Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Bradshaw Hall

NIGEL DE STAFFORD was one of those Normans who came in for a goodly share of Saxon plunder soon after the victory of Hastings. He got thirteen manors in Derbyshire, and one hundred and thirty-one in other counties. Some writers assert that Eyam was one of them. The evidence is clear that the Staffords never held the lordship. Before the Conquest it was with Caschin, from whom it was seized at the Conquest as Royal demesne, and afterwards given by Henry I. to the second Peverell, under whom it was held in soccage by the Morteynes, who, some fifty years subsequent to the flight of the third Peverell, became superior lords by gift of King John. The last of the Morteynes (Sir Roger) sold it to Thomas, Lord Furnivall, about 1307, and it has since passed by heiresses to the Nevilles and Talbots; by gift to the Saviles, and again by heiresses to the Boyles and Cavendishes.

In the fourteenth century there were no bigger men between Stoney Middleton and Sheffield than the Furnivalls. The purchaser of Eyam - who was Lieutenant of the County - was ennobled by Edward I. in 1295, in whose campaigns he distinguished himself. His name is on the Rolls of Caerlaverock and Falkirk. The first of the Furnivalls was Gorard, who came in the train of Richard I. when he returned from Palestine, whose descendants were essentially crusaders and warriors. They are immortalised by Shakespeare for their military prowess. They increased their estates by marriage with the heiress of the Luvetots, Fitz-Johns, Verdons, Dagworths. Their Manor House was the one located at Park Wood Springs, while they had a park at Welbeck, and a London residence on the site now occupied by Furnival's Inn, Holborn. Their Peerage extended to four lives, but, the fourth Baron, having no male issue, his coronet and lands (among which was Eyam) went in the dowry of his daughter Joan to her husband, Thomas Neville, brother of the first Earl of Westmoreland. This lady was a wife, heiress and fatherless, before she was sixteen, as is proved by the Inquisitions Post Mortem for 1383. No family of England ever held such power as the Nevilles. They were to this country what the Douglases were to Scotland; they were a House of Peers in themselves; they held the Baronies of Fauconberg, Latimer, Bergavenny, Neville, Furnivall, Essex; the Earldoms of Salisbury, Warwick, Montacute, Monthermer, Northumberland, Kent, Westmoreland; the Marquessate of Montague, and the Dukedom of Bedford. The mother of King Edward IV. was Cicely Neville; the wife of Richard III. was Anne Neville. They allied themselves with the Hollands, Dukes of Exeter; Mowbrays, Dukes of Norfolk; Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham; but with the last breath of Richard, the King-maker, at the battle of Barnet, the splendour of the House of Neville had vanished, leaving only the Earldom of Westmoreland (the last Peer died in Spain positively starving) and the Barony of Abergavenny, which is still represented by a Neville in our Upper Chamber.

Thomas Neville, Lord Furnivall (Lord of Eyam), and his wife, Joan, had a daughter Maud, married to the celebrated Sir John Talbot,, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury, who brought Eyam to her husband. Neville was a nobleman of great distinction in the reign of Henry IV., for Parliament entrusted him with a subsidy for disbursement. Among other things, he left to Talbot “his best bed and the furniture thereto”.

The Talbots, like the Howards, claim Saxon ancestry, and as Norfolk is the premier Dukedom, so is Shrewsbury the premier Earldom. Here the similitude ceases, for while the Howards have been statesmen and courtiers, the Talbots have been soldiers and monks. The Talbots first rose to distinction under the Norman monarchs, and their peerage was conferred upon them by Edward III. Twenty-eight coronets have been worn since the one bestowed upon them by Henry VI., which is the greatest number (with one or two exceptions) ever worn by a family. Some thirty years ago occurred the famous Shrewsbury case, in which the claimant for the title and estates acquired his rights from an ancestor who flourished some four centuries back. How this case teemed with curious facts is by no means generally known. We do not refer to the prodigious search of registers through such a long lapse of time whether in England or abroad, nor to the deciphering of time-eaten tombstones, but to incidents that should be noted by any student. The remarkable breaks in the family strike the most casual observer as singular. When the seventeenth Earl died (the last of the direct male line), in 1856, unmarried, and occasioned the celebrated contest for succession, the title had never passed from father to child for almost two hundred years. When the son of the sixth Earl (who held Eyam), who had been custodian of Mary Queen of Scots, died, his successor had to go back two centuries on their genealogical tree to find the link that tacked him on; but even this was not the first instance. When the Talbots held but a Barony there were the same curious breaks. The first claimant on record was the most remarkable character in the whole of English history. Need we say that we refer to the hero of forty fights (who was Lord of Eyam), to him who, on one occasion when his troops fled, confronted the whole of the French army until disabled and taken prisoner. This was Sir John Talbot, whose wife was Maud Neville. Another singular incident which came out in the trial of 1856 was that a senior line to the present peer was traced to a poor family, who had been living in the vicinity of Seven Dials, London, and had gone no one knew whither. From what we have learnt in our search, we should not be surprised if, one of these days, we should have the most celebrated of all romances played out in the Halls of Westminster in which (as it was with the Barony of Willoughby in the last century) a sturdy yeoman from across the sea shews descent from a man whose race was supposed to be extinct. There is a little romance connected with this house which is worth the telling. During the reign of Elizabeth there was a John Talbot, of Salwarp (a descendant of the very ancestor from whom the present Earl of Shrewsbury claims his right to the peerage), who was in love with Mistress Olive, daughter of Sir Henry Sherrington, of Lacock Abbey, Wilts. The old knight did not believe in men with empty purses, if they were related with the proudest houses in Christendom; lands yielding good rent rolls and well filled coffers were the credentials to his favour. He had forbidden Talbot seeing the girl, and took measures to prevent their meeting. But what are bars, bolts, locks, parental prohibition, when the love of two young hearts has been plighted? The young people had their secret whispers beneath those venerable cloisters which still remain to us. Here Sir Henry surprised them one evening, and their trysting place was henceforth closed to them. When a woman's heart and brain are in unison, such a difficulty is not much. She sent her lover a letter to tell him she would converse with him from the roof of the abbey. This was rather a hazardous position for a young lady, but love is no calculator of consequences. They little thought that such an interview would put an end to all their difficulties. Both being true to such appointment, she called out to him that she would leap down if he would catch her. He, thinking the expression was not seriously meant, lovingly bade her do so. She, however, did leap, and alighted on his breast. He fell, dashing his head to the ground with such violence as to deprive him of consciousness. She, thinking he was dead, screamed so dreadfully that her father and the household were soon on the spot. The leap did marvels with the old man, for he said, since she had dared to leap such a distance to be at her lover's side she should have him altogether. This loving couple will be remembered, not simply because of their attachment for one another, but from the fact that it was one of their descendants (Henry Fox Talbot) who, not so many years ago, made the splendid discovery of photography.

The first Talbot who was Lord of Eyam will be ever memorable, not only as the victor in so many, engagements, but from his being defeated by Joan of Arc at Patay, in 1429 - where he was taken prisoner and kept in a French prison for four years - from his capture of Bordeaux at the age of eighty; and from his attempt to relieve Chastillon, where he fell. The Talbots have held two dukedoms, and, singular to say, one was so created by William III. for his part in the Revolution, and the other by James II., for his drawing the sword against William III. The wife of this nobleman was “Belle Jenyns”, - sister of the famous Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.

Eyam passed with the eldest co-heiress (Mary) of Gilbert, seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, who espoused the Earl of Pembroke. Lysons says this lady gave it to her grandson, Sir George Savile. Now this lady's only child died in infancy, so to grandchild she never could have given it. He was her second cousin, and we take it, Sir William, father of Sir George, not Sir George. The greatest of the Saviles (Marquis of Halifax) who held Eyam we have spoken of under Beeley, but the tribute paid him by Macaulay is worth citing:- “The memory of Halifax is entitled in a special manner to the protection of history. For what distinguishes him from all other statesmen is this, that, throughout his life, and through frequent and violent revolution of public feeling, he almost invariably took that view of the great questions of his time which history has finally adopted. He was called inconstant because the relative position in which he stood to, the contending factions was perpetually varying. As well might the Polar star be called inconstant, because it is sometimes to the east and sometimes to the west of the pointers. To have defended the ancient and legal Constitution of the realm against a seditious populace at one conjuncture, and against a tyranical Government at another; to have been the foremost champion of order in the turbulent Parliament of 1680, and the foremost champion of liberty in the servile Parliament of 1685; to have been just and merciful to Roman Catholics in the days of the Popish Plot, and to Exclusionists in the days of the Rye House Plot; to have done all in his power to have saved both the head of Stafford and the head of Russell; this was a course which contemporaries heated by passion and deluded by names and badges might not unnaturally call fickle, but which deserves a very different name from the justice of posterity.”

In the year 1700 the Manor of Eyam again passed by heiress - Dorothy Savile - to Richard, Earl of Burlington. Even as the Talbots were soldiers and monks, the Boyles have been literary men and bishops; and the name is familiar to us from the labours of Richard, the philosopher, who refused a peerage. They have held the Baronies of Clifford, Dungarvon, Broghill, and Bandon Bridge; the Viscounties of Blesington, Shannon, and Boyle; the Earldoms of Burlington and Orrery. One was Archbishop of Tuam; another was Archbishop of Armagh. The motto of the Boyles is, “God's Providence is my inheritance”. They were originally of Hereford, but at the end of the sixteenth century there was a certain Richard, a barrister in the Middle Temple, who became the founder of their greatness. He was Clerk to Sir Richard Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, but, like a many of his generation, he went to Ireland to seek his fortune. It is said - or rather he said so himself (for it stands in his own writing, we believe) - that he landed in Dublin with twenty-seven pounds, which was all the wealth he possessed. Here he picked up a lady with five hundred a year; which, from her early death, became his own. By the Rebellion in Munster he lost all, and came again to England, when the Earl of Essex gave him Government employment in Ireland, with whom he returned. He had amazing commercial ability, opening markets for industry which others ignored. The rapidity with which he acquired wealth occasioned his persecution by Sir Henry Wallop, who cited him before the Star Chamber for peculation. Said Queen Bess, who, was present, “By God's death, these are but inventions against the young man”, and she made him Clerk to the Council of Munster. We fancy Boyle must have been a handsome fellow. Shortly after, he bought twelve thousand acres of Raleigh's Irish estates at one shilling and eightpence an acre, unproductive lands, which he made to yield, abundantly. Cromwell said of him that had there been a Richard Boyle in every Province, there would have been no Rebellion. Four of his sons were ennobled, and himself too; seven of his daughters became Peeresses, and two of his descendants still hold coronets, with seats in the Upper House. With the heiress of the third Earl of Burlington the Manor of Eyam passed to the Cavendishes.

Although the historic family of Stafford never were lords of Eyam, yet from a branch of this family having a residence here for about four centuries, from their holding the Manors of Rowland and Calver, and from having certain moieties of land at Eyam, they will ever be associated with it. Never had township or village more illustrious residents, for the blood of both Norman and Saxon aristocracy flowed in their veins. On the Roll of Battle Abbey we find the name of Toenei, cousin to the Conqueror. From him - who changed his name to Stafford on the possession of English lands - sprang the various branches of this famous house. Under the Lancastrian Kings they held the Earldoms of Devon, Wiltshire, and Stafford, together with the Dukedom of Buckingham, beside the mitre of Canterbury. Under the Tudors, however, their splendour expired by the sword and the block. The career of the last senior representative is a theme fit for the novelist. His claims to the Peerage of Stafford were admitted by the House of Lords, but his coronet was refused by Charles I. because the poor fellow was a labourer, and so he died heartbroken.

On the flight of the third Peverell in 1157, the Manor of Eyam temporarily reverted to the Crown, when the Duke of Montaigne (afterwards King John) gave certain lands in Eyam, Foolow, and Bretton (so say the compilers), together with the Manors of Calver and Rowland, to Richard Stafford, on condition (so says Rhodes)[1] that his descendants kept a lamp burning constantly, before the altar of St. Helen, in Eyam Church. The local historian, Wood, says there was a document found in Highlow Hall, which assigned a different reason, but he does not say what. There was a fact occurred just at that time which no writer seems to have noticed. One of the Staffords married Petronilla de Ferrars, and the gift may have arisen from such union, as the De Ferrars came in for the spoil of the Peverells. The Staffords undoubtedly held Tideswell in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and were located at Eyam from the reign of Richard I. to that of Elizabeth, a period which exactly corresponds with the tenure of Haddon by the Vernons, and of Bubnell by the Bassetts. For thirteen generations were they dwelling at Eyam in all the patrician splendour of those days, and yet all we know of them is that they secured a market to Tideswell, that they preferred (like scions of the aristocracy of recent years) to take their wives from the families of the Foljambes and Eyres; and that when Humphrey Stafford died (about 1580), he had accumulated property to the extent of a million, which was divided among his four daughters. The two sons of Humphrey had been cut off in their youth, which fact reminds us of another, that the name of Humphrey was ominous to his race. In all the branches of his house we can only trace four other holders: one slain by Jack Cade, the rebel; one fell at the battle of Northampton; one in the fight at St. Albans; one was beheaded by Edward IV. Of his four co-heiresses we have a few interesting particulars. Anne married Francis Bradshaw, of Eccles Pike, and succeeded to the Eyam estates, with the old Hall of her sires, which building her husband pulled down, and erected the one we are going to mention; Gertrude mated with Rowland Eyre, of ballad fame, and became the mother of the hero whose chivalrous defence of Newark reads like Coeur de Lion's onslaught among the Saracens; while the other two allied themselves with the Morewoods and Savages. There is a brass in Longstone Church to the memory of Gertrude and her husband which sets forth, among other things, their bequests of twenty-two shillings each to the poor of Longstone, Hassop, Rowland, and Calver, “to be paid three days before Christmas and three days before Easter for ever”. This brass is a curiosity. It is set up in a Protestant Church to the memory of two Roman Catholics, and escaped the sacriligious hands of the fanatical Puritans.

As we approach Eyam from Tideswell, on a slight upland to our left there is a wing or gable of the edifice from which the Stafford Bradshaws fled so precipitously when the Plague made its appearance in 1665. Some idea of its former splendour can be conceived form the fact that there were people living not many years ago who had seen within this building (now used as a barn and cattle shed) costly tapestries “lying in a heap in the corners of the chamber, where it rotted away”. Over the windows are labelled heads, with knees; the middle knees forming crenels, and just above the upper crenel is the crest of the Bradshaws, a stag at gaze, under a vine tree, fructed proper. From the adjoining land it is possible to trace the outline of even the previous structure of the Staffords. No writer who mentions the marriage of Anne Stafford with Francis Bradshaw expresses any surprise at their union. To us it is inexplicable. The Derbyshire Bradshaws had adopted the Presbyterian faith, while the Staffords clung tenaciously, in spite of the persecution of the Crown, to the Church of Rome. Either she had abjured her religion, or her husband considered that a woman with a quarter of a million in her dowry should be allowed to worship God after her own fashion.

The one act of John Bradshaw, the regicide, seems to have extinguished the splendour of his race, yea, even the very desire to perpetuate the memory of such splendour. While he was yet exercising power vested in him by a fanatical oligarchy, the various members of his house were holding the Halls of Barcroft, Marple, and Wybersley, in Cheshire; Haigh, Halton, Pennington, D'Arcey Lever, Haslington, and Worsley, in Lancashire; Eyam, Windley, Holbrook, Barton, and Abney Manor House, in Derbyshire; Kington, Magna, and Marnhall, in Dorset; besides others in the counties of Warwick, Gloucester, and Kent. The Bradshaws of Chapel-en-le-Frith were lawyers and politicians, but, unfortunately for them, they were partizans of, and employed by those who had not clean hands. When Henry VIII. ordered those imfamous trials of mockery on Catherine Howard and the Earl of Surrey, Henry Bradshaw was Counsel for the Crown. When Edward VI. tried poor Seymour the persecution was entrusted to Bradshaw, Attorney-General. When Northumberland had persuaded the same King to make over the Crown to Lady Jane Grey, Bradshaw signed his name as Chief Baron to the nefarious document as a witness. After Sergeant John Bradshaw, some century later, condemned Charles I. to the block, no branch of this family (and really it is singular) appears to have perpetuated his race and prospered. True, one of the ladies became Countess of Balcarras, whose representative we believe is still living, but, say the Lancashire people, it was because she mingled her blood with that of a Lindsay. There is something almost startling about the fact that of the twenty branches of the house of Bradshaw, which were flourishing in the seventeenth century, there should be no direct male issue of any of them, and certainly very curious that in the veins of the regicide ran the blood of a Champeyne, Foucher, Foljambe, Eyre, the very essence of loyalty, to manufacture a Republican.

To refer to the Staffords for a moment. Not one of the compilers has troubled himself to find out, or even assume, from which branch of this illustrious house the Eyam family sprang. On the field of Hastings were two brothers, Robert and Nigel, who both adopted the name of Stafford, and what is curious, came in for one hundred and thirty-one manors each of Saxon England, though Nigel's share was augumented by thirteen Derbyshire lordships. Among these Derby lordships were Drakelow and Gresley. The ancient family of Gresley are undoubtedly descendants of this baron, but the point is, did the Staffords of Eyam spring from him also, or were they from Robert? The grandson and namesake of Robert died without issue, when his sister, Milicent, wife of Hervey Bagot, became his heiress, and her children retained her name. The son of Milicent and Bagot, married Petronilla de Ferrars, and here we fancy, we are getting at something. Not till the union of Petronilla do we find the Staffords located at Eyam. All the authorities (even Dugdale) are silent about the youngest son of this lady beyond his birth; but we take it that the Eyam Staffords were either descendants of this son or of the Drakelow house. We have stumbled across this small item: that there was a daughter of the ducal house, and fifth in descent from Petronilla, named Mary, who espoused a John de Stafford, but whence he came Dugdale does not say. On referring to what meagre pedigree there is to be got of the Eyam Staffords, we find there was a John living, whose wife may have been Mary.

We think sometimes that the tenancy of a saint in one of these historic homesteads would bring no pilgrims nor diligent searches for associations, but that they would still be given over to the pigs and the ducks.

The Staffords could never have been given Foolow by King John, as the compilers say, for the Inquisitions Post Mortem for 12 Edward I. (1283) have it that William de Mortayne died seized of it. The Staffords probably possessed it by purchase.


[1] Peak Scenery.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in October 2001.

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