Stewards of Wakefield Manor

One of the many duties of a steward was to preside over the courts. In 1331, 1332 and 1333 we have recorded in the Wakefield Court Rolls a number of scattered references to stewards of the manor of Wakefield. [ 5 Edward III to 7 Edward III ]
It is suggested by Lawrence Butler that the Wakefield Court Rolls did not commence until 1274 because the building of Sandal Castle was not sufficiently complete for the accounts clerk to move into his office. 10, p 48

However, there are stewards known from other sources before this time :
button In the 1100's there was a William FitzRaven of Hatfield Hall near Wakefield  He was a.k.a. William FitzRaven of Wakefield or Willelm Filius Raven. He acted as William de Warrene's [Warenne] steward for the manor of Wakefield 1148-1159. William was b. perhaps 1100, his daughter and heiress was Mabel FitzRaven born ~1132. Mabel married Otto de Tilli [Tilly] seneschal to Hamelyn Plantagenet  [half brother to King Henry II] of Conisbrough Castle. Otto and Mabel's daughter Dionysia de Tilli married Henry de Novo Mercato son of Adam de Newmarche of Womersley.

buttonAt some point on the late 1100's - early Thomas FitzEssulf of Thornhill a.k.a  Thoma filio Edulf, Thomas Pincerna, Thomas the Baker,  Thomas de Monte, Thomas of Monkhill was steward of the manor of Wakefield whilst his elder brother Jordan FizEssulf of Thornhill was constable of Wakefield Castle between 1174 and 1178.

button William de Horbury seneschal [steward] to earl William de Warenne about 1240. He was a witness to a charter for Kirklees Priory.

button In the 1250's Ralph de Horbury was steward to earl John de Warenne the 7th Earl Warenne & Surrey.

buttonWilliam de London was a witness to a charter 1250-1280 at the time John de Hoderode was steward of Pontefract.21  Hodroyd Hall near Felkirk is the site of  John's residence.

Sandal Castle ~ 1250
Based upon a  sketch reconstruction in Sandal Castle Wakefield.10 Note that the barbican, started in 1270, had not yet been constructed.
A. keep
B. great hall [from Anglian : aula]
C. kitchens with store rooms attached
D. bailey/courtyard
E. motte or mound
F. moat
G. gatehouse
H. great chamber
I.  privy chamber


button John de Hille(e)  - 1260's - 'about 40 years before 1307'

button Alexander Lucas was the steward for the manor of Wakefield in 1274, 1275 and 1277, 1279 during the time of John the 7th Earl of Warenne. joseph Hunter calls him 'Richard Lucas' in the time of Sir John de Horbury.25

button John de Ravensfeud4 later in the year of 1274.

button Sir Thomas Coke in 1284 & 1285  [Also rector of Dewsbury 1292-1293.]
button Richard de Heydon 25th November 1285 [W.C.R.]

buttonThomas de Deiville Devile, Deyville etc. Known to be steward in 1287/1288. [Yorks. Deeds, vol. 10, p. 175.]

button 1297 John de Doncastre in office 12th October 1297. In 1308 he is still recorded as the steward but was fined for taking green and dry wood as well as fodder.[J. Horsfall Turner. The History of Brighouse, Raistrick and Hipperholme, pp, 56, 58.]

Peter de Lound.19 In 1300 Lound was ordered to select footmen for the Scottish campaign from the wapentakes of Staincliffe, Bowland and Ewcross  [Settle- Skipton area]. Lound was  steward in 1307.

William de Wakefield in office 13 Dec. 1306, 24 June 1307

Thomas Cok In office 12 March 1307

John de Doncastre 5th August 1307, 'now steward'. 

1307 & 1308 John de Neville [of Hornby, Lancs.and Brierley, S. Yorks.] 'chief steward' or 'capitalis seneschallus' and William de Wakefield 'steward' while Thomas de Wakefeld was the constable of Sandal Castle.19 Although he held manors in the honour of Pontefract John de Neville's son's i.p.m.. in 1336 shows that John the 'chief steward' had probably  held a yearly rent of the castle of Sandal from John de Warenne, earl of Surrey. 

John de Doncastre  In office as Earl Warenne's steward. 1312-131323 

1315 Henry de Welda [de la Welde/de la Walda] of Wing. John de Warrene held an extensive property at Wing, Buckinghamshire.10  In 10 Ed. II [1317-1318] John earl Warenne granted Henry  a pasture [vaccary] near Sowerby called 'Hadreschelf'.* This is now marked by Hadershelf Lane west of Sowerby. Henry was given this vaccary just before John lost his northern manors for in 1318 earl John quit claimed the castles of Sandal and Conisbrough along with estates at Sowerby, Dewsbury, Halifax and estates in other counties5. These were granted to Thomas earl of Lancaster.           * Known to have been held by John de Midgley, forester for the forest of Sowerby in the late 1200's.

John de Burton/Barton is described in April 1322 as the late steward of Wakefield and Hatfield and thus had acted as Thomas earl of Lancaster's steward during the rebellion. John held  twenty acres at nearby Kinsley.18 According to The History of Pontefract in Yorkshire, John de 'Bucton' was also seneschal of Pontefract castle for the earl of Lancaster and afterwards from 1319 -1323.22

In 1324 he is described as [having been?] the earl of Lancaster's steward at Wakefield.24

bullet Sir Simon de Baldreston. Holt citing Walker stated that Baldreston was a steward of the manor of Wakefield for Thomas earl of Lancaster.12  However, it appears that Baldreston was appointed by Edward II after the Lancastrian rebellion. Baldreston appears to have been born at Balderstone in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire which then lay within the now extinct administrative area of 'Blackburnshire'. During 1303-1304 Simon had been appointed seneschal of Blackburnshire and in the following year was made the receiver for Lancashire. He had an illustrious career under earl Thomas being recorded as an auditor for the earl in 1313-1314 within the honour of Leicester and in 1321 he was a steward for the earl with Ralph de Beeston at Conisbrough, Hatfield &c. Simon seems to have survived the post Boroughbridge turmoil being recorded in March 1322 as the parson of Heversham in co. Westmorland. Following the battle of Boroughbridge he was appointed to various administrative posts in the wake of earl Thomas' forfeitures e.g. in March 1323, he made an inquiry into the church of Leigh in Lancashire. In October 1331, during Edward III's reign, he was serving as a commissioner  investigating who had entered earl John de Warrene's chases and parks in Yorkshire. Simon was granted lands in the new park of Wakefield in 1337 which 'was confirmed to him and the heirs of his body with remainder to William de Scargill'.13
In 1343 Simon de Balderstone purchased the manor of Rogerthorpe near Badsworth between Barnsdale and Pontefract.14  and in the same year aquired an interest in Badsworth Church where he presented as rector, a kinsman, Roger de Balderstone. This interest in Badsworth church and the manor of Rogerthorpe passed to the descendants of this Roger 'for many generations'.15 About 1345 Simon was was the parson of Dewsbury, west of Wakefield and two years later he had a licence to endow a chaplain in the church of Emsworth [Hemsworth, 4 kilometres S.W. of Badsworth], Yorkshire, 'with lands and rents in various places, to say mass daily for the good estate of him, Simon, whilst living and for the good of his soul when dead'. 16 Simon made his will in June 1348, which was proved 7th  July 1348. His will shows that he bequeathed 'his body for burial in the quire of St. Mary in the monastery of St. Oswald of Nostell [near Barnsley] and £60 to find a fit canon to celebrate in the said quire for his own soul, the souls of Earl Thomas of Lancaster, Richard de Balderston his father and Agnes his mother'.17

bullet John de Trehampton, 1327
Sir Simon de Baldreston*, 1330.20 
John de Trehampton again in 1331.
John de Grenegate mentioned 25th October 1331.
Sir Simon de Baldreston*  recorded again on the15th Dec.1331 and later in 1336, 1337, about October 1338 to before 7th February 1340.. [W.C.R.]. In a letter from John de Warenne dated 11th November 1340 he is described as now being steward of 'our lands in the North'. [W.C.R. 1338-1340, pp. 183-184.] 
John de Donecastre6 recorded again as the steward of the manor of  Wakefield in 1302 and in 1332-3 he was steward to the lands lost in 1317 by John 8th Earl Warenne to Thomas Earl of Lancaster, later forfeited to King Edward II in 1322. John was also steward to the Abbot of St. Mary's Abbey, York sometime during the incumbency of Abbot Alan De Nesse [1313-1329]. P.Valentine Harris recognised  from the Wakefield Court Rolls that John was a knight as well as a steward for earl Warrene.8 This was before the ill-fated Thomas Earl of Lancaster succeeded to Pontefract and its honour in 1311. Harris appears to be amazed that there was a family in Wakefield called 'De Doncaster' but this should not be so surprising for it merely refers to someone whose family moved from Doncaster, which in sensible terms is not far afield. Indeed there was a Michael de Doncaster who in the early 1200's married Idonia d. of Hugh Pincerna of the Butler family of Skelbrooke and in the W.C.R. for 8th January 1333 an Elias de Doncastre of Crigglestone who is shown elsewhere in W.C.R. to be the brother of William de Doncastre. What really did excite Harris was the fact that he found in the W.C.R. for 22nd Jan.1327 at the Wakefield Court : 

                                                       Extract from the Wakefield Court Roll for 1327
Wakefield Court Roll Extract 1327
Translation: John Attelme surrenders 22 acres in Crigleston. Committed to Robert del Dene [1 acre]; Matilda handmaid of Henry del Dene, and her son [1 acre]; Roger son of William de Doncastre [8 acres]; William son of John [7 acres]; Adam Attegrene [2 acres]; and Robert son of John [3 acres]. See Sir Roger de Doncaster

 Harris also found that Roger de Doncastre was fined 2d.on the 7th July 1327. His name does not appear again in the W.C.R. but was located in a previous record dated 18th March 1301-2, reprinted in Yorkshire Deeds, Record Series II, No. 1. p.82 :- "Release by Henry de Holn, parson of the church of Ryther, to Sir William son of Sir William de Ryther, of all right in the manor of Hornyngton [eight miles S.W. of York] Witnesses.... Roger de Doncastre, chaplain".
Harris speculated that there could not be two Roger de Doncastres in Yorkshire living at the same time, nor is it likely that two could be found throughout England. Harris becomes quite convinced that this is the Roger de Doncastre of the ballads of Robin Hood. However the difference between 1301-2 and 1327 is slightly more than a generational gap [~ 25 years] and thus they could conceivably be two different people, perhaps the earlier Roger being a kin-relative. However, I find that John de Doncastre, the steward, did have a toft of land in Wakefield before December 1332:

John de Warenne lately took a toft in Wakefield from John de Doncastre, then the earl's steward.           [C.P.R., 15th December 1333, p. 378.]

Walker in the W.C.R. found that, on the 8th Jan.1333, six years after Roger had been mentioned, a Robert Hode of Stanley was fined 6d.

John de Doncastre was also a Justice of Common Pleas [W.C.R.] and appointed to a number of Peace Commissions for the West Riding. Similar commissions can be found for the years 1334-62 There is no evidence to link this John de Doncastre to the de Doncastres of Crigglestone although the onomasty and geographical links are there.
See The Prioress's Lover

Sir William de Skargill [Scargill] sen.1332, 22 January 1339 and 7th February 1340 [W.C.R's.] Skargill was removed from office because he was not enrolling court convictions. In a letter from John de Warenne dated 7th February 1340 Sir William was found to be 'of French nationality'.[W.C.R. 1338-1340, pp. 184-185.]

William Skargill+ is mentioned as the 'forester' for the Wakefield and Sowerbyshire 'Chaces' as well as keeper of vert# & venison in the 'chaces', parks and warrens for Hatfield, [South Yorkshire] 1333. He was also granted 65 acres in the waste of Wakefield belonging to earl Warenne for a rental.

 In 1347, lord John Warrene the 8th and last earl of Warrene died. This death may have been related to the plague, it is the same year that another well known personage is reputed to have died. According to Joseph Hunter's calculations a Robert Hood who had been on the accounts of King Edward II, died in 1347 at Kirklees Priory.

Sir John de Eland  [also High Sheriff of Yorkshire 1341] murdered at Brookfoot, Elland, 1353. He was left ten marks in John de Warrene's will of 1347 which indicates that he was in his service at this time.11

I have suggested earlier, elsewhere that this may be one of the inspirations for the "Sheriff of  Nottingham" [more correctly Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire] along with Faucumberg, used by balladeers such as John Montague in King Edward III's court of the late 1300's and the playwright  Munday in the 1600's. Professor J.C. Holt may have been thinking of the De Lacis and De Warrenes when he wrote,  'Extremely common for example, was the use of armed ambush as an instrument in local vendettas and disputes between landlords and their other tenants'.9 Earlier, in the 1290's, at least one of the Butler family is known to have been arrested for robbery and other mayhem in the 'Barnsdale' area. See Skelbrooke

Sir William de Eland is mentioned as the Constable of Nottingham Castle in 1330. Eland led the way for Edward III through the secret passages under the castle where he surprised Queen Isabella, his mother and her lover Sir Roger de Mortimer. This de Eland could have been a younger brother to John de Eland as they are both mentioned as having a father Sir Thomas de Eland, Lord of Elland, Rochdale & Tankersley.

William, son of Juliana de Eland of Rastrick is mentioned in the Wakefield Court Rolls for the 19th November 1331. This may have been the William de Eland who was the constable of Nottingham Castle.

A John de Eland is mentioned in  the W.C.R. for 31st January 1332 as giving pledge.

John de Eland, knight is mentioned with his son, Hugh in a plea dower by Alice 13323.

An essoin was given by a John de Eland on the 16th October 1332.

A John de Eland had 6 acres demised to him at Northowram on the 1st June 1333.

There were at least seventeen writs issued [C.P.R.] relating to those pardoned for various and serious crimes except noticeably, for the death of Sir John a justice and sheriff for Yorkshire.

Sir John Savile, Baron Pontefract, Viscount Savile [d. 1482], was high steward of the Wakefield Manor and custodian of Sandal Castle for life. Sir John was also a High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1455 and 1461 and M.P. in 1450 and 1467. Upon his death in 1482 at Sandal Castle, his body was carried through Wakefield to be buried at Thornhill. The male line of the Savile's had married into the Elands' with the marriage of Sir John Savile d.1399 [also a High Sheriff of Yorkshire] to Isobel de Eland, sister of Sir John de Eland [steward and Sheriff of Yorkshire], Sir John de Eland was killed in an ambush along with his father of the same name in 1353. After the marriage Thornhill passed to the Savile line and they then became the Savile's of Eland and Thornhill§.

Another Sir John Savile who died in 1399 was the brother of Margaret de Savile, who I believe to be an inspiration for the 'Prioress of Kirklees" who is found in the earliest extant Robyn Hode ballad. One unrecognised fact, until now, is that the surviving branch of the Saviles were connected by marriage to the Paston's of Norfolk. The Pastons were avid letter writers and produced the earliest surviving English family letters. It was in one of these letters in 1473 that a family servant was described as play acting Saint George, Robyn Hode and the Sheriff of Nottingham, but to the dismay of the letter writer, the servant had left the family manor to go to Barnsdale. Perhaps this servant wanted to visit the country side of his hero he had been speaking and acting about in the Paston household.

bullet John Midgley of Headley was appointed deputy steward7 of the manor of Wakefield  in 1639, during King Charles I's reign. An attorney of Headley Hall near Thornton, Bradforddale.

Besides Lord Warrene's stewards there were bailiffs or serviens ['serjeants'] e.g. William Temple of Stanley 8th Nov. 1331 & Henry de la Welde, of Horbury, 5th June 1332

                                                                      THE EARLY COURTS OF THE WAKEFIELD MANOR

                OCCASION                              HELD AT                      TIME OF YEAR
Sheriff's Tourn Wakefield Fridays at about 3 week intervals, not Christmas or Easter.
Sheriff's Tourn Halifax
Twice each year ¤ 
Halmote [court] Halifax
Twice each year ¤ 
                                       ¤ held at the same time 

* Possibly Balderstone, in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.
# Vert= the right to cut green wood or the wood itself, cut, hence the word vertical.
+ Effigies of the 1300's for William Skargill Kt. and his lady are to be found at St. Luke and All Saints Church, Darrington, near Pontefract [additions to the Norman church were carried out in the 1200's and 1300's]
§ Saville Row in London- bespoke tailors set up shops here, wool became the material most suitable for the making of suits. The suit may have evolved from suits of armour. Waistcoats may have evolved from the 'coats of arms' worn over the armour. The modern business suit owes its existence to the production of wool from such places as Saville Town near Thornhill, West Riding of Yorkshire. The business tie harks back to the strengthening bars on shields, it is said that the bars on a tie should slope from dexter [from the wearers point of view], bar sinistre inclines from the left and on coats of arms was purported by some to indicate that the wearer was an ex-nuptial or bastardi, Hence the term bastard file for the hand tool which has its grinding ridges set at such an angle.
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Scargill Genealogy

  1. Walker, Sheridan, Sue; Wakefield Court Rolls vol. III, 1331-3, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Leeds, 1982.
  2. Calendar of Patent Rolls 1334-1338 pp.63,137,138, 215, 285, 289-90; appointed to assess the levy in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the 15th and tenth of moveables,            C.P.R.1330-1334, p. 357.
  3. Public Record Office MS Court of Common Pleas CP 40/292 m 482 [1332]
  4. The Wakefield Court Rolls for 1274-97
  5. Crowther G., A Descriptive History of the Wakefield Battles.
  6. Harris, P.V., The Truth about Robin Hood, Linneys. Mansfield.1951.
  7. The Bradford Antiquary, issue 4, 1989. pp44-52.
  8. Harris P.V. The Truth About Robin Hood, Linneys. Mansfield.1951 pp73-4.
  9. Holt J.C. Robin Hood. Thames & Hudson, London, 1982.
10. Butler, Lawrence. Sandal Castle Wakefield. Wakefield Historical Publications, 1991, p 47.
11. L. Baker and Raine, J. [Eds.] Testamentata Eboracensia, London, Surtees Society, 1864, p. 43.
12. Holt J.C., p. 47 citing Walker J.W., The True History of Robin Hood, Wakefield, 1952, p. 9.
13. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, p. 118.
14. C.P.R. Edward III, 1330-1334, p. 154; Yorks. Arch. Journ. viii, p. 495; xiii, p. 47.
15. Hunter, J., Deanery of Doncaster, ii, pp. 438–439.
16. C.P.R. Edward III, 1345-1348, p. 286.
17. V.C.H. Lancashire, Balderstone, citing York Epis. Reg. Zouch, fol. 327.
18. Denholm-Young, NoŽl. History and Heraldry 1254 to 1310, Clarendon Press. 1965, p. 137.

19. Baildon. W.P. Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield 1297-1309. Y.A.S. vol. II, 1906.

20. Wakefield Court Rolls 1297-1309

21. Hunter, J. South Yorkshire. Deanery of Doncaster, Vol. II, p. 251.

22. Fox, George. The History of Pontefract, in Yorkshire. 1827, p. 64ff.

23. Stanley, M.J. (ed.) Yorkshire Deeds, vol. 10, C.U.P., 1955 dig. repr. 2013, p. 177.

24. TNA SC 8/72/3574.

25. Hunter, J. South Yorkshire. Deanery of Doncaster, Vol. II, p. 240.

 © Copyright Tim Midgley, 2002, modified 11th April 2024.