Olcotes and Styrrup.

These two townships are for various civil purposes incorporated in one, and the manor is styled the Manor of Styrrup, otherwise Styrrup Olcotes, otherwise Styrrup-cum-Olcotes. It will, therefore, be convenient that in an historical point of view they thould to a certain extent bo taken together, and when necessity demands be treated separately.

The first-named township is at the present day written generally Oldcoats; about two centuries ago we find it occasionally designated Dulecotes. Ancient charters never present it in either of these forms, but as Oulecotes or Olecotes, and the Pipe Bolls of John and Henry III. as Ulecote, Ulcote, Ulecot, Wlecot, Hulecote. It was probably a local designation of old cottages, and was coined after Domesday Survey, as it does not occur there. Names of similar formation in the county of Nottingham are Bevercotes and Bulcote, and of similar import probably Hullcott, in the county of Buckingham, and Hulcote manor, in the county of Northampton. But there is another explanation of the name which may possibly commend itself to the etymologist. Hull is a very old English word, and is equivalent to sty—the place for keeping swine. In early days, when these animals were so very extensively fed upon the acorns of our large wooded districts, there is nothing extravagant in the supposition that the places where they were collected together should frequently have derived their names from them, and grown into local designations.

And this a priori hypothesis is converted into certainty by reference to such names as Swinburn, Swindon, Swindell, Sugden, Sowerby, Swinnerton, and others. Dr. Leo observes, "that an estate is hardly registered as complete in the Anglo-Saxon charters without including one or more hog woods."

The addition of cote or cotes at the end of the name Olcotes forms no fatal objection to this etymology, inasmuch as a second word is perpetually added to explain the first in our local names— e.g. in Skelbrook, Skel meaning precisely what brook means, and again in our own district in Blyth Law Hill, where the second word Hill is simply a repetition of Law, which is of equivalent import; and at a more remote distance from us, in Lancashire, in the name of Pendle Hill, where hill has been added in explanation, or perhaps in ignorance of the aboriginal Pen, which has the same signification, and which we find in Penrith, Penrhyn, and in the Pennine and Apennine mountains.

In Estirapc, Leuing, Torchil, and Leuric had seven bovates to be taxed to the Dane-gelt. The land consisted of four carucates. Bernard, the vassal of Boger, now has one carucate, nine sochmen, seven villeins on the demesnes, and five board-men having three carucates and a half. There are six acres of meadow and ten of pasturable wood. Valued in time of King Edward at 50s., now at 25s.

Styrrup would present an insoluble mystery, were it not for the extract just given from the Domesday Survey. It is there written Estirape, the eastern division (rape). If this is the true derivation of the word we are carried back to an exceedingly early period; and it is singular that the two words rape and trithing (riding) should be found in such close proximity to each other, for the village of Styrrup is on the very borders of the west riding of York.

The Manor of Olcotes and Styrrup.

I will give in limine an outline of the history of this manor, filling up subsequently the details.

I., then: Roger de Builli is tenant in capite of the manor, being parcel of the possessions of the honour of Tickhill.

II.   He subinfeuds Fulc de Lizours, whose descendants down to the time of John the Constable of Chester hold the manor, which about the year 1100 is resumed among other possessions of the honour by the Crown, and remains in its hands with such exceptions as have been noticed in a preceding chapter.

III.   Towards the close of the twelfth century appears a family, De Stirap. They had probably been tenants under the house of Lizours, but now begin to occupy the chief position in the lordship down to the time of Ingeram de Olcotes, who about 1274 conveyed it to Roger Darcy.

IV.   Before the year 1310 the tenancy of the manor passed from the Darcys to the Cressys, and continued, with some interruption hereafter to be noticed, in their hands for several generations.

V.   In the time of Henry VIII., if not before, the manor of Styrrup and Olcotes was not separately leased, but was included in the Bailiwick of Bassetlaw, the lessees of which, under the duchy of Lancaster, stand from that time as follows:—

25th May, 22 Henry VIII. By indenture of lease of this date the King demised to Humphry FitzWilliam, Gent., the Bailiwick of Bassetlaw for term of forty years.

18th May, 11 Elizabeth. New lease of the said Bailiwick to Charles FitzWilliam, Gent.

Hilary Term, 26 Elizabeth. New lease to Charles Fitzwilliam.

26th July, 1689. Catherine Queen Dowager demised to John Earl of Clare the Bailiwick of Bassetlaw for seventy years, or three lives.

30th November, 1696. New lease of the said Bailiwick to John Duke of Newcastle for sixty-four years, or three lives.

6th August, 3 George I. New lease of the said Bailiwick to Thomas Holies, Duke of Newcastle, Marquis and Earl of Clare.

29th June, 1749. New lease to the same.

10th May, 1768. New lease to Henry Earl of Lincoln.

VI.   The Newcastle family retained their interest in the manor till the commencement of the present century. In 1806 Viscount Galway became lessee of this lordship, which was then probably detached from the bailiwick of Bassetlaw, and the Moncktons still hold it by lease under the duchy.

It would appear that in times past the Cliftons and Mellishes were sub-lessees.

Families of Lizours and de Stirap.

I now commence with Fulc de Lizours, and the annexed table will, I hope, enable the reader more clearly to understand what follows :

deLizours pedigree

Fulc de Lizours was the brother of Torald, of whom I have spoken under Hodsock, and was a witness to the charter of foundation of the Convent of Blyth, a.d. 1088. From the tenant in capite, Roger de Builli, he received a grant of the manors of Sprotborougb, Billingley, &c. in the West Riding of York, and of lands at Hodsock, Olcotcs, Styrrup, Harworth, Gotham, Eaton, Clumber, Marnham, Weston, Clayworth, and Clarborough, in the county of Nottingham, as well as at Risley and Breaston, in the county of Derby. He was living in the early part of the reign of Henry I., for in the treasury of the Dean and Chapter of Durham there is a charter of that king, confirming the grants to the convent of Durham in Nottinghamshire made by the Conqueror, and especially two carucates, for which they paid de jure an annual acknowledgment of four shillings to Lizours. He had exacted more, and was commanded to refund the difference.

The above table shows that his descendants connected themseh es by marriage with the noble houses of Laci, the Lords of Pontefract Castle, and of Fitz-Eustace, Barons of Halton and hereditary Constables of Chester, and that from him, by the female side, springs the noble family of Fitzwilliam.

Fulc Lizours was a considerable benefactor to the monks of Blyth, having given them half of the vill of Billingley, and all his land in Curtingestoc (Costock); as well as four bovates in Olcotes, four in Styrrup, two in Marton (Martin), two in Blyth, and two in Hodsock. He also gave them a place in Sarlecroft to make a mill, the multure of the mill of Harworth with the appertaining soc, and a load of wood daily from Bilhagh, the tenth penny of his Nottinghamshire rents, the tithe of his pigs and of his malt, and one acresset (as much seed as would sow an acre) of wheat, rye or oats from Sceby (qu.? Skegby), Plumtre, Harworth, and from every plough in his demesne.

These donations were confirmed by his son Robert, and subsequently by Albreda, daughter of Robert, with the consent of William Fitzgodric her husband, and by her son John the Constable of Chester, who added of his own gift a load of broom daily from Bilhagh.

And now there comes before us another ancient family, between which and that of Lizours I have already stated the nature of the connection which probably existed. For the better illustration of my subject I have recourse again to a tabular form.

de Stirap pedigree

This family were lords of the manor of Olcotes with Styrrup, and in their day must have enjoyed considerable influence and distinction, for Philip of Olcotes, as we shall see, rose gradually to public offices of great power and eminence, and Ingeram of Olcotes conferred the manor of his ancestors, with considerable estates in Olcotes and Styrrup, upon no less a person than Roger Darcy.

To commence then with the religious history of this family first,—I have to state that Gerard de Stirap bestowed upon the monastery of St. Mary of Blyth his wood Northlund for the annual rent of 3s., and three acres of land in his meadow in Loc. His wife Matilda gave the monks all the land which Roger the porter held under her in Blyth, and which she had purchased of Hamelin of Bugethorp. Their son Philip forgave them the above rent, and added thereto four acres of land between Northlund and Litelewadhil. These donations were confirmed by Ingeram and Norman.

Alured of Barnby granted to the same religious house all the land which belonged to Serl, or Serlo, of Olcotes, both in and out of the village, and two and a half acres of meadow in his demesne in the meadow of Loc, beginning from a spot which is called Knavecastel, and going southwards. His widow confirmed these gifts, and was compelled to add to her charter words which indicated, I fear, that the religious entertained grave suspicions of her veracity. "Et ut haec mea concessio et donatio rata sit et stabilis et firma, subjeci me jurisdictioni Abbatis de Rupe et Prioris de Wirkeshop, quod, si contra hoc scriptum venire vel contradicere præsumpserim, habeant potestatem me ab introitu ecclesiæ suspendendi et omni appellatione et exceptione remota a communione fidelium privandi. Et ne hoc scriptum meum possit irritari, ipsum coram praedictis Abbate et Priore me fideliter observaturam juravi et id sigilli mei munimine roboravi."

The same family were benefactors of the Abbot and Canons of Welbeck. But it is chiefly through the civil history of

Philip of Olcotes

that they have attained prominence. This eminent person on his entrance upon the stage of active life in the troubled reign of Richard I., took up arms with Earl John against his sovereign; and doubtless was one of those who defended the castle of Tickhill for John, when Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, besieged it on behalf of the King. In the first year of John's reign he allied himself ia marriage with Joanna, daughter and co-heir of Robert de Mesnil (Meynell), of the ancient Northern family of Meynell. Sewal Fitz-Henry, called in the Pipe Rolls Sewal Serviens. had married her sister, and intended Joanna for his own nephew, to which arrangement he had obtained the royal sanction. The result was that Philip was fined 100l. and a war-horse, part of which fine was subsequently remitted. In the 5th of John he was actively engaged in the king's service, and was appointed Constable of Chinon in Touraine. Being taken prisoner in battle, the king gave him 200 marcs for his ransom—a sum sufficiently large to prove the high estimation in which he was held both by his royal master and by his enemies.

In 1208 Aimericus archdeacon of Durham, and others, as executors of the will of Philip de Pictavia, late bishop of that see, rendered account of "two thousand marcs, and of all the jewels which had belonged to the bishop, on account of the debt due from him to the king, and of his liabilities (pro miscricordiis in quibus ipse episcopus fuerat), and of the excesses of his parents for which they had been arrested." At the same time the Prior of Durham gave account of 500 marcs and 7 palfreys for himself and his vassals, for the enjoyment of their liberties as in the time of the late bishop. Partly from the hostility existing between John and the Pope, and partly from other causes, the see was vacant, and continued so for nine years, during which the king received the temporal revenues through the hands of the archdeacon Aimeric and of Philip of Olcotes, whom he had appointed custodes of the bishoprick. To them the prior handed over the money and the palfries.

In 1214 the shrievalty of Northumberland was committed to him in conjunction with his friend the archdeacon, which office he subsequently held alone for the remainder of this reign, and the first four years of that of Henry III. About the same time he was invested with the offices of Forester of Northumberland and Constable of Bamborough Castle, and received a grant of the manors of Nafferton, Matfen, and Lorbottle, together with some houses in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

In 1216 he and Hugh de Baliol were constituted governors of all the country to the north of the Tees, and stoutly defended the Northern fortresses for King John against the inroads of the King of Scotland, on behalf of Prince Lewis of France. The preservation of the North of England to John, after the barons of Northumberland had sworn allegiance to Alexander of Scotland, was undoubtedly due to the energy of Philip of Olcotes.

Soon after the accession of Henry III. he was summoned to court, and Walter Grey archbishop of York was commanded to afford him safe conduct thither. Amongst the royal and other letters in the Wakefield Tower of the Tower of London, is an exceedingly curious and interesting-one from the archbishop to the king, the purport of which is, that on Tuesday before the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist he received his sovereign's letter at Hexham, commanding him to conduct Philip de Ulecot to court. The day following he had found it necessary to stay at Hexham in order to be present at the Feast of St. Wilfrid, the patron saint of the church there. On Thursday he had proceeded with all haste towards Nottinghamshire, expecting to find Philip there, but on his way a messenger informed him that Philip had gone to the North, and that, the holding of a council having been fixed for the quinzaine of Pentecost, he objected to come to court to wait until that time. By a subsequent message from his clerks and messengers he signified his readiness to attend the council, if he had a safe and secure conduct.

We gather from this singular document the relations existing between Philip and the court. All-powerful as he was in the North, he did not choose to trust himself without a safe-conduct in the hands of the king or his advisers.

Shortly after this some quarrel arose between Philip of Olcotes and Roger Bertram. Amongst the collection of letters in the Tower of London already referred to, is one from Philip to Hubert de Burgh the Justiciary, explanatory of this transaction; from which it appears that the former is restrained from giving up Mitford Castle to its owner Bertram by Hugh Baliol, until his own rights in the manor of Mere, which is held by the Earl of Salisbury, arc restored to him. Philip and Bertram were both summoned before the council, and the Sheriff of Nottingham was commanded to seize the lands of the former if he did not surrender the castle of Mitford to the latter, according to the king's repeated injunctions. He soon regained the royal favour, for in the next month the manors of Corbridgc in Northumberland, and Seaton, near Seaham in the county of Durham, were assigned for his support whilst in the king's service. In a letter remaining in the abovenamed collection Philip complains to Henry III. that the Bishop of Durham (Richard de Marisco) had seized his lands and houses in the bishoprick, and ill-treated and imprisoned his servants; and he makes his petition for redress of this outrage against himself, his sovereign, and the peace of the kingdom.

In 1219 he was one of the justices itinerant in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, and in the next year was made seneschal of Poictou and Gascony, taking in his train a numerous array of knights, among whom Galfrid Cressy was one. In this service he died, and the king, in a mandate dated November 2, 1220, announcing his death to the sheriff of Northumberland, styles him "dominus tuus," from which we may infer that he had retained in his absence some influential post in the North.

The Convent of Blyth, as they watched the career of this eminent man, may well be supposed to have indulged in feelings of natural pride and exultation at the thought that they had so great a name as his enrolled, inter memores fastos, with those of their other pious benefactors. And even at this day, when viewing him through the long avenue of bygone history, a peculiar interest and sympathy must, among ourselves at all events in this parish, attach to him, when we reflect that, powerful and eminent and energetic as he was, both in peace and war, he was bred in our own soil, was familiar with our own country, and frequently knelt in prayer in the same venerable and time-honoured sanctuary in which we ourselves at this very day are permitted to kneel.

The personal and domestic history of so distinguished a man as Philip of Olcotes possesses a peculiar interest, especially for those who have any associations with the spot from which he derived his name. And we are naturally induced to inquire whether any vestiges of his mansion at Olcotes still remain. I have to observe, then, that a few years ago there stood at the entrance of the village from Blyth an ancient house called the Manor House, now replaced by a very handsome and excellent residence, the property of Edward Chaloner, Esq., in front of which, in a field which is still known by the name of the Manor Yard, extensive mounds indicating the foundations of buildings may still be traced. Here, then, I should be disposed to fix the residence of Philip of Olcotes in his early days, and whenever in subsequent years he visited his native county.

I have only to add, that his widow married, not long after his death, Oliver de Albini, and again, four years afterwards, Walter de Godervil.

With respect to his property at Olcotes and Styrrup, as he died without issue, this descended to his five sisters above named, the second of whom, Margaret, married Hamelin de Bugethorp. Their grandson, Ingeram de Olcotes, about 1274, conferred the manor of Olcotes with lands there, as well as at Styrrup and Blyth, upon Roger Darcy, on condition that he obtained for him the honour of knighthood, and provided for him and three of his men maintenance and clothing for his life.

Roger Darcy belonged to a noble and splendid house. The name of Norman de Arecy occurs in the roll of Battle Abbey, and when the Domesday Survey was taken he was found seized of thirty-three manors in Lincolnshire, of which Nocton was one, where the family settled for many generations, and where his son Robert founded a priory of Austin Canons. A descendant of this Norman, namely, Philip Darcy, married, temp. Henry III., Isabel, second daughter of Ralph Bertram of Mitford Castle, in Northumberland, and by her had five sons, Norman, Thomas, Roger, Ralph, and Robert. Of these, Norman and Roger fought at the battle of Evesham, in 1265, against the King; but in the following year, by virtue of a general pacification of the kingdom, were pardoned, John de Burgh of Kent, Adam de Newmarch of Yorkshire, and Robert de Ufford of Norfolk being sureties for their future loyalty.

This was the Roger Darcy who received from Ingeram de Olcotes the manor of Olcotes about 1274, as above stated.

I have a strong impression that some common ties of blood or affinity existed between these two men. The very gift is prima facie evidence of such; and, in confirmation of my supposition, I would observe, that many years after Roger's time one of his family, John Lord Darcy, obtained the licence of Edward III. (16 Edward III.) to marry Alice, the widow of Nicholas Meynell, for Philip of Olcotes had married a lady of this family, and I think it probable that earlier marriages still than that which I have above mentioned between the Darcys and the Meynells may have formed a connecting link of sympathy between Ingeram of Olcotes and Roger Darcy. It is further worthy of remark, that Darcy's mother was a Northumberland lady; that the Darcys had estates at Belford, Lowick, Wooler, and "the great waste of Cheviock," all in the same county, whilst the heirs of Philip of Olcotes retained the estates which he himself had possessed there.

Be this as it may, Roger Darcy now became "lord of Olcotes." So he expressly styles himself in a charter to the monks of Blyth, in which he cedes to them the right of common pasture in the fields of Styrrup and Olcotes, without opposition on the part of himself or his heirs.

The Darcys did not long retain their property here, but conveyed it with the manor to the Cressys, one of whom, Hugh Cressy, in 1310, settled it on Robert Russell of Tickhill and Cecily his wife, and their heirs.

In 1414 Edmund Russell, the grandson of Robert, re-settled it on John Cressy of Olcotes, whose descendants resided here for many generations, and took a respectable position amongst the gentry of the county, appearing at the Heralds' Visitations as early as in 1480, and again in 1555.*

The subsequent history of the lordship has been traced in a preceding part of the Chapter.

At the time of the inclosure, in 1802, of the open fields, meadows, pastures, commons, and waste grounds within the townships of Styrrup, Olcotes, Farworth, and so much of Nornay as is within the liberty of Styrrup, in the parishes of Blyth and Harworth, an adverse claim to this manor, as against the Crown, was set up by James Littlewood and John Littlewood his brother: but, after hearing and examining the evidence and arguments on both sides, the counsel and solicitor of the Littlewoods relinquished their claim.

By the Commissioners under this Act of Inclosurc it was found that the open fields, meadows, and pastures of the above-named liberties contained 784a. 3r. 13p., the commons and waste grounds 1,511a. 3r. 32p., and the ancient inclosures and homesteads 1,448a. 1r. 8p. Diverse allotments, amounting in all to about 40 acres, were awarded to the King in right of his Duchy of Lancaster, as lord of the manor—the same being so much and such parts of the several commons and waste grounds as were equal in value to one-eighteenth part thereof—for his right in the soil. They further allotted to the Crown about 12 acres on Whitewater common in lieu of the right of common.

The preponderating proportion of open and waste to inclosed ground which the preceding figures disclose must have given to this district of North Nottinghamshire a wild and desolate appearance. But in nearly every township around us the land wore a similar aspect at the commencement of the present century; and so far from regretting, we may rather congratulate ourselves, that the extensive and uninclosed and uncultivated commons and wastes of other days have given place to fenced and cultivated fields.

It is only when the spurious economy of a restless age sends the commissioners into our village greens, for the purpose of inclosing and awarding to the opulent the prescriptive estate of the poor, on which many a noble heart, and many a vigorous intellect, have developed and strengthened those powers by which in after-life they were to do the state some service—it is only then that there is but too just occasion for regret. But in these days utilitarianism is a great fact; it is probably great in other ways.


The land in this township has been in the hands of various small proprietors until the last few years, during which Mr. Edward Chaloner has by different purchases formed an estate of considerable extent and value, and, as at Hodsock, by a liberal and judicious investment of capital in the improvement of his property, has both provided employment for the labourer and greatly improved the tone and character of the village and land around it.

In 1836 the Rev. William Downes, vicar of Harworth, founded a school in the village, and established divine service in the school-room on Sunday evenings, which has been continued by his successor.

And now, before I proceed to Styrrup, let me for one moment direct the attention of my readers in this district to the local names of Loc, Northlund, and Knavecastel, and to the personal name of Serl, or Serlo, which occur in the ancient charters cited at the beghming of this chapter. Loc is clearly the root of our present Loxdale, and is an old Saxon word signifying an inclosure.† Lund was found among our Barnby-Moor charters as entering into the composition of Ravelund; it still lingers in our Lound-bridge, and in the name of a hamlet in the parish of Sutton, hence called Sutton-on-Lound. It signifies a low, still, place, sheltered from the wind; and in a somewhat varied, but essentially the same, idea, in the old language of the North of England, is applied to a tranquil night—a lound night. Knacecastel, a fragment of which still survives in some pastures called the Castle-roses, was a common building for the convenience of the knaves, or pool house-holders, who probably had the privilege of turning their cattle upon some open common here. Knavesborough, now Knaresborough, and Knaves-mire, near York, are to be similarly explained. The personal name of Serl gives its designation to Serlby, the hamlet of Serl.

* Their arms were the same as those of the Cressys of Hodsock, A lion rampant double-queue sable, but with a distinct crest, which they appear to have been very anxious to have carefully registered in the Visitations, "as confirmed by William Flower, Norroy King of Amies, to Henery Cressy, of Oulcottes, in com. Nott. Ano. Dom. 1480," and which was, Out of a ducal coronet a peacock issuant proper.
Loc, Locc, clausura, elaustruni, septum quodvis. Lye, Sax. Diet.