Tag Archives: Derby

The Jacobite advance.

bonnie prince chalrie derby38.JPGAs the Jacobites marched south via Lancaster the Hanoverians in the form of the Lancashire Militia and the Liverpool Blues marched into action – which meant breaking bridges.  The bridge over the Mersey at Warrington was demolished as were several others but by the time the order came to demolish the bridge at Stockport it was too late.  The Blues hurried off to join the garrison at Chester and Liverpudlians heaved a sigh of collective relief as the Jacobites headed for Manchester and Manchester’s magistrates promptly left.  There was something of an exodus prior to their arrival.  Such was the state of concern that Oates records that families packed their belongings and their families onboard boats in Liverpool ready to sail in the event of the army turning its attention in their direction.  Not everyone felt the same about the Stuart cause apparently two fiddlers played the Jacobites into Preston – though Preston a town with a reputation of jacobite sympathies didn’t offer up many in the way of recruits.

Once they arrived in Manchester on the 29th November 1745 the Jacobites set about having the bridge at Crossford repaired, food to be foraged for and Prince Charles declared regent.

The perennial problem of recruitment remained. Eight men had joined in Preston.  At Ormskirk the story was a bit different in that there was more popular support but it appeared that although Prince Charles had well wishers none wished to pick up a weapon in his cause.  This was disappointing as Lancashire had the reputation for being Catholic in outlook.  Oates observes that there was little correspondence between the Catholic Church in England and the Stuart court, ironically based in Rome, as the Stuarts didn’t wish the English to think of them as being a Catholic faction.  Ultimately a Manchester Regiment of Jacobites was formed. Charles took this as a good sign – his officers felt that two hundred men didn’t constitute a popular uprising nor for that matter did they come solely from Manchester.  They came from all over the north of England. They were in the command of Colonel Francis Towneley who had seen service in the French army.  The regiment was inspected on the 30th November.  When Towneley was tried for treason in London in 1746 he claimed that as a veteran of the french army he should be treated as a prisoner of war.  His plea was not admitted.

The Jacobites left Manchester with their new recruits on the 1st of December 1745.  They continued south via Macclesfield and Leek where they arrived on 3rd December- it is said that the Jacobites sharpened their swords on the tombstones of St Edward’s Church. The vicar’s wife either died from fright or gave the prince a flea in his ear depending on which story you chose to believe.From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to Ashbourne and Derby.

Meanwhile Cumberland decided that the prince was heading for Wales based on a feint that Lord George Murray made at Congleton so marched his forces from Lichfield to Stone south of Stoke where he waited to give battle – and was presumably very irritated when it didn’t happen. Murray’s manoeuvre meant that the Jacobites were able to march into Derby unopposed on 4th December with between six  and nine thousand men depending on the source.  The newly formed Derbyshire regiment commanded by the Duke of Devonshire having decided that discretion was the better part of valour and scarpered to Retford.  Bonnie Prince Charlie feeling that he was on a roll made arrangements for the capture of Swarkestone Bridge which was the only one crossing the Trent between Burton and Nottingham.

There was a meeting in Exeter House on the 5th December.  There are 125 miles between Derby and London – another week would have seen the army in England’s capital. However, it was decided that the army would return to Scotland  as it risked being surrounded with Wade and Cumberland’s men coming around behind them and another force to their south.  There was also the lack of support from the English for the Jacobite cause and in addition to which the Scots were a bit restive about the fact that the french were supposed to be offering assistance and so far there had been not so much as a hint of french boots on the ground.   Lord George Murray was very clear as to his concerns.

The final straw may have come in the form of Dudley Bradstreet who presented himself in Derby as a Jacobite but who was really a spy working for Cumberland – he “let slip’ that there were 9,000 men in Northampton on the Hanoverian side.  There weren’t but there wasn’t any way of checking.

So on the 6th of December Ashbourne once again played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his very cross army because whilst the officers didn’t fancy being pinned on three sides the men themselves were keen for a fight.

Oates, Jonathan D. (2006) The Jacobite Invasion of 1745 in Northwest England. Lancaster: lancaster University

 

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Mr Shore – husband of Edward IV’s mistress

jane-shoreNot a snappy title I know but this post is about who it says on the can!  I keep coming back to Jane Shore (double click to open my previous post in a new window). On this occasion I have a day school of Edward IV coming up and have been reading Margaret Crosland’s Life and Legend of Jane Shore by way of preparation as Jane Shore was the merriest of his mistresses. The lady with the large necklace in the picture next to this paragraph is an assumed portrait of Jane.  Victorian compositions tend to show her suitably draped in a sheet doing public penance for her harlotry!

 

Edward IV’s mistress was, of course, Jane Shore, immortalised by Sir Thomas More’s sympathetic portrayal.  She was baptised Elizabeth Lambert. Popular history has her husband down as Matthew Shore – goldsmith. Interestingly Thomas More does not identify Shore’s first name or his profession.

Scrub out Matthew Shore- goldsmith for the time being.  Replace him with William Shore – mercer.  John Lambert, Jane’s father was a mercer and William turns up often in the Mercers’ Company accounts. Let’s face it the link makes much more sense.

William was born in Derby in the mid 1430s making him fifteen or so years older than Jane (i.e. twice her age when they married).  It is suggested that his father may have been Robert Shore a churchwarden for All Hallows, Derby.  Crosland notes the extent to which the Shores donated items to the church which draws on Sutton’s research.  His parents managed to marry their daughter, apparently their only other child, into a local gentry family, the Agards, and have William apprenticed in London. Sutton notes that Richard Claver an eminent member of the Mercers’ Company had family links with Derby. In any event young William was apprenticed, experienced the full rigours of life as apprentice and journeyman before entering the Mercers’ Company in 1459 at the latest.  William travelled extensively it appears and struck a deal with John Lambert that acquired him a bride.

Crosland next finds the couple in the Court of Arches near the church of St Mary-le-Bow. The job of this court was to check degrees of consanguinity and clarify legal issues before marriage took place. Really and truly, Crosland explains, Jane Shore had no business being there as she was already married and the court could make no judgement on her case.

Yet it transpires that Jane, a comely wench, had a problem.  Her duty as a wife was to beget children – but it takes two to tango as they say in Halifax. Sadly for Jane, Mr Shore wasn’t interested in tangoes or indeed any other aspect of physical married life.  Jane kept returning to the Court of Arches trying to have her marriage annulled.  The case as it is presented is simple – she has been married for three years but the marriage had not been consummated. This apparently was the legal requirement for the dissolution of the marriage but the Court of Arches could merely shrug its shoulders and say it was none of their business.

Realistically someone of Jane’s station couldn’t expect to pay the prohibitive costs involved in taking the case to Rome where such matters were discussed.

Somewhat surprisingly then Jane was granted a divorce by Pope  Sixtus IV on the 4th March 1476. Desmond Seward and Margaret Crosland surmise that someone with a bit of clout and a lot of money had taken an interest in Jane’s plight…quite possibly Edward IV.

Interestingly William Shore also received communication from the Yorkist king.  In 1476 he was in receipt of letters of protection and he doesn’t turn up in London’s records until 1484.  It looks as though William left the country immediately after his marriage was terminated and didn’t feel it prudent to return until after Edward’s demise.

slabsclopton_smallWilliam Shore or Schower died in 1495 and is buried in Scropton in Derbyshire.  Scropton lies on land once owned by the Agard family. His monument is still available to view should one feel the urge. History even provides his will which is transcribed in the Sutton article which shows that he maintained his links with Derby both during his life and after his death.

Crosland, Margaret. (2006) The Life and Legend of Jane Shore. Stroud: Sutton Publishing

Seward, Desmond. (1995) The Wars of the Roses and the Lives and Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century.  Constable

Sutton, Anne F  (1986) “William Shore, Merchant of London and Derby” Derbyshire Archeological Journal Vol 106 pp 127-39 distributed by York: Archaeology Data Service (distributor) (doi:10.5284/1018074).http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-2300-1/dissemination/pdf/106/DAJ_v106_1986_127-139.pdf

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King’s Mead Priory, Derby

 

DSC_0491The Benedictine nunnery of King’s Mead in Derby dedicated to the Virgin Mary was the only Benedictine foundation in Derbyshire and its inhabitants were initially under the spiritual and temporal guidance of the abbot of Darley Abbey – an Augustinian foundation.  History reveals that in the twelfth century there was a warden who acted as chaplain to the nuns as well as looking after the nuns’ business affairs. The nunnery grew its land holdings over the next hundred or so years so that it included three mills at Oddebrook. One of the reasons that this may have occurs was because Henry III gave the nuns twelve acres of land. Because the king had shown an interest it is possible that more donors followed suit in an effort to win favour. Equally donors such as Lancelin Fitzlancelin and his wife Avice who gave land and animals to the nunnery in 1230 or Henry de Doniston and his wife Eleanor could expect a shorter term in Pergatory after their deaths because the nuns would be expected to hold them in their prayers as a result of the land transaction.

 

By 1250 the nuns of King’s Mead and the abbot of Darley Dale were out of sorts with one another. It was decided that the nuns should go their own way and that the abbot of Darley Dale would cease interfering with their business. The land holdings of both organisations were perused and a division occurred.  The nuns were required to give some land to Darley Abbey but it was at this time that the church and living of St Werburgh in Derby along with other agricultural land was signed over to the nuns.

The pattern is similar to countless other monastic foundations across the country, so too are the difficulties that befell the nuns. Sadly they ended up so deeply in debt due to cattle morrain that by 1327 that they had to ask the king for protection as they were not able to offer hospitality to visitors to Derby. This raises an interesting question. Who exactly were the nuns petitioning? Edward II reigned from 1284 until 1327 but he was forced by his wife Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer to hand over his crown to his son, Edward, in January 1327 before being whisked off to Berkeley Castle where he died on the 21st September 1327 (if history is to be believed) due to an unfortunate accident with a hot poker. The petition must therefore have been addressed to King Edward III but realistically it was Mortimer who was in charge at this point in proceedings.

 

Things looked as though they were improving with the appointment of a new prioress, Joan Touchet, and custodians who could make the books balance. However the priory was still struggling seven years later. Joan was still in charge in 1349 but she died that year. It was the year of the Black Death.

 

After this time the nunnery seems to have ticked along without cause for concern. A possible reason for this could well have been the charter from Henry IV granting the nuns payment of one hundred shillings every year from the town of Nottingham. Another reason could well have been the fact that it was Derbyshire’s only nunnery so it had the monopoly on educating the daughters of Derbyshire’s leading lights.

 

Things start to look uncertain for King’s Mead with the reign of Henry VI. The County History reveals the tale of the abbot of Burton demanding the back payment of twenty-one years rent. The prioress, a lady called Isabel de Stanley wasn’t having any of it:

 

Wenes these churles to overlede me or sue the law agayne me ? They shall not be so hardy but they shall avye upon their bodies and be nailed with arrowes; for I am a gentlewoman comen of the greatest of Lancashire and Cheshire; and that they shall know right well.

 

With hind sight, it may have been a bit of a foolish thing for the abbot of Burton to do though he can’t have known that Henry VI would end up murdered in the Tower or that the only Lancastrian claimant left standing would be the  step son of one Thomas Stanley. The name Stanley should be ringing bells by now! The prioress was related to Thomas Stanley who just so happened to be Margaret Beaufort’s husband and she of course just so happened to be Henry Tudor’s mother…

 

Not that being cosy with the Tudors was something that would serve future prioresses of King’s Mead very well. The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, identifies Joan Curzon as prioress and gives the annual value of King’s Mead as £18 6s. 2d. and that the priory was in debt. The nuns of King’s Mead had already had a bit of a shock before the arrival of the visitors. The year before a fake visitor called James Billingford, who claimed to be the queen’s cousin arrived to inspect the barns. He was shown to be a fraud but it wasn’t long before Layton and Legh, Cromwell’s unfunny double act, arrived to poke into King’s Mead’s shady corners. They found nothing apart from a fragment of Thomas of Canterbury’s shirt which was venerated by the pregnant ladies of Derby. Interestingly, despite being the only nunnery in Derbyshire King’s Mead was not given a stay of execution. Perhaps the Prioress didn’t know that Cromwell was open to financial gifts or perhaps the sisters couldn’t afford to pay. In any event the nunnery was suppressed in 1536.

 

In 1541 the site fell into the ownership of the Fifth Earl of Shrewsbury and by the nineteenth century nothing remained apart from the name Nun Street.

 

 

 

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Sir John Gell – Parliamentarian

Sir_John_Gell_original.jpgOne of the things I like about the summer is the opportunity to get sidetracked, which is exactly what I’ve done in this post. I mentioned in my last post that Sir John Gell besieged Royalists holed up in Lichfield Cathedral in March 1643. John Gell was born at Hopton Hall, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire. Hopton Hall today is known for its snowdrops, its roses and its undulating crinklecrankle garden walls.

The Gells were a wealthy family with their flocks of sheep and lead mines. John was born in 1593. Shortly after John’s birth his father died and his mother Millicent, pregnant with John’s brother Thomas, married John Curzon of Kedleston Hall. In addition to John’s younger brother Millicent also provided a half-brother rather confusingly also called John. Gell raised at Kedleston followed the career path of a young gentleman of his era. He went to university but did not take a degree. He married into the local gentry and then proceeded to create a family and get a reputation for womanizing. He is recorded as saying that he never meddled with women unless they were handsome! No one thought to ask his wife her opinion on the subject nor did it seem to interfere with Gell’s Presbyterianism.

 

Our story really starts in 1635 when Gell was appointed sheriff of Derbyshire and given the unpleasant task of collecting Charles I’s ship money. This tax was usually raised in coastal locations to build, outfit and crew ships to fend off pirates….there isn’t much call for sea-going vessels in Derbyshire which rather explains why Charles I’s little wheeze to raise taxes without having to call a Parliament caused consternation across the country. Gell collected the money in Derbyshire rather enthusiastically. It caused huge resentment not least when Sir John Stanhope was charged twenty-four pounds ship money which he refused to pay. Stanhope happened to be the brother of the Earl of Chesterfield. This together with some earlier cause for dislike resulted in a long-standing feud between Gell with Sir John Stanhope and his brother the earl of Chesterfield.

 

Gell became a baronet in January 1642 presumably for his efficient way with the collection of taxes but supported Parliament on the outbreak of civil war when the king raised his standard in Nottingham that same year. It might be possible that it wasn’t religion that caused Gell to side with Parliament, or his connection with Parliamentarian inclined Derby (as a general rule of thumb, to which there are exceptions, towns tended to be more Parliamentarian in outlook whilst the countryside was more Royalist). What else could it be? Well, it could have been concern that Parliament might have wanted a word about those pesky ship taxes or it could have been the fact that the Stanhopes declared for the king – and Gell, if you recall, did not like the Stanhopes one little bit.

 

Gell threw himself into his new role when he was commissioned by the Earl of Essex to secure Derbyshire for Parliament. He went to Hull where he took charge of a company of London volunteers. They returned with Gell to Derby which became a center for infantry and cavalry regiments. Unfortunately, Derby had no castle or walls. It was Gell who ordered the construction of defensive earthworks.

 

One of the first things that Gell did was to order the siege of Bretbey House – it was owned by Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield. More famously he also besieged Wingfield Manor but by then he had settled his squabble with Stanhope. Lord Chesterfield took Lichfield for the king in 1643. Gell and his men joined Lord Brooke there in March. Brooke was killed early in the siege so Gell took over command and when the Royalists surrendered a few days later, the rank and file were permitted to leave without their weapons but Philip Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield was dispatched to London in chains where he remained in captivity until his death in 1656.

 

Many of the Royalists who were allowed to march away from Lichfield sought a new army to join. They made for Stafford which was at that time in Royalist hands under the command of the earl of Northampton.  Gell joined forces with Sir William Bereton of Cheshire. The resulting battle at Hopton Heath near Stafford which has nothing to do with Hopton in Derbyshire was indecisive but the Earl of Northampton was killed.

 

Gell now did something that would earn him the lasting enmity of Charles I. Gell asked for the artillery that he had lost at Hopton Heath to be returned. He also asked the earl’s son for the money that Gell had laid out to have the earl embalmed. Both requests were declined. In response, Gell who had removed the earl’s body from the battlefield had Northampton’s body paraded through the streets of Derby before it was buried.

 

The following year, and after the death of his first wife in October 1644, he married Mary Stanhope, the widow Sir John Stanhope. The marriage was swiftly dissolved. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether that was a match made in Heaven.

 

Gell seems to have become a steadily more  loose canon after 1644. He appointed his friends and family to important positions; allowed his troops to plunder and ignored Fairfax’s order that his troops should join with Fairfax at Naseby. His actions were so suspicious that Parliament believed that Gell was thinking of changing his allegiance. This thought was probably also voiced the following year at the siege of Tutbury Castle when Gell offered different, and rather more lenient, surrender terms than those offered by his fellow commander – Bereton who you will recall had been with Gell at the Battle of Hopton Heath.

 

Rather bizarrely Gell tried to gain a pardon for his role in the war from Charles I during his imprisonment at Carisbrooke Castle by offering to lend him £900 in gold.  In 1650, he was found guilty of plotting against the Commonwealth. Charles II planned to return to his kingdom via Scotland but wanted to be sure of having an army to command.  His council wanted to ensure that parliament didn’t know where the king was going to pop up.   Blank commissions were sent secretly to England with a view to raising divisions of men but the Commonwealth tracked many of these commissions and in so doing unearthed more than one royalist sympathiser. Gell was lucky not to be hanged like the unfortunate Dr Lewen who was found with several of these commissions. Instead, Gell was imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1652 when he was freed. He lived in London rather than returning to Derbyshire.

 

Charles II pardoned him for his role in the civil war and granted him a position at court, where he remained until his death in October 1671. His body was returned to Derbyshire. He is buried in Wirksworth.

 

 

Brighton, Trevor (2004) Sir John Gell. Oxford DNB.

Stone, Brian (1992) Derbyshire in the Civil War. Cromford: Scarthin Books

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