Papers of John Derry (1792-1869) of Leicester, bookseller, and his immediate family, 1756, 1817-1869

Scope and Content

This small collection is composed almost entirely of personal and family correspondence. It concerns the activities of two members of the family in particular, John Derry and his son John Derry, Jnr. Many of the letters and papers refer to Derry's conversion to Methodism and his interest in spiritual and religious matters. An account of his work with the Leicester Seamen's Friend Society survives with references to the Boatmen's Chapel, Leicester.

A further substantial section concerns John Derry, Jnr (1817-38), the eldest son, who died at the age of 21. The letters are chiefly from his friend John Gee, describing his life as a young clerk in Lincoln, 1835-37. A brief journal of John Derry, Jnr (1831) contains a description of the Leicester celebration at the passing of the Reform Bill. Other family papers include a number of letters from Derry's mother while he was away at school.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Derry (1792-1869) began a career in the army, later becoming a warehouseman, agent and bookseller. Derry saw action with the King's Dragoon Guards at Waterloo, was corporal by 1817 and, shortly after his second marriage, was stationed in York. His life was profoundly altered after a deeply moving religious experience. He became a Methodist and urged his family to follow the same course. He remained in the army for some years, and was stationed at Hamilton, Scotland and Dundalk, Ireland. During his later career in Leicester, he was deeply involved in missionary work among the boat people.

Derry's first son, John Derry Junior (1817-1838), whose papers comprise a significant part of the collection, died at the age of 21 from a chronic infection of the knee. He spent time in Lincoln, Leicester and at school in Grantham.

Derry's fourth son, Joseph Derry (1835-1910), founded the Nottingham-based printing and bookbinding firm of Derry's. No records relating to the firm are contained within the collection.


The papers are arranged according to correspondent and subject matter.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers

REPROGRAPHIC: Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

  • In the Reading Room, University of Nottingham Library: Typescript Catalogue, 17 pp
  • At the National Register of Archives, London: Typescript Catalogue, 17 pp

Separated Material

  • Deeds, correspondence and accounts of Derry and Sons, Nottingham, 1867-c.1967, at Nottinghamshire Archives, Nottingham.

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email ). The Department will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but the responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the reader.

Custodial History

The collection was acquired by the University as two separate accessions, in 1965 and 1968.