Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Stanton Old Hall, The Bowers, and
Stanton Woodhouse

BY whom were the Manors of Stanton and Stanton Ley held during the period which elapsed between the forfeiture of the De Ferrars in 1269, and the Foljambe tenure a century later? Not one of the compilers has even mooted such a question. Even for the scanty information of the Foljambe tenure we have to thank dear old Lysons[1] and the Plumpton Correspondence. Whether the De Ferrars ever held Stanton Ley as distinct from Stanton seems doubtful, though we cannot help thinking that the Manor designated Stanton Hall in the Correspondence was apart from Stanton, and that the edifice, which still retains the name of Stanton Old Hall, was the Manor House. Particulars of every other manor in the Parish of Youlgreave less Birchover, are to be found in abundance, and therefore we cannot see but that from these particulars we may adduce the holders after the De Ferrars. Elton was certainly one of the two hundred and nine manors which were lost to Robert de Ferrars, eighth Earl of Derby, after his disastrous Battle of Chesterfield, and it certainly passed to the Bardolfs, Tibetots, and Foljambes consecutively. May not the same holders have held Stanton? In the case of the Foljambes the supposition is actual fact, which cannot be controverted. Moreover, the Foljambes acquired Elton and Stanton at identically the same time, and they certainly succeeded the Tibetots at Elton.[2] With the tenure of the Manor of Stanton there has ever been linked a fatality which, to say the least, is curious - the extinction of the male line of each particular family who have held it, De Ferrars, Bardolf, Tibetot (if they did hold it), Foljambe, Plumpton, Bache, Thornhill, Hurlock. The De Ferrars were dispossessed after being lords of the soil for one hundred and eighty years (which fact is singular, as we shall see in a moment), and with the next life the male line ceased; the last of the Bardolfs fell at Bramham Moor, and his body was quartered as that of a traitor; the last Tibetot expired on Tower Hill; both branches of the Foljambes (Wormhill and Tideswell) who held it became extinct;[3] the Plumptons acquired it by gift from the widow of Sir Edward Foljambe, from whom it was filched by atrocious scoundrelism, and they, too, passed away.[4] The Baches next held it, and, from what we can gather, for about the same period as the De Ferrars. In 1698 William Bache died, leaving no son to succeed him, and his heiress passed it to John Thornhill, whom she had married. For one hundred and eighty years this old Derbyshire family were lords of Stanton, when, on the death of Mr. William Pole Thornhill, J.P., D.L., in 1875, it came to Henry Francis Hurlock, a Thornhill maternally, whose decease in 1881 gave it to his sister's husband, Major McCreagh, who, in right of his wife, took out letters patent for the additional surname. Sir Bernard Burke says that the heiress of the Baches married her husband in 1696, but over the old entrance at Stanton Hall there is the shield of the Thornhills, carved in stone (two bars gemelles, on a chief a mascle), and, underneath, the date 1694, which confirms an assertion made by White, and which is rather awkward for the Ulster King-at-Arms. [Ed: Youlgreave Parish Register confirms that Burke was correct: John THORNHILL married Anna BACHE on 11 Mar 1696/7]. Here, again, is a singular thing: the Baches were living at Stanton for six generations, and all we can learn of them is that they held other lands at Ravensdale Park, which they had bought from Sir Andrew Kniveton, and which they sold to the Curzons, Lords Scarsdale. We cannot even gather whether they were an English family or German (as the name suggests), or what relation they were to Alexander Bache, the Bishop of St. Asaph.

Hunter, in his South Yorkshire, Vol. II., page 79, shews that the Thornhills were located at Thornhill, on the banks of the Calder, in very remote times, and that the founder was Aisolf whose son John endowed the Priory of Bretton. Here they were seated for generations, and holding a knighthood. In Thoresby's Leeds (Ducatus Leodiensis) there is a pedigree of the family, from which we can gather when our Thornhills shot off, when the senior line became extinct, and where we must look for the representatives of this house. At the commencement of the present century there were three branches - of Fixby and Rushton; of Diddington; of Stanton - but now those of Diddington alone are Thornhills paternally. Clara, the eldest co-heiress of the Fixby branch, married Mr. William Capel Clarke, who has adopted by Royal license the additional surname. This lady purchased Rushton Hall - the seat of the Cokaynes, Viscounts Cullen for two hundred years - for one hundred and sixty-five thousand pounds. The Bardolfs and Tibetots held the Manor of Elton “by the render of a pair of gilt spurs”,[5] just as the Longfords held Killamarsh by the supplying of a horse, a sack, and a spur when the King went to war. The Bardolfs held Addington, in Surrey, on much more curious tenure: “To find in the King's kitchen, on the Coronation Day, a person to make a dainty dish called ‘Mapigernoun or Dillegrout’, and serve the same up to the King's table”.

The Manor of Stanton really comprises about two thousand acres. This, in the old days, would be three knight's fees, presuming, of course, that ten acres make one farding deal; four farding deals one yard-land; four yard-lands one hide; four hides one knight's fee. The “Old Hall” is undoubtedly linked with the Foljambes and Plumptons; with a line of men whose names are on the Rolls of Heralds and State Records. We have read somewhere that the Foljambes had a residence at Stanton, and, if so, this edifice must have been their homestead, though, in those days, it would have presented a very different appearance. How interesting such a fact would be if substantiated. The stately edifice which stands upon the site of the homestead of the Baches, was rebuilt in 1979, yet there is just a vestige left of the former building.

In the days of Queen Elizabeth there was a yeoman family, residing at Stanton Woodhouse, named Alen[6], or Aleyne, relatives of men who were playing very distinguished or memorable parts in the nation's history at the time, but of whom very little indeed has since been heard. What of the one who founded the famous Douay College, and was made Cardinal by Sixtus V.; or of the one who, after being twice Lord Mayor of London, left the rich gold collar and jewel to be worn by his successors? What of that branch of the house which claimed descent from the Plantagenets through their mother, and from Cranmer, the Archbishop, through their grandmother? Then there was the Tideswell branch, one of whom Pursglove made Feoffee of the Grammar School, whose sires were of Wheston and Tideswell in the fifteenth century. There was the Gresley branch also, and their illustrious marriages with the baronial Pagets and the ducal Howards; the Hatfield offshoots who were baronets; but until Llewellyn Jewitt brought out The Reliquary very few lead ever heard of those men who dwelt in this Elizabethan edifice more than three hundred years ago. Sir John, the Lord Mayor, spelt his name Alen, so does King went to war. The Bardolfs held Glover, the famous herald of 1583. In Volume I. of the Topographer, where there is a genealogy of the Gresley branch of the family, we find Alleyne; in Burke's Extinct Baronetage it is written Alleyn; in Lysons it is queried with Aleyne; while Leslie Stephen amends it with Allen. This slight difference of orthography pales before the fact that John, the Lord Mayor, had a younger brother John, whose granddaughter mated with Lord George Howard, and so the genealogist can revel to his fill in delightful complications. Like the Ashenhursts, Fynneys, Sleighs, and Beresfords, the Alens were undoubtedly a Staffordshire family. The father of the Cardinal was located somewhere near Leek, until his relative, the Abbot of Dieulacreese, gave him the lease of Rossall Grange. The founder of the greatest of all Catholic seminaries, though educated at Oxford, was never intended for the Church. It was his spirit of opposition to intolerance that led him to defy the ecclesiastical authorities in England, then to establish a college on the banks of the Scarpe, in France[7], from whence issued the most subtle antagonists the Reformation had to encounter; and lastly, to adopt a bigotry and fanaticism of a diabolical type. When the Spanish Armada is spoken of, is the name of William Alen coupled with it? Are we told that the project principally emanated from his brain or that Phillip II. of Spain demanded from Sixtus V. a cardinal's hat as a reward for the Englishman whose religious frenzy had destroyed even his patriotism? Such facts we admit are too often lapt up in lavender, and kept in the Archives of the Escurial or Vatican; still, they ooze out, and in this case we know where to lay our finger on the page of evidence. Thus, while George Alen, of Stanton Woodhouse, in the year 1588, was busy about his crops, his relative, the Cardinal at Rome (and apostolic librarian), was expecting a despatch that should tell of the reduction of England to a province of Spain.

It is worth note that the last year of John Alen's mayoralty was one of the most memorable in England's history - the separation of the Anglican Church from the Roman hierarchy; the execution of the greatest Englishman, perchance, that ever existed (Sir Thomas More), for conscience sake, and the translation of Holy Writ into our own tongue by Coverdale, the first page shewing the date 1535.

The Alens were holding Wheston Hall, near Tideswell, and The Lees, near Glossop, at the same time that they were residing at the Woodhouse. The assumption is, however, that, but for their kinship with the Lord Mayor, no one would have taken the least trouble to have noticed their tenancy in North Derbyshire. The descendants of the civic dignitary, who came to dwell at Gresley, have found numerous genealogists to record their pedigree; so have the Loughborough offshoots; but, to know anything of the Tideswell or Stanton branches, we have to dig them out where we can. What is known of the last of the Wheston branch, who died at the Hall in 1700, arises from an infamous fraud. John Alen willed the old residence to his nephew, John Bowden, a child of four years, whom one of the Freemans dispossessed by covin, cut off all claims of the Bowdens by legal process, and left it to the Maxwells, four in succession; who all, curious to say, died without issue, with an ultimate remainder to Henry Howard, the father of the twelfth Duke of Norfolk, by whom it was sold.

While yet the Greaves were living at Beeley, and lords of that manor, during the reign of Queen Bess, one of the sons used to find his way to Stanton Woodhouse in quest of Miss Dorothy Alen. From the eight sons, with which this union was blest, spring the various Derbyshire representatives of this extremely old family, as also those of Mayfield, and of Hurston in Lancashire. Stanton Woodhouse became their residence. This old Tudor edifice, nestling among a cluster of yew, chestnut, walnut, and elm trees, has been used, for the last century, as a shooting box, if we mistake not, by the illustrious family of Manners, Dukes of Rutland.

The heraldic coat of the Greaves is of interest, and was acquired by William, who married Dorothy Ley, of Mayfield Hall, at the beginning of last century. In the reign of Edward III., the Gilberts were of the Parish of Lullington, and had been for twelve generations, says Lysons, which would run them back as located there before the Conquest. The Greaves, as we all know, were remotely of Beeley and lords of the manor, which they sold to the Saviles, who passed it to the Gilberts. The Saviles and Gilberts are gone, but the Greaves are still with us, with the quartering of the Gilberts in their arms. Thurgarton Priory came to the Gilberts by bequest of the Coopers, whose name and arms they adopted.[8] Why the other two quarterings of this family (Harper and Bainbrigge) were not donned by the Greaves we cannot understand. Then, again, the Floyers quartered Croke, Baphe, Lourdes, and others, but the Greaves have ignored them. The Newtons were not only of Duffield, and Horsley, and Mickleover, but, of Barr Court, Gloucester; of Hader, Lincoln; of Thorp, York; of Crabaton Court, Devon; of Newton, Cheshire. It was the Lincoln branch which produced the philosopher and mathematician. The Gorings greatly distinguished themselves as Royalists, and have held two baronetcies and the Earldom of Norwich; their names are still in the Peerage.

From Stanton Woodhouse went forth a man who founded the Lancashire branch, and whose grandson was John Greaves, the banker, partner with Sir Robert Peel, Bart. There are three members of this family who acquired not wealth but immortality: John, the linguist; Thomas, the Orientalist; and Thomas, the lyric poet; but the ancestors of these famous men had gone forth from Beeley in the Middle Ages. Thomas, the poet and musician, flourished some three centuries ago, but three of his madrigals - “Come Away, Sweet Love”, “Lady, the Melting Crystals of Thine Eyes”, “Sweet Nymphs” - were re-published in our time.

The quaint old edifice which stands on an eminence not far from Pickery Corner, was the residence of the Bowers. The senior line of this family became extinct in 1763, by the death of Francis, Rector of Barlborough, whose heiress married Mr. T. B. Bradshaw, of Holbrook. Christopher Bowers, brother of the rector, married Dorothy Bunting, of Youlgreave, and had three daughters: Jane, the wife of Richard Potter, of Manchester, who had five sons and three girls, who all preferred single blessedness; Elizabeth died unmarried; and Amelia espoused Avery Tebb. One of the Potters purchased Darley Hall, in 1822, from the Arkwrights.

If anyone wants a delightful stroll in the holidays; and at the same time to get a glance at three or four old historical edifices; let him start from the Peacock at Rowsley, and take the lane to Stanton Woodhouse. After crossing the meadow, which lays open the beauties of Darley Dale, the road is reached, which, to the left leads to the village of Stanton Leys, and to the right to Stanton. From here we get a view of Haddon and the picturesque scenery surrounding it. A little further and Stanton Old Hall lies beneath us, but the tourist must ask for Gregory's Farm, and then he has it; another delightful half-mile brings us to Stanton. Here, to see the Hall, permission must be asked. Following the road we get both Old Hartle Hall and The Bowers. From here both Rowsley and Youlgreave are but short distances. Edifices once held by the Alens, Foljambes, Baches, Thornhills, and Cokaynes will furnish an abundance of pleasure to the antiquarian or historical scholar. What a host of knights in armour and dames in headdresses like Towers of Babel arise; what chivalry, beauty, loyalty, and fidelity; and amid it all, the scoundrel features of Empson gloating in his having reduced the Plumptons to beggary.

[1] See authority of Lysons for Foljambe, “Derbyshire”, p. 305.
[2] They were tenants under the Tibetots, previously to becoming paramount lords of Elton.
[3] One in 1388, the other 1464.
[4] At page 111 of the “Plumpton Correspondence” there is a letter from a Stanton tenant (to Sir Robert, from whom this lordship was filched) which gives us an idea of some of the Stanton lads of 1492:- “Please you to understand, the cause of my writing is this; your lordship of Stanton, where that I dwell is made lesser of rent and half your valow [and yt may contynew so and be suffered of you and yours] be the gressing of XX oxen be yere. For ther be such men dwelling in Stanton that thus deale, that will no other way but so; they will have yt, by ther seying, be yt right or wrong. And yt please yow to send your counsell over to hold a court, he shall have such informacion be us, that be your tenaunts, that your lifflod shall he saved and kept unto you and yours, with the grace of God who have you in His blessed keeping. And uppon this conclusion and it please you, so to do, that you seek up your evydence of a place is called Renald Riding, under what forme you have yt, for except your evidence specyfie, you be, lyke to goe without yt”.
[5] The crown was entitled to palfrey silver, in lieu of the spurs, in Lysons' time.
[6] Thomas Alen, who died 1574, held a moiety of the Manor of Stanton Ley and Stanton Hall says Lysons, but no tenure is shewn of three distinct lordships.
[7] Memoir of Allen prefixed to the first edition of the “Douay Diaries”.
[8] Vide Spondon in Appletree Hundred.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in March 2002.

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