General (continued)

In the time of the Commonwealth, when there was anxiety to establish Puritan and Presbyterian forms in the Church, the Rector of Linby, Richard Walker, was examined at Nottingham by the Committee for the Ejection of Scandalous Ministers, and received a bad report. It must be remembered that this committee was definitely biased, and anxious to find excuse to replace priests with ministers of their own leanings. The Commonwealth Survey for the two parishes is as follows.

PAPPLEWICKE. The impropriate Rectory of Papplewicke is worth twenty pounds, now under sequestration for the delinquency of Sir John Byron, and the profits thereof are reserved for the service of the state: they having noe viccar nor viccarage at there towne, we conceive the same fitt to be annexed unto Lynby.

LYNBY. The rectory is worth forty pounds. Present rector, Richard Walker. A preaching minister, but a drunkard and a common swearer. (Victoria County History)

Possibly Walker was deprived, since in 1656 a Puritan divine, John Leighton, was serving the cure until he was silenced after the Act of Uniformity in 1660. This Leighton was one of the original members of the Classical Prebytery formed in Nottingham: and in Calamy's list of silenced ministers is described as pious but very poor.

Neither his name nor that of Will Seddon (died 1684) who is described on his wife's memorial tablet in Linby Church as Rector of Linby, finds place on the official list of Rectors. Of the other Rectors of this troubled time there is a note in the Notts. County Records (Copnall) that in 1689 Thomas Martyn took the Oaths of Allegiance. Other Rectors who achieved a certain amount of publicity were Richard de Linbie, clerk, who appeared as complainant in 1356 against Thomas le neatherd who had through neglect allowed the Rector's cattle to be impounded: the same Richard in 1379 was presented for selling ale against the Assize: In 1381 John de Sileby was committed to gaol at Newark for burglary —a robbery of 300 marks; Zephanias Saunders of Linby, clerk, in 1627 together with a "collyer" was charged with brewing ale without a licence; and in 1769 Robert Stanley, Rector, was the subject of the following advertise­ment in a Nottingham newspaper of 3rd June, 1769. (Creswell's Nottingham Journal).

This is to give notice that whereas the Rector of Lindby has for several years made a common practice of angling, lading, groping, and every other method of killing and destroying fish; and likewise of shooting in the Manors of Bulwell, Newstead, Hucknall and Blidworth: therefore whoever will detect and give information against the said Rector, to Mr. Dawes of Hucknall, shall upon conviction receive five guineas over and above what they will be entitled to by Act of Parliament. Byron. (MSS: Thoroton Soc.).

There is no doubt that during the Civil Wars both Linby and Papplewick saw many excitements: Papplewick perhaps more than Linby, since in the first place the Byrons were so heavily involved in the Royalist cause, & secondly because of its position on the main Nottingham-Mansfield road. It is known that Cromwell's men sacked Newstead in 1644, and that in 1646 a party of Hackett's men were sent to search for concealed arms there. Later, in 1659 Sir John Byron assembled a party of supporters in Sansom Wood which lies between Papplewick and Oxton; and again in 1660 Monk the Deliverer must have passed through the village on his triumphant march to London.

Mills on the Leen

James Watts' Engine, Linby Mill, 1791.

In the Domesday entry relating to Linby, a mill is mentioned, since whether a royal mill or the normal demesne mill it would rank as a taxable asset. The Lord of the Manor charged his tenants for the use of the demesne mill, and thus it was a source of revenue to him and would need recording for the purposes of valuation or taxation.

Most references to mills in Domesday refer to water-mills, and rarely is there mention of windmills. The River Leen which divides the two parishes provided the source of power for many mills in the district. Some still exist, while others have been pulled down, or converted to other purposes. Beginning at the most southerly point in the parishes and working upstream, no less than six mills can be traced in this comparatively short stretch of water. At the south there is first Forge Mill which was designed for iron work, but is now used for corn milling. The officials of this mill were of some importance, and there are two sepulchral slabs in Papplewick Church porch, bearing bellows as the insigna of trade. Blaskerville, when he was making his tour, saw this mill and gives the following description, in 1675:— From Nottingham to Mansfield is accounted twelve miles: the way leads through Sherwood Forest by a forge driven by water where with weighty hammers bigger than man can handle, they knock or beat out long bars of iron when they are made red-hot in the great forge or fire, blown by these mighty bellows. As we rode through the forest we saw many old decayed oaks, of which abundance was cut down by the Duke of Newcastle's order to make charcoal. They told me one Mr. Jennings was the Chief Master of these charcoal works.

About half a mile upstream Middle Mill is marked on the Ordnance map: this now consists of a tall bleak looking building at the end of the Hucknall-Bestwood footpath. Just over a mile and a quarter further up was Old or Grange Mill, which had one of the largest breast-wheels in the country, forty-four feet in diameter. This mill had the reputation of being the first cotton mill to be worked by the newly improved (1783) Watts engine in the year 1785. One writer goes as far as to state that it was the first steam power mill in the world; probably basing this on a remark by Mantoux who quotes from Ure's book, "Cotton Manufacturers of Great Britain" written in 1842. The original drawings of the Papple­wick engine are dated 20th July, 1785, the file number being 68. This engine was probably to supplement the water power, and not to supersede it: but in any case Robinson was so pleased with the additional power that in 1791 he had a similar engine installed in Linby Mill.

Near the Old Mill was the lodging house constructed for the accommodation of the London pauper children in the late XVIII and early XIX centuries. At these and other mills great numbers of pauper children imported from the London workhouses, were emplovpd. These children, drafted into industry to save public expense, and as cheap labour, suffered terribly from the industrial conditions of the age, having to work long hours, badly fed and clothed, and poorly housed. As a result many died and were laid to rest in the churchyards, mainly in unmarked graves and not always entered in the Regis­ters. One authority places the number in Linby Church­yard alone at one hundred and sixty-three. Although the Church Registers only record forty-two. Anyone who wants to have a contemporary picture of apprentice life in those days should read "The Memoirs of Robert Blincoe" by J. Brown.

Quite a short distance from Grange Mill lies Walk Mill, the name of which has been corrupted to Warp, and on the Ordnance map to Warkmill; this was the old fulling mill, and got its name from the method of fulling. The fullers trod down the material in the vats or tanks, and were nick-named "walkers."

Linby Mill and Papplewick Dam.
Linby Mill and Papplewick Dam.

Another quarter of a mile upstream brings us to Linby, Castle, or Top Mill. This is a pseudo-Gothic structure built at the head of Papplewick Dam, and was the subject of a lawsuit between Byron and the mill-owner Robinson for the right to the water, and in which Robinson's right was established. This may be the origin of the local legend that Byron wrecked the mill by damming the stream, and then loosing the flood. This mill was in operation as a corn mill until a comparatively recent date, and is probably on the site of the mill mentioned in Domesday, and in the Forest Perambulation of 1232 and 1538. The former perambulation reads:—

. . . And thence between the fields of Herdewic and of Kirkeby and the Moor of Kirkeby to the corner which is called Nunnekeyre and thence by The Assart of Iwan The Breton to Tharlesty and thence to Scolgat; and thence by the Great Road to below the old castelry of Anesleg; from that castelry by the Great Way to the town of Lindeby and thence by the middle of the town of Lindeby to the mill of the same town which is on the water of the Leen, and thence descend­ing by the same water to the town of Lenton . . .

The last of the mills in our parish is Weir (Wire) Mill, which is now a farm, but was still used as a corn mill as late as the middle of the XIX century.

During the rise of the cotton industry, many of these mills were converted for weaving, but after the industry moved from the county they were either restored to their original purposes or pulled down.

Before leaving the subject of the mills mention should be made of the one windmill in the parish. This stood on Wighay Common, and was still in existence at the time of the Enclosure Award of 1855.

At the time of the industrial revolution, when the Luddites were indulging in stocking-frame breaking, our district did not escape damage. Felkin in his history of the industry reports that in 1812, nineteen machines were damaged here; while the Nottingham Date Book states that nine machines belonging to Mr. Shipley of Linby were damaged to the extent of £200.

Later in the XIX century, as the centre of the industry moved from the county, and the factory system developed in the cities, the importance of mills in the country districts waned. This led to poorer working conditions, and greater demands were made on parish relief. Many mills were closed or pulled down; and in our area Andrew Montagu, heir of the Hon. Frederick Montagu of Papplewick Hall refused renewal of leases to the mills. The problem of the unemployed led to depopulation in the district; some seeking a living in the neighbouring towns, others accepting the opportunities offered by emigration. The Church Vestry Book has the following entry dated 15th February, 1849:

It was resolved that the Churchwardens and Overseers shall and they are hereby directed to raise the sum of eleven pounds as a fund for defraying the expenses of the emigration of poor persons having settlements in this parish, and being willing to emigrate, to be raised out of the rates raised or to be raised for the relief of the poor in this parish, and to be applied urder such rules orders and regulations as the Commission­ers for Administering the Laws for the relief of the poor in England shall in that behalf direct.