Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter III.


The Earliest Foresters and the FirstSettlers.

“Beshrew his horn, beshrew his heart.
In my forest he may not ride;
If he kills a deer, by the conqueror's bow,
By forest law he shall bide.
Ride on, Sir Payne, and tell the churl
He must cease his hunting cheer,
And come to the knee of the Suzeraine lord
Awaiting his presence here.
Ride with him, sirs, some two or three,
And bring him hither straight;
'Twere best for him to come at once,
Than cause his lord to wait.
There are trees in the forest strong enow.
To bear the madman's corse.
And he shall hang on the highest bough
If thither he comes perforce”.
Wm. Bennett.

It has already been stated that a thousand years ago Bradwell was a recognised boundary of the Forest; in fact, the river was the boundary line to its source, the forest wall running parallel. Consequently that part on the east side of the river was outside the forest. There was no coal in those days; the people burned turf, hence they were very jealous of their rights of turbary. In the time of Henry the Third (1216), Castleton, Bradwell, and Hazlebadge had extensive rights to turbary, and Sampson de Arcel, “lord of the town which is outside the forest”, although he had common of pasture, was not satisfied, and he was fined for digging turf. The following places also look turbary without license: Hocklowe, Tideswell, Wormhill, Buckstone, Bowden, Eston (Aston), and Thornhill.

The ancient records contain numerous entries relating to the “waste of woods” in the Peak, and one of these reads: “Wood of Nunueley, wasted by vill of Bradwall, bail, Richard Daniel, and Robert le Archer, of Thornhill and Aston”. The district was formerly well wooded, but it has been completely cleared, and most of the timber used up in the lead mines.

When the Domesday Book was compiled in the reign of William the Conqueror (1086) - the first account we possess of the tenures of English estates - we find that: “In Bradewelle Leving and Sprot and Owine had i.i. carucates of land hidable. Land for i.i. ploughs. There now in demesne i.i. ploughs, and VIII villeines having i.i. ploughs. T.R.E. value xx shillings; now xxx shillings”.

A carucata was as much land as one man could manage and till with a team of oxen in a year. There could be no certain quantity, for an industrious man would plough a great deal more than an idle man. In the time of Edward II. (the martyr), 975, it contained about 100 acres. The tax was called hidage, which meant a payment of money to the King. The villeines were farmers, such as had goods and stock of their own, and paid rent to their lords, part in money, at this time very scarce and dear, and part in labour. They were obliged to till and plough the land, sow and carry the corn and hay, etc., for the use of the lord and his family. They took their name from Villa, a hamlet, small town, or village, where they generally dwelt, and in process of time they became copyholders.

Breaking the Bad Old Laws.

It should be mentioned that many of the offenders against the forest laws were men of position themselves. They were not passive, but very active resisters of those bad old laws, and seemed to unite in breaking them so as to bring about a better state of things, and were invariably bail for each other. As long as 35 years passed between courts of eyre being held, when sons were called upon to answer and receive punishment for something done by their fathers, long ago deceased. To kill any animal of the forest was more heinous than murder, and was visited with inexecrable torture.

If the Foresters, who were officers sworn to preserve the vert and venison in the forest, found a man trespassing on the vert, they might “attach” him by the body, and cause him to find two pledges, or bail, to appear at the next attachment court, when he was set at liberty under bail (or mainprized) until the next eyre of the justices. If offending a second time four pledges were necessary, for a third time eight pledges, and for a fourth time he

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had to be imprisoned until the eyre. One of the offenders within the king's demesne in the year 1242 was Galf de Bradwall. In 1272, the first year of Edward I. (Longshanks), John Gooring of Tychill was consenter to the crimes of John de Oke and Peter de Ospring, who took one doe, and one of his six bondsmen was Elias de Bradwall. The same Elias de Bradwall was bail for Roger Woodrove (probably of Hope), who harboured all night Allcock de Stones, who took one doe in Edale, in the year 1282, and in the morning took the venison to the house of William Foljambe at Wormhill.

In the year 1275 it was presented that when the King hunted at Campana in the Forest, on the Feast of the Assumption, William, son of Rankelle of Hocklow, came, and where the King's hounds had put at bay a certain stag in the park beyond the bounds of the forest, hunted and killed the said stag, together with the hounds, and when the King's huntsmen came and cried him, that he fled, and the huntsmen carried that venison to the King's larder. Those who became bail for him were William Fabre de Bradwall, Richard le Nuke (? Newwall Nook), Robert de Abeny, Alan de Wormhill, Richard de Duffield, and Henry Coteril. How this Hucklow worthy was dealt with we are not told, but if ever he was caught, doubtless he would have the most severe punishment the cruel forest laws could inflict upon him, seeing that he had not been content with shooting a stag, but actually shot the King's hounds as well.

Those Who First Enclosed the Land.

At Forest pleas the assart rolls were always presented. The word “assart” signifies the reduction of waste or woodland to a state of cultivation, and for thus cultivating the land our forefathers were fined for trespass, and always had to pay so much per acre for the crops sown on it, generally 1s. per acre for every crop of winter corn and 6d. per acre for spring corn. In a list of assarts allowed by Warner Engaine (the Bailiff) in the year 1237 at 4d. per acre, Gregory de Bradwall had enclosed 2 acres, and Galf de Bradwall was his bail. Matthew de Bradwall had also enclosed 6 acres. In another roll a few years later, there is an entry of interest showing that there must have been camps or soldiers' quarters in Bradwell, for in the list of assarts there is: “Fratees Hospital de Villa Castra at Bradwall, Thomas Bante 1a. bail Galf de Bradwall. Robert Sergeant Prior of Lenton ½ a, bail Gregory de Bradwall and Galf Quental”. Another offender was Nicholas, son of William de Bradwall, who had enclosed an acre, and William, son of William de Bradwall (evidently the offender's brother), became bail for him. In the time of John de Grey (1242) William de Bradwall gets another acre.

The First Houses and Who Built Them.

Another form of forest encroachment was purpresture, which meant building a house or homestead within the forest bounds. During the first 35 years of Henry III.'s reign there was an average of eight houses a year built in the Forest, and as a fine had to be paid for each, it was a source of considerable revenue. In 1283 Galf de Bradwall was called to account for having raised three houses in the forest without warrant, and Clement de la Ford (Ford Hall) became his bail. Another offender was Magister John de Derby, Dean, the Prior of Lenton in Bradwall. In the same year the following were proceeded against, before Roger L'Estrange, for breaking the forest laws in a similar fashion: Richard Millward de Bradwall, William ad Fontein de Bradwall (twice), Richard Cruzer de Bradwall, Elias de Bradwall (three times), Nicholas the Clerk of Bradwall (twice). Galf, son of Faber de Bradwall, again turns up for building a house to the injury of the forest, and this time has to find two bondsmen, his friends Clement de la Ford and Adam, son of Thomas of Castleton, again coming forward.

At the Pleas of 1286 it was presented that “The Queen Consort of the King had a horsefold in the forest with 115 mares and young, to the great hurt of the forest, and it is found that many had horses and mares in the same campana under cover of the aforesaid horsefold, who when required to answer say that they are the Queen's”. Four of these belonged to Nicholas de Bradwall.

In the Pleas, in the time of Henry IV. (1399), there is the entry: “Arthur Eyre, for demesne of Bradwall, £4 16s. 4d.”, and on a subsequent roll are the following: Bradwall, Robert Eyre for Strylly's londe, Robert for Hucklow land, Robert for his land, Robert for land of John Howe, Robert for land of John Kocke, William Townsend, Thomas Woodroffe for land of R. Hunt, Elias Marshall, John Kirke, John Medalton, Roger Howe for an intacke, Roger Townsend, Robert Myddleton for an intacke, John Kocke for land of R. Greene, Johis Wryght, Ric. Kocke, Thurston Eyre, Hugh Bradwall, Henry Forness for land of John Tyme, Johis Burton, Wm. Elott, Thomas Eyre for land of R. Slacke, Thomas Wodroffe, Thomas Barley. Total villa for turbary. Total villa for pinfold. Robert Eyre for demeyne de Bradwall £6 16s. 8d., Robert Halom for one Cantabulo.

At the Old Court Leet.

The rolls of the various courts, or views of Frankpledge held throughout the reign of Henry VI., are interesting as containing the old names. A court was held at Castleton on Wednesday after the feast of St. Edmund, king and martyr (1472), when Nicholas Howe attached Nicholas Eyre, who acknowledged that he owed “one lode of ore and five dishes”; Wm. Gervis

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attached Wm. Morten, in plea of debt 23s. 4d., acknowledged 4d. Richard Slacke de Burgh attached Nicholas Eyre in plea of 3 lodes of lead ore. Wm. Middleton attached Thurston Hall. Robert and Wm. Elott attached William Townsend. Wm. Morton attached Matilda Wragg, because he is not responsible for distress of corn. John Donne attached Nicholas Eyre because he killed one ewe price 2s. 6d. John Gervis admitted owing Nicholas Eyre 6 lode of lead ore. Hugh Howe was fined because he did not prosecute his claim against Ernest Cooke and others in four pleas of trespass. In the same year, at a court held Wednesday, on the feast of St. Leonard, John Middleton attached Robert Elott of Bradwall, who admitted debt and “is in mercy”.

There was another item of interest at a view of Frank Pledge at Castleton on Wednesday after the Feast of St. Edmund king and martyr (13th Oct., 1472), when Nicholas Eyre, Thos. Howe, Nich. Seward, Wm. Bagshawe, Roger and Wm. Townsend took of the Lord the demesne lands of Bradwall for 10 years, paying four marcs annually, and they did fidelity. Wm. Morten, son of Rich. Morten, Johanna, wife of Jo. Barbour, and Thos. Glover, were offenders at this court.

In the following year, at a great Court Leet, John Middleton attached Nicholas Halle of Cotes, and John Howe attached Robert Middleton. At another court held the same year on the Vigil of the Apostles Simon and Jude (28th October), Wm. Townsend, Thos. Bradwall, Jo. and Wm. Hall, Wm. Forness, Roger Townsend, and Nich. Howe were on the jury. At this court Wm. Forness surrendered a cottage in Bradwall near the tenement of Thomas Woodruff, to Robert Elott, fine 4d., and “did fidelity”. Wm. and Thomas Middleton assaulted Nicholas Eyre. Alexander Walker assaulted Jo. Crosby. Jo. Halum, Thos. Donne, and Roger Marshall fined for offences. When the tenants of these assarts died their heirs paid double rent for the first year, and the King had also the second best beast, the first going to the Church.

For many of these extracts we are indebted to Mr. Yeatman's “Feudal History”.

There are interesting references to several of the leading people of Bradwell in the Lichfield Mortuary List for the year 1399. These dues were payable, on the death of a householder or his wife, to the official receiver for the Dean and Chapter. The custom in the Peak was that the second best beast was taken (horses and cattle), and when no beasts were kept the best wearing apparel of the deceased was claimed. But it was a merciful provision that no beast was taken except where there were three, so that the survivor of the deceased had always a beast left.

In the list the value of a tunic (clothing) varies from 2d. to 3s., a cow 4s. to 8s, and an ox from 6s. to 15s. But in order to arrive at the relative value to-day these sums should be multiplied by twenty.

On the death of Margarite, wife of Thos. de Bradewalle, the Church claimed her tunic, valued at 4d. On the death of Alicia, widow of Richard, son of Galf de Bradewalle, an ox, value 11s., was claimed, and after the death of Arabella, wife of Thos. de Bradewalle, her husband had to forfeit a cow worth 6s.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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