East Retford

Pages 274-280

Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire: Volume 3, Republished With Large Additions By John Throsby. Originally published by J Throsby, Nottingham, 1796.

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This is an ancient Borough, and sendeth two burgesses to serve in parliament, yet I find nothing of it in doomsday book considerable, saving that in Redford was a mill belonging to Sudton, of the fee of the arch-bishop of York.

In the record of Nomina Villarum 9 E. 2. the king is certified to be lord of it.

(fn. 1) The men of Retford by the consent of the burgesses of Nottingham, ought to take Thurtoll, (viz. passage toll) through these bounds, viz: at the head (or townsend) of Melhagh at Mirell Brigg, at Wyston, and in all other places where the burgesses of Nottingham werewont to take.

(fn. 2) Roger arch-bishop of York founded, and built, and dedicated a chapel under the name of the Virgin Mary and All Angels, near the greater church of York; in which (chapel) he placed thirteen clarks of several orders, viz. four priests, four deacons, four sub-deacons, and one sacrist, to celebrate divine (service) according to the constitution of that church of St. Peter; for whose support he gave the moyety of the church of Otteley, the church of Everton, the church of Sutton, with the chapel of Scrooby, and the church of Hayton, the church of Beardsey. The church of Claverly was of the gift of William Scoty, that of Hoton of William Pannel, that of Harewood of Amicia de Rumelly, and that of Thorpe of Adam de Bruis, and Jevetta de Arches his wife. Hamo the chanter of York, was by the said arch-bishop Roger made sacrist of the said chapel of St. Mary and All Angels, that in it he might dispose and order the service, and procure and minister to the chaplains, deacons, and subdeacons, what the arch-bishop had constituted for their food and rayment, &c. Every priest was to have yearly ten marks, every deacon 100, and every sub-deacon six marks of silver by the hand of the sacrist, who was also to have yearly ten marks, (though the rents whereof he was made procurator should happen to fall short to the rest) and the surplusage of all the rents, but was to act with all diligence according to the will and direction of the said arch-bishop,

(fn. 3) In the year 1258, Mr. Gilbert de Tyva was made the sacrist by Sewall arch-bishop of York, and on the Saturday next after the feast of St. Martin, inducted into the possession of the church of St. Swithin of Retford. The same year the 4th. (or 3) of of the Nones of May, the said arch-bishop Sewall ordained the vicarages of Sutton Everton, Hayton, Clarburgh, and Redford; and likewise of Thorp Arches, Colingham, Beardssey, Otteley; Calverley, and Hoton Painell in Yorkshire, in which ordination it is expressed that if any of the said vicars should happen to have less than ten marks per annum, the vicarage was to be augmented as it should please the arch-bishop.

The vicar of Redford was to have 100s. of the altarage, and the small tythes, viz. of chickens, pigs, geese, and the bread and wine, (or ale or beer) which should happen to be brought to the altar: and the sacrist was to give to the poor of that town the tythes of the mills.

(fn. 4) Philip de Houlecotes (cousin and heir of Mr. Alan de Bolleshoure mentioned in Little Grœneley) gave the moyety of the mills of Retford to the abbey of Wellebek, according to the tenor of the charters of king Richard 1, and king John, for the sustentation of two chaplains in the church of Wellebek, and of one in his church of Stirape, to celebrate divine service for ever, for the soul of the said Philip, &c. Alicia de Stirape, eldest daughter of Gerard de Stirape, knight, confirmed the gift which the said Philip de Houlecotes, her brother, made of the moyety of the mill of Retford, which belonged to her. (fn. 5) Hamelin de Buggethorp, and Margaret his wife, confirmed to the said abbey the gift of the moyety of the mills of Retford, and all other donations which the said Philip de Houlecotes, their predecessour had made.

(fn. 6) The king, 11 H. 3. Apr: 17: gave to the abbey of Wellebek, the mills of Ratford, to be holden of him in fee-farm for 10l: per annum, saving to the heirs of Raph Tessun, if he should recover his inheritance in Watelegh 40s: per annum, which the said abbat and canons were to pay besides the said 10l: per annum.

Hubert de Burgo earl of Kent, justice of England, considering the love of God, and for the safety of his own soul, and of his wifes Margaret the daughter of the king of Scotland, and of their heirs, gave to God and the church of St. James at Wellebek, and the canons there serving God, and to serve God, 40s. yearly rent which he had out of the mills of Ratford, which Raph Tessun was wont to receive; and likewise granted that his men of Wheteley should do suit to the said mills of the said abbat and covent, according as they ought and were wont.

(fn. 7) It was adjudged in the exehequer, 8 May, 47 H. 3. that the men of Retford should do suit to the mills of the abbat and covent of Wellebek at Retford duely as other the kings burgesses and sokemen then did, and it was there noted that the men of Retford, who would be called burgesses, were the kings sokesmans, and so called in the doomsday. Hugh Levyn, and other men of Retford, withdrew themselves from the suit, whereupon the abbat, 4 E. 1. (fn. 8) procured a precept (or writ) to the sheriff to distrain them according to the former judgement.

(fn. 9) The king, (H. 3.) for the bettering of his borough of Retford, granted to the burgesses thereof, that they and their heirs for ever should have every year one fair there to endure for eight days, viz. the eve, day, and morrow of the Holy Trinity, and five days following. They, 30 H. 3. (fn. 10) had acquittance from tallage.— They, in 44 H. 3. (fn. 11) had a fair and other liberties granted. And in 7 E. 2. (fn. 12) the borough had a fair. And 46 E, 3. (fn. 13) the town had a fair.

They petitioned the parliament at Westminster, 4 E. 3. after the feast of St. Kath. concerning pardon of their burgesses there—by reason of their poverty. There was a charter of confirmation of the liberties of the town of Retford, 9 E. 3. (fn. 14) by which it was granted that the inhabitants of the said town, to wit, the burgesses and their heirs resident in the said borough should not be put in assises, juries, or any recognizances with foreiners, by occasion of their forein lands and tenements.

(fn. 15) The jury, 6 E. 1. found that Walter Prat held a mansion (or dwelling house) in Retford of John Prat his brother in free burgage, likewise of Thomas, son of Raph de Hayton, two acres ½ of meadow, and of divers other small parcels in several places, and that Adam Prat was his only son and heir, and then seven years old.

(fn. 16) At the assizes at Nott. 30 E. 3. John at Vykers recovered his seisin of one mess. and one toft in East Retford, and Walter, son of Adam Prat, and others were amerced. In another assize he recovered against the said Walter, and others, four tofts, two hundred and sixty acres of land, sixteen of meadow, and 16s. rent in Greneley, Ordesale, Thurmeton, Tylne, Wellum, Wellum Morehouse, Blith, Stirap, Serleby, Thoreworth, and Hodesake.

(fn. 17) There was a fine levied at Westminster, 48 E. 3. between Thomas de Southorp, vicar of the church of East Retford, and Robert de Loversdale, vicar of Everton, quer. & John de Walton of Retford, and Alice his wife, deforc. of thirteen mess. four tofts, one hundred twenty three acres of land and an half, eight acres of meadow, 9s. 8d. rent, and the moyety of two mess. with the appurtenances in East Retford, West Retford, Ordesale, Babbeworth, Wellum Morehouse, Wellum, Everton, Eton, Milneton, Hoghton, and Little Markham, whereby most of the said lands were settled on the said John and Alice, and the heirs of their bodies; remainder to Elias de Thoresby, and Joane his wife, and the heirs of their bodies; remainder to the right heirs of Alice.

(fn. 18) The jury, 8 R. 2. found it no damage if the king granted Mr. Richard de Raucliffe, parson of Cloun, William de Burgh, parson of Babworth, and Peter le Cooke, chaplain, licence to give to the prior and covent of Wirksop, and their successours, five mess. and the moyety of three mess. with the appurtenances in East Retford for ever, to find a chaplain to pray for the good estate of the said Richard, William, and Peter, whilst they should live, and daily to celebrate for them all when they should be dead, in the church of that priory. The lands were held of the king in free burgage by the service of 9s. 2d. yearly, paid by the hands of the bayliffs of East Retford, as parcel of the see farm of that town. In the same year, viz. 8 R. 2. (fn. 19) there was another return of an Ad quod damnum, that the king might grant to John Liola, parson of West Retford, Thomas, vicar of Clarburgh, Thomas, vicar of East Retford, John de Treyswell, chaplain, Hugh de Tylne of Retford, William de Burgh, parson of Babworth, John Atte-Vikers, and Thomas de Besthorp, licence among them severally to give to the bayliffs and community of East Retford, and their successours for ever, nine mess. five tofts, and 8s. rent in East Retford held of the king in free burgage by the service of 1d. per annum, to find two chaplains to officiate at the altars of St. Mary, and the Holy Trinity in the church of East Retford, according to the ordinance of the arch-bishop of York.

At the dissolution the abbey of Rufford had a grange here. The abbey of Wellebek had lands then rented at 2l. 17s. 4d. The priory of Radford by Worksop had rents of assise 7s. 6d. and lands valued at 3l. 11s. The priory of Mattersays lands here were 13s. 4d.

(fn. 20) The town and borough of East Retford is the kings town, and hath been an ancient borough, as appears by a grant made by king Edward the first, who granted the town in fee farm to the burgesses of the same, paying ten pounds per annum, giving them power to chuse bayliffs for the government of the said town. Henry the third granted them a fair. Edward 3. exempted them from all tolles and foreign services.— Henry the sixth gave them a court of record to hold plea of action without limitation of sum, and to use the office of escheator, and clark of the market: All which priviledges have been from time to time confirmed by the several kings and queens of this land; and king James in the fifth year of his reign did not only confirm all former grants made by his predecessours, but also incorporated it anew by the name of bayliffs and burgesses, and appointed the same to be governed by two bayliffs, and likewise twelve aldermen to make a common council for the town; also they have a common seal, with power to alter it at their pleasure. And that the said two bayliffs for the time being, and the learned steward shall be justices of the peace and Quorum within the said borough. Gilbert earl of Shrowsbury was high steward, and sir Richard Williamson, knt. learned steward. Since then sir Gervas Clifton hath been high steward, and sir Hardolph Wastenes (who in his younger time was a barrester at law) learned steward.— At this time his grace the duke of Newcastle, as I take it, is high steward, and John Millington, esquire, learned steward. They have a town clark, and two serjeants at mace.

(fn. 21) The vicarage of East Retford was 5l. when the sacrist of St. Maries at York (called also St. Sepulchers) was patron: 'Tis now 5l. 5s. 0d. in the kings books, and the earl of Devonshire patron.

In the Church North Ile on a Marble Grave-stone, Hic jacet Johannes Smith, Merser, de East Retford, qui obiit 26 die Maii, Anno Dom. 1496, Cujus Animæ propritietur Deus, Amen.

On another raised three foot high, circumscribed, Hic jacet Johannes Bowly, — qui obiit — mensis Aprilis, Anno Dom. 1455. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus, Amen.

In the middle two Coats, on each Three Crescents upon a Bend.

On a Grave-stone at the East end of the Quire,

Hic jacet Johannes — Vicarius de East Redford, Rector de Hayton & Orsall, qui obiit 28 Decemb. Anno 1502. Cujus, &c.

In the old Quire,

Hic jacet Johannes Denman, Armiger, qui obiit 16 Novemb. Anno Dom. 1517. Cujus &c.

On it is twice cut, A Cinquefoyle upon a Chevron.

In a West Window—France and England, and Sab. Fretty Arg. a Carpentars square Or, and Sab. Fretty Arg. and Ax Shaft Or, and head Arg.

There was Gules a Chief Arg. Hercy quartering Leek.

And Gules a Saltier Ermine, Nevill, impaling Arg. a Chevron between three Stars (or Mullets) pierced Sable; and under the same all in one Scutcheon, Arg upon a Bend Azure three Crescents Arg.

[Throsby] East Retford,

A considerable portion of the landed property hereabouts is in the hands of the Corporation of Retford. Near are large plantations of hops.

This ancient borough town is governed by two bailiffs; one elected by the aldermen from their own body, and the other by the burgesses. It sends two members to parliament, chosen by about 140 burgesses. Here are about 1,800 souls. The duke of Newcastle was high steward when I visited this place. Sessions are held here:— formerly offenders were hanged at and transported from this place; but now that unpleasant business is done wholly at Nottingham.

August 20th. 1645, Charles the first was at this place on his passage from Doncaster to Newmarket. (fn. 22)

The fairs in October and March, the former for hops and the latter for cattle, are very considerable. The principal manufactories of this place are for hats, paper, sail-cloth, and sack-bags.

The town house is a commodious and handsome pile of modern building, about thirty years standing. Here is an hospital for 4 men; a grammar school; and an alms house for 12 women.

The church of East Retford, which is dedicated to St. Swithin, is called the corporation church in distinction to that of West Retford; it has a tower with six bells, and consists of a nave and two side ailes well lighted. The chancel is comparatively small and rather dark: upon the whole, however, it is a commodious and handsome church. The altar piece, which was given by a gentleman of the town, about the beginning of the present century, is an ordinary picture of the Lord's Supper. The organ is much too small for the nave of the church it stands in. It was gallered in 1778 The arch-bishop of York, and the archdeacon, occasionally visit here.

In addition to Thoroton's church collections I have made the following: On a stone in the east wall where the ecclesiastic court sits, Anno Mundi 5526.

Ann. Christi 1582.

A neat tablet, on the north side of the chancel, remembers Robert Sutton, esq; born at Kelham, 1699, and died in 1776. It says—In 1720 he was appointed Secretary of the embassy to the Congress at Cambray. He was Gentleman Usher to queen Caroline; Master of the King's Stag-hounds in Shirewood forest; a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for the county. He gave 100l. toward building the town house; 100l. towards Barnby common road; built Kelham bridge; paid the assessment of the poor on new roofing the church; gave an organ and bell; 200l. towards procuring the queen's bounty; and a dividend of a share, in the canal, to the poor of East Retford.

Opposite to the above, "William Ross, gent. died in 1753, aged 58." This says, after a slattering panegyric, (which may be true) that "He recommended religion by the noblest practice of Temperance, Justice, Friendship, and extensive Charity."

Another—"To perpetuate the memory of a most amiable woman, in whom united every religious moral and social virtue, this monument was erected, by Josias Cockshut, esq; of West Retford, to Mary his wife, who died 26th. of Oct. 1770, aged 19."

Baptists prevail hereabouts.

Patron, Duke of Devonshire in 1772. Incumbent, Rev. Richard Morton, V. Computed value 100l. per ann. King's book, 5l. 5s. 0d. Val. per ann. in mans. 5s. & in pens. sol. ann. per rect. 5l. Sacrista Sanct. Mariæ Ebor Propr. The king presented in 1752.

West Retford.

Lord of the manor here is — Hardolph Eyre, esq: of Grove, near this place. In this village, which communicates with the borough of Retford by a stone bridge over the river Idle, are about 500 souls. (fn. 23)

Here is an hospital founded by John Darrel, M. D. Anno Dom. 1666, for ten men, to which the trustees are now adding buildings for six more. The master is the Sub-Dean of Lincoln. It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It was incorporated soon after its foundation, by the trustees. Their seal has this inscription:—

Sigillum Hospit. St. & individuœ Trinitatis Retford Occident.

The brethren of this house have 10l. per ann. each, and some other benefits, such as cloathing, coals, &c. Here prayers in the chapel are read twice a day, and the sacrament received thrice a year, at least, by each. They have a portion of a garden each, and an orchard left for their use. It is said they live under the best rules and regulations; and by the charming buildings which are now erecting, it is a sign that honesty, in the trustees, has been a ruling principle in their conduct. Unhappily for some institutions of this sort, leases are renewed at the old rents, and somebody pockets the difference.

The following is an account of the terrible flood, in Feb. 1795, given respecting these places, in the Nottingham Journal:—"The flood came on so sudden at Retford on Tuesday night, that great numbers of the inhabitants had not time to remove their effects, and several of them have received very considerable losses by it. It was three feet high in the Market-place, and the torrent ran so strong as to tear up the pavement in different parts of the town, which was nearly all under water. At West-Retford a grocer's shop, and part of Miss Hurst's house were washed down, and four other houses were nearly destroyed, and their inhabitants preserved with the greatest difficulty."

The Chesterfield Canal, which was completed in 1774, was highly favourable to East and West-Retford: Coal, that useful article, immediately fell from 15s. 6d. to 10s. 6d. per ton; lime from 16s. to 9s. per Chaldron. On Tuesday the 9th of May the subterraneous tunnel, at Norwood Hill upon the line of the canal navigation from Chesterfield to the Trent, was completed. On that day three vessels sailed, thro' the same, full of people, with a band of music. The tunnel is 2850 yards long, 12 feet high, and 9 feet 3 inches wide; in the deepest part 36 yards below the surface of the earth.

The church of West Retford is dedicated to St. Michael, has a spire upon a tower with 3 bells, a nave and side aisles. Here also is a little organ. Within the chancel rails are two old floor stones, on each a cross; one has a bible and chalice thereon, and a black letter inscription; but it was so near night, that it was impossible for me, I think, to read it correctly. It remains nearly thus,—Hic jacet — —quoda r-tor isti eccle-ia q obit Septimo die Jan. anno dm millimo ccccix.

Thoroton has mentioned, in his short account of West Retford, Edward Darrell who married Barbara daughter of Francis Denham. Her monumental stone is here, thus:— Barbara Darel Edwardi Daral armigeri uxor præsentibus chara posteris desiderata hic in spem Resurrectionis requiescit obiit xii marti A. D. MDCLIV.

Patron, the Corporation of Retford. Incumbent, the Rev. Abraham Youll, R.— Supposed value, 300l. per ann. K. B. 9l. 13s. 4d. Archiepisc. pro Syn. 2s.— Archidiac. pro Prox. 6s. 8d. Val. in mans. terr. gleb. ten. decim. &c.


  • 1. Regist. de Blid. p. 5.
  • 2. Ex veteri Copia five Exemplari pen. Mr. Luddington vicarum de East Retford. Mon. Angl. vol. 3 p. 137.
  • 3. Mon. Angl. vol. 3. p. 139.
  • 4. Regist. de Wellebek, p. 166.
  • 5. Ib. p. 167.
  • 6. Ib. p. 218.
  • 7. Ib. p. 43 & 44.
  • 8. Com: term Mich. 4 E. 1. ro. 1. in dorso.
  • 9. Regist. de Wellebek, p. 41:
  • 10. Claus. 30 H. 3. m. 2.
  • 11. Ch. 44 H. 3.
  • 12. Ch. 7 E. 2. n. 26.
  • 13. Ch. 46 E. 3. n. 5.
  • 14. Pl. cor. Reg. apud Ebor. Hill. 9 E. 3. ro. 4.
  • 15. Esc. 6 E. 1. n. 24.
  • 16. ro. 6.
  • 17. Fin. lev. Trin. 48 E. 3. & postea Mich.
  • 18. Esc. 8 R. 2. n. 54
  • 19. Esc. 8 R. 2. n. 60.
  • 20. Ex visit. Norroy 1614.
  • 21. Mss. J. M.
  • 22. Symonds, a Quarter Master in his army.
  • 23. I judged it most agreeable to give my additions of this place under those of East-Retford, in preference of Thoroton's arrangement, which the reader may see at nearly the end of this volume, son these cogent reasons: the towns are now completely joined together by buildings, which form, as it were, one town, altho' in other particulars, they are distinct places; there are also some things noticed which affect both places conjointly.