The Parish

Low Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield, c.1910.
Low Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield, c.1910.

The Town and Parish of Sutton-in-Ashfield is situated on the extreme West of Mid-Nottinghamshire on a range of the highest hills in the County, that on Coxmoor being 623 feet above sea level while in its Hamlet of Huthwaite a hill rises to 651, the highest in the county. It is at the head of the river Idle which flows through the middle of the town, while the Mam that either gives or takes its name from the town of Mansfield1 runs across it from S.W. to N.E.

It is in latitude 53° 6' 44" North, and 1° 15' 45" longitude W. of Greenwich. It is 3 miles S.W. of Mansfield, and 14 miles N. of Nottingham. It is the N. part of the Hundred of Broxtowe (the place of the Badger), a division of the county that in Anglo Saxon times contained a hundred families or freemen. As its name indicates it is the South town from Mansfield of which great Manorial Court or Soc. it was a member or Berne.

It derives its additional name of 'in Ashfield' from the fact that owing to the Geological formation of the Magnesian Limestone lying so near to the surface only those trees that spread their roots could thrive; and when the great Shire wood covered this part of the county Ash trees that spread their roots abounded, and are the principal trees today.

From its suffix 'ton' it is clearly an Anglo Saxon settlement, 'ton' meaning a place fenced round, or an enclosure, differing from the Norse word Thwaite—a forest clearing, or the Danish By—an abode. Many Anglo-Saxon names are still preserved in the parish, Ric or Rice Lane leading to Kirkby, meaning a District and not a Highway is so marked on the Award Map of 1801. The path to Skegby and Stanton Hill ran through fields known as Langford 'Wongs,' fields once the property of the Langfords.

The neighbouring lane bears the name of 'Carsic' which is derived from two Anglo Saxon words 'Carr,' a rock or wet meadow, and 'Sic' a furrow or water course, the same stream running parallel to a road named Stoneyford. It takes the name of Priestsic owing to its flowing at the foot of the ancient Priests croft, and gives its name to the road or lane.

On the road to Huthwaite a field now covered by Douglas road was known as Hatchet Holmes, from Acer, a field, and Holm, a mound.

A road known as Willow bridge derives its name from Wille—a spring, and Bricg—a bridge; Oddicroft lane running from Forest road to Kirkby Hardwick is, in all probability the croft or field of Odda, and as up to 1894 it was attached to the hamlet of Huthwaite, Odda may have been a relative of Huc. The S.W. end of Outram Street was originally known as 'Tenter' lane, from 'Thane'—a lord: it led to the lord's mill, and to his 10½ acres of land in Sutton-Shawe, or Wood.

Traces of early occupation are few but highly interesting. In A.D. 1892 Mr. Walter Straw, preparing a foundation at the bottom of St. Michael's Street, discovered eight skeletons, one lying E to W. surrounded by seven others with their feet towards him. All were lying on the top of the limestone, and although the bones triturated on being handled, the skull of the one in the centre was intact and has been preserved by the efforts of the late Dr. Mitchell and the writer. It was submitted with a sketch plan of the graves to the authorities of the British Museum who declared it to be of the Neo-lithic age, probably 3000 years before the present Era.

In the year 1930 Mr. Albert Walton discovered in his garden at the top of Bathwood Drive a silver denarius in a fine state of preservation, dating from B.C. 91 with a profile of Caius Claudius Pulcher on the obverse and a winged Victory on the reverse.

An escarpment known as Hamilton hill2 probably derives its name from Hamil Dun, a hill fortified by Hamil.

The ancient Hamlet of Hucknall under Huthwaite, once (1930) a separate township whose history is bound up in that of Sutton-in-Ashfield, derives its long and peculiar name from several sources: Huck —incga—hall is probably the stone residence of the descendants of Hue, Huth, or How3 is from a Norse word for a hill, and Thwaite a clearing in a forest. Its peculiarity arises from the stone house of an Anglo Saxon lying under the hill of a Norse clearing.

Whiteborough lying N. of Huthwaite derives its name from 'hwit'—white, and 'burh'—a fort, or 'Beorh,' a hill, all of Ang. Sax. origin. 'Bearw' meaning a high place, from which 'barrow'—a mound raised over graves is derived has a suggestiveness, but after much search no traces of any such are to be found. No traces of any Norman work such as Castles or religious houses are to be found, except in the parish Church, and a description of them will be found in the chapter dealing with it. In the great Survey of England made by William the Conqueror, about A.D. 1084 it states that "In Mamesfeld, Schegebi and Sutone King Edward had 3 Carucates (300 acres) of land and 6 bovates (90 acres?) assessed to the geld (taxable)—Land for 9 plows. There the king has 2 plows in demesne and 5 sochmen, 35 villeins (not free men) and 20 bordars as labourers. There are 2 churches and 2 Priests." Sutton being the largest parish in the Manor, except Mansfield itself, and being the lordship of the king, with remains of a church of that period, it is more than probable that one of the churches and a Priest were at Sutton. An Inquisition held A.D. 1279 states that the manor was in the hands of the king; and in the Testa de Neville in the reign of Edward II it is stated that Sutton-in-A and Hucknall were a whole villa (town) being of the ancient demesne of the Crown, except the fourth part which Jordan of the same held of the king and not Gildable (i.e. not liable to tax). This was a great privilege at that period no doubt due to the overlordship of the king. This overlordship of the king, however, overshadowed the family of Sutton which was resident and to-day no trace of this family exists except in the Church, a family that at one time or another or in one place or another made itself so famous and so useful.

We have an interesting list of the names of tenants of the Manor of Mansfield in Rentals and Surveys. Roll 537 P.R.O. taken 23 Edwd. I (A.D. 1295) which gives those of Sutton, as follows :—

The proportion of Sutton for certain Rents (firma) per annum £14s. 7d.. viz. :

s. d. s. d.
From Hugh of Sneyton 7 Henry s. of Walter 2 7
Adam the clerk 3 0 Robert Hervy 3 0
Walter son of Randolph 3 2 Geoffrey s. of Rose 4 3
Henry son of Walter 5 0 John on the Green 6 3
Peter the smith 6 1 Roger Munde 3 0
Hugh son of Robert 4 2 John s. of Roger 4 1
Robert Hastolf 3 0 Robert Fraunceys 2 6
Robert Tybote 2 6 Hugh Hare 2 2
Richard s. of Robert 7 0 Walter Tybote 6 6
Henry of Wynkburne 5 2 Walter Hastolfe 4 2
John s. of Hugh 4 3 John Munde 3 0
Robert Spede 2 3 Thomas the Taylleur 4 1
John Hervy 2 Hugh s. of Robert 5 1
William the clerke 2 3 Thomas the Wakeman 2 6
William of Newton 2 0 Henry s. of William 3 1
John s. of Ralph 1 8 Randolph le Westreys 7 1
John s. of Walter 4 1 William Hunder Wode 9 0
Walter on the Green 4 1 William le Harpur 2 6
Robert s. of Robert 3 1 Roger of Weytebrigge 5 0
William Pole 2 3

From this remarkable record of the inhabitants of Sutton more than six centuries ago it is probable that the population would be about 400. The description of Adam and William as Clerks is interesting. Adam was the Parson of the Church, and William being almost certainly a son of the family of Sutton was the Priest of the Chantry recently founded by his father Gerard de Sutton at the E. end of the S. Aisle.

The Tailor, the Smith, the Watchman help to fill in the picture of village life in the middle ages. John son of Jordan de Sutton recently dead paid his proportion direct at the Manorial Court at Mansfield in which list his name appears, who paid 28/-, John de Sutton paying 14/-. It will be observed that surnames were far from common.

An indication of the fact that as early as A.D. 1199 affairs in Sutton were sometimes in need of adjustment is that we find in the Rotuti Curia Regis an action at law between Walter of Skegby and Gilbert of Sutton concerning a parcel of land held by Elias de Hodeshac. The decision is not however attached. In the Inquisitions and Assessments to Feudal Aids made in 1284 and 1315 for the Wajuntake of Brokelstowe "Sutton super Asshefeld respondet pro una villa. Rex est dominus" (i.e. S. in A: answered for one town. The king is lord). Grants were being made of the Manor of Mansfield to John Comyn and then to Queen Isabella, but this Grant did not include the Manor lands of Sutton for in an Inquisition Ad. Quod Damnum (i.e. an enquiry as to whether any damage would be done to the king) held 15, Ed, II (1322) the Jury said it would not be to the king's loss if John de Sutton clerk was allowed to part two thirds of his manor of S. in A. and the reversion of the other third, now held by Ralph de Belesby and Isabella his wife as the dower of the said Isabel, to John son of John de Sutton, Avice his wife and the heirs of their bodies, retaining land at Snitterton.

We have a most interesting record of this time in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Mansfield in a.d. 1316 transcribed by the late Mr. R. W. Goulding, the custodian of the muniments at Welbeck Abbey. It is as follows: Thursday next after St. William, Archbishop of York. It was presented by the frank-pledges of Sutton, that John son of Walter s. of Henry de Sutton raised hue and cry upon Roger son of the same and because John does not prosecute his plaint therefore he is in mercy 6d. Pledges John Hervy and William Shepherd of Sutton. The frankpledges of Sutton-in-A. present that William de Hothweyt drew blood from Roger son of William Leuwys of Normanton. Therefore he is in mercy. To be distrained. Pledges concerning the blood Robert de Hothweyt and Robert Deyne. Thursday before the Feast of St. Peter. Robert Spede of Hokenhale was slain. Comes William son of William de Sutton as next of blood and makes relief for the paying the largest amount except that of the parish priest tenements of the aforesaid Robert. Pledges for the relief Henry Teel of Sutton and William Wodeman of Mansfield. Hugh de Holbrook of Sutton plaintiff offerred. himself against Peter son of Peter Smith in a plea of trespass who was distrained by a certain meadow, and the meadow was taken into the hands of the lord the king, and the said Robert mowed the said meadow and carried it away by night. Therefore precept is issued that the meadow be kept in the hands of the lord the King and that he be distrained by everything whereby he can be distrained. Richard Shoemaker of Sutton in A. plaintiff offerred himself against Philip Shoemaker of Kirkbie on the ground that the Monday after the Feast of St. Luke in the present year he insulted the same Richard with monstrous words saying that he stole one pair of shoes from the house of Walter son of Emma de Sutton to the damage of the said Richard 20/- and he has suit. Philip comes and says he is in no wise guilty and he prays Inquisition as to this. Therefore there is an Inquisition which says that Philip is not guilty. Therefore the aforesaid Robert and his Pledges to wit Robert Hervey of Sutton and Ralph s. of Roger of the same are in mercy 6d.

From these records it is seen that the Manorial Court was a Court of Justice corresponding to the Petty Sessional Court of today.

The following extracts from the Records are given to illustrate the fact that life in the parish was full of activity and change. The names of many inhabitants are preserved therein. In the Close Rolls at the Public Record Office is an account of the security given John of Hustwayt 4 May 1296 before Walter de Langton as executor of the Will of Roger de Insula late keeper of the king's great Wardrobe. The De Insulas were an important family with a manor at Kirkby Woodhouse while Langton's manor is still known by that name at Kirkby.

In the Patent Rolls of 1341 Alice Freeman had a house and 15 acres of land in Hokenhale and 4 March 1346 John de Montfort (and John le Whyte of Hedon) and Maud his wife had licence to enfeoff William Montford and J. le Whyte of a messuage and land held direct from the king and for them to grant the same to Thomas Merseley.

At the Assizes at Nottingham, 1355, John son of Hugh Cole recovered possession of the house, 120 acres of land and 20/- in Hothewayte Hokenhale, and William son of John Cole was amerced.

In 1367 Rieus de la Vache held houses and land at Sutton-in-A. as shown in an Inq. Post Mortem 40 Ed. III. In 1369 Elizabeth daughter and heiress of Nicholas Meynil wife of Peter de Male Lacu first wife of John Darcy held land at Hothwite.

It will be seen from these extracts that the licence of the king had to be obtained for any transfer of land and an official called an Escheator, generally a man of importance, was appointed to summon a Jury and make enquiry as to its expediency, and further to secure that after death the lawful heir should have seisin, or possession. On 16 Dec. 1318 John de Sutton holding lands beyond Trent was empowered to raise and arm all his men. Further reference to his family will be found in its history.

In the Patent Rolls A.D. 1322 Thomas de Mureslee had licence to retain a messuage and land at Sutton in A. acquired from Roger de Somerville who bought them of John de Sutton. By a fine 20 Ed. III (1347) they were settled on Thomas de Merseley and Agnes his wife. In 1388 Licences for 10/- paid to the king by John Swettenham of Sutton in A. for John Montfort and Matilda his wife to enfeoff him and Agnes his wife of a messuage, bovate and acre of meadow. In the Pat. Rolls of 1391 pardon for 6s. 8d. paid to the king by John Whitebrest of S. in A. of the trespass committed on divers alienations of a messuage and 16 acres of land at S. in A. Notts, and in the entry thereon of divers persons without licence it being found by Inquisition taken before John de Briggeford late Escheator in that County that John Maltster of Sutton deceased held the premises in his demesne as of fee by the service of £12 a year and two appearances at the king's two great Courts of Mansfield in lieu of all services save foreign service, that William Penflax, chaplain, by virtue of a feoffment made after the death of John Maltster entered on the premises and received the profits for 7 years and the said John Whitebrest as the heir of the said John Maltster entered thereon and received the profits for one year and by another Inquisition taken before Thomas de Newton, escheator, it was found that the said John is the son of the said Thomas Whitebrest, brother of the said John Maltster. From this it appears that John was a Maltster, that his real name was Whitebrest, and it is an illustration of the way in which surnames arose. In 1394 Pardon was granted to Thomas John Whitebrest for half a mark paid into the hanaper (the name of a Court in Chancery) for trespass on account of which the messuage and 18 acres of land with meadow in Sutton-in-A held by him of the king in chief were taken into the king's hands namely because alienated by him without licence . . . . with licence to grant the same to John Samon of Kirkeby in Ashfield.

The Jury 40 Ed. III (1367) returned it not to the kings loss if he granted licence to Percivall Penfax to have to him and his heirs one Messuage and 20 acres of land in Sutton-in-A. and the Manor of Skegby by which the said Percivall Penfax purchased from William Penfax, son and heir of Richard Penfax who died 38 Ed. III.

The Jury 6 Ed. III (1333) found it no loss if the king granted to John de Sutton of Ashfield clerk that he might give 10½ acres of waste in Sutton held of the king by 5s. 3d. yearly to the Exchequer to Robert de Henoure of Sutton and his heirs male : remainder to Alianor daughter to the said Robert and heirs, remainder to Beatrix her sisters and heirs, remainder to John son of Jordan de Sutton and Avicia his wife and heirs male for want thereof to revert to the said John. In the Patent Rolls 1388 License for ten shillings paid to the king by John Swettenham of Sutton in A. for John Montford and Matilda his wife to enfeoff him and Agnes his wife of a messuage 16 acres of land and half of meadow.

In 1394 License for ten shillings paid to the king by Robert Strutte of Hughtwayt for John Swettenham of S. in A. and Agnes his wife to enfeoff the said Robert and Margery his wife of the same land. From these records it appears that the great family of Sutton was breaking up its estate it having removed to Lincoln.

In the Inquis. P. M. 7 Ed. IV (1468) of Hamo de Sutton of Lincoln Merchant of the Staple (Wool) a wealthy man he was found possessed of land at Mansfield and Sutton-in-A.

In the 16th century new names appear in place of the Suttons and the Langfords. Fitzrandolph, Greenhalgh, Hardwick and Cavendish are to be found and their connection will be stated later.

National requirements at this time were met by subsidies granted by Parliament to the king and they were made and collected by local Commissioners while many landholders had not only to give their personal service, but had to provide men and arms during the campaign. The records left are scanty and are to be found in the Subsidy Rolls at the P.R.O. The earliest relating to Sutton was in 1524 and the list of those who paid is as follows : Thomas Mottram, John Bennett, Harre Daye, John Hardie, William Newton and John Street. In the Domestic State Papers of Hen. VIII, Vol. IV., is the following. Muster taken the 24 March 1539 by Sir John Willoughby, Sir Nicholas Strelley and Roger Greenhalgh (intal) as Commissioners for the Wapentake of those able to bear arms, when there were found 77 at Mansfield 29 at Kyrkbie, 9 at Skebbe, 27 at Mansfield Woodhouse, 29 at Suton in Hasheffeld, 38 at Annesley and 14 at Teversal.

Total Harnes 154 Billmen 308 Bowmen 200.

The next Subsidy Roll is much larger, and is dated 34 Hen. VIII (1543) and has the following names: William Mason, Thomas Barton, Ellis Clarke, Christopher Lyme, Thomas Vickers, Wm. Helleby, Rich. Leydbetter, Robert Bower, Elizabeth Langford, Thomas Langford, Rich. Mottram Wm. Newton, Rich. Newton, John Newton, Thos. Clarke sen. and junr., Edmund Maycock, John Mottram, Roger Mottram, Thos. Wilson, Robt. Tomson, John Tomson, Robt. Spelman, Adam Pigott, Thos. Strutt, Wm. Helleby, Jas. Tomson, Eliz. Tomson, Thos. Richardson, Wm. Thomson, Chris. Ludlam, Thos. and John Rawson, Geoff. Tomlinson, John Howarth, Edwd. Hankyn, Alice Hankyn, Wm. Smith, Jno. Dawson, John Wilkinson, Chris. Bennett. This must be a fairly exhaustive list of the inhabitants of Sutton able to pay. Another Subsidy granted in 1546 is interesting as it gives the names of those Assessed as well as the amounts paid:

  Assessed   Paid
      s. d.
John Parrott £12   8 0
Elizabeth Langford £7 10 0 5 0
Roger Mottram £7 10 0 5 0
Robert Tomson £5 12 4 3 10
Tom Tomson £5 3 4
John Brandrythe £10 6 8
Chris. Bowyer £8 5 4
Rich. Mottram £5 10 0 3 8
Adam Barker £5 3 4
John Pawson £5 3 4

The subsidy was therefore 8d. in the pound, but it does not appear why so many names from the previous list have disappeared. In a Roll of A.D. 1550 the name of John Bennett of Sutton only appears. The next Subsidy was made 13 Eliz. (1571) when Thos. Langford, Ricus Sugar, Thos. Tompson, Chris. Brandreth, and Thos. Rawson are the only names given. In 1606 3 Jas. I (1606) Edwd. and Thomas Langford Chris. Brandreth, Thos. Mottram, Humfrey Louth, Edwd. Fitzrandolph, Thos. Strutt and Ralph Mason, and in 1630 Antony and Francis Langford, Roger Brandrith—Mottram, Richard Mottram—Clay and—Osborne. In 1641 when National differences were making themselves felt (16 Chas.I) Antony Langford, John Newton, Chris. Brandreth and Francis Langford each paid 8/-. Wm. Osborne and Wm. Clay paying 16/- each. The last but one of the Rolls is dated at Mansfield, Co. Notts., 8th May 1662, two years after the restoration of the monarchy. Robt. Beresford, armiger (i.e. entitled to a coat of arms) of Arnold being the Collector, the inhabitants of Sutton-in-A, with the amounts they paid being as follows : Edward Fitzrandolph and Henry Trewman 8/- each, Antony and Francis Langford, Rich. Newton, Roger Branderith, Thos. Walston, and Reynould Clarke, each 4/-. A Subsidy 18 Chas. II (1678) gives the names of John Day and Thomas Oldham as Collectors at Sutton, but all other names are obliterated by damp. It is not to be supposed that these were all the Subsidies, but only those that are preserved and are legible in the Public Record Office. Most of the names are dealt with later on in this history, but several may be noted here.

The Newtons, who appear in 1624, 1641 and 1642, lived, in a house in Low St., now an Inn, John who died 1681 is remembered today by his benefaction of two cloth coats to be given to two poor men, not receiving grants. William Mason's name is kept in remembrance through his wife Ann who left land in 1659 for educational purposes. A descendant of the Rawsons, the Rev. William, of Seaforth was a Tutor of the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, the most popular Prime Minister 1809-1898. Humfrey Louth whose name appears in 1606 was the son of John Louth, Archdeacon of Nottingham, concerning whom Mr. Cornelius Brown points out that he was a correspondent of John Fox who wrote the Book of Martyrs. John Louth was born in Suffolk in 1519 and in 1558 came to Nottingham and 1565 Archdeacon, removing to Hawton 1574. An ardent Protestant he wrote the account of "the shameful murdering of Mr. Edmund Louthe of Sawtrey" his father. His son Humfrey settled at Sutton after his marriage to Miss Joan Langford in 1572, their marriage being the first in the Sutton Registers. He was for many years Registrar to the Court of the Archdeacon. He died and was buried at Sutton 17 June 1593. William Hosbourne or Osborne was a man of importance in 1641 judging from his Assessment and from his Will of 1646. The name has remained up to the present year (1920). Harre Day of 1524 is remembered by his descendant William who in 1716 left an endowment to the poor in Huthwaite, but now extinct.

From this period onward the history is continued in separate Chapters dealing with different aspects of civil life, and to which the reader is referred.

1 The ancient name of Mansfield in Domesday Book, and for centuries was Mamesfelde.
2 It is the Mam—breast, giving its name to Mam-field. In an ancient Map discovered at Belvoir Castle and dated by Authorities 1391, the stream running below the hill (Hamilton) and in recent times named Maun is marked ' Aqua de Mam '.
3 Howthwaite is its original name.