In the reign of Henry VI. appears, for the first time in connection with this township, no less a name than that of Talbot. John Talbot, the eminent person to whom I refer, was the son of John Talbot first earl of Shrewsbury, by his wife Matilda, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Neville jure uxoris Lord Furnival (brother of Ralph Neville earl of Westmorland) by his wife Joanna Lady Furnival.

I cannot resist the temptation of going a little deeper into the history of this distinguished house of Talbot. And therefore I shall commence by stating in a very summary manner that in the reign of Henry I. William de Lovetot was, by gift of that king, lord of the manor of Sheffield and Hallamshire, as well as of Worksop and various other places in this county. At Worksop, where he had a mansion, about a.d. 1104 he founded a priory of Austin Canons, which was dedicated to St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of Durham, and considerable portions of the church of which still happily remain, constituting one of the great ecclesiastical features of the Midland Counties.*

Matilda, an heiress of this family of Lovetot, was given in marriage by Richard I. to Gerard de Furnival, of Norman extraction. The succeeding generations which issued from this union between the houses of Lovetot and Furnival shine resplendent like a perfect galaxy of nobility, allying themselves with the powerful families of Warwick, Salisbury, Montague, Neville, Ormond, Stafford, Hastings, Dacre of Gilsland, Rutland, Cavendish, Arundel, Lennox, and finally rising to the restored dukedom of Norfolk, in the person of Thomas Lord Arundel, in 1664.

John Talbot, afterwards first Earl of Shrewsbury, was summoned to Parliament' in 1410 as Lord Furnival. In 1412 he was made Lord Justice of Ireland; in 1414 Lord Lieutenant. He distinguished himself greatly in the French wars under Henry V. In 1424 he was created Knight of the Garter; and again was actively engaged in the wars with France, being made general of the English army there in 1428. It was at this time that he was taken prisoner by the Maid of Orleans at the battle of Patay, but was exchanged for a French officer. In consideration of his eminent services he was created in 1442 Earl of Shrewsbury, and subsequently resumed the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland. In 1453, at the siege of Chastillon, the Earl, then in his eightieth year, was mortally wounded.

John, the second Earl of Shrewsbury, was forty years of age at the death of his father. In 1442 he served under him in France. Four years afterwards he was made Lord Treasurer of Ireland, and in 1457 Lord Treasurer of England. On the 19th December, 1459, in reward of his services, he received from the King a grant of 100 marcs yearly out of the manor of Wakefield. He was killed at the battle of Northampton, July 10, 1460, fighting on the side of the house of Lancaster, and was buried in the priory church of Worksop.†

And now to return to Styrrup. This last-named person was the John Talbot who in 1445 purchased a considerable estate there and elsewhere. The deed of conveyance is interesting, and therefore I shall venture to submit to my readers a copious extract from it. "This is the final agreement made in the court of our lord the king at Westminster, in the octaves of the Holy Trinity, in the 23d year of the reign of Henry VI., king of England and France, before Richard Newton, Thomas Fulthorp, William Ayscogh, John Portyngton, and Nicholas Ayssheton, justices, and other faithful subjects of our lord the king then present, Between Sir John Talbot, son and heir of John Earl of Salop, Roger Stedeman, clerk, John Barnby, John Kersford, and William Swyft, plaintiffs, and John Mathewe of Blithe and Agnes his wife, deforciants, concerning the manor of Styrop with its appurtenances, and two messuages, eight tofts, one hundred and thirty acres of land, forty acres of meadow, six acres of wood, fifty-three shillings and eight pence of rent, and the rent of one pound of pepper and one pound of cumin, with the appurtenances, in Styrop, Owlecotes, Staynton, Ferwath, Plumtre, and Barnby; and concerning the fishpond of Southmore, as also the mediety of a mill with its appurtenances in the aforesaid vill of Owlecotes. Whence plea of convention was taken between them in the same court, to wit, that the aforesaid John Mathewe and Agnes acknowledge the aforesaid manor, tenements, &c. to be the property of John Talbot, as estates which the said John, Roger, &c. hold of the gift of the said John Mathewe and Agnes." They further quit-claim and warrant in consideration of 200 marcs of silver.

This estate descended to the posterity of John Talbot down to the time of Charles Howard, tenth or eleventh Duke of Norfolk, for both these noblemen bore the same name in the last century, when it was sold under the authority of an Act of Parliament. At that period the trustees of the Hospital founded at Sheffield by Gilbert Earl of Shrewsbury in 1616 were possessed of land and houses at and near Belper, of which property Mr. Strutt, the founder of the present family of that name, was anxious to obtain possession. As the trustees had no power to alienate except by exchange, and as Mr. Strutt had nothing to offer which would meet their views, he purchased the Styrrup property of the Duke of Norfolk, and with it effected an exchange for the Belper estate of the charity, which at that time was regarded as beneficial to the hospital, although the result has proved otherwise.

This estate of the Hospital, with the additions made to it at the time of the inclosure, constitutes a large farm, and at present is let to Mr. Woodcock of Styrrup, who occupies a substantial farm-house, which is known by the name of John of Gaunt's Manor-house, doubtless from the circumstance of this great man having been lord of the honour of Tickhill, of which Styrrup was a member, and probably having had a grange here upon his demesnes—the village of Styrrup being only about two miles distant from Tickhill Castle.

Styrrup is owned by various proprietors, the chief of whom is Lord Galway.

The Parochial Divisions and the Rectorial and Vicarial Tithes of Styrrup and Olcotes.

The greater portion of the village of Styrrup, including the better class of farm-houses, is in the parish of Blyth. In the village of Olcotes, the house of Mr. C. C. Winter, the cottages near it, and the mill, and a few more cottages at the south-west of the hamlet, are in the same parish.

The remaining portions of both villages are in the parish of Harworth. With regard to the lands of the two townships, the boundaries between the two parishes of Blyth and Harworth, not having been perambulated for many years, are now well nigh forgotten.

The partition of the tithes of Styrrup and Olcotes is somewhat complicated.

In Styrrup, Trinity College, Cambridge, the rectors and patrons of the parish of Blyth, possess five-ninths of the great tithes, and of the tithes of lamb and wool, of 1,349a. 0r. 8r.; the Vicar of Harworth owning the remaining four-ninths, and being also owner of all tithes whatever of 459a. 0r. 6p.

The Vicar of Blyth is owner of one moiety of all small tithes, except those of lamb and wool, and the Vicar of Harworth is owner of the other moiety of the same small tithes of the 1,349a. 0r. 8p. just mentioned.

The former is also owner of all tithes, or moduses in lieu thereof, arising from 96a. 2r. 37p., and of a modus of one shilling per acre over 19a.

In Olcotcs there are exempt from all tithes 24a. 1r. 0p., and from all small tithes, save lamb and wool, 167a. 0r. 27p.; Trinity College and the Vicar of Harworth are owners of equal moieties of the great tithes and tithes of lamb and wool. The Vicars of Blyth and Harworth are owners of equal moieties of small tithes, except those of lamb and wool, of lands subject to such tithes; and the former has also some small moduses.

I pass with pleasure to a peculiarly interesting subject—

The Ancient Tournament Ground between Blyth and Tickhill.

This field was situated, as will appear from a document immediately to be cited, between Blyth and Tickhill. Other and subsequent instruments speak of it as being "apud Blidam." We may then, I conceive, safely infer that it was on that level tract of ground, formerly uninclosed, which lies between Blyth and Styrrup, where it could be well viewed on all sides. On account of this its position, I proceed to speak of it here.

It is probable that these chivalrous and semi-military sports were in existence before the time of Richard I. Roger Wendover, in that portion of early history which used until recently to be ascribed to Mathew Paris, mentions that Henry the young king, eldest soil of Henry II., went over into France in 1179 and spent three years in the French conllicts and in splendid living, laying entirely aside the majesty of king, and that, having been successful in many encounters on the tournament field (flexis in gyrum frœnis), he obtained a wide-spread reputation, and on his return home was received with all due honour by his father.

Richard I., however, it was who first gave formal and royal sanction to these exhibitions. In 1194 he licensed five places for public tournaments. These were (1) between Blyth and Tickhill, (2) between Sarum and Wilton, (3) between Warwick and Kenilworth, (4) between Stamford and Warinford, (5) between Brackley and Mixbury. Four out of these five places may be said to have been central situations. It is interesting to bear in mind that in the next rciim the barons met at Stamford, and there concerted measures of resistance against John; that thence they marched to Brackley, from which place they sent a remonstrance to the King at Oxford, and that Magna Charta speedily followed. Did they meet at Stamford and Brackley in the first instance to hold tournaments? and did the general feeling of indignation against the oppressions of the King give rise to ulterior measures? or were those measures the real, and the tournament only the ostensible, object of their assembling together?

Wendover tells us that Richard's probable motive for constituting these tournament grounds was, that his subjects might thus be trained to the practised and dexterous use of arms against either the enemies of the Cross or against foes nearer home. "A.D. 1194 Rex Ricardus in Angliam transiens statuit per loca certa torneamenta fieri, hac fortassis inductus ratione, ut milites regni undique concurrentes vires suas flexis in gyrum fisenis experirentur, ut si bellum adversus crucis inimicos vol etiam finitimos movere decreverint, agiliores ad prælium ect exercitatiores redderentur."

In granting his licence Richard I. stipulates for the preservation of the peace and for abstinence from all damage to the royal forests; and lays down stringent regulations touching the conduct, both in going to and returning from the games, of all who should take part therein, as, that they shall not molest any one by the way, nor by violence or wrong take victuals from any house for their use, and, if they are under any legal obligation, shall be bound by truce in going and coming.

Every earl who intends to tournay shall pay into the King's exchequer twenty marcs; every baron ten, a landed knight four, a knight without land two. The Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the writ is issued, is to have two of his elercs and two knights in the field, to take the oaths of the combatants, that, before they enter the lists, they will discharge their fees, to receive the money and enter it, permitting no one to tournay until payment has been made.

Into the English tournaments then, although they originated not with him, Coeur de Lion by this his royal licence doubtless infused much of his own intrepid and chivalrous character. They thenceforth became and long continued to be great national sports, magnificent exhibitions of arms and horsemanship, and brilliant displays of rank and beauty, as well as occasions of general festivity to the country at large; and the nobles and gentry, not merely of England but of foreign countries likewise, plunged into them with the utmost ardour and avidity.

It is the octaves of the Holy Trinity, a.d. 1217, and summer has just commenced, and clothed the country around with all its genial warmth and beauty. Robert Eitzwalter, marshal of the Army of God and of Holy Church, and other nobles, have sent letters to the earls, barons, and knights of England, to assemble at Blyth during this week for a grand tournament, and right cheerfully has the summons been obeyed. The Angel Inn at Blyth, an inn from time immemorial, the Saracen's Head, and other inns and hostelries there, and at Tickhill, Worksop, Retford, and even Doncaster, arc crowded with the grooms and other humbler retainers of the great men who are to take so prominent a part in the proceedings of the coming day, while the magnates themselves, and their esquires, are receiving noble hospitality in the mansions of the lords of Tiekhill, Worksop, Torksay, Conisborough, and Sprotborough. And now the eventful day has dawned which is to put to the proof the courage and skill of the noblest and best blood of England.

.....Whan the day 'gan spring
Of hors and harneis noise and clattering
There was in the hostelries all aboute.
Ther mayst thou see devising of harneis
So uncouth, and so rich, and wrought so wele
Of goldsmithry, of brouding, and of stele;
The sheldes brightes testeres, and trappures;
Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures ;
Lords in parementes on hir courseres,
Knights of retennue, & eke squieres,
Nailing the speres, & helmes bokeling,
Gniding of sheldes, with lainers lacing ;
Ther, as nede is, they weren nothing idel:
The fomy stedes on the golden bridel
Gnawing, and fast the armoreres also
With file and hammer priking to and fro;
Yemen on foot, and communes many on
With shorte staves, thicke as they may gon ;
Pipes, trompes, nakeres, and clariounes,
That in the bataille blowen blody sounes.‡

Furnival, De Burun (Byron), Fitzhugh, Deincourt, Normanvile, Gant, De Archis, John the Constable of Chester, Malvoers, Hedon, Salvin, Clifton, Odingsells, Cressy, Lutterel, and Newmarch, in our own county; Warren, Laci, Percy, Fitzwilliam, Yipont, Darcy, Basset, Ferrers, Tibetot, Condray, from the surrounding shires; and from the more distant parts of the island men of illustrious name and lineage, such as Mountfichet, Clare, De Vere, Bohun, Roos, Bigod, Fitz-walter, Beauchamp, Mowbray, and Delaval, the victors of the bloodless field of Runnymede, the champions of England's liberties, and the admiration of Europe, arc to be seen hastening to the field, attended by their esquires, whose special office it is to furnish their lords with arms, arrange their harness, and raise them from the ground if haply dismounted.

From every town and village for miles around may be seen the artizan and the peasant, in their best holiday attire, flocking to the great point of attraction, together with numerous wandering pedlars and minstrels, who gain their living by following in the train of English chivalry, and whose wild appearance and restless habits give a peculiar hue and character to these gatherings.

The lists are already fenced off, the ladies and gallant spectators are ranged around, the heralds have read to the combatants the rules of the tournay and announced the prizes, diamond, ruby, and sapphire rings, chargers, bears, and other rare and valuable gifts;§ and the arms are under examination by the constable of the games. The lances must be covered at the point with broad pieces of wood, the swords blunted (glaives courtois), the defensive armour simple, such as mufflers, cuishes, shoulder-plates, and the helmet light. And now this operation is over, and at the cry of the heralds "à l'ostelle, à rostelle," the cavaliers retire within their tents to don their armour, and speedily re-appear with their helmets surmounted with chaplets and their lances adorned with streamers, the gifts of the beautiful and fair. They are arranged in two hostile troops; and on a signal from the Knight of Honour the heralds cry "Laissez aller," and drop the cords which separate the combatants, who, addressing their spears to the rest and commending themselves to the ladies of their love, rush with headlong ardour to the encounter, while the trumpets sound the point of chivalry for every man to do his devoir.

The heralds note carefully the turns and events of the combat. To break a spear between the saddle and the helmet is one point of honour; the knight who can break it on the helmet is deemed worthy of ten points; to strike an opponent out of his saddle merits three points; to take away the rest of an adversary's lance is greater distinction than to carry off any other part of his harness; to break it against the pommel of the saddle great disgrace, as it is also to break it traverse the breast of your foe, for, as it can only be done by the horse swerving on one side, it shows unskilful horsemanship.

And now the nobles and knights have tested the skill and mettle of each other; the knight of honour drops his white baton and the heralds cry "Ployez vos bannieres;" the banners are folded, the prizes awarded, and the contending troops disarm. The ground is cleared, and the aristocracy in the halls of their high-bred hosts, the more humble spectators in the warm corners of the hostelries, or by their own firesides, discuss the events of the day and the comparative merits of Warren, De Vere, and others who have made a conspicuous figure in the tournament field of Blyth.

To resume,—Henry III. in 1232 granted a licence to various nobles for holding a tournament at Blyth. In process of time these sports of the spear (hastiludia, as they are called by our old historians) spread over the kingdom. Wendover, for example, mentions that, after the grant of Magna Charta in 1215, the barons retired to Stamford to hold a tournament; but in consequence of their suspicion of the movements of John they put it off and returned to London, where tournaments were arranged to be held in the neighbourhood at Staines Wood and Hounslow. In 1240 the Patent Rolls record an inhibition by public proclamation of a tournament at Leicester. Camden, however, informs us that the Earl of Pembroke, in defiance of the proclamation, held a meeting at Ware in the following year, which was attended by a very large concourse of nobility and gentry, and in which he himself lost his life by a fall from his horse. Matthew Paris mentions a tournament at Brackley in 1249, in which both English and foreign combatants engaged—the former consisting of a body or club who gave themselves the title of bachelors; wild, dashing blades, no doubt, who preferred the excitement and splendour of the tournament lists to a more settled life. Once more, to show how general these sports had become, the Patent Rolls of Edward I., 1305, contain a prohibition "ne quæ torneamenta, hastiludia, etc. teneantur infra quinque miliar' universitatis Oxon." In fact, as time went on they came so much into fashion, that no circumstance of public festivity, no marriage among the nobles of the land, took place without being celebrated by a mock display of arms.

They were, however, very far from being at all times a mere mock display. Hot blood, the excitement of the moment, or any the slightest previous animosity, often stripped the lance of its foil, and made the glaives courtois effectual instruments of mischief.

There are records of even royal blood having been spilt at the Blyth tournaments; and Knighton, when describing the tournament of Chalon in 1274, in which Edward I. with his nobles and knights tilted against the Count de Chalon and the distinguished men of Burgundy, records that so many were left on the field killed or wounded, that the tournament was called the "little war of Chalon."

Hence they were interdicted by the sovereign pontiffs of Rome professedly on grounds of humanity. In the Pandolph Correspondence at the Tower, No. 25, is a letter from the Cardinal, Elect of Norwich,

. . . . . . . . . .of fair Milan cardinal,
and from Pope Innocent the legate here.¶

to Hugh de Burgh, Justiciary of England, forbidding all tournaments on pain of excommunication. But it would appear from the general council held at Lyons in 1245 that an additional objection urged against them was, that they drew away the chivalrous spirit of Europe from the wars against the Turks in Palestine.

The Papal interdicts were backed by royal proclamations in England; but both were frequently set at defiance. Thus in April, 1223, Henry III. issued from Nottingham writs to the sheriffs of Essex, Buckingham, Leicester, Gloucester, Warwick, Oxford, Kent, Derby, Nottingham, and Devon, to seize the lands and chattels of Richard Mountfichet, Robert and William de Ferrers, Hugh de Gurnay, Thomas do Arden, Ralph de Normanville and Thomas his brother, Matthew de Haveresech, Lomus de Malvoers, Galfrid Gium, Simon de Hedon, Henry Teutonicus (Tyas), Henry de Tibetot, Peter de Condray, and others, on the ground of their having a little before been at a tournament "apud Bliam contra prohibitionem nostram." These mighty men made their peace, doubtless, by paying heavy fines, for they were speedily reinstated in their estates.

The mention of Blyth tournament field again recurs in 1255. In that year Henry III. issues a mandate to his earls, barons, and knights, from Clarendon, stating, that, although at the desire of the Duke of Limburg and Henry de Lessingburn he had granted a licence for tournament at Blyth in the Octaves of Trinity then next ensuing, the accounts which he had received of the perilous situation in which Prince Edward was placed in Gascony had induced him to withdraw it, and therefore that he strictly forbade a tournament for the present, either at Blyth or anywhere else.

Edward I., on the 28th April, 1273, forbids by letters patent his subjects from tourneying or practising jousts or aventures or any other martial game, as they were intending to do at Blyth on the Thursday next after the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, without his special licence. And he further commands the Prior of Blyth to exhibit such letters to all earls, barons, and knights, and publicly to proclaim the prohibition. The Prior of Blyth, a grave and reverend man, attended by his monks, reading the King's letter on the tournament field of Blyth to the high aristocracy of England, with crowds of spectators surrounding them, would form no mean subject for the pencil of any of our skilful artists.

We have in the next reign a document to the same effect. Edward II. directs a precept from Windsor, January 1, 1314, to the sheriff of Nottingham, to inform him that he had understood that certain men were intending to hold a tournament at Blyth very soon, without his licence (unde plurimum admiramur nec immerito et movemur), and thereupon commanding him by public proclamation, both in Blyth and elsewhere, to forbid such tournament, either there or anywhere else, without his licence, and, in the event of violation of his command, to arrest the transgressor with horse and harness.

For the purpose of the tournament the ground must have been fenced by an inner as well as outer ring, like our present race-courses. The two contending parties rode at each other at full speed, and after the encounter passed on and met again at the opposite side of the ground.

The joust was a single combat. Two other expressions occur in ancient documents relative to the sports of chivalry, aventuras facere and bordeare. I think it probable that by the first we are to understand encounters taking place, so to speak, at a venture. Of the latter I cannot discover any satisfactory explanation.

I have only to add, that the accident which befel Henry II. the French king, at a tournament at Paris in 1559, from a wound inflicted by the Count de Montgomeri, for a time arrested these sports on the Continent, whilst in England they continued to be popular so late as the reign of Elizabeth, who honoured them occasionally by her presence.

The splendid pageants of the Blyth tournament field, and the great and princely men who figured in them, have all long since passed away, and the precise situation of the field itself is now matter of conjecture.

Scilicet et tempus veniet, cum finibus illis
Agricola, incurvo terram molitus aratro,
Exesa inveniet scabra rubigine pila
Aut gravibus rastris galeas pulsabit inanes.

Domesday ; Leo, Introduction to his Edition of the Rectitudines Singularum Personarum, Halle, 1842, translated as ' A treatise on the Local Nomenclature of the Anglo-Saxons,' London, 1852 ; Records of Duchy of Lancaster Office; Reg. Priorat. de Blida, if. 106,72—75; Foss's Lives of the Judges, Philip de Ulecot, Just. Itin.; Northumberland Pipe Rolls Ric. I. and John; Royal and other Letters in Wakefield Tower of Tower of London, No. 473; Archseologia iEliana, vol. iii. p. 29, new series ; Fin. 23 Henry VI. ; Collins, vols. iii. and viii. ; Thoroton, Notts, iii.; Coxe's Edition of Wenduver, ii. 397, sqq.; Fcedera; Rot. Pat. Henry III., Edw. I., and Edw. II.; Hoveden, sub an. 1179; M. Paris, sub an. 1249 ; Camden, Hertfordshire; Mills's Hist, of Chivalry.

* It was in this very year, 1104, that the body of Saint Cuthbert was removed into the cathedral of Durham. Perhaps the great reputation of the Northern saint had spread over England and induced Lovetot to dedicate his church to him. The effigy of the saint, with the usual accompaniment of the head of Oswald king of Northumbria on his arm, is carved upon the abbey gateway.
† The following was the inscription upon his tomb: "Sepulchrum magnanimi atque præpotentis Domini, Domini Joannis de Talbot, Comitis Salopian Secundi, ex Regio sanguine ducentis originem. Qui Henrico Regi fidissimus bello apud Northamptoniam gesto, ante signa strenue pugnans, honesta morte occidit die decimo Julii, Anno Domini nostri Iesu Christi, 1460. Cujus anima; propitietur Deus. Amen."
‡ Knight's Tale 2493, sqq: There are other vivid representations of tournaments in the Knight's Tale.
§ See Appendix.
¶ Lewis to Pandolph—Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
Between this chastis'd kingdom and myself,
And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out
With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
You taught me how to know the face of right,
Acquainted me with interest to this land,
Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart;
And come you now to tell me,
John hath made His peace with Home?
What is that peace to me ?
King John.