The Robin Hood and White Lion pubs in Brinsley (Photo: A Nicholson, 2004).
The Robin Hood and White Lion pubs in Brinsley (Photo: A Nicholson, 2004).

It is after the recital of the sad end of a once honoured man refreshing to turn to a more pleasing topic in connection with Brinsley. Who would but a very few years ago have thought, that of all things, Numismatics would be of any help to trace and to recover any submerged part, even though but a small yet interesting one, of what belongs to the history of Brinsley, and yet it is so. As discovered Greek coins tell a tale of cities and of artists that once have been; and as the coins of the ancient Britons speak of early art and commerce; and the Roman coins of that nation’s conquests and arts; so a humble half-penny token comes forth to speak of Brinsley. It was in the collection of the late Mr. James Toplis, who was a native of Eastwood, and it is now in the Nottingham Castle Museum.

It must be borne in mind that there was in the 17th century a crying need of small change. It is not indeed that there was no small silver currency, but it was so small as to be highly inconvenient. As early as in the reign of the last Henrys the inconvenience was greatly felt, though silver halfpennies continued to be struck as late as in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and James I. It was on that account that traders had early begun to use private tokens of lead and copper for circulation, which in a manner continued, until after Charles I. they became general, so that every tradesman of any note would have his own tokens for change. The Brinsley half-penny token shows that there was a blacksmith there in 1669, who probably may also have had some little store of groceries and provisions, &c., both for the convenience of the good people of Brinsley and also for the increase of his own gains. Such is enterprise in humble village life, and such the evidence which 230 years later speaks in praise of it and of its merited remembrance. This half-penny token has in the centre of one side (called the obverse) the blacksmith’s arms of 3 hammers, with the inscription— “Robert Horesley. Black-” The reverse side of the token has, in continuation of the obverse inscription—“Smith-in-Brinsley, 1669. His half penny ½” The whole is in Roman capitals.

The same causes which necessitated the formation of a new parish at Kimberley operated also in Brinsley. The church was built in 1837, and the new district (to judge from the accounts of the churchwardens of Greasley who paid the early church expenses of Kimberley and of Brinsley) was, for some few years, worked from Greasley. On the 26th of June, 1861, an Order of Her Majesty in Council erected Brinsley into a separate District Chapelry. The church was dedicated to “the Holy Trinity” (though the present incumbent thinks it is “St. James the Great”). The first incumbent of Brinsley was the Revd. Edward Cayley in 1861, who was a perpetual curate until the demise of the, at that time; vicar of Greasley in 1866, after which Brinsley became a vicarage. The next vicar of Brinsley was the Revd. J. D. Gibson, who was instituted in 1868. He was, after his demise succeeded by the Revd. C. E. Roberts in 1874, on whose resignation for a London preferment the present vicar, the Revd. Percival Page was instituted in 1881.

The chief landed property of the township, together with the advowson of the new parish, was then with the Duke of Newcastle; but has, a few years ago, been purchased by Messrs. Barber, Walker & Co., of Eastwood, whose it now is. Another part of the new parish, containing about 400 acres, is the property of the Earl of Mexborough.

There are commodious church schools in Brinsley with an accommodation for fully 400 children. The church has a mission room (St. John’s) in a part called New Brinsley.

The Nonconformists have only one chapel in this parish.

The local industries are represented by two collieries belonging to Messrs. Barber, Walker and Co., and a third one which is the property of Messrs. Jas. Oakes & Co.

Messrs. Jas. Oakes & Co. represent also part of the agricultural interest of the parish, being the tenants of Lord Mexborough’s lands, together with Messrs. J. Betts and Fisher of the Ginn Farm and others.

The tenants of Messrs. Barber, Walker & Co. are Messrs. G. Meakin of the Manor Farm, Wm. Taylor of the Brinsley Farm, and several others, among whom are Wm. Riley, Hy. Meakin, and Smi. Malley. In addition to the above there is also a number of small freeholders in Brinsley, among whom are the Revd. R. Royston, Mr. Rt. G. Hanson and Messrs. Matth. Bindley, Wm. Chambers, Saml. Smeeton, F. Williamson, J. Granger, T. Radford, and C. Stokes and others.

The acreage of the parish is 1,340. The population at the last census was 1,423, and the rateable value in 1885 £5,517 12S. 0d.

The parish has a Postal Order Office.


In the visitation of Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, who visited for Wm. Flower, Norry, in this county (says Throsby) in the year 1569, the Norry granted to the Brinsleys to bear for their Arms “party per pale Or, and sable, a Chevron between three Escallops counter-changed”; but the ancient Coat in Thoroton’s time, remaining in the church of Trowell, was Or and Sable quarterly, quartered with a Chevron itself, also quarterly between three Escallops counter-changed. Besides these notices there are others from the Trowell history, which give the following :—Quarterly per quartered Chevron, between three Escallops Or, and sable counterchanged. They were in the windows of Trowell Church, and in the east window of that chancel, under which was “Robertus Brinsley, partronus (sic) istitus Ecclesiae.”

In our usual way of endeavouring to verify or correct our notes, we have very lately been for register searches at Bilborough Rectory, where we met with courteous help; and thence went to Trowell Church; but our disappointment there was complete. Nothing of the old stained glass is remaining. The windows have throughout been reglazed with plain quarries, except the east window in the chancel, which is of new stained glass.