Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Highlow Hall

OUT of the Honor of Lancaster arose the Duchy, but long before John of Gaunt had conceived the idea of packing the English Commons or of legitimising his illegitimate children by Act of Parliament The Honor was originally with William de Blois, brother of King Stephen, at whose death it came to the Earls of Chester, who held it till 1232, when it was given by Henry III. to William de Ferrars, seventh Earl of Derby. Some few years later the son of De Ferrars forfeited the whole of his vast estates, when Edmund Crouchback, brother of Edward I., was given the honors and castles of Derby and Lancaster, together with other possessions of the De Ferrars and De Montfords, even to the goods and chattels of the former.[1] With Edmund Crouchback virtually begins the Duchy of Lancaster, which would be exactly a century before John of Gaunt came to the front. Edmund had two sons: Thomas, who was dispossessed of his immense possessions, and eventually executed by Edward II.; and Henry, who married Maud Chaworth, the heiress, whose father held Stony Middleton. The first born of Henry and Maud was created Duke of Lancaster in 1351; was given back the estates which Edward II. had seized, and was made one of the first six-and-twenty Knights of the Garter, for his stall plate is next to the founder's in St. George's, Windsor. The Duke espoused Isabella Beaumont, and had two daughters: Maud, who mated with Ralph Stafford, but died without issue; and Blanche, the sole heiress of her father, whom John of Gaunt secured for himself. Thus it is evident that he owed his Dukedom and Duchy both to his wife.[2] The Manor of Hope belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster, but is on lease to the Dukes of Devonshire. At the survey it was Royal demesne. Within this extensive parish there are nine manors: Abney, Bradwell, Grindlow, Hazlebadge, Little Hucklow, Highlow, Stoke, Thornhill, and its own. The old and extinct family of Archer (assuming the Archers of Kilkenny are not descendants of the Peak house) held Abney, Hucklow, and Highlow, after the forfeiture of the Peverells. Their names are on the Inquisitions of the Forest, their homestead was at Highlow generations before they were lords of the manor, for, like the Bagshawes, they are supposed to have had Saxon origin; their name is assumed to have arisen from their skill with the bow, but further than that they were foresters, and that the heiress, about the time of Edward III., married Nicholas Eyre, we really know nothing of them. The Manor of Abney passed to the senior line of the Bagshawes, where they located themselves for almost three hundred years. In 1593 they sold it to the Bradshawes, from whom it passed by heiress to the Galliards, in 1735; from whom by heiress to the Bowles, 1789. Little Hucklow was with the Foljambes after the Archers, and but recently was with the Carleils. The Thornhills are the most remote Lords of Thornhill traceable, though the manor was surely with the Peverells. About 1400 they conveyed it to the Eyres, with whom it remained till 1853 (there were nine years alienation to the Slacks, 1602-11), when Dorothy Eyre, Countess of Newburgh, willed it to her husband, Colonel Leslie.

The Carleils, who were holding Little Hucklow and living at Longstone Hall within living memory, were, as far back as Edward the Confessor, holding the Barony of Carlisle (on which the city now stands), and here they were located until Edward I. marched north of the Tweed, when they removed to Kinmouth, in Scotland. For three centuries nothing is known of them, and then they turn up at Sewerby, in Yorkshire, having most extensive possessions. Dugdale was beholden to the registers of Bridlington for even this. At the beginning of last century they were at Ecelesfield Hall, near Sheffield, when a son married the heiress of the Mortens, of Brosterfield, in Derbyshire. The squire, who was living at Longstone Hall half a century ago, had an only son and seven daughters. This son was within a few days of his twentieth birthday when he died, and so a chain, which had at least thirty links, or eight hundred years of duration, was snapped.

Six hundred years ago (7 Edward I) John Thornhill, of Thornhill and Warnebrook, in the Parish of Hope, espoused Marian Heton, but the parent stock of his race had been located at Thornhill, in Yorkshire, for centuries previously, for we believe their founder was Gerbener, the Saxon. They held a knighthood in the Middle Ages, and allied themselves with the De Fixbys, and Babthorples, Their senior line is represented, maternally, by the Saviles, Earls of Scarborough, with whom the heiress married, 45 Edward III. (1371). For twenty generations were they living in the Peak of Derbyshire, and surely there is something sad about such a long line of men passing from among us. We meet with information of this family in the most unaccountable places, the Newgate Calendar to wit. The instance, however, recorded in such a work redounds to the honour and pluck of the house. Major Richard Thornhill, who was tried at the Old Bailey for killing Sir Cholmley Dering, in a duel, simply and courageously defended his own life against the attacks of a savage.[3] Other particulars of the Thornhills will be found under Stanton.

The compilers have had nothing to tell us of the Slacks; indeed, if we mistake not, Lysons ignores them. But what are the facts? They were not only living in the Edale portion of the forest, but were deputy officials for the Meverells and Shirleys early in the reign of Henry VIII. They purchased the Manor of Thornhill in 1602, from the Eyres, but a member of the Hassop branch got them to resell it some nine years later. In the seventeenth century three of the lads went to Ireland - one settling at Leitrim, one in Dublin, one in Monaghan - where they founded fresh branches of their house, which are still extant.

The Leslies, lords of Thornhill, Calver, Rowland, and Hassop (their patronymic is Duguid, being Leslies by maternal descent simply), are a branch of the ennobled family who have held the Baronies of Lindores and Newark, with the Dukedom of Leslie, now extinct, and who still hold the Earldom of Rothes. It was a Leslie whose cavalry charge at Marston Moor secured Cromwell his victory; it was the same officer who defeated Montrose, at Philiphaugh, and eventually took him prisoner; it was a Leslie who was the principal actor in the murder of Cardinal Beaton, and fell at Renti attainted. It was George Leslie, fourth Earl of Rothes, who divorced his first wife, married two others, and after their death re-married the first one, at whose death he espoused a fifth.[4] This is the nobleman whose daughter, Katherine, is said to have been the wife of Richard Dakeyne, of Snitterton.[5]

The principal old families of the Parish of Hope and Castleton were the Archers, Eyres, Thornhills, Balguys, Savages, and Woodroffes. We believe that the Savages were of Castleton during the Norman period, for one of them (Roger), in the days of King John, whose particular sport was killing wild cats, was charged with poaching, when he asserted his right as successor to William Walkelin. The Castleton Savages were a senior line of their house to those of Frodsam, who were an offshoot of the Steinbré family - yet another instance of the parent stock going to the dogs while the junior line rises to a coronet. The Savages were not holding Frodsam earlier than the reign of Edward III., which Burke admits, and from the particulars of the founder of this line we get at two interesting facts: one, that his widow became the maternal ancestor of the Leighs, of The Ridge, which is a wrinkle in Peak genealogy, as showing the matrice relationship between two families who frequently intermarried; and the other, that the Christian name of the founder was John, which the firstborn of each generation for three centuries retained (from Edward III. to James I.) when there was a change for luck, and certainly, great luck.

Thomas Savage espoused the daughter of Lord D'Arcy, of Crich, with that nobleman's honours in reversion, to which the Crown added the Earldom of Rivers. This peerage they held for five lives, when the fifth peer, being a Catholic priest, the title became extinct. The fourth peer was father of that gifted but intemperate man, Richard, the poet, who sometimes dined in the saloons of the nobles and sometimes on a dunghill.

The old homestead and Manor of Highlow passed from the Eyres in 1802. This fact is touching. Here, their natural ancestors - the Archers - were living in Saxon times; were here when the Peak was first afforested. Here, too, were the Eyres from the reign of Edward III. The massive masonry of the Hall must be seen to be accredited. Here are walls that have weathered four centuries anyway. In Vol. XI. of the Historical Manuscripts Commission relating to the documents of the House of Lords, there are some particulars of the case in which Thomas Eyre, of Hassop, accuses his relative, of Highlow and Gray's Inn, of doing a bit 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 is as follows:-

“Charles I., in the right 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, Chappell en le Frith, and divers others, besides the towns of Hope, Bradwell and Wormhill, 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 decrees 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 Petitioners and others, Freeholders and Tenants in the towns of Hope, Bradwell, and Wormhill, suggesting that in 1639 or 1640 the latter Petitioned the late King to disforest the 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 wastes 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 case was heard before the Chancellor, three Barons of the Exchequer, and occasioned the judges to form different opinions. Anyway, Eyre, of Highlow, went to windward. The Case is worth perusal as stated in Vols. XI. and XII. of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. 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 1687-8, got a fresh order from the Chancellor of the Duchy, by which purchase and fence, and crop and title deed went for nought. The names attached to the petitions are of considerable interest to us, as we get at the men who were of note in the Peak, or some of them, so long ago. Thomas Eyre, William Inge, Henry Balguy, Thomas Balguy, Nicholas Thornhill, Jo. Hurler, Jo. Wagstaffe, Robert Hallom, John Bocking, Anthony Hall, George Hallam, Adam Bagshawe, Nicholas Stones, Anthony Longsdon, George Bagshawe, Richard Boner, Humfry Thornhill, Thomas Fletcher.

The manors of the Peak which were given to the Church in the twelfth century were: Blackwell, One Ash, Brushfield, Grindlow, Glossop. The last of the Avenells, of Haddon, gave Conksbury to Leicester Abbey. The estate at Derwent Chapel was given to Welbeck Abbey, and augmented by Oliver de Longford, whose mother was Cecilia, one of the co-heiresses of Matthew de Hathersage. Dunstable Priory had lands at Ashopton, probably by gift of the same benefactor. “Blacowell in the Peak”, as Thoroton has it, was one of the manors with which William Peverell endowed the Cluniac Priory he founded on the banks of the Len, “for the health of his own soul and Adelina his wife”. This Order, after its introduction into England in 1077, by Warren, the son-in-law of the Conqueror, never seems to have acquired the hold of the munificence of the nobles like the Benedictines, Augustinians, or Cistercians. Their extravagant austerity became replaced by want of sanctity and intemperance. They had a partiality for fine linen and a profusion of rich old wines. St. Bernard said that one of the Abbots had sixty horses in his stable, and a greater assortment of wines than one could taste at a sitting. Rufford Abbey, which was given Brushfield, by Robert, son of Waltheof, was Cistercian; so was Basingwerk, to which Henry II. gave Glossop, in 1157; so was Roche, which held One Ash for about three hundred and fifty years, by gift of William Avenell, Lord of Haddon. The Cistercians, though not the most numerous, were probably the most powerful of the Monastic Orders; indeed, the whole of the Orders were under their dominion. Most splendid and lavish were the bequests given them. They were a spiritual republic, whose voice influenced the temporal matters of Europe. They were exempted from tithes by Innocent II., which increased the feud which existed between them and the Cluniacs; they were the commercial element of the monastic machinery, from being the great sheep breeders and wool dealers of the Middle Ages. Though founded in 1098, their importance began with their Abbot, Stephen Harding, an Englishman, in 1119, whose system of government surpassed, for austerity, any other of the great Orders. Their Abbeys of Woburn, Tintern, Furness, Kirkstall, and Riveaux, bespeak their skill of architecture. At the dissolution of the larger monasteries there were one hundred and one of Cistercians, while there were only twenty Cluniac. The bequest of One Ash, by William de Avenell, is stated, with some particulars, by Aveling, in his History of Roche Abbey, which is of interest:

“The grange at this place was given to the monks soon after the foundation of the abbey by William Avenal, lord of Haddon. Richard de Vernun, with the consent of Avice, his wife, and of William, his son and heir, confirmed all the land and pasture of his fee in this place which William Avenal gave; and William Basset, grandson of William Avenal, confirmed the same. Richard, son of William de Vernun, confirmed the above, and also what the monks had in Sterndale, with the minerals, they paying to him and his heirs 15s. per annum at his manor of Haddon. He also confirmed the tenement here which William Avenal gave. Pope Urban III. also confirmed what the monks held here. William, Earl Ferrars, with the consent of Agnes, his wife, before 1229, confirmed to the monks that way for their sheep and cattle going from their grange here over the moor of Hartington and Heathcote, which William, his father, had granted them, with some meadow; they paying to him one mark per annum”.

Aveling dug out this interesting item that

“In the thirty-second year of the reign of the most excellent Prince Henry VIII.” (1540) “the farm at the grange of One Ash parcel of the possessions of the late Monastery of Roche, freely resigned with all lands, meadows, feedings, pastures, moors, &c., from old time belonging is thus demised to Edward Beressford, of the County of Derby, gentleman, by indenture under the common seal of the late monastery at 113s. 4d. per annum, to be paid at the terms of St. Martin and Pentecost equally viz., for the farm of the said grange, £4 6s. 8d.; and for tithes thereto belonging 26s. 8d.; besides 6s. paid to the Cathedral Church of Lichfield, for an ancient pension for tithes of all kind of the said grange; also 23s. paid to the manor of Haddon, always at the feast of St. Martin, in the winter yearly, until it shall be adjudged by law that half the sum ought to suffice; also 13s. 4d. for common of pasture in the moor of Middleton. And that the said farmer at the end of the term aforesaid, or whenever he shall quit it, shall leave four sextaries and twenty-four quarters of good and well cleaned oats behind him, for the use of the aforesaid lord the King, and his successors. Now on the same terms in the tenure of Thomas Sheldon.”

What is curious about the monastic possessions of the Peak, the Order, to which such manor or moiety belonged, invariably set up a grange. Grindlow was confirmed to the Augustinian Abbey of Lilleshall, in Shropshire, by King John, when they immediately established a farm and extensive stabling, thus, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, there were three granges in the Peak; one at Derwent with the Premonstratensians;[6] one at One Ash with the Cistercians; one at Grindlow with the Augustinians. Over the Manor of Brushfield, the Abbots of Rufford had right of free warren.

[1] See Gregson's “Portfolio of Fragments”.
[2] All the old baronies in fee could pass by heiress, and can do so still, we believe, though there are so very few left.
[3] Both had dined at the Ivy, Hampden Court, on the 7th of April, 1711, where Dering had brutally attacked the Major without any provocation.
[4] “Peerage”, under Rothes.
[5] Glover's “Derbyshire”, Vol. II.
[6] The Order of Premonstre was introduced into England by Peter de Gousell about 1146.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in April 1999.

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