Barnby Moor with Bilby.

In Barnebi Turuerd and Sorte had before the Conquest one bovate of land and a half to be taxed. Land four bovatcs. It is waste. There is one acre of meadow. Pasturable wood one quarantcn long and half a quaranten broad. Value in King Edward's time 10s., now 12d.

Barnby and Lound occur also conjointly as in some measure being terra regis, and as such owing service to the manor of Bothamsall.

Such is the representation given of Barnby Moor in the great national survey of Domesday. The appellation of Barnby admits of a ready explanation. It is the by or town of beorn, an old ante-Norman name. The meaning of the distinctive addition of moor is obvious. The ancient benefactions in this township to the convent of Blyth perpetually speak of "Mora de Barneby."

At the Conquest Barnby Moor became part of the great fee of Roger. But in his foundation charter of the monastery of Blyth he gave this township, as we have seen, to the prior and convent. "Insuper dedi illis quicquid habebam in Barnebeya." So that thenceforth they became lords of the manor, and continued so till the destruction of their house.

I shall now lay before my readers the substance of a series of charters of benefactions made to the convent of Blyth in this place. They will be enabled thereby to realise to themselves a very vivid picture of the condition of the district in ancient times.

"1. Know all men present and to come, that I, Eustathius of Barnebi, with the assent and concurrence of my wife and heirs, have given, granted, and by this my present charter have confirmed, to God and St. Mary of Blyth, and the monks there serving God, all the land which I have possessed in the moor of Barnby within the inclosure of the monks, in free, pure, and perpetual alms."

"2. Know all men, &c. that I, Wiot of Barnebi, for the health of my own soul and of those of my heirs, have given, &c. to God and St. Mary of Blyth, and the monks there serving God, in pure and perpetual alms, all the land which I have possessed in the moor of Barnebi within the inclosure of the monks, free and released of all secular service and exaction."

"3. Know all men, that I, Nicholas, the son of Walter of Barnebi, have given to . . . . (as above) all my toft in the moor of Barnebi, as well in length as in breadth, without any drawback."

"4. Know all men, that I, Wyot of Barnebi, have remitted and quit-claimed for ever for myself and my heirs to the prior and convent of Blyth all right and claim which I had or could have in the wood of Barnebi, and in one rood of land within the inclosure of their manor of Barnebi. As also that rood which is the nearest to the two roods which Robert the son of Richard gave to the same, saving only to myself and heirs common feeding of grass and acorns for animals of my own rearing, together with common del feuger (for fire-wood) and common of dry branches which have fallen by the wind or by age, it being understood that neither I nor my heirs shall lay our hands upon any thing green in the same wood without the special licence of my lord the prior. Done in the month of June, a.d. 1235."

"5. Know all men present and to come, that I, Thomas, the clerk of Barnebi, have given to, &c. two perches and one half of land in breadth and length from . . . up to the road which goes from Lideate within the inclosure of the said monks, to hold of me and of my heirs for two pence to be paid yearly to me and my heirs at two terms, that is, one penny at Pentecost and one penny at the feast of St. Andrew."

"6. Know, &c. that I Adam de Barnebi have quit-claimed to the convent of Blyth all right which I have had in the moor of Barnebi, which the prior has inclosed within his court and within his walls, and have released to them for ever all nuisance which may happen to my fee from the walls and waters of the said prior."

"7. To all sons of our Holy Mother the Church, William, the chaplain of Gamelleston (Gamston), sendeth greeting in the Lord. Know all that I and my heirs have conceded, &c. to William the lord prior of Blyth, and the convent of the same place, for ever, all right and claim which we have had in all the land of Barnebi within the vill and without, excepting that bovate of land which Giot (Wyot) holds. And by way of ratifying this to the prior and convent we have made these our letters patent, and attached our seal."

"8. Know all men that I Walter, the son of Thomas of Barnebi, have remitted and quitclaimed for myself and heirs for ever to the prior and convent of Blyth, all right and claim which I had or could have in the wood of Barnebi, which I asserted to appertain to seven bovates of land, which I and Robert and William Leman held of the said prior and convent, when we impleaded them by brief of our Lord the King in the time of Stephen de Segrave, saving only to myself common pasture and herbage and acorns for animals of my own rearing, as long as the same wood shall stand. Moreover, it shall be lawful for the said prior and convent to assert (essart, clear) and cultivate the said wood, whenever they please, without obstruction of the said Walter or his heirs: and when the said prior and convent have led away their crops from thence, the said Walter and all the men of the vill shall have common. For this concession the prior and convent have given me six marcs of silver. And I and my heirs have ceded for ever all claim to the said wood; and as regards the seven bovates of land in the same will warrant them against all men."

"9. Be it known unto all men, &c. that the following agreement hath been made between Thomas the son of Galfrid of Barnebi, surnamed Freman, of the one part, and William Burdon Lord Prior of Blyth, and the convent thereof, of the other part, that the said Thomas, for himself, his heirs, or assigns, hath conceded and quit-claimed to God and the Blessed Mary of Blyth, and the monks there serving God, in consideration of one half-quarter of wheat given before hand, all right or claim which he hath had or can have, or which can appertain to himself or his heirs by way of inheritance, or in any other manner, to all oak-trees standing in the wood of Barnebi, or to their branches, stumps, or roots, or to other roots there, with the understanding that the said Thomas or his heirs shall henceforth have no claim to the same, saving that they shall annually, as long as the wood stands', receive by view and delivery of frank-pledge and of the Forester of Barnebi, from the said wood, ten roots of oaks of average quality to be found in the same wood. In testimony whereof the said Thomas and the said prior have interchangeably put their seals to this deed of hand."

"10. Know all men, &c, that I, Robert, the son of Richard of Barnebi, have conceded and given to the prior and convent of Blyth one toft in the vill of Barnebi, that, namely, which lies between the toft of Walter the son of Murihild (Muriel) and the toft of Beatrix the wife of Reginald Bonde, being in length seventeen perches and a half, and in breadth two perches—they (the prior and convent) paying me and my heirs a penny yearly at the feast of St. Andrew in lieu of all services and secular demands. For this cession and donation the said prior and convent have given me five shillings sterling in my great necessity."

"11. To all men who shall see or hear this writing, William the son of Robert of Barneby sendeth greeting in the Lord. Know ye that I have ceded and quit-claimed to the prior and convent of Blyth all right and claim in the wood of Barneby, which is called Ravelound—saving only to myself, my heirs and assigns, common pasture. In testimony whereof I have put the seal of the monks to this deed. Dated at Blyth on the Tuesday in the week of Pentecost in the year of our Lord 1278."

"12. Know, &c, that I Gilbert the son of William the son of Robert of Barneby have given, &c. to God and the Church of S. Mary of Blyth, and the monks there serving God, in consideration of a sum of money which they have given me beforehand, one penny of yearly rent to be received from Margery the relict of William Leget, viz. one halfpenny at Pentecost, and one halfpenny at the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, for which the said relict Margery was bound to me yearly for one acre of land in the territory of Barnebi, lying between the land of Galfrid Wiot and the land of William the brother of Walter, abutting at one end upon the king's high road and at the other towards the gallows of Blyth. To hold of me and my heirs to the said monks and their successors in peace and quietness for ever with all appurtenances, fealties, profits, commodities, revenues, and all escheats which may arise from the said rent."

These ancient charters enable us to form a very vivid conception of Barnby Moor in times of old. My lord the prior of Blyth has, we see, a large wood which, as we may infer from the tenour of one of these documents, is of great antiquity. It is in all probability the very wood spoken of in the Domesday Survey which has been recited at the beginning of this chapter, and, if so, is at least a mile and a half in length and three quarters of a mile in breadth. Under its oaks, whose tops and branches in every stage of decay present the most varied and picturesque appearance, like those in the hays of Birkland and Bilhagh, in the vicinity of Thoresby and Edwinstow, may be seen cattle depasturing upon its coarse long herbage, or swine feeding upon its fallen acorns. My lord has, too, his forester in his dress of Lincoln green, with his bow and quiver over his shoulder, his baldric round his waist, and his staghound at his heel, now perambulating the open glade, now watching in the thicket, to protect the rights of his master, to ward off intruders, and to bring down any wild deer that may chance to come within arrow shot.

There is, moreover, a wild, extensive moor interspersed here and there with green knolls, where the heather and the hare-bell wave in all the native beauty and brilliancy of colour, with which He hath clothed them, who arrays the lilies of the field with a glory surpassing that of the greatest of earth's potentates. The small proprietors, or the free-tenants of the convent, now and then set up an adverse claim in forest and moor: but my lord the prior nevertheless incloses the moor with some cognisable fence or boundary, and they are easily induced for some profitable consideration to cede and quit-claim or compromise their pretensions. He also holds his manorial court, to which his dependents pay suit and service, and with this there is, as usual, united a court leet or view of frank-pledge.

The reader will not fail likewise to observe that the convent of Blyth, doubtless like other religious houses, was in the habit of purchasing the properties of indigent owners who might happen to fall into difficulties and wanted ready money, and of advancing money to owners or occupiers upon good and adequate security; and if upon these occasions the religious dealt kindly and liberally with their neighbours and dependents (and we have no reason whatever for supposing the contrary), then verily they fulfilled one great object of their mission, namely, that of charity and mercy.

To carry on my history of this ancient manor of the prior and convent of Blyth in unbroken chronological order, I will state that in the report made by the jury at Nottingham of the possessions of Blyth Abbey in the year 1378, the prior is returned as holding at Barnby Moor fourteen bovates of land, each containing sixteen acres, and valued in all at 2l. 3s. 4d. yearly; as also eight and a half acres of meadow worth 1s. 6d. an acre; and in rents from free tenants and cottagers 1l. 12s. 2d.

In the return made 26 Henry VIII. of the property of the convent, we find "the lordeshipe of Barneby wt other londes and tenements thereto belonginge in Barneby, yearly, 5l. 14s."

The manor of Barnby Moor, as I have shown in the preceding chapter, has always been united with that of Blyth, and remained after the dissolution of the convent of Blyth in the crown till the time of James I. when it was alienated to the Cliftons, who sold it to the Mellishes, from whom it passed to the family of Mr. Walker, the present proprietor of the Blyth estate.

I have not been able to discover with absolute certainty what became of the rest of the monastic property here; but we may conjecture with some degree of probability that, inasmuch as the name of Fretwell occurs at the head of the proprietors of this township in 1612, and the Fretwells were from the time of Henry VIII. possessed of Hellaby, in the neighbouring parish of Stainton in Yorkshire, a member of this family it was who, at an early period probably after the destruction of the monastery, purchased the monastic estates at Barnby Moor.

After a considerable interval of time, namely, about the middle of the last century, I find the Barkers large proprietors here, as well as at Mattersea, Ranskill, and Torworth. In 1808, John Barker, of the Middle Temple, esq. on his marriage with Caroline Maria Scellier Salis, of Portland Place, entailed the bulk of his estates in Nottinghamshire. He subsequently mortgaged, and eventually sold, his interest in these estates to Henry Dempster Heming, esq.; and in 1842 Mr, Heming offered them for sale. He was entitled to a portion of them in fee simple absolute, and to the residue for the life of Mr. Barker, then fifty-nine years of age, with remainder in fee expectant on his decease without issue male. Mr. Barker had been then married thirty-four years to his wife, whose age then was fifty-four, without issue, so that a purchaser was only subject to the contingency of Mr. Barker leaving a legitimate male descendant, who might attain an age to enable him to bar the remainder in fee, but which he could not effect whilst a minor, nor, after his majority, in his father's lifetime, without the purchaser's own concurrence. The property altogether thus offered for sale, amounted to upwards of 1,700 acres, and the risk was presumed to be, if any, very small. The late Mr. George Clark, of Barnby Moor, and the late Mr. Bradley, of Blyth Spital, were the purchasers of that portion which was situated at Barnby Moor.

The Rectorial and Vicarial Glebe.

The tithes of this township, both rectorial and vicarial, were commuted, as already stated, for land about fifty years ago, at the time of the inclosure, chiefly I doubt not through the beneficial influence of those active and intelligent men, the late Mr. George Clark, and his father, the late Mr. John D'Arcy Clark.

Bishop Horsley in the last century denounced the policy of commuting tithes for land. "Nor less fatal (says he) to our order would be any change in the tenure of ecclesiastical property, especially the favourite project of an exchange of tithes for an equivalent in land. Many of us here have felt, in some part of our lives, the inconvenience of succeeding to dilapidated houses, with small resources in our private fortunes, and restrained by the circumstances of a predecessor's family from the attempt to enforce our legal claims. But what would be the situation of a clergyman who in coming to a living should succeed to nothing, better than a huge dilapidated farm, which would too soon become the real state of every living in the kingdom in which the tithes should have been converted into glebe? Not to mention the extinction of our spiritual character, and the obvious inconveniences to the yeomanry of the kingdom, which would be likely to take place, should this new manner of our maintenance send forth the spirit of farming among the rural clergy."

With great deference to the authority of this very eminent and able prelate, I would submit that it by no means followed that the clergy should become farmers, (for of course they might have let their glebe lands cither voluntarily, or, as at present, under legal compulsion, to tenants,) or that their estates should necessarily be converted into "huge dilapidated farms." But now, at all events, since the commutation of tithes and the establishment of free trade in corn, it cannot I think be denied that it would be for the advantage of the clergy if their endowments consisted in land instead of rent charges. As matters stand at this day, their benefices are dependent entirely upon the price of grain; and it has frequently happened that when corn has been low, other commodities, such as wool and cattle, have commanded high prices. And hence landlords, since the days of free trade commenced, have been enabled to let their farms at as high, nay in many cases higher rents than before. Of course a landed benefice would share in the advantages of a landed estate.

Barnby Moor, standing on the great North road from London to Edinburgh, and possessing an excellent inn, exhibited in bygone days, before the construction of our railroads, continued life and animation. Even at this day it is a remarkably neat and well-conditioned village, possessing several good houses, and many excellent and intelligent inhabitants, whom I have the happiness of numbering among my parishioners; and enjoying the somewhat rare distinction of the entire absence of a conventicle.


Bilby is incorporated with Barnby Moor in the payment of rates and taxes, and therefore must be treated of here. The Domesday Survey states that "in Billebi Grimchel had six bovates of land to be taxed. Land three carucates. Ingram, a vassal of Roger, has there one carucate and nine villeins, and one boardman, having three carucates and six acres of meadow. Value in King Edward's time 40s.; now 20s."

Thoroton imagines, upon what authority I know not, that this Ingram was the ancestor of the lords of Alfreton. Of his descendants William Fitz-Ranulph was a benefactor of the Abbey of Welbeck, giving the abbot and canons the mill of Bilby.* The daughter of William, Isabella, married John de Orreby. Orreby and Thurstan Dispensator (Spenser) are recorded as holding, under Alice the Countess of Eu, one third part and a twelfth part of a knight's fee in Bilby; this eminent lady herself holding direct from the Crown of the old fee.

Subsequently the Chaworths appear as proprietors in Bilby; and it would appear that they sold their interest there to Sir William Hewet, who was an opulent merchant in London, and Lord Mayor of the city in 1559; who purchased estates at Barking in Essex, at Wales in Yorkshire, the place of his birth, and also at Harthill: and from whose relatives descended the Hewets of Shireoaks. Sir William Hewet had an only daughter, to whom the following romantic accident befel, which I must give in the quaint and graphic words of Stowe, premising merely that Hewet was a clothworker, and had a house on London Bridge. "The maid playing with her out of a window over the river Thames, by chance dropt her in, almost beyond expectation of being saved. A young gentleman named Osborne, then apprentice to Sir William the father (which Osborne was one of the ancestors of the Duke of Leeds in a direct line), at this calamitous accident immediately lept in bravely and saved the child. In memory of which deliverance, and in gratitude, her father afterwards bestowed her in marriage on the said Mr. Osborne, with a very great dowry." Of this dowry the estates at Bilby, Barking, Wales, and Harthill formed a portion. Stowe adds, that "several persons of quality courted the said young lady, and particularly the Earl of Shrewsbury. But Sir William was pleased to say, Osborne saved her and Osborne should enjoy her."

Osborne himself was a merchant, and Lord Mayor of London in 1582, in which year he was knighted. He was one of the Members of Parliament for the City in 1585.†

The son and heir of this Edward Osborne, viz. Sir Edward Osborne, Bart., sold the Bilby property to Sir Gervase Clifton, of Clifton and Hodsock, Bart.

In 1695 Sir Gervase Clifton conveyed estates in Bilby, Ranby, and Styrrup, to Sir Creswell Levinz, knight, sergeant-at-law. In 1697 he sold to Levinz the royalties of Bilby and Eanby. In 1734 the Levinzes are described as being of Grove in the county of Nottingham.

In 1748 indentures of lease and release were executed between William Levinz the younger; the Hon. Morgan Vane, second son of the Bight Hon. Gilbert, second Lord Barnard, of Barnard Castle in the county of Durham, Robert Knight (then Lord Luxborough), Honorable Henry Vane, elder brother of Morgan Vane, afterwards first Earl of Darlington, John Page, and John Evelyn, esquires, whereby Levinz conveyed for the sum of 5,500l. property in the parishes of Babworth and Blyth, including Bilby, to the above-named Morgan Vane, who in his marriage settlement in 1731 with Margaretta Knight, is described as being of St. Martin's in the Fields, and who was known in Nottinghamshire and probably elsewhere by the honorary distinction of "His Honour Vane." His motives for settling in Nottinghamshire must of course be matter of conjecture. But it is by no means improbable that he was induced to do so by the fact of his possessing relatives in the immediate neighbourhood of Bilby; for his grandmother had been a sister of John Holles, of Haughton, fourth Earl of Clare, and eventually Duke of Newcastle, succeeding in this second title to his father-in-law Henry Cavendish.‡

Twenty years had scarcely elapsed before his Honour Vane parted with a very considerable portion of this property; for in 1768 he sold a large part of his estate, which was situated in the parish of Babworth, to William Mellish, Esq. of Blyth Hall. It was known by the name of Ranby Forest, containing by estimation fourteen hundred acres, and having Barnby fields on the north, lands of W. Simpson, Esq. on the south and east, and the Nottingham road on the west. With it were sold the manor and royalty of Ranby.

By his first wife, Margaretta Knight, Hon. Morgan Vane had a son Morgan, who was three times married, his third wife being niece of his second, and the law at that time admitting such alliances. On his third marriage, M. Vane, junior, settled all his property on his wife Catharine Brookes. Within two years of his death she married Mr. John Dore, and on her marriage settled the Bilby estate on trusts, by which in the event the children of her second husband were equally benefited with those of her first.

By the trustees under this marriage settlement the estate of Bilby was sold in 1801 to Francis Ferrand Foljambe, Esq. for the sum of 21,000l.

Some members of this family, I am informed, resided at Bilby Hall in the early part of this century. It is now, and has for some years been, uninhabited.

Pedigree of Vane of Bilby.

Arms: Azure, three gauntlets or.

Pedigree of Vane of Bilby

I have a word to say with regard to the rectorial and vicarial tithes of Bilby. The property consists of about six hundred and seventy acres. I am confining myself strictly to the parish of Blyth. The rectorial tithes are commuted for 10l. per annum; the vicarial for 4s. The late Mr. John D'Arcy Clark of Barnby Moor, then an octogenarian, informed me in the year 1835 that he could well remember the time when the sum of 10l. was the full value of the great tithes of Bilby. He of course referred to a period when the country around us was more like a barren forest than a cultivated and productive inclosure. The plea therefore that this is a good and valid modus reaching back to the age of Richard I. entirely falls to the ground. The simple fact is, that when this rent of 10l. was first agreed upon, some seventy or eighty years ago, it was, as Mr. Clark informed me, a just representation of the value of the great tithes; but from great and culpable neglect on the part of Trinity College, or their lessee, or both, the rent was permitted to glide on year after year unaltered; and thus it came to pass that, when the commutation of tithes was effected, the estate of Bilby escaped the incidence of a full and adequate rent-charge under cover of Lord Tenterden's Act, and 10l. instead of 234l. 10s. is paid out of it in lieu of rectorial tithes.

The munificent sum of 4s. instead of 50l. is paid to the vicar for vicarial tithes, originating doubtless in precisely the same circumstances as those under which the payment of the 10l. above named took its rise.

If ever Bilby should be sold, and

What's property, dear Swift? you see it alter
From you to me, from me to Peter Walter.

then truly the line of Horace might be very fairly urged as a recommendation to purchasers,

Est modus in rebus: sunt certi denique fines.

which used to be thus translated by Burke:—

There is a modus upon the estate and fines certain.

I gladly quit this noxious air for a more wholesome and invigorating atmosphere.

Reg. Priorat. de Blida, ff. 94-7; Testa de Neville, p. 6; Regist. Abbat. de Welbeck, ff. 137, 308; Bp. Horsley's Sermons, Serm. 35, preached at Anniv. of Sons of Clergy, 1786; Stanley's Hist. Memorials of Canterbury, pp. 92-3; Foss's Lives of the Judges, i. 202; Stow's Survey of London and Westminster.

* This William must have been the brother or son of Robert Fitzranulph, of eternal infamy, who followed the four murderers of Becket into Canterbury Cathedral, and who immediately after the murder resigned the shrievalty of Nottingham and Derby, which he had held for the six preceding years, and founded the priory of Beauchief in atonement of his crime. William, the son of Robert, and probably the very person mentioned above, succeeded to his father's office, and was about the court till the reign of John. There is or was living somewhere in the Midland counties a person who claimed descent from one of the murderers of Becket, and prided himself upon the connection. The pride of ancestry is inherent in the human breast. The late Mr. O'Connell used to declare of a living statesman, that he was lineally descended from the impenitent thief.

Boast then your blood and your long lineage stretch
As high as Rome, and its great founders reach;
You'll find, in these hereditary tales,
Your ancestors the scum of broken jails,
And Romulus, your honours' ancient source,
But a poor shepherd's boy, or something worse.

† For further interesting details of the Osborne family, the reader is referred to Hunter's" Hist. of the Deanery of Doncaster," i. 142, sqq.
‡ The Vanes were originally a Kentish family, and purchased the confiscated estates of Ralph Neville, Eari of Westmerland, in the county of Durham, in the beginning of the 17th century. (See Hasted's Kent, ii. 184, 241, 253; iv. 346, note.)