The Manor and Soke of Dunham.

A large part of Ordsall Parish was included in the Manor of Dunham, and was under the Lord of that Manor in former days. The other part West of the Idle was in the Manor of Elkesley, formerly held by the Duke of Newcastle under the Crown. Dunham was a large Manor, and included the following districts:— Dunham, Ragnall, East Markham, East Drayton, Headon, Upton, Little Gringley, Ordsall, Thrumpton, and Whitehouses. Any offences against the laws and custom of the Manor were tried before a jury in the Manor Court.

Some of the old record books of Dunham Manor Courts were in the possession of the late Mr. F. H. Wrench of East Markham. The earliest book was dated 1652. The great Courts were held at Easter and Michaelmas.

In the records of a Court held at Dunham on 30th September, we find the following offences.


East Markham. Robert Cussen hath suffered his servants to drive his carriage to the meadows through the cornfield on old Moor Gate in the time of hay harvest. Fined 3/4. Thomas Elliott & Peter Tomlinson for keeping their horses on the Balkes in the cornfields.

East Drayton. Henry Taylor has trespassed with his swine on other men's closes in the fields. Fined 12d.

Little Gringley. Francis Keeton had digged and gotplaster upon the Commons, and sold the same for his own benefit. Fined 12d.

At the Court 14th April, 1653 we find:

Milton. Richard Whitlam hath not paid dues for highway repair. Fined 10/0.

East Markham. Richard Wright enclosed the highway in Broadgate. Fined 3/4. Richard Hall trespassed with his cattle in the town field. Fined 10/0.

East Drayton. Robert Walker hath not coted and shut up his swine 20 several days. Fined 12d.

Ordsall. Francis Thornton of the Whitehouses and Over Ordsall hath broken the assize of Bread and Ale. Fined 4d. (These could only be made under licence).

Evidently the part of the parish across the river was called Over Ordsall sometimes.

These extracts throw an interesting sidelight on village affairs three centuries ago.

At a much later date in 1805 we find a curious account of a Coroner's Inquest, held under the jurisdiction of the Lord of the Manor. The coroner was John Holmes, a solicitor of East Retford, father of G. K. Holmes, the first Mayor of the Borough in 1835. He had a curious library, built in the Gothic style, which is mentioned in Piercy's History of Retford.

Stephen Hemsworth the Jury Foreman was Parish Clerk of Ordsall, and landlord of the Gate Inn.

An Inquisition indented (to wit) taken for our Sovereign Lord the King at Whitehouses in the Parish of Ordsall in the County of Nottingham the 28th day of January, in the 45th year of the reign of our Sov. Lord George III by the grace of God of the U. K. and G. B. and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, before John Holmes, Esq. one of the coroners of our said Lord the King for the said Manor and Soke in view of the Body of John Armsby of Thrumpton in the same Parish Labourer of the age of 70 years or thereabouts, then and there lying dead, upon the Oath of Stephen Hemsworth and John Starr, Francis Sibre, Thomas Clarke Outram, Thomas Hudson, William Ogley, Thos. Robinson, Thos. Hardwick Wm. Wright, Jno. Walker, Jno. Handley, Anthony Morton, William Colton, Thomas Bedford, William Sprentall and Thos. Clayton, good and lawful men of the said Manor, Soke and County, duly chosen as by Law is required who being then and there duly sworn and charged to enquire for our said Lord the King, when, how, and by what means the said John Armsby came to his death, do upon their Oath say that Richard Pearce of Askham in the said County, Farmer, and John Jubb of Moorgate in the same County, Butcher, being riding on the Turnpike Road (from York to London) near Whitehouses aforesaid very quick, the said Richard Pearce upon a Brown Cart Mare and the said John Jubb upon a Bay Mare. It so happened that the said John Armsby, who was at his usual work upon the said Turnpike Road, was accidentally, casually and by misfortune, thrown with great violence to the ground by the said Brown Cart Mare so rode by the said Richard Pearce by means whereof he the said John Armsby, by the violence of his said fate did then and there receive divers mortal Bruises and Fractures in and upon the Body, Head, and Skull, of which said Mortal Bruises and Fractures he the said John Armsby then and there instantly died and so the Jurors aforesaid upon their Oath aforesaid do say that the said John Armsby in Manner and by the Means aforesaid accidentally casually and by misfortune came to his Death and not otherwise. And that the said Brown Cart Mare was the cause of Death of the said John Armsby and is of the value of Thirty-Shillings and is the Property and in the Possession of the said Richard Pearce or his Assigns. In witness whereof as well the said Coroner as the said Stephen Hemsworth the Foreman of the said Jurors, on the Behalf of himself and the Rest of his said Fellows in their Presence have to this Inquisition set their Hands and Seals this Day, Year and Place first above mentioned.

Jn. Holmes, Coroner.
Stepn. Hemsworth, Foreman

Witnesses: William Hunt Inrolled 28th Jan. 1805
Edwd. X Taylor. (his mark)
John Holmes, Steward.

(It was the custom for the value of the animal to be given in compensation  to  the relatives).

The following is a list of Resiants, or tenants who owed suit and service to the Lord of the Manor.

Resiants of Ordsall and Thrumpton in 1760: Richard Kent, Richard Keaton, George Ryley, Widow Palmer, Thomas Turner, Richard Palmer, Thomas Clarebrough, John  Foe, Thomas Scott, John Thornhill.

Freeholders in Ordsall and Thrumpton, 1768. George Mason, Esq.; Walter Stevens, Gent.; Robert Hayther; Rev. Seth. Stevenson (Headmaster of the Grammar School; Rector of Treswell); William Simpson, Esq.; James Goodhall; Earl of Fitzwilliam; The Bailiffs and Burgesses of East Retford; George Dunstan, Esq.; Michael Whitaker; Thomas Dickenson, Esq.; Ann Cocking (widow).

Manor of Ordsall

The two Manors of Dunham and Elkesley are clearly marked on the Enclosure Award Map of 1813, now in the custody of the Town Clerk. The Manorial System was the ancient way of holding land, and the Manor was not a Manor house, but a village or a group of villages under one Lord. It was a system inherited from Saxon days, and is full of interest for those who have time to study it. The ancient record books are known as Manor Rolls, and the Public Record Office is now collecting as many as possible. No doubt there are many books relating to the Manor of Elkesley in the Clumber Estate Offices, but they are not accessible at present. Most of the Dunham records are either scattered or lost. A short time ago the Rector saw an ancient parchment document for sale in a London shop, and purchased it for a few shillings.

The title was:—

"An Account by Tristram Dayntrie of Retford for the Manor of Ordsall belonging to the Countess of Devonshire from 1622-1624."

There are two sheets 2 feet long, of rents collected and allowances made, written in a very neat hand.

This manor was part of the parish, east of the Idle, and had belonged for centuries to the Hercy family of Grove. The last Sir John Hercy had eight sisters who inherited his property. The seventh, Ellen, married Francis Mackworth and her share of the estate included Ordsall. Their son sold it to Samuel Bevercotes, whose monument is in the North Aisle. His only child, Ann Bevercotes, married Thomas Cornwallis about 1610. Mr. Cornwallis shortly afterwards sold the Ordsall estate to the Countess of Devonshire, who settled it on her eldest son, Sir Edward Wortley. The patronage of the Church went with the Manor, and this continued in the Wortley family for nearly three centuries.

At the head of the first page are the words "An account made by Tristram Dayntrie of Retford, for the Manor of Ordsall belonging to the Right Honourable the Countess of Devonshire for 3 Rent dayes, viz: for parte of Candlemas rent 1622 and for Lady day 1623 and for May day following being the latter end of the profits 1622, and the first that my Lady received, as also for a whole years profit of the said manor, due at 6 Rent dayes, viz: Lammas, Michaelmas, Martinmas, and Candlemas, and Lady day and May day 1624, being for the year 1623, taken the 17th of September.

Ao Re Jacobi Angl. 1624."

The total received was £605/14/3, but there were expenses and allowances of £535/15/7, so there remained £69/18/8. The mill and long bridge were repaired at Ordsall and much else had been done. At the end is "Paid my Lady in money £58/14/7.

Letter about the restoration of the church

We have received the the following interesting letter from Mr. Robert Edeson.

I was born at East Retford in the year 1864 at Dominie Cross Road. I do not remember living there for when I was a few months old my parents removed to what is now known as No. 1 Wright Wilson Street—next to Shell Cottage. For the next 25 or 26 years I lived there. My recollections of Ordsall are first. At the age of 5 years I remember being taken to Ordsall Church by my fond father, Joseph Edeson, and the pews then were like cupboards—you opened one door and there were two compartments, I remember being stood up on the seat. The music portion of the Service was rendered chiefly by the Blagg family and they were located at the West end. I think they were "Tate and Brady" in those days or it might have been "Sternold and Hopkins." I well remember the first Psalm which read "How Blest is he who ne'er consents by ill advice to walk!".

The next stage is when I was a member of the Choir at the Restoration of the Church in 1877. I did not know the Rev. T. S. King being so young but I did remember a Mr. Barrett being Curate. He lived in Storcroft Terrace. The opening Services were admirably sung by the East Retford Choir—there was not room for us boys. I well remember the Processional Hymn. The Choir was conducted by Mr. Wells, the organ being played by Mr. Hamilton White, a fine and gifted musician. The Bishop of Lincoln preached and turned to the East at the Ascriptions, a position which roused the ire of one member who wrote a letter of protest to the Bishop, (as he had a strange leaning for Theological Controversy). The Bishop wrote in his reply "Life is not long enough to debate such things." I was confirmed with other members of the Choir the following March, I think, by the Suffragan of Nottingham (Bishop Trollope). Years after I emigrated to St. Swithuns. I think I should here say at the Confirmation we had no organ, and the Hymn Come Holy Ghost was sung to the plain song tune. Led by the Rev. A. C. Custance, a man with a good vigorous voice, it was really a solo, as we boys had not the slightest knowledge of the tune. We did our best and got some slight knowledge of it by the time we reached the end. Your mention of the Screen. The placing of it at the East end created a good deal of feeling, but the Rector rightly had it restored, and when it was removed again to the Tower under the circumstances you name, the Retford Times said it was obvious it never really was the Chancel Screen. The organ was a terror to blow when it was first put in, the handle being so short. This was afterwards remedied by lengthening the handle and placing a screen round the blower. I think one of the Hemsworth family was a blower and subsequently Robert Haigh.

Some years ago Mr. John Stothert spent a Christmas in Bournmouth and I called on him, the late Mrs. Wells being also present—you know of course Mr. and Mrs. Wells retired to Bournmouth—and I again came in contact with them. I could go on for a long while but I am never-the-less an invalid, never having recovered from a bad heart attack about 6 years ago which necessitated me spending 2  years in bed. Even now I spend half my time in bed. I am still in touch in a small measure with the Church. At one time I was a member of St. Ambrose Choir, also during the war a server—a sidesman, and chairman of the local branch of the C.E.M.S. My eldest son is a good musician being a Bac. Mus. (Oxon.) F.R.C.O. He is organist of a celebrated church at Highgate. Pleace forgive me if I have wearied you. Should you be raising a fund for the restoration of the organ it will give me pleasure to send you a subscription—alas I am afraid it will only be a small one.

Yours very sincerely, Robert Edeson