Scrooby Manor House
Old Manor House.

Manor Farm House. The house and buildings now standing on the  site of the Archbishop's mansion have little,  except in their historical associations, to attract. The house has been built at various times, and without design, but the interior looks very clean, comfortable, and well furnished, and the hostess is very kind to visitors. The only part of the house having the appearance of age is near the centre, where the front wall, and two windows on the upper floor enclosed by stone frames, tell of days and uses long past. There is a tall dovecot, the lower storey of which indicates its ancient use, when the lord of the manor relied so much upon the food derived from pigeons fed without cost. There are in one of the farm buildings beams in the roof, which tell of a day when their carving or shaping would aid in ornamenting an assembling room for the archbishop's retinue, and which may afterwards have been used for the religious gatherings. Traces of the moat are distinctly visible, and on entering the grounds you pass over where the drawbridge stood. The home field is full of indications of buildings having stood there, possibly the main building, and were excavations made probably old building materials would be found. A few aged trees tell of former days. The property now belongs to Major Peake, of Bawtry Hall.

On the farm house is a tablet with the following inscription:— "This tablet was erected by the Pilgrim Society of Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States of America, to mark the site of the ancient manor house where lived William Brewster, from 1588 to 1608, and where he organized the Pilgrim Church, of which he became Ruling Elder, and with which in 1608 he removed to Amsterdam, in 1609 to Leyden, and in 1620 to Plymouth, where he died, April 16th, 1644."

The photo was taken a number of years ago by Mr. Edgar Welshman, Retford, when it was customary for visitors to be shown the identical spot desired. It is scarcely necessary to state that the description given "Brewsters Room " is purely imaginary.

There was a great assembly here in July, 1891, of about a thousand persons, including one hundred American pilgrims, who came to shew their regard for the memory and place of men who suffered for conscience sake, and who triumphed over great obstacles. The tercentenary in 1920 will show that the interest has not abated.

Nearly thirty years ago the American Pilgrims erected on the Manor House a memorial of their visit. May I respectfully suggest that it would be a graceful act, in the spirit of the King's words recorded on the last page of this paper for a memorial of the union of the two great nations in the Great War, and of the Tercentenary celebrations, to be erected in Scrooby Churchyard, in the form of a symbolical memorial cross, designed after the manner of a mediaeval churchyard cross, with a suitable inscription. The children of Scrooby will in the near future be numerous, and they will ask, "What mean ye by this service?" and the reply should be at hand.

The Hospital. There was a Hospital standing in the village of Bawtry but in the Nottinghamshire part of it, re-founded and endowed by Robert Morton in 1280, for Divine service, and for hospitality to poor people. (See Hamilton Thompson's chantry certificates). It had a connection with Scrooby in several respects. Archbishop Thomas made a provision that if at any time revenues were in arrear two months a penalty of forty shillings should be paid at Scrooby to the Archbishop. When the Abbey of St. Oswald, to which the chapel had been attached, was suppressed 26s. 8d. a year was to be paid to the Hospital by the Archbishop, "who had purchased from Edward VI."—"concerning the manor of Scrooby," and so the archbishop held the manor "for discharging the revenue arising from certain lands in an inclosure below the palace in the field or warren called Plumtree field." There was the usual certificate by the Commissioners under Henry VIII. Archbishop Sandys in 1584 appointed James Brewster to the mastership of the Hospital, but he and others in 1590 were charged with "profaning and ruinating the house and chapel" within two years last past, and he was removed. He was then residing at Chelmsford, in Essex, and had for a long space been absent. Passing over all the proceedings of a suit that continued five years, the Court of Exchequer in a Decree recited, "James Brewster, Clerke, claiming to be Maister thereof," * * * "to overthrow and dissolve the State of the same, and to make acquisition thereof unto him and his Heirs, or others to his use * * * and seeking to free himself of all charges of residence there by himself hath contrived * * * * with Thomas Robinson, the defendant, who have procured the said Hospital and the possessions to be passed from Her Majestie by Letters Patent as lands concealed to themselves under some smale Fee-Farme: And thereupon Brewster absented himself, beinge placed a hundreth miles from thence and voluntarily suffered the same Hospitall to fall into ruine." It then proceeds to show how Robinson profaned the chapel, and carried away the ornaments and furniture to a stable, the seats and the lead about the steeple, "and altered it from a chapell to a Howse to keepe swine in.'' The Court ordered that the Maister of the Hospital should have and hold it and its lands, etc., and should recover damages. This was in February, 1595. The new Master, John Slacke, recounting all the foregoing, ends by quoting Job v. 12, "And God scattereth the Devises of the craftie, so that their Hands cannot accomplish that whiche they doe enterprise."

Maister Slacke then says that at his great charge he built up the chapel, repaired the windows with stone iron and glass, made new seats and pulpit, and bought the bell now in the chapel, he having the benefactions of the Archbishops, and Anthony Morton, Esq. who is buried there.

The author of the History of Bawtry says that it is now (1813) "sixty years since divine worship was performed in the chapel, which is now the receptacle of lumber and dirt. Two cottages for poor widows have been erected, and the yearly income is now enjoyed as a sinecure by the present master, the Rev. Wm. Hodges, Vicar of Mattersey."

Fortunately all this has been amended by private generosity, a complete restoration of the building having in 1839 been made by Mr. Greaves, of Hesley Hall, and divine service is now continued.

Post. In the year that Archbishop Sandys died (1588) William Brewster was appointed Post for the Scrooby district. Whether it was an addition or a substitution of office is not clear. But it was a Government appointment, made by the Postmaster-General for the purpose of forwarding Government officials and despatches, by horses, servants, inn accommodation, etc., and would therefore require ample room for both man and beasts.

The Posts could claim a long descent, for did not Mordecai the Jew write in the name of the King, and send letters by posts on horseback, riding on swift steeds (Esther viii. 10) ? Here is the style of a message issued in 1541 to Mayors, Sheriffs, Constables, etc., "Foras much as the King's Majesty sendeth his bearer James one of His Majesty's pursuivants into these parts by post upon certain of His Majesty's affairs, his pleasure and high command is that you see him furnished of post horses from place to place, both outward and homeward, at reasonable prices, as ye care for his Majesty's pleasure, and as ye will answer for the contrary at your peril." (Mr. Morten).

This kind of requisition became an intolerable evil in the hands of an unscrupulous post. In 1551 the king's post at Grantham enforced the sending of horses upon owners in the surounding district, and the burden became so heavy by commissions being granted to so many riders, and commissions for post horses for a penny a mile, and they were run so fast that the poor owners petitioned for their poor officers (?servants) were sometimes put into jeopardy of their lives, threatened, abused; the farmers' horses were taken from their ploughs, or just as they were setting off to market, and the horses oft returned maimed, and utterly spoiled. In one year they had set forth 473 horses, etc.

Under orders made 14th Jan., 1583-4, regulating Posts, no deputy was allowed, the post must personally conduct the business, and the King's Messenger must pay 1½d. a mile; a book must be kept with proper entries. If the supply of horses was insufficient others might be requisitioned. There must be a guide provided; a horn must be blown on meeting company, on passing a town, and three times a mile. The post must ride seven miles an hour in summer, and five in winter. There must be three horses in readiness, with saddle and leather bags, etc., starting within a quarter of an hour to carry to the next post. He must send by express servant of his own. "A personage" must be brought to make choice of his lodging. Later, private persons paid 3d. a mile, and 6d. for a mounted post boy, who brought back the hired horse, and ten miles an hour became common when roads were good. When Queen Elizabeth died, 25th March, 1603, Sir Robert Carey rode from London through Scrooby, to Doncaster, one hundred and sixty two miles, the same day.

William Brewster having been appointed Post at Scrooby, as before named, apparently it was too much for him, for in the year following his health began to fail, and the next year he died. Meanwhile, at the time of failing health of the father, the son returned home, and took charge of the business.

According to the records at York, in the Act Book for the Deanery of Retford-cum-Laneham, on the 24th July, 1590, administration of the goods of William Brewster, late of Scrooby, deceased, was granted to the son; the widow, Prudence Brewster, having renounced, and refused to take upon herself administration. There being no renunciation or reservation by or for any other sons or daughters it may be assumed that William was the only son, and he exhibited an inventory of goods, paid five shillings, and he and others were bound to administer according to law.

William Brewster afterwards went to London to sue for the Crown appointment of Post, but unfortunately he went to the wrong man, he who had remitted the salary, but he should have gone to the new Postmaster-General, who appointed a relative to the post. Mr. Secretary Davison, whom Brewster had faithfully served, and to whom reference further on will be made, remonstrated, appealed for fair usage, and prevailed, and Brewster performed the duties for seventeen years.

The Government work would take only a small part of the Post's time, and the retention allowance in any case was twenty pence a day, or about £30 a year, but in 1605 two shillings a day was allowed. This was in addition to what the Messenger paid. Brewster was paid to Sept. 30th, 1607, and after that Francis Hall was paid.

Sir (or rather the Reverend) Timothy Hutton (son of the archbishop, 1594 to 1606) when on a journey to London in 1605 paid the Post of Scrooby "for 11 myles and the gyde" to Tuxford 10s. and he paid for a "cawdall" (a hot drink composed of wine, egg, bread, sugar and spices) supper and breakfast, 7s. 10d., but "the caudle" may have been paid at Tuxford, and on his return for his conveyance to Doncaster 8s. and 2s. for burned sack, bread, beer, sugar to wine, and 3d. to the ostler. So apparently the Post was also the Host, and the Government official was also the public caterer.

The Post at Scrooby seems to have exercised very extensive powers of commandeering for Royal use horses in many surrounding parishes, for in 1638 the justices, one of whom was Sir Gervase Clifton, Bart., appointed a number of parishes specified " to have post horses ready at Tuxford for his Majesty's service then in progress," but they were relieved of being called or commanded to Scrooby, "as sometimes they had been required." One parish asked to be relieved of the Tuxford order, and it was directed that the town of West Retford should keep its post horses at Scrooby alone, and not at Tuxford (C.E. page 113) this was at the time the Scotch Covenant was being made, and there would be extensive travelling on the Great North Eoad. In 1609 every farmer round Newark was required to give to the postmaster of Newark a peck of peas for every fifteen acres of land occupied. (Page 112).

The Post Horse monoply was abolished in 1779, in connection with the heavy tax on post chaises in providing funds for the American War.

The Brewsters. Brewster was not an uncommon name in the country, for although every farmer brewed his own beer there were a few persons who brewed for the public, and their descendants passed out of the trade, but retained the name. There were two families of that name in Scrooby. The Rev. Henry Brewster in 1565 became Vicar of Sutton-cum-Lound and Scrooby, and was succeeded by his son James in 1597-8. We have seen that William, the Post, had a son William the Pilgrim. Were the two senior brothers? Lady Galway suggests they were. The Registers do not help us, and there is no other source of information. Dr. Dexter gives facsimiles of the signatures of the two juniors, which are much alike. On the other hand, neither Bradford nor William Brewster ever suggest relationship, and the position would be the more painful if it existed. In the legal proceedings as to the Bawtry Hospital a copy of a letter from James to the Archbishop is given, so craven that it indicates a different outlook on life to that of William.

The Plague. The Plague prevailed at Worksop in 1605, and a levy was made upon eighteen parishes to aid the sufferers, Scrooby's levy being ten shillings per week. The infected parishes were shut up, that is, the people were limited to their parishes, while the houses were ordered "to be cleansed and sweetened."  (C.E. page 10).

Fires. When fires occurred a petition was presented to the Quarter Sessions for authority to make a collection in respect of the loss, and if it was found that relief was necessary a certificate was given In 1685 there was such a certificate given of £250 damage to farm buildings at Scrooby. There were then no Fire Insurance Offices to cover risks.

Local Courts. The Freehold and Copyhold Courts of the  Archbishop of York, the lord of the Manor of  Scrooby with Eanskill, were institutions of interest, enabling the inhabitants to exercise the administration of justice at their own doors by themselves. They were called "The View of Frankpledge, The Court Leet and Court Baron." In the former the lord of the manor had anciently criminal jurisdiction as to minor offences against life and property, such as were committed by thieves, drunkards, idle haunters of taverns, cheats, etc. The second referred more to the administration of the state, the rotation of crops, straying of cattle, etc. Canon Raine gives in his "History of Blyth," (page 125) extracts from the Minutes of 16th Oct., 1621. Four tenants were fined 2d. for non-attendance ; seventeen had put their farm animals in the fields of grain before the grain was carted, and were fined 4d. or 2d. each. William Nelson's horses had trampled down the corn and consumed the grass. He must pay 3s. 4d. George Mylner had not provided his share of fuel—it is presumed for the manor house. Fine 12d. Joseph Nelson had turned out a diseased mare to graze. He must pay 10s. Widow Nelson had allowed her pigs to go at large without rings in their noses, to the great damage of her neighbours in Scrooby. Fined 6d. In the other Court were transfers of land.

The Civil War. The Civil War had its effect upon Scrooby and the district. The great majority of the landowners in the county were on the side of the King, but a sprinkling of these went for the  Parliament, and the common folk  were little disturbed. The sieges of Newark, the battle at Gainsborough, the King's journey to and from York, the coming of the Scots through the district and their return, and afterwards the penalties imposed,  and the reign of the Commonwealth, all took its toll, and told its tale, in the quiet village.