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THE FAMILY OF EYRE DERBYSHIRE of Hassop, Highlow( Hathersage), Padley and Holme Halls

From the History of Hassop/Eyre: ( and Hassop Hall )

From the Doomsday Book: 1086: Hassop is mentioned. The record in the Doomsday book would support the family of Le HEYRE were of SAXON origin and descended from ‘keeper of the hounds, edward”, whilst not of noble blood the association by appointment was maintained over the generations.

1200s:William Le Heyr.(D. 1299,), held lands in the Hope Valley ( “ Hereditary Forester of the Peak”)by being in charge of the King’s Harriers( dog used for hunting hares ) in 1250. ( In the reign of Henry III).

This was a royal appointment and for this service he was allowed a bovate of land at Hope. Robert, William’s son, continued in this position on his father’s death. This is the earliest record of the Eyre family of Derbyshire. It appears highly likely that William Le Eyr is the ancestor of most Derbyshire EYRE families.

Catherine le Heyr daughter of William Le Eyre of Hope married Sir Thomas Folijambe (1265- 1297),which supports the association of both families. ( the Folijambe family uses the same crest used by the Heyr family ). Catherine and Thomas had a son, also Sir Thomas Folijambe/Foljambe. ( This is the time of Edward 1st ).

Hassop Hall: was the manor and principal residence for the Folijambes under Richard III. (1377- 1399). The infant heiress( Alice )to Hassop became a ward of the King , and the King sold her for 50 marks to Sir John Leake who resold her at a hundred percent profit to Sir William Plumpton who wished to secure her as his wife.

1498: The estates of Hassop were sold to Catherine Eyre. From 1498 the Eyre family who were roman catholic and Jacobeans were persecuted. They were among those few catholic families who did not switch sides!

15th century: The Eyre family had millstone quarries at Yarncliffe ( Padley) and Hathersage. 1525 – 6 Nicholas Eyre and Arthur Eyre were both foresters in fee in Hopedale. Nicholas Eyre’s third son William descended the Eyres of North Lees .The Eyres played noteable part in local affairs and politics. The family played a part in the exploitation of the lead resources of the HIGH PEAK.

1500s:Catherine allied her sons to the wealthiest families and her grandson Rowland Eyre (D. 1625/6)married Gertrude Stafford

Rowland Eyre made a fortune from land, wool and lead. He built a new Hassop Hall. In the Great Longstone Church a memorial brass shows him and his wife kneeling before a crucifix. Rowland (d.1626)and his son Thomas(d.1637) had a flock of more than 1,000 sheep. This had been built up since the time of Rowland’s father Stephen (d. 1557) who had a flock of 150 sheep.

It is noted that Rowland Eyre (1626) , Thomas Eyre (1637) inherited ½ lease of Hassop from Edmund Eyre of Hassop d. 1567.

Thomas Eyre c 1569 – 1637 of Hassop was Rowland’s and Gertrude’s son. He married Prudence Blackwall . Thomas is buried at the “Quier fo the Chapel”, Longstone, Derbyshire

Rowland’s grandson , ( Thomas’s son ), another Rowland , became Colonel Rowland Eyre 1600 – 1674/1688 who served in 1643 as a Royalist in the civil war and raised a regiment in Derbyshire. He fought at Marston Moor and surrendered in 1646 at Lichfield. His Hassop Estate was sold under the Treason Act in 1651. He repurchased his estates for 13,600 pounds. Rowland married in 1620/25, to Ann Smith and had 19? Children. In 1625 a report is made of an assembly of Catholics who met at Hassop to celebrate the marriage of Rowland Eyre and Anne, daughter of Sir Francis Smith.

From the orginal document entitled “GRANT OF LAND IN THE FOREST OF HIGH PEAK BY CHARLES II TO THOMAS EYRE “ 4TH MARCH 1674. ( was this the year of Rowland’s death?)

“Colonel Eyre of Hassop, was a loyal and active partisan and rendered important military services to the royal family in the great Rebellion” At Hassop there is a fine portrait in armour of this enterprising soldier”

“Thomas Eyre of Grays Inn in the co. of Middlesex esq was given title to an estate in WormHill.

HASSOP HALL:1827 to 1833 A Francis Eyre , sixth earl of Newburgh modernized the house . ( He wrongly claimed the title of earl of Newburgh). This claim was made based on his marriage to Mary Radclyffe , daughter of Charles Radclyffe, 5th Earl of Derwentwater and Charlotte Maria Livingstone – 3rd countess to Newburgh.

1833: Mary Dorothea Eyre who married Charles Leslie, inherited the Hassop Estate. In 1919 the Leslie family sold Hassop Hall to Sir Henry Stephenson.

HASSOP: The EYRE ARMS: Built by the Eyre family in the 1600’s. First registered as a public house in 1753.

Chester field : THE EYRE CHAPEL: named after the Eyre family ( Gervase and Anthony Eyre of Dunston and Holme ) who bought the Manor of Newbold in 1570. The Eyres were forced to sell The Newbold Manor due to payments they had to make to practice as a catholic. However, they retained thd Chapel.( 12 family members were reinterred in the crypt ).


Parts of the building date back to the 1th century. After the 1688 revolution the chapel was ransacked and became a cow barn. The Eyre family renovated the chapel in the 1850’s and now it is a listed building.

The Hassop line of Eyres ended with the death of Dorothy Eyre (1853), Countess of Newburgh. The present representative of the senior branch of the family descends from a younger son of the Eyres of Holme Hall. There are numerous descendents of this Derbyshire family living in the country today, and the Eyre arms’ argent on a chevron three quatrefoils” may be seen in a number of churches.

HIGHFIELD HALL,Newbold: Now the property and residence of Vincent Eyre esq. who is also the proprietor of the R.C chapel in Newbold. Where many Eyres were buried.


Sir Nicholas Eyre Lord of Highlow , Hope b.1345 ( father was also a Nicholas) he married Joana Barlow had four sons. Nicholas, William, Robert and one other.

(Nicholas – settled Maltby, William settled in North Lees* ( and married Elizabeth Wickersley .)

*William was most likely the ancestor of the William Eyre b. 1751, the father of Thomas Eyre b. 1793.

PADLEY HALL( built c. 1350 – 1400) was connected to the Eyres, Fitzherberts and Ashtons. The Padley Chapel is all that remains of the hall today

ROBERT EYRE (b. 1390 Hasssop d.1459 Padley), the third son, married the heiress of Padley ( Joan Padley D. 1464). Robert Eyre was a steward to John Talbot, Earl of Shrewbury and fought at Agincourt. (1415).

A child of Robert Eyre is Elizabeth Eyre b. 1455 married Sir John Draycote of Paynsley, Bet. (1467 – 1529).

Robert Eyre had 11 children.

(From another of the sons of Robert Eyre and the heiress of Padley were descended the Earls of Newburgh and the Eyres of Hassop. The Eyres of Birchover, Bradway , Edale, Shatton, Ashop were also of the same family.)

The Robert Eyre story goes that Robert Eyre’s father , Sir Nicholas, was under ban from the church for some dark deed(tradition says it was murder), and Joan’s father had forbidden the union of the two people. They managed to meet secretly and repeat their vows at Stony Middleton Church. That church was built by Robert Eyre after his knighthood from Henry V.( He led a charge at Agincourt). The subsequent union of Robert and Joan and their numerous children ( who became founders of various households) is told by the altar tomb in the chancel of Hathersage Church.

C.1500: Arthur Eyre marries Margaret Plumpton who is the daughter of Sir Robert Plumpton. Their daughter is Anne.

Sir Arthur Eyre, Robert’s son? left one surviving *daughter (ANN) who married Sir Thomas Fitzherbert of Norbury ( who resided at Padley Hall and was Lord of both Norbury and Padley ).Knighted by Edward VI.

THOMAS FITZHERBERT was a Recusant. ( A recusant is someone who does not conform to the established church, ie. The Church of England.) This went on from the 16th century to the 19th century. The Fitzherbert family suffered greatly under this law. Apparently for half his life Sir Thomas was in jail. The manor of Padley was confiscated and he died in the Tower of London aged 74.(1591).

There exists a letter dated 1589 from Thomas to The Earl of Shrewbury after his expulsion from Padley. They say that the spy Richard Topcliffe betrayed them, seduced the daughters and was a spy entrusted by Queen Elizabeth herself.

HIGHLOW HALL of Hathersage

Came into the hands of the eyre family by way of Sir Nicholas Eyre b. 1345,married the youngest daughter of the Archer family. . The Eyres lost it for a time and about 1400 the Hall conveyed back to the Eyres. ( There were nine years alienation to the Slacks in 1602, when Dorothy Eyre, Countess of Newburgh, willed it to her husband , Colonol Leslie. )

Thomas Eyre, b. 1450’s?( of Holme Hall ) in the parish of Chesterfield was the grandson of Robert Eyre and Joana Padley and he was the founder of the Highlow branch of Eyres. From Thomas’s son, Christopher b. 1474 there was a continuous line of Eyres in residence.

Thomas Eyre ( married to Jane ) daughter of John Fitzherbert – the foremost catholic family in Derbyshire . John Fitzherbert ( of Padley and Thomas Fitzherbert’s brother ), was condemned to death for harbouring priests, it was intimated that his life could be saved if ten thousand pounds could be raised. Thomas sold his manor of Whittington and with the help of others, gathered together the whole sum. Unfortunately the recipients of the money could not be brought to task and he died in the Tower Of London, 1590.( one year after his brother , also in the tower ). It is noted that when John was arrested, Jane Eyre was placed in the custody of the Anglican rectors of Ashton. And Weston on Trent.

Thomas Eyre’s descendents were of Newbold as well as Holme hall and Dronfield woodhouse.

HOLME HALL : 1505- Roger Eyre and John his brother, rented land for 20 years from the lady of the manor.

Whose descendent , John Eyre of Highlow, second son of William Eyre, took the Name of Gell.

1658: Robert Eyre was the High Sheriff of Derbyshire. It was this ROBERT EYRE who built 7/11 houses in and around HATHERSAGE. ( Including North Lees Hall ).

William Eyre born 1669 changed his name to Archer.

The old homestead and Manor of Highlow passed from the Eyres in 1802/1842.


The family of Eyres settled in the Hathersage area in the reign of Henry VI(1421 – 1471) ( Formerly from Hope where they can be traced back to Henry III 1216 – 1272)

North Lees hall was built c 1594 during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. It was built for William Jessop. Designed by architect Robert Smythson. Built by Sir Robert Eyre –( the High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1658 – who resided at Highlow Hall. ) From Highlow Hall he could see all the residences of his sons and tradition says that on certain signals from the flag staff being given he could command the attendance of any or all of his sons as he required. Robert Eyre also built at Padley, Hazzleford, Offerton and Nether Hall.

An earlier hall is thought to have stood close by North Lees and was probably attached to the farm buildings. This earlier hall was resided by William Eyre in the 1400s? To the north of North Lees lies the ruins of an early Roman Catholic chapel.

North Lees was immortalized by Bronte in Jane Eyre as THORNFIELD (thorn is the reverse of north and field is the same name as Lees).

The Eyres lived in North Lees from about 1786 onwards when it was sold by the Vessey family. Thomas Eyre was born at North Lees b.1793,( according to Charles Stubbs), and his father was William Eyre born 1751.We suspect that William Eyre was living in the house with his wife Mary by 1786.

BROOKFIELD MANOR : built circa 1656 and was extended in 1825, was “VALE HALL” in the book JANE EYRE.

Thomas Eyre d. 1862, owned this property mentioned above , ( as he was the last of the male Eyres of Hathersage.) As well as Moorseats, Kimbercote, Bainford, Testators Standedge.

All, except North Less, were bequeathed to Charles Stubbs on the death of Thomas’s wife.( Sophie ). Charles Stubbs writes about North Lees Hall in 1924 “ I remember swinging on the …. Battlements as a young boy to the horror of my nurse”.

History of North Lees : Cow Close farm was connected to north lees hall

1734 north lees sold from John Grange to Henry Thornhill. ( with 1 corn mill, 1 smelting mill, and cottages of various tenants. )1734: saw the sale from Thornhill to Francis Staley of Conksbury. Descended in Staley and Wensley families to various descendents of John Staley VESSEY.

1819: A lease to WILLIAM EYRE , farmer, by Clarkson at the request of Vessey for 21 years. 1825: 7/8 of the premises to the trustees of marriage settlement of James Holworthy and Ann , wife and to Hanna Wright . Holsworth’s money also left to Ann Wright.

C.1851- 57: Noted from White’s 1857 directory of Derbyshire : North Less Hall – an ancient stone mansion 1 ¼ miles north from Hathersage is the property of Miss Hannah Wright and the residence of Mr George Eyre and the Misses Eyre- here are the ruins of an ancient Catholic Chapel.. no minerals are found in this part, the soils are generally good grazing land. .”The living part existing ( of North Lees ) was only a sort of farm House , the farm being run by George Eyre”. Says Charles Stubbs.

Thomas Eyre : it is noted the National school of Hathersage erected in 1868 with land donated by Thomas Eyre.

The three sisters living at North Lees with George Eyre are Anne, Harriet, and Mary. 1854 : Ann is described as the former Ann Eyre. And she was not in North Lees in 1869, hence I assumed she got married.( It is assumed the others remained spinsters? )

Thomas Eyre (B. 1793) died 1862 ( lived at North Lees , then Moorseats with Sophie)

He married Sophie Linnington (B.1831) in 1854. ( daughter or Robert Lynnington of Barnstaple)

Sophie was the sister of Anne Elizabeth Linnington who married John Dixon Stubbs of Ealing.

George died 1873 (Lived at North Lees)

Ann died 1878 ( lived North Lees )

Harriet died 1882 ( lived North Lees )

Mary died 1863 ( lived North lees)

John ( another son ) of William and Mary died 1844/1829.

William Eyre father, died 1831( North Lees )

Mary Eyre mother died 1846 ( North Lees)

(On the above headstone on the same grave was : Henry Thorp son of Seth and Sarah Thorp of Padley d. at Gozo near Malta 1856 ( 21 yrs), also Sarah Thorp and Seth Thorpe, also Joseph Thomas Thorpe d. 1903) Sarah , widow was a farmer in Hathersage with 70 acres in 1881. Henry would have been killed in the Crimean war.

Whilst Seth was noted as a farmer in Padley in 1857.

C1851 - 57: Hathersage had 181 houses and 832 inhabitants, Thomas Eyre was noted as a prinicipal owner living at MOORSEATS.

MOORSEATS c 1851/5 A neat pleasant mansion one mile north east from the village is the seat and property of Thomas Eyre.”

“JANE EYRE”: Having fled Thornfield, Jane finds sanctuary in the home of the Rivers family; “They loved their sequestered home. I too, in the grey, small antique structure, with its low roof, its latticed casements, its mouldering walls, its avenue of aged firs.. found a charm, both potent and permanent. They clung to the purple moors behind and around their dwelling- to the hollow vale into which the pebbly bridle-path leading from their gate descended” Moorseats is another of the places Charlotte Bronte visited when staying with Ellen Nussey in Hathersage, 1845 – which became Morton in the book.

( Marsh’s end /Moor house).

Charles Stubbs writes that “John Eyre” in the book on page 100 was in fact based on Thomas Eyre of Moorseats. (Moorseats was not sold to Thomas till 1855, however, he was noted as living there in the census of 1851?)

History of Moorseats:

1823: Mortgage of the Moorseats property by Henry Ibbotson ( yeoman of Nether Hirst), son of William to John Bright.

1839: Further mortgage to the Low Moor iron co.

1855: Conveyance by J.W.Pye Smith as mortgage of the Moorseats property, to Thomas Eyre, then of Moorseats. 1855: Moorseats was sold to Thomas for 2,500 pounds.

1861: Will of Thomas Eyre, leaving the property to trustees ( his brother George Eyre of North Lees Hall and *Rev. Henry Cottingham of Heath) to the use of his wife for life and then to Charles Stubbs of Ealing, with other remainders.

1861: Thomas Eyre ( 68) living at Moorseats with Sophia (30) , no kids, three servants, ( including a cook of 25 yrs. Mary Thorpe)

1862: Chancery decree in suit between Mrs Sophia Eyre , widow and Charles Stubbs

1863: Sophia Eyre… now of North Kensington Park, widow of Thomas Eyre, formerly of Liverpool but late of Moorseats, to John Spencer Ashton Shuttleworth. For completing the sale of all that allotment in the hamlet of Hathersage- outseats called Golden Car. (The allotment was ordered to be sold by the Court of Chancery and proceeds to be placed to the credit of the cause )

1864: Sophia Eyre sells Moorseats and Kimbercales estates to George Anthony Hardy of Sheffield, a contractor.

(* Rev Henry Cottingham of Magdalene college Cambridge, held the vicarage at Heath’s The Old church of All Saints since 1859. A part of the church dates back to the 12th century, then 1622 and pulled down except for the porch in 1852 , then rebuilt in 1853. )

It is believed that Thomas Eyre may have been related by marriage to this Henry Cottingham.

North Lees cont.

1870: Joseph Wright Cade ( obviously a descendant of the Wright family,) of Spondon , surgeon and George Eyre of North Lees.. under the will of Hannah Wright deceased, sold to Charles Cammell of Norton Hall, esquire. The Brookfield House and the manor called Norlees or Northleys Hall , with all .. lands, moors etc. sold for 49,750 pounds. So at this time the contents must have been given to Sophie Eyre and George, ( Sophie Eyre married Rev. Smith). ( The Apostles cupboard became the property of Sophie Eyre after Thomas Eyre’s death in 1862. )

Sometime, Sophie Eyre sold the cupboard for 40 pounds to Mrs. George of 12 Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park West. ( Taken from a letter by Charles Stubbs dated February 12th, 1917). Charles Stubbs claimed back the cupboard and offered compensation to Mrs. George. Charles Stubbs then took the cupboard to his home in Epsom. The cupboard , according to Thomas Eyre’s will was to be held in trust for Charles’s son, Eric Stubbs.

Charles Stubbs writes he is the representative of the Eyre family in Hathersage.

Sophie B. 1831 married Rev. Charles Smith of Hathersage and lived at the rectory in Hathersage. She became Sophie Eyre Smith.

( Sophie was from Barnstaple Devon As it was noted at her marriage in 1866).


From JANE EYRE PAGE 234. “ I must see the light of the unsnuffed candle wane on my employment : the shadows darken on the wrought , antique tapestry round me, and grow black under the hangings of the vast old bed, and quiver strangely over the doors of a great cabinet opposite, whose front, divided into twelve panels, bore, in grim design, the heads of the twelve apostles, each enclosed in its separate panel as in a frame, while above them at the top rose an ebon crucifix and a dying Christ.”

It is noted in Jane Eyre of the condition of North Lees at that time- 1845?. P 484. “ The lawn, the grounds were trodden and waste: the portal yawned void. The front was, as I had once seen it in a dream, but a shell –like wall, very high and fragile – looking, perforated with paneless windows: no roof, no battlements, no chimneys – all crashed in.

In Hathersage, the Eyres ceased to occupy a position of influence- The only local bearer of the name in (1901) Mrs. Mary Eyre, who carried on the business of Innkeeper and butcher, at the Millstone Inn, Hathersage. ( her husband was William and her children William and Edith).

HATHERSAGE CHURCH( St Michaels the Archangel) : The foundation of a catholic community in HATHERSAGE can be traced back to Thomas Barley or Barlow of Stoke Hall. He married Matilda the daughter of John Fitzherbert who had been arrested along with the Matyres of Padley. Thomas Eyre, the son of Robert Eyre was John’s son in law who tried to buy him out of jail.

The parish dates back to 1381 : the church was extensively rebuilt by Sir Robert Eyre following his return from the Battle of Agincourt , where he and his father, Sir Nicholas Eyre, and a company of local men had distinguished themselves on the famous field on St Crispin’s day in 1415. The porch was added in 1500 by Robert Eyre’s son. There is a 15th century Sanctus Bell inscribed with a prayer for Robert Eyre and his wife Joan.

The catholic James II who came to the throne in 1685 gave permission for English catholics to build public and private chapels. ( North Lees had a private chapel). The Hathersage church was completed in 1692.

The chapel when first opened was attacked and partly demolished by a protestant mob. It took almost 100 years and the Relief Act of 1791 before rebuilding could take place. Finance was provided by a bond executed for 6,000 pounds by Thomas Eyre of Hassop ‘ in trust for rebuilding the Chapel of Hathersage. Rebuilding began in 1798 and the chapel reopened in 1806. The first priest of the newly opened chapel was Edward Eyre.

There is a memorial window ( west) – to William Eyre of North Lees Hall with wife Mary ( Thomas Eyre’s parents) erected by George Eyre circa 1852 and his three sisters.

C.1852: Thomas Eyre gave two carved old oak chairs and buffet, they stand on either side of the chancel. ( The church was restored in 1852 by Butterfield) The north chapel was added in 1463 as a chantry for the Eyre family.

There are several monuments inside to the Eyre family – noted as the ancestors of the Earl of Newburgh. On the alter tomb there is a brass of Robert Eyre who fought at Agincourt. There is a tomb to him d. 1459, and his wife Joan Padley

On the south side of the church is the grave of Little John who lived in the village and worked in the nail industry. Little John fought in the battle of Evesham under Simon de Montfort When defeated he joined the outlawed Robin Hood. When Robin Hood died Little John returned to Hathersage but died shortly afterwards. He asked to be buried at the Hathersage church.

It looks like the graves of Thomas Eyre , William and Mary and daughter Mary are in the church yard,. A visit would confirm other Eyres buried there.


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