The history will never be complete but now we have published it we are not going to alter the pages so any additions will be added under this heading. 

Brettons and the Heneage family

Two grandsons of the martyr, John Bretton, became Auditor and Estate Agents for two recusant families in the 1600’s. Richard for the Mannock family in Suffolk and Luke for the Heneage family in Lincolnshire. We have tried to trace these two people and their families, if any, so far without success. However a relative of ours, Dorothy Edson from Grimsby, has a great interest in the family and we have been in touch for some time. She has concentrated on the female lines going back to the contacts with the Wentworths from Frances Wentworth and in her searches she has come up with a most interesting piece of information. In the Heneage line she has found an entry which states that “Olive Bretton, daughter of Thomas (Edward ?) Bretton of Felmingham, Norfolk, widow of Thomas Hearne married Sir George Heneage (Vice-Admiral) and died on 3rd February 1632 (oddly my birthday) and was buried at St Martins in the Field.” She therefore died about 10 to 12 years before Luke was appointed Auditor and Estate Agent to the Heneage family.

Is this just a tremendous coincidence or is there some connection between this Olive Bretton and her family and our family back in Yorkshire ?. The only Thomas on our tree would be great, great, great uncle to Luke but bearing in mind that we found another ancestor buried, for some reason, in Nottinghamshire was there any other migration to Norfolk ? and did the family keep in touch ?

Then, as part of our own on-going research, we  came up with yet another marvellous coincidence.  We found that a Francis Mannock born about 1616 of Gifford’s Hall, Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, married, on the 20th May, 1636 none other but a Mary Heneage of Deene Northampton. Whilst this is not the family seat of the Heneages it is doubtless a branch of the family. (To help trace the family if anyone is interested a daughter, Mary Mannock died at Writtle, Essex on 21st April, 1687 and was buried at Stoke (county ?) on 30th April, 1687.

Tourn at Wakefield after feast of St. Lucy the Virgin (December 13th) 18 EdwardII (1324)

Henry le Hyne drew blood from Robert de Bretton. Fined 12 pence (this is the third occasion we have read about some trouble involving this Robert de Bretton)

Diota de Bretton fined 6 pence for brewing. (formerly wife of Richard de Bretton)

Mogota de Bretton fined 6 pence for brewing.


Information from the Borthwick Institute, York University

From Recusant Rolls 3 & 4 1594 - 6   By Dom Hugh Bowler
Catholic Records Society Volume 61

1597   Presentment of Vicars, Parsons & Curates against Recusants.
“Nether Recusant nor yet any goods or landes of any rect. in any of theistownes foll.(in the Bretton’s case Sandal was quoted) : John Bretton, Fra. his wief, Luke their sonne and Dorothie Bretton 20 years owld all Rects. John Bretton hath landes in Bretton worth XX lip. ann


From Catholic Records Society  Vol. 53 Recusant Records by Dom Hugh Bowler  - Jan. 1595

Sandal Magna  : John Bretton, yoman and Francis his wife resydinge in Bretton aforesaid value per annum iiij li   Luke Bretton and Marke Bretton sonnes to the said John Bretton Richard Bretton his sonne Dorothie his daughter resydinge in house with the said John Bretton


Catholic Recusancy in the City of York 1558 - 1791 by Hugh Aveling (1640 Archiepiscopal Visitation Book

St. Cuthbert’s

Ann Thwing and Ann Britton popish rec. YCA House Book XXXII
Fol. 245 v  18th March 1602/3
John Brittan and Alice his wife


Knox    Douay Diaries   Darium Primum

Anno Domini 1634
The oath taken by Students of the Foundation with the names of those who took the oath (1627 - 1653
Franciscus Brettonus , Eboracencis, hic Burdet  Januarii die 6th 1635

List of priests ordained 1573 - 1632
1592 Eodem anno venit Roma D.   Mattheus Brittonus

Priests sent on English mission (1574 - 1644)   1604  Doctor Mattheus Brettonus S.T.D

Knox    Douay Diaries  Diarium Secundum

(Diary of the college from Nov 11 1575 to Aug 8 1593)

1584 Augustus 15 die rediit ex Anglia Matthaeus Bretton (and three others)
(In side column - Acced)

22 Feb 1586
Venit ad nos quidam D. Edwards generosus, qui statim in communas receptus est, (nomine Edouardus Campianus). Eodem die hinc a nobis ad Romanum seminarium missi sunt Matthaeus Bretton (and 5 others) Eodem die Romam profectus est D. Rob. Walley presbyter (in side column ‘ “Acced Romam missi peregrinationis ergo profectus est D. Rob. Walley presbyter. (in side column: Acced. Romam missi  Perigrinus)
2 July 1592
Venit ad nos D. Matthaeus Bretton sacerdos seminarii Romani per sexennium alumnus (acced)
20 Feb 1593
Duacum profectus est D. Matthaeus Bretton sacerdos, ut ibi in collegio Anglorum praefecti munere fungeretur (disced)


A list of Englishmen who matriculated at the University of Douay before 1612 (from a notorial document in the archives of the See of Westminster)

Fol. 25
Matthaeus Brettonus, Eboracens, presbiter.pauperes seminarii Anglicani  (1593)

The draft of a memorial addressed by Dr Worthington and Dr Percy to Cardinal Caetano, Protector of England 1596 (nb  mainly relating to the English College at Rome)
in list headed : Alii sunt qui rel nunquam in collegio isto vixerunt, vel serius ad illud acces surunt, sc :-   includes Matthaeus Brittonus secerdote


1634 William Bretton was a churchwarden at Sandal Magna (Grandson of Robert Bretton ?)


Early Yorkshire Charters by Farrer

In the Bretton Family History we have already discussed the linking of the Bretton family to Adam fitz Swain and the confusion that Hunter caused with his two statements that contradicted each other. On the one hand he says that Adam fitz Swain had no sons and that the male line died out with him. On the other hand, in “South Yorkshire : The History and Topography of the Deanery of Doncaster, Volume II, 1831 - under the heading of “The Priory of Mary Magdalene de Lunda : Volgo Burton Abbey” that Adam fitz Swain’s sons and grandsons witnessed the deeds of Monk Bretton Priory, signed both at Bretton and Cumberland. He names them as Alexander and Richard and says that they must have been his sons-in-law even though he was aware that his sons-in-law’s names were Adam de Montbegan (Matilda’s  1st husband -  John Mahlerbe and Gerard de Glanville were her second and third). The only Alexander he could have meant was Alexander de Crevequer, Amabel’s first husband. However neither of them had sons before Adam fitz Swain died.  The sons are described as “Alexander et Ricardus fillii mei” and the three grandsons were named in the deed as “Alanus de Brettona et Adam et Ricardus fratres sui”

This was confirmed by Frances Anne Collins as mentioned earlier in the family history and yet another confirmation was noted in the Borthwick Institute of the University of York in the publication “Early Yorkshire Charters, Volumes I to III” by Farrer. The deed in question is in Volume III under the heading “Lascy Fee : Monk Bretton” on page 320 - charter no 1665. The charter as entered is attached below.

Notification by Adam son of Swane of his gift to Prior Adam and the monks of St Mary Magdalene of Lund in Bretton of the land of (Monk) Bretton, the mills of Dearne and his father’s lawn, land between Dearne and Staincliffe unto Meresbrook: also Newhill(Grange), Rainborough (Grange), Linthwaite and what he had in Brampton (Byerlow). 1154-1159 (Chart.of Monk Bretton at Woolley Hall, f9. Chart of Monk Bretton, Lonsd.MS 405ff)

“Omnibus sancte matris ecclesie fidelibus clericis et laicis Adam filius Suani salutem. Notum vobis facio me concessisse et dedisse pro salute anime mee et antecessorum et successorum meorum Deo et Sancte Marie Magdalene de Lund a et domino Ade quitunc temporis prior erat de Brettona et monachis qui ibedem Deo servient, in purum et perpetuam elemosinam Brettonam am omnibusad eam pertinentibus et molendinis de Derna et lundam patris mei et quicquid habetur inter Dirnam et Stainclyffusque Meresbrok, Newhala et Rainsbergam et Lintuait et quicquid habeam in Bramtona> Ista omnia sub presentis carte attestatione confirma et concedo ut quieta et libera teneant et possideant de me et heredibus meis sicut puram decet elemosinam in perpetuum. Hujus donationis testes sunt Alexander et Ricarus fillii mei, Efwardus de Almoneburi et Robertus frater ejus, Dolphin de Aluelai et Williamus et Henricus fillii ejus at Siwardus frater ujus, Herbeertus presbiter, Thomas de Derfona, Barnardus de Silkstona et Ricardus filius ejus, Alanus de Brettona et Adam et Ricardus fratres sui, Ricardus filius Herding et frater ejus, Matheus de Oxspring, Suanus de Holand, Aelsi Bacun


Yorkshire Inquisitions - Surtees Society Vol.31

XC IV Simon de Barnaby - Chaplain for the Prioress of Nun Appleton Inq. ad. q.d. (28 Edward I no. 120)
Writ dated at York 16th November, 27th year (1299)

Inquisition taken before the Sherriff on the morrow of St. Katherine, 28 Edward (26 Nov. 1299  by Henry de Rockelay, Thomas de Sayville, R.......... de Ryale, Peter de Boseville, Robert, his brother, Matthew of Oxspringes, Richard Danyel, Roger, son of Richard of Bretton, Thomas Dulle, Richard de Berley, Roger Hechley and Hugh at the cross of Bernesley.

Inquisition taken at Threske (Thirsk) Philip Bretoun received 20s of old time as a share in 2 mills, an oven, with market tolls and pleas of the borough, which were worth £44 by the year.

Yorkshire Fines 1603-1614 (YAS vol.L111)
1610 Michaelmas Term 8 Jas 1

Thos Wentworth Esq., Matthew Wentworth esq. and Michael Wentworth esq., quer : Henry Britten, gent and Anne his wife, & Robt. Garnett gent & Ann his wife def.  8 messuages, lands and rent in Stratforth, over Stratforth, lands and rent in Stratforth, Over Stratforth and Nether Stratforth


Yorkshire Archaelogical Society - Yorkshire Deeds Volume IV
Relations between Adam fitz Swain’s daughters and their Bretton half brothers

Under the heading of “Cawthorne” on page 40 are given details of a grant from Olyva de la Mare, in her widowhood, to her son, Richard de Thornhill.. Olyva de la Mare was grand-daughter of Adam fitz Swain and would therefore be related to the Brettons, albeit they were illegitimate. It is interesting to see that all the  six witnesses were Knights and included Sir John Lunguilers (Longuilers)( who married another of Adam’s grand-daughters), Sir William Bretton, and another of  her sons, Sir Richard de  Tankersley (Tancreslay). The notes state that the date of the deed (many early deeds were undated) was clearly before 1254 (when Sir John Longuilers died)

he full details of the deed, as recorded, and, in particular the notes attached are as follows :-

Grant by Olyva de la Mare in her widowhood to Richard de Thornhil her son, for his homage, of all her land in the vill of Calthorn, which she had of Sir Geoffrey de Nevill and Mabel his wife in exchange for her land in the vill of Culgaith, of which there was a plea between them before the justices of Carlisle (Caridiolum) ; to have and to hold in accordance with a quitclaim and charter of confirmation which Richard had from William de Arci the grantor’s son and heir ; at the annual rent to the grantor and her heirs of a pound of cumin at Martinmas. Witnesses, Sir John de Lunguilers, Robert de Stapeltona, William de Brettona, Adam de Mirfeud, Adam de prestona, knts., Richard de Tancreslay.

The notes attached say :-

This deed gives rise to several points of difficulty. The date is clearly earlier than 1254 when Sir John de Longvillers died (Yorks Inq. I. 40). Mabel de Nevill, daughter of  William de la Mare and widow of Geoffrey de Nevill, made a grant to Monk Bretton 1249 - 53. (Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters no. 1648). For her descent through her mother, Mabel Malherbe, from Adam son of Swain, who had Cawthorne see ibid p. 318. Culgaith had formed part of Swain’s lordship in Cumberland - ibid p. 317 and Mr W. Farrer has given me a reference to a Cumberland Fine of 1232 (file 2 - No. 13) in which Geoffrey de Nevill and Mabel his wife acknowledged, after a plea of warranty of charter, a moiety of the manor to be the right of William son of John. With regard to Olyva her interest in Culgaith would appear to have arisen either by reason of dower or by reason of inheritance from Adam son of Swain ; and the former is almost certainly ruled out by the fact that in this deed the rent reserved for the Cawthorne property was to her “and her heirs”. The latter suggestion that she was a descendant of Adam, being another daughter of William de la Mare and Mabel Malherbe, and using her maiden name in dealing with her own inherited property, would seem to invite acceptance. A William de Arcy, possibly her son mentioned in this deed held of Norman de Arcy 4 fees in Flixborough and elsewhere in County Lincolnshire 1242-3 (Book of Fees ii, 1077); and, with regard to the Thornhill connection Whitaker (Loidis and Elmete page 31) says that Olivia de la Mar married Sir John de Thornhill, who was living 21 Henry III and had issue Sir Richard de Thornhill but he does not guarantee his history of the Thornhill family, which was based on Hopkinson.

Page 42

147. This is a grant between  Robert de Wetelei and Adam de Holanda regarding land at Claitun (Clayton West). William de Brettun and Peter de Brettun were witnesses. The deed was before 1230 when one of the other witnesses Gilbert de Notton died. We had never heard of this Peter de Brettun.

149 Another deed between the same two people was witnessed by John de Brettun and  Alan de Brettun (no date given but presumably around the same time as the last)


Again on Page 42 another deed (148) between the same two people mentions “Eilrikebirge” which the editor of the book describes as Ailric’s Bridge” deriving it’s name from Airic the father of Swain and Grandfather of Adam. Witnesses to this deed include Alan de Bretton.


A Warranty between Robert de Schelflay and Adam de Holand include Sir William de Bretton and a Peter de Burton (Bretton?). It may give a rough date period as one of the other witnesses was Steward to Edmund de Lascy from 1246 to 1258 (page 43)


A grant and quitclaim between John de Byrweyt and  Robert son of Adam de  Holanda was witnessed by William de Bretton,, Swain de Bretton and Hugh, his son, and Peter de Bretton. (This must be the same (Sir) William de Bretton mentioned regularly) pages 43/44



The same Sir William de Bretton witnessed a deed by John, son of Roger the Chaplain and Adam de Holand. This must have been before 1240 when one of the other witnesses died.

He witnessed a grant by Adam, son of Robert de Claitun  Pagre 44

He witnessed a quitclaim by Hugh de Denton  Page 45


Yorkshire Deeds (YAS) Volume V

Under the heading of West Bretton

The following deed is already included in the family history in a shorter version and the following (original) deed is taken from the Byland Chartulary where it gives a longer list of witnesses and corrects two mistakes to the witnesses originally given. It is dated by Farrer as being around 1190 to 1220.

“ Grant in frankalmoign (frankalmoign is a form of tenure by which religious bodies held lands, especially on condition of praying for the soul of the donor) by Swain son of Ulkil de Brettona for the health of his soul and the souls of all his ancestors and heirs to God and the monks of St. Mary of Byland (given as Bella Landa and later Beghland) of all the ridding (rodam)(  rode-land   -   land cleared and brought into cultivation) in the territory of Brettonia called Smidiroda and all the land which he had on the west of Smidiroda from the bounds of Sitlingtonia as far as the conduit (ductum) of Emmelia on the north of the way leading from the said conduit towards Brettonia together with the dwelling place (sede) of Smidiroda, the wood, and other easements contained in the said land : and common pasture for two hundred sheep by the greater hundred (“The greater hundred” refers to the old Norse hundred - ie 120) and other beasts cultivating the said land throughout all the territory of the said vill: the monks to make their sheepfold for the said two hundred sheep on either side of the conduit, and to enclose the said land at will. The monks would give the grantor and his heirs 6s. yearly to wit 3s. at Whitsuntide ans 3s. at Martinmas. Witnesses Robert Walensis, John de Birkine, Thomas de Horbiry, Adam Phililli, Jordan de Hetona, Adam de Mirefield, Roger de Tornet, Thomas de Tornetonia

Note. We (SB & CB) will attempt later to try to put the early Brettons into some sort of order using the approximate dates of the deeds they made or witnessed. eg. Swain was presumably at least in his early 20’s when this deed was signed sometime between 1190 and 1220  It is possible that he was named after Swain fitz Ailric who could, looking at the intervening time scale, have been his g.g.grandfather. However it will be mainly supposition which has no real tenure in genealogy unless it gives a relationship - as in “Swain, son of Ulkil de Brettona”. It is interesting though to see how different generations of the family appear to swing between the Norman and the Old Danish in their choice of names.  

It is also interesting to see the old version of so many modern place names mentioned as witnesses eg. Birkine - Burkin, Horbiry - Horbury, Hetona - Heaton (as in Kirkheaton etc), Mirefield - Mirfield, Tornet/Tornetonia - Thornhill, and following ,  Floctona - Flockton, Denebi - Denby, Holand - Hoyland  The Sitlingtonia is of course Sitlington and Emmelia is Emley so, therefore, is Smidiroda the present SmithyRoyd, which is the area adjoining the steep hill from Middlestown (Sitlington) to Thornhill ? If so then the area of land in question is much larger than we first thought because there is a very large area between SmithyRoyd and Emley


There are several very old deeds listed in Volume 5 of “Yorkshire Deeds”, which, between them, provide the names of quite a few members of the Bretton family, some of which are from the 1100’s and 1200’s. These give a unique (although brief) insight into some of the relationships of the family immediately following on from Adam fitz Swain de Bretton. Without going into all the details (some of these mentions were only about people being witnesses to other people’s deeds) here are some of the names, with the relationships as described.

Yorkshire Deeds - Volume 5 - West Bretton pages 6/9

15. Swain son of Ulkil de Brettona grant to Byland Abbey (described earlier) dated by Farrer as being between 1190 and 1220. He states that Swain de Bretton and Maud his mother were parties in a fine with Alan de Criggleston in 1202 and that Swain was alive in 1243.

16. Witnesses to a deed are William de Bretton and his son Thomas referring to the immediately above deed and therefore roughly around the same time.

17. Grant and confirmation by Henry de Brettona to God and the monks of St.Mary of Byland, of the land and pasture that Swain, his brother, had granted them in the territoru of Brettona to do what they wished therewith, quit from all terrene service etc etc. Witness Alan de Brett(ona)

18.Grant and confirmation by Alan, son of Adam de Criggleston with Witnesses Swain de Bretton, William de Bretton, Thorold de Brettona  (around the same time.)

19. There is an interesting deed between (amongst others) the Monks of Byland Abbey and Swain de Bretton, Hugh son of Swain and Peter, son of Orm de Bretton regarding the “new land, taken into cultivation before Martinmas 1226 in the territory of Bretton” in which the men mentioned above (plus the others) granted in Frankelmoign to God and the monks of St.Mary of Belland “five acres of land in Migelaieflat (Midgley) in the territory of Bretton” and also a licence “to take stones for burning at their Grange of Bentelaie, namely in the territory lying between the ridding of Hugh de Oselete  and William de Bretton so long as the quarry shall last and with free entry and exit for them, their men and their transport for coming and going to the said land and quarry.

This photograph is reproduced by kind permission of English Heritage and I am grateful to them and to their staff for their help. I am especially grateful for the help of Dave Macleod, Senior Investigator, Aerial Survey and Investigations at York,(who took the photograph) Liz Jenkins and Chantelle Smith, all three of whom pulled out all the stops to allow me to add this photograph to our website. I think it says something about England (and English Heritage) that here we have a small reference to a deed in 1226, hidden in the Chartulary of Byland Abbey, and nearly 800 years later we are able to see the results of that gift from members of the Bretton family to the Abbey. I have seen these workings for the last 65 years but never before have I had the opportunity to see them so spectacularly displayed.

20. Whitsuntide 1243 Quitclaim by Swain de Brecton, son of Ulkil of the rent that the monks had paid him annually and confirming that the monks had in no wise been bound to his heirs for the said rent but only to him during his life as a recognition of fraternity Witnesses included Sir William de Bretton, Brun de Brecton and William, son of Thorald.

21.  Grant and confirmation by Hugh son of Swain, of all the grants made by Swain in the territory of Brettona. This was presumably after Swain’s death (1243 or later). Witnesses included William de Bretton and William and Robert, sons of Swain.

Yorkshire Deeds Volume 4 - Flockton - page 62

218 Grant to William, son of Michael de Netherflockton of land - witnessed byJohn de Bretton and Richard of the same  (prior to 1250/60)

The following is an excerpt from an article by Angela Petyt regarding the above deed (that is a grant of mining rights by licence from William Bretton to the Abbey of Byland of his “grange of Bentley) (This is the Bentley Springs that we have mentioned previously in our family history where the old iron workings are still visible to this day.

"The contribution of the Cistercian Order to the economic
development of the north was little less than revolutionary."

A discussion of this view of the Cistercians in the period

By Angela Petyt

Some monasteries had the good fortune to be granted land under which were substantial mineral deposits, and they were not slow in exploiting it. Rievaulx possessed Flockton Grange and Byland had Bentley Grange at Emley and Denby Grange. All these estates were situated near Wakefield in the West Riding, a long distance away from the abbeys themselves. In every case, the abbey concerned took care to ensure a monopoly of mining rights, free passage to the site, and an adequate supply of timber for charcoal. Most mining sites were near to a river, which would be diverted if need be to bring water to the mine. One example of a grant of mining rights is a licence granted in 1226 by William de Bretton to Byland Abbey regarding Bentley Grange. "He also granted the monks a licence to take [iron] stone for burning at his grange of Bentley... and to quarry as much stone as they could with free entrance and exit to them and their men". The usual type of mine was a circular shaft sunk to the level of the vein with the ore at the bottom of the shaft, and when this was all removed, they sunk another shaft nearby. When the ore was removed, it was washed and put into a furnace, either a stationary or moveable one. The best example of such circular shafts (bell pits) is at Bentley. Iron was a very valuable commodity — needed for plough shares, horseshoes, arrow tips, spades, nails, ship’s anchor’s etc., and thus the monks profited from their efforts and enterprise.

Grants to Northern Cistercian Monasteries -
(I) Early gifts and acquisitions - from Swain, Son of Ulkill de Bretton to Byland Abbey; BM Add Mss No. 7459; BM Add Mss No. 7427; British Museum additional charters 1432; Rievaulx Cartulary Nos. 94, 95, 294; Fountains Charters BM Cotton 241v
(II) Consolidation - DDSR/1 Savile of Rufford papers; BEA/C3/B7; BM Add Charters 7456; Byland Abbey deeds Add Mss No. 7534 British Library; Licence granted by William de Bretton to Byland Abbey for iron-smelting on Bentley Grange; BEA/B3/B10; Kings Bench, Westminster, DCCXCVII - between Henry Abbot of Byland and Thomas son of William (de Bretton) (Case 263, File 30, No. 15); Byland Abbey deeds Add Mss No. 7435 British Library; VR 4968 Fountains Charters

The following information was obtained from Bretton Hall, now the University of Leeds, and formerly the home of the Wentworth family. We are indebted for it to Leonard Bartle, the Custodian of the Bretton Estate Archives, a former colleague of mine and now with such an enviable job.

Yorkshire Deeds - Flockton

141. St. Matthias the Apostle - V Edward III (February 4th, 1330/31)
William de Bretton is mentioned as holding landto the west of the Toftes”

147. Friday the morrow of the Apostles Peter & Paul (June 30th 1346)
Quitclaim by Margery (Marieria), daughter and heiress of Robert, son of Adam de West Bretton, dwelling in Flockton, in her virginity, to Richard, son of Henry le Doubar, her brother (fratri), named the son of Cecily, her mother, of all rights in all the lands and tenement, with buildings, woods, meadows and pastures which Robert, her father, had of the grant and feoffmentof Adam de Braytwayt in the vill and within the bounds of Flockton, and which should have fallen to her hereditary right after the decease of Robert her father and Cecily her mother.

158.  November 30th. 22 Edw. IV (1482)
Grant by Christopher Dyghton, son and heir of Christopher Dyghton, late of West Bretton, to Richard Wentworth esq., his heirs and assigns, of a messuage with all lands, meadow, feedings and pastures, woods and mines belonging thereto with apputenances within the vill and territory of Overflokton, which messuage lay between the tenement of Henry del Syke on the west and that of Henry Milner of Emley on the east. Also appointment of Wm Dyghton of Woolley and John Bretton of West Bretton as joint attorneys to enter and deliver sisin.

46.    1383
Grant by John Dronsfield of land “between the land of John de Bretton del Broderode which croft was called Symonecroft---- and the land of John de Bretton  of Littlemore---- by the land of John de Bretton on Trumclyf  ?????????? Cecily, daughter of Gilbert de West Bretton

48  June 20th 1414
John de Dronsfield  -  land at Netherbretton

1424  and 1425 John Bretton witnessed deeds

Yorkshire Deeds Vol 7 page 157 (455)

Royston, All Saints Church, ist November, 1422

John de Bretton was one of eleven who appointed Wm. Hepworth, vicar of the church of “Ruston” as their attorney to deliver seisin to Thomas, son of Robert Smyth of Carleton of all lands, tenements and meadows etc etc, in accordance with their charter.

Aug 3rd. II Richard III (1484)   (459)

Grant by John Bretonar, Chaplain, to John Woderobe, of Wolvelay esq.,, his heirs and assigns, of all his puparty, of all the lands, tenements, mead and pastures with apputenances in Ruston etc.

(footnote. Also a release Aug 6 by the same to the same, of all right in the same. Same seal)

Yorkshire Deeds Vol 8 page 19

48. West Bretton. Exhaltation of the Cross September 14 (1317)

Indenture by which the Abbottand convent of Byland demised to master John de Dronfield ten acres of land in the territory of Bretton, those which they had of the grant of Peter, son of Orm de Bretton to hold for a term of 20 years, rendering yearly to the abbott and convent and their successors, 3s sterling in equal portions at Whitsuntide and Martinmass

(Vol 6. West Bretton number 33)

67. Deed dated 29 June, 21 Edward IV, (1481) where John Bretton was a witness.

69. Deed dated  April 30, III Henry VI, (1511) when John Bretton was a witness (This would be the son of the previous John Bretton and the grandfather of the Martyr.

71. Deed dated  September 30, 36 Henry VIII (1544) relates to a grant by Thomas Wentworth of West Bretton to William Calverlaye of Calverlaye, esq, and Richard Wheatlaye of Woolaye, gent, of land etc. Richard Bretton was a witness. Richard Bretton was the Martyr’s father.

Page 23 under the heading of Briestwhistle (Lower Whitley)

74. No date given. Notification to the Archbishop of York and the Chapter of st. Peter by William, son of Michael de Brertwisil of his grant to God and the monks of St. Mary of Byland (Bellelanda) of common pasture of all their beasts of Denabi, both of wood and plain, throughout all the territory of Brertwisil wherever his beasts or those of his men of the said vill fed outside the corn and  meadow (except in his park towards Witherlai) and all other easements within the said vill and without, growing oak excepted, the grantor’s men of Brertwisil not to be prevented from cultivating their lands in the territory of the said vill; the grantor not to receive thenceforth the beasts of any man within the common pasture of Brertwisil without the consent of the monks except his own beasts and those of his villeins of Brertwisil; nor would he make more meadow within the said common than was done in the time of King Richard;  also grant of free entry and exit  to the said pasture to them, their men and their beasts; to hold of the grantor, free from secular service,for the health of his soul and of all his ancestors and heirs, and for 5 marks of silver which the monks have given him in his great need.  A witness was Swain de Brettun.

Yorkshire Deeds volume 6 page 134

445.  Deed 445 dated 18. August 20 Henry VIII (1528) gives us the first mention of Hollinghurst, the estate where Richard Wentworth, the father of Francis Wentworth, the wife of the Martyr lived at the time of their marriage. It ( and deeds 226 and 447 following) appear to bring the Hollinghurst estate into the ownership of Sir Thomas Wentworth, the grandfather of Francis and the father of the above Richard wentworth, his second son.

The following excerpt is from an article written  ?? (thought to be in the 1930’s) by an inhabitant of West Bretton.

Page 33  During this early part of the 15th century, an incident occurs which seems completely unrelated  to the history which has gone before. The village of West Bretton has, for a long time, been connected with Monk Bretton priory according to J. W. Walker in his book on the subject. Its initial founder, Adam fitz Swain, was the son of Ailric, whom it was thought was one-time Saxon Lord of West Bretton. Throughout its life the Priory aquired interests with various families in the area who acted for beneficiaries for its well-being. None more than the de Bretton family, whom it seems were very influential and wealthy. This was brought about by the fact that a grave-slab was found in the Chapter House bearing the initials “D. W. Bretton.” This most definitely thought to belong to Sir William de Bretton as he left a large bequest to have his body buried within the Monastery’s walls:-

“Sir William de Bretton, Knight, left a rent of 4 shillings from an essart  called Gilberode in Hoyland which Gilbert son of Correlius held, and also the homage and service of the said Gilbert, and when the Testator died, the monks to receive his body” (Monk Bretton Chartulary ; page 80, number 220. Yorkshire Archaelogical Society)  He is mentioned as the son and heir of John Bretton, of West Bretton: whose father was Richard Bretton as also was his grandfather (Momk Bretton Chart. Page 19, number 26)

In 1444 Sir William de Bretton gave Thomas Haryngton, esquire, and other trustees, certain land and tenements in Monk Bretton, which his father and grandfather had leased to the prior and the convent for a term of years. 1st November 23 Henry VI (Monk Bretton Chart. Page  18 number 24)

20 September 1274. Ralph de Bretton was examined  for priesthood in Blida church ( the first recorded ordination from this House) (Reg. Clifford, York. Surtees Society) 197.

From the Catholic Encyclopeadia Volume II   a mention of “Venerable John Britton - or Bretton”

Olyef (Olive) daughter of Thomas Bretton married Edward Thurland son and heir to Thomas
Thurland of Gamston who married Jane daughter of Robert Wylloby, sister to Sir Henry Wylloby.  Mentioned in Glover’s “Yorkshire Visitation 1563/64”

Again in the visitation of 1584 Glover mentions that Aleson, daughter of Thomas Bretton of West Bretton married Hugh Babthorpe of Babthorpe.  

You will note that one snippet of information we found in the records of Sandal Magna Parish Church there is a mention of “Martha, daughter of Thomas Bretton”  but no date and no comment on whether it is a birth or death. As the records are probably in chronological order all we know is that it would be between 1695 and 1710.   There is a Thomas Bretton right at the beginning of Hugh Bowler’s family chart for the Brettons as the youngest brother of John Bretton, the Deputy Secretary of the Council of the North. This ties in as the two marriages are “good ones” and the families (at that time) would be on the same social standing.

From the Nottinghamshire Archives - Savile of Rufford deeds & Estate papers

File ref : DD/SR/26/49       dated 1321

Agreement for the demise by Richard, son of Sir John de Thornhill (a relative of the Brettons) to William Danyel di Thurgerland and John de Bretton of his manor of Denby (Denby, Yorkshire) etc with certain chattels for 12 years at an annual rent of 44s. 0p in silver.

Ditto - Foljambe of Osburton deeds & Estate Papers

Yorks. Fairburn 1/214/3 March 1427/28

“Thomas Bretton senr of Thribergh”

Yorks South Hiendley 1/273/1  early 14th Century

“John son of John de Bretton and wife Johanna”  

Brettons of West Bretton
Wentworths of Hollinghurst

We had searched for years for Hollinghurst in Thornhill and then found it by chance between Netherton and West Bretton. We had been considering the present village/town of Thornhill and not the old, much larger parish. The following will was written in the crabbed medieval handwriting that is not easy to translate but Christine did a marvellous job. There were still a few loose ends however and we therefore called upon the willing assistance of John Goodchild, an Archivist/Historian with his own archives in Wakefield and an enviable reputation in Yorkshire (and wider). We are grateful to him indeed. He pointed out to us that whilst Christine & I had agreed on one part of the will that it read “I give to John Bretton my best horse” even whilst we thought that he was being extremely generous having a number of sons of his own. John Goodchild pointed out that it was not “best horse” but “best bowe”. You can see immediately the similarity in the two words, when written in the crabbed 16th century style - but the difference is significant for the sake of accuracy. The other thing of interest is that John Bretton & Frances were given the same amount of money as the other sisters but, in addition “an iron chimney” (which was a portable metal stove) and his “best bowe”. Whether this was a way of suggesting Richard Wentworth agreed with John Bretton’s stand we do not know, nor shall we ever know, but the “bowe” was personal to John Bretton and would not have signified special treatment for his oldest daughter.

The Will of Richard Wentworth of Hollinghurst in the parish of Thornhill in the County of York

IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN, the 20th day of April in the year of Our Lord God a thousand five hundred and seventy seven in the 20th year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth by the grace of God queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, I, Richard Wentworth of Hollinghurst in the parish of Thornhill in the county of York, Gentleman, being whole in body and in good and perfect remembrance, laud and praise be given unto Almighty God and my Redeemer declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following :-

First I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one true and everlasting God beseeching him of his infinite mercy and by the merit of death, passion and most precious blood shedding of his only begotten son my redeemer and saviour, Jesus Christ that he will for his sake receive it into the attention of his eternal glory and my bodie to be buried in the parish church or churchyard of Thornhill aforesaid or else where It shall please almighty god to take me to his mercy. Item I give for my mortuary according to the Queen’s Majesty’s laws and statutes in that case provided.
Item I give to the poor of the parish of Thornhill 6s. 8d. Item I give to the box of the poor of Sandall Magna 3s. 4d. Item I give to the poor people of West Bretton 2s. Item to the poor people of the township of Netherton 3s. 4d. Item I will that Alis my wife shall have a third part of my goods and chattels for her third part thereof. Item I give to my said wife all my lease interests, rights and tenancy in the township of West Bretton yet enduring or elsewhere that I have at the date of my death and I also give unto her my farm on lease of Hollinghurst during her life and after her death to Robert Wentworth my third son and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten and if it fortune my said son Robert to die and depart from this world before he enters to the said lease of Hollinghurst that then my son Matthew Wentworth shall have and enjoy the same and pay unto his sister/sisters then being un-married the sum of £13. 6s. 8d to be equally divided amongst them and if his said sisters then fortunate to be all married that then this guarantee to be void and he to pay nothing. And if the said Robert depart from this world with no sons of his body lawfully begotten to remain to Matthew Wentworth my second son and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten and if the said Robert and Matthew do die as God defend they should, no heirs of their bodies lawfully begotten then the same to remain to my daughters un-married and if they be all married to remain to all the rest of my children. Item. I will that my wife shall have all my purchased land during her life towards the bringing up of my children Item I give to my said wife six of the best of my silver spoons. Item I give to John Bretton and Frances, his wife, my daughter, one iron chimney and to either of them 10s. in money in full contention and satisfaction of all her rightful portion of all my goods and chattels. Item I give to Thomas Johnson and Elizabeth his wife, my daughter,10s. in money in full contention and satisfaction of all her rights. Item I give to Robert Sykes and Jane his wife, my daughter, to either of them 10s. in money in full contention and satisfaction of all her rightful portion of my goods and chattels. Item I give to John Ward and Helen his wife, my daughter, to either of them 10s. in money in full contention and satisfaction of all her rightful portion of my goods and chattels. Item. I give to every one of my children’s eldest sons now being born 3 shillings and four pence. Item I give to every other of my children being living 12 pence. Item. I give all my purchased land after the death of my wife to Thomas Wentworth my eldest son and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten and for default of such issue to Matthew Wentworth my second son and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten. And if it fortune the said Matthew Wentworth to die, no sons, I give to Robert Wentworth my youngest son and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten. And if it fortune the said Robert to die, no sons, to all my daughters to be equally divided amongst them and their heirs forever. In consideration whereof I will that the said Thomas shall content And pay to Matthew Wentworth my second son the sum of £13. 6s. 8d. At such times as the said Thomas shall enter on the premises to him bequeathed and to pay to the said Matthew at such time and to pay to his younger brother Robert the sum of £13. 6s. 8d. Item I will that if it fortune the said Matthew to depart out of this life before the said Thomas do enter unto the said land that then my said son Thomas shall pay no part of the said sum of £13. 6s. 8d. or any part thereof to any other person. Item I will give to my wife during her life my silver salt and to Matthew my son my best ring Item I give to Matthew Wentworth and Robert Wentworth, my two younger sons all the rest of my apparel with sword and bucklers. Item I will that Robert my son shall have his equal portion with his sisters of all my goods according to the rate of their portions. Item. I will that the said Robert my son at such time as he entereth into and taketh the profits of the lands to him bequeathed shall pay his sisters the sum of £10 to be divided among them all. Item. I will that Alis my wife shall have the governance of my children and their persons unto they be able to make her a sufficient discharge. Item. I give to my niece Dorothy Wentworth the velvet pillow (or cushion). Item. To George Wentworth her son one ewe and a lamb. Item I will that Mr Francis Wortley, Mr Matthew Wentworth of Bretton and Mr John Kay of Woodsome Esquires be supervisors of this my last will and testament imploring them for the love of God to aid and assist my wife and children in their rights and to see this my last will be performed and kept according to the true tenor and meaning thereof and I give to everyone of them three for their pains one angel Item I give to John Bretton my best Bowe, The rest of all my goods not given now bequeathed my debts and final expenses and leases discharged and paid I give and bequeath to Alice my wife, Maud, Alice and Isabel and Beatrice my daughters now being un-married whom I make my sole Executors of this my last will and testament there being witnesses Francis Wortley & John Kay esquires and John Johnson, husbandman

Proved by Alice, Matilda, Alice and Isabelle 2 October

Research on Ailric

The following is an extract from a collection of old deeds contained in the Woolley Parish & Bretton folders at the Registry of Deeds HQ in Wakefield

It is copied out as written and represents someone’s comments on the documents

Extract from the Chartulary of the monastery of St.Mary Magdalene of MonkBretton

In this chartulary is the list of the books which belong to the monastery. It seems from it that the monks seem to have accumulated an unusually large number of books . There are 150 works shown Two of the books which are in the list are now in the library at Woolley with the Chartulary Vetus et Novum Testamentum translator Hieronymus and Opus Regall de Persecution(illis?) Ecclesia after this comes Bulls of Pope Innocent Urban and Honorius conforming the foundacion of the monastery Pope Innocent’s Bull is in 1200 Urban’s in 1186 Honours in the third year of his pontifacy After these we have the foundacion grant of the monastery by Adam Fitzswain the founder of this monastery What he settles upon the house by this grant was the site the village of Bretton (Montbretton, Newhall, Rainsesbergh and Linthwaite whatsoever the founder had in Bramp (NOTE - this was the end of the line and the end of the word could be missing. We think the full word might be Brampton where Adam Fitzswain held property) certain mills upon the Dearne and whatsoever he had between that river and Staincliffe as far as Meresbrook

This deed is undated but Adam Fitzswein died in 1158 and it app(ears) that the foundation was not complete till just before the close of his life.

The witnesses to it are Alexander and Richard his sons, Edwardus de Almanei and Robert his brother Dolphin de Alvelai William & Henry his sons.


From a website “The soldier in Medieval England” comes the information that five “Brettons” are recorded as being either men at arms or archers from 1373 to 1443 and that 2 of them served under king Henry V at Agincourt. There is no indication as to whether any of them are from our family but coincidences abound. One of the commanders was William Neville and the Neville family were related by marriage to the Brettons in the 1200’s. Additionally one of this related Neville family (Margaret) married Thomas Beaufort the fourth son of John O’Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Thomas’s brother, John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was the Commander of Roger Bretton, an archer, in an expeditionary force in France in 1443.

John de Bretton - Quer. From “Feet of Fines for County of York 17 Edward II” (1324) No. 562

John de Bretton (Quer) and Adam Ingrels and Joan, his wife, deforciants of a messuage, 100 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, and 20 acres of wood in Emmerley (Emley) covenant John’s rights. Adam and Joan have rendered in court. John and his heirs to hold of the chiefs, Lords etc Adam for himself and his heirs to warrent for 20 marks of silver (CP25/1/271/99,No. 16) NOTE A “querent” is the person to whom the land etc was being conveyed and a “deforciant” is the person conveying the land. NOTE This is the first we have learned about the Brettons having land in Emley. Previously we have only known about land and messuages in Bretton and Dewsbury “and elsewhere in Yorkshire”. If this, as it appears, is in addition to what we already knew about then the Brettons in the 1300’s must have had more land than they had in the 1500/1600’s based on the information available after John Bretton’s martyrdom.

Click here to view the chronological list from prior to
the Domesday Book until the 1600's

Back to menu...