The Rectors.

We have already printed a complete list of the names of those who have been appointed Rectors of Ordsall, and we give some notes on them as far as we have been able to find out anything about them. Their names occur in the Registers of the Archbishop of York, which is a large collection of books in manuscript in the Registry there, most of which have never been printed. Every Rector had to receive licence from the Archbishop, and a mandate was issued to the Archdeacon of Nottingham to induct him into the living. These two ceremonies of Institution and Induction still take place. The first is performed by the Bishop and may be held anywhere appointed by him. The Service of Induction is performed in the Church by the Archdeacon or Rural Dean, when the Rector or Vicar takes possession personally in the presence of the people.


In the Calendar of Patent Rolls (1232-1399) we find a reference to this Rector, whose name is the first to be recorded. As the Church was built at least a century before this, there must have been several before him.

The entry upon the Roll of Edward I. is:

Dec. 27 5 Edward I. Presentation of William de Bliburg to the Church of Ordsall in the Diocese of York in the King's Gift by reason of his custody of the land and heir of Hugh de Hercy, tenant in chief.

The heir of the Hercy family had the right to appoint to'Ordsall Rectory, but was probably under age or else away on active service for the King.

In 1275 we find an entry—"The King committed to Walter de Ludham and Simon de Hedon the custody of the lands and heir of Hugh de Hercy, who died sometime since on the King's service in Wales. These being dead the said custody to Master Oliver de Sutton, Canon of Lincoln, and Robert his brother."

One of the scandals of those days was that a man could be given a living, when only a deacon, and he need not come and reside in the parish if he provided another to do the work.

Bliburg is the same as Blyburgh near Gainsborough, and we hear more of this William in Calendar of Papal Registers, Vol. 52 in the days of Pope Clement V.

"18 March, 1306 at Lyons. To William de. Bliburgo, Rector of Warblington, in the Diocese of Winchester who formerly held the Churches of St. Michael Pures and Ordeshall, although nonresident and not in priest's orders. Dispensation to hold also the Churches of Lola or Lele and Caures and Canonries and Prebends of Wells, Lichfield, Landeabien and Auckland in the Diocese of St. David's and Durham."

THOMAS DE BURTON (1302-1313).

He was appointed by Sir Hugh de Hercy of Grove. In the Register of Archbishop Corbridge we find he-was only in minor orders at first.

"12 July, 1301 at Wakefield. Thomas de Burton, acolyte, was admitted in the person of Sir Eustace, Vicar of Rotherham, his proctor, to the Church of Ordsall, on the presentation of Sir Hugh de Hercy, Knight."

"8 February, 1302. Bishopthorpe. Thomas de Burton, sub-deacon, was instituted."

"23 March, 1302. Mandate to the [Rural] Dean of Retford to relax the sequestration in the fruits of the Church of Ordsall, for which Eustace, Vicar of Rotherham, in the name of Thomas de Burton had given security for 10 marks paid to William, de Naulton."

He exchanged Ordsall for the Rectory of New Church in Romney Marsh in the Diocese of Canterbury. He received letter patent of protection as parson of Ordsall on 17 July, 1313 and was presented to Newchurch on 2 November, 1313. (Calendar Pat. Rolls).

ACARD DE LONGPRE (1313-1322).

This Rector bears a Norman-French name. His Christian name was the same as St. Achard, one of the early Abbots in Normandy. His surname is Longo Prato in the Register written in Latin, and we should call it Longfield. In the Calendar it is Long Preez. On the 26 August, 1314 he had protection (so that he should suffer no loss by the exchange) as Rector of Ordsall, having resigned the Rectory at Newchurch in the previous year. He was also a Prebendary or Canon.

LAURENCE DE HERCY. (1322-1364).

We have no information about him except that he was a member of the family who were patrons and lived at Grove Hall for three centuries. He is described as a Clerk in Holy Orders, and held the Rectory for the long period of 42 years, which is the record, although two others held it for 38 years. Another member of the family, Rev. John Hercy, was Rector of Grove in 1308. This Rector was probably buried in Ordsall Church, and when the Church was restored in 1877, an old tombstone was found with the words in Norman-French "Ici

(Here) gist (lies) ----------  de Hercy" to some member of this family.


The Rector was instituted on 10th May, 1364, and remained a short time. There is a reference to him in the will of Sir John de Bolingbroke, King's Escheator for the County, dated May, 1351, at Headon. He desired to be buried at Ordsall, and left £10 for the poor, £20 for Masses for the souls of himself, and his father and mother, and 10s. to the Chaplain, Thomes de Ordsall. So presumably he was acting as Chaplain at Headon or Ordsall at that time. He was also a Prebendary and resigned.


We do not know the exact year when he was instituted, but it was about 1370. He resigned and went to Wyspring.

JOHN BACHERAGH. (1374-1379).

His name appears in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, of Edward III. "23 January, 1374. At Westminster. Presentation of John Bacheragh, Canon of Lutra of the Premonstratensian Order to the Church of Ordsall in the diocese of York, in the King's Gift by reason of the voidance of the Archbishop." His name would seem to be Norman or Irish.

JOHN DE BURTON. (1379-1410).

He was also a Prebendary, instituted on 23rd December. He died in 1410.

WILLIAM BURGH.  (1410-1415).

A Prebendary, instituted on 20th June, 1410, and died five years later.

ROBERT CAVE. (1415-1416).

A Prebendary, who died after holding- the Rectory for only one year. Instituted 4th June, 1415.

REGINALD DE TYLNE.  (1416-1417).

A Prebendary, instituted 20th June, 1416, he died the next year and evidently his family came from the village of Tiln.

JOHN MARTON. (1417-1418).

A Prebendary, instituted 22nd June, 1417. He resigned for Greyingham in  Lincolnshire.

ROBERT CONYNGE. (1418-1424).

A Prebendary, instituted 25th November, 1418. He resigned for the Church of Blyburgh, near Gainsborough.

ADAM DE LOUTH. (1424-1428).

He was instituted on 20th July, 1424. In 1391 he was Vicar of Brodsworth, which he resigned for Kirkton. In his will proved at York 5th Nov., 1428, he left 6/4 to the Fabric of the Church Tower, evidently finished about this time, and desired to be buried in the Church. He was a Prebendary.

ROBERT SMITH. (1428-1441). Another Prebendary, who resigned in 1441.

JOHN HARDFISH. (1441- ).

He was a Chaplain or Curate when appointed on 5th December, 1441, and eventually resigned after a few years.



Instituted 2nd January, 1451. He desired to be buried in the Chancel of All Saints' Church, Ordsall, and left money for his burial there according to his  will,  10th October, 1483.

RALPH STANHOPE, M.A. (1483-1486).

Instituted 29th September, 1483. The Stanhopes were a well known Nottinghamshire family, and he is the first Rector mentioned with a University degree. He resigned after three years for the magnificent Church of Sall, near Norwich.

WILLIAM ROCE. (1486-1487).

Instituted 22nd April, 1486. He was only Rector for one year, and in his will dated 21st July, 1487, he desired to be buried in Ordsall Church. His name is another spelling: of Rose or Roos, originally a great Norman family of Laxton.

GREGORY WARYN. (1487-1506).

He was instituted 9th July, 1487 and died in 1506. Described as a Chaplain at his appointment.

JOHN HELWYS. (1506-1511).

Instituted 20th August, 1506. He took his B.A. degree at Cambridge in 1483-4. He was also Vicar of East Retford, being instituted there on 15th February, 1506. He died and was buried at East Retford. Piercy in his History of Retford mentions that there was formerly a stone at the east end of the North Transept or Bishop's Choir with the inscription in Latin:

"Here lies John Helwys, Vicar of East Retford, Rector of Hayton and Ordsall, who died on 28th December, 1511. Upon whose soul may God have mercy, Amen."

In reading the inscription, the author must have mistaken Headon for Hayton, as we find that a John Helwys was Vicar of Headon 1478—1497 when he resigned. He became Rector of Headon on 7th December, 1503. In those days Headon had a Rector and a Vicar. The Rectory was a Sinecure, which meant that the Rector had no responsibility to live there, as the parish work was done by the Vicar. This peculiar arrangement continued until the middle of the last century and the last Rector of the old foundation was Rev. Evelyn Vernon.

ROBERT NEVILE.  (1512-1550).

Instituted 31st January, 1512, this Rector held many Church appointments, and was a man of some distinction as well as a member of this ancient County family. He graduated at Cambridge as B.A. in 1503/4 and M.A., 1507/8, and probably B.D. 1514/15. He was Rector of Grove 1506-1512, when he resigned for Ordsall. There were branches of this family at South Leverton and Ragnall, and he was almost certainly born in one of these villages. He was a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge 1505-1512. In 1517 he was Provost of Jesus College, Rotherham, which had been founded by the Archbishop of York in 1482. He was also Vicar of Almondbury, Yorkshire, and Prebendary of Bilton at York, Prebendary of Lichfield in 1528, and possibly Canon of Salisbury in 1530, and Canterbury in 1543. There is a full account of his income from the Rectory at Ordsall in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of Henry VIII.

This was a survey made in 1535 by order of the King of all Church Revenues, so that he might claim the First Fruits and Tenths, which had formerly been paid every year to the Pope. The First Fruits were the profits of a living for the first year after a vacancy, and the Tenths were levied originally for the recovery of the Holy Land. The survey is contained in 25 volumes and is now in the Public Record Office.

The entry is:

" Ordeshall Parsonage.




Robert Nevill, Parson there having in Mansion, glebe lands, and a close,

worth in ordinary years




Tithe of Corn and Hay




Tithe of Wool and Lambs




Pigges, Geese, Eggs and Chickens




Hemp and Flax




Also in the Easter Book




with the tithe of Mills




Sum of the value




Whereof paid yearly to the prebend of Dilton



for a pension



To  the  Archbishop  yearly for  synodals



To the Archbishop for Procurations yearly



And so remaineth £19/10/6 in the King's Book the tenth of which is 19/-."

This gives an interesting account of how the Rector received his income in those days. The proceeds of the first fruits and tenths were afterwards granted by Queen Anne to the poorer livings, and the fund called Queen Anne's Bounty. The amount in the King's Book still continued to be paid by every new Rector, until 1927, so the present Rector was the last to pay these charges which are now totally abolished after existing as a picturesque, though inconvenient, survival since the time of Henry III, 700 years ago.

The Nevile family afterwards came into possession of Grove Hall, by the marriage of Barbara, daughter of Sir John Hercy to George Nevile of Ragnall. Sir John died in 1572, and the family lived at Grove until the end of the 17th century.

WILLIAM DENMAN. (1550-1588).

One of the most famous of the Rectors. He was instituted on 2nd June, 1550, and deprived by order of Queen Mary for three years 1556—9. He was the son of Nicholas Denman. His mother was Anne, one of the eight sisters of Sir John Hercy of Grove. He matriculated as a pensioner from St. John's College, Cambridge in March, 1544, and became B.A. in 1548, and M. A. 1551. In 1549 he was made a Fellow of his college, and was ordained soon afterwards. His brother, was Francis, who lived in Grove Street, Retford, and had two daughters Anne and Barbara; destined to become famous characters. The second brother was Nicholas, who had two sons. Alexander and Robert, both of whom were buried in East Retford Church.

The Reverend William Denman was married and this was given as the reason of his deprivation under Queen Mary in 1556. Robert Blunston was given the Rectory in his place and he held it for three years.

After the accession of Elizabeth a Visitation of the Northern Province was held, and the Deaneries of Retford and Laneham were summoned to appear at Blyth Church on August 26th and 28th, 1559. The Rector was then restored to his living and Robert Blunston removed.

He remained for nearly 30 years after this stirring adventure and was buried at Ordsall on 14th November, 1587. He had a son William, baptised 29th January, 1569, but the child was buried on 1st May, 1571.

Another child Nicholas was baptised on 8th June, 1572 and a third, William, was baptised on 23rd March 1575. The Marriage and Burial Registers begin in the year of the Rector's return in 1559.

There was formerly a monument to his memory in the Church, but this disappeared sometime in the 18th Century. Thoroton in his History of Notts, records the Latin inscription, of which we give a translation:

"I was a Squire's son, my mother was heiress of a knight, My name is Denman, I was a Master of Arts. Rector of Ordsall in Mary's reign removed, Queen Elizabeth restored me to my flock; And I thereupon worked that Retford should reap the fruits of my labours. If any are zealous to make progress in Religion,

Ordsall knows I built houses for the poor. Beneath this pile, I now am lying dead. Ah! no, not dead, I live beyond in bliss, Earth holds my corpse, in heaven my spirit dwells."

It is a pity this interesting' monument is lost. Other members of the family desired to be buried in Ordsall Church, according to the list in the Torre MSS. at York.

30 October, 1557. Richard Denman. 6 July, 1576. Ralph Denman of Thrumpton, near his uncle Richard. 3  December, 1583. Philippa Denman, widow, in the North Aisle near her husband. 12 May, 1582. Thomas Denman in the Lady Quire, (or Chapel where the organ now stands).

The will of Thomas Denman was made on 12th August, 1546, and has been printed by the Surtees Society in vol. 106. The following extract is of some interest:

"To be buried in the Lady Choir, there to remain until the general Resurrection. To the Common Cheste Ordsall 10/- also to E. Retford, W. Retford, Moorgate, Babworth, Morton, Elkesley, Gamston, Eaton, Grove.

To upholding of Long' Bridges in Ordsall, and to mending of highways there 6/8.

To niece Nicholas Denman's wife a Red Mantle. To cousin Ralf Denman, my best gowne. To nephew Richard Denman, my gowne furred with lamb, and jerkin of Chamlet. To Johann Burley, daughter of Elizabeth Burley a flecked cow. To Gregory Dunston, my doublet of Say. To Thomas Burley, when 21, my Kendall Jacket, doublet, shirt, pare of hose.

To my God Children 4d. each. To Elizabeth Witson my servant £3/6/8, a mattress, pair of hemp sheets, 2 yellow coverlets, one new, one old.

To my Lady Hercy a gold ringr.

To William Denman son of Nicholas Denman and his heirs: All lands in W. Retford on condition in Even of All Saints' there shall be given unto the Curate of Ordsall 3/4 each year for the poor, the distributor to be the Curate and four of the most honest men of the said parish. In the presence of Sir Edmund Webster, Priest.

Thomas Eyre, Nicholas Johnson, Roger Tonge, John Backhouse, Richard Chreye and others. Proved 15th May, 1552.

ROBERT BLUNDESBY. (1556-1559).

Instituted 18th January, 1556. He was appointed Rector in Queen Mary's time, when Rev. W. Denman was expelled. We do not know anything about him. In an account of the Elizabethan Clergy (Gee) his name is given as Blunston, and he may have conformed to the Act of Uniformity, which came into force on 24th June, 1559. The Visitation of the Northern Province for the Deaneries of Laneham and Retford, began on 26th August at Blyth, when a certain Robert Blunston, Master of Arts, preached the Word of God, who. was probably the same man, and evidently agreed to the Elizabethan Settlement.

FRANCIS NEVILE. (1588-1589).

Instituted 4th April, 1588, took his B.A. at Cambridge in 1560. He was son of George Nevile of Thorney, where his family have lived ever since, and was also Rector of Grove 1579-1611, and Rector of Headon 1595-1611. In his will dated 24th January, 1606 he says he is "aged in body" and commends his soul to his Saviour and his body to the earth, and desired to be buried in Grove Church.

STEPHEN COE. (1589-1614).

Instituted 12th May, 1589. Sizar of Christ's College, Cambridge 1583 and B.A. 1587. He married Margaret Bellamy of Laneham in 1596, and she was buried at Ordsall on 6th March, 1616. Their son Christopher was buried 18th December, 1662. There is a brass tablet to him in the Chancel inscribed in Latin.—"Here lies Rev. Stephen Coe, M.A. once Rector of this Church who gave back his soul to God on April 6th, 1614." There are also tablets to his grandson's wife Elizabeth Coe, and his great grandson Robert Coe in the South Aisle. Robert Coe's son Christopher sold the Ordsall property on 2nd July 1727 and went to live at Edwinstowe. EDMUND MASON. (1614-1632).

Instituted 20th September, 1614. Matriculated at Clare College, Cambridge, in 1590. Third son of William Mason of Egmanton Hall. Fellow of Pembroke College, 1598. Bursar 1610. Proctor 1611. Vicar of Wearisley, Hants. 1613. Vicar of Newark 1617, when he gave a black wand for the use of the Mayor, is still carried in processions. Rector of Cottenham, Cambs., 1628. Dean of Salisbury 1629— 30. Chaplain to the King D.D. 1622. Tutor to Charles I. Died at his house in Petty France, Westminster, March 1635. Buried in the North Transept, Westminster Abbey.

MARMADUKE MOORE. (1632-1652).

Instituted 3rd March, 1631. Pensioner of St. John's, Cambridge, 1625. B.A. 1629. M.A. 1632. Ordained at Peterborough, Deacon 18th December, 1631. Priest 27th May, 1632. His wife was Jane Moore, and they had ten children baptised at Ordsall. Marmaduke, Lydia, Thomas, Cassandra, Antony, Barbara, Mary, William, Pelham, Elizabeth. He was a Royalist under Charles I, and on 18th November, 1652 all his estates were forfeited for treason. He was buried at Ordsall on 5th August, 1652.

In the Archbishop's Library at Lambeth Palace, we can read the Parlimentary Survey of the Church, which was ordered by Cromwell in 1650. This was an enquiry into the revenues of the Church and the political views of all the clergy.

There is the following entry.—"The Rectory and Parsonage of Ordsall are worth fower score poundes per annum whereof Mr. Edward Wortley, Knight, is now Patron and Marmaduke Moore, Clerke, the present incumbent, who hath cure of souls there and receives the tithes by a demise (from the Commissioners of Sequestration of this county) at the rent of three score poundes per annum the same parsonage being under sequestration for the delinquency of the said Marmaduke Moore, who supplies the cure in his own person and being a preaching minister and that there are no chappells within the said parish."

This Rector was the second to be deprived of the living, and Piercy in his History of Retford, adds the curious story that he was sequestrated from his living "for the heinous and damnable practice of playing cards, three several times, with his own wife." This story has often been told, and there were many such accusations of scandal against people in those Puritan times, when so many things were regarded as wicked. Unfortunately the story cannot be verified absolutely. Its origin was an entry in Walker's "Sufferings of the Clergy," and the name is given as "Moore, D.D." but no christian name or parish. The author supposed it was the Rector of Ordsall, but as far as we know he was never a D.D. The estates of those who were fined for treason were restored to them at the Restoration of Charles II, but we do not know what happened to the Rector's family.