Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2008

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Winster Hall and Middleton Castle

THOSE Youlgreave bells! They form one of the munificent gifts of the last of the Thornhills and his lady, and the exquisitely sweet but pathetic note of their iron tongues is inanimate matter striving to articulate.

When the last rays of a Summer's sun are lending a myriad of tints to the exuberant foliage of Lathkil Dale, and these bells are imparting to such glorious scenery a weird influence, there arises an idea that between this lovely valley and the aisles of the old church there is some mysterious link. Within the precincts of the sacred edifice lie the ashes of knights and high-born dames, of many scions of old Derbyshire families, of whom it is so difficult to know anything: Rossingtons, Gilberts, Buxtons, Sheldons, Bradburys, not to mention the Cokaynes and Greaves. Shall we say that those heiresses who passed the lordship on in their dowries for about four hundred years knew nothing of the delightful strolls around Conksbury Bridge? We trow they did, and the gentlemen, too, who won their hearts and lands.

Within the Parish of Youlgreave there are seven manors: Birchover, Elton, Gratton, Middleton, Stanton, Winster, and its own. How many old families their tenure introduces us to! How many are the facts of pathetic interest!

Youlgreave was one of the manors which were forfeited to the Crown by the disloyalty of Robert de Ferrars (eighth Earl of Derby) in 1269. It afterwards passed to the Shirleys, Rossingtons, Gilberts, Barnesleys, and Buxtons, who sold it to the Manners in 1685. Thus the Church links on the Dukes of Rutland and Devonshire with Colle the Saxon in the days of Edward the Confessor, the earliest known lord of the manor; for Thomas, the grandson of the Thane, built the Norman portion of this structure and gave it to the monks of Leicester Abbey, while after the spoliation of the monasteries the advowson was given to Sir William Cavendish by Edward VI. There seems to be some romance about the Gilbert whom the heiress of the Rossingtons espoused, for the Heralds designate him as Gilbert alias Kniveton, while his shield is undoubtedly identical with the ancient one of the Knivetons who were living at Youlgreave six hundred years ago. From the senior line of the Buxtons having held this manor during the seventeenth century, and from a branch of the Warwickshire Sheldons (so celebrated for their persecution for conscience sake) having held residence here for ten or twelve generations, we are prompted to get a glimpse at two families about whom any information is so meagre. The De Bawkestones, as the Buxtons are termed on very early documents, were evidently living at Buxton in 1256, from a deed still extant. There is another document, dated 4 Richard II. (1381), which shews them as people of great landed importance. Richard de Buxton was Sheriff of the County for the year 1415. The Inquisition of the Forest (1318) shews one holding an office which was by letters patent from the King, though, as Burke says, until about the close of the fifteenth century their genealogy is somewhat complicated. In one item there is no complication: Whether in the days of the Plantagenets or Guelphs, whether with sons of a senior or junior line, a characteristic has adhered to them most tenaciously - to select women whose pockets held title deeds as well as broad pieces. Among the heiresses are those of Lane, Ferne, Jackson, Peacock, Stubbing; among the other ladies are daughters of the Beresfords, Woodwards, Pegges, Wigleys, Lowes, Levinges. John de Buxton, who was living in the reign of Henry VII., had two sons, William and Henry. From the elder sprang those men who founded fresh branches of their house in Youlgreave, Bakewell, and Brassington, whilst the descendants of the youngest settled at Bradburne. The Rev. R. G. Buckston, of Sutton-on-the-Hill, is their representative, and last of his line. It was one of this branch whose pride prompted him at the commencement of the present century to change the orthography of the old name from “Bux” to “Bucks”. The reason is perhaps obvious - there were cousins in trade at Nottingham. Lysons says that Jedidiah Buxton, of Elmton, whose family was very poor, but whose marvellous mental arithmetic allowed him to find such products as that of a farthing multiplied one hundred and thirty-nine times, was a member of this house. Glover presumes that the Norfolk Buxtons, who hold a baronetcy, are an offshoot, but there is apparently no evidence to support it. There is a pathetic interest about the fact that the senior lines of two such old Peak families as the Buxtons and Bradburys, should have located themselves at Youlgreave as gentlemen during the Tudor period; should have been entitled to bury their dead within the chancel, and that now the lineal representative in both cases should be following, or were, an useful village trade.

In the neighbourhood of Elton, Gratton, Middleton, and Youlgreave there are several members of the Sheldon family holding farms and homesteads. Reference to the Register of Bakewell Church will shew marriages of members of this house as far back as 1618, while one held One Ash Grange in 1544 from the Beresfords, and became security for the Rector's obedience to the Chapter. It is singular that the Derbyshire branch of this famous house should, at first, have settled themselves at Sheldon, while their celebrated ancestor, Anselm, in the reign of Henry, III., should have been lord of Sheldon, County Warwick: Singular, too, that the Warwick, Worcester, and Stafford branches should have stuck to their Universities and Honours, while those of Derby have followed their ploughs and teams. In the Visitation of Dugdale (1662) there are nine generations shewn, but neither wives nor arms declared. Could there be stronger evidence that the welfare of their cattle was a matter of greater importance to them than pedigree, or that one of their cousins was Archbishop of Canterbury, or another the famous antiquarian of Steeple Barton? While the Sheldons, of Youlgreave, were selecting their wives from the humble families of Simpsons and Birds,[1] their cousins were mating with girls of Lords Delaware, Petre, Rocksavage, and a Princess of the house of Anersburg. It appears from positive evidence now, that even the father of Gilbert Sheldon, the Archbishop - who made more than one retreat to Derbyshire during the troubled times of the Interregnum - was but a menial, and that his education as a lad was owing to the Talbots. This famous divine had talents which should have made him the leader of an administration, not the chief dignity of the Church. After taking his degrees and fellowship at Oxford, and becoming domestic chaplain to Lord Keeper Coventry, his divinity partook so much of politics that it secured him a Chaplaincy to Charles I. It was to Gilbert Sheldon that this monarch (when disaster had come upon him from the Rebellion) solemnly vowed (and attested his vow by signature) that he would restore all Impropriations to the Church which had been taken away, from it. The words of the vow can be read in Ecard's History. The original document was preserved by Sheldon for thirteen years underground. Parliament threw the Chaplain into the Tower, and afterwards released him on his word of honour, and then it was that he came to Derbyshire. At the Restoration he was made Dean of the Royal Chapel and Bishop of London. It was at his house in the Savoy that the celebrated wrangle was held between the Churchmen and the Presbyterians over the revision of the Liturgy, which resulted in the Act of Uniformity and Black St. Bartholomew's Day. Sheldon was very soon after translated to the See of Canterbury. But it is the munificence of Gilbert Sheldon which should be remembered. Many of us have seen the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford; some of our hearts may have beat the quicker at its mention, but we ever forget old Gilbert; how he employed Wren to build it at a cost of more than twelve thousand pounds; and how he left two thousand pounds more to keep it in repair. Then, again, he never budged from London during the Plague, which fact is worthy of note.

Another cousin of the Youlgreave Sheldons was the gentleman of whom Wood in his Athenæ has told us so much: Belonging to the Worcestershire branch, who were very rich, Ralph Sheldon was educated by private tutors; travelled very much on the Continent; married Henrietta Maria Savage, daughter of Lord Savage; gave his study to heraldry and antiquity; collected a mass of manuscripts, which he added to his library at Wheston. The Worcestershire Sheldons were Catholics, and so this gentleman suffered various mulcts and imprisonments. From the notes to the Athenæ we learn that his library was sold some years after his death, and at the sale there is an item worth note. “A large collection of scarce old Plays, by various authors, bound in fifty-six volumes quarto”, was sold for five guineas, then immediately for eighteen, though instantaneously changing hands for £31 10s. Several of these volumes have since found their way to the Bodleian Library. Some of the Sheldons were living around Sheldon and Monyash two centuries ago, at which time one of their relatives was Lord Mayor of London, and another Maid of Honour to the Queen of England. But the Youlgreave branch of this memorable family went on, and are still doing so, with their teams and their milk pails, ignoring their illustrious ancestry, and being ignored, too, for no one seems to have resuscitated the memorabilia of the Derbyshire Sheldons from the ashes of time.[2]

The ancestors of the Batemans of Middleton-by-Youlgreave were of Hartington perchance two hundred years before the Batemans of Hartington Hall, and designated in the Landed Gentry as of that ilk. There appears to have been two distinct families of Bateman living for generations at Hartington, though one for a much longer period than the other; and, what is curious, no one has taken the trouble to make such a fact clear, nor let it be understood that in the reign of Henry III. one of them was of South Wingfield, in the County of Derby, and the other of Norwich, in the County of Norfolk. One has been conspicuous for its intellect, the other for its knighthoods.

Sir Bernard Burke (not John Burke,[3] who says quite a different thing) is pleased to assert that the Middleton house are descendants of the Hartington Hall Batemans. This is truly provoking, for how can a family that has been of Derbyshire for six hundred years be descendants of a family that were only first locating themselves in the shire about the time that Queen Elizabeth was going shares with Admiral Drake in his plunder of the Spanish galleons? If it can be shewn (which it cannot) that both families sprang originally from an old Norfolk founder, the assertion of descent would still be absurd, for surely brother does not take descent from brother; to say both sprang from the same ancestor, remotely, might be true, but would need proof. The Inquisitionum Post Mortem shews a remote sire of the Middleton Batemans as holding lands in the county under the De Herizzes; now the last of the De Herizzes died six centuries ago. The earliest known Bateman of the other family, resident at Hartington Hall, is Richard (who married Ellen Topleyes), grandfather of the three gentlemen who were simultaneously dubbed knights by Charles II. How there was a lingering affection for the County of Norfolk is seen from the youngest of the three brothers purchasing the How Hall estate in that shire, and residing there. Here is where the confusion - not complication - comes in! Both houses have been connected with Youlgreave since the commencement of the seventeenth century. Hugh Bateman, of Hartington Hall, died in 1616, and was buried at Youlgreave. Very shortly before this event, William Bateman, also of Hartington, but not of the Hall family, had married his wife, Helen, from Youlgreave.

Just a century later we gather from Lysons that a moiety of the Manor of Middleton was with Elizabeth Bateman. To pile up the confusion, Thomas Bateman, of Middleton, husband of Rebekah Clegg, sheriff of the county, 1823, and father[4] of the famous antiquarian, sold his paternal estates in Hartington to Hugh Bateman, of Hartington Hall. There has been a marked distinction between the two families. We cannot trace that any one son of the Middleton house was ever knighted or held a baronetcy, or was Lord Mayor, or a Member of Parliament; while the lads of the Hartington family have had the escutcheon of Ulster upon their shield; have sat in St. Stephen's; have worn the gold collar; and, if accounts are true, one was a bishop and another among the warriors of Edward III. in his Flemish campaign. There are some stories of William Bateman, the famous Bishop of Norwich, worth the telling. He is memorable in history, too, for his diplomatic services, and for being a favourite with three Popes John XXII., Benedict XII., and Clement VI. His affray with the Abbot of St. Edmondsbury is somewhat facetious. He considered he was master of the Abbot, but that dignitary could not see it. The Abbot obtained a writ against him for some undue interference, but when the attorney, went to serve it he excommunicated him. The Bishop was fined by the civil power, but he would not pay it, neither would he absolve the attorney. “His goods and chattels were consequently distrained, his temporalities seized, and his person threatened with arrest”; but he defied the King and the law, too, and went to windward. He appears to have been a description of Thomas-à-Beckett in asserting the authority of a bishop, with the additional ability of bullying a neighbouring state out of a province, or demonstrating with his fists as well as his tongue. The episcopal estates of the Bishop were so well stocked with game that some of the nobility trespassed into his preserves. He caught my Lord Morley and first excommunicated him, and then made him do penance along the public streets without hat or shoes, carrying the usual wax taper while proclaiming his crime. But old William, the bishop, is remembered kindly by us withal. He was the founder of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and during that horrible year of 1349, when the “Black Death” slew its thousands, he stood to his post with the same pluck with which he defied the Abbot of St. Edmondsbury. The lordship of the Manor of Middleton-by-Youlgreave was purchased by Thomas Bateman, the sheriff at the commencement of the present century.

Thomas Bateman, the antiquarian, was the grandson of Thomas, the sheriff, who purchased the lordship from the co-heiresses of Viscount Hove. The birthplace of the archæologist was Rowsley.[5] His mother was a daughter of the Cromptons, of Brighmet, Lancashire. His tastes for ethnology and antiquity were inherited from his grandfather and father, who was an F.S.A. and an excavator among the tumuli of the Peak. The foundation of the splendid collection of MSS. and curiosities, but recently at Lomberdale House, was the result of their researches. What Hoare did for Wiltshire, Thomas Bateman did for Derbyshire. The three volumes, which set forth his own researches,[6] will ever remain as monuments of his success, to excite emulation in the same path. Cut off when he had scarcely reached his prime - in his fortieth year, and yet he had done so much. He had brought together a marvellous assortment of pre-historic remains - Celtic and Anglo Saxon - and yet he was not a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, only of the Ethnological. He was a large contributor to the Archeological journals and periodicals of antiquity, and was preparing a catalogue of his MSS. when he was struck down. He lies buried, almost by the road side, not far from the remains of Middleton Castle, within a fissure of those rocks of whose history he was such a wondrous expounder.

One curious feature of the possession of the manor is that the particular line of each family that has held it is gone - Ferrars, Edensors, Herthills, Cokaynes, Fulwoods, Sanders, Howes - and that each of these particular branches of such old families should have been conspicuous for bravery, whether military or naval. Among the heroes of Edward III, were Sir Thomas Herthill and Sir John Cokayne; among the picked cavaliers of Charles I. was Christopher Fulwood; among the Ironsides of Cromwell was Colonel Sanders; among the greatest of England's seamen was Admiral Howe. There are many picturesque dales in the County of Derby - some for loveliness perchance without a rival, yet not all have their attractions for the geological, or antiquarian, or historical student; nor all have associations which move to pity. In the pretty dale of the Bradford stood the homestead of the Fulwoods. They were an old Warwickshire family, with scions located in the Counties of Leicester, Stafford, and Hants. The senior line were of London and Middleton, and any of us who know the city of London know Fulwood Rents in Holborn. They purchased Middleton from the Cokaynes in 1598. Christopher Fulwood[7] was living with his wife and two daughters at his castle by the rivulet which gave its name to the dale when the English Rebellion set Englishman against Englishman in deadly combat. Charles I. called for a bodyguard from among the Peakrells, but the Lieutenant of the County cried off the job, and so Christopher Fulwood got one from among the miners of Tideswell of more than a thousand strong. How thorough a gentleman was Fulwood, one of his opponents in religion and politics bears evidence. In 1640, at the Bakewell Sessions, the Curate of Taddington was charged with Puritanism. Fulwood was chairman, but says Bagshawe, the Apostle of the Peak, “though known to be a zealot in the cause of the then King and conformity, Fulwood released him and gave his accusers a sharp reprimand”. His influence in the county was particularly offensive to the Parliamentarians and Sir John Gell, of Hopton, the Roundhead officer, and so, one day in November, 1643, Gell sent a body of troops to seize Fulwood, who, being warned of his danger, hid “in a fissure separating an outlying mass of rock from its parent cliff in the dale of Bradford, a few hundred yards in the rear of the mansion”. Here he was shot, receiving a mortal wound, of which he died at Cullen, in Staffordshire, a few days afterwards, where his captors had taken him on the way to Lichfield. The two daughters of this gentleman, “Elizabeth and Mary, sought refuge among their friends in London, where they died in obscurity”. Some kindly hand - perchance that of Thomas Bateman, the antiquarian - has guarded the vestiges of the old Fulwood residence from further spoliation by surrounding them with walls. One member of this house was of a literary turn and wrote The Enemie of Idleness, a prose composition with metrical love epistles; and translated Gratarolus' Castle of Memorie. The works were printed 1568 and 1563 respectively.

Whether we enter Winster from the Youlgreave or Darley roads, by vehicle or as pedestrians, the mind has but one impression - that we have been pushed back by some occult influence into the clays of our great-grandfathers, to see, think, and feel as they did. The quaintness of its buildings reminds one of those frugal and ingenious ladies who alter their robes with the changes of fashion, until at last it becomes a difficulty to assign the age in which they were first put together. Just without its boundaries there are Druidical remains that belong to a period when masonry was unknown; but it is the old Hall, standing in the main street by the road side, which has been ignored (so far as we can find) by every writer on Derbyshire, that the curious wish to know something about. But from its tenancy by the late famous antiquarian, Llewellyn Jewitt, no one (apart from a person living in the place) would have heard of it. Two hundred and sixty years since Francis Moore (so we learn from a short article in the Winster Parochial Magazine, by Mr. H. C. Heathcote) had “the gritstone, with which the Hall is built, brought to Winster on pack horses from the Stancliffe quarries in Darley Dale”. Now, who was this Francis Moore, for his descendants were holding lands here within the last half century? Only a short time previously Charles Moore, of Stretton, had purchased the Manor of Appleby Parva (from Sir Edward Griffin), of which his offshoots are still lords, and where they reside. He was a scion of the great Barnborough house, and by a junior line descended from the immortal author of the Utopia, who preferred rather to sacrifice his life than sell his conscience. Was Francis the son or the brother of Charles? We know (thanks to Mr. Heathcote) that the builder of Winster Hall was born at Derby; was married at Bakewell, April 26, 1624, where he resided, and had two children born to him, and that four years later he was living at his Winster homestead. But his kinship with the Appleby Parva family, or his illustrious descent from the famous Barnborough stock, may, not have mooted itself to the learned chemist, and as we fancy this gentleman is in communication with members of the late Winster house, he may earn the gratitude of historical students by ascertaining whether they claimed descent from the famous Lancashire Moores, or from the Moores, of More, County Salop, of whom the ancestor was the Norman knight who was given More by the Conqueror; now represented by Squire Moore, of Lindley Hall, and by Stephen Moore, Earl Mount Cashell in the peerage of Ireland. The shields of both the Appleby and Winster families were identical until James II. granted Sir John (of Appleby) the augmentation of a Canton, on which there was a lion of England, for certain subserviency. Both families had large interests in the lead mines of the neighbourhood; both were generous benefactors of the poor, as is shown by the records of the Chapelries. Lysons speaks out plainly about some of the Winster bequests, and says he cannot find where they have gone to. Certainly, as the Great Master said, the poor we save always with us; but their bequests disappear somehow.

Within the Hall, on the ceilings of the lower front rooms, there are frescoes, said to be by West, the successor of Sir Joshua Reynolds as President of the Royal Academy. We gave our opinion frankly on the spot that we failed to recognise the brush that yielded up “The Battle of La Hague” and “The Death of Nelson”. It appears there was a certain clergyman resident here time back whose delicacy was shocked with the semi-nudity of the nymphs, and the glorious little cherubs devoid of clothing, and so this austere man whitewashed the offensive frescoes over, which common sense has since scraped off, though slightly to the injury of the limbs of the fair creatures.

The Hall is now tenanted by Captain Tom Metcalf[8] and his lady, whose courtesy in allowing us to inspect the interior of the old edifice we most gratefully acknowledge. As we stood beneath the old roof we could only think of him whose marvellous researches had contributed so much to the intellectual treasures of the nation. We were in his very sanctum sanctorum. But it was not the vast researches of the scholar (researches that knew no spell), nor the brilliant language in which he could give the fruit of those researches to the world, nor the skill of the artist, that made Englishmen proud of him - it was the noble and loving heart, which retained its generosity and purity to the last throb. Within three months from the death of his wife this extraordinarily gifted man found that where she was he must be also, and passed away from among us. The life of Llewellyn Jewitt is most feelingly told by Gosse. How the name of Jewitt is said to have arisen is somewhat facetious. There was a companion of the great navigator Hudson, who, from his devouring passion for having tobacco in his mouth, was called “Chew it”. Mr. Gosse has pointed out that the shield and crest of the indefatigable antiquarian bespoke an ancestor whose avocation was the sea, and that there were many traits in common between the men, less the intense love and hatred of tobacco.

[1] Bakewell Register.
[2] Strolling through Youlgreave recently we noticed in the workshop of a marble mason a monument being chiselled to the memory of this old house. We would like to know what moved the pity of the devisor.
[3] Commoners, Vol. IV.
[4] [Ed: This should be grandfather - the author refers to Thomas junior - correctly - as 'grandson' later in this document]
[5] Born 8 November, 1821.
[6] I. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. II. Catalogue of the Antiquities preserved in the Museum at Lomberdale House. III. Ten years' diggings in Celtic and Saxon Gravehills.
[7] Under date of 4 August, 1633, Fulwood wrote to Sir John Coke, “A neighbour, William Bateman, came to me to be of his counsel in drawing a conveyance to him of lands in over Haddon. I would not hate a stranger, a freeholder of that town. These lands - fives closes you can buy a bargain at £280 (valued at £16 a year), and I can let them at £19 a year”. “Melbourne papers”, Vol. II., p.27.

Another letter of Fulwood to Sir John will be of interest. “The tenants of Over Haddon inform me that it is your pleasure I shall draw a lease of your lands there unto them for three years, but I forbear until I bear from you. Mr. Herbert offereth to sell Brassington, and if you can have it for £300, I think it well given. Your letter to Mr. Gilbert I gave to my clerk to put up safe in the cloak bag. I am afraid it is left in my chamber at London. I did lie with Mr. Gilbert at my coming down, and told him that you had taken the pains to write a letter of three sides of paper unto him, and I did acquaint him with all the particulars of it, for by good fortune you pleased to read it to me. Sir F. Coke and he have met. I perceive by Mr. Gilbert that Sir Francis (Henry), Willoughby much desired, to have a meeting sooner than your coming down. Mr. Gilbert tells me that Sir Thomas Burdett hath sold so much of his land as he hath paid all his debts and left a thousand per annum, and besides hath some of the moneys upon the sale left. He thinks if it be your pleasure a fitting time to let somewhat be spoken touching a match between his son and your daughter, Mistress Mary, for he thinks no great portion will be now stood upon.”

[8] Since deceased.

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

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