Derbyshire, a central county of England, bordering on Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire; length 56 m., greatest breadth 34 m.; area, 1,030 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 380,558. Capital, Derby. The county is level or moderately hilly, abounding in fine scenery, fertile, well cultivated, and rich in minerals. It is watered by the Derwent, Trent, Dove, Wye, Erewash, and Rother. The S. and E. parts produce wheat, barley, and other kinds of grain; the N. part, where the surface is more hilly and the climate colder, is occupied chiefly by oat fields and pastures. The elevated region called the High peak or Derbyshire highlands, consisting of a succession of bleak hills, some of which rise nearly 2,000 ft. above the sea, interspersed with narrow valleys, is famous for its romantic scenery. The climate is rather cold and moist, thick fogs and even hoar frost not being uncommon in summer. Dairy husbandry is carried on in nearly all parts of the county, and among the hills small sheep and a breed of light, slender horses are reared. Among the minerals are coal, iron, lead, zinc, copper, gypsum, black and variegated marble, fluor spar, small crystals called Derbyshire diamonds, chalcedony, jasper, and a few onyxes.
The coal field covers a large area, and belongs to the same great field which extends over part of the West Riding of Yorkshire and part of Nottinghamshire. Mining is an important interest, and there are extensive founderies and forges in the large towns. The lead mines have been worked on lease from time immemorial, and are the subjects of several very ancient and peculiar laws. The county is traversed by a large number of canals and railways. The manufactures are important, and comprise cotton, silk, calico, cambric, fustian, muslin, tape, candle wicks, machinery, agricultural implements, leather, hats, paper, and porcelain. The first cotton mill was built by Richard Arkwright at Cromford in 1771, and the county was also the cradle of the silk and woollen manufactures of the kingdom. In the mountain district are numerous tepid mineral springs, which are resorted to by invalids, especially those of Buxton and Matlock. There are in the county numerous remains of the circles and cromlechs of the druids, various relics of the Roman domination, such as roads and baths, and ruins of many mediaeval castles, abbeys, and monasteries.