Brearley Old Hall, Brearley in the parish of Midgley

 
Brearley is situated  on the floor of the upper Calder valley whilst the village of Midgley lies on the hills above. The area represented a strategic point  for the manor of Wakefield  where the  north-south Roman road and the  west-east Calder valley and cross-Pennine pack-horse route met. Brearley Hall is described as 'an ancient mansion of Midgley '1 and 'the ancient residence of Midgley's lords of the manor'6  Arthur Comfort in 1913 said6:

'Few homesteads are  more pleasantly  situated than Brearley Hall, which stands on an eminence between Mytholmroyd and Luddenden Foot. Antiquaries tell us that this is the ancient residence of Midgley's Lord of of the Manor, and, digging very deep into the past, they refer to the time when the Soothills were Lords of Midgley in the 14tb century, with Brearley Hall as their seat'

It is from the vill, township or parish name of Midgley that some of the earliest Midgley toponymic names originated.
"Across the road (Burnley Road, the main road through Brearley) - behind the cottages of Brearley Lane Top stands Brearley Old Hall, a private residence. The history of this family residence is not wholly clear but it is presently the relic of a late Tudor house constructed around 1600 on the site of an earlier timber structure."2 "The house front was rebuilt about 1905."2  Brearley Old Hall is commonly confused with Brearley Hall further east.

THE MANOR PASSES FROM THE MIDGLEYS TO THE SOOTHILLS
At some time, perhaps in 1317/1318, the manor of Midgley passed to the Soothills.  At the time the 'Nomina Villarum' was tested (1316) the manor of Midgley was shown only to be held in capite by earl (John) de Warrene10 who subsequently lost it along with the rest of the the manor of Wakefield in 1317/1318. Whether the manor was sold, gained through marriage, or more likely illegally entered during the rebellion of Thomas earl of Lancaster, is not known. By 1326 it was recorded as being held by the Soothill family.

THE SOOTHILLS                                                                                                                                                                         The original stone house was probably built for the Soothills (Norman-French: Suitille, Anglicised to Sotehill, Sothill, Sothull &c. )  This  family are known to have held the manor of Midgley in 1326 when they possessed Brearley Old Hall. The lord at this time was Thomas de Soothill (d. 1326) uncle to Henry I de Soothill [b. ~1278 d. 1350-1352] whose father Sir John II had died in 3 Edward II [1309-1310]. Thus it is probable that the manor devolved to Henry in or after 1326. Henry and other members of his family are known for having been involved in the rebellion of Thomas earl of Lancaster, Henry having being pardoned about June 1322.8

THE MANOR PASSES FROM THE SOOTHILLS TO THE LACYS                                                                                   Much later in the mid 1400's the daughter and heir of Gerard II Soothill married Gilbert Lacy second son of John Lacy. Gilbert's daughter Jane/Joan Lacy married Henry Murgatroyd4.
In the 15th century it became the home of the Lacy family to which the ownership of the house is perhaps most identified."2


                                           .Brearley Hall - click for a larger image

It would appear that the lordship entered the Lacy family of Cromwellbottom as a record shows that the lord of Midgley in the early 1500's was a Hugh Lacy (probably a cadet line of the Norman De Laci family of Pontefract) who was born about 1489 at Brearley Hall (will was proved 1570). Hugh had married Agnes Saville of the Savilles of Thornhill. "The Lacy's had strong local land and property ties and a close association with the Farrar family of Ewood  Hall and of Elphaborough, to whom through marriage in 1598 the ownership of the hall passed. This event led to the erection of Upper Brearley Hall in 1621 which stands to the north east of Brearley Wood."2
This extract suggests there were in fact, two halls, though Roy Stockdill could only find one shown as "Brearley Hall" on the David & Charles reproduction of the original OS map from the 1840s. None appears on the modern OrdnanceSurvey.3

TWO HALLS                                                                                                                                                                  There were in fact two halls. Brearley Old Hall in Brearley ( behind cottages near the corner of Burnley Road and Brearley Lane Top) and Brearley Hall to the east of Mytholmroyd. On the 1840 O.S. map Brearley Old Hall is in fact marked as 'Lower Brearley'. It is now a grade II listed building (O.S. grid ref: SEO268926083). On 29th August 1696 a member of the Midgley family who resided at 'Brearley Hall' was buried at Luddenden Church. [Luddenden register]

A map of Brearley and Midgley     

 

 Wikimapia aerial view of Brearley Old Hall, Brearley

 

Wikimapia aerial view of Brearley Hall, Mytholmroyd

 

 

   



In 1599 John Midgley, Henry Farrer esq. and Leonard Weddell opposed the inheritance of John Lacy esq. and Alexander Dawson gent. in respect to
the manor of Midgley  which consisted of 9 messuages, 9 cottages, 2 watermills and lands in Midgley, Brearley, and Cheswelley. A warrant was issued against the heirs of John and Hugh Lacy, esqs., both deceased, the father and grandfather of John [Lacy].7
         
                                          Gilbert Lacy*=====Joanne Soothill                    Nicholas Savile=========Margery Wilkinson
                                           d. ~ 1492          |                                                                                 |
                                                                 Hugh Lacy======================Agnes Savile of Thornhill
                                                          Lord of Midgley               
                                                          b~1489, Brearley             |
                                 _________________________________________________________
                                 |                                                                  |                                              |
                         Margaret =====William Farrer+                   John                    2 other sons and 4 daughters all no issue                                                                 

             +Son of Henry Farrer, the manor of Midgley passed to the Farrer line                         
            *Gilbert de Lacy (1425-1492) gained Brearley Hall and Midgley by his marriage to the Soothill heiress. 

In the early 1800's 'Upper Brearley Hall' (erected 1621) was used as a private school run by a Dr. John Fawcett (d. 1817 at Ewood Hall). Later in 1841 Branwell Bronte, the brother to the Bronte sisters of Haworth lodged here at Brearley Hall.    

 

                                                                        The interior of Brearley Hall

                                                                                     


                            

 Sources/References:
1. Baines Directory of the County of York, 1823.
Heritage Walks around Mytholmroyd (information kindly provided by  Roy Stockdill)
3. Roy Stockdill, email comm.
4. Midgley ,John Franklin, Midgleyana, Cape Town, 1968.
5. Sutcliffe, Tom. The Brearley Halls in Midgley, Lower and Upper. Papers, Reports, &c. Halifax Antiquarian  Society,1922.
6. Comfort, Arthur. The Ancient Halls of Halifax. 1913.
7. Yorkshire Feet of Fines 1599
                                                                                                                                                                                    

8. Close Rolls, Edward II  April 1322; Ibid June 1322; Yorks. Arch. Journ. vol.  XCI, pp. 97-98, n.4.                                                                      

9. Barker, Juliet. The Brontes, 2010; 1841 census                                                                                                                                                     

10. Kirkby's Inquest and Nomina Villarum, p. 361.
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              Copyright ©  Tim Midgley April, 1999, revised 2nd June 2017.