The Shipley Estate - Studies in History


Brian Taylor and Philip Ibbotson

A Possession of Burton Abbey?

{shipley grange map}At the beginning of the second millennia of the Christian era, Wulfric Spot endowed the Benedictine monks with land to found and support a monastery at Burton on Trent. In his will, dated 1002 to 1004, and in a royal charter -from King Ethelred, which confirmed Wulric's endowments in 1004, there are over forty estates listed most of which are in Staffordshire or in Derbyshire. A place named "Sciplea" appears in both documents.

As the lists do not segregate the places into counties or any other grouping, one cannot be sure it is Shipley in Derbyshire which actually is referred to but other close by places, such as Hallam, Breadsall and Morley, are listed [see the map, right and linked page]. Only five years later, the adjacent manors of Smalley and Kidsley were bestowed on Burton. Thus, it seems that there was a cluster of manors in this area. A similar cluster of manors owned by Burton was Crich, Wingfield, Alfreton, Ogston, Morton and Pilsley; which are some 10 to 15 Km to the north.

As a Saxon foundation, Burton lost much of its land and wealth after the Norman Conquest and all the estates mentioned above passed into other hands.


The Domesday Survey completed in 1066 records that Shipley (Scipelie) was held by Gilbert de Gand of Ghent), as were Ilkeston, Hallam and Stanton-by-Dale. Shipley comprised two manors and was described as follows :-

"In Shipley Brun and Odincar had 2 carucates (some 320 acres) of land taxable. Land for two ploughs. There are 7 villeins (villagers holding land), 1 sokeman (freeman) and 1 bordar (smallholder); who have 5 ploughs. There are 5 acres of meadow and woodland pasture measuring 7 furlongs in length and 3 furlongs in width (210 acres). In the time of King Edward (before the Conquest) it was worth 40 shillings; now it is worth 50 shillings. Malger holds it. The jurors (giving the information under oath) stated that this land had not belonged to Ulf Fenisc in the time of King Edward but the same two thanes (Brun and Odincar) hold it with the right to give it or sell it to whoever they wish."

The Rufford Abbey charters

Gilbert de Gand, who appears in the Domesday Book, was the son of Ralph, Count of Alost, a supporter of King William I (the Conqueror). In reward for their support, the Gands were given considerable lands by the King and their main land holdings were in Nottinghamshire. Gilbert died in 1159 and was succeeded by his grandson, also named Gilbert (the son of Walter de Gand). As was fashionable at that time, the latter Gilbert, then Count of Lincoln, decided to found a monastery. This was the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary at Rufford.

The Abbey had to have sufficient land to provide an adequate source of income. Gilbert, as tenant-in-chief from the King, personally gave the Abbot the manors of Rufford and Cratley, together with estates in Barton, Willoughby and elsewhere. The land charters of the Abbey record these gifts and others from a number of Gilbert's own tenants.

Among these tenants, or barons, was Hugh de Muskham (or Muschamp) whose family, besides holding land in Muskham and Kelham in Nottinghamshire, had been enfeoffed with the lordship of Ilkeston and Shipley in Derbyshire.

One of the earliest of the Rufford Charters records how Hugh gave land at Shipley to the Abbey. In his words (translated from the original Latin):-

"I give ........ in perpetual alms for the safety of the soul of myself and of my wife and for my children and for the souls of my father and mother, my land called Grenesweit with all its pertinences in woods and in open fields and all other things, namely in minerals and in pasture, and common rights of mining and wood-cutting in Scipleia (Shipley), which I hold freely in that township. This gift is made with the agreement and goodwill of Robert my man and lord of the same township. It is given free of all land services and constitutes the following land - namely from Stemesford up to the boundaries of Kidesle (Kidsley) and of Hemesovre (Heanor). The Brothers (of the Abbey) are not to have more than four axes (woodmen?) in the forest. I concede and confirm to the Abbot the 10 acres which Robert has given in alms and the 20 acres which he has sold to him and also 6 acres which Walter has sold to him."

A separate charter was made by Gilbert, Earl of Lincoln, to confirm the gifts from Hugh de Muskham, including "the land in the territory of Siplee with woods and open land given with the free agreement of Robert of Sipleia and his brother". Perhaps, it can be assumed the Walter named above was the brother of Robert of Shipley.

A Papal Bull of Pope Adrian IV, dated 8 November 1156, confirmed the gifts to Rufford made by Gilbert de Gand and those made by Hugh de Muskham and the other tenants. The gifts included "land cultivated and uncultivated at Sipleia (Shipley) with a forge and other things".

{shipley grange map}Some 20 years later, Robert son and heir of Hugh de Muskham confirmed all his father's gifts to Rufford. The wording is very similar to the original charter - the names used are "Siplei", "Greneswahit", "Steneisford", "Kideslei" and "Henower" - and it is added that there is a toft (or smallholding)in which is the forge and grange of the Brothers. [The map, right and on linked page, suggests where the Grange seems most likely to have been situated, with the "Long Dam" remaining today as "Adam's Pond"]

[A grange may have been simply a barn, or a farmhouse, or a sheep farm. Holdsworth, in his introduction to the Rufford Charters, describes the Cistercian grange as a compact estate often on the otherwise unoccupied margins between village territories which certainly applies to the location at Shipley.]

Not long after, Robert of Shipley and William his son acknowledged that they and their heirs would pay an annual rent, of half a silver mark to be paid at Pentecost, to the monks of Rufford for the whole of their holdings at Shipley (Sipley). This was agreed to by Robert de Muskham. It is likely that Shipley had proved to be too far (over 30 miles, 50 Km) from Rufford for the monks to look after their property properly and the lease back to the original donor of the land was a sensible course of action. In addition, in an accompanying charter, Robert de Muskham granted the monks a half silver mark in alms annually, "for the souls of myself, my wife, my father, my mother, all my ancestors and for the soul of my brother-in-law Fulcon de Castilon". This half mark was to be paid by Robert of Shipley (Sipleia) from the rent which he owed to Robert de Muskham.

The last charter relating to the Rufford holding at Shipley is from around 1250. In this Robert le Vavasour gave various land holdings and rents in Chesterfield and Newbold to the Abbey. Towards the end of the charter is a record that; "there is one mark of rent remaining in exchange for the one mark which the monks used to receive from me and Nicholas son of John de Henovere (of Heanor) from the township of Schypleg' (Shipley). A further half a mark of annual rent remains in perpetual alms to be paid as a pittance on the anniversary of the death of my father William le Vavassur".

Thus, the monks of Rufford no longer were to have any land at Shipley. This was proved by a grant by King Edward I, on 7 June 1265, of free warren on their lands to the monks of Rufford; all their lands are listed and Shipley is not on the list.

Two landowners at Shipley?

In the last of the Rufford Charters, the rent from Shipley is shown to have been due from Robert le Vavasour and from Nicholas son of John de Henovere (of Heanor). This implies that there were two (at least) landowners at Shipley in the mid-thirteenth century. Reverting to the Domesday record, it will be recalled that there were two unnamed manors and two thanes, Brun and Odincar, in 1086.

The joint ownership is confirmed by two other contemporary sources. The "Book of Fees" for 1242 records that Nicholas son of John de Henovere and Robert le Vavasour held two-thirds of a knight's fee in Shipley.

Nicholas son of John de Henovere appears to have died in 1254-5 as the "Pipe Roll" (tax list) of that year records that Nicholas (II) de Henovere paid a new oblation and such payments, seem to have been made in order to procure royal approval for an heir taking up his/her inheritance. In 1258, a "Fine" was paid when Nicholas de Henovere and Agnes his wife exchanged land in Litchurch, plus rents in Chellaston and Thorneton, with Geoffrey de Dethek, for a moiety (or share) of the manors of Heanor, Langley and Milnhay.

{two manors map}As numerous records exist, including those of Rufford Abbey, which name Robert le Vavasour as "of Shipley", the question is what was the other manor called? Here the Charters of another Abbey, that of Darley, give an answer. In a charter, dated around 1260-70, relating to land in Full Street, Derby, the name of Alicia de Oulegreve is recorded. The modern translation of this name is "Algrave" which is a large farm on the eastern side of Shipley parish, or township. Moreover, the northern boundaries of Oulegreve are Heanor, Langley and Milnhay.

Thus, the two manors appear to have been Shipley and Oulegreve. Moreover, some 400 years later, Oulegreve was held separately from the main Shipley township and a fee-farm rent was paid, indicating it had a more important status than that of a simple tenancy.

Oulegreve and the "de Henovere" family (of Heanor)

The Darley charter following that of Alicia de Oulegreve is dated 20 November 1260 and relates that Robert son of Henry de Oulegreve and his brother Adam then held the land in Full Street. The relationship between Alicia and Robert is not stated but the evidence is clear that the same plot of land is involved.

The "Pipe Rolls" for 1260 record that Robert of Shipley paid a new oblation with Filomena his wife. Perhaps it can be concluded that this was when Robert inherited from Alicia.

In 1284, the "Feudal Aids" (land tax records) listed Robert de Strelley as holding Shipley in the name of Hebicabell his wife, for a fee of William de Ros (who then held the lordship of Ilkeston by marriage to Eustachia, the great-granddaughter and heiress of Robert de Muskham). In 1292, an inquisition post mortem recorded that Hugh de Strelley, a cousin of Robert, held Milnhay of Robert.

Having established that Oulegreve was a separate manor, what were the origins of Hebicabell and, going backwards through time, her apparent ancestors, Robert de Oulegreve, Henry de Oulegreve, Alicia de Oulegreve, Nicholas de Henovere and Nicholas son of John de Henovere?

In the Domesday record, Heanor together with Langley and "Smithycote" was among a group of six manors held under Codnor as a tenancy of William Peverel. The Latin names are Cotenovre, Hainovre, Langelie and Smitecote. Milnhay probably was one of the two unnamed manors, the other being Loscoe.

The Burton Charters (see earlier) include several to an area of land within the township of Mickleover (or Magna Oufra, Great Over, as it then was called) that was named as Henovere or Henovera (m). In 1150-59, a charter headed "de Henovere" (of Heanor) records a grant of land in Oura (Mickleover) to Robert son of Walkelin. A subsequent charter, of 1160-75, states that Robert son of Robert son of Walkelin held that land. By 1222-53 the name of Nicholas son of Walkelin de Henovere is given for land called "Crosfurlong" in Mickleover over towards Littleover (Parva Oufra), among the witnesses to the charter were Robert and Henry sons of Walkelin. He is called simply Nicholas de Henovere (Enovere) by 1226. Around 60 years later Robert de Henovere and Osbert de Henovere are holding the land. The villeins of Mickleover were in dispute with the Abbot of Burton and, in 1260, a series of court hearings took place. At one of the hearings, William of Darley, born at Heanor, acknowledged himself to be the Abbot's native and Henry de Henore was given permission to marry Agnes, the daughter of Henry Babon. In 1271, William son of Robert de Henovere had been a witness for the Abbot.

The question this poses is were these people named after a piece of land named Henovera in Mickleover or was the piece of land named after its owners who originated from Henovere (Heanor)?

The answer seems to be that the family was that of Walkelin (or Walchelin), the moneyer of Derby, whose wife was named Goda. This couple was among the founders of Darley Abbey, around 1165, together with the Earl of Ferrars, the Eearl of Derby. They had a large family children and, consequently, had many descendants, a number of whom are named as being "of Heanor" or "de Henovere".

{Henovere tree link}The Darley Abbey Charters have many records of this family and its land holdings, grants and so-on, especially in Derby where they bought mills and lands from William de Heriz. A simplified Family Tree (link right), partly conjectural, of the lineage of Walkelin and Goda is given separately but the main point of importance here is that their descendants held the land in Full Street, Derby, next to that of Alicia de Oulegreve. They also held land at Mapperley and in Kidsley, both adjoining Shipley.

In 1245, Henry de Henovere was freed from villeinage by Geoffrey de Dethek and Hawise, his wife, on payment of 10 silver-marks. It cannot be mere coincidence that it was Geoffrey de Dethek who did a land exchange with Nicholas de Henovere only 15 years later. A witness in 1277 for Richard de Grey, Lord of Codnor (Codenovere), was Robert de Henovere.

The evidence, therefore, strongly favours the main home of Walkelin and his descendants as being Heanor and that several members of the family were still, holding land in Heanor. Unfortunately, there is no positive link between Hebicabell and the de Henoveres who seem most strongly to have been her ancestors. It is curious that, within a five to ten year period - from 1275, four named men, Nicholas de Henovere, Henry de Henovere or de Oulegreve, and Robert and Adam de Oulegreve all died.

Shipley - the home of the Vavasour family

As said above, Robert of Shipley and his son William are named, in the Rufford Charters of the late 12th century. Robert of Shipley also occurs in the "Pipe Rolls" for 1177 when he was fined 100 shillings for having assize concerning the inheritance of his wife. Then, some 50 years later, the records are of Robert le Vavasour of Shipley, son of William le Vavasour. There do not seem to be any records which prove William son of Robert of Shipley and William le Vavasour to be one and the same man. The term "Vavasour or Vavassor(e)" actually means a free tenant of high status but with less land than a baron so, as the Muskhams were barons, the Muskham tenants at Shipley had the status of a vavasour.

William le Vavasour is listed in the "Pipe Rolls" as supervising works at Horsley Castle for King John in 1210. His son, Robert le Vavasour, is not named in charters dated earlier than 1229 but he came to prominence in 1256 when he was appointed Keeper of Nottingham Castle, which was followed by his being Sheriff of Nottingham from 1246 to 1255. He is named as "Robert le Vavasour, then Sheriff of Nottingham" in a Rufford charter concerning lands he held in Chesterfield. The extent of his lands indicate that he had become a very wealthy man.

There was a "Roberto Vavassore" recorded in the Rufford charters and in the "Pipe Rolls" of 1199-1204 but he held land of the Honour of Tickhill (in Yorkshire) and the location and dates indicate that he was not a Vavasour of Shipley. In 1199, this Robert had to pay 40 marks for the custody of the land and heir of Robert de Furnival and for having his marriage.

In 1254-6, the "Pipe Rolls" list new oblations paid by William (II) le Vavasour son and heir of Robert le Vavasour. His father had paid 40 marks in 1254-5 for the marriage of Johanna, widow of Peter de Goldington, whether to himself or to his son is not clear. William also had a sister, Johanna, who married Patrick de Sacheverel, who died before 1255, leaving Johanna as guardian of their son, Robert de Sacheverel.

William (II) le Vavasour married Matilda de Jorz, the widow of Hugh de Strelley of Mapperley, in 1259. He did not live much longer, however, as a Dale Abbey charter dated circa 1265 names late William son of Robert le Vavasour and notes that his heirs were under age.

William (II) was succeeded by his son Adam le Vavasour, who paid a new oblation ("Pipe Rolls") in 1264. In 1268, Adam died without heirs as Elizabeth and Annora the daughters and heirs of William le Vavasour paid 60 for their inheritance in 1266-9. With the death of Adam, the Barony held by the Vavasours of Shipley ended.

Apart from this one listing, Annora does not appear in the records so it can be assumed she died without heirs. Elizabeth le Vavasour married Robert de Strelley of Strelley, in Nottinghamshire. The Strelley family had long been closely associated with the Vavasours and both families were supporters of John, Earl of Mortain, brother of Richard I and later King John (1199-1216), who had held Nottingham Castle as his main base in the late 12th century.

With the marriage of Robert de Strelley to Elizabeth le Vavasour of Shipley, in around 1270, came the uniting of the two manors of the township and Shipley became a single landholding of some 2000 acres for the next 200 years.

The only remaining male bearers of the name "le Vavasour" who were related to the Shipley family held lands at Kirton in Nottinghamshire. Between 1256 and 1289, Sir John le Vavasour was Rector of Kirton and is recorded in the Rufford Abbey charters. These give Sir John and his sons John and Robert. As Robert de Strelley and his wife Elizabeth quitclaimed land in Kirton to Sir John's sons, it seems safe to conclude that Sir John was an uncle or great-uncle of Elizabeth.

The records of the Parish of Leake (now East Leake) in Nottinghamshire list successive Rectors as - 1239-1243, John le Vavasour; 1243-1250, Walter le Vavasour; and, lastly, 1250-1284, Henry le Vavasour.

The Strelley family of Strelley, Nottinghamshire

The lineage of the Strelley family of Strelley, Nottinghamshire, is dealt with in another chapter and it suffices to summarize what is relevant here as follows (the Roman numerals are for clarity):
Walter I de Strelley, married Isilia, he was father of;
Sampson I de Strelley, inherited by 1176, d. 1199, a supporter of Prince John, and father of;
Sampson II de Strelley, d. l207-8, had to pay a fine to King Richard I to regain his father's lands, father of;
Walter II de Strelley, d. 1219, married Cecilia, (brothers Philip and Hugh, of Mapperley, see next Chapter), father of;
Sir Robert I de Strelley, a minor when he inherited (born 1208?), still alive 10 April 1272 (Dale charter) but seems to have died shortly after, (brother of Geoffrey), father of;
Walter III de Strelley, who paid a new oblation in 1271-2 but died without heirs in 1276, when his brother;
Robert II de Strelley inherited, the Pipe Roll record lists a new oblation in 1278 so it seems he may have died then, if so he was father of;
Robert III de Strelley, who in 1284 held Shipley (Oulegreve) with Hebicabell, and father of;
Robert IV de Strelley, who married Elizabeth le Vavasour (a Fine in 1280 mentions Robert son of Robert de Strelley and his wife Elizabeth) and united the manors of Shipley, held by his descendants for the next three centuries. Died 1302, father of;
Robert V de Strelley.

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