This township, in its superficial dimensions, exceeds considerably any other in the parish of Blyth, and is one of the largest townships, simply and properly so called, in the kingdom. It contains 4,110 acres of land, and comprises the following districts or subdivisions: Great Hodsock, Little Hodsock, Spital, Holm, Goldthorp, Costrup, Hodsock Woodhouse, Hermeston, and Fleecethorp.

Hodsock—Ordsoc—is the soc of Ord, as Ordsall, in the immediate neighbourhood, is the hall of Ord. I offer this origin of the word with diffidence, but it is the best which suggests itself to my mind.

The manor has since the Conquest acknowledged but four families as its lords, those namely of Torald de Lisoriis (or de Lizours), Cressy, Clifton, and Mellish.

Ulsy was the Saxon owner. He was succeeded by Torald as the sub-infeudatory of the chief-lord Roger, whom we find returned in the Domesday Report as possessing his own manorial court, to which Blyth paid certain suit and service, as holding two carucates, and having upon his property three sochmen with four bovates of land, and twelve villeins with nine carucates. There were two mills also, eight acres of meadow and pasturable wood one leuka long and half as much in breadth. The value of the whole then and previously, 60s.

Torald de Lizours and his brother Fulc were two of the witnesses of the deed of foundation of the monastery of Blyth by Roger de Builli in 1088; and from the latter of them sprang, by the female side, the noble house of Fitzwilliam. The Cressys, too, were great men. They often stood in the distant battle-fields of foreign climes against the Paynim hosts for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, and at home took a prominent share in the stirring transactions of the nation. They were munificent benefactors to the religious of Blyth, who, after their mortal toil was ended, gave their bones a resting-place in their church under richly and elaborately carved monuments and effigies, which the ruthless hand of man has long since destroyed. And the Cliftons are a time-honoured race, lords of Clifton and Hodsock for centuries, holding posts of great eminence and importance in the public service, and intermarrying with the best blood of the kingdom.

So much by way of introduction to the history of Hodsock, into the more minute details of which I shall now enter.

I commence then by stating that Fulc Lizours had considerable possessions in Nottinghamshire as well as in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, by grant from Builli. Among other places he was a proprietor in Olcotes, and in that township gave lands to the convent of Blyth. It will therefore be more convenient to reserve my account of him and of his descendants, until I come to speak of that village.

First Lord of Hodsock—Torald de Lizours.

His brother Torald enjoyed from his superior lord, Roger, grants of estates not only in Hodsock but also in East Markham, Kelham, and Weston, in which last place he adjoined his brother. He appears for the last time in any public record, as far as I am aware, as witness to the foundation deed of Blyth Abbey. But the surname of Thorold, which is evidently derived from him, has continued to exist since his days in this and the adjoining county of Lincoln.

The Cressys, Second Lords of Hodsock.

Roger Cressy, of whom I shall speak immediately, was nephew of Avicia de Tani the first wife of William de Clairfait or Fitz-Godric. Now, as this William married for his second wife Albreda de Lizours, the grand-daughter of Fulc the brother of Torald de Lizours, it is not improbable that Roger Cressy was indebted to this connection for his succession to Hodsock.

The Cressys had various estates in the parish of Blyth, as well as at Gedling, Rampton, Kelham, Weston, and East Markham—in the last three of which, as well as in Hodsock, they appear to have succeeded Torald—and at Risegate, Braytoft, and Exton, in Lincolnshire, and Melton-on-the-Hill in Yorkshire. Branches of them were settled at Hodsock, Olcotes, and Holm, in this parish, as well as at East Markham, and in Lincolnshire. The very name recalls the warlike days of Edward III.; but, assuming that this ancient family derived their name from continental soil, still they were settled at Hodsock long before the battle of Cressy.

For in the days of Henry II. Roger de Cressy comes before us as lord of Hodsock, and places upon the altar of St. Mary of Blyth an instrument conveving to the monks the donation of half a bovate of land in Olcotes, and the tithe of all his mills in his soc of Hodsock, in return for which the convent give him, his ancestors and successors, four masses weekly.

Roger married Cecily daughter of Gervase Clifton of Clifton, and left her a widow with a son William, who, as a minor, was under the feudal wardship of the lady paramount, under the Crown, of the honour of Tickhill, Alice the countess of Eu, and held of her Hodsock with soc by service of one knight's fee. Between William and his mother no very friendly or affectionate feeling appears to have existed. The one denied that the other had been lawfully married, and refused to give her dower. Such was the venality and corruption of the Crown in those days, that both mother and son gave large bribes to King John, the first that she might be put in possession of her jointure, the second that he might be discharged from allowing it. An appeal was made to the archbishop of York, whose sentence not proving satisfactory, William de Cressy offered wager of battle to try the matter by single combat. Eventually, the dispute was settled at Clarendon in 1204, the widow receiving half a knight's fee in Melton and five acres of meadow in Lokenges.

And now we are ushered upon the arena of national strife and rebellion. The intestine troubles and commotions which rent the kingdom during the successive reigns of Henry II., Richard I., John, and Henry III., fall within the province of the general historian. The superficial observer will content himself with attributing them to the restless, ambitious, and turbulent spirit of the royal princes or of the nobles; but he who looks beneath the surface of events and sees ever there a powerful under-current, who traces in all things here below the finger of Him who ordereth the affairs both of men and nations, will, when he carefully reflects upon the transactions of these four reigns, be forcibly reminded of another and a far remote period, when the audible sentence "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house," and the visible effects of rebellion and of a disastrous train of other evils, were placed in the closest connection of cause and effect with each other; and he will think it neither superstitious, nor uncharitable, nor unphilosophical to infer from the like disasters of these reigns a like divine sentence preceding them, and going forth against him

Whose sacrilegious blow
Had at God's altar slain his foe—

against whom, as against the King of Israel, his own sons took up arms—and who lived to pronounce against them in the bitterness of his soul the very curse which his sin and their sins had provoked.

The sons of Henry II. had not only learned but taught the lesson of rebellion during their father's lifetime. Against themselves consequently as they came to the throne and against each other were turned the very arms which had been lifted against their father. The cowardice and the oppression of John placed England, not figuratively only, but literally, in a state of conflagration. His odious and tyrannical conduct roused the nobility and gentry of the land to resistance, and to the vindication of their oppressed liberties. This resistance so enraged the King, that, in the words of Hume, he "let loose ravenous and barbarous mercenaries against the estates, tenants, manors, houses, parks of the barons, and spread devastation over the face of the kingdom. Nothing was to be seen but the flames of villages and castles reduced to ashes, the consternation and misery of the inhabitants, and tortures exercised by the soldiery to make them reveal their concealed treasures . . . . . The King, marching through the whole extent of England from Dover to Berwick, laid the provinces waste on each side of him."

During the preceding reign of Richard I. the estates of Ralph de Cossard and of Philip of Olcotes, both neighbours of William Cressy, had been forfeited, because they had conspired with Earl John against their sovereign; but now John himself has foes in arms against him in the very same locality. Maurice de Gaunt, John the Constable of Chester, Gerard de Furnival, and William Cressy, all of them great and powerful men in our immediate neighbourhood, are, like the rest of England, asserting their liberties against a tyrant, and are compelled to fly. John is at Merriel Bridge and at Hodsock December 30 and 31, 1215, and January 1, 1216. From the first-named place he issues letters of safe-conduct to John the Constable of Chester to give him the chance of coming in to make his peace. From Hodsock similar letters are issued to Maurice de Gaunt, Gerard de Furnival, and William Cressy. Cressy's letters stand good to the Sunday after the Circumcision—Henry de Gray, Robert de Cardinans, and Reginald de Valletort meanwhile undertaking between him and his sovereign that his house shall not be fired if he returns to his allegiance within the prescribed time, but that if he does not, they will execute the King's orders with regard both to house and everything in it.

William Cressy was a man not only of an active and courageous mind and spirit, but also of an enlarged and benevolent heart. He founded an hospital for leprous persons on the south side of Blyth, in the territory of Hodsock; he established a chapel for religious service at his hall; and he was a considerable benefactor to the convent of Blyth. Of the hospital and chapel I shall speak presently. In reference to the convent, he not merely confirmed the donations of his father, but in addition gave the monks the dams of his mills from the bridge of Gildenbriges to the land of Swain Sarpesive in the same condition in which they were in the year 1225, the free farm of the dam of the mills of Westcroft in his land on payment of half a quarter of wheat at Michaelmas in lieu of all services, and the rent of 12d. which they had been in the habit of paying him for land in Holm.

Roger, the son and heir of William Cressy, married Sibilla, daughter and heir of John de Braytoft, of Eisegate, in the parish of Surfleet and county of Lincoln. The Braytofts took their name from and possessed estates at Braytoft, in the same county, as well as at Risegate. In the latter place they held immediately under the King as lord paramount. Sibilla consequently was his ward, and no one could marry her without his consent and without discharging the obligation due to him as superior lord. Roger neglected these conditions, and was compelled to pay to Henry III. (26th of his reign) 100 shillings as a fine.

He gave to the monks of Blyth all his meadow land at Holm Mill, on the west side thereof, between the road from Olcotes to Blyth, and "the stream which runs between my meadow and that of William de Kelishot." In return for which he adds in his charter, "the prior and convent have granted me, as well as my father and mother, a share in all advantages, alms, and prayers, which now are or hereafter shall be offered in the said church, as if I were one of them."

William, the son of Roger and Sibilla Cressy, made a singular concession to the prior and convent of Blyth. He granted to them and to the abbot of St. Katharine at Rouen, as their ecclesiastical superior, permission to hang on the gallows at Emmeslaw robbers apprehended within the liberty of Blyth, reserving to himself the power of executing at the same place robbers taken within Hodsock liberty. We have already seen that a certain parcel of land within the township of Barnby Moor is defined as bordering upon the gallows of Blyth. In that direction, therefore, we must look for its situation, and in that direction accordingly—namely, at Blyth Law Hill, tradition has fixed the ancient spot where criminals were executed. The convent received this power from their founder. The lords of Hodsock exercised similar power, and it would seem, therefore, that in process of time they made one place serve for both liberties.

I shall now lay before my readers the Pedigree of Cressy of Hodsock, beginning with Roger, who stands at the head of the preceding history, and terminating with the sisters and co-heirs of Sir Hugh Cressy, Katharine and Elizabeth, who married respectively Sir John Clifton and Sir John Markham.

Pedigree of Cressy of Hodsock and Risegate.

Arms : Argent, a lion rampant gardant sable.

Pedigree of Cressy of Hodsock and Risegate

I have before me transcripts from the Lincoln episcopal registers of the wills of Sir Hugh and of Sir John Cressy. Sir Hugh, whose will is dated on the feast of St. Philip and St. James, May 1, 1346, leaves his body to be buried in the church of St. Laurence of Surfleet, and bequeaths 60s. to the poor of that place; to the poor of Gosberton 26s. and the like amount to the poor of Pinchbeck, Spalding, and Quadring; as also gifts to the poor of Donington, Bicker, Swineshead, Wigtoft, Sutterton, Algarkirk, Kirton, Frampton, Wyberton, St. Botulph (Boston), Skirbeck, Fishtoft, Frieston, Bonington, Weston near Spalding, Moulton, Whaplode, Holbeach, Fleet, Gedney, Sutton, Tydd, Leek, Claypole, Exton, Braytoft, Ripingale, Dewsby, and Hacconby. To every house of friars in Lincoln, Stamford, and Boston, 13s. 4d. Among other legacies are to his sisters Matilda and Agnes, nuns, four cows and 40s.; six small silver dishes to Sibilla Cressy; a sapphire ring to Roger Cressy; a belt and purse attached to Thomas Cressy; his horse, called Grisel of Sempringham, to Hugh Cressy, of Moulton; another horse, called Morel of Croyland, to John Cressy; to his wife Matilda he bequeaths in trust the manor of Claypole, with all lands and tenements there, and the advowson of a mediety of the living, and makes her his residuary legatee. Risegate and Braytoft go to his wife for her life, and then to his heirs. She is charged with a legacy of 250 marks to his daughter Katharine, 200 marks to Juliana, 100l. to Elizabeth, 40l. to Agnes, for their marriage portions. Proved at Nettleham, Feb. 16, 1347.

His son and heir Sir John Cressy dates his will in the sixth of Richard II. He desires to be buried in the church of Surfleet. He leaves to Agnes and Hawisia, his sisters, nuns, 40s. each; to the nunnery at Hampole, 20s.; to the Austin Friars of Tickhill, 20s.; to John Say, the parochial chaplain of Blyth, 20s.; and small legacies, among others, to Robert Hoddesacke and Amote de Hoddesack. Proved at Nettleham, Sept. 7, 1383.

Both father and son, we observe, are buried in Surfleet Church. The first does not leave a single legacy to either rich or poor in the parish of Blyth; the second only two legacies to persons in Hodsock, and one to the chaplain of the parish. All their sympathies appear to have been with the county of Lincoln. I infer from these facts that the Cressys, for some time previous to the division of their estates by the marriages of the two co-heirs Katharine and Elizabeth, had made Risegate their chief residence.

We further perceive that among the ladies of this family no less than four were nuns, and that Sir John leaves a legacy of 20s. to the nunnery of Hampole near Doncaster. Now the Cressys claimed a connection with the founders of this religious house, William de Clairfait or Fitz-Godric, the ancestor of the Fitz-Williams, and Avicia his wife. This connection will probably explain the motive of the legacy above named, and lead to the conclusion that the four ladies were inmates in the nunnery of Hampole.

By an Inquisition taken in the year of the death of Sir Hugh Cressy, the last male heir of the family, viz. 9th Henry IV. it was found that he was possessed at the time of his decease in fee tail of the manors of Hodsock, Risegate, Claypole, and one-fourth of the manor of Braytoft, and that Katharine, widow of Sir John Clifton, and Robert Markham, son of his other sister, Elizabeth, were his heirs.

In the following year a partition of the estates was made at Retford, by which Hodsock and Claypole went to Katharine and the Cliftons; Risegate, Braytoft, and Exton to the Markhams.

I shall speak as concisely as I can of the Markhams and of the Lincolnshire residence of the Cressys at Cressy Hall in Risegate, and then pursue the history of Hodsock under its new lords the Cliftons.

At Gotham, then, about four miles south of Newark, Thomas de Leyk, 38th Edward III. held a knight's fee under the family of D'Eyncourt, the tenants in chief. This descended through some generations of the Leeks.

Elizabeth, sister and co-heir of Sir Hugh Cressy, married, as we have seen, Sir John Markham, of Sedgebrook, co. Lincoln, one of the Judges of the King's Bench. The issue of this marriage was a son, Sir Robert Markham, who also had a son Robert.

The Judge married for his second wife Milicent, daughter of . . . . . . Bekering, and widow of Sir Nicholas Burdon. By his second wife he had a son, Sir John Markham, who was eventually Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and married Margaret, the daughter of Simon Leek, Esq. of Gotham.

Sir Robert Markham, the grandson of the first Judge by his first marriage, married Joanna the daughter of Sir Giles D'Aubeney by Mary the eldest daughter of the above-mentioned Simon Leek, Esq. and thus became possessed of Cotham through his wife, who by marriage was niece of the Chief Justice.

Cotham became in this manner the principal seat of the Markhams. Sir John Markham, the great-grandson of the Judge, who married Elizabeth Cressy, was at the battle of Stoke near Newark in 1487, in which Henry VII. defeated the Earl of Lincoln and the party who espoused the cause of Lambert Simnel. Subsequently to this, according to the records of the family, having had a dispute with the inhabitants of Long Bennington respecting the boundaries of that township and Cotham, and having in the strife put some of them to death, he was compelled to seek shelter in the old Hall of the Cressys at Risegate, where he had the honour of entertaining the Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond, and mother of Henry VII. who made a match between his son John and her kinswoman Anne daughter of Sir George Neville.

From this family descended the Markhams of Ollerton. The last Sir Robert Markham, the great-great-grandson of Sir John of whom I have been speaking, was an improvident man, and squandered away the estates of his ancestors. Thoroton's very brief and expressive language is, "Sir Robert Markham of Cotham destroyed the family."

He appears to have sold Cressy Hall with the manor of Risegate to Sir Edward Heron, who was Baron of the Exchequer in 1607. The last male descendant of Sir Edward, Henry Heron, M.P. for the county of Lincoln in 1722, died in 1730, and left his estate, failing the issue of his sisters, to Patrick Heron, a Scotchman, and distant connection. Cressy Hall, with the chapel attached to it, saving only two relics, was burnt down towards the close of the last century, and replaced by a modern brick house which goes by the same name, and, together with an estate of about three hundred and twenty acres, belongs to the Rev. Thomas Sherlock Nelson, rector of St. Peter at Arches, Lincoln. There is a recumbent figure in the church of Surfleet traditionally said to be that of Roger Cressy, who married Sibilla de Braytoft. No monumental brasses or inscriptions remain. The two relics referred to above are—a door of oak with grooved panels and studded with nails, which is said to have belonged to the chapel, and a stone with the following inscription:—


where nothing has been effaced; but the stone-cutter has omitted words and letters. We now come to—

The Cliftons, the Third Lords of Hodsock,

who succeeded to this property, the reader will bear in mind, 10 Henry IV. or 1409, shortly after the death of Sir Hugh Cressy, whose sister Katharine had married Sir John Clifton.

About the close of the reign of Henry III. we find the Cliftons establishing themselves at Clifton and Wilford, both of them situated on the Trent, a little to the south of Nottingham. It was about that time that Sir Gervase de Clifton purchased these manors of Gerard de Rhodes. Cecilia Clifton, the wife of Roger Cressy, of whom mention has been made, was his aunt. In the reign of Edward I. Sir Gervase was high-sheriff of the counties of Nottingham and Derby, as well as of York. In the twelfth year of this king's reign Robert de Tibtot, the Constable of Nottingham Castle, demised the castle and precincts to him for a term of years, and hence probably arose the high-sounding but somewhat apocryphal title of guardianus Castelli de Nottingham assigned to his ancestors in the old Visitations.

In an ancient instrument of the date of 13 Edward I. he is styled Gervase de Wilford; and it would appear that a branch of the Cliftons retained this surname, one of whom, Gervase de Wilford, was Chief Baron of the Exchequer 24 Edward III.

The Sir Gervase Clifton of Edward the First's reign married Amflisia, daughter of Sir William Sampson of Eperston, and thenceforth the line appears to descend in the following manner:—

Pedigree from Sir Gervase Clifton

Sir Gervase Clifton, the husband successively of Margaret Pierrepont and of Isabel . . . ., had licence from the king, 22 Edward III. to endow three chaplaincies in the church of St. Mary of Clifton. It is doubtful, however, whether he executed his intention; for, if Thoroton's statement is to be relied on, it was Sir Robert Clifton, the grandson of Sir John just named, who began to found the college dedicated to the Holy Trinity at Clifton, which, as he died before accomplishing his design, was completed by his son Sir Gervase, and herewith agrees the inscription in Clifton church over the grave of Sir Robert, who died in 1478, and is called fundator trium capellanorum collegii in hac ecclesia.