The Mellish Family.

The estate of Blyth passed by purchase, as already stated, from the Saundersons to the Mellishes. Robert Mellish, the first member of this family whose name presents itself to us, is described as of London, merchant-tailor, and of Sanderstead, Surrey. He died March 30, 1562, and was buried in All Hallows church in Bread Street Ward. John Mellish, the son of Robert, in his will proved March 9th, 1587-8, states himself of North Willingham, in the county of Lincoln, and desires to be buried there. Edward the eldest son of John, in his will bearing date 5th November, 1615, and proved 4th April, 1616, states, that he is citizen of London and merchant-tailor, and leaves one-third of his property to his wife Alice, one-third to his three sons John, Robert, and William, and remaining third for legacies and funeral expenses. Alice, the widow of Edward Mellish, and daughter of William Reason of Scarcliff, co. Derby, in her will dated 20th March, 1617, and proved 20th May following, leaves her eldest son John sole executor, and directs him to go into partnership with Richard Turgis, citizen and merchant-tailor, with whom she herself had been in partnership. She had a brother William Reason of Askham, Notts, who in his will 13th November, 1627, proved 30th April, 1629, devised to his nephew John Mellish his estate at Hognaston, to his nephew Robert Mellish his estate at Fledborough, to his kinsman Thomas Reason his estate at West Drayton and Little Drayton, and to his sister Ann Smith his estate at South Wheatley.

This last named John Mellish, the great-grandson of Robert first named, and merchant-tailor of London, it was who bought Blyth of the Saundersons in 1635. The estate had been somewhat enlarged by the Saundersons: and when Mellish purchased it, it is said to have comprised 489 acres 2 roods, of which 244 acres were alleged to be abbey land, to have been worth about 242l. per annum, and cost 3,900l.

John Mellish never resided here. He died 15th March, 1677-8, in the 80th year of his age, at the house of his son-in-law Mr. Gardener, in Fenchurch Street, and was buried on the 19th in the chancel of Woodford church, Essex, in the same grave with his wife.

He has left behind him "An Estate Book " as he called it, containing various accounts of receipts and expenses from 25th July, 1648, to within a short period of his death, from which I make a few extracts tending to illustrate the history and manners of the times.

  £ s. d.
1648, Oct. 6, recd of the lordes and commons in Parliamt the money I lent them ye 7th Nov. 1642, towardes the raisinge of a thousand dragoneers ..... 50 0 0
Then recd of them the money I lent them 3d March, 1642, to raise money accordinge to certaine propositions by an ordinance of the 7th of Jany. 1642 .... 50 0 0
Then recd of them the money I lent them the 5th Deer. 1643, for advance money to the Scots 25 0 0
Recd 15th of June, 1649, of Richard Bynglie per Mr. Lowndes in full for halfe a yeares rent for my lands at Blythe due at Martynmas last 100 0 0
17 Deer. 1649, of Mr. Wm. Towerson for apprentiship money for his sonne Wm. 90 0 0
9 Jany. 1649-50, of Mr. Richd. Forde (his partner), for a quarter of a yeares board 5 0 0
17 May, 1650, of the commissioners of excise for halfe a yeares interest for 50l. lent towardes the treatie wth late Kinge in the Isle of Wight 2 0 0
6th Novr. 1648, lent the Houses of Parliament towards the loane of 14,000/. for the treaty in the Isle of Wight 50 0 0
6th June, 1649, pd the partable account betwixt Mr. Richd Forde & me for a Spanish cloath which I sent the 13th March last in adventure with my sonne Edward Mellishe to Oporto . 26 6 0
11th Nov. 1650, pd my sonne-in-lawe Mr. Thomas Bridges, in pt of my daughter Alice his wife's portion & marriage money 100 0 0
2 Decr. d° 100 0 0
7 Decr. d°. 100 0 0
2 Jan. 1650-1, d° 50 0 0
25 Feb. d° in full 250 0 0
1st Oct. 1651, pd Mr. Basse for a whole veares tenth due to the state for the Abby of Blithe, myne inheritance (called also quit rent in other places) 0 15
Layd out in all manner of expences from the 1st Aprill, 1650, to 15 Aprill, 1652 1,217 9 3
20th May, 1661, pd my son Sherington for fraight of 10 Spanish cloathes into Portugall, p. 2 mil 400 rees, wh make 6 crownes Portugall money 1 10 0
4th Aprill, 1667, recd of Sr Thomas Player, chamberlaine of London, in full of money lent his majestic on the Royal aid the 16th of Feb. 1665 90 0 0
28 June, 1666, pd to Sir Thomas Player, at 6 per cent, toward the loane of 100,000l. promised to his majestie by the lord major, aldermen, and common counsell of London, 21 inst, on the credit of the Act for grauntinge 1,250,000l. for his present supplie, beinge graunted at the Sessions of Parliamt held at Oxford, Oct. 1665 50 0 0
23 Sep. 1671, recd by my brother Robert Mellish his appoynt in pt of my last Whitsontide rents, yr wch Mr. Robert Barns the Lincolne wagoner brought me to London 47 6 8
15 Deer. 1670, pd my brother Rob' M. in full for my board w'h him while I was in his house 3 0 0
24 Deer. pd John Bellus, servant to Mr. Henry Warren, wagoner of Stamford, at ye Cross Keyes Inne in Whitecrosse Street, for my cominge up to London in his coatch from Newark 0 18 0
Luggage paid for in addition 0 19 0
13 Jan. 1670, pd to Mr. N. Pope and partners for 8 yards of chamlet for a longe cloake for myselfe . 3 9 4
Then pd them for 6 yards ½ of shalloone to lyne it 0 18 5
23 Jan. layd out for coatch hire to Westminster to speake wth ye Bishop of Lincolne, and other charges therein 0 6 1
1 Feb. 1670, for 12 paire of gloves to send as a gift to my sister Mellish at Ragnell 1 4 0
14 June, 1671, pd Mr. Rowland Hill his payment of Mr. Lucas Evans for translatinge out of ye Portugall language the lawsuites there between my sonne Edwd. and my son-in-law Wm. Sherington, Esq. into Englishe 5 18 0
3 July, 1671, pd Mr. Palmes, my atturnie his clarke, for 9 warrants by subpoenas for 9 severall persons for to appeare ye 4th of ye same before Sr Edward Turner, Lord Chiefe Baron of the Exchequer, in the cause there dependinge betweene the Bishop of Lincolne and me 0 5 0
Same day given Sargt Newdigate his fee in this business 2 10 0
Then given another counceller for his fee 1 10 0
Then given Mr. Wm. Lane, a counceller, his fee 1 10 0
Then given Mr. Palmes to fee another counceller 1 0 0
Coatch hire to and from the Temple 0 2 0
Pd the 4th of the same, Mr. Palmes, my soliciter, towardes his layings out for me this day, beinge the day of tryall of the cause betwixt the Bishop of Lincolne and me 3 0 0
Spent after the tryall at ye taverne upon my friendes there 0 12 0
Then given by me to ye jurie when my cause was ended 0 8 0
22 July, 1671, pd Mr. Robert Barnes, carrier of Lincolne, for bringinge me up of 212l. 10s. of myne left in my brother Rob. Mellish his hands, by him recd of Mr. Tempest Brighouse and Mr. Thomas Porter, of Blythe, for arrears of rent cominge to me by Henry Bingly, of Blythe 1 6 8

John Mellish was succeeded by his eldest son Edward, whose abominations in and around Blyth Church have already been noticed. He had resided for many years as a merchant at Oporto, and after realising "a plentiful estate," in the language of his monumental inscription, returned to England in October, 1671.

In 1684 he began to take down the old residence of Blyth Abbey, and in April of that year commenced building the present Blyth Hall, upon which, to June 22, 1685, he had expended 2,106l. 7s. 10¼d. The timber was brought from Sandbeck Park, and consisted of forty-two trees; containing 2,055 feet and costing 81l. 8s.; thirteen more, costing 18l. 13s. 10d.; twelve, costing 19l. 10s. The bricks were made upon Lindrick Common, and the whole of the masons' work cost 230l. 2s. 3d. Additional accounts for plastering, bricks, tiles, and lead came in. Seven marble chimney-pieces cost 63l.; and the sum total paid to June 30, 1685, was 4,108l. 13s. 11¼d. August 2, 1689, he states in his ledger "the whole cost and charges of building the abbey house, out-houses, and walls about the grounds, repairing the church end, making the vault and pew in the church, the garden and fish-ponds, levelling and planting the said grounds and cutting the river straight before the said house since April, 1684, yt I fyrst began to build, which cost I now transfer to stock to adjust the account of the said house, 6,083l. 4s. 11¼d."

Like his father he kept strict accounts of his receipts and expenses. The rental of his Blyth estate was 250l. He resided generally at Blyth Hall, took the position of a country gentleman, was high sheriff for the shire in 1692, by which office he was 180l. "out of pocket," and travelled to and from London, not in a stage coach like his father, but "in my calash." He seems to have had great practical experience in law-suits, for in January, 1687-8, he was at law with Roger Williams, formerly captain of his (Mellish's) ship Valentine, which the French had taken and carried into Flushing and which Williams had redeemed partly with money "hid in her sides," with Rev. ------- Frith, William Daynes, Francis Gosfright and Thomas Death, and Francis Hollingshead, in addition to a long and costly course of litigation with his brother-in-law Sherrington, which commenced whilst he was in Portugal, and terminated in his recovering from the latter damages to the amount of 12,000l., part of which was paid by the transfer to him of an estate at Fenwick, in the parish of Campsall, then valued at 5,998l. 13s. 11¼d., which continued in the Mellish family till 1762, when William and Charles Mellish sold it to Thomas Wild, Esq.

There is a singularly characteristic letter from Edward Mellish to Sherrington extant, in which he tells him—"Although had you the wealth of Cressus it would not at all daunt me while I have justice on my side, being I knowe it will be duly administer'd, and that I cannot want money to cope with you or the charge of obtaining it, especially having no body to care for but myselfe—wherefore it is in vain for you to thinke to forbeare me downe or weary me out at long runn, being am resolved (God willing) to goe through stick with you, and to undergoe the toyle and charge with greatest courage and patience as hitherto have done, I bless God."

He died unmarried at Blyth, September 10, 1703, in the seventieth year of his age; and being mindful of the injuries, real or supposed, which his father was said to have suffered from his (Edward's) uncle Robert, the son-in-law of William Saunderson, he left his estate not to Robert's family, but to Joseph, the grandson of his uncle William.

Pedigree of Mellish of Blyth and Hodsock.

Arms : Azure, two swans argent membered sable, between two flanches ermine.

This estate of the Mellish family in North Nottinghamshire was considerably enlarged by purchases of the brothers Edward and William Mellish, as the reader will find in the account of Bilby and Hodsock.

The Manor of Blyth.

The manor of Blyth was not included in the original grant to Andrews and Ramsden. The manors of Blyth and Barnby Moor appear to have gone together, and were leased out until the 8th James I., when they were granted to George Salter and John Williams, who in the 16th James I. sold them to Sir Gervase Clifton.

On 19th and 20th May, 1738, Sir Robert Clifton and Hon. George Wade conveyed to Edward Mellish the manors of Blyth and Barnby Moor with other property. It appears that it was subsequently discovered, on searching the Crown Rolls, that the manors and tolls were not properly described, and they were in consequence re-conveyed by the following title: "All that the manor of Blyth with Barnby, otherwise called or known by the names of the manors of Blyth and Barnby Moor, with the rights, members, and appurtenances thereof in the said county of Nottingham: and all those passage tolls of Blyth and Barnby as the same have been usually held and enjoyed by the said Sir R. Clifton and his ancestors, together with all courts, perquisites, and profits of courts, royalties, franchises, fairs, markets, tolls, rents, customs, services, jurisdictions, privileges, immunities, profits, commodities, emoluments, advantages, hereditaments, and appurtenances whatever to the same belonging."

The manors of Blyth and Barnby Moor have since this time descended with the Blyth Estate.

Family of Walker.

Arms.—Argent, on a chevron gules, between two anvils in chief and an anchor in base sable, a bee and two crescents or.

Joshua Walker, Esq., of Clifton, near Rotherham, who purchased the Blyth estate of Lieut.-Colonel Mellish, in 1806, was the second son of Samuel Walker, the principal founder of the iron works of Masborough. He had three brothers: Samuel (the eldest son) of Masborough; Joseph, of Eastwood and Aston; and Thomas, of Berry Hill; and they were all of them prosperous and opulent men. Joseph was high sheriff of the county of Derby in 1799, and Thomas of the county of Nottingham in 1809. The three younger brothers married sisters, daughters of Samuel Need, Esq., of Nottingham: Joshua of Clifton marrying Susanna, second daughter of that gentleman. From this marriage sprang Henry, eldest child, who married Elizabeth daughter of Edward Abney, Esq., of Measham, and was high sheriff of Notts in 1818; Joshua, some time M.P. for Aldborough; Susanna, who married J. Strutt, Esq., of Belper, first cousin of Edward first Lord Belper; and Frederick, who died in infancy.

Henry Walker had issue Henry Frederick, born Sept. 1807, high sheriff of Notts 1852, the present owner of the Blyth Estate, who married, 1833, Miss Howard, and has no surviving issue; Caroline-Elizabeth, who married J. Ashton Case, Esq., of Ince and Summer Hill, in the county of Lancaster, whom she survives; Emily, who married J. S. Lightfoot, Esq., and died 12 February, 1845, leaving no children; and Arthur Abney.

Henry Walker, the father of Mr. Henry Frederick Walker, died at Clifton, 19 January, 1860, in the 75th year of his age, his wife having died at the same place in 1850; and if Clifton now passes into other hands, as I believe there is a probability that it will do by sale, the last link by which the Walkers have been so long and so lucratively connected with Rotherham will be broken asunder.

The Rectory of the Parish.

Henry VIII. in his charter of dotation of Trinity College, Cambridge, bearing date the 38th year of his reign, included in his grants to that college ''totam rectoriam et ecclesiam nostram de Blythe in dicto comitatu nostro Nottinghamensi cum suis juribus membris et pertinentiis universis nuper Prioratui sive Monasterio de Blythe in eodem comitatu modo dissoluto dudum spectantibus et pertinentibus."

The rectory has been leased for terms of years by the college since they came into possession of it up to the year 1856, when their last lease, granted to Mrs. Chambers of Hodsock, expired, and they took it into their own hands.

The first lease of the rectory granted to Sir Gervase Clifton of Hodsock, in the 2nd Edward VI., was for seventy years. The next was in the 12th James I. for twenty years, to Sir G. Clifton, and thenceforth the leases were all granted for terms of twenty years in the following order:—

1618 to Sir Gervase Clifton; 1629, 1636, 1651, 1658, 1665, to Sir Gervase Clifton; 1672 to Mr. Gervase Holland; 1697 to Sir William Clifton; 1686 to Sergeant Bigland; 1693, 1700, to the same; 1707 to John Thomson; 1717 to Mr. Athorp for Sir G. Clifton; 1724 to the same; 1731 to Sir Robert Clifton; 1738 to the same; 1754 to George and John Wade, Esq.; 1761 to George Wade; 1769 Mr. Mellish; 1776 to the same; 1783 to W. Mellish, Esq.; 1790 to the same; 1797 to W. Mellish, George Cook, and Judith Mellish; 1805 to W. Mellish and George C. Yarburgh; 1812 to the same; 1819 to Mrs. Anne Chambers; 1826 to the same; 1836 to the same.

In 1765 William and Charles Mellish purchased of the Cliftons their interest in the lease of the rectory; and, as appears from the above-given recital, obtained a new lease thereof in 1769. Their family continued lessees till 1856.

The College have tithe-rent charges in every township of the parish, with the exception of Barnby Moor, where an allotment of land was set out in lieu of the rectorial tithes to them, as in lieu of the vicarial tithes to the vicar, about fifty years ago.

The Parish School of Blyth.

Doorway of school, Blyth.
Doorway of school, Blyth.

I am inclined to think that the parish school-room formed originally a portion of the buildings of the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist, of which I shall speak more fully under Hodsock. My reasons for entertaining this opinion are, 1. that human remains have been found in considerable abundance, with stone coffins, near it, thus apparently identifying it with the chapel of that institution: 2. that the door-way, in its architectural features, is precisely of the age of King John, when the hospital was founded. The external walls of the school, it is true, are by no means regular or uniform, consisting in some places of good ashlar-work, and in others of inferior materials and workmanship; but on examining the outer wall of Richmond Castle, in Yorkshire, in October 1859, which is confessedly ancient work, I found it in some places precisely like the outer walls of Blyth school.

The school is endowed with land bequeathed by some benefactor unknown. In 1695 Edward Mellish took a lease of the school land, called then The Marsh, and situated on the right side of the road from Blyth to Nornay, at the hands of John Turner the schoolmaster, at an annual rent of 5l. The Mellish family continued to hold the land at the same unvarying rent till the year 1806, when conceiving that it was part of the Blyth estate, subject to the rent just mentioned, Lieut.-Col. Mellish sold it, together with the rest of the property, to Joshua Walker, Esq. After repeated but ineffectual attempts had been made to induce the new proprietor and his son and successor to restore to the school its unquestionable right, Henry Walker, Esq. made a cession of six acres of land in another part of his estate, which was accepted by the parish in vestry assembled, October 27, 1815, and confirmed in the award of the Commissioners then executing an Act for the inclosure of lands in the township and liberty of Blyth.

The schoolmaster was, till more recent times, duly licensed to his office by the Archbishop of York; and the school being in strict connection with the Church of England, the appointment of the master is vested in the vicar.

Property of the Township: Charities: Concluding Remarks.

The township of Blyth possesses property in land and houses, left by donors in a great measure unknown, which is now let for about 28l. a-year. Included in this rent, however, is the sum of 4l. 5s. which, strange as it may sound, is forced upon the acceptance of the township against its will under the following circumstances:—Four persons, of the names of Dorothy Barlow, James Ryalls, Thomas Greaves, and Rev. W. Smith, lecturer of All Hallows, Barking, left in the last century the respective sums of 20l. 20l. 10l. and 35l. to the poor of the town and parish of Blyth, the interest to be distributed in the shape of doles annually. In process of time the overseers of the poor invested these charities, amounting in all to 85l. in building cottages, the rents of which went to the general poor-rate account of the township, until in 1826, on the recommendation of the Charity Commission, a committee, consisting of the vicar, churchwardens, and others, was appointed to receive the interest of these charities from the overseers of the poor, being 4l. 5s. at the rate of 5 per cent, and to apply it agreeably to the bequests of the donors. So matters continued from 1826 to 1856, when the auditor of the Worksop Union disallowed the payment. On appeal to the Poor Law Commissioners they recommended a sale of the town's property, and their recommendation was accepted, on condition that a pledge should be given that the principal, and all arrears of interest of the sum of 85l. should be reserved out of the proceeds of the sale. This pledge the Poor Law Commissioners have up to this time declined to give, and the consequence is that, under the form and name of law, a great injury has been done to the poor. I can only express a hope that until such pledge is given the township will not sanction the sale.

Other charities are, a house, homestead, and about five acres of land at Scaftworth, bequeathed by Edward Farfoot in 1728, which were advantageously sold in the last century to the Ackloms of Wiseton, and the proceeds invested in the funds; 40l. by John Crofts in 1759; two cottages and a rent-charge of 10l. per annum by John Seaton, May 15th, 1700, for the habitation and use of a widow of the Church of England, and of a widow of the people called Quakers.

Blyth Nornay is, as its name indicates, on the north side of the river, and is a small hamlet, the right-hand side of which as we proceed to Bawtry is in the township of Styrrup, and the left in that of Blyth.

The bridge now called Nornay Bridge was formerly known by the name of the Rood Bridge, on which stood a small chapel with a rood, and a priest in ancient times was in attendance to receive the devotions and offerings of travellers.

One of the great roads to London from the North lay through Blyth, branching off from the present North Road at Rossington, and falling into it again at Markham Moor. I present my readers with an account of expenses at the Angel Inn, Blyth, in 1274. In that year Robert de Insula, newly-elected Bishop of Durham, went to London in company with the Prior of Durham, Richard Claxton, in order to obtain an interview with the King. They returned in October by way of Blyth; and here is their bill at the inn—"In pane, 10s.; in cervisia et vino, 33s. 5d.; in coquina, 27s. 5½d.; in prebenda, feno et litera, 18s. 9d." From Blyth the prior sent a person forward with a present of 2s. to the Friars Minor of Doncaster.

The town was once probably more populous than it is at the present day. It contained a street or row of houses on the green opposite to the present vicarage; another leading from the church gates towards the Angel Inn; another, Briggate, leading to Blyth Nornay; and one which is an invariable concomitant of all ancient towns and cities, namely, Finkle Street (the street of ale or beer, a public house or inn being there, from the Danish word finchal, finchle), leading towards the present gates of Blyth Hall. It contained also some inns of a better class, which have disappeared; several shops, which if not of the highest order were of great convenience; and various small freeholds, with houses quite fit for the residences of respectable yeomen, which have been nearly all gradually absorbed into the possessions of the proprietor of the Blyth estate. To a person who like the writer of these pages has been from earliest days familiarly acquainted with the finest scenery of England from "Barnard's tower and Tees's stream," and Rokeby and "Brignal banks" and the Greta, downwards to Wycliffe, Ovington, and Gainford, all Midland scenery must necessarily present a somewhat tame appearance. Still, Midland people themselves and even more distant visitors are always gratified with Blyth, embosomed as it is in rich foliage of elm and ash and sycamore; crowned at one extremity with a venerable church possessing one of the finest towers in the country, at the other with its ancient school; with an excellent mansion and a river flanking its pleasure grounds; and attesting in its better houses, its cleanly cottages, its fertile and highly cultivated fields, its excellent roads, and dry soil, the general prosperity, comfort, and contentment of its inhabitants.

The Apology of Syr Thomas More, knt. made an. 1533, Works, edit. 1557, p. 885; Lord Campbell's Life of Sir Thomas More; Monast. Anglican.; Spelman's Hist, and Fate of Sacrilege, New Edit.; Pat. Roll 35 Hen. VIII; Bishop Saunderson's Life and Works, edit, by Prof. Jacobson; Life of Bishop Saunderson, by Walton; Bishop Morley's Tracts, 1683; and Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, Part II. p. 105.