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Lord le Fleming, inherited the manor of Slane (which was held in fee tail of the heirs of Theobobald de Verdon, as of the manor of Duleek, having come to that family, through one of the heirs of the Lacy's,) as heir male to his nephew Christopher. He was summoned to parliament as Lord le Fleming with the precedence of the old barony, and sat in parliament 1462. An act of parliament having passed to settle his precedence, he died in 1463, and on his death his son Thomas became his heir, but he dying young, his three sisters became his coheirs-while the manor of Slane passed to his distant heir at law.—Pipe Roll.
James Fleming, Knt., son and heir of William Fleming, of Newcastle, descended from the third Lord le Fleming, and his wife, Elizabeth Preston, which James, succeeding to the manor of Slane, was summoned to parliament 12th Edward IV, he signed a representation to Richard III from the Irish parliament, as James Fleming, Baron of Slane.
His grandson, James Fleming, third Lord Slane, sat in parliament during the reign of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, but on his death without issue, the manor of Slane went to the heir male, and his sisters became his coheirs.
Catherine Fleming, the wife of Sir Christopher Barnwell, of Cricks town; and Elenor.
Thomas Fleming, of Stephens town, became heir male on the death of his kinsman, and succeeded to the estates; he was summoned to parliament as Baron Slane, 1585, and sat in 1587. He died, leaving issue two daughters his coheirs: Catherine, the wife of Pierce Butler of Old Abbey, co. Kilkenny; and Ellenor, who married William Fleming of Depatrick, who became heir male, and inherited the ancient manor of Slane. From him it passed to his son Christopher, who was summoned and sat in parliament 1613-15. The deceased Christopher became last Baron of Slane, and on his death in 1728 his sisters became his coheirs: Mary, wife of Richard Fleming, of Stahalmock; and Alice, wife of Sir George Byrne, Bart. The former of whom is represented by the Lord Dunsany, and the latter by George Bryan, Esq., who claimed without success the barony in 1835.
THE LANDS OF ENGLAND, AND THEIR PROPRIETORS SINCE THE CONQUEST.
Rokeby, co. York.
Rokeby's turrets high
Were northward in the dawning seen
THE ancient manor of Rokeby is classic ground. The poetic genius of Scott has thrown a halo of imperishable celebrity around its romantic beauties, and imparted a national interest to its history. With extreme accuracy of observation and felicity of expression the bard describes the passage through the glen ::
"A stern and lone, yet lovely road,
As e'er the foot of minstrel trode."
And few can contemplate "Egliston's grey ruins," or "Rokeby's turrets high," without feeling that the charm of poetry hangs over them. At the period of the Conquest, all the territory abutting on the Tees, at its southern border, was granted to Alan, Earl of Bretagne, and formed his English Earldom of Richmond. These broad lands were partitioned among the junior members of his family and his followers; and in the distribution Rokeby became part of the possessions of the Fitzalans, a northern baronial house, whose chief seat was at Bedale. But their interest at Rokeby was scarcely more than nominal, for beneath them was a subinfeudation in favour of a family, which, residing on the lands of Rokeby, was usually described as "de Rokeby," and eventually assumed that name as a personal appellation, tradition asserting that its ancestors had been there seated in Saxon times. The first honourable occurrence of the Rokebys in public affairs, is in the reign of Edward III., when Thomas de Rokeby rendered the name one of historic distinction. "In the first year of Edward III.,” says Froissart," the Scots, under the command of the Earl of Moray, and Sir James Douglas, ravaged the country as far as Newcastle; Edward was in those parts with a more powerful army, and an engagement was expected and wished for, when the Scotch army suddenly disappeared, and no information could be gained respecting the route they had taken. The young king caused it to be proclaimed throughout the host, that whoever should bring certain intelligence where the Scotch army was should have one hundred pounds a year in land, and be made a knight by the king himself: immediately fifteen or sixteen knights and esquires passed the river with much danger, ascended the mountains, and then separated, each taking a different route. On the the fourth day, Rokeby, who was one of them, gave the king exact information where the Scots lay." This," says Hunter, the learned historian of South Yorkshire, "is not a legendary story, invented by some family annalist, or doating chronicler of public affairs, the veracity of the narrative being here supported by the most authentic records of the realm; and it is a gratifying fact that we are so often enabled to prove circumstances in our old chronicles, which, on a first view, have an
air of romance and fable, by fiscal documents, wherein, least of all, anything imaginary is to be found." In the Patent Rolls, 1 Edward III., m.
7, is a grant to Thomas de Rokeby, of £100, to be taken annually from the Exchequer till £100 lands shall be provided for him, in which the service is described nearly as it is related by Froissart; and in the same rolls, 5 Edward III., m. 7, is a grant to him in fee of the manor of Pawlinesgray, in Kent, with lands in the north which had lately belonged to Michael and Andrew de Harcle, in release of his £100 annuity from the Exchequer. Sir Thomas Rokeby subsequently held commands against the Scots, was twice High Sheriff of Yorkshire, and became (12 and 13 Edward III.) Governor of the Castles of Berwick, Edinburgh, and Stirling. In 1346, he pre-eminently distinguished himself at the battle of Neville's Cross, and was one of the few magnates present at that engagement to whom the letter of thanks was addressed, of which a copy is to be found in the Fœdera. In 1349, he went to Ireland as Lord Justice, and held that appointment until 1355, when Maurice Fitz Thomas, Earl of Desmond, succeeded him. The administration of Sir Thomas Rokeby in Ireland, is famous for the attempt he made to abolish the custom of coigne and livery, a species of arbitrary purveyance for the persons in authority there; and a tradition has been handed down, attested by Holinshed, that being once censured for using wooden dishes and cups, as not befitting his degree, Sir Thomas replied, that he would rather drink out of such cups, and pay gold and silver, than drink out of gold and silver and make wooden payments. In the latter transaction of his life, Sir Thomas appears with the addition The Uncle" to his name, and another Sir Thomas Rokeby occurs, styled "the Nephew." He seems to have participated in the triumph of Neville's Cross, and to have accompanied the elder Rokeby to Ireland. A third Sir Thomas Rokeby was High Sheriff of Yorkshire, 8 Henry IV., and during his year of office, the Earl of Northumberland made his last attempt to dethrone King Henry; Sir Thomas collecting the posse comitatus, met the Earl at Bramham Moore, and a conflict ensued, in which Northumberland and the Lord Bardolph were slain. The next Rokebys distinguished in state affairs were WILLIAM ROKEBY, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and Archbishop of Dublin, who died in 1521, and Sir Richard Rokeby, his younger brother, Comptroller to Cardinal Wolsey. The archbishop was interred in a sepulchral chapel built by himself at Sandal Parva, in Yorkshire, and this tomb still remains. While this eminent churchman was running the race of high preferment, the eldest branch of the family remained quietly on the hereditary patrimony of Rokeby and Mortham. In the reign of Henry VII. the head of the house was another Sir THOMAS ROKEBY, who had three sons; the two younger were the ancestors of families of the name, resident at Marske and Staningford.
Ralph Rokeby, Esq., the eldest son, who succeeded to Rokeby and Mortham, was living in the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. The era of the "jargon" of "the Felon Sow," which may be seen in the notes to the poem of Rokeby, refers to the time of this Ralph. Sir Walter Scott deems "the Hunting of the Felon Sow of Rokeby by the Friars of Richmond," one of the very best of the mock romances of the ancient minstrels, and much commends its comic humour. "Ralph Rokeby, who (for the jest's sake apparently) bestowed the untractable animal on the convent of Richmond, seems," says the poet, "to have flourished in the time of Henry VII., which, since we know not the date of Friar Theobald's wardenship, to which the ballad refers us, may indicate that of the composition itself.
Mortham is mentioned as being the facetious Baron's place of residence; and the Mistress Rokeby of the romance, who so charitably refreshed the sow, after she had discomfited Friar Middleton and his auxiliaries, was daughter and coheir of Danby of Yafforth." By this lady, Ralph Rokeby had four sons, THOMAS, his heir; John, D.C.L. a learned civilian; Richard, a soldier, under Lord Scrope of Bolton, whose standard he is said to have borne at Flodden; and Ralph of Skiers, an eminent lawyer, raised to the coif 6 Edward VI. The eldest son, THOMAS ROKEBY, Esq. of Mortham, described "as a plain man as might be, whose words came always from his heart, without faining, a trusty friend, a forward gentleman in the field, and a great housekeeper," was father, by his wife, a daughter of Robert Constable of Cliff, in Yorkshire, of four sons: CHRISTOPHER, his heir; Ralph, one of the Masters of Requests to Queen Elizabeth; Thomas, ancestor of the Rokebys of Skiers, extinct baronets, and of the Rokebys of Arthingworth, co. Northampton, now represented by the Rev. HENRY RALPH ROKEBY; and Anthony. Of these sons, the eldest, CHRISTOPHER ROKEBY, Esq., married Margaret, daughter of Sir Roger Lascelles of Brackenburgh, and had a son and successor, JOHN ROKEBY, Esq. of Mortham, who appears, by the visitation of Yorkshire, 1584, to have been then in prison in the Fleet, "religionis causâ." He wedded a daughter of the ancient family of Thweng, and was succeeded by his son, who bore the favourite family name of THOMAS, and was knighted. Of his descendants little more than their names are recorded. It would, otherwise, have been gratifying to have known something of the personal habits and actions of those in whose time the chief line of the ancient family of Rokeby fell to decay, and especially of Sir Thomas Rokeby himself, whose necessities must have been great (it may be presumed) when he disposed of the domain at ROKEBY, in 1610. The purchaser was WILLIAM ROBINSON. Esq., an opulent merchant of the city of London, who paid a composition fine for declining the honour of knighthood, at the coronation of Charles I. His son and heir apparent, Thomas Robinson, Esq. of Gray's Inn, Barrister-at-Law, exchanged the long robe for the broad sword, at the breaking out of the civil war, and was slain near Leeds, when a colonel in the service of the parliament. By Frances, his wife, daughter of Leonard Smelt, Esq., he left two sons: WILLIAM, his heir; and Leonard, (Sir) Chamberlain of the city of London, ancestor of the Robinsons, of Edgely, co. York. The elder, WILLIAM ROBINSON, Esq., succeeded to the lovely demesne of Rokeby, at the decease of his grandfather, and resided there in high repute, so esteemed for his long services on the magisterial bench as to be styled, par excellence," the justice." He lived to a great age, and died universally lamented. A monumental stone, with an elegant inscription in Rokeby church, marks the spot where he lies interred. His grandson Sir THOMAS ROBINSON, Bart., who possessed considerable architectural taste, rebuilt the mansion of Rokeby, erected a mausoleum, and enclosed the park, which he adorned with extensive plantations. In commemoration of these improvements, two marble tables, fixed in the two stone piers, were placed at each side of the entrance into the park from Greta Bridge.
That on the right with the following inscription:
Et (faxit Deus) seris nepotibus umbram fracturos
Ne forte posteri nescerent,
That on the left, with the following lines :
Sir Thomas married twice, but died s.p. in 1777, when the baronetcy and estates devolved on his brother William, at whose decease unm. in 1785, they passed to his brother the Most Rev. Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh and Lord Almoner, a prelate of great influence and personal consideration, who, on being elevated to the peerage in 1777, had assumed his title from the lands of which we are now treating. His Grace died unm. 1794, when the Barony of Rokeby devolved, by a special limitation in the patent, on his kinsman Matthew Robinson, Esq. of Edgeley, whose grand nephew Henry is the present Lord Rokeby. The estate, which gave name to the title, was eventually purchased from the Robinsons by the father of the late JOHN B. S. MORRITT, Esq. the friend and correspondent of Sir Walter Scott; and is now held by Mr. Morritt's son and successor.
Rokeby and Mortham, which formed the patrimony of the Rokeby's, were situated, the former, on the left bank of Greta, the latter on the right, about half-a-mile nearer to the junction with the Tees. The river runs with very great rapidity over a bed of solid rock, broken by many shelving descents, down which the stream dashes with great noise and impetuosity, vindicating its etymology, which has been derived from the Gothic " Gridan," "to clamour." The banks partake of the same wild and romantic character, being chiefly lofty cliffs of limestone rock, whose grey colour contrasts admirably with the various trees and shrubs which find root among their crevices, as well as with the hue of the ivy, which clings round them in profusion, and hangs down from their projections in long sweeping tendrils. At other points the rocks give place to precipitous banks of earth, bearing large trees intermixed with cope wood. In one spot the dell, which is everywhere very narrow, widens for a space to leave room for a dark grove of yew trees, intermixed here and there with aged pines of uncommon size. Directly opposite to this sombre thicket, the cliffs on the other side of the Greta are tall, white and fringed with all kinds of deciduous shrubs. The whole scenery of this spot is so much adapted to the ideas of superstition, that it has acquired the name of Blockula, from the place where the Swedish witches were supposed to hold their sabbath. The dell, however, has superstitions of its own growth, for it is supposed to be haunted by a female