John Lascelles

John Lascelles

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John Lascelles, the second of three children, was born in around 1510. He was the brother of Mary Lascelles. After studying at Furnival's Inn, in the 1530s he entered the household of Sir Francis Bryan. He now joined the service of Thomas Cromwell and in 1539 he helped him obtain the post of sewer in the king's privy chamber. According to his biographer, Alec Ryrie, the "chamber was a nest of evangelicals, and Lascelles quickly found himself among kindred spirits". (1)

Lascelles was a member of the group associated with opposition to conservatives such as Bishop Stephen Gardiner. When he was visiting his sister, Mary Hall, she told him about the teenage activities of Catherine Howard, the new wife of Henry VIII. Mary claimed that while working in the household of Duchess Agnes Howard at Chesworth House near Horsham, she observed Catherine have sexual relations with Henry Manox, Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper. (2)

John Lascelles took this information to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. He had never approved of Henry's marriage to Catherine. Cranmer did not personally dislike her but he was a strong opponent of her grandfather, Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. If Lascelles's story was true, it gave him the opportunity to discredit her supporters, the powerful Catholic faction. With her out of the way Cranmer would be able to put forward the name of a bride who like Anne Boleyn favoured religious reform. (3)

Cranmer had a meeting with Mary Hall. She told him that when she heard about Catherine's relationship with Manox in 1536 she went to see him and warned him of his behaviour. Manox replied: "Hold thy peace, woman! I know her well enough. My designs are of a dishonest kind, and from the liberties the young lady has allowed me, I doubt not of being able to effect my purpose. She hath said to me that I shall have her maidenhead, though it be painful to her, not doubting but I will be good to her hereafter." Hall then told of Catherine's relationship with Dereham. She claimed that for "a hundred nights or more" he had "crept into the ladies dormitory and climbed, dressed in doublet and hose" into Catherine's bed. (4)

On 2nd November, 1541, Archbishop Cranmer, presented a written statement of the allegations to Henry VIII. Cranmer wrote that Queen Catherine had been accused by Hall of "dissolute living before her marriage with Francis Dereham, and that was not secret, but many knew it." (5) Henry reacted with disbelief and told Cranmer that he did not think there was any foundation in these malicious accusations; nevertheless, Cranmer was to investigate the matter more thoroughly. "You are not to desist until you have got to the bottom of the pot." (6) Henry told Thomas Wriothesley that "he could not believe it to be true, and yet, the accusation having once been made, he could be satisfied till the certainty hereof was known; but he could not, in any wise, that in the inquisition any spark of scandal should arise against the Queen." (7)

Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford) was interviewed in some depth. She had previously given evidence against her husband, George Boleyn, and sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn. She claimed that at first Catherine rejected the advances of Culpeper. She quoted her as saying: "Will this never end?" and asking Lady Rochford to "bid him desire no more to trouble me, or send to me." But Culpeper had been persistent, and eventually the Queen had admitted him into her chamber in private. Lady Rochford was asked to stand guard in case the King came. Rochford added that she was convinced that Culpeper had been sexually intimate "considering all things that she hath heard and seen between them". (8)

Antonia Fraser, the author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992), is highly critical of the evidence provided by Lady Rochford: "Lady Rochford attempted to paint herself as an innocent bystander who had somehow been at the other end of the room where the Queen was meeting Culpeper, without knowing what was going on. Catherine on the other hand reversed the image and described a woman, like Eve, who had persistently tempted her with seductive notions of dalliance; while Culpeper too took the line that Lady Rochford had 'provoked' him into a clandestine relationship with the Queen... Once again, as with the technicalities of the Queen's adultery, absolute truth - and thus relative blame - is impossible to establish." (9)

Mary Hall testified that she saw Catherine and Culpeper "kiss and hang by their bills (lips) together and as if they were two sparrows". Alice Restwood said that there was "such puffing and blowing between (Catherine and Dereham) that she was weary of the same". Margaret Benet admitted that "she looked out at a hole of a door and there saw Dereham pluck up (Catherine's) clothes above her navel so that he might well discern her body". Benet went on to say she heard the couple talk about the dangers of her becoming pregnant. She heard "Dereham say that although he used the company of a woman... yet he would get no child". Catherine replied that she also knew how to prevent having children. She told Dereham that she knew "how women might meddle with a man and yet conceive no child unless she would herself". (10) David Starkey has asked the question: "Was this confident contraceptive knowledge? Or merely old-wives' tales? In either case, it explains why Catherine was prepared to have frequent sex with no apparent heed to the risks of pregnancy." (11)

Thomas Culpeper appeared before the Privy Council to give evidence in his defence. He claimed that although Lady Rochford had "provoked him much to love the Queen, and he intended to do ill with her and likewise the Queen so minded to do with him, he had not passed beyond words". Edward Seymour told Culpeper that his intensions towards Queen Catherine were "so loathsome and dishonest" that in themselves they would be said to constitute high treason and so therefore he deserved to die. (12)

The trial of Culpeper and Dereham began on 1st December, 1541 in Westminster Hall. Dereham was charged with "presumptive treason" and of having led the Queen into "an abominable, base, carnal, voluptuous and licentious life". He was accused of joining the Queen's service with "ill intent". It was claimed that Dereham once told William Damport that he was sure he might still marry the Queen if the King were dead. Under the 1534 Treason Act, it was illegal to predict the death of the King. (13)

Culpeper was accused of having criminal intercourse with the Queen on 29th August 1541 at Pontefract, and at other times, before and after that date. During the trial Culpeper changed his plea to guilty. Dereham continued to plead his innocence but both men were found guilty. Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, sentenced them to be drawn on hurdles to Tyburn "and there hanged, cut down alive, disembowelled, and, they still living, their bowels burnt; the bodies then to be beheaded and quartered". (14)

Thomas Culpeper was beheaded at Tyburn on 10th December 1541. "The place was unusual for such a sentence - beheadings were normally carried out in relative privacy at Tower Hill - but the council had required that he be drawn on a hurdle to Tyburn in order to make his execution notable". (15) Francis Dereham then suffered the full horror of being hanged, castrated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered. Both heads were set up on pikes above London Bridge. (16)

Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, were executed on 13th February, 1542. Before her execution she said she merited a hundred deaths and prayed for her husband. According to one witness Catherine said she "desired all Christian people to take regard unto her worthy and just punishment". The executioner severed her head in a single blow. (17) Lady Rochford followed her to the block. Eustace Chapuys reported that she was "in a frenzy" brought on by the sight of Catherine's "blood-soaked remains being wrapped in a black blanket by her sobbing ladies". It was reported that she made an speech where she called for the preservation of the King before she placed her head "on a block still wet and slippery with her mistress's blood." (18)

John Lascelles's biographer, Alec Ryrie, has pointed out that after hearing his sister's story "John Lascelles... immediately took the matter to Archbishop Cranmer, and so set in motion the process which ended with the queen's destruction. He maintained that he revealed the information to avert a charge of misprision of treason, which may well be true, but he can hardly have regretted the destruction of so prominent a Howard. (19)

Anne Askew, a supporter of Martin Luther, was married to Thomas Kyme, a Catholic. Anne rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname. From her reading of the Bible she believed that she had the right to divorce her husband. For example, she quoted St Paul: "If a faithful woman have an unbelieving husband, which will not tarry with her she may leave him"? (20)

In 1544 Askew decided to travel to London and request a divorce from Henry VIII. This was denied and documents show that a spy was assigned to keep a close watch on her behaviour. (21) She made contact with Joan Bocher, a leading figure in the Anabaptists. One spy who had lodgings opposite her own reported that "at midnight she beginneth to pray, and ceaseth not in many hours after." (22) During her time in London she was also introduced to John Lascelles. (23)

In March 1546 she was arrested on suspicion of heresy. She was questioned about a book she was carrying that had been written by John Frith, a Protestant priest who had been burnt for heresy in 1533, for claiming that neither purgatory nor transubstantiation could be proven by Holy Scriptures. She was interviewed by Edmund Bonner, the Bishop of London who had obtained the nickname of "Bloody Bonner" because of his ruthless persecution of heretics. (24)

After a great deal of debate Anne Askew was persuaded to sign a confession which amounted to an only slightly qualified statement of orthodox belief. With the help of her friend, Edward Hall, the Under-Sheriff of London, she was released after twelve days in prison. Askew's biographer, Diane Watt, argues: "It would appear that at this stage Bonner was concerned more about the heterodoxy of Askew's beliefs than with her connections and contacts, and that he principally wanted to rid himself of a woman whom he found obstinate and vexatious. Her treatment during her first examination suggests, therefore, that Askew's opponents did not yet view her as particularly influential or important." (25) Askew was released and sent back to her husband. However, when she arrived back to Lincolnshire she went to live with her brother, Sir Francis Askew.

In February 1546 conservatives in the Church of England, led by Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, began plotting to destroy the radical Protestants. (26) He gained the support of Henry VIII. As Alison Weir has pointed out: "Henry himself had never approved of Lutheranism. In spite of all he had done to reform the church of England, he was still Catholic in his ways and determined for the present to keep England that way. Protestant heresies would not be tolerated, and he would make that very clear to his subjects." (27) In May 1546 Henry gave permission for twenty-three people suspected of heresy to be arrested. This included John Lascelles and Anne Askew.

John Lascelles, Anne Askew, John Hadlam and John Hemley were executed on 16th July 1546, Agnew "still horribly crippled by her tortures" was carried to execution in Smithfield in a chair as she could not walk and every movement caused her severe pain. (28) It was reported that she was taken to the stake which had a small seat attached to it, on which she sat astride. Chains were used to bind her body firmly to the stake at the ankles, knees, waist, chest and neck. (29) Askew's executioner helped her die quickly by hanging a bag of gunpowder around her neck. (30)

John Bale wrote that “Credibly am I informed by various Dutch merchants who were present there, that in the time of their sufferings, the sky, and abhorring so wicked an act, suddenly altered colour, and the clouds from above gave a thunder clap, not unlike the one written in Psalm 76. The elements both declared wherein the high displeasure of God for so tyrannous a murder of innocents." (31)

Lord Chancellor Wriothesley was in charge of the interrogation, and he saw this chance as another to incriminate the Queen. When Anne Askew proved obdurate, he ordered her to be put on the rack, and, with Sir Richard Rich, personally conducted the examination. Anne Askew later dictated an account of the proceedings, in which she testified to being questioned as to whether she knew anything about the beliefs of the ladies of the Queen's household. She replied that she knew nothing. It was put to her that she had received gifts from these ladies, but she denied it. For her obstinacy, she was racked for a long time, but bravely refused to cry out, and when she swooned with the pain, the Lord Chancellor himself brought her round, and with his own hands turned the wheels of the machine, Rich assisting. Afterwards, Anne's broken body was laid on the bare floor, and Wriothesley sat there for two hours longer, questioning her about her heresy and her suspected involvement with the royal household. All in vain. Anne refused to deny her Protestant faith, and would not or could not implicate anyone near the Queen. On 18th June, she was arraigned at the Guildhall in London, and sentenced to death. She was burned at the stake on 16th July at Smithfield, along with John Lascelles, another Protestant, he who had first alerted Cranmer to Catherine Howard's pre-marital activities. Anne died bravely and quickly: the bag of gunpowder hung about her neck by a humane executioner to facilitate a quick end exploded almost immediately.

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Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (Answer Commentary)

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Anne Boleyn - Religious Reformer (Answer Commentary)

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Women, Politics and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Answer Commentary)

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Martin Luther and Hitler's Anti-Semitism (Answer Commentary)

Martin Luther and the Reformation (Answer Commentary)

Mary Tudor and Heretics (Answer Commentary)

Joan Bocher - Anabaptist (Answer Commentary)

Anne Askew – Burnt at the Stake (Answer Commentary)

Elizabeth Barton and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

Execution of Margaret Cheyney (Answer Commentary)

Robert Aske (Answer Commentary)

Dissolution of the Monasteries (Answer Commentary)

Pilgrimage of Grace (Answer Commentary)

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(1) Alec Ryrie, John Lascelles : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 360

(3) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 444

(4) Mary Hall, testimony to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (October, 1541)

(5) Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, letter to Henry VIII (2nd November, 1541)

(6) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 447

(7) Henry VIII to Thomas Wriothesley (2nd November, 1541)

(8) Jane Boleyn, confession (November, 1541)

(9) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 349

(10) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 460

(11) David Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003) page 670

(12) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 465

(13) Alison Plowden, Tudor Women (2002) page 102

(14) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 470

(15) Retha M. Warnicke, Thomas Culpeper : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(16) David Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003) page 680

(17) Ottwell Johnson, letter to his brother, John Johnson (15th February, 1542)

(18) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 353

(19) Alec Ryrie, John Lascelles : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(20) Diane Watt, Anne Askew : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(21) Peter Ackroyd, Tudors (2012) page 172

(22) J. G. Nichols, Narratives of the Days of the Reformation (1859) page 40

(23) Alec Ryrie, John Lascelles : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(24) Alison Plowden, Tudor Women (2002) page 111

(25) Diane Watt, Anne Askew : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(26) C. D. C. Armstrong, Stephan Gardiner : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(27) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 512

(28) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 387

(29) Elaine V. Beilin, The Examinations of Anne Askew (1996) page 191

(30) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 518

(31) John Bale, The Examinations of Anne Askew (1996) page 92

John Lascelles - History

'Lascelles1' Index links to: Lead / Letter
Families covered: Lascelles of Escrick, Lascelles of Hinderskelfe, Lassells of Sturton
[The original 'Lascelles1' was renamed Lascelles2 to allow this page to take that title as it covers earlier generations. This family is still being investigated.]

Main source(s): 'The History and Antiquities of Harewood' (by John Jones, published in 1859, available on Google Books) with input from TCP (Lascelles), Visitation (Yorkshire, 1584/5+1612, Lassells of Brackenbury &c. (in 2 sections)) and Visitation (Nottinghamshire, 1569+1614, Lascells)
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Downton Abbey Movie: Was Princess Mary’s Marriage Really Unhappy?

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, are shown passing through Paris on their way to Florence, 1922. From Bettmann.

The Downton Abbey movie is an ingenious mash-up: the audience’s favorite fictional period-drama characters colliding with real-life royals on the big screen. The film—written by Downton mastermind and Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes launches with a shock announcement: King George and Queen Mary will be dropping by the Granthams’ lavish estate for a surprise visit. But the king and queen aren’t the only royals rubbing elbows with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Branson (Allen Leech)—their daughter Princess Mary (Kate Phillips) appears in a subplot centering around the character’s troubled marriage. But just how much truth is there to the intriguing story line about Princess Mary and her brusque husband, Viscount Lascelles?

Light spoilers ahead for those who have not yet seen the movie.

As it turns out, the backstory of Princess Mary’s marriage to Viscount Lascelles was even more intriguing in real life. The only daughter of King George and Queen Mary, the princess royal has been largely overlooked in history given her scene-stealing older brothers Edward, who infamously abdicated the throne, and Albert, his successor. Though she was shy and subdued in real life, the princess royal was an interesting character. Having grown up the only girl among brothers, Mary was a full-fledged tomboy—described by the New York Times as “an excellent horsewoman” and “far too athletic and fond of walking to like wearing high heels.” Princess Mary worked through her timidness to make public appearances as a teenager during World War I—visiting hospitals, training as a nurse, and eventually working two nights a week. In spite of her commendable career—establishing Princess Mary’s Christmas Gift Fund, which, according to the Harewood House foundation, distributed £100,000 worth of gifts to British servicemen in 1914—family members and media outlets alike lamented the fact that, when she was in her mid-20s, England’s only princess was still not engaged to be married.

“No girl could have been lonelier,” wrote the New York Times in Princess Mary’s 1922 engagement announcement. “To marry a Prince seemed her destiny, but hardly a Prince remained whom she could marry. It seemed as if she were destined by the disabilities of the position to a life of single blessedness.” Even Mary’s own brother was allegedly worried his sister would be a royal spinster. In 1918, according to the Telegraph, Edward told his mistress Freda Dudley Ward that Mary risked “complete ruination.” He was concerned that, given how guarded she was by her parents, no man would “see enough of her to fall in love with her and take her.” He allegedly criticized his father for “imprisoning her at court, not letting her lead a normal life and ruining her chances of getting married or even existing as a girl of 23 should do.”

Even when Princess Mary finally became engaged to the English aristocrat Viscount Lascelles, though, the conversations about her marital status kept swirling. According to one particularly vicious rumor, Lascelles—who was about 15 years Princess Mary’s senior—hadn’t even really wanted to marry the royal. Instead, so goes the tale, the “Earl of Harewood proposed to her after losing a bet at his club.” Other nasty rumors, still, circulated, including one that alleged “Mary was pressured into the marriage by members of the Royal Family and it was initially frosty.” The possible reason for the pressure, according to another internet source (grain of salt at the ready): “In reality, this wedding killed several political birds with one stone. Following World War l, the newly renamed House of Windsor, previously the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was desperate to prove how ‘English’ it was, in spite of its inbred German origins. By George V allowing his children to marry his more aristocratic subjects in overly lavish public ceremonies, this wedding was the first in what has since become a hallowed Royal Family tradition, the King and his advisors were not only silencing any accusations concerning his family being foreigners, but were also providing just the vicarious thrill needed to quell any thoughts among the proletariat masses of staging a revolution just like their Russian, Austrian, and German comrades had done in 1917/1918." (Fellowes told Vanity Fair that King George and Queen Mary’s reason for the real-life visits around the country, which also took place during this time period, was to promote the monarchy and establish a sense of ownership amongst subjects in the years after so many other crowns fell.)

In spite of reported complaints from Mary’s brother—Princess Mary went on to marry Viscount Lascelles in a highly publicized wedding at Westminster Abbey that seemed to clash against the personal interests of the tomboy princess. The royal nuptials were the first to be covered by Vogue—with the magazine dubbing the bride “a fairy princess with youth, beauty, and happiness.” Her gown and eight bridesmaids—including Queen Elizabeth II’s mother—were reported on breathlessly by press. Though the wedding inspired an undeniable monarchy-promoting media storm, Edward was still wary—worrying, according to the Telegraph, that the union was “too much arranged.” Although he was glad that she was escaping “Buckhouse prison,” he reportedly said “Lascelles is too old for her and not attractive… But he’s rich, and I’m afraid that is a very important thing for poor Mary. I hope to God he’ll make her happy.”

Lascelles was heir to the Earl of Harewood and a wealthy Yorkshireman with a Distinguished Service Order. When Princess Mary and her husband inherited the vast estate—which appears as itself in the Downton Abbey film—Princess Mary was able to live a slightly more private life. On the estate’s 100 acres, according to James Panton’s book about the English monarchy, the princess royal “pursue[d] her interests in cattle breeding (on which she became an authority), horse racing, interior decoration, and landscaping,” while also still maintaining her public engagement schedule.

1860 – Wray brings his nephew, C.J. Ward into his business

By 1860 Wray had become a successful rum merchant and he brought his 22-year-old nephew, Charles James Ward, into the business. By 1862 he had made Ward his partner and the business was known from then on as J. Wray and Nephew. Soon after, Wray retired and in 1870, when he died, Ward assumed full control of the business, headquartered at the Shakespeare Tavern.

“A kill-devil of a drink”, kingston-gleaner-jul-15-2002


One of the first wool stores in Geelong area, Ararat Wool store built in 1874. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria: John T. Collins, 1982

Since wool became booming industry for Geelong, the space for wool store became premium and hence in the next decade, an ad hoc collection of wool stores and warehouses assembled on and near the Geelong waterfront.

The Rise of

C.J. Dennys and E.H. Lascelles Wool Business

Edward Harewood Lascelles

Courtesy of the Victorian Collection

In 1858, an aspiring wool broker and local merchant Charles John Dennys (1817-1898) planned to establish a local wool mart. In 1864, Dennys took into partnership his nephew Martin Lascelles Dennys and four years later another nephew, Edward Harewood Lascelles (1847-1917). When M.L. Dennys retired in 1875, the firm took the title of Dennys, Lascelles and Co. C.J. Dennys and Co.

In Geelong

C. J. Dennys and Co. Wool store Moorabool Street, Geelong after 1880. Courtesy of the Geelong Historical Records Centre and Victorian Collection

Dennys first engaged local architect Jacob Pitman to prepare plans for his new wool store early in 1871, but dismissed him sometime soon after August 1871, when his call for tenders for excavation of the basement of Dennys' wool house was first advertised. The Ballarat contractor­cum-architect Jonathon Coulson took over the Dennys and Co. project and completed the stone structure by August 1872.

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Bow Truss Building

By the end of 1905 the firm of Dennys, Lascelles, Austin and Co. had become one of the largest wool industry in Geelong in terms of the size of the building as well as the annual wool trade. A contemporary description referred to their buildings standing close to the wharves and connected to the railways by a private siding, as constituting &ldquoone of the finest and most complete warehouses in Australia.&rdquo.

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Interior view showing the saw-tooth roof in place taken before the diagonal tension members and the bottom chord were cast in concrete. E. H. Lascelles (left) standing with an unknown party (possibly E. G. Stone).

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Interior of the factory. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Of the New Wool Store

Early in 1910, the ad hoc collection of timber and corrugated iron buildings to the west of the main wool stores and fronting Corio and Clare Streets were removed to allow to commence the project. By July the concrete casting had reached above second floor level. To ensure that the building was completed in time for the next wool season, the work often continued into the night under portable electric lights.

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The Bow Truss Building construction process. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

The Bow Truss Building construction process. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

In the Urban Landscape of Geelong

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At an urban scale, the New Wool Store building forms a dominant presence - due to its sheer size - being the second largest wool-store in the region. In addition to it, the lack of any other building of this scale adds to its dominance into the area too. The dominant scale of Dennys Lascelles Building in the skyline of Geelong at a prominent location in Geelong close to the port manifests how it has acted as a significant landmark for the urban landscapes of Geelong.

Sir John de Lascelles of Henderskelfe Castle, kt

The website, 1066: A Medieval Mosaic describes the following for the Lascelles family as thus:

"Of this ancient family, seated in the county of York, were divers persons," says Dugdale, "of great note many ages since." They had apparently come over with the Breton contingent of the Conqueror's army. Their ancestor, "Picot," an important vassal of Earl Alan of Richmond's in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (Domesday), is identified by means of an early Survey of the fiefs of the latter county, made about the year 1108. He is there entered as "Picotus de Laceles," holding some land of Roger Marmion, "whose sister or daughter he may have married, as Roger de Laceles was his successor and son. We probably have a brother of Picot in William de Loceles, who occurs in the Survey as holding Strailley, in Bedfordshire, of Hugo de Belcamp."𠅊. S. Ellis. They were Barons of Messie in Normandy, and "derived their name from Lacella, near Falaise, which, with its church, belonged in 1154 to the Abbey of St. Sauveur, Evreux (Gall. Christ. IX.). William de Lacelles, who in 1165 held two fees in Yorkshire, was plaintiff in a suit against his uncle Ralph for Lacelle and the barony of Messie, which Ralph yielded to him as his inheritance. (Memoires de la Societe des Antiquaires de la Normandie, XV., 92.)"—The Norman People.

Picot probably died soon after 1108. His son Roger de Lacelles is mentioned in 1131 as one of the "men" of Earl Stephen of Richmond, and held Scruton and Kirkby in the North Riding. After him we hear of Picot, Roger and Robert Fitz Picot, and, lastly, of another Roger, who was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1294 and the two following years. He died shortly after his last writ of summons, leaving by his wife Isabel, the heiress of Thomas Fitz Thomas, four daughters his co-heirs: 1. Matilda, married first Robert de Hilton, of Swine in Holderness, and secondly, Sir Peter Tilliol 2. Theophania, the wife of Ralph Fitz Randolph 3. Johanna, the first wife of Thomas de Culwen 4. Avicia, married to Sir Robert le Constable of Hailsham. His brother Richard was seated at Escrick, where his posterity continued for one hundred and twenty-seven years longer but to none of his lineage was the writ of summons ever again repeated.

The collateral branches were numerous. Duncan de Lascells, (Scotland) in the reign of Coeur de Lion, acquired Bolton in Cumberland through Christian de Bastingthwaite and their descendants held it for three generations.—Hutchinson's Cumberland. John de Lascells, mentioned in the Pipe Roll of 1131, "was probably ancestor of the Lascelles of Otterington in Holderness, and settled there by the Earl of Albemarle."𠅊. S. Ellis. Jordan and his brother Turgis are found in the same record. Jordan's grants to Nostel Priory were confirmed by Henry II. in 1154 and about the year 1146, his sons Gerard and Alan were benefactors to Byland Abbey (Mon. Angl. i. 1032). Alan's son Simon in 1165 held three fees of De Lacy, and "may have been the same Simon who had a duel with Adam Fitz Peter about land at Birkin, which he recovered by overcoming him (Pipe Roll, 5 Ric. I.). Branches of the family remained at Escrick, until 1424, and in Notts, until after 1700: and another branch is now represented by Robert Morley Lascelles, Esquire, of Slingsby. This time-honoured name is also now associated with the Yorkshire Earldom of Harewood."—Ibid.

In this latter case, however, there is considerable doubt and difficulty in determining the descent. Lord Harewood's pedigree begins with John Lascelles, seated at Hinderskelfe (now called Castle Howard) in the time of Ed. II.), and "thought (by Collins) to be a younger son of the house of Sowerby and Brackenbury, who bore the arms without the bordure." This coat, Sable a cross flory within a bordure Or, is not that of Roger Lord Lascelles, which was Argent three chaplets of roses vermaux, within a border engrailed Sable. The author of 'The Norman People' declares their ancestor to have been the Simon de Lacelles mentioned in the Liber Niger, "from whose son John descend lineally the Earls of Harewood." Here we are at once met by a formidable hiatus in the line of descent for a blank of no less than one hundred and twenty-five years intervenes between these two Johns—John the son of Simon and John of Hinderskelfe.

The latter, at all events, is the recognized and undoubted progenitor of the present house. His son was called filius Johannis, or Jackson, and for the next seven generations his descendants successively bore this name. About the end of the fifteenth century, they removed to Gawthorpe, also in the North Riding, where Harewood House was afterwards built, and thence to Stank and Northallerton. Daniel, the sixteenth child born to Francis Lascelles of Stank and Northallerton, served as High Sheriff in 1719, and was the father of two sons who settled in Barbadoes, where the younger, Henry, became Collector of the Customs. This Henry, who had married a West Indian, eventually inherited the estates, including Harewood, bought a few years before: and his son Edwin was created Baron Harewood of Harewood Castle in 1790. But he died childless in 1795 J and his cousin Edward, who became the head of the family, received first the barony, in the following year, and a Viscountcy and Earldom in 1812. Both these peers had been born at St. Michael's in Barbadoes.

Another Lascelles chronicle:

This interesting name is of Norman origin, introduced into England by followers of William the Conqueror after 1066. The surname is locational, from the place called 'Lacelle' in Orne, in northern France, and derives from the Olde French 'la', the , and 'celle', meaning "a hermit's cell", from the Latin 'cella', a small room. Although the first true recording of the surname does not appear until the mid 12th Century in England, it is known that one Roger de Lascelles held land in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire around 1130. London church recordings include one Margaret Lessells who was christened in 1584 at St. Peter's, Westcheap, Elizabeth, daughter of Phillip and Ann Lascelles, was christened at St. Antholin's, Budge Row, on August 31st 1692, and Edmond Lascelles married Mary Applebury on August 13th 1695. Edward Lascelles (1740 - 1820) was created the first Earl of Harewood in 1812. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter de Laceles, which was dated circa 1150, Charles of the Abbey of Rievaulx, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Stephen, Count of Blois, 1135 - 1154. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Another family surname name website describes that the surname of LASCELLES was a locational name 'of de Lascelles' a place in the Arrondissement of Alencon in Normandy, France. Local names usually denoted where a man held land. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child. A number of bearers of this name found in the 12th and 13th centuries in northern England have a common ancestor in Picot de Lascelles, a vassal of the count of Brittany, living circa. 1080. Roger de Lascelles held land in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in 1130. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Other records of the name mention William de Lassell, County Lincolnshire, during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). Francis Lassels of Richmond, registered at Oxford University in 1574. Cuthbert Wytham married Lucy Lassel in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1665. A later member of the family was Edward Lascelles (1740-1820) created the Earl of Harewood in 1812.

The Normans were known for not placing much importance on the correct, or exact spelling of their surnames

particularly while the use of family surnames was a new process. This explains the many variations of a particular surname. In addition, many people were unable to read nor write in the medieval times, and thus a particular surname was easily changed because a person would simply write a given surname the way that it phonetically sounded.

The surname of LASSWELL was also a locational name 'of de Lascelles' a place in the Arrondissement of Alencon in Normandy, France. The name is also spelt LASCELL, LASCELLES, LASSWELL and LASSEL, Lascels, and Lasells, and more. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LASCELLES, George (by 1499-1558), of Sturton and Gateford, Notts.

b. by 1499, 1st s. of Richard Lascelles of Sturton by Dorothy, da. of Sir Brian Sandford. m. Dorothy, da. of Geoffrey Paynell of Boothby Pagnell, Lincs., 5s. inc. Brian Lassells † 4da. suc. fa. 4 Sept. 1520.1

Offices Held

Commr. oyer and terminer, Notts. 1538, relief 1550 j.p. 1547 comptroller, household of 2nd Earl of Rutland 1552-3, 1554-5 or later.2


Born into a branch of the Yorkshire family which had settled in Nottinghamshire by the 14th century, George Lascelles came of age at about the time he inherited his patrimony. Inheriting lands valued at £20 a year, he was to transmit to his son Brian an estate worth thrice that figure. His main acquisition, the manor of Sturton, which was granted to him in 1540 after the execution of its owner, Thomas Lord Darcy, may be viewed as a reward for his services during and after the rebellion of 1536, including his part in Darcy’s downfall: his testimony to the collaboration between Darcy and Robert Aske told heavily against Darcy. His support of Cromwell, with whom he was in contact when commissioned to dissolve Lenton priory in 1538, was in line with his brother John’s position in the minister’s household, although not with the outlook of their cousin, the conservative Christopher Lascelles. It is likely that George Lascelles leaned towards the Protestant views which, carried to extreme lengths, were to bring John Lascelles to a martyr’s death in 1546: the influence of the Hercy family (after whom he was to name one of his sons) would have worked in that direction, as would the association with Richard Whalley which may have led to Lascelles’s taking service with the 2nd Earl of Rutland.3

It was during his first term as comptroller of Rutland’s household that Lascelles was returned to his only Parliament. As a supporter of the Duke of Northumberland and lord lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, the earl doubtless wielded a decisive influence at the election Lascelles’s fellow-knight, William Mering, who also sat for the only time, was a kinsman of Lascelles and a dependant of Rutland. Under Mary, Lascelles seems to have shared the earl’s loss of favour. Although he had himself ridden to Newark to proclaim the Queen, his suing out of a pardon at the time when he was pleading the earl’s cause before the Council may have been more than the conventional acquittance he was dropped from the commission of the peace and given no part in local administration throughout the reign. His death in November 1558 deprived him of the prospect of rehabilitation. The absence of a will suggests that he may have died unexpectedly, perhaps of the disease then widespread.4


Simon Smith explains the history behind the construction of the spectacular Harewood House near Leeds.

Harewood House was built for Barbadian-born landowner, Edwin Lascelles (1713-95), to designs by architects John Carr and Robert Adam.

At the time of its construction (1759-71), Edwin owned neither slaves nor plantations. The wealth underpinning the Palladian splendour, however, derived from an immense West India fortune created by his father, Henry Lascelles (1690-1753), whose net-assets at death probably totaled £408,784 (approximately £52 million in today’s prices). Henry’s slave ownership was limited to one plantation (Guinea estate, Barbados, sold off in 1758), although he did participate in the slave trade, setting up a syndicate investing £41,200 (equivalent to about £4.5 million) in slaving between 1736 and 1744.

Yet in the case of the Lascelles, it was wealth that brought about an involvement in slavery, rather than slavery generating wealth. Henry earned his fortune primarily through unscrupulous exploitation of his positions as Barbadian customs collector (1715-33) and government-appointed contractor to supply troops stationed in the Caribbean with provisions during the Wars of Jenkins' Ear (1739-42) and Austrian Succession (1742-8). He also used his skills as a merchant to establish a London commission house, importing sugar for sale to the city’s refiners. Profits from these activities were invested in English land, London securities, and loans to West India planters.

Henry divided his fortune in such a way as to leave son Daniel Lascelles (1714-84) as head of his business interests. Edwin, in contrast, was groomed to play the role of aspiring aristocrat. A Cambridge University education was followed by a Grand Tour of Europe. After earning an honourable discharge for his role in the defeat of the Jacobites (1745), Edwin entered parliament as MP for Scarborough and by 1748 was installed as Lord of the Manor of Harewood.

Dynastic accident

Had it not been for dynastic accident, the future Earls of Harewood would most likely have severed their connections with slavery completely. But Daniel Lascelles died (heirless) in 1784, followed by youngest brother Henry (1716-86).

Furthermore, as a result of financial problems aggravated by the War of the American Revolution (1776-83), Edwin suddenly acquired an immense portfolio of West Indian property as planters began defaulting on loans and surrendering plantations to their creditors. In just 14 years, between 1773 and 1787, more than 27,000 acres and 2,947 slaves were acquired, worth £293,000 (about £28.3 million).

This total included 22 working plantations on the islands of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and Tobago. Ties to the West Indies were strengthened still further following Edwin’s own death (again childless). The estate was inherited by another Barbadian-born family member, Edward Lascelles (1740-1820), 1st Earl Harewood.

After 1788, the owners of Harewood steadily reduced their interests in the Caribbean. By the time of Emancipation (1833), however, the Lascelles still owned six estates in Barbados and Jamaica, consisting of 3,264 acres and 1,277 slaves. Under the terms of the Parliamentary scheme to compensate planters for freed slaves, the 2nd Earl of Harewood received £23,309 in 1835-6 (approximately £1.9 million).

The Lascelles ranked among the top one percent of aristocratic slave-owning families of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Such was their overall wealth, however, that in 1800 slave plantations accounted for just 25 to 30 percent of investments and only between 21 and 36 percent of income.

Nevertheless, the 2nd Earl still lobbied strongly for the continuation of slavery, rallying a meeting held in 1832 with the cry that: ‘I, among others, am a sufferer but I am not a sufferer equal to those who may have nothing but their West India property to depend upon. (Hear, hear)’


Very few records survive documenting material conditions endured by enslaved persons living on the Lascelles’ estates. Life expectancy at birth between 1817 and 1832 is estimated to have been no greater than 25 years (and probably only between 20 and 22 years). Ninety percent of boys and girls surviving high infant and child mortality rates were working in field gangs by the age of 10 60 percent by age seven.

These figures are similar to other sugar estates in Barbados and Jamaica, but still represent a terrible waste of human life. Opportunities for overt resistance were limited in the Caribbean, particularly on the small island of Barbados, but slaves on Mount and Thicket estates participated in the uprising known as ‘Bussa’s Revolt’ in 1816. Running away was also employed as an act of protest, along with other forms of disobedience.

There is no direct evidence for the presence of black household servants at Harewood House. The records of the London commission house of Lascelles and Maxwell do, however, refer to a small number of domestic slaves accompanying planters on visits to England. It is possible that further research may identify similar examples in the Lascelles’ own Yorkshire or London households.

S.D. Smith
University of York

(Note: Simon's article is provided in a private capacity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the University of York.)

Angela Harewood:

I too am a Harewood born in Trinidad to Barbardian ancestors and am also researching my family tree. I have always believed that there was a historic connection to the Lascelles/Harewood dynasty. I have been told that their is a current inheritance/compensation claim pending and would like very much to link with this movement.

I am researching the Bickerdike family who lived at Harewood circa 1750. One of the grandsons went on to be a partner in a cotton mill in Lancaster. His son became a Captain at Liverpool, and his son went to Brazil to make steel. This sounds as if it all could be connected to the Slave trade!!


When I look at the grandeur of this house, I can feel the whip of the slave-drivers across the sunburnt backs of my people and can hear their cries echo from thence and beyond. The writer of this article is trying to justify the continued existence of this house by distancing it as far away as possible directly from slavery - and this is a respected academic? Lord help us all!


I am a descendant of Edward Lascelles 1st earl of Harewood who had a son (Edward Francis LASCELLES-LLOYD born 1761) with Catherine Mary LLOYD of COEDMORE whom he married locally prior to going back to England to marry Anne CHALONER. My ancestor is though the eldest son of Edward Lascelles . I am just wondering why it is not my uncle, Bob Lascelles- eldest son of the eldests sons - who is earl of Harewood :-)

Dan O'Brien:

It's the proceeds of crime. These are shocking crimes. should all be confiscated and redistributed to black family descendants. At last the English are facing the truth of their past.

I am a Harewood living in Leeds, my uncle is Rev Canon Ivan Harewood who was at the centre of said interviews. In 1995 I started to research our family tree, spending weeks upon weeks in the Barbados archives. I traced back as far as 1799, where I saw the marriage certificate of my great-great-grandparents. My grandfather was born in 1863 on the Belle plantation (owned by the Lascelles family) His mother was a slave on the said estate. When I tried to find her husband, my great-grandfather, there were no details in any of the records for him. Now knowing the skin complexion of my grandfather, is it possible that his father could of been a white man from the Lascelles/Harewood estate? In all the questions that have been put to the present occupier of Harewood house, no one has put THE question to them, do they believe in their heart of hearts that their blood does not flow through our veins? Have they got black blood relatives living but a stone's throw away?

Alan Jackson:

Prior to the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833 the Earl of Harewood, on hearing of the atrocities inflicted on slaves by plantation owners, spoke earnestly to The Rev William Knibb in the House of Lords about the conditions on his estates in Jamaica. William was able to assure him that his manager was a moral man.
(Source Pp175-6 Memoir of William Knibb by John Howard Hinton (Houlston & Stoneman 1847)

Whereas William Wilberforce is known as a lead figure in the abolition of the slave trade on British ships, few now are aware of the great part played by William Knibb in the abolition of slavery itself throughout the British Empire fron Kettering, Northants, his missionary work in Jamaica, evidence before the Houses of Parliament and extensive travels throughout the UK, marked him out. It was during his cogent evidence to a Committee of the House of Lords that the meeting with the Earl of Harewood took place.

William Knibb's granddaughter Mary ('Minnie') Knibb Milbourne can be found on the 1881 Census in Leeds and in the same year married John Wrigley Willans, then Editor of The Leeds Mercury (a local newspaper).

Victor Shaw:

We know and feel the pain of our ancestors because we live the cause and effects every day.

Simon Smith replies:

Reply to Mr X: Do you know the name of your grandfather's mother? A search of a database of enslaved persons may turn up some information that could be of interest.

Reply to Alan Jackson: the attorneys in charge of the Harewood plantations on Jamaica were Lewis Cuthbert & Alexander MacLeod (1790s), Francis Graeme (c.1799-1817) and George William Hamilton (c.1817-). Perhaps William Knibb was referring to one of these individuals!?

General comment: The contribution made by the 18th Century Lascelles to the growth of the slave trade was indirect but nevertheless substantial. By guaranteeing the payment of slaves sold on credit by slave traders to West Indian planters, a major debt problem was overcome. Financial innovations, pioneered by London merchants such as Henry Lascelles (1690-1753), permitted the transatlantic slave trade to expand to new levels.

Peter Wood:

Harewood house and its 3,000 acres should be sold and the money should be given to the poor of the world.

Juliette Gordon:

My maiden name is Harewood and I was born in Barbados. My Great-grandmother was also a Harewood, originally from St. Phillip and later moved to St. Michael. I'm trying to find some of my roots as well.

Cynthia Harewood:

My name is also Harewood. My father was born in Cuba but his parents in Barbados. I have since lost both my parents but I really would like to research my family tree. My email address is [email protected] if anyone is able to help.

Abigail Harewood:

I am also a Harewood who is searching for their family roots. My father was born in Barbados but I know little about his family.

Lillian Harewood:

Juliette, my great grandfather was a Harewood who moved from St. Phillip to St Michael (St Barnabas). I now live in the US but most of my family is still in Barbados. I would LOVE to be able to trace my roots beyond my grandparents.

Paul Szucs:

Though I don't agree with slavery, most of these islands would not of been brought into civilisation. So why should these great British houses be sold and the money shared to poor third world countries? Britain gives enough and continues to do so.

Beaumont Family History

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From continued research we are about to offer more information
on the Beaumont’s of the area around Kikheaton and Lepton.
This has proven to be an extensive undertaking, as there seems to be no shortage of Beaumont’s in the area.

Volume 5 Beaumont’s of Netherthong
“Forefathers: A History of the Working Class Beaumont’s of West Riding, Yorkshire,
inquires are welcome

Volume consits of over 58 chapeters and covers the area of Berry Brow, Castle Hill, Hall Bower, Honley Chapelry Area, Armitage Bridge, Wood Bottom, and Steps Mill .

Final editing was Completed
Volume 1: Descendants of Abraham Beaumont of Deershaw.

"Forefathers: A History of the Working Class Beaumont's of West Riding, Yorkshire"

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Much has been written about the Beaumont nobility in Yorkshire -- the landed gentry, such as the Beaumont's of Lascelles Hall -- but there is little that tells of the difficult and often impoverished lives of those Beaumont's who lived outside the manor house walls. The working-class Beaumont's were ordinary men and women who were honest Quakers, woolen weavers, stone delvers, and steelworkers.

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"Forefathers: A History of the Working Class Beaumont's of West Riding, Yorkshire"

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A continuation and expansion on the working-class Beaumont's who lived in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Volume 2 follows the lives and expands upon family groups, some from Volume 1 and others new.

With more solid research and dedication another two volumes have been completed of "Forefathers." Thus expanding the resources available for tracing two centuries of working class Beaumont's from West Riding, Yorkshire

Volume 3: Beaumont's of Longley

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"Forefathers: A History of the Working Class Beaumont's of West Riding, Yorkshire"

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of Upper Longley and Ann Roebuck. Because of the riches of information we separated these families into this volume.
Telling the sorry of these Beaumont's, who worked in the mills and at their workbenches with labor-hardened hands.

Many years of research have gone into our study of the Beaumont's of the West Riding of Yorkshire and it’s surrounding areas. There is still much to do and the search continues.

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ElstonAll Saints

Elston is a village of over 600 inhabitants situated just five miles south-west of the market town of Newark and a similar distance southeast of Southwell. The village is most famous for being the home of the Darwin family, which has produced several notable natural scientists, since the 17th century. The village is also notable as since early times it has had two churches, a result of the village being divided into two parishes.

Domesday Book mentions a priest called Norman holding lands at Elston and that another landholder, Ilbert de Lacy, was making a claim for the &lsquopriest&rsquos land&rsquo against Bishop Remegius &ndash though what priest isn&rsquot mentioned. It seems probable though that a church was already there in the village, a pre-Conquest structure most likely, that may have formed the basis for one of the later churches in the village. The next mention of a church in Elston is of a tragic incident. Gabriel d&rsquoEylston (Elston), son of Ralph, of a family of knights, was struck by lightning and killed while on the church porch. The date of his death is not known exactly, but was around the late 12th century or early 13th century. However this may have been Elston Chapel, which seems to have been the first of the two churches in Elston to be built from architectural evidence, during the 12th century.

Elston All Saints itself dates to the 13th century, however, and some parts of the original church, including the tower and some of the chancel windows, still survive. The first patrons of the church were the Eylston family and it is likely that one of them sponsored the construction of the church. There is certainly no mention of the church being constructed on the orders of any higher ecclesiastical authority. The exact date of the church&rsquos construction is not known but the first rector for the church mentioned in sources is Henry Moryn, who took office in 1270, so we can assume the church must have been completed before that. Certainly in 1233 Archbishop Gray gave a pronouncement from Elston concerning the institution of the vicar of Hickling we may assume it was made from one of the two churches in the village and thus may have been from All Saints.

A few years later, in 1291, a tax survey ordered by Pope Nicholas IV valued the church as worth £5. A similar tax report of 1341, called the Nonarum Inquisitiones, also taxed the church at 100s but gives more detail about the church&rsquos income sources. The church received the ninths of sheaves, lambs and fleeces from the villagers which was worth 5 marks (£3 6s. 8d.) as well as a tithe on hay worth another 3 marks (£2). Altar dues provided another 3 marks to the church.

None of this was a great income and the church&rsquos priest must have lived a relatively poor existence in the early days of the church. It may have been this that prompted the chaplain of Elston, Robert Rose, to go hunting in the park of the Archbishop of York without a licence. He was caught in 1330 stealing deer and suffered a period of imprisonment until he was pardoned by a court in September of that year.

In 1307 archbishop Greenfield issued a mandate to his official to cause the church of Elston to be served by a chaplain at a payment of four marks (£2 13s 4d) per year during the suspension of William, the rector. He had apparently been suspended for certain causes (ex causis legitimus) at the visitation, but we are not told what these were. However, in August 1308 the sequestrator was informed that the sequestration of the rector's goods had been relaxed.

In 1428 the value of the church had fallen according to a tax called for by Henry VI. At this time Elston was taxed 6s 8d., i.e. 10% of its value which would have then been £3 6s. 4d.

On December 4th, 1480, Joan Methley of Elston, the widow of John Methley, a lawyer, willed that she desired to be interred in the aisle of Elston church, before the altar of St. John Baptist (coram altari S. Joh. Bapt.). To the fabric of the said aisle she left 40 s. of her husband's gift. To John, her son, a chalice, a Missal, and a vestment, along with all the furniture of the chapel.

In 1577 Adam Arnold, an inhabitant of Elston village, was sued 'for refusinge to use the office of a churchwarden.' He defended himself in court, claiming that his house had not been charged to serve as a warden. Many churchwarden posts were elected by the parishioners but some parishes used other methods and in Elston the office may have been meant to be (or thought to be) tied to certain dwellings with those who lived there responsible for the church. The judge listening to the case ordered that another warden be appointed while the dispute was ongoing. Sadly there is no record of how the dispute was resolved, nor for that matter whether the church itself suffered during it.

Elston All Saints seems to have suffered little from the turbulence of religious conflict that plagued England through the 16th and 17th centuries. The church did not have a chantry (at least none is mentioned prior to the Reformation) nor was it attached to a monastic priory and so the biggest changes of Henry VIII&rsquos break with Rome &ndash the closure of those institutions &ndash had little effect. There was a change of rector in 1533, Gregory Cook replacing Sebastian Gardiner. However as the latter had served as rector for the church for 43 years the changeover probably had little to do with the Reformation.

At the same time Reverend Cook became rector the church passed from the patronage of the Archbishop of York (Edward Lee in 1533, but prior to that Thomas Cranmer) and passed to Robert Nevill and his daughter Alice. The church had previously been patronised by private individuals, lords of the manor of Elston generally, including the Mountenay and Bosvile families. It had passed to the Archbishops of York only in 1490.

At the Reformation the clear annual value of the parsonage of Elston is given in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as £9 15s. 8d., less summary payments yielding a total of £9 8s. 8d. The parson at the time is named as Gregory Cooke. Also at this time the Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral is noted as holding a portion of Elston and Syerston worth £22 11s. 6d. annually.

In 1587 the churchwardens reported that 'the churchyard is out of repair but it will be presented at the next court if it is not amended'. In 1603 they reported that there were no recusants and that there were 84 communicants and 40 children and infants, 'and these are the just numbers of all men, women and children in our parish'. In 1608 the wardens stated that 'our church is out of repair, for which Mr Pettie has given us liberty until Michaelmas twelvemonth [he has also given] until Whitsuntide to provide one cushion and pulpit cloth'. In 1616 the bell was broken and the churchwardens asked for time to repair it.

Richard Gymney, the rector at Elston for two years between 1610 and 1612, was apparently not well liked by his parishioners or the churchwardens, who presented him to the archdeacon for not being resident in Elston for one and a half years. As Richard was also the vicar of Stoke he likely resided there instead. In turn he presented the wardens for not providing a decent seat for him to read services from, and for the lack of a decent pulpit in the church. Although only rector for two years he also served as curate for Elston chapel for most of the 17th century, during which he made many further presentments.

In 1637-8 the churchwardens of 'nearly every parish' in the archdeaconry were cited for not producing rails for the communion table in their church. Around this time the altar was also moved to the chancel from the body of the church.

The 17th century saw further conflict. During the Civil Wars Newark was besieged by Parliamentary forces for several years and Elston suffered some hardship as a result of the nearby fighting. Troops on both sides routinely plundered the nearby villages for food, produce and livestock during the siege and in 1644 there was a brief skirmish in the village when a Royalist troop resting there was ambushed and defeated. The church however survived without any appreciable damage. Towards the end of the Commonwealth period, from 1658, until just after the Restoration in 1662, Elston was without a rector. The delay in the appointment of a new priest for the village was almost certainly due to the confusion caused by the Restoration and the rearrangement of the church hierarchy as priests resigned or were reappointed. Further trouble was caused later in the century when the Glorious Revolution overthrew the Stuart King James II. Elston&rsquos rector George Lascelles was recorded as taking the Oaths of Allegiance to his new monarchs William III and Mary II in 1689.

The Lascelles were the owners of Elston Hall at this time and had been for much of the 16th century. There is an inscription over the tower arch dedicated to John Lascelles, 3rd son of George Lascelles, who died in 1616. Many members of the family were buried under the church tower, an area sometimes called the Lascelles Chapel as a result, and the south aisle is sometimes called the Lascelles Aisle. During the civil war the family had been divided in its loyalties. Another George Lascelles had served the King before switching sides and one story tells of how he had pursued King Charles in 1651 only for the king to escape with the help of his relative John Lascelles. The son of that George Lascelles was also called John and was the patron of the church in 1689, although he lived for only a couple more years and the patronage passed to his mother Anne Lascelles.

Anne Lascelles had, before marrying John, been in a marriage to Robert Waring and had a daughter also named Anne, who married a man named William Darwin and they had two sons, William and Robert. In 1708 the latter bought out the Lascelles interest in Elston Hall and so the Darwins became the lords of the manor in Elston. William&rsquos fourth son was Erasmus Darwin, who was born in Elston in 1731, the first noted naturalist of the Darwin family but hardly the last for his grandson was the famed Charles Darwin, the man who wrote &lsquoThe Origin of Species&rsquo in 1859.

Charles Darwin did not live in Elston, though he likely visited the village on occasion, as other branches of the Darwin family did remain there. Besides being lords of the manor they also replaced the Lascelles as patrons of Elston All Saints. The church has remained in the patronage of the Darwin family ever since. A couple of Darwins, both named John have also served as rectors of Elston, the first from 1766 to 1805 and the second from 1815 to 1819. The close relationship between All Saints' church and the Darwins is demonstrated by the numerous memorials in the church to various family members, including 14 marble and one brass monuments, and the various restorations of the church in the 18th and 19th centuries. Charles Darwin himself wrote in a letter of 1839 of how his great-grandfather William Darwin had discovered a fossilised Ichthyosaurus in a piece of stone next to the well in the rectory grounds.

In 1743 Archbishop Herring visited Nottingham Archdeaconry and toured the deaneries, receiving reports from the parish priests as he went. The rector for Elston at the time was George Chappell, who had served the parish since 1732, and who was also the vicar of Barnby-in-the-Willows, and assisted his relative, Edward Chappell, the rector of Thorpe, by acting as the curate there. Elston was where he chose to reside however. The village at that time had 19 families living there, and George reported that there was one dissenter amongst them, an old woman who was a papist (Roman Catholic). He also reported that he gave services at Elston and Thorpe, only a mile away, each week alternating. He also gave the Sacrament four times a year at Elston and that about 30 of the 44 communicants in the village attended it last Easter. The church clearly remained a thriving part of the community, albeit a shrinking community (in 1676 another rector had reported 70 communicants in the village).

At some unknown date towards the end of the 18th century, probably in the 1780s, a second aisle was built onto the north side of the church, possibly to match up with the single existing aisle that had been there for centuries. Soon after, in 1793, the tower&rsquos peal of three bells were replaced by a new set of five, purchased by Robert Waring Darwin, the patron of the church. All five bells, which were hung by T Osborn of Downham, Norfolk, survive to this day although they have been rehung several times and have suffered some damage over the years. A bell-ringing competition was held at the church when they were first hung up.

At this time the church owned glebe lands worth £2 17s 4d per annum. It also received 18s 10. 5d from the tithes on the tenths (of produce) each year.

In 1816 Robert Darwin gave £350 to charity to be used for church purposes. The parish clerk was to receive 1s a week partly in recompense for cleaning the church and its windows when the wardens requested. The residue of the interest on the £350 was to be spent on repairing the fabric and ornaments of the church with any left being used on churchyard maintenance. Unfortunately Robert Darwin passed away that same year, apparently without actually transferring the £350. Some of it was paid by his trustee William Brown Darwin until 1829, but it was a few years before the cease of this payment was noticed by the Charity Commissioners, who had to order William to pay the rest of the money and restore the charity.

William seems to have been a keen supporter of the church himself, despite the above confusion. In 1837 he spent £2,000 of his own money, a considerable sum, on restoring and beautifying the church. As part of this work the Darwin family mausoleum was built within the church. Some of his devotion to the church may have been the result of the tragic deaths of his three daughters to various illnesses between 1835 and 1838, at the young age of 13, 14, and 15 years, which must have been a great loss to William. All three girls have memorials in the church dedicated to their memory.

Census information showed Elston&rsquos population had grown considerably in the previous century, to several hundred inhabitants. A religious census taken in 1851, while giving lower figures for the population than the main census, does also tell us that Elston&rsquos congregation typically numbered around 77 in the morning and 60 in the afternoon &ndash though some people may have gone to both services and so been counted twice. There were also 40 Sunday scholars at the time.

Further work was done on the church in 1859. Due to subsidence, and some rather poor quality work done in 1837, major repairs had to be carried out on the chancel. The Darwin mausoleum, built only two decades before, had to be taken down. It was never rebuilt and the family members buried in it were reinterred elsewhere in the church. A new vestry was also constructed as part of the work. This time much of it was paid for not by the Darwins but by the rector at the time, the Reverend Frederick Swire, who also paid £2,000 to build a new parsonage house in 1855.

The division of the village into two parishes finally came to an end in 1870, when Elston Chapel and its jurisdiction were transferred over to be attached to All Saints. The chapel had long been attached to Stoke parish but had become increasingly unused. Before long the chapel was made redundant and passed into the hands of the Church Conservation Trust.

All Saints continued to be used and built upon. In 1882 another round of building work took place, this time mostly interior improvements. A memorial west window was placed, in the memory of John Thorpe of Elston Hall. A new oak pulpit was also added and similarly dedicated to him, given by his nieces. The 1880s saw several other memorial windows placed in the church and dedicated to various Darwin&rsquos. Around this time the rectory was listed as being £227 in value.

In 1912 a sixth bell was added to the church&rsquos peal. It was hung by John Taylor and Co of Loughborough, who also rehung the other five bells, which had become unsafe, retuning them and adding chiming apparatus. The new bell was dedicated to John Lloyd Wharton, who had been a conservative MP and who had died that year. His daughter had married Charles Waring Darwin, son of the lord of the manor, Francis Darwin, and so came to Elston back in the 1890&rsquos and it was she that gave the new bell to the church in her father&rsquos memory. The new bell was added amongst extensive restoration work that caused the church to close for several months. The work mainly focused on replacing much of the interior fittings and furnishings. A new altar was installed with new vestments and a set of oak panels placed on either side of it. A stone piscina and aumbry were added for the convenience of the priest. The chancel arch was also raised, and the church was re-roofed. The old pews were removed and replaced with chairs. The church reopened on the 23rd December 1912 in a special service headed by the Bishop of Southwell during which the new altar and bell were dedicated.

That same year another visitation report lists 'Elston with Elston Chapelry' as being a parish of 312 people with a rectory worth £180 in value. There were 73 people attending the church day school and another 53 in Sunday School. The Rector, Charles Hubert (or Wilfred) Whitfield, had performed four baptisms and 24 confirmations in the previous year.

When electricity first came to the village at some point in the early 20th century the Darwins were of course the first to have it installed. However they also paid to have it installed in the church as well, which thus came to have electrical lighting in advance of many rural churches.

Like other churches, a war memorial was set up in Elston church in the wake of the First World War. It can still be seen in the porch of the church, and lists those local inhabitants who lost their lives fighting in both world wars. One of them, Corporal Frederick Hickman, had been born in the village but had actually emigrated to Canada in 1908. Nonetheless he returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was killed in France only a few months before the end of the war in 1918. Another, Sergeant Arthur Spowage, also died in 1918, having received the Distinguished Conduct Medal three years earlier for his courageous actions. During the Great War school children would come into the church every day at noon to pray for their fathers, brothers, and other relatives off fighting in the war.

In 1993 the silver communion chalice was stolen from the church by a man who then tried to sell it on at a Newark Antique shop. He was caught in the act by the police, presumably alerted by a sharp-eyed shop-keeper, who returned the chalice to the church before the rector had even realised it had been taken.

The Darwin family has continued to patronise the church through the 20th century and on into the 21st. Charles John Wharton Darwin was followed as patron by his daughter Vivien Mary Kindersley before it passed to a different branch of the family, to Christopher Darwin, soon after the turn of the millennium.

Watch the video: Pure Majespecter 12th Place London, England Regional Profile by John Lascelles