On the front panel of this tomb, against a shield of arms, this son, also a Sir John, is represented kneeling, with his four sons in similar attitudes behind him, whilst on the opposite side of the shield is a lady (doubtless his wife, Alicia de Strelley) and three daughters, also kneeling: the shield comprises the arms of Byron, viz., argent, three bendlets enhanced gules, impaling those of Strelley:—paly of six argent and azure, surmounted by the well-known Byron crest of a mermaid proper, crined and holding in her dexter hand a mirror, and in her sinister hand a comb. This shield of impaled arms displays those of John Byron, son of the Sir John on whose tomb they appear. It would in all probability be this man who was responsible for the design and execution of the tomb of his father who lived to be eighty-eight years old, and having in view the doubt of his own legitimacy, it would be his policy to identify himself and his offspring with his father as closely as possible.

On the west end are three shields, on which the Byron arms are in evidence; around one of the shields is “Isabell byron daughter of Mr Lemington,” in recognition of Sir John’s first wife; and on the east end are two shields, on one of which Byron impales the arms of Consterdine, in recognition of the second wife.

In addition to the carving and lettering, this tomb possesses a further interest, for there seems no doubt that it was made to serve as an altar for a mass priest long after the suppression of chantries. In the Torre MS. is the following testamentary burial:—“31 May 1567 Sir John Byron of Newstead, Knight, to be buried in this Church, where he willed a priest to sing mass for his soul and his ancestors ten years after his death and to have for his stipend £10 per annum; ” here we have strong presumptive evidence that this tomb was used as the chantry altar, for two of the consecration crosses are still clearly visible at the western corners.

Colwick Church—Tomb on south side of chancel.
Colwick Church—Tomb on south side of chancel.

The mensa of the high altar now in use in the church is a slab of grey marble with five consecration crosses, which are Maltese crosses in shape, and not like the crosses one usually finds in similar circumstances. This slab is probably the one referred to by Barker, the author of Walks round Nottingham, published in 1835, as “one beautiful marble slab.”

We next turn to the most ornate tomb in the church, viz., the tomb of Sir John Byron and his wife Alicia, daughter of Sir Nicholas Strelley of Strelley. He died in 1609. On his tomb, which is of rich alabaster, he is represented as having an extravagantly long beard: he is wearing a suit of plate armour with laminated cuisses, goffered frills round his wrists and neck, a long chain round his shoulders, sabbatons, and a short sword. His wife lies at his right side; both the figures are beautifully carved. Two columns enriched with carving carry the entablature. On the base is some poetry of a somewhat florid style of composition, which, however, is here set out in full, and so put on record from notes in the possession of Mr. F. W. Dobson, but damp has rendered the original unreadable:—

"Let ffame wyth golden tromppets blast
The worthie praysis eternize
Of Sir John Byron Gentle Knight
Whose corps by loo thise pictures lies
Sir John his sonne for parents love
Caused to erect this monument
That vertues of his father dead
 In future tyme it might present."1

In the spandrels are shields of arms, showing Byron quartering Clayton and impaling Strelley.

In the Notts. Visitations, 1569-1614, in the heading of the Byron pedigree, is the following:—“The above coat, differenced with a bordure sable, is also tricked with this note:—“Thus John Biron of Newstesd base Sonn of Sir John bare it and two descents from him.” Under the trick of the undifferenced coat is written, “Thus they bear it now 1630.”

The tomb has every appearance of having been executed by the same craftsmen as the tomb of Sir William Sutton, which we saw at Averham Church, on the occasion of the Thoroton Society’s visit there in 1913. There is no reason why this should not be so, as the two knights were contemporaries; the one died in 1609, and the other in 1611.

The state papers let light into the private lives of Sir John and his wife’s relatives. Their squabbles became acute and were submitted to arbitration, with the result that Sir Nicholas Strelley was ordered to pay the sum of 53/4d. to Richard Greenhill, a servant of the Byrons, for “hurts and mayne” to him given by Sir Nicholas and his servants, and it was further decreed that Sir John and Sir Nicholas were to visit at each other’s houses twice yearly during three years, “to hunt and passe the tyme together familyerly and to declare and open they’re myndes ayther to oder to avoid future variencies.”

This “little Sir John” seems to have been a despotic little gentleman, for Mrs. Hutchinson, in her Memoirs of the life of Colonel Hutchinson, tells us that he disinherited his eldest son for marrying “a private gentleman’s daughter in the country,” and passed his estate to a younger son, another John Byron.

This lucky inheritor of the property is represented to us on a mural monument on the north wall, above the tomb of his grandfather, already described at length. Here we see him in armour, kneeling facing his wife; he married a daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliams, to whom he was greatly attached; she became demented, and died on the same day as her husband, viz., 7th March, 1623. They had twin sons, the elder of whom succeeded to the estates, and is represented beneath his parents, in a similar attitude of devotion.

His wife was Anna, daughter of Sir Richard Molyneux, of Scofton, knight and baronet. He died in the year 1625, and was buried at Colwick. It is necessary, however, to refer to his son and successor, although there is no monument to him, in order that he may serve as a link with the family of Musters, who shortly after became possessors of the property, and whose monuments will presently be referred to. This Sir John Byron, knight, was the fifth Sir John in succession, and was the eldest son of the man we have just referred to on the double monument on the north wall. He was an ardent royalist, and was created Lord Byron of Rochdale on 24th October, 1643, by King Charles I.; he was Field Marshal General of H.M. Forces, and was one of four brothers who fought for the king at Marston Moor, and the poet proudly refers to this:—

“At Marston with Rupert ‘gainst traitors contending
Four brothers enriched with their blood the fair field,
For the rights of the monarch their country defending
Till death their allegiance to Royalty sealed.”

It was this warrior who sold his estate to Sir James Stonehouse, of London, but Doctor Thoroton informs us, “though of very great yearly value he never got above half the money by reason of the breaking out of the war.” Sir James Stonehouse did not hold the Colwick property long, but sold it to Sir John Musters, knight, of London, a wealthy merchant, who claimed descent from the De Monasterys, of Yorkshire. A lengthy inscription on a large mural monument on the south wall of the chancel, surmounted by a bust of Sir John, informs us that he married three wives: the son by the first wife married Millicent, only daughter and heiress of Adrian Mundy, and a son named Charles, who will be mentioned later. Sir John Musters applied some of his wealth to restoring the church in 1684, and building the chancel. He died on 28th July, 1689, aged sixty-six. This monument was erected “to his honoured father” by Charles Musters, his son by his second wife, which Charles died in 1719, aged sixty-four, and, was buried in the vault at the east end of the church.

(1) The words in italics are the only words now decipherable. January, 1916 —G F