Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. III
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
"This must surely," says Sir Bernard Burke, "be a monkish interpolation. The inscription in the old manor house of Bentley, in Suffolk—
'Before the Normans into England came,
Bentley was my seat and Tollemache was my name,'
seems to set the matter at rest." Yet the name is found in Normandy. In the MS. Cartulary of Mont S. Michel (Public Library of Avranches) there are several writs regarding transactions between Thomas de St. John and the monks (fol. xxxv. verso) dated 1121, in which "Hugo Tallmascha" figures as a witness, showing a close connection with the St. Johns. Like Talbot, Giffard, Ridel, &c, Tollemache was a personal appellative, unconnected with land, and may possibly be derived from Tailler (to cut), and mache (corn salad). (See 'Notes and Queries,' 5th S. viii.) Sir Bernard Burke states it to be a corruption of the word "tollmack," tolling of the bell; but, as Mr. Freeman justly points out, "in what language 'tollmack' means tolling of the bell is not explained." Nor was there any Tollemache seated at Bentley at the date of Domesday; "Bentley in Suffolk is there mentioned three times; ii. 287, 287 b, 295 b. It passed through the hands of such well-known people as Earl Gyrth and Ralph the Staller: but, alas! there is no sign of Tollemache, of his bell, or of his verses." On the other hand, Hugo Talmasche—evidently the same Hugo who witnesses the Norman deeds of Mont St. Michel—subscribed the charter made by John de St. John in favour of Godstow, in Oxfordshire, in the reign of Stephen (Mon. iv. 363). There was evidently a near relationship between the Tollemaches and St. Johns, although its exact nature remains to be found out. "Hugo Talemasche appears again in company with John de St. John in the Pipe-roll of Henry I., p. 3: and in the Gloucester cartulary we find the gifts of Hugh Talamasche confirmed by Thomas de St. John. No one appears in Domesday by the name of Tollemache in any form; but there is a Hugh who holds lands at Stoke in Oxfordshire, partly of Walter Giffard, partly of Roger of Ivry. He may well be either the Hugh of the Pipe-roll and of the Godstow charter, or his father."—Freeman. Probably the next heir was another of the name, who, "when he took upon him the monk's habit at Gloster, gave to the Abbey one moiety of Hampton. His son Peter, and King Henry II., confirmed the gift."—Atkyn's Gloucestershire. Richard Talemasch, of Oxfordshire, is found in the Rotuli Curiae Regis of 1194-98.
In the following reign occurs the first notice of the Bentley family; though, at the death of the last heir male in 1821, they claimed to have "continued in the county of Suffolk, in an uninterrupted male succession, from the arrival of the Saxons; a period of nearly thirteen centuries." William Talmash gave lands in Bentley and Dodness to Ipswich Priory in the time of King John: and Hugh Talmash paid a fine to Ipswich, under Henry III., for freedom of toll for him and his villeins in that parish. Either he, or his son of the same name, held the manor of the Crown by knight service in 1296, and was the tenant of the Countess of Gloucester at Talmash Hall, in Bricet Parva. He, with two of his kinsmen, William and John, was summoned to attend the King at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1300 for his expedition into Scotland. This John, whose arms remain emblazoned in York Minster, took the Black Cross, and received a summons to attend the great Council at Westminster in 1324 (Palgrave's Parl. Writs). Another Sir William, of earlier date, had acquired Hawstead, probably through Cecily his wife, in the reign of Henry III.; but his grandson left only a daughter, married to Bokenham; whence their manor was called Talmage's, otherwise Bokenham's.
Sir Lionel Talmash, late in the fifteenth century, married the heiress of Helmingham, in another part of the county, where he took up his abode. He twice served as High Sheriff for Norfolk and Suffolk in the reign of Henry VIII.; and built Helmingham Hall on the site of an old moated manor house, named from its former owners, Creke's Hall. It is a red brick building in the picturesque Tudor style, surrounded, as of yore, by its moat of clear water, plentifully stocked with fish, and crossed by a drawbridge, still in use, that, according to a fond tradition, has been regularly drawn up every night for the last eight hundred years. There can, however, be no cavilling as to the antiquity of the oak-trees in the park, for they take rank among the finest in the kingdom. Sir Lionel's heir, another Sir Lionel, entertained Queen Elizabeth for five days at Helmingham in 1561, on which occasion she stood godmother to his eldest son, and left the lute on which she had played behind her as a keepsake. It was her parting gift to her host, and is preserved, with her spinet, the bed on which she slept, and her portrait, painted with bright auburn hair, in remembrance of this visit.
In the following century, a third Sir Lionel brought a Scottish Earldom into the family by his marriage with Lady Elizabeth Murray. Her father—a nephew of the Thomas Murray who had been first preceptor and then secretary to Charles I., was created Earl of Dysart and Lord Huntingtower in 1643, and is noted by Bishop Burnet for "one particular quality. When he was drunk, which was very often, he was on a most exact reserve, though at other times pretty open." Lady Elizabeth was, it is said, "a woman of great beauty and far greater parts," combining with the rather formidable reputation of being versed in divinity, history, mathematics, and philosophy, "a wonderful quickness of apprehension, and amazing vivacity in conversation." Not only did she inherit her father's honours, but in 1670—the year after Sir Lionel's death, she obtained a fresh patent, granting them "to such of her issue as she might nominate under her hand during her life." She was evidently a woman to whom nothing could be refused. "Cromwell himself, the stern Cromwell, was unable," we are told, "to resist her blandishments." She re-married the Duke of Lauderdale, and queened it to her heart's content, but left children only by her first husband. Her eldest son, Lionel, succeeded as third Earl of Dysart, and was followed by another Lionel, who had six sons and eight daughters; yet all this goodly progeny did not furnish a single heir-male in the next generation. The family was doomed to extinction. The first son died an infant: Lionel was the fifth, and Wilbraham the sixth Earl; George, a young midshipman, was killed by a fall from the masthead of H. M.'s ship Modeste; John, a captain in the navy, the only brother that was not childless, fell in a duel at New York, and his one son, a lad of nineteen, lost his life at the siege of Valenciennes; while William the youngest—again a sailor—perished in the Repulse frigate, during a hurricane in the Atlantic, with every soul on board. Of the eight sisters, four died very young: Lady Frances never married; Lady Louisa was the wife of John Manners; and Lady Jane, the youngest, had two husbands; first John Delap Halliday of Leasowes in Shropshire, and secondly John Ferry.
The two last named were the co-heirs of their brother Wilbraham, on whose death, in 1821, Lady Louisa succeeded as Countess of Dysart, and resumed her maiden name, still borne by her descendants. With the Earldom, they inherited Buckminster and the Lincolnshire property, and Ham House, near Richmond, that rare old relic of bygone days, which still lives and breathes in the past, unspoiled by the baneful touch of modern improvement.
The old house of Helmingham fell to the share of Lady Jane, with Peckforton in Cheshire, where a stately castle has since been built. Her eldest son by her first marriage, Admiral John Halliday, took the name of Tollemache, and was the father of the present Lord Tollemache, who received his title in 1874. Perhaps none in the whole peerage has a more amply secured succession; for the new peer boasts of eleven sons, four grandsons and several great-grandsons.
- ↑ Here, alas! is another "pretty story" that has vanished away in smoke. Mr. Vincent has recently proved that Helghminam is a mistake for Hedingham in Essex, where Queen Elizabeth was in reality staying at the time; and that this treasured "ebony lute, inlaid with ivory and enriched with gems," cannot possibly have been her parting gift.