The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3, Stockton and Darlington Wards. Originally published by Nichols and Son, London, 1823.
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PARISH OF HART.
The Parish includes the Constableries of, 1. Hart; 2. Throston; 3. Dalton-Piercy; and 4. Elwick; in Stockton Ward; 5. Nesbit and Thorp-Bulmer, in Easington Ward (fn. 1).
Hart and Hartness.
The appellation Heortnesse (fn. 2), known before the Conquest, seems to have been widely applied to the whole district from the Teesmouth South, and beyond the modern limits of Stockton Ward Northwards; for before 845 Eegred gave the Church of Durham, Billingham in Heorternesse (fn. 3); and when the Conqueror avenged the slaughter of Comyn and his Norman soldiers (fn. 4), after wasting Cleveland, “he entered Heortnesse, warring and wasting” with fire and sword (fn. 5). The next portion of the history may as well be told in the words of Dugdale.
Robert de Brus, a noble knight of Normandy, coming into England with the Conqueror, first possessed by conquest, and other titles of various acquisition, the manor and castle of Skelton, as also the lordships of Merkes, Up-Lithum, South-Westby, Brudon, Danby, Levington, Yarum, Brune, Tibthorp, Carlton in Balne, and Thorp des arches, in com. Ebor. Anandale in Scotland, and Hert and Hertnes in the Bishoprick of Durham (fn. 6).
But here (aliquando bonus, &c.) even Dugdale may not convince us that this elder Robert, the companion in arms of Norman William, was the same Robert who, in 1138, seventy-two years after the Conquest, gave King David of Scotland, first good advice, and then a good threshing upon Cowton-moor (fn. 7), or Baggamore.
But the foundation also of Guisbrough Abbey (fn. 8) about ten years before the battle of the Standard, must also probably be attributed to the second Robert Brus, who might well, though son to a companion of the Conqueror, have grown grey under arms, “venerabilis miles,” before the accession of Stephen. This second Robert, who married Agnes Panell, (and gave Aelwic in Hertness (Elwick) with his daughter Agatha, to Ralph, son of Ribald, of Middleham,) died in 1141, and was buried in his Abbey of Guisbrough. Adam Brus, eldest son of Robert (who was with his father at the battle of the Standard), was the founder of the elder house of Skelton, which terminated in the fifth descent, in coheirs married to Fauconberg, Thweng, Bellew, and Roos. Robert Brus, third of his name, (and younger son of the second Robert) was founder of the Royal line of Scotland. His father gave him Annandale for his appanage, and being thus a liegeman of the Crown of Scotland, he was taken prisoner in fair battle by his own father, who sent him to the English monarch, and he, struck probably with the extraordinary situation of the parties, and pleased with the good faith of the father, placed his captive once more at the disposal of his own parents. The story has yet a sequel, which occasions its introduction here: the young Lord of Annandale, amongst other familiar discourse, complained that his valley of Annan afforded no wheaten bread, and his father, to compensate for this privation, gave him the wheat-producing district of Hart and Hartness (fn. 9).
Robert (who paid a hundred shillings scutage for Hertness in 1171 (fn. 10),) was succeeded by a son of his own name; and one of these Roberts gave to Guisbrough Abbey the Scottish churches of Annan, Lochmaben, Kirk Patrick, Cumbertrees, and Gretenhou (Grœtney, Gretna), six oxgangs in Stranton, and one in Hart. The younger Robert was succeeded by William, who obtained from King John a weekly market for his port of Hartlepool, and was followed by another Robert, of Hart and Annandale, who matched with Isabel, daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, and grandchild of Henry Prince of Scotland, the source of the royal blood of Bruce. The next Robert (sixth of this hereditary name) adhered firmly in the Barons' wars to Henry III. and to Prince Edward; was one of the principal agents in the successful assault on the rebellious Barons at Northampton, and was made prisoner, commanding (with John Comyn) the Scottish auxiliaries, when the royal fortunes failed at Lewes. The victory of Evesham restored him to his honours and to his Northern government of Carlisle (fn. 11). The sudden death of the third Alexander (fn. 12), followed six years later by that of his grandchild Margaret of Norway, opened the Scottish succession to a cloud of competitors. Of these claimants, Baliol, Bruce, and Hastings, who, as representing the blood of David Earl of Huntingdon, alone possessed any shadow of right, were all direct vassals of the English Crown, and two of them, it may be here observed, Barons of the Palatinate. Edward, appointed sole arbiter, decided in favour of Baliol; and whatever might be his secret springs of action, he decided on the best legal opinions that could be had, and exactly in conformity with the present acknowledged rights of representation (fn. 13).
Robert Bruce, the Competitor, died at his castle of Lochmaben, in Annandale, in 1295. His son Robert Bruce, eighth of the name (who had acquired the Earldom of Carrick (fn. 14) by marriage,) acknowledged the title of Baliol in 1293, and remained during his whole course in the allegiance of England. He had summons to Parliament 23, 24, and 25 Edw. I. and in the following year attended King Edward in the invasion of Scotland which followed Baliol's renunciation of allegiance (fn. 15). On the death of his Countess, Bruce surrendered his Earldom of Carrick to his eldest son, and dying in his English government of Carlisle in 1304, was buried in Holm Cultram Abbey, to which his early ancestors were benefactors. Robert Bruce, ninth of the name, followed at first his father's steps in retaining his allegiance to England; and his plans, if he had already conceived them, of asserting the dormant claims of his house, and the independence of Scotland, were matured only by time and circumstance. In 1296, when Scotland lay prostrate at the foot of the Conqueror, Robert Bruce the younger, Earl of Carrick, swore allegiance to Edward in the Parliament of Berwick. In 1297, when Wallace had arisen the avenger of his country, the fidelity of Bruce was suspected: he obeyed the summons of the Warden of the English March, and at Carlisle renewed his oath of fealty on the consecrated host and the sword of St. Thomas à Becket (fn. 16). He soon after joined the Scottish army; but disgusted possibly with the dissensions of its leaders, again made his peace with Edward. The Steward of Scotland, Alexander Lindsay, and the Bishop of Glasgow were his sureties till he should deliver up his only daughter as an hostage. Soon after the day of Falkirk, where Wallace was defeated, Bruce again appears in arms against England; for in 1298 Edward pursued him into Carrick, and, on his return by the West March, took Lochbaben, and wasted Annandale (fn. 17). In 1299 Robert Earl of Carrick, with the Bishop of St. Andrew's, and John Comyn, was one of the three guardians of Scotland in the name of Baliol (fn. 18). In 1303 he once more submitted to Edward, and surrendered himself to St. John the English Warden; and in the next year he received investiture from Edward of his lordship of Annandale on the death of his father; yet the same year he entered into a secret association with the Bishop of St. Andrew's (fn. 19).
Wallace had died in London as a traitor, for openly resisting an authority which he had never acknowledged, and Edward, sole arbiter, proceeded to make a complete settlement of his realm of Scotland. The country was divided into Sheriffdoms and Justiceships; trusty keepers were appointed to the chief strengths and fortresses, and after an obstinate conflict of fifteen years, the kingdom seemed wholly reduced under the dominion of England. Yet, in four months, this whole system, deficient neither in strength nor policy, was thrown to the ground by so sudden an effort, that it is extremely difficult to trace its causes, which however originated most probably in the hereditary rivalry of the houses of Bruce and Comyn (fn. 20). At the settlement just mentioned, Bruce, wavering as his conduct had been, was not one of those who purchased an indemnity by fines more or less severe. On the contrary, to him was confided the choice of a proper person to keep the castle of Kildrummie, and he appears shortly after living in security, and possibly in favour, at the English Court. From causes which are very obscurely known, he suddenly left the Court, reached, with unusual speed, his own Lochmaben, and, a few days after it may be, encountered Comyn by chance or appointment at the high altar of the Friars Minorites of Dumfries, and, after an angry parle, left him weltering in his blood. “I fear,” said Bruce, not with the manner of a hardened assassin, but of that brave and generous, but irresolute knight, who had hitherto fluctuated on an ocean of contending influences (fn. 21), “I doubt I have slain the Red Comyn.” “Doubtest thou,” said Kirkpatrick of Closeburn (fn. 22), and rushing back to the altar, completed the bloody sacrifice. From this moment Bruce, no longer hesitating or compromising, boldly asserted (what his proudest bearing never before assumed) his hereditary claim to the Crown of Scotland, and supported by a few determined adherents, was crowned at Scoon, the 27th of March, 1306. It is a singular circumstance, and marks the times, that two days afterwards King Robert was crowned a second time (29 March) by Isabel Countess of Buchan, who asserted by this ceremonial, in the absence of her brother, a lord of the English pale, the ancient right of the house of Macduff. “Well mayest thou prove a summer's king,” said Bruce's English wife, (disgusted with the mean appearance of a Scottish Court, and perchance also with the adventure of the Scottish Countess,) “but scantly wilt thou prove a winter's king.” (fn. 23) This domestic prophecy, which calculated well the outward strength and bearing of the rival powers, but which took not into account the desperate efforts of a gallant nation urged to the courage of despair, was fulfilled to the uttermost. Within one short year Bruce was an exile on the coast of Ireland, and his nearest and dearest connections paid with their blood (fn. 24) the forfeit of their brother's haughty attempt. Yet did Bruce survive to triumph at Bannockburn, to reign the acknowledged sovereign of an independent realm, and to contract, en plein souverain, for the marriage of his heir with the daughter of that English Edward who had so lately trampled the Crown of Scotland in the dust.
With the elevation of Robert Bruce to the throne ends the connection of his house with the County of Durham. His English estates were immediately seized by the Crown, and Hart and Hartlepool were granted to Robert Clifford, who had served with courage and fidelity thoughout the Scottish war (fn. 25).
Descent of Brus, of Skelton and Annandale.
† She had Danby, its chace, Bretton, Yarum, and Kirkeburne, Great Moresdon, with the chace and forest of Vaux, viz. Swindalme, Laharenes, and the other dales as the road extendeth from Lardthorne to Skelton, by Scorebeck, betwixt Katerig and Stanewig.
‡ She had the whole Barony of Kendall, in partition, à quo Parr, &c. There is a pretty seal of Margarete de Ros, a female figure at full length in a furred ermined robe, supporting in one hand the arms of Ross, and in the other the paternal coat, the lion rampant of Brus.
Robert Clifford, the grantee of King Edward, (for the Patriarch Anthony in vain attempted to maintain his right to the forfeiture,) fell at Bannockburn, leaving Roger Clifford his son and heir, under age. Bishop Kellaw asserted the rights of his See to the wardship, and committed the manors of Hert and Hertness to the custody of William de Elmeden (fn. 26). Roger Clifford joined the Earl of Lancaster against Edward II. and was wounded and taken prisoner at Boroughbridge, and soon after beheaded at York. Edward II. granted Hert and Hertelpool to John of Bretagne, Earl of Richmond, who was soon after surprised and taken prisoner by King Robert Bruce at Byland Abbey, and after two years of detention in Scotland, “went ynto France and never returned ynto England agayn.” In the 4th of Edward III. after the fall of Isabel and Mortimer, Robert Clifford, brother and heir of Roger, was restored to all the honours and estates of his house. About the same time Lewis Beaumont made good his claim before Parliament (fn. 27), to all the forfeitures within the Palatinate which had occurred in the reign of Edward I.; and Hert and Hertness were henceforth, with some interruptions, held during the possession of the Cliffords, of the See of Durham. In 1344 Robert Clifford died seised, inter alia, of the manors of Hert and Hertnesse, held of the See of Durham by the service of two knights' fees (fn. 28); and Bishop Bury committed the estates to the custody of his escheator William de Mordon, during the minority of Robert Clifford (son and heir of Roger, and then aged thirteen). The Cliffords held Hart and Hartness for more than three centuries. To the descent, as stated in Dugdale, I can add nothing; and the whole status of this interesting Northern House has been limned in such true outline, and in such rich and vivid colours, that it were sin and sorrow to attempt a copy (fn. 29).
The gallant George, third Earl of Cumberland, father of the still more memorable Countess of Pembroke, was obliged to alienate several portions of his inheritance to defray the expences of his “nine viages by sea in his own person, most of them to the West Indies,” which he performed “with great honour to himself and servis to his Queen and country, having gained the strong town of Fiall, in the Torrous (Azore) Islands, in the year 1589; and in his last viage (fn. 30) the strong fort of Portoreco, in the year 1599 (fn. 31).”
In 1586 the manors of Harte, Hartnesse, Hartlepool, Thurston, Over Thurston, Nether Thurston, and Nelston, were purchased by John Lord Lumley (fn. 32) for 5,350l. In 1772 Richard Earl of Scarborough sold the same estates to Sir George Pocock (fn. 33), K. B. for 72,000l. The estate contained, by survey, 3445 acres 2 roods and 32 perches.
Throston, to the South of Hart, (adjoining Tunstall, in the parish of Stranton,) though considered a separate township, has always formed part of the Hart estate, or belonged to the same proprietors, and was conveyed, with Hart, by the Earl of Cumberland to Lord Lumley (fn. 34).
Robert Brus gave the churches of Hart and Stranton, “with all their lands and appendages,” to the Priory of Guisbrough. Bishop Hugh (fn. 35) confirmed the donation. “The churches of Hart and Stranton, with the chapels of Seton and St. Hilde, of Hartlepool.” William de Brus, and Robert de Brus his son (fn. 36), ratified their ancestors' charters; and the possessions of the Priory were confirmed by the successive Bishops of Durham, from Hugh Pudsey to Richard Kellaw (fn. 37). In 1288 Bishop Anthony granted licence to William de Middleburgh, Prior of Gisburne (Gisbrough), to hold the Vicarage of Hart, with its profits, during the life of the same William, on condition that the church be duly served by two Canons of Guisbrough. A second charter in 1308 seems to make the concession perpetual, or to give the impropriation of the Vicarage to the Prior and Canons, providing only a decent maintenance for two priests from Guisbrough, concanonici, officiating in the church of Hart and chapel of Hertlepole, which had been hitherto served by a secular vicar.
The Church stands on rising ground to the North of the village. The structure seems to include some portions of building of much higher antiquity. The chancel opens under a large circular arch. The North aile is formed by one short heavy column, supporting circular arches. The South aile has three small octagonal pillars, supporting bluntly pointed arches. The West tower is low and massy. The chief curiosity at Hart is the very singularly beautiful font, an octagonal basin, with the shaft and pedestal of the same form. On four of the faces of the basin are the emblems of the four evangelists, the winged lion of St. Mark, the eagle, &c. Of the other compartments, three have effigies of the apostles or saints, with the instruments of their martyrdom; and on the remaining compartment is the representation of the Saviour rising from the tomb, and around him the bitter cup, the scourge, and the spear. Eight figures on the shaft are evidently saints from the Roman Kalendar; the octagonal base is ornamented with heads and quatrefoils placed alternately. (See the Plate.) An old basin of very rude and primæval appearance, supported on short pillars, lies in the church-yard. The tower has an old sculpture of St. George and the Dragon.
The view of the coast from Hart church is grand and extensive. Hartlepool, with its church and mouldering walls, seems to occupy its rocky throne in ancient desolate majesty, and appears almost as separate from the low flat shore, as the Bass on the coast of Scotland.
Succession of Vicars.
Hart Vicarage.—The Prior of Guisbrough Patron till the Dissolution; since, the King.—King's Books, 11l. 17s. 1d.; Tenths, 1l. 3s. 8 1/2d.; Episc. Proc. 6s.; Archid. 4s.; Synod. 3s.—Dedication to St. Mary Magdalen.
- John de Wirkesal.
- John de Cotum, 1358, p. res. Wirkesal.
- John Hall (fn. 38), occurs 1417.
- John Easingwald, 1418.
- Robert Soresbie.
- William Wilson.
- Ralph Todd, LL.B. (fn. 39) 1537, p. m. Wilson.
- William Hardyng, 1554, p. res. Todd.
- John Robson (fn. 40), 1581, p. m. Hardyng.
- Gabriel Price, 1598.
- John Leake, A. M. 1613.
- Edward Young, 1626, p. m. Leake, ob. 1653.
- — Bowey, an intruder, ejected for Nonconformity.
- Edward Smathwaite, 1661.
- Stephen Woodifield, 1708.
- Richard Wragg, A. M.
- John Morland, A. M. (fn. 41) 1735, p. res. Wragg.
- Benjamin Pye, B. C. L. (fn. 42) 1770, p. m. Morland.
- Richard Ridley, A. M. Univ. Coll. Oxon. 1808, p. m. Pye.
- Edward Moises, A. M. Univ. Coll. Oxon. 1811, p. res. Ridley.
Katheran, wife of Willyam Lawson, of Thorp-Boulmer, bur. Feb 13, 1591-2. William Lawson, Esq. bur. June 18, 1597. Mr. Francis Lawson, of Thorp-Boulmer, May 25, 1626. James, Mr. Lawson's keeper, called James Haure, bur. May 20, 1626 (fn. 43).
The Witches of Hart.—28 July 1582, Office of Master Chancellor against Allison Lawe, of Hart: “she is a notorious sorcerer and enchanter.” Sentenced to do penance once in the marketplace at Durham, “with a papir on her head,” once in Harte Church and once in Norton Church. Janet Bainbridge and Janet Allenson, of Stockton, were accused of “asking counsell at witches,” and resorting to Alison Lawe for cure of the sicke (fn. 44).
Robert de Brus gave Ailewic, in Hertenes, in frank marriage with his daughter Agatha, wife to Ralph, son of Ribald, of Middleham (fn. 45).
Hoc est maritagium quod Robertus de Brus dedit Agathæ filiæ suæ in libero maritagio, quando eam Ranulfo, filio Ribaldi, dedit, viz. Ailewic in Hertnes, cum omnibus rebus et terris que ad illud manerium pertinent ita libere sicut ipse Robertus in suo dominio tenebat. Teste Walt'ro Espec et Ricardo de Rolos, Wiltelmo Capellano, et Petro de Brus, et Ernaldo Perci, Gerardo de Lacel, et Umfredo de Turp, et Wiltelmo de Rogeriis, et Goffrido Loheren, et Rogero Arondel, et Gilberto Paganell, et Wiguen Landri filio, et Alano Pincerna, et Errando, et Acario, et Herveio Ribaldi filio, et Guerri, et Goffrido de Walos, et Judichello de Cotona, et Hugone Guinuagen, qui desponsavit cos (fn. 46).
Ralph, the husband of Agatha, was succeeded by Robert, father of Ranulph, whose son Ralph Fitz Ralph left three daughrers his coheirs (fn. 47). Mary, the eldest, became the wife of Robert Nevill, and carried with her, on partition (54 Hen. III. 1270), the manors of Middleham and Carletun, and the forest of Coverdale; and I presume also the less important manor of Elwick, which remained vested in her remote descendants, till the forfeiture of Earl Charles in 1569. The estate, during the long possession of the Nevils, is uniformly stated to be held of the heirs of the Lord of Hart (fn. 48). A number of freeholds (fn. 49) arose out of the dispersion of the Nevill's estate after the attainder (fn. 50).
In 1684 the freeholders were, Robert Harrison, Robert Litster, Gent. James Watson (fn. 51), the heirs of Thomas Wilkinson, Robert Hett, Thomas Hett, Thomas Watson, William Hall, Gent. Thomas Robinson, John Hett, Nicholas Harrison, Nicholas, son of Nicholas Hall (fn. 52), George, son of George Crow, James Sheraton, Robert Crow, and William Harrison.
The property has been since divided in very various proportions. In 1684 the freeholders were, Robert Chilton, sen. Robert Chilton, jun. William Boyes, Thomas Boyes, James Sheraton, of High Throston, John Chilton, George Barnes, Robert Watson, James Watson, John Armstrong, Robert Crow.
“Lett to Thomas Barnes, of Witton-on-Wear, blakesmyth, all those three farmes in Dalton-Pearcy, late belonging to Dr. Christopher Potter, of Oxford, delinquent, 45l. rent.”—Seq. Books, 1644. Afterwards occurs, “16 Sept. 1644, letten to William Chilton, of Dalton Pearcy, all the lands there now in his possession, formerly belonging to Dr. Potter, rent 62l. 16s. now one third abated, and sesses allowed, to plow no more ground.”
The following charter seems to refer to Nelston (fn. 55), long parcel of the Hart estate.
Carta Gaufridi filii Nigelli de Neliston.
Omnibus, &c. Gaufr. filius Nigelli de Neliston. Noverit. &c. me pro salute anime mee et uxoris mee et antecessorum et heredum meorum dedisse, &c. Deo et S. Marie, et B. Godrico, et Monachis de Finchale, tres solidos argenti de firma ville mee de Neliston ad luminare sustentand. circa corpus S. Godrici. T. Dũo Roberto de Brus, Joh'e de Bulmer, Walt'ro de Monasteriis, Ranulfo de Fisseburn, Joh'e de Thorpe, Petro Harpin, Wilto de Hessewell, Gilberto de Nesbitt, Wilto de Ellewyk, Wilto Pullano, Symone de Wyndgath, Walt'ro Thusard, Eudone de Wyncestr. Symone fratre suo, Roberto de Camb. et aliis. Finchale Box, D. and C. Treas.
Carta Roberti de Brus, de una Wehita (fn. 56) frumenti data S. Goderico.
Omnibus S. Matris Ecclesie filius & Robertus de Brus, Sal. Noverit universitas vestra me divine pietatis intuitu et pro salute anime mce et uxoris mee et liberorum meorum, dedisse, &c. et hac mea carta confirmasse Deo et S. Marie et Beato Godrico de Finchale, et monachis ibidem Deo servientibus, unam Wettham frumenti, scilt sex rasellas per mensuram burgi de Dunolm. annuatim percipiend. infra octabas S. Andree per manum servientis manerii de Hart. Hiis testibus Joh'e de Brus, Rogero Avenel, Ric. de Bosco, Ric. de Humez, Roberto de Monasteriis, Elya Capellano, Joh'e Capellano, Thoma Clerico, et aliis.
The hereditary right of Baliol is evident, as representing the eldest daughter; but Bruce counterclaimed as grandson of Prince David, and therefore one degree nearer to the original stock, a species of claim which received some countenance from very broken line of succession both in England and Scotland, where a Prince of full age of a younger line had so often set aside the representative right, when vested in persons incapacitated by non-age. Hastings only claimed a third of the kingdom, contending that the realm was divisible like any other inheritance. This plea also Edward, on good legal advice, overruled; and however his evil passions awakened in the sequel, I can see no reason but an honest one for his declining, in this instance, to act on the maxim of Divide et Impera. The claims of the other seven competitors were as frivolous as various; they are fully stated by Lord Hailes, vol. I. pp. 229, 232.