he designed, their two companies merged in 1906 forming Rolls Royce Ltd.


  • [Samuel Slater, Sr. Samuel Slater (1768-1835) English-American industrialist known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution" or the "Father of the American Factory System" because he brought British textile technology to America.
  • Jedediah Strutt (1726 - 1797) The other great pioneer of the cotton spinning industry alongside Arkwright, Strutt was born in Newton by Blackwell in Derbyshire, and conducted an apprenticeship under Ralph Massey in 1740, from Findern in Derby.
  • Charles Edward Stuart (1720 - 1788) Bonnie Prince Charlie was not a native of Derby but an interesting piece of history has close connections with the city. Considered as the hope for a Catholic King to replace the then Protestant throne of England, Charlie led an army down from Scotland in the year 1745, an army of over 6500 men, in the hope of reclaiming the throne he considered to be rightfully his.





  • Izaak Walton (1593 - 1683) Although born in Stafford and spending much of his life in London, Izaak Walton was a great friend of Charles Cotton, and spent a great deal of time fishing the banks of the River Dove.
  • Joseph Wright (1734 - 1797) Born in Irongate, Derby, to the son of an attorney, the famous painter first studied at the Derby Free Grammar School, before moving to London where he studied under the portrait painter Thomas Hudson. Wright returned to Derby after two spells in London, and continued to paint portraits earning money so that he could focus on more personal interests, namely landscape and scientific subject based painting. He was close friends with local scientists and intellectuals, including Erasmus Darwin. Some of his better-known works include ‘The Alychemist’, and ‘The Orrery’. Wright had married Anne Swift in 1773, and together they lived at the old St Helens House until her death. Following this loss, Wright moved to Queen’s Street in Derby, and died there in 1797.

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