Darbyshire Heraldic Collection

Scope and Content

Two notebooks on the heraldry of Henry V and Richard III and a bound volume of notes made by Alfred Darbyshire on heraldry.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alfred Darbyshire (1839-1908) was a Manchester architect, antiquary and amateur actor. He was articled to the architect Peter Bradshaw Alley of Manchester, from 1855 until 1862, when he formed his own practice. He became known for designing theatres, including the Comedy Theatre in Manchester (afterwards called the Gaiety). From 1901 to 1903 he was president of the Manchester Society of Architects, and did much to encourage the foundation of a chair of architecture at the University of Manchester.

Darbyshire had a strong interest in drama and was an amateur actor. He supplied heraldic designs based on his own historical research for the revivals of Shakespeare's plays produced by Charles Alexander Calvert (1828-1879), the actor manager of the Prince's Theatre in Manchester. Apart from his professional work and theatrical interests he was also a noted antiquarian and student of heraldry, being elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1894. He died in Manchester in 1908.

Source: Ian Dungavell, 'Darbyshire, Alfred (1839-1908)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/32712.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from Alfred Darbyshire in December 1907, along with a larger collection of heraldic volumes.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Alfred Darbyshire.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MSS 100 and 292).

Related Material

The Library also holds a collection of Alfred Darbyshire's papers, comprising ten scrapbooks containing photographs of Manchester and of buildings designed by Darbyshire, and correspondence and ephemera relating to 19th-century theatre and literature (Accession 1999/014).

Geographical Names