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EAST HADDON HISTORY SOCIETY Northamptonshire, England


The Three Manors

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The title ‘Lord of the Manor’ was an aspect of feudalism brought over to England by William the Conqueror.   There were three aspects of this lordship: land ownership, the manor-house, and quasi-legal rights.   The land ownership was in two separate parts – the land directly owned and operated by the lord himself (land in ‘demesne’), and land tenanted by others, but paying rental to the lord of the manor.   The quasi-legal rights were often little more than excuses for more rental-type payments, but sometimes included a ‘manorial court’ where the lord of the manor exercised local (and sometimes national) laws over his tenants.   This legal obligation gradually disappeared over time, to be replaced by national jurisdiction.   This paper is mainly about land ownership, although it does occasionally touch on the manor-house.  

Most of the following is taken from the book published in 1821 by Baker entitled ‘The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton’.   At the time of publication the most influential family in East Haddon was the Sawbridges.   In the Domesday Book, the Count of Mortain was the lord of the manor of East Haddon (appointed by William the Conqueror).    The following outlines the journey from Mortain to Sawbridge.   Baker quotes a document of 1295 (the certificate of knight’s fees of 24 Edw. 1) stating that Roger St. Andrew, Thomas Bray and Ralph Dyve were ‘to hold East Haddon of the honour of Leicester’.    We will see how these names appear on this journey.  

William the Conqueror died in 1087, the year after the publication of the Domesday Book.   He died in Normandy, as he was about to go into a battle there.   Fat and indolent, as a result of a life of luxury, he was on horseback when a gunshot nearby startled his horse, it reared up and the pommel of the saddle pierced William’s stomach.   As he lay on the ground dying he called on his sons and disposed of his empire as follows.   Robert, the eldest son was to take over as Count of Normandy, and William, his second son, was to become King of England.   Since it was not normal for the second son to inherit, William the father advised his son William to hasten to England to secure his inheritance.   In fact, a group of barons in England, including the Count of Mortain, did enter a confederacy to promote the claims of Robert.   William confiscated the possessions of the Count of Mortain, and the manor of East Haddon was passed to Hugh Dyve.   He came from Dives in Normandy, and presumably came over in 1066: there is no record of any previous history of Hugh Dyve in England, although subsequently, there were several Dyves in different parts of England.   Baker says that Hugh Dyve became into possession of the manor of East Haddon sometime during the century after the Conquest: I prefer to believe that it happened in 1087, since I don’t think William II would tolerate anyone who opposed him to hold a position of power and influence in his kingdom.   However the date is less important than the fact that Hugh Dyve did take over the lordship of the manor of East Haddon.   

The grandson of Hugh Dyve was also called Hugh (his mother was the daughter of William Peverel, who also came over in the Conquest and was the owner of estates in Althorp and Brington) but when he died in 1210 he left no male heirs, and his manor was divided between his three daughters, Matilda, Alicia and Ascelin.   These daughters married local gentry: Matilda married Sir Sayer de St. Andrew, Alicia married Sir Richard Mucegros, and Ascelin married Sir Simon Mucegros.   [The Mucegros probably came over in the Conquest as well – their origin was in France – but it is unclear whether they were related].    I will deal with each of these manors in turn.  

The St. Andrew manor.

The manor and manor-house in East Haddon did not descend to the main line of the family of St. Andrew, but it appears to have been settled on one Ralph St. Andrew, a son of Sir Sayer by a subsequent marriage, and not of the marriage to Matilda Dyve.   Ralph died in 1278 with no children and the estate was settled on his younger brother James.   On the death of James, also without children, the manor appears to have reverted to the senior line of St. Andrew, i.e. Sir Roger St. Andrew, the grandson of Sir Sayer St. Andrew from his marriage to Matilda Dyve  - the person referred to in the 1295 document.   The manor then descended in direct line of the St. Andrews for 11 generations until John St. Andrew died in 1625 with only daughters.   The youngest of these daughters, Barbara, brought it in marriage to Sir Oliver St. John of Woodford near Thrapston.   Clearly the name ‘St. Andrew’ was retained since in 1807 the manor was alienated by St. Andrew, 13th Lord St. John, to William Sawbridge.

According to Baker, the manor house stood in a field called St. Andrew’s Close.   A nineteenth century map shows St. Andrew’s Close to be a field at the end of what is now St. Andrew’s Road.     If at one time St. Andrew’s Close extended northwards along the eastern side of Church Lane, before the area was developed, to the present house called ‘The Manor’, this would suggest that the present Manor was the St Andrew’s manor-house.  But this is just speculation.

The Mucegros or Bray manor

Sir Richard Mucegros, who married the second Dyve daughter, had one son, and with his agreement, disposed of the manor in 1227 to Simon Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who was effectively the overlord of East Haddon.   Simon de Montfort was, of course, the nobleman who opposed the king, and with a group of like-minded barons was responsible for the Provisions of Oxford in 1259, which sowed the seeds of parliament as we know it today.   [This was a repeat and extension of events fifty years earlier.   Then a group of barons had imposed on King John the Magna Charta in 1215 – a diminution of the autocratic power of the king: now a group of barons imposed on the king the Provisions of Oxford - a further reduction of his autocratic powers.]   Naturally this annoyed King Henry III and he defeated Simon’s forces at the battle of Evesham in 1265, at which Simon died.  At some point during this period (it is unclear whether this was before or after his death) Simon was prosecuted for treason, and the king passed an Act of Attainder whereby he took possession of his property and presented it to his seneschal (a law officer of the crown) Sir Thomas Bray, (the person referred to in the 1295 document), a local man with his family from Northamptonshire.   In 1534, his descendant, Edmund, lord Bray, sold the property and it passed through various hands until it was divided into several parts, one of which was, in 1774, bought by Christopher Smyth of Northampton, but without the manor-house.   Christopher Smyth was an influential landowner in later years.


The manor-house belonged to a different part of the estate and this part was bought in 1751 by Clarke Adams, lieutenant-colonel of the Northamptonshire Militia, whose son sold it in 1780 to Henry Sawbridge.   The manor house which was at one time the home of the Adams family, stood in the grounds of what was to become East Haddon Hall, but it was deserted and knocked down when Henry Sawbridge built the present Hall in the 1780s.

The Mucegros or Ragon/Dyve manor

The youngest daughter of Hugh Dyve married Sir Simon Mucegros, and they had one son, Sir John, who died in 1266 without offspring and was succeeded in his manor of East Haddon by his two sisters, Alice and Agatha.   The elder sister, Alice, was married to Ralph Dyve (as far as we know no relation to the Hugh Dyve, her great-grandfather) – he was the person referred to in the 1295 document.   The younger sister, Agatha, married Walter Ratinden, and they had a son John.   Alice, the elder sister, outlived her husband, but died without any children, and her will of 1305 passed the manor to her nephew John Ratinden.   Around 1340 John Ratinden sold the manor to John Ragon, whose grandson was succeeded by his only daughter.   She passed it on to her only daughter Elizabeth, who died in 1497 and the manor passed to her husband Henry Dyve (yet another Dyve, but not the one referred to in 1295 !) of Church Brampton.   The estate then passed through his descendents to Sir Lewis Dyve and the parliamentary commissioners of sequestration (during the Cromwell Commonwealth) sold it on in 1652 to two yeomen.  At the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Sir Lewis came back into possession and the following year (1661) he alienated the property to Sir Justinian Isham, of Lamport.    His great-grandson (also named Justinian) sold it in 1789 to Henry Sawbridge.

The site of the Ragon/Dyve manor house was reputed (in the ‘Pigs, Pubs and People memoir) to have been at the junction of High Street and Vicarage Lane.   Because the Ishams had property in Lamport, they did not live in the house, and it became a saddlers’ workshop and is now Saddlers Cottage.

So, by 1789, Henry Sawbridge owned two of the manors, and after his death in 1806, his son William acquired the third.   I finish with an interesting observation.   The document of 1295 quoted the names Roger St. Andrew, Thomas Bray and Ralph Dyve.   After almost five centuries, and after lots of changes of ownership and changes of name, the manors were still being referred to as the St. Andrew’s manor, the Bray manor and the Dyve manor.  

Because there were so many name changes, and so many dates, in the detail listed above, I attach a summary schematic of the events of the journey from Mortain to Sawbridge.


         Paul Marshall

        January 2011