The Hall or Mansion of Hodsock.

We have no evidence that a residence existed here in times preceding the Conquest. If indeed I am correct in my etymology, the name of Hodsock indicates manorial rights and possessions of Ord. The Domesday Survey gives us also the name of another owner, Ulsy; but it makes no mention of an aula, nor is it clear that Toaald, the sub-infeudatory of the Norman lord Roger, had a residence here. But when we come to the Cressys we are left in no doubt upon the subject. In the reign of Henry II. we have Roger Cressy bestowing a benefaction upon the monastery of Blyth; we have his son William confirming and expanding the endowment of his father and founding an hospital near Blyth—acts these all of them indicating the sympathies of near neighbours. Not only so; we have William establishing a chapel at Hodsock, and in the same reign, that of John, we have the king himself dating documents at Hodsock. Edward I. again was in Nottinghamshire a.d. 1280. During the first five days of August his writs are dated either in Sherwood or at Clipston, where he had a palace. August 7th he was at Hodsock, "Oddisak"; and in 1293 we find him on his return from the North again at "Hadesak " on the 16th February.

The Cressys therefore had a residence here from early times. It was moated, and the moat is the only secular feature of the Cressy mansion which remains.

The present gateway of brick, with its quasi-machicolated parapet, its spacious chamber, and its solid flanking turrets, belongs to the sera of the Cliftons; and it is the only portion of the Clifton mansion which has survived the wreck of time. No document exists to fix the precise date of this interesting structure—the most ancient brick-building which we have in our district. I confess however that I have felt strongly inclined to assign its construction to Sir Gervase Clifton, in the second part of the fifteenth century. My reasons for doing so are these: (1) Sir Gervase, as we have seen, was an opulent and prosperous man, having received large accession of property by grant from Richard III., and therefore was well able to execute a costly undertaking of this nature; and (2) as surveyor of the castle of Nottingham and of the royal palaces of Barkwood and Clipston, and of the repairs thereof, he must have acquired considerable experience in the practical details of building, even if he did not possess originally a taste for it.

But then on the other hand Sir William Dugdale records in his Visitation of Nottinghamshire in 1662 the existence of six shields, which were cut in stone over a bay-window of the Hall, and were charged with, 1. A trefoil, the emblem of perpetuity; 2. The arms of Clifford, Cheeky or and azure, a fess gules; 3. A scroll with the name "Robert Clifton;" 4. Blank; 5. Clifford arms again, with their quartering of Vipont; 6. Arms impaled, the arms of the husband wanting, probably defaced as well as No. 4, but three quarterings of the wife's remaining, viz. a cross, 2 bars, and a chief indented.

Now as Robert Clifton married for his second wife Anne, daughter of Henry lord Clifford, and as his own name appears among the shields, the inference is irresistible that he was the builder of the old Clifton Hall, if not of the gate-way at Hodsock, and that he left a record of himself and of the illustrious house into which he had married in the scroll and shields above mentioned.

If this inference is correct, the hall, if not the gateway, was built at the very beginning of the sixteenth century.

The Cliftons appear to have resided occasionally at least at Hodsock down to the time of the first Baronet in the seventeenth century, some of whose children, as we have seen, were born there and baptized at Blyth. And Mr. Clifton Rhodes, his son-in-law, is described as "of Hodsoke" in 1653, when the baptism of his son Godfrey is recorded. Subsequently to this they appear to have abandoned the place, which gradually sank to the condition of a good farm-house, with no vestige, as far as I know, of the old mansion remaining, save only the gate-way and chamber over it.

It has been occupied at intervals by the widow of Mr. Charles Mellish, who died there in 1806; by Lieut.-Colonel Mellish, who also died there in 1817; and since his death by his sister Mrs. Chambers, who by a considerable enlargement of the house in 1829, and by continued and judicious improvements of the pleasure-grounds and adjacent buildings, has given to Hodsock an appearance of beauty, and elevated it to a becoming position among the seats of the gentry of Nottinghamshire.

The Chapel of Hodsock.

The earliest notice on record of a Chapel at Hodsock occurs in an exemplification of the year 1455. On the 24th of April in that year, Robert Clifton of Hodsock appeared at Scrooby before William Malster, the chancellor of William Archbishop of York, the brother-in-law of Clifton, and produced and prayed that copy and registration might be made of two letters, the first of which ran in these words: "To all faithful servants of Christ who shall see or hear this present writing, Gilbert prior of Blyth and the convent of the same place send greeting, Know ye that we have granted, and by this our present charter have confirmed, to William Cressy, and to his heirs, all oblations offered at his chapel in his hall of Hoddesak for the support of a chaplain, whom the said William shall find to minister there, saving to us the confessions of Lent and the oblations at Easter, and all the tithes of the Hall." The charter then goes on to grant to the said William and his heirs a chaplain for the hospital on the south side of Blyth, in the territory of Hodsock, whomsoever he and his heirs may appoint. In my account of the monastery of Blyth already given, we find Gilbert prior of the house in 1224.

The second letter produced by Clifton throws additional light upon the date of foundation of the chapel of Hodsock. It is a bull of Pope Honorius to the rector and brethren of the House of Lepers of St. John the Evangelist without Blyth, promising the protection of the Holy See to the possessions and liberties conferred upon them by the prior and convent of Blyth, and by William de Cressy their pious founder, and is dated at the Lateran in the 10th year of his pontificate. Now, of the four popes of this name, the only one from whom this bull could have emanated was Honorius III., who sat in the papal chair from 1216 to 1227. We have therefore the convent granting permission in one and the same document to William Cressy to have a chaplain at Hodsock, and another chaplain for the hospital near Blyth founded by him, and a bull from the Pope in 1226 confirming the possessions and liberties which the founder and convent had granted the hospital. Hence we may conclude that both the hospital near Blyth and the chapel at Hodsock were in existence in 1226; and that they were both the pious work of William Cressy, the son of Roger Cressy and Cecilia Clifton.

The motive which prompted the foundation of this and other chapels of a similar nature is obvious. They were founded for the benefit and convenience of those who were too far removed from their parish churches, to participate generally in the privileges of religious worship there, and were exceedingly common throughout the kingdom. Thus, Barnby Moor, Costrup, and Serlby, in ancient times, possessed their own chapels, which have wholly disappeared. In our immediate neighbourhood again we have the remains of a beautiful chapel at Steetly; and, to take a more distant example, on the banks of the Tees, opposite to Gainford, stand the ruins of the chapel of the ancient family of the Pudseys of Barforth, of the same religious character. These, and similar religious structures, were designed, in the first instance, for the convenience of the lord of the manor and his household. Neighbouring families were gradually and properly admitted to a participation in the privileges of religious worship in them; and, where a village lay contiguous to the mansion of the proprietor, I think it highly probable that, in course of time, the chapel of the village superseded, if indeed it did not from the first constitute, the chapel of the hall. Such was the origin of the chapels of Bawtry, Austerfield, Anstan, Thorp-Salvin, Firbeck, Wales, St. John's, Letwell, and numerous others in this district. It is needless to add, that the great castles of the sovereigns and barons of England all possessed religious edifices of this description within their walls. There was such an edifice within the walls of Tickhill Castle, founded by Eleanor the queen of Henry II. Richmond Castle, in Yorkshire, contains the remains of two chapels, one of early Norman, the other of later date. There was another at Ravensworth Castle, near Richmond, the castle of the powerful and splendid family of Fitz-Hugh, the ruins of which, still grand in decay, impress the mind and heart of the visitor with feelings of deep solemnity, and the scroll around the bell-turret of whose chapel, familiar as it has been to me from the days of early boyhood, will remain indelibly impressed upon "the mindful tablet of memory" to my dying hour.

To return to the chapel at Hodsock. I wish I could record, if not that it was standing entire, that we had at least as much of it remaining as we have of the chapel of Steetly within ten miles' distance. It is generally believed to have been situated a little to the south-west of the present hall, and was doubtless a gem of early-English architecture, which received, it would appear, additional embellishments in the succeeding style of church building—probably in the time of Edward II. when the chapel of Cressy Hall was built—for, in addition to pieces of early-English groining, and of an early-English doorway, we have a decorated piece of window tracery and a decorated corbel still in existence, and these few detached fragments are the only witnesses which survive to attest the ancient beauty and elegance of the chapel of the Cressys at Hodsock.

I will only add, that, although the chapels to which I have just adverted—I mean the village chapels—enjoyed some, if not all, parochial rites, yet the chapel at Hodsock, not being surrounded by any considerable population, possessed none of these, with the exception, of course, of the Eucharist, neither baptisms, nor marriages, nor funerals having been ever, as far as I can discover, solemnized there.

The Hospital and District called Spital.

The hospital was situated, as we have seen, on the south side of Blyth, in the territory of Hodsock, and is expressly styled in the Bull of Honorius III. already cited, the House of Lepers of St. John the Evangelist. There is hardly a place of any importance in England where, in the existence of the local designation of "Spital," the vestiges arc not to be traced of eleemosynary foundations of this character. Camden, speaking of Burton-Lazars, near Melton Mowbray, tells us that "Burton, called for distinction Lazars, from Lazars (so they named the Elephantiaci or Lepers) was a rich hospital, to the master of which all the lesser lazar-houses in England were in some sort subject, as he himself was to the master of the Lazars of Jerusalem. It is said to have been founded about the time of Henry I. by a general collection throughout England, but chiefly by the assistance of the Mowbrays, about which time the leprosy (by some called elephantiasis) did run by infection over all England."

A similar establishment was founded at Sherburn, near Durham, by Bishop Pudsey in the twelfth century, the yearly revenues of which were certified in the reign of Henry VIII. as amounting to 142l. the society consisting of a master, several priests, and sixty-five brethren. Happily it escaped the spoliation of by-gone days, and its munificent endowments have afforded maintenance and an asylum to many an aged and needy man.

The statement so often made, that the disease of leprosy was imported into the island during the age of the Crusades, is by no means destitute of probability. Whether this was really the origin of the disease in England, or whether it is attributable to the mode of living in early times, certain it is that the institution and endowment of these charitable foundations constituted one of the great features of the age and of the occupations of the wealthy.

The hospital near Blyth was founded and endowed by William Cressy, lord of Hodsock, in the reign of John. It was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist; was designed for a warden or rector, three chaplains, and persons labouring under the disease of leprosy; and the patronage was vested in the lords of Hodsock. What use they made of their privileges as patrons we shall presently see.

Henry III. in a letter dated at Newark Jan. 5, 1230, takes under his protection the brethren of the hospital and their possessions, bids all his faithful subjects to defend them, and commends them to their charity, as they would have recompence from God and from him.

Edward II., 18 May, 1316, gives permission to Hugh de Cressy to alienate seven messuages and four bovates of land in Blyth and Hodsock to three chaplains, who should celebrate divine offices daily in the chapel of St. John the Evangelist near Blyth. In this instance the king dispensed with the statute of mortmain, and acted against the recommendation of his escheator, Robert de Cliderhou, who had reported, that, inasmuch as the lands in question were held of the Honour of Tickhill, then in the Crown, it would be prejudicial to his interest to part with them, as after Cressy's death, if his heir were a minor, he would lose the wardship thereof. But there was a consideration in the case—a fine of twenty shillings, a large sum in those days.

The brother of Hugh, Edmund de Cressy, executes an instrument at Hodsock, on Monday in the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, in the 14th Edw. II., 1320, granting to William de Howelle and Philip de Ilkeston, chaplains, the hospital of St. John the Evangelist, with all lands, tenements, rents, meadows, pastures, and all their appurtenances belonging to the same, together with goods and chattels to the amount of twenty marcs, towards the support of the house. The chaplains undertake to celebrate religious offices in the chapel of the hospital, to find proper lights, to keep the buildings in good repair, and on their ceasing to officiate to leave behind them goods to the value of twenty marcs. They are not allowed to appropriate to themselves any of the revenues. They may take into the hospital any person, spiritual or lay, at their discretion, by way of improving its income. Philip de Ilkeston shall pay as a subsidy at his entrance upon office four marcs: and the bursar shall render his account yearly before the bailiff of Cressy, who reserves to himself the right of appointing a third chaplain when the rent of a messuage near the gate of the cemetery of the hospital will admit of it.

A similar deed in old French, containing the appointment of Sir Robert de Russyn, late of Misson, as minister of the hospital, by Sir John Cressy, is dated at Hodsock in 1374.

The Cliftons, as successors to the Cressys at Hodsock, of course possessed the patronage of the hospital. I have already stated that an Inquisition taken 14th Henry VI. represents Ralph Makarel, the second husband of Catharine Clifton, as having been seised inter alia of the hospital of St. John.

About ten years later, viz. 21 July 1446, an indulgence of one hundred days was granted by the Archbishop of York to those who would contribute to "the erection and new construction of a certain house, or hospital, for receiving and lodging poor strangers and pregnant women within the village of Blyth."

We may conclude therefore that the old hospital of the Cressys had fallen to decay in the fifteenth century, and that its original leprous inmates had disappeared.

We come now to the time of Henry VIII., who, after he had pillaged the monasteries, appointed commissioners to survey and report upon the chantries, free chapels, and colleges, with a view of course of treating them in the same manner. The points to be inquired into were these: 1, the names of the churches* 2, the value in the king's books; 3, present yearly value; 4, whether parish churches or not; 5, whether full or void; 6, what lands, &c, belong to each; 7, plate, ornaments, &c.; 8, other preferment held by incumbent.*

From the Survey 37 Henry VIII., in the Augmentation Office, I give the following extract respecting the hospital of St. John:—

"(1). The Spittell of Blithe, which Robert Cressey, prieste, nowe hathe and servithe two dayes in the weke, of the whiche two dayes he saithe masse at the said spittcll by the commandement of the Lorde of Hodsoke, as apperith by the gifte therof made unto him by Sir Jarvaise Clifton owte of Hodsok aboughte v. yers past, shewid to the commissioners: and other foundacion than is mencioned in the incumbent's gifte made by the said Sr Jarvasse Clyfton the incumbent knoweth not. (2). 8l. 14s. (3). 9l. 2s. clear. (4). The same is no parish churche, but is distante from the churche of Blithe a quarter of a mylle, and the manor of Hodsoke is more than a myle from the said parish churche, which also is a very great parishe. (5). The same is not voyd. Whether ther be any mancion ther belonginge he answerithe not. (6). No more lands. (7). No plate, ornaments, goods, Jewells, nor catalls, otherwise than one vestment and alter-cloth of no valewe, and a bell of small valewe."

It is certain, as will appear, that the hospital of Blyth escaped the general pillage of chantries, free chapels, and colleges in the 37th Henry VIII. and 2nd Edw. VI. on the ground, probably, that it was an hospital.†

I conclude from the above report that Robert Cressy, who was also Vicar of Blyth, was paid a yearly stipend by the Cliftons for his religious services to the poor inmates of the hospital— the Cliftons retaining the lands of the house in their own hands, or in those of their tenants.

The latter part of this statement is rendered indisputable by what follows. For I have before me leases or recitals of leases from the Cliftons in 1648, 1662, and 1692, in which they associate themselves jointly with the master and brethren of the hospital as lessors, and the nature of which is of a beneficial tendency as far as they are concerned. They reserve simply to the master and his poor brethren "the house adjoining to the said house or hospital appointed and used to and for the harbour, habitation, and dwelling of the poor of the said house or hospital;" and the yearly rent of 11l. 10s. 6d. And yet that the landed endowments of this foundation were considerable, an indenture executed in 1706 leaves us no room whatever to doubt, for in it Sir Gervase Clifton covenants to pay the three several annual rents of 50l., 30l., and 11l. 10s. 6d. Such an aggregate rental as this in the days of Queen Anne may well be conceived to represent a district of 664 acres, the extent of that now known by the name of Spital, in the township of Hodsock, and a few more acres of Spital land in the township of Blyth in addition thereto. And accordingly I arrive at the conclusion that the ancient landed possessions of the Hospital of St. John near Blyth amounted to very nearly, if not quite, 700 acres.

Where are they now, the reader will naturally inquire. I will answer that question. The Cliftons most assuredly, if not the Cressys before them, took advantage of their position as patrons of the hospital, and effected for themselves long, nay almost interminable, leases of its lands. Sir Robert Clifton in 1740 sold to Edward Mellish, Esq. of Blyth his interest in the Spital, which well nigh amounted to that of the fee-simple of the estate, and in 1806 Lieut.-Col. Henry Francis Mellish sold the same, as parcel of the Blyth estate, to Joshua Walker, Esq., the grandfather of the present proprietor.

Immediately before we cross the second bridge from Blyth to Olcotes, we observe on the right hand of the road, by the side of the river which runs from the latter place, a patch of black, loamy ground. Here stood the hamlet of Holme, consisting probably of not more than one respectable house and a few cottages. This was the residence of the Cressys of Holm, an offset doubtless of the Hodsock Cressys, and a family of consideration, as we find them appearing at the Heralds' Visitation in 1569. On a flat stone in the nave of Blyth church there is the following monumental inscription: "Hic jacet sepulta Johanna Cresi uxor Francisci Cressi de Holme gen. sola filia et her: Will. Parke de Staniford defuncti gen. quae obiit primo die Maii ano dni 1588.'' Another resident here, Peter Cressy, the brother of Francis, made his will, proved 28 Aug. 1595, giving his soul to God Almighty his Creator and Redeemer, and his body to be buried in the parish church of Blyth, near unto his father Nicholas Cressy.

In 1738 and 1740, Edward Mellish, Esq. of Blyth Hall, purchased of Sir Robert Clifton this district of Holm, comprising 266 acres, 1 rood, 19 perches. It was sold with the Blyth estate by Lieut.-Colonel Mellish to Joshua Walker, Esq., in 1806. It pays a modus of 7s. 6d. to the vicar of Blyth in lieu of vicarial tithes.

Hermeston. COSTRUP. Hodsock Park.

I group these ancient districts together, inasmuch as they were all included in the sale by Sir Gervase Clifton to William Mellish, Esq. in 1765. The four first were shortly afterwards re-sold by Mr. Mellish to Ralph Knight, of Langold, Esq. Mr. Knight's descendant, the late Mr. Gally Knight, of Firbeck, dying about 1845, bequeathed by will his Langold estate to Sir Thomas Wollaston White, Bart., of Wallingwells, who in 1847 sold portions thereof, viz. Hermeston, Goldthorp, Costrup, and Woodhouse, to Edward Chaloner, Esq., who, by a liberal and judicious investment of capital, has clothed this portion of the parish of Blyth with a very different and far more improved appearance than that which it used to wear.

1. Hermeston, the town of the hermit, supposed to have occupied the position of Mr. Chaloner's present residence and adjoining cottages. But who was this anchorite? Was he some man of high station, who, like Jordan de Builli, already mentioned, had grown weary of the world, but, unlike him, instead of entering a convent, had sought seclusion in solitude? or was he a person in a humbler walk of life? We are left to conjecture. For local tradition has preserved not a vestige of his name or history.

Here again we meet with William de Clairfait and Avicia his wife, who, about the middle of the twelfth century, gave to the abbey of St. Cuthbert of Worksop three bovates of land in Hermedeston, with the common of that town. Witnesses Robert de Lizours, Otto de Tilli, &c. (Regist. of Worksop, fol. 73.)

2. Costrup, the thorp of Cossard. The Cossards were tenants of Fule de Lizours. They were benefactors to the convent of Blyth, to which house Henry de Cossarthorp gave Roger of the same place, the son of Thorald and Beatrix his mother, cum tota sequela sua, with all her family as slaves, and with all their land in the territory of Cossarthorp, the convent paying two shillings yearly; and Ralph Cossard confirmed the gift of six acres in his demesne of Cossardthorp, which his grandfather Roger gave, and three acres and a toft which Walter his father gave. Ralph Cossard, 6th Richard I. joined Earl John against his sovereign, and forfeited his estates. In the following year he paid a fine, and had re-seisin. It comprises 341a. 2r. 18p. and pays 7s. 6d. to the vicar of Blyth in lieu of vicarial tithes. It was recently in the occupation chiefly of Mr. John Radley, and in a field not far from the farm-house may be seen mounds, probably of buildings and fish-ponds, marking the old residence of the Cossards. A field in the same locality is known still by the name of the Priest's Croft, a parcel of the ancient endowment of the chapel.

3. Hodsock Park, the property of John Joseph Shuttleworth, Esq. and consisting of about 250 acres. The Rev. George Gilbert Shuttleworth, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, held by lease under the Clifton family the Hodsock Park Farm, the Woodhouse Farm, and the Goldthorp Farm. Mr W. Mellish, on purchasing Hodsock of Sir Gervase Clifton in 1765, took a surrender of these leases, and sold the Park Farm to Mr. Shuttleworth for the additional sum of 1,916l. But, as the law at that time prohibited Roman Catholics "from purchasing lands in the kingdom, or any profits out of the same,"‡ the conveyance was effected through the medium of Charles Mellish, the son of William, who acted as trustee.

Pedigree of Shuttleworth.

Pedigree of Shuttleworth

The Shuttleworths sprang from the county of Lancaster. After their purchase of Hodsock Park, when the law permitted it, they appear to have possessed a private chapel of their own at Hodsock, where divine service was sometimes solemnized. Blyth was their place of interment until the Roman Catholic Church at Worksop was built, now about twenty-three years ago.

4. Fleecethorp—Flixthorp—probably the thorp of Flix, some old proprietor before the Conquest. In 1807 Lieutenant-Colonel Mellish sold to Francis Ferrand Foljambe, Esq. the grandfather of the present owner, that portion of his estate which lay on the south-east side of the road leading from Blyth to Worksop, containing 1,094a. 3r. 39p. of which 482a. 31p. are in the parish of Carlton, and 612 a. 3r. 8p. in the parish of Blyth, in the township of Hodsock, and form part of the district called Great Hodsock, being as such protected from payment of vicarial tithes under a modus. The latter portion is occupied by Mr. Cross and Mr. Coupe, whose house stands on the old site of Fleecethorp.

The Rectorial and Vicarial Tithes of the Township of Hodsock.

The rectorial tithes of this large township, which comprises as I have said 4,110a. of land, are commuted for a rent-charge of 950l; the vicarial for a rent-charge of 24l. This striking disproportion between the two is to be accounted for partly by the moduses upon Spital, Holm, and Costrup, already enumerated; but it receives its full explanation in the

Monster Modus of Great Hodsock,

by virtue of which the vicar of Blyth receives the sum of 9s. 4d. in lieu of all vicarial tithes of 2,252 acres of land.

A modus decimandi, commonly designated by the shorter appellation of modus, is a particular manner of tithing different from the general law of taking tithes in kind, and generally consists of a pecuniary redemption or composition.

To render a money district modus valid in law the following conditions are essential. (1) That it shall reach back to the commencement of the æra of legal memory, namely, the reign of Richard I. (2) That it shall be invariable in amount. (3) That it shall cover a district precisely of the same extent from age to age, the metes and boundaries whereof can be distinctly defined. (4) That it shall have received the full and clear sanction of the patron and ordinary.

Now, at the very outset, there is one reflection which very forcibly suggests itself to my mind, and it is this—that even if all these conditions could be satisfied with the most rigorous demonstration, as they never have been, still a great fraud and injury would be inflicted upon any benefice by setting up a very insignificant and disproportionate money payment, simply because it is an ancient one, in bar of tithes in kind or of their just equivalent in money according to the prices of the present day. It is no more right or just for the modern tithe-payer to demand exemption from payment of tithe on tender of one-fifth part of a farthing per acre, merely because his predecessors on the same lands a century ago paid that sum, than it would be right or just for the modern rent-payer to expect that his landlord would be satisfied with 6d. per acre rent, because his predecessors on the same farm a hundred years ago paid no more. If it is equitable to offer the tithe-owner one-fifth part of a farthing per acre for tithe, it is quite as equitable to offer the landlord 6d. per acre, and even less, for rent. And it is quite possible that the day may come which shall witness the elevation into a principle of law of a modus reddendi, as well as a modus decimandi. I have known landlords who appeared to me to be accelerating, whether consciously or unconsciously I care not to inquire, such a consummation. But then I shall be told such is the law of the land. I admit it: and further I regret to add, that, in the administration of the law in our courts of justice, there has been evinced at all times a far too great readiness to infer the existence of the conditions of a legally valid modus already enumerated. If the champions of a modus could only produce parochial terriers reaching back for even a century, into which interested landlords had contrived to thrust the word modus or composition, our courts and juries would by a wonderfully rapid induction infer that such modus had existed since the time of Richard I., unless the incumbent could achieve the almost impossible task of proving a negative. Whereas by just the very reverse process the courts and juries should have declared, A rector at common law, and a vicar by the terms of his endowment, are entitled to tithes, and the onus probandi rests upon you landowners, and it is for you to prove rigorously to our satisfaction that your modus is co-eval with the commencement of legal memory, otherwise it must fall to the ground.

My lamented predecessor, the Rev. John Rudd, filed a Bill in the Exchequer for the recovery of vicarial tithes in this district of Great Hodsock, as well as in the districts of Holm and Spital— the value of such tithes in the whole township being at least 250l. a year. A decree was given against him in the three instances; an issue was demanded to try the validity of the Great Hodsock modus of 9s. 4d., and the case was tried before the late Mr. Justice Littledale and a special jury at Nottingham in the summer of 1831.**

The principal supporters of the modus, Mrs. Ann Chambers of Hodsock, and Mr. George Savile Foljambe of Osberton, who also were most interested in its maintenance, produced a series of terriers and receipts, the former commencing in 1714 and the latter in 1740, as well as witnesses who professed to identify the precise metes and boundaries of Great Hodsock.§

To rebut this evidence the vicar produced the deed of endowment of the vicarage in the year 1287. This was a very important document. It was drawn up at the palace of the Archbishop of York, the chief ordinary, at Scrooby, and received his sanction, as well as that of the Prior and Convent of Blyth, the patrons of the living: and it was not a century posterior to the commencement of legal memory. This authentic instrument very minutely describes the tithes and payments with which the vicarage of Blyth was endowed; but it contains not one syllable about a modus in Great Hodsock or any where else. Equally silent upon the subject of any modus is a subsequent confirmation of the vicar's rights made in 1346, with the concurrence again of the patrons and ordinary.

In addition, the vicar proved that in one part at least of this district vicarial tithes, or an equivalent, had been rendered during the time of his predecessor. And it was further proved, if indeed a fact so perfectly notorious required any proof, that the 2,252 acres of the district named Great Hodsock, which were alleged to have been distinctly inclosed within fence and boundary since the reign of Richard I., had in point of fact been an uninclosed and in a very great measure an uncultivated tract of country so late as sixty or seventy years before the trial.

Notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding some exceedingly strong remarks in the judge's address to the jury, tending to cast very grave doubts upon the validity of this alleged modus, the jury pronounced that it was good, or, in other words, that it had existed since the year 1189; that it had never varied in amount; that it had covered a tract of more than two thousand acres which had for six centuries been fenced around by unvarying boundaries; and that it had received the sanction of the Archbishop of York and the Prior and Convent of Blyth.

I know not who constituted the jury who returned this marvellously credulous verdict; and therefore I can be actuated by no personal feeling in what I am about to say. Probably at no time when contesting the validity of a modus, unless his evidence was overpowering, could a clergyman have the slightest chance of obtaining a verdict at the hands of a jury, and for obvious reasons. Most assuredly at the period of this trial at Nottingham his chance was infinitesimally small. For Radical candidates on the hustings, Radical newspapers, and Radical ministers too, were then, for the purpose of catching auram popularem, perpetually inveighing against the iniquity of tithes and the bloated wealth of the Church, and there can be no doubt that these "fierce and turbulent" demagogues made an impression upon the mind of the country at large. In proof of which I will mention one fact which came very distinctly under my own cognisance. A tithe suit to upset a modus was tried at Durham, at which I was present. The jury was a special one, and one of the jurymen on entering the court declared to a friend of mine, who repeated the declaration in my hearing, "I will give it against the clergyman whatever be the evidence." Fortunately the foreman of the jury was an intelligent and conscientious man, and he returned the verdict, which doubtless he had greatly influenced, " We find for [ . . . . . . . . . . ] the vicar, in consequence of his documentary evidence." Yes; but it was documentary evidence chiefly collected by one, who is now at rest, to whose deeply cherished memory I have dedicated this volume, and whose knowledge upon this, as indeed upon all subjects connected with historical and ecclesiastical antiquities, was of the most varied, extensive, and accurate character.

Some of my readers may probably desire to know how and when in my opinion this so-called modus of 9s. 4d., as well as those upon the Holm and Costrup districts, took their origin. In the year 1714 then, when the mention of these moduses first occurs, the Cliftons were owners of the districts just named, as well as of considerable property besides, in the parish of Blyth, and of course possessed paramount influence. They were at that period the authors of these compositions for vicarial tithes, which in the then existing state of cultivation of the country were probably of little value:¶ and they intruded into the parochial terriers that word modus or composition, which hereafter was to be a weapon against the vicar, brought out of his own armoury. Meanwhile observe how they protected their own interests. They were lessees under Trinity College of the great tithes; they resided very frequently at Hodsock, and they took care to draw their own tithes in kind, or receive an adequate equivalent, according to valuation, from year to year for them. And thus it comes to pass that at this day the rectorial tithes suffer no diminution whatever by modus, whilst the vicarial are cut down to 24l. per annum.

I hesitate not to say, that, if the authorities of the College at that day had exercised, as they were in duty bound to do, a vigilant supervision of their benefices, the Vicarage of Blyth would never have suffered as it has done, and the vicar himself would have been enabled to promote the accomplishment of many useful and beneficent objects, in which, on simple grounds of prudence, he is now precluded from embarking.

The Legislature, through an Act commonly known as Lord Tenterden's Act, have now forbidden suits for the recovery of tithes screened by modus. By that statute no proceedings can be taken for a period beyond 60 years, or three incumbencies, unless instituted before its enactment.

One is tempted to say of those, some of them still living and in high authority in the Church, who were chiefly instrumental in passing that Act, "Solitudinem faciunt et pacem appellant." The solitudo however falls to the lot of the tithe-owner; the tithe-payer reaps the benefit of the pax; and it is all the more incumbent upon him to turn his unenviable gains to a good purpose, and thus to obtain peace from a higher than human power, by contributing largely and liberally towards the exigencies of the Church and the requirements of charity.

Domesday; Testa de Neville, p. 2; Thoroton's History of the County of Nottingham, i. 102-112, 341 344; iii. 414-420; Fines 5 John; Hume, ii. 93, 94; Pipe Rolls, 6 and 7 Richard I.; Pat. Rolls, 16 John, p. 141; Reg. Priorat. de Blida, ff. 77, 78, 102; Dugdale's Visitation 1662, Heralds' College; Archiep. Registers of York; Harl. MSS. 6829, p. 25; Camden, Britannia; Pat. 14 Henry III. memb. 7; Pat. 9 Edward II. pars 2, memb. 18.

*"The expenses of King Henry VIII., like sandy ground, suddenly sucked up the large shower of abbey-lands, and little sign or show was seen thereof: yea, such the parching thirst of his pressing occasions, that still they called aloud for more moisture; for whose satisfaction the Parliament in the 38th year of his reigu put the lands of all colleges, chantries, and free chapels in his majesty's full disposition."'
"The courtiers were more rapacious to catch and voracious to swallow these chantries than abbey-lands. For at the first many were scrupulous in mind or modest in manners, doubting the acceptance of abbey-land, though offered unto them, till profit and custom—two very able confessors, had by degrees satisfied their consciences and absolved them from any fault therein. Now, all scruples removed, chantry-land went down without any regret. Yea, such who mannerly expected till the king carved for them out of abbey-lands scrambled for themselves out of chantry-revenues, as knowing this was the last dish of the last course, and after chantries, as after cheese, nothing to be expected."—Fuller, Ch. Hist. ii. 267, 275.
† "The Parliament at the same time put hospitals also into the king's possession. Yet, surely, more tenderness was used to hospitals, and I find very few of them finally suppressed."—Fuller, Ch. Hist. ii. 276.
‡ 11th and 12th William and Mary, cap. 4.
** Mr. Rudd recovered the vicarial tithes of Hodsock Mill Close, Butler's Carr, and Wilson's Close.
§ The stones which were erected after the trial to mark the supposed boundaries of Great Hodsock are now beginning to fall. Considering the great good which the proprietors reaped from this boundary question, I think that they ought to place the stones upon a firm foundation, as so many monuments of their victory. Why not convert them into altars to the god Terminus, and engrave these lines upon them?—
Conveniunt, celebrantque dapes vicinia simplex
Et cantant laudes, Termine sancte, tuas. Tu populos, decimasque, et regna ingentia finis;
Omnis erit sine te litigiosus ager. Nulla tibi ambitio est; nullo corrumperis auro :
Legitima servas credita rura fide.
¶ These and similar compositions were really in the first instance in general rents; and, if this idea had been carefully borne in mind and acted upon, we should hardly have had a single modus in the kingdom.