The Manor History.

The history of the manor, or, to be exact, the manors of Leake is far from being clear, and this sketch does not lay claim to give a complete acxcount of it. The very beginnings of the history are involved in uncertainty, and as time goes on and ownerships multiply, it becomes more and more difficult to disentangle the threads which come to hand.

In the time of Edward the Confessor—i.e., just before the Conquest—the manors in the ancient and undivided parish of Leake were held by Godric, a Saxon, perhaps an hereditary holder, and Siward, a man of Danish birth.

We should like to be able to identify Godric with the brave Sheriff of Berkshire who fell at the Battle of Senlac ; but this can only be suggested as a possible identification. Cox1 says that Siward was the famous Earl of that name. This man was a soldier in high place in the Danish ranks, and was connected by marriage with the leaders in Church and State. He is brought to notice by a deed of blood, of which he was guilty. His wife’s uncle Eadwulf was Earl of Northumbria. Siward, for some reason, shed this man’s blood. It may have been in order to remove him from a position which he himself coveted. It is certain that upon the death of Eadwulf, Siward was appointed Earl of Deira, a territory lying between, the Tees and the Humber, and forming the Southern part of Northumbria. An Earl was then no merely honorary or titular person, but was responsible for the government, order, and wellbeing of the people within the bounds of his Earldom.

Siward governed his Earldom so well, that when the Northern part of Northumbria fell vacant, that portion— Bernicia—was placed under his rule. It is most probable that the chief manor of Leake was part of the reward which this soldier received for services rendered to his King. Earl Siward died in 1055.2 A story is told about his death which shews what manner of man he was. When he knew that he was dying, he sent for his armour and put it on ; for he said that he wished to die like a soldier, and not “ like a cow.” So, armour-clad, this brave old soldier died.

Siward was, for the times in which he lived, a man of high character, brave and true, and it must be added, not without religious feelings. He built a minster at a place named Galmanho, just outside the walls of the city of York, and dedicated it to St. Olave. In later times this became the Abbey of St. Mary—now in ruins. There stands to-day a church of St. Olave close to the site of Earl Siward’s foundation.

The Norman Conquest affected the owners of the manors more directly than any other class of the population. These were displaced by the followers of William the Conqueror. Hew much of hardship lies behind those terms in Domesday Book “ Godric had, etc. . . . Ernulf, Roger’s man, , etc.” “ Siward hadtetc. . . . Henry de Ferrers etc.”

The lesser manor of Godric passed to Roger de Busli, who received from the Conqueror no less than 174 manors in this county of Nottinghamshire; the greater manor passed from Siward to Henry de Ferrers, whose chief grants of land lay in Derbyshire. Roger de Busli lived at Tickhill in Yorkshire, where was his chief castle, but occasionally he resided at Blyth in North Nottinghamshire. Henry de Ferrers built a large castle at Tutbury in Staffordshire, and made that his home.

The ascertained history of the manors from this time is limited to that of Henry de Ferrers. Roger de Busli passed his manor either to de Ferrers or some unknown person.


It will be well to trace the West Leake manor history, even though this is a transgression beyond the bounds of East Leake. Some time before 1166 the manor which now constitutes West Leake, passed from the de Ferrers family to another, which appears to be Norman, the family of de Toe or Touk—which is one of the names in Hollinshed’s “ Roll of Battle Abbey,” and is perhaps represented by the modern name of Tuke. From this time West Leake, thus early a village so named, is called “ de Toc’s Lekei”

After holding this manor for 100 years the family of Touk disposed of their rights to Ralph Bugg, of Nottingham. The date of this transfer appears to be 1280.

This family retained the property in a succession of heirs ' male until these failed on the death of Baldwin Bugg in 1435. It then passed by the marriage of Margaret Bugg, sister of Baldwin, to Richard Turvile.

In 1516 Henry Turvile sold the manor to John Manners, who sold it to Francis Harwar two years later.

Francis Harwar exchanged it in 1594 with Richard Mansfield for Dane Hall at Caunton, near Newark. The manor passed by marriage from the Mansfields to the Chadwicks.

In the 18th century it was purchased by the Willoughby family, who were of the same family as the Buggs of earlier times.3 Lord Middleton sold the estate to the Right Hon. Edward Strutt, afterwards Lord Belper, in whose family it remains.

A small portion of West Leake parish was not included in the manor of West Leake. This smaller holding can be traced at one time in the hands of the Leeks, and at another of the Stapletons. In 1600 Bartholomew Rag and George Bird, tenants, purchased the land they tilled from John Stapleton. In 1720 these families were still in possession. In 1796 the Birds are found still possessed of lands. The lord of the manor must have acquired these small properties at a subsequent date, for the whole parish of West Leake is now in the hands of the present owner, Lord Belper.

These lands were always held subject to the Manor of West Leake. The ancient acknowledgment to the lord of the manor was “17 pence yearly, or 13 pence and a Pair of Spurs.”                    


The manorial history of East Leake is more intricate than that of West Leake, because three manors have to be traced.

The same Earl Robert de Ferrers, grandson of the grantee, who enfeoffed the Touks at West Leak, enfeoffed the Leake family at East Leake. The transaction is thus recorded by Thoroton, who saw the written account of it about 1675. “ Robert (de Ferrariis, Grandchild of Henry, before named) Earl of Nottingham gave to Alan de Leca, the nephew of Elfast, the Town of LECHE, where the Mother Church is, with all the Appurtenances, and twelve Bovats of land in his the said Earl’s Leche, which were the said Alan’s Parents, and in Stantun, as much as belonged to the said Earl’s Fee, and divers other lands in the County of Leicester ; for which the said Alan gave the Earl sixty Marks, and a certain bay Horse.” This sale may have taken place as early as 1140, for in the following year this Alan was a chief witness of Earl Robert’s confirmation of a certain gift of Tithes to Tutbury Monastery. He is there named as Alan de Leca—a designation which suggests that he was lord of a manor.


One branch of the Leakes settled at Stanton in Leicestershire, and took their name from their new home; while another branch settled in the Scarsdale district of Derbyshire, at Sutton. In both cases manorial rights were retained at East Leake.

In the case of the Stantons the connection with East Leake was maintained until “ the Heir general . . . . carried that Manor to the family of Shirley” in 1460, through the marriage of Ralph Shirley, ancestor of the present Earl Ferrers, with Margaret, daughter and sole heiress of John de Stanton. In consequence of this descent the manor came to be known as Shirley’s Manor. Sir Thomas Parkyns, of Bunney, purchased this from the Shirleys about 1700.

This manor lay on the West side of the village. It is now broken up into smaller freeholds.


A second manor, known in later times as Cosby’s Manor, cannot be traced with the same accuracy in its descent from family to family as the two hitherto mentioned.

This manor appears to have formed part of the chief manor, which passed from Earl Ferrers to the Leakes. It is certain that a manor was settled in 1415 on one Roger Pare and Joan his Wife and their heirs. It is presumable that this was done by one of the Leakes or Stantons.4 In 1479 “Thomas Stanton the elder, of Sutton-Bonynton-upon- Sore, Esqr passed his Manor in Esterleke to . . Ralp Pare and Roger, amongst many others, viz: Sir Richard Neele, the Justice, John Babington, Esqr, Chr. Neele, etc.”

A quaint piece of information is given concerning one “ Raph Pare, of Great Leake, in the County of Nott. Yeoman.” This Raph was outlawed, in the county of Stafford, for debt in 1452, but the outlawry was annulled in the following year “ because the said Ralph alledged and the Jury found, that he was a Gentleman born.”

Raph Pare’s daughter, Isabell, married Robert Cosseby (or Cosbe), and the Manor passed to her in 1482. At her death in 1543, she was owner of this manor, her name now being Griffith. Her property is specified as “ a manor in Great- Leake or Easterleke, and five messuages, three cottages, one Hundred acres of arable land, forty acres of meadow and thirty of Heath, and 4s 4d Rent of Assize, in Great Leak, held of the Honour of Tutbury, by the Service of the twentieth part of a Knight’s Fee and 6s 8d Rent.”

At that date (1543) her grandson, Richard Cosbe, was heir, and was 26 years old.

The estate soon after passed (through the Stapletons?) into the hands of the family of Armstrong, of Rempstone, whose property adjoined the Heath or Lings district. The Armstrongs sold the manor to Sir Thomas Parkyns.

The Manor House of Cosby’s Manor is the gabled farm house on the South of the village, now owned by Mr. Towlson.

This manor is no longer a complete one, but, having been sold in portions, is in various hands.


There remains a third manor in East Leake, known as Joice’s or Joyce’s Manor. The manor house is that which John Bley erected. It is probable that the original house stood where the present Manor Farm stands. The manor name is still retained in the name of the field West of the railway station—“Joice’s Bush.”

Thoroton speaks of a Robert de Jorce (? Joice) Knight, who in 1331 executed a deed at East Leake settling on “ Sir John de Leek, Parson of the Church of Humberston, and Richard his son and the heirs of the body of Richard 39s 1d ob. with the Appurtenances in Esterleke together with the homages and services of Sir William de Staunton etc. etc.”

This document may be the key to the manor history, which otherwise is not plain. Assuming this to be the case, it may be concluded that as early as the 14th century the family of Joice held a manor.

Whence it came to them is not known, but as it is not named as “of the Fee ot Tutbury,” it may have come indirectly from Roger de Busli, and so from Godric, the Saxon.

It is no plainer whither it passed; but in the early part of the 18th century it came to John Bley, most probably by purchase, and so by family connection to the Hardys. In the 19th century a portion of the manor, with the house, was sold to Mr. Joseph Burchnall, and at his death the land was broken up into plots, and the manor as such obliterated.

Shirley’s, Cosby’s, and Joice’s manors may originally have embraced all the East Leake land with the exception of those portions held under the manor of Gotham on the North side, and on the South of the parish those under the manor of Stanford. There are, however, traces of ownerships at an early date which suggest that there were other owners than these lords of Manors.

Among these owners were:—

1209 Reginald de Cardoil who then disposed of three virgates, and twenty-two acres in Abbotrewong.
c.1220 Philip de Cortingstoke—“in Leake field called chanoyneshokes.”
1270 Hugh Wake had a Knight’s fee—i.e., land from 100 acres upward, being as much as would maintain himself and retinue. The inhabitants afterwards held this land.
1280 John of Beningworth, as a landowner in the parish, claimed (with others) the right of patronage to the Rectory, presumably as believing that he represented one of the original patrons.
1290 Hugh Lokesley, and Robert Cortlingstock engage in a suit over certain lands.
1301 Galfred Bugg (lord of W. Leake) had one messuage, one mill, five-and-a-half bovats of land, seven acres of meadow.
1310 Henry Lacy Earl of Lincoln, and Margery Longspee, “formerly his wife,” held half a virgate of land.
1320 Richard de Potiller had eight messuages, four virgates, and one virgate.
1326 Galfred de Bingham had land.
1329 Wm. and Joan Bigg had rents.
1346 Wm. Umfrey (whose will is mentioned by Torre) probably had land.
1362 R. Wiloughby had rents.
1369 Henry Green held lands, and owned rents.
1376 Galfred Bugge had lands.
1383 John Crophull held 30/- rents.
1400 Hugo de Lokele had lands.
1472 John Benet had lands.
1509 John Turvyle had lands.
1522 Sir John Leek had lands.
1578 Henry and Alice Stevenson sold land to Thomas Cole and Ralph Patricke.
" William and Mary Borowes sold land to William Mondaye.

In Henry VIII.’s Commissioners' Report on Recent Enclosures, there is only one named at Leake, a field of seven acres, enclosed by John St. Andrew, Lord of Gotham. This enclosure dated from 10 Henry VII. The St. Andrews consequently owned land in the parish. This field may be identified with that in Lord Howe’s possession, situated in the midst of Hotchley Moors.

(1) Mag. Brit.
(2) This date makes Cox’s identification a doubtful one; for there must have been another lord of the manor before the end of Edward's reign.
(3) Cox—Mag. Brit.
(4) See the reference to Tutbury below. Tutbury is the link with the Earl Ferrers' estate. Thoroton says that “ Cosbyes (manor) in Great Leke is of the Fee of Tutbury."