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Exercise book

Exercise book

  • Place of origin:

    Derby (made)

  • Date:

    1810 - 1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hood, Francis, born 1800 - died 1863 (author)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink on folded and bound paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Barbara Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This exercise book covers the early mathematical education of a merchant's son in the early nineteenth century. The work covers the main principles of addition, multiplication and division, demonstrated through practical examples. Francis Hood (born about 1799) grew up in Ashbourne, Derby, and established a dynasty of tailors in the town.
This early piece of work demonstrates the practical emphasis of middle class boy's education. However, the calculations are not free from error, and the boy's mistakes have not been corrected or marked. This suggests school work was unsupervised, and the boys perhaps had little guidance in their learning. But the final page of the book suggests there was some authoritative intervention: written out ten times is the shaky, inconsistently spelt phrase "diligence is commonly rewarded with wealth".

Physical description

Paperback exercise book with blue cover, which has a few smears of black ink across it.
Inside the front cover of the book, there are pencil outline drawings of a butterfly and a horse, which has been partially erased.

The book is full of mathematical exercises divided into topics. Each one begins with a large title and an introductory paragraph, setting out the rules to be applied, followed by a number of examples. The topics are as follows:
- Multiplication
The first sum to be calculated is 417,609,853 x 2. There are a number of errors and erasures throughout this section.
- Division
- Compound Addition
- Weights and Measures
- The Application
This section comprises examples of real-world problems to solve, including adding days of the month, calculating a nobleman's household expenses, and working out the cost of carriage on an order of hops.

Throughout, the text and numbers are written in black ink; on many pages, blank spaces around the examples are filled with spirals in red ink, which has since faded to brown. There is inconsistency in spelling throughout the book, and some calculations show errors which have not been corrected.

The inside of the final page has been ruled with horizontal lines, and the phrase 'Diligence is commonly rewarded with wealth' has been written ten times.

Place of Origin

Derby (made)


1810 - 1820 (made)


Hood, Francis, born 1800 - died 1863 (author)

Materials and Techniques

Ink on folded and bound paper


Height: 22.8 cm, Width: 18.5 cm

Object history note

This collection of books belonged to Derby tailor Francis Hood and his children.

Francis was born in Ashbourne, Derby, in 1800. In 1823 he married Susanna Wilson, and they had five children. All their names, apart from the youngest, Susanna, appear on the exercise and copy books. Francis was a successful tailor, and the enterprise grew to be a flourishing family business.

George (born 1827) was a tailor with his father by the age of 14. He died aged only 24.

Elizabeth (born 1830) became a milliner and dressmaker. She married Scottish draper John Train, but was soon widowed, and thereafter is listed is woollen goods trader as well as dressmaker.

Francis (born 1832) moved to Australia, possibly before his twentieth birthday, where he stayed the rest of his life.

Henry (born 1836) was an apprentice in 1851. Ten years later, at the age of 25, he inherited the family business, and by 1881 was employing 6 men and 2 boys. He was married to Elizabeth from Somerset, and they had six children. He was able to retire in his mid-sixties and move to a country house on the proceeds of the business. Soon after, Elizabeth died, but Henry remarried at the age of 72 to a woman 31 years his junior. His second son George (born 1868) continued the Hood dynasty from the 1890s, though the shop in St John Street, Ashbourne, remained ‘Henry Hood & Son’ in 1900.

Susanna (born 1838) never married, and lived with Elizabeth. She was also a dressmaker.

The books were passed down through Henry’s children to the donor’s husband.

Descriptive line

Exercise book with blue paper cover, containing maths exercises probably by Francis Hood, Derby, 1810s.


Ink; Paper




Children & Childhood; Education & Learning

Production Type



Museum of Childhood

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