BELPER, a market-town in the mid-parliamentary division of Derbyshire, England, on the river Derwent, 7 m. N. of Derby on the Midland railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 10,934. The chapel of St John is said to have been founded by Edmund Crouchback, second son of Henry III., about the middle of the 13th century. There is an Anglican convent of the Sisters of St Lawrence, with orphanage and school. For a considerable period one of the most flourishing towns in the county, Belper owed its prosperity to the establishment of cotton works in 1776 by Messrs Strutt, the title of Baron Belper (cr. 1856), in the Strutt family, being taken from the town. Belper also manufactures linen, hosiery, silk and earthenware; and after the decline of nail-making, once an important industry, engineering works and iron foundries were opened. The Derwent provides water-power for the cotton-mills. John of Gaunt is said to have been a great benefactor to Belper, and the foundations of a massive building have been believed to mark the site of his residence. A chapel which he founded is incorporated with a modern schoolhouse. The scenery in the neighbourhood of Belper, especially to the west, is beautiful; but there are collieries, lead-mines and quarries in the vicinity of the town.
Belper (Beaurepaire) until 1846 formed part of the parish of Duffield, granted by William I. to Henry de Ferrers, earl of Derby. There is no distinct mention of Belper till 1296, when the manor was held by Edmund Crouchback, earl of Lancaster, who is said to have enclosed a park and built a hunting seat, to which, from its situation, he gave the name Beaurepaire. The manor thus became parcel of the duchy of Lancaster and is said to have been the residence of John of Gaunt. It afterwards passed with Duffield to the Jodrell family. In a great storm in 1545, 40 houses were destroyed, and the place was scourged by the plague in 1609.
See C. Willott, Historical Records of Belper.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)