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Victorian study of North Mymms

Chapter Two - North Mymms Manor

Taken from "The Victoria History of Hertfordshire"
edited by W. Page - 1908.

North Mymms House as seen from the north c 1902
North Mymms House as seen from the north c 1902
A manor of North Mimms was held before the Conquest by three thegns (1), Queen Edith’s men, who were able to sell it.

In the Domesday Survey Mimms is entered among the possessions of the see of Chester, but it is stated to be the personal inheritance of Bishop Robert de Limesei from his father Rayner.

The manor next appears as one knight’s fee held of the honour of Gloucester, to which it probably belonged as early as the twelfth century. But in 1303 it is returned as held of the earls of Gloucester and Hereford jointly, and it sometimes occurs as held of the honour of Mandeville. Possibly, therefore, lands in North Mimms were included in the possessions of the lords of Manderville, which extended over the adjoining parishes of Shenley and South Mimms in Middlesex, at the time of the survey.

The holding of Bishop Robert was probably included in the fee held of the honour of Gloucester in 1212 by Miles de Somery, who was succeeded in 1229 by his son Roger, on whose death without issue in 1255-6 the manor passed to his brother Stephen.

In 1239 Stephen died childless, and his possessions were inherited by his sisters, Maud widow of Sir Robert de Bachesworth, wife of Traher or Trakel son of Hoel, Amabila wife of Sir Ernald de Mounteny, and Ela wife of Sir Robert de Selton or Shelton, and by Peter, a minor, the son of Peter Picot or Pygot, and Muriel, a fourth sister of Stephen.

Maud acquired the captital messuage (2) of Mimms, two knights’ fees held by Ralph de Chenduit and Ralph de Swineshead, and three-quarters of a fee in the tenure of Bijanus, Bayton, and Fannel. This Ralph de Swineshead was probably the father of Walter de Swineshead, knt., who in or about the year 1263 held lands, gardens, and a brew-house in North Mimms.

The reversion of the messuage of Hammedon after the death of Radina wife of Roger de Somery, and three knights’ fees held by Robert de Somery and Richard de Eppelgar, fell to Amabilia de Mounteny. A capital messuage near the gate of Maud’s lands was allotted to Peter Picote, while Ela became possessed of the reversion of the capital messuage of Haselingfield, then in the tenancy of Joan wife of Stephen de Somery, and of three knights’ fees held by Peter Eardun.

Maud was succeeded by her son, Roger de Bachesworth, who settled his manor on his stepfather Trakel for life; and Ela by her son John by a second husband, Hubert de Monchesny, who in 1278 enfeoffed (3) his brother Ralph of his share of the manor.

According to a presentment (4) made before the hundred court in 1274-6 North Mimms had withdrawn its suit at the sheriff’s turn (5) for ten years. In 1277-8 Peter Picot, Roger de Bachesworth, Ernulph de Mounteny, and Ralph de Monchesny successfully claimed view of frankpledge (6), amendment of the assize of bread and ale, gallows, waifs (7), and free warren (8) in the vill (9) of North Mimms, and quittance (10) of the sheriff’s turn by the payment of half a mark.

Roger about 1294 granted his share of the manor to his brother, Richard de Bachesworth, who in 1299-1300 granted all his possessions in North Mimms to Ralph de Monchesny and Albreda his wife for their life; or to them and their heirs for eight years if they should die within such period. In return Ralph and Albreda gave £60 to Richard, and undertook to provide an esquire armed and mounted, who should be at Carlisle on the day of the Nativity of John the Baptist, to fight for forty days against the Scots, and thus to discharge a moiety (11) of the service for which Richard was bound to the abbot of St. Albans, and through him to the king, and for which Ralph would indemnify Richard.

It is likely that Richard set off to fight the Scots. All his rights in North Mimms were released to him by Sir John son and heir of Ralph de Monchesny in 1322, a formality probably necessary to complete the conveyance of Richard’s manor in North Mimms to Simon Swanlond, citizen and merchant of London, in 1316-17. A grant to the same person by John de Monchesny of his fourth part of the manor, with the retention for himself of a life interest, was completed apparently in 1317-18.

The share of Ernulph de Mounteney was probably acquired by Simon Swanlond at much the same time. It was certainly held by him in 1347, and he thus was possessed of three parts of the capital manor of North Mimms. He received grants of free warren in North Mimms in 1316 and in 1327, and in 1332 he settled the manor on this children John, William, Simon, Thomas, Maud and Katherine, in tail male(12).

The members of this family appear to have been absentee landlords. In 1332-3 the manor with the reservation of a rent and certain pastures, was granted in farm by Simon to William of Pichicote, chaplain, for the term of his life, in return for £200. Later it was similarly bestowed for nine years for a yearly rent of 30s. on William de Kesteven, who held the fourth part of the manor. This lease was confirmed by John son of Simon Swanlond in 1355. In 1367 Will son of Simon Swanlond, presumably John’s brother and heir, leased the manor for ten years, with all rights except those which were attached to a tenement (13) called Someries, to John Mountviron and Beatrix his wife, for a yearly rent of £33-6s-8d.

Such lease was apparently renewed, for John and Beatrix held a court of the manor of 1378-9, and in 1409 William son of the William Swanlond who held in 1367 made a grant to Richard Whittington, merchant and citizen of London, and others of the rent of £40 due to him from Beatrix Mountviron for the term of her life and for one year after her death.

This William Swanlond with Dionisia his wife sold his three parts of the manor in 1428 to Thomas Knolles, grocer, who ‘purchased it with a part of his good duly gotten by merchandise ... he was a merchant in the city of London, and by his wisdom and governance was an alderman of the same city, and he was twice chosen mayor, in which time he did many notable things which do great easement to many people; and moreover with the part of his goods did marry his children to such men as were at that time much taken heed by.’

The fourth part of the manor passed from Peter Picot to his son John in 1285-6, and from him to another Peter Picot, probably identical with Peter son of Ralph of North Mimms, who with Joan his wife conveyed a manor of North Mimms to John of Hertford in 1291. It is probable that the surname of this John was Hedersete, and that he had for his wife Margery, who afterwards married Roger heir and relative of Roger Cosyn of Norfolk, who appears to have conveyed a life interest in the manor to Walter de Castello and Sarah his wife.

After Walter’s death Sarah continued to hold the manor, and afterwards married Gerard de Oudenard. Roger Cosyn confirmed the manor to her and her second husband, and this grant was confirmed in 1321 by William Hedersete, son of Margery Cosyn, to whom the manor was to revert on the death of Gerard and Sarah. In 1310-11 Sarah conveyed her right to Swyneshedlond, in North Mimms, Shopwelle, and la Roche, to Ralph de Bokenham, rector of Ellingham. It is probable that this land included all or part of the possessions of the family of Swineshead, a member of which was a tenant of the manor in 1239.

In 1315 Swyneshedlond was held by Peter de Boeknham of Norfolk, and sold by him to Simon de Swanlond. In the same year Margery Cosyn, now a widow, by a release of her right, rendered Simon’s ownership compete in a grant which was witnessed by her sons William and Simon Hedersete. The reversion of the main part of her share of the manor remained, however, in her tenure. It was mortgaged by her in 1317 to John Vance, clerk, once citizen of London, and son and heir of John Vance of Lucca. It passed from her to her son William Hedersete, citizen of London, who held this part of the manor in 1337. He was a collector of great custom of the king of London, and because of arrears in his account certain of his own lands in North Mimms escheated to the crown, and was granted to William de Kesteven, clerk. Hedersete’s heirs were his daughters, Cicely the wife of Alan Ruddock, and Katherine, and they in 1339 conveyed the remainder of his possessions in North Mimms to William de Kestevan.

The new owner became involved in a quarrel with Simon Swanlond as to respective rights in the common of Rotemere, which pertained to the manor of North Mimms, and in 1347-8 it was provided that such portion thereof as belonged to the fourth part of the manor should be defined and inclosed. In 1388 William de Kesteven sold his share of the manor to the farmer of its other three parts, Beatrix Mountviron. Beatrix had in 1391 become the widow of William Bakton, and as such she sold her fourth part of the manor to Thomas Knolles and Joan his wife for a hundred marks of silver.

Knolles.  Gules a chevron argent with three roses gules thereon.
Knolles. Gules a chevron argent with three roses gules thereon. translation
This Thomas Knolles, lord of all the manor of North Mimms, died in 1435-6, and left as his heir a son Thomas, who, like his father, is called citizen and grocer of London. He devised the manor to his son Robert, who came into possession in 1446, and in that year settled it on himself and his heirs, with remainder to his brother Richard, in tail male.

In 1457 Rober did homage to Richard duke of York for the manor which he held of the honour of Clare by military service, and in 1478 he paid 6s-8d which he owed for suit at the court of the same honour. In 1483 he discharged to the feodary (14) of Essex and Hertfordshire the suit due from North Mimms to the honour of Stamlorne, and in 1484 he paid 3s-4d to the feodary of the dutchy of Lancaster in Essex and Hertfordshire, as suit of court to the honour of Manderville. Further, in 1481 he paid 4s-4d due to the sheriff of Hertfordshire, to the gardener of the ‘king’s grenewey’, and in 1447, as the holder of one knight’s fee in North Mimms, he contributed 2s to the aid for the marriage of Princess Anne, the king’s eldest daughter.

Up to this date the manor appears to have been thickly wooded, but Robert is responsible for the cutting down of much timber.

A moiety of his property was inherited by each of his two daughters, Anne who married Henry Frowick and Elizabeth the wife of James Stracheley. Henry and Anne Frowick held their share in 1495, and in 1507 sued John More and Joan his wife for rent at their court of North Mimms.

They had a son Thomas who died without issue, and two daughters, Isabel who married Thomas Bedlowe and Elizabeth the wife of John Coningsby. Anne’s share of the manor came to John Coningsby and Elizabeth, and in 1529-30 James Stracheley and Elizatheth conveyed their half of the manor to John Coningsby, who thus became possessed of the whole manor.

Elizabeth Coningsby survived her husband and afterwards married William Dodds, and the manor was settled upon them for their lives in 1557 by Henry (later Sir Henry) Coningsby, son of John Coningsby and Elizabeth, with reversion to Henry. Sir Henry died seised of the manor in 1590, and at this time it was held as the honours of Clare and Mandeville for fealty (15) and two suits at the court of the honour.

It passed to his son Sir Ralph Coningsby, who died in 1615, having settled the manor on Francis his eldest son. Francis died without issue in 1628, and the manor came to his brother Thomas, who was a loyal adherent to the cause of Charles I.

Osborne.  Quarterly ermine and azure a cross or.
Osborne. Quarterly ermine and azure a cross or. translation
He forfeited all his lands under the Commonwealth, but North Mimms was restored to his widow Martha and his sons Harry and Thomas in 1652. Martha and Harry sold it in 1658 to Sir Thomas Hyde of Aldbury. Bridget the only daughter and heir of Sir Thomas married Peregrine Osborn, Viscount Dunblane, afterwards duke of Leeds, and on the death of her father in 1665 she and her husband succeeded to the manor of North Mimms. Peregrine died in 1729, and his second but eldest surviving son Peregrine Hyde in 1731.

Bridget died in 1733, and her grandson Thomas, duke of Leeds, son of Peregrine Hyde, succeeded her. He married Mary Godolphin, and on his death in 1789 left as heir his youngest son Francis Godolphin, who died in 1799 and whose son and heir George William Frederick and Charlotte his wife sold the manor in 1800 to Henry Browne.

In 1823 Henry Browne and his wife Caroline Susannah sold it to William Heygate, who after holding it for about a year sold it to the trustees of Fulke Southwell Greville-Nugent, afterwards Lord Greville, then a minor. He sold the manor and park of North Mimms in 1870 to Coningsby Charles Sibthorp, eldest son of Gervaise Tottenham Waldo-Sibthorp, a descendant of Thomas and Martha Coningsby through their daughter Elizabeth.

Sibthorp.  argent two bars gules and a border sable.
Sibthorp. argent two bars gules and a border sable. translation
From Coningsby Charles Sibthorp, who had already become possessed of Potterells, the other estate of the Coningsby family in this parish, this manor passed by sale about 1888 to Mr. Hamilton Bruce, who sold it in 1893 to Mr. Walter H. Burns. His widow, Mrs. Burns, now holds it and resides in North Mimms Park, the present manor house, which was considerably altered about a hundred years ago, and to which Mr. Walter H. Burns made extensive additions.

The house is of red brick with diaper patterns of a different colour and stone dressings. Though a good deal repaired the general appearance has been little altered since its first building. The exact date of this is not known, but it must be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1600.

Sir Ralph Coningsby was its builder, and the arms of Coningsby are over the west doorway. The house has a central block containing the hall and main entrance, and gabled side wings projecting to form a court which is open towards the north. The principal doorway is set in a projecting block with two ranges of large mullioned and transomed windows, finished with two gabled roofs.

In the middle of each side of the court is a square turret, with a leaded cupola, and the chimney-stacks are everywhere of excellent detail, with tall cut brick shafts and moulded cornices.

Throughout the building the windows are stone-mullioned, and though the detail is plain the whole effect is very good, and the house is one of the most attractive and interesting domestic buildings in the county. Its internal arrangements, as might be expected, have been a good deal modernized, but there is a fair amount of carved ornament, the best of which is a chimney-piece with figures of Pyramus and Thisbe, dated 1563.

The old manor house, which was probably destroyed when the present building was erected, appears to have stood a little more to the north-east, and nearer the church. It was in the old mansion that Princess Elizabeth stayed on her way to London from Ashridge, when summoned to answer for her supposed complicity in Wyatt’s rebellion in 1553-4.

There appears to have been a considerable number of tithings in the manor of North Mimms. A view of frankpledge took place annually on the feast of St. Gregory, and a court leet (16) was held every three weeks, of which the average yearly profits amounted in 1428-9 to £10. At this date all liberties claimed in 1277-8 existed.

In the lease to John and Beatrix Mountviron it was provided that they should choose a reeve (17) from the villein tenants every year. In 1428-9 the fourfold division of the manor into Bacheworthes, Pigots, Mounteneyes, and Monchesnyes survived. The lord had gallows at Wamborenghill, a tumbril (18) and a pillory which stood between Pigots and Bacheworthes.

At Colney Heath, Mymwode, and Northawwood he had a common. In 1403 there was a mill on the manor of William Swanlond, and in 1428-9 a horse mill existed on Mounteneyes.

A mill at North Mimms is mentioned in 1659 and in 1666, and there is now a disused mill at Colney Heath. There were ‘ponds, ditches, and fisheries’ in the manor of Hubert de Monchesny, and his son John demised to his brother rights in the manorial waters. Simon Swanlonod reserved to himself the path which led to the fishery, and ‘wheels and other engines which appertained to Roughdell,’ when he made a lease of the field called Longeforleng. Fisheries were held by William Swanlond, and Thomas Knolles had a fishery which lay in the Ponde Garden. In 1469-70 it was decided at the court of the manor that the lord should make a bridge at ‘Westburnbrigge’ on the king’s highway, and repair ‘Delbrigge.’

At ‘Nevellyfeld’ the priest of the chantry of Hatfield had his chamber, for which he paid suit to the court of North Mimms. In 1367-8 the king’s highway led from the church of North Mimms to London.

In 1428-9 there was a house with gardens at Bacheworthes which may have occupied the site of that which Maud de Bachesworth inherited, or have been identical with it. The capital messuage of Pigots was then the guest house of the lord of the manor, and two dovecots were annexed to it. Another capital messuage was called Swineshead.

Middle English words and definitions
1: Thegn = An English thane, a man who held land from the king or other superior by military service, ranking between ordinary freeman and hereditary nobles. back to text
2: Messuage = A legal term meaning a dwelling house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use. back to text
3: Feoffment = A mode of conveying a freehold estate by a formal transfer of possession. back to text
4: Presentment = the act of presenting information such as a statement on oath by a jury of a fact known to them. back to text
5: Turn = making a profit from. back to text
6: Frankpledge = A system devised by Norman lawyers in the 11th century for the preservation of law and order, based on the Anglo-Saxon tithing. back to text
7: Waifs = a homeless and helpless person, esp. an abandoned child or an ownerless object or animal.back to text
8: Warren = a piece of ground on which game is preserved. back to text
9: Vill = a feudal township. back to text
10: Quittance = A document that acknowledges payment of a debt. back to text
11: Moiety = a half or each of the two parts into which a thing is divided. back to text
12: In tail male = A ruling where only male descendants of the original tenant in tail can succeed to the land. If the male line dies out, the land goes to the person next entitled. back to text
13: Tenement = land or rents held by a superior. back to text
14: Feodary = see Feoffment (13). back to text
15: Fealty = a feudal tenant’s fidelity to a lord. back to text
16: Leet = a yearly or half-yearly court of record that lords of certain manors might hold. back to text
17: Reeve = an official supervising a landowner’s estate. back to text
18: Tumbril = an open cart in which condemned people were taken to their executions. back to text

Useful links
Frowick and Knolles
North Mymms House


Victorian study of North Mymms - Index
Chapter One - Mimmine
Chapter Two - Manors - North Mymms
Chapter Three - Manors - Potterells
Chapter Four - Manors - Brookmans
Chapter Five - Manors - More Hall and Leggatts
Chapter Six - Churches
Chapter Seven - Advowsons
Chapter Eight - Charities

Note: The text above has been taken from "The Victoria History of Hertfordshire", edited by W. Page in 1908. It has been broken down into chapters for ease of reading and download. In all chapters the text is reproduced exactly as it is in the original document. Where words are used which are no longer in common usage, a number appears to the right of the word and a definition is offered. However people using these pages for research might need to have their own dictionary on hand to help understand the text. North Mymms is spelt North Mimms throughout, a difference explained in a feature written by Bill Killick on this site click here.

Heraldry had its own terminology dating from 13C, based on Old French. Its colours are called 'tinctures' of which there are two metals - gold (or) and silver (argent) - and five colours - blue (azure), black (sable), green (vert), purple (purpure), and red (gules). back to text


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