A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
Ashley and Silverley were held separately before 1066 by the king's thegn Wulfwine and passed at the Conquest to Aubrey de Vere, (fn. 1) whose descendants the earls of Oxford had the overlordship until 1400 (fn. 2) or later.
ASHLEY was held from Aubrey in 1086 by Everard son of Brian, (fn. 3) whose successors were the Lavenham and Beauchamp families, as at Saxton manor in Woodditton. (fn. 4) Under them the manor was held in 1166 by Ralph de Guînes as 1 knight's fee. (fn. 5) Geoffrey de Guînes (fl. 1208-15) (fn. 6) was succeeded by his son Robert (fn. 7) (fl. 1229-56), (fn. 8) whose son John (fn. 9) was lord perhaps from 1262 (fn. 10) and in 1279. (fn. 11) John's son John (fn. 12) gave ½ fee to the Hospitallers and c. 1302 shared the rest with others. (fn. 13) His holding had ceased to be regarded as a manor by 1349. (fn. 14) Ashley manor house, occupied by the Guînes family in the 13th century, (fn. 15) was at the moated site called Gesyns 1 km. ESE. of the village. (fn. 16)
SILVERLEY, retained by Aubrey de Vere in 1086, (fn. 17) was held as 2 knights' fees in 1166 by Geoffrey Arsic. (fn. 18) Reynold Arsic was in possession 1187-97, (fn. 19) his son Geoffrey 1215-36, (fn. 20) Geoffrey's son Reynold 1242-62, (fn. 21) and Reynold's son Geoffrey by 1277. (fn. 22) About 1280 Geoffrey gave the manor to the Hospitallers. (fn. 23) The Arsics' manor house was at the moated site in Sylhall plantation ½ km. SSE. of the village. (fn. 24)
After 1280 the Knights Hospitallers of Chippenham united the manors as ASHLEY or ASHLEY WITH SILVERLEY with much land acquired from freeholders. (fn. 25) On the suppression of the Hospital in 1540 (fn. 26) the Crown gave the manor by exchange in 1541 to Edward North of Kirtling (fn. 27) (kt. 1542, cr. Lord North 1554). From the 1540s the manor and other land in Ashley passed with the Kirtling estate in the hands of the North family, except between 1691 and 1695, when it was the jointure of Charles Lord North and Grey's widow Katharine, wife of Francis Russell. (fn. 28)
The Guîneses and Arsics kept their houses when they released the manors, (fn. 29) and the Hospitallers had a different manor house near the modern Ashley Hall south-east of the green. (fn. 30) In 1517 their chapel stood in its farmyard. (fn. 31) In 1765 the thatched farmhouse of Ashley Hall farm was still regarded as the manor house. (fn. 32) The present Ashley Hall was built to replace it in 1893. (fn. 33) It was sold by the Kirtling estate as a private house without farmland in 1944 and remained such in the 1990s. (fn. 34)
The reputed manor of CANNONS or CANHAMS derived from land owned by Spinney priory before 1242. (fn. 35) The priory had land assessed at 40s. in 1254 (fn. 36) and 245 a. in 1279. (fn. 37) Spinney was united in 1449 with Ely cathedral priory, (fn. 38) whose lands in Ashley were sold to Edward North in 1541, (fn. 39) and thus united with the principal manor. The estate's farm house was still regarded as a manor house in 1627 and stood on the site of Silverley Hall Farm. (fn. 40)
HATFIELD REGIS priory (Essex), founded by the de Veres c. 1135, (fn. 41) was acquiring property in Silverley in the late 12th century, including 6 a. and the tithe of a windmill. (fn. 42) In 1254 its estate was assessed at 100s., only 6s. 8d. short of the rector's assessment. (fn. 43) The priory appropriated the rectory in 1329 (fn. 44) and merged the two estates to form SILVERLEY RECTORY manor. After the Dissolution it was sold in 1543 to Sir Edward North, (fn. 45) later passing with Kirtling.
The so-called manors of GAYNESHALL and SILVERLEYHALL were a freehold estate first recorded c. 1520 in the hands of the Lancaster family. (fn. 46) Thomas Lancaster sold it in 1537 to Henry Everard, (fn. 47) whose heir John Everard conveyed it in 1557 to Thomas Smith. (fn. 48) It eventually came to Sir Jermyn Davers, Bt., who sold it with c. 400 a. in 1737 to Charles Seymour, duke of Somerset. (fn. 49) It thus became part of the Cheveley estate and remained so until 1920, when the estate was sold piecemeal. The manorial rights evidently remained with those of Cheveley. (fn. 50)