Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Ford Hall

NO Commoner of England, perchance, has a more illustrious pedigree than Mr. William Henry Greaves Bagshawe, J.P., of Ford Hall. The student with his knowledge of Freeman's Normans, Gardiner's Plantagenets, Froude's Tudors, Gardiner's Stuarts, Mahon's Georges, together with the pages of Macaulay, Lingard, and Hume, will find himself put on his mettle if required to give the historical memorabilia of those families from whom this gentleman can claim descent. One line goes back to Edward I., King of England, and Margaret, daughter of Philip III., of France; two commence with Edward III. and Philippa, of Hainhault; three spring from James I., II., and IV., of Scotland; while another tacks him on to John of Gaunt, and the Beauforts. There is still another which links him with all the old Royal families of Europe. These separate lines pass through the Hollands, Earls of Kent; the Fitz-Alans, Earls of Arundel; the De Bohuns, Earls of Hereford; the Woodvilles, Earls Rivers; the Devereux, Earls of Essex; Bourchiers, Earls of Eu; the Greys, Marquises of Dorset; the Hastings, Earls of Huntingdon; the Riches, Earls of Warwick; the Pagets, now Marquises of Anglesey; the Gordons, Earls of Huntly; the Hamiltons, Earls of Arran; the Stewarts, Dukes of Lennox; and other houses equally memorable in the pages of our annals, as the Humes and Caldwells, baronets both.

What a thrilling historical brochure the careers of these ancestors would furnish. The link with Edward I. is through Joan, the “fair maid of Kent”, whose father was Thomas of Woodstock, son of that monarch. This nobleman was condemned to the block by Queen Isabella, the mother of Edward III., because he was offensive to her paramour Mortimer, and kept pinioned from early morn till sundown (for no Englishman could be found to execute him), while the gaols were rummaged to find a wretch to do the butchery. The fair Joan had three husbands - the last being the Black Prince, to whom she stood in the relationship of aunt, and by whom she was the mother of Richard II. (positively third cousin to her own child). Some authorities say there was only one marriage certificate in the whole business, though Dugdale admits the contracts. The romance is this: She first married or contracted herself to Sir Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, in whose absence abroad William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, got her to make another union, which Holland, on his return, petitioned the Pope, Clement VI., to set aside, “in which”, says Dugdale, “The Earl of Salisbury acquiesced”.[1] She was subsequently Princess of Wales. The vicissitudes of the Hollands are piteous; they held the Baronies of Woodstock and Wake, the Earldoms of Kent and Huntingdon, and the Dukedom of Exeter. Of the seven noblemen who were the holders, three were executed, one slain in battle, and the last descendant of Joan, though a Duke with his ten thousand retainers, was reduced to beg his bread, as told by Comines. The fourth Earl of Huntly, Chancellor of Scotland, was slain at Corriche in 1562, and the attainder actually pronounced over his corpse; the fifth Earl was sentenced to death; the seventh beheaded by the Cromwellians; while we all have heard of Lord George and his riots of 1780. It was one of the Bourchier ladies who occasioned Parliament to resort to an expedient they had never before attempted - the severance of the marriage tie by statute. The careers of the three Devereux, Earls of Essex, would satisfy the most covetous monger of scandal. The first married Lettuce Knollys, whose knowledge of anodynes numbered him with the saints before his time, when she wedded with that execrable wretch Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to whom also she gave the happy dispatch. The second Devereux, favourite of Elizabeth, suffered on Tower Hill; while the third allied himself to a woman, whose crimes and iniquity besmear the “State Trials”.[2] There was Penelope Devereux, the divorced wife of Lord Rich, who married Charles Blount, of Thurveston, Baron Mountjoy, and caused a cry of horror from the righteous, because she had broken the ecclesiastical laws. Two members of the Stewarts or Stuarts, Dukes of Lennox, were Darnley, who was roasted alive, and poor Lady Arabella, who married the man she loved, and was in consequence made a State prisoner in the Tower, where she died a maniac. The pedigree of Squire Bagshawe could be made to yield an unpublished chapter of English history, so amazing in its facts that it might be taken for fiction. Then, again, the life of his great-grandfather, the famous Colonel, whose mother was Frances Hardwar, and whose wife was Catherine Caldwell (both ladies having a Royal descent), is quite a little romance. His birth was subsequent to his father's death, and at the age of six he was an orphan, living at Ford with his uncle, whose heir he was. As a youth he enlisted in General Anstruther's regiment of foot as a private, and after six years of servitude, in which he rose to the rank of quartermaster-sergeant, it took very considerable influence to obtain his discharge. This was in 1738. Two years later the third Duke of Devonshire gave him an ensign's commission without purchase. His career is of great interest, from the siege of L'Orient, where he lost a leg, till he became second in command in India, where he lost an eye. He was in the East when Lawrence and Clive were laying the foundation of our Indian Empire, and but from ill-health he would no doubt have shared in the famous victory of Plassy. His wife was the sister of Sir James Caldwell, Bart., of Castle Caldwell, County Fermanagh, whom the Empress Maria Theresa created a Count of Milan for his military and diplomatic services; and gave him a ring from her finger; an addition of arms (the Imperial eagle), and other Royal favours. The Caldwells signally distinguished themselves in the Stura campaign, in the defence of Quebec, and in the capture of Seringapatam.

From a work written by Mr. W. H. G. Bagshawe, J.P., for private circulation (The Bagshawes, of Ford), we gather many interesting facts of the Colonel. His letter, written to William Bagshawe, of the Inner Temple, which relates to the loss of his limb, is so much history.

“Dear Coz.-

“When I last wrote to you I thought we were sailing directly for America, but as we passed Plymouth a boat put out with an express for the Admiral, so the fleet turned into that port, and while we were obliged to be there, the wind being against us, the order came for a descent on the coast of France, where we failed in our design on Port L'Orient, but the knowledge the fleet has gained, two forts demolished, with their garrisons taken prisoners, a fishery destroyed, together with one of the best men of war the French possessed, I really think are a very sufficient equivalent for the expense of going thither. I have been till now so weak that it was a pain to me to write, so that the public has acquainted you with my misfortune before I was fit to do so, though I wrote to Uncle the day after I was brought ashore, but I did not recover that fatigue for two days. I thank God I have reason to hope that I am now past danger from the loss of my limb, yet I can scarcely do anything without help, notwithstanding this is the forty-seventh day since I sustained my injury. Indeed, I have suffered more than the ordinary misery of such a loss, for I was obliged to be carried the day after the amputation eleven miles, lying upon a bolster between two poles, and eight of these miles in the night through woods that caught hold of me from time to time, and over the worst road I think that could be travelled; after this, several days upon a rolling sea; more agonising than the former. My life is next to a miracle, nay, I may say a miracle, for when I received the shot which took away my leg I was talking to a strange gentleman, who came up to me as I was waiting to see a detachment of men enter our battery in order that I might make a report to the General. There was no person near me but him, and no likelihood of anyone coming that way, as it was much exposed to the cannon of the town. This gentleman proved to be a surgeon, and if all the world had been surgeons and he not one I must infallibly have bled to death, for no other individual, even if it had been possible for them to have seen the accident, could have arrived in time enough to give me assistance. Twice since have I been in danger of bleeding to death, and twice when all our physicians and surgeons said it was ten to one against me. I lay, on one occasion, six hours with all my limbs as cold as clay and a dead sweat upon them, and I gasping at one time and at another hardly able to breathe fast enough. However, I can now sit up six or eight hours in the twenty-four, and eat my breakfast and dinner very heartily. My wound also grows more easy, and in a fortnight, I believe, will have a skin over all the fleshy part of it”.

The first tract of our vast Indian Empire was gained by the pluck of the regiment of which Bagshawe was the Colonel.[3] True, he was not with them when they took Calcutta and stormed the Hooghly; nor, when they attacked the vast hosts under Surajah Dowlah; nor when they beat the French out of their headquarters at Chandernagore; nor when they gained the proud motto which they still retain;[4] but he had trained them, he had brought them to that efficiency which was demonstrated by results almost incredible, and which to this hour seem to partake of the marvellous.

There are many interesting facts of the Bagshawes of Ford, which can be obtained from the Pedigree, and, as we have been granted permission by the learned writer to make an extract, if necessary, we will avail ourselves of his courtesy.

“Ford Hall at this time (1758) required some substantial repairs, which were commenced during his (Colonel Bagshawes) absence in London by 'taking off the battlements' of the house and lowering them 'into the court', as Mr. Evatt duly informed him. Preparations for planting were also begun with much vigour. Captain Morgan kindly promised all the acorns that could be gathered at Stanton Woodhouse, and large orders for young trees were despatched in various directions. The process of holing the ground was, however, considerably retarded by the remains of 'a set causeway', which gave the gardeners great trouble, and is conjectured to have been the pavement of a Roman road”. “On the 10th November” (1758) “Colonel Bagshawe tells Mr. Wright, of Longstone:- The insolence of the poachers in this parish has arrived at an uncommon pitch. They keep dogs in defiance of the law, and being old in the trade, it is grown difficult to detect them, but as I have shewn some inclination to put a stop to their practices, they have, I apprehend, determined to be revenged on me:- About the 27th October, in the night time, I had a hog sheep worried by their dogs; on the 8th inst., in the night time, I had a ewe sheep worried; on the same occasion they threw down in one place, a rood of walling, and which I suppose was also done about the 8th. I beg you will afford me what assistance you can to discover these villains, who by security will be encouraged to proceed to greater villanies”.

From the Pedigree, p. 237, we get a picture of the Peak by Sir Thomas Caldwell, the brother of Mrs. Bagshawe:-

“This country is extremely populous, and almost every family is possessed of a small freehold of their own. They have no corn nor hay stacked abroad, but make it up in large houses built of stone, which comes out of the quarry shaped liked brick, and lies together so true that they do without lime or cement. They cover those houses with large thick flags which they lay together with moss instead of lime. All sorts of cattle are kept in the house day and night, six months of the year. Lead and wool are the staple commodities of the country. It is said that the lead mines bring into it three hundred thousand pounds yearly, and there are many people who have flocks of two thousand sheep. These things, with its being in the neighbourhood of many great trading towns, make it a very rich district. This small county has, within sixteen years, furnished Ireland with four Lords. Lieutenant, viz. Chesterfield, Harrington, and two Devonshires. The natives are rather slovenly in their dress, but within doors have everything very neat, and are, in their way, very civil and good-natured”.

The fifth and last surviving son of the Colonel married Annie Foxlowe, who brought him Banner Cross, together with that memorable white hunter's horn mentioned by Blount in his Ancient Tenures, once the property of John of Gaunt - by virtue of which lands were held and coroners appointed. This lady, too, is said to have had a descent (by Hunter) through several noble families from the Conqueror.

The most famous of the Bagshawes who have held Ford Hall needs particular mention.

Among those two thousand noble ministers of the Church of England who were expelled their livings on the 24th August, 1662, because they could not conscientiously subscribe the Act of Uniformity, were two members of the old Derbyshire family of Bagshawe - one was vicar of Ambrosden, in Oxfordshire; the other was incumbent of Glossop, in the Peak.

Edward Bagshawe the vicar, will be remembered by the scholar from his having been under-master with that classic bully, Busby, at Westminster Schools; from his voluminous writings, his quarrel with the celebrated Baxter, and his imprisonment in the Tower. His enemies said “he sided tooth and nail with the fanatics, and made a great figure amongst them”. Let any one read his work, Concerning God's Decrees, and say if it contains the conclusions of a fanatic. When he died Baxter uttered the memorable sentence that has since become historic: “While we wrangle here in the dark, we are dying and passing to the world that will decide all controversies, and the safest passage thither is by peaceable holiness”. William Bagshawe, the famous Nonconformist, whose residence at Ford Hall has made the old edifice a kind of shrine for a pilgrimage, attained for himself a more imperishable immortality still, from a life devoted to the spiritual and temporal wants of his fellow-creatures; and his memory yet lives in the hearts of the people as well as their brains. A few particulars of this pious and large-hearted Christian, who held Ford Hall for at least forty years, together with some reference to the Abney Bagshawes, cannot fail to be of interest. When the Lyttons, of Litton, in the parish of Tideswell, sold their homestead and manor, in the year 1597, to the Alsops, and went to live at princely Knebworth, Lytton Hall, together with the lands, came by purchase (almost immediately) to the Bagshawes, of Abney. The purchase was effected, we believe, by Nicholas Bagshawe, who disposed of Abney to the Bradshawes about the same time that the Lyttons severed themselves from Litton. The son and heir of Nicholas (Henry, whose wife was Anne Barker) died in the lifetime of his father, leaving a little one, who became the second founder of his house. William Bagshawe, says Ashe, “Being left an orphan, fell into the hands of some relations who defrauded him of a remainder of an estate, once considerable, and made some attempts upon his life but it pleased God, the Father of the fatherless, to incline the hearts of others to shew pity to him, and the losses he had sustained were afterwards abundantly repaired by success in the lead mines”. He held the Manors of Hucklow, Ford, and Wormhill, beside considerable moieties in the parishes of Glossop and Chapel-en-le-Frith. As remotely as the reign of Edward I., the Ford estate was with a family who had taken their name from the place and were bailiffs of the forests in 1304. The heiress married with the Brownes, of Marsh Hall, as we shall see elsewhere. The Cresswells were here in the early part of the sixteenth century, which certain conveyances of messuages prove, and from their purchase of an adjacent moiety, which was with the Vernons, of Hazelbadge. The heiress of the Cresswells sold Ford to Robert Ashton, of Stoney Middleton, in 1648, who soon conveyed it to William Bagshawe, of Litton and Hucklow. Ford seems to be a spot whence the associations of the old Peak families radiate.

It was at Lytton Hall that the Apostle of the Peak was born on the 17th of January, 1628. We rather fancy that his religious proclivities were fostered by his mother, who was an Oldfield, and aunt - if we mistake not - to that John Oldfield who was shut out from the Church on that black August day. At an early age Bagshawe was sent to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he took his degree before he was eighteen. Having determined to enter the Church, he studied theology under Rowlandson of Bakewell, and Bourne, of Ashover. How Bourne was driven from Ashover in 1642, on account of his Presbyterian doctrines; how he was rewarded by the Puritan Government with the Rectory of Waltham, and that of Ayleston, County Leicester, where he died; how he was a famous preacher at Paul's Cross and St. Sepulchre's; how he tried to smash up the Quakers and got it warm from George Fox, and how he conformed to the Act of Uniformity, unlike his pupil, in 1662, we may show in a future article. Bagshawe became an assistant minister at St. Peter's, Sheffield, and three years later was ordained at Chesterfield. His first sermon was preached in the old Church of St. Margaret, Wormhill. His first and only living was at Glossop, which he held for eight years. When persecution came, all the nobility of his character was at once apparent. Then was seen how deeply he had grafted his teaching in the hearts of the people.

His labours were among the poorest and most neglected in the wildest parts of the Peak district. From Chinley to Monyash no weather was too severe, no moorland cot too far removed. They built him chapels at Malcalf, Chinley, Ashford, and Ford. A little anecdote told by Ashe will illustrate how successful were his labours during the six-and-twenty years which elapsed between his expulsion from Glossop and the Act of William III., which gave toleration to the Nonconformists. There was a home of a cobbler that Bagshawe had frequently to pass, and the divine invited the “man of the last” to attend his gatherings. He received as reply: “I have no time to spare, for I have a wife and family to maintain”. Having ascertained what would be the pecuniary loss of the man if he came, he gave him the money. The next time the divine came that way, he found he was being followed by the cobbler. “What, are you going? I thought thou couldst not spare time to hear preaching because thou hadst a wife and family to maintain, and I cannot afford to pay thee every time”. “You shall never pay me any more. I'll never stay behind again. It was the best money I ever addled”.

The officials who were sent to arrest him for his preaching never sought to execute their warrants. The fact that when he died they buried him in the chancel of the church at Chapel-en-le-Frith, shows the respect of Episcopalians as well as Dissenters. Of the many theological works of which he was the author (rather more than fifty, we believe) his Spiritualibus Pecci is, perchance, the most valuable, as it furnishes us with the names of those Derbyshire men who, like himself, were Nonconformist clergymen, whom persecution failed to deter from their labours of piety and charity. There are two, if not three, of the divine's works in the Sheffield Free Library, published about 1695, while he was yet living, and, what is so interesting, by a firm of that town. Many admirers of Bagshawe forget a fact which knits him closer to our affections. From his entering,the Church he gave offence to his father, and forfeited, by so doing, the most valuable portion of the property that would otherwise have been his. And yet he requested his father “to charge the estate, that was to be left to himself, with a sum of money for the use of his sister Susannah, as an addition to her fortune, although his share of the property was not a third in real value of what was devised to one of his younger brothers”. The father, sensible of his partiality, replied, “Son, I have left you too little already”. But as Clegg (the biographer of Ashe) observes, there has been a blessing on that “little”, which has increased amazingly, while the greater estates are gone. They passed to the Riches of Bull House. It is worthy of note that one of the nieces of the apostle became the maternal ancestor of the Beaumonts, of Bretton Hall, Yorkshire; of the Smiths, Lords Carrington; and of the Burnabys, of Baggrave Hall, County Leicester. Private documents at Ford show there has been a fast friendship between the family and the noble house of Cavendish, Dukes of Devonshire, for the last two centuries; and we find a grandson of the divine riding into Derby with a party of eight hundred strong, to plump for Lord Charles, at the election of 1734.

Although it is clear that the Bagshawes were located at the Ridge in the days of Stephen, and in the immediate neighbourhood generations before, the reliable genealogy begins with those men whose names are on the Inquisitions held at Wormhill in 1318; and apparently about this time the Abney branch separated itself. When the dispute arose between the two families, almost four hundred years later, the College of Heralds pronounced the Abney house to be the senior line, though the Ridge family declared they had no relationship. It is indeed singular that the Abney Bagshawes should have come so near to the homestead of their ancestors as Ford, after four centuries of absence; and singular too that the Ridge family should have become extinct so soon after, while the Abney branch should have acquired still greater possessions, added honours to their race with each successive generation by illustrious marriages, and be still dwelling among us. There were two sons of this family who were dubbed knights; Sir William, living in the days of Bluff Hal, and Sir Edward, residing in Ireland during the Commonwealth, but nobody knows a syllable about them. We remember to have seen some letters of Sir Edward in the Historical Manuscripts Commission Reports. We cannot trace that the Ridge Bagshawes were ever members of Parliament, or ever sheriffs of the county; only as forest officials with a marvellous descent. Yet pride was their characteristic, as is evidenced by an episode of the Squire who built Bakewell Hall.[5] There were sons undoubtedly who went forth from the Ridge and established themselves in other counties, who gained for themselves an immortality, and whose names are to be found in Wood's Athenæ, or the State Records. It was meet, with their length of pedigree, that the heiress should have mated with the Fitzherberts, of Tissington. One item is singular. The father of the builder of Bakewell Hall, and grandfather of the heiress, married Barbara Greaves; the father of the present senior member of the Abney branch (the worthy J.P., owner and resident at Ford) was Henry Marwood Greaves.

The treasures of Ford Hall would need a catalogue to enumerate them. Family portraits, old china, rare books; old uniforms that were worn by men when the fate of kingdoms hung upon their diplomatic or military success. Among the portraits there is one of Francis Gisborne the munificent (or flannel Gisborne by some), of which we believe there is no other extant. Over one of the entrances to Ford Hall there is the shield of the Bagshawes, quartering Child, with an escutcheon of pretence over all. This escutcheon is of particular worth to the student of Derbyshire history, as it shows Wingfield quartering Honypott, Bovill, Gousell, Hathersage, Fitzalan, Peverell, Albany, Meschines, Lupus, Plantagenet, Warren, Marshal, De Clare, Macmurrough, and Pargiter.

The church at Chapel-en-le-Frith is linked with the Abney Bagshawes of almost six centuries ago, and furnishes an instance of their abhorrence of injustice. The officials of the Peak Forest about the year 1225 got permission to build themselves a chapel at this place, as Hope was then the nearest house of worship. No sooner had they done so than the Prior of Lenton claimed the advowson and the tithes.

The foresters said if it belonged to anyone, it was to the Deanery of Lichfield. The point was an exceedingly nice one. The land had been held by the Peverells, but forfeited from the murder of the Earl of Chester. The Priory asserted it was given to them before the forfeiture, while the King (Henry III.) declared it, had reverted to the Crown, and so the case came on for hearing at Derby, with a verdict of two-thirds for Lenton and one for Lichfield. To this the officials again and again protested, which is witnessed by the Inquisition held at Wormhill, 11 Edward II., and among the names on that document are those of three Bagshawes, two of Abney and one of the Ridge. To this day the Manor of Chapel-en-le-Frith owns no lord, and the freeholders retain the nomination of their Vicar.

The numerous works of art on the inner walls of Ford demand something more than a passing mention. Here are portraits of the first and second Dukes of Athole, the second Duke of Devonshire, Lord Edward Murray, Lord John Murray, Lord Paulett, Lord James Cavendish, Sir James and Sir John Caldwell, Sir Michael Newton, the Countess of Findlater, the Countess of Belmore. Along the corridors there are portraits also of many members of the Bagshawe family, and of the Caldwells, Gisbornes, Greaves, Foxlowes, Murrays, Newtons. But it is the collection of manuscripts, rare books, engravings by Houbraken, within the library of Ford Hall, to which the heart of the student goes out with a longing.


[1] “Baronage”, Vol. 1.
[2] “Gardiner's History”, Vol. II.
[3] “Primus in Indus”.
[4] “39th Regiment”.
[5] Vide Article on “Bakewell Hall”.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in March 2008.

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