Each of the printed diaries in the collection contains manuscript notes, generally very brief.Further research would enable greater certainty about the writers and their lives.
The earliest volume (MS 294/1) is a 'Riders British Merlin' pocket book for 1680, compiled byCardanus Riders and printed in London. It contains brief printed details of historical chronologyand geography; tables of weights and measures, term dates, expenses and wages, and interestpayments; lists of kings, fairs and highways; notes on particular months giving feast days and lunarconditions for example; and an illustration entitled 'The Anatomy of Man's Body' with astrologicalphases assigned to parts of it. It also contains contemporary manuscript notes recording sums ofmoney, names of clients and engagements. Place names mentioned are primarily in Derbyshire andNottinghamshire and a reference to 'blood dyes' suggests that the owner may have worked in thetextile industry.
The second volume (MS 294/2), dated 1693, is also a 'Riders British Merlin'. The printed sectionsare similar to MS 294/1, but this edition includes a description of the four quarters of the yearand solar and lunar eclipses. The manuscript notes seem to be in different hands and there ismention of the year 1784 suggesting that the book remained in use long after the diary year. Notesrecording the dates when particular cows were bulled suggests that one of the contributors to thevolume was a farmer. Inside the front cover of the diary is a newspaper cutting of a poem entitled'The Lost Shepherd' and written in Ashbourne, Derbyshire in 1775.
The third volume (MS 294/3) is a 'Ladies Complete Pocket Book' for 1772, printed in London forCarson and Newbury. The printed sections include: an essay on dress; details of places of interestsuch as shops, gardens and dance halls; tables for appointments, lunar cycle, sun rise times,arithmetic and notable dates; and illustrations of formal dress in Britain and around Europe between1769 and 1771. Manuscript notes often refer to the birth of children giving dates and names,suggesting that the owner may have been a midwife. There are also manuscript accounts with namesalongside. Some of the manuscript notes are dated 1842 suggesting a later use of the diary as anotebook.