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Blythes of Norton Lees, an update.

duckweed

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#1
Bishop John Blythe before he was a bishop was Archdeacon of Richmond. Henry Tudor was Earl of Richmond before he took the throne. Henry VII's title to the throne was pretty shakey to say the least. John Blythe was not directly related to any aristocracy that could be a threat to Henry so a perfect person to be Chaplain to Henry. John Blythe became Bishop of Salisbury in 1493, 8 years after Henry had seized the throne.

John was a well educated man, having first been schooled in Latin at Beauchief Abbey in Norton Derbyshire, then to Eton as a poor scholar and from there to Kings College Cambridge. He became chancellor of Cambridge where he delivered an Oration to Henry VII which must have impressed him as that was when John was offered the job of Chaplain. John also got the jobs of Chancellor of Ireland and Master of the Rolls (a judiciary position) John doesn't seem to have been particularily devout, simply a career churchman. Perhaps if he'd lived longer he may have gone higher but he died in 1499 and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral where his effigy can still be found.

Brother Geoffrey had similar early education to John and caught the eye of Henry VII while still at Cambridge. Geoffrey seems to have been a bit of a smooth talker and Henry was soon sending him on diplomatic missions. He was sent as special ambassador to Hungary to plead with the king to stop harbouring Richard de la Pole. Richard was nearer in line to the throne but had sworn allegiance to Henry VII. However it was Richard who had backed Lambert Simnel and had then fled to Hungary. Richard wasn't moving as his brother had been persuaded back previously and been beheaded. The King of Bohemia and Hungary had taken a pledge to protect Richard, so Geoffreys visit was fruitless as far as we can see. Nevertheless when Geoffrey returned in 1502 Henry gave him the job of Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. 6 years later Geoffrey found himself in the tower of London accused of swindling the king out of some land, some of the land being in Norton Debyshire. He probably was but nevertheless managed to talk himself out of trouble and was reinstated. His one evil deed was the burning of a Lollard heretic but it would appear he had tried everything in his power to get her off and had been criticised for his lack of enthusiasm in pursuing heretics and created loopholes so most of them got off. Geoffrey managed to get some of his relatives jobs. He found places at Cambridge for his younger brother Thomas and later for Thomas's son Geoffrey as well as a John Blythe from Norton Lees a nephew most probably.

Robert Blythe was cousin to the 2 other Blythes and again had a similar education to his cousins. He however became a monk in a teaching order. Probably by his cousin John recommendation he became bishop of Down and Connor but he never actually set foot on Irish soil. He is remembered for his backing of the theological grounds for Henry VIII's divorce and following the dissolution of the monasteries was given a pension and died at the ripe old age of 77 in Cambridge.

So here we have the Bishops who gave their name to Bishops House.
 

duckweed

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#2
The Blythes became quite prosperous in the Norton area, eventually owning the manors of Norton, Dronfield and Barnby Dunn. They became manufacturers of scythes so that by 1665 the inventory of William Blythes mentions nearly 2 thousand scythes ready made for sale and iron etc elsewhere. How this came about seems to have been luck and possibly some clever marriages too. In order to make sythes you need low sulphur coal and low sulphur iron. Dronfield coal is especially low in sulphur but the iron that came with it is tricky to work with. Fortunately Barnby has higher grade iron. The technology for heating iron to higher temperatures came from Ormskirk a place associated with the Blithes. This technology helped the Blithes create bigger amounts of iron. The monks of Norton, that is Beauchief Abbey had brought the technology of Water Wheels and these water wheels became foundaries, power for grinders and tilt hammers which were necessary to produce strong tools. The last part of the equation was Henry VII who was an innovator in metal working. He encouraged people from Europe to set up the first English Blast Furnace and through his encouragement it led to better quality iron and also casting. The Blithes had all the materials on their estates, the knowhow and already craftsmen who knew how to make scythes as they had been making scythes since the 12th century. And possibly a bit of personal investment from the Bishops Blythe.
 

leefer

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#3
Very interesting Duckweed...never get fed up with reading it.
As a regular visitor to Salisbury cathedral i will look for the Blythe effigy next time.
As i said in another post the Swinden you had on record was probably the Swinden near Hatton in Lancs(Davelamberts post on old maps).
As a footnote if anyone is ever in Wiltshire try and put a visit into Salisbury Cathedral.........unlike most Cathedrals the history is in what it has inside like effigys and burial chambers...plaques and tapestrys.
Alot of Cathedrals take your breath away in there actual structures,Salisbury is the same but also what is within is so interesting and you come away being alot richer in English history.
Keep the updates coming Duckweed.
 

duckweed

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#4
Just found John Blythes signature as the one who wrote out the Treaty of Etaples for Henry VII and Charles of France to sign.
 

duckweed

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I am going to St James Norton Lees to see the tomb of the Bishops' parents William and Saffery Blythe. The Vicar and myself have been corresponding trying to find more out.
 

duckweed

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That's great, the 3 roses feature is incorporated in the Blythe tomb at Norton I gather as is the arms of Lincoln in amongst it all. I shall send the photo of the rose carving to the vicar. He will be interested. Don't think he has been to Salibury. If anyone would like to take some more photos or has some none copywrite photos I can use for my book I am writing to raise funds for Bishops House I would be very greatful. Sheffield Libraries is offering to cut their usual charges for use of their old photos so hopefully I won't have too many external costs though I have to find a friendly printer yet and of course write the thing.
 

duckweed

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I just got lovely email from local history group. Apparently they have one member who has been researching the Blythes for years and has written books on his research and has loads of notes and copies of documents I can have access to. The Vicar meanwhile is trying to decipher the copies of the Bishops Wills which are in Latin. People are so helpful. If I can take some usable photos of Blythes Tomb I'll try and post them up for you to see.
 

duckweed

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Saw the vicar. He is as big a history nut as me. What an amazing place is Norton. The huge Norton Manor and the grange and the Stables and the little medieval church fairly plain but sturdy and every now and again there is a gargoyle looking at you. William Blythe the Parliamentarian has his grave stone propped up in the porch, Lees is spelt Leese. The statue of the great sculpture Francis Chantry is stuck in a pew with toys for the children all around him. He looks like Frazier or Kelsey Grammar. The church was renovated in the early 19th century so has no original stain glass though it is quite tasteful. The pulpit has well worked carvings of the apostles but it is modern too. There at the front in St Katherines Chapel (technically but although it has separate entrance it is open at the side) is Blythes tomb finely carved in alabaster with William and Saffery on the top and small figures round three sides carrying coats of arms. Some of the figures have lost their heads and some shields are worn or have been defaced. You can still see traces of the red paint that coloured Saffreys dress and the black that was on Williams. I couldn't take photos this time I will have to come back. The original oak roof in St Katherine's chapel has the carving of a rose. Is this a Yorkshire rose, a Lancashire Rose or a Tudor one?
 

leefer

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That sounds like my kind of day Duckweed,love old churches and little bits of past history,seems like your getting your teeth into it.
Wood carrving seems to be abit of a lost art.
I went to a tiny church just outside Swindon recently...Inglesham church near Highworth ,they had pulled some plaster off to reveal medieval red and black paintings..the church have decided to leave it be which is nice.
Keep us updated.
 

duckweed

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Been looking up a copy of an old book on Blythes someone kindly copied for me. It mentioned a book written by a William Blythe about his family. I tried googling but google books could only give me bits. On a whim went on Amazon and put the title in, they had several copies (originally printed 1895) they had been reprinted in paperback form and were being sold secondhand. Put in for one. Await with excitement as it talks of early Warwickshire links and Norfolk ones. Also emailed the church where I think Robert Blythe is buried. They are going to investigate for me. people are so kind. We may even be arranging a dig round the grounds. Got a couple of archeaologists on board now. It really is quite mindblowing. I will have to do some of my own family searching as I am doing a number of joint searches with others who share our family tree but this Blythe thing is so interesting. Apparently Thomas Blythe married a Skelley, a rich heiress. It was the Skelleys who ended up owning Beauchief Abbey and its lands. One of Thomas's sons married a Neville the grand daughter of the Countess of Salisbury so there is two Salisbury/ Blythe connections. There appear to be family links to both the Earl of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Westmorland. Every where I look there are important names cropping up.
 

leefer

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Thats good Duckweed,the Blythe family was obviously a big player in times gone past.
The probability is you are just scratching the surface and alot more info will be forthcoming once you start looking at the other names .
 

duckweed

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Today I went to Manor Lodge. The site of the Earl of Shrewsbury's hunting lodge. Once a magnificent building now mainly ruins. They think there was a deer park there before the Norman Conquest. Now all there remains in good order is the gate house used also as a banqueting hall and a hunting tower. It has the most magnificent plaster ceiling. Built about the time Mary became a prisoner of the Earl, probably to improve facilities at the manor lodge when Mary stayed there when they were spring cleaning the castle. If you are ever in Sheffield I recommend a visit.

http://www.manorlodge.org.uk/


It is such an amazing place, so much is happening there. The enthusiam of those that run it. They really put their heart and soul into it.

From the Blythe point of view certain families they married into are in common with the Earl of Shrewsburys family connections. So there is obviously more to the Blythes than meets the eye. At the time of the building of the gate house Blythes owned the manors of Norton, Greenhill, Dronfield and Barnby Dunn and of course the Norton Lees Estate. They owned coal mines and iron mines and smelting mills. They were wealthy men. Were they invited to meet Mary at the Lodge?
 

leefer

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http://www.blythefarmhouse.co.uk/about_blythe_farmhouse.htm

Hi Duckweed,very interesting as always.
With the connections with the Earl of Shrewsbury and him being owner of Alton Towers (originally) i wondered if this listed Farmhouse near to Alton Towers is on your radar,maybe named after a Blythe?
You may have mentioned it before but maybe was a place a 'Blythe' owned or stayed at in years gone by...certainly old enough anyway.
 

duckweed

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Its interesting, yet another Blyth place name. The Blythes did have connections with Staffordshire.

My new information starts from this.


John Roos died in 1458, and his son, Robert, enfeoffed Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, of the Manor of Laxton. The Archbishop was then founding a new college, the Jesus College at Rotherham, and he appropriated 'The Church of Laxton, the collation and patronage of which belongs to me in right of my lay fee, to the College, as the benefice is rich enough to allow this'. This meant that the living and rectorial tithes went to the College, who had to see that the parish was served by a suitable vicar. But when the Archbishop died, in 1500, he directed in his will that if his niece, Ann Restwold, should marry Humphrey Roos, they were to have the Manor of Laxton, as the old entail was the inheritance of the Roos family. There was a Chancery suit about this, and in 1508 Humphrey and Ann got a licence to be enfeoffed of the Manor of Laxton.


Ann Restwold was the daughter of Elisabeth Blythe, sister to the Bishops. She was one of Richard Restwolds wives I think. Richard was a lawyer and worked as legal advisor to the Earl of Salisbury otherwise known as Richard Neville son in law to John o Gaunt but actually a Yorkist and Restwold was known as a Yorkist. Later on Elisabeths brother Thomas Blythe's son William marries Elisabeth Neville. And of Course John Blythe was Bishop of Salisbury. William Blythe and Elisabeth have a son who marries into another important family the Savilles. This story is certainly interesting and surprising.
 

leefer

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#20
Hi Duckweed...you have alot more unfinished buisness!
Obviously there are a few Blythe place names but its always interesting when an old building with the name Blythe comes up as the buildings were nearly always named after the person not a place...not always though.

All the best as always.
 

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