Pass we on to a manor which since Norman times has acknowledged as its lords, and paid suit and service to, a long line of mitred prelates, from Thomas to the haughty and ambitious Roger, the rival of Becket; the royal Plantagenet; the virtuous Melton; the munificent Thoresby; the noble-hearted Scrope; the great Wolsey; and Archbishops of York in succession down to our own age.

The very name carries us back to remote ages. It bears upon it the impress of foreign invasion and foreign dominion. Ranskill is a purely Danish word. It is Ravenskelf, the skelf or shelving-knoll of raven, and occurs as Raskelf, the name of a village and station north of York. As the eagle was in the estimation of the Romans the sacred bird of Jupiter, so among the Northmen the raven was consecrated to Odin, their tutelary deity, one of whose names in consequence was raven-god. They made auspices from the flight and scream of this bird, and considered it a good omen if it followed them to battle. During the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries the raven was the great flag under which the Northmen rallied and fought. It waved over Canute at Ashingdon, and over the Conqueror at Hastings; but after the last of these battles it gradually paled, and at length sank beneath the sacred symbol of our holy religion the Cross.

As I am about to treat of a very ancient manor of the Archbishops of York, in whose diocese Nottinghamshire, till within the last few years, was situated; and as through their ancient possessions and privileges, and frequent residence in this district, they became very intimately connected with it, it will not, I trust, be deemed altogether irrelevant to the subject to furnish my readers with a brief and compendious account of the establishment of Christianity in that ancient diocese subsequently to the days of St. Augustine.

Ancient Diocese of York.

After incurring imminent peril of assassination at the Court of Redwald, king of East Anglia, whither he had fled for refuge from Edilfrid, king of Bernicia, and after having escaped from a violent death in a manner which, in the narrative of Venerable Bede, is not altogether free from admixture of marvellous incident, Edwin the son of Ella, founder of the kingdom of Deira, ascended (a.d. 626) the throne of Northumbria, which comprised the united kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, and extended from the Humber to the friths of Forth and Clyde. When firmly seated in his dominions he married Ethelberga, daughter of Ethelbert king of Kent, the first English sovereign who embraced the Christian religion at the hands of Augustine in 597, and herself a Christian lady, who took with her to her new home Paulinus, an associate of the Roman missionary. Edwin himself was a pagan; but circumstances providentially conspired to work his conversion. On Easter Day, a.d. 626, he very narrowly escaped assassination by the hand of an emissary of Cynegils king of Wessex.

The same evening the queen was delivered of a daughter, who with eleven others was baptized on the eve of the following Whitsunday, the king promising that he himself would also embrace the Christian faith if he should prove victorious in the expedition on which he was on the point of setting out in order to take vengeance upon the treacherous king of Wessex. He did so, and after a year's anxious deliberation he entered the great council of his kingdom, accompanied by Paulinus, informed them of his partiality towards Christianity, and solicited their advice. The graphic account given by Beda of what followed is well known.

Coifi, the pagan high priest of Northumbria, after hearing from the mouth of Paulinus the great doctrines of the Christian religion, hurled his spear into the nearest heathen temple, which was immediately burned to the ground;* and Edwin, his great nobles, and many of his subjects, were solemnly baptized at York on Easter day, in a small church of wood dedicated to St. Peter, the first precursor of that most august of temples, the noble minster, a.d. 627. Paulinus was established in the archiepiscopal see of York, and for six years his labours in the conversion of the heathen were unremitted. In one day he is said to have baptized ten thousand in the river Swale. He moved about from place to place with the court, and his abodes at Yeverin in Glendale, Northumberland, and at Catterick, were long held in extreme veneration by people, whose fathers, they gratefully remembered, had there been taught the blessings of true religion. Edwin's kingdom at this time reached into the counties of Nottingham and Lincoln, and Paulinus crossed the Humber to preach and baptize at Lincoln. He also made converts at Southwell; and Bede tells us that in his time, about 100 years afterwards, traditional memorials were preserved of the personal appearance of this first and eminent missionary of the North—of his tall stature, his thin and hooked nose, lean face and black hair, and countenance terrible enough, but very reverend. But "a new and unforeseen accident," remarks Drake, in his History of York, with much truth and quaintness, "spoiled all his harvest, and made the painful husbandman to seek shelter in another country." King Edwin was slain 12 Oct. 633, at Hatfield, in Yorkshire, as he fought against Penda king of Mercia, the most cruel and powerful of all the pagan sovereigns of England, and Cædwalla king of the Britons. Queen Ethelberga, her children, and Archbishop Paulinus, fled for refuge into Kent, and the converts of Northumbria relapsed into idolatry.

On the death of Edwin, Bernicia and Deira again had each their king, who were pagans. But Oswald, the brother and successor of Eanfrid on the throne of Bernicia, determined to re-establish the independence of his country and the religion of Christ. His brother had been treacherously slain in a parley with Csedwalla. But he conquered and slew the British king near Hexham, a.d. 635, and this decisive victory placed him on the throne of Northumberland as it existed in Edwin's time. He immediately applied to the monastery of Iona, where he had spent some portion of his previous life in exile, for a supply of Christian teachers. Corman, who was the first missionary sent, returned in disappointment. Aidan next undertook the mission, and by the strict austerity of his life, and the unwearied zeal with which he prosecuted his sacred task, won the affection and esteem, while his arguments convinced the reason, of Oswald's subjects. The king gave him the offer of any place which he might select for his permanent residence, and he chose the isle of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, which was cut off twice in the day from the mainland of Northumberland by the tide, and was within view of Bamborough Castle, at that time the residence of the Northumbrian sovereigns. **

Aidan was consecrated first bishop of Lindisfarne by the abbot of Iona,† and became the founder of that see, which continued to exist after him under fifteen bishops in succession, until an incursion of the Danes compelled the last bishop Eardulph and his monks to abandon the island, and in a few years to fix their abode at Chester-le-Street.

During the whole of his episcopate of seventeen years Aidan exercised ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the enormous kingdom of Northumbria, which reached, as I have said, from the Humber to the Frith of Forth, and even stretched into Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire; for, as we have seen, Paulinus had fled on the murder of King Edwin in 633 to Rochester, and no new appointment to the Archbishoprick of York followed for thirty years. Aidan and his successors at Lindisfarne were virtually, although not nominally, Archbishops of York during that period. Paulinus entailed his pall upon the see of Rochester, and York continued bereft of that distinction for 125 years. The sanctity, the zeal, and the self-denial of the first Bishop of Lindisfarne have gained for him a high place among the best and holiest of the ministers of Christ's Church of that or of any other age. His character has been thus drawn by Bede, who was in every respect, save one, his most devoted admirer,‡ "He was wont to traverse everywhere, both town and country, on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity; and wherever in his way he saw any, either rich or poor, immediately turning to them, he invited them, if infidels, to embrace the mystery of the faith, or, if they were believers, he strove to strengthen them in the faith and to stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works. If it happened, which was but seldom, that he was invited to banquet with the King, he went with one or two clerks, and having taken a small repast, made haste to be gone with them either to read or to pray. I have written thus much concerning the person and works of the aforesaid individual— preserving the memory thereof for the benefit of the reader, namely, his love of peace and charity; his continence and humility; his mind superior to anger and avarice; his industry in keeping and teaching the heavenly commandments; his diligence in reading and watching; his authority becoming a priest, in reproving the haughty and powerful, and at the same time his tenderness in comforting the afflicted, and relieving and defending the poor. To say all in a few words, as near as I could be informed by those who know him, he took care to omit none of all those things which he found enjoined in the apostolical or prophetical writings, but to the utmost of his power endeavoured to perform them all in his actions."

The nature and limits of my work permit me only very briefly to state that Aidan was followed by fifteen bishops in succession at Lindisfarne, among whom was Cuthbert, the great patron saint of Durham. The last Bishop, Eardulph, and his monks were driven away from the island by an incursion of the Danes A.D. 868. They carried with them the bones of their patron saint, St. Cuthbert, and after wandering about from place to place for seven long years at last settled at Crake, near York. Alfred the Great had succeeded to the throne of England, and from motives of policy had made as his tributary king in the North, Guthred, a Dane, who gave Eardulph and his monks a home and a cathedral at Chester-le-Street, which became the seat of episcopacy for 113 years, when the ecclesiastics were again dislodged by the Danes. They took shelter with the bones of St. Cuthbert at Ripon, until the storm had passed away. On their return it was the will of Cuthbert to rest at Durham, and here sprang up in due time "his cathedral huge and vast."

In 1082, or very shortly afterwards, the monks of Durham established a colony of their body at Lindisfarne, and the ruins of their monastic church remain to this day. But, although the cathedral of the bishop was thus succeeded by the convent of the monk, the name and memory of the former still survive, and to this day the islanders love to call the ruin by the name of "the Cathedral."

I must return from the pleasing and deeply interesting topic of this the first and earliest establishment of episcopacy in the northern portion of ancient Northumbria, on which I fear I have dwelt too long, to York, which the departure of Paulinus in 633 left, as my reader will bear in mind, without a bishop: and to the division of this great diocese, which was co-extensive with Northumbria, into four, viz. York, Hexham, Lindisfarne, and Whitherne in Galloway.

After the departure of Paulinus, the continued wars of the North and Pagan persecution deprived York of episcopal superintendence for thirty years. At length Alcfrid, heir apparent of the kingdom, sent Wilfrid of Ripon into France for consecration, with a view to remove the see from Lindisfarne to York. Wilfrid, once consecrated, made no haste to return, and the king Oswi conferred the vacant see of York upon Ceadda abbot of Lastingham, a.d. 666, who after three years was driven from his post by Wilfrid, and eventually became bishop of Lichfield. Wilfrid took up his abode at York, and for several years presided over the whole diocese of Northumbria. But, in consequence of a quarrel between himself and Egfrid king of Northumberland, he was compelled to resign his see: and on his departure the diocese was formally divided into two portions, with the Tees then, as now, the boundary.

Bosa was, A.D. 678, made bishop of the southern portion, Deira; Eata, bishop of the northern, Bernicia. Three years afterwards, viz. a.d. 681, Theodore archbishop of Canterbury erected the two additional Dioceses of Hexham and Whitherne in Galloway, appointing Tunberct bishop of the first, and Trumvin bishop of the second, with charge of that portion of the diocese of Lindisfarne which lay beyond the Tweed.

"This augmentation (says Lingard, speaking of this and other changes,) was not, however, sufficient to satisfy the spiritual wants of the people; and the Venerable Bede laments that, in the great and populous diocese of York, there were many districts which had never been visited by their bishop, and thousands of Christians whose souls had not received the holy spirit by the imposition of his hands. To remove so alarming an evil, this enlightened monk earnestly proposed that the original plan of Gregory the Great should be completed; that the church of Northumbria should be intrusted to the separate administration of twelve Prelates; and that the new episcopal sees should be fixed in some of the rich but nominal monasteries which covered and impoverished that kingdom. But not only did his advice remain unheeded, even one of the four northern bishoprics, that of Hexham, was suffered to become extinct before the end of the century."

Verily, Gregory and Bede were church reformers in the truest and best sense of the term: and no wonder; for they were men of exalted intellect, enlarged philanthropy, and fervent piety, compared with whom the Church-tinkers of modern days sink into insignificance. Had the spirit of their advice been adopted with reference to the ecclesiastical administration of England at large, it may with safety be affirmed that the Church would have been the channel of blessings ten thousand-fold greater than those which she has been permitted to convey. One great impediment in the way of an increase of the episcopate in modern days appears to have been an apprehension on the part of our spiritual rulers, that if the bishops were multiplied, there would be in the present state of national feeling no possibility of obtaining seats for them in the Upper House, whilst on the other hand a bishop without a seat in the Legislature would be a novel and a perilous innovation. Hence it was, that when a few years ago the additional sees of Manchester and Ripon were constituted, the balance was designed to be preserved by the union of Bristol with Gloucester, and of St. Asaph with Bangor. This measure was in part only carried out. Bristol was united with Gloucester, and not St. Asaph with Bangor; but, Manchester and Eipon having both been erected into episcopal sees, the Legislature enacted that, by way of maintaining the episcopal seats in the House of Lords at their ancient number only, the junior Bishop for the time being (with certain exceptions) should not possess a seat. The precedent, therefore, of a Bishop without a seat in the Legislature has been clearly established, and it remains to be seen to what extent the country will carry it.

Most assuredly modern legislation on ecclesiastical matters has not been conceived in that large and comprehensive and far-sighted spirit which can alone secure the confidence of true Churchmen, and most effectually promote the welfare and usefulness of the Church itself. To go no further than Nottinghamshire for proof of what I assert, the chapter of Southwell has been destroyed and its patronage given prospectively to the Bishops of Manchester and Eipon, who have no connection whatever with the county. But, if ever the day should come when this county shall possess a Bishop of its own at Southwell, the chapter, together with its patronage, must of necessity be restored.

Ancient Episcopal Franchises.

The same reasons which have induced me to give the above summary account of the ancient diocese of York prompt me to submit to my readers a brief explanation of the nature of ancient episcopal franchises, with their accompanying powers and privileges.

The grants made to our ancient Saxon Bishops were enormous. Guthred, the tributary King of Northumbria under Alfred the Great, gave to God and St. Cuthbert all the country between the Tyne and Weare; and the same prince and Alfred subsequently extended the patrimony of the northern diocese of Bernicia from the Tyne to the Tees. Among the charters of confirmation of these sweeping grants was one of King Edmund to this effect: "In which lands let St. Cuthbert and his Bishop possess all the privileges and franchises which appertain to the Crown, with all their appurtenances, free for ever and discharged from every service." The consequence was, that from very early times, and down even to my own recollection, the county of Durham was called by the dwellers on the southern bank of the Tees "Bishoprick"—the Bishop's kingdom.

Still more ancient was the territory appropriated in all probability by Oswald king of Northumbria to the see of Lindisfarne, a.d. 635, the boundaries of which are thus defined by Leland. "The possessions of the Church of Lindisfarne extend on the east from the Tweed to Warnmouth; they then ascend the Warn to its source near the hill of Hebburne, and from thence by an imaginary track they proceed to the Bremish, which becomes the line of demarcation until it unites its streams with the Till." Beyond the Tweed everything between the Eder and the Leder seems to have belonged to the Saint, in addition to an extensive territory attached to the monastery of Tiningham, stretching from Lammermoor to Eymouth.

The territorial grants to the southern diocese of Deira or York were also very large. Thus Athelstan bestowed upon it Bishop Wilton; Amounderness, in Lancashire; Shireburn; Beverley; Ripon. In 958 King Oswy gave to Archbishop Oschitel Southwell, with which very probably the ancient manors of Laneham, where was an aula, and Sutton, with their dependencies, constituting North Soke, were united, inasmuch as the franchise of the archbishops in this county is generally designated the Liberty of Southwell and Scrooby.

In fact, when the Domesday account was drawn up, I find the Archbishop of York possessing lands and privileges in no less than about 180 different places in Yorkshire, and in nearly 50 places in our own county of Nottingham, the great manors of North Notts being those of Laneham and Sutton.

Not only, however, were the possessions of our ancient sees very extensive, but the powers and privileges appertaining thereto, very great. We have already seen that the franchises of the bishops of Bernicia north of the Tees were in every sense of the word kingly. And it is clear and incontestably established, that, in ancient times immediately succeeding the Conquest, the prelates of Durham appointed their own sheriffs, constables, and justices of assize and gaol delivery; their eschaetors, coroners, foresters, and bailiffs. They held their Inquisitions post Mortem, their court of wards and liveries, enjoyed the power of levying taxes and subsidies, of array both of ships and soldiers, and of coining—in fact exercised supreme jurisdiction, both civil and military, from the Tees to the Tyne, and in considerable districts of the county of Northumberland.

It may have been that these northern portions of the island were remote from the seat of the executive government, and bordered upon the neighbouring and rival kingdom of Scotland: that that executive was weak, and could neither effectually nor promptly reach the distant dependencies of the Crown, and that, in consequence, our early Sovereigns, as a matter both of prudence and necessity, delegated a very large and co-ordinate share of their power to the northern prelate and Prince Palatine of Durham, constituting thus to all intents and purposes an imperium in imperio. Nay, not only so; but that, in times preceding the Conquest, such was the unsettled state of the Saxon kingdoms, and so precarious and feeble the powers of their sovereigns, that they were glad to strengthen their government by entrusting a portion at least of their powers to those who had a stake in the country and an interest in the safety of life and property. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt that in these early days the sovereigns were in the constant habit of investing ecclesiastics as well as laymen with civil powers, such for instance as appointing officers, trying civil and criminal suits and offences, receiving suit and service, and the enjoyment of various other privileges within their own franchises and over their own vassals; for the spirit of Saxon, as indeed of northern polity generally, lay not in centralization as at this day, but in diffusion: and hence courts were multiplied, from the king's court downwards to the shire-mote, the hundred-mote, and the hall or manor mote.

I have entered into these details, in order that those of my readers who are less conversant in such matters may be enabled to obtain clearer and more accurate conceptions of that connection which for nearly eight hundred years has existed between the archbishops of York and the township of Ranskill.

Ancient Condition of the Township.—Proprietors.

We now come to Domesday Survey. From that ancient document we learn thus much of the possessions of the archbishops of York in the northern part of the county of Nottingham. In "Sudton (Sutton), evidently the chief manor, the palace at Scrooby not having then been erected, and the berewicks or hamlets of Scrobi, Madressei, Mattersea, and Lund, Lound, was one carucate of land and six bovates to be taxed: Land six carucates. Archbishop Thomas now has there two carucates in demesne, fourteen villeins, and six board-men with six carucates. There are seven acres of meadow. Pasturable wood half a leuka and eight quarantens long, and eight quarantens and a half broad, value in King Edward's time 8l.; the same now.

Soke of this Manor.—In Ettone (Eaton) two carucates to be taxed. In Tilne two bovates and the fourth part of one bovate. In Wellon, Welham, and Simenton, five bovates and the fourth part of one bovate. In Grenelei, Gringley, one bovate and the fourth part of one bovate. In Scafteorde, Scaftworth, one carucate. In Euretone, Everton, one carucate and a third part of one bovate. This land consists of twelve carucates. There are thirty-eight sochmen with eighteen villeins and twenty board-men, with twenty-five carucates. In Tilne, one mill belonging to Laneham yields thirty shillings. In Redforde one mill belonging to Sutton. In Claueburch, Clarborough, six bovates and a half. Meadow four quarantens and a half long, and as much broad, and forty-five acres besides. Pasturable wood two miles and a half long and two miles broad."

After noticing one or two intermediate manors the Survey then advances to Ranskill. The original runs thus: "In Raveschel iiij bou 7 dim ad gld. Tra e j car. Vasta fuit 7 e. Godric tenuit. Arch tenet." That is, in Ranskill four bovates and a half to be taxed. The land consists of one carucate. It was and is waste. Godric held it. The archbishop holds it.

By referring to the observations which I have already made in the Introduction, the Reader will be enabled to form a pretty accurate conception of the condition and aspect of this district generally, and of Ranskill as a portion thereof, in the time of the Conqueror.

Assuming that the township was in extent then what it is now, we learn that Ranskill possessed only about seventy acres of land worth taxing to the public tax of the kingdom, and that the township was waste and belonged to the archbishop of York. Whether considered in a physical, a moral, or an intellectual point of view, the condition of such a township must have been abject in the extreme. A few half-clothed, half-fed peasants congregated together in miserable hovels, hardly elevated above the brute beasts around them, and looking out from morning to evening upon a wide and dreary expanse of uninclosed waste. Such is the picture which Ranskill presents in ancient times. But the proximity of a Christian prelate, from the time at least when he began to include Scrooby among his manorial residences, would soon tend to ameliorate the condition of his serfs at Ranskill. He would soon begin to cultivate a portion of his fief there by the hands of his villeins for his own use; small portions he would let out to them in the shape of meadow and pasture or arable land, and, in proportion as they became fitted for greater tenures, these small portions would be enlarged into farms. In process of time, doubtless, he would grant thriving men and families leases for terms of years, and thus gradually the villein of earlier days would rise to the station of a freeholder; while in other cases various suits and services, surrenders and fines, would continue to be exacted by him as lord paramount from other occupants, who would come under the modern designation of copyholders.

There has not been here, as at Torworth, any gradual and progressive concentration of property; and in consequence we have not here as there the advantage of a compact body of documentary evidence in the shape of title-deeds. The earliest existing roll of the freehold and copyhold courts of the archbishops of York for Scrooby and Ranskill is dated in 1621. From 1658 to 1773 I find among those who came before the court, either in the capacity of freeholders or copyholders, the following: John Cromwell, Thomas Fitzwilliam, George Goody, George Morton, Roger Nettleship, Francis Sandys, Jonathan Acklom, John Barker, William Curtis, William Denman, Viscount Galway, William Mills, Hammond Matthews, Tabothy Torr, and others. These names, with not more than one exception, have disappeared.

In fact, the lands of Ranskill appear to have been at all times much subdivided and to have been perpetually changing hands. When the Act for inclosing the open arable and pasture land of Ranskill was passed, viz. in 1802, Viscount Galway, Rev. George Booth, Anthony Barker, Esq. and Mr. William Crofts, are enumerated among the chief owners of property there. The names of Booth and Barker have since disappeared as proprietors. Again, when the tithes of the township were commuted in 1839, I find among other proprietors Lord Feversham, Dempster Hemming, Esq., W. Matthews, Richard Millns Welch. No such names occur now. The lands have passed into the hands of Viscount Galway, the heirs of Richard Wilson, John Hurbidge, and others, who, with the heirs of Messrs. John Crofts, late of Ranskill, and Thomas Crofts, late of Mantles, are now the chief proprietors in the township.

There is one portion of the township—that, namely, which is commonly known by the designation of Bishop Field—concerning which I will speak very briefly.

In 1827, Mr. James Owen purchased certain hereditaments in the parish of Scrooby. In the same year he enlarged his estate by purchasing from Mr. John Crofts certain lands and great tithes in Ranskill; and about that time built the house since known by the name of Bishop Field. In 1829 Owen made an assignment to Mr. John Ellison of Stone, and Mr. George Clark of Barnby Moor, for the benefit of his creditors. In the following year the assignees sold the estates in Scrooby and Ranskill to Charles Lord Feversham for 7800^. The portion of the estates which is situate in Ranskill is described as being divided into three closes, called the Bishop Field Closes, and as containing 23a. 2b., together with all great tithes.

In 1842 William Lord Feversham, Charlotte Dowager Lady Feversham, John Earl of Eldon, and the Hon. Henry Legge, the two acting executors of the will of Charles Lord Feversham deceased, John Earl of Eldon, Sir Thomas Digby Legard, Bart, of Ganton, and the Hon. Henry Legge, the trustees, released and quit-claimed to the Hon. Arthur Duncombe the above estates, situated in Scrooby and Ranskill, which had been bequeathed to him by his father, Charles Lord Feversham.

In or about 1856 the Hon. Arthur Duncombe sold the property to Viscount Galway.

The freehold and copyhold lands arc intermixed, without any definite line of demarcation; the former greatly preponderating.


With reference to ecclesiastical property, I have to observe, that the township consists of 1265a. 2r. 13p. and that the vicar of Blyth is owner of all small tithes throughout the entire township, as well as of the great tithes of 43a. 1r. 7p. being the ancient tofts and crofts. With respect to the great or rectorial tithes, however, as contrasted with the vicarial, a striking peculiarity exists. The district, already named, of Bishop Field comprises about 305a. the great tithes of which are in the hands, not of Trinity College, Cambridge, the rectors and patrons of the parish, but of various lay impropriators. The explanation of this anomaly I believe to be as follows. When Builli founded the monastery of Blyth, he gave the monks the church of Blyth, with all its rights and appurtenances. They enjoyed the rectorial tithes throughout their existence as a religious establishment. When they fell, the great spoliator handed over, inter alia, the rectory of Blyth to Trinity College. But long before Builli's days —long before the Conquest— the archbishops of York had possessed the patronage of the rectory of Sutton and Scrooby; and when, at the Conquest, the manor of Ranskill was given to them, it is probable that the tithes of that manor were claimed for this rectory, more especially as it lay contiguous to Scrooby. Indeed it is clear that such claim was made; for in the Blyth Chartulary, f. 107, is a letter commendatory from archbishop Roger, who presided over the diocese of York from 1154 to 1190, in which he states that a dispute had arisen between the convent of Blyth and the church of Sutton (cum Scrooby) respecting the parishioners (that is, as to what parish they belonged) and tithes of Raveneskelf (Ranskill); and he proceeds to adjudge the controversy in favour of the convent. But from some cause or other, probably by virtue of a compromise, it would seem that the rectorial tithes of the district known by the name of Bishopfield, in the township of Ranskill, were received by the rector of Sutton cum Scrooby. Now the same archbishop founded the chapel of St. Sepulchre, on the north side of the minster of York; and, for the maintenance of the institution, consisting of four priests, four deacons, four subdeacons, and one sacrist, gave the churches of Everton, Sutton with Scrooby, Hayton, Clarborough, Retford, and others. In 1258 archbishop Sewell ordained vicarages in these churches, vesting the presentation in the sacrist. Of course at the Dissolution the revenues and patronage of St. Sepulchre's fell to the Crown. In the 4th Elizabeth they were sold to one Webster; and thus the great tithes of Sutton and Scrooby, including Bishopfield, of Everton, Hayton, Clarborough, and Retford, together with the patronage of these churches, have passed into the hands of laymen. With regard to the vicarial tithes of Bishopfield, it is necessary to state that the vicarage of Blyth was ordained long subsequently to the controversy above adverted to, and it would appear that the vicar's right of tithe over this district was conceded as he enjoys it to this day.

The lay impropriators of Bishopfield, in the township of Ranskill, (I say in the township of Ranskill, for it would appear that a tract of land in Scrooby is known by the same name,) at the date of the tithe commutation, were Barker, Broughton, J. Crofts, R. Cross, Hon. A. Duncombe. Cottam, Earl Spencer, Hemming, and Viscount Galway.

The boundaries thereof are delineated in the maps of the Inclosure and Tithe Apportionment deeds.

Courts of the Archbishop of York.

I come now to a very interesting portion of my history, namely, to the freehold and copyhold courts of the archbishop of York, the lord of the manor of Scrooby with Ranskill.

The north soke of the Archbishop includes Laneham, Askham, Wheatley, Gringley, Welham, Clarborough, Eaton, Everton, Scaftworth, Mattersea, Tiln, Sutton, Scrooby, and Ranskill.

Courts are held at Laneham, Askham, and Ranskill, to each of which jurors, freehold and copyhold, are summoned from the neighbouring members of the soke.

These courts, under the presidentship of the lord's seneschal or steward, have from time immemorial effected surrenders and transfers of copyhold property, attested and enrolled wills and heirships, and taken cognisance of nuisances, encroachments, prsedial damages, frauds, and such other matters as come before a court baron.

From the time when the office of justice of the peace was instituted in the reign of Edward III. the Archbishop appointed his own magistrates within his own liberty, who had the power of fine and imprisonment precisely like other justices of the peace.

The earliest existing Court Roll, as above stated, of the court of Scrooby and Ranskill, bears date 1621. I append it at full length in English, and shall make a few observations by way of explanation at the end.

"View of Frankpledge of our Lord the King, together with the great court of the manor of the Most Reverend Father Tobias, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan, held there the 16th October, in the year of the reign of our Lord James, by the Grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, &c. viz. of England, France, and Ireland the 19th, and of Scotland the 55th. (a.)

" Henry Mayden, constable there, attended this day in execution of his office.

"George Myller and Henry Watson, Crown bondsmen there, attended to present such matters as appertain to their office in that department, (b.)

"William Hydes and William Bradley, ale inspectors there, attended to present such matters as appertain to their office in that department.

"William Ray and other residents within this liberty were excused attendance this day. (C.)

"Nicholas Chadwick, one of the free-holders of the lord of this said manor, was by act of grace of the court excused attendance.

"Dame Gertrude Chaworth, widow, and some other customary tenants of the lord of his manor aforesaid, were excused attendance, as by Roll of Suitors of the court more clearly appears.

"John Torr, William Hydes, Edward Witton, George Hanson, William Cusworth, William Bradley, Gervase Hanley, Edward Foxe, George Crawthorne, Richard Emley, Richard Kendall, Edward Mathewe, John Barker, William Dickenson, and Simon Hamon, being sworn and charged to inquire and present for our Lord the King, and the Lord of the Manor, say as follows: First, they upon their oath present and say, that William Nelson, Robert Kay, Lionel Fells, William Smart, and John Skelton are resident within this liberty, and have made default of suitors of court at this view of frankpledge, and therefore each of them is at the mercy of the lord of the manor. Fined 2d. each, (d.)

"They also say, that George Crathorne, John Booher, Jane Hawson widow, and George Newcombe are brewers of ale and common bakers within this liberty, and have broken the assise by selling with their own private weights and measures: and each of them is at the mercy of the lord of the manor. Fined 4d. each.

"They also say that Widow Nelson, Gervase Hanley, William Hydes, William Downes, William Cusworth, William Throope, Thomas Throope, James Whyte, Thomas Sheppard, Charles Revell, Mils Greenop, George Mylner, Abraham Ashborne gent., William Hudson, Alexander Smythe, Henry Fullilove, and Richard Rippon, have put and kept their farm animals in the fields of grain before the grain was carted, to the no small injury of their neighbours: and so each of them is at the mercy of the lord of the manor, as appears by the fine over their heads [Fullilove and Rippon were fined 2d. The rest were fined 4d.].

"They also say, that William Nelson, with his horses, depastured, trampled down, and consumed the grass, blade, and grain of his neighbours, tenants of the lord within this manor, lately growing in the fields of grain, to their great damage and injury: and therefore he is at the mercy of the lord of the manor. Fined 3s. 4d.

"They also say, that George Mylner did not lay up fuel before winter last year now past, according to orders of court in that regard made, whereby he has forfeited to the lord of the manor 12d. (e.)

"They also say, that Joseph Nelson turned out a diseased mare to graze in and upon the commonable lands in this demesne, against the form of the statute in that case enacted and provided, whereby he has forfeited the penalty in the same statute in that regard limited, viz. 10s.

"They also present and say, that the bylawmen of the village of Ranskill have allowed a gate called the Newyate, between the fields of grain and the common pasture, to be thrown down and open to the no small damage of the men of the same village; and therefore the said bylawmen, viz., Robert Lowe and Thomas Shawe, are at the mercy of the lord of the manor. Fined 12d. (f.)

"They also say, that Maria Nelson, widow, allowed her pigs to go at large without rings in their noses, to the great damage and detriment of her neighbours the inhabitants of Scrooby. And therefore, &c. Fined 6d.

"The above fines are imposed by the whole court assembled and doing homage." (g.)

Upon this document I have a few remarks and explanations to offer.

(a.) View of Frankpledge. Visas fraud plegii. The court at which free pledgers—free bail—made their personal appearance. The principle of frank-pledge, which dates its origin from Anglo-Saxon times, lay in mutual responsibility. At first it appears to have involved no more than the obligation resting upon the inhabitants of any given district, of producing at a fixed time at their court any delinquent against the law. But, as the mere punishment of the culprit did not affect his kindred or neighbours, the next step was to compel his relations to stand security for the payment of any fine in which he was convicted, so that they became deeply interested in his good conduct and submission to the laws of the land. Still more rigorous was the next step, by which every man, whether innocent or suspected, was compelled to find a bondsman, and, if he committed bodily injury and fled, his bondsman (fide jussor) was obliged to pay the penalty in his stead. "I will," says king Edgar in his laws, "that every man, whether he live within or without a town, be under bondsmen; and, if he cannot obtain them, let the town or hundred be responsible for him." Agreeably to which a law of the Confessor enacts, "If a murder be anywhere committed, let the town where the criminal abode be searched for him . . . and, if he be not discovered in a month and a day, let forty-six marks be paid by the town where the deed was committed. And, if the town or village be too poor to raise that sum, let the deficiency be supplied by the hundred in which the place is situated."

The fact is, that, in such a state of society as that which prevailed in ancient Anglo-Saxon times, laws of a rigorous and stringent character were absolutely indispensable for the preservation of life and property. Where bands of outlaws lived by open depredation, where the people were characteristically addicted to robbery and murder, where the executive authority was feeble and remote, and where crime in general could be redeemed by a pecuniary penalty, no guarantee could be afforded by personal and individual responsibility. The only security was to make all responsible for the crime of one.

The view of Frank-pledge is also known by the name of court-leet. And thus it is that at this very day the court of the archbishop of York for the manor of Scrooby with Ranskill is called "The Court Leet and Court Baron."

In the former, the Court Leet, the lord of the manor had the power of trying such offences, not capital, as were committed against life and property. In the latter, the Court Baron, he simply exercised civil jurisdiction as lord paramount over his vassals.

(b.) Crown bondsmen. Capitales plegii. Capital or crown bail, responsible in the way above described for the peace of the liberty. Of course in the days of James I. the policy indicated by the name must have long fallen into desuetude.

(c.) William Bay and others excused attendance. The word in the original is essoign. Essonier, exonier, essoniare, to excuse any one who did not appear at court when summoned. The chief grounds of excuse were illness, absence beyond the seas, the service of the Crown, expedition on a crusade.

(d.) William Nelson and others made default of suitors of court—fecerunt defalt. sectatorum curies—absented themselves, though summoned, without any just excuse.

(e.) George Mylner did not lay up fuel—non paravit sibi focalia. I presume for the use of the palace or court at Scrooby.

(f.) The by lawmen, prepostores. The modern pinders.

(g.) The above fines are imposed by the whole court assembled and doing homage. Aufir per totum homagium. Affeurer, afforer, to tax. Afferatores, officers who in a court leet revise and settle fines. Here it was done by the court.

I subjoin one or two more extracts from the Court Rolls of Scrooby with Ranskill.

A Lease. Nov. 4, 1623. John Griffon came in his own proper person before the court, and in full court surrendered into the hands of the lord of the manor one land (unam selionem) of arable ground, containing by estimation one acre, lying in Ranskill Field, called Netherfall, having lands of Thomas Crumwell on the south and Edward Busk on the north, abutting towards the west on the King's high road, to the use of Thomas Gelder, his executors and assigns, from the feast of St. Martin Bishop next following the date of this court till the end of six years; to which T. Gelder, the lord of the manor, by his steward then and there granted seisin by a straw; and he gives to the lord of the manor by way of fine for such estate and ingress one penny, and so is admitted tenant.

Taking up heirship and immediate sale.—At the court held at Ranskill, November 3rd, 1721, Elizabeth Cromwell, spinster, sister of Samuel Cromwell late deceased, appears and prays to be admitted tenant of the lord of the manor of half of two messuages in Ranskill, and of all houses, barns, stables, orchards, &c. late in occupation of William Denby, and of half of all lands, meadows, closes, pastures, &c. containing by estimation forty acres, and of all other lands and tenements of Samuel Cromwell in Ranskill, which by his last will came to Elizabeth Cromwell. Whereupon the lord of the manor, by S. Lowe, Esq. his steward, granted her seisin. To the same court came Elizabeth Cromwell and surrendered all the above possessions, containing seventy acres more or less, to the use and behoof of Charles Chappell of Askham, to whom the lord of the manor, by S. Lowe, Esq. granted seisin by a straw, by virtue of letters of attorney granted to one John Williamson, Gent, by the same Charles, to have and to hold to the same Charles, &c.

Twenty-four years later, viz. in 1745, Charles Chappell, probably the person above named, conveys through the court a tenement and sixteen acres of land in Ranskill to John Cromwell of Worksop, Gent, brother of Samuel Cromwell.

Sir Henry Spelman observes, that the jurisdiction of courts leet was exercised in general in every baronial court, and that thus the rural population had the convenience of the administration of justice at their own homes in matters appertaining both to the crown and to the lord of the manor.

The power vested in the archbishop of York of holding sessions for the trial of criminal offences by magistrates of his own nomination has been abrogated by recent act of the legislature; and the cognisance of his court over matters of a civil nature, such for instance as acts of trespass, over which the justices of the peace have no jurisdiction, appears to have fallen very much into desuetude. In both these respects I conceive that the convenience of the public has suffered. The court at the present day principally acts as a medium for admission to lands and tenements situated within the limits of the manor.

The Archiepiscopal Palace of Scrooby.

The residences of our ancient bishops were numerous. They were in the constant habit of moving about from one part of their dioceses to another, administering various civil as well as ecclesiastical functions, dispensing hospitality, and taking with them a numerous and splendid retinue. The ancient bishops of Durham had palaces at Crake, Northallerton, Stockton, Bishop Auckland, Middleham, Durham, and Norham. The archbishops of York at York, Bishopthorpe, Shireburn, Cawood, Ripon, Beverley, Otley, Southwell, and Scrooby; and as a matter of course they all had mansions in London.

When Scrooby began to be a residence of the prelates of York I know not. As early as 1178 John the Constable of Chester granted the town of Plumtree to Roger Archbishop of York and his successors for ever; and in 29 Henry VIII. Edward Archbishop of York demised to Geffrey Lee, Esq. his brother, all that his great close paled about called Plumtree field, besides Scrooby Park, with the lodge upon the same, together with all his warren and game of conies in the parishes of Scrooby and Harworth, &c. for forty-one years, rendering per annum 14l. 6s. 8d. Archbishop Savage at the beginning of the sixteenth century is said to have expended a large amount of money upon the palaces of Cawood and Scrooby, which were his favourite hunting-seats; so that doubtless from ancient times the vicinity of Scrooby afforded scope for indulgence in the diversions of the chace to the prelates of York and their attendants.

In 1544 Archbishop Holgate alienated to the king thirteen manors in Northumberland, forty in Yorkshire, six in Notts, and eight in Gloucestershire, receiving in lieu of them thirty-three impropriations and advowsons of dissolved religious houses. Among the thus alienated manors in Notts, Sutton and Scrooby were included; but in 1553 Archbishop Heath prevailed upon Queen Mary to restore to the see the lordship of Ripon, with certain manors appertaining thereto, and also Southwell and five more manors in Notts, among which doubtless Sutton and Scrooby were included, inasmuch as the archbishop possesses estates at both places to this day.

Leland, in 1541, tells us that at Scrooby he saw "a great manor-place standinge withyn a mote, and longging to the archbishop of York, builded yn to courtes, whereof the first is very ample and all builded of tymbre, saving the front of the haule, that is of bricke, to the wych ascenditur per gradus lapidis. The ynner courte building, as far as I marked, was of tymber building, and was not in compace past the 4 parte of the utter courte."

Eleven years previous to this visit of Leland, the once great but now fallen Wolsey took Southwell; Newstead; Worksop Park, not staying there, however, although "as he rode through the parke both my lorde of Shrewsbury's servants and also the aforesaid gentlemen moved him once againe (to hunt), before whome the deare lay very faire for all purposes of pleasure;" Rufford Abbey; and Blythe Abbey, where he passed the night; on his way to Scrooby, where, adds his biographer, "most commonly every Sonday (if the weather did serve) he would travaile unto some pore parish churche there aboute and there would say his divine service . . . . . . and that done he would dine in some honest house in the towne, where should be distributed to the people a great almes of meate and drinke, or of money . . . . . . . . And thus with other good dedes practising and exercising himself during his abode there, as making of love daies and agreements betweene party and party being at variance, he daily frequented himself there abouts."

In the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, Nicholas Heath, archbishop, granted a lease of all his manor house, or chief mansion place, of Scrooby, with the park and lands, for twenty-one years, at an annual rent of 20l. 15s., to James Bryne, steward of his household.

In the 17th Elizabeth, Edmund Grindal, archbishop, leased the said manor for the same term at a rent of 21l. 2s. 6d. to William Marshall, of Much Haddham, in the county of Hertford.

And then came Edwin Sandys, who was raised to the archiepiscopal throne in 1576, and who leased the manor of Scrooby to his son Samuel, of the Middle Temple.

Under him a family of the name of Brewster occupied the manor house of Scrooby, which had gradually and insensibly dwindled down, through lapse of ages, from a large mansion to a moderately-sized farm-house. And now the stream of time conducts us to a marvellous revolution. From the lordly metropolitan of the North, who was ever attended with almost a princely retinue—who claimed suit and service and fealty and homage from his vassals of the North Soke—from whose hands ordained priests received upon their bended knees the cure and government of souls in their benefices, and before whom and his numerous household divine service was daily celebrated by his own chaplains in his own chapel,—we pass to a small congregation of earnest, although I think mistaken, men, who, dissatisfied with the ceremonies and discipline, possibly with the doctrines too, of the Established Church, assembled themselves in the now, comparatively speaking, humble manor house of Scrooby for religious worship under the ministration of one who had received no ordination.

William Brewster had been private secretary to Davidson, the Secretary of State under Queen Elizabeth, who himself had a strong leaning to Puritanism. On the disgrace of that minister he returned to Scrooby, which probably was his native place, and there formed a small congregation of "Brownists" or "Separatists," among whom was "William Bradford, a native of Austerfield, in the parish of Blyth.

In 1608 these Separatists, now numbering in their body several hundreds, left England for Amsterdam, where they resided for one year. They spent the next eleven years at Leyden, and, removing to New Plymouth in 1620, became the founders of the parent colony of New England, having Bradford for their Governor and Brewster as the Elder of their congregation. And hence it is that educated and accomplished men from America are perpetually visiting with feelings of deep filial affection and veneration the villages of Austerfield and Scrooby, from which sprang the first thunders of their country.

I conclude this chapter by adding, that mounds of the fish-ponds of Scrooby Palace still remain. The manor-house itself is simply a plain farm tenement, with a lofty and round-headed arch, now blocked up, in one wall, which probably once formed a carriage entrance, and a niche in another. An old and tottering mulberry tree is recorded to have been planted by Cardinal Wolsey. And these are all the remains of the archiepiscopal palace of Scrooby. Sic transit!

Beda, Eccl. Hist. ii. cap. 12, 10, 13 ; iii. cap. 5, 17 ; Raine's North Durham, i. 54; Lingard, Hist, and Antiq. of Anglo-Saxon Church, i. 87, 88; Leland, Collect, ii. 366 ; Domesday; Court Rolls of the Archbishops of York at Southwell; Spelman, Gloss, sub voc. Leta; TorrMSS. pen. D. et C. Ebor.; Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, pp. 224, 225, ed. 1852.

* "Aras quas ipse sacraverat succendit cunctis videntibus" is the classical description of Beda. The place where this happened was Godmundingham, i.e. idolorum domus, now called Godmundham, near Marketweighton, in the East Riding.
** The tide did now its flood-mark gain,
And girdled in the saint's domain ;
For, with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle:
Dry-shod, o'er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandaled feet the trace.
Marmion, C. II. ix.
† The power possessed by the abbots of Iona of consecrating bishops was singular, and probably without a parallel.
‡ "Quod autem Pascha non suo tempore observabat, vel canonicum ejus tempus ignorans vel sua; gentis auctoritate ne agnitum sequeretur devictus, non adprobo." He adds these beautiful and emphatic words: "In quo tamen hoc adprobo quia in celebratione sui Pascha: non aliud corde tenebat, venerabatur et predicabat, quam quod nos, id est, redemptionem generis humani per passionem, resurreetionem, ascensionem in coelos, Mediatoris Dei et hominum, hominis Iesu Christi." Eccl. Hist. Lib. iii, cap. 17.