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 IV.


Landowners at Loggerheads.

About the year 1400 the forest was gradually getting cleared of trees, and the beasts of the forest were being thinned. The lands were getting into the possession of many small owners, and in Bradwell their descendants still remain on the spot. The Wirksworth Hundred Rolls relate how, in the reign of Henry VI. (1438), Robert Eyre and Richard Walkden, vicar of Hope, gave £20 to John Birmingham and Alice his wife; John Woodhouse, Margery his wife, 9a. in Little Hucklowe, and the same in 26 Henry VI. gave 100 un. to Thomas Padley and Rose his wife for ¼ of 3 messuages and 50a. land, and 10a. meadow in Hope and Bradwell.

At an Inquisition taken at Ashbourne in the 10th year of Henry the Sixth, to ascertain the Knight's fee, etc., within the County of Derby, for the purpose of ascertaining the subsidy for the defence of the realm, one of the entries reads thus: “Richard Coke, of Bradwell, 20s. in Bradwell”, and another: “Edmund de Ashenhurst, of Ryton, Notts., 13s. 4d. in Bradwell”. There is a list of all the great landowners in the Peak on whom levies were made, from which it would appear that the two named were landowners here.

On the 2nd of March, 1486, in the first year of his reign, Henry VII. leased to Sir John Savage, junior, of Castleton, for seven years, the following at the undermentioned yearly rents:- The herbage or agistment in Campana in the High Peak called le Champaigne in le High Peak £40; for the herbage of Crokhill and the pasture called Rowley and Asshope, and the herbage of Westendene and the pasture Birchendeverboth, and the pasture called Alport, in Crokhill £30 7s. 6d., for the messuage called Crokhill, in the parish of Hope, in Crokhill, 25s. 10d.; for the vacarry of Eydale £38; for the demesne land called le Castel Flattes, in the field of Castelton, £4; for the lands, meadows, and pastures of Bradlowe with the herbage of Bradlowe, £10; for all the demesne lands and meadows of Bradwell, in the High Peak, £5 6s. 8d.; for the herbage of Maynstonfeld, or otherwise called Chyneley, £10 13s. 4d.; for the herbage of

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Shelf and Combes, £4 7s. 8d.; for the mill of Maynstonfeld, 36s. 8d.; for the mill of Tynstide, 36s. 8d.; for the water-mill of Newmyll, with the meadow called Erles Medew, in Ashbourne, £6 13s. 4d.; for “lotte and cope” arising from the lead mines within the King's lordship of the High Peak, £6 13s. 4d.; for the fishery of the water of Wey, with all rivulets and waters within the precinct of the forest of the High Peak, 5s.; for passage, stallages and advowson of the toll of the market of la Frith 33s. 4d. The said John Savage is to keep all the said premises in repair, the King finding sufficient timber for the said repairs, but the said John to be at the cost of carrying the same.

The calendar to the Pleadings in the Duchy of Lancaster contains many interesting entries relating to the litigation centuries ago. In the 41st year of Queen Elizabeth's reign (1599) the Attorney-General was plaintiff and Rowland Eyre, otherwise called Ayer, the defendant, the premises and matters in dispute being, “intrusion on the Grange called Howfeilde, grounds called Hobholmes and Fearnholmes, the demesne of Bradwall, fishing of the river, and lott and cope of the lead mines”.

In the same year there was another action concerning exactly the same properties, the parties being Rowland Eyre and Jarvis Eyre, on behalf of the said Rowland, plaintiffs, and John Millward and Robert Millward defendants.

But there had been actions at law prior to this, for in 1594 the Attorney-General, on behalf of the tenants and inhabitants of the Manor as plaintiffs took action against “Andrew Eyre. Hugh Bradwall, and Ellys Marshall, the defendants, the premises and matters in dispute being common of pasture for beasts and cattle on divers specified lands in Bradwall Town”.

There was another suit in 1597, when Alexandra Eire, Walter Marshall, Richard Middeton, Ellis Ashton, Robert Bowman, Hugh Marshall, and William Marshall were the plaintiffs, and they contended that Thomas Eire, the defendant, was in illegal possession of demesne lands in Bradwall, and fishing in the Wye water.

There was, in fact litigation extending over many years between the Eyres and the rest of the freeholders.

Being completely sick of the forest laws, and anxious to be freed from them, as well as from deer lying and feeding in their corn and grass, and have the wastes improved, the freeholders petitioned King Charles about 1639 to improve the wastes. In the following year the forest was disforested and the deer destroyed, and Charles II. granted his share to the Earl of Chesterfield in trust for Queen Catherine. But in 1684 Thomas Eyre, of Highlow, by some grant from the Queen, obtained the lands at a yearly rent, including waste lands in Bradwell, Hope, Castleton, Aston, Thornhill, Wormhill, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Shallcross, Fairfield, Fernilee, and Mellor.

In Vol. xi. of the “Historical Manuscripts Commission”, relating to the documents of the House of Lords, there are some interesting particulars of a case heard before the Chancellor and three Barons of the Exchequer in the year 1685, when Thomas Eyre, of Hassop, accused his relative, Thomas Eyre, of Highlow Hall, of land grabbing. It is the petition of Eyre, Henry Balguy, “and divers others, freeholders and inhabitants of the towns of Hope, Bradwell, and Wormhill, in the County of Derby”. The document is dated May 26, 1685, and reads:-

“Charles I., in sight of the Duchy of Lancaster, was seized of the Manor and Forest of High Peak, in the County of Derby, and several waste grounds parcel whereof, wherein are the towns of Bowden-Middlecale, and Chappell-en-le-Frith, and divers others, besides the towns of Hope, Bradwell, and Wormhill, in which last three towns the freeholders and tenants have time out of mind had common pasture and turbary, and other profits upon the waste thereof. Thomas Eyre, of Gray's Inn and Highlow, the Relator, Respondent, upon a pretended discovery that a moiety of the waste in the said forest belonged to the Crown, obtained a lease or grant thereof, at fifty pound per annum, during the Queen Dowager's term, and interest therein (of which nothing has been paid), and one hundred yearly in reversion, and thereon exhibited two informations against the tenants of Bowden-Middlecale, and Chappell-en-le-Frith and other hamlets, and obtained decree allotting him several thousand acres, far beyond the value of the rent reserved, pretending that enough would be left for those entitled to the rights of common. Not content with that, he exhibited a distinct information at the suit of Sir John Heath, late Attorney-General for the Duchy, on behalf of the late King and the Queen Dowager, and Sir James Butler, Her Majesty's Attorney-General, and others, against Petitioner and others. Freeholders in the towns of Hope, Bradwell, and Wormhill, suggesting that in 1639 or 1640 the latter petitioned the late King to disforest the Forest of High Peak, for which he was to have a moiety of the waste there, and that the same was accordingly disforested and divided between the Crown and the Commoners by certain agreements made forty or fifty years ago, and praying to have a moiety of the waste of those three towns, containing over three thousand statute acres, and to have an execution of the said pretended agreement by decree of the Duchy Court”.

The names attached to the petitions are of considerable interest at this day, because we get at the local men of note so very long ago. Those from Bradwell are in small capitals. They were:- Thomas Eyre, William Inge, Henry Balguy,

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Thomas Balguy, Nicholas Thornhill, Jo. HURLER, JO. WAGSTAFFE, ROBERT HALLAM, JOHN BOCKING, ANTHONY HALL, GEORGE HALLAM, Adam Bagshawe, Nicholas Stones, Anthony Longsdon, George Bagshawe, Richard Bower, Humphry Thornhill, Thomas Fletcher. There is a long report of the case in the Government records, from which it appears that Eyre, of Highlow, somehow got possession of lands which belonged to Rowland Eyre, of Hassop, but when later on, there was redistribution, fresh fences around Bradwell, Hope, and Wormhill, and when there had been purchases made, then Rowland Eyre, of Hassop, about 1687, got a fresh order from the Chancellor of the Duchy, and the petitioners won their case. “In the tenth year of Queen Anne, 1711, the Chancellor decreed that the Plaintiff and all other the said tenants, freeholders, and copyholders of these several townships may for ever hereafter peacefully enjoy their moiety of the said commons, etc., and the soyle thereof”.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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