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Notes on the churches of Derbyshire (part 1)

By Cox, J. Charles (John Charles), 1843-1919. Published 1875

THE manor of Shirley at the time of the Domesday Survey was held hy various tenants under Henry de Ferrers. It was then possessed of "a priest and a church." Sewall, the ancestor of the celebrated Shirley family, at that time held several manors in Derbyshire under superior lords,* but his second son, Fulcher, was the first to own lands in that parish from whence his descendants afterwards assumed their name. About the year 1130 Fulcher received from the Prior and Convent of Tutbury (with the consent of Robert, Earl Ferrers, who had previously presented this land to the priory), four oxgangs of land in Shirley, and a mill at Derby, for which he was to pay on S. John Baptist's Day a rental of 10s. 8d.

From another early Shirley deed, it would appear that the church of Shirley came into the hands of Fulcher about the same time. Fulcher had four sous, Henry, Sewall, Fulcher, and Jordan. There is a very curious family settlement extant between the two eldest of these sons, by which Henry, the firstborn, sold his birthright to his brother Sewall. In the list of property thus transferred the church of Shirley ( ecclesiani de Chirli is mentioned. This deed is undated, but it is evidently about the close of the reign of Henry II. (1156). The eldest son of this Sewall was Henry, and the eldest son of the disinherited Henry was Fulcher. Another deed amongst the Dugdale MSS. (of the time of Richard I. or John) is a family settlement between these two cousins, Henry and Fulcher, from which it appears that the presentation to the church of Shirley formed part of the dowry of the wife of their uncle Jordan.

On the death of the wife of Jordan; the advowson of the church of Shirley, with one or two other fragments of the ancestral property, reverted to the son of Fulcher, who was named Fulcher de Ireton, from the manor on which he resided, and from whom the Iretons, of Little Ireton, descended. Fulcher de Ireton did not, however, long retain the church of Shirley in his own hands, for about 1230 he gave it to the Abbey of Darley. This grant was confirmed by his son, Henry de Ireton, who was slain at the battle of Chesterfield, and also, a few years later, by Sir James de Shirley, son of Sir Sewall.

The consent of the Ferrers, of whom the Shirleys held, had to be obtained to sanction this grant, and from the recital to a confirmation of Robert de Ferrers, we find that James de Shirley was presented to the rectory by the Abbot of Darley on the vigil of St.Thomas the Martyr, 1260, on the death of Eobert Touchet, the former rector.

In 1268, Eoger Longespee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, gave his sanction to the appropriation of the living by the Abbey, and the ordination of a vicarage, so soon as the then rector should die or resign. The following endowment of the vicarage was sanctioned by the same bishop in the ides of March, 1285. The vicar was to have a manse; six acres of arable land in the field of Shirley (two of them at a place in that field called "le Coppede Thorne," two at "le Mulneflat," and two at "le Overecrowes Slade"); two quarters of good corn and one of seed corn from the rectorial granges of the abbot ; two quarters of good other sort of corn, and one of seed from the same ; all oblations, obventions, and mortuaries ; the tithes of hay of the whole parish ; and the tithes of lambs, calves, poultry, pigs, geese, eggs, wool, and flax, together with the tenth of all orchards and crofts cultivated by spade husbandry. The abbot, as rector, was also to annually supply the vicar with one pound of incense. This ordination received the confirmation of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield in the kalends of April of the same year.

The Taxation Roll of 1291 values the rectory of Shirley at £6 13s. 4d.

In 1357, a letter of attorney, dated at Eatington, Sunday after the feast of S. Nicholas, was granted by Sir Thomas Shirley to put William, parson of the church of Brailsford, and William le Roo, vicar of the church of Shirley, in possession of the manors of Shirley and Hoon, doubtless for a temporary purpose to act as trustees.

The Valor eccleiasticus (27 Henry VIII.) values the vicarage at £6 13s. 4d. ; Ralph Wudnott was then Vicar. The exact worth of the rectorial tithes to Darley Abbey cannot be given, as the valor couples together the churches of Shirley and S. Peter's, Derby, their aggregate rectories being estimated at £17 16s. Od.

The Parliamentary Commissioners of 1650, say " Shirley is a vicaridge really worth thirty pounds per annum. Mr. Henry Salte vicar insufficient & scandalous."

The following list of vicars is chiefly compiled from the Lichfield Diocesan Registers. We do not give the pre-reformation patrons, as they were in each instance the Abbots of Darley:

1300. Robert de Bromleigh.
1304. Robert de Felkirke.
1311. John de Cotes.
1313. Henry Longedon.
1348. John "presbyter et capellanus."
1349. Henry de Shirley.
"William de Assheton ; on the resignation of H. de S.
(1357.) William le Roo.
1390. John de Stanton.
1394. John Careswalk.
. Elie Woner.
1398. John Lien ; on the resignation of E. "W.
1430. Henry Fynche.
1469. John More ; on the death of H. F.
1490. Nicholas Bentley ; on the resignation of John More, who resigned from ill-health, and a pension of four marks was assured to him by the in-coming vicar.
1515. Robert Blythe ; on the death of N. B. (1535). Ralph Wudnott.
. Humphrey Woodenett.
1550. Edward Coope ; on the death of H. W. Patron, the King.
1614, Dec. 6. Henry Salte; patron, Maria Presse, widow.
1657, Oct. 1st. Samuel Hieron; patron, Elizabeth Salte.
1662, Nov. 7th. Edmund Shepherd ; patron, Lady Catharine Shirley.
1674, Jan. 25th. Thomas Cotterell; patron, Sir E. Shirley.
1718, May 14th. Thou as Boultbee; patron, Washington, Earl Ferrers.
1781, Feb. 3rd. John Gardiner; patron, Earl Ferrers.
1815, Oct. 27th. Walter Shirley ; patron, Earl Ferrers.
1828, May 6th. Walter Augustus Shirley.
1847, April loth. Eardly Wilmot Mitchel ; patron, the Queen, in consequence of W. A. S. being promoted to the See of Sodor and Man.
1872, Feb. 25th. Charles Francis Powys.

The church of Shirley, which is dedicated to S. Matthew (and not to S. Michael, as is usually stated) now consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and tower at the west end ; but both the tower and north aisle are recent additions. When Mr. Rawlins visited this church in 1834, he made the following measurements of its area: Nave 28 ft. by 16 ft. 10 in.; south aisle 28 ft. 5 in. by 13 ft. 10 in.; chancel 19 ft. 11 in. by 15 ft. 4 in. From a south-east view taken by Mr. Rawlins, as well as from one by Mr. Meynell, of some twenty years' earlier date, we find that the tower was then of very small dimensions, the upper half being constructed of wood.* The porch, also, is represented as having an open timber-work front. But soon after this the tower must have been completely rebuilt, for the Stemmata Shirleiana gives a wood-cut of the " Church of Shirley in the county of Derby, 1839," in which it is represented with an em-battled pinnacled tower, of much the same appearance as the present one.

In 1842 a north aisle was added to the church, which is a fairly executed imitation of the old south aisle. At the same time the church was refitted (an addition of 107 seats being gained, as is stated on the west gallery), the old porch removed, and the semi-circular arch between the nave and chancel, which was the only remnant of the church of the Norman period, cleared away to give place to its pointed successor. And yet it is said that all these barbarisms were effected for the sum of £600.