Manor of Bratton Fleming
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Descent of the manor
In the Domesday Book of 1086 the manor of "Brotone" was one of over one hundred west country manors held in chief by Robert, Count of Mortain (c. 1031 – 1090), half-brother of William the Conqueror. His tenant in the following of his manors in Devon and Cornwall was one of his knights named "Erchenbald":
- Culleigh, Devon (in Frithelstock parish & Shebbear Hundred)
- Alverdiscot, Devon (in Fremington Hundred)
- Bratton, Devon (in Braunton Hundred)
- Croyde, Devon
- Hele, Devon (probably in Meeth parish)
- Stockleigh, Devon (Meeth parish, Shebbear Hundred)
- livestock (5 cattle & 8 sheep) in manor of Weare (Giffard), Devon, which was held from Robert Count of Mortain by Roald Dubbed.
- Brea, Cornwall (in Connerton Hundred)
- Avalde, Cornwall (in Fawton Hundred)
- Bodbrane, Cornwall (in Fawton Hundred)
Erchenbald is nowhere described in the Domesday Book as Flandrensis, le Fleming or by any other term denoting "of Flanders". Tristram Risdon (died 1640) describes him as Erchenbald Flandrensis in his paragraph concerning the descent of Croyde, which strictly is inaccurate. However, it is certain that he was Flandrensis from the evidence of the names of his descendants. "Stephen son of Erchenbald" occurs in Devon in 1139 and "Erchenbald son of Stephen" occurs as holder of several knight's fees in Devon and Cornwall in the 1166 Liber Niger ("Return of the Barons"). The lands of Robert, Count of Mortain, became the core holdings of the feudal barony of Launceston, and the Fleming family continued to hold most of their manors from that barony, as can be seen from entries in the Book of Fees.
Erchenbald (or "Archembald") le Fleming of Bratton Fleming derived his surname due to his birth in Flanders, and came to England during the reign of William I. He was succeeded by his son, Stephen (fl. 1145), whose son, Archembald, came to Ireland with Henry II in 1171 and participated in Hugh de Lacy's plantation of the Kingdom of Mide. On the west side of the hill of Slane in Ireland there are the remains of a twelfth-century motte and bailey which was the settlement, destroyed by the Irish in 1176. Succeeding Flemings were Stephen, died c. 1213 – 1214 and Baldwin, died 1260. In the Book of Fees Baldwin "le Fleming" is listed as holding lands in "Crideho" (Croyde) and also in "Bratton cum membris" (with its members), both by then fees held from the feudal barony of Launceston. He also held Alverdiscott, and held Benton and Haxton, from the feudal barons of Bradninch. Baldwin's son, Richard, is the first of whom some substantial information exists. He married Mary/Maria Martin, daughter of Sir Nicholas FitzMartin the Younger (died 1260), jure uxoris feudal baron of Barnstaple. Richard died in 1301 but it is unknown when his wife died. Their son, Baldwin (died 1335), married Matilda/Maude de Genville, daughter of Sir Simon de Genville of Trim. Baldwin was summoned to parliament at Kilkenny in 1309 and was thereby deemed to have become the 1st Baron Slane (or Baron le Fleming). They were the parents of Simon Fleming, 2nd Baron Slane, who died on 13 September 1370. On the death unmarried and without progeny of Christopher Fleming, 5th Baron Slane (son of John Fleming (who predeceased his father Sir Christopher Fleming, 4th Baron) by his wife Amy Rochfort), his two sisters became his co-heirs to his Devon estates, the Irish estates passing under tail-male to David Fleming, uncle of the half blood to the fifth and last Christopher Lord le Fleming; which David was summoned to, and sat in the parliament of King Edward the Fourth, by the title of Lord David Fleming, Baron of Slane, and thus became a peer by a new writ of creation. The title Baron Slane (or le Fleming) of the 1st creation went into abeyance between the 5th Baron's two sisters, and was still in abeyance in 1835 when a petition for the peerage was heard in the House of Lords (the "Slane Peerage case"):
- Amy Fleming, married John Bellewe
- Anne Fleming, married Walter Dillon
The Fleming lands in Devon were split between the husbands of both sisters and the Dillons acquired Bratton Fleming.
Division of lands
Several valuable charters concerning the transactions involving the division of and succession to the Fleming estates in Devon, following the death of Christopher Fleming, 5th Baron Slane in 1457, exist in the North Devon Record Office.
The following charter dated April 1459 exists in North Devon Record Office. It details a purported grant by feoffees of the Fleming estates to David Fleming, the half-uncle of Christopher Fleming, 5th Baron:
Charter, (1) John Corkyke, Rector of Newton Ferrers, and Richard Begge, Rector of Bratton Flemyng. (2) David Flemyng, Baron of Slane. Manors of Croyde Hoe [in Georgham], Bratton Fleming, Chumhill [in Bratton Fleming], High Bray, Alverdiscott, Ash Rogus [in Braunton], and South Molton. Recites that the premises were granted to (1) by Christopher Flemyng Esq. deceased. The premises are granted to (2), and the heirs male of his body, with remainder to the right heirs of Christopher Flemyng, Baron of Slane, deceased. Seal attached, showing a tree, and an animal (? a fox), rampant. There is a fragment of a second seal.
A forged deed was made at the order of James Fleming (probably James Fleming, 7th Baron Slane (d. 1491-92)) on 16 January 1471/72, but back-dated to 20 July 1460, which purported to show that David Fleming had settled his lands on feoffees for the use of Sir James Fleming. The drafter confessed in dramatic circumstances to the forgery in a deed dated 24 March 1483/84:
Exemplification, by Richard Mapowe, doctor of letters, president of the Consistory Court of Exeter Diocese, of a sworn confession by Richard Hey, late of Dublin, and formerly a servant of James Fleming, knight, that James Fleming, Richard Hey, and Richard Dexter of Slane, gent., did forge a charter and a power of attorney, in the house of Richard Dexter at Carek [? Carrick], on 16 January 1472/73 (1471/2), 11 Edward IV. Recites that Richard Hey was travelling from Ireland by ship, with the forged documents, but was caught by a tempest in the Severn Sea, and he, being then in great peril, was induced to confess by a certain cleric of Bridgwater. The ship was driven into Ilfracombe, and Richard Hey now places his confession on record. The forged charter is recited. It purports to be a grant from David Flemyng, Baron of Slane, to Richard Begg, priest, Robert Rochefort, priest and Christopher White, yeoman, of the manors of Croyde [in Georgeham], Bratton Fleming, Highbray, Alverdiscott, Ash Rogus, South Molton, Haxton, and Licheton, dated 20 July 1460. The exemplification is a notarial instrument, bearing the notarial sign of Thomas Gill, clerk, papal and imperial notary. At the foot of the document is a note that John Atwell, Mayor of Exeter, has for further confirmation of the exemplification, and at the special request of Richard Hey, affixed his seal. Attached are the following seals: (a) a fragment of a vesica shaped seal, probably that of the Exeter Consistory Court. (b) Seal of the Moyaralty of Exeter (damaged).Also the following 4 seals depicting a bird, probably those of witnesses: (c) Small circular seal depicting a bird, probably a pelican. (d) Seal showing a merchant's mark (damaged). (e) Seal showing a merchant's mark surrounded by a legend (not decipherable). (f) Seal showing a grotesque face.
A deed dated 12 August 1472 (12 Edward IV. ) held at North Devon Record Office is as follows:
Arbitration Award by deed poll, by Philip Beaumont, Esq., John Denys, John Orchard, and John Reigny.Deals with a dispute between James Fleming, Baron of Slane, on the one side and John Bellewe, Patrick his son, Amy wife of John Bellewe, Walter Delune and Amy his wife, on the other side, over the lands late belonging to Christopher Fleming, knight, in Devon. The award provides that (1) Patrick Bellewe shall have a moiety of rents worth £10.2s., from lands in South Molton parish, and a moiety of lands called Asshrogus (i.e. Ash Barton Estate), in Braunton, and of Puttesburgh in Georgeham. (2) Walter Delune and his wife Anne to have the other moiety of the rent from South Molton, and of Asshrogus and of Puttesburgh. The contingent remainders to the above lands are set out at length, giving information about the genealogy of the Fleming family. Not executed.
19 Edward IV Charter. (1) Anna Flemyng, widow.(2) Nicholas Delune, son and heir of (1). Moiety of the manors of Chumhill [in Bratton Fleming], Ashrogus [in Braunton], Croyde, and Alverdiscott, with the advowsons of the churches of the same places, and a moiety of all lands of (1) in Bratton Fleming and Haxton [in Bratton Fleming parish], and a moiety of chief rents from South Molton.
A further division of lands between the Dillon and Bellew families is recorded in a deed of partition dated 23 February 1502 held by North Devon Record Office and catalogued as follows:
"(1) Patrick Bellewe, son and heir of Amy Bellewe (a sister and co-heir of Christopher Flemyng, Baron of Slane). (2) Anne Dillon, widow (a sister and co-heir of Christopher Flemyng), and Nicholas Dillon, her son and heir apparent. The manor and advowson of Bratton Flemyng, lands at Chumhill in Bratton parish, lands at Hill in Loxhore parish, lands at Ley in Kentisbury parish, rents and feudal perquisites in Roborough, Cradiscombe, Middelinwode, Stoodleigh [?in West Buckland], and Middildon, the manor and advowson of Alverdiscott, lands in Haxton and Benton, in Bratton parish and all duedays (or custom days) of tenants in Haxton and Benton, lands in Ash Rogus (in Braunton parish), £10. 2s. rent from lands in South Molton in Ruckham in Cruwys Morchard parish, at Ringcombe in West Anstey parish, and at South Beare in Stoke Rivers parish and rents and feudal perquisites in Webbery, Garnacott, and Hayliscott, all in Alverdiscott parish. The share to be taken by each party is detailed. Some topographical information about the properties is given. Armorial seal of Patrick Bellewe, showing a shield fretty (Sable fretty or", per Lysons), differenced by a star. With the legend Sigillum Patricii Bellew, Armigeri ("Seal of Patrick Bellew, Esquire").
The Dillon family (or de Leon, de Lune, etc.) was a cadet branch of the ancient Breton house of de Leon, a member of which accompanied Prince John (later King John) to Ireland in 1185 and was granted extensive lands in Counties Longford and Westmeath called 'Dillon's Country'. The title Viscount Dillon was created in 1622 for Theobald Dillon, Lord President of Connaught. The Dillons of Bratton Fleming (and of Wroughton and Hart, in Heanton Punchardon) were a cadet branch of this Irish family and were seated at Chymwell (Chumhill). The descent was as follows:
- Walter Dillon, who married Anne Fleming, co-heiress of Bratton Fleming.
- Nicholas Dillon of Bratton Fleming
- Robert Dillon of Bratton Fleming, married Elizabeth (or Isabel) Fortescue, daughter of either Henry Fortescue of Ermington or William Fortescue of Prudonstone. His 5th son was Anthony Dillon (died 1615), MP for Penryn in 1589.
- Henry Dillon (died 1579), eldest son, married Elizabeth Pollard, daughter of Sir Hugh Pollard.
- Robert Dillon, eldest son and heir. He was bequeathed by his father "the warren called the Borough alias Braunton Borough" (Braunton Burrows) and brought a claim against the mayor and aldermen of Barnstaple for unlawful imprisonment. He was an overseer of the will of his uncle Anthony Dillon (died 1615), MP. He married Grace Chichester, a daughter of Sir John Chichester (died 1569) of Raleigh. The heraldic impalement representing this marriage is visible on the monument of her father in Pilton Church. In 1599 he sold all the Dillon lands in North Devon, including Bratton Fleming, to his wife's nephew, Sir Robert Chichester (1578–1627) of Raleigh. In about the middle of the seventeenth century this branch of the Dillons was seated in Farthingoe, Northamptonshire.
In 1599 Robert Chichester (1578–1627) of Raleigh purchased from his aunt's husband, Robert Dillon Esq., of Chumhill for £9,900 the manors of "Bratton Flemyng, Benton, and Haxton, the capital mansion, barton and demesnes of Chumhill, Haxton, Chelfham, and Shirrledon and all the lands called Chumhill, Benton, Haxton, Chelfham, and Shirrldon, in the parishes of Bratton Flemyng, Loxhore, Stoke Rivers, and Kentisbury, and £5 of rent (called Flemyng's rent) out of lands in South Molton and elsewhere in Devon". In the 1810 edition of Risdon's "Survey of Devon" the manor of Bratton Fleming was still held by the family in the person of his descendant Sir Arthur Chichester, 7th Baronet (1790–1842), who was then also lord of the manors of Shirwell, Stoke Rivers and Brendon, among many others.
- Anna Powell-Smith. "Brea | Domesday Book". domesdaymap.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- Risdon, Survey of Devon, 1810 Edition, p.340
- Madox's Hist, of the Exchequer, i. 543
- Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, p.60
- Also per Lysons, Magna Britannia, 1822, vol.6, Devon, Families removed since 1620
- Lysons, Magna Britannia, Vol.6, Devon, Families Removed Since 1620
- Thorn, Caroline & Frank (Eds.), Domesday Book, Vol.9, Devon, Chichester, 1985, Vol.2, chap. 15,40-41
- Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords; Bligh, R. (1838). New Reports of Cases Heard in the House of Lords: On Appeals and Writs of Error. 4. Saunders and Benning. p. 10. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- "BRATTON FLEMING, KENTISBURY, LOXHORE, STOKE RIVERS. | The National Archives". nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
- 48/25/9/2 8 April 1459, 37 Henry VI Charter
- 48/25/9/7 North Devon Record Office
- 48/25/9/6 14 July 1479 (19 Edward IV) Charter between (1) Anna Flemyng, widow. (2) Nicholas Delune, son and heir of (1)
- 48/25/9/8 23 February 1501/02 Deed of Partition
- Lysons, Magna Britannia, 1882, Vol.6, Devon: Gentry
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.284, with obvious printer's error ("Az" in place of "Ar") in that the field is given erroneously as azure, with a fess also azure, in contravention of the "Rule of Tinctures", and would not show fully against the same background. Pole (Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.480) gives the field as argent, but gives the location of the crescents incorrectly as on the fess. A relief-sculpted image of these arms survives on the large monument of John Chichester (died 1569) of Raleigh, Pilton, Devon, see image:File:HeraldicPanelChichesterMonumentPiltonDevon1569.JPG, which shows the correct arrangement of the crescents and estoiles, although the tincture of the field has been wrongly re-painted as or
- Estoiles shown as mullets; Field should be argent, given incorrectly as Azure in Vivian, Visitation of Devon 1620, Dillon, p.284 (Dillon), which also gives fess as Azure, which would not show uo on a field of the same tincture. Possibly Vivian should have read "Ar" (Argent) in place of "Az" for the field, as given in Pole, p.480. Field here re-painted incorrectly as or
- Chichester arms painted here with chequy tinctures in wrong order
- Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, Dillon of The Hermitage, Bodicote, Oxon; Debrett's Peerage, 1968, Viscount Dillon
- Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937, p.621, Dillon of the Hermitage
- Lysons, 1822
- History of Parliament biography of DILLON, Anthony (died 1615), of Bratton Fleming, Devon; Culworth, Northants.; Cork, Ireland and The Friars, Derby. Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558–1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981 Author: M.R.P. 
- History of Parliament biography
- Will dated 14/8/1579, National Archives Prob:11/61/421
- History of Parliament biography of Anthony Dillon (died 1615)
- Lysons, Magna Britannia, volume 6: Devonshire (1822), Families removed since 1620, pp. CLXXIII-CCXXV. 
- Armorial seal, unclear, of Robert Dillon, perhaps showing A lion rampant over-all a fess, held by North Devon Record Office
- North Devon Record Office, 48/25/9/9, 2 June 1599
- 1810 edition of Risdon's "Survey of Devon", p.428