A de Mitton family primer ….to.. “Beguin the Beguine “….. why bloodlines mattered….. and who was Ralph the Red

The Greeks defined the word history to mean ‘his story’. My story was researched to document the French-Norman de Mittõn family bloodlines of the Norman Conquest of Saxon England in 1066 and subsequent harrying of the north campaigns beginning in 1069. This story chronicles the family’s enduring pedigree history in proximate areas of the original family manor site for over 900 years. Those family descendants continue to live in these areas. Others migrated beginning in the 19th century to Canada. My own line in early 20th-century emigration from Ontario, Canada to the United States.

Great Mitton Hall and Mytton Church on the Ribble in Great Mitton, Lancashire England

57675 Mitton, Bruce - Ivo Great Mitton Print

“Great Mitton”

Painting by Ivo David commissioned by Bruce Floyd Mitton-2016

The de Mitton story is based on research from historic books, papers, web site original source references as well as library archives and primary sourced family genealogy documentation. This effort includes personal visits to Great Mitton as well as research at the British and Clitheroe libraries. Sources are sometimes conflicting as we are extrapolating esoteric information beginning in the 11th– 12th centuries. Even so; there is a lot that can be found if one digs enough and able to reconcile the often paradoxical. My interpretation of people, places, and events may be benevolent for the same reason as Churchill said: “History will be kind to me because I am going to write it”. As a Mitton, I wrote this with perhaps the same prejudges in some areas. In spite of the ancient roots of this story, I have tried to document and reference whenever possible. I will leave it for the reader to differentiate the legitimacy of my efforts and interpretations of the ancient who, what, where and when of the de Mitton ancestry versus any facts that may not be known to me.

Bruce Floyd Mitton

To Beguin The Beguine…

“The family of Mitton has lived in the Deanery of Craven and the Wapentake of Staincliffe in the West Riding of Yorkshire since the time of the Conquest. Ralph de Mitton held land there then, and the family continued there until the middle of the 14th century”- Genealogy and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry- Burke`s Peerage Ltd. 17th Edition


Le root`s
The ancient French Norman surname “de Mitton” is derived from the 1087 Doomsday identified manor location “Mitune”. The family’s initial demesnes were granted by feudal charter dated November 23, 1102. The de Mittons were of French-Norman lineage; thus the name was ameliorated from the Doomsday medieval Latin and probably Saxon recorded name “Mitune” to the French-Norman “de Mitton”-meaning- of that manor location. The family surname was certified for the poll tax in 1219. It has been a continuous 800 year legally recorded family surname to this day.

That singular Mitton name still remains the same Doomsday identified location in present-day Lancashire, England. See Doomsday: http://tinyurl.com/zvupu.

It appears the family dropped the de in the 16th century as those members of the family were living in the Craven area of Yorkshire, about 50-mile north east radius from present-day Great Mitton.

DSC_0921Great Mitton Hall and church is on the north side of the Ribble River.

The first de Mittons

The de Mitton family progenitor is first identified in 1102 as Radulphus le Rous or Ralph the Red. Charters and other evidence suggest he was an illegitimate son (4th.) of Robert de Lacy by an unknown, perhaps Saxon mistress. Please see; http://tinyurl.com/Ralph-the-Red http://tinyurl.com/Ralph-the-Red-Ashworth

The de Lacy connection

Ralph and his descendants had a feudal bloodline connection to the de Lacy family for well over the next two hundred years until the death of Henry de Lacy, the 3rd. Earl of Lincoln Feb. 5th., 1310. He was last male de Lacy Lord of Bowland and bloodline connection to the de Mitton family. These two centuries of de Mitton manor holdings made up the largest original   de Lacy family alienation’s of feudal lands.
Ralph’s manors were held in demesne, meaning in their own name. The lord of such manors was free to do what he wanted with the manor and benefit personally. Mitton manor was the “magna” manor of the many others in the area held by the family. It is another indication of the close blood relation of the de Mittons to the de Lacy’s as Lords of Bowland. The de Mittons held all those manors in demesne (meaning for their own use) unlike other sub-feudalistic manors of the times.
Henry de Lacy`s death in 1311 severed the bloodline descendant de Mittons to the de Lacy family (beginning with Ralph the Red). This bloodline break caused the removal of the family from its namesake Magna Mitton manor by the new paramount lord of Bowland, the Earl of Lancaster, Thomas Plantagenet. He inherited the de Lacy barony as a life estate upon the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311, his father in law. The de Lacy`s feudal titles themselves ended with the 1348 death of Henry`s daughter Alice. She is the last descendant ancestral de Lacy bloodline related to the de Mittons. There were no other surviving heirs to Henry de Lacy. Eventually, those de Lacy lands (after 1351) became the lands of the Earl of Lancaster. Those combined lands are now the Duchy of Lancaster and the property of the Crown.
Note: The Duchy of Lancaster is the largest private domain in England and the prime source of revenue for Queen Elizabeth II as the present Duke of Lancaster.
The prefix “de” identified a manor meaning “of” Mit~tune as a location in the Doomsday book. The name “Mit~tune” itself has a Danish-Scandinavian identification root name. It meant “middle-town” as recorded in Doomsday. The adaption of the old French Norman pronunciation of an i as e’ and an o with emphasis on the o in “ton”. de Mit-ton meant the same similar geographic identification in the Doomsday Book as it is today (most likely a local Saxon person transcribing). The Norman “ton” meant village or farmstead. The “de” with the lower case d signified the family of a noblise bloodline. In this case of the direct bloodline descendants of the great Norman conquest family, the de Lacy’s.
The later descendant de Mitton the de Bailey and Shireburne family of Stonyhurst Hall descend from Ralph the Red`s grandson Otto de Mitton. He also became known as Otto de Bailey after he was granted Bailey manor by his eldest brother Hugh de Mitton, probably around 1200. Hugh was the successor lord of the family’s manors at the time. This included the separate manor of Bailey as one of the de Mitton family’s original demesnes. Hugh was the eldest son of Jordon, son, and successor of Ralph the Red. The eldest son was always the first heir by primogenitor and is still the case in England today.

 Lords of the Manor

The original Nov. 23rd. 1102 charter granted other feudal manors in and around present-day Great Mitton including Aighton (where Stonyhurst College is). All these locations were approximately three to four miles from Clitheroe which became the administrative seat of the de Lacy barony. The Nov. 23rd, 1102 charter also included manors granted to Ralph at Clitheroe`s castle rock and proximate Mearley. As a Norman feudal designate, Ralph the Red replaced the Englishman Orm at the castle rock in 1102. A common occurrence by the Normans after 1066 to secure Saxon lands for themselves and related nobility. See notes pg. 387; http://tinyurl.com/1102-Charter

The Nov. 23, 1102 charter to Ralph the Red is the first mention of a Norman designate to actually be residing at Clitheroe since the 1066 conquest. The local Norman absence prior to Ralph the Reds arrival was more than likely due to King Williams’s “harrying of the north” campaign (initiated 1069-70). That Norman Yorkshire subjugation left much of the area devastated or “wasta” and of little value. This was how many of the area manors were recorded in the Doomsday book at that time; meaning no agricultural value. “Mitune” manor was described as such in Williams’s great survey (completed 1087) that became known as the Doomsday book.

The “harrying of the north” did secure Northumberland lands for King Williams and the final resistance to his conquest of England. This was at a great cost to the local population from the scorched earth subjugation as cited above. Its purpose was to deny agricultural cultivation to resistant Saxons for decades. It seemed to have worked. The areas desolation may explain the Norman delay in occupying this particular area until Ralph the Reds arrival.                            See Northumberland map; http://tinyurl.com/q329dpu . 

hugh-de-mitton-seal-copyThe de Mitton family held their manors under the paramount Lords of  Bowland, the de Lacy family. This was continuous until the death of Henry de Lacy, 3rd. Earl of Lincoln (and 9th. Lord of Bowland). This Henry de Lacy (the 4th. Henry de Lacy) was the last male de Lacy Lord of Bowland and Earl of Lincoln. After his death and no later than 1312, the de Mittons ceased to be lords of their surname manor.

The de Mittons were replaced by 1312 as a result of a new paramount Lord, the Earl of Lancaster, Thomas Plantagenet, first cousin to Edward II. He was the husband of Alice de Lacy, her fathers Henry's only surviving heir. This was result of a life estate agreement by Henry de Lacy for pledging his daughter Ann to Thomas Plantagenet when she was 9 years old.It was to secure the Plantagenet family of Edward I with the Norman conquest and Magna Carta family of Henry de Lacy. Henry was the most esteemed Baron of the Realm and was Edward I closest consular and confident. Edward 1st. had designated Henry Lord protector of the realm when absent during campaigns.In effect regent to his son Edward, Prince of Whales. Ann's husband Thomas Plantagenet became the real inheritor of the de Lacy lands thru a life estate of the de Lacy baronies upon Henry de Lacy`s death in 1310.

Thomas Plantagenet, however, did not have a blood connection with the de Mittons as did his wife’s family. Lacking that bloodline connection to the new Earl, Mitton manor after 1311 was then granted by Thomas Plantagenet to another family. No lord of the manor resided at Mitton manor at Great Mitton Hall ever again, nor did any de Mitton since that time.

Some de Mittons did continue to hold land in nearby areas including Aighton where Stonyhurst Hall, now a college, as part of the original 1102 charter lands to Ralph the Red. Other de Mitton`s began to migrate north to the Craven area in the 14th century. Centuries later some de Mitton family descendant’s migrated to Canada in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.   Many others have remained in the Craven area and residents of nearby Clitheroe to this day.

Ralph`s precursor family and father

Ralph’s 1102 grants were the largest alienation of manor lands by the de Lacy’s to that date. (Henry the 1st confiscated the Bowland lands from Roger de Poitou in 1102, banished him from England and replaced him with the de Lacy`s). Blood connections were almost always the bases for feudal manor grants after the 1066 conquest when the Normans were a usurper minority.

The specific charter affirmations of lands to Ralph by the de Lacy’s were undoubtedly due to the strategic importance of Clitheroe. It`s castle rock defensive topography being able to secure the growing de Lacy barony westward from Pontefract castle and became linked to Pontefract after 1102. The barony then straddled the north of England linking both sides of the Pennines creating a travel corridor that has outlasted the medieval lands of the de Lacy`s to this day.

Ralph the Red represented the new paramount de Lacy family in the Clitheroe area by his family connected presence (even if a bastard son of Robert de Lacy). It is probably why Ralph establishes a church at the “magna” de Mitton manor site in 1103. As such he was both lord of the manor and their local manors church incumbent. This was a common circumstance in early post-conquest England to maintain a tight grip on their newly conquered lands. http://tinyurl.com/de-Lacy-s

The researched document findings identity of Ralph the Red;

“Robert de Lacy had one illegitimate child by an unknown mistress”;

5. RALPH le Roux (-after [1135/41]).  “Robertus de Lacy” granted “Magnam Merlay…et Tuisleton…et…in Cliderhou” to “Radulpho le Rus” by charter dated 23 Nov 1102[95].  His parentage is confirmed by the charter dated to [1135/41] under which “Ilbertus de Lacy” confirmed the grant of “magnam Mitton, Haghton, magnam Merlay, Twisleton…in Potreton et…in Cliderhou” to “Radulfo le Rouse” and granted further property to “eidem Radulfo fratri meo” (meaning same to my brother).              The third edition of Charles Cawley’s Medieval Lands; Untitled English Nobility. See 5 at http://tinyurl.com/Ralph-the-Red http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISHNOBILITYMEDIEVAL3L-O.htm

Ilbert de Lacy II circa 1135 charter to Ralph the Red;

“The same to my brother”; ‘eidem Radulfo fratri meo’

“Robert de Lacy (1) also had an illegitimate son named Ralph le Rous (the red).  One of the first things that Robert did when he received the honour of Clitheroe was to make a grant of lands to Ralph, in a charter dated 23rd November 1102, which included Great Mitton and from this time Ralph and his descendants took the surname de Mitton. We can be certain that Ralph was a son of Robert’s because when Ilbert de Lacy (2) was confirming his father’s grants following the restoration of the lands in 1135, his charter reads ‘eidem Radulfo fratri meo’ – the same to my brother Ralph.  This grant was also made with the consent and advice of ‘my brother Robert’, another piece of evidence for a third legitimate son of Robert de Lacy (1)”. Elizabeth Ashford; Lancashire historian and author of “The de Lacy Inheritance”.

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 9


As Lord of Bowland, Robert de Lacy held by right the honour of Clitheroe. Bowland comprised a Royal Forest (a forest then meant a hunting preserve) and ten manors including Mitton manor. It consisted of eight townships with four parishes and covered an area of almost 300 square miles.                                                 


The Clitheroe Castle “Keep” and monument dedicated to a World War l soldier


Ralph the Red is the first documented Norman at Clitheroe being enfeoffed there when he replaced the Englishman Orm at Clitheroe`s castle rock. This early charter grant was right after the de Lacy’s replaced Roger Potui as Lord of Bowland and the Honor of Clitheroe. The combined above mentioned manors including the magna manor Mitton were considerable grants of land to Ralph the Red. Clitheroe castle became the administrative site for the de Lacy`s baronies in the following decades; as first secured by Ralph’s occupation from the mandated Nov. 23rd. 1102 charter.

The de Lacy`s fiefdom included their original Blackburnshire – Pontefract castle lands given to the first Ilbert de Lacy (of the conquest) by the Conqueror. He was granted over 170 manors by King William I and became a “Tenant in Chief” to the King. It was that first Ilbert who built Pontefract castle beginning around 1070. His eldest son Robert de Lacy was successor, sometimes known as Robert Pontefract for holding what became the great fee of Pontefract.

Roberts’s own successor was a second Ilbert de Lacy (named after his grandfather the first Ilbert of the conquest as noted above). It was this Ilbert who identified Ralph the Red as his brother from the second 1135 restated de Lacy charter (re-confirming his father’s feudal grants to Ralph). Ilbert (2) died after the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 without issue. He was succeeded by his next younger brother (the 1st Henry de Lacy) of the great Norman family. Henry had one son, another named Robert (the 3rd. Robert de Lacy) who succeeded and died in 1193. This third named and final Robert de Lacy was the last direct male bloodline (4rd. generation) descendant. He was the 5th. successor of the first Ilbert de Lacy of Normandy (and companion of Duke William in the 1066 Conquest* and the Harrying of the North).

*Note: A second de Lacy line then inherited the de Lacy’s barony’s through a bloodline descendant from Alberta de Lisours, the daughter of the first Alberta, and only daughter of the first Robert de Lacy and thus sister of the eldest Ilbert (2nd.), Robert (2nd), Henry (1st) and a half-sister of the illegitimate Ralph the Red. Got all that?

Much of the Clitheroe area had been destroyed by King Williams “harrying of the north” campaign in York beginning winter 1069-70. It was many decades beginning the next century before full recovery from that devastation. The new Norman overlords apparently did little to assert their personal presence in Clitheroe until the de Lacy land alienation to Ralph the Red in 1102 prompted a presence. Ralph the Reds charter having caused the removal of Orm the Englishman at Clitheroe`s castle rock represented Clitheroe`s new Norman presence under the de Lacy’s. It became an administrative site for their barony. Eventually, the first Henry de Lacy who succeeded his elder brother Ilbert (both half-brothers of Ralph the Red) granted a charter to the Burgess of Clitheroe to hold a market in Clitheroe. That very early first de Lacy charter was the tentative beginning of Clitheroe as a market town for the area. The much later 2nd. Henry de Lacy, (3rd. Earl of Lincoln) granted a more substantive charter for a Clitheroe market granted in 1283 (documented). Clitheroe has remained a market town since.

DSC_0955Clitheroe today

Henry de Lacy (1st.) had became the 4th Lord of Bowland and held the Honour of Clitheroe resulting from his elder brother’s death in 1141 (perhaps having been imprisoned after the Battle of Lincoln). Henry his brother and successor died on a crusade September 25th, 1177. His own son Robert (3rd. also named Robert de Lacy) succeeded and was the last direct de Lacy male bloodline descendant of the original Ilbert de Lacy’s conquest family from Normandy (as noted above*). That last successor de Lacy, Robert died without issue in 1193*. The subsequent de Lacy’s became a successor 2nd. scion line of the de Lacy family. They were not of the direct male bloodline from the original Ilbert de Lacy family of  Normandy and the conquest. Evidence is the de Mittons are blood descendants from the first early post-conquest male (Robert) de Lacy bloodline (abet an illegitimate one) of the de Lacy`s of Normandy, France.

Note: there were two de Lacy brothers, Ilbert, and Walter of Normandy that accompanied William, Duke of Normandy in the 1066 sea invasion and subsequent battle of Hastings.

That first market charter (circa the late 1140`s) granted to the Clitheroe Burgess was restated with a second charter as referenced above in 1283 reaffirming the first Henry de Lacy`s grant by what was now his 5th. generation descendant, Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. He was the last male of the great de Lacy family to be Lord of Bowland and hold the honor of Clitheroe. His only surviving daughter Ann succeeded but the de Lacy lands themselves went to her husband Thomas Plantagenet, nephew of Edward l and Earl of Lancaster.

This was the result of a life estate from her father Henry de Lacy, 3rd. Earl of Lincoln to Thomas Plantagenet in return for pledging his daughter Ann to Thomas when she was 9 yrs. old. These lands included Mitton manor and precipitated the replacement of the de Mittons as Lords of Mitton manor by Thomas. A common occurrence when a sub-feuded manor when a paramount male bloodline connection was severed by a lack of a male heir; “Ancient charters and other muniments of the borough of Clitheroe, in the County Palatine of Lancaster from the original documents”-1851 by J. Harland. http://tinyurl.com/de-Lacy-Charter to-Ralph

Mitton Church aka All Hallows DSC_0669


Ralph the Red was the founder of All Hallows Church, now known as “Mytton Church”. He was its first rector in 1103 as a “magna” manor lord and was probably responsible for the earliest building of the original Norman era church. The Normans ruled initially through the local church. The churches and parishes were often addendum’s to the magna manor and could include extensive lands under the domain of the local parish with the manor lord serving as a priest. The combined church and state-sanctioned feudal manors were a powerful hold over the local population. The de Mitton family held the “advowson” or the right to collect the tithes of the parish for well over the next 100 plus years and the families’ sons served as rectors.

The manors were the basic structure of the political organization in medieval England. A feudal lord of the manor was a dominate local overseer of the local population under those early feudal apportioned manor and church demesnes. DSC_0750

                                          Mitton Church from the manor site                                                                                                                                                     The de Lacy’s of whom the scion de Mitton family were feudal benefactors (from above probable male bloodline) were originally from Lassey, Normandy prior to the 1066 Norman Conquest. The Normandy born de Lacy’s first male-identified is Hugh de Lacy born circa 1015 of that Normandy location. He had two sons by his second wife Emma de Bois L`Eveque, Ilbert and Walter. Both sons accompanied the Duke of Normandy in the 1066 Conquest of Saxon England. Ilbert de Lacy’s (of the Conquest) direct male bloodline ends with the death of his great-grandson, the third named Robert de Lacy, August 21,1193 (as previously described*). He dies without a male heir (or issue) as we have noted above. See; http://tinyurl.com/Robert1193

Lands, Lords, and bloodlines joined.

Mytton Church alter and Shireburne Chapel on the left

The de Lacy family surname continued from that Robert de Lacy’s death in 1193 but not by any direct male bloodline from his original de Lacy family of the Norman Conquest. The surname was adopted in 1193 by the grandson of Albreda Lisours, Roger fitz (means son of) Eustance. Alberta Lisours was a direct de Lacy descendant and great, granddaughter of Ilbert de Lacy of the conquest establishing her right to determine the male line heir to the de Lacy baronies.

Roger fitz Eustance thus became his grandmother Albreda Lisours (de Lacy) designated heir by her being the closest bloodline descendant of the first de Lacy (Ilbert) to have received lands from the Conqueror, King William I. Roger then became the primogenitor for the extended the de Lacy’s family through his own 2nd. legitimate scion line from his maternal de Lacy grandmothers side of the family.

To clarify, there were two lines of de Lacy’s; the second beginning 1193 after the death of the 3rd Robert de Lacy who died without issue. Abreda above was his first cousin and was the closest direct bloodline descendant to Ilbert de Lacy of the Conquest and Lord of Pontefract. That closest blood connection to a grantee of the Conquer was a determining factor of succession rights. It was Albreda who then designated her grandson Roger fitz Eustance as heir to the de Lacy barony after the death of her 1st cousin Robert de Lacy in 1193. This should all make perfect sense, at least it did in those times.

Here`s how feudal title succession worked without a direct male successor.

The first Ilbert de Lacy had accompanied King William l, Duke of Normandy in the harrying of the north which history regards as the completed Norman conquest of England. Albreda`s bloodline forbears (do to the absence of a male heir by Robert, d.1193) were the closest direct bloodline (although from a female descendant, her mother) back to the original de Lacy grantee Ilbert de Lacy of the Conquest by William the Conqueror. That connection was enough cachet for such a vast Barony inheritance through Albreda under feudal succession right.

Albreda de Lacy was a granddaughter of Robert de Lacy (1st) also the father of Ralph the Red. She was the only surviving great grandchild of the original grantee Ilbert de Lacy from King William l. She was thus by feudal bloodline right able to designate her grandson Roger fitz Eustance, Constable of Chester and Baron of Halton as the successor to what became an extended de Lacy barony. Pontefract and Bowland became additional parts of Rogers already considerable lands. In consideration to his grandmother, Roger did adopt the de Lacy surname as his own to acknowledge the original grantee Ilbert de Lacy`s family in distinction to King William l, Duke of Normandy aka. the Conqueror.

The significance of this remaining bloodline succession allowed the de Mittons as having an original bloodline connection to the 1st. Norman de Lacy`s to maintain their feudal relationship with the second line of de Lacy`s for another 120 years until 1311.

This bloodline connection was more removed from the new post 1193 addendum scion line of de Lacy succession. However the de Mitton family was kindred enough to the first male line of de Lacy`s to have requisite feudal standing to kept their manors under the succeeding second scion line of de Lacy`s as Lords of Bowland and the Honor of Clitheroe. Bloodlines, even if somewhat tenuously removed from the original were still the predominant currency of succession in feudal times; as still are often today.

The de Mitton male line thus extends back to their Norman born precursor Ilbert de Lacy who was the ‘Sire de Lacy’ recorded as a participant at Hastings and a prominent if not a favorite companion to King William I in the harrying of the north. Ilbert later became a “tenant in chief” to King William l and made Lord of Blackburnshire. It was he who first built Pontefract castle succeeded by his first son and heir Robert de Lacy (1), begotten father of Ralph the Red by an unknown (but probably Saxon) mistress.

Ralph is recognized as the progenitor of the de Mitton family (after the family’s magna manor and church location as the original grantee of the manor and founder of that church). The de Mittons tenure as Lords of their feudal manors precisely corresponds to the de Lacy`s as feudal overlords. When the de Lacy successor male bloodline ends in 1311 with the death of Henry de Lacy, 3rd. Earl of Lincoln so does the de Mittons as feudal Lords of their namesake manor. However, there is no known formal recording of the family’s de Lacy surname attributed to Ralph the Red per-say. He was illegitimate. The first formal recorded de Mitton surname was in 1219 in the Assize Courts register for the county of Yorkshire during the reign of King Henry the 3rd. 1216-1272. Surnames had become a legal requirement for the poll tax. http://tinyurl.com/de-Mitton-surname-definition.

The Shireburns of Stonyhurst Hall…..the name however….

“It is not, however, with the Shireburne’s that we must begin, for in fact, the owners of Stonyhurst should not, on ordinary principles, have born this name”- Centenary Record. 1894 by John Gerard.

How the Otto de Mitton family extended scion surname Bailey became; Shireburne

The de Mitton-Bailey to Shireburne scions surname first began with …… “Richard and Alice (Shireburne) leaving no living male child, the direct line of the Shireburnes came to an end. They left, however, two daughters, Margaret and Johanna, co-heiresses. The latter appears to have died unmarried, but Margaret married about 51 Edward lll., 1377, Richard de Bayley – de Stonyhurst who in 1388 predeceased his father, John de Bayley (who held Stonyhurst at son Richards time of death). Richard de Bayley and Margaret Shireburne had a son Richard, born at Stonyhurst Oct. 12, 1381 and was baptized at the church of Mitton”; The Family of Sherborn, by Charles Davies Sherborn, London 1901

Please note: the spelling of Shireburne is recorded in many different ways.

Richard (referenced above), born Oct. 12, 1381, is the paternal patriarch of the descendant Mitton-Bailey extended scion Shireburnes of Stonyhurst Hall. From that first Richard Shireburne until 1758 the Shireburne family of Stonyhurst Hall were all direct descendants of Ralph the Red, progenitor of the de Mitton family and his grandson Otto de Mitton progenitor of the de Bailey family that adopted that surname from Bailey manor. After 1391 the family was known by the surname; “Shireburne”(s) of Stonyhurst Hall bequeathed by Richards grandfather family sir-name the Baileys. All firstborn male successors had the given name Richard in acknowledgment of their paternal lineage to Richard Bailey, husband of Margaret Shireburn and the parents of the first Richard Shireburne of Stonyhurst Hall born1381.

The de Mitton to Shireburne scion line initially began with Otto de Mitton of Bailey manor, younger brother of Hugh de Mitton then lord of de Mitton manor. Otto de Mitton had been conveyed nearby Bailey manor by his older brother Hugh de Mitton circa 1200. Otto was then known as either Otto de Mitton or Bailey. The next-generation descendants of Otto de Mittons family began to use the surname de Bailey after their manors Doomsday location identification. Similar to Otto's immediate families taking the name de Mitton after the families magna manor at that location.

Richard, the only child born to Richard Bailey and Margaret Shireburne in 1381 was given his Mother’s family surname to perpetuate her family name. As Margaret’s only child Richard was sole heir to his Mother and her spinster sister Joan Shireburnes inheritance as well as to his Bailey father paternal line inheritance that included Stonyhurst. Held at that time by his grandfather John Bailey. Richard Shireburne was the 5th. great grandson of Otto de Mitton (and or Otto de Bailey) of the extended Bailey scion line of the de Mitton family.

The importance of the Baileys bloodline was reflected in the later combined coat of arms that prominently displaced the double headed eagles of the Bailey family over the Shireburnes. And all successor 1st born Shireburne males given name was always Richard to reflect the importance of the paternal Richard Bailey line to the Shireburn family of Stonyhurst Hall from which they had derived that great Halls inheritance.

The first Richard Shireburnes father Richard Bailey died in 1388 having predeceased his own father John Bailey (That John Bailey succeeded his father also named John in 1372). Richard Shireburne grandfather John Bailey held Stonyhurst Hall at the time of his own son`s death in 1388 right through to his own death in 1391.

Richard Bailey’s wife Margaret Shireburne was left a widow in 1388 after only 10 years of marriage. When Richard Shireburne’s grandfather John Bailey died 3 years later in 1391 it made Richard Shireburne at age 9, the direct and sole heir to his Bailey grandfathers Stonyhurst Hall. Stonyhurst then became a bilateral Bailey – Shireburne house. The Shireburns later adopted a coat of arms (with a double-headed eagle) reflected the combined family connection, prominently displayed at Mytton church’s Shireburn Chapel.

Thus the de Baileys and after 1391 then Sir-named Shireburne`s of Stonyhurst Hall are extended scions of the de Mitton family including that family progenitor Ralph the Red, the founder of Mytton Church in 1103. He was the original grantee of Bailey and Aighton in 1102 as well, the doomsday survey location of Stonyhurst Hall. This also explains why the Shireburns regarded Mytton Church as the family’s church even though they remained prominent Catholics long after Henry the 8ths. established the Angeline church of England. And why the Shireburn chapel is at Mytton church founded by Ralph the Red to which they are descendants.


Stonyhurst Hall

Paradoxically Richard Shireburne’s grandfather was John Bailey who had come into possession of Stonyhurst in 1372 upon his own father’s death also named John Bailey. The first John de Bailey (referred to now) was Richard Shireburne`s great grandfather. That first John Bailey was deeded Stonyhurst in 1362 from his cousins Emily and Cecilia de Mitton. This was apparently the result of the death of the de Mitton sisters’ own brother Roger de Mitton without issue. He seemingly held Stonyhurst at time of death but had predeceased his de Mitton sisters without issue. This lack of a male heir to Roger de Mitton resulted in the sisters’ decision to deed Stonyhurst to their closest male cousin, who at the time appears to be John de Bailey (1).

We can only surmise the laws of primogeniture were that women could not keep the property. As such Stonyhurst would go to a male bloodline descendant of the original grantee, in this case, the choice on the part of the sisters was their cousin at the time, the first John de Bailey, great grandfather of the first Richard Shireburne. At least that is what the deed would indicate according too the Coucher Book of Whalley. That first John Bailey who died in 1372 was a great, great-grandson of Otto de Mitton the paternal founder of the extended Bailey family scions of Otto’s family the de Mittons.

Richards aplenty

Although the Baileys of Stonyhurst Hall were descendants of Ralph the Red, it was Richard Shireburnes mothers surname rather than his father’s Bailey surname that became synonymous with Stonyhurst Hall for the next 400 years. Richard inherited Stonyhurst directed from his Bailey grandfather, the second John Bailey upon his death May 22, 1391. Thus Stonyhurst was never in the possession of the Shireburne`s per say, but only by way of descendant de Mitton male bloodlines thru the extended male bloodlines of Otto de Mitton aka. Otto de Bailey. The Shireburne surname after 1391 did not reflect the male surname of the original possessors of Stonyhurst from which Richard Shireburne inherited Stonyhurst. His was a new surname from his Mothers paternal family, not his fathers to which it should have been Bailey__;

This is what John Gerard meant by the above quote* from the Centenary Record of 1894; the Shireburnes as we have documented; “for in fact the owners of Stonyhurst should not, on ordinary principles, have born this name”. The first Richard Shireburne was, in fact, the 4th. great-grandson of Otto de Mitton aka. Otto de Bailey.

Sir Richard Shireburne Patriarch

The Shireburnes of Stonyhurst Hall family progenitor Sir Richard was born Oct. 12,1381, baptized at the families Mytton Church and died May 1441 age 60. He was married to Agnes Harrington before Aug. 4th,1391 (when he was 9 yrs old). Richard`s given name (after his father Richard Bailey of which he was often referred to) continued to be the given name to all Stonyhurst Hall born successors for the next 400 years. The given name to the firstborn male was meant to be synonymous with the surname Shireburne. It also explains why the coat of arms was a combined Bailey-Shireburne one after 1391. This was to acknowledge the family’s paternal line was descendant from Richard de Bailey, the father of the first Richard Shireburne and husband of Margarete Shireburne. The last of the male line to hold Stonyhurst was Nicholas Shireburne. He succeeded his elder brother Richard, the firstborn successor who predeceased his younger brother Nickolas without male issue. Nicholas died in 1717. His daughter Marie, Duchess of Norfolk succeeded and died in 1754

Thus the Shireburne’s legitimately traced their paternal primogenitor roots to Ralph the Red, the founder of Mytton Church. It is why the Shireburne effigies are at the family’s ancestral Anglican Mytton Church and not at the family’s Catholic chapel at Stonyhurst. It also explains why the coat of arms is a combined Bailey-Shireburne at Shireburne Chapel at Mytton Church in Great Mitton. All Shireburne family baptisms, weddings, and deaths were always conducted at their ancestral Anglican Mytton Church even though the family remained prominent Catholics after Henry the 8ths. reign.

The Bailey to Shireburne successor direct bloodline from Ralph the Red became ended with the death of Nicolas Shireburne. The last Shireburne of that line to hold Stonyhurst was his daughter the 8th. dowager Duchess of Norfolk, Margarete Marie Shireburn who died in 1753. She is entombed at Mytton Church (with others of her immediate family). Marie had no children with the 8th, Duke of Norfolk and was left a widower early on and remained the dowager Duchess of Norfolk until her death.

The existing Mittons are of a paternal bloodline derived from their family primogenitor Ralph the Red. Their has been no interruption to the Mitton family paternal descendants since Ralph the Red was the first lord of the Mitton manor. His descendants adopted this formal surname in 1219 and is still the family name today.

The standard of the Duke of Normandy. It is still the standard of Normandy