Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Fynney Cottage and Flagg Hall

MANY of us remember Francis Eyre, Earl of Newburgh, while living at Hassop, and some of us will remember Charles Eyre, who was a carter of coals and other commodities, living in the village of Brough. The Earl prided himself, and justly, as springing from Sir Robert, one of the Agincourt heroes, but Sir Robert was a junior member of the founder of this house, which is not denied, but attested by authorities; while the carter believed he sprang from a senior line, the members of which had never troubled themselves beyond the welfare of their cattle and the frugality of their wives. We mention this as an apparent vicissitude of one Derbyshire family, as we shall have to draw attention to a much more extraordinary one which exists of another at the present moment. The vicissitudes of the family of Fynney, though very similar to the Eyres, are much more significant. The Eyres were never Wardens of the Cinque Ports for generations; were not Peers of the Realm in the fifteenth century, nor do they or their descendants still hold a coronet; no member of their house ever held one of the Great Seals, and was considered sufficiently dangerous to the Crown to be cast into the Tower. The romance of the Fynneys, of Ashford, Longstone, Stoney Middleton, and Flagg by Chelmorton, lies in the fact that they descend from a line of their house, senior to the one which held and still holds, maternally, the Peerage of Save and Sele; they spring from the one who swore the coronet of Dacre (juri uxoris) for six generations, and whose shield was emblazoned with twenty-nine baronial quarterings, beside those of three earldoms. We will rapidly glance at the illustrious members of this family who were Ministers of the Crown, and took part in several memorable events from the Conquest to the Commonwealth, and then at those stalwart yeomen, whose knowledge of kine and turnips was superior to their knowledge of Parliamentary precedents.

Few people unacquainted with the mysteries of genealogy would imagine that the name of Fynney was simply an adaptation of Fiennes, but this is set at rest for ever by indisputable evidence. Among the barons of the Conqueror was John de Fiennes, who was made Warden of the Cinque Ports, and whose descendants held the appointment (according to Edmondston) for four hundred years. Among the slain at the battle of Acre in 1190 was the fifth baron, but the prominent figure is Geoffrey Fiennes, who was one of those nobles who met King John at Runnymede and made him knuckle clown to their demands in signing the Magna Charta. What names should be so well remembered by Englishmen as those twenty-five barons and their compatriots, yet how many of us could enumerate them? When Edward II. was covering himself and the country with ignomy, John Fiennes told him of his imbecility at the peril of his head, for he fled to the Continent. With Henry VI. this family found exceptional favour, and among the Royal gifts was the Peerage of Save and Sele. The power of the first peer was too great to please the Yorkists, and they cast him in the Tower, from whence the rebels of Jack Cade dragged him and finished his career with the axe. Burke, Edmondston, Collins, and other authorities show him to have been the second son of his father, and thus we get at the fact that the Derbyshire Fynneys were the offshoots of the line of his elder brother. It was the grandson of this nobleman who took huff at his mother marrying a second husband, and threw the peerage into abeyance by refusing to take up his title. For a century and a half there was no Lord Saye and Sele, and then James I. did a funny thing. He made out a fresh patent of nobility, and gave it to the very man who, by his birthright, already held it. Is not this romance in real life with a percentage? A word about Nathaniel Fiennes, and then for the senior line of Derbyshire. We must not, however, forget the girls, for they “stuck their caps” most prodigiously high. One was the wife of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, the most powerful noble of Edward I.; another espoused Edmund, Lord Mortimer, who, having been accessory to the murder of Edward. II., usurped the kingly power. If we mistake not there was a third, who had Bartholomew Hampden for husband, and thus the blood of a Fiennes was in the veins of the immortal John who fell at Chalgrove. Nathaniel Fiennes was a member 0f that section of the Long Parliament known as “the Root and Branch men”; from their desire to abolish Royalty, the Church, and the Bishops. He was given the Great Seal by Cromwell, and made one of his brown paper lords. His elder brother was holding the coronet, which, curious to say, again became in abeyance for one hundred and seven years, yet at the present moment the nobleman who wears it is Frederic Twistleton Wykeham Fiennes.

How the Derbyshire Fynneys are the senior branch of this house can be seen at a glance. The first Lord Saye and Sele had, as we have said, a brother older than himself. It was the son of this brother who acquired the peerage of Dacre, and whose grandson William first held lands in this county, from whom they descend. Any one strolling from the acclivity of Monsal Dale to the village of Longstone must have noticed the old edifice and neat little homestead as shewn in the illustration, and also that underneath the point of the gable are the. initials I.F., and the date 1575. The initials, we are told, stand for John Fynney, and the date for the year the building was erected. Both assertions present a difficulty. According to Mr. John Sleigh, the first Fynney who settled at Longstone was not born till the 2nd March, 1596. Either the date is false or the antiquarian has omitted something. We say, omitted something, from certain facts which apparently warrant the remark. The edifice stands on the lands that belong, or did but recently, to that ancient worthy and Derbyshire family - the Longsdons. These lands were given by Robert Fitz-Waltheof, and they have held for centuries. There are undoubtedly several marriages between the Fynneys and the Longsdons, and the date is rather assumptive evidence that there was one who built his homestead on the lands belonging to his wife's relatives. The fact (which Mr. Sleigh admits) that James Fynney, born in 1596, married Mary White, of Ashford, but took up his abode at Little Longstone, rather suggests that this was the very residence he brought her to. Anyway, our query may occasion the squire to disprove our belief that there was a James or John Fynney who mated with one of the Longsdon girls prior to 1596. Members of this family were certainly living at Ashford in the days of Elizabeth, and for two hundred years later; for the heiress who married Dr. Denman in 1761 is designated as of Ashford, though she brought him property in Stoney Middleton. Why this lady's dowry was never assailed has been a puzzle to us, for she was certainly baptised at Ashford, 20th October, 1740, whereas her mother was not married till 1st May, 1751. What shifting positions the Fynneys have held! When the junior but baronial branch were without their coronet and living heaven knows where, the senior branch were well-known squires in Taddington Dale; when the former came back to their ermine and scarlet, the latter were putting on fustian and hobnail boots. Thus, those yeomen who were residing at Flagg Hall within the last three years, and whose anxiety lay with their crops and their cattle, were the senior representatives of the men who were lords of Fiennes before the Norman Conquest, and the name they held was their own, without the aid of letters patent or Act of Parliament.

The difficulty presented by the date on the gable of Fynney Cottage is self-evident. If correct, the structure would be Elizabethan; but there are the Jacobean mullions and balls, besides other characteristics. The explanation may be that of frontal alterations simply - we rather think such is the case - but anyway it has been one of the homesteads of the men whose sires mated with the Fitzhoughs and Bouchiers, and whose idiosyncracies are unique in our annals, but still somewhat perpetuated (until the other day) by one sitting among the peers of England, and a senior member bringing his cattle to Bakewell Market. The Fynneys of Flagg retained one great trait of their ancestors in making judicious alliances with families from which they derived other advantages besides wives with pretty faces. There are several members of this family to whom we may give particular mention elsewhere, as John Fynney, Doctor of Divinity, whose sermons were published in 1746, and Fielding Best Fynney, surgeon, who contributed to the Philosophical Transactions for 1777, and the Memoirs Med. for 1789; while we cannot refrain from uttering the fact, that both the Staffordshire and Cheshire branches of the family have found able writers to tell us many interesting and historic incidents about them, yet where can we glean anything of the Derbyshire house? It was to the Cheshire branch that Samuel and John belonged, who went to America with William Penn, the great Quaker. It was of the Cheshire branch that another Samuel was a member who became “miniature painter to Her Majesty” Queen Charlotte, and compiled a manuscript history of his family, an epitome of which can be found in Earwaker's East Cheshire.

Considerable confusion frequently arises, and inaccurate statements are often made, when speaking of a particular lordship - as Over Haddon, Little Longstone, Chelmorton, Edensor - simply from the fact of the manor having within it a subordinate lordship. Take Blackwell, which was with William Peverell, who gave it to the priory of Lenton, with whom it remained for four hundred years, when it was given by Edward VI. (in 1552) to Sir William Cavendish, whose illustrious descendant is now lord. But there were the Blackwells of Blackwell, who were located here for generations, and who were lords of a subordinate manor of Blackwell. One was a knight in the reign of Edward I., and the cavalier who was the last of his race was a knight, too - poor Sir Thomas (temp. Charles II.) whose loyalty, had led him to lose all and contract debts to the extent of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds. The very monarch for whom he had thus involved himself ordered this subordinate manor to be seized for the creditors, and it was sold to the Hopes, Earls of Haddington. We should like to know who gave to Charles II., or any King of England, authority to cut off an entail, and make it saleable property. It has since merged into the paramount manor, and is with His Grace the Duke of Devonshire. There are brasses in Taddington Church dating back to the fifteenth century to the memory of the Blackwells. One of these brasses we would recommend to the historical student and those ladies who gather ideas of neatness of dress from such sources, besides the pretty legend thereto. Agnes, the wife of Richard, in the reign of Henry VII., is shown wearing the clothing only assumed or donned by a lady who had taken the oath of perpetual widowhood, the clothing proclaiming at once faithfulness after death and notice to suitors to keep their distance.

Among those manors which came to the Talbots at the spoliation of the monasteries were Brushfield, Monyash, One Ash, Glossop, Beard, and the minor lordship of Chelmorton. When Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury (stepson of Bess of Hardwick) died in 1616 these possessions were carried by his co-heiresses to their husbands, the Earls of Kent, Pembroke, and Arundel. Brushfield was purchased by Sir W. Armine; One Ash was sold to Sir Thomas Gargrave. The Gargraves were a knightly house, who came in for extensive grants of Abbey lands in Yorkshire, but who, within a century afterwards, sank into obscurity. The grandfather of the purchaser of One Ash was Speaker of Queen Elizabeth's first Parliament and President of the Council of the North. He was a favourite of Her Majesty and her minister Burghley; he had a grant from Bess, of the Old Park, Wakefield, but he adopted the glorious old Priory of Nostell for a residence. This was the gentleman who conducted poor Mary of Scots from Bolton to Tutbury. One Ash passed with the daughter of Sir Thomas to Richard Berry, physician to Oliver Cromwell, who contrived to possess himself of the whole Gargrave property. Sir William Armine, who bought Brushfield, was undoubtedly a baronet, for he paid to James I. the sum of one thousand and ninety-five pounds for the title, yet he is ignored by Burke. His career, too, is memorable; he was a staunch Parliamentarian, and friend of both Eliot and Hampden. He was appointed by the Crown, in 1627, a Commissioner to collect an arbitrary loan in Lincolnshire, but this he refused, and was put in the Gatehouse at Westminster. When the Rebellion broke out he urged the advance of the Scottish army, and for his zeal he was tendered a vote of thanks by the Commons “for his many and great services to Parliament”. When he died the whole Council of State attended his funeral, but such is the mutability of events; his daughter was made a peeress by Charles II. The Armines were of Osgodby, County Lincoln, very remotely, as one of the lads was Master of the Rolls in 1316, and some ten years later was consecrated Bishop of Norwich.

How the Manor of Monyash was in moieties from 1616 till 1735 will be seen in the Conspectus, yet the tenure of these moieties makes us acquainted with relationship between families which cannot be shown in a Conspectus. In 1616 the Earls of Kent, Pembroke, and Arundel held the matter in thirds. In 1638 the Earl of Kent sold his share to the Saviles, of Bectey. The Earl of Arundel conveyed his third to the Earl of Pembroke, who disposed of both thirds to John Shalcross in 1640, who, in turn, parted with them in 1646 to Thomas Gladwin, of Tupton Hall. So now the manor was in halves with the Saviles and Gladwins. The Savile half past by heiress to the Gilberts, of Locke. The Gladwin half past by co-heiress to Sir Talbot Clerke and Dr. Henry Bourne. The Clerkes were the first to sell in 1721, the Gilberts next in 1735, and the Bournes immediately after (1736), and the purchaser in each case was Edward Cheney. Sir Talbot Clerke, who married Barbara Gladwin, was of Launde Abbey, in Leicestershire, and a scion of the Willoughby house, County Warwick. He and his cousin John were both holding baronetcies. It was the ancestor of his cousin who took Louis d'Orleans, Duke of Longueville, prisoner at Terouenne, or battle of the Spurs, and got an augmentation of arms. The descendant of the warrior is the present worthy baronet, Sir William Francis Clerke, of Hitcham, Bucks.

In 1634 Robert Dale, of Flagg, entered his pedigree in the Herald Visitation. No earlier fact of the family is evidently obtainable. There was a Thomas Dale some few years previous, who was a naval commander and twice governor of Virginia; brought to England the celebrated “Pocahontas”, but nobody knows if he was of this county. Between Robert and the late Major Thurstan Dale there were seven generations, but the evidence of tombstones shows them to have been located in the Peak long before the winds of Chelmorton blew upon the checks of Robert. We believe they were builders of Flagg Hall. Thev were certainly munificent, as the poor of Parwich and Brassington know; were of a military turn, for one was killed in action; one was through the whole of the Peninsular campaign, and several of the lads have held their commissions. We shall meet with other homesteads of this family.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in January 2003.

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