The north front of Osberton Hall, c1905.
The south front of Osberton Hall, c1905.

IN giving a short chronological account of the history of Osberton, I must first mention that a pot containing 940 bronze Roman coins,1 of the reigns of the Emperors of the Constantine family, dating about A.D. 340, or thereabouts, from the Mints of Rome, Lyons, Aries, Treves, and Amiens, was found whilst trenching the ground to plant a belt of trees along the north side of the Retford and Worksop turnpike road, near the third milestone from Worksop, on 21 December, 1835. The road had then been straightened, and the park carried up to it. The coins are now in a glass case at Osberton. I may mention that the turnpike road just alluded to was the first upon which MacAdam's principle was tried, and I suppose it was one of the last upon which a coach (that from Gainsborough to Worksop and Eckington) ran.

Osberton is mentioned in Domesday, which tells us that in Osbernestune, of the land of the Thanes, before the Conquest, were two manors, which Elwine and Ulviet had, and there was one carucate of land to be taxed. The land was sufficient for four ploughs (four carucates).

At the time of Domesday, Swan and Ulviet held of the King (William I.) and had there five sokemen having four ploughs (or carucates), and a church and twenty acres of meadow. Wood pasture six quarentens long, three broad. In the Confessor's time, the value was sixty shillings ; in the Conqueror's, ten shillings.

Later (i.e. temp. Hen. 3), we find that the whole town of Osberton was held by Malvesinus de Hercy of the Countess of Augi, or Eu (the then representative of the Busli2 or Builli family, whose ancestor, Roger de Busli, had obtained so many manors in this neighbourhood, 174 in number, being the best part of ninety townships, and whose strongholds were at Tickhill and Blyth), and he held it by the service that he should be her dispenser or steward, and the heirs of Alfreton had the land, and defended it by such service.

Robert Fitz Ranulph de Alfreton (with the consent of William, his heir) gave the church of Osberton to God and the church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert at Radford.3 William de Alfreton, the son, confirmed his father's gift, and so also did his son, Robert, that of his grandfather. Walter, Archbishop of York, appropriated it. Thomas de Chaworth, representative, through his mother, of the Alfreton family, confirmed the gifts and confirmations which his maternal ancestors had made, viz.: the gift of Robert Fitz Ranulph of the church with its appurtenances, and the confirmation of William, his son, and of Robert, son of William, together with the land which the said Robert, son of the said William de Alfreton, grandfather of him, Thomas de Chaworth, quit-claimed lying between Appelhayheved and the Wood of Osberton, which land was formerly in contention between the said Robert and Robert de Pyckburn, sometime Prior of Wyrkesop, and there was also a fine levied of this Advowson, 47 Hen. 3 (1263) between Thomas de Chaworth and John, Prior of Wyrksop.

Thomas de Chaworth, Lord of Osberton, gave and granted to the said Prior and Convent, that way in Osberton which lay between the churchyard of the same town on the west, and the manor of the Prior and Convent of Worksop on the east, and stretched itself in length from the south corner of the said churchyard to the north corner. Roger de Osberton, temp. Hen. 3, held a knight's fee of the Honor of Tickhill. Thomas de Chaworth, in 3 E. 3, 1330, claimed free warren in his demesne lands at Marnham, Edwalton, and Osberton. Thomas Dynham, Gent., in 31 H. 8 (1539), claimed against Johane Fitzwilliam, widow, the third part of the manors of Marnham and Osberton and appurtenances, &c., and the third part of the manors of Alfreton and Norton, in Derbyshire, all which had continued long to the family of Chaworth, of which the said Johane was a coheir. King Henry VIII. (on 3 July, 32 Hen. 8, 1540) granted Osberton Grange, lying in Osberton, in the parish of Worksop (though not anciently so, as has been shewn) to Robert Dighton, Esq., and his heirs, together with Graveslane in Oxton, Hardwick Grange, and Hardwick Wood, late belonging to the Priory of Worksop, paying for the lands in Oxton, 2s; for Osberton Grange, 7s; and land in Hardwick, 9s 5d. Robert Dighton, on 12 August, 32 Hen. 8 (1540), had licence to alienate Hardwick Grange and Wood, and all houses, buildings, and hereditaments in Osberton, Hardwick, and Worksop belonging to it, to Richard Whalley4 and his heirs ; and all messuages, lands, and tenements in Oxton and Osberton Grange, and the houses, &c., in Osberton, Hardwick, and Worksop, to William Bolles and his heirs. This William Bolles was son of William Bolles, of Wortham, in Suffolk, who was a younger son of the family of Bolles, of Haugh, in Lincolnshire. His first wife, Margaret, daughter of Avery Rawson, of Essex, having died issueless, he married, secondly, Lucy, widow of John Petyt, and daughter and heir of John Watts, of London, by Alice, daughter of Richard Gate, and had two sons—Benjamin, of whom presently, and Bonaventure, who died without issue. His second wife, Lucy, dying in March, 1560-1, was buried at Worksop, 16th March, 1560-1, and her husband, William Bolles, of Osberton, married a third wife, Agnes, who died on 2 Nov., 1569. He survived and died on 2 March, 1582, and was succeeded at Osberton by his son and heir, Benjamin.

Benjamin Bolles, of Osberton, married Anne, daughter of Lyon Goodricke, of Kirkby, in Lincolnshire, and had issue: Thomas Bolles, his successor, William, Winifred (who died young), Mary (who married Thomas Lockwood), and Winifred.

On the death of Benjamin Bolles, his eldest son, Thomas Bolles succeeded to Osberton, and he recorded the pedigree at the Visitation of 1614. He married, first, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Perkins, of Fishlake, co. York, and had four sons and three daughters. He married, secondly, Mary, widow of Thomas Jobson, of Cudworth, co. York, Esq., and daughter of William Witham, of Ledstone, co. York. By this lady he had issue two daughters. She was created, by King Charles I. in 1635, a Baronetess, as Dame Mary Bolles, of Osberton, with remainder to her heirs male, this being the only instance of a baronetcy being conferred upon a lady. She had had issue by her first husband, Thomas Jobson, who had died in or about 1607, a daughter, Elizabeth, married to Thomas Sherbrooke, of Oxton, co. Notts., and a son, Thomas Jobson, who was twice married, but who died before her, so at her death, on 5 May, 1662, she was succeeded in the baronetcy by her only surviving grandson, William, who only survived her three years, leaving, by his wife Lucy, daughter of Henry Tindal, of Brotherton, an only surviving daughter, Lucy, who was heiress of Cudworth, and who married Robert Ridgeway, fourth Earl of Londonderry, and had a son and two daughters. The son, Lord Galen-Ridgeway, and one daughter dying without issue, the remaining daughter, Lady Frances, became sole representative of the Jobson family, and married Thomas Pitt, who was created Earl of Londonderry in 1726.

But to return to the Bolles family. On the death of Thomas Bolles, the husband of Dame Mary, her stepson, his eldest surviving son by his first wife, Samuel, succeeded him at Osberton. Samuel Bolles was baptized at Worksop on 12 January, 1600-1, and his name appears repeatedly in the Worksop registers, marriages taking place before him, as a Magistrate, during the Commonwealth period. By his first wife, Martha, he had three sons and five daughters. His wife dying in January, 1648-9, he married, secondly, Elizabeth Foster. His sons died young or unmarried, and his eldest daughter, Mary, who was married at Worksop, 12 April, 1659, to William Leek, son of Herbert Leek, of Halam, co. Notts., inherited Osberton. William Leek (or rather his representatives) exchanged Osberton for part of Stow Park, in Lincolnshire, in September, 1682, with John Thornhagh, Esq., of Fenton, in the parish of Sturton, co. Notts., who acquired it as a winter residence, and whose descendants have ever since possessed it.

John Thornhagh was the son of Colonel Francis Thornhagh, of Fenton, M.P. for Retford, who raised a regiment of horse for the Parliament, and was killed in the fight at Preston in Lancashire, on 18 August, 1648, aged thirty, and of Elizabeth, his wife, second daughter and coheiress of John St. Andrew, Esq., of Gotham, co. Notts. John Thornhagh, who was born 1647, was M.P. for East Retford, 1689 to 1704, and for Nottinghamshire from 1704 to 1710. He married, at Straggle-thorpe, in the parish of Beckingham, Lincolnshire, on Thursday fortnight before Michaelmas day, 1670, Elizabeth, daughter and eventually heir at law of Sir Richard Earle, first Bart., of Stragglethorpe, but the Earle property was left away by her nephew to his mother's family, the Welbys. Their son and heir, St. Andrew Thornhagh, born at Fenton, 31 March, 1674, succeeded to Osberton and Fenton, and married Letitia, daughter and coheiress of Sir Edward Ayscough, of South Kelsey and Stallingborough, both in Lincolnshire, which former estate she brought into the family. Their son, John Thornhagh, married, at St. Anne's Church, Soho, Westminster, 23 July, 1744, Arabella, elder sister of Sir George Savile, 8th Bart., of Rufford and Thornhill, and their daughter became a coheir to her uncle. This John Thornhagh was M.P. for Nottinghamshire for twenty-seven years, from 1747 to 1774, and received the thanks of the county for his services when he retired. He was president of the Nottinghamshire Club on the occasion of the dinner at the "Star and Garter," in Pall Mall on the night of the 26 January, 1765, when the unfortunate bet and quarrel between Lord Byron and Mr. Wm. Chaworth led to the duel and the death of the latter, and he was in consequence the principal witness at the trial of Lord Byron by the House of Lords in Westminster Hall on 16 and 17 April, 1765. Mr. Thornhagh had succeeded, under the will of Sir Thomas Hewett, to his estate of Shireoaks, in the parish of Worksop, and some two miles to the west of that town. He took the name of Hewett, and made Shireoaks Park his residence, his unmarried sisters living at Fenton Hall, the old family home, which has since been pulled down, whilst Osberton was let to various tenants—to Mr. Robert Ramsden, (fourth son of Sir William Ramsden, second Baronet), who lived here from 1746 till his death in February, 1769, as did his son, Robert Ramsden, till he purchased Carlton, 1777, and it was afterwards let to Lord Monson.

At Mr. Thornhagh-Hewett's death, on 17 May, 1787, Osberton, and his other estates at Fenton, South Kelsey, &c., passed to his daughter, Mary Arabella, who had married, at St. George's, Hanover Square, London, 30 June, 1774, Francis Ferrand Foljambe, Esq., of Aldwark, co. York, who was M.P. for Yorkshire in 1784 after the resignation, shortly before his death, of Sir George Savile, and afterwards for Higham Ferrers from 1801 to 1807.

Window glass

After making considerable alterations at Aldwark, Mr. Foljambe determined, after his first wife's death in 1790, to make Osberton his residence, and with that object added very considerably to the house between 1798 and 1800, and made the lake, enlarging an older pond that had been in front of Scofton Hall, and extending it up to the north front at Osberton. During the alterations to the house, some fragments of stained glass5 were found. He also sold several outlying estates at this time, the last of the Foljambe Derbyshire property, the estates at Steeton, in Yorkshire, South Kelsey, in Lincolnshire, and the Irish estates in co. Fermanagh, which, with Brierley, had come to his wife under her uncle, Sir George Savile's will, and he added considerably to the Osberton estate by purchasing Scofton, with Rayton, in 1800, from the Suttons, and Bilby in 1801 from the Vanes, and shortly afterwards, in 1807, part of the Hodsock estate of the Mellish family, viz., Fleecethorpe and Hodsock Millhouse. He married, secondly, in 1792, Lady Mary Arabella Lumley, first cousin of his first wife, and lived at Osberton till his death 13 Nov., 1814, when his grandson, the late George Savile Foljambe, succeeded him. Being a minor, he continued to live at Bilby Hall with his mother, who had moved there from Aldwark after her husband's death in 1805, but on attaining his majority in 1821 he came to Osberton, which was his home till his death in 1869. He was High Sheriff of Notts, in 1826, and contested North Notts, in the Liberal interest at the General Election of 1837, but was defeated by Mr. Gaily Knight and Mr. Houldsworth. He had married, at Bolton Percy, co. York, 9 December, 1829, Harriet Emily Mary, eldest daughter, by his second wife, of Sir William Mordaunt Sturt Milner, fourth Bart., of Nunappleton, co. York. She died 28 December, 1830, leaving an only child, Francis John Savile Foljambe, the present representative of the family. Mr. Foljambe built (in memory of his first wife) a church or private chapel, just across the ornamental water from Osberton, on the site of Scofton Hall, which had been pulled down some thirty years previously, but of which a small portion of the offices remained until then. This church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York in 1833. It was a private chapel until 1876, when the present Mr. Foljambe had it constituted a separate parish, the boundary of which coincides with his estate, it being taken from the parishes of Worksop, Babworth, Blyth, and Carlton.

The late Mr. Foljambe was for forty-four years (from 1822 to 1866) the owner of a celebrated pack of foxhounds.

He married, secondly, 28 August, 1845, at Wentworth Woodhouse (in the private chapel in the house) Selina Charlotte Viscountess Milton, widow of William Charles Viscount Milton, and daughter and coheir (the eldest to leave issue) of Charles Cecil Cope, third and last Earl of Liverpool, who was also third Lord Hawkesbury, which title has been revived in favour of her eldest son.

By his second marriage Mr. Foljambe had three sons and four daughters, of whom two sons and three daughters survived him. He made additions to the house at Osberton in the years 1847-1848, adding a kitchen wing and throwing out a bay in the east front of the older part of the house, and raising the roof of that part, and he threw together three rooms on the ground floor which he made into a museum, in which he placed the almost unique collection of British birds begun by his predecessor and continued by him, and also the many other objects of interest which he and his predecessor had collected, both of natural history, birds' eggs, butterflies, moths, and other insects, and botanical and geological collections, with other curiosities. Amongst other things is a Roman altar found in the Trent at Littleborough on his estate there, where the Roman road from Lincoln to Doncaster crossed that river. Also the carved altar piece from Beau-chief Abbey, representing the murder of Thomas-a-Becket, which was apparently the gift of Sir Godfrey Foljambe, who lived in the time of Edward III., and who was seneschal to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Constable of Peak Castle, for it has his arms and those of his wife, Avena Ireland, upon it. He also, at a later date, about 1866, made a terrace on the north and east sides of the house. The present owner of Osberton has added very considerably to the house between the years 1872 and 1880, building out a large drawing room and library with rooms over them to the north towards the lake,6 and throwing together the old drawing room and staircase hall, making a large central hall, in which he has placed the collection of British birds. He represented East Retford and the Hundred of Bassetlaw in Parliament from 1857 to 1885, and in 1895 was made a Privy Councillor. He married, in 1856, Lady Gertrude Emily Acheson, eldest daughter of the third Earl of Gosford, by whom he has three sons.

1. N.B.—In December, 1802, some Roman coins had been found on Mr. Mason's estate about two miles east of Osberton and near the ancient Roman road to the North.
2. N.B.—The meadow near the river at Worksop is still known as the Bustings
3. i.e. Worksop, Radford being a portion of Worksop.
4. Richard Whalley was of Screveton, and had had a grant of Welbeck Abbey.
5. One piece of glass has a bird's head upon it, apparently a crest, the other piece is part of a diamond-shaped pane of yellow glass (see opposite page), on which is s portion of the Bolles pedigree, shewing its date to have been the seventeenth century, and therefore not in any way connected with the former church, which seems to have disappeared in the time of Henry VIII. Human bones were found at the time of the alterations in 1800, and it is said that a blacksmith's shop, on the site of the present offices, had in its walls stones which appear to have formed part of the church, and mention is also made of a font being there at that time.
6. Whilst digging the foundations for extending the house towards the lake, two skeletons were found.