Descendants of Thomas de Loxley
THE BAILIFF OF BRADFIELD
Article published in "The Flowing Stream", by John Hughes, Summer 1998
I well remember, from my childhood, my father telling me that we were descendants of Robin Hood. What a thrill, as that was the time of Errol Flynn and the Saturday Cinema Club! At that age it was easy to believe such stories, especially if they were told with conviction by your father.
It caught hold of my imagination so much so that I got my mother to make me a costume out of green felt, a pair of old nylon stockings, and with a pigeon feather in my cap. The outfit, with homemade bow and arrow, was confined to the garden as my courage to venture publicly did not match that of my hero. It was a comforting thought, somehow, to believe that I was descended from Lord Loxley, Earl of Huntingdon, but more likely a ruse by my father to ensure that I did not disgrace my famous ancestor by poor schoolwork!
As in all folklore, stories can be somewhat different than the actual events on which they are based. There are many variations on the story of Robin Hood and no evidence as to whether or not he really existed. Most chroniclers place his birthplace at Locksley, or Loxley, about 1160, and his exploits in the reign of King John. Our link with his descendants is through Mary Loxley who was born in Ecclesfield, situated west of Rotherham and north of Sheffield, Yorkshire. This is nowhere near Sherwood Forest you may say, but ask yourself how big the forest was in those days. To describe
the area as it then was, and the associated folklore, I must rely on correspondence from a late cousin, Fredric Loxley Preston, and his knowledge and research of some thirty years ago. The area is bounded by Stocksbridge to the north, Rotherham to the east, and the Peak District to the south and west.
"To the west the high and rugged moorlands separate it from Derbyshire, whilst to the east the lower foothills of the Pennines sink gradually into the plains of Yorkshire. It is a secluded land of hills and valleys, in ancient times a part of the great forest clothing the adjacent parts of the counties of York, Derby and Nottingham, and still commemorated in the name of Sherwood Forest. Through Hallamshire numerous streams, rising on the upland region to the west, flow eastward to join the river Don. One such stream is the Loxley, which from its source on the moors flows through a narrow valley for some nine miles to the river Don. About three miles from its source the Loxley receives the waters of another stream, the Agdon. At their confluence is situated the ancient village of Bradfield - Nether (or Low) Bradfield by the river and High Bradfield with the church half a mile up the steep slope of the valley. Lower down its course the river passes the hamlet of Loxley and skirts the former Loxley Chase.
Before the Norman Conquest clearings may have been made in this valley and settlements established on the banks of the river or on the higher ground. In the Norman campaign of 1069, however, all Hallamshire was devastated and to a large extent depopulated, especially in the north-west. With the coming of more settled times the Norman Lords of Hallamshire would encourage their followers to settle throughout the devastated region. High Bradfield has, in the Bailey Hill and the Castle Hill, the remains of two early Norman motte and bailey castles.
At the time of the Conquest the Saxon manor of Hallam (which included only part of the later Norman barony of Hallamshire) was held by the Earl Waltheof. The son of a Danish noble and a descendant through his mother of the Saxon kings, Waltheof was the recognised leader of the Saxons of the north of England. Nevertheless, he submitted to the Conqueror, receiving from him in marriage Judith, William's niece, together with the earldoms of Northumberland, Nottingham and Huntingdon. But, as the result of intrigue and rebellion against the Norman power, Waltheof was beheaded in 1076.
Waltheof's titles passed to his daughter, Maud, who took that of earl of Huntingdon to her second husband, David, king of Scotland. David died in 1153 and the earldom of Huntingdon, as well as the throne of Scotland, passed to his grandson, Malcolm, who in 1158 did pay homage to Henry II of England at Peak Castle, at Castleton in the royal forest of the Peak. To reach Peak Castle Malcolm may have travelled along the ancient way from York to Castleton, which passed close to the hamlet of Loxley, where, tradition says, there was born a man named Robert de Loxley, better known as Robin Hood."
Dodworth, writing about 1620, says of Robin Hood, : "Rob.Locksley, born in Bradfield parish in Hallamshire, wounded his stepfather to death at plough, fled into the woods, and was relieved by his mother till he was discovered. Then he came to Clifton-upon-Calder, and became acquainted with Little John, that kept the kine. Which said John is buried at Hathershead in Derbyshire, where he hath a fair tombstone with an inscription. Mr.Long saith Mr.Fabian saith Little John was an Earl Huntley's son."
The Ashmole MSS, folio 147, says: "Little John lyes buried in Hathersuch Churchyard, within three miles from Castleton, in High Peake, with one stone set up at his head, and another at his feete, but a large distance betweene them." Harrison, in his "Survey of the Manor of Sheffield", 1637, p.320, says: "William Greene who was one of my Lord's Keepers did hold in regard of his office these parcels of land following: No.325. Imprimis Great Haggas Croft (pasture) lying near Robin Hood's Bower & is invironed with Loxley ffirth & Cont. 1 - 2 - 27 1/5 No.231. Item little Haggas Croft (pasture) wherein is ye foundacion of an house or Cottage where Robin Hood was borne this piece is Compassed about with Loxley ffirth & Cont. 00 - 2 - 13 1/5."
At Loxley there was an oak beam, said to have come from the ruins of the cottage mentioned above, which a forestry expert in 1887 said had been grown in the nearby forest and was a thousand years old.
Hunter, writing in 1819, says: "Robin Hood....doubtless....made some of his first essays in 'chasing the fallow deer' in Fulwood and Riveling, lying so close to Loxley, which beyond all competition has the fairest pretensions to be the birthplace of that noted outlaw." In his later work, 'The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood', 1852, however, Hunter identified Robin Hood as a native of Wakefield, born between 1285 and 1295.
The earliest reference to Robin Hood is by Langland in his 'The Vision of Piers the Plowman', 1362, where "Robin Hode" is coupled with Randolf, earl of Chester (born ante 1172, died 1232). The late 16th century Sloan MS states that Robin Hood was born in 1160. Robert Hude and Little John are referred to the reign of Richard I (1189-99) by John Mair, the author of 'Majoris Britanniae Historia', 1521. Other early writers (e.g. John Pordun, 'Scotichronicon', 1341) place the outlaw in the later 13th century. The late 14th century manuscript entitled 'A Lytell Geste of Robin Hode', the oldest known ballad of the outlaw, relates his exploits to the reign of Edward II (1307-37). Mr.J.W.Walker, in a recent paper, identifies him with a Robert Hood, who with his wife Matilda, had a connection with Wakefield between 1308 and 1357. Mr.Walker also quotes an extract from the Pipe Roll of Henry III (1230), which from its context appears to refer to the West Riding of Yorkshire: "Idem vicecomes debit xxxijs et vjd. de catallis Roberti Hood, fugitivi." (The sheriff owes 32s. 8d. in respect of the chattels of Robert Hood, fugitive.)
"The 'Lytell Geste' and other ballads describe the outlaw as a yeoman. The tradition that he was a claimant to the Earldom of Huntingdon, which had become extinct in 1237 on the death of John le Scot, and hence a descendant of Waltheof through the Scottish kings, first appears at the end of the 18th century and thus may be an embellishment of the playwrights. On the other hand, this tradition may preserve an earlier one and, if the Sloan MS. date of 1160 for Robin Hood's birth also preserves an earlier tradition, it is perhaps not without significance that the Earl of Huntingdon was in the vicinity of Hallamshire only two years before.
The old tradition, at the hamlet of Loxley, was that Robin Hood and his step-father (not his father) were working on some land now enclosed at Loxley Chase Farm, when they had a violent quarrel. Robin Hood cut down his step-father with his scythe and killed him, after which he hid in a cave higher up the hill, where his mother supplied his wants from the house not far away."
All lines traced back to Thomas de Loxley, Bailiff of Bradfield, Yorkshire, in 1399, have the same tradition of descent from Robert of Loxley (Robin Hood). The move from Bradfield to Ecclesfield starts with Thomas, yeoman of Bradfield, who was the son of Thomas, cowper of Bradfield, whose will of 1670 was proved in 1673. The marriage of Thomas Loxley (1589-1672) in 1622, to Margaret Broomhead (1603-1681), produced eight children, including Thomas (1628-1714), and Henry (1639-1716). Henry married Catherine Bower, in 1669, and acquired the Potter Hill farm in Ecclesfield that was eventually passed to his younger son John (1673-1754) as the older son Thomas (1670-1722) had a farm at Grenoside. Thomas married Anne Stones (1679-1749), in 1698, and had eight children. Thomas's son Thomas (1700-1776), a carpenter who married Alice Hobson (1699-1757) in 1725, inherited the tenancy of Potter Hill from his uncle John and had nine children.
Abstract of the WILL of Thomas LOXLEY of Potter Hill in the Parish of Ecclesfield and County of York. Carpenter. Date - 25th May 1776. To my son Joseph Loxley £10, To my daughter Mary Charlesworth £20, To my son John Loxley £15, To my daughter Hannah Revill £10, To my son Samuel Loxley £15, To my son William Loxley £30, To my daughter Elizabeth Morton £20, To my daughter Sarah Dickenson £30 and also the clock that stands in the house. All my other goods and chattels, and the tenant right of my farm which I hold under the Duke of Norfolk, I give to my son Thomas, whom I make Executor. Witnesses:- John Booth, George Loxley, Ann Swift, Proved 7th August 1776.
The above Will, at the Borthwick Institute in York, shows how important documents are in research as it confirms the marriage of Mary Loxley into the Charlesworth family. This union in 1753 produced eight children including Joseph, my direct ancestor, who came to London to seek his fortune. Little is known on these Charlesworths of Yorkshire, but this is a task I will set myself when I have the necessary outfit; perhaps in Lincoln Green?
Joining the Sheffield & District FHS has provided leads from other members. One member wrote to say that there was a book in Sheffield City library that traces the Broomheads back to the time of the Kings of Mercia. Another identified a book in Stocksbridge library, written by local historian Joseph Kenworthy, that could provide more information on the Loxleys. I was also sent an extract of Loxley entries from the Ecclesfield Churchyard Transcription compiled by F S Hague in 1962. As most old gravestones are eroded, vandalised or even removed, then this type of help is invaluable.
From this information, and the parish registers, the families of the other children of Thomas and Alice Hobson were traced. Joseph, the eldest son born 1726, married Esther Earnshaw of Sheffield, in 1748, and had nine children. He had his own farm at Doroyd before his father died. Thomas Loxley (1729-1807) married Hannah Bailey in 1751 and had six children. He took over the tenancy of Potter Hill from his father. John Loxley (1731-1809) moved to Sheffield where he married twice and had six children. Firstly to Sarah Pashley in 1760, a descendant being F.L.Preston, and then to Elizabeth Makin in 1768. Hannah Loxley, born 1734, married Samuel Revill of Sheffield, in 1751, and had ten children. Samuel Loxley, born 1736, married Ellin Darling in 1761 and had nine children. Elizabeth Loxley (1740-1787) married John Morton in 1761 and had two children in Rotherham. The youngest child, Sarah Loxley born 1742, married Joseph Dickinson of Wortley and had at least two children.
Perhaps the most interesting offspring was William Loxley (1738-1799) who married Jane Dickinson in 1763 and had seven children. He was apprenticed as a filemaker to John Wilkinson, Crowder House, and then to John Burgon, Colly Elm, for 5 to 7 years in 1753. Given his freedom in 1760, he worked at Butterthwaite from about 1768. His two sons, John and Thomas, served their apprenticeships with him and the family business, Loxley & Sons, of 48 Green Lane, is listed in the Sheffield Directory of 1797. John's daughter Mary (1793-1856) married Thomas Firth (1789-1850), in 1816, the founder of the Sheffield Steelmakers.
No doubt there are other descendants of 'our' Robin Hood around somewhere; it would be nice if they could get in touch to compare notes, especially anyone who knows the subject of the story related by the father of Frances Gillott, another descendant of Mary Loxley. "About the year 1800 there lived in Rotherham an old gentleman named Robert Loxley; he wore a black velvet cloak, black velvet knee breeches, shoes with buckles and white stockings. He used to say his father's name was Robert Loxley, also his grandfather's, and his grandfather said that there had always been a Robert Loxley in the family right back to the time of Robin Hood, and from that time the name had been handed down each generation to his descendants."
Generation No. 1
1. Richard1 LOXLEY, born before 1520, in Bradfield,YKS, died about 1560, in Bradfield.
Notes for Richard LOXLEY: Richard is the direct descendant of Thomas de Lokeslay, the Bailiff of Bradfield in 1399. His pedigree, and reference to the manuscripts supporting this, is included in 'An Account of the Loxleys of Hallamshire', by F L Preston (1966), held by the Local Studies Section of Sheffield City Library, reference 929.2 LOXL SST. It includes an introductory chapter on the connection with Robertus de Lokeslay, the reputed 'Robin Hood' of Sherwood Forest. The extensive ancient parishes of Sheffield and Ecclesfield, including the chapelry of Bradfield, formed the Manor of Hallamshire. In Bradfield was Loxley Chase which was the forest preserve of the Lord of the Manor, De Lovetot, who had come from Huntingdonshire. The Sheffield De Lovetots ended with a daughter, who married Gerard de Furnival. Thomas de Lokeslay's son John was Reeve of Bradfield in 1417 and again (perhaps his son John) in 1439 to 1443. A branch of the De Lovetots continued in Huntingdonshire. The published records of that County refer to land held by Robertus de Lokesley in 1242, to Thomas de Lockely in 1247, and to Rogerus de Lovetot in 1247. Roger was Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1255-8. In view of the strong connection between Hallamshire and these counties then it is probable that a Bradfield Loxley had received lands in Huntingdonshire. Hence the family tradition of descent from Lord Loxley, Earl of Huntingdon!