Descendants of Thomas de Loxley
THE BAILIFF OF BRADFIELD
Article published in "The Flowing Stream", by John Hughes, Summer 1998
I well remember, from my childhood, my father telling me that we were descendants of Robin Hood. What a thrill, as that was the time of Errol Flynn and the Saturday Cinema Club! At that age it was easy to believe such stories, especially if they were told with conviction by your father.
It caught hold of my imagination so much so that I got my mother to make me a costume out of green felt, a pair of old nylon stockings, and with a pigeon feather in my cap. The outfit, with homemade bow and arrow, was confined to the garden as my courage to venture publicly did not match that of my hero. It was a comforting thought, somehow, to believe that I was descended from Lord Loxley, Earl of Huntingdon, but more likely a ruse by my father to ensure that I did not disgrace my famous ancestor by poor schoolwork!
As in all folklore, stories can be somewhat different than the actual events on which they are based. There are many variations on the story of Robin Hood and no evidence as to whether or not he really existed. Most chroniclers place his birthplace at Locksley, or Loxley, about 1160, and his exploits in the reign of King John. Our link with his descendants is through Mary Loxley who was born in Ecclesfield, situated west of Rotherham and north of Sheffield, Yorkshire. This is nowhere near Sherwood Forest you may say, but ask yourself how big the forest was in those days. To describe
the area as it then was, and the associated folklore, I must rely on correspondence from a late cousin, Fredric Loxley Preston, and his knowledge and research of some thirty years ago. The area is bounded by Stocksbridge to the north, Rotherham to the east, and the Peak District to the south and west.
"To the west the high and rugged moorlands separate it from Derbyshire, whilst to the east the lower foothills of the Pennines sink gradually into the plains of Yorkshire. It is a secluded land of hills and valleys, in ancient times a part of the great forest clothing the adjacent parts of the counties of York, Derby and Nottingham, and still commemorated in the name of Sherwood Forest. Through Hallamshire numerous streams, rising on the upland region to the west, flow eastward to join the river Don. One such stream is the Loxley, which from its source on the moors flows through a narrow valley for some nine miles to the river Don. About three miles from its source the Loxley receives the waters of another stream, the Agdon. At their confluence is situated the ancient village of Bradfield - Nether (or Low) Bradfield by the river and High Bradfield with the church half a mile up the steep slope of the valley. Lower down its course the river passes the hamlet of Loxley and skirts the former Loxley Chase.
Before the Norman Conquest clearings may have been made in this valley and settlements established on the banks of the river or on the higher ground. In the Norman campaign of 1069, however, all Hallamshire was devastated and to a large extent depopulated, especially in the north-west. With the coming of more settled times the Norman Lords of Hallamshire would encourage their followers to settle throughout the devastated region. High Bradfield has, in the Bailey Hill and the Castle Hill, the remains of two early Norman motte and bailey castles.
At the time of the Conquest the Saxon manor of Hallam (which included only part of the later Norman barony of Hallamshire) was held by the Earl Waltheof. The son of a Danish noble and a descendant through his mother of the Saxon kings, Waltheof was the recognised leader of the Saxons of the north of England. Nevertheless, he submitted to the Conqueror, receiving from him in marriage Judith, William's niece, together with the earldoms of Northumberland, Nottingham and Huntingdon. But, as the result of intrigue and rebellion against the Norman power, Waltheof was beheaded in 1076.
Waltheof's titles passed to his daughter, Maud, who took that of earl of Huntingdon to her second husband, David, king of Scotland. David died in 1153 and the earldom of Huntingdon, as well as the throne of Scotland, passed to his grandson, Malcolm, who in 1158 did pay homage to Henry II of England at Peak Castle, at Castleton in the royal forest of the Peak. To reach Peak Castle Malcolm may have travelled along the ancient way from York to Castleton, which passed close to the hamlet of Loxley, where, tradition says, there was born a man named Robert de Loxley, better known as Robin Hood."
Dodworth, writing about 1620, says of Robin Hood, : "Rob.Locksley, born in Bradfield parish in Hallamshire, wounded his stepfather to death at plough, fled into the woods, and was relieved by his mother till he was discovered. Then he came to Clifton-upon-Calder, and became acquainted with Little John, that kept the kine. Which said John is buried at Hathershead in Derbyshire, where he hath a fair tombstone with an inscription. Mr.Long saith Mr.Fabian saith Little John was an Earl Huntley's son."
The Ashmole MSS, folio 147, says: "Little John lyes buried in Hathersuch Churchyard, within t