Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire

by Joseph Tilley

Transcriptions by Barbarann Ayars, © Copyright 2001

Volume I, The High Peak Hundred
Wormhill Hall

GODFREY FOLJAMBE (or de Foleschamp) who fought at Hastings under the Conqueror - is said to have been a descendant of King Lodbrok, of Denmark[1] somehow directed his steps to the valley of the Derwent, and at Elton picked up the heiress of Uchtred the Saxon. From this union of Norman chivalry and Saxon beauty sprang that famous race of men whose escutcheon has been kept for eight centuries without a blemish; whose services have been acknowledged by their monarchs; whose munificience is yet enjoyed by the poor whose names are yet uttered with such respect in that county which knows them no more. The son of Godfrey was Sir Ralph, who married Gundred de Ferrars, sister of the first Earl of Derby which makes it possible that the fathers of this young couple were on the Domesday Survey together. Their first-born, Geoffrey, mated with Matilda Musard; thus father and son allied themselves with baronial houses. If the Foljambes were not baronial, how came such alliances? We may be told that the Foljambes had been loyal adherents of the house of Rollo from the subjugation of Normandy in 905 to the muster call at Battle Abbey; and that they had Royal descent from the Kings of Sweden and Denmark, even as at the present moment they have a pedigree back to Edward I. Was it the union with the de Ferrars which gave them the lordship of Wormhill? for they certainly held it before the battle of Chesterfield had made the vast estates of the De Ferrars pickings for others. Were the Foljambes ever lords of Tideswell, either as tenants in capite to the Crown or in the demesne? We may be told that they never were, as King John gave the manor to Thomas Armiger in 1208, it having been previously with the Peverels. This is another of John's gratuities which is open to question. We believe they never held the manor in soccage; but as tenants in chief, it is a horse of a different color. What is meant by the words“capital lord”[2] in the Foundation Charter of Tideswell Chantry, founded by James Foljambe and others, 16 Richard II, if the manor had not two lords? We are not impuning the assertions of Lysons; we are simply submitting there was a superior lord whom he failed to recognize. Turn to Vol I of Pedigrees of County Families, and there they are distinctly stated to have been lords of the manor from the reign of Henry I.Their bequests to Tideswell church; their monuments in that church before it had parochial dignity; their being chosen knights of the shire, generation after generation; their locating themselves here (which is curious if they were not “capital” lords, seeing they held a dozen other manors) is presumptive, if not positive evidence.

At the time of the General Survey (1086) Wormhill was one of the one hundred and fourteen manors in the County of Derby which the modesty of Henry de Ferrars allowed him to accept from the conqueror. Within this manor were held the courts for the jurisdiction of the forest laws, and within its boundaries were the lairs of those wolves so destructive to the forest animals; but which were the more ferocious, the wolves or the forest laws, is a matter of opinion. The animals which were sacred to the Norman monarchs were the hart, hind, boar and wolf;[3] to destroy any one of them, William I punished with the loss of eyesight, Henry II, with the loss of a limb, Rufus had made it a capital offence, while Richard I devised a torture too barbarous for description.[4] The Courts of the Forest were four; Attachment,[5] Regard, Swainmote, and Justice Seat. The two former had no power to convict; the Justice Seat was only held triennially; thus the Swainmote was virtualy the Court of the Forest, for “no Swainmote, no Forest” was the axiom of the law. How memorable was the Charter of the Forest which the Barons enforced from Henry III can be realised from a knowledge of the inhuman punishment inflicted. Why the voices of history and tradition are so silent about the Peak Forest is very curious, but we do not believe it arises from the paucity of records, rather from laxity of research. There will be a glorious find one of these days, either at the Rolls Court or the British Museum. [Transcriber's Note: Anyone know of these?]

“What a strange vicissitude of fortune”, says Rhodes, “has attended this district! Once a forest, the haunt and shelter of wild beast, then a desert and unproductive waste; now destined to undergo another change-verdant field and hedge-row trees begin to appear where desolation prevailed”.[6] With all deference to the memory of Rhodes, to transform “this district” into a “desert” would be an impossibility unless assisted by nature, for if every particle of verdure disappeared there would be something grand about the formation of its dells and rocks. The wolves had some eye to beauty when they selected such a spot. These animals made their final exodus from the Peak in the Winter of 1490.

What names more famous in Derbyshire history than De Ferrars, Foljambe, Plumpton, Eyre, Bagshawe; and in the possession of one of them can the Manor of Wormhill be traced for the last eight hundred years.

1066 Henry de Ferrars
  John Foljambe, died 1245
1392 Sir Robert Plumpton, by heiress of Sir Godfrey. Sold by his grandson to:
1498 Catherine Eyre, wife of Stephen, of Hassop
  Adam Bagshawe, born 1646, died 1724.

These names illustrate the sentence of Disraeli: That we find our oldest families among the gentlemen of England, and not among our nobility. Those of De Ferars and Plumpton were baronial, and are gone; while those of Foljambe, Eyre, and Bagshawe are yet with us. Among our aristocracy there is the name and title of De Ros, with a supposed lineage of six hundred and twenty six years, but the male line of De Ros became extinct in the 15th C. and four different families since then have tacked the name onto their baptismal one; yet even while the fourth De Ros was leading the second division of the English army on the Field of Cressy, the Bagshawes were associated with Wormhill and Bowden Lodge, and had been for generations, and the present owner of Wormhill Hall is Mr.Francis Westby Bagshawe. J.P., D. L. (1817)

The Bagshawes were among those very old Peak families whose names are on the Inquisition held at Wormhill in the year 1318. They were hereditary foresters in fee, and the Manor of Abney was theirs by virtue of the office. They took their name (which means “a small wooded glen”) from a picturesque spot in the township of Bowden Edge, near to Ford, where they were located before the Norman period. In the twelfth century they were living at The Ridge, which they held for six hundred years. A senior member of their house adopted Abney as a residence about the reign of Edward I. Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries we find the various branches of the family inhabiting Abney Manor House; the Halls at The Ridge, Ford, Hucklow, Litton, Bagshaw, Bakewell, Farewell, near Lichfield, and Castle Bagshaw, County Cavan. The Manor House, less a few vestiges, was very recently cleared away, and the materials adopted for the mending of the roads and partition walls of the fields. How strangely various members of this family took opposite sides in religion and politics in time past is very curious. In the days of Queen Elizabeth there was one (Christopher) who, after being educated at both Cambridge and Oxford, and displaying considerable Protestant zeal, became Catholic, fled to Rome, was made, as the Jesuits of France said; “Doctor per Saltem”, was author of many works against the Anglican hierarchy, suffered imprisonment in the Tower, and eventually died in Paris. The life of that earnest Reformer - the Apostle of the Peak - is the contrast. The famous Puritan Member of Parliament for Southwark was a Bagshawe; while at the same time the richest living in the City of London[7] was given to another. What is called Black St. Bartholomew's Day, stripped two Bagshawes of their gowns and benefices, while to a third it gave a Prebendary Stall in Durham Cathedral. In the Puritan's march to Naseby was a Bagshawe; among the Cavaliers at Oxford, who smelted their trinkets for the King, was another.

The earliest designation of the old and honoured Derbyshire family of Foljambe is of Wormhill. As far back as the year 1256, there was a Thomas of that ilk who was Bailiff of the Forest, Knight of the Shire, and whose wife was Margaret de Gernon, of Bakewell. How a cruel fate waged war with this house is memorable. The Wormhill family became extinct in 1388; that of Tideswell in 1464; the first line of the Walton branch in 1595; the second line in 1604; the third which held a baronetcy, in 1640; the fourth in 1759; the fifth? Heaven keep it under its special protection.

The conditions on which the manor of Wormhill has been held are really curious. Sir Thomas Foljambe had to keep this portion of the forest on horseback, attended by a boy, where the Eyres held it on condition of an annual payment of threepence and knight service, which of course, simply meant nothing. The calendar of fines shews the singular tenure of Wormhill lands. In 1277 Sir Thomas Foljambe allowed Nicholas Stanedon and Letitia, his wife, to hold ten acres at the rental of one rose, payable at the nativity of St. John the Baptist.Thomas de Wormhill held fifteen acres on the same terms from the knight. There were certain freehold lands in Wormhill, apart from the manor, as witnessed by a purchase on the part of the Bagshawes in 29 Henry VI: 1450-1. On this moiety, if we mistake not, stands the old Hall, which from its restoration (though we should imagine no expense was spared) has a great measure thrown off its appearance of antiquity. We believe the present structure was reared in the reign of Elizabeth, and on the ruins, if we mistake not, of a previous edifice, which had been the homestead of the Halls, one of the co-heiresses of which family married with the Bagshawes. We believe also that the present squire, who has shown some antiquarian skill and taste in the furnishing of his old homestead, is virtually the lord of the manor, though there are no longer any manorial rights.[8]

The Foljambes were living at Wormhill while yet the manor was in the parish of Hope, as Tideswell had not parochial dignity till 1245. From their shield (a band between six escallops) the inference is that they were among the Crusaders, led either by Peter the Hermit, or Coeur de Lion, for the escallop was the insignia of the pilgrim. The pedigree shows that Henry, the son of Geoffrey and Matilda Musard was in the train of Richard I; but there is the difficulty: There were two other Derbyshire shields, identical in trick with the Foljambes - the Daniels of Tideswell, and the Frechevilles of Staveley; yet we think there is an explanation for this identity of shields, which arose from affection, and not from servitude of one house to another, as some heraldic authorities assert. Evidence is pretty clear that some of the Daniel girls married with the Frechevilles, and the Frechevilles girls with the Foljambes, and what so reasonable as that these ladies turned over to their husbands heart, dowry, and escutcheon, which was not exceptional in those days, for the College of Heralds had not yet arisen, neither had the Court of Chivalry.

There is a heraldric curiosity with the house of Foljambe which is worth note, and which has been courteously sent us by Mr. Cecil G. S. Foljambe, M.P., F.R.S. The wife of Sir Godfrey, who was buried at Bakewell in 1377, was Avena Ireland, of Hartshorn; while his mother was Alice Darley, of Darley. Now it appears that the arms of both these ladies were not only identical in trick, but in tincture likewise: Gules, 6 fleurs de lis, 3,2,1 argent.

It is the Parliamentary careeers of the Foljambes which would be so interesting if we could only dig them out In that House of Commons which struck the memorable blow at the Papacy in abolishing “first fruits” was Godfrey Foljambe; another was in the “wonderful” Parliament, and if Burke is right in his dates, there was one in the “mad” Parliament. At the time that Henry VIII. was assuming the supremacy of the Church and putting the monasteries up for auction, or rather giving them away, there was a Foljambe in the bodyguard of the King; indeed, they stood so high with this monarch that he granted them a fresh crest to mark his respect: A Cantilupe per quarterly Or and Sable. It is the Parliamentary career of old Sir Godfrey - who founded Bakewell Chantry in 1344[9] - which is of such particular interest. He was in all the principle Parliaments of Edward III., but suffice it now to notice that of 1340. Then the Commons, for the first time, courageously asserted that they would no longer vote subsidies without some amelioration of their grievances and in that year they passed the four famous statutes so well known to historical students. The second of those statutes, says Bishop Stubbs, may be “regarded as the supplement to the confirmation of the Charters, the real act ‘de tallagio non concededo’ and the surrender of the privilege of taxing demesne lands which Edward I. had retained, as not expressly forbidden by the Act of 1297”. Sir Godfrey saw England establish herself as an European nation before whose armies of London apprentices the chivalry of Europe fled; he took part in those struggles at Westminster of yet vaster importance, by which he helped to bequeath to all posterity an inheritance of liberties never previously enjoyed; and the date on his monument shows that he was gathered with his fathers simultaneously with that monarch he had so variously served. We find that Sir Godfrey was Puisne Justice of King's Bench in 1344.[10]

Since the Foljambes have removed their residence from the county they have allied themselves with the daughters of the Earls of Scarborough and Liverpool, Lords Middleton and Barham;in one instance the lady was Viscountess Milton. Yet the name of Foljambe needed no alliance with the aristocracy to enhance it. Their piety is attested by the Chantries of the Peak churches; their munificence, by the records of the chapelries; their dignity by the rolls of the country, and their nobility by lives of rectitude and unblemished honor.

The list of the Wormhill Foljambes - (Sir Godfrey, grandson of the Sir Godfrey who founded Bakewell Chantry) died “on Wednesday next after the nativity of our Lady 12 Richard II. (Sept. 9, 1388) and on the 18th of November following, dower was assigned to his widow Margaret (afterwards the wife of Sir Tomas Kempston, K.G.) in the presence of Sir John Leeke, Knight, whose sister she was, and to whom the king had committed the lands of the said Sir Godfrey to farm, Alice his daughter and heir, being at the time of his decease, little more than a year old. By a subsequent writ, tested at Westminster 16 February, thirteenth of his reign, King Richard granted to the said Sir John Leeke the marriage of the heiress for fifty marks, which wardship of marriage he, by indenture, dated at Downham-upon-Trenton the morrow of St. Hilary, 16 Richard II, 1392-3, transferred to Sir William Plumpton Knight, to the intent that she should be matched with his son and heir apparent whomsoever he should be, in consideration of a hundred marks, and upon condition of other annual sums till she reached the age of fifteen years. The marriage took place, and after the completion of her fourteenth year, Robert Wycard,the King's escheator for the county of Derby, delivered seisin to William de Hardelsey, attorney of Robert de Plompton, and Alice, his wife, daughter and heir of Godfrey Foljambe, Ch'r of all lands of which the said Godfrey was seised in demesne as of fee on the day he died, and atested the fact by the deed dated at Chaddesden on Sunday next before the feast of St. Nicholas bishop, third of Henry IV( Dec. 4, 1401)” Some four years later (June 8, 1405) Sir William Plumpton was executed for the share he took in the insurrection of Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York - his mother's brother.[11] Wormhill was with the Plumptons[12] for three lives (one hundred and six years) when they sold it to Catherine Eyre( wife of Stephen) of Hassop, from sheer necessity, to defray the expenses of a frightful litigation against Empson, the miscreant lawyer of Henry VII.

[1] “County Families”, Foster, Vol. I.
[2] “Derbyshire Churches”, Vol. II., p. 288.
[3] William I. “loved the tall stags as if he had been their father”, and held a solemn inquest and verdict on the body of a dead animal.
[4] Stubbs' “Constitutional History”, Vol. I.
[5] The Court of Attachment met every forty days, which were held for the presentments of the Foresters to the Verders. These presentments went to the Swainmotes.
[6] “Peak Scenery”.
[7] St. Boltoph's, Bishopsgate.
[8] Vide. Bakewell and Ford.
[9] “Derbyshire Churches”, Vol. II., p.10. Lysons gives the date 1365; Glover as 1371; but Dr. Cox has clearly explained both errors: “One”, he says, “has bean deceived by an Inquisition taken on the death of one of the chaplains or trustees of the chantry property, and the other by a confirmation deed of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield”.
[10] Dignities. The Plumpton “Correspondence”, p. xxviii., styles him, “Second Baron of the Exchequer, 18 Edward Ill., Seneschal of the Duchy of Lancaster”.
[11] “Polydore Vergil”, liber xxi., p. 554. Plumpton “Correspondence”. p. xxiii.
[12] The most correct pedigree of this family is in Foster's edition of the “Visitation of Yorkshire” by St. George in 1612. The one in Flower's “Visitation”, of 1583, makes the father and grandfather of Sir Robert, who espoused the Foljambe heiress, brothers. Then again, the editor of the “Correspondence” bewilders the student by the confusion he creates from jumbling of the Christian names - William and Robert - peculiar to the family.

Extract from Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire, 1892.
Transcribed by Barbarann Ayars on 13th January 2001.

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