Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Holme Hall

THE earliest reminiscences of this splendid old homestead introduce us to the man who played his part in that memorable struggle usually termed the Great Rebellion, and whose brother was the President of the Tribunal which condemned Charles I. to death. This Jacobean residence was built by Bernard Wells in 1626, whose co-heiress married Henry Bradshaw, of Marple, and Robert Eyre, of Highlow. Such is the statement made by both Lysons and Glover; but these celebrated writers have not told us of many facts - interesting to Derbyshire men, which are hid away behind, or contained in the statement - a few of which we will endeavour to enumerate. In the year 1622 King James expelled the Bradshaws from those lands in the High Peak which they had tenanted from the Crown for centuries. His motive for such an unprincipled act was an immediate want of a few hundred pounds, and so the acres went to two of his London friends. The Bradshaws were among the very oldest families of the Peak; there they had lived for five hundred Years, and in accordance with their motto - Qui vit content, tient assez. They managed to retain or re-purchase some portion, together with the old Hall on the slope of Eccles Pike. Very soon after, we find them settling at Abney, Windley, Holbrook, Belper, and other places. [1] Anthony Bradshaw of Belper, temp James I., was a descendant of Henry of Alderwasley, living there 1483, who was a scion of the Peak family. Can we wonder that they retaliated on the Stuarts when a revolution placed power in their hands? Alas! Derbyshire knows them no more; for the Bradshaw, of Barton Blount, is only so by letters patent - Peter Bradshaw, who was thus summarily dispossessed, had two brothers, Francis and Henry. Francis married one of the co-heiresses (Anne) of the Eyam Staffords, and thought, by such distinguished alliance, to have enhanced the glories of his race, but how his family fled to Lancashire, never to return, will be mentioned elsewhere. Henry became the founder of the Marple branch of his house, so memorable in our Annals as having produced the man who passed sentence of death on a King of England. In 1606, Henry Bradshaw purchased the Marple Estate from Sir Edward Stanley, whose mother (if we mistake not) was Margaret Vernon, of Haddon, sister of our Dorothy. Marple was held by the Vernons by free forestry. William Bradshaw, the father of Henry, was tenant at Marple as early as 1541, and espoused Margaret Clayton, of Stryndes Hall. This William, though a second son, succeeded his sires at Eccles Pike. The Marple residence of Henry Bradshaw (and his wife Dorothy, daughter and co-heiress of George Bagshaw of the Ridge) was Wybersley Hall. He was succeeded by his son Henry, who married Catherine, daughter and co-heiress of Ralph Winnington, of Offerton. At this time, a neighbour of Henry and Catherine was Bernard Wells, of Marple Hall, who was really owner of both edifices. This gentleman was a scion of a Gloucestershire family, settled at Ashton-under-Hill. He had purchased certain lands in Derbyshire and Cheshire, and had married Barbara Marshall, of Tideswell. When Bradshaw lost his wife - (in her accouchement) - his eldest child was only of tender age, so it was no wonder that the motherly heart of Barbara Wells went out to the little ones, and by such bereavement the friendship between the two families became so strengthened. The three sons of Bradshaw were Henry, John, and Francis; the three young Wells were Mary, Anne, and Bernard. The career of John, the President of the Regicides, is known to most students. Henry alone concerns us, from his love for Mary Wells. which resulted in their union, and from the part he enacted in a memorable part of England's history.

When, in the year 1626, Bernard Wells left Marple altogether and settled down at his recently finished Hall by Bakewell, it made no difference to Henry Bradshaw, not a whit: he came again and again, until at length he took away Mary as his wife, with Wybersley and Marple Halls in her dowry. The marriage settlement is dated 30th September, 1630. It was during these visits that incidents occurred which have made the old edifice dear to students of history, as well as antiquarians. There is every reason to believe that on more than one occasion when Henry Bradshaw came to Holme, his brother John came with him. Is it not of great interest to know that there have been gatherings within the walls of Holme in which there were two men and brothers, one of whom sat on the trial of the Seventh Earl of Derby, and judged him (however erroneously) worthy of death, and the other sentenced a Monarch of England to the scaffold? It may not be generally known that the reward of the regicide was the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster; grants of land to the Earl of St. Albans. to which Parliament added a gift of five thousand pounds. In the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, is the President's “high crowned hat, plated with steel to ward off the blow”, as Kenneth hath it. Rugge tells us in his Diurnal, “this morning (30th January, 1661) the carcases of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw (which the day before had been brought front the Red Lion Inn, in Holborn) were drawn on a sledge to Tyburn, and then taken out of their coffins and, in their shrouds, hanged by the neck until the going down of the sun. They were then cut down, their heads taken off, and their bodies buried in a grave under the gallows”. We believe, however, that mine host of the Red Lion had piled up his dollars by allowing the bodies to be surreptitiously replaced by others, and the hideous spectacle at Tyburn, which Pepys says (in his Diary) his lady went to see, was simply a ghastly farce.

Scarcely had Mary Wells left Holme and become a wife, when her husband had to buckle on his sword, for Charles I. was at war with his people. He fought under Fairfax, became Lieutenant-Colonel in Ashton's Regiment of Foot, and at the Battle of Worcester (where he was wounded) commanded the Militia. By this time, Mary Wells was dead and Bradshaw had taken a second spouse in Anne Bowden, of the Peak.[2] Henry Bradshaw was as much the enemy of Cromwell as of the Stuarts. He had no sympathy with the Independents; indeed, his name stands first on those Rolls that were before Parliament for the establishment of the Presbyterian religion. At the Restoration he was summoned to the Bar of the House of Lords, charged with the murder of Earl Derby, but acquitted or pardoned. It is worthy of note that the principal bail for his appearance at the time was Cromwell Meverell, of Tideswell. The events, however, in which he had taken part, helped to hasten his death, and within eighteen days of his liberation he was buried at Stockport. In a volume of the Historical Manuscripts Commission there is a copy of his petition to the Lords, in which he declared he never subscribed to the warrant for the Earl of Derby's execution, but used his influence to prevent it; and that his presence on the trial was compulsory, by order of Cromwell.

The Marple estates of the Bradshaws eventually passed to the daughter of Henry and Mary Wells - her brothers, one of whom was Sheriff of the County in 1701, all having died without issue. This lady was consecutively the wife of William Pimlot and Nathaniel Ishirwood; and the estate, after being held by her son by Pimlot, came to another son by Isherwood, whose descendants are still in possession. The present senior representative of the Peak Bradshaws is Charles E. Bradshaw-Bowles, Esq., of Aston Lodge, Derby, who holds deeds of the family which date from 1330. We would acknowledge the courtesy of this gentleman in supplying us with various items of information of this old Peak family.

What curious facts research yields up! It appears that the Bradshaws had a vellum pedigree made out in 1641, which sets forth that the name of Bradshaw is now an ancient one in this country, but came in with the Saxons, and that their ancestor was “Uchtred, the great Saxon Thane”, from whom all the Bradshaws in England are descended. “ He stood out agaynst the Conqueroure and bore arms agaynst him, yett upon his submission to the sayd Duke, of Normandy, being then King of England, it pleased the sayd Conqueroure to restore him to lyfe and lyving, judging him to be a man of great wytt and a noble spyritte, and a bould courage not easily daunted. but bould and courageous, in the face of his enemies”. Uchtred, the Saxon, was undoubtedly Lord of various Manors in Derbyshire (as Elton, Cowley, Barlow), Lancashire, and other counties, which are shown in the Domesday Book; hut if the Thane were the ancestor of the Bradshaws, what a curious question suggests itself. Do the two old Derbyshire families of Foljambe and Bradshaw spring from the same Saxon ancestor or no? One with a maternal and the other with a paternal descent. We know that the first of the Derbyshire Foljambes, in the time of the Conqueror, married with a daughter or granddaughter of old Uchtred, which makes the assertion on the Bradshaw vellum both of interest and curiosity.

As we have said, Bernard Wells had another daughter, named Anne, whose beauty or dowry was sufficient to make Robert Eyre find his way to Holme from the residence of his sires at Highlow. Let us be just to both Eyre and Bradshaw. Neither of them knew that their wives would become heiresses, so that if their marriages were love matches it only invested Holme Hall with dearer associations. But did any father in this world ever allow two such opposite characters to cross his threshold to become his sons-in-law? Eyre and Bradshaw were the antithesis of each other - one was for sweeping away the Anglican ritual; the other paid heavily, like any other recusant, to worship God after the manner of his fathers - one considered that the welfare of the State needed neither King nor House of Peers for its government; the loyalty and conservatism of the other brought down upon him the ruinous exactions of those in power. The Eyres were the embodiment of chivalry; the Bradshaws of liberty and justice. Many who have noticed the brass to the memory of Bernard Wells in Bakewell Church have little thought of the sorrows his heart must have known during those years in which the country was ruled by tyranny or fanaticism, for every event seemed but to bring misery to the homesteads of one of his children. When he died, in 1658, Holme Hall became one of the residences of his daughter Anne and her husband Robert. His son Bernard had died ten years previously, and been buried in the Chancel of Eyam. This young gentleman is mentioned in Wood's Traditions of the Peak. His affection was given to a certain Anne Moreton, of Hazleford - the Maid of Derwent - whom he was forbidden by his father to marry: How he stole to her lattice window one night and persuaded her to fly with him, and how, in crossing the ford of the river, he lost his foothold and she perished in the stream, is told in the Traditions. This fact occasioned us to search for the resting-place of the two girls - one lies at Hope, the other at Stockport.

Among the domestic incidents connected with Holme Hall is one that is rather touching. The first born of Anne and Robert was a son, whose career at Trinity College, Cambridge, bid fair to be very brilliant, but which suddenly closed by his falling dead in his chambers. It was behind the altar-tomb in Hathersage Church that his sorrowing parents laid him to rest. On his slab they have written (in Greek capitals) the beautiful Christian legend, Hon philei Theos apothoneskei neos (whom God loves dies young). There is a pathos about each particular line of the families who have held Holme Hall, for all, we believe, are gone - Wells, Eyre, Birch, Barker, Gisborne. About the middle of last century it was the residence of John Twigge, who was Sheriff of the County in 1767, and his wife, Frances Foljambe, whose only son, Thomas Francis (M.A., Rector of Kelsey, in Lincolnshire, and of Tickhill) died without issue in 1821. In the early part of last century the senior Eyre, of Holme and Highlow (William, barrister of Grey's Inn), forsook the halls of his fathers, repudiated his own name, and assumed that of Archer. His wife was Eleanor, daughter of Sir Walter Wrottesley, whose mother was Eleanor Archer, of Welford, Berks. His son and heir (John) married Lady Mary Fitzwilliam, by whom he had a daughter, Susanna, married to Jacob Houblon, whose second son, Charles, adopted the name his great grandsire had relinquished. On the death of John, the halls at Highlow and Holme, with other property, were sold by order of Chancery. Highlow was purchased by the Duke of Devonshire; Holme by Robert Birch; it afterwards became the property of the Barkers, and finally was conveyed by purchase to Thomas John Gisborne, whose lady was Sally Krechmer, of St. Petersburgh.

Among the illustrious names of the county few stand out so prominently as that of Gisborne, whether as rectors or prebends of the Church, presidents of the College of Surgeons, Members of Parliament, Colonial governors, or mayors and aldermen. But it is the princely munificence of one of their house that has rendered their name a household word. We can turn to one hundred chapelries in the County of Derby, and find among the principal benefactors the name of Francis Gisborne. This gentleman was rector of Staveley, where his father had been before him, and their united terms of office yield a period of one hundred and five years. We should not forget, either, that he bequeathed two sums of sixteen thousand pounds each to the infirmaries of Sheffield and Derby. Dr. Thomas Gisborne was twice president of the College of Surgeons, was brother of Francis “the munificent”, and son of James, of Staveley (who was uncle to John, of Yoxall, from whom so many illustrious sons). The sons of this family were graduates at St. John's College, Cambridge, for consecutive generations. There was John, “the man of prayer”, author of the Vales of Wever and Reflections, written while living in Darley Dale; there was his brother Thomas, of Yoxall, author of an Inquiry Concerning Love as One of the Divine Attributes, and other abtruse subjects, the friend of the great Wilberforce; and there was Thomas, his son, who represented North Derbyshire in the Reform Parliament, who supported the Ballot, the Abolition of Church Rates, and the Extension of the Suffrage. In one feature the name is to be envied - we would sooner have ours stamped on the hearts of the poor than around the altars of our Cathedrals or on the scrolls of heralds. Among the old homesteads of Derbyshire, the Gisbornes have held (irrespective of Holme and Staveley Halls) The Ridge, Romely, Marsh, and Litchurch.

There is still one item of interest to the student - among the many which link themselves with Holme Hall - to which we will direct attention. Few of us may remember that the lady who was wife of John Twigge, the sheriff, was one of the last of the Foljambes. All those various branches of her house which had sprung from Sir Thomas, who died in 1358, were gone; she herself was buried from Holme before her thirty-ninth year, while there was a special Act of Parliament that the issue of her sister should retain the name of Foljambe. Had her son, the rector of Kelsey, perpetuated his line, his descendants would have quartered the arms of Foljambe. We believe that the rector was lord of the manor of Broadlow Ash, which he inherited from his grandfather Nicholas (who purchased it from the Boothbys), and which he devised to Francis Thornhaugh Foljambe. His relative of Bonsall left an estate there to the Milnes, though apparently he had a brother living at the time.

Holme Hall is situated on the eastern bank of the Wye, just without the town of Bakewell, on the Ashford road. Tourists (from the high wall in front of it) pass it, without the least suspicion of there being an edifice of such architectural beauty, enhanced by hoary age and historical memories.

[1] Glover, Vol II., p. 102.
[2] Earwaker's “East Cheshire”, Vol. II., p. 65.

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

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