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 XXVI.


Family Litigation of the Vernons.
An Old Time Rhyme.

Concerning Hazelbadge Hall, in Bradwell Dale, the fine seat of the Vernons centuries ago, a volume might be written. As an addenda to the reference to the old mansion in a former chapter, a portion of a rhyme of three hundred years ago may be considered fitting for these pages.

For fifty years, at the latter end of the sixteenth and the first four decades of the seventeenth century, John Harstaff was the trusted agent and confidential clerk of the family of Vernon, and lived at Sudbury. Carefully preserved at Sudbury Hall, there is a book of paper with a parchment coyer, endorsed “John Harstaff's Poetry whilst he lived at Sudbury, 1635, of the Vernon family and concerns”. They are most interesting annals, showing litigation that extended over many years, dealing with various estates of the family. The first part, written in 1615, has particular reference to Hazelbadge Hall and estate, and is as follows:-

I here intend to make a true Relation,
According to my plaine and simple fashion.
Of maine troubles and incumbrances,
With sundrie suites and other grievances
Which hapt to Maister Vernon in his lyffe.
And after his decease unto his wyffe;
Which I (their servant) better can declare,
Because therein I had noe little share;

'Tis nowe noe lesse than foure and twentie years
Since first I had to doe in those affaires;
About the whiche (I truelie may afirme)
For twelve or thirtene yeares I mist noe terme.

Herein I purpose alsoe to relate.
In what great danger stood his whole estate;
And lykewyse make particular narration,
Howe he disposed his lands by declaration;
And howe his friends and servants he regarded.
Not leaving anie of them unrewarded.

First then to shewe his name and pedegree.
This worthie Esquire was Lord of Sudburie,
John Vernon called, whose father Henry Wight,
The Sonne and heire of Sir John Vernon, Knight,
Of Haddon House a younger sonne was he,
And married Ellen, second of the three
Coheires unto St. John Mongomorie.

By her came Sudburie with other landes
And manie faire possessions to his handes;
Whereof to treate I do not here intend.
But onely shew they linealye descend,
From her to Henry, and from him to John,
Who being yonge did enter thereupon.

He was by suites of lawe encumb'red long.
And by his mother's meanes endured much wrong,
Who practized by all the wayes she might
To injure him, and take away his right;
Not only in such things his father left him.
But also of his birthright she bereft him.
And gave her landes unto his younger brother;
Who can speak well of so unkynd a mother?

She was coheire unto an anncient squier
High Thomas Swinnerton, of Staffordshire;
Whose landes she with a sister did devyde;
Both Hilton, Swinnerton and much besyde
In Sharshill, Saredon, and in Essington,
In Hampton, Penkridge, and in Huntington,
Aspley and Sugnell, and in others moe.
Which I have heard of, but never did knowe.

Hilton, an ancient house, fell to her share,
A park and faire demaines belonginge are
Unto the same of which and all the rest
she John depryved, young Henry to invest,
Who after her decease the same possest.

But Henry did not long enjoy the same;
For being wedded to a gallant dame.
He leaving her with chyld did end his lyffe.
Committing goods and landes all to his wyffe.
Who shortly after had a daughter faire.
Unto her father's landes the onelie heire.
Young Henry's match did verie much displease
His elder brother John, who for to raise
Their house and name did formerlie intend,
That all his lands should after him descend
On Henry. But that marriage changed his mynd,
Soe much that afterwards he was unkynd
Both to his brother's infant, and his wyffe,
Soe that amongst them soone befell greate stryffe

[Page 93]

And suites in lawe; All which I could declare
For them I sustained much toyle and care
And therfore nowe yt labour meane to spare.
By these he was exasperated more.
And (which did also discontent him sore),
One Justice Townsend from ye Marches came,
And did espouse the young and loftie Dame.
They sell and cut downe woods, great waste they make,
But then, whether it was redresse to take.
Or for his owne avayle, or else of grudge.
To them, it fltts not me thereof to judge
He went about, and by all meanes prepar'd
To fynde his brother's heire the Prince's Warde
And to that end he quicklie set to worke.
One Wakeringe then, who for such praies did lurke,
And was as faythfull as a Jewe or Turke.

Betweene theim two I think it was agreed.
That if in this affaire they hapt to speede.
The Wardship should to Vernon granted be.
And Wakeringe should in money have his fee.
All their proceedings here for to repeate.
Would be but little worth (thought labour great)
Short tale to make (which was of all ye ground)
She was prov'd Ward a tenure there was found.
How truly, here I list not to decyde
Theirs be yt change by whom yt poynt was tryed.

The Wardship Maister Vernon looked to have.
But Wakeringe (since made knight) proved then a -----
Alleginge that it lay not in his handes.
Unto their first accord as then to stand;
And good cause why, for Justice Townsend's purse
Bid open wyder, and more crownes disburse;
He therefore got ye wardship of the chylde.
And Vernon by Sir Gilbert was beguyled:
Who made himself the Farmer of her landes.
And during nonage kept them in his handes.
And here might Maister Vernon well repeat
His labours ill-employ'd and money spent.

But oftentymes we see it come to passe
When men of malice, seeke their neighbour's losse.
Or Worke their owne revenges It pleaseth God,
To beate themselves, they make a smartinge rod;
As in this case it afterwards befell.
Both to himself, and those he lov'd right well.

For nowe forthwith newe suites they doe commence,
I'th Court of Wardes against him with pretence
To right the Ward, whose tytle in such sort
Was favour'd be ye friendship of that Court.
That they recover'd there out of his handes,
A manie parcells of his mother's landes;
Which for some yeares before he had onjoy'd
As copi-holde, nor sought they to avoyd
Him from ye same, nor doe I thinke they could.

Had not ye Court of Wardes therein controul'd.
Besydes they sued him in the Channcerie,
For certaine summes of money formerlie
Recover'd by him for landes which by his mother
Had beene convey'd unto his younger brother
In sale wher of they joy'd the one with th'other.
Which sumes amountinge to nyne hundred pounde
As debte yet due to Henrye's will were founde.

They charged him further with sixe hundred more.
Which they alledg'd he had receav'd before
His brother's death, who mortgag'd for ye same,
A farme he held called Haselbach by name.

Concerninge which gith thus it comes i' th'way,
I thinke it not amisse something to say;
This farme of Hazleba£½h whereof I speake.
Is situate nere Castleton i'th' Peake;
And worth (as by ye rentall did appeare)
But little less than seavin score pounde a yeare;
Part of the Vernons landes long had it beene.
As in their anncient Deedes is to be seane.
Sir George who of ye Vernons was ye last,
That helde those goodlie landes, from whom they past
By two Coheires out of the Vernons name
(For which great Talbott was ye more to blame)

Sir George I say of whom yet manie speake
(For great houskeepinge termed King o' th'Peake),
Was much directed in his younger yeares.
In all his causes and his greate affaires,
By's uncle, Sir John Vernon's, good advyse.
Who was a learned man, discreete and wyse;

Wherfore Sir George to shew yt he was kynd.
And to his uncle have a thankfull mynd.
Of Haselbach he granted then a lease.
To him and his assignes which should not cease,
Untill ye terme of four score yeares were spent,
Reserving thereupon a pennie rent.

Sir John until his death possess't ye same;
And afterwards this farme to Henry came
His onlie sonne who held it during liffe
But after his disease there fell great stryffo
About it, through ye practise of his wyffe.

This Henry Vernon was of great esteeme
A man both wyse and learned (as may seeme).
Who in his cuntrie also bore great sway,
And kept a worthie house, as old men say.
Who often talke of him even to this day.

It chanced (manie yeares before his death)
He went and served in the Warres at Leath
In Scotland, where he was a Captaine then,
Ore some three hundred of his cuntrimen
But he had thought it meete before he went,
For to ordaine his will and testament;
Wherein to John, his sonne, he did bequeath,
The farme of Haslebach after his death
When eyighteene yeares of age he did attaine

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The one tyme ith mother's handes it should remaine
And after yt as seemeth true and plaine,
He never altered it, but left it see;
But what's soe foule yt mallice will not doe?

He sicke or deade his wyffe found out ye will
(And to her elder sonne intendinge ill)
She secreatlye ye name of John did race,
And put ye name of Henry in ye place;
That this is true I know not who will sweare,
Yet strong presumptions make ye case too clear
For it was knowne not long before he dyed.
His will did in ye former state abyde.
Which was by oath of witnesse testifyed;

Besydes it was too manyfestlye knowne.
She used means to get herself alone,
Into his Studie, when she did desyne.
And for that purpose had a crooked wyer,
Wherwith she easlie could unlock ye door.
And leave it in such order as before;
And when in private she resorted thither
Both pen and inke some tymes she did take with her,
And set a maid to watch whyle she staid
Where both his will and other wrytings were.

Some servants too who were acquainted best
With both their hands did on their oath protest,
They thought it not his hand, but her's much rather.
As by the forme oth' letters they did gather.
These things and manie other being brought
In evidence on John's behalf, who sought
To right himself herein against his mother
Who holde ye Farme, and also gainst his brother
(Whom she defended) gave such satisfaction
Unto a jury (charged to try the Action)
(Ith' Court of Comon Pleas) that they had greed
On John's behalf their verdict should proceede.

But too much cunninge all the cause did marre;
For as the Jury unto to the Barre,
A juror (by a compact underhand)
In private lett a servant understand
Gainst Vernon would their present Verdict passe;
But Goodman Blockhead, lyke a drunken asse,
Forgetting that his Maister's right was tryed
Ith' name of Buck against Vernon forthwith hyed.
And tould his Maister yt the truth was soe
A present Verdict would against him goe;
Who caused Buck be non-suite thereupon;
And lost the cause which else with him had gone.

This suite as by ye copies doth appeare.
Did happen in the two and twentyth yeare
Of our late soveraigne Queene Elizabeth:
About tenn yeares after ye father's death;
In all which tyme and two or three yeares after,
Continewed suits twixt mother, sonne and daughter.
For she did practize lykewyse to defeate
Her elder daughter called Margarett,

Of some fyve hundred marks left by her father.
Which she by changinge of ye names, had rather
Should come unto her yonger daughter Mary,
About which point oth' Will they long did varie,
I dare not say, that it was verie sooth.
Though manie did beleeve it for a truth;
For she was cunninge, could both read and wryte.
And to her elder children had much spyte.
But on ye yonger sett her chiefe delight.

This farme of Haslebach did still remayne
Ith' mother's handes till Henry did attayne,
To eighteen yeares and thenceforth he possest it.
For soe (they say) his father's will exprest it.
But after it once came to Henrye's handes.
In that he had noe other state or landes.
Nor other Lyvelihood did as then enjoy.
His elder brother would not him annoy;

But shorthe to atonement with him grewe.
And then good friendship twixt them did ensewe;
Soe that young Henry held it without stryffe.
From thenceforth duringe all his term of lyffe.
And by his will he left it to his Wyfe
And Chylde unborn; Whereon this suite they ground.
Gainst Maister Vernon for six hundred pounde.
From which I have digressed somewhat longe
Onely to shewe in part his mother's wronge.
But now I will returne unto the same.
And here declare what end thereof became.

The several sumes demanded did amount
To fifteene hundred pounds, by their account;
To wit, for sale of Aspley and Sugnell, nine.
And sixe for Haselbach, which made fifteene.
Gainst which then Maister Vernon went about
For to declare and sett his tytles out.
Both to ye landes were sould, and to ye lease
Of Haselbach; and how he did in place,
Permitt his brother to enjoy them still.
During his lyffe of friendship and goodwill.

Intending to have beene to him more kynde.
If hee had matched accordinge to his mynd.
Even soe farre forth as to have made him heire
To all his landes. Besydes it myght appeare
That Henry's state was not so absolute.
But verie manye had ye same in doubt,
Soe much that he to whom those lands were sould.
To deal with them would not have been so bould.
Had John not joyned with his yonger brother,
And given securitie as well as th' other.

For Haselbach himself did mortgage it.
With whom his brother joyned (as was fitt)
And both had equal power it to redeeme
But be best right (if conscience they esteeme).

Thus eyther partie laboured for to prove
Their causes good, as it did theim behoove;
Yet by the labour of some frendes at last.

[Page 95]

Some motion of agreement mongst them past,
To put this matter to arbitrement,
Where to ith' end both parties gave consent.

The arbitrators at th' appoynted day
Awarded Maister Vernon for to pay
To Justice Townsend there demannds to clear,
Upon's owne bonds, one hundred markes a yeare,
Untill one thousand marks were fullye paid;
Which was not hard (one thought) all things were maid.
Yet Maister Vernon thought it was too much.
But nothwithstanding since th' award was such.
He gave ye poundes and soe did end ye stryfe
And made one payment onely in his lyffe.
For ere ye second payment did ensewe,
It pleased God, he yealded nature's due.

The “rhyme” goes on at great length, but this is the part of it having particular reference to Hazelbadge Hall.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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