Chapter III. The manor and its lords (1)

Interior of old church.
Interior of old church.

THE history of an English manor usually starts with the record thereof given in the Domesday Survey of 1086. But Domesday Book has nothing to say about this manor, if we look for it under the name of Colston. Dr. Thoroton suggested the possibility of this township being really included in what is there recorded about Newbold; and the late Mr. W. P. W. Phillimore put forward reasons for identifying Colston with the larger of the two manors mentioned as being in Newbold. The conclusions arrived at by these authorities are extremely probable, though perhaps not absolutely certain.

Domesday Book, then, records the existence of two manors in Newbold. Assuming the correctness of the above theory, we may look upon Colston as being described under the larger of these. Before the Conquest this was held by the Saxon Earl Mortar, and taxed at three Carucates; the land therefore was eight Carucates. A carucate1, also known as a hide or plow-land, was the amount of land which could be kept in cultivation by one plough with its full team of oxen; it varied in extent in different districts and according to the nature of the soil, and might be anything from 80 to 120 acres. So we may put down the arable land in Colston, before the Norman Conquest, at about 800 acres; there would also be a due proportion of meadow and grazing land, and a considerable amount of marsh and wood.

This Morcar, who held both the Newbold manors, belonged to one of the most powerful of the old Saxon families, lie was Earl of Northumberland and his brother Edwin was Earl of Mercia. After the battle of Hastings they had acknowledged William as king, and had been left in undisturbed possession of their great estates. But they took part in the insurrection of 1068, and henceforward remained in opposition to the king; whereby their estates became forfeited to the king. Morcar was one of those who joined Hereward in the last stand made by the English against the Normans, in the famous Camp of Refuge in the Isle of Ely; upon their surrender, in 1071, he was thrown into prison, and long afterwards died in confinement, in Normandy.

When the Domesday Survey was made King William him­self had in this manor three carucates; the remaining seven carucates were held by his under-tenants, viz., 13 socmen, 13 villeins and 3 bordars. The socmen were such of the Anglo-Saxon freemen as were allowed to retain their land and their freedom, but their land was ‘now held from the Lord of the Manor in return for various services. The others were in a state of villenage, or, practically in serfdom; unless they were sold to another lord, they must remain where they were; for most of their time they were occupied in cultivating the lord’s demesne lands, but they were allowed one day or possibly two days in the week for working the few acres of their own small tenements, their only means of subsistence.

Domesday Book further informs us that there was a priest and a church; also that the value of the manor (presumably the annual value) was £4 in the time of Edward the Confessor, and that in the Conqueror’s time it had, improved to £10.

In the time of King Henry I we find the manor of Colston in possession of Ralph Basset, but when and how he acquired it is not known. He was the son of Thurstine the Norman who, in 1086, held 5 hides of land at Drayton, afterwards known as Drayton Bassett, in Staffordshire. He was chief justice of England, and appears to have been the first of the family to bear the surname of Basset. About 1120 he gave one carucate of land in Kinoulton and 10 oxen for the maintenance of a monk in the Abbey of Eynsham in Oxfordshire, “which land was parcel of his Lordship of Colestune.” He died about 1127 and was buried at Abingdon in Berkshire. Between this time and 1390 we get a direct succession of nine Bassets, eight of whom had the Christian name of Ralph.

Richard Basset succeeded his father in the office of chief justice, which he held in the reigns of Henry I and Stephen. King Henry confirmed the gift of Richard Basset and of his wife Matilda Ridol, of several lands and very many churches, including the church of Colston, to the church of St. John the Baptist at Launde, in Leicestershire, or Launde Priory, which they had founded in 1125 for the soul of William, the King’s father. This Richard had vast estates in different parts of the country, amounting in 1135 to 184 carucates and one virgate, probably over 18,000 acres; this property was held for the service of fifteen knights’ fees, Colston being assessed at one knight’s fee. He died about 1154.

Ralph Basset the fourth, great grandson of Richard, is reckoned as the first Lord Basset of Drayton. He was sum­moned to parliament, as a baron, in 1264. But in the following year, on August 4th, he was killed in the battle of Evesham, fighting against the king. His widow and son were allowed to remain in possession of his estates.

His son, the fifth Ralph, was the second Lord Basset of Drayton. He served in various wars in France and Scotland. He died 31st December, 1209 and was buried at Drayton.

The sixth Ralph, the third Lord Basset of Drayton, held several important posts. He was steward of the province of Aquitaine in France, Constable of Dover Castle, and Warden of the Cinque Ports. He died 25th February, 1343.

The eighth Ralph succeeded his grandfather as the fourth Lord Basset of Drayton at the age of 8, his father (the seventh Ralph) being already dead. He served with distinction in the French wars, and was made a Knight of the Garter in 1368. It was this Lord Basset who built and endowed the chapel of St. Ivo at Colston  Bassett, which has been referred to already. He died 10th May, 1390 and was buried in Lichfield Cathedral. He left no children, and by his will he devised his estates to his nephew Sir Hugh Shirley. However he “was prevented from taking possession by Edmund, Lord Stafford, who produced an old entail made of them 13 Edw. III (1339 or 1340), by which he was found heir. An agreement, however, was entered into by the contending parties for a satisfactory arrangement of their respective claims, but before it could he sealed, both gentlemen were slain at the battle of Shrewsbury, 23rd July, 1403.” (See Bailey’s Annals).

Tower of old church in 1942.
Tower of old church in 1942.

Colston Bassett appears to have continued in possession of the Stafford family for over a century. They were closely connected with the royal family, for the above-mentioned Edmund, Earl of Stafford, had married a grand-daughter of King Edward III. His son Humphrey Stafford was created Duke of Buckingham; he died in 1459. He was succeeded by his grandson Henry Stafford, Duke, of Buckingham, who, in 1483, was the leader in raising a general insurrection against King Richard III; this proved a failure, and the Duke, being betrayed to the king, was instantly executed. His son Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, met with a fate some­what similar to that of his father; he was tried and executed for high treason, 17th May, 1521, for letting fall some unguarded expressions, as if he thought himself entitled to succeed to the throne, in case King Henry VIII should die without issue. At the same time the hereditary office of Lord High Constable, which had been held by the Staffords for several generations, was forfeited, and was never afterwards revived in England.

But Colston Bassett had already passed out of the possession of the Staffords. For in 1520 Sir Thomas Kitson, citizen and merchant of London, had purchased this manor and other estates. Upon the attainder and execution of the Duke of Buckingham these estates were claimed as escheats to the Crown, for treasons said to have been committed before the date of the sale to Sir Thomas. However, upon petition, the king restored the various properties, and the same were confirmed to him by an act of parliament passed a few years afterwards. Sir Thomas Kitson, who was Sheriff of London in 1533, was a man of immense wealth, chiefly made in mercantile transactions, particularly at the staples or cloth-fairs at Antwerp, Middleburg and other places in Flanders. The noble mansion, which he erected at Hengrave in Suffolk and which is still in existence, is reckoned among the most stately mansions in England.

The act of parliament, just referred to, was the subject of a deed dated 21st July, 1598, being an “Exemplification at the prayer of Edward Golding of an Act of Parliament of 15 Henry VIII.” The act records that Henry, Duke of Buckingham, on 26th February, 1480, enfeoffed trustees in his manor of Hengrave to the use of himself and his heirs, by which the manor descended to Edward, Duke of Buckingham, deceased. Also, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, and John Heton were seised of the manor of Colston Bassett by deed of feoffment, dated 20th October, 1467, to the use of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham, and his heirs; at whose death the manor descended to Henry, Duke of Buckingham, and then to Edward, Duke of Buckingham. The last-named, by indenture of 20th May, 1520, sold both manors to Thomas Kitson, citizen and mercer of London, for £2,340. At the time Edward, Duke of Buckingham, committed an act of treason, 22nd July, 1512, the manors were in the hands of trustees; he was accused 13th May, 1521, and executed and afterwards attainted.

Thomas Kitson’s title to Hengrave and Colston Bassett was thus established on the plea that both manors were in the hands of trustees and not in the Duke’s own hands; but how much his wealth contributed towards this result is not known.

Sir Thomas Kitson died 11th September, 1540. By an inquisition taken at Nottingham, 4th June, 1541, it was found that he was seized in his demesne as of fee of the manor of Colston Basset and 37 messuages, 880 acres arable land, 112 acres meadow. 192 acres pasture, 22 acres wood, 20 acres furze and heath, and £9 16s. of rent in Colston Basset, Codlynstoke, Rempston and Kynnalton; the value of these being £66. 13. 4d. a year. The manor of Colston Basset and 3 several enclosures in Kynnalton were in the tenure of Thomas Hutchinson, on a 40 years lease from 3rd May, 1532, for a yearly payment of £15. 6. 8d.

The successor to the property was a second Thomas Kitson, posthumous son of Sir Thomas, born 25th October, 1540. Beginning 1st September, 1569 we get a series of leases of Colston Bassett, made by Thomas Kytson, of Hengrave, Esq., to Edward Goldynge, of Eye, co. Suffolk. These are in two divisions, the first relating to the manor and its appurtenances in Colston  Bassett, Owthorp, Cropwell, Kynoulton, Codlingstok and Rempston (with certain exceptions); these were leased for 20 years, dating from 27th March, 1570, at a rent of £44. 13. 4d. a fine of 300 marks having been first paid; on 10th September, 1569 a further 20 years was added, and on 8th September, 1572 a further 62 years. The other division referred to the except­ions, viz., the manor-place or capital messuage and one messuage in the occupation of Thomas Affynes and lands in the occupation of Thomas Hutchynson the elder and the said Thomas Affynes; on 2nd September, 1569 these were leased for 24 years, dating from 29th September, for a yearly rent of £22, the fine in this case being 20 marks; continuances of this lease were afterwards made, as of the other. In one of these deeds it is stated that Thomas Kytson made the grant “for the faithfull service and often travells done and susteyned by the said Edward Goldyng on the behalf of the said Thomas and for the good affection and favor he beareth towards Thomas Goldinge the sonne of the said Edward and godson to the said Thomas Kytson.”

At this time the manor house appears to have been occupied by Thomas Hutchinson the elder, probably a member of the Owthorpe family; in one deed it is described as “the Manor place commonly called the Hall place”; we also get a list of the occupiers of 22 houses and 8 cottages in the year 1574.

On 20th October, 1574 for the sum of £1000 Thomas Kytson agreed to make to Edward Goldynge a perfect estate in fee simple before Christmas of the manor of Colston Bassett, subject to an annuity of £50 charged on the lands in Colston and Kinoulton. On 10th August, 1575 he granted the annuity to the brothers Robert (elsewhere described as of the Inner temple, gent.) and Thomas Goldynge, to the end that they stand seised thereof to the sole use of Edward Goldynge.

Edward Golding thus became Lord of the Manor and owner of the estate, but it does not appear that he ever lived here. His wife was Mirable Aldham, probably a Suffolk lady; a Thomas Aldham had been witness to some of the deeds mentioned above. Mr. Golding died 15th December, 1580; by an inquiry held at Nottingham, 8th August, 1581, it was found that his lands descended to his son Edward Golding “of the age of 11 years and more on 18th June, 1581.” A schedule of the yearly value of his lands is given, as follows:—

In the county of Nottingham; the manor of Colston Bassett, 27 messuages, 1 windmill, 1 dovecote, 892 acres pasture, 20 acres heath and brury2, and 8s. 8d. rent, held of the Crown, £24. One toft, 2 oxgangs of land, meadow and pasture in Colston Bassett called “Monkesman land alias Wyverton land” held of Sir George Chaworth, Knt., 13s. 4d. Six acres Kynnawlton held of the Duchy of Lancaster by service of a rose, 6s.

In the county of Suffolk; messuage orchard and garden, “Haywards Pastures,” in Eye, 21s. 8d. Total, £26 1s.

Mirabell Goldinge, widow of the said Edward, had received the profits since her husband’s decease and was to be endowed of a third part.

Mrs. Mirable Golding is probably the same as the Widow Golding, of Eye, who in 1588 contributed £25 to the fund raised for the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada. It appears that she was afterwards married to Henry Cutler, of Eye, esquire. Mr. Cutler made his will 6th January, 1612, and the following extracts from it are of interest. “ By indenture of 10th July, 1612, made between Edward Golding, of Colston Bassett, esq., and myself,—in consideration of a payment of £605 Edward Golding leased to me all lands in Colston on the south of Churchfield, abutting upon Cropwell Field on the west, and Little Stone Pyttes and Stonie Close on the east, and bounded on the south by lands of Thos. Hutchin­son and by Nottingham Way on the north, 234 acres in the tenure of, Wm. Cootes, gent., with condition that he pay me, or my wife if she survive me, £48 6s. yearly, and at the death of both of us £305 to the purposes of my will. To my wife Mrs. Mirable Cutler £30, etc. To my son-in-law Edward Golding my books in folio, crossebowe and racke and low-bell, and £10 to the building of his barn lately burnt. To his son and five daughters £10 each. To my son-in-law Mr. William Harwell 20s. and to his wife 20s.”

Administration of this will was granted 6th October, 1613, to his relict, Mirable Cutler, the executors appointed, having renounced. Mrs. Mirabie Cutler was buried at Colston Bassett, 28th March, 1614.

The second Edward Golding, being under age at his father’s death, came under the guardianship of the Crown, represented by the Court of Wards and Liveries. On 2nd July, 1584 his wardship and marriage, with an annuity of £6. 13. 4d. were granted to William Cornwalleys, esq. On 3rd January following the Court granted the annuity (to date from her husband s death), and also the custody of the body and the marriage of her son, to Mirable Goldynge, widow, And on 8th February she purchased, for £260, the wardship of her son from William Cornewallis, of Highgate, co. Middlesex, esq. By 20th June, 1591, Edward Goldinge. gent, had come of age: on this date the Court gave delivery of his lands and he came into possession. He married Mary, daughter of Richard Godfrey, of Hindringham, co. Norfolk, esq. The inclosure of the greater part of the common fields was probably made about 1600. In 1605 he purchased the rectory of Colston Bassett; at this time he is still described as being of Eye, co. Suffolk. On 1st March, 1615 Thomas Hutchenson, esq. and Margaret his. wife had Royal Licence to alienate to Edward Goldinge, jun., 1 messuage, 1 toft, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 27 acres of land, 5 acres meadow, 10 acres pasture, 2 acres moor, and common of pasture in Colston Bassett held of the Crown in chief. About 1622 Edward Golding, father and son, sold part of the Colston Bassett property to Mr. Francis Hacker; this is dealt with more fully in another chapter.

Mr. Golding died 15th September, 1630, probably in Suffolk; an inquisition was taken 24th August, 1631, when the value of the Colston  Bassett property, including profits accrued since his death, was returned at £41. 3. 4d. Frauncis, Inglebie, Myrable and Bridget Goldinge are mentioned as his daughters in the will, dated 29th March, 1618, of his father-in-law Richard Godfrey; it is not clear whether Inglebie was a Christian-name or a surname.

Edward Golding the third was “aged 31 and more” at the time of his father’s death. He had delivery of his lands from the Court of Wards and Liveries 24th November, 1631; he is stated by Thoroton to have been proprietor of the whole town­ship of Colston Bassett and of the impropriate rectory, with the exception of that part which his father had sold to Mr. Hacker. He was sheriff of the county in 1624. Reference is made to him in Mrs. Hutchinson’s Memoirs; “All the popish gentry were wholly for the King; whereof one, Mr. Golding, next neighbour to Mr. Hutchinson, had been a private collector of the catholics’ contributions to the Irish rebellion” (in 1641) “and for that was, by the queen’s procurement, made a knight and a baronet.” He was created a baronet, 27th September, 1642. In his later years he is said to have become a Capuchin friar at Rouen. From evidence given in a Chancery Suit in February and March, 1667, it appears that he was still living here in 1655; but “Sir Edward did not die 8 years since as is untruly alleged but was living beyond the seas and died about Christmas was a twelvemonth.” This gives Christmas 1666 as the approximate date of his death. His wife was Eleanor, daughter of John Throckmorton, of Coughton, Co. Warwick, esq.; she was buried here 22nd September, 1652, the earliest entry of a Golding in the registers. Three of their daughters were buried here; Mrs. Elianor Golding, 25th June, 1660; Mrs. Marina Cuffield or Cufand, 24th March, 1605, wife in 1667 of Symon Cufand, of the Inner Temple, London, gent.; and Lady Anne Fleetwood, 10th September, 1720, aged 96, wife of Sir Richard Fleetwood, bart., of Calwick, Co. Stafford. The Visitation Pedigree of 1614 gives two daughters, Frances and Mary.

As to Sir Edward Golding’s sons, the eldest, John, is said to “have become a Capuchin friar like his father. He was certainly living 10th December, 1653; on that date “Edward Golding of Colston Bassett, formerly called Sir Edward Golding, knt., son and heir of Edward Gelding, late of Colston Bassett, esq., deceased, and John Golding, esq., son and heir apparent of the said Edward Golding, “mortgaged one-third of the manor and rectory of Colston Basset to John Crispe, of Gray’s Inn, co. Middlesex. esq. But various deeds of the year 1655 are referred to in later Chancery suits, in which Charles Golding acts, in conjunction with Sir Edward. It seems then that John Golding made his exit between 1653 and 1655, either by death, or by becoming a friar and renouncing all rights of heirship in favour of his, next brother Charles. Mr. George Golding, gentleman, who died 17th June, 1701, at the age of 70, was probably a younger brother.

The old hall appears to have been erected by Sir Edward Gelding: Over one of the entrance doorways were the arms of Gelding impaling Throckmorton, carved in stone, but without the badge of Ulster. The hall, therefore, was built after his marriage, which must have taken place not earlier than 1610, and before 1642, when he was made a baronet: It seems probable that he came to live here, the first Golding to do so, on his marriage, and that the building of the hall was begun about this time.

Gravestone of Elizabeth Golding (died 1685), wife of Charles Golding.
Gravestone of Elizabeth Golding (died 1685), wife of Charles Golding.

Sir Charles Golding succeeded his father as second baronet. No doubt he had been in actual possession of the property for several years, but he could only have held the title for about nine months, as he died 28th September, 1667 at the age of 37. His wife was Mary, daughter of James Ravenscroft, esq., of Barnet, Herts., and of Alconbury, Hunts. The marriage settlement, dated 4th January, 1656, covered the manor and rectory of Colston  Bassett, with the exception of only 5 closes. Lady Gelding died 13th February, 1686, in her 53rd year, and was buried here 15th February. An infant son Charles was buried here 8th June, 1661; and a daughter Elizabeth, who died in London 29th July, 1685, in her 21st year, was buried here 2nd August. Two married daughters were living here in 1707: Magdalene, wife of Anthony Barlow, of Barlow, Lancashire, esq. and Mary, wife of William Hilton, of St. Andrews, Holborn, gent.

Sir Edward Golding was about 10 years old when he succeeded as third baronet; his mother was appointed guardian, his father having died intestate. In 1684 he took proceedings in the court of Chancery against Dame Mary and one Elizabeth Richmond; in his bill of complaint he states that his father, who was seised of the manor of Colston Bassett worth £1500 a year, died 10 years ago leaving him an infant of very tender years; his mother by some will was seised of the manor as his guardian and received the profits till within 12 months ago when he came of age. On his father’s death one William Richmond was employed to manage the estate, and he received the rents for several years and paid part to Dame Mary and promised to render an account but never did so; he purchased considerable real estate in his own name and set out large sums at interest he died two years since and his widow Elizabeth Richmond possessed herself of all his estate and all his accounts and now combines with Dame Mary to defraud Sir Edward and refuses to produce any accounts. Mrs. Richmond, in her answer, thinks that the manor was not worth more than the half of £1500; moreover lands to the value of £300 or £400 a year had been settled on Dame Mary for life. Sir Edward had come of age about 5 years since, and the part which Dame Mary managed as guardian was not worth more than £400 a year. If accounts were fairly adjusted, her late husband was little or nothing indebted to the estate, the more so that Dame Mary would never suffer any money to remain long in his hands. He died intestate on 5th January last and she obtained letters of administration and exhibited an inventory, (the values of his estate in Colston  Basset and Cropwell Butler being £714. 13. l0d.). Since his death one Needham, a servant of Dame Mary, had removed all her husband’s accounts and writings in a forcible manner, by order, she believes, of Dame Mary. She knows of no combination between Dame Mary and her late husband, but believes there may be a combination between complainant and his mother to oppress her, being a poor widow destitute of friends and aid.

In a paper by Mr. W. Stevenson, published in the Thoroton Society Transactions, 1902, it is stated that the hall of the Goldings was pulled down in the early part of the 18th century. Possibly there may be a clue to the date of this, and of the building of the present hall, in the statement by Mr. Leonard Jacks in his Great houses of Nottinghamshire, that “from the windows of the south you now look down a fine grove of trees, planted in 1710, and overshadowing what is called the Lord’s Walk.” If the suggestion, that the planting of the avenue and the rebuilding of the hall took place at this time, be correct, then this helps to explain what follows, viz., debts, mortgages and finally sale of the whole property In fact there seems to have been a close race between Sir Edward Golding and his cousin, James Ravenscroft, owner of the hall house property, a race that Sir Edward won by a month; both these properties passed into other hands in 1714, the manor on 19th November and the smaller estate on 18th December.

1. There are some reasons for supposing that the carucate in this part of England was reckoned at as much as 170 acres: which might include not only arable, bat the proportion of pasture and meadow requisite for the maintenance of the ox team. T.M.B. 2. “Brury” meant heath-land, from the French bruyère and is found in such place-names as Temple Brewer on the Lincolnshire Heath; Bruera, alias Churton Heath in Cheshire, and of course is well known as the “root” from which we derive the so-called “briar” pipes. T.M B.