A report written in 1856 by Thomas Parkinson

 

Helias de Ffederstanhaugh (alive between 1199 and 1216)
Thomas Ffetherstonhaugh (died before 1312)
Thomas Ffetherstonhaugh (alive in 1336)
Thomas Ffetherstonhaugh (alive in 1329 wife still living in 1374)
Alexander Ffetherstonhaugh (alive in 1461 see note on succession)
Nicholas Fetherstonhaugh ( living in 1488)
Alexander Fetherstonhaugh (succeeded in 1513 will 1544)
Albany Fetherstonhaugh (living 1553 and 1568)
Alexander Fetherstonhaugh (died 1596)
Albany Fetherstonhaugh (was 21 years old when his father died)
Albany Fetherstonhaugh ( was 12 years old in in 1615)
Abigail Fetherstonhaugh ( still living in 1678)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

House of Fetherstonhaugh

Brought down to the present time through several branches, and through one of its’ branches particularly called,

                                                                                   Parkinson

This family is of Saxon origin.  They were seated at Fetherstone in Northumberland, after the Conquest that part of the country having been allotted to their ancestor, a Saxon officer for his gallant behaviour against the Britons. They are registered in King Stephens reign as gentlemen of coat-armour, resident at Fetherstonhaugh Castle.

The following strange story is related by Machell, that their house in Northumberland was formerly upon a hill where there are still two stones called featherstones; and was moated about for a defence against the Scots, but upon the ruin of this, the house was afterwards built in the holme or valley under the hill which they there call “haugh” and was thence called Fetherstonhaugh.  Hutchinson adds that Courts of manors were anciently, and many of them to this day are held in the open air; the place distinguished by a large stone, which the steward uses as a large table at which the homage (sic) take the oath.  It seems probable that the stones mentioned in Machell’s account were used for such a purpose in former ages and were called “feuder stones” where the feudal tenants of the manor were assembled.  We find the family holding Fetherstone Castle in Northumberland as members of the Barony of Tynedale in the reign of Edward I.

The family has been at several times subdivided into several branches particularly two, viz, of Fetherstonhaugh and Fetherstonhalgh.  The tradition of the family is that many hundred years ago, Albany Fetherstonhaugh married two wives and had a son by each of them.  The first succeeding to his father’s estate in Northumberland.  The second inherited that of his mother.  He was descended from William de Monte who lived in the time of King Stephen, and was called de Monte from his house situated on Craig-hill near Stanhope in the county of Durham.  She was the last heiress of her family.  And it was to her estate, which was considerable, that her son succeeded.  The two brothers thought proper in case their families should grow numerous, to distinguish them by the words “haugh” and “halgh”, the former meaning a “low” place; the latter a “high” one.  We learn from the pedigree that his youngest son was named Robert, that he died in the 48th of Edward III (about 1375) and he was the first of the family of de Monte of Stanhope that changed the name into Fetherstonhaugh.  I must here in passing observe that this founder of the Stanhope branch is in some copies of the pedigree called William the son of Alexander.

It has already been said that the family has been subdivided into several branches.  It has also been seen that the eldest branch was that of Fetherstonhaugh of Fetherstonhaugh in Northumberland and that from them the Fetherstonhalghs of Stanhope in Durham are derived.  The next ancient branch that is recorded, after that of Stanhope is the house of Fetherstonhalgh alias Perkinson of Beaumont Hill and Whessoe in the same county of Durham.  From these derive next in antiquity the Lancashire branch of the Perkinsons: and probably also the Yorkshire Parkinsons from whom soon after a branch was established in Bedfordshire mentioned in the Visitation of that county in 1634.

But the next branch certainly formed after that of Lancashire is the family of Fetherstonhaugh of Kirkoswold in Cumberland.  It sprang from the eldest branch of all the Fetherstonhaughs of Fetherstonhaugh and is now in existence.

But we will now proceed to notice each of the branches in particular giving such information about each of its individual members as we have been able to acquire.  First then comes the house of

 

Fetherstonhaugh of Fetherstonhaugh

Let us however say a few words about their old house Fetherstone Castle.  It is situated south of the Tyne towards Alston Moor.  It would not give us a fair idea of it to describe its present appearance, altered and enlarged and improved, and beautified, as it has been by its present proprietor Thomas Lord Wallace Baron Knaresdale.  We will give it then as it appeared to Hutchinson in 1776 when he visited it; with the impressions which his visit to it made upon him.

           “ The river being rough, and the fords not known to us, we left the vale and traversing the heights approached Fetherston Castle: which lies in a little sequestered valley concealed by the neighbouring hills.  From the eminence over which we travelled we could command a view for several miles on every hand.  But almost the whole scene was one vast expanse of waste and barrenness hill arising beyond hill in dreary succession of broken crags or barren heath.  At the fort of the mountains here and there, a little verdure was perceived, a narrow valley, a solitary cottage; The inhabitants are shepherds; and languish out a life of indigence and laziness.  As we descended into the vale where the castle stands, some pretty plains of meadow ground on the margin of the Tyne were revealed to us, which, whilst we remained on the heights, were concealed from our view".

 The castle is little more than a square tower calculated for defence against those tribes of robbers, the moss troopers.   Every chief mansion of Northumberland in former times was obliged to be thus defended; so that the number of these small castles is very great.  Fetherston Tower hath two exploratory turrets; it is vaulted underneath – for the purpose of securing flocks and herds at the time of assault.

Whilst on the subject of the old family castle, I cannot forbear quoting a piece, however long, from Richardsons’ table book, by William Pattison.  He thus begins his legend.



 The Ghostly Bridal of Fetherstonhalgh

The forest of Fetherstonhalgh in the western extremity of Northumberland, extensive, wild and undisturbed by “sounding age” once sheltered a race of people, mighty and of great valour; and embosomed within its leafy precincts, the old fortalice of Fetherstonhalgh.  With Helias de Fetherstonhalgh it first makes its appearance in history and it continued to be held in the male line for twelve generations, when their name and interest in it disappeared in Abigail the only surviving daughter of the last (chief) of the (that) line.  Amid this woody tract, at the bottom of deep glens shrouded in impenetrable gloom, scant of human tread, and but seldom cheered with a ray of sunlight, run many gushing streams whose winter ravings have raised them to such a pitch, that in their headlong fury, they have cast great stones from out their rocky bed and uprooted many mighty trees, whose age no one can tell.   But is there nought save gloom ?  Aye, truly: the grassy slopes sparkle in the light, and the gay flowers of many rare herbs bedeck the rich green, and throw up bright glances to the sun.  And in the leafy shade and dewy nooks, slumber the flocks & herds while the winged denizens of the wood in ceaseless note, sing out their guileless existence, as they flutter round the aged holly trees, and ivied trunks of ancient oaks, elm and birch, whose sturdy arms have borne the blast of centuries, & seen men rejoicing in their strength, and the pine and decay: and sheltered the home of a long line of honourable men, long since passed away, and yet outlive them all.  Many years ago, two countrymen who had been at a merry -making, many miles distant, were wending their way homeward towards the neighbourhood of Featherston.  Shortly after midnight, they entered the woody defile of Pinkyn Cleugh where for nearly two miles they found the path shaded by dense wood: which overhung and interlaced so as almost to exclude the beams of the moon which now broke from behind a thick bank of clouds, and imparted a silvery softness to the surrounding scene.  This spot had long been under the imputation of being haunted, and certainly, our travellers viewed with caution, not unmixed with dread, the strange, fantastic, and even unearthly shapes, which ordinary and natural objects assumed, when the bright gleams of the moon glinted through the thick foliage overhead, and singling out some trunk, or gnarled, mis-shapen root, every now and then created a silvery ghastly relief, upon what was also duskiness and gloom.  Anxiously and cautiously, they proceeded on their devious journey, when one of them, turning suddenly round, beheld, emerging from the gloom, a ghastly cavalcalde.

They had scarcely time to step aside, when a party of mail clad warriors and courtly dames swept noiselessly passed.   Their dresses were of antique fashion, and the Knights were heavily armed.  Our travellers belated and stricken with silent awe, followed them with their eyes, until they arrived at a place, where, in former days, a path led through the woods to the castle – communication long since disused.  Here the party made a sudden turn, and passing uninterruptedly through a high and massive wall, their dark forms were shortly lost in the dense and gloomy forest stretching many miles around.

Marvelling at so mysterious and unexpected a spectacle, our rustics hurried inwards to the spot where the party had disappeared.  But here, to their utter astonishment, not a trace of a passage through the masonry was visible – not a stone displaced, whilst the forest itself was still and silent as the grave.  Fear succeeded to wonder, and they hurried off to their respective pallets inspired with an overpowering sense of awe.  On relating their story to their fellow villagers, we may easily imagine the consternation and interest created by the event, but when they repaired in a body to the spot in daylight and found not a trace of passage, the sandy soil untrodden, the wall entire and the thick underwood and its bed of matted grass which lay beyond, entirely free from the slightest appearance of having been disturbed, the unbelief of the crew knew no bounds; and the ghost-seers had to undergo a due share of ridicule from their sceptical friends, who attributed the whole matter to some creation of their drunken fancy.  But while some laughed and jibed, old men shook their heads & sagely weighed the analogy which the relation bore to the fearsome and blood chilling tales of others who had seen the like, how they believed and repeated it to their dying day, and died without being believed.                                                                        

Many hundred years ago, there lived a bold baron of Featherstonhalgh, whose affections were centred in a blooming daughter, whose hand he sought to unite to that of a husband of his own choosing.  This man was of equal birth and fortune, but the maiden pleaded an earlier and irrepressible attachment: and the father listened and became the more inexorable. The youth whom she had loved so long and so well, although clad in all the outward guise of gentle birth, yet laboured under a doubt: and strange reports were abroad as to his means of supporting the dignity of mien he assumed.  All enquiry as to his birth and family were met with either abrupt and stern reproof, or with equivocating statement.  He had long been banished from the castle, and the aged father rejoiced when the day arrived when his son-in-law had to receive a fatherly benediction.  On the day of their nuptials, a gay & numerous band issued from the gateway of the castle, and set forth on a ride around the wide domains, promising to return ere nightfall, in order to partake of a sumptious banquet prepared in honour of the occasion.

The day waned, and the banquet was spread in the spacious hall of Featherstonhaugh.  The old baron filled the chair of state, and joy beamed from every countenance.  Swarms of menials thronged the place, and the gay minstrels waited but the arrival of the guests to give birth to inspiriting harmony.  Retiring day was succeeded by the gloom of twilight which in turn gave place to the shades of night, but they came not.  Consternation seized all.  The baron fretted and traversed the tesselled pavement with impatient & perturbed step. Dark vapours seemed to arise, and filling the hall with a thin misty breath, chilled to the bone.  Agonized with gloomy forebodings, he despatched messenger after messenger, who traversed the forest in every direction.  But they returned as they went.  At length it began to be whispered that the party must have been surprised by some lawless band of marauders, who oft prowled in the forest in search of plunder.  Night wore on, and the baron became infected with similar fears, and clasping his hands convulsively together, he fervently and frequently invoked the aid of higher powers.

Midnight had passed.  A deep sleep composed the baron’s harassed frame.  Suddenly the sound of many hoofs broke upon the stillness of the night.  The noise became more distinct.  They neared.  They came beneath the frowning gateway.  They halted and again all was silent as the tomb.  There was no challenge of warder, no sound of falling drawbridge, or jar of opening gates.  But of a sudden, the door at the foot of the great hall opened noiselessly and there appeared the bridal party.  Foremost came the bridal and his bride.  Then followed the rest of his troop.  All took their seats in silence, and never a word passed between them and the host.  The baron aroused from his stupifaction, now turned towards his guests and soon found that no earthly company graced the board.  The visage of each was distorted with the throes of death, and the ashy pallor of many a one was relieved by a streak of blood.  A fearful icy shudder ran through his frame, and he arose and crossed himself in agony and affright.  A sound as of a mighty rushing wind, chilling the very life sprung, passed through the hall & the unearthly bridal party disappeared.  The menials when they awoke from the trance into which they had fallen, found their master swooning on the floor of the hall.

The bridal on their return, had been surprised in the gorge of Pinken Cleugh by a band of freebooters headed by the discarded lover of the youthful bride; when the whole of the party after a protracted and desperate resistance were cut down.  A fatal shaft glancing aside pierced the fair one, and numbered her with the slain.

The bandit enraged at her loss and maddened with grief, put an end to his existence.  His hearts’ blood, says a fragment of a wild ballad which still floats in the district, ran into a hallow stone, and the black ravens drank it out filling the forest with their vile croakings over their infernal banquet.

This relic called the ravens’ stone, is still shown in a wood near the castle and it is said that the ghostly bridal party, traverse the road as surely as the anniversary of their foul massacre, year by year returns, disappearing at the scene of their murder.  But others state that they still hold their unhallowed banquet in the hall of the castle as they have done for centuries overpast

We must, however, leave fiction or at least fiction in part, and come to the pedigree of this eldest branch of the family.

It has already been said there were twelve generations of this branch of the family before the name and family left the estate.  It would have been more correct to say twelve “successions” for there were many more generations.

 

1.                   Helias de Ffederstanhaugh is the first we know of.  He lived in the reign of King John between 1199 and 1216.  He gave to the church and friars of Hexham some lands in his free fee of ffetherstonhaugh in consideration of their taking him and his heirs into their fraternity.

2.                   Thomas ffetherstonhaugh.  At his death he left his property to his wife Mariotta.  She sold some land in the year 1312.  She devised the Fetherstonhaugh estate to eldest son Thomas, with remainder to her second son Alexander, and with remainder to her son Peter, Peterkin or Perkin, and to another son.  She was still living in 1336.

3.                   Thomas ffetherstonhaugh was eldest son.  He gave some lands to his mother Mariotta in 1336.  He was succeeded by his son Thomas, (for whom see 4 next page).    Alexander second son (for his son see *)

4.                   Thomas ffetherstonhaugh.  His wife’s name was Margaret.  She was living in 1374.  In 1329 in the life-time of his father he released to the friars of Hexham the lands they had held of his ancestors.  He was succeeded by the eldest son of his cousin as we shall now see.                                                                                                                                           

* Alexander on whom and on his wife Isabella and his heirs male ffetherstonhaugh was settled in 1374.  In the same year before he went abroad to the King’s wars he made some settlement in presence of the sheriff of the county.  He is mentioned in a deed dated 1406.  His eldest son Alexander succeeded to the ffetherstonhaugh estate.  His second son succeeded by marriage to the Stanhope property, as will be seen after.

5.                   Alexander ffetherstonhaugh.  He married a lady named Armitruda.  He left lands to his widow for her life.  In 1461 he married his son Nicholas to Maud daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Salkeld.  And his grandson in consequence quartered the Salkeld arms with his own.

6.                   Nicholas Fetherstonhaugh son of the above:  His eldest son Alexander succeeded him.  His second son Richard was a Priest and was chaplain to Queen Catharine, and was zealous in her cause in the affair of her divorce.  A steadfast adherent of the Catholic Church this Richard refused to subscribe to the King’s supremacy, in consequence of which he suffered death in 1540. (Dodd).  The above Nicholas had another son, Rowland, and was living in 1488.

7.                   Alexander Fetherstonhaugh succeeded in 1513.  He married Ann daughter of John Crakenthorpe.  He and his son Albany are mentioned in a deed as living in 1539.  His will is dated 1544.  About this time there seems to have been a murder committed on one of this family.  In the local historian’s table book it is thus mentioned.    “1530 Oct.24. Nicolas Fetherstonhaugh gentleman, was murdered (probably in some hunting party) by William Ridley of Unthank gentleman, and Hugh Ridley of Howden in Plenmellor and others of the same name as appeared on a view of the body by the Coroner of Northumberland on the 26th of October in the same year”.  In a note to Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion”, the same thing is mentioned in Latin excepting that Nicolas Fetherstonhaugh is there called the murdered man’s son who avenged the death of his father, and was taken into custody for the same.  We will give the note “24 Oct. 22 do Henrici 8 vi Inquisitio capta super visum corpus Alexandri Featherstone Gent: apud Grensilhaugh. 

It must be observed that Hardriding & Wall & Howden & Willimoteswick are the names of places from which the different individuals mentioned came.  I must here, too, remark that a sister of Nicolas Ridley of Willimoteswick had married into the family of Fetherston of Stanhope as we shall see when we come to their pedigree, and that her eldest boy was killed when at Fetherstonhaugh it is said by a fall, some how or other, from a horse, “ occisus fuit a tergo aqui” but whether accidentally or in consequence of this family feud, is not clear.  We now continue the succession.

8.                   Albany Fetherstonhaugh.  He married Ann, daughter of Thomas Dudley of Yean with, second son of Edmund Lord Dudley.  He had a grant of Lambly Convent lands from Edward VI in 1553.  Was High Sheriff in 1560, and was still living in 1568.  He had three sons, Alexander who succeeded him, Henry who founded the branch of Kirkoswold, as we shall see after - & John.

9.                   Alexander Fetherstonhaugh married Ann daughter of Sir John Lowther.  He had three sons, Albany his successor, George & Christopher who became Protestant rector of Bentham in Yorkshire.  This Alexander was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 159?.  He died on 1596 and was succeeded by

10.               Albany Fetherstonhaugh who was 21 years old when his father died.  He married Frances daughter of Barwis of Ilkirk or Ailkirk and had two sons and several daughters.  His younger son was Richard and his elder son succeeded him & was called

11.               Albany Fetherstonhaugh.  At the visitation in 1615, when his father was still living, he was 12 years old. In the Cromwelian inquisition respecting church livings & he is mentioned as having the presentation of Lambley parish & is not called either Papis or Delinquent as many of the Northern gentry are.  He married Jane Fetherstonhalgh eldest daughter of Ralph Fetherstonhalgh of Stanhope, of whom we shall speak when we come to describe the next eldest branch of the family, and by her had only one surviving child, a daughter, who succeeded him and was the last possessor of the eldest branch, namely,

12.               Abigail Fetherstonhaugh.  She married Mr Peter Dodshon of Kirkby Overblows in Yorkshire, son and heir of Sir Miles Dodshon. In the county rate for 1663, we find her assessed for the Fetherstonhaugh estate by the name of Mrs Dodshon.  She afterwards married Mr Thomas Dykes of Gilcruce in Cumberland.  She was still living in 1678.  She was the last of that house and before or soon after her death, old Fetherstonhaugh had passed into other hands.  But before bidding it and this old branch a final farewell, we will just say a few words about the different hands it has passed through and what became of it at last.    

By whom Fetherstone Castle was sold is not known.  It soon afterwards belonged to the Earl of Carlisle.  The Earl of Carlisle afterwards sold it to Matthew Fetherstonhaugh of Newcastle on Tyne, who was High Sheriff in 1706 and died 100 years old in 1762.  Of what branch of the family this Matthew does not appear.  He had a son also named Matthew, who married in 1746, was member of parliament for Morpeth in 1753 And afterwards for Portsmouth; was Fellow of the Royal Society: & died in 1774.  Fetherstonhaugh was in his possession when it was described by Hutchinson as we have seen above.  This Matthew was chosen by Sir Henry Fetherstone the last male of the Blackswere branch descended from that of the Parkinson Fetherstons, as we shall afterwards see, to succeed by will to his property with a recommendation to him to procure a new creation of the Baronetcy .  He was therefore in 1747 created Baronet.  He purchased the estate of Uppark and the manors of South and East Harting in Sussex; where the family still remains, of the Earl of Tankervill for 90,000.  This Sir Matthew sold the Castle and estate of Fetherstonhaugh to James Wallace Esq: his Majesty’s Attorney General, and father of Thomas Lord Wallace Baron Knaresdale, its present proprietor.

The ancient towers still remain: but more have been built.  And the dwelling has been so enlarged & embellished and improved as to be fairly called the work of the present proprietor.

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