As Smalley was formerly a Chapelry of Morley and its position was therefore subordinate, the early registers appear to have suffered in comparison with those of Morley.
The first burial entry records that Robertt James was buried in “Smaley Chancell” on 26th September 1627. There is a gap in the Smalley Registers between 1640 and 1655, owing to the persecution of the Church during the Commonwealth.
An entry in a Register commencing in 1656 records:
“Thomas Holland and William Holland, his son, and Catherine Holland, his daughter, were all three shotten and killed by lightening on Thursday, six and twentieth day of August, Anno Domini 1680, and were buried in Smalley Chapelyard on Friday, the 27th day of August in ye said yeare of our Lord, one thousand six hundred and eighty”.
There is an entry in 1785 which provides a sad reflection on social conditions of that time. It records that Samuel Liggett was buried as a pauper on 23rd December. Underneath the entry, in another handwriting, is written:
“Starved to death by the humanity of the Parish Officer”.
On the following page, the Recotr (Robert Wilmot) has written:
“The Poor Rates of this Township having very considerably incraesd, it was thought advisable to have a Standing Overseer. A meeting of parishioners was held to appoint a man to this office distinguished for extreme parsimony and hardness of heart. The result of the appointment was cruelty and oppression to the poor and Samuel Liggett was absolutely started to death. I was from home when he was buried and did not know of his death till many months afterwards when, although I obtained sufficient information to convince me of the fact, I could not obtain evidence to convict the Overseer upon it, and therefore he escaped the punishment he deserved”.
The Reverend Wilmot, Rector of Morley and Smalley, makes many interesting comments as memoranda in the Church Registers between 1779 and 1795.
Some entries recorded are:
Smallpox was rife in Morley and Smalley. In Morley 30 persons had it and 2 died; in Smalley 43 persons had it and 12 were buried there and several unbaptized children of Baptists were buried in a field at Kirk Hallam. (The Rector expressed the thought that there were fewer deaths in Morley as they kept cleaner).
Jan. 3rd Christopher Smith of Hayes Farm buried, aged 45. Caught a fever by sleeping in a damp bed. He died universally lamented, leaving a widow and 7 children.
Nov. 14th Simon Wilmot buried, aged 30. He was the 4th son of the late Rector of the Parish. In the service of his King and Country in America, he was wounded and taken prisoner by the Rebels. His wounds were undressed and he languished in prison for several days and this laid the foundation of a consumption of the lungs, which brought him to his grave.
Records illness and starvation resulting from poor corn and potato crops.
Records the Enclosure of the Commons. (Kerry comments that this was a remarkable and eventful affair for Smalley: it was an ill-fated period, especially for the poor).
This entry reflects the French Revolution and singled out Derby as a hot-bed of disaffected persons as they sent two representatives over to France to invite the French to this country to create the same.
Mentions the beheading of the King and Queen of France “in circumstances of horrid cruelty never before known to be practised inn any civilized country, and it is expected that their unfortunate children will meet as hapless a fate”.
About 1800 some amusing stories are recounted concerning old Sammy Rogers, who announced that there would be a Vestry Meeting to consider what colour the church should be white-washed!
On another occasion he is reported to have asked for “Something for the Ringers” on the occasion of a marriage. The bridegroom asked how many ringers there were and was told there was the Blacksmith, the Pinder, the Clerk and Sammy (but there was only one bell!).