de Mitton Stonyhurst property owners from the Conquest

“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.

DSC_1171Stonyhurst was part of Aighton first held by Roger de Poitou, cousin of King William I. Roger de Poitou lost his lands under King Henry I in 1102 after rebelling against Henry and supporting the cause of Henry’s brother, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. He was then banished from the realm.

The Poitou lands, which including Stonyhurst in Aighton, reverted to the Crown in 1102. King Henry 1st granted these lands to Robert de Lacy in the same year. Robert immediately sub-feuded those same lands, including present-day Stonyhurst property as part of Aighton, to “Ralph the Red” by charter dated Nov. 23, 1102.

Robert de Lacy was the son of Ilbert de Lacy of the Conquest. He held the Honour of Clitheroe and was Lord of Bowland from 1102. He was already the lord of Pontefract and Blackburnshire 100. He is sometimes referred to as Robert Pontefract and was the second heir of the Norman de Lacy’s bloodline from the 1066 conquest. Robert was succeeded by two of his sons; first Ilbert (2) namesake of his grandfather. He died at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 without issue. He was thus succeeded by his younger brother Henry.  Finally, Henry’s son Robert was his successor who died in 1192, again without issue. That last Roberts death ended the first de Lacy direct male bloodline from Normandy and the 1066 Conquest.

In 1102-3, Stonyhurst land in Aighton became part of the Mitton parish established by Ralph the Red. He was the first rector at present-day Mytton church and where the later Shireburnes of Stonyhurst are entombed in effigies. They trace their ancestry back to Ralph the Red.

Jordan de Mitton, Ralph the Reds son, and successor continued to hold the land at Aighton although the major manor was at Mitton or “Mitune”. That manor name eventually became the formal family surname. Jordan de Mitton married Wymark daughter of Hugh de Eland. They had two sons: Hugh who succeeds and Otto. Otto, the second son, married Avota, daughter of Jordan de Cliderow. Hugh conveyed Bailey manor to his brother Otto de Mitton sometime around the end of 12 century. Otto then took the surname name de Bailey to reflect his manor holding. It is possible that the Cliderow`s may have lived at Bailey prior to his marriage to Avota.


In 1362 Emma and Cecily de Mitton, sisters of Roger de Mitton deeded all of their lands in Aighton, Bailey, and Chaighley to their cousin John de Bailey who took possession of Stonyhurst. John de Bailey continued to hold Stonyhurst until his death in 1372 when his son also named John took possession. That John de Bailey (2) lived until 1391 when his grandson Richard Shireburne took possession of Stonyhurst Hall at age 9. His father Richard de Bailey, son of the second John de Bailey had predeceased both his son Richard and his own father John in 1386.

                                            Bailey marker at Hurst Green

Various other deeds of Hugh de Mitton and his son Robert make the first mention of Stonyhurst and parts granted to other people at various prior times* including the Winkely family. However, it appears Stonyhurst was in the possession of the de Mittons in 1362 when a final definitive deed was made to John Bailey by Cecily and Emma de Mitton. They were the sisters of Roger de Mitton who had died without issue. This according to the Coucher Book of Whalley recorded by the monks of the times.

Coucher appears to be a reliable source for the above events as it was recorded by the monks of Whalley Abby at the time. And from which documentation we have relied on. Whalley Abby was coincidently within a couple of miles mile of Great Mitton manor giving greater credence to their recordings of the de Mitton family and their manor holdings.

The de Mitton cousin of Cecily and Emma de Mitton, John de Bailey (1) referred to above was the grandfather of Richard de Bailey who married Margaret Shireburne in 1377. The Shirburne`s of Stonyhurst Hall originate from the local area. They were never in possession of Stonyhurst; only the heirs “in tail” of the de Mittons and Baileys. The Stonyhurst Shireburne surname identification only began in 1391with the first Richard Shireburne direct inheritance from his grandfather John Bailey until the death of Margarete Marie Shireburne in 1754.
* Please see the following link on Stonyhurst. Included is Hugh de Mittons seal and his deed to Elias de Winkley of Stonyhurst (pg. 42). This link includes Stonyhurst material as well as the seal of Robert de Mitton. The Bailey seal is shown as two eagles that derived from the seal of Robert de Mitton.

* Stonyhurst College, its life beyond the seas, 1592-1794 and on English soil –             By John Gerard

John de Bailey (born 1350 and died in 1391) above appears to have had a house as well as a license for Oratory at Stonyhurst. Richard de Bailey predeceased his father John and died in 1388. He never possessed Stonyhurst. It was always held by his father and grandfather of the same name having been deeded to his grandfather from his de Mitton cousins.

On his death in 1391, John de Bailey bequeathed Stonyhurst to his grandson Richard, the son of Richard de Bailey and Margaret Shireburne. Richard was the first of Stonyhurst Hall to use the Shireburne surname as he was the sole heir of the Shireburne estate from his mother. Stonyhurst then became the combined seat of the two families for the next 400 hundred years.

The last of the male Shireburne paternal line is Sir Nicholas Shireburne who died in 1709. His daughter, Mary, married the Duke of Norfolk, but on her death in 1759 there was no male heir and Stonyhurst passed to a sister of Sir Nicholas, Elizabeth. She had married William Weld. It is from this marriage that the property passed to Thomas Weld who married Mary Stanley, a daughter of Sir John Stanley.

Thomas made a gift of Stonyhurst to the Liege Catholic School in France who were seeking a new home in 1794. It remains a very fine Catholic Jesuit boarding school to this day.*

Authors note: Tours are conducted of the college escorted by docents.
They make mention of the Baileys and Shireburns but not the de Mittons as holders of this property from 1102. Stonyhurst Hall is first mentioned in documents regarding Robert de Mitton and then John de Bailey, a direct descendant of Otto de Mitton who was deeded this property by his de Mitton cousins Cecily and Emma in 1362. It is also the reason the Shirburne`s are buried at the family’s Mytton Churchs Shireburne chapel as direct descendent’s of Ralph the Red. It was from Ralph the Red from whom their ancestral land was first granted. It explains why the  Shireburnes effigies are at Mytton church rather than the Catholic chapel at Stonyhurst. They were direct bloodline descendent’s of Ralph the Red, the founder of Mytton Church.

Correction to tour.

In the Stonyhurst museum hall, Robert de Lacy (1) is identified as the Earl of Chester on a timeline display. That is incorrect. It is 100 years off and they have the wrong guy! The Earl of Chester was the father of Roger Fitz Eustace who took the surname de Lacy in 1193. He also inherited the title Earl of Chester. The Robert de Lacy they cite as such is the son of Ilbert of the Conquest and the father of Ralph the Red. It was that Robert de Lacy who made the initial grant of manors and lands including Aighton to Ralph the Red by charter Nov. 23,1102. That first Robert is sometimes known as Robert Pontefract and was a baron of that castle (built by his father), as well the Blackburn 100. After 1102 he became Lord of Bowland and held the honor of Clitheroe. Bowland included Aighton where Stonyhurst Hall was later built. Ralph the Red, his illegitimate son, was the first of the de Lacy family to establish himself in the Clitheroe area including a manor at the castle rock taken from the Englishman Orm (circa 1102).

Note: Unfortunately the present Curator and Archivist have been minimally cooperative to my inquiries to gain research information. There are a number of unanswered questions. Others have in the past such as Knowles in 1982 had far more cooperation. Some past information derived from Stonyhurst led to mistakes that I have attempted to correct by my own research effort as noted.

Other than Stonyhurst`s myopic history tour it is a nice to see the interior rooms and grounds of Stonyhurst Hall.


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